HC Deb 17 August 1846 vol 88 cc815-38

On the Question that the Speaker do now leave the Chair,


said, he had given notice on a subject which for many months had occupied much of his time. In the month of April last, he had asked whether there was any objection to lay on the Table of the House copies of correspondence, or whether there was any, with respect to the unfortunate state of Cracow. On the 22nd of February, the army of Austria, and afterwards of Russia and Prussia, took possession of that place, and the atrocities that followed in Gallicia were appalling to any individual who read them, and it appeared they took place under circumstances where we were in some degree entitled to interfere. The right hon. Baronet then at the head of the Government very candidly stated his abhorrence of the accounts that had been received. He said he could not believe them, and begged of him not to press his Motion at that time. The right hon. Baronet said information might be obtained at a future period without embroiling the Government by any interference in that House. He would be the last person to interfere in any question that would risk the peace of the world or the peaceful relations of this country with any State; but here there were circumstances in which they were placed by treaties which rendered it absolutely necessary—nay, which rendered it the imperative duty of that House, in the maintenance of the honour of the country—to demand the observance of those treaties by which they were bound. The Treaty of Vienna was a treaty which he had always complained of, inasmuch as they became bound by it to maintain the continental system. It might have led them, as it did in some degree, to be embroiled in the disputes of the Continent; and he had often regretted that those treaties had been entered into; but Administration after Administration had thought fit to maintain those treaties, and it then became a question whether there was any portion of them that more immediately deserved the consideration of the House than another. It became a question whether they, in that House, having to maintain the honour of their country, and to support that Treaty, should not interpose when an inferior State was interfered with, and the liberties of that State attempted to be destroyed. He was sorry to say that nothing had been done since the year 1830, when they lost the opportunity which then occurred of restoring to Poland her rights that she had lost. He regretted that Earl Grey had not used in 1830 the language which in 1793 he had used in that House. He regretted that, as Minister of England, in conjunction with France, he had not demanded the restoration of the rights of Poland when that country was in arms in assertion of its own rights. He regretted that the honour of England was sullied by allowing other States to trample upon a Treaty to which she was a party, and the liberties of Cracow to be interfered with. The Government had been, on a former occasion, called upon to send a representative to Cracow as consul, there being consuls there from the other three States, Austria, Russia, and Prussia. The noble Lord now at the head of the Foreign department was then also at the head of that department; and his answer then was, that the Government were taking steps to send out a consul to take upon him the duties of that office. Who had interfered he did not know; but in the following year, when a noble Lord, not now in the House, who had always taken a praiseworthy part in the affairs of that country, and up to the present moment exhibited the same regard for its liberties, was asked in 1837 why the noble Lord had not fulfilled his pledge and sent out a consul, he said the Government had given up the intention; but never stated why or wherefore. Were they to remain in the peculiar position they now occupied? It would be discreditable to a powerful State like England. They had guarantees in the independence of Cracow; but they had not the courage to assert it, or to place before the public the demands they had made. He, therefore, thought, on the part of the public, as well as on the part of the unfortunate individuals who were placed in this unhappy position, they were entitled from the noble Lord to an answer exculpatory of the conduct of the English Government. He should be sorry they did any thing to promote a breach of peace between that and any other country; but it behoved the British nation to renounce those Treaties altogether, or to demand their fulfilment, and not allow those Treaties to be hanging over them, and becoming, at a future period the means, perhaps, of embroiling them, while at the present moment, they would not, though possessing the power to do so, demand that they should be observed. If they made that demand, and Austria, Russia, and Prussia should refuse to comply with it, it would become a question whether that refusal would free them from the bonds which the Treaty of Vienna placed on them. It appeared, by the general Treaty of Vienna, that there were two points connected with this subject. The first had regard to the Poles generally; the second had special references. The 1st Article of the Treaty declares that— The Poles who are respective subjects of Russia, Austria, and Prussia shall obtain a representation and national institutions regulated according to the degree of political consideration that each of the Governments to which they belong shall judge expedient and proper to grant them. This part of the Treaty remained to that hour unsatisfied. The Power mentioned in it had failed to fulfil the stipulations of the Treaty, and England was cow-hearted enough never to have demanded that it should be put in force. From thence had flowed all the evils which had fallen upon that unfortunate country. This country sent fleets and troops in cases where inferior Powers refused to fulfil Treaties, and we sent them to coerce such countries because they were weak. When, however, we had to deal with Austria, Russia, and Prussia, we shrunk into our shells, and thus this country has become the reproach of all the Liberals on the Continent as well as in this country. By the 6th Article of this Treaty, the town of Cracow with its territory is to be for ever a free, independent, and strictly neutral city, under the protection of Austria, Russia, and Prussia. In the 9th Article, the independence of Cracow is distinctly put forward. The Courts of Russia, Austria, and Prussia engage to respect, and to cause to be always respected, the neutrality of the free town of Cracow and its territory. No armed force shall be introduced upon any pretence whatever. This Treaty was signed at Vienna on the 9th of June, 1815; and he found that the British Ambassadors put their signatures to it, and pledged the honour of England to act in conjunction with the three Powers with regard to Poland and the maintenance of the independence of Cracow. If there had been only a single treaty on the subject, it might be said that there was some mistake in the matter. But there was an additional Treaty relating to Cracow, signed by Austria, Russia, and Prussia, and dated the 3rd of May, 1815, in which it was expressly engaged that there shall be no interference with the independence of Cracow. The 6th Article said— The three Courts engage to respect, and to cause to be respected at all times, the neutrality of the free city of Cracow and its territory, and no armed force shall enter it under any pretence whatsoever. In subsequent articles of this Treaty, the free city of Cracow was guaranteed the enjoyment of its independence. This was a clear question on paper; but the Treaty had failed to be fulfilled, and Great Britain had never remonstrated on the subject. This country might not have succeeded; but still it was her duty to remonstrate. Why there had been no remonstrance it was for the noble Lord to explain; but, at any rate, they must be informed why anything of the kind had taken place. There was another Treaty of the 3rd of May, 1815, with respect to Poland, and in which there is a guarantee to Cracow of a constitution, and that it should be ensured in the enjoyment of all commercial benefits which could arise from independence. He believed that our non-interference in this matter had been productive of great mischief. He would not go into details on that occasion: it would be sufficient for him to say, that on the 20th of February last there arrived a force of Austrian troops at Cracow, which took possession of the place without any remonstrance on the part of this country. After a short time these troops were removed, and took with them all the public authorities. Soon after the Russians marched there, and, after remaining some time in the place, disturbances broke out naturally from such treatment as the people were exposed to; and this had led to the most lamentable results in that city. He had with him details of the atrocities committed in the neighbourhood of Cracow, which were so unlike the occurrences of the present age, that it was with no small difficulty that any one could believe them. This was the case with the right hon. Baronet lately at the head of the Government, who stated that the accounts were of too horrible a nature for him to suppose that they could have taken place under the Government of Austria. He and others believed that the Austrian Government was guilty of these proceedings; and this Government was what was called a paternal Government— a word used on the Continent to describe it. The population in those districts had been urged to butcher the landowners, without any reason that he knew of, by the Government under which they lived. The Austrian Government was accused of having taken steps to encourage and reward assassination. Such proceedings appeared almost incredible; but from statements before him he believed that they had taken place. What he wanted to know was, whether England had interfered in the matter, as she had a right to do, and asked on what grounds these proceedings had taken place. In Cracow they were told—but there was no proof of this—a certain part of the population had combined and corresponded with committees sitting in Paris, London, and elsewhere, which were endeavouring to promote a revolt against the three Governments. Surely it would have been easy for these Governments to have proved this, for they had seized all the documents within the walls of the city, and might easily repel the charge which had been brought against them. It would at least be satisfactory to know that there was some ground for interference, and that it was not a gratuitous culpability on the part of those Governments. He must express his earnest hope that the day would come when they would again see Poland an independent nation. He thought that it was possible, before long, that a change might take place. By proceedings in that place they might tend to buoy up the spirit of independence in that unhappy country. What right had Austria, Russia, and Prussia, those despotic States, to deprive the Poles of the privileges given to them by the Treaty of Vienna, and which were guaranteed to them as strongly as possible by England? There had, however, been a direct infraction of the Treaty by these three Powers, and every promise given to the Poles had been broken. In spite of the Treaties existing between this country and Austria, Russia, and Prussia, Austrian troops still held military possession of Cracow. It would be far better for the honour of this country to be no longer a party to the alliance, if it took no steps to ensure the fulfilment of the pledges and engagements entered into with regard to Poland. The nationality of Poland had been destroyed; and now the llttle spot which had been preserved had been invaded and overrun by a military force. He hoped that the noble Lord would be able to remove the doubts which he felt as to the conduct of the British Government in these transactions. He should like to know why this country did not take the part she ought to have done in 1831, and which was essential for the honour as well as for the protection of British interests. He felt that he had inadequately brought the subject before the House; but he had no wish unnecessarily to detain the House, and would conclude by moving— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House Copies or Extracts of any Correspondence between the Government of Her Majesty and the Governments of Cracow, Russia, Prussia, or Austria, relative to the appointment of a British Consular Agent at Cracow, since the declaration made by the Minister of Foreign Affiairs in the House of Commons, in the year 1836, of his intention of sending a Consul to reside at Cracow.


said, that no one was more unwilling than himself to occupy the time of the House. On a question like the present, however, individual Members of that House might have advantages which did not fall to the Members of the Government. Words might fall from a Member of the Government which might be considered as an improper interference with the affairs of foreign countries; but the observations of private Members could only be regarded as an indication of public opinion in the country, which must be looked on with respect. He believed that the principle of non-interference was becoming the favourite foreign policy in England. In this country, where there was no frontier but the ocean, there might be a pretence for letting the affairs of the Continent go on without interference on our part, when it was not likely to bring them to a successful issue. The question brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose was a matter in which we were engaged, and a matter in which pledges had been put forth, and engagements had been entered into with the people of Europe. The Treaty of Vienna was accomplished by means of the blood and sacrifices of England, and but for the exertions of this country it was more than probable that the arrangements entered into by that Treaty never would have taken place, and matters would have appeared under a very different aspect. It was therefore not only a question of right of interference on our part, but also a question of justice. The arrangements in connexion with that Treaty had been brought about by England, and she was responsible for the infraction of that Treaty. It had been said on more than one occasion, "What was the use of interfering if we were not prepared to go to war? If not go to the ultima ratio regum, why interfere at all?" He did not believe that the influence of England was so little on the Continent that we could not interfere effectually without enforcing our remonstrances by physical force. The question of Cracow had on former occasions been brought before the House in 1836 and 1840, on both which occasions his noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs took part in the debates. On both of these occasions his noble Friend said that he regarded the encroachments on that place as essentially unjust, and if he had abstained from remonstrance, it was on the ground that it was difficult to give effect to our remonstrances. But was there to be no end to encroachments without remonstrance? It was because we did not effectually remonstrate, that these things had gone on. His noble Friend said, in 1836, that it was not for the dignity of this country that it should appoint a consul when it was probable that his exequatur would be refused by the three Powers. Now, if England and France, under the Treaty of Vienna, had appointed consuls, he did not believe for a moment that the three Powers would have refused them, for the independence of Cracow was declared as far and as formally as words could do it. Cracow was as independent a town as Hamburgh, and was entitled to receive her representatives from other countries, and be never could understand the ground of refusal. There appeared to be a culpable neglect on the part of this country, for from our proceedings the three Powers might assume that they might do with Cracow what they did with Poland. The 9th Article of the Treaty of Vienna distinctly stated that no armed force should be introduced into Poland under any pretence whatever. There seemed to be some difficulty with respect to the other part of this article. It was distinctly stated that the town of Cracow should give up fugitives, deserters, and persons under prosecution belonging to the country of either of the high Powers. It did not appear that any means were provided for enforcing these provisions on the republic of Cracow if it refused to give them up. Nevertheless, they had never seen a case which should justify the invasion of the rights of Cracow, that no armed force should be introduced into that town on any pretence whatever. The protective Powers might have found that this was a place to which refugees resorted, and it might have been a matter of consultation how to get rid of them; but what did they care for the opinion of the other Powers which were parties to the Treaty when they took possession of the town by an armed force, which was as gross a violation of a treaty as had ever occurred? He had heard no reason assigned why the Austrian troops retained possession of the place. He was induced to support the Motion by the hope that by doing so they should get some explanation on the subject. He had no desire to make a statement or come to a decision on the documents of the plaintiff alone; but the difficulty was that the defendant would not enter on her defence. It would not do for the Austrian Government to say that this country took the case on the statements of its adversaries only. This country wished to see the grounds which induced the Austrians to commit a violation of the Treaty of Vienna. The occupation of Cracow by the Austrian troops was an avowed fact. After a short time they left the place, taking with them the civil authorities of the town; and some persons, who were fond of notoriety in the place, came forward and formed themselves into what they called a Provisional Government, and Cracow was then declared to be in a state of insurrection. There must be some explanation on this point, for the result was that Cracow was in the possession of Austrian troops. In the proclamation which had been issued on this subject, there were two statements which were as contradictory as possible. The first was that Cracow was declared to be as free as ever; and by the second it was declared that the citadel which commaded the town should remain in the possession of the Austrian troops. So much for the liberty of the town. The matter did not end there; for what was the corollary? A few refugees went over the frontier into Austrian Poland. He must say however, that the facts were so difficult to get at, that it was not possible for him to give any very distinct account of what had taken place. But immediately those refugees had passed over the frontier, there happened in Gallicia one of the most frightful events which had ever occurred in modern times. He must express to the House his astonishment at the manner in which it had been attempted to smother this question in Germany, and particularly in the Government of Austria. Such proceedings almost established the truth of statements so extraordinary and horrible as to be unexampled in history. The statements he was about to make were taken from documents which had not been contradicted. In Gallicia there existed the old relations between the proprietors and the peasantry, or rather the old system of that country. The mass of the nobility represented not only the large proprietors and gentry, but all freeholders; while the people were in almost a servile state. When the refugees came over into Gallicia, the whole of the local authorities there seemed to have been struck with a most extraordinary terror. They seemed to have imagined that all the proprietors of that country were about to rise in rebellion; and they considered themselves authorized to issue an order to the peasantry of that country to possess themselves of the persons of the proprietors in any way they could. On the 26th of February this order was issued by the Prefect of the province:— I call upon the inhabitants of Tarnow that they shall take possession of the turbulent spirits (meaning the proprietors). To do this they may arm themselves with their scythes and their hatchets. They shall deliver them up to the Government; and I am authorized for this immediately to give to those persons who shall so deliver them up a sufficient recompense in money. So it appeared the peasantry were authorized by the Government to give up to the local authorities the gentry of their country; and they were told to do so with their scythes and their hatchets, and that they should receive an adequate reward, Now, in any country such an order as this would be followed by the most injurious and disastrous consequences; but that was not all. They were told to bring in the proprietors living, if they could; but if they could not bring them in living, then to bring them in dead; and the local magistrate who made this proclamation said he was authorized to give the reward. There was no means of knowing whether he were or not; but it was to be hoped, for the honour of humanity, and for the honour of a great European Government, that he was not justified in making the announcement. That proclamation was followed by the massacre of 1,478 of the proprietors. 1,478 corpses were brought in to the Government, and rewards paid for them. Of these from 60 to 70 were the priests of the country; and of the remainder a large proportion were women, including some ladies of the very highest class. In one family sixteen members were destroyed. But there was no use in reiterating these facts. He was sure he had said enough to impress the House with a feeling of horror at the circumstance. But when it was over—when that awful sacrifice was accomplished—what then took place? Did the Austrian Government come in and repress those outrages? Did it declare that such things were horrible, and that the authors of such cruelties should be treated as criminals? No. The men who committed the most frightful of these atrocities were assembled together when an order came out, on the 12th of March, in these words:— Faithful Gallicians: you have aroused yourselves for the maintenance of order and law; you have fought for the law, and you have destroyed the enemies of order. This was the way in which their atrocities were acknowledged. And again, when one man who escaped demanded justice, justice was promised to him, but accompanied with this remark—"You have come dressed in mourning, but you have no right to mourn for the victims who have fallen;" and this was the only survivor of a family of which sixteen members had been murdered. If such events occurred in any country with which England had relations of even the most distant amity, he would say they would be perfectly authorized to speak of them in that House, and to call upon the Government to remonstrate—it might be in the most friendly spirit—with the Government which permitted such things to take place; but it was impossible to deny but that by the same Treaty of Vienna, the Poles subject to Austria, to Russia, and to Prussia, were, to a certain degree, placed under the protection of this country. The hon. Member for Montrose had quoted the article in which England guaranteed their constitutional rights; and if he spoke in over harsh terms of the manner in which these rights had been violated, it was simply because they were left in doubt by the Austrian Government as to the part which it had taken in these transactions. That Government knew what had taken place in this country on the subject—it knew also how strongly its conduct had been protested against in the French Chambers; and yet nowhere could he find that it had given the least explanation on the subject, or that it had attempted in any way to modify the opinion entertained of its conduct. On the contrary, there was published in the Government Gazette of the 28th of April, 1846, a statement from Prince Frederick of Schwartzenberg, in which, the acts that had taken place were declared to have been authorized by the Austrian Government. Should such events as those which had occurred in Cracow be allowed to pass without remark on the part of our Government? When the subject was discussed, in another place, much was said of the general humanity and the paternal character of the Austrian Government. He was not there to deny the truth of that character. On the contrary, he knew that the greater part of the subjects of that Government lived in as happy a relation with the State as was consistent with absolute government. He believed that of the absolute Governments of Europe, Austria claimed the foremost place in securing happiness to its people—at least as far as Germany was concerned, for as to its Italian States he would not speak—and in affording cheap and ready justice from man to man. Austria maintained an enormous army and an enormous police; but yet it adopted the brutal policy of setting class against class, and of putting arms into the hands of the lower, in order that they might massacre the class above them. He would not enter into the subject of the conspiracy in which those proprietors were said to be engaged. It was said that there was a great conspiracy hatching; and it was by these means that it had been frustrated. The Austrian Government said they were aware of this conspiracy; could they not have met it then with legal measures? Could they not have entrusted its suppression to the ordinary military and political power? They had not the excuse of a sudden outbreak; and if any had been attempted, the Austrians had not less than 80,000 troops within call. He would ask the House to imagine the Government of this country guilty of such acts—of its suspecting that some political difficulties were about to arise in any part of this kingdom, and of its arming the peasantry of England or of Ireland against the gentry, in order to prevent the conspiracy from proceeding farther. He hoped his noble Friend would not consider that he had in any degree compromised the right of this country to interfere. The few remarks which he offered were made in a spirit of moderation, and with an earnest hope that the Austrian Government might be able to cleanse itself of this great stain. He trusted they might be able to show that they were not guilty of those great crimes with which they were charged. To refer for a moment to the subject with which he had commenced, namely, the continued encroachments made upon the Treaty of Vienna, he should say that he thought it most injudicious for these German States to be continually setting aside the provisions of treaties. They had seen up to very late years a declaration expressed by other nations and people, that they were determined to tread under foot the Treaty of 1815; and if the German Governments used in this manner treaties towards the weak, they would perhaps find in the day of danger, when they appealed to those treaties themselves—when they were driven to call upon Europe to preserve those treaties on their behalf—they might perhaps not find the public opinion of Europe so ready to stand by and protect them in their rights as they would if they themselves had perfectly maintained and respected the rights of such weaker States as Cracow, which, however small and weak it might be, had still its rights guaranteed to it by the great Powers, one of which was England.


said: Sir, nothing can be more painful to men of proper feeling than discussions turning on the subject of Poland, because they relate to a great and a noble people, who, in former times, held a prominent position in the community of European nations, and who, by injustice of the greatest magnitude—though at a period now remote—were deprived of their national existence, and have gradually been absorbed within the territories of neighbouring countries. But the events to which these recollections apply are events which are now matters of history; and whatever may be the aspirations, of those who belong to that nation, who, looking back to the ancient glories of their country, think that the time may arise when the former condition of Poland may be re-established, we, sitting in this House and knowing what are the treaties and engagements by which the Powers of Europe are bound, and by which the present distribution of Europe has been regulated, cannot in our considerations go farther back than the Treaty of Vienna. But to that we are ready to go, and on that we have a right to take our stand. Sir, the Motion which my hon. Friend has made, is one that I cannot think it my duty to accede to. My hon. Friend has moved for the production of correspondence which took place between the British Government and the Governments of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, now ten years ago, turning on a state of things then existing, and bearing on intentions which the British Government at that time entertained of sending a consular officer to Cracow. Sir, I think it was my duty on a former occasion to explain generally to the House the grounds on which a similar Motion could not be agreed to by Her Majesty's then Government; and I took occasion to state, that at that moment there were circumstances in operation which had created much irritation among the Powers who had signed the Treaty of Vienna; that there were differences of opinion on rights and facts which grew out of the different views entertained by those Governments and the Government of this country, with respect to a matter then at issue. They entertained different opinions from us, and we maintained different opinions from them; and I think it not right to produce the correspondence which passed between this Government and the Governments I have mentioned; but I am confident that the House, if that correspondence were produced, would not think that we did not maintain those opinions with proper dignity and proper regard to considerations of justice. But, Sir, I think that after ten years have passed since that correspondence took place, it would be very injurious to rake up the differences that existed at that period, and which had not any bearing on this subject. I even think that, with respect to the interests which I know my hon. Friend has at heart, the production of that correspondence would be injurious; and that those interests would not be assisted in any degree by the production of that correspondence. I never did attach so much importance as some Gentlemen have attached to the appointment of a consul at Cracow. In the first place, it is quite true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Monckton Milnes) has stated, that a consular officer is one whose functions require the consent of both parties before they can be exercised. He cannot act without an exequatur from the Government of the country in which he is to be placed; and it is acknowledged to be the perfect right of every Government to accept or refuse the placing of consular agents in any part of its territory. But I really, as I said before, cannot admit the great importance that is attached to this particular consular appointment. Whether the Treaty of Vienna is or is not executed and fulfilled by the great Powers of Europe, depends not on the presence of a consular officer at Cracow. It depends on the communications which may take place between the Governments which are concerned in it; and these communications are totally independent of a consular agent at Cracow, whose only duty would be to furnish you with information of what was going on there. That information in the present instance has been unfortunately but too abundantly supplied from other sources; and I do not think that either my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. M. Milnes), or my hon. Friend who made this Motion, will say that we required information from a consul at Cracow to furnish grounds necessary for us to make a communication to Austria on this matter. I shall be quite ready, however, to give my hon. Friend the Papers connected with the correspondence with regard to the present state of things which have been moved for in the other House of Parliament, and which it is quite fitting this House also should have before it. It is impossible to deny that the Treaty of Vienna has been violated in the recent transactions. The Treaty of Vienna is explicit in regard to Cracow. It distinctly states that the republic of Cracow shall be a free and independent State; and to that condition not Russia, Austria, and Prussia alone are parties, but Great Britain and France, and the other Powers of Europe that were parties to the general Treaty of Vienna are also made parties to that arrangement. It was foreseen, no doubt, by those who drew up that Treaty, that a small State like Cracow, placed between other larger and more powerful States, would need protection; that it was liable to be overrun by some of its powerful neighbours in the course of events that might very possibly occur hereafter. It was, therefore, for the interest and safety of Cracow, that it was placed under the protection of the three Powers. It was not placed under the protection of any one of the three Powers; but it was placed under the protection of all three, in order that their conflicting interests with regard to Cracow might afford a greater security for maintaining the independence of that small republic; and therefore nothing can be clearer than this—that the Treaty of Vienna imposes on the three Powers the duty of maintaining the independence of Cracow, and gives to none of these three Powers any right to overthrow or suspend that independence. At the same time it must be admitted, that if you give to Cracow the rights of an independent State, you also impose on Cracow the duties of an independent State, and the responsibilities dependent on those rights. That is to say, when my hon. Friend stated that he saw in the Treaty of Vienna certain obligations imposed on Cracow, namely, the obligation of not harbouring persons dangerous to the safety of the neighbouring States, and that he saw no condition which afforded the means of performing that obligation; one must admit that if Cracow violate its Treaty engagements, the remedy is war, and those means which war between different countries afford. In the present case I believe the general outline of the fact to be, that it was known to the Governments of Austria, of Russia, and of Prussia, that there were going on plots and conspiracies, if you choose so to call them; at any rate that there were going on communications, the object of which was to produce an outbreak in the Polish provinces or dependencies of each of those three Powers. I believe that information to that effect was timely given to the three Powers. In Prussia measures were taken which prevented them being carried out—warning was given to some of the individuals concerned; arrests, precautionary arrests, were made, and no explosion of any serious kind took place. Now what happened at Cracow was this. It was imagined by the Government of Cracow that schemes were in progress, the tendency of the accomplishment of which would have been to disturb the tranquillity of the city; and application was made by the Government of Cracow for the entrance of foreign troops into their territory. Now, it is a different question, whether, if that was not sanctioned by the Treaty of Vienna, it was a violation of the Treaty of Vienna. It would, I think, be difficult to say that; and, I think, that in a just interpretation of the Treaty, that article of it which says that foreign troops should not enter into the territory of Cracow, must mean that they should not enter without the assent of the Government of Cracow. However, be that as it may, I believe the original entrance of the Austrian troops into the territory of Cracow was in consequence of an application from the Government. But then those Austrian troops retired. Why they retired has never yet been explained. With them retired the Government and the authorities of Cracow; the immediate, at least the early consequence of that retirement, was the establishment of a provisional Government in Cracow, and the inroad of troops from Cracow into the Austrian territory. That was undoubtedly an act of hostility. They seized the salt mines of Wieliczka, and some of the treasure there in store. No doubt the Austrian troops were justified in repelling that inroad, and it might have afforded sufficient reason for their pursuing those troops into the territory of Cracow, to prevent the recurrence of a similar incursion. Well, Sir, therefore in regard to those recent events in Cracow, I would give the three Powers credit for not having intentionally departed from the engagements of the Treaty of Vienna; but I maintain, undoubtedly, that when the emergency which they allege as the ground of their proceedings shall have ceased, it will be the duty of the three Powers to replace the republic of Cracow on the footing of complete independence, to which by the Treaty of Vienna it is entitled. Now, I hope that such is the intention of the three Powers: I have no knowledge to the contrary; but I rather think that the House will find amongst the papers which I shall be ready to produce, an assurance that that is the intention of the three Powers. I have too high an opinion of the sense of justice and of right that must animate the Governments of Austria, of Prussia, and of Russia, to believe that they can feel any disposition or intention to deal with Cracow otherwise than Cracow is entitled by treaty engagements to be dealt with; and I am quite sure that those Governments must be sufficiently sagacious to have seen of their own accord the force of the reasoning to which the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Milnes) has referred, namely, that the Treaty of Vienna must be taken as a whole—that it cannot be permitted to any Powers to pick out from it articles which they choose on the one hand to have observed, or on the other hand articles which they are to be allowed to violate. And, Sir, I must say that if there are any Powers parties to that Treaty who have the strongest interest that the settlement of Europe which was effected by the Treaty of Vienna should be maintained, those Powers undoubtedly are the Powers of Germany; and it cannot have escaped, I am sure, the sagacity of those who govern those countries, that if the Treaty of Vienna be not good on the Vistula, it may be equally bad on the Rhine, and on the Po; and therefore I am convinced, that not only a sense of justice, but a sense of policy and of self-interest, will lead those Powers to see that the Treaty of Vienna must be respected as a whole, and that it is eminently for their interests that that whole should in all its parts be observed. I need not, I believe, assure the House, that no efforts will be wanting on the part of Her Majesty's Government to bring under the consideration of the Governments concerned all those reasons and arguments which may be necessary, if indeed any be necessary, to confirm them in that course of proceeding. My hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) expressed his regret that in 1830 and 1831 a different course was not pursued. He expressed his regret that the late Earl Grey did not in 1831 hold the same language with regard to Poland which he had held in 1793. But I am sure that my hon. Friend and the House will see that the fact to which I have already referred, namely, the intervening circumstance of the settlement of Europe by the Treaty of Vienna was a sufficient reason why my late noble and lamented Friend could not in 1831 have taken the ground on which he might have stood in 1793. Of this too I am also sure, that every man who had the good fortune to know either publicly or privately that distinguished statesman, will feel that all that the most generous feelings of human nature, that the noblest sentiments which could animate man, that the highest intellectual attainments, coupled with the most statesmanlike abilities, could effect, was sure to be accomplished by Lord Grey. I think, therefore, Sir, that the character of Lord Grey must be a sufficient assurance to any man who may not know the circumstances of the case, that if more were not accomplished in 1831 than was achieved, it was owing to circumstances which made it impossible for this country at that time to have interfered more effectually than it did. My hon. Friend, carried away by his known warm and generous feelings in the cause of the oppressed, talks very lightly of making war with three Powers of the Continent in defence of Cracow or of Poland; but I am sure there is no man who would be more likely than my hon. Friend, on calm and deliberate consideration, to weigh, under such circumstances as we stood in 1831, on the one hand the chances of succeeding in such a contest, and to weigh on the other hand the chances of failing altogether even in attaining the object which he advocates. I say, then, with regard to Cracow, that I have, I trust, not an unfounded belief and conviction that the three Powers will respect the Treaty of Vienna, and that when the circumstances of the moment shall have passed away (as I trust they may almost now be considered to have disappeared), they will take steps to establish the territory of Cracow in the condition in which the Treaty of Vienna stipulates that it should be placed. I hardly like to advert, even for a moment, to the other topic which has been touched upon by my hon. Friend who made this Motion, and by the hon. Gentleman who succeeded him, with regard to the events which have passed in that country which adjoins Cracow—I mean in the territory of Gallicia. It is perfectly true that Gallicia forms a part of the Austrian Empire; and I differ from my hon. Friend in thinking that there is anything in the Treaty of Vienna which gives us a right to interfere in the internal administration of that province. But I am also ready to admit, standing here as we do as the representatives of a great and free country accustomed to discuss freely events which attract our notice, that we cannot be expected not to have individual opinions upon such transactions, and that Members of Parliament must be at liberty to express their opinion, even in cases in which the Government of England may not claim by Treaty any right of diplomatic interference. My two hon. Friends have alluded to occurrences which have lately taken place in Gallicia, which must have been listened to with the most painful feelings. I am afraid my hon. Friends have rather understated than overstated the facts. I am not speaking from official information, but I am speaking from that information which is open and public to every man; and I say, if we may believe the details of atrocity which took place in that province, that they are such as I might say are without example, I would almost say in any age, but certainly without example in the modern history of the world. I cannot believe that those proceedings were either sanctioned or known of by the Government of Austria. I am not in a position to deny that these proceedings owed their origin to the local authorities. I am afraid there is too much reason to believe in the correctness of the statement which my hon. Friends have made; but I am convinced that those events must have been learnt with great grief and affliction by the Government of Vienna. I never can believe that a Government like that of Austria, which prides itself on the maintenance of order, on its parental principles, treating in a kind and benevolent manner the subjects under its sway, could have learnt with any feelings but those of the greatest pain and affliction the disastrous events which have occurred in the province of Gallicia; and though it does not belong to the Government of England to interfere with a matter so exclusively within the competence of the Government of the country where those transactions took place; yet as an individual Member of this House, I may be allowed to express my conviction, that the enlightened men who govern the empire of Austria will feel it not only their duty, but their pleasure and satisfaction to take such steps as may be within their power, not to make reparation—for that I fear is impossible—but to mitigate, as far as is in their power, the miseries and calamities to which that unfortunate province has been subjected. I trust my hon. Friend will excuse me, if I do not feel myself at liberty to accede to the particular Motion he has made; but I think the papers I have offered will afford him information more practically bearing on the transaction, out of which, in point of fact, his Motion has arisen; and I can only assure him that, as far as proper representations on the part of the British Government can go, everything shall be done to ensure a due respect being paid to the provisions of the Treaty of Vienna.


said, that whilst Poland remained what Poland was, she would still be the subject of disquietude—there would still be hopes, and efforts would be made for the redemption of that country. Those hopes would find a response in the bosom of every lover of liberty; and those efforts in spite of tyranny would find encouragement. It was not a question which would be easily settled; it had returned from year to year, and it would return again. He rejoiced that the Treaty of Vienna had been violated by those who made it—by those who had derived so much from it. The noble Lord said, wisely, that it would be very bold, impolitic, and reckless of the Powers of the north to treat that Treaty with indifference; yet they had done so—it was not respected for a moment when their interests prompted them to break it. He (Dr. Bowring) must admit that the noble Lord, who had just sat down, had done everything in his power to procure the appointment of a diplomatic agent at Cracow; and he for one, believed, that had there been a diplomatic agent in Cracow, such was the force of the British name, that terrible catastrophe would have been prevented. In conclusion, he repeated that this question would not be settled, even if the troops should be withdrawn from Cracow. The Polish question, in its entirety, must be returned to again and again; and if he lived till next Session, he should himself attempt to bring it before the House, in order to show that the state of Poland required the attentive consideration of this country.


expressed himself much satisfied with the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It was a speech worthy of a British Minister. He (Mr. Gore) assured the House that he felt great interest in the welfare of Poland—a country so eminent in many respects, so distinguished for the public virtue and patriotism of her sons; and which in former times rendered such signal service to Europe and to the civilized world at large. He trusted that the remembrance of these services would never be effaced, and that both here and elsewhere, throughout the civilized world, every lover of liberty would feel himself bound to do what he could to favour the decendants of that high-minded, gallant, and honourable race. He trusted that we, at least, would show to Europe and to the world, that the spirit of freedom and liberty and respect for national independence, still glowed as warmly and as brightly within the breasts of Englishmen as it ever had done; and as he trusted it would ever do to the latest generations. He begged to add, that, although the hon. Member for Montrose might not get all the papers he wanted, still the agitation of the question in that House, and the expression of public sentiment which it elicited, could not fail to have a beneficial effect in favour of the unfortunate Poles.


concurred in thanking the noble Lord for the speech he had made. He thanked him for the frank and generous way he had admitted that the Treaty of Vienna had been violated. He thanked him for the confession of his belief in the truth of the charges which had been brought against the Government of Vienna, and the avowal of his belief that the statement of horrors which had been alluded to was fully borne out by the facts. He thanked him for that avowal, because he had an entire belief himself in the truth of those representations. The noble Lord had declared his belief that the Government of Austria must have been ignorant of these horrors. He (Mr. Smith) wished, for the sake of humanity, that it was so; but he feared it was not. Austria, he contended, must have been cognizant of these horrors. He believed her to have been cognizant and approving of all that had occurred, because no one had been brought to trial, much less punished, for the revolting atrocities which had been committed; because the official agents of the Austrian Government had rewarded those who had taken the most active part in the massacres of Gallicia, and had never publicly been called to account for their conduct; and lastly, because the Emperor had officially and publicly expressed his thanks to the inhabitants of Gallicia, and had not even condescended to pay the homage which vice generally pays to virtue by affecting to condemn or regret the murders of a whole class among the population of one of his fairest provinces, and the commission of cruelties which were at first incredible, on account of their enormity; but which, authenticated as they had since been, would for ever be a stain and disgrace to the age in which they lived. He believed that the Austrian Government were not only cognizant of these acts, but that they prepared and instigated them; and however reluctant he might be to think the "paternal" Government of Vienna guilty of a crime of so deep a dye, he could not account for the withdrawal of Austrian troops from Cracow at a moment when the Government itself anticipated an immediate outbreak, unless they had meant to remove all restraints upon the actions of the misguided peasantry, and allow murder, robbery, and violence to revel in the possession of uncontrolled power. There was one man who, if any man was, was entitled to the highest esteem and love and veneration of Europe at large—he alluded to Prince Czartoryski; and he must say that the fact that, after the occurrences in Gallicia, Austria should have condescended to punish that man by the confiscation of the small remains of his property, did seem to him as the crowning reason for condemning that Government, and believing that she was justly charged with having shared in the evils and crimes which had occurred in Gallicia. He differed also with the views of the noble Lord in thinking that we had no right to remonstrate with Austria in regard to the occurrences in Gallicia. He had always understood that in the Treaty of Vienna it was an object of desire, on the part of all the parties concerned, that care should be taken to preserve the national character of those portions of Poland which had been allotted to Austria, Prussia, and Russia; and if so, the conclusion inevitably was, that we had a right to protest against what had recently occurred in Gallicia. He would not have intruded on the attention of the House, if he had not felt that the case was one which justified strong feeling and strong speaking; and which also justified them in calling on his noble Friend to rescue England from the shame of allowing such horrors to be repeated, or of being accused with justice of exhibiting apathy or indifference on the present occasion.


was rejoiced to hear such language, so fitted to a Minister of the Crown, and to the Parliament of England, on an occasion like the present, as that which had just fallen from the noble Lord. He hoped his noble Friend was right in his charitable supposition that the Austrian Government was not cognizant of the atrocities which had been committed in Gallicia: it was the only palliation which could be offered, but it was not enough: what should we henceforth think of the pretensions of Austria to superior vigilance—what should we think of the vigilance of any Government—to whom such horrors and designs in the heart of its States should or could be unknown? It was the policy of the British Government not unnecessarily or forcibly to interfere in the interior government of other countries; but at the same time, it well knew the moral influence of public opinion on all Governments—it well knew how that influence was increased when its expression was free, and that in no assembly on earth was it likely to be more so than in that of the House of Commons. He hoped that this country would long preserve its claim so to think and speak of other countries; and in exercising fearlessly such high duty, he (Mr. Wyse) believed that they were not only maintaining their own position at the head of the constitutional Governments, but benefiting other countries who had a very different constitution from their own. This friendly public remonstrance would not be without its use. It was for the interest of Austria to listen to it; it was for her interest to hear how men judged her conduct beyond the precincts of her Court; what they thought and spoke abroad as well as at home. True, the outbreak and massacres had in some degree subsided; but what had happened once, might, if not prevented by some such expression of opinion as had been heard to-night, happen, or be allowed to happen, a second time. To him it appeared one of the most dangerous, one of the most unaccountable of all political stratagems, for he could not dignify it with the name of policy. To incite the lower against the higher, the poor against the rich, the ignorant against the educated, the many against the few, might be in harmony with those fatal communist doctrines which had been allowed to be propagated of late years in more than one country in Europe; but striking as it did, not at external forms but at the heart and root of all government—of all order—of all security—and consequently of all industry and prosperity, it did appear to him most monstrous that such a state of things could have been suffered for one hour to exist in the heart of a monarchy which piqued itself on its wise conservatism and paternal regard for the very lowest of its subjects. Such doctrines had over and over again been denounced by every Government regardful of its duty and safety; and by none more earnestly than by Austria itself, as menacing with destruction the very foundations of all society. To find this same Government not checking, not correcting, but guiding and aiding these very same opinions in their fatal progress, and exciting one part of its population to carry them out against the other, did exhibit an inconsistency which in the present state of our information was utterly incomprehensible. No one could conceive that any Government could labour so earnestly for its own ruin; for true it was, whatever momentary advantage might accrue, it was at the expense of the deepest, truest, and most permanent interests of the whole community. This was a game not to be played in any country. The hand lifted up to-day against the aristocracy might to-morrow be raised against the monarchy. All Government rested on opinion, and they were the truest friends to Austria as well as to Gallicia, who like the noble Lord to-night proclaimed to her these truths in time.


reminded the House that the Treaty of Vienna guaranteed the nationality of the whole of Poland as it stood before 1772. The nationality of Cracow depended upon another and a separate treaty. He thought that recent events ought to have taught them not to depend upon the forbearance of the three partitioning Powers. His noble Friend had stated, that he could not believe that there was any intention of destroying the nationality of Cracrow. But they saw other treaties violated, and why should not that in which Cracow was interested share the same fate? He did trust that the result of this discussion would be good to Poland, and the withdrawal of England from the suspicion of being a party to the violation of a Treaty to which she had been a consenting party.


, after the expression given by the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) of his sentiments upon the subject, would readily withdraw his Motion.

Motion withdrawn.