§ Mr. Hume
, in rising to submit the Motion of which he had given notice to the House, said, he could assure the House that he did so with very considerable diffidence as to the propriety of the course he had adopted. He confessed he had expected that Her Majesty's Ministers would have saved him the trouble of bringing the subject before the House; but seeing that they had not done so, and entertaining strong opinons on the question, he thought it his duty to interfere. He was aware that the very Motion implied a degree of censure on Her Majesty's Ministers, it he were correct in the opinion he had formed, which was, that a public officer, entrusted with the most important duties, who had performed them to the perfect satisfaction of every individual acquainted with the country which formed the scene of his services, remained to this time unrewarded for those important services; and the object of the present Motion was to call upon the House to mark their sense of them by such a reward as might be deemed becoming their magnitude. He knew how hard it was for any individual in that House to bring forward any question to which Her Majesty's Ministers declared themselves opposed; and it was on that ground he felt he had taken upon himself a responsibility from which he could only be freed by finding that the House concurred with him generally in the course he had adopted, and sanctioned the Resolution he was about to propose. If he were asked whether he knew anything of Sir H. Pottinger or his friends, 1375 his answer was decidedly that he did not. He had never had any communication with Sir H. Pottinger; he had only seen him in a public place, and consequently, whatever might be the result of this Motion, that gallant officer could not be held responsible for the opinions which he might express. The House would bear in mind that these opinions of his were not of this Session or the last; he had expressed them in that House on the 14th February, 1843, when Her Majesty's Ministers brought forward a Motion of Thanks to the naval and military officers who conducted the war in China, and spoke in a high strain of panegyric on the conduct of Sir H. Pottinger as the director of those operations. He ventured on that occasion to inquire of the right hon. Baronet, whether it was the intention of Government to take any notice of the services of Sir H. Pottinger, so as to afford the House the gratification of testifying their sense of his merits. The right hon. Baronet then stated his deep regret that he could not submit a Motion for a Vote of Thanks to the House, because there was no precedent for it in the case of any one employed in the diplomatic service of the Crown. If there was no precedent at that time for such a Motion, the right hon. Baronet had subsequently bound himself to such a precedent by supporting the Motion which he had submitted to the House with respect to the conduct of Lord Ashburton in concluding a Treaty, which appeared to him of the utmost importance to the welfare both of England and the United States. The Motion which he was now about to make was supported by fifty precedents. It would be impossible for him to recount to the House all the signal services of Sir H. Pottinger during a career of thirty-seven years in the East India Company's service. The Government, in withholding from that gallant officer such a reward as he was well entitled to, not alone on that ground, but as the director of the operations of our fleet and armies in the Chinese war, which he had conducted to so successful an issue, was acting against the known wishes of ninety-nine out of every hundred commercial men in the country. He could not help suspecting that some overpowering reason must exist to prevent the right hon. Baronet from doing an act of justice to an individual whose claims were in every way so preeminent. If Sir Henry Pottinger had not been employed in China, he would have 1376 been appointed to one of the governments in India at ten or twelve thousand a year; and, if the House would attend, he would tell them how he had actually been rewarded. On the ratification of the Chinese Treaty, he received the Civil Grand Cross of the Bath, and was nominated a Member of the Privy Council. These were honours, but what were the substantial rewards? He (Sir H. Pottinger) had enjoyed an appointment as Chief Commissioner in China for two years, at a salary of 5,000l. a year, and his whole permanent income was 490l. a year. His successor, Mr. Davis, who had nothing to do with the most important negotiations, enjoyed a salary of 6,000l. a year; while the man who had achieved all the good, who had opened the vast Empire of China to our commerce, remained on a paltry pittance of 490l. a year. This was surely not enough for a man who had so served his country, and through whose means, putting higher considerations out of the question, twenty-one millions of dollars had been paid by way of ransom into our Treasury. If precedents for granting pensions for such services were asked for, he could refer to many such, granted in consideration of diplomatic services, compared with which those of Sir Henry Pottinger were certainly neither less successful nor less brilliant. Such were the pensions enjoyed by the late Sir Gore Ouseley and the present Sir Henry Willock, to whom he meant nothing disrespectful in saying that Sir Henry Pottinger's services at least merited an equal testimonial of gratitude from the country. These examples showed that the House had upon former occasions acknowledged in this way the value of diplomatic services; and he hoped, therefore, that he had removed the objection which might be raised, that there was no precedent for such pensions. They were recognised by Parliament, and by legislation they had been respected. For extraordinary circumstances it was always competent for Her Majesty's Ministers to propose pensions for official and diplomatic services. Sir H. Pottinger had performed most important services; and he put it to the House whether those services had not been admitted by every individual in the country, not excepting Her Majesty's Ministers themselves. He would put it to the House whether Sir H. Pottinger had not concluded his negotiations in a most surprising and satisfactory manner with 1377 the most cunning and artful people on the surface of the globe. Had not those services been performed in the most meritorious manner by Sir H. Pottinger's zeal and steady and unflinching conduct, after every preceding plenipotentiary had failed in carrying out the wishes of the Government? And was it nothing that Sir Henry Pottinger was the first man to conclude a commercial Treaty with the people of China, attended with so many advantages to this country—a Treaty which he (Mr. Hume) contended did the greatest honour to Great Britain; extending as it did the advantages which we received ourselves to every country on the face of the civilized globe? He spoke not his own sentiments only, for he believed that there was not a man in England who appreciated the blessings of peace but eulogized the character and conduct of Sir H. Pottinger. But he would particularly refer the House to the opinions expressed by Her Majesty's Ministers themselves. And first, he would quote the expressions used by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, on the 14th February, 1843, who on the occasion of a Vote of Thanks for the Army in China being proposed, in which Sir H. Pottinger's name was not included, remarked—With respect to Sir Henry Pottinger, I think that the opportunity which I took on a former occasion of publicly acknowledging the sense entertained by the Government of the services of that distinguished man, must exempt the Government from the suspicion of wishing to throw any slight upon him.…… And now, when others concerned in the same expedition are to receive a mark of public gratitude, I should be sorry to allow the opportunity to pass without repeating the sentiments I then expressed. I wish it had been consistent with usage to have included the name of Sir Henry Pottinger in the Vote."*Again regretting that he could not vote him thanks, Sir Robert Peel continued—I can well enter into the feelings of this distinguished man—distinguished not only for his civil qualifications, but for his military service—when he sees this public acknowledgment of the brilliant achievements of his brothers in arms, and feels that he cannot partake in the thanks of Parliament.…… We have, however, entreated him to remain until we can benefit by his opinions and advice upon many important matters connected with the adjustment of our future relations with China; and I assure the hon. Gentleman, that if Sir Henry*Hansard's Debates (Third Series), Vol. lxvi. p. 572.1378Pottinger will recall his decision, and remain permanently in China, he will possess the entire confidence of Her Majesty's Government; and we should think that we had succeeded in making the arrangement of all others the most beneficial to the country."*The gallant officer's merits were various. He was distinguished for his civil services in India, and on account of them alone he deserved the gratitude of the country. He would beg leave to remind the House in reference to Sir Henry Pottinger's claim to honours as a civil servant, of the opinion of Napoleon on such a subject, to be found in Alison's "History of Europe." The hon. Member read the following extract:—In the Council held to frame the 'Code Napoleon,' it was proposed by Count Mathieu Dumas that the order of the Legion of Honour should be confined to military men. 'Such ideas (said Napoleon) might be well adapted to the feudal ages, when the chevaliers combated each other man to man; but it is science and skill which now determines the fate of nations. What is it now which constitutes a great general? It is not the mere strength of a man six feet high, but the coup d'æil, the habit of foresight, the power of calculation, in a word—civil qualities, founded on a knowledge of human nature, and suited to the government of armies; and the general who can now achieve great things is he who is possessed of shining civil qualities. The tendency of military men is to carry everything by force; the enlightened civilian, on the other hand, elevates his views to the perception of the general good. I have no hesitation therefore, in stating that, if a preference was to be awarded to one or the other, it belongs to the civilian. But if you confine honours to military men, you sink civilians into nothing.' Moved by these profound observations (says Alison), the Council agreed that the proposed honours should be extended indiscriminately to civil and military distinctions.The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had not been alone in his testimony to the distinguished services of Sir Henry Pottinger. When Lord Aberdeen laid upon the Table of the Lords the supplementary Treaty with China, his Lordship said—And now he begged leave to advert to the very distinguished man whose labours had given these benefits and advantages to his country. He alluded to Sir H. Pottinger. It was impossible for their Lordships to imagine the difficulties and obstructions which Sir H. Pottinger had to encounter during this*Hansard's Debates (Third Series), Vol. lxvi. p. 573, 574.1379most arduous negotiation. Acting in a country so entirely new, and so entirely different from any in which his experience had previously been engaged, he had contrived (great and complicated as the difficulties were by which he was surrounded), by the energy of his character and by the activity of his mind, to surmount them all. And, what was most remarkable, in a country where suspicion and distrust were proverbial, he contrived to establish complete confidence amongst those with whom he had to negotiate, almost to a miracle. Great as were the benefits that had been secured to this country, he did not hesitate to say that they were mainly attributable to the personal energy and ability of Sir H. Pottinger. He was now about to leave the situation in which he had effected so much good; and he (the Earl of Aberdeen) was quite sure that his retirement must be the subject of deep regret to that House and to the Government, who would find it exceedingly difficult adequately to supply his place. They would, however, adopt such measures as would, he hoped, render the loss of this admirable public servant as little severe as possible.But another Cabinet Minister (Lord Stanley), at a public dinner at Liverpool, had borne the following testimony to the merits of Sir Henry Pottinger:—I know not, Gentlemen, how far it is generally known, that though undoubtedly, at that time to the right hon. Gentleman was not entrusted the superintendence of any military and naval movements, yet to him a large discretion was given by the Government, which fully confided in his talent and ability, of saying at what period those naval and military arguments had attained to such a height as to lead to the introduction of more polished diplomatic intercourse, to say at what time the arms of Britain should be stayed, and how soon the process of negotiation might commence. And when that period arrived, honourable alike to the arms of Britain and to the humanity and forbearance with which they were wielded, Her Majesty's Government had but the gratifying task, step by step, of applauding and approving the discretion, the temper, the judgment, and the forbearance with which those delicate negotiations were subsequently conducted by the right hon. Gentleman. In that department the right hon. Gentleman was more peculiarly responsible to another Member of Her Majesty's Government; but I had the satisfaction in another point of view of being brought universally into connexion with the right hon. Gentleman. I saw his untiring labours and his zealous assiduity in forming or founding a new Colonial society—in supervising the foundation of a Colony where all was new and strange—where obstacles were to be encountered from mutual prejudices, from ignorance of each other's habits, from omissions upon the one side, and upon the other from unreasonable demands and exorbitant expectations; and I saw the right hon. 1380 Gentleman with satisfaction, in his civil as well as in his diplomatic correspondence, carry on 'the even tenor of his way' with the one fixed intention, and that boldly conceived and boldly executed, of obtaining the greatest advantages consistently with the honour and the good faith of his country. Gentlemen, there is one point to which the right hon. Gentleman, in his address to you to-night, has peculiarly adverted, although he has modestly abstained from stating the full share which he has had in it. I allude to that decision to which he came, and it is due to him I should say he came to it and acted upon it upon his own responsibility, and without instructions—not only not to demand exclusive privileges (for that he was prohibited from doing), but for inserting as a stipulation in the Treaty, that all other nations should alike partake of the commercial advantages which had been gained by this country by the power of British arms, and by the prudence of British negotiation. … And, Gentlemen, I say it for myself—and I know I may say it also, for I have heard the sentiment repeated over and over again, for my right hon. Friend the Earl of Aberdeen—that it was to him and to me, in our several departments, a subject of the deepest regret when Sir Henry Pottinger's earnest entreaties induced us, or rather, I should say, compelled us to accede to a very strongly expressed desire of his, after so many years' service in distant countries, to return to his native land, there to enjoy, in the midst of his countrymen, the well earned honours which I am proud to see have been bestowed upon him; and, I can use no more emphatic language—'To read his history in a nation's eyes.'He was at a loss to comprehend why any change should have come across the minds of Her Majesty's Ministers, who had pronounced those glowing eulogiums; and in the full confidence that he had made out his case, he would now conclude by moving—That this House will, upon Tuesday, the 24th day of this instant, June, resolve itself into a Committee, to consider the following Resolution:—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to grant such a pension as She shall think proper, to the right honourable Sir Henry Pottinger, Baronet, K.C.B., as a reward for his eminent public services, and especially for having, as Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary in China, brought the war in that country to a conclusion by a peace alike honourable and advantageous; and to assure Her Majesty that this House will make good the same.
§ Viscount Sandon
seconded the Resolution. After passing a glowing eulogium upon the civil and military services of Sir H. Pottinger, the noble Lord, admitting the difficulty of dealing with Motions of this description, declared himself prepared in 1381 consideration of those great services, not merely to the British nation, but to the cause of Christianity, to take this case out of the ordinary rule of civil routine. His opinion of the gallant Officer was fully confirmed, not only by distinguished and competent authorities upon the matter, but by the commercial prosperity which followed upon his eminent and successful services. In conclusion, the noble Lord begged to say, that this Motion was in no degree intended as a reproach to Her Majesty's Government.
§ Sir J. C. Hobhouse
I trust that the great anxiety which I feel for the success of this Motion, and the official connexion formerly subsisting between Sir Henry Pottinger and myself, when President of the Board of Control, may be a valid excuse for my speaking after the Mover and Seconder, without waiting to hear what may be said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in reply to the proposal made by the hon. Member for Montrose. And I must beg to premise, that I do not understand why my hon. Friend has anticipated, as a matter of certainty, that it is the intention of Government to oppose him on this occasion; for my part, I see no reason to come to such a conclusion; and I, for one, do not intend in the least to reproach the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Treasury, on account of his having allowed this proposition to be made by an independent Member of Parliament, instead of originating it himself. On ordinary occasions, indeed, the Ministers of the Crown are expected to make proposals of this nature; and if they do not make them, it is presumed they have some objection which would induce them to give a negative to them, if brought forward by others. But I can easily conceive a case in which the Minister may fairly wait to see what is the feeling of the House of Commons, before he considers himself justified in making a demand upon the national purse. Such I take the present case to be; and what I hope and believe is, that the Minister is only waiting for a decided expression of our opinion, in order to recommend to Her Majesty a compliance with the view taken by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), in regard to the suitable mode of rewarding the services of Sir Henry Pottinger. I do not pretend to be acquainted with precedents sufficiently to enable me to state the exact position in which the House of Commons now stands, in regard to the granting of such pensions. I would rather treat this as an extraordinary case, 1382 to be dealt with in an unusual manner; but, believe me, the House need not fear that, by adopting this proposal, we shall establish an inconvenient precedent. Ages may roll over the heads of our successors, before any similar service can possibly be performed; indeed, there is no human probability of a like duty devolving upon any one—there is no other China to be opened to the civilized world—there is no other third of the habitable earth, hitherto shut upon us, which now remains to receive the fruits of our industry and enterprise. What Sir Henry Pottinger has done cannot be done again; and if it were to be done again, it would be hard indeed to find a man so able and so willing, so peculiarly qualified to do it. My hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) has alluded to the peculiar services of Sir Henry Pottinger, previously to his being selected for the China mission; and I shall venture to give a somewhat more detailed sketch of them. Sir Henry Pottinger entered as a volunteer in the Indian navy, when only fourteen years of age, in 1804; but soon quitted the navy and entered into the military branch of the profession, in which he speedily distinguished himself, so much, that he was chosen to accompany the important mission, sent by Lord Minto into Scinde, in 1809. His zeal and activity, whilst so employed, recommended him to the late Sir John Malcolm, who ordered him, in company with Captain Christie, to explore the countries between India and Persia; and of this useful mission, undertaken in the years 1810 and 1811, he published an account, which made him known to the literary world, and gave him a claim to the discharge of still more important duties. In the Mahratta war of 1816 and 1817, he was appointed political assistant to Mr. Elphinstone, and served under that most distinguished functionary during the whole of that eventful period; and such was the opinion entertained of him by Mr. Elphinstone, that on the close of the war, he was appointed to superintend a portion of the conquered countries, a duty which he performed for seven years. He was next appointed Resident in Cutch; and the prince being a minor, administered all the departments of that province, having the power of life and death, and being absolute master of the country. In 1831, he was sent by Lord William Bentinck to Scinde, and negotiated with the Ameers the Treaties that opened the navigation of the Indus. He returned to Cutch, and was again 1383 sent to Scinde in 1838, to frame with the Ameers the new Treaties rendered necessary by the preparations for the Affghan war. So eminent were his services during this critical period—so materially did he contribute to the complete and easy success of all the operations attendant upon the first passages of the Indus by the British army, that, when high honours were distributed to the principal civil and military functionaries at the triumphant close of the campaign, it was my pleasing duty to recommend Sir Henry Pottinger for a Baronetcy; and Her Majesty graciously conferred that distinction upon him. In 1840, he returned home; and, never shall I forget the effects produced, when, at a splendid entertainment given to Lord Keane and some of his companions, Sir Henry Pottinger acknowledged the attention paid to him, and apologized for his inaptitude in public speaking, from the fact of his having been for six-and-thirty years constantly employed in the service of his country, without having once left India. The quiet but manly modesty—the unaffected, the prepossessing simplicity of his manner and address, bespoke the superior qualities which we have since learnt fully to estimate; and made an impression not obliterated, in my mind at least, even by his subsequent exploits. In the early part of next year, 1841, my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, requested me to offer to Sir Henry Pottinger the important duty, the faithful and successful discharge of which, it is now proposed to reward. And here I must be permitted to mention what has, naturally, been hitherto known only to my late Colleagues and myself, that when this offer was made, Sir Henry Pottinger, though being in a most delicate state of health, did not hesitate at once to accept it, provided his medical advisers permitted him to do so; and when he had obtained their reluctant sanction, requested me to inform my noble Friend that he would undertake the office, stipulating only that the sole responsibility should rest with him—that he should have no Colleague—and that his instructions should be as precise as the nature of the circumstances would permit. And I must add a fact which will not fail, I am sure, to be duly appreciated by the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that Sir Henry Pottinger, in accepting (his delicate and difficult service, after so long a career of distinguished duty, made no sort of bargain for himself—he did not hint a word at any future reward, in case of success. 1384 He spoke only, and that but shortly, of his resolution to do his best, and his hopes of not failing. But although he forgot his own claims, that is no reason why they should not be remembered by us. He had, during his long and varied service, many an opportunity of making an Indian fortune; but he has always thought more of his duty—more of his country than of himself; and after forty years of noble labour, he has returned home with little more than a name—a glorious name indeed, that will ever be connected, imperishably, with one of the fairest and purest triumphs, not only of his own great country, but of civilization itself. Sir Henry Pottinger has indeed been duly honoured by his most gracious Sovereign; but those honours, in the sense in which we are speaking, although, no doubt, properly valued by him, prevent him from pursuing the course of Indian service, and are a positive injury to him. I believe I may say that had he not gone to China, he would have again filled some very high and lucrative situation in India. I have heard he would have been appointed a Member of Council; but what part can he now accept? He, a Privy Councillor, a Grand Cross of the Bath—can he go to a residency and receive orders from his inferiors in rank and service? No, and so it is; he is, we may say, crushed by his laurels; and after all he has done, is to retire with the pay of a Lieutenant Colonel; for though he has the brevet of a Major General—that is his rank. He that has opened China, and her 300,000,000 to British commerce, is to be left in a condition which, I lament to say, will not enable him to hold his proper place—I may almost say any place, in his own country—in that country to whose glory and prosperity he has so largely contributed! It is superfluous to dwell upon the value of his services in China—they are acknowledged by the whole world, and not only ourselves, but other nations have already hastened to reap the benefit of them. The liberality by which our success was made useful to our great rivals, has been said, and truly, to be without a parallel in the annals of nations; and although the instructions given to Sir Henry Pottinger gave him a latitude of action in that respect, yet much was naturally left to his own management and discretion. The hon. Mover has briefly alluded to the expressions of gratitude which Sir Henry Pottinger has received from various public bodies. I will venture to repeat them more in detail. Sir Henry Pottinger has re- 1385 ceived Addresses, 1st, From the European and Native Inhabitants of Bombay, with Plate; 2nd, From the Chamber of Commerce of Bombay; 3rd, From the Merchants of London, with Plate; 4th, From the East India and China Association, with Plate; 5th, From the Merchants of Liverpool, with Plate; 6th, From the Mercantile Associations of Liverpool; 7th, From the Mayor and Burgesses of Liverpool; 8th, From the Merchants of Manchester; 9th, From the Mercantile Associations of Manchester; 10th, From the Mayor and Burgesses of Manchester; 11th, From 14,000 Operative Workmen in Manchester, signed in nine hours; 12th, From the Merchants of Glasgow; 13th, From the Lord Provost and Council of Glasgow, with the Freedom of the City; 14th, From the Lord Provost and Council of Edinburgh, with the Freedom of the City; 15th, From the Merchants of Belfast; 16th, From the Mayor and Burgesses of Belfast; 17th, From the Merchant Tailors' Company of London, with the freedom of the Corporation; 18th, He has had official intimation that the Freedom of the City of London has been voted to him, and is to be presented to him in a gold box at an entertainment. In addition to these honours, he has been publicly entertained at London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Belfast; and I would close this enumeration with alluding to the most remarkable meeting, perhaps, ever assembled to do honour to a public man; I mean the dinner at Merchant Tailors' Hall — where men of all parties, Members of the late and present Cabinet—the heads of the commerce and trade of this vast metropolis, united to pay a just tribute of admiration and respect to this distinguished man. Far, far better than any words of my own can be, were those generous praises then bestowed upon him by one best able to appreciate him—I mean Lord Aberdeen. That nobleman, in a speech worthy of himself, and which I had the happiness to hear, thus spoke to the merits of Sir Henry Pottinger:—I have for three years been in constant correspondence with Sir Henry Pottinger, and it is no more than truth to declare that I think no mail ever arrived from China without bringing to me fresh reasons to be deeply sensible of his merits, and his just claims to the gratitude of his country. You may readily imagine, that in a country like China, so distant, so different in almost every respect from those of which we have any knowledge, with every desire on the part of the Government at 1386 home to assume responsibility, to give every kind of assistance, to provide by instructions for all contingencies; yet very much, under such circumstances, must always depend upon the judgment and discretion of the person who, on the spot, is to administer the instructions he may receive. I believe there never was a man in whom a Government and the country might more safely repose confidence in such a situation than Sir Henry Pottinger. And permit me to say, that when difficulties arose, as difficulties numerous and weighty did arise unforeseen and unexpected, by his ability, by his firmness, by his perseverance and energy, he was enabled to meet and overcome them all.Such were the words of Lord Aberdeen; and if, after this eulogy, any testimony to the benefits conferred upon the country by the exertions of this gentleman should be thought wanting, I do not know that I can do better than quote the language used by the Lord Provost of Glasgow at the great entertainment given to Sir Henry Pottinger in that city. His words were—The manufactures of our city—the trade of our port—our intercourse with the East, have been much extended in consequence of his efforts; and although we cannot thank him in the high-flown language of the natives of the oriental regions where he has resided so long, we can thank him with great sincerity and cordiality of feeling, and tell him in the plain honest language of British merchants that he has done us good, and we are grateful for it.Sir, the British merchants have shown their gratitude; it remains for the British House of Commons to show theirs. They are distributors, not only of honours, but other rewards; and though it behoves them to be anxious guardians of the public purse, and though the Ministers of the day must be more especially sparing of such grants, yet I have little fear of the result, and in the hands of the House and of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I most willingly leave the decision on this appeal.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was a conclusive answer to that of the hon. Mover. It might have been inferred from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, and from his unjust and uncalled-for observations, that there was a disposition on the part of Her Majesty's Government to underrate the exertions and the merits of Sir Henry Pottinger. The House, however, would recollect that there had not been an opportunity afforded in that House on which he had not freely admitted those exertions and merits. He 1387 did, however, state that he had not included the name of Sir H. Pottinger in the vote to Sir Hugh Gough and to Sir W. Parker, because it was so rare that the thanks of the House had been voted for civil or diplomatic services, and because there were often political considerations mixed up with diplomatic services; and he did not propose to vote the thanks of the House also to Sir Henry Pottinger, rather on account of the danger of establishing, or of rather continuing a precedent set by the hon. Gentleman himself, than from a desire to underrate the eminent services of this honourable man. He would put aside for the present the question of the pecuniary reward, though the hon. Gentleman thought that no recognition of public services would be complete without a pecuniary reward. When the present Government succeeded to office, Sir H. Pottinger was not personally known to them, but he was known by name and repute; and they wrote out to assure him that he should have the same full and unbounded confidence from them as he had had from their predecessors. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose drew an invidious distinction between Sir Henry Pottinger and Mr. Davis. The hon. Gentleman said, that Sir H. Pottinger had only an allowance of 6,000l. a year, and that he had been distinguished for his military services, and that the same remuneration was given to Mr. Davis; but it was not because they gave a particular salary that they distinguished the individual; the salary was attached to the office, and not given to the man. Why, then, did the hon. Gentleman draw the distinction between the merits of Sir H. Pottinger and Mr. Davis? [Mr. Hume: I drew no distinction.] When the Govenment heard that Sir H. Pottinger wished to retire, they did not seek the patronage of the appointment; they besought him to remain. The health, however, of Sir H. Pottinger obliged him at length to retire, after a service in India alone of forty years. The Government were then bound to appoint a successor, and in that appointment they were influenced by no improper motives. They thought it important to select a man having personal experience of the country and the character of its inhabitants; and if the hon. Baronet the Member for Portsmouth (Sir G. Staunton) were in his place, he would admit that no improper motives had influenced the choice. In the course 1388 of his duty Sir H. Pottinger had shown the greatest discretion and moderation; the Government gave him the most ample credit for that exhibition of justice and moderation, which had obtained for him the complete confidence of those who would not otherwise have dealt with the "barbarians," as they called us; they gave him equal credit for the discretion and forbearance with which he treated some of his own countrymen, and they knew not which to praise the most, his moderation towards the Chinese, or his firmness towards his own contrymen. With respect to the hon. Gentleman's remarks on the admission of other countries to the benefits of the improved intercourse with China, no doubt Sir H. Pottinger was desirous of extending those benefits to all nations; but it was due to his noble Friend Lord Aberdeen, and to the noble Lord whom he succeeded, to say that one of the first acts of the present Government was to send out a despatch, dated 4th of November, 1841, to the same effect as a previous despatch of the noble Lord opposite, in which the Government said, "To secure a well-regulated trade is all we desire with China;" and further, "We seek no exclusive advantage; we demand nothing we will not willingly see enjoyed by the subjects of other States." No doubt Sir H. Pottinger, without those instructions, would have acted upon their spirit. I believe, however, that those instructions were conformable to the previous instructions of the noble Lord opposite. Let it be said, therefore, to the credit of the whole country and of all parties, that there was no wish, that there was not, on the part of any one, a desire to secure for ourselves in our intercourse with China, any peculiar or exclusive privileges. One desire was manifested by the noble Lord as the representative of the late Government; by his noble Friend as the representative of the present Government; and by Sir Henry Pottinger himself. Let it be known, then, throughout Europe and the world, that there was no party, that there was no man in the country who wished, on the termination of hostilities in China, to secure any narrow advantage, or one in which all nations should not participate. It would be inferred from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, that the Government had withheld from Sir Henry Pottinger something which they 1389 had it in their power to confer. He (Sir R. Peel) had not stated that Sir H. Pottinger had had the dignity of a Baronet conferred upon him on account of his services in China — that dignity was conferred for his long services in India; but, for his services in China, the Crown had conferred upon him the highest and the most honourable distinction in its gift—except the Garter, which it could not bestow—when it created him Grand Cross of the Bath. The hon. Gentleman might think this an inadequate reward; but the value which Sir Henry attached to it was, because it was a proof of the approbation and the favour of a gracious Sovereign. Again, Sir Henry was made a Privy Councillor. The hon. Gentleman said, that this honour was useless unless it was accompanied by a grant of money; but, he believed, that Sir H. Pottinger was proud of it, not from any personal vanity, but, as an additional mark of his Sovereign's approval. Further, when from the state of his health, Sir Henry was about to return home, the most marked and significant terms were used to convey to him the grateful acknowledgments for his services to his country. Except the particular reward which the hon. Gentleman advocated, there were no rewards and no honours which were withheld. The hon. Gentleman said that they might have conferred a peerage; but he was not quite sure that hereditary honours were always a suitable reward for services in such a case as this. He then came to the question of the pecuniary reward. It would be inferred from the speech of the hon. Gentleman, that the Crown had the power of granting a pension to Sir H. Pottinger, and that this power had not been exercised. Such was not the fact. If the Crown had the power of granting a pension, he would not have hesitated to advise the Crown to confer it; and he would have been tenfold more ready to do so after the disclosure by the right hon. Gentleman of the facts which the modesty and forbearance of Sir H. Pottinger had hitherto concealed from the Government. The Crown had the power to grant the pensions to Sir Gore Ouseley, and in the other cases referred to; but it had not the power in this case. It was all very well for the House of Commons to say that the Crown was niggardly; but who imposed those limitations on the Crown? Why, the House of Commons and the hon. Gentleman. The 1390 Crown could not grant a diplomatic pension to any one, whatever might be his merits or services, unless he had been in the diplomatic service for fifteen years, and had actually served for ten years, nor could the Crown appropriate more than 2,000l. for any such pension. Now, what was the power of the Crown to grant pensions on the Civil List? For claims on the Royal beneficence, for personal services to the Crown, for eminent public services, and for useful discoveries in science, Her Majesty was limited to grants amounting to 1,200l. per annum in the whole. But it was asked, why had not the Government come down to the House, and asked for a special grant of an additional pension? Why, there was not a week in which a similar and really meritorious claim could not be made. Take the case of the family of Sir W. Nott, who, after an exhibition of constancy and valour and success which entitled him to reward, returned broken in health, and unable even to receive the expression of public gratitude, or to be presented to his Sovereign; who left two daughters, to whom the East India Company had granted 100l. a year each; what a case might be made out for him? Or, again, the daughter of an eminent Professor who died the other day in the execution of his public duty at the Royal Society. The House must admit these claims; but it had not given the Crown the power of meeting them; and there were numbers of unobtrusive cases, not so marked as Sir H. Pottinger's, but highly deserving—men, for instance, who devoted the best years of their lives, not to the acquirement of money, but the perfection of mechanical science—and left their families in distress. Was the Minister to be always coming down to the House for a special grant? A period might come when the Legislature might extend the discretion of the Crown; but meanwhile he (Sir R. Peel) was unwilling to establish a precedent capable of so extensive an application. The general rule was, that while public servants remained in health pensions should not be granted, the Crown having offices to bestow, implying great trust and confidence, and carrying a proportionate reward. Sir W. Parker, for instance, was still retained in the service of the Crown; and at the first opportunity for the employment of Sir H. Pottinger, he (Sir R. Peel) should think no man better qualified for a mark of the 1391 favour of the Crown, and no one fitter to be entrusted with the public service. The question now was, whether the House was to make a precedent of a special grant, usurping the prerogative of the Crown to reward public servants. On the whole, however, considering what appeared to be the general feeling of the House—considering that Sir H. Pottinger was withdrawn from India, and thereby lost the advantage of continued service in a diplomatic capacity—considering that the grace and favour of the House of Commons ought not to be impeded by the servants of the Crown—believing that they had done their duty in opposing their own personal wishes, which must be in favour of the liberal reward of a public man, he (Sir R. Peel) should be sorry there should be any division of opinion on the subject, and therefore he should not oppose a compliance with the wishes of the House. He should take upon himself to advise Her Majesty to make a provision for Sir H. Pottinger, as a reward for his eminent public services.
Lord J. Russell
was rejoiced at the conclusion at which the right hon. Baronet had arrived; and if he added a word it would be to express his own opinion on the question, that instead of any reproach falling on Government for neglecting Sir H. Pottinger, it had been forward to recognise his merits and reward his services. He hoped, therefore, that nobody would think there was any party in the House disposed to find fault with the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues for the course they had pursued. If Sir H. Pottinger had not been employed sufficiently long to entitle him to a pension, he (Lord J. Russell) apprehended that the eminence of his services ought to make up for any brevity in their duration. He admitted that the general rule had been correctly stated by the right hon. Baronet; but he held this to be an extraordinary exception. It was impossible to state the services of Sir H. Pottinger more strongly than they had been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman; but with regard to the instructions under which Sir H. Pottinger had acted, as respected exclusive privileges of trade, it was but fit to state that his noble Friend (Lord Palmerston), in one of his original despatches to Captain Elliot, had used these words:—"You will bear in mind that the British Government does 1392 not desire to obtain for British subjects any exclusive privileges of trade, which could not be extended to the subjects of every other power." In this spirit the Treaty had been concluded by Sir H. Pottinger, and he (Lord J. Russell) was happy now to find that his merits were not only universally acknowledged, but were to be substantially rewarded.
§ Viscount Palmerston
could not allow the discussion to terminate without stating his great satisfaction with the determination at which the right hon. Baronet had arrived. That determination was as honourable to Ministers, as it must be gratifying to the gallant Officer. He, too, acquitted them of any backwardness in originating the proposition for a pension. He admitted the force of the observations of the right hon. Baronet; the result must be even more satisfactory to the gallant officer, his hon. friend, than if the subject had not been made a matter of discussion; the reward would thus appear, not merely the gift of the Crown, but the suggestion of the Representatives of the Commons of England. He apprehended that no inconvenient risk would be incurred by the establishment of this precedent; for the case stood on strong, but purely exceptional grounds. The concession would come within the spirit and principle of the Statute, though it might not fall within its strict and technical letter. If Sir H. Pottinger had resided only for a few years longer as our Minister to China, no difficulty could have arisen; and the short ness of his services was the only objection to the just reward of them. The truth was, that he had performed great public services in a briefer period than was contemplated by the Act. As to other cases of unknown merits and obscure claims which deserved, but did not obtain, a pecuniary acknowledgment, it might be observed, that rewards were not bestowed so much on the principle of personal desert, as on that of the amount of public benefit conferred. Two stipulations made by Sir H. Pottinger with the noble Earl at the head of Foreign Affairs had been alluded to; but to him Sir H. Pottinger had proposed a third, with which, as the reasons for it were too apparent, he could not refuse to comply: it was, that as he had just returned from India on account of ill health, and as he much feared it might still farther suffer from his new duties, he should not be asked to remain on the Chinese 1393 station after he had rendered the good service he hoped to perform by the accomplishment of his mission. The only circumstance that excited any regret or doubt in his mind, when he took leave of Sir H. Pottinger, was his apparent situation, from which it appeared but too plain that he was unfit to contend against the unwholesome climate which his desire to perform a great public duty had induced him to brave. He had carried out his instructions to the very letter. It was impossible for any man placed in so responsible a situation, to have acquitted himself in a manner more honourable to himself, or satisfactory to his country. The vote which they were about to come to would be alike honourable to all parties concerned in it: to his hon. Friend who had originated the Motion—to the Government who had supported it—to the House of Commons who had given their unqualified approval of it—and to the individual who was the subject of it; and he was sure that there had seldom been a vote which had been more satisfactory to the country at large than that which they were about to come to would be. It might be said that pecuniary rewards were not those to which such men as Sir H. Pottinger would look; but it was conformable to human nature—it was expected and approved of by society—and was in accordance with the practice of the country. When a great victory was obtained by a general or an admiral, he was rewarded by a pecuniary grant; and such a proceeding was sanctioned, not only by custom, but sound policy. He must, in conclusion, say that he was glad to find that the hon. Member for Montrose, who, it was well known, carefully watched the expenditure of public money, was so sensible of the merits of Sir H. Pottinger, as to become the originator of the Motion before the House.
§ Mr. J. A. Smith
eulogized the conduct of Sir H. Pottinger. That gallant officer was no party to the Motion before the House; and it was, therefore, the more honourable and gratifying to him.
§ Mr. P. Howard
said, that the family of Sir H. Pottinger were connected with the 1394 county of Cumberland; and he might, therefore, plead a similar excuse to that of the hon. Member for Belfast for adding his meed of praise to the encomiums which had already been passed on the conduct of the gallant officer. He approved of the manner in which grants of public money were now made by the Crown; and he thanked the Government for the course which they had taken on the present occasion.
§ Mr. Hume
was sorry that the right hon. Baronet had not communicated his determination to him an hour before the House sat, as he should then have been prevented from encroaching so much as he had done upon the time of the House. He was pleased beyond measure to find that the Government had come forward to sanction the proposition which he had made. The course which the right hon. Baronet had taken was most prudent and praiseworthy; and, as he had given his assent to the Motion, he (Mr. Hume) hoped it would be carried nemine contradicente.
§ Resolution agreed to.