§ On reading the Order of the Day for a Committee of Supply,
§ Sir S. Canning
said, that in the former part of the present Session he had called the attention of the House to the situation of Cracow, and he presumed it would be recollected that so long as four years ago he had first drawn the attention of the public to the condition of a state which had been established on one of the most solemn compacts of modern times—which had been invested with sovereign power, and which it was now most painful to see occupied by foreign troops, and under subjection to foreign authority. Cracow was a small state, and remote from the shores of England; but it was important on account of its situation, and it was interesting because it formed an original and integral part of the great European system of national policy. The subject which he had undertaken to bring before the House was one which involved considerations deeply affecting the character of this country, her influence with foreign nations, and her most important interests as a commercial and maritime power; and notwithstanding the positive assurances put forth upon the subject, that the occupation was merely temporary, he yet could not regard it, nor could any man contemplate such a state of things, without feelings painfully aggravated by the reflection that nothing had yet been accomplished towards the relief of that state. He trusted the House would agree with him, that on the present occasion it was not necessary to offer any apology for resorting 671 to the old constitutional practice of coupling a redress of grievances with a vote of supply. The inquiry which he wished to see instituted was one which might or might not involve a charge against her Majesty's Government. He should not take upon himself to say whether it did or not, but this he felt desirous of saying, that he brought forward this motion without any reference to party considerations, that he brought it forward solely upon his own individual responsibility, and in doing so he wished to make no hypocritical appeal to the other side for indulgence. He was free to say that not only the construction of that Government, resting as it did on a principle that was well known to this House, but also the manner in which they conducted the business of the country, were points to which he could not consent. On looking to the foreign policy of the Government, he felt as little satisfaction as in regard to the other parts of their policy, but at the same time he must confess there had been some improvement during the last two years. When he looked to our late transactions in Spain, and to some of our differences with Russia, when he viewed the present state of our relations with so many of those powers with whom we used to be on terms of amity, with China, Naples, Buenes Ayres, and Persia, and more especially when we looked to the state of our affairs at Washington and Constantinople, it was impossible-not to feel considerable anxiety. He felt, that in now presenting himself to their notice, he was rather to be blamed for not having brought forward the subject at an earlier period of the Session, than for any degree of party eagerness in bringing it forward at this moment. It was not necessary for him in the course of his details to refer at any length to tbe stipulations of tbe treaty of Vienna, on which the existence of the city of Cracow and its claims on our interest depended. Those stipulations were generally well known to hon. Members, as they had more than on one occasion been under their immediate notice. It was enough for him to remind the House, that by the several articles of that treaty, the independence, freedom, and strict neutrality of the city of Cracow were secured. The protection of the powers who were immediately concerned in the arrangement of the articles, was also secured to that city. 672 Into the articles, too, there was introduced a special exemption to Cracow from all military occupation whatsoever; the preservation of the constitution was also guaranteed; and, in addition to that, the free navigation of all the rivers through Poland, and the right of transit through that country to other countries more to the east, were likewise secured to the state of Cracow. There was also guaranteed to the city a provision for the instruction of its inhabitants; and the university that existed there in former times was taken under the special care of the treaty, and even its endowment was provided for. The whole of these articles were inserted in the treaty, and every care was taken by those who were parties to it to provide for the complete fulfilment of the various stipulations. It resulted from that treaty that obligations of the most binding and solemn kind devolved on all the powers who had taken part in it; and a general ratification of it succeeded to its arrangement under circumstances of what might be called peculiar solemnity. But he could not give a stronger proof of the importance attached to the ratification of the treaty, than by reading the terms in which it was described in the History of the Events of the Congress—a work which justly maintained a high character, and the author of which Mr. Flassan, was no inconsiderable authority in matters of the kind, he having been a distinguished member of the French diplomacy and present at the congress to which he had alluded.All the sovereign slates in Europe with the exception of Spain and the Pope sent, in succession, their entire adherence to the general treaty of the 9th June, 1815, conformably to the invitation contained in the 119th Article of the same treaty. Prince Metternich, as the president of the congress, had been charged to invite that ratification; and the parties engaged in it concurred in a formal and solemn manner, either as accessories or as principals to the execution of the treaty. There resulted from that mode of agreement and stipulation a general, complete, and reciprocal guarantee of all the dispositions of the general treaty.Such were the terms in which the treaty was spoken of by that author, who was able from his political experience, from his communications with the plenipotentiaries, and the situation he then occupied, in the service of one of the parties to the treaty, to express a just opinion on 673 the subject. Nor must he omit to state, that it was expressly stipulated that all the articles as to the state of Cracow should be considered as having equal force with every other part of the treaty. He had now to approach a part of the subject which it was more painful for him to allude to: he meant the violation of that treaty by the occupation of the city of Cracow by foreign troops. He believed the first occupation that took place was under circumstances which, he would allow, did not in strict right warrant the transaction, but which threw a softening shadow over it, and afforded some excuse for the violation of the treaty. It was immediately after the close of the Polish insurrection, and when the tranquillity of the country was entirely established, that the Russian troops suddenly entered Cracow, apparently without any previous concert with the other powers, but under an impulse which might be supposed to be derived from the peculiar circumstances of the moment. What tended to confirm that supposition was, that the occupation lasted only for two months; and, as he understood, the change was brought about by the amicable interference of Austria. The occupation of the city of Cracow some years later had, however, less to excuse it, and appeared to have been of a far more serious nature. It was known to most hon. Members that disturbances had taken place at Cracow, which on one side were represented to be of trifling importance, but on the other side were aggravated by circumstances of a political character. But, in his judgment, they were not sufficient to justify the violent eruption that ensued. Notwithstanding the assurances that were given at that time, the occupation of Cracow has now lasted for more than four years, without, as far as he was informed, any good cause to account for it. It was impossible, then, for him not to be anxious to obtain some explanation of the matter from her Majesty's Government. The occupation of the territory of Cracow was not confined, nor were the painful circumstances connected with it to the mere establishment of military authority, but many features of that occupation were of a civil and political character. The forms of the free constitution were preserved, but the supreme power was placed in the hands of the three residents. But, not contented with the change that 674 took place in 1833, the new authorities, as he had been informed, afterwards introduced various enactments calculated to ruin all the authority of the former functionaries of the place, and to make their own power supreme. The police was placed under the direction of" Austria; all the appointments of the different functionaries of the state were placed under the immediate direction of the conqueror himself, and various restrictions were put on the trade and commerce of the place; and it was with particular reference to that state of things that the various petitions which had been presented to the House, and especially the one which, not long since, was presented from the merchants and others of the City of London, by one of the representatives of that city (Mr. Grote). He himself, a few days ago, had presented a petition to the same effect from the important town of Hull, which stated:—The commercial intercourse which had taken place between this country and the republic of Cracow had been productive of the most favourable results; The export chiefly consisted of the British manufactered goods, and of the produce of our colonies. That this trade, which for a period of sixteen years appeared so promising, has been, through the occupation of Cracow by foreign troops, entirely destroyed.Such also were nearly the terms of the petition which had been presented from London. One of the evils of Cracow at this time had been the retirement from office of a person who was most calculated to engage the confidence of the citizens with respect to commerce. It was impossible for him to enumerate all the circumstances connected with Cracow in its present state; but he had in his possession papers in which they were expressed in more forcible language than any which he was able to employ. He would take the liberty of reading to the House a translation from an address which had been presented to the three protecting Sovereigns, through their representatives at Cracow, as far back as 1838, after the occupation of the city, had existed for some years. The expressions they used were these:—It is, no doubt, come to the knowledge of your Majesties that for some years past, the trade and industry of our country have been ruined, and the sources of its prosperity dried up. In fact, it would be difficult to find a country where this state of impoverishment and general misery is more striking than in ours 675 This physical distress is rendered still more painful by the consideration, that the individual rights of the subjects of this country, find no security in its existing institutions. The inhabitants of the free city of Cracow see themselves consequently deprived of two conditions essential to public prosperity; namely, of liberty for the exercise of industry in the limits indispensable to its development, and of a sufficient protection for private interests against arbitrary power. It is now two years that shut up, in some sort, as we are, within our narrow frontiers, our communications have been interrupted with the neighbouring states, and especially with the kingdom of Poland, so that the productions of our industry have a difficult and limited vent, while the objects of exportation from the neighbouring states find a free market with us. The university of Cracow, which by the resort of young men from the neighbouring countries, conformably to the treaty of Vienna, might have secured to the country a certain degree of welfare, and the advantage of an important scientific advancement, is now without students, in consequence of the prohibitions to allow the youth of the neighbouring provinces to pursue their studies there. This measure is maintained, although the university has been re-constituted according to the intentions of the protecting sovereigns, and that the competition for the professorships be submitted to the decision of universities, situate within the states of the protecting sovereigns.In addition to those circumstances, he could mention another, which was very characteristic of the state of the relations in which Cracow stood towards the protecting powers. It was said, that even the professorships in the three faculties were equally divided between the three protecting states, and that the professorship of law was attached to Prussia, and that of medicine to Austria, while the professorship of religion, the people of the country being Roman Catholics, was given to Russia. The petition further said:—We do not come this day to claim any kind of new constitutional right; all our wishes are confined to those which it is allowed to your Majesties' faithful subjects to frame. All our desires tend to no other object but to be able, to enjoy with a certain degree of security a calm and tranquil existence in a state of prosperity obtained by assiduous and productive labour. We beseech your Majesties to delegate a new commission equally impartial and conscientious to verify the actual stale of things and ascertain our innocence. We beseech you to restore to the senate its former authority, and by replacing it at the head of all the powers of the state to re-establish the unity of the Government which no longer exists.676 The reply of the representatives of the three protecting powers, was as follows:—The undersigned, &c, having considered the address to their august Sovereigns, of which the senate of the free city has been pleased to communicate a copy to them, and which address was voted by the Chamber of Representatives, found themselves under the necessity of declaring that this document does not appear to them of a nature fitted to be carried to the foot of the Thrones of their Majesties, and they hasten to let his Excellency the President know that the address is to be considered as null (non avenue).After receiving this answer, the people of Cracow, despairing of being able to obtain any relief at the hands of the protecting powers, found it necessary, as the only alternative, to find access to some of those powers, who, although they did not fill the character of protecting states, were bound to enforce the execution of the treaty. A whole year, however, elapsed before the people of Cracow resorted to this expedient, and that it was not till 1839, towards the close of the year, that a memorial was drawn up and addressed to the Governments of France and England. He would quote a passage which showed its spirit and effect.The misfortunes which overwhelm the free city of Cracow and its inhabitants are such that the undersigned see no further hope for themselves and their fellow citizens than in the powerful and enlightened protection of the governments of France and England. The situation in which we find ourselves placed gives us the right to invoke the intervention of every power that subscribed the treaty of Vienna.He thought that the people of Cracow had a right to claim the intervention of those states which had been parties to the treaty of Vienna, and he must say, that if they should be disappointed in this expectation, and find no power answer to their cry of distress, it would have been better that the establishment of the freedom of Cracow should not have been made part of the treaty of Vienna, or placed under the protection of an English signature, and an English ratification. He must be allowed to say, that until he heard some further explanation from the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs—until the House was told on what grounds the noble Lord reconciled the present condition of the question with the answers given by the noble Lord four years ago to 677 him (Sir S. Canning) and to other hon. Members—and what circumstances justified the public assurance then made by the noble Lord that a consul would be sent to Cracow, and the total neglect and non-execution of his promise since that time, and until the House knew how far the noble Lord had made use of the influence of his office to make representations to the powers, more immediately concerned in favour of Cracow, and to take advantage of the favourable demonstrations which had been made by a neighbouring power on more than one occasion, it would be impossible to resist the impression that our interests connected with Cracow were treated with neglect, and that our only remedy at this late period would be a tardy and perhaps ineffectual remonstrance. The first matter for consideration was, the military occupation of the city, and with regard to this, he did think, that what more immediately concerned the interests of England was, that the protecting powers should be brought to a sense of what was due to their own character, and what was due to the engagements which they contracted by the treaty of Vienna. It was difficult to pronounce with certainly as to the exact state of commerce in Cracow; but it was impossible to look at the map of Europe, and see the situation of Cracow, placed on one of the most important rivers of Europe, without understanding its importance to commerce, and the facilities which it offered to the extension of the trade of this country. The right hon. Gentleman quoted at some length the Foreign Quarterly Review to show that Cracow enjoyed a great trade with the different Polish provinces, as Siberia, Hungary, Wallachia, Moldavia, to which it sold the commodities of England; and that Cracow enjoyed great immunities; and that the prosperity of her commerce was becoming more and more important, when the two successive occupations, in 1831 and 1836 came and annihilated it. Having thus, the right hon. Gentleman continued, laid before the House a state of circumstances leading to the belief that the position of Cracow was favourable to commerce, and that it already furnished a market of no inconsiderable magnitude, considering its distance and the circumstances in which it was placed, and might furnish one of still greater extent if it were evacuated by foreign troops, he thought the House could not be insensible to the advantages 678 which might be derived in a commercial point of view from placing an agent there. It was on that account that he called the attention of the noble Lord to that part of the subject, and expressed a hope that the difficulties might be removed which had hitherto prevented such a course from being taken. It was impossible not to presume, after the promises which the noble Lord had made four years ago, that some objections had been made of a stringent kind to the residence of an agent under any circumstances, either commercial or political. It was true that the city of Cracow was classed, in a diplomatic point of view, as a free city, and there was, perhaps, an impression that it had not that complete enjoyment of political rights as to be able to receive an agent without the consent of the three protecting powers; but at Frankfort, which was also a free city, we had not only a commercial but a diplomatic agent; at Hamburgh, which was like Cracow a free and independent city, we had a consul and a diplomatic representation. An analogy might also be drawn with regard to protecting states. The Ionian Islands were placed under the protection of Great Britain, and the treaty which applied to them might be considered as resting upon the same basis as the treaty of Vienna. Now in the former treaty it was considered requisite to introduce an express stipulation in order to give Her Majesty's Government the right of keeping a garrison in the Ionian Islands. Again, in the treaty regarding the Ionian Islands, there is an express article declaring that foreign powers should have no right to send any representatives but commercial agents. It appeared, therefore, necessary that there should be an express stipulation in order to prevent other powers from sending representatives. From these considerations, notwithstanding the lapse of time since the noble Lord had made his promise to the House, and notwithstanding the presumption that circumstances had hitherto prevented the promise from being performed, he (Sir S. Canning) hoped before the close of the discussion, to receive from the noble Lord a satisfactory explanation of the difficulties which had interposed, and he also hoped to see those difficulties speedily removed in a satisfactory manner. Although all hope had not abandoned him, he could not say he had any confidence that the state of things he had exposed would be 679 treated and remedied as it ought to be by Her Majesty's Government. He appealed to that House, and trusted it would teach the Government that such a subject as this was not to be delivered over either to total neglect or interminable delay. It was here he expected to find some sympathy with the rights and injuries of other nations, with which we were connected by treaties the most solemn, and commercial interests of the greatest magnitude. It was here he expected to find a disposition to represent to the allies of the Crown the obligations they had contracted in common with ourselves, although from the pressure of some peculiar views, they had for a time been tempted to neglect them. No one was more anxious than himself to maintain our pacific relations with every quarter of the globe; but it appeared to him that exactly in proportion as we entertained friendly relations with other Powers, we ought under careful management to have that degree of influence which would prevent occasional aberrations from proceeding to dangerous extremes. [The right hon. Gentleman concluded by quoting passages from Viscount Palmerston's speeches on March 18,1836, andonApril20,1836,toshew that the noble Lord took similar views as he took of the importance of Cracow, of the injustice which had been done, and of the necessity of interfering]. It would depend, he said, on what line should be taken by the noble Lord opposite, whether he should make any formal motion now, or leave the matter over till another session.
§ Mr. H. Gally Knight
said, after the full and able manner in which this subject has been brought forward by my hon. Friend, it will not be necessary for me to intrude upon the House for any length of time, but having on a former occasion raised my voice, however unavailingly, for Poland, I cannot now behold Cracow, in the very agonies of approaching dissolution, without uttering one word in her behalf, for Cracow is a remnant, the last remnant of the Polish cause, therefore, perhaps, is she odious in the eyes of the oppressor —therefore, perhaps, is she trampled under foot; not a spark must exist lest the fire should be kindled again, but therefore will Cracow be interesting to all whose hearts bled for Poland, and they will renew their exertions to snatch from destruction the little, the all, that remains. This House has heard the history of Cra- 680 cow's wrongs, and never was there a darker succession of injuries and persecutions, and having heard it, how must we look upon each other? England was a party to the treaty which made Cracow independent, and have we stood by, and let it come to this? Must we not look upon each other as men whose honour is in jeopardy? as men obnoxious to reproach? for having permitted all this desolation to take place—for having permitted that which the good faith of England was pledged to prevent? I know not what answer the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, will make on this occasion, but this I know, that on these subjects, the noble Lord has disappointed us again and again. I remember when the noble Lord was pressed to exert himself in favour of Poland, that he admitted the justice of the cause, the justice of our complaints, but he said, only restrain yourselves at present, there is an ambassador just setting out, of known liberal sentiments, you maybe sure he will do all that is right, you will only embarrass his negotiation if you incense the power with whom he has to deal, so, take my advice, be quiet at present, and be assured that a great deal will be effected. We trusted to those assurances. The Liberal ambassador went, whether he ever approached the subject or not was never known, but all we got was the fine words of the noble Lord, and no results. Again, when my right hon. Friend on a former occasion brought forward the subject of Cracow, we were promised that an English consul should be established at Cracow in a very short time. What has been done? and the noble Lord told us, in the early part of this Session, that he did nothing for fear of giving umbrage. Why did the noble Lord promise if he could be so easily discouraged? Has he taken the ground which does credit to a British Minister? Is this the attitude which it becomes England to assume? Is this country sunk so low as to be compelled to acquiesce in the violation of a treaty to which we are parties? Are we sunk so low as to be tongue-tied, in a righteous cause for fear of giving umbrage? There is something curiously inconsistent in the proceedings of the noble Lord when Russia is concerned. It is not long ago that he seemed absolutely desirous of getting up a war with Russia. His language, at that time, was of so me- 681 nacing a description as to create considerable alarm, and, whilst that remarkable publication, the Portfolio, was coming out, the noble Lord did not appear to be so very sensitive on the subject of giving umbrage. If he was so valiant then, what has now made him so circumspect? Again, when Russia was intriguing in Persia, did not the noble Lord remonstrate in good set terms? most properly remonstrate, and did he not obtain the most complete satisfaction? I should have thought he would have been encouraged by that transaction to adopt the same course again, or will he do nothing for Cracow, that he may get a Russian army to descend into Asia Minor, and thus, eventually, give the Dardanelles to Russia, and Egypt to France? But suppose the noble Lord is conducting the Eastern mediation in a more statesmanlike manner, is not the time when we are entering into new engagements with Russia a fit opportunity for asserting the rights of Cracow? A contract implies that each party wants something of the other, and therefore offers the moment when conditions may be made. Why were we not to say, you cannot have our co-operation, unless you will observe the engagements which it is our duty to see fulfilled? The treaty of Vienna is violated. We cannot connive at this infraction of good faith. This matter must be set right before we embark together in a fresh undertaking. If the independence of Cracow is intolerable to Russia, why did she consent to it? She cannot have said one thing and meant another, but the House had heard to what she consented, and the House had heard what has been done. It cannot be denied, that by the treaty of Vienna, to which this country was a party, Cracow was declared to be a free town, received a constitution, and by various specific articles in the treaty, was granted a perfect freedom in trade, from which Cracow for some time derived great benefit, and in the advantages of which this country participated to no inconsiderable degree. The prosperity of Cracow, however, was but short lived. The persecution soon began, followed up by invasions and occupations under different pretexts. But the blow which was struck in 1833 is almost unparalleled for its injustice, and the cruel mockery by which it was accompanied. It was at that time that three of the five powers who were parties to the treaty of Vienna, took upon themselves, without any 682 reference to the two other contending parties, to confer upon Cracow what they called a new constitution, and to declare, that from that time the residents of the three courts should become the government of this free town. I doubt whether the history of the world affords another instance of such an act of aggression, and how it could be that France and England, the two powers who had been parties to the original treaty, yet were not even consulted on this alteration—how it could be that they did not interfere on the occasion of this injury to Cracow, and this insulting disregard of themselves, may well be matter of astonishment. It may easily be imagined how things went on under such a protectorate. At length the com-plaints of Cracow reached this country, and a motion in its behalf was made in this House—on which occasion the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, declared, "that he could not see any sufficient justification of the course which the three powers had pursued," and he engaged to interfere, but that pledge was never redeemed—and what is now the state of the case? The constitution of Cracow is annulled—the Senate overthrown—the independence of her tribunals destroyed—her commerce is at a stand— and even her ancient university, to which the youth of Poland used to resort, has been plundered of its endowments, and is all but put down. The very police of the place are foreigners—not protectors, but spies —and paid by the three protecting powers—are employed to watch the tormented inhabitants, and invent the conspiracies which they fail to create? Every species of annoyance and humiliation is heaped upon this unhappy people, who at once are deprived of their rights, and see their country falling into ruins around them. Can the imagination of man represent to itself a more revolting picture? Really the words which the poet has inscribed on the gates of the infernal regions might, with too much propriety, be now inscribed on the gates of Cracow—it is indeed "la citta dolente," nor hope remains for them who dwell therein. And here was no Polish insurrection—no misconduct of any kind—nothing to excuse the violence of the oppressor, or the lukewarmness of the friend. Is not this a case which is worthy of compassion? Is this an occasion on which it becomes England to stand by with her arms folded? Because Cracow 683 is weak is she to be abandoned? And if generous motives are not to impel us, are we to have no regard for British interests? Are we patiently to acquiesce in the destruction of that trade from which we derived so much advantage, and which the petitions addressed to this House by the bankers and merchants of our towns beseech us to restore? But I trust, that the opinions expressed in this House will encourage the noble Lord to exert himself at last. The Senate of France have already proclaimed their sentiments on this subject, and the new Minister of France is the declared friend of Cracow. If the Senate of England expresses the same opinion with the Senate of France, the united voices of the representatives of two such nations cannot fail to arrest attention, and produce an effect. Now is the time—the victim is nearly exhausted—a little longer and it will be too late. What Cracow desires is, that a conference of the five powers should be convened, and restore the constitution to what it was originally made by the treaty of Vienna, and that for the future a British Consul and a French Consul should reside at Cracow. Nothing, as it appears to me, can be more just and reasonable than these demands. With a view to the accomplishment of this object, I hope that both sides of this House will be of one mind on the present occasion. We are proud of our freedom. We know the value of a Constitution. Let us not appear to be indifferent to the loss of those blessings by others, and above all things let us remember that the good faith of England is at stake.
§ Viscount Palmerston
said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think there was something in his Parliamentary career, in respect to the present Government, which made it necessary for him, as a matter of fairness and candour, to undeceive the Government, and take from them any false hopes they might entertain of obtaining his support, by assuring them in the commencement of his speech, that he disapproved of all their policy, both domestic and foreign. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman, that no such explanation was necessary to set the Government right with respect to his views and intentions. The Ministers were quite aware that they had incurred the misfortune of the right hon. Gentleman's disapprobation, but they endeavoured to bear it as well as they could; and perhaps it was the forti- 684 tude which they had shown under this heavy calamity, that had led the right hon. Gentleman to suppose that they could not be aware of his hostility. The right hon. Gentleman conceived that his disapprobation was justified by the state of our discussions with foreign powers,—with the governments of Naples, Buenos Ayres, Constantinople, Washington, and China, which, he said, displayed a total absence of all wisdom. The Ministers did not certainly pretend to have more wisdom than their neighbours; but they at least had this wisdom, that when they spoke of matters, they took care to inform themselves of the state in which those matters stood. Now, when the right hon. Gentleman talked of Naples, he might have known, for the fact had been stated in the French Chambers, that the discussions between Naples and this country had, through the mediation of France, been drawn to a satisfactory conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman had also alluded to discussions between this country and Buenos Ayres, and Constantinople. He supposed that unfriendly discussions were meant, but what those unfriendly discussions might be, was totally unknown to him. With respect to the discussions with the Government at Washington—and he presumed the discussions connected with the boundary question were meant—he (Lord Palmerston) had already staled to the right hon. Member for Tamworth, that her Majesty's Ministers had recently made a proposition to the government of America, founded on the principle and basis of the propositions made by that government last year; and he therefore indulged the hope that those discussions were in a fair train of settlement. He would now advert to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman with respect to Cracow, which in truth was the real question before the House. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying, that he did not bring this question forward with any party feeling; and therefore it would perhaps have been as well if he had avoided topics which seemed to partake of that character. With respect to the question of Cracow, he (Lord Palmerston) was not going to unsay anything which he had said on a former occasion, or to retract any opinion he had advanced, either in extracts quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, or any other, as to the question of right between the three powers and the city of Cracow, or between 685 those powers and the other parties who had signed the treaty of Vienna. He thought that the grounds on which the three powers justified the step they had taken, however valid they might in their own opinion deem them, were not borne out by the fact, and were not sufficient to bring the occupation of Cracow within the treaty of Vienna. Her Majesty's Ministers had informed the three powers that they deemed the occupation of Cracow a violation of the treaty of Vienna, and had protested against it; but it was one thing to express an opinion, and another thing to take hostile steps to compel the three powers to undo an act which they had done, and especially in a case where, from local and geographical circumstances, there were no means of enforcing the opinions of England, supposing that this country were disposed to do so by arms, except by declaring war, because Cracow was evidently a place where no English action could by possibility take place. When he stated that it was the opinion of Ministers that the occupation of Cracow was contrary to the stipulations of the treaty of Vienna, yet it was only fair to bear in mind the peculiar circumstances of Europe very recently before that occupation. There had been the revolution in France, and that movement in Belgium which led to the separation of the latter country from Holland. There had also been that great effort on the part of the Poles to recover what they considered their just rights from the government of Russia. The three powers were greatly alarmed at these demonstrations of popular feeling and opinion in Europe. Each of them had possessions which were formerly part of Poland, and therefore it was not surprising if, at such a moment, their fears or their passions might have in some degree obscured their judgment, and led them to adopt measures which at a calmer period they would perceive to be inconsistent with the obligations they had entered into. These apprehensions being gone by, a hope might reasonably be entertained that the three powers would take a more moderate view of these matters; but as far as the opinion of the English Government went on the question of right, he had already stated in Parliament what that opinion was, he had stated it also in communications with other governments, and by that opinion he abided. On the question of interest, he conceived that the 686 right hon. Gentleman had very much overstated his case. The right hon. Gentleman contended that Cracow was of great importance to this country in a commercial point of view. In a political point of view, he concurred in thinking that where principles were concerned, it mattered not much whether the spot to which they applied were small or large; principles must remain the same, and it was important to maintain them. But with respect to commercial interests, the case was different. It here became a matter of degree and of fact; and it was obvious that Cracow, if its commercial intercourse with this country were merely considered in reference to its own particular consumption, could not be an object of very great importance. The population of the city of Cracow did not amount to much more than 110,000 souls. As a point of connexion with the rest of the continent, it was undoubtedly in times past of some importance; but the question was, whether the events which had lately taken place had diminished our commercial intercourse, not with Cracow itself, but with the rest of Germany. He did not now seek to diminish the interest which the House might be disposed to feel on the political part of the question; but he wished the commercial part to stand upon its real merits. How stood the fact with respect to the exports from this country? The British exports to Germany could not in the nature of things be kept so distinct as to enable any one to tell how much went to each particular inland port; but the total export to Prussia, Germany, and Holland, in the year 1835, amounted in value to 7,439,000l.; in 1836 to 7,134,000l., being a diminution; in 1837 to 8,069,000l.; and in 1838 to 8,693,000l. Therefore, whatever effect the present state of Cracow might have had on the commercial arrangements of this country which depended on Cracow itself, it was clear that with respect to the commerce to Germany, including Holland, there had been no diminution, but, on the contrary, a considerable augmentation, of late years. With respect to the occupation of the city of Cracow, it should be recollected that though that occupation was sanctioned and ordered by the three powers, it was practically executed chiefly by Austria. It was at present, and had been for some time, garrisoned by Austrian troops. The British Government 687 had from time to time urged the three powers, and especially Austria, to withdraw that garrison, which had been placed in Cracow for a temporary purpose, and the governments of those powers, and particularly that of Austria, had repeatedly assured the British Government that the garrison should be withdrawn, and that it was only kept there for a time, waiting for certain events, namely, in the first place, the re-organization of the militia force of Cracow; and in the next, the result of some transactions which were about to take place. Indeed, the government of Austria, whose troops formed the occupying force, had assured the British Government that it had no wish to make a permanent occupation, and was about shortly to withdraw the garrison. Her Majesty's Ministers had very lately repeated the expression of their wish, that that assurance should be carried into effect; and between Austria and the British Government the question remained only a matter of time. He could assure the House, that as far as the object of gaining the release of Cracow from military occupation was concerned, the Government had not lost sight of that object, and had pursued it in the manner they deemed most advisable, by amicable negotiations. If he were now asked to say when that object would be attained, or what were the intentions of Ministers on the subject, he thought that his experience of the manner in which his unfortunate assertion of an intention to appoint a British consul at Cracow had been taken up by hon. Gentlemen opposite, justified him in positively refusing to give any answer to such a question, which might expose him to similar, and, as he conceived, unjustifiable attacks. It was true that he had stated, that it was the intention of the Government to send a consul to Cracow, but not, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, by "this day month." However, when that intention became known, it created a great deal of jealousy on the part of the three Powers, not so much on account of the fact of the Government's intention to appoint a consul at Cracow, as on account of the political character which would be given it by other parties; and in the course of communications with the three Powers, which lasted some time, it was found impossible to remove from their minds that feeling of jealousy and suspicion with which they 688 would view the execution of the intention to appoint a consul. He now stated, as he had done on former occasions, that it then became a question of prudence, as well as a question respecting the character, honour, and dignity of this country, whether the Government should carry their purpose into effect. In the first place, as regarded the people of Cracow, if this sending a British consul there had excited in their minds the expectations of further support and interference, which might have been justified by the language held on the subject of the appointment by those who wished to press it on the Government, he was afraid that that people might have been led to commit themselves some way or other in consequence of these unfounded expectations of impossible support, and thereby have rendered worse that state of things which everybody deplored, and which her Majesty's Ministers would be glad to improve, were it in their power to do so. In the next place, if the three Powers had chosen to do their utmost to prevent a British cousul going to Cracow, nothing could have been more easy than by their influence to induce what was called the government of Cracow to reject our consul, and decline to give him his exequatur. Was this a fitting situation for a great power like England to place herself in with reference to a small state like Cracow? If Cracow refused to receive the British consul, the Government would be bound to look upon the refusal as the act of the government of Cracow, though in reality it would not be the act of that state. Under these circumstances he thought the House would be of opinion that Ministers had only acted with a due regard to the honour and dignity of this country, in abstaining from carrying their intention of sending a consul to Cracow into effect, when they found this difficulty which they had not anticipated. He quite agreed that the manner in which Cracow had been constituted an independent state, did not prevent it from having diplomatic agents, if it so thought fit; and that there was a distinction between Cracow and the Ionian islands, inasmuch as it had been necessary to put a particular article into the treaty with the Ionian Islands, which were under the protection of Britain, to prohibit them from holding diplomatic intercourse with any foreign powers except England. He, however, did not admit the exact parity of 689 the instance cited by the right hon. Gentleman. The city of Frankfort might not be a more considerable place than Cracow, and nevertheless England had a Minister there. But that Minister, though accredited as a matter of courtesy to the Government of Frankfort, was there, because that city was the seat of the Diet; he was an unpaid officer, and merely transacted business connected with travellers. In Hamburgh there were a consul-general and charge-d'affaires; but they were appointed not merely for Hamburgh, but because that place was the principal of the Hanse Towns, and the port through which a great deal of the commercial intercourse with the Continent proceeded. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman and the House, that he did not fail to take a lively interest in everything which concerned the unhappy population both of Cracow and Poland. It was impossible for any one standing up in the Parliament of this country, not to feel and express a great sympathy with the calamities and afflictions of that unfortunate people. He could also assure the House—and he now spoke, not for the present Ministers, but also for those who might succeed them—that the Government of England would, on every occasion, when by the exercise of their influence, they could mitigate the fate of those whose misfortunes they all lamented, not fail to take advantage of the opportunity. But a greater mistake could not be committed, than to suppose that these things were to be effected, not by persuasion, but by means of force only—by threatening right and left, and by using big words, which they were not prepared to maintain by acts. Without presuming to express any unbecoming opinion of what passed in another country, he certainly should not recommend the House to follow the example of the French Chambers; because he did not think that the Legislature of a great country added to its honour or dignity by annually entering strong resolutions upon its records, without being prepared to follow them up by action.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, no person was more impressed than himself with the necessity of proceeding with caution with respect to matters of which the House was but imperfectly informed, and the conduct of which might naturally affect our amicable arrangements with foreign powers. He agreed with the noble Lord, that there was 690 nothing more unwise than for a popular assembly, acting on feeling and passion, to excite the Executive Government to resort to force for the purpose of attaining an object, which perhaps might more easily be accomplished by friendly negotiations; but, at the same time, he felt that the House of Commons would abdicate its functions, and lose its character in the eyes of Europe, if it carried its forbearance to too great an extent, and exhibited a perfect indifference to questions of foreign policy. He bore in mind all those considerations to which the noble Lord had referred, as forming matter of justification of the conduct of the three powers; he bore in mind the portentous events of the year 1830, which led to the overthrow of one dynasty, which led to the separation of Belgium from Holland, to the insurrection of Poland, and to such a state of dangerous excitement throughout Europe, as betokened some peril that the happy settlement of the affairs of Europe which had taken place in 1815 might be disturbed, and Europe involved in the miseries of general war. He recollected all this, and it went far to account for those feelings which appeared to have influenced the three powers in their conduct, and which in particular induced them to forbid Cracow to become a place of residence for refugees from other countries. Speaking then, in the full knowledge, and recollection of these things, but at the same time speaking with all reserve, and knowing the weight of what was openly said in the House of Commons, he must say that, in his opinion, the time was come, or at any rate very fast approaching, that the three powers would feel assured that it was for the general interests of Europe, that it was for the maintenance of those true Conservative principles which he believed it was the great object of those three powers to support, that due observance should be given to the settlement that was made in 1815, and that Cracow should be re-established in that independence and freedom which were guaranteed to it in that year. Those three powers must in his opinion feel the immense importance, when the temporary necessity by which their conduct hitherto had been regulated with regard to the matter should be at an end, of re-establishing all the states, small as well as great (and perhaps the moral obligation was the stronger to re-establish the small than the 691 great states), the independent existence of which had been guaranteed by the treaty of 1815. He said, he was convinced that when this temporary necessity was at an end, they would feel the obligation to be absolute to re-establish Cracow in freedom and independence; they would recollect the favour which had always been felt and shown throughout Europe to small communities, like Frankfort, and Lubeck, and Hamburgh, and Cracow; they would see that the rights of these small states could not safely be disturbed; they would not fail to see this on looking to the discussions which had recently taken place in France with reference to this subject, and looking to the possibility that the very strong feeling on the question which now lay dormant might be at length excited throughout Europe. It was in reliance upon these considerations and upon others involving the rights of individual states, however small, and upon their sufficiency to induce the three great powers who were the supporters of that principle for which he had great respect, and which had been called the Conservative principle, and with whom he cordially desired to continue relations of amity, to arrive at the same conclusion, that he most earnestly hoped that they would see fit to anticipate the feeling of France and England on this subject, and would of themselves, without any interference on the part of any other power, re-establish the independence of Cracow. This would be far the most satisfactory course which they could pursue. He hoped, therefore, that no angry interference with those powers would take place at present, but that they themselves, listening to justice, would of themselves re-establish this town in the freedom which had been guaranteed to it, and permit Europe to enjoy that spectacle which must be most gratifying to every one—namely, of a small state surrounded by powerful military governments, but yet allowed to preserve inviolate its own independence. He agreed with the noble Lord that the political question was of much more importance than the commercial; but he must say, that in this commercial country we could not but view with jealousy, and justifiable jealousy, every infraction of the rights of a free city, which, by a solemn treaty, had been declared to be independent, and to have separate rights of free trade with other countries. But he thought that the noble 692 Lord had quite failed to establish his position, that the trade and commerce of this country had lost nothing in consequence of the occupation of Cracow. He well knew that the commerce of this country with Cracow could not at any time be extremely large; but how did the noble Lord make out his case? By showing that the amount of general exports to Germany had not fallen off. Supposing that our commerce with Germany in general was in a state of progressive increase, or that the trade with Germany and Poland in general was not falling off, did the noble Lord think that our commerce with Cracow had not fallen off, had not been injured, by the peculiar circumstances under which it had been placed? Take the case of any foreign town—Cadiz, for instance, and suppose that our commerce with Cadiz were cut off by hostile occupation, might not our whole commerce with Spain show, notwithstanding, a state of progressive increase, and how would showing the latter prove that the Cadiz trade was not ruined? The question, in fact, was how did the noble Lord show that our commerce with the whole of the north of the continent would not have shown a greater progressive increase if we had retained the trade of Cracow? But if this progressive increase would have been greater, then our right to complain on this score of the interference with Cracow was good. Then the noble Lord said, that on this occasion he should not make any declaration of the intentions of her Majesty's Government with respect to this question. Now, in the propriety of what the noble Lord had stated on this topic, he (Sir R. Peel) quite agreed. Indeed, he had thought that the principle laid down by the noble Lord as directing the conduct of the Government, had been the principle by which all Governments guided their conduct in matters of this nature. Therefore he quite approved of the noble Lord's course, and he thought that the recollection of the noble Lord's declaration of the intention to send a consul to Cracow, and the consequences which had followed that declaration, must tend greatly to fortify the noble Lord in the resolution he had taken, not to communicate more of the intentions of her Majesty's Government on such points. He, therefore, congratulated the noble Lord on the determination he had shown, and he trusted that he would see fit to 693 adhere to It, for he thought that nothing was more inconvenient than that a Government should announce themselves to the House of Commons as about to adopt a certain course unless they had positively made up their minds to adopt that course. The noble Lord had declared four years ago, that it was the intention of Government to send a consul to Cracow, and by means of that declaration the noble Lord had prevailed on an hon. Member of the House of Commons to withdraw a motion of rather a hostile character of which he had given notice; and the noble Lord now told the House that he had reason to make that declaration, and the noble Lord had made a contract between the circumstances in which his declaration and those in which the statement of his (Sir R. Peel's) right hon. Friend had been made that evening, saying that the right hon. Gentleman had spoken without full information on the question, but that the Government did not speak without having full information. Now, he did not mean to question the fact of the information possessed by her Majesty's Government, but he must say, that the niggardliness with which they brought it out, made the contrast between the immensity of their stores, and their small charity to their opponents very great indeed. However, with respect to the noble Lord's declaration of the intention to send a consul, he did not complain that the noble Lord had the courage to recede from his determination if he found it impracticable; but what he did say was, that the noble Lord ought not to have made that declaration without foreseeing what might be the consequences of it; because, in the state in which Poland then was, in the state of the House of Commons, and in the state of things in this country generally, a declaration on the part of Government that they intended to send a consul to Cracow could not but have the most important consequences. There could be no doubt that the people of Cracow, and of Poland generally, when they found that the British Government talked of sending a consul to Cracow, concluded that the Government and people of Great Britain were impressed with the opinion that the claims of Poland were overpowering, and that consequently this step had been resolved upon. He must tell the noble Lord that it was his opinion that this declaration had actually postponed the time when a consul might have been 694 sent thither from this country, for he thought there could be but little doubt that the three powers, when they found that a British Minister in his place in Parliament had declared that a consul should be sent, had determined to resist the measure. He could not but think that if the noble Lord had communicated to the three powers, without making previously any public notification of it, the intention of Great Britain of sending out a consul, the noble Lord would have succeeded in establishing consular relations for the protection of commerce. He concurred with the noble Lord, that if great powers like England or France were to push matters to extreme points by an appeal to arms upon every trivial occasion, there was little probability of general tranquillity being secured; and seeing the language used in the French Chamber, the protest which had been made, and the language held by the Minister of France, it was impossible not to observe that the question was in a most unsatisfactory state. He should conclude by repeating the hope which he had already expressed, that the three Powers would, in this instance, adopt the course which had been suggested, which, while it was perfectly consistent with their own honour and dignity, would tend much to extinguish those seeds, which in their growth might be dangerous to tranquillity.
§ Mr. Hume
had always viewed the violation of these treaties as a step of which no man ought to approve, and he was happy to hear them condemned by the right hon. Baronet. He did not believe, that any Member of that House had ever expressed his assent to them, for they must all entertain feelings directly opposed to what had taken place in reference to British commerce. He hoped that the Government would persevere in their efforts to maintain international justice, and that they would ultimately compel the aggressive powers to retire from the occupation of Cracow, and thus put an end to the violation of treaties which now existed.
was glad to see men of all parties joining in one unanimous expression of sympathy in the position of the state of Cracow, and of regret at the violation of treaties. He entirely concurred with the right hon. Baronet, that had more active measures been taken by Government at an earlier period, this usurpation would have been put a stop to, and 695 he doubted whether the course taken by the noble Lord in 1836, in promising the appointment of a consul, and in 1840 refusing one, was likely to redound to the honour of the country, or add to the character of the Government. The noble Lord had declared that the commerce of Cracow had not suffered by these events. But those interested in that trade declared, that the export trade had been entirely destroyed. The present position of Cracow was neither honourable to the Government nor advantageous to our commerce.
§ Lord Eliot
must say, that it seemed extraordinary that it required four years to settle the internal affairs of a small state like Cracow. But when the noble Lord told them that the allied powers intended to withdraw their garrisons, he had not also told them that they intended to restore the independence of Cracow, according to the provisions of the treaty. According to the statement of the right hon. Baronet, the representatives of those powers had erected themselves into a permanent conference, and they would not allow the interference of the Senate of Cracow. Yet Cracow was a sovereign state—more a sovereign state than the Hanse Towns or Hamburgh—and her rights having been secured by the treaty of Vienna, we, as parties to that treaty, ought to, at least, protest—as the noble Lord said he had done—although of that protest Parliament was as yet ignorant—against its violation.
§ Sir Stratford Canning
inquired whether he was to infer from the silence of the noble Lord that he had received the address and memorial said to have been sent by the inhabitants of Cracow to the Government of this country and that of France?
§ The subject dropped.
§ Question again put for the House to go into a Committee of Supply.