§ Lord Eliot
rose, having intimated on a former evening his intention of making some observations on the foreign policy of the present Ministry, for that purpose. He felt that he owed a humble apology to the House for putting himself forward on such an occasion; but he did it with the hope of eliciting the remarks of older and more experienced Members; and should he succeed in that, his object would be attained. In looking at the political horizon, and beholding the darkness which reigned around, it certainly was difficult to say where the storm would first burst; but that the result must be war, was, in his opinion, but too evident, whether the clash of arms was first heard in Holland, in Italy, or in Portugal. With respect to Holland, he thought that no reasonable man could doubt that that country would resist a portion of the treaty to which this country was a party; for those who knew the firm and uncompromising character of the inhabitants of that country, and the pitch of enthusiasm to which they had of late been wound up, were well able to judge of the sacrifices they would be prepared to make, sooner than yield one iota of that position which they imagined they had a just right to maintain; and in particular it was well known that they would never submit to grant a free navigation of the internal waters of their country—a point that in the treaty was uncompromisingly insisted upon, but which, as he believed, would never be carried into effect till an English fleet had possession of the Scheldt, and every Dutch gun-boat was blown into atoms. The condition, therefore, in which 872 the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had placed this country was such, that either the pledges of England must be violated, or we must be involved in an unjust war with an ancient and faithful ally. He must, likewise, be permitted to observe, that the noble Lord, on a previous evening, had, when speaking on the question of the Dutch debt, treated the obligation of a guarantee very lightly; and had drawn a somewhat strong distinction between a guarantee and a surety. Now he was ready to concede to the noble Lord that a surety could be called on to fulfil that for which he had rendered himself liable; but he had yet to learn that a guarantee was not bound to do all in his power to secure the performance of that which he had guaranteed, even to the extent of resorting to force for the purpose of accomplishing that object. He was quite aware that it had been said in former days that a guarantee was like fillagree work; but, certainly, the course pursued by the noble Lord—that of proclaiming beforehand the inefficiency of the security of a guarantee—had something very novel in it. He would not, however, pursue this topic any further, as it was vested in much more able hands than his; and when the proper time should arrive, he had no doubt the hon. member for Okehampton (Sir Richard Vyvyan) would do ample justice to the question. To turn the attention of the House to another subject, he would ask—Was the prospect of affairs in the Peninsula more cheering? How did the case stand there? An expedition had been fitted out in this country, and had sailed to attack Portugal from these shores, not only in violation of our own declared neutrality, but contrary to the whole spirit of international laws. That expedition, too, was commanded by British officers, for, in addition to Captain Sartorious, he was credibly informed that other British officers were acting in that expedition under assumed names. That expedition, too, was manned by British seamen; and to convey still further the idea that England was taking part in the quarrel, they had descended to the artifice of dressing the marines in the British uniform. He was of course quite aware that this country had no reason to apprehend a declaration of war from Portugal; for, thanks to its weakness, it had no means for such an attempt; but then, on the other hand, he would ask whether it was just or fair that advantage should be taken of its weakness, to prescribe conditions to that country, which, under 873 any other circumstances, would never have been ventured on? Did any one believe for a moment, that a powerful State would not have resisted the treatment which Portugal had received at the hands of this country—a treatment in which the most rigid execution of treaties had been exacted from Portugal, while we, on our part, had neglected the performance of that reciprocal share of duty which was required by the terms of those very treaties? The policy of the present Government with respect to Portugal appeared to be, that when an injury was to be redressed, there was an instant promptness to act; but when protection was to be afforded, a deaf ear was turned to all supplication; so that the present Government of that country might be said to exist in a double capacity—it was legitimate enough for our purposes, but quite unrecognizable for its own. But though it was true that Portugal was in no condition to go to war with England, was not Spain equally interested in that question which was so vital to the present Government of Portugal? Was it not notorious that a part of the plan of the threatened invasion of Portugal was to hurl the Spanish royal family from the throne, and to place the crown on the head of Don Pedro? That, he believed, was a fact which could not be denied; and though Spain had a proverb in favour of a peace with England, yet, when it became a question of life and right, the Spanish Government would be forced to change its present pacific intentions, and appear in the field against the unjustifiable attack that was threatened. After mentioning these countries, he was naturally brought to turn his attention to France. That France was highly-gifted by nature, he was not disposed to deny; nor did he regret to see that country occupy its proper position among the nations of Europe. But the question, in his mind, was, whether our station was not falling in proportion as that of France was rising; and whether, instead of being looked up to by the whole of Europe as the protectors of the weak, we were not beginning to be regarded in the light of oppressors, whether instead of the old maxim of "parcere subjectis," we were not reversing it, and acting upon that of "parcere superbis." As to the intentions of the French government upon these matters, the speech of M. Perier, as it lately appeared in the French papers, was so complete a manifesto on that head, that it would only be necessary for him to refer to that, in order to make 874 out the whole of his argument to the full. From that speech, and from the language of the French king himself, in the course of the last year, it was quite evident that the destruction of the Belgian fortresses was regarded as an additional advantage on the side of France. And yet what was the explanation of the noble Lord upon this subject? He contended that those fortresses were only to be destroyed in consequence of the diminished resources of Belgium; arguing, as it appeared to him, in direct contravention of the admissions of the French king, and of the French ministry. Besides which, it was not a little remarkable, that the whole of the fortresses to be destroyed lay upon the French frontier; while not one of those that are on the side of Holland or of Prussia, were condemned to the same fide. And yet would any one pretend to say he believed that this arose from the French entertaining any real dread of danger on the side of Belgium? No; the idea was too ridiculous even for a supporter of the present Government to urge. A great deal had been said about French moderation and French love of peace: but in answer to that, he would ask whether any proof of that love of peace and moderation was to be traced in the manner in which they so hastily sent an expedition into Belgium, without even so much as applying for the consent of the noble Lord? It was impossible, too, for him to overlook the manner in which the French claim on Portugal had been carried into effect? No mediation, no negotiation, had taken place; but the demand had been made at the cannon's mouth, and such sums, by way of compensation, had been levied as in the arbitrary will of the superior appeared sufficient to indemnify the expense that had been incurred. But passing by Portugal and going on to Italy, what was he to say of the conduct of the French government there? In his opinion, never had there been committed a more flagrant violation of the international laws than those transactions which had taken place in consequence of the French troops landing at Ancona. What was the real outline of the case? The present Government had thought it right to call in its nearest neighbour—the Austrian government—to assist it in quelling the disturbances which had taken place; upon this France, uncalled for, and without even the pretext of being a neighbour to the spot, interfered by force of arms, and actually took and retained possession of a town belonging to that friendly 875 power, nay, even more, had placed her tri-coloured flag on the walls of Ancona—a course which he believed had not been pursued by Russia even in the case of conquered Varna. It was said, however, that this was owing to a mistake of the commandant of the expedition; and, as a proof of this assertion, it was urged that he had been recalled, and was to be tried by a Court Martial. Now it was preposterous to suppose that the French officer had received orders to sail to Ancona, and to return from it immediately, in case he was refused landing. He could never believe that such had been the fact. The protest of the Pope was, in fact, a proof that it was not so. On hearing of the landing of the French at Ancona, the Pope sent a protest against it to the French ambassador at Rome, M. de St. Aulaire, to whom, some time previously, the papal minister had addressed a note, which was also transmitted to the other powers stating, that he regretted that the amelioration of the laws of the legations had not been met by the inhabitants of them in a better spirit—that they were then engaged in open insurrection—that the papal government was determined to put it down by force, but that it intended, on the suppression of the rebellion, to treat the rebels with great clemency. The reply of the French minister to this note, was couched in very mild and amicable terms, and after that declaration, it must have been a great surprise to the papal government to find Ancona possessed by the French troops, and the tri-colour flag floating on its walls. Referring to this subject, M. Perier said,—"Like our expedition to Belgium, our expedition to Ancona, conceived in the interests of general peace, as well as in the political interests of France, has for its object the giving new activity to negotiations in which all the powers have concurred, with the view of placing upon a firm basis at once the security of the pontifical government, and the tranquillity of the population by means both efficacious and durable." So much, then, for the moderation and disinterestedness displayed by France in her aggression upon Ancona. From the language which the noble Lord had recently used with respect to the moderation of France, one might almost suppose that, he believed she had changed her national character as well as her national cockade, and that the love of glory disappeared as a matter of course, as soon as Louis Phillippe occupied the throne. But on that point he would call M. Perier into 876 court as a witness against the noble Lord. M. Perier said, "The Government has done all in its power to multiply the military resources of the country, and to enable France to act, should her interests require it, not only on the defensive, but also on the offensive." Was this a proof of the pacific character and intentions of the French cabinet? But M. Perier proceeded—"France is sensible of her force as well as of her dignity, and in treating with good faith never forgets, nor allows others to forget, that she negociates with her hand on the hilt of her sword." Did he blame M. Perier for using such language? Certainly not: as a French minister, such language was natural, if not becoming, to him: all he meant to contend was, that it did not bear the interpretation which the noble Lord had put upon the whole of that speech on a former evening, and to caution the Ministry how they rushed blindfold into the arms of France, who had peculiar interests of her own to take care of. But this was not all. He would take the liberty of asking the noble Lord whether his time was so much taken up with the duties of his office, as to prevent his reading the speeches or rather the compositions of those Members who formed what was called the movement party in the French chambers of Deputies? Let me also ask, whether the noble Lord is so sure of the present French ministers tenure of office, that he thinks it not worth his while to attend to the opinions of the French opposition party? He could tell the noble Lord that that tenure was by no means certain: the French government had much unpopularity to contend with, and they had no Reform Bill to keep them in office. Any one who read the debates in the French chamber could not but see how deep a hatred for England existed there, in spite of the tone of cajolery that was assumed for the purpose of concealing the rancour that was lying beneath. Lafayette, Mauguin, and others of the same party, were incessant in recommending the French government to assume a high and haughty tone towards other countries; and the former, in particular, had appealed to Marshal Gerard to tell the chamber whether he did not think that France would have done more good by holding Belgium for a few months than by all the protocols to which she had agreed? In answer to which appeal Marshal Gerard had responded by a sign of assent. He had thus endeavoured to take a brief and 877 succinct view of the affairs on the continent as connected with the foreign policy of this country; and if he should succeed in eliciting from the noble Lord any information at the present momentous crisis—at a period, too, when he thought the House of Commons had a right to demand a little more information than was afforded by the Government—he should not regret having taken the present course, however bold and improper it might be in him to set himself forward in so important and difficult a question.
§ Viscount Palmerston
was aware, that it was competent for any hon. Member to make remarks, however voluminous, and ask questions, however ill-timed, on any subject which his fancy might select, whenever the Motion was made for the Speaker's leaving the Chair to allow the House to go into a Committee of Supply. He, therefore, did not deny the right, though he might question the discretion, of the noble Lord, in making the rambling and disconnected speech which he had just delivered to the House. In his excursive progress through the different countries of the world, the noble Lord had cautiously abstained from asking any particular question to which a definite answer might be given. It was, therefore, difficult for him to give a reply to remarks whose meaning almost escaped his grasp, though he presumed the noble Lord and the House expected him to make a reply to the observations by which those questions were accompanied. As far as he could comprehend it, the main object of the noble Lord was to show, first, that we had no solid grounds of assurance for the maintenance of peace; and, next, that the Government was placing undue reliance on the pacific intentions of France. With regard to the first point, the noble Lord had said, that he considered that, out of some or other of the transactions now pending in Europe, war would arise, and that, too, at no distant period. In reply to that opinion, he would only ask the House to look at the situation in which Europe was when the present Administration first succeeded to office, to compare that situation with the situation in which it now was, and then to decide whether we were not better entitled to reckon upon the permanence of peace at present than we were at that period. At that time there was scarcely a man in the country who could assert that he expected the peace would continue unbroken for three months. The present Administration, on its accession to office, said, that one of 878 its main objects was, the preservation of the peace of Europe. Fifteen months had elapsed since that time, and whatever dispute there might be regarding their anticipations of the future, no dispute could arise respecting what had occurred during the past; and, beyond all question, they had, contrary to expectations, preserved peace for fifteen months. When, therefore, he said, that he did not share in the doleful anticipations of the noble Lord—when, he said that he felt confident hopes, and well-grounded expectations, that all the present negotiations would be arranged without any violation of the peace—he thought he might appeal to the period that was past as a proof that he was not speaking without good grounds as to what might be expected to happen in future. As to the points connected with Belgium, into which the noble Lord had entered, he did not know whether he could follow the noble Lord with propriety at present, inasmuch as he should have to enter at large into their details to-morrow evening, on the Motion of which the hon. member for Oakhampton had given notice. He would therefore, confine himself to saying, that the noble Lord had misunderstood his explanation of the term "guarantee," if he supposed that, in using it, he intended to lay a ground for the future evasion of our engagements. The question which, on that occasion, was put to him was, whether, by our guarantee, we took on ourselves the pecuniary obligation of making good these payments, in case the Belgian government was either unable or unwilling to perform its contract. In answer to that, he said, that a guarantee was not a security; and that though the force of a guarantee required that he who gave the guarantee should use all means in his power to obtain the fulfilment of the prescribed conditions, it did not go to the extent of requiring that he should, on the defalcation of the other party, himself perform the conditions. It did not, however, by any means follow, that this country was not bound to exert all its endeavours to procure the execution of the articles it had guaranteed. The noble Lord seemed to think that the engagements into which we had entered were such as we could not perform. He did not intend to go through a contest of speculations with the noble Lord, and, therefore, all he would say upon that point was, that the treaties which we had made were binding upon us, and that, if we could, we must perform the terms of our compact. 879 He saw little chance of war between the two countries, arising from the clause which stipulated for a free navigation of the waters of Holland by the subjects of Belgium. The navigation of the Rhine and Scheldt were both declared free by the Congress of Vienna, and the only question between Holland and Belgium upon this point was, whether the Belgians should have free navigation upon the canal which joined these two rivers, between Beveland and Schonen. The noble Lord had afterwards quoted a sentence or two from the speech of M. Perier, for what purpose he was at a loss to discover. The noble Lord then proceeded to observe that, pursuing our system of oppression towards the weak, and of trembling and truckling towards the strong, we had given good ground of war to Portugal, for we had exacted from Portugal all the benefits which we could claim by treaty, and had denied to her all the protection to which she was entitled in return. He did not feel that this charge affected exclusively the present Government, for it had only trod in the steps of its predecessors. That there was just cause of war between the two countries he admitted, but it had been given to England by Portugal not once or twice, but fifty times in the last four years. He denied, however, that we had ever, during that time, given to Portugal the slightest justification for war against us. It was to the honour and advantage of the late Government that it had not adopted against Portugal all the measures of severity to which it was entitled to resort. The forbearance of the late Government, carried, in his opinion, to a blameable excess towards the government of Don Miguel, could only have been exercised by us to a weak government. Had the government of Portugal been a strong government, the popular indignation would have been so highly excited by its misconduct, that no Minister would have been able to withstand the cry for war. The noble Lord said, that we had not fulfilled our engagements to Portugal; but the noble Lord had not shown a single case in which we had failed in the execution of them. Did the noble Lord mean to contend that any treaty between this country and Portugal entitled Portugal to call upon us to assist her in putting down a civil war? Could the noble Lord venture to affirm that there was any treaty between England and Portugal which entitled Portugal to call upon us for assistance, except against a foreign invader? If the question were 880 the invasion of Portugal by Spain, for the purposes of conquest, then he should say—no matter whether we acknowledged Don Miguel or not—no matter whether he was the legitimate owner of the crown of Portugal, or only a base and profligate usurper of it—we should be bound to protect Portugal as a state, against the invasion of Spain. That event, however, had not yet occurred. But the noble Lord said, there were English officers serving in Don Pedro's expedition. With respect to Captain Sartorius, he had ceased to belong to the English navy; and although, as the noble Lord stated, there might be three or four more of our officers in that service, yet he pretty well answered his own remark, when he informed the House that they were serving under feigned names; for if that was the case, how was it possible for his Majesty's Government to ascertain whether they were British officers or not. The next part of the noble Lord's speech referred to the conduct of the French government. The first accusation against that government was, the sending a squadron to the Tagus, without demanding any previous explanations; but surely if the noble Lord would take the trouble to look through the papers on this subject, he would find that negotiations were carried on six months before satisfaction was actually obtained. His next accusation was divided into two parts—that France had sent an expedition to Belgium, and had sent an expedition to Ancona. With respect to the former, although it was rue that circumstances did not permit France to consult England before she marched her troops into Belgium, yet he had no hesitation in saying, that act had rendered essential service to the cause of peace, and was done in perfect accordance with the spirit that guided the transactions of the Conference. France had no other view by that expedition than that of securing the accomplishment of the general purposes. With respect to what had taken place at Ancona, it had already been stated, that the conduct of the French naval officer, by whom that landing was carried into execution, had been disapproved of by the French government, and that he had been recalled, for the purpose of an inquiry being instituted. As to the military officer in the command of the land forces, he was not at Ancona when the landing was effected. The noble lord had subsequently alluded to the speech of the French minister, but, he would say, that if ever there was a 881 speech unjustly dealt with, it was that of M. Perier; for, in his opinion, it contained no sentiment at variance with the fulfilment of the present national obligations of France, nor did it exhibit any desire but that of maintaining the peace of Europe. As the noble Lord had chosen to quote one passage of that speech, he trusted that the House would permit him to read another, for it was hardly fair to catch, as the noble Lord had done, at single sentences in a long and complicated address. The noble Lord had remarked upon the supposed love of the French nation for conquest and glory; but what did M. Perier say on that point? "Glory is the only nationality of an absolute government; and, indeed, it is necessary that there should be some such compensation for despotism: free governments, however, seek their legitimacy in the laws; and the blessings of peace are the trophies of liberty." It was scarcely possible to disclaim in stronger language than this all that seeking after military glory which so strongly characterized the reign of Napoleon. But, as if M. Perier had not said sufficient there, in another place he remarked, "The object of the revolution was the charter, and not conquest." But the noble Lord said, that though he might be disposed to put faith in the French government, yet there was another party in France which he regarded with suspicion, because it was not animated by the same pacific sentiments. Now, it really appeared to him as unfair to judge of the French ministry from the violent speeches of the movement party in the French Chambers, whose avowed object it was, to embroil M. Perier, and to disturb the peace and amity now subsisting in Europe, as it would to judge of the intentions of the Government of which he formed a part from the speeches of those hon. Members opposed to them. It had been said, that, in the treaties respecting commercial reciprocity, the advantages were all on the side of France. He thought far otherwise; and he believed that this country was, on the whole, a gainer by the adoption of a more liberal commercial policy. He must also deny, that the honour of England had been compromised by the foreign policy of the present Administration. There never was a period when England was more respected than at present in her foreign relations, in consequence of her good faith, moderation, and firmness. It was only necessary for him to add, in allusion to the charge made against the 882 Government of England, of having drawn too closely the cords of a strict alliance with France, which had no reciprocity of advantage for England—that the interest of England was the maintenance of general peace throughout Europe, and this object was, in the mind of his Majesty's Government, most easily, most safely, and most securely to be attained, by the maintenance of a firm and strict alliance between France and this country. He had thought it necessary to trouble the House with these observations in reply to the noble Lord, inasmuch as he was especially responsible in the matters referred to by the noble Lord.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
said, his noble friend complained in the outset of his speech that the noble Lord (Eliot) took too discursive a range over almost every part of Europe. His noble friend should recollect that since he got into his present situation there was hardly a part of Europe in which some important event had not occurred, and that therefore, his other noble friend was justified in the course he pursued. Indeed, he could not otherwise bring the subject he proposed to himself fully before the House. The noble Lord had drawn a comparison between his own conduct and that of his predecessor, and taken merit to himself for having preserved peace for fifteen months. He said that France evinced no disposition to aggression, or to do anything to compromise the peace of Europe. Now, he would ask his noble friend where were the proofs of this? Was not Algiers retained contrary to the spirit of the understanding with this country and the other powers of Europe? Was not Lisbon attacked by a French naval force, and the Portuguese fleet brought away from the Tagus, and carried as prizes into France? Were not the fortresses of the Netherlands given up at the desire of France for the purpose of being demolished? Was not Ancona attacked and taken by a French force against the wishes of the Pope, and to the surprise of all Europe? Was not Belgium invaded by a French army, to the surprise of the noble Lord and the Conference? No wonder that the peace of Europe was maintained when every thing that France wished was thus conceded to her without opposition. He wished to make a few observations with respect to the treaty about Belgium, as he felt he should not be justified in bringing that subject forward to-morrow. It appeared that speeches had been recently made in the Lower Chamber of Belgium which reached town that day. From the 883 speech of one of the ministers it would appear that this country was considered by the Belgian government as bound to oblige Holland to adopt in all its parts the treaty of the twenty-four articles. Was he to understand that it was now laid down, as a general principle to be acted upon at all times to come, that, when any two or more of the great Powers of Europe agreed to an arrangement between two minor powers, and that one of those two minor powers accepted it, the other must be forced to acquiescence, however unfair the conditions, and however unwilling she might be? From the speech of the Belgian minister to which he now referred, it would appear that the whole and every part of the twenty-four articles must be accepted by Holland, whether inclined to recognise king Leopold, and to accede to the basis of the treaty or not. His noble friend said, the only point in dispute, as to the navigation of the waters of Holland, related only to a short line of canal between the Scheldt and the Rhine, and that the free navigation of those rivers was before established by the Treaty of Vienna. He must remind his noble friend that Belgium and Holland were united when the treaty of Vienna established this freedom of navigation on the Scheldt and Rhine, and that now both countries were separated. This very materially altered the nature of the case. As regarded Portugal, his noble friend (Lord Eliot) did not complain that assistance was not afforded to Don Miguel by England against Don Pedro, but, on the contrary, that the British Government permitted Don Pedro to receive assistance here and fit out expeditions against his brother. Portugal was a country that England was bound by every consideration to protect. The two countries had been for centuries in strict alliance; their markets were always open to each other, and from their connexion the most substantial advantages had resulted to England. He lamented, therefore, that, when attacked by France, this country, even though not strictly bound by treaty, did not strain some point to rescue her ancient ally from her difficulties. Don Miguel was sovereign de facto; and to permit an expedition to be fitted out against him here was to aid and assist in an invasion. Who was the rightful possessor of the Portuguese throne, was not the matter in question, and should not have been suffered to influence our conduct to our ancient ally. The noble Lord had not noticed what fell from his noble friend 884 about Algiers. When France sent an expedition to Algiers it was with the understanding that the future settlement of that place should be arranged with the consent of the other powers of Europe. In this state the matter rested when the late Government retired from office. It remained with the present Government to say whether it would allow a place to continue in the possession of France of so much importance on the coast of Africa, and in the Mediterranean, as Algiers undoubtedly was. It might be said, that England had no more right to interfere in regard to the ports of the Mediterranean than any other power. It was, however, always considered a matter of the highest importance in the commercial policy of Great Britain to secure a preponderance in that sea which, from its central situation in Europe, must give great advantages to any nation possessing such preponderance. It remained for Ministers to say how far the possession of Algiers by France was consistent with the interests of Great Britain. At all events, if England did not possess a preponderance in the Mediterranean, she should not permit any other power to obtain it. His noble friend said, the French naval officer who commanded the expedition to Ancona was recalled, but that the general who commanded the land forces was not recalled, as he was not present upon the occasion, not having arrived there when the attack was made. He wished, however, to know from his noble friend whether the French colonel who commanded the land forces at the time, and made so violent and so unjustifiable an attack, was recalled. He was as much, if not more, to blame than the naval officers. They had already heard a great deal of the speech of the president of the council, M. Casimir Perier, the first minister of France, and his noble friend said, no speech was ever more misrepresented, as it breathed a spirit of peace, conciliation, and moderation. That distinguished person in one part of his speech spoke of France as negotiating with her hand on the hilt of the sword. He did not think the passages referred to in the speech by his noble friend as of a pacificatory character were a sufficient setoff against language of this kind, which seemed to him to breathe, as strongly as language could, the spirit of war. It would be strange indeed if any minister in that speech, which must have lasted an hour and a half, should never once have made use of the word "peace." His noble friend 885 said, the speeches of the movement party in France were no proof that the government was disposed to war, any more than the speeches of the Opposition in this country were a proof that the present Ministers did not desire peace; and his noble friend there by implied that the Opposition wished for war. The truth was, the Opposition were convinced that peace was for the advantage of the country. They desired, therefore, to preserve it; but they knew that the way to do so effectually was not by conceding every point to France, and offering no resistance to her aggressions. He was fully aware of the talent for negotiation possessed by his noble friend (Viscount Palmerston); but when he recollected the able and experienced man who was charged with the interests of France here, who, to all the acquirements of age and experience added all the freshness and vigour of youth, his noble friend would forgive him if he thought that distinguished person was rather an overmatch for him in negotiation, and able to cajole him or win his consent in any point he thought important to the interests of his country. The Ministers were following in the wake of France; that could not be denied. He did not blame the French minister to this Court. When he played the part of France, and his noble friend that of England in negotiation he had every right to gain the point he desired for France without recourse to arms, without the necessity of shedding blood. In the negotiations regarding Belgium it was impossible not to see that Holland was sacrificed, and that upon this point there must have been some over-ruling influence to which the Conference gave way. It mattered little whether there was only one or whether there were five despotic Powers in Europe to trample upon the rights of smaller and weaker states. They heard much of the Congress of Vienna, but it never exercised a power of dictation equal in extent to that assumed by the Conference of London. He had been long anxiously waiting for the ratification of the labours of the Conference by the five great Powers, and it was the absence of this ratification which so long prevented him from bringing forward his motion on the subject of Belgium. He thought the Government had brought themselves into serious difficulties by giving publicity to a treaty yet incomplete. It now seemed certain, that the king of Holland felt that he could not accede to that treaty, on account of what 886 were, in reality, minor objects to the Conference. A new treaty might be made, and although such a proceeding was unusual, it would be better to annul the incomplete document on the Table, than to continue in a useless course of injustice for the sake of form. As a way was still open, he hoped the other powers would seize the opportunity that was still left them of doing justice to Holland.
Sir Robert Peel
said, he would not have opened his lips on the present occasion, if he thought that his noble friend (Lord Palmerston's) doctrine respecting discussions on subjects of foreign policy was one which ought, upon any principle, either of expediency or custom, to be followed. The doctrine which his noble friend attempted to maintain amounted to this, that, at no time whatsoever, should there be a discussion on the foreign relations of the country, if there was a remote chance that the policy of the Government might be contravened. That such discussions should be conducted with moderation and temper he was quite ready to acknowledge; but he could not admit, that the mere act of laying before Parliament information as to the course which Ministers were adopting in regard to foreign states, must necessarily interfere with the progress of their policy. His noble friend (Lord Palmerston) had expressed his regret at the manner in which the speech of the French minister in the chamber of deputies, taking a view of the situation in which foreign powers stood in regard to his country, had been discussed and debated upon; and had even gone so far as to express an opinion that the speeches of foreign ministers were not fit subjects of notice at all. On that point, he had only to say, that, generally speaking, he did not think that the Parliament of England ought to be very severe in their remarks on the speech of the minister of a foreign country; at the same time he could not agree in thinking that all allusion to, or discussion on, such a speech was either inexpedient or impolitic. Indeed, in the present instance, the allusion to, and discussion upon, the speech of the French minister, had been attended with signal advantage, inasmuch as it gave to the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty's Government, an opportunity of setting right some false impressions which prevailed in the minds of many persons as to the policy of the English Government, with regard to the expedition against Ancona. With respect to the policy which had been observed towards Belgium, he would, at 887 the present moment, avoid offering any opinion, inasmuch as it was a question remaining open to future and more deliberate discussion. The aspects of affairs in that quarter of Europe were indeed gloomy and ominous, but still he could not avoid entertaining a hope that peace might be preserved, and that, too, consistently with the honour of all parties. The king of Holland, he felt convinced, when he deliberately weighed the risk that would attend a rupture of the peace of Europe at that moment, would not, by asking for any concession on the part of Belgium, incompatible with its essential interests or with justice, throw obstacles in the way of an accommodation of their differences. Holland, he hoped, would bear in mind the very peculiar state in which Belgium then stood, and meet any spirit of moderation, and any spirit of concession that the government of that country might manifest by a similar spirit. And, if such was the case, there could be no doubt that a mutual understanding, compromising in no degree the character or interests of either country, might soon be brought about. On the other hand, he must express an earnest hope, that his noble friend (Lord Palmerston) would never, as a Minister of the Government of England, insist on any concession on the part of Holland that might be found incompatible with the integrity and independence of that country. He cared not whether that country was or was not of importance, either in relation to its size or its power; nay, he would say, that, as Holland was comparatively small, there was a greater and more binding obligation on the part of England to take care of her interests; It was said, that the only remaining subject for adjustment between the two parties was so trifling, being merely the right of passage on one particular canal, that it ought not to be allowed to stand in the way of an accommodation. From that position he totally and decidedly dissented. If the maintenance of the independence of either party was involved, even in the right of passage on a canal, he was distinctly of opinion neither would be justified in giving up the point, nor would any foreign power act correctly in interfering so as to compel either party to surrender it. It was not the extent of the difference, but the principle, which should be considered; and, if the principle of independence was involved, even on the most trivial point, it would be the height of injustice to interfere, in order to compel the Surrender of 888 that vital principle. Such was his opinion on the subject, and he would conclude his remarks on that part of the question which referred to the policy of his Majesty's Ministers in regard to Belgium, by offering to his noble friend his earnest advice, should he (Lord Palmerston), on consideration, think that the principle of independence had been involved in any respect during the course of his diplomacy, to retrace his steps, and, here it be too late, absolve England from the stain of exacting from a foreign power a concession, trivial though it might be in degree, which compromised its future independence. He next came to speak of the expedition to Ancona, and on that point he was sure that his noble friend took precisely the same view which every Englishman ought to take of it. By his official situation, his noble friend was obliged to maintain some reserve in public, but he must undoubtedly be occupied in appealing to the moderation, justice, and good sense of France, to retrace her steps. When he had before spoken on this subject, he had not seen the explanation of the French minister, but now that he had seen it, he could not avoid remarking that an act not only so unjust, but so ridiculous, he had never heard of. He felt confident that the good sense and the justice of the French ministry would, without delay, not only withdraw that expedition, but, as far as possible, make atonement for that course of conduct, into which their impetuosity and neglect of calm consideration had driven them. France had, by that one act, placed herself in a state of embarrassment which, but for the forbearance of independent powers, might have materially affected her future prospects and independence; and, having escaped from her danger, she ought, without delay, to retrieve the character she had lost, by her uncalled-for infringement of an unoffending territory. He, however, repeated, that he had that degree of confidence in the good sense of the government of France which induced him to think that they would yield to the remonstrances of England, and withdraw an expedition, which was proved by the public declarations of French official agents to have been utterly unwarrantable. In a letter, addressed to the Pope, by M. St. Aulaire, the French ambassador, dated January 12, 1832, there would be found a recapitulation of certain pledges alleged to have been given by the Pope to his subjects respecting the reform of the institutions of the papal states. 889 The words were these:—'The government of France has followed with a lively interest, the legislative labours, which are referred to in the note received from the secretary of state this day. It has carefully noted the edicts of the 1st and 4th July, by which the holy see confides to laymen the administration of many of its principal provinces: of the edict of the 5th July, which provides for various ecclesiastical reforms; of various other edicts for the improvement of the administration of civil and criminal justice; of the edicts of 11th June and 21st November, which establish a perfectly new system of finance, by submitting an account of revenue and expenditure to control and publicity, and placing the interest of those who pay taxes, as well as that of those who are creditors of the state, under the inspection of men as worthy by their intelligence, as they are by their high functions.' These reform bills, as they might be termed, amounted altogether to eleven, and it was the delay in the performance of those pledges which was alleged by the French government to have caused its interference. In the first place, he would beg to impress upon the English House of Commons, which had been for fourteen months engaged in the consideration of one Reform Bill, that it would be rather hard to compel the Pope, within nearly the same period, to enact no less than eleven measures of Reform. There was, however, every reason for the belief that the pledges which the Pope had given were, at the time that the expedition was sent by France, in due course of performance. The French had no right whatever to allege the non-performance of these promises as the ground of their attack on the Papal territories. But, even supposing that such was the case, what authority, by the law of nations, had the French government for saying to the Pope—"We will compel the immediate performance of those pledges which you have given to your subjects." Who had constituted the king of France the arbiter between the Pope and his subjects? The last point to which reference had been made was one in respect to which his strongest feelings were interested, as the interests and honour of England were concerned. On numerous occasions the policy of his Majesty's Government in regard to Portugal had been discussed, both in that and the other House of Parliament; but he felt bound to say, that 890 nothing which had taken place in either of those assemblies had induced him to alter his opinion with regard to the course which his Majesty's Ministers, since their accession to office, had pursued towards that country. The private character of Don Miguel might be bad; some of his acts, since his accession to the throne of Portugal, could not be defended; but he could not, on that account, disguise from himself the danger which would inevitably result from a departure from the customary policy of Great Britain towards a foreign power on account of the private character of its sovereign, or in deference to the particular interests of some competitor for his throne. He begged the House to consider the position in which this country was placed towards Portugal as an independent nation. He conceived they were bound to throw out of their view the private character and the conduct of the prince who occupied the throne of that nation, and to confine themselves to those peremptory obligations which the law of nations imposed upon all states. There were but two situations recognized by the law of nations in which powers could stand with relation to each other, they might be at war, or they might be at peace. The law of nations recognised no other position in which states could stand towards each other. In whichever of these positions one power was to another—whether it were of war, or whether it were of peace—that power, as it had certain rights, so it had certain reciprocal and correlative duties; and with neither those rights nor those duties did the private character or private acts of persons administering the government in the slightest degree interfere; and, therefore, he saw nothing but danger likely to result from the policy of his Majesty's Ministers towards Don Miguel and Portugal. Ministers had, throughout, been actuated by the consideration of private character, and of the mode in which that prince obtained his seat upon the throne, and not by the relation of the two states to each other. His Majesty's Ministers had, in fact, attempted to establish a new right not sanctioned by the law of nations. Over and over again Ministers had told the House, that, by the law of nations, England was bound to maintain the strictest neutrality.
§ Lord Palmerston
begged pardon for interrupting the right hon. Baronet. The declaration which Ministers had ever made was, that it was their intention to preserve a strict neutrality.
Sir Robert Peel
was under a strong impression that that neutrality had not been preserved. The question to be considered was, whether the course which was then pursued towards Portugal was in conformity with the professed intentions of Government? His noble friend (Lord Palmerston) had asked, whether Portugal had any right to demand assistance from England for the purpose of repelling the intended attacks of Don Pedro? He certainly did not mean to contend that Portugal had any such right; but that was not the question. The question was, whether, in conformity with the strict neutrality she professed, and in conformity with the law of nations, England was justified in giving that aid to Don Pedro, which, it was impossible to deny, had been afforded to him? To that point alone would he apply himself. There was a remarkable case on record, in which the question arose whether a neutral power maintained its neutrality by suffering within its own territories the fitting out of vessels of war by one belligerent to be employed against another. During the period of the war between France and England, in the year 1793, the United States professed neutrality towards both parties. The French claimed the right of fitting out an expedition in a port of the United States against Great Britain. This right the Americans denied, through their secretary of state, who was afterwards president (Mr. Jefferson), who contended, that, as a neutral state, they were obliged, by the law of nations, independently of all treaties, to refuse to either belligerent the use of their ports for the equipment of vessels against the other. In a work entitled Memoirs of Thomas Jefferson, he found the correspondence which took place between that individual and M. Genet, the French minister at the United States, during the year 1793, from which, as it detailed exactly Mr. Jefferson's views on this branch of the law of nations, he would take the liberty of reading some extracts. M. Genet, having made his remonstrance on the part of the French government, was replied to by Mr. Jefferson in the following terms:—'You think, Sir, that this opinion is also contrary to the law of nature and the usage of nations. We are of opinion it is dictated by that law and that usage; and this had been very maturely inquired into before it was adopted as a principle of conduct. But we will not assume the exclusive right of saying what that law and usage is. Let us appeal to 892 enlightened and disinterested judges. None is more so than Vattel. He says, L. 3. 8. 104—'Tant qu'un peuple neutre veut jouir surement de cet état, il doit montrer en toutes choses une exacte impartialité entre ceux qui se font la guerre. Car s'il favorise I'un au préjudice de l'autre, il ne pourra pas se plaindre, quand celui-ci le traitera comme adhérent et associé de son ennemi. Sa neutralité seroit une neutralité frauduleuse, dont personne ne veut être la dupe. Voyons done en quoi consiste cette impartialité qu'un peuple neutre doit garder. Elle se rapporte uniquement à la guerre, et comprend deux choses—1. Ne point donner de secours quand on n'y est pas obligé; ne fournir librement ni troupes, ni armes ni munitions, ni rien de ce qui sert directement à guerre. Je dis ne point donner de secours, et non pas en donner également; car il seroit absurde qu'un état secourut en mêemes tems deux ennemis. Et puis il seroit impossible de le faire avec égalite; les mêmos choses, le même nombre de troupes, la même quantité d'armes, de munitions, &c. fournies en des circonstances differentes ne ferment plus des secours equivalents, &c.' If the neutral power may not, consistent with its neutrality, furnish men to either party, for their aid in war, as little can either enrol them in the neutral territory by the law of nations. Wolf, S. 1174, says—'Puisque le droit de lever des soldats est un droit de majesté qui ne peut-être violé par une nation étrangere, il n'est pas permis de lever des soldats sur le territoire, d'autrui, sans le consentement du maître du territoire.' And Vattel, before cited, L. 3. 8. 15. 'Le droit de lever des soldats appartenant uniquement à la nation, ou au souverain, personne ne peut en envoler en pays étranger sans la permission du souverain. Ceux qui entreprenant d'engager des soldats en pays étranger sans la permission du souverain; et, en général, quiconque débauche les sujets d'autrui, viole un des droits les plus sacrés du prince et de la nation. C'est le crime qu'on apelle plagiat, ou vol d'homme. Il n'est aucun état policè qui ne le punisse très sévèrement,' &c. For I choose rather to refer you to the passage than follow it through all its developments. The testimony of these and other writers on the law and usage of nations with your own just reflections on them, will satisfy you, that the United States, in prohibiting all the belligerent Powers from equipping, arming, and manning 893 vessels of war in their ports, have exercised a right and a duty with justice and great moderation.' Such was the opinion of Jefferson in 1793, who, it was to be recollected, throughout his life, bore anything but a friendly feeling to England. Such were the doctrines to which he referred for the vindication of the United States in preventing the equipment of the French fleet in their port. Mr. Jefferson, in his first reply to M. Genet, had relied mainly upon the insult offered to a sovereign power by the enlistment of its subjects, and the use of its ports, by a foreign belligerent; but in another letter, addressed by him to Governor Morris, on the same subject, he had argued the question in reference to its bearings upon the law of nations and the duties imposed by that law on a state professing neutrality. In that letter he found the following passage:—'1. M. Genet asserts his right of arming in our ports and of enlisting our citizens, and that we have no right to restrain him or punish them. Examining this question under the law of nations, founded on the general sense and usage of mankind, we have produced proofs from the most enlightened and approved writers on the subject, that a neutral nation must, in all things relating to the war, observe an exact impartiality towards the parties; that favours to one to the prejudice of the other, would import a fraudulent neutrality, of which no nation would be the dupe; that no succour should be given to either, unless stipulated by treaty, in men, arms, or any thing else directly serving for war; that the right of raising troops being one of the rights of sovereignty, and, consequently, appertaining exclusively to the nation itself, no foreign power or person can levy men within its territory without its consent, and he who does may be rightfully and severely punished; that if the United States have a right to refuse the permission to arm vessels and raise men within their ports and territories, they are bound by the laws of neutrality to exercise that right, and to prohibit such armaments and enlistments. To these principles of the law of nations M. Genet answers, by calling them diplomatic subtleties and aphorisms of Vattel and others.' 'But something more than this is necessary to disprove them; and, till they are disproved, we hold it certain that the law of nations and the rules of neutrality forbid our permitting either party to arm in our ports.' Here, then, was a practical illus- 894 tration of the manner in which England ought to conduct itself towards Portugal, in conformity with the law of nations, and with the example of neutrality afforded by America, at a period when that power was under great obligations to France, and with a hostile feeling, at least towards England. There was, also, another point of view in which it was necessary to consider the aid which had been afforded Don Pedro. Independently of the breach of the public law by enlisting of the troops, and fitting out of ships for his service, such enlistment was a breach of the municipal law in force in England. It was important to consider the facts of the present case in respect to the enlistment for the expedition which recently left the British shores for Portugal. Was it possible that his noble friend could be ignorant of those facts. Was he aware that an able and distinguished officer in his Majesty's service, who was well acquainted with the Portuguese shores, commanded that expedition.
Sir Robert Peel
Then he would give him that information; and he hoped that, if it reached his Majesty's Government then for the first time, they would, without delay, take means for disabusing the world, and manifesting that the proceedings in question were without their sanction or connivance. He could not have supposed that the Government was ignorant that the commander of Don Pedro's squadron was a Captain Sartorius—a captain, as he (Sir Robert Peel) under stood, in the British navy. This was the first piece of information which he had to offer. He had then to inform them, that the "Congress" was commanded by a British officer, a commander in the Royal Navy, who had, however, assumed a feigned name; that the "Asia" was commanded by a Commander in the Royal Navy, also acting under an assumed name; that there were other officers in the Royal Navy serving in the expedition—that when the expedition was at Belleisle, the Commissary General was a Purser in the Royal Navy. He begged, also, to tell his Majesty's Ministers, that he had every reason to believe that not less than 3,000 British subjects were engaged in that expedition, who were to co-operate with French subjects, and about 2,000 Poles. He had also to inform this ignorant Government, that he had seen a letter written by an officer in 895 the British service, in which he stated, that he had himself enlisted for Don Pedro's service not less than 2,000 men. He had further to state, that four English vessels of war had been fitted out in British ports for the service of Don Pedro. Such was the information, the truth of which he believed was unquestionable, and could any man say that it was not important? Did not the statements he had just read induce the supposition that it was a conjoint French and English expedition? Here were 3,000 English to co-operate with French and Polish troops. The Government denied their participation in these proceedings, but did they support that verbal denial by their acts? There was an Act to prevent foreign enlistment. Had Government called for the enforcement of that Act? By it the King of England was vested with extensive powers. Had those powers been put in force? He maintained, that, if British officers engaged themselves in a service, the avowed object of which was, to invade a country at peace and in alliance with England, a proclamation ought to have been issued by his Majesty, recalling all his own subjects from such expedition. Of one thing he felt confident: sooner or later England would find that her injustice towards Portugal would meet with its due reward. What was the doctrine laid down by the law of nations, independently of municipal law, respecting the power of the sovereign to prevent foreign enlistment within his own territories? Was it not, in all books on the law of nations, declared, that the sovereign power was armed with the right of preventing its subjects from engaging in the service of a foreign power? Vattel, before alluded to, speaking on that point, said—'The right of levying soldiers belongs solely to the nation, or to the sovereign: no person can exercise it in a foreign country without the permission of the sovereign. Those who undertake to enlist soldiers in a foreign country without the permission of the sovereign, and, in general, whoever seduces the subjects of others, violates one of the most sacred rights of the prince and of the nation.' The same doctrine was laid down, in 1819, by the present Judge Advocate, (Mr. Robert Grant), in the debate on the Foreign Enlistment Bill, in one of the most luminous and eloquent speeches he had ever delivered. That hon. Gentleman observed, 'Nations announced their intentions to each other through the medium of their rulers. Hence every state knew where 896 to look for expressions of the will of foreign nations. All this system was at an end if, while we were professedly at peace with a country, she was to be attacked by a large body of military adventurers from our own shores—a sort of extra-national body—utterly irresponsible—for whose acts no redress could be demanded of the British Government—who might burn, pillage, and destroy, and then leave us to say, "We have performed our engagements—we have honourably maintained our neutral character." Not a single authority, nor the shadow of it, could be found in opposition to this plain, clear, irrefutable position—that when a neutral nation knowingly permitted the levying of troops in its territory by one of two belligerents to go so far as materially to sway the fortunes of the war, there such nation was virtually departing from its neutral character, and assuming that of an enemy, and this in the worst manner, because not directly:'* That also was the doctrine which he now maintained; Portugal might have given us twenty causes of war; but, if it were thought right not to go to war, we waived the rights which war would give, and had no option but to preserve the neutrality we professed. Mr. Robert Grant proceeded to say, 'The question was, whether the known and uniform practice of Europe had ever established, or even sanctioned, this principle—that a state, having pledged its neutrality to one of two powers engaged in war, might afterwards permit the opposite belligerent to draw troops from its population to any conceivable extent for the purpose of deciding that very war, without affording the slightest ground of just complaint to the power to whom its neutrality was pledged? Nothing of the kind could be pretended even for a moment.' In all these positions he cordially concurred. Was it, he begged to ask, expedient to habituate the subjects of England to offer their services to foreign states? Was it right to permit a foreign state to avail itself of the courage, intrepidity, and well-known skill of British officers, in the very teeth of the laws of nations, and of the Statute law of this country? That law might be bad; if so, let it be openly repealed, but not openly violated by foreigners while it remained in force. It was impossible that the Government could be ignorant of the breach of the law, for, if they had perused the contents of theHansard's Parl. Debates, vol. xi. P. 1244–7.897 affidavits sworn before the Lord Mayor, they must have become acquainted with it. Was the course pursued by Government in reference to this enlistment recommended by the example of other states? Certainly not. Was it recommended by the policy of Mr. Canning? Undoubtedly not. What was the language which he held to the Spanish refugees when he was in office? He told them that, as they had been obliged to fly from persecution in their own country, here they might find a refuge, and although there was an Alien Act in force, it should not be called into operation against them; but, at the same time, he explicitly stated, that they should not be permitted to use the ports of England for the furtherance of hostile projects against a power with which England was at peace. He had even gone further; for, hearing, by accident, that a certain Spanish refugee officer was meditating an attack on St. Domingo, he sent for him, and cautioned him against his proceeding, threatening if it was not stopped, to put in force the Alien Act. And such was Mr. Canning's conviction that, as a neutral state, England was bound effectually to discourage such projects, that he felt it his duty to communicate to the government of Spain the information he had received, in order that she might be upon her guard, and take precautions against the meditated attack. He maintained that, if there ever was a period when the law of nations ought to be scrupulously respected, the present was that period; if ever there was a time when they ought to guard against the unsettlement of the Peninsula, it was the present. He did not mean to say, that it was in the power of England to interdict Don Pedro from urging his claims upon the throne of Portugal. Had Don Pedro, being in possession of Terceira, sent his expedition from that place, England would have had nothing whatever to do with it. But he would maintain, that Don Pedro had no right to come to England, and, having enticed British officers from his Majesty's service, and availed himself of British ports, from thence proceed against Portugal. What answer could they make to Spain after they had connived at an expedition of that description, if she should enter Portugal, and plead their infraction of neutrality in the first instance as the defence of hers? His noble friend opposite talked of their right of preventing Spain from entering Portugal. But how much better should they be enabled to assert that right 898 if they had themselves kept the high position of strict bona fide neutrality? His noble friend had justified the course which his Majesty's Government had adopted towards Don Miguel on the ground of his conduct and character. His noble friend maintained that they had a right to act as they had acted towards Don Miguel, because he had broken his pledged word to his country. But was the faith of Don Pedro inviolate? Had he kept his pledged word? British vessels and British property had been seized by Don Miguel, but had British subjects no grievances of a like description to urge against Don Pedro? Was his noble friend unaware of what had taken place during the war between Buenos Ayres and Brazil, and of the still unsatisfied claims of British merchants, for the confiscations which at that time had been made by the government of Don Pedro? It was said, that acts of cruelty had been committed by Don Miguel in Portugal, and on Portuguese subjects. It was for the people of Portugal themselves to redress such injuries, if injuries had been sustained. If ever the tyrannical acts of Don Miguel should exceed endurance, then his subjects, for aught he knew to the contrary, would have a right to refer to first principles, and to resist his authority; but this Government had no right to constitute themselves judges in the matter, and undertake the redress of domestic grievances sustained by the subjects of another power. These were frivolous pretences on which the Government tried to find an excuse for the breach of neutrality it was committing. If it determined not to maintain neutrality, it should have the manliness and courage to avow it, to declare war, and take the risk of war. But against its present course he earnestly and decidedly protested. It was at variance with the law of nations—it was forbidden by our own municipal law—it was an undignified, as well as an illegal course—contrary to that policy which should make us the last power in Europe to encourage civil contests and revolutions of government in the Peninsu a.
said, there was, in his view of the subject, nothing in the conduct of Mr. Jefferson, or in the opinion of Vattel, to which the right hon. Baronet had referred, that was at all at variance with the conduct of his Majesty's Government in this instance. That which Mr. Jefferson resisted was, an application, on the part of the French government, to fit out armaments in the ports of the United States 899 against this country, but no power in Europe, much less Don Pedro, had demanded the right to fit out hostile armaments in our ports. He begged to observe, that, so far from the government of the United States acting upon those very strict principles of neutrality, as the right hon. Baronet would have them suppose, there were very few of the contests in South America in which several subjects of the United States had not been engaged. He did not believe that, in this instance, the troops had been enlisted in this country, or that the expedition had been fitted out here. Indeed, he understood, that the munitions of war which had been purchased here were the property of a merchant of France; as such they were conveyed out of this country, and there was nothing in the Foreign Enlistment Act to prevent a foreign merchant from taking such articles out of this country. The government possessed no power to prevent a foreign merchant from doing so, though it might be generally believed that, such munitions of war were intended for a hostile expedition against Don Miguel. But, if the right hon. Baronet would have it, that the purchase of munitions of war for the use of Don Pedro indirectly was a breach of neutrality, there was a still more direct and daring violation of it committed. For the munitions of war intended for Don Miguel were not taken out of this country, as the property of a French or a Spanish merchant, but were sent to him direct, from the port of London to Lisbon. The right hon. Baronet had talked of the infraction of the law of nations committed in the instance of the French expedition to Ancona: he (Colonel Evans) understood that the officer who had issued the proclamation, on taking possession of Ancona, was now to be tried by a Court Martial. It appeared to him that France was justified by the example of Austria in sending troops into Italy. If the Austrian troops were withdrawn from the Italian states, then there might be grounds for preferring some complaint against France. Besides, the small number of troops of which the expedition in question was composed—only 1,500—was a proof that it was more the assertion of a principle, than any motive of aggression that had induced France to send that expedition to Italy. With regard to the question of Belgium, he perfectly agreed with the right hon. Baronet as to the propriety of maintaining, as far as possible, the entire rights of the king of Holland; but the right hon. Baronet appeared to him to 900 talk an ex parte view of the subject when he contended that the paramount object with the powers of Europe should be the maintenance of the rights and interests of Holland. The paramount interest and object of the Conference and of the Europrim powers consisted in the maintenance of peace, and the securing the repose of nations, at the smallest sacrifice of individual rights, and individual nations.
§ Mr. John T. Hope
said, he had but a few words to say upon this subject. He was decidedly favourable to the preservation of neutrality between nations, in the strictest sense of the term, and, therefore, he wished to see the rights of the smaller states respected, as he was convinced that no general peace could be preserved without a strict attention to the fair and honest preservation of such neutrality. He believed, however, from all he had heard that a primâ facie case had been established of an expedition having been fitted out in this country against Don Miguel, and he wished to know why his Majesty's Government, under such circumstances, had not interfered to prevent it?
said, he did not find faith, with Members for objecting to the expedition to Ancona; for be could say, that he looked upon that as the wildest expedition he had ever heard of. That, however, was not the question. He rose solely to object to the argument of the right hon. Baronet, who, had, in his ingenious speech, assumed circumstances which had never occurred, and a state of things which had never existed, which did not exist, and which never would exist; and he was, therefore, not inclined to place much reliance on the right hon. Baronet's arguments. The fact was, that before the passing of the Foreign Enlistment Act, there was nothing that prevented the inhabitants of this country from fitting out expeditions to any country in the world, for if there was, why had the Foreign Enlistment Act been passed? He recollected the passing of that Act. He also recollected that he always voted against it, but, nevertheless, he must say, that, strongly as he had opposed it he found it quite harmless in this instance. He maintained, too, that the facts deposed to before the Lord Mayor did not constitute a violation of the Act. He regretted the course which his Majesty's Government had adopted with regard to Captain Sartorius. One day they said, that they had no official knowledge of his being in command of Don Pedro's expedition, mid the next day, as if to afford an 901 instance of their weakness, they struck his name off the list. The real facts of the present case, in reference to which the right hon. Baronet would raise such a charge against his Majesty's Government, did not involve a violation of the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act, although that was an Act which he thought should be repealed. Even after the passing of that Act, and under an Administration of which the right hon. Baronet was a Member, several thousand men, as the right hon. Baronet must be aware, went out from Cork, and from other ports of the United Kingdom, on expeditions of this description. The right hon. Baronet cautioned his Majesty's Government against taking up reports or rumours as to Don Miguel's character as a guide for their conduct towards him. Why, it was the late Government to which the right hon. Baronet belonged, which broke off all intercourse with Don Miguel, because he was too bad. It appeared to him that the Government had only to deal fairly between both parties; and that when arms and ammunition were allowed to be supplied to Don Miguel, they should not be withheld from Don Pedro.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
would not enter at all into the argument of the hon. member for Middlesex, because, in his opinion, the hon. Member had not only argued against his right hon. friend, the member for Tamworth, but, had actually argued against himself. He had never heard a speech in that House, which was more convincing to him than that which had been delivered by his right hon. friend upon the law of nations. He considered the expedition of Don Pedro not only as a breach of the Foreign Enlistment Act of this country, but also a breach of the law of nations. The Foreign Enlistment Act of 1819 was not the first measure upon this subject, for to enlist a seaman for foreign service was made a capital felony in the reign of George 2nd. A complete fleet was equipped by Don Pedro—Great Britain was used as an arsenal, and by suffering that, was guilty of a breach of neutrality. He considered this question to be one of great importance, and as such he treated it. Great Britain was liable to attacks from other powers in a naval point of view, and if the Ministers did not perform their duty, and prevent the invasion of other states, it would be idle to talk of either neutrality or peace. The conduct of Don Pedro was reprehensible in the highest degree, but the misconduct of the Minis- 902 ters in permitting it was still more so. The de facto government of Portugal was entitled to respect, and the more so if the Government would act upon a fair system of neutrality. He contended, that the conduct he complained of exhibited a departure from those principles which had hitherto governed the conduct of the Government of this country—a departure, which, if persevered in, would, sooner or later, lead to a dreadful retaliation, and subject this country to all the degradation and mischief attached to foreign aggression.
§ Sir Frederick Trench
was astonished to hear the hon. member for Middlesex speak with contempt of affidavits. He thought they afforded the best means of coming at the truth, and too little attention had been paid to them in this case, or the facts connected with the expedition of Don Pedro would have been better known. When the persons enlisted for this expedition came to London, which was then in a state of disturbance, he had heard of their arrival, and had mentioned the subject privately to a Member of the Government, but was dissuaded from bringing it before the House. He had fully considered all the facts which had been stated on this subject, and he was decidedly of opinion that it was a dishonourable breach of neutrality on the part of those who had suffered an expedition to be fitted out in this country. He did not believe all the statements which had been published respecting Don Miguel; but, whether they were true or not, that question did not at all bear upon the other matter, namely, as to whether there had been a breach of neutrality or not. Being on his legs he would take that opportunity of saying a few words respecting the king of Holland and the treatment that monarch had received. He knew that sovereign to be a most excellent and amiable man who had the welfare of his subjects truly at heart, and considering that himself and his people were connected with the best interests of this country, he very much regretted his cause had not found more favour in the sight of Ministers. He was sorry that they should suffer that Monarch to be injured and insulted without exerting themselves in defence of him and his country.
§ Sir John Millen Doyle
rose for the purpose of asking his Majesty's Ministers whether they were aware of the nefarious project of the Spanish government respecting its intention of opposing the wishes of the Portuguese nation, and of assisting the pre- 903 sent usurper on the blood-stained throne of Portugal, notwithstanding its pledge to the contrary to France and England; and if they were, if any intimation had been made to the government of Spain that a real and not a mock neutrality would be insisted upon by this country? He begged leave to call the attention of his Majesty's Ministers, and the nation, whose honour was concerned, to the statement which appeared in The Courier of Saturday last, and which, with the permission of the House he begged leave to read:—"We learn from a private source, on which we have reason to rely, that notwithstanding the assurances of the Spanish ministry to the contrary, it is intended, in the event of the invasion of Portugal by the forces under the command of Don Pedro, that the Spanish troops, now on the frontier as an army of observation, shall enter Portugal for the purpose of aiding Miguel in his endeavours to retain an usurped crown. Shortly after the reply of the Spanish Cabinet to the remonstrances of Lord Palmerston, a meeting of the Apostolic Junta was held, at which it was resolved, with the direct concurrence of the king, that, as the restoration of the constitutional system in Spain must inevitably follow the success of Don Pedro in Portugal, it was essential, for the protection of the throne and the clergy, that assistance should be given to Don Miguel. This having been unanimously agreed to, it was suggested that private orders should be given to the Generals commanding the army of observation, to enter Portugal on the summons of the usurper, with an intimation that although it might become necessary on the part of the ministry to disavow the act, the junta and the king would take especial care to reward the officers who should, by their obedience to the orders of the junta, evince their regard for the altar and the throne." "The protestations of the Spanish cabinet will avail nothing after the fact. It is, therefore, the duty of the British and French Governments to prevent the possibility of such a case." Knowing this statement to be matter of fact, he should have much pleasure, if permitted by the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to place documents before him, for the information of his Majesty's Government, which would fully prove the perfidy and bad faith of the Cabinet of Spain, supported by the beloved Ferdinand and his enlightened councillors, the Apostolic Junta. He felt it the more necessary to trouble the noble Lord with these ques- 904 tions, as it was generally understood that the gallant General at the head of the Foreign Department in France, had, from courtesy to our Cabinet abstained from taking any part in the Portuguese question, except with the concurrence, and indeed, at the suggestion, of Great Britain. He was quite sure, however, that General Sebastiani would cheerfully second any measure which our Government might adopt to secure the real neutrality of Spain.
regretted deeply to observe the conduct of the Government with respect to France. It would be a piece of successful artifice on the part of the French government if it could disarm its most powerful opponent. He deprecated such an union between France and England; for in the event of any contest between France and any other Power, France must, under such circumstances, be the conqueror, and then self-preservation would compel us to oppose France after she had thus strengthened herself by our means.
Mr. Gally Knight
regretted to perceive that interference seemed to be considered odious only when it had a chance of promoting the cause of improvement and freedom. Hon. Gentlemen opposite complained much of French interference in Italy, but why did they not complain of Austrian interference? If Austria had not interfered, neither would France have interfered; but the interference of Austria was seen with complacency, because it was exerted to crush those who sought to improve the condition of their country; and the interference of France was seen with aversion, because it might possibly assist the patriots. It was notorious, that it was only the Turk who disputed the palm of bad Government with the Pope. It was curious enough, that the two stains on modern Europe should be Constantinople and Rome. He regretted that we had interfered to save the former, and that Austria should have interfere to protect the latter. In the fragment of the Roman empire to which he was alluding, ennobled with so many proofs of its former prosperity, possessed of all the advantages which the prodigality of nature could bestow, all these associations, and all these advantages were rendered of no avail by—he would not say the tyranny, but—the weakness of a Government, which had not the wisdom to frame good laws, and which had not the strength even to protect its own subjects from its own banditti. How much was the 905 pleasure of travelling in that delightful country diminished by the sight of the condition of its inhabitants! And how could it be otherwise, when the Government was he should say, the beau idéal of a bad government—a pure despotism of priests, all ignorant, as they must be, of the conduct of human affairs, and presided over by the feeblest of their number, who was often dragged from the convent, to end his days on the throne? Was it possible that a Government, so constituted, could promote the welfare of the country, if it even entertained the best intentions? He was not absurd enough to dream of an immediate renovation of free institutions, being well aware that we could not have a Roman senate without a Roman people. It must be Senatus papulesque, and both were equally wanting. But he was anxious to see some alterations—some introduction of laymen into the departments of government—some changes, which would be equally advantageous to the sovereign and to the country. And it was to prevent such alterations that Austria at first interfered. It was this modern system of interference against which he protested—this right, which the Great Powers had assumed, of controlling the conduct of such states as were weaker than themselves. It was on this principle that Austria went to Naples, that France entered Spain, and that Austria again interfered in the Papal states. Could there be a greater abuse of power than to proclaim to all the minor states of Europe, that they would never be permitted to improve their condition? And was the permission or even the request, of the oppressor, to legalize such interference? This was adding mockery to wrong, and perverting the law of nations into instruments of tyranny. What petty prince would govern well, if he, knew that he had at all times a powerful protector at his back to screen him from the just indignation of his miserable subjects? He complained of the interference of Austria more than he did of the interference of France, and he could easily conceive a case in which France would be perfectly justified in not leaving Italy to the sole domination of Austria. It had been asserted the other night, by the hon. Baronet opposite, that the French would never have gone to Ancona if it had not been for the known disposition of his Majesty's present Ministers. But might it not be said, with at least as much appearance of probability, that, if it had not been for the known disposition of 906 the predecessors of the present Ministers, Charles 10th would never have ventured to issue his fatal ordinances?—those fatal ordinances which had hurled himself from the throne, spread agitation throughout Europe, and of the pernicious effects of which no man could foresee the termination. He regretted to see that so many attempts were made to revive the old jealousies between this country and France, when it was allowed on all hands that a good understanding between the two countries was essential to the peace of Europe. He was far from wishing England to countenance the views of the war party of Paris: on the contrary, he considered that party was not only hostile to the peace of Europe, but hostile to the true interests of France herself. But Paris was no longer France, and the war party, was not the government. The present government of France had uniformly exerted itself to restrain unreasonable ambition, and had uniformly conducted itself towards this country with the most perfect good faith; and so long as the French government conducted itself in this manner, it would be the best policy of England to cultivate the alliance of France; and so long as France and England remained in amity, they might bid defiance to the world. Having so recently expressed his sentiments on the subject of Portugal, he should not trouble the House on that subject, further than to repeat his hope, that no interference in the affairs of that country would either be attempted or permitted, and that, in the approaching conflict, the Portuguese nation might be left to the undisturbed exercise of its own decision.
§ Mr. Courtenay
observed, that, in answer to what had been said on that side of the House on the subject of the French expedition to Ancona, they were told that the French officer had been recalled and his acts disavowed by the government. But the object of his friends was, not to know what had been done with the officer, but on what footing the troops were in Ancona. With respect to what had been said about Austria, he begged to observe, that there was a great distinction between the two occasions in which Austria had interfered, and the present, when France interfered. In the first instance, as had been truly observed by the late Lord Castlereagh, Austria interfered on account of the safety of her own territories, which lay contiguous to those where the troubles existed; and in the re- 907 cent instance of Austrian interference, the Austrians had been called on by the government of the country. He repeated, that he wished to know on what footing the French troops stood in Ancona?
Sir Ralph Lopez
was rejoiced not only at the amicable footing on which the French and English Governments stood with regard to each other, but at the favourable tone with which that intimacy, so essential to the peace and welfare of Europe, had been spoken of by hon. Members who were opposed to the policy of Ministers on a great number of important questions. With respect to the conduct of the late Government towards Portugal, he must say, that he never could divest himself of the belief, that though Lord Aberdeen's twenty-three months' diplomatic correspondence with that country tended in letter to censure the conduct of Don Miguel's government, the general tone and spirit of that noble Lord's language, in his place in Parliament and elsewhere, had the effect of affording a decided moral support to that government.
agreed with the hon. Member, that a good understanding between France and England was just now essential to the peace of Europe, and, indeed, to the civilization of the world. At the same time it was necessary clearly to maintain our own position, and to give to our allies that consideration and protection to which they were entitled, and which was so necessary for our own welfare; but he must disclaim the notion that that good understanding implied an officious interference in the affairs of other countries. For those countries to assume the part of dictators to other nations, as to what they considered good or bad government, would be only setting up two despotisms fatally mischievous, to the cause of real good government all over the world. He was by no means an admirer of the present condition of Portugal; but he could not, therefore, sanction the notion that it was proper for France or England, or any other nation, forcibly to interfere and change that state. As a mere question even between Don Miguel and Don Pedro, there could not be much of a choice between them; so that, apart from all respect for national rights and international law, Portugal should be left to herself to settle the question at issue between the two royal and fraternal combatants. He could not but regret that Don Pedro had been permitted by the Government to raise such a wholesale armament here as had lately sailed from 908 one or two of our ports to the Western Isles, the rather as he feared it would weaken the effect of our remonstrance with Spain not to interfere by force in favour of Don Miguel. The rash and precipitate interference of the English, in imitation of the French cabinet in the affairs of Belgium, had, in his mind, led to the most mischievous consequences to all parties. He was confident that had the two governments been less hasty and eager in their recognizing the independence of Belgium, and in declaring that the re-union of Belgium and Holland was, after what had taken place, an impossibility, so far from that country being in its present most unsatisfactory and unfortunate position, it would be now again a peaceable part of the dominion of the king of the Netherlands. Even when the separation had been fixed upon, he thought much more satisfactory arrangements might have been easily adopted—as, for instance, annexing the purely Flemish provinces with Antwerp on the one side, and Maestricht on the other, so as to insure Holland a command of the navigation of the Scheldt and the Macs, than had been adopted. As it was, Belgium was, to all intents and purposes, a French province. It was true that our national vanity was flattered by the choice of Prince Leopold for the nominal sovereignty; but still the Belgian government was made wholly dependent on that of France; and king Leopold 1st was just as dependent on the French cabinet, as any Nabob on the Ganges was on our East-Indian government. Indeed, without attaching the Belgians to us, our interference had the effect of converting into bitter enemies the Dutch, our old allies, and who, up to the period of that interference, would have shed the last drop of their blood in defence of the Protestant connexion. Then with respect to the conditions attempted to be imposed on Holland: The proposition for opening the narrow waters was most unjust. The Dutch could not accede to it, without sacrificing their independence. The mouths of the Scheldt and Rhine were open under the law of nations; but no law of nations touched on the narrow waters at issue, which were, in fact, two canals, and as much belonged to Holland as any of the canals of England did to England. It was perfectly true, that, when Holland and Belgium were united, the king of those court, tries declared the canals open to both, but that declaration was made only in consideration of the countries being thrown into one power. The king of Holland was not 909 bound to continue the privilege under a new dynasty in Belgium. The Dutch—and he felt with them—believed that Belgium was in reality to become nothing more than a province to France, and they, therefore, viewed with the deepest alarm the opening of these canals. Only suppose Belgium a province of France, and these canals open, and what would be the consequence? Why, France would be able to place her forces immediately in the rear of the fortifications and orseitals of Holland. He believed that M. Talleyrand, if he had received a carte blanche from all the powers of Europe, could not have placed the Belgian affairs in a situation more favourable for his own country than they stood at present. It would, in fact, be like allowing the freedom of the Medway to another power, and so exposing all our arsenals to attacks from the rear. He said, therefore, that the king of Holland had not set up a mere imaginary case for disputation, but that the safety of Holland was at stake, and the people of that country could not give way without sacrificing their independence. The House would remember, that these canals were not to be opened by Belgium. Holland and Belgium were not left to settle the dispute, but in stepped two great bullies to overawe a particular party. He considered the proceeding as most unjust and tyrannical, and also as most impolitic. If political gratitude or feeling of ancient friendship could influence a country, England ought to take an active part for the protection, and not for the spoliation, of Holland. The last objection, however, which he had to the whole proceeding was, in his mind, the strongest. He was much opposed to the interference of this country in continental matters. He was sorry to see this country giving guarantees for the maintenance of any state of affairs on the continent. He did not mean to say that nothing could occur on the continent for which this country ought to go to war; but he should like to see no guarantees given, and each case taken into consideration as it arose. He was surprised to hear the noble Lord opposite (who had, on a former occasion, vindicated the Government for continuing to pay the Russian-Dutch loan) state, that the guarantee into which this country had entered was not a guarantee for the payment by Belgium of a certain annual sum to Holland. He thought it a fortunate circumstance that this declaration had been made by the noble Lord before the ratification of the articles by Holland; because no 910 misunderstanding on that point could afterwards arise.
Mr. Alderman Thompson
regretted that the recruiting for the service of Don Pedro had been suffered to be carried on in this country; for, whatever might be the proceedings of Don Miguel, British interests had not suffered materially by them. On the other hand, there never was a case in which British subjects had suffered so much, or in which they had so much reason to complain, as they had in the case of Don Pedro, who had sent immense sums to this country for the purpose of recruiting, while many of his creditors were bankrupts, in consequence of his refusing to comply with their just demands, and others were exposed to difficulties which might have been avoided, if he had done them justice. He would not then pursue his observations on the subject, as it was to be regularly brought under discussion on Thursday next. On that occasion, he would undertake to detail cases of greater atrocity and fraud on the part of Don Pedro than were hitherto known to modern history. He would only add, that he heartily joined with the hon. member for Thetford, in the hope that no powers would combine in imposing any particular form of Government upon any hitherto independent state.
§ Question put, that the House do then resolve itself into a Committee of Supply.
§ Viscount Palmerston
again addressed the House. He thought that the desultory style in which several matters connected with the foreign affairs of the country had been discussed that night was not a very convenient mode of inquiring into important and complicated questions, each of which was of itself sufficient to occupy the attention of the House for one night. With respect to the expedition to Algiers, he thought that it was unnecessary for him to state to his right hon. friend opposite, who was in office at the time of the sailing of that expedition, what were the explanations given by the French to this and other governments on that point; and he had not the slightest doubt, that whatever engagements the French government had entered into would be performed with their usual good faith. The next subject to which he would direct the attention of the House 911 was that of Ancona. It had been stated, that the French government, though they had recalled the naval commander, had not recalled the commander of the land forces. He was not certain whether Combs had been recalled or not; but Gallois, who, he believed, was commander both of the naval and of the land forces, and who was, therefore, responsible for every act committed by the French troops at Ancona, had been recalled. To explain the object for which the expedition to Ancona was undertaken, he thought he could not do better than refer to the declaration made by the French government in the Chamber of Deputies. It was there stated, that the purpose of that expedition was, not conquest, aggrandisement, or the permanent occupation of the place, but, to restore the papal states to such a degree of tranquillity as would enable the sovereign to perform those engagements into which he had entered. But it was said, that the letter of M. St. Aulaire completely proved that the Pope had performed all the engagements he had made to his subjects. He could not agree in that statement, for the letter itself stated, that some of the arrangements proposed by the Pope were incomplete. It was evident, therefore, that the Pope had not carried into effect those improvements in the system of the government of the Legations, which the people of the Legations had reason to expect from his former promises. He then came to the same important question of Belgium, the settlement of which the hon. member for Thetford had stated to be most advantageous for France, and disadvantageous for this country, that could possibly have been made. He humbly begged leave to say, that, in his opinion, the most advantageous settlement had been made, that, under all the circumstances—the unfortunate circumstances—of the case could have been adopted, not for France only—not for England only—but for Holland, for Belgium, and for the rest of Europe. Surely the hon. Gentleman could not have been serious in supposing that the security of the kingdom would have been best preserved by annexing the Flemish provinces on the frontier, with Maestricht on the one side, and Antwerp on the other. Now, one of two things only could have been expedient. In the first place, the Powers might have exercised the right of employing force for the purpose of compelling Belgium to give up these possessions to the sovereign in whose hands they had formerly been confided. If you gave up 912 the principle of not interfering by force of arms to quell rebellion, and restore harmony, it was necessary to make Belgium a separate province capable of maintaining itself. If Belgium was to be separated from Holland, it was necessary to place that country in the situation of an independent kingdom; and this object had been attained by the arrangements which were entered into. He supposed the hon. member for Thetford would not have wished to see a partition of the kingdom of Belgium: talk of ten years, it could not have lasted ten months, as the hon. Member must, on reflection, admit; for, if he remembered the case of Poland, he must know that the word "partition" was disliked by the British people. All he would say on this point was, that the cutting up of the country of Belgium in different portions, for the purpose of adding to the dominions of the neighbouring powers, would have been a most profligate proceeding, and most impolitic on the part of this country. The question, whether force should be used for the purpose of restoring Belgium to the dominion of Holland was settled before the present Administration came into office. The king of Holland did, at the beginning of the Belgian revolution, call upon his allies to aid him in compelling his revolted subjects to return to obedience, and the last Government most wisely advised his Majesty to refuse giving any assistance of that sort. From that moment, the course of the Conference was chalked out, and the only question which remained was, whether the two countries should be joind under one crown, with separate and independent legislatures, in the same way as Scotland and England were before the Union, or whether it should be a complete separation with two sovereigns, as well as two countries. But events occurred which completely decided that question. The unfortunate expedition of the king of Holland against Brussels, and the events at Antwerp, raised the passions and hostility of the people of Belgium; and, from that moment, it became impossible to place the two countries under the same crown. From the moment it became obvious that the union of the two countries could not, with the free will of both, be effected, and that their separation, therefore, was a matter of absolute necessity, it became the policy of England, if she looked not merely to her own interests, but to the arrangement which would best secure the peace of Europe, to constitute Belgium substantially and 913 really an independent state; and, at the same time, to take care that the interests of Holland were not sacrificed. It was the policy, and indeed the duty, of this country, not to become a party to any arrangement that would sacrifice or be injurious to the interests of Holland. But what did Holland say?—"You are now going to decide upon the course you will pursue. Let Holland be what Holland was, and do not take from her any thing she has." But it must be recollected, that what Holland had gained in point of territory exceeded the most sanguine expectations of her former statesmen. In point of territory and military defences, Holland was now placed in a situation which her former statesmen would have considered an object of sufficient value to be obtained by almost any sacrifice; but these advantages could not be obtained without, in some degree, opening the navigation of her rivers. Thus it became necessary to declare anew, that freedom of navigation, which was declared to be part of the law of nations by the treaty of Vienna. When hon. Gentlemen talked of the independence of Holland, and the importance of preserving to her those internal waters, he would beg to ask them, whether they ever heard of the grounds on which, for the space of fifteen years, these articles of the Treaty of Vienna were not carried into execution? Did they ever hear of such arguments as this—'It is true that your treaty declares that the navigation of the river shall be free from its source to its mouth; it is quite true, there fore, that the navigation of the Rhine is free; and, as to the sea, everybody knows, that that is free; but, then, there is between the Rhine and the sea a certain intermediate space, which is neither river nor sea, but which ignorant persons are apt to call the mouth of the river, but being neither river nor sea, neither your treaty nor the law of nations can be considered to apply to it.' This having been the sort of objection which had been raised to the performance of a part of the treaty for some fifteen years past, he certainly did not consider that it was a work of supererogation to endeavour to provide that this point should be at length settled. It might fairly be asked, on what principle was Belgium to be saddled with an enormous debt which she would not be able to bear, unless she received some reciprocal advantage? Why, it was impossible to judge of the treaty by taking it in parts, and saying, this part is 914 burthensome to Holland, and this advantageous to Belgium, or vice versa; it must be taken as a whole; it was as a whole composed, and entered into by the Conventions on the one side and the other. It was intended by that treaty to give to Holland the things which she stood most in need of, and to give to Belgium, on the other hand, those advantages without which she really could not exist. The treaty did not, altogether rest on that high-minded feeling on the part of Holland which some hon. Gentlemen had described. The treaty was as much an interference with the rights of Belgium as with those of Holland; and it rested on this, that, as the two Powers could not come to an un erstanding, the five Powers felt themselves compelled to step in, and say, "here is an arrangement, formed on a just regard to your mutual interests, and which it is necessary that you should accept." The hon. Gentleman, the member for Thetford, had told them that the Dutch defences would be thrown open to the French. He really would induce the House to suppose, that, instead of the sugar and coffee with which the barges were usually laden, the Dutchmen would find they contained an army, and that armed men would rush from their concealment beneath the tarpaulins of the barges, and master their defences, and overcome their most important fortresses. Really, the hon. Gentleman could lay claim to the merit of having been at least the first he (Viscount Palmerston) ever heard to start such an objection as this. The navigation was necessary to Belgian commerce, but it was the interest of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, that Antwerp should not be a naval port; and if the internal navigation were cut off, it certainly could not become so. He did not recollect any further arguments which had been advanced connected with this part of the question, which it would be necessary for bins to answer: if hon. Gentlemen could state any other, he should be happy to reply to them. He had now gone through all the arguments which had been urged on this point, with one exception, and it was this: They had been told, that this joint navigation of rivers was a novel proceeding. Now, at any rate, it was not an unprecedented one; for if any hon. Gentleman would turn to the treaty between Prussia and Hanover, he would see that by the 6th Article of the Treaty of the Congress of Vienna, a precisely similar condition was imposed, With respect to the guarantee, 915 he certainly was again disposed to rely on the distinction he had made on former occasions between a guarantee and a surety; and that distinction was not founded upon any opinions of his own, but on an authority which he was sure would not be disputed. Vattel had distinctly laid down that, in cases of money, it was better to obtain a surety than a guarantee, because the person who made the guarantee was only bound to exert his utmost endeavours to compel the party to perform his engagement; but that the party who became surety was bound to make it good himself. Therefore, the distinction between a guarantee and a surety was clear and obvious. In the Russo-Dutch loan, there was a specific engagement that we would pay a particular sum, not that we would see it paid; therefore, the two cases were totally different, and had no bearing whatever on each other. Ministers were then charged with not preserving a strict neutrality. Now, without the slightest wish to revert to what had passed, or to make any imputation against the late Government, he must say, that such a reproach, proceeding from those who planned and executed the affair of Terceira, was equally hard and undeserved. He was ready to admit that it was a departure from the principle of strict neutrality, but it was a departure in favour of the party whose policy was most agreeable to the interests of this country. But he would not follow the example which had been set by the other side of the House. He contended that he and his colleagues had not been guilty of any violation of the stipulated neutrality. Nothing which had been stated by his right hon. friend could show or establish such a charge. His right hon. friend had quoted, very copiously, from many learned authors—a course which he little expected from the manner in which the noble Lord (Eliot) introduced his question—to hear adopted to-night; but, after all that his right hon. friend had advanced, still, he should contend, that none of those quotations bore upon the point, or established any charge against his Majesty's Government. What was it that all those quotations went to show? They showed this—that a government which gave assistance to one of two belligerent parties was not neutral between those two parties. Nobody ever disputed that position: but the question here was, not whether giving assistance, by military aid, and by commissioning ships, and permitting an armament to be 916 formed within its ports and territories, a government was acting inconsistently with the character of a neutral: the question was, not whether that was a sound doctrine, according to the law of nations, but whether the British Government had acted thus? Did we give permission to one of the parties to raise recruits, and prepare an armament in British ports, and refuse a like permission to the other party? Did Ministers give aid to one, to the prejudice of the other? He must contend they did not. It had not been even asserted that they did. The charge was, not that they had given permission for, or encouraged these things to be done but that they did not do all that they might have done to prevent them. This charge, then, fell infinitely short of the position which the quotations were brought forward to support. But it was said, that these ships were completely equipped and armed before the expedition sailed from our ports, and that the First Lord of the Admiralty could not, at the present moment, send out a better naval force for the defence of the country, if called upon to do so. He should not notice the disparaging notions in which Gentlemen on the other side of the House were fond of indulging, on the subject of our naval force; but he would contend that there was nothing in the conduct of his right hon. friend, the First Lord of the Admiralty, which could justify this assertion. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir Charles Wetherell) might have informed himself by some peculiar means of the nature of these equipments, but from all the information which had reached him (Viscount Palmerston) on the subject, he was led to believe that these ships were totally unarmed. He did not believe that the vessels which quitted this country were capable of receiving guns or of being armed. Nay, in the very informations that were laid before Government, and upon which Ministers were required to act, it was never alleged that these ships were armed at all: and he did think that they should be very ill served indeed if any expedition were to be sent forth by them with such equipments. But then it was said, that, although the vessels which were pierced had no guns, yet there were other vessels which had. But would any hon. Gentleman tell him that there was any law to prevent the exportation of arms and ammunition as articles of merchandize? If not, then it was perfectly legal to extort cannons, gunpowder, arms, and 917 all other implements of war; and he should like to know how it could be made a reproach to the Government of this country that they did not prevent that being done, which they had no legal power to prevent? But then it might be said, that Ministers might have stopped the vessels for having British subjects on board, contrary to the 5th section of the Foreign Enlistment Act, which empowered the Government to prevent persons putting to sea who had been illegally enlisted or enrolled in the service of foreign states. But he would remark that this clause was confined strictly to persons who had enrolled themselves for that especial purpose; and not if they were on board for the purpose of navigation only. Now, when the vessels were detained by the Custom-house officers, and searched, it did not appear that there were more men on board than were necessary for the navigation of the ships; and it was proved, too, that the ships were at that time destined to the ports of France. Hon. Gentlemen might say, that there were ample grounds for suspicion as to the ulterior destination of the ships; but the question was, what the Government could legally do? and he maintained that the Government would have overstepped the limits of the law if it had interfered with the property and pursuits of individuals, because doubts and suspicions might have been entertained as to the intentions of the parties. This, he conceived, would not only have been a departure from the principles of neutrality, but would have been a gross infringement on the rights of property. But, he must repeat that the ships which were pierced were not armed; and that the arms which were in the other ships were intended to be exported as merchandize, those ships not being capable of bearing arms at all, and, therefore, the section of the Foreign Enlistment Act, which empowered Government to prevent the sailing of ships for the purposes of warfare, did not apply to this case. It was, however, said, that the fact was made known to Government by numerous affidavits made before the Lord Mayor. But would the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Charles Wetherell) say—he should bow to his authority, if he did,—that affidavits taken before the Lord Mayor were documents receivable as evidence in a court of justice, or that they were as good as any other kind of evidence? He could not surely state any such thing. No steps could be taken upon such documents, composed, as they were, of all sorts of 918 gossipping stories as to what had been said by one man, and what was believed by another. Even if they had been in other respects, good legal evidence, their substance was such as to make them totally inadmissible in any court of justice. But he could not omit mentioning what was stated to the Portuguese consul general. What was said to that gentleman?—'The execution of the law is not confined to the executive Government: it was open to any person to enforce it. But, then, the party must have sufficient proof to sustain his case. If you have proof sufficient to institute proceedings, you may go and institute them. It is idle to say, that no impediment will be offered; the law is as open to you as to us: you have evidence, we have not.' This was the language addressed to the consul general; and why did he not act upon it? If there was that proof so clearly made out, he would wish to be informed why it was not produced by those whose interest and duty to their employers it was to enforce the law? They had some very learned advisers on the subject, and why did they not tell the parties how the proceedings should be instituted? In truth, he could not account for all this quiescence in wrong, on the part of those who, in language and deportment, were so clamorous for right. But it was said, that, putting all this aside, there were serving in the fleet of one of the two contending parties a considerable number of English sailors and officers; that there were 3,000 English sailors, commanded by English officers; and the fact of so many English subjects serving in the fleet, destroyed at once our character of neutrality, and proved that it was a conjoint French and English expedition. Now, in the first place, he had already stated, that, as far as the English Government was concerned, the only English officer known to be serving in that expedition had been dealt with according to the rules and discipline of the service to which he belonged. Not having attended the summons of the Board of Admiralty, his name had ceased to be on the list of the navy: and as to any other officers, Government did not know the fact of their being in the service of Don Pedro. But was this the first instance in which the subjects of one country had been serving in the naval forces of another? He should like to know whether, in the course of our naval war, our fleets were manned wholly by British subjects? Had we no Danish sailors, no Swedish sailors in our service? And yet 919 was Denmark, or Sweden, ever considered, by those who well knew the facts, as becoming partners and as sharing in that war? This, indeed, appeared to him rather an extraordinary interpretation of the law of nations. But that case was not the only rock upon which the vessel of the right hon. Gentleman was likely to split. He was sure his right hon. friend could not forget the naval war which took place between the empire of Brazil and the state of Buenos Ayres. During the blockade and naval operations which then took place, his right hon. friend must well recollect that great numbers of British subjects were engaged by both powers. On the part of Buenos Ayres the fleet was commanded by Admiral Plowden, and many of the crews were entirely British: indeed he should not be risking much if he were to say, the whole of those ships were manned by the subjects of the King of England. The Brazilians, indeed, had not so large a number of British sailors in their service; but some of their ships had English crews, and it was well known that many Irishmen went over purposely to join that power as troops on land. But then it was said, you must not justify one breach of law and right by recriminating on the Members of a former Government that the same things had been done in their time. It would be said, that Ministers ought not to refer to this as a parallel case, because they protested against being considered as interfering between those two countries; and that, in point of fact, neither of the belligerent powers regarded the circumstance of British subjects being in the service of the other as in any degree a departure from that neutrality which England was bound to observe. And he must also state, that the fact of the service of English subjects in the fleet of Don Pedro, unless that service took place under the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act, by the license of the British Government, ought not to be regarded as a breach of the neutrality which England desired to observe between the two parties now about to contend in Portugal; and he need not say, that no such licence had ever been given. When it was stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman that, by the old law of this country, the King had a right to prevent his subjects from quitting his dominions, and to recall them on their allegiance, when they had quitted, he must remember that it was to the practice and actual operation of the law, and not to any theoretical principle which it might em- 920 brace, and which he knew had fallen into disuse, that Government must direct its attention. The right hon. Gentleman said, that, under these circumstances, he did not see how this country could justly complain if Spain were to take part in the contest which was now carried on between Portugal and Don Pedro. He protested, that there did not appear to him to be any possible analogy between the case stated, of Don Pedro purchasing ships in this country, and that of Spain marching an army to interfere in the affairs of the Portuguese. He would beg the right hon. Gentleman to recollect what was the view which the Government of which he was a Member took of the interference of Spain with the internal affairs of Portugal, and whether the Government of which he was a Member, did not declare to the Spanish government, through their minister at Madrid, that they looked upon such conduct as contrary to that neutrality which England was bound to see observed by Spain towards Portugal in relation to her internal affairs. His right hon. friend asked him, what answer he should make to Spain, if Spain should say that our conduct was, in the opinion of that power, such a breach of neutrality as to justify her in taking part on behalf of Don Miguel? His answer would be, that England intended to remain neutral so long as every other country did the same; but should any other power interfere with the internal affairs of Portugal, then England would be released from the obligation of observing that strict neutrality which she was now anxious to maintain, and our future course would be determined by what the interest and honour of this country might dictate; and that it was not improbable a due regard to those objects might compel Government to take part in the conflict on behalf of the other contending Power. He was not aware that he had omitted to notice any material point stated by the hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House; and should, therefore, sit down, begging, however, first, to congratulate the noble Lord on having, upon so slight a question, produced a debate of so many hours' continuance.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan,
so far from being sorry that this discussion had taken place, rejoiced that this subject had been brought forward. He would, however, content himself with noticing the inconsistency of the Government in practising violent interference in the case of Italy, Holland and Belgium, and refusing to interfere at all 921 between Don Pedro and Don Miguel, even though an expedition was fitted out, or, as allowed by the noble Lord, all the materials for one collected in this country to assist one of the parties.
, in explanation, said, in that part of Belgium where the Dutch language was spoken, they found great difficulty in keeping down the feeling in favour of the House of Orange. That fact showed that it was not likely the new kingdom of Belgium would hold long together, and, therefore, he thought it would have been better to have assigned Maestricht to Prussia, Flanders to Holland, and have given France a part, rather than allow her to swallow up the whole. As to the increase of territory that had been given to Holland, by the Treaty of Vienna, Luxemburg and Lemburgh were assigned to the Prince of Orange, in lieu of his principality of Nassau, and those territories were considered as his appanage, and not to belong to the state of Holland, so much so, indeed, that they were actually settled upon the king of Holland's second son. With respect to the rivers, the Treaty of Vienna did not refer to the canals at all, and, therefore, the settlement relating to them entirely grew out of the late conferences, and was most improper, inasmuch as the principal of the independence of Holland was violated by allowing another state to have free navigation through its territories.
§ Lord Palmerston
begged to be allowed to remark, that, what the hon. Member called a canal was a salt-water channel, and was one of the branches by which the waters of the Rhine were discharged into the sea.
Sir Robert Peel
said, his noble friend had raised a new question, but into that he would not enter at present. He rose chiefly to say, that he was surprised to hear his noble friend taunt him for not giving the names of officers who had taken part in the expedition. He had given the name of Captain Sartorius, whose case was notorious. He did not name others, from a wish not to prejudice them, but had merely said, in a general way, that the Ministers ought to withdraw all officers from the contest. In his opinion it was not right that British officers should be employed against each other, or against those Portuguese with whom they had fought the battle of liberty. The noble Lord had alluded to the conduct of the Spanish government in respect of the encouragement given to Portuguese refugees. The complaint against Spain was, 922 that she had suffered those persons to assemble on her frontier, which gave them an opportunity to attack Portugal. In that instance, neutrality was insisted upon. He felt himself compelled, under a sense of justice, to say, if this Government had not the power to prevent the fitting out of vessels forming an expedition to sail from our ports for Portugal, it would be hard to say Spain must be wrong in taking part with those who were disposed to assist Don Miguel. The question was, whether four ships of war forming an expedition against Don Miguel should be allowed to sail with troops from a British port against a friendly power? He never could consider such a license right, and every one of the arguments urged in support of that transaction had, in his opinion, entirely failed.
assured the right hon. Baronet that every one of those ships which sailed from England were chartered for French ports. The ship Asia did not go armed from this country. It was true that another ship sailed with arms, which at sea were put on board the Asia, but it was a transaction over which the Government had no control. There had been no contravention of neutrality in a British port. Moreover he thought the right hon. Baronet should have added to his list the names of such British officers as were receiving pay and emoluments in the service of Don Miguel.
Sir Robert Peel
was ready to admit that if there were any British military officers in Portugal receiving pay in the service of Don Miguel they ought to be named, as well as British naval officers in the service of Don Pedro. He had heard only of Major General Sir John Campbell, and that officer had given up his rank in the British army. The officers of both services should be treated alike.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, in his opinion, cutting the expedition in two parts as had been described by the hon. and gallant Officer, was an evasion of the Enlistment Act.
§ Mr. Attwood
had no doubt precautions were taken by his Majesty's Government with respect to the examination of some of the vessels forming the expedition. He did not doubt they appeared to be destined to Belleisle; but the question was, whether the Government should not have interfered 923 to prevent a breach of neutrality? The noble Lord had said, there were no more men on board than were necessary to navigate the vessels. If such a report had been made the Custom House officer had examined the wrong vessels. He knew that one vessel sailed from the Thames with many more men than were necessary to navigate the vessel, and that vessel sailed with the expedition to Portugal. The fact was notorious, and well known to all the merchants of London. It could not be denied that an expedition did sail from a British port, and when it was said the Government could not interfere, it was an admission that the same thing might be done again with impunity. The independence of Holland, or any other state, was consequently open at all times to violation. An expedition conducted upon the same plan might on any future occasion leave our ports to annoy friendly states. He was not disposed to enter further into the question, but the transaction appeared to him one in which the Government had connived at a breach of neutrality.
§ Lord Eliot
replied. He contended that the noble Lord had given no answer to several of the points connected with foreign policy which he had endeavoured to impress upon the attention of the House; first, with regard to Italy no doubt could be entertained of the intention of employing force when the expedition went to Ancona, for the French troops were prepared with scaling ladders; and they hoisted the tricoloured flag on taking possession of the place. This was certainly an extraordinary way for one friendly power to render assistance to another. Moreover, the noble Lord had not touched on the question of the Belgian fortresses. The whole of the fortresses to be destroyed were on the French frontier, but that circumstance had been entirely evaded by him. Again the noble Lord had treated the navigation of the internal waters between the two countries of Belgium and Holland very lightly, when the subject was deemed of such importance to Holland that there was an article in the treaty of Munster, expressly recognizing her exclusive right, and the inhabitants of the Spanish Netherlands were, by that treaty, precluded from navigating those waters. The question of violation of neutrality had been so often discussed and proved to be a deviation from sound policy, that he was astonished to find the noble Lord treat it as a matter in which a few solitary English seamen had been employed. 924 It was unlike the case of the war between Brazil and Buenos Ayres. An expedition consisting of 4,000 men, with ships and equipments, was no light transaction passing under the observation of Government. It could be nothing less than an evasion of the Enlistment Act. With regard to the speech of the French minister, it was not to be taken as containing sentiments or expressions falling out in the heat of debate. He went to the tribune with a written speech in his hand, in which every principle and every word had been weighed; and it was, therefore, open to be considered as the deliberate manifesto of the French government. He regretted that the noble Lord should have made the remarks he had made with respect to Spain, for every impartial man must see that the government of that country, had a right to protect itself against a blow aimed at it through the invasion of Portugal, for it was notoriously a part of Don Pedro's plan to unite the two crowns of the Peninsula on his own head. He did not regret having occupied the time of the House with the subject, for, at all events, if the debate that had arisen had done no other good, it had elicited the eloquent speech of the right hon. member for Tamworth, which was unanswered, and, in his opinion was unanswerable.