HC Deb 02 February 1849 vol 102 cc154-217

resumed the adjourned debate, by stating that he thought the course the most convenient to be adopted was to move the adjournment of the debate on the first Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, because he felt it impossible to pass by the subject after what had been stated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, without first making some further allusions to the subject of Ireland; and what the noble Lord had stated confirmed him in the view he had taken of the matter, and the necessity which existed for postponing the subject of Ireland till a future period. He should, therefore, for the present address himself to some of the observations made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose. The hon. Gentleman asked the agricultural Members what they proposed for the relief of their particular interest? And well he might ask that question; for not only was no allusion made to that interest in the Speech from the Throne, but neither the noble Lord who had moved, nor the hon. Gentletleman who had seconded the Motion for the adoption of the Address, adverted in the remotest way to that important topic. He was the more surprised at the silence of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bury on the subject, for that hon. Gentleman's constituency was closely connected with agriculture; and the House, therefore, had a right to expect from him some explanation connected with the welfare of the agricultural interest of the country. He begged to ask the hon. Gentleman whether Suffolk was very far from Cambridgeshire, and whether he had not heard of certain agricultural meetings recently held in the latter county. If the hon. Gentleman had heard of those meetings, perhaps he would be good enough to inform the House whether some of those who attended those meetings did not state the nature of their difficulties, and propound and enforce upon the resident gentry of the neighbourhood a remedy for those difficulties, which remedy would probably not be very acceptable to the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He would now ask the hon. Member for Montrose a question. How came it, that instead of being, as the House was led to expect last Session, at the head of a large well-compacted party, well disciplined, and with clearly defined objects, he had sunk into the character of an humble inquirer? If he understood the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) aright, his statement last night amounted to this—that the constituencies of this empire were so well satisfied with the working of the new sys- tem of free trade that they would not, under any pretence, ever return to the old system. If the hon. Gentleman referred to what took place on the previous evening, he would perceive that, in a neighbouring country, according to the statements of the representatives of that country, a reaction had already commenced; and in France, however much they might have changed their mode of government, not the least sign of an intention to approximate to our system of free trade had yet been exhibited by them. He maintained that a reaction against the free-trade system had already set in in this country, in spite of the predictions of the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire. Had that hon. Gentleman never, in his communings with society, heard a wish expressed, not by besotted squires or farmers, but by practical men of business, for a low, it might be, but at the same time a fixed, duty? Let him remind those hon. Gentlemen who vaunted so highly the merits of their own schemes, that a new system of finance, and not merely the duty on corn, was now in question. The hon. Gentleman said there was no public desire to retrace the steps which had been taken; but, next to retracing their steps, he begged to remind the hon. Gentleman that signs of contrition for past errors were generally the precursors of future amendment. Let him ask those Gentlemen who talked so loudly in favour of the new system of policy, what was the course they adopted last year? They rejoiced that yesterday the duties upon food were practically abrogated; but let him remind them that at the period when the duties upon corn were fiercely and unremittingly attacked, they were not the only duties which were the subject of reprobation. They then heard, not only of the poor man's loaf, but of the poor man's butter, and the poor man's cheese; and he now asked these consistent politicians and undeviating free-traders, those staunch disciples of the now school, how came it to pass that, during the whole of the last Session of Parliament, their voices were never once raised on behalf of the poor man's butter and slice of cheese, and that they suffered the whole Session to elapse without making the least effort to cheapen those articles by the removal of the import duty, which now helped to swell the public revenue, and to increase the apparent balance in the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Why had they permitted the opportunity to escape, and the whole Session to pass away, without putting forth a single attempt to follow up a system with the working of which they had declared themselves to be so satisfied? Would those hon. Gentlemen—acute and sharp accountants as they were—tell him to what extent the duty upon butter and cheese had raised the prices of those articles to the consumer? And when they had favoured him with an answer to that question, would they tell him how much the 800,000l;. revenue derived from the duty upon the importation of foreign corn under the sliding-scale, which expired yesterday, had raised the price of corn in the British market? If it were a fact that five-sixths of that amount of duty were paid by the foreigner, would they assort that the people of England were to be scared by the name of free trade—never more than a name, and that a false name and a delusion? Would they tell him that the people of England, with their heavy pressure of taxation, and with their undoubted desire not only to maintain firm faith with the public creditor, but to support unimpaired the efficiency of the great establishments of the country, were to be scared by a name from determining upon a return to a moderate system of import duties, as a means of obtaining a certain amount of revenue? The protectionist looked to the producer of corn. The free-trader looked to the consumer of bread; and each were alike anxious to secure the interests of their respective clients. But the revenue looked to both parties as contributors to the public fund; and those whose business it was to see that the revenue was made good, also looked to both producer and consumer. The object which he and those around him sought to effect was, to balance both classes equally, and not to be scared by a mere name from acting justly, but to take due means for levying a revenue upon a proper article of taxation. There had been too many duties repealed for the Exchequer, but not enough to carry out the free-trade principle; and those who advocated cheapness as the only test of consumption might discover, too late, that their doctrines touched themselves as well as the protectionists. Hon. Gentlemen were fond of using the term "prohibitionists" when speaking of the protectionist party, but he denied the appropriateness of its application; for, as he had said a fortnight ago, in the midst of an assembly of farmers, whilst pro- hibitionists would make an insurmountable barrier of the custom-house, and freetraders would make it a desolation, protectionists would simply make of it a well-guarded frontier. Society was constituted of consumers as well as producers; and the true principle to act upon—though it was not the one which found favour with the present Ministers, or with the House—was to balance the claims of both parties carefully, and to arrange the incidents of taxation with reference to statesmanlike considerations, not in obedience to impracticable theories. His feeling was, not that this or that duty should not be taken into consideration, or that the principle of protection did not admit of great modifications—sometimes by increasing, sometimes by repealing, sometimes by imposing duties; but to those who advocated the principle that cheapness, and cheapness alone, in reference to every commodity, was the only guide for those who had to legislate upon commercial questions, he would say that they were advocating a principle which might recoil upon themselves before they might be aware of it, when they would discover that they had been lending themselves to the designs of men whose real objects went far beyond the mere abolition of the corn laws. After having declared that Government should lose its paternal character, and become a mere police agent—after having thus contracted the functions of Government, and told the people it ought not to interfere so much as it had done, and that henceforth many old Governmental functions ought to be abandoned, would hon. Gentlemen be able to answer the people when they turned round upon them and said, "If the Government are to do less for us, we will pay less for them?" What would hon. Gentlemen say, when the people began to apply that argument, and to insist upon having cheap government also? Already the farmers of the country had taken up with formidable unity and force the question of the repeal of the malt tax. He (Mr. Stafford) was to attend one of their meetings on Tuesday next, and when he should say to the assembled farmers," It is necessary to continue this large public expenditure for the maintenance of our establishments and the preservation of our colonial empire," the instant reply will be," Oh! we have no time under the existing pressure of our difficulties to think of these things. We have been over and over again assured by those who hold the reins of power, as well as by those who aspire to hold them, that cheapness, and cheapness only, is the 'be-all and the end-all' of legislation; and if that is so, give us, we say, our cheap corn for the feeding and fattening of our cattle, and supplying our labourers with cheap beer." Pressed down with difficulties, and smarting under a sense of injustice, as the farmers were at the present moment, how would hon. Gentlemen be able to deal with this argument when they came to defend the malt tax, or any other large item of public revenue? Since the farmers had united to maintain a law since abolished, it might be imagined that their union to destroy a law would be equally inefficacious; but let him remind the House that it was far easier to destroy than to construct. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had, for instance, succeeded in destroying the corn laws; but up to this period they had exhibited no proof whatever of their reconstructive powers. The position of the farmer was, however, exactly what he had described; and the position of those who represented the interests of the farmers was exactly the difficult and dangerous one which he had felt it to be his duty to bring under the notice of the House. Another question connected with the free-trade system had of late been gaining strength—the cultivation of tobacco in Ireland. Formerly a considerable quantity of tobacco was grown in that country, but a prohibition was placed upon it. But it was said, "We cannot permit the farmers in Ireland to make a free use of their own ground, because the revenue from tobacco is so large;" thus affording protection to the foreign grower at the expense of the Irish one. It was said," The duty upon tobacco is levied for purposes of revenue, and not for the purpose of protection;" but such an argument as this was a mere juggle of words. Why, what was the malt tax itself, but a protection to the cider-growing counties? The prohibition of the growth of tobacco in Ireland was, so far as it went, a protection to the foreign and colonial tobacco producer, to the great disadvantage of the Irish farmer; and they might depend upon it that in this and in many other instances, they must either stop short in the course they had been pursuing, or, sap the very foundations of the public credit. Unless they returned to the system which they now professed to denounce, they would never be able to levy sufficient taxation for the maintenance of our institutions and the preservation of public credit, let them make what reductions they might in our establishments. He had last night moved the adjournment of the debate on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Grattan), because he conceived that the observations of the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), with regard to the Irish Poor Law, called for some answer. He should, therefore, trouble the House with a few remarks upon that subject; and he was the more confirmed in his opinion of the absolute necessity for bringing it under the consideration of the House by what had fallen from the noble Lord since he had entered the House this evening. If he understood the noble Lord aright, he stated that he would bring on the Sessional Orders for discussion on Monday next; and as it was extremely improbable that the debate could close on Monday night, there would be another postponement of the appointment of the intended Committee. When he read in the Speech from the Throne that "the operation of the laws for the relief of the poor in Ireland would properly be a subject for inquiry;" he felt it impossible to make any other than an interrogatory remark to the noble Lord with regard to the course which he proposed to take on that question. It was certainly quite competent for Government, as they did with the Landlord and Tenant Bill last year, to bring in a measure, and then refer it to a Committee; but he had heard with surprise and regret that it was not their intention even to lay down the principle of any measure, but to throw the whole thing before a Committee of Irish Members, and trust to their unanimity, or, at all events, to their report, before the Government would take upon themselves what he (Mr. Stafford) must say, a statesmanlike, a manly, and a bold Government ought to have taken upon themselves at the commencement of the Session of Parliament. The noble Lord referred, with some degree of mirth, to a meeting of nine Irish Members at which five different opinions were entertained. The noble Lord had got a cheer and a smile from his side of the House when he did so; and yet if this case in point was good for anything, it was good against the appointment of any Committee. Why should the noble Lord consider, if nine Irish Members disagreed in Dublin, that fifteen Irish Members would agree in London? Would he put those nine Members upon his Committee? If he did not, the inference would be, that the noble Lord objected to all their plans; and if he did put them on the Committee, it would be taken as a proof that he had no hope of unanimity from that Committee. The great question, with regard to the poor-law in Ireland, was the size of the area. It was considered to be of first-rate importance. He (Mr. Stafford) advocated the smaller rating two years ago, when he could scarcely obtain a hearing, certainly not an answer, from the right hon. Gentleman who, unfortunately for himself and for Ireland, was then Irish Secretary. He advocated it again last year, and there had not only been a Committee appointed, but a Commission issued; and not only was a Commission issued, but that Commission sent round to every board of guardians in Ireland questions upon this very subject; so that he should really say, if there was one question more than another upon which Government could obtain accurate and decisive information, it would be the very subject upon which they now declined to legislate. He maintained that the Government, through the Commission, was in full possession of the opinions of the different boards of guardians upon the subject of the diminution of the area of taxation, and that no more valuable information could be obtained than that they were already in possession of. The conduct of the Government appeared to him very inconsistent in the course they took with respect to Ireland. With respect to the renewal of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and the regranting of extraordinary powers to the Lord Lieutenant, the noble Lord stated, that the demand was made because the Lord Lieutenant had received information which convinced him that those measures were necessary. Now, if the noble Lord pursued such a course in the case of measures of a coercive nature, why should he not adopt it in the case of measures of a remedial character? Why should he in those measures shrink from the responsibility naturally devolving upon the Government, and shift that responsibility upon a Committee of the House of Commons? The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville) was to move the appointment of that Committee, and he supposed the right hon. Gentleman would be chairman of it. If so, it was easy to see what would be the animus of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman was a great advocate for an enlarged area of taxation; and, therefore, they might conclude that the Government bad made up their minds to the adoption of the large area system. But what he wanted to know from Government—what he wanted to have stated from the Treasury bench that night was, how they were going to stand by the Irish poor-laws at all. In Ireland many influential journals protested against all relief to the able-bodied; many insisted upon the repeal of the quarter-acre clause; a large body of the clergy, again, were dissatisfied with the arrangement with respect to tithe commutation; and many were of opinion that the rates should fall upon the land altogether. Amid this chaos of opinions, he asked the Government to declare at once what portion of the Bill they purposed to dispense with, and what they were prepared to retain? If the Cabinet had made up their minds upon the subject—if the noble Lord were able to state, as be ought to be, the opinion of himself and his Colleagues—he should at once declare it, and he would thus put at rest a great deal of anxiety and disquietude in Ireland. The universal inference derived from the silence of the Cabinet was, that they were not united upon the question of the Irish Poor Law—that they could not bring for-ward a measure with reference to that great subject, because their own opinions were discordant. The Irish Members were taunted with a want of unanimity. He hoped he should hear no more of that taunt. Why should there be one measure applied to the Irish Members, and another to the English? The latter had their differences of opinion as well as the Irish Members. But did the Government wait for unanimity among the English county Members before repealing the corn laws? Did they wait for unanimity among the English manufacturing Members before passing the Ten Hours Bill? Did they wait for unanimity among the Irish Members before passing the Irish Poor Law itself? It was unfair then to draw those distinctions. Instead, then, of making-want of unanimity among the Irish Members a reason for the dilatory course of appointing a Committee, the best way would be boldly to act with respect to the poor-law as they proposed with regard to the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and bring forward the subject in a statesmanlike manner, and try the issue before the House. But they had also a Registration Bill which they were going to bring forward without waiting for the report of a Committee. Their coercive measures, too, required no report from a Committee; and why, then, should the poor-law form an exception? The fact was, the Cabinet was divided on the question, and they wished to shift the responsibility from their own shoulders. With regard to the other points of the Amendment, he had already trespassed too long upon the time of the House to say much upon them. Not wishing to pronounce any sentence of censure on the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) with reference to particular cases, he must be allowed to express his regret that the Speech from the Throne did not contain the customary paragraph stating that Her Majesty still continued to receive assurances of friendship from her various foreign allies. As to any explanations that might be demanded on those matters, he found it was generally stated cither that negotiations were still pending, and therefore that any disclosures would be premature, or that the negotiations were past, and therefore that it was too late to argue the question. He had heard long speeches and lengthy debates on subjects of this kind, but had always found, after the froth was blown away, that was all that remained. Turning now to another department of affairs, he apprehended that after the grave charge which the hon. Member for Montrose made against the Colonial Secretary, it would be extremely unlike that hon. Gentleman's character if he allowed the case to drop. [Mr. HUME: Hear!] He understood from that cheer it was his intention to follow up in an energetic manner the very grave, the tremendous censure he had passed upon the Colonial Minister. If the hon. Gentleman succeeded in turning out the present Secretary, he apprehended that his successor, whoever he should be, would feel and admit that the colonies had grown too extensive to be governed properly by a single Secretary. He should vote for the Amendment of his Hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, because he felt, that when other interests were maintained, the oldest and largest interest ought not to have been omitted from the Speech. Either the agricultural interest was flourishing, and ought to have been a matter for congratulation, or the agricultural interest was suffering, and ought to have been subject of condolence; but at this time, because they could say nothing congratulatory, Her Majesty's Government had determined to say nothing in the way of sympathy. That was treatment which, he thought, the farmers of England had no right to expect from the First Minister of the Crown. That was not the course which the representatives of the agricultural interest could allow to pass unnoticed, and therefore they had a right to propose this Amendment. The agricultural interest had a claim to the sympathy of the Legislature, and those who conceded that claim would vote for the Amendment, while those who were indifferent as to whether the agricultural interest was flourishing or depressed, would no doubt vote against it. But lot him tell the House and the Government that the farmers would experience the deepest regret when they found no sympathy prevailed in the House for their sufferings; but, notwithstanding the abuse which had been heaped upon them—not with standing they were considered to be a falling and a weak body—they still had the means of making their representatives understand their feelings—they still had the moans of punishing those who showed themselves indifferent to their interest.


said, it was not his intention to have taken any part in the debate, and he now rose merely in consequence of the most extraordinary speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He would only trouble the House, however, with a very few remarks, those having reference to the subject of the Irish Poor Law. The hon. Gentleman brought an accusation against the Government for having consented now to appoint a Committee upon the Irish Poor Law. Why, he (Sir W. Somerville) remembered that last Session, when his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Dunne) brought forward a Motion for a Committee upon that same law, great objections were taken to the course which the Government pursued on that occasion. The Government were accused of resisting the almost unanimous opinion of the Irish Members; and when they asked the House to wait until they should receive the report of the Commission, that they might have some evidence as to the working of the law, that was not admitted to be a valid excuse, but they were taunted with an indisposition to the wishes of Irish Members upon a question vitally affecting the interests of the country. Well, the hon. Gentleman said that the Government had got the information now upon which they might act— that there was the report of a Commission now lying upon the table of the House, which gave them all the information which they could require upon the question of reducing or enlarging the area of taxation; and that therefore they should act without the intervention of a Committee at all. But he would remind his hon. Friend, that that Commission was promised at the very time when his hon. and gallant Friend moved for his Committee. The promise of the Government, however, that that Commission should be issued, and every possible information collected, was not at all taken to be a valid reason why the Motion of his hon. and gallant Friend should not be made. On the contrary, his hon. and gallant Friend pressed his Motion, and still refused to wait for the Commission. The hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the House, stated that he (Sir W. Somerville) had always been an advocate for a very large area of taxation. He certainly was not aware that he had ever pledged himself to any such opinion. His hon. Friend had denied last Session having ever advocated a townland rating in that House; but on going home he (Sir W. Somerville) took the trouble, or rather had the pleasure, of looking over the speech of his hon. Friend to which he had alluded, and he was certainly confirmed in the opinion that the tenor of it throughout was in favour of a townland rating, as being the only one applicable to the condition of Ireland. He forbore from entering at present further into the question of the Irish Poor Law. The Government were determined to keep the promise they made in the last Session, that at the commencement of the present Session they would concede the appointment of the Committee which they then resisted. The Government did not intend, as his hon. Friend supposed, to throw the whole question, as he said, loose before that Committee. He hoped that they should have before that Committee views that would servo as a compass by which they would be guided in their decision and their inquiries; but on a question of so much importance—a question which might be regarded as the foundation on which the superstructure of society in Ireland must be raised—he did not think it was unreasonable, or unfair, or inconsistent in the Government to adhere to the promise which they made last Session, and to ask the House now to make an inquiry before proceeding to legislate on the more difficult questions in connexion with the Irish Poor Law. He hoped that they would all meet in that Committee in a friendly spirit, and with a determination to thoroughly sift this important subject. The hon. Gentleman had entirely begged the question. As to the argument that they were not likely to be unanimous, he had only to say that he did not think it necessary that they should be so, or that unanimity was expected from them. The object of the Committee was to collect the best information in their power, and to recommend the most salutary amendments that might occur to them. It was with extreme surprise that he had heard the speech of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Grattan) upon the previous evening, and he sincerely trusted that the House would not be led away by the exaggerated statements which it contained. [Mr. GRATTAN: Correct me where I was wrong.] Why, the hon. and learned Gentleman stated that he was a ruined man. His hon. and learned Friend stated that if he were a younger man he would run away from Ireland altogether—that he was ruined by the poor-rate, and that there was no staying in the country; and he had talked of the Celbridge union. Now, what did the House suppose was the amount of the rate in the Celbridge union last year, which had ruined his hon. and learned Friend? Just 7¾d. in the pound. [Mr. GRATTAN: The rating is 11d.] He begged pardon, he had made a slight mistake. The amount of the rate collected was 10½d., but the expenses were just 7¾d.; so that the guardians of the Celbridge union had a considerable sum to their credit in the bank. Then his hon. Friend stated that the Goverment were demoralising and ruining the country, and he added that there were 400,000 ablebodied men at present receiving outdoor relief throughout Ireland. Now, in opposition to that statement, he (Sir W. Somerville could assure the House that at that period of last year, when the maximum number of ablebodied men were receiving relief, they did not exceed 65,000. He knew that his hon. and learned Friend made these statements without sufficient knowledge; but that was just what he complained of, and what he wished particularly his hon. Friend would guard against. Once more, with regard to the Committee, he might state that it was his own wish, and the wish of Her Majesty's Government, that it should be entered upon at as early a period as possible, with the hope of coining to a speedy decision, and effecting speedy legislation upon the subject. Though he happened to belong to a part of the country which was not suffering that misery, destitution, and distress which unfortunately afflicted other portions of Ireland, yet he equally felt and sympathised with their misfortunes, and for the sake of the whole country he was most anxious that legislation in this direction should be of a satisfactory character. He was almost forgetting the promise which he made to the House of not entering into the question of the Irish Poor Law on the present occasion; and he should only add in conclusion that he hoped the Committee would be acceded to, and that it would get through its duties in a manner to lead to speedy legislation on this important subject.


explained. He thanked Heaven that he was not an Irish Secretary. The rate which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to was 1s. 3d. and 2s. 10d. instead of 7d. The right hon. Gentleman sent down an inspector from Downing-street to the union; but they liked a plain honest man, and turned the fine gentleman out. They then taxed themselves, and paid, some 10l., some 5l., and, in one instance, an individual holding twenty acres of land, gave employment to no less than thirty labourers. His poor-rates, however, were doubled; and for eighty acres, he paid 40l. to the poor, and in that entire union only 30l. came from Government. That showed what Irish gentlemen could do when they liked, and was, he thought, a sufficient answer to the "correct "statement of the Irish Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman's statement was founded on error; and he (Mr. Grattan) once more congratulated himself that he was not an Irish Secretary.


blamed the Government for not devising, ere the meeting of Parliament, measures to remedy the defects in the present poor-law. The feeling throughout the whole of that country was universal in favour of an immediate amelioration of that law. He did not think that his hon. Friend near him (Mr. Stafford) was at all open to the charge of inconsistency for the course which he now advocated in respect to the Irish Poor Law. Among every class of persons in Ireland, whether landlords or tenants, but one feeling prevailed, namely, that immediate legislation was necessary on this subject. And, he would ask, had they not some reason to apprehend that, as the right hon. Gentleman thought last year that the appointment of the Committee moved for by his hon. and gallant Friend had a tendency to lead to a getting rid of the question of liability, so the appointment of the Committee at present might be intended by Government merely as a means to avoid immediate legislation on this subject. That this view was not entirely without foundation would appear from the little success which followed the appointment of the Committees on finance and other matters last Session. It was quite possible that the whole Session might be wasted in inquiry, and that in the end nothing would be done; and yet the opinion of every man who had devoted attention to this question was, that another year could not pass without some remedy being applied to the present evils, if it were intended to save Ireland from entire destruction. He (Sir J. Walsh) did not oppose the Irish Poor Law Committee promised by the Government; but it was his opinion that Her Majesty's Ministers should have come forward with a very different proposition, seeing that they had all the materials at hand to come to a sufficient conclusion on the subject. He should only add further on this subject, that as the right hon. Gentleman had held out something like a hope to them that they would not be asked to go into that Committee without some sort of compass to guide them, he trusted that the compass would prove to be a true one, and would point to a real remedy for the evils to be redressed. He should take that opportunity of saying a few words on another subject connected with the Address. He was extremely desirous to ascertain whether the information which he had received from the noble Lord opposite (Lord John Russell) at the close of the last Session, on the Sicilian question, was still to be taken as the whole state of the case, or whether any misconception prevailed in his mind with regard to what the noble Lord had stated. It would be recollected, that the proceedings of the fleet under Sir W. Parker, in the Bay of Naples, had given rise to certain questions, which were put by Lord Stanley, in the other House of Parliament, and by his lamented Friend, the late Lord George Bentinck, in that House. The noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department, shrouding himself in that diplomatic reserve which so distinguished him, gave a distinct refusal to impart the least information on the subject; but hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House thought that an armed intervention of that character was a subject on which Her Majesty's Ministers were bound to tender some information to the House, and that they ought to be told with what intentions such warlike demonstrations were made. He (Sir J. Walsh) accordingly gave notice of a Motion, to the effect that the appearance of the British fleet under Sir William Parker, in the Bay of Naples, called for some explanation from Her Majesty's Government. He had been obliged to bring forward his Motion as an Amendment on going into Committee of Supply. The noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs was not in the House on the occasion; but the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, after in vain endeavouring to induce him not to press his Motion, tendered some explanations on the subject. The noble Lord stated three grounds for the course pursued by Sir William Parker: first, that there had been some violation of the respect which was due to the British flag-, by some Neapolitan vessels of war having hoisted the British flag, and thus decoyed and captured a Sicilian vessel; secondly, that it was believed some intention was entertained of raising a forced loan in Naples, which might affect English subjects residing there, by compelling them to contribute to it, if there was no protection near them; and the third ground was, that the neutral waters of Corfu had been violated by the Neapolitan fleet, while in pursuit of Sicilian vessels. These were reasons which it must have been satisfactory to the House and to the country to have heard, because wherever the English flag floats, it is expected that the Navy of England will be ever ready to enforce respect for it. But he had thought it necessary to ask the noble Lord farther, whether Sir William Parker had, either in propria motu, or by instructions from home, infringed in any way the bounds of strict neutrality in the contest then going forward, or whether he had at all interposed to prevent the sailing of the fleet intended for the subjugation of Sicily. The noble Lord replied in the negative, and distinctly stated, that neither on his own responsibility, nor in consequence of instructions from the Government at home, had Sir William Parker interfered in any way in the contest between the King of Naples and the revolted Sicilians; but said that he would not bind the hands of the Government with respect to any contingencies which might subsequently arise. He had not asked the noble Lord to give any engagement as to the future; but he would now request the House to look at the position in which the question was placed by that declaration of the noble Lord. The noble Lord was a Member of a Government and of a party that had always advocated the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of foreign States, and had declared that, up to that period, the English Government had in no respect interfered in the quarrel that existed between the King of Naples and his Sicilian subjects. What, he would ask, was the construction that the Neapolitan Government would naturally draw from that declaration of the noble Lord? Was it not that the English Government would not interfere in their affairs, and was it not to be expected that they would therefore be justified, to a certain degree, in adapting their policy to that view? It appeared, therefore, that Sir William Parker had offered no obstruction to the Neapolitan expedition, though, if any just right existed for British interference, that was the time for doing so. The expedition to Messina was successful. The authority of the King of Naples was re-established in Messina, and there was every probability that that authority would be promptly acknowledged throughout the whole of Sicily. He wished to know, therefore, under what pretence the subsequent interference was justified. If he understood the noble Lord, it was because certain revolting atrocities had taken place, and the French and English admirals thought it necessary to interfere to stop these atrocities. By whom were they committed? It was said that some of the unfortunate soldiers of the Neapolitan army were killed and eaten. If such stories were without foundation, he hoped they would meet from a competent quarter a complete refutation. It should, however, be observed, that there was a peculiar feature in modern warfare. The population had become half military, and had adopted a system of strategy which made them formidable antagonists to the regular troops; it was therefore necessary to deal with them in a military spirit. It was a very striking remark made by General Cavaignac in the Chamber of Deputies, when he said that all the great revolutions which had taken place in Paris within the last 20 years had been in consequence of the military leaders considering that popular revolts were mere affairs of police, and were not to be dealt with in a military manner. He admitted fully the responsibility of the Foreign Secretary, and that a certain amount of discretion ought to be placed in the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; but the noble Lord appeared to strain the doctrine to a most extravagant length. The noble Lord was the great advocate of liberal and representative institutions throughout Europe; he was desirous to extend popular and free institutions; but there was one branch of affairs which he wished to carry on precisely on the principles on which Nesselrode and Metternich had always acted—one little oasis which he wished to exempt from popular control, and that was the Foreign Office in Downing-street. The principles which he sought to introduce would set aside all control on the part of the people. Were Members, when most momentous affairs were passing around them, never to venture to offer a remark? Were they never to venture in the slightest degree to question the inviolability of the Foreign Office? He trusted that the House of Commons would not think it necessary so blindly to relinquish all power, all right of examination or inquiry into subjects which influenced the destinies of this country in so momentous a degree; and that the public opinion, which, operating through the legitimate channel of the House of Commons, was in all other departments of the State found to be so useful, would not be considered of a dangerous and exceptional character when applied to the department of the Foreign Office. There were one or two other topics in the Address to which he wished briefly to revert. They were promised by the noble Lord a very substantial financial reform; and he was sure that if those promises of retrenchment could be safely carried out in the present state of the affairs of Europe, they would all feel reason to be gratified. But he should say that there was a very great inconsistency between the language used by the noble Lord on this subject in the present Session, and that which he had so eloquently devoted to the same question in the last Session of Parliament. The noble Lord had touched largely upon the affairs of Ireland, and had pronounced a high eulogium upon the ablest Lord Lieutenant that he (Sir John Walsh) thought had ever presided over the fortunes of that people; and to that portion of the noble Lord's speech he (Sir J. Walsh) must give his unqualified adhesion. He had watched the temper, the firmness, the forbearance of Lord Clarendon, in administering the affairs of Ireland, with the greatest satisfaction; and therefore he could cordially go along with the noble Lord in the eulogy he had pronounced. There was, particularly, one part of Lord Clarendon's conduct which deserved admiration and praise, and that was the spirit in which all his public documents and public addresses were conceived. He especially referred to the answer which the noble Lord had given to an address from the corporation of Dublin, when his Lordship, in the most felicitous manner, reminded them of the necessity there was that Ireland should not be dependent upon the assistance of others, but that she should depend upon her own resources, and stated, among other things, that a period must be placed to that pernicious system of political agitation which had convulsed that country for years, and which he thought (and most justly) was the great obstacle to the pacification, the progress, and the improvement of Ireland. He agreed with the noble Lord. But was the mischief confined to Ireland? Could the system be mischievous in Ireland, and the reverse in England? Was political agitation a baneful thing in the Conciliation Hall of Dublin, and could it be a beneficial and a wholesome thing in the Free Trade Hall of Manchester? Had they found themselves under the necessity, after enduring twenty years of political agitation in Ireland, at last to put it down by the strong hand—to enact coercive laws—to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, in order to cope with these dangerous principles? Was it necessary to put down agitation in Ireland, with the strong hand, while in England everything was to be handed over to the tender mercies of club law? Were they to allow club law to be established in England?—for they might give it what name they pleased—Anti-Corn Law League, Financial Reform, Repeal Associations, or the ten or twenty different names by which clubs were designated in Paris. But they were all substantially of the same character—they were all political clubs, coercing, or attempting to coerce, the movements of Government, or exercising a baneful influence upon liberty, upon order, and upon the progress and well-being of the country. They had found it necessary to put down the clubs in Ireland. The French Government had been obliged to put down the clubs in Paris. He told them three or four years ago, during the debates on the corn laws, that the evil of the club system was an evil that the Government of the country, sooner or later, must grapple with; and he now told the noble Lord, that either he, or some other Minister in his place, must ere long, grapple with the evil of political clubs in England. He would not trespass further upon their attention, but he would give his cordial support to the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, because he thought it was no more than was due to the feelings and interests of two great sections of the community whom Her Majesty's Ministers had entirely passed over in the Speech from the Throne.


said, he did not think he should accommodate him-self to the spirit of the debate by following his hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire either through his discussions on the corn law or the Irish Poor Law. He had himself been in one of the smallest minorities ever seen in the House on the question that the words "1st of February, 1849," be omitted from the measure which settled that law; and while he considered the question now as finally disposed of as one of protection, he trusted it would always be considered open as one of revenue. With regard to the question of the Irish Poor Law, which the Irish Members had pressed so much, he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would do all they could to settle that question without loss of time. He had hoped, when he saw the hon. Member for Northamptonshire rise, that it was for the purpose of telling the House that, after the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he thought it would be no longer just in the Opposition to persist in pressing their Amendment. He had hoped so, because an Amendment of this kind, brought forward by one who, he presumed, was now the recognised leader of the Opposition, was, in fact, of a very serious and solemn nature, and one which they would hardly have been justified in taking so hastily, even if we had actually been plunged into a Continental war, or if every kind of misfortune had accumulated on the head of the country by the imprudence of Government. But when the charges upon which the Amendment professed to be founded, had been proved to be erroneous, he really thought the Opposition would not do justice to themselves with the country, if they persisted in so grave a censure upon Her Majesty's Government. It either ought to be persisted in with a spirit of continuous animosity, with which he did not think they were prepared, or else the Opposition ought to accept the noble Lord's proposition to discuss the questions as they came separately before the House. What had Her Majesty's Government done that this signal charge should be brought against them? The hon. Member for Buckingham-shire gave them last night an application of the phrase of Chancellor Oxenstiern; and he might follow that up by asking, if the House did not think that the hon. Gentleman had given them abundant proof with how little information a violent attack might be made upon a Government? For he had never seen his hon. Friend draw more largely upon the redundant sources of his fancy, or find so little foundation for his charges in matters of fact. Upon all the subjects on which he bad touched, he could know no more than any other hon. Member; and yet the unhesitating confidence with which he put for-ward his various charges against the Government, should only have proceeded from the strongest proofs and the clearest information. He did not think that the Opposition would do full credit to the position which they held in the country, if on those statements which had now been set right—if on those assertions which were proved to be wrong last night in another place, they still persisted in this grave censure upon Her Majesty's Government. He thought, also, that it was not consistent with the general character of the Opposition last Session; and it would be a sign that the Government ought no longer to expect that moderation and justice from their opponents, many instances of which formerly occurred. The charges appeared to him to resolve themselves chiefly to an attack upon the management of foreign affairs. The Opposition did indeed assume that large classes in this country were in a state of distress; but he was, on the other hand, of opinion, that trade was improving; and he was certainly of opinion, that the agriculture of the country had not received any such injury from the scale of prices hitherto experienced as would justify any deductions from the repeal of the duty upon imported corn. There was one point on which the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire seemed to have got important information, because he told the House, contrary certainly to the general impression in the commercial world, that our exports had not been affected by the confusions which took place on the Continent, but that they were as large during the last as they had been during the preceding year. How the hon. Member had found that out, was a mystery to him, for no papers had been laid upon the table; so that either he must have access to some secret sources of information, of which others knew nothing, or else he must have made a very reckless assertion. With regard to the particular facts on foreign affairs, some of these had been set right by the noble Lord, others had been disproved by what passed last night in another place. It was distinctly proved, that the course adopted by Sir William Parker was not in consequence of what hon. Gentlemen opposite called the nonsense of sentimental politics, but that it was dictated by clear humanity, and a just and enlarged policy. The hon. Gentleman had affected to see considerable obscurity in Her Majesty's Speech in its allusions to foreign affairs. It appeared to him, on the other hand, that the allusions were clear and distinct, and that Her Majesty, in congratulating them upon the suspension of arms in the north and south of Europe, referred distinctly to the suspension of arms between Denmark and Germany, and between Austria and Sardinia. But without entering into details upon the question, he would presume to call upon the House to beware, before they condemned in this solemn manner—for the Amendment before them meant condemnation if it meant anything at all—before they condemned the peaceful policy of Her Majesty's Ministers. It was, above all, important they should keep in mind that the conduct of Her Majesty's Minister for Foreign Affairs had been one continued and successful effort to preserve the peace of Europe in difficult and perilous times; and he had a right to call upon the people of England to accept his conduct in that sense. It had been a great object of mirth to his Friend the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire that there was a Universal Peace Society established in this country and he asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government whether he was acting in co-operation with the Universal Peace Society? Now, though he (Mr. Milnes) did not indulge in the same hopes which the amiable enthusiasts composing that society indulged in, yet he believed that there was in this coun- try, and to an extent of which hon. Gentlemen opposite were little aware, a conviction of the strongest and most intimate kind respecting the wickedness, the uselessness, the abomination of war. He believed that the animus displayed by the Finance Reform Association towards our military establishments had been much influenced by this feeling. This was not simply from humane and Christian emotions, but there was a growing conviction among the people of this country that, if statesmen chose it, and if they would set their minds to it, then, not perhaps every war, or every act of violence, might be avoided, but that by far the greater part of the contests which had desolated the world might have been settled by means of peaceful mediation. Now it was in deep sympathy with this feeling that his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary had conscientiously acted; and this, he thought, was the fault of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, that he had carefully concealed throughout the whole course of his speech that but for the very acts which he had blamed as leading to war—that but for these very acts war on the Continent could not have been avoided. It was probable, for instance, at Naples, if the mediation of Admiral Baudin had alone been employed, that the Neapolitan Government might have assumed an attitude of hostility towards the French Admiral. And what then would have been the case, in the temper of the French people? He thought, in such a case, it would have been improbable that hostilities would be avoided. He came now to another question—the arresting of the war—because war had been arrested when the Austrian army was stopped on the borders of Sardinia by French and English mediation. If, with the rights and passions of a conqueror, Marshal Radetzky had attempted to occupy Turin, there could not be a doubt that a French army would have passed the Alps, and how, then, could a general war have been avoided? Then take the case of Germany and Denmark. Did they not all know—he did not mean diplomatists merely, but all who took an interest in the question—that behind Denmark there stood that great Power which had held its position during the late troubles in silence, but which always stood ready to meet Germany on the shores of Denmark. These, then, were the risks which his noble Friend had to meet; and if he had not in all of them completely succeeded, were they, therefore, to say that the principles of his interference were unjust, or that the attempt ought never to have been made? It might be that in a short time few traces would remain of these attempts at negotiation. It was possible that hostilities might be renewed between Naples and Sicily; and he would say it was not at all improbable that the conduct of Her Majesty's Opposition on this occasion might be the means of preventing a settlement of this very question, and might lead to an internecine war between the two countries. They, the more powerful party in another place, who maintained that the policy of the noble Lord was unjust, how did they know that on their heads would not rest the guilt of having renewed those hostilities? Hon. Gentlemen opposite too well knew the history of the Sicilian people not to remember the tragedies that had been acted by them against those whom they considered their invaders and oppressors; and perhaps another Sicilian Vespers had been prevented by his noble Friend, but might now be repeated. The hon. Member for Radnorshire had spoken in very light terms of the bombardment of Messina; but the hon. Member should recollect that bombardments had, by general consent, been abandoned by nearly the whole of the civilised world. And the reason for that was obvious—when armies met in the field they were usually fairly matched, and equally prepared for destruction; but when a town was bombarded, the cannoneer, who discharged the ball, knew not where it would alight, whether on the guilty or the unoffending—on men, women, or children. It was this that made the bombardment of Messina and Vienna the outstanding horrors of the last year, because an enormous number of persons were slain who took no part in the acts for which the punishment was required. They were informed that a congress was about to meet on the affairs of Italy. He must confess, he had no great hope from the decisions of that congress, because he observed that many politicians of all parties looked upon Austrian domination in Italy as a power which it would not be desirable, even if it were easy, to remove. He held a different opinion. He had resided many years in the countries in question, and he had come away from the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom with the conviction that the military occupation of those beautiful countries by strangers, and their retention by an unsympathetic and ungenial Government, could not remain long without causing dissension and revolt. Admitting the fact that that military occupation was in itself a right thing, he had very little charge to bring against the Austrian Government. The Austrian government of Lombardy had been made the frequent subject of eulogy in that House; but he must express his conviction—and he wished to do so in the most serious manner—that, so long as the Austrian occupation of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdoms lasted, there was no security for the peace of Europe. Nothing was more certain than that the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom was determined to got rid of the Austrian Government, and that that feeling was equally shared by all classes in the community—by the nobleman, the gentleman, the peasant, and the artisan; and this although the difficulties were now much greater than they had been. He doubted whether any means of conciliation were possible between these contending nations; for a most cruel and iron rule now kept down the people, and Austria was now carrying out the principle of establishing a second Poland in the midst of Europe. If, after twenty-five years of occupation, the Austrian Government had made not one single step towards conciliation—if all the officers of the Government were German, either because of the unwillingness of the Italians to fill them, or the unwillingness of the Germans to allow them to be so filled—if the two nations still stood in hostile attitudes to each other, so that there wanted only the late concurrence of favourable circumstances to induce the people to rise against their oppressors—how much more difficult would be the task of conciliation now? It was by confiscating the property of the great noblemen, and declaring that force, and force alone, should be the maxim of the Government, that Austria now retained power in Lombardy; and, therefore, it was, that, under these circumstances, the peace of Europe would not be secured so long as that state of things continued. Poland was surrounded by ungenial Powers, who remembered their injustice to her. There was no reason to suppose that those Powers would rise in her defence. The case of Lombardy was different. On all sides except one she had a sympathising and homogeneous population; and, therefore, he did not think, under all the circumstances, that the proposed congress would lead to any good advantage. They all knew the circumstances under which Austria had again occupied Milan. If Marshal Radetzky had shown any desire for conciliation—if he had acted upon the principle of scouring a federal constitution for the Austrian dominions, and shown a disposition that all might be forgiven and forgotten—then indeed there might have been some hope. He did not, however, presume to say that Marshal Radetzky would have been right in so doing; for he doubted much whether any principles of conciliation could have boon adopted. But, at all events, he had not done so. The questions of foreign policy were, he knew, so little regarded in the House, that he should not have ventured to enlarge upon them at so much length if he had not felt it right at the present moment that as many hon. Members as possible should try to prevent the practical evils which he feared might result by the adoption by any large majority of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. That hon. Member had a peculiar way of regarding all these subjects; and considering how large a field there was for discussion, and how little the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire was in want of subjects for display, it would have been more gratifying had he taken up some other subject for jest besides that of the great constitutional struggles of large portions of Europe. When he (Mr. Milnes) heard an Englishman, a descendant of men who had fought, struggled, and suffered for liberty, speaking contemptuously and jestingly of the people of Europe who were now struggling and suffering, he did feel that that man, in some degree, and in so far as his expressions went, showed that he was unworthy of the rights he enjoyed. The hon. Member had made extreme mirth, too, of what he called the sentimental matters connected with race, and said that all those notions about people being unwilling to live under the same Government, because they were of different races, were very absurd. Now, he (Mr. Milnes) never pretended that people of different races might not be amalgamated under one Government; but a man must have road history to little advantage if he excluded the influence of races altogether from these considerations. But what must be thought by those—and many Members of that House should be classed amongst them—who had read with very great pleasure the works of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire—works in which the difference of race was laid down as the sole motive and cause by which the whole social system of the world was moved? Surely they could not have lis- tened to his speech of the previous night, without feeling that he was at least guilty of some inconsistency. It was curious that there should be such a difference between the literary and political character of a man. And when he (Mr. Milnes) looked upon the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire as the author who had drawn the character of Sidonia, and as the politician who had chosen the subject of distinction of race as one of contempt and ridicule, he could only say that it was a singular instance of what he might be permitted to call a double identity, almost claiming the attention of the physiologist. He would now only detain the House whilst he offered an observation upon that portion of Her Majesty's Speech in which She recommended a reduction in the expenditure; and, in doing so, he should say that the question of financial reform was one which it was too much the fashion to allege was forced upon the attention of Her Majesty's Government solely by the Financial League of Manchester. But it should be remembered, that almost as soon as Her Majesty's Government came into office, they expressed their desire to accede to a system of financial reform and reduction, and they proceeded to collect around them such persons as were likely to enable them to carry such projects into effect. By the appointment of those important Committees last year, they gave proof of the sincerity of their intentions with regard to the question of financial reform, and now the assertion that they only acted under pressure came, to say the least, with a very bad grace from those hon. Gentlemen some of whom had been Members of the former Government, which had done so little in that direction. He should rather think that support had been given to Her Majesty's Government by the agitation of the question; and he (Mr. Milnes) could not agree with those hon. Gentlemen who thought that public agitation on this subject was cither detrimental to the interests of the country, or injurious to the constitution. As to the latter point, they had been getting too much into the habit lately of calling anything they did not like unconstitutional. When hon. Gentlemen opposite disapproved of some of the measures proposed by those on his side of the House, they directly denounced them as unconstitutional. When, again, they, in turn, advocated certain systems uncongenial to the Gentlemen on his side, the term was reciprocated. He had no particular objection to the phrase, only he should like to see its uses defined and limited. As for the present agitation being unconstitutional, the people took a great interest in the question, and they were meeting together to express their opinions upon it in the mode permitted by the constitution. As to the fear of any confusion or disturbance arising from such an agitation, the people of England were quite clearheaded enough to see and know that confusion and the disturbance of public order were very dear. He believed it had been a matter of arithmetical calculation with them. He believed they had calculated, even to some nicety, how much the attempt to create confusion in the early months of the last year had cost the nation at large, and the result of their calculations was, that they thought order the cheapest and best mode of action. With regard to the comparisons instituted by hon. Gentlemen opposite, the present agitation was as little analogous to the clubs of Paris as it was possible to conceive. The League itself was formed by some six or seven gentlemen meeting in a private room and talking together, and at length getting a vast multitude of people assembled to support their views. Yes, and he thought that was the safest and best means of agitating a public question. He thought it was by such means they avoided those disturbances that had shaken other countries, and that they brought about, without confusion, those constitutional changes which they desired. It was thus that the people of England were enabled to enjoy internal peace and the blessings of government with a constitutional Sovereign, with an unoppressive Church, and a Parliament that, in the main, represented the interests of the people.


supported the Amendment. Our interference in Sicily might have been warranted by our connexion with that country, particularly in 1812, but he could not but agree in the condemnation which had been pronounced by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire on the conduct pursued by the British Government with reference to Austria and the States of Lombardy. The most important of the many omissions in the Speech—not one of which had been satisfactorily explained by the noble Lord—was that it did not contain one word as to the condition of the agricultural interest in this country. Next to that was the absence of any allusion to the state of the colonies. He thought that our colonial interests, having no representatives in that House, were more especially entitled to their care, and demanded every possible support, for they were as much the offspring of the State as any other part of the empire. Instead of having protected, this country had injured her colonies by legislation. There was nothing heard but complaints from every colonial possession, and every account that reached this country conveyed some fresh intelligence of distress and suffering, of estates abandoned and lying waste, of buildings out of repair, of labourers flocking into the towns for work and food, and of destitution so great that in some cases the people had made houses of packing-cases. These were subjects on which he thought the Government owed some explanation of their views to the House.


said, that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, in moving his Amendment, had adopted a course that prevented many hon. Gentleman from giving a mere formal assent to the Address, and the discussion had turned upon matters involving questions so important that he for his own part felt unwilling to give his vote without drawing a distinction between those portions of the Address to which he could cordially give his assent, and those to which he thought there was some objections. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire in moving his Amendment had entered at great length into all those questions of political and commercial policy which had agitated the public mind of late, and had entered into the history of all the legislative measures discussed during the last few years, going particularly into the question of free trade, to which he had given his constant opposition, and respecting which he had, at the time of its discussion, pronounced many predictions. The hon. Member had proceeded to show that the experience of the last three years had fully verified those predictions which he had made, and having gone into statistical details, and exhibited his view of our financial and commercial condition, proving all that he wished to the satisfaction of the party with which he was connected, he very consistently concluded his speech by moving an Amendment in accordance with the statement which he had made. The last paragraph of that Amendment stated "that a large portion of the agricultural and colonial interests of the empire are labouring under a state of progressive depression, calculated to excite serious apprehension and anxiety." He (Mr. Hors- man) was sure that the hon. Gentleman did not mean to disguise the conclusion that, if it were admtited that the state of depression in agricultural interests existed, it was connected intimately with the passing of those free-trade measures from which he predicted such fatal results in 1846. If, therefore, he (Mr. Horsman) voted for that paragraph, he should do so in opposition to all his previously expressed opinions, and he should be supposed to retract all the sentiments which he had avowed in 1846. Now that was a step he was not prepared to take. In the course of the last year it was admitted that the legislation of 1846 had saved the country from great perils, and he expected that in future years they would derive great advantages from free trade. Another paragraph in the Amendment set forth, that "neither our relations with foreign Powers, nor the state of the revenue, nor the condition of the manufacturing interests, were such as to justify us in addressing Her Majesty in the language of congratulation." But, as the noble Lord had justly observed, the Speech did not ask the House to indulge in the language of congratulation. This paragraph, therefore, must be taken in connexion with that portion of the hon. Gentleman's speech in which he condemned strongly the system of "unwise economy" to which the Government, not from statesmanlike motives, but, as he hinted, from less creditable influences, were become subservient. If, then, he (Mr. Horsman) were to concur in that portion of the Amendment, he must be supposed to assent to those doctrines, and to express his disapproval of the diminished estimates and reduced expenditure promised in the Speech from the Throne. However the Amendment might be in accordance with the views of the hon. Member's party, it was one which he (Mr. Horsman) could not consistently support. He could not vote for any proposition which would carry with it the conclusion that he was adverse to reduced expenditure; for he hailed with satisfaction any promise of it, and certainly he must say there was nothing in the announcement of the expected retrenchment as set forth in the noble Lord's speech last night, calculated to excite any very serious apprehensions among the opponents of financial reform. Let the principle be once introduced, however, and it must be carried out still further. He was grateful for the principle being acceded to in any shape. He thought the aspect of affairs on the Continent was such as to justify reduction. This time last year they were told that France was the volcano from which the eruption was to lay all Europe in ashes. Now in France they saw that, amidst all the conflict of theories, one practical object was pursued by all. There was a popular movement swelling into an agitation in favour of a reduction of the army. Every man of note addressing public assemblies—every man who courted popularity, had declared himself the friend of that reduction. From the President of the Republic down to the humblest citizen who addressed a public meeting, they were agreed on that point. And the Marshal of France under whoso care the army was placed at present had consented to a reduction of from one fourth to one-third of the whole force. The noble Lord who moved the Address on the preceding night, gave great credit to the Governments of the Continent because they had kept the populations from war. He (Mr. Horsman) did not think the noble Lord did justice to the people. He believed that the popular feeling was against war, and that the Governments had rather followed the national sentiment than led it. As to the reductions about to be made, if he accepted the noble Lord's invitation, and rejected the arbitrary standard of 1835, he trusted the noble Lord would not prop ineffective measures by a recourse to conventionalities and sham inapplicable to 1849. He (Mr. Horsman) concurred in a good deal that had been said regarding our foreign relations. He could not conceive it possible that any hon. Gentleman in the House could say that our foreign relations were altogether satisfactory. He thought no hon. Gentleman could maintain that our position with regard to foreign Powers was either satisfactory to Parliament or creditable to the country. But he could not allow the blame of that position to be cast entirely upon this or that Minister, when he felt that a great deal of it was owing to Parliament itself. He thought that the way in which they permitted the business of the Foreign Office to be carried on was a disgrace to them. There was a system of secrecy and irresponsibility in the mode of conducting the foreign business which was most reprehensible. The people of England knew nothing about what the Foreign Secretary was doing; and if, on any point of interest, a question was put, the answer was ready—" the public interests require the public to be kept in ignorance." Or if entire secrecy was impossible, from such an explosion as took place last year in Spain, when, as the hon. Member for Buckingham expressed it, our Minister was kicked out of Madrid, some explanatory documents being necessarily presented to Parliament, it is discovered that the business of our Foreign Office was carried on by two sets of despatches, one for the use of our Ministers abroad, and another for the amusement of Parliament at home. The House was obliged to take whatever the Minister for Foreign Affairs was pleased to give; and as his pleasure only extended to giving such papers as had already been published in foreign journals, the House was not much wiser for his communications. And then the hon. Member for Pontefract told them that the people of England took no interest in foreign affairs. There were two fallacies involved in that assertion. The people took no interest in that upon which they were denied all knowledge. How could they? Would a man who knew there was a treasure locked up within an iron door spend his time in trying to look through it? Our Foreign Office was closed with an iron door, through which no glimpse could be caught of what was going on within; and people, therefore, took no interest in it. But they turned to that which they could see and understand; and they were beginning to find there was an invasion which they dreaded more than any chance of foreign armies. They had learned that the worst invasion they could have was that of the tax-gatherer. But the people of this country must take an interest in every question which affected their pockets. It had been laid down as a constitutional maxim by the English people that publicity was the best, if not the only guarantee for good government. If that held good in domestic, it equally held good in foreign affairs. Nations now-a-days had no secrets from each other. They knew the precise resources, power, and even the intentions of their neighbours. They valued at a lower rate than in times gone by the arts of political rivalry. They knew the danger, the uncertainty, and the cost of diplomatic triumphs. Had the system of secrecy worked well? It was a costly system. It was one under which they had had the long existence of peace without its advantages, and had maintained the costly establishments of war without its termination. There was one remarkable deviation from the rule of former times, in the Speech from the Throne, on which he should offer some observations. In the opening Speech of last year, Her Majesty had told them of Her confidence in the continuance of peace. At the close of the Session, She only expressed Her hope that peace would continue. That hope had diminished, and there was nothing but a desire for peace before them now. That was a paragraph which, he thought, was always prepared with great care, and if the expression were altered with design, it was calculated to create uneasiness. He could hardly believe it to be accidental. Was there a single Court in Europe with which they were on cordial terms? Several there were with which, if the bare civilities of diplomatic intercourse were not altogether interrupted, they were with difficulty sustained. By what fatal ingenuity was it, that after thirty-four years of peace, and with a concurrence of events calculated to strengthen our relations of amity, and our influence in Europe, our Queen should be compelled to depart from the forms which Her predecessors had used, and so lead the House to think that She had not met with those royal courtesies which Her predecessors had enjoyed? He did not say that it was attributable to one Minister more than to another, but he could not but regret that the ancient principle of non-intervention, which was supposed to be the groundwork of our foreign policy, had been departed from. Instead of intervention in the affairs of foreign Powers being the exception, it had become the rule of our policy; and that, too, without the appearance of being guided by any fixed principle. In one country we interfered on behalf of the Crown. The very next year we interfered, in another, on behalf of the revolted subjects of a Monarch, to prevent the Crown from reducing them to allegiance. And thus we had disappointed both parties, and gained the hostility of both. One hated us for going too far—another for not going far enough. We had meddled everywhere, and we were detested everywhere, and wherever we meddled most, there we were most detested. All the other departments of Government had been made patent to the public, and the restraint thus exercised upon them had proved most salutary; the proceedings of the Foreign Office alone were wrapped in mystery. In the Speech from the Throne, they were promised that certain diplomatic documents connected with this department would be laid before the House. But when? Why, when the "interests of the public service would permit." In other words—when all interest in the matters in question had ceased—when they had gone by, and when nobody cared whether the documents connected with them were perfect or not. Now, the House ought to take care that the public mind was not kept in a state of ignorance relative to these questions. No hon. Member would move for the papers in question, because such a Motion would have a personal application, and would, indeed, imply a degree of censure upon the Government. At the same time, no one could doubt but that, if more publicity were to be thrown on these transactions, the change would be greatly for the advantage of the country. When the general policy of a Minister was in the right direction, he would be greatly strengthened, public opinion sustaining him; while, if the reverse were the case, the national interests would be promoted by the restraints which public opinion, freely exercised upon what came within its knowledge, would necessarily impose. But the vices of the secret system were not altogether confined to the Foreign Department. There was another department to which they applied to a great extent—he meant that of the colonies. The misgovernment which characterised that department harassed our colonies and hazarded their allegiance. It was to him a matter of surprise—if, indeed, anything could surprise him relative to the omissions in the Royal Speech—that throughout the whole of that Speech there was not a single allusion to our colonial empire. One would suppose, indeed, judging from the document in question, that we had no colonial empire at all, or at all events that it was in such a state of blessed prosperity as not to require even a passing remark. Now, he doubted if there ever was a time when our colonial possessions were in a more unsatisfactory, and in some respects a more dangerous, condition than they were at the present moment. He doubted if there over was a time when there existed more distress in not a few of our colonies—more discontent—and something worse than discontent in others. They knew the vast interests which were involved in these colonial matters—they knew how questions pertaining to them had lately been discussed in Parliament—and yet here was the whole subject passed over without a single remark, and that, too, while there was scarcely a paragraph in the Speech which could have failed to remind its framers of the condition of those possessions which they were thus consigning to utter neglect. They were told in the Speech that everything in Her Majesty's dominions was in a state of progressive improvement. Did that assertion apply to the colonies? They were told that commerce was reviving. Did that assertion apply to the colonies? They were told also that tranquillity subsisted in all their dominions. Was that the case in the colonies? Was it true that there was perfect tranquillity throughout our colonial possessions? They were promised retrenchment and economy; but did that promise refer to our colonial possessions? From the first line of the Speech to the last, there was not a single paragraph which was not belied by the condition of our colonial empire. These, then, were the circumstances under which that empire was utterly passed over in a Speech from the Throne. The Omission took place, let it be observed, at a time when they saw, in the correspondence which passed between the colonial government at home and the colonial government abroad, nothing but a mass of confusion, strife, and blunder, absolutely without example. Governor Grey, in Jamaica, was furiously scolded by Earl Grey in Downing-street; while Earl Grey, in Downing-street, was convicted of ignorance and temerity by another Governor Grey in New Zealand. There was a threatening of the stoppage of supplies in one colony; there existed martial law and military executions to an appalling extent in another; there was wide-spread ruin and distress in most. Such were the appalling circumstances under which the colonies had been passed over without notice in the Speech from the Throne. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had been charged with undervaluing our colonies.—with a feeling of indifference whether our colonial possessions were altogether given up or lost to this country. But he must say he did not think, under the circumstances in which the colonies were now placed, that there had ever been an enemy to British connexion who had shown such blindness, such contempt, with regard to them, as the Minister who, in the Queen's Speech, not only exempted them from an expression of Royal sympathy, but also, by implication, excepted them as a part of Her Majesty's dominions. He had now only to record his protest against that system of secrecy and irresponsibility which, in both the departments which he had mentioned, was fatal to the proper administration of affairs. He hoped that Parliament would feel called upon to exercise a more constitutional vigilance regarding them; for in a constitutional Government publicity was the only guarantee for good government; and unless Parliament adopted measures to enforce that publicity, he had a strong feeling that it was neglecting its duty.


was astonished how, after the able and convincing speech of the hon. Gentleman, he could make up his mind to oppose the Amendment. For his own part, he thought that the Royal Speech pointed very clearly to the propriety of several reductions in our national expenses. It seemed to him that if, as was to be inferred from that Speech, we had no foreign relations, that we could and ought to bring down our diplomatic expenditure to a great extent. As for the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, there was, he believed, this distinction between them—that the former had two sets of despatches, one meant to be seen, and the other secret, while the other had only one set, which it was very difficult to procure entire. Altogether, he regarded the mischief done by the Colonial Office system as greater than that springing from the department of Foreign Affairs. It was certainly to be regretted that there was not on that occasion any Gentleman on the Treasury bench connected with the Colonial Department, to tell the House on what grounds the Government had conducted themselves so strangely with regard to the colonies, and why all reference to our colonial system of government had been omitted in the Speech from the Throne. He trusted, however, that the hon. Gentleman who presided over that department would explain, not merely to that House, but to the country and to the colonies of the British empire throughout the world, why it was that, upon this most important of all occasions, and in the present most critical period in our colonial history, our colonies were not even mentioned in the Royal Speech. Like most other Speeches from the Throne, the present was so very vague and general, that it never condescended upon a fact without greatly qualifying it, while sometimes the qualifications amounted to an actual contradiction. Thus, the first fact he found stated was, that a British Admiral was a humane man, while in the same breath they were informed that his humanity was of no avail. The second fact was, that a rebellion of a formidable character had broken out in one part of India, while at the same time they were told that the rest of our Oriental empire remained undisturbed; and the third fact was, that while one part of this country was prosperous and tranquil, another portion was suffering and disaffected. The Speech proclaimed Her Majesty's desire to maintain friendly relations with foreign States; but it would have been more satisfactory to the country if Her Majesty had been enabled to say that foreign States were desirous of maintaining friendly relations with Her. As it had been in the matter of free trade, so in this, the reciprocity was all on one side. After this country had relaxed the burdens upon commerce, they found foreign countries only the more anxious to maintain and increase existing burdens; so in political matters, when Great Britain desired to manifest friendly feelings to foreign Powers, those Powers exhibited no desire to reciprocate the feeling. The House was told towards the conclusion of the last Session, that the colonies cost this country between 3,000,000l. and 4,000,000l. annually; and that expenditure was mainly caused by their giving up the entire management of those colonies to a sort of Star Chamber council sitting in Downing-street. The management of these dependencies was as little under the control of the House of Commons as if no Parliament existed. Some of them might have their legislative assemblies; but they were so crippled in their functions, so restricted in the management of their own affairs, that they might be said to have only a right to complain of their grievances, without having the power of redressing them. And how were those constitutions granted? The rule which seemed to guide the Colonial Office in granting a legislature to a colony was, that there should be a rebellion on its part, and an expenditure on ours of 2,000,000l. or so. Was this principle to be carried out? It appeared so. There had been an insurrection at the Cape, for which we had paid a bill of two millions, and were likely to have to pay one of another. Thus the Cape had qualified itself for a constitution; and, indeed, he believed that one similar to that given to Canada had boon sent out, the Colonial Government probably thinking that what suited the latitude of Quebec, would suit the latitude of Cape Town. He depreacted the whole system under which the colonies were entrusted, without restraint, to the tender mercies of Downing-street. If the colonies were governed more upon the principles of kindness and affection, we should find a considerable reduction in the expenditure. An omission of any expression of interest in our American colonies, and the system of leaving them to statesmen who did not inform the people of their measures, eighty years ago, led to the dismemberment of the British empire, and he feared that the same causes were likely again to produce similar results; that was, if they did not take warning in time, and give the colonies the advantage of free and responsible government. Her Majesty, in the Speech from the Throne, spoke of the loyalty of the people; but he hoped that they would not test the loyalty of their colonial fellow-subjects too far. They wanted economy—they wanted security—security against reckless colonial expenditure, and security for good government. They wanted security against the vagaries of the Colonial Office, which instead of keeping up an even current of policy, was perpetually changing and shifting that policy, rearing up constitutions one year which were overturned the next, and administering the affairs entrusted to its charge on no fixed or intelligible principle. The hon. Gentleman concluded by expressing his determination to support the Amendment.


contrasted the admirable speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire with the Jesuitical, the weak and imperfect reply of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He admired the one as much as he despised the other. As for the Queen's Speech, it was not a speech from the Queen, but a mere omnium gatherum pie, concocted by Her Ministers, It was, politically speaking, a falsehood throughout, for which any Ministry deserved to be impeached. Let them examine the document closely, and he would venture to say there was nothing in it good, nothing favourable, nothing consoling to the country. On the contrary, like other productions of the same authors, it was full of underhand work, deceit, and unworthy trickery. It was always painful to him to make use of strong language; but he should never shrink from expressing his sentiments, nor from acting up to them. They were told of papers which were to be laid before the House; but when? Did they recollect the mutilated despatches of last year? Alas! the noble Lord who then exposed the Government, had been taken from amongst them, and could no longer apply the lash as he had done, when he made the noble Lord the Member for the city of London shake in his seat with the consciousness of his misconduct. But the question was, when were they to get the papers which were promised? He hoped they would come at an earlier period, and in better shape than last year. In any case, however, he would have little reliance on them. The hon. and gallant Member proceeded to state his objections to a reduction of the Army. He heard that two regiments of cavalry, the 8th Hussars, and the 12th Lancers, were to be sent to the Punjaub. Did that appear to denote a state of things in which a reduction of our military power would be politic? No. What he wanted was, to see a reduction made in the salaries of the too fat, too highly fed, and too lazy Ministers. The Whigs had come in on the principle of retrenchment; but they had never practised it. It was stated that the revenue had improved. If that were so—if his right hon. relative the Chancellor of the Exchequer would show him that the revenue was in so prosperous a state as the Speech represented it to be—then he would ask him, in the name of the people of England, whether they would continue the income-tax, and repeal the present most unjust tax upon fire insurances? But the Whigs throughout their policy were endeavouring to raise the foreigner and degrade their own country. He confessed that, as that Government was at present constituted, he could not even support a measure emanating from it, which should bear the stamp of justice, lest there should be some sinister purpose lurking beneath, which would convert the boon into a curse.


trusted, that the Government would immediately commence the revision and more equal partition of the taxation which bore upon the country; and that they would not forget the legacy duty, which pressed most unequally on different descriptions of property. Adverting to the foreign policy of the Government, and the speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, he confessed that he regarded the address of the hon. Member, sparkling and amusing as it was, rather as a parody on, than a grave statement of, the facts with which it professed to deal. For his own part he (Sir De Lacy Evans) was disposed to support the foreign policy of the noble Viscount, who had succeeded in maintaining the peace of Europe, and had espoused the cause of liberty in every country with which we had relations. Seventeen or eighteen years ago, when the noble Foreign Secretary came into office, the right hon. Member for Stamford (Mr. Herries) predicted that he would not keep the peace of the empire for six months. But we found, that during that period of seventeen or eighteen years, the peace of Europe had been preserved, and that much had been done for the cause of constitutional government. During the past year, no department of the State had been more severely taxed than the department for Foreign Affairs. He rejoiced at the spirit of cordiality which Her Majesty's Government had manifested in their relations with France; and he believed that the peace of the world could not be better preserved than by maintaining those relations in the same spirit of cordiality and good-will.


said, that he could not support the Address, because he believed that every paragraph it contained was wanting in sincerity. He confessed that he felt the greatest astonishment at what he could not help calling the effrontery of the Government, when he found them congratulating Parliament on the condition of this empire at a time when a cry of despair, mingled with angry remonstrance, was proceeding from our West India colonies in consequence of the misery which the policy of the Government had created there, and at a time when the agricultural interest in this country was exposed to great and unusual suffering—the harvest in the southern and western and some of the midland counties having been almost swept away by a continuous and unprecedented deluge, whilst the markets were swamped by the arrival of foreign grain. He knew that a fair trial must be given to the free-trade experiment, before the public, excited as they had been on the subject, could come to a fair conclusion; but in the mean time the agricultural interest had a right to ask for relief from those burdens and unjust assessments to which they were subjected. It was to this grievance, universally recognised, that he would presume to call the undivided attention of the country party, and more especially of those Gentlemen whose ability and knowledge of the subject made them competent to deal with it. The noble Lord the Prime Minister had, in a letter written to Her Majesty, December 20, 1845, which he had read to this House, made use of the following words:— Lord John Russell would have formed his Ministry on the basis of a complete free trade in corn, to be established at once without gradation or delay. He would have accompanied that proposal with measures of relief to a considerable extent, of the occupiers of land from the burdens to which they are subjected. Free trade in corn was established; and, the noble Lord in office, they had a right to call on him to make good his words. With regard to the revenue, they had very few statistical details to assist them in forming a judgment; but, as far as he could learn, there was nothing to warrant the expressions of satisfection contained in the Speech with respect to the flourishing state of the commercial interest, for, with the exception of cotton and bread stuffs, every branch of manufacture exhibited a decrease. It was, in fact, free trade for a particular interest only which had been tried, and not fair free trade there, for whilst those connected with that interest agitated the country to repeal the duties on corn, to increase their intercourse with America, and thereby better themselves, duties on cotton and woollen manufactures, equally necessaries of life to the poor man, were retained. Free trade, properly so called, was impossible in this country; for under such a system it would be impossible to pay the national debt, and maintain the national credit. The nearest approach to free trade which could with prudence be adopted, was that made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, in 1842, which was based entirely on a system of revenue. Under that system the Customs, up to the year 1845, yielded 24,000,000l. of revenue, whilst since that time they had decreased 2,500,000l. And why? Because in 1846 the right hon. Baronet had allowed his judgment to be disturbed, and his fears to be excited, and, throwing himself into the arms of the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for the West Riding, very nearly accomplished the ruin of this country. After the able treatment which the subject had received at the hands of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, he would not discuss the foreign policy of this country, but he certainly should not feel satisfied till he saw the papers. One word respecting the proposed reduction in the Army and Navy. He could not help adverting to the inconsistency of these propositions with the recognition of the insurrectionary spirit existing in Ireland, and the war in the Punjaub. For his own part, he thought that if they wished to maintain the peace of Europe, it would always be a prudent course in this country to measure her forces in some degree by those maintained by France. The naval force afloat of the one, should balance in strength the established army of the other; and he would call the attention of the noble Lord to the fact, that the reduction of the French army, according to the plan of General Lamoricière, was not a bonâ fide one. The reduced men were still to keep the numbers of their regiments, to be drilled once a year, and hold themselves liable to be called to active service. He had no objection to wholesome reductions, but anything like those proposed by the hon. Member for the West Riding, must at some future period entail enormous expense on this country. With regard to the Navigation Laws, they would no doubt shortly be put in possession of the intentions of Government; but he could not but remark the moderation of their tone as compared with that of last year, from which he was inclined to hope that they would not this year venture to propose so sweeping a plan. He would certainly resist any plan, the object of which was to tamper with the regulations established for the purpose of fostering the commercial marine of this country, the source from which our Navy drew her strength.


could not agree with the hon. Member for Pontefract in applying the term constitutional struggles to those miserable events which had desolated Europe during the past year. The hon. Member had formerly complained that he could not identify himself with any party; but he could now congratulate himself on having joined the party which might be called "The Mountain" in that House. He did not rise to object to the omission of any allusion in Her Majesty's Speech to the condition and prospects of our colonial possessions; but he must offer a few observations respecting what he deemed to be indications in the Speech from the Throne that Her Majesty's Ministers were about to allow themselves to be influenced by the public agitation out of doors, with respect to the finances of the country. Call them clubs or associations, or whatever name by which they pleased to designate these societies, he (Mr. Cochrane) did say that it was not right for any Government to suffer itself to be swayed or influenced by the threats or the menaces of any party. And why did he (Mr. Cochrane) make use of this language with respect to that association, of which he now saw the prime mover, the hon. Member for the West Riding, in his place in that House? He (Mr. Cochrane) had followed the career of that hon. Member, and must say he had been able to trace, through all his speeches and published declarations, that there was something more meant than mere retrenchment and economy. He (Mr. Cochrane) could discover that it was sought to organise a force in this country which was to override the Legislature and dictate to the British House of Commons. He (Mr. Cochrane) was supported in this view of the matter, because, in 1846 the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cobden) had said, speaking of the subject of taxation— He warned the Ministers and the aristocracy, and the landowners of this country, to beware how they forced upon the nation the question of taxation. Extensive as was the fraud and injustice of the corn-law, he considered that if they examined the subject of taxation for the last hundred and fifty years, they would find as black a case against the landowners. He advised them to beware, unless they wished to provoke another league to rise up on the death of this one. If they wanted another organisation, lot the middle classes know how they had been cheated, robbed, and bamboozled in the subject of taxation. In another speech, delivered on another occasion—and if he were misquoting his words, the hon. Gentleman might correct him—the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cobden) stated— He confessed that he would not pretend to have that respect which some men entertained for successful warriors. The duke (alluding to the Duke of Wellington) was an old man; he was fast passing to the last verge of existence, and might almost be said, without any figure of speech, to be tottering upon the brink of the grave. This the hon. Gentleman meant was the excuse which he (Mr. Cobden) could readily make for the opinions then expressed by that illustrious individual with respect to the military forces of the country. He (Mr. Cochrane) did say, therefore, that this House had a right, when they knew that another league was now springing up in this country, amidst so many other leagues that had recently desolated Europe with so much bloodshed and misery—he did say that they had a right to examine who the men were that acted as the leaders of that league, and what were their opinions and what their objects. He (Mr. Cochrane) would now allude to the words of another hon. Gentleman—whom he did not see now in his place in that House—while addressing a meeting at Manchester—he referred to the hon. Member for Manchester. He (Mr. Cochrane) was sorry the hon. Gentleman was not present, as it was most important that his language on the occasion should not be misrepresented. The hon. Member (Mr. Bright) said— He did wish the people to be so represented that they might control—that they might control the House of Lords. What was to be done for the future? There was nothing they could wish that was unattainable if the same means were only used; and the people of England had begun to find out that they really had some power. Such principles as these having been enunciated, that nothing was to be unattainable to this league—that it was to carry everything before it, if not by violence, at least by the and of such violent declarations of opinions as those he had just cited to the House—he (Mr. Cochrane) did regret that Her Majesty's Ministers should have come down to this House with the pledges of retrenchment and economy they had, because it was a dangerous concession to clamour and menaces—an undue and perilous giving way to a pressure from without. And why did he (Mr. Cochrane) say so? Because, last year, what was the state of the case? There were no revolutions, not one-half the dangers of war that exist at present; and yet there had been no offers like the present, of economy and retrenchment made in the Speech from the Throne of that year. There might now be what some deemed a fair prospect of continued peace; but could any man, looking at the present state of the Continent, pretend to say that such an aspect of affairs was presented as warranted a retrenchment of the character meditated? Retrenchment under such circumstances as the present was not retrenchment, but disarmament. He begged to remind hon. Gentlemen, in the year 1792, Mr. Pitt came down to this House with the strongest prognostications of peace, under circumstances similar to the present, and yet in February of the following year (1793) that celebrated war was declared which had so protracted a duration. Then he (Mr. Cochrane) said that a better motto for the statesmen of this country than "Peace and Retrenchment," was "Peace and Armament;" for he verily believed that the greatest security for the continuance of uninterrupted peace was to be prepared to resist unjust at- tempts at aggression. His object in rising had not been to enter upon the general question before the House—he merely wished to express his deep regret that Her Majesty's Government had thought proper to yield to any external pressure; and he stood there emphatically to denounce such pusillanimous conduct, even although he should stand alone while he did it.


said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government bad expressed a wish that the House should not pass a vote of condemnation upon their conduct on the first night of the Session. The condemnation, however, was one charging omission rather than commission, and such a condemnation could only be passed on the first night of the Session. It was said that the Addresses moved on occasions like the present were merely echoes of the Speech from the Throne; but the noble Lord would not deny that these Addresses should be also echoes of the opinions of the people. Now, when they observed the large interests that were at stake, and the large portion of the empire that had been wholly omitted from the Speech, it was the duty of those who represented the opinions of that portion of the people to take notice of these omissions; and the noble Lord might, if he pleased, call that a condemnation on the first night of the Session. He regretted to observe that no allusion to the interests of most important portions of the empire was made in the Speech which had been submitted to the Queen by Her Ministers. He agreed with the noble Viscount (Viscount Mandeville) that it was their duty to take care that the interests of the British colonies, which had no specific representation in that House, should not be neglected; and this was especially necessary at the present time, when it was notorious that the colonists were suffering extraordinary pressure. The hon. Member for Montrose had brought charges of the grossest misgovernment against the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department, which had not been satisfactorily answered. He (Mr. Bankes) considered it the duty of the party with which he acted, from respect to the memory of a noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck), who was most zealous and indefatigable in supporting the interests of the colonies, to endeavour, as far as was in their power, to promote the welfare of those dependencies. He believed, indeed, that the indefatigable application of his noble Friend to the interests of the colo- nies tended greatly to shorten his existence. When he last saw his noble Friend in that House, observing him to be greatly fatigued by his attention to his public duties, he endeavoured to prevail upon him to leave the House to obtain some necessary refreshment; but the noble Lord replied that he was watching over the interests of the colonies, which he was determined to protect to the utmost of his power, and he refused to leave the House even for a few moments. He regretted that the Government had not taken into consideration the very able suggestions that had been made by the noble Lord upon that subject. If he (Mr. Bankes) did not know that the pressure upon these interests was daily and hourly increasing, he should not now have risen to press on the attention of the Government the claims of that interest, which he knew they were as ready as he was to acknowledge, but which the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed rendered it impossible for them to do justice to without immediate and unremitting attention. No allusion was made in the Royal Speech to the condition of the agricultural interest. The pressure upon that interest was daily and hourly increasing, and had already proceeded to an extent of which he thought the Ministers could not be aware, or they would have deemed it their duty to take some notice of the subject. The noble Lord opposite had expressed his opinion that the changes which had lately been made with reference to the agricultural interest would ultimately tend to benefit that interest; but he would ask the noble Lord what was to become of the agricultural interest in the mean time, oppressed as it was with burdens, especially in the shape of poor-rates, which threatened to bring it into the same condition to which Ireland had been already reduced? He joined most cordially in supporting the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli), and in condemning the Government for omitting from Her Majesty's Speech any allusion to the two important interests to which he had referred. He (Mr. Bankes), and those with whom he acted, concurred with Ministers in the expression of satisfaction that, both in the north and south of Europe, the contending parties had consented to a suspension of arms for the purpose of negotiating terms of peace; but it was perfectly consistent with that concurrence to state that they did not find in regard to our relations with foreign Powers any subject of congratu- lation. There were omissions from the Speech, with regard to our foreign relations, of a very significant character. Last year this country experienced an unparalleled outrage and insult from a hitherto friendly nation. The British Ambassador was dismissed with ignominy and insult from the Court of Spain; and he thought it was due to the honour and character of this country that Her Majesty's Ministers should now have an opportunity of afford-ing explanations on the subject. The Spanish Government sent over an individual to explain the circumstances under which the British Ambassador had been expelled, but the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) refused to hold any communication with him; and yet, after the insults this country had received in the person of its representative, the Spanish Ambassador was allowed to remain undisturbed in London. When some inquiries were made on this subject last Session, the noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) stated that negotiations were then pending. He (Mr. Bankes) begged now to ask the noble Lord whether those negotiations were still pending; and if any satisfactory results had been obtained? This was an omission which he thought it to be the duty of hon. Members not connected with the Government to bring under the notice of the House; and for these reasons he considered the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire to be justified in respect of foreign affairs. With regard to the commercial and manufacturing interests of the country, he conceived the Amendment to be also justified. The condition of those interests was not a circumstance calling for the congratulation of the country. The hon. Members for Manchester and the West Riding of Yorkshire might entertain the idea that commerce and manufactures were in a palmy state of prosperity; and, should those hon. Members vouchsafe to deliver in the Imperial Parliament some of those speeches which they had uttered in the parliament of Manchester, they might possibly convince hon. Members on his side of the House; but, until that was the case, he must beg leave to remain of a contrary opinion. He believed that, so far from those recent alterations which had been made in the policy of this country having proved successful in securing greater steadiness in respect to the industrial interests of the country, whether as regarded commerce or agriculture, they had entirely failed. It might, perhaps, be too soon to pronounce a decisive verdict upon the success or failure of free-trade measures; but at least this result might now be drawn—that in the three years of experiment which they had had, those engaged in commerce had suffered, those engaged in manufactures had suffered, and those engaged in agriculture are suffering now. These were the grounds of the Amendment which had been submitted by his hon. Friend for the consideration of the House; and when the noble Lord at the head of the Government was pleased to say that his hon. Friend had endeavoured to divert the House from the real subjects which ought to engage its attention, he begged leave to say he differed in opinion from the noble Lord, and to state, on the contrary, that the Amendment and speech of his hon. Friend were calculated to call our attention to those very questions which ought to engage our attention at this particular time, and which had been omitted from the Speech from the Throne. His hon. Friend had brought to the notice of the House those colonial interests which ought never to be forgotten, and which we cannot forget now that the pressure is coming so heavily upon us. It was upon these grounds that he supported the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire.


would support the Amendment which had been proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. He could not give a silent vote in support of that Amendment, and therefore would state some of the grounds on which his vote would be given. The Speech they had heard from the Throne was one of the most important documents recorded in the archives of this country, and the occasion was one of great peculiarity as regarded the branch of the Speech on which he should principally dwell, and which had reference to the convulsions that had taken place in Europe. The course adopted by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in his reply to the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, had, he would confess, placed the Opposition in the most favourable point of view. He had listened in vain to the speech of the noble Lord for anything like an answer to the charges brought forward against the Government by his hon. Friend. With respect to the events in the north and south of Europe, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had pointed out the failure of the attempts at mediation on the part of the Government of this country. In reply to that, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated that the Government of Finance had proposed to this country a mediation between the contending Powers. It was an abuse of words to call such a proposition a proposition for a mediation. Sicily and Naples were not consulted on the subject, and it was, therefore, merely an arrangement between the two Governments as to what terms they should impose upon the parties. The hon. Member for Radnorshire (Sir John Walsh) had said that he saw no reason to complain of any breach of promise with respect to the employment of the forces of this country in Sicily, and that, upon various grounds, he was perfectly satisfied with the proceedings of Admiral Parker in the Bay of Naples. The pledge, however, given to him (Mr. Urquhart) by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, was not with respect to any special act in the Bay of Naples, but it was that no part of the forces acting under Admiral Parker should upon any consideration transgress the recognised law of nations. That law was not, however, to be decided by any private individual, but by rules and authority laid down and long acted upon. Relying upon the statement of the noble Lord, he had hoped that no violation of the law would have taken place; but finding that some interference had taken place upon the part of Her Majesty's forces, he hoped to have heard from the noble Lord, either his explanation of the law of nations in that respect, or some contradiction of the statement as to the alleged interference or condemnation of the officers who had taken upon themselves to act in so extraordinary a manner. The presence of the fleet in the Bay of Naples was not to be accounted for by the petty difference existing between England and Sicily, in consequence of the latter Power making a proposition to impose certain taxes, which would remotely affect the interests of British subjects in that island; for it was admitted that upon that subject the explanations of the Sicilian Government had been perfectly satisfactory; a suspicion must therefore arise that the fleet under Admiral Parker was stationed in the Bay of Naples for some ulterior purpose. Did it belong to an English Admiral, however great his talents, to proceed to open up diplomatic questions affecting the interests of the two countries, as though they were matters between himself and the Government, without the least instructions from the Government, and there by to encroach upon the sovereign power and prerogatives of the Crown? The speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had stamped with shame and disgrace the Government of this country to an extent that had never before appeared. It appeared, from the explanation of the noble Lord, that it was the French Admiral who first proposed the intervention, and that the English Admiral, acting upon his advice, had consented to adopt measures in conjunction with him. Documents had found their way to the public which he had been assured by the noble Viscount at the head of the Foreign Department were correct, and in them he was not able to find the least corroboration of the statements made by the noble Lord the Member for the city of London. He found, from those documents, that the initiatory step had been taken by the French Executive in the island of Sicily, and about ten days after the action commenced on the part of the English and French Admirals. What was the meaning of exhibiting to the world the Crown of England in such an abject condition, that it was bound to follow in the wake of revolutionary France, in the violation of every law of justice and honour? For what purpose, he would ask, was it that they maintained a foreign establishment, and employed representatives abroad, if the power which was thereby created was to be placed in the hands of parties, to be employed by them, without instructions from the supreme authority at home. He now ventured to give a warning to the Government. There was no man in the House, who had more right, from the verification of his past predictions, to give such a warning. The noble Viscount at the head of the Foreign Department said, in the course of last Session, that while the nations around him were changing, he (Mr. Urquhart) alone remained unchanged, repeating his old croaking note. That note remained still unchanged, but it was no longer a solitary one. It required time for such ideas to spread. He would, now, therefore, give some advice to Her Majesty's Government. They had once before been broken up by the noble Viscount, who made England a personal affair of his own, as if it were a wardrobe of old clothes; and he warned the Government, that if they did not separate themselves from the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs, whose course of policy was calcu- lated to sully the honour of Britain, that noble Lord would drag them down, and treat them as before.


Sir, I have three objections to state to the Amendment which we are now discussing. In the first place, it calls upon the House to declare that it will give no opinion on a matter on which no opinion has been asked; secondly, it gives an opinion on two other matters with regard to which that opinion is inconsistent with facts; and, thirdly, it endeavours by a side wind to extract from the House an opinion on matters of great importance, and on which the opinion of the majority is adverse to that of those who framed the Amendment. It happens sometimes that the pith of a letter is contained in the postscript; and the real views of the framers of the Amendment are contained in the last paragraph. That paragraph, which adverts to the omission of any mention of the colonies and of agriculture in the Speech, is dexterously worded; but we have had revelations elsewhere, if I am not misinformed, and even if we had not, the Amendment itself sufficiently shows that the real object of that last paragraph is to record the opinions of its framers against the doctrine of free trade, against the repeal of the corn laws, and against the removal of discriminating duties. That intention, I believe, has been manfully acknowledged in another place. But, I must say, that it would be more fitting for those who entertain those opinions, more respectful to the House, and more fair towards the people of this country, to bring those opinions before the House by a substantive Motion, instead of endeavouring to trick the House out of an opinion on pretence of an Amendment to an Address. In the next place, the Amendment proposes to the House to state that it can find no subject for congratulation in the improvement of the revenue, and in the beginning of a revival of trade. Why, Sir, I can easily understand that those who have resisted the improvements in our commercial system, who regret the abolition of protection, and deplore every movement which has been made in the direction of free trade, can find no subject for congratulation in an improving revenue and reviving commerce; because improving revenue and reviving trade negative the predictions which they made, and are the best refutation of their opinions. Then we come to the first paragraph of the Amendment, in which it is proposed to the House to say, that they cannot congratulate Her Majesty on the state of our foreign relations. My answer to that is, Who asked you to congratulate Her Majesty on the state of Her relations with foreign Powers? If you say, you cannot do it; I say, wait till you are asked: those who moved and seconded the Address never asked the House to give an opinion upon our foreign relations. It would be highly improper to ask the House to express on the present occasion any opinion on the foreign relations of the country. An Address to the Throne is always studiously framed in such a manner as not to commit any body in the House to any opinion on the subjects which it embraces. It would be wrong in those who frame an Address to commit the House to an opinion on matters which will undergo discussion in the course of the Session; and, therefore, it would not only be a departure from invariable usage, but a breach of propriety, to ask the House to give such an opinion upon any of the matters contained in the Speech. But when hon. Gentlemen opposite say that they are unable to congratulate Her Majesty on the state of our foreign relations, in answer to that portion of Her Majesty's Speech which announces that papers will be laid before the House, explaining the condition of those foreign relations, I must say that the House will be stultifying itself if it says that it is unable to congratulate Her Majesty on a matter in which, till that information be received, the House must be comparatively uninformed. But I go a little further than that: I will boldly maintain in opposition to the Gentlemen over the way, and in contradiction to the Amendment, that this House, and all those who have attended in the slightest degree to what is passing in the world, might upon that information which is possessed by all, congratulate Her Majesty on the state of our foreign relations. Why, what is the great object which the people of this country have at heart in regard to our foreign relations? What is the end which, next to the maintenance of the interests of the country, they consider to be chiefly important? In the first place, the maintenance of peace with the rest of the world; and next, if possible, the prevention of war between other nations. Have these objects been accomplished? I maintain that they have been accomplished; and I say also, that if we are to express any opinion on the subject, there is matter for congratulation from this House to Her Majesty so far as this state of things may be ascribed to the action of the Government of this country; and I have it from the mouths of our accusers, that it is owing to the action of the Government of this country that there is peace between us and the nations of the Continent, and that those hostilities which have broken out in other parts of Europe have been suspended by armistices, and are in train for satisfactory and final adjustment. We have not indeed heard a clear expression of the opinions entertained by those who have been our accusers on the present occasion; but still the truth has broken forth, as I shall have occasion presently to show in adverting to the speech of the Member for Dorsetshire, (Mr. Bankes), and the real fault found with Her Majesty's Government is, that we are not at war with some of our allies. Our great offence is, that we have remained on amicable terms and have cultivated a good understanding with the Republican Government of Franco. There are those who think that the Government of a republic is not sufficiently good company for the Government of a monarchy. We are taunted with having sent an Ambassador post-haste over to Paris, which it so happens that we did not do, because our Ambassador has remained at his post, and has not left Paris since the revolution of last February. Now, I hold that the relations of Governments are, in fact, the relations between those nations to which the Governments belong. The Governments are the organs of nations, and it is only through such organs that one nation can communicate with an-other. What business is it of ours to inquire what organ any foreign nation chooses to have? What business is it of ours to ask whether the French nation thinks proper to be governed by a king, an emperor, a president, or a consul? Our object and our duty is to cement the closest ties of friendship between ourselves and our nearest neighbour, one of the greatest Powers of the world—that neighbour of whom it has been said in this debate, that in war she would be our most formidable enemy, and in peace our most useful friend. There is nothing, I am convinced, in the real interests of England and France which can stand in the way of the most cordial friendship between the two nations. There may be passions, there may be prejudices to be overcome; but those prejudices are passing away, and those pas- sions are calming down. Reflection is teaching the people of both countries to see that there is nothing in the real interests of England or France which can clash injuriously with each other, and that it is for the good of both countries to cultivate the most friendly relations. I think it due to those public men who have been successively at the head of the Government of France since the month of February last, to say that their conduct towards this country has been marked by the most perfect good faith, and by the greatest frankness; and that they have not only manifested an anxious desire to be on friendly terms with England, but have invariably expressed those pacific dispositions towards the rest of Europe, which, attaching as we do the greatest importance to the preservation of peace, must be the foundation of a really good understanding between France and this country. We did not withdraw our Ambassador from Franco when the revolution took place. We could not, indeed, give him those usual technical credentials which are given and interchanged between established Governments, because the Government of France was then, even in its very name, professedly provisional; but the moment the Government assumed a permanent character, those credentials were interchanged, and since then the relations between the two countries have been maintained in the ordinary manner. Has that contributed to maintain the peace of Europe? I say that it has. The French Government was anxious to pursue a pacific policy towards the other countries of Europe; but if we had rejected the friendly overtures of France; if we had frowned upon the young republic; if we had given countenance to other Governments, if such there be, who have a dislike to the form of government which France has adopted, and had given aid directly or indirectly to them—I cannot say that the Government of France would have been able to carry out their desire of maintaining the peace of Europe, the maintenance of which last year was of such paramount importance. So much with respect to our relations with France; and I must venture to think that there is some reason why this country may congratulate itself with respect to these circumstances, although the hon. Gentlemen opposite refuse to join in the congratulation. Now, with regard to what have been called our mock mediations. Why, any one who has heard what has passed here and elsewhere within the last twenty-four hours, might be induced to think that, never before this year, was there such a thing as a mediation, and that it was a thing newly invented for some mischievous purpose by the present Government. I confess that I must plead guilty to having committed this crime of mediation long before the present year, and fortunately, I may state, with considerable success. The Government of which I had the honour of being a Member, was able, in 1834, by means of a mediation, to prevent a rupture between France and the United States; and was also by the same means enabled, in 1838, to make peace between France and the Government of Mexico. Other smaller and less important mediations I do not mention, but I might do, as they were also successful; but the two which I have mentioned prevented hostilities, which must have been followed by very serious consequences. But in this sweeping condemnation of mediations, my predecessor in office, the Earl of Aberdeen, is liable to a similar charge as myself, for he in conjunction with Russia mediated between Turkey and Persia, and also between Denmark, Sardinia, and Morocco; to say nothing of that unfortunate mediation upon which the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) so much dwelt—I mean that respecting the affairs of the River Plate, which is still going on, and the responsibility, in regard to which, I share with my predecessor in office. I trust that some paragraph will be inserted in the Amendment in condemnation of my predecessor as well as myself for resorting to these courses. "Mock mediations," indeed! One would really suppose from what has been said, that these mediations were merely diplomatic dramas, got up for the amusement of diplomatists, and leading to no practical or useful result. The impression endeavoured to be created, is, that we went about Europe for the purpose of imposing our mediation between Government and Government in a way which led to no result, and which would come to no satisfactory end. Now, is this so? Take the mediation between Denmark and Germany. How did that begin? The Government of Denmark asked us to interfere hostilely against Germany, in virtue of our guarantee of 1721: in reply, we offered our mediation, which was accepted by both parties; and although that mediation has not led to a final conclusion, it has been attended with the advantage of obtaining a suspension of hostilities, of preserving the peace of Europe, and of putting an end to that disturbance of commerce, which the hostilities had for several months produced; and I trust that it will lead to a satisfactory adjustment, which shall be honourable for all parties. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire said that we should have let these matters alone, for Denmark would have received the support of strong and zealous allies, and would have thus been enabled soon to settle the question in her own way. This, no doubt, was very pretty; but what was this but, in other words, a European war? There was Germany on the one hand running wild with a particular doctrine about the Duchies of Schleswig and of Holstein; on the other hand, there was Denmark strong in her opinion of her rights, and supported in her claims by Russia, France, and Sweden. Denmark was worsted in the field; and the troops of Austria and Prussia on the one side, and of Russia and France and Sweden on the other, were to meet on the plains of Schleswig, to determine this question. What was this but a European war? And we are blamed, forsooth, for having prevented it! This is the first article of our impeachment. The charge is, that we prevented Germany from being involved in a war with France and Russia. I feel no alarm as to the opinion which the House will come to on this point. Then, as to our mediation between Austria and Lombardy—what is its history? In May last Austria sent over an able diplomatist who had previously been connected with the Embassy in this country, Baron Hummelauer, with the view of requesting the good offices and mediation of England between Austria and her revolted Italian subjects. This diplomatist proposed some terms as the basis of mediation, which I will not go into now, as the papers which will be laid on the table will show what it was; but it is sufficient for me to say that he made certain propositions. We said "that this Government would mediate with the greatest pleasure, and that it would give us the liveliest satisfaction if we could be of any service to such an ancient and respected ally as Austria; but with respect to the propositions which he had made, we knew that they would not be accepted by the other party, and, therefore, it would only place us in a situation of difficulty to propose them; but if he would only make certain additions to her proposition, we would interpose and use all our influence in the matter." What was the answer of the Austrian diplomatist? He said that he was not authorised to accede to such suggestions as we had made, but that he would not take upon himself the responsibility of rejecting them—that he would take them, ad referendum, and submit them to his Government. No answer was received by us from Austria; but I believe that Baron Hummelauer's propositions were afterwards made by the Austrian Government to the Lombards, but were not accepted by the latter, and, therefore, fell to the ground. At a later period things took a different turn; for the Austrian army, having been largely reinforced, obtained considerable advantages. Application was then made to France by the Lombards for an armed intervention; and the Government of France, in that spirit of confidence and good faith which it has always manifested toward us, said, that if we offered to join with them in mediation, and proposed terms of peace between the conflicting parties, it would act with us, and decline armed interference; but, if we did not do so, it might be unable to prevent an armed interference of France in the affairs of Italy. We assented. This, then, is our second fault: we prevented a war in Italy, which would infallibly have led to a general war in Europe; and we joined Franco in a mediation which prevented such a European war. This is crime the second. Sir, I believe that I may look with perfect confidence to the opinion of the House on this part of our impeachment. As for the allegation that we endeavoured to impose terms upon Austria, it is utterly untrue. There is no imposition of terms, and no intention of imposing terms. We have stated why we believe that the arrangements which we suggested were the best for the real and well-understood interests of Austria: it was for Austria to accept those arrangements or not; but the Austrian Government is as free to refuse them as we were to offer them. Then as to the mediation between Naples and Sicily. This mediation was asked for repeatedly by that Personage, whom, to follow the example of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, though not his theory, I may call the King of Naples. I say that this mediation was repeatedly asked by the Neapolitan Government; and Lord Minto was sent for from Rome to Naples expressly for that purpose. When Lord Minto went from England he had no instructions to go to Naples; but the Neapolitan Minister in England called upon me, and said, if Lord Minto were to proceed to Naples, he would be most cordially received. My reply was, that it was no part of his instructions to go on to Naples; but that if he should receive through our Chargé d' Affaires at Naples, an intimation that the King of Naples wished him to do so, he should be instructed at once to obey such a summons, and that I would immediately send him instructions and credentials for such a contingency. Lord Minto was invited by the King to go to Naples, and he accordingly went thither. At Naples he was in constant communication with the Neapolitan Government, and he was strongly urged to go over to Sicily to communicate with the Provisional Government there, with a view to effect an amicable arrangement. He at length proceeded there, and he was received by the Government of Sicily; but the arrangement which he was authorised to offer, unfortunately did not succeed, for in the meanwhile the news arrived of the revolution at Paris, which altered much the state of feeling in Sicily; and Lord Minto returned to Rome. And here I must make a remark on an observation which fell from the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. John O'Connell), as to what took place at Rome. The hon. Member said, that a dinner had been given at Rome by Lord Minto to Senor Sterbini, and that this had led to the disturbances and to the lamentable events which have since occurred in that city. But it so happened that Lord Minto did not give any dinner whatever to Senor Sterbini; therefore the events of the last twelvemonths at Rome are not attributable to any such dinner. Well, we withdrew from that mediation between Naples and Sicily, continuing, however, to feel a great interest in the affairs of Sicily. Those who know the connexion which the British Government had with the establishment of the constitution in Sicily in 1812, the sort of assurances given by our Minister of that day—not, indeed, amounting to a guarantee of the constitution of 1812, for no guarantee was given by this country—must be aware that much encouragement and much assurance was held out that the Government of England would afford to the Sicilians moral assistance in maintaining that constitution; and by this it must be seen that the Government of England cannot avoid taking a lively interest in the affairs of that country. I now come to the expedition which the King of Naples sent to Sicily. Towards the end of last Session, some questions respecting this matter were asked of my noble Friend at the head of the Government, and of myself; and we answered that we could not, without inconvenience to the public service, state what were the instructions given or not given on this subject to Lord Napier, or to the Admiral of the fleet; but in point of fact no instructions to interfere were given, and no obstacles were interposed by the Admiral when the expedition was sent to Sicily. It reached Messina, and commenced operations. I have heard that it has elsewhere been stated that the King of Naples took possession of Messina, the stronghold of the Sicilians, and that their cause then became hopeless. Why, the Neapolitans had never been driven out of Messina—they had been driven out of Palermo—but the citadel and fortresses of Messina were the strongholds of the Neapolitans, and not of the Sicilians. But after the town of Messina had ceased its resistance, after the flag in the batteries of the Sicilians had been hauled down, and every token of cessation of hostilities had been exhibited, the assailants continued, for eight hours, a savage bombardment of the place, destroying houses, churches, hospitals, public buildings—every thing, in a word, that was exposed to their fire. After that, they landed a body of troops to complete the destruction which the shells and the cannon-shot might have left incomplete; and these troops laid waste three miles of suburbs—burning, plundering, devastating, murdering. The Admirals heard of this. They were men accustomed to scenes of war, but only of war carried on according to the practice of civilised nations; and they felt disgusted and revolted. Still more. They knew that Palermo was doomed to the same fate which had been inflicted on Messina; and when they knew that thousands of these wretched people were weltering in their blood, or seeking refuge in crowds on board the ships in the harbour, or flying across the fields to escape their pursuing murderers, the Admirals said, "We cannot permit these shocking scenes to be repeated at Palermo;" and, although they had no instructions or authority to take any steps whatever, they said, "We will stop these atrocious proceedings, at least until we can receive the decisions of our respective Governments." They did so; they established an armistice. A line of demarcation was drawn out—the Neapolitans to occupy the eastern verge of the island, and the Sicilians the remainder. What were the Governments of England and France to do in a case of that kind? Was it fitting that civilians sitting here in their comfortable homes, men who had never seen a shot fired in anger, or blood shed in the field—was it fitting that they should be sterner than these Admirals—men accustomed to all the horrors incident to ordinary war? Was it fitting we should say, let Palermo share the fate of Messina, let these troops go on and destroy the first as they had destroyed the second city of Sicily? Why, Sir, I do not think so ill of those who now seek to condemn us as to believe that they would have done otherwise than we did. I feel sure that no man of ordinary feelings could, under the same circumstances, have come to any other decision. This act of the Admirals was followed up by negotiation. I will not now speak upon matters concerning which the conflicting passions and hostile opinions of men are yet alive. Still, I will say, that I am not without hopes that those negotiations may be satisfactorily concluded, and that the interposition of the Admirals may lead to an honourable and satisfactory adjustment between the King of Naples and the Sicilians; and if that consummation should be accomplish-ed, no man need feel regret that the Admirals took upon themselves to interfere. Time has been of great value in this, as it has proved in other cases. At the moment when the smoking ashes of Messina were before the eyes of the Sicilians—when they saw their dead unburied, their wounded uncured, they might have refused an accommodation which may now, by possibility, be accepted; and, on the other hand, the King of Naples may now consent to an arrangement which, in the moment of excitement, and of victory, he might perhaps have determined to reject. At all events, we have the satisfaction of thinking that the mediation of England and France has prevented great calamities in Sicily; and I trust that, while on the one hand, that mediation will secure happiness and constitutional freedom for the Sicilians, it will also lead to a permanent union of the Crowns of Sicily and of Naples on the head of the same monarch. These, then, are the crimes for which this House is called upon to take the unusual step of pronouncing a condemnation of the Government on the first evening of a Session—a condemnation to be expressed without the papers which, it has been announced, will be given! A prudent measure, certainly, on the part of those who anticipate full well that when the papers come, their censure will not be borne out. Good policy, no doubt, to begin the fight before the grounds of the proceedings are known. I have said that the animus of the framer of this Amendment, showed itself a little in certain indications contained in the speech of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire. That hon. Gentleman said that the Government of Spain offered last year an affront to the Government of England by sending away our Minister from Madrid. He took more credit to himself than I am disposed to allow him, by assuming that it was in consequence of some notice or some Motion of his, that the Government requested Senor Isturitz, then the Minister of Spain in this country, to return to Spain, in consequence of the dismissal of Sir Henry Bulwer. I assure my hon. Friend he is entirely wrong on that point, and that he had no share whatever in influencing the decision of Her Majesty's Government on that occasion. But at the same time—betraying what was passing in his mind—he said that many months have now passed since a gross insult had been offered to this country, and that it had been passed by—that we had remained passive under that affront, and have not yet obtained redress; and he asked, where is the spirit—where is the dignity of the English Government? Now, what does this mean, except that we ought to have gone to war with Spain in revenge for that affront? We did, as it appears to me, that which was appropriate to the occasion. We desired the Minister of Spain to go back from London to Madrid, in consequence of the Minister of England having been desired to quit Madrid for London. Although I admit the act of Spain was an affront—although I feel that reparation is due—and although I trust that when the Spanish Government comes calmly to reflect upon the matter, and to see how insufficient were the grounds upon which it proceeded, it may feel inclined to make that reparation; yet I confess I am not prepared to go the length of the hon. Gentleman, and to say that we ought to have declared war against Spain, as a re- venge for that affront. Sir, I have been sometimes accused, wholly without foundation, of being prone to measures that have a tendency to lead to war. The war party now sits there. [Here the noble Lord pointed to the Opposition side of the House amid great cheering and laughter.] I laid all the papers connected with that Spanish transaction on the table last year; and what it is the hon. Gentleman wants now, remains for him more clearly to explain. The hon. Member for Cockermouth complained that the proceedings of the Foreign Office—not, indeed, blaming me particularly for this, but speaking of what has been done from time immemorial—are involved in mystery and secrecy, highly mortifying to his curiosity. I feel much for the disappointed inquisitiveness of my hon. Friend; and I assure him that when I was out of office, it would have been equally gratifying to me to have had the run of—I do not say all—for that would have been too much—but of the principal—of the pick of the most interesting despatches written and received at the Foreign Office; and I can quite conceive that it would be exceedingly interesting to Members of this House, to have every day left at their houses with the Votes the last despatches of importance written or received at the Foreign Office. I have some doubt, nevertheless, whether such a course would contribute much to the preservation of the peace of the world, or conduce to the real interests of the country. It happens, too, that such a course would not be according to the constitution of this country, which vests in the Crown, and not in the House of Commons, the conduct of foreign negotiations. But I assure my hon. Friend also, that if there be one method which, more than another, would be sure to immerse the country in difficulties, render those difficulties incurable, and lead to unavoidable ruptures, it would be, that a popular assembly should take possession of diplomatic transactions. That very publicity which my hon. Friend wishes to attain, would be fatal to accommodation in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. If a proposition to negotiate for a certain object were given out to be published in the next week, how could it be expected that a Government, which might have rejected an overture in the first instance, would be induced to reflect over and modify a first decision? Nail them down to a first objection, and you render accommodation impossible. Pit two popular assemblies one against the other, and you put out of the question all amicable adjustment, and bring the nations in a position out of which there is no way, unless by that method of honourable meeting which is sometimes resorted to between individuals. There is in this country, I am told, an anti-duelling society, and I trust they will interfere to prevent my hon. Friend from enforcing his diplomatic revelations. One of the mediations which I have referred to, is an example of the principle I have mentioned—namely, that between the Governments of Franco and the United States in 1834. The Chamber of France and the Congress of the United States had unfortunately become pledged to different opinions, and the two countries were in that state, that, without the intervention of some third friendly Power, it would have been impossible for them to avoid having recourse to the arbitrement of arms. By our friendly offices the matter was adjusted, and peace preserved. But I assure my hon. Friend, that nothing could be so fatal to the interests of the country as that publicity which for his own gratification he so naturally wishes to have established, of the correspondence of the Foreign Office. This, then, is the state of the matter. We stand here charged with the grave offence of having preserved a good understanding with the republic of France, and of having thereby essentially contributed to the maintenance of peace in Europe. We are charged with the other offence of having put an end to hostilities in Schleswig-Holstein, which might have led to a European war. We are accused of having persuaded Austria and Sardinia to lay down their arms when their differences might have involved the Powers of Europe-in contention. We are reproached with having prevented great calamities in Sicily, and of labouring to restore friendly relations between the King of Naples and his Sicilian subjects. These, Sir, are the charges which the House is called upon to determine for or against us. We stand here as promoters of peace. We stand here as men who have laboured assiduously to prevent war if possible; and where it had broken out, to put an end to it as soon as was practicable. We stand here as the promoters of peace, under charges brought against us by the advocates of war. I leave it to the House to decide between us and our accusers; and I look with confidence to the verdict which the House will give.

The MARQUESS of GRANBY moved the adjournment of the debate.


said, he would take the sense of the House upon that proposition. At a comparatively late hour, when no other Member seemed to disposed to address the House, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford rose, and expressed his opinion, at some length, upon foreign affairs. The hon. Gentleman had been answered by his noble Friend, and surely the question was now ripe for decision. There had now been two nights' debate upon the Address, in the course of which the matters contained in it had been considerably discussed, and they would be frequently discussed hereafter in the course of the Session. Under these circumstances, he put it to the House whether, if the debate should be adjourned to another night, they would not be setting rather a bad example—whether, in fact, it would not be better to decide the question now, in order that they might begin the next week by practical discussions upon practical subjects.


defended the course of the noble Lord, and advocated the adjournment of the debate. At least, if the debate were now terminated thus imperfectly, the noble Lord who had last spoken must not be surprised if some of the statements he had now made were afterwards brought under the consideration of the House.


said, he should certainly never complain if the topics comprised in the Address were hereafter brought, as they must be, under discussion. He thought the noble Lord opposite must see that the general wish was that the debate should now terminate.


said he should press his Motion for adjournment.

House divided on the question "That the Debate be now adjourned:"—Ayes 80; Noes 221: Majority 141.

List of the AYES.
Anstey, T. C. Broadwood, H.
Arkwright, G. Brooke, Lord
Baillie, H. J. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Baldock, E. H. Cabbell, B. B.
Bankes, G. Chichester, Lord J. L.
Bateson, T. Christopher, R. A.
Bennet, P. Clive, H. B.
Blakemore, R. Codrington, Sir W.
Boldero, H. G. Cole, hon. H A.
Bremridge, R. Disraeli, B.
Dod, J. W. Neeld, J.
Du Pre, C. G. Newport, Visct.
Fellowes, E. Ossulston, Lord
Floyer, J. Packe, C. W.
Forbes, W. Palmer, R.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Pigot, Sir R.
Fox, S. W. L. Prime, R.
Fuller, A. E. Renton, J. C.
Godson, R. Robinson, G. R.
Granby, Marq. of Rolleston, Col.
Gwyn, H. Scott, hon. F.
Halford, Sir H. Shirley, E. J.
Hall, Col. Sibthorp, Col.
Hamilton, G. A. Sidney, Ald.
Harris, hon. Capt. Somerset, Capt.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Spooner, R.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Stafford, A.
Hodgson, W. N. Stuart, J.
Hood, Sir A. Taylor, T. E.
Hornby, J. Thompson, Ald.
Knightley, Sir C. Thornhill, G.
Knox, Col. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Law, hon. C. E. Urquhart, D.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Lowther, H. Waddington, H. S.
Mandeville, Visct. Walsh, Sir J. B.
March, Earl of Wodehouse, E.
Meux, Sir H. Worcester, Marq. of
Miles, W.
Moody, C. A. TELLERS.
Morgan, O. Newdegate, C. N.
Mullings, J. R. Mackenzie, W F.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Clements, hon. C. S.
Adair, H E. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Adair, R. A. S. Clifford, H. M.
Adderley, C. B. Cobden, R.
Aglionby, H. A. Cockburn, A. J. E.
Alcock, T. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Anson, hon. Col. Copeland, Ald.
Anson, Visct. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Armstrong, Sir A. Craig, W. G.
Armstrong, R. B. Crawford, W. S.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Crowder, R. B.
Currie, R.
Bagshaw, J. Dalrymple, Capt.
Bass, T. Dashwood, G. H.
Bellow, R. M. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Deedes, W.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Duke, Sir J.
Blackall, S. W. Duncan, Visct.
Blewitt, R. J. Duncan, G.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Dundas, Adm.
Bowles, Adm. Dundas, Sir D.
Boyle, hon. Col. Ebrington, Visct.
Bramston, T. W. Ellis, J.
Brotherton, J. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Bunbury, E. H. Enfield, Visct.
Busfeild, W. Evans, J.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Evans, W.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Ewart, W.
Carter, J. B. Fagan, W.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Fergus, J.
Cavendish, W. G. Filmer, Sir E.
Cayley, E. S. Fitzpatrick, rt. hon. J.
Chaplin, W. J. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Charteris, hon. F. Foley, J. H. H.
Childers, J. W. Fordyce, A. D.
Clay, Sir W. Forster, M.
Fox, W. J. Newry and Morne, Visct.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Norreys, Lord
Gladstone, rt. hon.W.E. Nugent, Lord
Glyn, G. C. Ogle, S. C. H.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Owen, Sir J.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Paget, Lord A.
Grenfell, C. P. Paget, Lord C.
Grenfell, C. W. Palmer, R.
Grey, R. W. Palmerston, Visct.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Parker, J.
Hardcastle, J. A. Pearson, C.
Harris, R. Perfect, R.
Hastie, A. Peto, S. M.
Hawes, B. Pigott, F.
Hay, Lord J. Pinney, W.
Hayter, W. G. Plowden, W. H. C.
Headlam, T. E. Price, Sir R.
Heald, J. Pugh, D.
Heathcoat, J. Raphael, A.
Herbert, H. A. Rawdon, Col.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Reid, Col.
Hervey, Lord A. Ricardo, J. L.
Hindley, C. Ricardo, O.
Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J. Rice, E. R.
Hobhouse, T. B. Rich, H.
Hodges, T. L. Romilly, Sir J.
Hodges, T. T. Rumbold, C. E.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Russell, Lord J.
Horsman, E. Russell, F. C. H.
Howard, Lord E. Sandars, J.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Scholefield, W.
Hume, J. Serope, G. P.
Humphery, Ald. Seaham, Visct.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Seymour, Sir H.
Jermyn, Earl Seymour, Lord
Jervis, Sir J. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Johnstone, Sir J. Shelburne, Earl of
Keppel, hon. G. T. Simeon, J.
Kershaw, J. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
King, hon. P. J. L. Smith, J. B.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Smythe, hon. G.
Langston, J. H. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Spearman, H. J.
Lewis, G. C. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Lincoln, Earl of Stanton, W. H.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Locke, J. Stuart, Lord D.
Long, W. Stuart, Lord J.
Lushington, C. Stuart, H.
M'Gregor, J. Sutton, J. H. M.
Mahon, Visct. Talfourd, Serj.
Maitland, T. Tancred, H. W.
Mangles, R. D. Tenison, E. K.
Martin, J. Tonnent, R. J.
Martin, C. W. Thompson, Col.
Martin, S. Thompson, G.
Masterman, J. Thornely, T.
Matheson, A. Towneley, J.
Matheson, Col. Townley, R. G.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Townshend, Capt.
Melgund, Visct. Turner, G. J.
Milner, W. M. E. Tynte, Col. C. J. K.
Milnes, R. M. Vane, Lord H.
Milton, Visct. Wall, C. B.
Mitchell, T. A. Ward, H. G.
Moffatt, G. Watkins, Col. L.
Molesworth, Sir W. Willcox, B. M.
Monsell, W. Wilson, J.
Moore, G. H. Wilson, M.
Morison, Sir W. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Wood, W. P.
Mulgrave, Earl of Wrightson, W. B.
Muntz, G. F. Wyld, J.
Wyvill, M. Young, Sir J.
Tufnell, H. Hill, Lord M.

stated that, after this division, he would not press his Amendment to a division. Amendment accordingly withdrawn.

Address agreed to.