§ Viscount Palmerston,
spoke to the following effect.* Sir, I rise in pursuance of the notice which I have given, to move for certain returns respecting the public bills which have been brought into Parliament during the present Session; and as this motion embraces the whole course of policy of the Government, 1 think it not an unfitting occasion on which to submit to the consideration of the House some few observations upon the state of our affairs both at home and abroad. There are, from tine to time, in the course of public affairs, epochs at which it is good to pause; to look back upon events gone by: to look forward to events to come: to investigate the political causes which may be in operation: to examine their accomplished effects, and to anticipate their future action. Such a period is the present moment; when a political party who had been for ten years in active opposition, have now been nearly a twelvemonth in possession of power, and are about to close their first Parliamentary Session. This seems not an unfitting occasion, on which to consider what were the expectations which were entertained when that party acceded to power; on what those expectations were founded, mud how far they have been realized. But in pursuing this inquiry, it will he necessary for us to cast a rapid glance at the events of a period somewhat further back than the time when this party was in opposition The lion Member for Shrewsbury, in a recent debate in, this House, traced the causes of some, of what I consider the imaginary evils, of which he complained, to the settlement of Europe which was made at the peace of 1815. Bet some of the great causes which are still in operation, took their origin in the long and eventful war, of which that peace was the close. That war, which lasted near a quarter of a century; the progress of which was full of the most extraordinary and romantic vicissitudes; during which the tide of conquest rolled over the whole continent of Europe, first from west to cast, and then back again from east to west; that war roused into the most vehement action, all the passions, all the faculties, all the energies of the nations of Europe; and it was idle to suppose that returning peace would restore those na-* From a corrected report.1231 tions to the same political condition in which the war had found them. It was vain to think that men who had so long been accustomed to discuss, and practically too, theories of Government, and the rights and wrongs of mankind, would at once fall back into that state of comparative slumber from which they had been roused by the outbreak of hostilities. Nevertheless, there were eminent statesmen, not on the Continent only, but in this country also, who indulged in such a dream—but the delusion was soon dispelled. The Italians, the Spaniards, the Portuguese, made repeated, but unsuccessful, attempts to wrest from their governments free institutions. The Spaniards and Portuguese indeed at a later period, under happier auspices, with the consent of their legitimate sovereigns, and with the protecting aid of England, have obtained for themselves the inestimable blessing of representative government. England was not exempt from the operation of those influences which acted upon the Continent. When peace had relieved the minds of men in this country from that anxious and all-absorbing solicitude, which belongs to a struggle for national existence, the attention of the nation was directed with great intensity to our domestic concerns, and two questions principally occupied the public mind. The one. related to that grievous injustice to which a large portion of the people of the United Kingdom had long been subjected, by disabilities under which they laboured, on account of their religious opinions; the other related to the defects and imperfections of our representative system: these were the Catholic Question, and Parliamentary Reform. Parliamentary Reform being the question which affected most directly the great mass of the community in this country, was on that account the question in which the great mass of the community took the strongest and most lively interest. The Catholic Question being the one, which was productive of the greatest practical injustice, and which impaired most directly, and in the greatest degree the national resources, was on that account the question, to which the leading men in Parliament gave their most earnest attention. After a long struggle, Catholic Emancipation was carried in 1829; and though many distinguished statesmen had by their previous exertions paved the way for that great consummation, yet it is 1232 chiefly owing to the energy, and firmness, and sagacity of three men, that this measure was carried at that time, and that the country was saved from the many and various evils, which a longer continuance of the former injustice must inevitably have produced. Those men are the right hon. Baronet opposite, the head of her Majesty's Government; the Duke of Wellington: and a person who has not often been combined in political co-operation with them, I mean the right hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. O'Connell). It was by these three men, principally, that the measure of Catholic Emancipation was carried; and I cannot on this occasion mention the name of that great and illustrious man, the Duke of Wellington, to whom this nation owes a larger debt of gratitude than perhaps any nation ever before owed to any other man; without venturing to express a hope, that he may be destined to add another wreath to the laurels which already grace his brow; and that having saved his country by his genius in war; and having by his wisdom in peace struck their fetters off from seven millions of his fellow-subjects; he may add to his military exploits, and to his civil achievements, the glory of working out the commercial emancipation of his country. Well, the Catholic question being carried, it was obvious to every man who reflected at all on the state of public affairs, that Parliamentary Reform was the question which stood next for settlement. That settlement might perhaps have been delayed some years longer, but the events which happened in France and Belgium in 1830, hastened the crisis. It then became the duty of the Government of that day to consider whether they should undertake the settlement of that question, as they had that of the Catholic question. They determined that they could not, and I think they judged wisely. However honourable their conduct was in 1829, and I then stated my opinion that it was so, I repeat that opinion now, and shall never alter it; however honourable to themselves, as well as advantageous to their country, their conduct in 1829 was, yet it did excite among a large portion of their warmest adherents, the deepest and bitterest resentment. This resentment arose from a want on the part of those persons who felt it, of those large views of national interests, and of that just sense of political necessities, which actuated the 1233 Government in coming to their determination. The interval between 1829 and 1830 was too short to allow that resentment to have subsided. If the Government had undertaken in 1830 to settle the question of Parliamentary Reform, they were sure to have gone too far to retain the support of their followers, while they would probably not have gone far enough to obtain the support of their opponents. They therefore took advantage of an incidental defeat upon a question comparatively unimportant, and resigned their offices. But I believe that almost all the members of that government, on resigning their offices, expressed their individual opinion that the time was then come, when some reform or other of our system of representation could no longer be delayed. Well, we succeeded to power; and we brought forward our plan of reform; and that plan was so much more extensive than any thing that any of the party who had gone out had conceived to be possible, that the mere announcement of it struck them not only with astonishment, but with dismay They thought they saw in it their utter annihilation as a political party; they believed it would destroy all their influence at elections: and imagined that they should be swept away by the overwhelming tide of democratic power. W e assured them that their fears were vain; that under our plan property would still retain its just and legitimate influence; and more than this it ought not to have. They would not believe us. But I would ask the most vehement Anti-Reformer of that day to look at the present state of parties in this House, and at the division lists of this Session, and to tell me whether the fears which they then entertained have not been proved by the result, to have been visionary and groundless. No less visionary and no less groundless are the fears which the same party now entertain, that by striking off the fetters which cramp and paralyze the productive industry of the country, we should inflict the smallest injury on the owners of the soil. Parliamentary Reform was carried; but there was this difference between that, and Catholic Emancipation; that Catholic Emancipation was, if I may say so, a measure complete in itself; while Parliamentary Reform was rather a means to an end. The object of Catholic Emancipation was to redress a great wrong; and 1234 that wrong was redressed. But the object of Parliamentary Reform was not merely to remove the discontent which our former defective system of representation created, but to reconstruct our legislative machine, so that we might be better able to correct our bad laws, or to pass better laws in their stead. Now among the various evils of our existing legislation, which could not tail at, an early moment to attract the attention of a reformed Parliament, it is obvious that the defects of our commercial system stood in the foremost rank. It was idle to suppose that when we had admitted into this House a due proportion of direct representatives from our great manufacturing and commercial communities, those representatives would not bring frequently and urgently under the consideration of Parliament the many evils which their constituents suffered by reason of our restrictive and prohibitory system of commercial legislation; and it was impossible to imagine that Parliament would not soon be induced by the force of reason and of argument, to make great and important changes in that system. But there were many who did not look deep enough be low the surface of things to be convinced of this. The large party in this House and in the country who think, and no doubt honestly and conscientiously, that the system of monopoly and restriction of which we complain, is not only advantageous to themselves, but beneficial to the country, believed that the advance or the stoppage of social improvement, depend, not upon the action of great and wide spreading causes, but upon the accidental circumstance that men of particular opinions may happen from time to time to be in possession of power, They thought, therefore, when we were year after year announcing our progressive improvements, that if they could only contrive to dispossess us of power, and to place in our stead the leaders of their own party, they would be safe, and the system which they had so long cherished would continue to be maintained. They had a large majority in the House of Lords; they had growing numbers in the House of Commons; all they wanted was a majority here; they set to work to obtain it, steadily, systematically, and perseveringly; they laboured hard in the registration courts; and gradually rose upon us, until it became probable that 1235 the time would soon come, when they would have the command of this House, as well as of the other. The last Session of the late Parliament brought matters to a crisis. Their numbers had become nearly equal to ours. The measures of commercial reform which we announced showed them that there was no time to be lost; and that the battle must immediately be fought. They fought the battle, first in this House, and afterwards in the country; their victory was complete, and our defeat amounted almost to a rout. Surely the day on which we gave up the seals of office, and when power was transferred to our opponents, surely that day was a day of exultation and triumph to the Tory party ! Surely that was a day which secured for years to come the maintenance of that system of monopoly and restriction to which they are attached, and which they conceive to be no less conducive to the public interest than to their own. Great accordingly was their triumph, and loud their exultation. But, alas, the vanity of human wisdom ! alas, how short-sighted are the most sagacious of men! But a few short months passed over their heads before their songs of triumph were changed into cries of lamentation. The very persons whom they had chosen to be their appointed champions; the very guardians whom they armed for their defence, turned their weapons upon them, and with inhuman and unrelenting cruelty struck blows, which though not at present fatal, must ere long lead to the total extinction of their favourite system. Great was now their disappointment, loud their lamentations, and bitter their complaints. We have not heard much of these complaints in this House; there are reasons for that; but every other house in London, all the clubs and every street of the town have been ringing with the invectives of men, who represent themselves as the victims of the grossest deception. I say it is true they have been grossly deceived. But by whom? Not by the right hon. Baronet opposite; but by themselves. They have themselves, and themselves only to blame, for any disappointment they have suffered in consequence of the course pursued by her Majesty's Government. Why did they not, during the ten long years they were following their present leaders in opposition, take due pains to ascertain what the opinions of those 1236 leaders were, upon matters which they deem of vital importance? If they neglected to do so, they have themselves only to blame for the disappointment which they have experienced, when the real opinions of those leaders came necessarily to be disclosed upon their accession to power. What those opinions are, we in this House have, during the present Session, had full opportunities of learning. We have heard them stated fully, explicitly, and unequivocally; and I am bound to say, that mere liberal doctrines, more enlightened views, sounder or juster principles, could not have been propounded by any advocate of free-trade on this side of the House. But no man can suppose that the Gentlemen opposite inherited these principles from us with their offices; or that they found them locked up in the red boxes which we left on our tables. It is not to be imagined either that we so impregnated the atmosphere of Downing-street with free-trade principles, that our successors, on entering it, caught the infection as they would an epidemic. It would be too childish to believe that. Still less can it be supposed that these recently propounded doctrines and opinions, are the result of deep studies, to which the Tory leaders have devoted themselves, since their accession to office in September last. No, Sir, we know by experience what are the labours of official men. We know that the stream of business comes flowing in with unceasing volume every hour of every day, like the current of the Thames; and that if it be allowed to accumulate, the man who ventures to delay, will soon be irretrievably overwhelmed. We know that every hour of every day, and many hours of the night; that every thought, and every faculty of the mind, must be devoted by a Minister to the business which is perpetually pressing upon him; and we well know that these duties, at all times heavy, are doubly weighty during the first few months after a new Administration has come into power. It is not to be supposed therefore, that during the five months which elapsed between the 3rd of September, when the present Government came in, and the 3rd of February when Parliament was assembled, her Majesty's Ministers could have found leisure to study the works of Adam Smith, of Ricardo, of Macculloch, of Mill, and of Senior. No, Sir, it is manifest that 1237 the opinions which they have so well expounded in the present Session of Parliament must have been the fruits of long previous meditation and study. Of study deliberately pursued during the ten years of comparative leisure, which a state even of the most active opposition will afford; and they must have come into office fully imbued with those sound principles, the enunciation of which has excited so much admiration on this side of the House, and has created so much surprise and alarm on the other. I think, therefore, that they who find fault with the Government on this ground, do so without any sufficient cause. I must, however, candidly confess, that in one respect the conduct of the Gentlemen opposite before they came into office is open to some slight degree of criticism. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth accused me on a former occasion of too much assurance; I am not going to retort the charge; I am going to complain on the contrary of his over modesty. I complain of the over modesty of the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues, in this; that upon many occasions while they were out of power, when matters came under discussion in this House, to which the principles which they have lately avowed were plainly and fully applicable, their modesty, (for it was that no doubt,) prevented them from doing full justice to themselves; and that by practising an over-scrupulous reserve, they really concealed from the public the progress they had made in their studies in political economy. For instance, when we proposed a moderate reduction in the duty on foreign timber, they objected to the measure, chiefly upon grounds of technical form, instead of entering fully into the subject; and they did great injustice to themselves; because they led people to imagine that their objection to our proposal was, that it diminished too much the protection on British timber; whereas we now know by what we have seen them propose since they came into office, that their real objection was, not that our proposal went too far, but that it did not go half far enough, and did not give sufficient relief to all those branches of British industry, in the products of which timber forms an essential element. I do not like to weary the House by multiplying instances of this kind, but I may just refer to the intention which we announced last year of making a considerable 1238 reduction in the duty on foreign corn. To this the Gentlemen opposite expressed a decided objection; not indeed, as it now a pears, because they thought a duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat, too low; for that seems to be the duty at which by their own measure they are willing that a large importation shall take place; though they preferred to get at that duty by a sliding-scale, instead of having it as a fixed point. But they did not then let us into the secret of their strongest objection. Now, however, we have found out what it was; and it appears, that, acting upon the good old country gentleman's adage of " Down corn, down horn," their real objection to our proposed reduction in the duty on corn was, that we had not announced our intention of accompanying it by a corresponding reduction in the duty on foreign cattle, I must say, then, that these Gentlemen have not done themselves justice; but, as we are thankful for the large admissions they have made, and for the liberal principles they have propounded, we will not cavil with them on smaller matters. As regards the commercial interests of the country, we are certainly indebted to the Government for having made this Session one of a very remarkable character. The measures, indeed, which have been proposed have fallen far short of the necessities of the country; far short of the wishes of this side of the House; far short of the principles on which they were founded and recommended. But a great step has been made in the right direction, when we have got a Tory Government speaking out as the present Government has done. This should inspire us with hope for the future, and make us endeavour to be content at present with what we have already gained. I cannot say, however, that in other respects the Government have much reason to congratulate themselves upon having fulfilled, during the present Session, the expectations which they held out at its commencement. What were the points connected with domestic affairs to which the Government, in the Speech from the Throne, invited the practical attention of Parliament? These points were—the deficiency of the revenue—the corn and provision laws—the bankruptcy law—improvements in the law concerning ecclesiastical jurisdiction—the law as to the registration of electors—and the distress in the manufacturing districts. Now, as to the financial 1239 deficiency, the first thing the Government did, was to increase it, by making a sacrifice of a large portion of the duty on foreign timber; a sacrifice unnecessary to such an extent, at the present moment; and which might have been delayed to a period of greater financial prosperity. But after increasing the deficiency, I must admit that they have supplied it, and with a vengeance, by their Income-tax. This tax will certainly be productive—more productive than the Government anticipates—in vexation and discontent; but all the money it produces must not be considered as clear gain to the revenue. At the outset we were told that people would save what they paid in Income-tax, by the greater cheapness of living, that was to be the consequence of the new tariff. But we were afterwards informed that the changes made in the tariff would not occasion any material reduction in the prices of the commodities which constitute the chief expense of living. If, however, those who have to pay the tax cannot save the amount of it, by a reduction in the cost of articles of consumption, they will endeavour to save it by diminishing the extent of their consumption; and the Government will not act wisely, if they do not reckon that some part of what they get by the Income-tax will be withdrawn from the produce of other taxes. The Income-tax, however, which is a measure all their own, being carried, I trust and hope it will have the effect of making good the deficiency in the revenue. The next point mentioned in the Speech from the Throne was the corn and provision laws, and I have already said that the measures proposed upon this subject by the Government, though insufficient, were no small step in the way of improvement. The next point was the law on bankruptcy, and it is curious to trace the course of the measure brought in by the Government on that subject. The Speech from the Throne was delivered on the 3rd of February, and it invited the attention of Parliament to the amendment of the law of bankruptcy. The present Government found the scheme of a bill upon this subject prepared by the late Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham. They had not much to do therefore, but to ascertain whether they approved of the bill as prepared; and if they did, to bring it in immediately. The bill was introduced into the House of Lords on the 18th 1240 February, not the whole bill as prepared by Lord Cottenham, for one important part of that bill was omitted; but the bill as brought in, contained much matter requiring the deliberate attention of Parliament; and this will readily be believed, when I remind the House that the bill, as sent down to us, consisted of from 90 to 100 clauses. Now, one complaint which was made against us by the Gentlemen opposite, when we were in office, was, that we did not make sufficient use of the legislative power of the House of Lords; that bills which might have been brought into that House early in the Session, were brought in here, and were delayed in this House till late in the Session; and that then, when Parliament was about to be prorogued, bills of the utmost importance were sent up in a heap to the House of Lords, when it was impossible that due time or deliberation could be bestowed upon them. Now, what use have the Gentlemen opposite made of the legislative power of the House of Lords? From the 18th of February to the 18th of July, a period of five months, this bill for the amendment of the bankruptcy laws, struck, I suppose, by the torpid influence of the genius Loci, remained in a state of suspended animation on the Table of the House of Lords. On the 18th of July the bill came down to this House; and then, in order to give it decent consideration, the House was obliged to meet at the unusual hour of twelve in the morning, while many learned Gentlemen, whose opinions would have been useful upon the bill, were necessarily absent on circuit; and if it had not been for the fortunate return of my right hon. and learned Friend near me (Sir Thomas Wilde), who is in himself a host, the bill would not have had the benefit of those improvements which are fresh in the recollection of the House. The next point was the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and upon that, I believe, no measure has been submitted by the Government to either House of Parliament; it has been passed over altogether. The next point mentioned in the Queen's Speech was the registration of electors; and the words in which it was mentioned implied that the measure was to extend to every part of the United Kingdom. Upon this point we have not yet even seen what are the intentions of the Government; and of course all idea of legislation upon this 1241 matter in the present Session, is out of the question. But we are indulged with the hope of a statement, which may en. able us, between this time and the next Session, to meditate upon the Govern merit plan. One point, however, has been gained upon this subject during the present Session. For the right hon. Baronet in answer to a question put to him very early in the year, declared, that he would not, as Minister of the Crown, take upon himself the responsibility of bringing in the bill for the registration of electors in Ireland, which his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies was formerly so anxious to press upon this House. That undoubtedly is a step gained, because if we cannot know what we are to have, it is at least something to know what we are not to have. Then came the most important topic of all those referred to in the Speech from the Throne, namely, the distress in the country. That distress had also been adverted to, in the Speeches from the Throne in the preceding autumn. But not only have the Government proposed no effectual measure for the relief of that distress, but they are going to prorogue Parliament, leaving that distress more extensive, more severe, and harder to bear, than it was in the beginning of the Session, when they directed the attention of Parliament to it. When the Government, by the Speech from the Throne, called the attention of Parliament to the prevailing distress, everybody supposed that they intended to ask Parliament to adopt some legislative measure for the purpose of affording prompt and effectual relief. But nothing of the kind has been done, and the Advisers of the Crown seem to place their whole reliance upon the fine weather, and to think that the prospect of a good harvest is a sufficient excuse to them for doing nothing. I sincerely wish that their expectations in this respect may prove better founded than I fear they are. But I am sure of one thing, and that is, that if the distress augments, Ministers will be obliged to call Parliament together to take the matter into consideration; and I hope and trust, that if it should not augment, that fortitude which belongs to the British character, will enable the people to bear it for a while, confident as they must be, from what they have seen passing in this House during the present Session, that next year something must he done more effectually 1242 calculated to relieve their distress. As far then as regards domestic affairs, I see in the events of the present Session some topics of consolation; and at all events the language of the Government has been unexceptionable, although their acts have not entirely kept pace with their language. But with regard to foreign affairs, I am obliged to find fault, both with their language and with their conduct. To refer to former debates is, I am aware, irregular; but upon an occasion of this sort, when the Session is about to close, I may perhaps be permitted to advert to a charge made not only against me personally, but against the rest of the Government with which I had the honour to act, The noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire, is almost the only member of the present Government who, in the course of this Session, has said much upon foreign affairs. The noble Lord, on the occasion to which I allude, made a very good off-hand speech, for no man is a better off-hand debater than the noble Lord. But off-hand debaters are sometimes apt to say whatever may come into their heads on the spur of the moment, without stopping to consider, as they would do if they had time, whether what they are going to say is strictly consistent with the facts to which it applies. I remember to have heard of a celebrated Minister of a foreign country, who lived about the middle of the last century, who was giving instructions to one of his agents as to the language he should hold in regard to the conduct of another Government. The agent having listened to the instructions, ventured, with great humility and very submissively, to suggest, that the language which he was ordered to hold was not strictly consistent with fact, and might, indeed, be thought to be altogether at variance with fact. What was the minister's answer? " Never mind that! what in the world does that signify ! it is a good thing to say, and take care you say it." That minister would, I think, have made not a bad off-hand debater in this House. However, I assure the noble Lord, that I don't accuse him of having, on the occasion to which I refer, or on any other, stated that which he believed to be inconsistent with fact. What I accuse him of is, speaking about facts, in regard to which he happened to be wholly uninformed. The noble Lord charged the late Government in general, 1243 and myself in particular, with having by our restless meddling in every part of the world, created for him and his Colleagues such embarrassments, political and commercial, that in every quarter they were met by difficulties arising from the work of our hands. That was his charge; and that charge I meet with an entire denial; and I shall be able to prove my denial, though the noble Lord did not stop to endeavour to prove his charge. I must say that the noble Lord's charge shows a great want of information on his part, as to the state of our foreign relations. It may be that the noble Lord and his Colleagues have been too busily occupied in their own departments to have leisure to ransack the archives of the Foreign Office to know what passed in our time; but then really, they who are so wholly uninformed, ought not to make such positive assertions. But the noble Lord's attack upon me and my Colleagues is an instance -not only of great want of information, but also of the grossest ingratitude. So far from having left embarrassments to our successors, we have bequeathed to them facilities. Why, what have they been doing ever since they came into office? They have been living upon our leavings. They have been subsisting upon the broken victuals which they found upon our table. They are like a band of men who have made a forcible entrance into a dwelling, and who sit down and carouse upon the provisions they found in the larder. As to our home affairs, not a month has passed since the beginning of the Session that Ministers have not brought forward some measure which had been prepared by their predecessors; which, upon examination, they found good, and deserving of adoption, and which on that ground they have recommended to the House; and this applies not only to measures, but to smaller details. The adoption of our Hill Coolie clause in the Colonial Passengers' Bill, by the noble Lord for North Lancashire, who had opposed it before, is an instance of this; and again, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, who used formerly to think the Bonded Corn Bill a bad and dangerous thing, has found, on closer examination, that it was a good and wholesome measure. With regard, then, to domestic affairs, it would really be wasting the time of the House to go into details to prove that we have bequeathed to our successors facilities in- 1244 stead of embarrassments; and as to our foreign affairs, it certainly does astonish me that members of the Government should attempt to represent, that in that respect we have left them embarrassments. I have already stated what the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of the Session said about our domestic affairs; now what did it contain about our foreign affairs? Setting apart that portion of the Speech which related to the happy event of the birth of the Prince of Wales, nearly one-half of the Speech was about foreign affairs; and we furnished the materials for nearly the whole of that. The Gentlemen opposite came into office the 3rd of September last, and the Speech from the Throne at the opening of this Session was delivered on the 3rd of February. Well then, it might be supposed thaw active Government, with views of their own, would have so employed the interval, that when Parliament met, they should have something to tell of what they had done in foreign affairs. Not a bit. The whole of the foreign affairs portion of the Speech, with one single exception, was full of what had been done by their predecessors. But judging by the statement made by the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, it might be supposed that this part of the Speech was made up of complaints of the many embarrassments which we had bequeathed them. No such thing. The Speech contained only expressions of satisfaction as to the past, and pleasing anticipations as to the future. It began by stating, thatIt was with great satisfaction they informed us, that a treaty has been concluded with Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia, for the more effectual suppression of the slave-trade, which, when ratified, should be laid before us.Now that treaty was certainly not signed by us, for reasons which, out of, regard for other persons, I shall not go into: but that was not our fault, it was left by us ready for signature; and I believe that the treaty, as it was afterwards signed, differs in no material respect from the draft which he had negotiated. Here, then, is a treaty negotiated and brought to the point of conclusion by us, and afterwards signed by our successors, and announced by them as a subject of great satisfaction. This, I suppose, is one of the embarrassments which the noble Lord complained of, as having been bequeathed by us to her Majesty's present advisers. 1245 The Speech then went on to mention, that another treaty had been concluded by England with the same powers, in conjunction with the Sultan. This was a treaty to which we had given the modest title of " a treaty respecting the straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles; " and her Majesty's present advisers might have announced it to Parliament in the words of the title which we had so given it. But they were delighted with the treaty; they considered it of great importance; and chose to give their own description of it. Accordingly, in the Speech from the Throne, they announced it as " a treaty having for its object the security of the Turkish empire," that is to say, the preservation of an essential element. in the general balance of power, " and the maintenance of the peace of Europe." Here is another instance of the dangers and embarrassments which we bequeathed to them. The next paragraph in the Speech carried us to a more distant region, namely, Persia; and announced the restoration of our diplomatic intercourse with the court of Tehran. That diplomatic intercourse had been broken off on two grounds. First, on account of certain insults and outrages which had been committed by Persian authorities towards persons connected with our mission, and towards other individuals under British protection, and for which we had been obliged to demand satisfaction; and secondly, on account of the attempt made by the Shah to conquer Herat and the western part of Affghanistan; an attempt which it was essential for British interests in Asia, that we should prevent him from accomplishing. We succeeded on both points. We obtained full satisfaction for the insults and outrages for which we had demanded redress; and we compelled the Shah to abandon the siege of Herat, and to withdraw his army into his own territory. The reasons for the rupture of our diplomatic intercourse with the Shah having thus ceased, our diplomatic intercourse with him was renewed. But diplomatic inter- course loses much of its value if it is not attended with those friendly feelings on both sides, which are so essential to a good understanding between governments. Now, was our diplomatic intercourse, when thus renewed with Persia, deprived of that friendly character, by reason of the man-net in which we had pressed and carried our points? No ! The present Government 1246 are our witnesses as to this, and their Speech announced the restoration, not only of diplomatic, but of " friendly " intercourse with the court of Tehran. Another of the embarrassments bequeathed by the late Government to its successors ! Everybody knows that we have of late years been carrying on a valuable and a growing trade with Persia; hut that trade wanted security; we had no commercial treaty with Persia: as a consequence of the renewal of our diplomatic intercourse we obtained a commercial witty, which by one or two short articles placed our commerce in Persia upon the footing of that of the most favoured nation. That was all we asked; that was all we could wish; but it was essential that this should be obtained; as by this means our commerce with Persia is placed on the same footing us that of Russia, and becomes entitled to the same securities and privileges. This treaty, I presume, is another of the embarrassments of which the noble Lord complains. Then comes that paragraph in the Speech which is the only one in regard to foreign affairs, which concerns the present Government. The Speech went on to say, that the Government is—Engaged in negotiations with several powers, which it trusts, by leading to conventions founded on just principles of mutual advantage, may extend the trade and commerce of this country.Were these negotiations, I ask, all begun by the present Government? Were not some of them, at least, negotiations which we had begun; and which we had carried on to various stages of progress, although various circumstances had prevented us, up to the time when we went out, from bringing them to a final conclusion? Why, one of these negotiations was with Portugal, and it has since ended in a treaty; and the right hon. Baronet in announcing the other day the conclusion of that treaty, fairly and handsomely stated it to be the result of the negotiations in which we had been long engaged with Portugal. I presume the other negotiations alluded to are with Spain, with Naples, and with Brazil; with all of which powers we had been in communication on these subjects. I hope her Majesty's present Government will be able to bring all these negotiations to a satisfactory issue I shall be the last man to detract from their merit, if they do; but on the other hand it must be admitted, that our pre- 1247 vious negotiations with these powers must have paved the way for our successors, and must have afforded them facilities. The next paragraph in the Speech contained an expression of regret, that they were " not enabled to announce the reestablishment of peaceful relations with the government of China." If they had said nothing but that, they might have had some pretence for asserting, that here at least was an embarrassment which we had left to them. But mark what followed ! First, however, let me remind the House of what passed when the state of our affairs in China was brought under discussion in Parliament. When the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester (Sir J. Graham) made his motion in this House, no Member that I recollect, but certainly no Member of the present Cabinet, expressed an opinion, that our quarrel with China was unjust. Some other hon. Members, indeed, declared that it was just; but no leading Member of the then Opposition condemned our course on the ground of its injustice. What they dwelt upon was the danger and difficulty of carrying on a war at the antipodes against a nation of 350,000,000 of people. But if little or nothing was said in this House about the justice of the war, was nothing said about it in the other House of Parliament? Lord Stanhope made a motion which implied an opinion adverse to the justice of the war. The Duke of Wellington, as leader of the Opposition, moved the previous question; and in order to persuade the majority of the House to vote with him, he argued, that by agreeing to the previous question, they would avoid expressing any opinion one way or the other upon the justice of the war. This was a wise and prudent course for a Parliamentary tactician. But the honest and manly feelings of the warrior were more than a match for the Parliamentary tactician; and the just indignation of the Duke of Wellington was uncontrollable, and broke forth. The noble Duke declared, that he would not take upon himself the responsibility of advising the Queen to submit to insults and injuries such as never before had been endured by this country. He said he would prove it, if proof were required; and he added, that these insults and injuries were not only atrocious, but unprovoked; for speaking of the demands which had been made on Captain Elliot, 1248 he said, they were such, that it was Captain Elliot's duty to resist them, even to the shedding of the last drop of his blood; and that if Captain Elliot had yielded to them, he, the Duke of Wellington, would have been ashamed of the country which had given him birth. Such were the terms used by the Duke of Wellington, and they seem to me a pretty plain admission of the justice of the war. Now as to the dangers and difficulties of that war, which were so much dwelt upon in this House, what have they proved to be? Hear what the present Government say upon this subject in the next paragraph of the Speech.The uniform success which has attended the operations against that power, and my confidence in the skill and gallantry of my naval and military forces, encourage the hope, on my part, that our differences with the government of China will be brought to an early termination.It appears, then, that this dangerous and difficult enterprise has been attended with uniform success; and I presume, that this uniform success is not one of the embarrassments which we are asserted to have bequeathed to our unfortunate successors. But success may be uniform without being important or decisive; it may apply to small points, and to insignificant enterprises, without bringing us much nearer to any satisfactory result. Has this been the character of our success? Luckily we are supported on this point also by the Speech from the Throne; for it said, that our uniform success encourages the hope of an early termination. Here is another embarrassment in prospect ! For the Government may soon have means to pay the claimants for the opium. But still, the termination, though " early," might not be satisfactory, and though it gave us indemnity for the past, it might not afford security for the future. Is this expected to be the case? Not in the least. The hope that they are encouraged to entertain, is a hope that the termination of the war, " not only will he early, but will place our commercial relations with China on a satisfactory basis." Now, Sir, I must say, that if the result of the operations planned and undertook against China, shall be, that by their uniform success, they shall have led to an early termination of the war, and shall have placed our future commercial relations with China 1249 upon a satisfactory basis, I hope and trust that her Majesty's Government may never, in the course of their official career, meet with any greater embarrassment than that, which we shall have bequeathed to them in this respect. But if we shall have succeeded in placing upon a satisfactory footing the future commercial relations of this country with a nation which I will not put at 350,000,000, because I believe that to be an exaggerated calculation, but which may perhaps amount to the sufficiently large number of 200,000,000, I say, that if we shall have succeeded in placing our commerce, with such a population as that, upon a satisfactory footing, we shall indeed have accomplished a great result. We produce a great variety of articles which they want, and they have an abundance of commodities which we should be glad to take in exchange; and if the effect of our policy shall be to secure to us this great and extensive opening for our trade, I am warranted in saying that this undertaking will have done more than any other single measure ever yet accomplished, for the advancement of our commercial prosperity. So much then for the Speech from the Throne, and in regard to that, at least, we bequeathed to our successors one facility; for we enabled them to make it. Without our doings to record, the foreign part of it would have been meagre indeed, for it must have been confined to the single paragraph about the negotiations going on for commercial treaties. Now what, let me ask have they been about since the Speech? Not a month has elapsed that they have not been laying upon the Table some Treaty or other concluded by us, but which it became their duty to present to Parliament. Their frequent walks for this purpose from the Table down to the Bar, and from the Bar back again to the Table, have really, 1 believe, constituted a great part of the exercise which, during the confinement of this laborious Session, they have been able to enjoy. No less than eleven of our treaties have they laid this Session upon the Table; five commercial ones, two political, and four for the suppression of the slave-trade. In this number of eleven, I include an agreement, which does not bear the title of treaty, but which is in fact a very important commercial convention—I mean the agreement with Denmark for the reduction of the Sound-tolls. These 1250 tolls had for a great length of time been higher than they ought to have been, according to the treaties of 1645, or of 1701, and the matter had been the subject of much negotiation between Sweden and Denmark, and between England and Denmark. After long arguments on both sides, the government of Denmark, to its great honour, yielded to reason, and agreed to appoint a commissioner to meet a commissioner from England to settle this matter, The commissioners met at Elsinore, and in August last they came to an agreement by which the Sound-duties were thenceforward to be reduced, so as to be in conformity with the ancient treaties; the principle of which was, that the maximum of duty should not exceed per cent, on the value of the goods. That agreement will be of great importance, not only to our trade with the countries lying within the Baltic, but to our shipping interest. I should like to know when the present Government will lay upon the Table a similar agreement upon the similar question now pending with Hanover; I mean upon the Stade-tolls. The government of Hanover at present levies upon our commerce up the Elbe, duties much higher than are warranted by existing treaties; and not only are these duties much too high in amount, but they are levied with a vexatious diversity, and with a capricious uncertainty more grievous even than the amount itself. These tolls have been the subject of much controversy and we entered into negotiation with Hanover respecting them. We contended, and I think justly, that Hanover is not entitled to levy more than one sixteenth per cent., and we invited Hanover to appoint a commissioner, as Denmark had done, to meet a British commissioner, and to revise the tariff, so as to make it conformable with the ancient treaties. The Government of Hanover apparently consented, and the commissioners met at Hamburg; but to our surprise, we found that the Hanoverian commissioner was not authorized to adapt the tariff to the ancient treaties; but only to make a new tariff, founded neither on the old treaties, nor on the existing tariff. This at once brought the matter to a stand. But we urged the Hanoverian government to instruct their commissioner to go on with our commissioner upon the only basis which we could admit, and we gave that government plainly to understand that, we would not 1251 permit it to continue to levy its present I illegal duties on British commerce. What have the present Government done on this subject? What do they intend to do? I will tell them what I think they Wend to do, and what I have been informed they intend to do. I am informed, and I believe, that they intend to sacrifice the rights of British subjects; to yield to Hanover; and to allow that government to levy upon British commerce, duties at least twice as high as Hanover is entitled to exact. I believe they have actually offered to the Hanoverian government to allow it to levy upon British trade, duties twice as high as that government has any right to claim. If that be so, then indeed the course which we pursued with regard to the Sound-tolls will be a source of considerable embarrassment to them. If they mean to sacrifice the rights and interests of Englishmen, out of deference and personal regard for the Sovereign who now happens to sit on the throne of Hanover, they will not only find considerable embarrassment arising out of former acts, but I can tell them that we shall give them still further embarrassment when they shall be called upon hereafter to defend their conduct in this Matter, But I still hope they will do no such thing; I still hope the negotiation may take a different turn. I hope that the Board of Trade, to whom, I understand this negotiation, as well as some others, has been handed over, according to the practice which seems to prevail now a days, will remember that it is a board specially appointed to watch over the interests of British commerce, and that it will not consent to any arrangement that shall not be funded upon a tariff in strict conformity with the ancient treaties; such being the only tariff that Hanover is entitled to maintain. I have said that five of our commercial treaties have been laid this Session upon the Table, besides two political ones, and four for the suppression Of the slave-trade. But while I distinguish the latter from commercial treaties, let no man imagine that those treaties for the suppression of the slave-trade are valuable only as being calculated to promote the great interests of humanity, and as tending to rid mankind of a foul and detestable crime. Such is indeed their great object and their chief merit. Bet in this case, as in many others, virtue carries with it its own reward; arid if the na- 1252 tions of the world could extirpate this abominable traffic, and if the vast population of Africa could by that means be left free to betake themselves to peaceful and innocent trade, the greatest commercial benefit would accrue pot to England only, but to every civilized nation which engages in maritime commerce. These slave-trade treaties therefore are indirectly, treaties for the encouragement of commerce. I contend, then, not only that we helped the Government to make the Speech from the Throne, but that the Government have beep employed during the whole of the Session in carrying the harvest of treaties of which we sowed the seed; and they have had an attendant crop. But let me ask what are, generally speaking, the means by which a Government can best promote the commercial interests of the country? and have we been deficient in employing those means? Why, first and foremost, I put the maintenance of peace; of peace, not only between this country and foreign nations, but peace between the other great powers of the world; for it is manifest that, if serious war rages anywhere, and especially a naval war, the interests of all commercial nations must be more or less affected thereby. Now in spite of every prediction to the contrary, we maintained peace for ten years. We maintained it in spite of many difficulties thrown in our way by Gentlemen belonging to the other side of the House; who, one after the other, endeavoured to magnify into importance every petty question that arose with other countries, and to embitter every trifling dispute; whether with Russia, with France, or with the United States; whether it related to a doubtful right; or to some question about a coal deépoôt in Minorca; or to a chapel in Cuba; or to a pilot in the Gulph of Mexico; or to some blockade established by some foreign power. In spite of all these attempts, not always to be disregarded, to create ill feeling between this country and foreign powers, we did succeed in maintaining peace, during the whole lime we had the honour to conduct the affairs of the country. We maintained it, moreover, without any sacrifice of British interests, and without any injury to our national honour; and I would appeal to any candid and impartial man to say, whether he could find anything to complain of, in the position which this country held among the other powers of the globe 1253 at the time when we quitted the Government. But not only did we maintain peace for ourselves, we were also frequently instrumental in preserving peace between other nations who had got into serious disputes. There were many instances of this kind of which the records will be found in the archives of the foreign office, when the hon. Gentlemen opposite have leisure during the recess to consult them. But I will mention in particular one instance of this kind:—I mean our successful mediation between France and the United States, when a serious difference had grown up between those two powers. That difference was one of a very grave character; for the Parliament of each country had mixed itself up with the dispute; and as it would have been difficult for either party to have receded with honour, war could scarcely have been avoided, if some third and friendly power had not been able to interpose. But there was no other power which at. that time possessed in the same degree, that England did, the confidence and good will of both parties; accordingly we offered our mediation; it was accepted; and it proved entirely successful. But then it may be said, all this is very true; true it is, you preserved peace; but of what use is mere peace, to the commerce of this country, if you do not obtain by the stipulations of treaties, those securities which are necessary for the advantageous prosecution of trade? Were we idle, I ask, in this respect? We have been accused of restless activity, and of incessant meddling in regard to foreign affairs. I take the charge as a high compliment; and I admit it to be peculiarly just with respect to our proceedings about treaties of commerce. There are now in existence about eighteen treaties of commerce which were concluded before we came into office, in November 1830; including in that number the antient treaties with Tripoli, Tunis, and Morocco. We concluded fifteen more treaties; and two of them, the treaties with Austria and Turkey in 1838, are of considerable importance. There is one other also, to which I must for a moment direct the attention of the House; it is not entitled a treaty of commerce, bat it deserves to be so described; and it is not only a treaty of commerce, but a treaty tending to secure the maintenance of peace. I allude to the Convention of 1839 with France, for regulating the 1254 boundaries of the fisheries of the two countries. It is well known that serious disputes, attended sometimes with collisions, and thereby endangering the good understanding between the two countries, had for many years prevailed between our fishermen and the fishermen of France. These disputes arose from the want of a properly defined boundary for the oyster fishery between Jersey and the coast of France, and from the interference of the fishermen of the two nations with each other, on the coasts of the two countries generally. These questions had remained open ever since the Peace of 1815, and successive Governments had vainly endeavoured to settle them. We settled those questions; we concluded a Convention which accurately determined all those limits; and it' it has not entirely prevented a recurrence of all disputes, it has at least given to the two Governments a distinct and positive rule by which the merits of each case of difference can be at once as, certained, so that irregularities on either side may be controlled and punished. That treaty contained an article which declared that the right of fishery in the sea, within three miles of low water mark on the coast of each country, is the exclusive privilege of the fishermen of each country respectively; and by another article, the stipulations of which have not yet been fully executed, it was agreed that a commissioner should be appointed by each Government, and that these commissioners should frame regulations for the guidance of the fishermen of the two countries when they meet each other on the sea, beyond the three mile limit from the two coasts, and therefore beyond the jurisdiction of either country. When we left office these regulations had not been quite completed; there was, however, only one material point on which a difference between the two commissioners existed, and that point being of some importance, I will explain it. The French commissioner was anxious to obtain for French fishing vessels permission to anchor and station themselves, in our ports, and on our coasts, within the three mile limit: in order that they might be ready to start. from thence from time to time, as occasion served to fish in the sea, beyond that limit. At the first blush of the thing, there did not seem to be any very strong reason why we should not agree to this request. But, on further consideration, 1255 we thought that such a permission would lead practically to constant evasions of the stipulation which acknowledged our exclusive right of fishing within the three mile limit; and that such stipulation would in this manner be defeated. And, moreover, it became evident, that one of the chief motives which led the French commissioner to press this request was, a desire on the part of his government, that the French fishery on the coast of England should become a nursery for sailors to man the navy of France. Now to that I objected. I do not know whether the present Government has done so too or not; but I hope they have. I hope they will not, under the specious plea of international comity, agree to a stipulation which would be politically injurious to us. I now come to the treaties for the suppression of the slave-trade. Of these there were ten in existence when we came into office. We concluded sixteen additional ones; and there is this distinction between those which we concluded, and those which had been concluded by our predecessors; that our treaties contain better and more effectual stipulations, than are to be found in the former treaties. say, then, that I am entitled to assert, that as regards the maintenance of peace and the securities to be obtained for commerce by treaties, we exerted ourselves success-fully in support of the great interests of the country, and that we bequeathed to our successors facilities, and not embarrassments. But, it may be said, that treaties are very good things, if they are faithfully executed; but that if they are violated, they are no more than waste paper; and it is certainly true, that in remote parts of distant countries, such for instance, as the South American republics, where the power of the central government is weak, the local authorities are apt to abuse their power; to disregard the rights of foreign merchants; and to commit acts giving rise to complaints, and necessarily requiring demands for redress. A considerable portion of the correspondence of the Foreign Office, relates to matters of this kind. Speaking generally, and from recollection, I may, I believe, venture to say, that with one particular exception, we succeeded in almost every case of this kind that happened in our time, in obtaining satisfaction. Indeed, so well was the character of the British Government in this respect known, that it was 1256 observed upon by the king of Persia, as appears by a despatch which was laid upon the Table of this House. The king of Persia was asking the British Minister in Persia to request the British Government to compel a British merchant residing in England, and who had become bankrupt, to pay a debt due to a Persian subject; and upon its being represented to him that the thing was impossible, " Why how is this? If the meanest British subject sustains an injury in any part of the world, the British Government always obtains for him redress, and is it not strange that you cannot give me redress, when one of my subjects has a just demand upon one of yours !" The instance to which I just now alluded, as the one in which we had not, when we went out, succeeded in obtaining redress, was the claim for losses sustained by British subjects at Portendic; a claim which was again brought the other day under the notice of the House. Those who have now the management of affairs will admit, that our want of success arose from difficulties inherent in the matter, and not from want of exertion on our part; I hope the present Government will be more success than we were in overcoming those difficulties; and I will not add to those difficulties by any further remark at the present moment. I say, then, that with regard to the maintenance of peace; to the conclusion of treaties, and to attention in watching over the execution of treaties; we are not open to any just imputation. But the Members of the present Government have not confined themselves to general accusations, they have descended to particulars. Said the noble Lord for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley), " You bequeathed to us embarrassments in North America; you left us unsettled questions, which had grown up under your administration of affairs." Now, what are these questions? Why, first, there is the Boundary question. Did that grow up in our time? Why it grew up long before the noble Lord grew up; it grew tip before he was born or thought of; it grew up out of the treaty of 1783. True, we did not settle that question; but did we create embarrassments, or afford facilities for its settlement? What is that question? The question is, how you are to apply to the natural features of the country certain words of the treaty of 1783. The words are, in substance, that a part of the boundary be- 1257 tween the United States, and the British North American provinces, is to consist of a line drawn due north, from the head of the river St. Croix, until it meets certain highlands; and then, by a line drawn westward from that north line, and along those highlands, to the head of the Connecticut river. It was thought for a long while, and by many, and 1 acknowledge, that I shared in the opinion, that there was an inherent incompatibility between the words of the treaty and the features of the country; and that no line could be drawn, which would properly correspond with both. What did we do? In January, 1831, about two months after we came in, we received the award of the King of the Netherlands, upon a reference which had been made to him by the British and American Governments in the time of our predecessors. We knew little of the matter, but what we found recorded' in our offices. The King of the Netherlands declared, that neither our claim, nor that of the United States, could be reconciled with the words of the treaty, and the features of the country, and he recommended a conventional line. This line was extremely disadvantageous to England, to whom it gave hardly one-third of the territory in dispute, but under all the circumstances of the case, we thought ourselves bound to accept it, and we signified our readiness to do so. Fortunately, the Americans refused it; and, after a time, we declared to them that we were no longer bound by our offer, and should never again agree to so disadvantageous a line. At a later period, We offered to the United States to settle the question, by what appeared to us a fair arrangement; to divide the disputed territory in equal portions between the two parties, making the St. John river the boundary; England retaining all that lies to the north of that river, and the United States taking the land to the south of it, as far eastward as the due north line. We made that offer as a fair one, not knowing at that time the full merits of our own case. That offer was refused; and then, as a reference seemed to be the only course left, we did that, as a preparation for a reference, which no other Government before us, had ever thought of doing; we set to work to have the disputed territory explored and surveyed. The words of the treaty were clear enough. but nobody seemed to know much about 1258 the real features of the country. Accordingly we sent two commissioners, Colonel Mudge, and Mr. Featherstonhaugh, to examine the country, and to see whether, and how, the words of the treaty could be applied to it. Those commissioners were to examine the line claimed by England, and they made their report two years ago. That report proved that the line claimed by us, is perfectly consistent with the words of the treaty, and with the features of the country; inasmuch as from the point at which our line strikes off westward from the due north line, it does run along a chain of well-defined highlands; which chain continues on to the head of the Connecticut river. It was vary satisfactory to find that our claim could thus be maintained by a strict application of the words of the treaty to the features of the country. But this proof was evidently incomplete; because it might possibly happen, that the line claimed by the Americans 'night be found upon examination to fulfil also in the same degree that our's does, the conditions of the treaty. We determined to ascertain bow this matter stood; and we accordingly sent out a second commission to explore and examine the line claimed by the United States. That commission returned last winter, awl have made a report, which the right hon. Baronet has been so obliging. as to show me, and which I understand is now in the hands of the Members of the House; and it will be seen by that report, that the line claimed by the United States, does not fulfil the conditions required by the treaty, and is not consistent with the words of that treaty, and with the features of the country. That line, like ours, strikes oft to the westward from the due north line, but at a point much further north. Like ours it goes along a range of highlands, though not very well marked or continuous. But that range of hills, instead of leading, as the treaty requires, to the source of the Connecticut river, passes five-and-twenty miles wide of that source, and is separated from it by an extensive tract of swampy plain, which by no possible force of imagination can be looked upon as a ridge of highlands. I say, therefore, that during our Administration we established two most important facts; first, that the line claimed by England is strictly conformable with the words of treaty, and with secondly, the features the of country; and secondly, that the line 1259 claimed by the United States is not consistent with the words of the treaty, and With the features of the country. The establishment of these two facts ought to afford a great facility to the present Government in their endeavours to settle the Matter in dispute, if they wish to maintain the rights and interests of their country; but it may be an embarrassment to the present Government, if what we read in the American newspapers be true. These newspapers are certainly doubtful and uncertain authorities; but if the fact be, as therein asserted, that Ministers are about to make great concessions to the United States; if the fact be, that as in the case of the State Duties, they are about to sacrifice the rights and interests or their country for their own temporary convenience, they May very reasonably assert that the advance which we had made in establishing by proof, the just-ice of the British claim, will be to them a source of very great embarrassment. I hope for better things. I will not as yet believe that an arrangement so dishonourable for England will be carried into effect, or that it can have been proposed by her Majesty's Government. I say proposed by tier Majesty's Government, because if the reports to which I allude are true, those proposals have already been met by the return which undue concession is sure to produce, and have been followed up by increased demands on the other side. If we were making with the American Government the very last arrangement which we could ever have to make with that or any other government, it might possibly be worth while, for the sake of a final settlement, to submit to considerable sacrifices; but when we know that question after question must arise, that one surrender of national rights only leads to demands for further surrenders, such a course as that which the Government is said to be pursuing, may indeed relieve them from the difficulties of the moment, but must in the end involve us in difficulties ten times greater. Another question to which the noble Lord alluded was, I presume, the question about the destruction of the Caroline, and this certainly did grow up in our time, not by any act of ours, but by the spontaneous, though perfectly justifiable, act of our local authorities in Canada. But we had settled that question, at least so far as we could do so, by stating formally aria officially to 1260 the United Stains' government, that we considered the destruction of that vessel a justifiable act of self-defence, for Which neither apology nor compensation could properly be required. I know hot:Whether the present Government have taken the same view of this matter that we did, acting upon the opinion of the law-officers of the Crown; but in any case the answer which we gave can be no embarrassment, but on the contrary must be e facility to them; for even if they should feel disposed to take any conciliatory step on this matter, such a step would come from them with a better grace in consequence of our having made a previous declaration of principle. The third question alluded to by the noble Lord is the question, not as to a right of search, for we claimed no such right; but as to the right we claimed for our cruizers employed on the coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave-trade, to ascertain by an inspection of papers, whether a vessel suspected of slave-trade really belongs to the country whose flag she may choose for the moment to hoist. That question also grew up hi our time, out of What 1 consider an unjust pretension of the American government; we denied that pretension, and answered it with the best arguments and reasons which occurred to us. And what has been the course of the present Government upon this matter? has their 'View of the matter been different from ours? quite the contrary. They adopted our arguments one and all. They stated them, I am ready to admit, with more ability, and perhaps with greater clearness; for I am bound to say that I never read a More able note than that which Lord Aberdeen addressed to the American on this subject. But the arguments in that note were substantially ours. Therefore, instead of our having in this Matter created embarrassments for our successors, we had previously taken up for them the ground upon which they afterwards planted their own standard. So much for the questions in North America. But the noble Lord slightly shadowed out something about blockades. He hinted at something of the kind, but did not specify what he meant. There was, to be sure, the other day, a trumpery blockade of the port of Carthagena, in New Grenada, by some insurgent force, Which was Speedily raised by one of our ships of War, at the request of the consul-general whom we 1261 had sent out, and who acted in this matter at once, and upon his own responsibility. There have also, I believe, been some trifling blockades on the coast of the Pacific, arising out of disputes between the Chilians and Peruvians, for which we are in no way answerable. But there were blockades in America during our tune, which were of importance; I mean the French blockades of Mexico and of Buenos Ayres. These were two serious blockades; they interfered much with our commerce; so much so, that some of the Gentlemen opposite gave us to under stand that those blockades were established by the French government, not so much for vindicating the honour of France, as for injuring the commerce of England. That was one instance of the way in which they helped us to maintain a good feeling between this country and other powers. On that occasion, however; that restless activity which was always prompting us to meddle with the affairs of other countries, was again brought into play; we tendered our good offices as mediators between France and Mexico, and between France and Buenos Ayres. Our offers were accepted. In the case of Mexico our mediation took a more formal character; in the case of Buenos Ayres it was in the informal shape of good offices. In each case our restless activity succeeded, and peace was restored between France and these republics; and British commerce was in each case relieved much sooner than it otherwise would have been, from the serious inconvenience and injury which it suffered from these blockades. Another instance this, I presume, of the multifarious embarrassments which we bequeathed to our successors. Well, Sir, another way in which a government may assist the commerce of the country, is by opening new markets for our trade. Did we do that? I say we did. I have mentioned, on former occasions, the establishments which we formed at Tadjoura on the coast of Abyssinia, and at Aden on the coast of Arabia. The Gentlemen opposite affected to treat these establishments lightly; and talked sneeringly of our attempts to extend our commerce into the wilds of Abyssinia, and the deserts of Arabia. Why, do those who thus deride our measures, know that the finest coffee in the world, that, namely, which has hitherto borne the name of Mocha, only because it was shipped at that insignificant port in the Red 1262 Sea, grows in the greatest abundance in those Abyssinian wilds, and in those Arabian deserts; and that those wilds and those deserts are inhabited by a numerous population, wanting many things which we can supply, and able to give us valuable commodities in return? do not mean to say, that these establishments have yet reached to any great importance; but I am sure that in process of time, they will lead to a considerable increase of our commerce. But the largest augmentation of our commerce, for which we have laid the foundation, is that. to which I have already adverted, as being certain to take place in China, when that early and satisfactory arrangement shall have been made with the Chinese government, which her Majesty's Ministers announced to us I in the Speech from the Throne. Another new and vast opening for our commerce will be afforded, by the great operations which we undertook in the countries to the west of the Indus. These great measures may he made the subject of derision by men who never heard of such places as Caubul and Candabar till they read of then in our despatches; and who, before the glorious exploit of Lord Keane, could not have told us whether Ghuznee was an inland fortress or a seaport town. Such Gentlemen may laugh at things which they do not understand; but their laughter cannot deprive the people of England of their good sense; nor make that trivial and unimportant, which is really of the utmost consequence. I may again be accused of assurance in boasting of these matters, but I presume no man will deny that, if we retain our military and political position in those countries and passes, which command the navigation of the Indus, a river navigable for more than 1200 miles from its mouth, and traversing regions inhabited by numerous nations, who, if internal tranquillity were secured to them by good Government, would afford a vast market for our manufactures; no man can doubt, that if we do this, we shall obtain a great 'additional opening for our commerce. I say, that no rational man, no wan at least, who possesses any other of the attributes which distinguish the human race from the inferior animals, except laughter, would treat these matters otherwise than as being of the highest importance. We were told, however, that it is great assurance on my part to assert that we obtained for our Indian empire the 1263 barrier of Affghanistan. I conclude, that this charge had reference to the disasters which had lately happened in that quarter; and that what was meant was, that although we had at first got possession of that barrier, yet by subsequent events, a part of what we had so gained had been lost. But I say, that these recent losses and disasters had nothing whatever to do with the original policy of the war, and are no proof whatever that we did not judiciously adapt our means to the end that was to be accomplished. I do not like to throw blame hastily on any man, and still less to throw blame indiscriminately without knowing whether it may fall on the right persons or not. But in a matter of such great importance, one must speak out; and I cannot refrain from saying, that if the most ordinary military precautions had been taken; if the force of 6,000 or 8,000 men, which we had in, and near Caubul, had been stationed in a fortified position, the Bala Hissar, or any other stronghold, well provided with artillery, and with sufficient magazines of provisions and ammunition within their defences, they might have bid defiance not only to the Affghans of Caubul, but to the united forces of all Central Asia. They would have maintained themselves in Caubul with as much success as the gallant Sir Robert Sale has done, with a much inferior force, and with far greater difficulties to contend with, in his noble and heroic defence of Jellallabad. If proper precautions had been taken, none of these disasters would have happened, and we should have occupied Caubul at the present moment, with the same ease and security with which we held it during the two years that elapsed between our first occupation of it and the disasters of last winter. I was much struck with the answer given by the right hon. Baronet, to the question which I put to him on this subject the other day. I was struck with it, not on account of what be said, but on account of what he left unsaid. The matter to which my question related is deeply interesting, both as affecting the honour of the country and as bearing upon the security of our Indian empire, not only by its direct military consequences, but by its moral effect upon that public opinion, which the right hon. Baronet truly said on a former occasion, is an essential element of our political power in Asia. The question I put was, whether any order 1264 had been given by the Governor-general of India for the withdrawal of our troops from the countries, west of the Indus; and I expressed a hope that the right hon. Baronet would be able to say, that there was not the slightest foundation for the reports to that effect, which had come by the last Indian mail. The answer of the right hon. Baronet was, that Candahar and Jellallabad are now occupied by our troops, and that no immediate retirement of those troops is in contemplation. I say that this answer was an admission that such orders had been given. It must be so understood. It is susceptible of no other interpretation. It must be taken as an acknowledgment that such orders were given; and I must say that I do congratulate the country upon the cause, whatever it may have been, whether a lucky misunderstanding of orders, or a fortunate and timely arrival of an overland despatch, which saved us from the eternal disgrace, which would have befallen us by such an evacuation of that country. I cannot conceive a fouler dishonour, I cannot fancy anything that would have dyed the cheek of every Englishman, with a deeper blush, or that would have struck a more fatal blow at our, Indian power, than a flight from Affghanistan, in the circumstances under which that order of the Governor-general was issued. The future, I hope, is in the hands of the Government at home. I hope that no discretion on such matters will be left in a quarter where discretionary power has been so greatly misused. It is for the Government at home to consider what persons can be depended upon, to carry on the public service on foreign stations; but the more distant the station, and the greater the interests concerned, the more incumbent it is on the Government to see that the persons in whom discretionary powers are vested, are men who will use those powers for the interests of the country, and in conformity with the views and intentions of the Government at home. I do trust, and I cannot refrain from expressing my feelings on the present occasion, that her Majesty's Government will not carry into effect either now, or at any future time, such a measure as that which was contemplated by the Governor-general. It was all very well, when we were in power, and when it suited the purposes of the other party, to run down anything we had done, and to represent as valueless any acquisi- 1265 tion which we prided ourselves upon having obtained; it was all very well at that time to raise a cry against the expedition into Affghanistan, and to depreciate the advantages, military, commercial, and political, which the occupation of that country is calculated to afford us. But now that the party contest at home is over, I trust that the Government will rise above all such considerations. That hey! will give the matter a fair, dispassionate, and deliberate consideration; that they I will form no hasty determinations, and take no precipitate and irrevocable steps I never was more convinced of anything in my life than I am, that important interests of this country, commercial and political, will be sacrificed if we abandon our position in Affghanistan. Rely upon it, that if you abandon that country it will get into other hands; and though you may, by such a course, escape from some little present difficulty, and save some little present expense, the day will come when you will be compelled to re-occupy that country at an infinitely greater expenditure of money, and at an infinitely greater sacrifice of life than would enable you now to retain it. Well, Sir, however, when I claim credit for the Government to which I belonged for having protected commerce, I may be asked how commerce has thriven during the time we were in office. It may be said that all I have stated as to peace, and treaties, and more' extended fields for trade may be very true, but that we ought to come to the test of figures. I am content to place the question on that issue. I have here an extract from the returns of commerce, published by the Board of Trade, for each year from 1831 to 1840, both inclusive; and in the aggregate though not in detail for 1841. From these returns it appears, that the declared or real value of the whole of our exports to all parts of the world, was, omitting fractional sums, in 1831, 37,000,0001.; in 1832, 36,000,000l.; in 1833, 39,000,000l.; in 1834,41,000,0001.; in 1835, 47,000,000l.; in 1836, 53,000,000l.; in 1837, 42,000,000l, ; in 1838, 50,000,000l. ; in 1839, 53,000,000l.; in 1840, 51,000,000l.; and in 1841, 51,000,000l. Therefore during our Administration from 1831 to 1840, both years included, the total value of our exports to foreign countries rose from 37,000,000l. to 51,000,000l., being an increase of 14,000,000l. in the ten 1266 years. I say that this is a conclusive proof that our restless activity, and incessant meddling produced no injury, but on the contrary much benefit to the commercial interests of the country; and that in this respect we have left, not embarrassments but facilities to our successors. I have stated the aggregate amount of our exports to all countries: but I will now take our exports to two parts of the world which have been materially affected by our policy; and our operations in which, have been the subject of much criticism; I mean Turkey and Syria on the one hand, and the East Indies and China on the other. The value of our exports to Turkey, Syria, and Palestine, amounted in 1831 to 838,000.; the value of our exports to those countries in 1840 rose to 1,461,0001. Therefore, in spite of our interference in those countries, which was riot only censured by the noble Lord opposite, but not quite approved of by some of my hon. Friends on this side, our trade to those countries increased by 600,000l. during the ten years. Now as to India and China; we have been told that our military operations in those quarters had entirely put a stop to trade, and that our commerce with those countries has been wholly paralyzed; and this was put forward as one reason for the Income-tax. But what is really the case as to our trade to those parts? Why, the total value of our exports to the East Indies and China amounted in 1831 to 3.377,000l., and in 1840 to 6,541,000l., having nearly doubled during the ten years, in spite of the great operations which we carried on in those quarters. 1 say then that with regard to our home affairs, the prospect is rather cheering than otherwise; for we have now a Government pledged and committed to the principles of free-trade; and for their own sakes, as well as for the interests of the country, bound to carry those principles into full execution if they can. They cannot now recede or stand still, they must go on. But the country has the satisfaction of knowing that they have a Government, not only professing and deeply imbued with free-trade principles, but supported by an overwhelming majority in Me House of Lords, and commanding a great majority in the House of Commons; and able therefore to carry ! any measures which they may think necessary. And the country has farther the satisfaction of knowing, that if by any 1267 accident this Government should be deserted by any powerful body of its own friends, in its attempts to carry its great principles into practice; the Opposition of the present day, unlike the Opposition of a flintier period, which prided itself upon Obstructing improvement, will cordially and honestly support the Government in its progressive course; and will assist the right hon. Baronet, even when he is deserted by his own friends, in carrying his liberal principles into full and complete effect. I say, then, that the prospect of Mir home affairs is cheering. As, to our foreign affairs, I look on them with considerable apprehension; because I fear the Government is acting upon a system of timidity, apathy, concession, and sub-Mission. I am afraid that whether they have to deal with the King of Hanover, or with the French Fishery Commissioners; with the United States, or with Akbar Khan, in 'every part of the world they are prepared to act upon a system of submission, which will be as fatal to the best interests of the country, as it is inconsistent with, and derogatory to, our honour. nut let the Government be assured that if there is an Opposition ready to support them in internal improvement, there is also an Opposition that will Watch with unceasing vigilance and jealousy every symptom of a system of Foreign Policy that will injuriously affect the interest and the honour of the country: We are about to enter upon a long recess, during which the affairs of the country, but more especially our foreign affairs, are left to the unquestioned discretion of the Executive Government; but let them not expect that when they come before us next Sesssion, and tell us that certain things have been done and concluded, we shall be disposed to accept those things however badly done and concluded, merely because they have been concluded and done. Let the Government be assured that if they lower the position in 'which the country was placed when its affairs were committed to their halt & if they sacrifice those interests which we maintained; for such dereliction of duty they will infallibly be called to account. They ought to remember that those conjunctures and combinations of circumstances, by which British interests may be affected, must be attended to in time; and that a Government should al-ways be looking ahead; for if we let 1268 events get the start of us, we vainly endeavour to overtake them. The Government ought to feel, that it is only by steadily insisting on our rights 'when the first attempt is made to encroach upon them, that more serious invasions of those rights can be prevented; we ought to ask nothing but what is just, but we should yield to no unjust demand from others; we should encroach on no one, but we should allow no one to encroach on us. If the Government do not take their stand upon such grounds, whatever inconvenience they may find in doing so, they may indeed smooth their way for the moment, but in the end they will find their path beset with insurmountable difficulties; and they will bring discredit on themselves, and irremediable injury upon their country. Sir, I now conclude by moving " A Return of the Names and Titles of all Bills," &c. &c.
§ Sir Robert Peel
* I rise to second this motion, this lame and impotent conclusion to the speech of the noble Lord. After questioning every act of the Government, after impeaching all their policy, the noble Lord contents himself with moving for some details about the dates and titles of bills, about which no man cares a straw. And the noble Lord has hot even the merit of originality for his motion. He is a humble follower in the footsteps of a gallant Member on this side of the House (Colonel Sibthorp), and has not the candour to acknowledge the plagiarism he has committed. Read the noble Lord's notice, and compare it with the motion of last year of the Member for Lincoln. You will find one literally copied from the other, and that the noble Lord's great practical achievement of to-night will be to complete for 1842 Colonel Sibthorp's returns for 1841. I am grateful to the noble Lord for the performance of this very useful but somewhat humble duty, I am grateful to him for enabling the public to draw a contrast between the imperfect, bungling efforts at legislation of himself and his Colleagues, and the extent and value of the comprehensive measures proposed by the present Government, which have received the sanction of Parliament in this Session. The noble Lord commenced his speech by an historical review of the state of parties and public questions since the signature of the definitive treaty of peace.* From a corrected Report.1269 With respect to the Catholic question, I have no complaint to make of the noble Lord's observations. I acknowledge the fairness with which the noble Lord, on this as oh former occasions, has done justice to the motives which influenced my noble Friend the Duke of Wellington and Myself in bringing forward that measure. Whether the panegyric he made on the course we pursued was not greater than our Merits, it is not for me to determine; he did but justice, however, to the motives which influenced us in attempting to settle the Catholic question. The result of that attempt must have been perfectly obvious to us. We could not have failed to foresee that it must withdraw from us the confidence of many of our supporters, and entail the loss of power: we cheerfully submitted to that sacrifice, in obedience to a sense of public duty. The noble Lord referred, in the next place, to the question of Parliamentary Reform. He observed, that chiefly on account of the events in Paris of July, 1830, and the revolution that followed them in France, a great comprehensive measure of reform became unavoidable in this country. Surely, when the noble Lord calmly reflects on his own conduct in reference to reform (conduct influenced throughout, I doubt not, by honourable motives), be ought to view with toleration the changes of opinion of others. The noble Lord, for the long period of twenty years, was the zealous partisan of Perceval, of Castlereagh, of Canning: up to the year 1827, up to the death of Mr. Canning, the determined unvarying enemy of Parliamentary Reform, of reform to every extent, and in every shape, the noble Lord was the faithful follower of Mr. Canning. In 1830 he became the equally faithful follower of Earl Grey—the determined, unvarying advocate of reform. Did the noble Lord, during the lifetime of Mr. Canning, see nothing in the circumstances of the times —in the progress of events, which indicated the approaching necessity of great constitutional changes? Did he see no thing to convince him that it was prudent to anticipate popular demands, and by timely and moderate concessions to avert the necessity for dangerous innovations? If he did not, let him forgive the fallible judgment of others on other questions, and put a charitable construction on their blindness. Nay, if the noble Lord was perfectly justified in his strenuous opposition to reform up to the death of Mr. 1270 Canning, and in his strenuous support of it after the accession of Earl Grey—it sonic sudden unforeseen contingency, not within the scope of human foresight such as the Revolution in France of 1830), justified and demanded this change of opinion on the part of the noble Lord, I may feel, as I do feel, convinced of the purity of his motives; but I feel, also, that harsh and intolerant criticisms oh the Versatile opinions of others proceed with very bad grace from the noble Lord. The noble Lord said, that when the great question of Reform was carried, it was clearly necessary to adopt new principles of commercial policy. Sir, I deny that the necessity for liberal principles of commercial policy originated with the Change in the representation of the people. I deny altogether that the adoption of these principles originated with Parliamentary Reform.. Mr. Huskisson and others entered into these views of commercial policy, and practically enforced them. Von cannot date the relaxation of restrictions, and the abolition of monopoly, from the period at which Parliamentary Reform took place. For ten years previously to the Reform Bill, more important changes were effected in our commercial policy than for the ten years succeeding that epoch. But if you are right—if from Parliamentary Reform there arose the necessity for commercial improvements—if that be true, then the noble Lord passes the most severe censure on those to whom the Reform Bill gave political power. They were strong in power; they were convinced of the truth of certain doc-trines; they were convinced that the practical application of them was necessary to the public interest, and yet they let their principles lie dormant, without an effort to awaken them. Nay, more, according to your own showing, the combination' of circumstances, and the nature and necessary consequences of great constitutional changes, enforced the policy of immediate action. In respect of commercial reform, doctrines abstractedly anti universally true, doctrines suited to all times and to all circumstances, came specially recommended by the character of those times, and the special nature of those circumstances; and yet, with every advantage, you, who were convinced of certain truths, who were able to enforce them, who were powerful enough to trample down all opposition (the complexion of the times and the fortuitous concurrence of events proclaiming to you 1271 that the time for action had arrived), you did nothing to advance the cause of commercial reform. And then, when the time had passed away, when you were in the hour of dissolution, like sorry penitents you remembered, in the days of your decay, the principles you had forgotten or neglected in the time of your strength; and you threw discredit upon the principles themselves, by trying to make them subservient, not to the promotion of the public weal, but to the rescue of a tottering administration. Nay, at an earlier period, when your power began to fail, when the public began to withdraw their confidence, when there might still have been a decent adoption of a liberal commercial policy, you did not invoke its aid for your deliverance. It was not till your days were numbered, when it was convenient to yourselves that you should appear martyrs in the cause of free-trade, that you demonstrated any zeal in the enforcement of its principles. The noble Lord taunts us with the support of the Bonded Corn Bill, and exults in the passing of it as a tardy triumph of the principles of the late Government. Did that Government propose the bill? Did that Government, as a Government, lend a cordial support to the measure when it was introduced in 1836 or 1837? When Mr. Robinson, the Member for Worcester, first introduced the measure, when he asked in 1835 merely for a committee to inquire into the policy of admitting bonded corn into consumption, was not that motion actually opposed by the late Government? Then the sugar duties. When did you become converts to the policy of admitting foreign sugar at a low rate of duty? Was it not at the very period when you had lost all power and authority in this House? In 1841, you proposed the admission of foreign sugar; you ridiculed the arguments of those who opposed it; you could see nothing but hypocrisy in the motives of those who feared that the admission of foreign sugar, without the attempt to make stipulations in respect to slavery, might encourage the slave-trade, and aggravate the horrors of slavery. You had no mercy on your opponents in 1841. But in 1839, when it was proposed that the duties on foreign sugar should be reduced from 63s. to 34s. per cwt., when every argument on which you subsequently relied was adduced in favour of the proposal—you opposed the reduction of duty. When the price of sugar was unusually high, you opposed it with 1272 all the weight of the Government; you rejected it by a majority of 122 to 27; and you assigned as your reason for opposing the reduction that you could make no distinction between sugar, the produce of slave-labour, and sugar the produce of free-labour, and that you were unwilling to inundate the British market with sugar the produce of slave-labour. Now I ask you, in return for the question of the noble Lord, when did you become proficients in the doctrines of Adam Smith and Ricardo? Did you become their disciples before that day, when the profession of their principles might possibly save your administration, or, if that were impossible, might diminish the discredit of your failure? The noble Lord has professed to review some of the principal measures of the Session. He began with those announced in the Speech from the Throne—the alterations in the tariff, and in the corn and provision laws. He would insinuate, that I have deluded my supporters by the extent and import. ante of the alterations which have been made in those laws. Is that the charge which the noble Lord prefers? From one section of his supporters I have uniformly heard a very different one; namely, that the alteration in the Corn-laws is not important, and not extensive—that there has been certainly deception and delusion; but deception and delusion practised, not on the agricultural interest, but on the great body of consumers—that the present Corn-law is no better than the old one, and that the admission of foreign cattle and foreign meat will be of no practical advantage, These charges cannot both be true; and, in fact, both are without foundation. I have deceived no one. I have adopted no principles of Government which I did not profess in opposition. When in opposition was I not constantly told that the support given to me was a reluctant and hollow support; that my supporters disapproved of my moderation, of my leanings towards commercial freedom? When I took office in 1835, did I not make a public declaration of the principles on which I should act? and in what particular have I departed from them in 1842? The noble Lord says, that we were mistaken by our friends, and that the mistake was theirs; that we, during all the time of our opposition to the Government, held good principles, but, holding them in silence, we astonished our friends when we avowed and acted upon them in office. We must, in truth, have held them, he says; for we could not, ac- 1273 cording to the Indian superstition, have inherited the principles, because we occupied the seats of our opponents. We did not find these good principles, says the noble Lord, or the measures founded upon them, in the red boxes of the late Ministers. No one can contest that truth. Never was an observation more just. There was not, I willingly admit, one trace left by the late Government of their intentions with regard to the tariff. They may have been excellent, but we discovered no evidence of them. What right have they to plume themselves on the tariff? What particle of credit belongs to them for it? Did they appoint the Import Duties' Committee? Did they at. tend that committee after it had been appointed? If public benefit has been derived from the evidence adduced before that committee, if the public mind has been prepared by the publication of that evidence for extensive changes in the commercial system of the country, let the credit be given where it is due. Let it be given to the Member for Montrose and the Member for Wolverhampton, and not to the late Government, that merely stood by passive spectators, and coldly tolerated the appointment ' of a committee, the object of which was not avowed, and the result of whose labours they could not have foreseen. If they had, surely the president or vice-president of the Board of Trade, or some Member of the Government holding a commanding situation, would have thought it worth his while to attend the committee. The noble Lord has a defence for the inaction of the Government in the later years of its existence, which he thinks quite triumphant. They were not strong enough, it seems, to enforce their principles. They were controlled, overpowered, by their opponents. Then why did they retain office? Why did they tamely acquiesce in being controlled against their conviction-against their sense of what the public interest required? They knew what was right, but tolerated what was wrong. What does this amount to? Simply this —that just so long as office could be held at all, they preferred the retention of office to the maintenance of their principles. Why did not they at an earlier period appeal to the people, in the legitimate way, for the support of good principles? Why did they not propose that which they believed to be right, and cast on Parliament the responsibility of rejecting it 1274 Why did they not even incur the risk of that alternative, horrible as it may have been, of losing office? I have a right to ask that question. Did I abandon the malt-tax in 1835 because I was threatened with opposition from my supporters? No. I called them together; I told them the continuance of the malt-tax was-essential to the maintenance of the public credit; that I would resist the repeal of it, and retire from office if I was beaten. I did resist the repeal effectually. I willingly admit that I received from those opposed to me in politics effective support in resisting it. It was cordially given; and why? because it was seen that I was in earnest, and was ready to make that sacrifice, the risk of which must be incurred on many occasions, before you can hope to mitigate opposition and conciliate support. In the late discussions on the tariff what confident expectations were entertained that I should be forced to yield ! What chuckling there was about the import of salmon and of cattle ! You thought I must yield. You heard of the exaggerated fears of the grazier, the forced sales of cattle at great loss; the rumours, the unfounded rumours probably, of combinations to oppose, of resolutions of lukewarm support, of staying away on critical divisions. Suppose I had followed the example of others; suppose I had argued thus:— These are serious indications; the welfare, nay, the existence of a Conservative Government is at stake; that is a vastly superior consideration to any amount of duty on foreign cattle; friends must be conciliated; there is no great difference between a duty by the head and a duty by weight; much may be said on both sides; it is the most prudent course to give way handsomely, and before a division." Suppose I had taken this course; suppose I had run no risk; should I have carried the tariff? should I have had your support in carrying it? that support which you gave cordially when you knew that I was in earnest, that I was resolved to deal justly with all interests, and to make no concession to groundless fears, or to any influence but that of reason? The noble Lord claims for the late Administration, or rather for his own share in it, the merit of having wonderfully extended the foreign commerce of the country. I watched the uneasiness of the Member for Stockport (Mr. Cobden) during the progress of the noble Lord's demonstration on that head: his countenance fell wofully with every 1275 figure the noble Lord quoted. The noble Lord was showing that there had been a rapid increase in the trade of the country, allowing to the shill and wisdom of the late Government; that the real value of the exports, which in 1832 were Ably 36000,000l. advanced in 1835 to 47,000,000l., and in 1841 to 51,000,00l. What, and all this under the old Corn-law That law was in force during the whole period, and yet it either had no per influence on our prosperity, or, if it had any, that influence was counteracted by the personal merits of the noble Lord and his Colleagues. But of this fact there can be no doubt—that the noble Lord has proved that this wonderful progressive increase to the real value of our exports, end in the extension of our trade, took lace concurrently at least with the Corn-laws The noble Lord's demonstration seemed to be so triumphant, that I took for granted he would conclude it with a condemnation of me for having disturbed the Corn-laws. Notwithstanding the variations in the price of corn, notwithstanding that wheat for four consecutive years averaged (I think) 47s., and for four other years 64s., the noble Lord is ready with his proof that the price of corn had no influence on the amount Of our exports. And the very men who were cheering the noble Lord to-night, and exulting in his proofs from figures that trade has been progressively advancing for the last ten years under the fostering care of the wise Government which their support, have been maintaining night after night during the whole Session that the inferences to be drawn from these same figures are totally fallacious, and that our foreign trade has been progressively declining instead of advancing. The noble Lord complains that certain measures, which were recommended in the Speech from the Throne, have not passed into laws. He says, we have not proceeded with the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the registration bills. We were prepared to proceed with them. There surely were no difficulties to deter us after having overcome the obstacles in the way of those great measures which were connected with the finance and commerce pf the country. But after the la-hour of the Session the measures mentioned could pot have secured proper attention. Was I not right in that expectation? Why, when the noble Lord has beep passing his panegyrics on his late Col-leagues himself, where are they? 1276 Where have they been for the last month? Much of the important business of the Session, after the completion of the three first great measures, has been carried on during that period. Perhaps we have made, indeed, too much haste in legislation in bur anxiety for securing practical improvements; but certainly there has been more of business dope in the last month than was ever transacted before? And where have been the members of the late cabinet? What a decisive refutation is their absence of all the assertions of the noble Lord ! What a decisive mark of public confidence in opponents! Do I allege that the absence of such men, during all the press and sweat of parliamentary business, argues indifference to their public duties? No; but it argues entire, unqualified confidence in the Government. They have left the noble Lord (as was once said of another gentleman here)—The last rose of summer, all blooming alone, His lovely companions all withered and gone"—left him "to waste his sweetness on the desert air;" with the injunction to "bottle up a great speech; no matter how thin the House, let it explode at the end of the Session, lest we be utterly forgotten," "Yes," said the noble Lord to his colleagues; " but am I to move a vote of want of confidence, or something expressive of distrust?" Oh, no !" (said his colleagues) " follow the example of Colonel Sibthorpe, and move for returns which the most jealous and sensitive of Ministers cannot find it in his heart to oppose; but, for heaven's sake, don't risk a division ! Speak about America and Affghanistan, and every thing else; only avoid any motion which may provoke a division of three to one against us." The noble Lord must not charge me with ingratitude. I here publicly acknowledge my obligations to the friends of the noble Lord for their absence, implying as it does unbounded confidence in us, a perfect assurance that we will not abuse our power, but diligently persevere in repairing their blunders. But sorely their absence may account also for our reluctance to proceed with some of the measures to which the noble Lord has referred. Could we proceed with propriety to amend the registration of electors, in the absence of the great luminary of reform? Were we to proceed with the Registration Bill, when he had left the Bribery ball to its fate? Let us shortly 1277 review the progress of the Bribery Bill. We heard of enormous and universal corruption at elections, of compromises for the suppression of the proof of it. The necessity for instant reform was manifest. "Let us" (it was said earnestly on the other side), " let us have a measure to shame these corrupters of public virtue." I promised every assistance. Will, the first intimation I received was from the noble author of the bill, " I'm off." Then the Attorney-general of the late Government was to have charge of the bill—and in the eulogy pronounced on his eminent abilities I entirely concur; but soon it was " I'm of" with him also. Then the chairman of the committee, the Member for Halifax, had charge of the bill; but he was off also, and was to be found I believe on the Continent. Then, at last, the bill came to the learned Member for Liskeard, not a member of the committee; and certainly then I found it necessary to give that energetic support which I often gave the late Government to insure the passing of their measures. When the learned Gentleman, with infantine simplicity, being called upon to defend the main clauses of the bill, piteously looked round and said, " I suppose I must say something, but I've nothing to say." I began to fear this measure was in danger of miscarriage when committed to such innocence, till at last the hon. Member for Finsbury rose and said, " For God's sake give up the bill to Sir R. Peel, for no one else can take charge of it!" Now if other proof of confidence were wanting, what say you to this? Flesh and blood would never have deserted this hantling, had it not been for the unbounded confidence that its life would be watched over by me with parental care, after it had been abandoned by its natural protectors. The noble Lord observed with a sneer, that there was one measure, indeed, which we did pass, namely, the Income-tax. Yes, and why did we propose it? Why did we call upon the country to submit to a tax so unpopular and obnoxious? and why did the country respond to the call? because they acknowledged the truths which eight after night I sedulously impressed upon their mind; that you, the late Government, having alienated France, having done nothing to improve our relations or adjust our differences with the United States, with a lowering prospect in Europe and in America, had undertaken three wars at a great distance from your re-sources, had been carrying on simulta- 1278 neously war in Syria, war with China, war in Affghanistan; that you had at the same time contrived to make your annual revenue fall short of your expenditure by 2,500,00l., and had an accumulated deficiency of 10,000,000l. on comparing the revenue with the expenditure of the last five years. These facts sunk deep into the public mind, mid resistance to the Income-tax was hopeless. But where were you (Lord Palmerston) during the discussions on the Income-tax? How happens it that you were a silent looker-on? This was the greatest financial measure of recent times, a measure, if not imposed by some overruling necessity, the most open to objection? You, who for many years have been in the service of the Crown and taken a leading part in public business, and in the debates of this House, maintained absolute silence while night after night the bill was under discussion; and now that it is safe, now that it is passed into a law, you discharge your puny popgun against the Income-tax. Is this creditable conduct? How is it to be accounted for? Is this the solution? Is it true that you and your Colleagues bad at first resolved to support the Income-tax? Is it true that you met together in private conference, and that you took the resolution manfully to support the hill? that your first generous impulse was not to thwart vigorous measures for replenishing an Exchequer which had been exhausted through your own mismanagement? and that you afterwards yielded to the remonstrance of some of your supporters. and determined to oppose measures which your own unbiassed sense of duty would have inclined you to support? The noble Lord complains that the Bankruptcy and Lunacy Bills were postponed in the House of Lords till a late period of the Session. No doubt they were. I have been informed however, I cannot vouch for the fact, but I have been credibly informed, that the late Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham expressed a wish that the Bankruptcy and Lunacy Bills should he postponed until the County Courts Bill should be ready for discussion, in order that they might be all considered together, and that that has been the cause of the delay. Both by the bankruptcy act and the lunacy act a great improvement in the law has been made, and we were unwilling to defer the passing of them, seeing that all parties were generally agreed as to the principle at least, of these acts. We have passed a measure respecting ecclesiastical leases, 1279 which will contribute to the improvement of property and to the efficiency of the Established Church. But the amount of what we have done will, thanks to the noble Lord, be laid on the Table of the House; it will become matter of record, and when any impartial man shall consider it, if he be possessed of a generous spirit, he will make allowance for what has been left undone, and give us credit for what we have effected, As the noble Lord has said, those only who have been in office can have any idea of the enormous amount of duty that is connected with it. The number of despatches that are received from every quarter of the globe, and which a minister must of necessity read in addition to his other labours, would alone suffice to convince any one desirious of forming a correct judgment on the subject, how difficult it is for a public man to reconcile the performance of his duties in the House of Commons with the conduct of official affairs. The noble Lord might, therefore, have readily found in his own official experience an excuse for us, if, on entering office, we required three or four months to digest our plans, and consider what steps we should take to relieve the country from its financial embarrassment. The noble Lord has referred to the state of the country, and he has to-night, as on former occasions, made use of language which is calculated to aggravate dissatisfaction. He says,You are about to let Parliament separate without, after all your labours, having done any thing to relieve the. existing distress. I trust Parliament will be soon called together again in order that you may deliberate upon measures for rescuing the country from its difficulties.I was in hopes that the noble Lord, when he had tendered his advice for the summoning of Parliament, was about to accompany that advice with the intimation of his opinion as to the measures to be adopted; but all that fell from the noble Lord was the perfectly safe, but not very useful declaration,—" Something or other must be done." The noble Lord proceeded to review the whole of the foreign policy of the country, but found it very difficult to introduce his reference to it on this miserable motion about the names and titles of the bills which we have passed in the present Session. The noble Lord fortunately recollected that my noble Friend (Lord Stanley) made a speech three months since, in which there was some mention of 1280 the mischievous activity of the noble Lord; and after three months' deliberation the noble Lord comes forward with his vindication from the charge of my noble Friend. The noble Lord paid a compliment to my noble Friend for his skill in off-hand debate: I apprehend that compliment cannot be reciprocated to the noble Lord, in replying to my noble Friend after a lapse of three months. The noble Lord began by a statement which I feel it wholly unnecessary to dwell upon, because it received its best confutation in a burst of incredulous laughter. The noble Lord said that we have done nothing but avail ourselves of the facilities in foreign affairs, which were bequeathed to us by our predecessors. The noble Lord's first reference was to the question of Hill Coolies, but I will pass by that, as belonging rather to the colonial department. If my noble Friend should think it worth while to defend his conduct from the attack which the noble Lord, after three months' preparation, has made with reference to the Hill Coolies, I have no doubt that my noble Friend will be able most satisfactorily to do so without the advantage of quite so much premeditation, But surely before the noble Lord is so severe upon an opponent, to whom he imputes a change of opinion respecting the importation of Hill Coolies into the Mauritius, he would do well to take a retrospective view of the various ministers of all shades of political opinions with whom he has been connected in the course of his own political life, and in that review he might find a charitable excuse for the public man who sees reason to modify in a slight degree his opinions about the Hill Coolies. As regards the foreign policy of the noble Lord, no one can estimate more than I do the noble Lord's personal activity and attention to business. But when the noble Lord refers to certain treaties with the state of Texas, and to six or seven treaties about the slave-trade, as the triumphs of his administration, I am induced to ask if those are points to which a Minister, taking a comprehensive view of the foreign policy of the country, can refer with pride and confidence as the result of several years of official labour? Look to the great countries of the world with which it was your boast to be connected. For six years your constant boast in this House was, that you had formed and consolidated the alliance of Western Europe, a powerful confederacy, based on the community of material interests, as well as of political 1281 opinions. The influence of despotic power in the East was to be counterbalanced by the intimate union of states in the West governed by liberal institutions. Proud of the co-operation of France, you forgot your professed repugnance to intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries, and took an active part in the civil dissensions of Spain, for the purpose of consolidating the great bulwark of constitutional liberty—the quadruple alliance. What has become of the French alliance? What were your relations with France when von relinquished office in 1841? When you assumed it in 1830, you found every facility for improving a good understanding with that country. The government of the Duke of Wellington had recognised the dynasty of Louis Philippe, and had conciliated the good will of France, by the unhesitating acknowledgment of the right she had recently exercised in respect to the change of the reigning family. For five or six years after your accession to power, your great boast in respect to foreign policy was, the establishment of amicable relations with France. All the aid we on this side of the House could lend you to confirm these amicable relations, was repeatedly and cordially given, How stand those relations now? By whose fault is it that they have been interrupted? You congratulated us on the maintenance of peace, and on the extension of that commercial intercourse which is the offspring of peace, and the great instrument for allaying international jealousies. Your policy has not been thwarted by the hostile feelings of this country towards France. This country has no feeling of hostility towards France. It was but the other day that we beard of the lamentable death of the Duke of Orleans, the heir to the throne of France, with a deep and universal regret and sympathy. We have no hostile, no irritable feeling towards France, neither have we any fear; we are too proud, too conscious of our own strength, to regard the power of France with apprehension; but we deprecate, for the interests of humanity, the interruption of friendly relations with that country. Our wish is to enter into no rivalry with France but rivalry in the generous face of increasing civilisation and social improvement. So far from viewing with jealous eyes the advances that may be made by France in the career of that civilisation and improvement, we know 1282 they will react upon and stimulate our own. Seeing that these are the genuine feelings of this country—seeing that the animosities, the relics of former hostilities, were fast subsiding, that the vulgar feeling of assumed superiority over France was supplanted by a kinder and more generous impulse—seeing all the advantages which the noble Lord had for improving the friendly relations with France, for effecting that which he professed to be the great object of his policy, and the great guarantee for European peace—seeing all these things, how does the noble Lord account for his signal failure? He complains of the non-ratification of treaties by France, and of her delay in admitting our just claims; and his complaints are just; but these things are the consequences of that alienation, of that state of irritable feeling, which either through the fault or the misfortune of the noble Lord, have been the consequences of his policy. The noble Lord thinks it was necessary to incur the risk of rupture with France, in order to maintain the independence and integrity of the Turkish empire. True, says the noble Lord, we have alienated France, but then we have re-established the authority of the Porte in Syria. Syria, indeed;—this, no doubt, is one of the facilities in the conduct of foreign affairs bequeathed to us by the noble Lord. You have delivered up Syria, not to the Porte, but to anarchy; and my firm belief is, that it was in the power of the noble Lord to maintain every interest which England has with respect to Syria, every interest which the Porte has with respect to Syria, without the necessary disturbance of friendly relations with France. I proceed with the other comments of the noble Lord. I regret that these charges and imputations are brought at this period of the Session. I should have been content to depart in peace, without disturbing those feelings (free at least from any hostile spirit), which may subsist, after the labours and conflicts of the Session, between political opponents. I deprecate the spirit in which the remarks of the noble Lord were conceived, because it compels the disclosure, in our own defence, of what had better have been withheld for the present. But I will not be silent when such charges and imputations are made against us. I know the inconvenience to the public service of making premature revelations; but I cannot remain silent under unfounded imputations. First, then, 1283 with respect to the United States. I am sorry that the noble Lord has tried (I trust that the attempt will not be successful) to defeat the settlement of a question between that Government and this, which has remained unadjusted for the long period of forty years. Yes; for forty years this question of disputed boundary has been waiting for settlement. Seeing that we may be on the eve of effecting it, the noble Lord does his best, by needless appeals to the sense of honour, to prevent it. Such is the blindness of his hostility, that every argument which lie directs against our policy is the bitterest condemnation of his own conduct. He says, that subsequently to his appointment to office, he offered to acquiesce in an adjustment of this disputed question, which according to his own declarations, was fortunately rejected by the United States; fortunately, because it was most prejudicial to the interests of this country. He avows that he was ignorant of the merits of this question, that he had not sufficient local information—and defends on that ground his readiness to acquiesce in a settlement injurious to the honour and interests of his own country. What a wretched defence! What prevented the noble Lord from making himself master of the merits of the question, and from procuring the local information which he required? The question had been in dispute for forty years. Why did not the noble Lord, while he might have professed his earnest desire to adjust this matter, demand the time that was requisite for the correct understanding of it? The truth is, the noble Lord fears that we have made an arrangement with the United States more favourable to our own interests than the one to which he was willing, at a former period, to assent; and in order that he may dissatisfy the country with our arrangements, denounces his own, and declares that it was through ignorance and culpable neglect, that he was a party to them. It is unworthy of the noble Lord to be now raising these difficulties in the way of an amicable adjustment of long-existing differences between this country and the United States, — between great communities, boasting a common origin, speaking a common language, whose interests are so closely interwoven, that a hostile blow, aimed by the one at the other, recoils upon the hand that strikes it. Considering the utter failure of the noble Lord to remove the long-existing causes 1284 of misunderstanding between this country and the United States, he might at least abstain from throwing impediments in the way of others, from telling us that our honour is involved in maintaining our right to a swamp on the frontier; from counselling us to make no compromise, no concession; from inflaming the public mind in each country, until there is no alternative but war. Sir, I would not shrink from that alternative, did the honour of the country require its adoption. It was said, I think, by Mr. Fox, that the most legitimate ground of war was the necessary vindication of the honour of a country; that it rarely happened that where mere material interests were concerned, the cost of war was not greater (even in the case of success) than the value of the object in dispute. I confidently hope, however, that neither the vindication of honour, nor the maintenance of the just rights of this country, will impose upon us the necessity of an appeal to arms, but that there are the means, by a conciliatory adjustment of all differences with the United States, of maintaining honourable peace. The noble Lord has referred to our recent discussion with the United States in respect to the right of search. He compliments us on the ability with which we have defended the claim put forth by this country with respect, not indeed to the right of search, but the right to ascertain the nationality of a vessel suspected of carrying on the slave-trade. He says, however, that we were only maintaining the position which lie had previously taken, and enforcing arguments which he had previously used. There is, I presume, no ground of charge in this, if for once we thought the noble Lord was in the right. He says, that my noble Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, conducted the discussion with much greater ability than he himself could have done, and in that observation, I cordially concur. It was not only with superior ability that my noble Friend conducted this discussion, but he contrived to reconcile firmness with moderation and dignity, and abstained from offensive and petulant remarks which sink deep into the mind of a sensitive people. My noble Friend did not think it essential to the argument to talk of a piece of bunting when speaking of the American flag. I follow the noble Lord to Portugal. He says, that the negotiations which we have concluded with Portugal has been pending for five or six years. So it has, It stood. 1285 in the same position that all the great questions with foreign countries have been left by the noble Lord; it stood in the same position that the questions with the United States stood, that is to say, no effectual progress had been made by the noble Lord towards their settlement. A vast number of diplomatic notes have been interchanged, all ably penned 1 have no doubt, but there was no prospect of immediate and amicable adjustment. So hopeless was it, that the noble Lord introduced a bill which passed into a law, enabling the cruizers of this country to capture the slave-trading vessels of Portugal. The act may have been justifiable, but it was a proof that all hope of friendly negotiation with Portugal was abandoned by the noble Lord. We have prevailed with Portugal; by the means of friendly negotiation we have replaced our relations with that country (the intimate and ancient ally of England) on the basis of friendship, and have been enabled to repeal the act of the noble Lord, which was, in point of fact, little less than a declaration of war. Now, with respect to the treaties which the noble Lord boasts of having concluded, I will give the House a specimen of the candour and generosity which the noble Lord has exercised in the attack he has made upon us. The noble Lord referred to the treaty between the Porte and the Five Powers, and told us that he was content, so little has he of assurance, so little does he wish to arrogate anything to himself, that he was content to call this treaty a treaty for the provisional closing of the Dardanelles; but that we, in magnificent language, had termed the same treaty a treaty for securing the peace of Europe. I will read the language of the Speech from the Throne, at the commencement of this Session, in which her Majesty speaks of this treaty. Her Majesty says,—There shall also be laid before you a treaty which I have concluded with the same powers (the Emperor of Austria, the King of the French, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia), together with the Sultan, having for its object the security of' the Turkish empire, and the maintenance of the general tranquillity.Those were the terms in which we advised her Majesty to describe the objects of the treaty in question —exaggerated and inflated terms, says the noble Lord, assigning to this treaty an importance which its modest authors never claimed fin it. How stands the fact? I will now 1286 read the preamble to this very treaty, and leave the House to judge of the fairness of the noble Lord's comments, and the justice of the compliment which he has paid to his own humility. The parties to the treaty (being all enumerated) state, thatBeing persuaded that their union and agreement offer to Europe the most certain pledge for the preservation of the general peace, the constant object of their solicitude, and their said Majesties being desirous of testifying this agreement, by giving to the Sultan a manifest proof of the respect which they entertain for the inviolability of his sovereign rights, was well as of their sincere desire to see consolidated the repose of his empire, agree," &c.Compare this preamble, setting forth the objects of the treaty, with our description of the treaty in the Speech from the Throne, and then say whether that description was erroneous, and whether it does not fall far short, in inflation of language, of the noble Lord's preamble. I cite this as a specimen of the noble Lord's fairness and candour towards his opponents. Now, with respect to Hanover and the Stade-duties. Notwithstanding the re- marks of the noble Lord, I have no doubt. that when the negotiations with Hanover shall be laid on the Table, this House will not consider that they are incompatible with the national honour, while at the same time they promote the commercial interests of this country. But the noble Lord says,—We, when we were in office, maintained that there was an obligation on Hanover to reduce the stade-duties to 1–16th per cent, ac- cording to treaty.But, I ask, what did you do practically to relieve the commerce of this country from an oppressive imposition? You left its ten years' negotiations upon the subject-you sent commissioners; what came of all your negotiations and all the labours of your commissioners? When we came into office we found them suspended. We found not one single advance made towards a settlement, and the only point at issue, as it appeared, was, whether you should go to war with Hanover, or they should reduce the tolls to 1–16th per cent. That was the state of the case. But the noble Lord would do well to observe a little more caution in his attacks on those who may not have been inclined in his opinion to maintain extreme rights, or the literal fulfilment of treaties of doubtful obligation. Did the noble Lord ever hear of a memorandum on the subject of these duties, from which I will read an extract? 1287Upon the whole, as it appears that these duties are injurious to British commerce, more from the unfair competition to which it is thereby exposed from that of Hamburgh, which is relieved from this charge, and still more from the vexation, the disputes, and the consequent delay attending its exaction, than from the pecuniary amount of the burden; whilst, on the other hand, the government of Hanover reaps no amount of revenue at all comparable to the injury which it imposes on our commerce; it appears that the most advisable course to follow would be to endeavour to negotiate with the government of I Hanover for the final cession of these duties, in return for a pecuniary compensation.Let this reminiscence be a warning to the noble Lord, and teach him the prudence of reflecting whether his charges may not be too indiscriminate, and affect others besides her Majesty's present Government. As for the noble Lord's insinuation, that we made concessions in respect to the Stade duties, with a view of conciliating the favour of the King of Hanover, it is an unjust and unworthy one. We recognise no claim on the part of the King of Hanover to any other measure than that of justice. But, as I have before observed, these are not the considerations which are to influence us in pronouncing judgment on the policy of the noble Lord. He may boast of his slave-trade treaties, and of his new consulships, nay, of the facilities he has given for the importation of Mocha coffee. But what compensation is this for unfriendly relations with France and America? The noble Lord says he has preserved peace. Peace, indeed ! With three wars carried on at the same time—with a revenue deficient by 2,500,000l., with every difference with the United States unadjusted, the friendly relations with France converted into irritation and hostility, the noble Lord complacently talks about the blessings and prospects of peace, about the facilities which he left to his successors for the conduct of foreign affairs ! He says we have been subsisting since we entered office on the broken meats which we found in the larder of the late Government. What a just, though not very dignified illustration of the policy of his Friends ! The noble Lord reserved for the climax of his speech, the happy topic of Affghanistan. He is displeased with my remarks the other night on his assurance. I certainly did say, and I retain the opinion, that it required a degree of incredible assurance to congratulate this country on the admi- 1288 rable position which the late Government had secured in Affghanistan. It is more than assurance; it is a cruel mockery of the public feeling, after the lamentable events at Cabul, after the massacre of the garrison of Ghuznee, after the evacuation of every position, except that of Candahar, after the dreadful sacrifice of life and waste of treasure, for a Minister responsible for these things, to boast in the House of Commons of our admirable position in Affghanistan. The noble Lord presumes much on my forbearance. He knows that considerations of public duty, that the fear of compromising public interests, prevent me from giving him the proper reply. He knows that the lapse of six weeks will convey to the scene of action any declarations that I may make with regard either to the operations of war, or to political or diplomatic transactions that may be in progress. The noble Lord may throw out his imputations for the present with perfect safety. Whatever may be my feelings with regard to their injustice, whatever my inclination to retort on the noble Lord, to expose the real truth with respect to the operations beyond the Indus, and the policy which led to them, I will not be betrayed into a remark which might injuriously affect the progress of pending negotiations, or compromise the safety of a single man employed in retrieving that disastrous policy. It is easy for the noble Lord to dictate in the House of Commons campaigns upon the Indus, to insist upon the advance to this place, and the relief of that. The men who are on the spot, who are responsible for consequences, have other considerations to attend to besides the map of the Indus. Does the noble Lord know how many beasts of burden accompanied the army which he sent into Cabul? He may form some estimate of the number sent by the amount of the loss. Does the noble Lord, when, without reference to seasons, to means of conveyance, to means of subsistence for an army, he talks so flippantly of advances into the heart of Affghanistan, does he know, that of the camels sent with the army under Sir John Keane, 26,000 perished before that army entered Cabul? What number remained I know not; but the absolute loss of camels accompanying the army, and employed in the transport of its stores and provisions, was 26,000. And the noble Lord exclaims with indignation, " Who is the man that meditated the evacuation of Affghanistan, and the abandonment of our glorious policy in re- 1289 spect to that country?" Oh, I could tell the noble Lord—I could tell him who is the man that meditated the evacuation of Affghanistan. I could give him another lesson on the imprudence and rashness of provoking answers to questions that imply misconduct on the part of his opponents. But I must be silent. The events that are passing—the death of our faithful ally, Shah Soojah, the king for whose restoration we have made such costly sacrifices—our altered relations, and the negociations that have been entered into, in conscquence of that death, impose upon me the obligation of silence, and prevent me for the present from giving to the noble Lord the information he requires about the abandonment of his policy in Affghanistan —of that policy which, according to the noble Lord, is to open to us new fields of commercial enterprise, by exhausting in war our own resources, and those of the countries with which we are to deal. The noble Lord may have taught the barbarians on the Indus the true maxims of commercial policy, he may have inculcated upon them, at the point of the sword, the doctrines of Adam Smith and of Ricardo; but he has, at the same time, so exhausted and impoverished the country, that they cannot turn to account, either for their benefit, or our own, the lessons they have received from him in political economy. Sir, I have done. I have attempted to reply in succession to the charges which the noble Lord has preferred against the Government. I deny the truth of the imputation that we have acted in office upon principles which we did not profess in opposition. Our commercial policy has been in conformity with that upon which the measures of Mr. Huskisson were founded, and which measure received from me, one of the Colleagues of Mr. Huskisson, a uniform and cordial support. I stated on passing of the Reform Bill—I stated in 1835, in 1840, what were the principles on which I should act if called upon to take office. And in what respect have I departed from the professions which I made? You told me last year that I must be an instrument in the hands of others, and that the power was denied to me of enforcing my own principles. I declared then, as I declare now, that I consider office—its power, its distinction, its privileges—as nothing worth, except as the instrument of effecting public good. If it is to be held by sufferance, if it can be retained only on the condition of abandon- 1290 ing my own opinions and obeying the dictates of others, it will not be held by me. My reward for all the sacrifices it entails, is the prospect of that honourable fame which can only be attained by steadily pursuing the course which, according to the best conclusions of our fallible judgment, we honestly believe to be conducive to the welfare of the country. These are the motives by which we are actuated, these are the rewards to which we aspire. What could induce my noble Friend who sits beside me (Lord Stanley),—what could induce him, with his intellectual powers, with all the buoyancy of youth, with all his command of the enjoyments of life and his taste for its rational pleasures,—what could induce him to submit to the drudgery of office, to the toil of nightly attendance here, to the devotion of every faculty of mind and body to public duty,—what could induce him to submit to all this, but, first, the possession of an unfettered right to act on the impulse of his own conscientious judgment, and, secondly, the aspirations after that honourable fame which will be adjudged to those who exhaust their strength in the faithful and honest discharge of great public trusts? It is not by subserviency to the will of others, it is not by the hope of conciliating the temporary favour of majorities, that such fame can be acquired; and in spite of all the noble Lord has said, in spite of the rumours he has heard of concealed. dissatisfaction among our supporters, we have the proud satisfaction of knowing that we retain their confidence, while we claim for ourselves the privilege of acting on our own opinions. From the commencement of the Session to its close, we have received that generous support which has enabled us to overcome every difficulty, to carry triumphantly every measure we have proposed. There may have been shades of difference, there may have been occasional dissatisfaction and complaint; but I have the firm belief that our conduct in office has not abated one jot of that confidence on the part of our friends, which cheered and encouraged us in the blank regions of opposition; and next to the approval of our own conscience, and to the hope of future fame, the highest reward we can receive for public labours is their cordial support and their personal esteem.
§ Mr. Cobden
would venture to say, that whatever might have been the brilliancy of the speeches they had just heard the country would from their judgment of the 1291 proceedings of the House, not on an estimate of the power of its leaders' addresses —not on a recapitulation of what parties had done, but by a comparison of the state of the country when Parliament assembled and when they closed their sitting. Before they again assembled they would have to contend with a powerful expression of public opinion in favour of Radical reform. Under these circumstances could they do nothing better than get up quarrels between Whig and Tory, saying to one another in Bulger phraseology, " You're another?" He was anxious for an opportunity of stating his views with regard to commercial reform, but was frustrated in his attempt to do so last night. He would now tell them what was the state of our relations with America. There was at present an agitation in some of the states in favour of increased duties on manufactured goods. The manufacturers there had found home buyers to obtain protection, but the agricultural party, who were favourable to free-trade, were rising in power, and had already manifested their strength at the local elections. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was very fond of quoting Mr. Clay, but he could tell him that Mr. Clay had no chance of being elected President. The local elections showed this to be the case, and there was now no doubt but that the free-trade party would soon be again in the ascendant. The right hon. Baronet was very fond of quoting occasional pamphlets, and seemed to draw much of his information from such sources. Such pamphlets, however, were no very good authorities. Dr. Lardner had written a pamphlet to show that they never could cross the Atlantic in a steamship, and now be had gone across it in a steam-boat himself. But the right hon. Baronet should draw his information from better sources. He would endeavour to show him what was the real opinion in America regarding free-trade. He had been assured, upon the highest authority, that between this time and June next, America could supply us readily with 6,000,000l. worth of corn, in payment of which she would gladly receive our goods, and not ask from us one sixpence in coin or bullion. There could be no doubt that, corn-pared with the trade which we might have with America, were the existing disabilities removed, that of all the principal countries of Europe to which we now ex- 1292 ported was altogether inconsiderable. As to the Corn-law measure passed by the right hon. Baronet, it would not effect the object. Upon this point he (Mr. Cobden) would quote a passage from Lizardi's circular, a high authority. The circular was dated New Orleans, June 6, and the passage he would cite ran thus:—We wish we could add, that the alteration in the British Corn-laws had been of that nature to allow the industrious agricultural population of some of our back states to have placed a greater breadth of their idle, though rich lands under cultivation. Unfortunately, no such inducements are held out by an uncertain and varying duty. The new Corn-law of England must act disadvantageously on distant markets, and throw all the favourable opportunities for importing grain into the hands of the more contiguous speculators. Our farmers see themselves not only deprived of what is to all a familiar, and to many a native market, but are also debarred from drawing from thence the supplies they are most in need of, but for which an adverse policy will permit no exchange.This was written after the Corn-law passed. Before that event, on the 19th of March, the same circular contained a statement which he would also quote:—We consider ourselves quite safe in expressing our belief, that two years of steady demand for wheat, beef, and pork for export to Europe, would augment three-fold the quantities of these articles, which are now received at New Orleans from the interior, and we can set no limit to the capabilities of consumption or production of these fertile regions.It was perfectly clear, that America offered us an unlimited field for the profitable exercise of our industry. Within the last ten years the population bad immensely increased, and almost the entire of this enormous population would gladly exchange their produce for our manufactures: He would read to the House a statement he had prepared of the progress of population in the great wheat-growing states, between 1830 and 1840:—
1293 It was these states in which the real political power was now becoming vested, and whose anxiety it was to knit their interests with ours, if we would only permit them so to do. To show the immense extent to which corn was produced in these states, he would mention that the state of Ohio was estimated to have had a surplus of 2,000,000 of quarters of wheat last year; and Michigan, which first. commenced exporting in 1839, was estimated to have a surplus this year of 312,000 quarters. Yet it was a fact, that we were now actually doing less real business with America than we did ten years ago. The right hon. Baronet had altogether abstain. ed from touching upon the distress of the country; but it was a subject which would force itself upon his attention irresistibly. The present was precisely the time beyond which it would be highly dangerous for the right hon. Baronet to make any delay in treating with America. The question of the tariff was now in course of settlement; but it would not be finally amended, in all probability, till the winter, so that the right hon. Baronet had ample time for entering into negotiations on the subject. The great object was to make employment for our people; and the right hon. Baronet might be assured that any Minister who neglected to do this, would be shaken from office like dew-drops from a tree.
1830. 1840. increased per cent. Ohio 937,000 1,515,000 61 Indiana 341,000 683,000 100 Illinois 157,000 486,000 208 Michigan. 28,600 211,000 640 Wisconsin 2,660 30,600 1,054 Iowa — — 43,000 1,466,260 2,968,600 102
§ Mr. Hume
had heard with satisfaction the right hon. Baronet declare his intention of not allowing any party to divert him from following out measures which were calculated for the benefit of the nation. It was an important declaration, and it was so because the right hon. Baronet was in a condition to carry out and enforce it. He agreed in the importance of preserving friendly relations with France. France and England, by situation, power, and productions, were, of all others, the two countries that ought to be sincerely united. He deprecated the alienation which had recently occurred, he was satisfied there was no alienation on the part of England. With respect to a trade with America in corn, he was satisfied that nothing less would do to promote a good understanding and to ensure a steady trade between the two nations. There were important changes now taking place in America. The manufacturing states at present had the preponderance of the legislature, but the next elections would give the advantage to the agricul- 1294 trists; when this took place, the policy of America would be regulated by the concessions in trade which this country was disposed to sanction. He was satisfied if a trade in corn was granted, that the value of land here would be increased. 'The present system was most injurious, and nothing could be more injurious to the real interests of the British farmer than that which was likely soon to occur—, namely the letting in of 2,000,000 of quarters of foreign corn in our market. The right hon. Baronet should recollect that it was not the price of corn the people cared for— they only cared for employment. Give the people plenty of employment, and they would not mind the price of bread. He trusted the right hon. Baronet would not lose the opportunity he possessed of materially extending the trade of the country.
§ Mr. Philip Howard
was glad to see that, unlike former occasions, the introduction of the subject of the Corn-laws had had a soothing effect, it had acted like an emollient after the angry conflict. His hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, Mr. Cobden, bad certainly proved that a fixed duty on corn would prove infinitely more favourable to mutual commerce than the fluctuating scale. The right hon. Baronet, in the vehemence of his reply to his noble Friend, had certainly passed over the fact that his noble Friend had secured to this country ten years of honourable peace, when it had been predicted that the Belgian question alone would have involved Europe in war. In regard of the war in Syria he would remark, that France had, previously to the signing of the treaty, been repeatedly urged to become a party— the only shadow of a grievance left to that power was, that after the signing of the treaty by the tour contracting parties, and before its promulgation, she had not been urged to join it; if she had, the result might have, however, been the same; but bitterness of feeling towards France on the part of this country, there was none. The noble Lord so long at the helm of foreign affairs, had been also taxed by unnecessary dis- 1295 closures, of throwing embarrassments in the way of the settlement of the American boundary question; but what had been the course taken by his noble Friend? He had simply stated that the line recommended by the English commissioner was more in harmony with the provisions of the treaty of 1783 than the other. The two lines were under the consideration of the diplomatic agents; and if agreement between this country and the United States were, from the conflict of opinion, difficult, it might be best and most conducive to a settlement if the friendly arbitration of a third power were called in—a course successfully adopted in the case of the differences between France and the United States, when harmony was secured by the mediation of England. He would not again retort upon the Government the charge of political plagiarism; but the question of the tariff and duties having been raised, he begged to say the merit of reducing duties had been shared by a powerful monarchy and by a great statesman, Prince Metternich, who had set an early example of that politic course. After claiming for his party the chief share respecting the bonded corn, and paying a tribute to the early exertions of Sir John Seale, in originating, and Mr. Hutt in promoting it, the hon. Member concluded by a hope that the two great rival gladiators who had that night electrified the House by their eloquence, would meet next Session, but not so much in the arena of party strife as in a generous effort to serve and promote the common interests of the whole empire.
§ Returns ordered.