§ MR. TREFUSIS
Although, Sir, in rising to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in reply to Her gracious Speech from the Throne, I am deeply impressed with the importance of the task which has been allotted to me, and fully sensible how much I stand in need of the most considerable forbearance on the part of those whom I have the honour to address; yet, I think, it would be almost superfluous to preface the remarks I have to make with any appeal to the indulgence of the House, because I am well aware how generously that is always accorded to any one who rises in this place in the performance of a duty, and I feel confident that it will not now be denied to one of the youngest of its Members. The diffidence which I naturally feel would be very much increased, when I reflect upon the variety and importance of the topics to which Her Majesty has drawn our attention, if the general tone of the Royal Speech did not appear to me to be so satisfactory, so full of congratulation with respect to the past and so encouraging in its prospects for the future, that I venture to anticipate, I trust without presumption, a ready and unanimous acquiescence in the Motion which I shall have the honour, Sir, to place in your hands.
In the first paragraph of the gracious Speech, Her Majesty congratulates us upon the general contentment which prevails throughout the country. This is an announcement which would be a most gratifying one at any time, but is more especially so at the present moment, if we contrast it with the circumstances under which we assembled at the commencement of the last Session. The House was then called together, in consequence of a sudden panic, which spreading widely throughout the Continent, extended to this country, threatening to give a serious check to all commercial enterprise, and did in fact cause the most widespread alarm and embarrassment. But now, Sir, after the interval of little more than a year, we find ourselves in at least as good a position as before those financial difficulties arose; the trade of the country has rapidly recovered, and the distress among the operative classes which appeared to be an inevitable consequence of the pressure, has so far disappeared that labour of all kinds is finding ready employment. The diminution in crime and pauperism, of which we 59 are informed, is also most gratifying, because these are evils which it is impossible for legislation to eradicate, or even effectually to remedy, and I think that we may trace in their gradual decrease the happy effects of those strenuous efforts which are being made for the furtherance of education, of that kindly sympathy which is growing up and increasing between the different classes of the community, however widely they may be separated by social position, and of that generous and discriminating benevolence which cases of distress never fail to elicit: these causes, Sir, among others, are at work to empty our crowded gaols and workhouses, which are now too constantly replenished by the united effects of ignorance and destitution.
The House will have rejoiced to learn that Her Majesty entertains a hope that the complete pacification of Her Indian Empire is not far distant, and we may now indulge the belief that the rebellion is so far under our control as to be virtually at an end. The mass of the population, which, I believe, never entered very cordially into the rebellion, have almost universally returned to their allegiance, and of the chiefs who have been driven from their strongholds, many have given in their submission, while a few still keep up a hopeless and desperate resistance in remote corners of the Empire, where they gradually become enclosed by the concentration of our forces. And while, Sir, we congratulate ourselves upon the prospect of a restoration to tranquillity and order, we shall not forget the debt of gratitude we owe to those, who, under Providence, have been the instruments in effecting it, and we shall gratefully acknowledge the military skill and energy which have been displayed by Lord Clyde and the officers under his command, nobly and effectually supported as they have been by that habitual courage and self-devotion which characterised the British army in every quarter of the globe.
I believe, Sir, that the House will give their attentive consideration to any measure which may be submitted for the amelioration of the condition of the people of India, and I cannot forbear to express a hope that with the establishment of the new Government may be inaugurated a happy era in the history of that Empire—an era marked by the moral and material progress of its people, by the rapid development of the vast resources of the coun- 60 try, and by the uninterrupted tranquillity of our rule, deriving its best support not from the force of our arms, but from the cheerful obedience of a contented and improving people. While such, Sir, is the cheering intelligence from a distant part of our own dominions, we find that the state of our foreign relations is most satisfactory. Our connection, Sir, with one of the great powers of the Continent has lately been cemented by an alliance, in which we, as Englishmen, must take the most lively interest; and while 1 am on this subject I trust I may be pardoned for making a passing allusion to the happy event which has occurred in Her Majesty's family. I do not speak of the feelings with which we regard the birth of an heir to a constitutional monarchy, but I wish to give expression to the feelings which I entertain, in common, I believe, with every Member of this House, and in common with every individual, however humble, throughout the length and breadth of the land, the feeling which would prompt us to offer our respectful and heartfelt congratulations to Her Majesty. In the continuance of the domestic happiness of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Prussia, we shall see a proof that a nation's prayers constantly and earnestly offered up for their Sovereign and all connected with Her, the prayer that they may be prospered with all happiness, has not been unavailing or unanswered.
The announcement that Her Majesty continues to receive assurances of friendly feelings from all Foreign Powers is of the highest value at this moment, because it appears to be a guarantee, that we at least shall continuo to enjoy the blessings of peace. But, Sir, when we look around us, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that events are occurring abroad which may give us cause for serious apprehension. We have witnessed with great regret the threatening attitude which has been assumed by two powerful nations of the Continent, both of them allies of our own, and we have heard rumours, though they are yet but rumours, that treaties have been formed and alliances entered into which may lead to a rupture of the peace of Europe. If, Sir, the regeneration of Italy and its advancement in the scale of nations, be the causes and objects of these, we should earnestly deprecate an appeal to arms for such a purpose. The object in itself would be a most laudable one and one well worthy of the attention 61 of the Powers of Europe; it is one in which we should cordially sympathize, if we could see the proper influences exerted to effect it; but it never can be achieved by making that country the battle-field of two rival military Powers like France and Austria. I trust it may never be the policy of this country to lend itself to projects dangerous to the peace of Europe or tending in any way to violate the principles of justice and good faith, but that its aim will be to exercise the great influence Arhich, by its position among nations it undoubtedly possesses, to avert the horrors of war.
In the existing state of things I cannot imagine a statement which would create a greater confidence here or more effectually allay the feeling of anxiety, than that contained in the concluding sentence of the paragraph to which I am referring, namely,That it will be the object of Her Majesty's unceasing solicitude, to maintain inviolate the faith of public treaties, and to contribute, as far as Her influence extends, to the preservation of the general peace.But, Sir, the peace of Europe is happily yet unbroken, and we may still hope the apprehensions which have been entertained may prove unfounded, and I for one believe, that if the voice of public opinion ever does exercise any influence over the counsels of nations or affect in any way the projects of rulers, it will not now be unavailing, strongly expressed as it is both here and throughout the Continent for the maintenance of an enduring peace. We have heard with interest that the question of the organization of the Danubian Principalities has been finally settled, and that the Rouman Provinces are engaged in establishing their new Government, and the result of their efforts will doubtless be that a greater share of civil rights and of political power will be secured to them than they have hitherto enjoyed.
The amicable state of our foreign relations has been farther secured by a Treaty of Commerce with Russia, so lately a formidable enemy—but from henceforward, we may trust, a valuable ally—this will be doubtless productive of advantages to both countries, and we shall value it in proportion as it is, as Her Majesty describes it,A satisfactory indication of the complete re-establishment of those amicable relations, which until their late unfortunate interruption had long subsisted between us, to the mutual advantage of our respective dominions.62 The country is also to be congratulated upon the intelligence that those negotiations which followed upon our operations in the Chinese waters have, through the energy and ability which have so eminently marked the proceedings of Lord Elgin, been now brought to a successful issue, and that a treaty has been concluded with China, which, besides the advantages it secures in the protection of life and property of foreigners travelling in the country, and the toleration it provides for the Christian religion and its professors, will give an effectual stimulus to trade, and open a wide field of enterprise. In addition to this we have succeeded by another treaty, and by the assistance of the same skilful negotiator, in establishing friendly relations with the empire of Japan, and both these treaties have been effected by an amount of effort and expenditure which cannot be termed large when compared with the results which have followed. The House will cordially share in the satisfaction which Her Majesty expresses at the abolition by the Emperor of the French of the system of negro emigration from the cast coast of Africa, and the country will fully appreciate the magnanimity and the honourable feeling which have actuated our great Ally in the step which he has taken. It will also, I think, appreciate the firmness and temper which has characterized the negotiations, the efforts of those who have been instrumental in attaining this happy result.
The announcement that there will be an increase, though only a temporary one, in the expenditure for the British Navy is, to my mind at least, by no means inconsistent with the friendly state of our foreign relations and the existence of peace. The reconstruction of the navy will be undertaken not in a way of menace, or for the purposes of aggression, but with the consciousness that with our extended trade, our ships on every sea, our establishments on every land, and the interests of our fellow-countrymen to protect in every quarter of the globe, it will prove a wise economy to provide for their efficient protection. With this view, and to secure to ourselves that guarantee for a continuance of peace which a state of preparation for war will always afford, we shall cheerfully grant to Her Majesty such sums as will enable Her effectually to guard Her honour, and to secure the interests and independence of Her dominions. And now. Sir, that the country is prosperous, and 63 we are enjoying peace abroad, we shall, I trust, find ample leisure for discussing important measures of domestic progress and improvements. Of the leisure which is thus afforded, it appears that Her Majesty's Ministers are ready to take full advantage, and have prepared measures of legal and social reform, which, when matured, will be productive of great benefit and convenience to all classes of the community. But, Sir, the question which will demand our most serious and anxious attention will be that of the state of the laws which relate to the representation of the people in Parliament. To those who can recollect the events which preceded the passing of the Reform Act in 1832, the present state of feeling in the country with regard to this question will afford a most favourable contrast. We have now no agitation, no angry demands for reform, and the public mind, though expecting a measure of some kind from the fact that the question has been under the consideration of successive Cabinets, yet is prepared patiently to await and fairly to discuss any measure upon its merits. Such, I trust, will be the temper and intention of this house, and that in applying ourselves to the consideration of this great question, for great and important it undoubtedly is, which shall enter into no angry or prejudiced discussion, but laying aside all the asperities of party feeling, cordially unite to promote the real advantage of the Commonwealth. Her Majesty's Minister, in introducing a measure which cannot be said to be the offspring of agitation, or extorted by pressure from without, can have but one object in view, and that the public advantage, and the improvements which they may suggest will be the result of the most anxious and mature deliberation. Speaking, Sir, as I do, in utter ignorance of the details of any measure which may be in contemplation, I can only express my own hope that equal and impartial justice may be done to all the various interests of the Country, both to the agricultural and commercial interests; to the country districts as well as to the towns. And if it should be found, as most probably will be the case, that with the rapid progress and intellectual advancement which has marked the age in which we live, there should have sprung up among us a class well qualified to form an opinion on public matters, and to exercise a free and independent choice n the selection of a representative, who 64 have now not the opportunity of doing so, it would not be reasonable or indeed just, that they should be any longer excluded from a share in the representation. But, Sir, while we are prepared to amend, let us beware how we tamper with the foundations, or impair the framework of the Constitution. We know, and the experience of centuries has proved to us its excellence. Let us not, then, in the pursuit of some ideal or imaginary improvement, risk the loss of one of the least of the advantages it affords. But, Sir, I believe that Parliament will enter upon the discussion of this question with a deep sense of the responsibility it is incurring. We shall recollect that we are legislating not for ourselves alone, but for posterity, that those changes which Parliament may now sanction will affect, for good or for ill, our remote descendants. May they, Sir, recognize in the excellence of the Constitution which is handed down to them by us, the sincerity of our efforts and the success of our deliberations; and may the nations of the world, when they reflect upon the stability of our empire, the prosperity and contentment of the people, and the perfect liberty we enjoy, still see cause to admire, and, perhaps, to envy the wisdom and the excellence of our institutions. We shall all, Sir, heartily join in that prayer in which Her Majesty invokes the Divine blessing upon our counsels, and with His guidance, I doubt not, that our deliberations will tend to the welfare of our dominions, and the safety and the honour of the nation.
The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving,—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey the Thanks of this House for Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne:
To thank Her Majesty for informing us that, in the internal state of the country, there is nothing to excite disquietude, and much to call for satisfaction and thankfulness, that pauperism and crime have considerably diminished during the past year; and that a spirit of general contentment prevails:
To assure Her Majesty that we join with Her Majesty in thankfulness that the blessing of the Almighty on the valour of Her Majesty's Troops in India, and on the skill of their Commanders, has enabled Her Majesty to inflict signal chastisement upon those who are still in arms against Her Majesty's authority, whenever they have ventured to encounter Her Majesty's Forces; and humbly
to express our cordial concurrence in Her Majesty's hope that, at no distant period, Her Majesty may be able to announce to us the complete pacification of that great Empire, and that Her Majesty may be able to devote Her attention to the improvement of its condition, and to the obliteration of all traces of the present unhappy conflict:
Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that, on assuming the direct Government of that portion of Her Majesty's Dominions, Her Majesty deemed it proper to make known by Proclamation the principles by which it was Her Majesty's intention to be guided, and the clemency which Her Majesty was disposed to show towards those who might have been seduced into revolt, but who might be willing to return to their allegiance; and for having directed that a copy of that Proclamation should be laid before us,
To express to Her Majesty the gratification with which we learn that Her Majesty continues to receive from all Foreign Powers assurances of their friendly feelings, and that to cultivate and confirm those feelings, to maintain inviolate the faith of Public Treaties, and to contribute, as far as Her Majesty's influence can extend, to the preservation of the general peace, are the objects of Her Majesty's unceasing solicitude:
Humbly to express our gratification that Her Majesty has concluded with the Sovereigns who were parties to the Treaty of Paris of 1856, a Convention relative to the organization of the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, and that those Rouman Provinces are now proceeding to establish, under its provisions, their new form of government:
To assure Her Majesty that we partake in the satisfaction with which Her Majesty informs us that Her Majesty has concluded a Treaty with the Emperor of Russia, a copy of which Her Majesty has graciously directed to be laid before us, and which is a satisfactory indication of the complete re-establishment of those amicable relations which, until their late interruption, have long subsisted, to the mutual advantage of the Dominions of Her Majesty and those of His Imperial Majesty:
Humbly to express to Her Majesty our participation in the pleasure with which her Majesty has learnt that the measures which, in concert with Her Majesty's Ally the Emperor of the French, Her Majesty thought it necessary to take upon the coast of China, have resulted in a Treaty, by which further effusion of blood has been prevented, and which holds out the prospect of greatly-increased intercourse with that extensive and densely-peopled Empire:
To express our gratification that Her Majesty
has entered into another Treaty with the Emperor of Japan, which opens a fresh field for commercial enterprise in a populous and highly civilized country which has hitherto been jealously guarded against the intrusion of foreigners; and humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that, as soon as the ratifications of these Treaties shall have been exchanged, they will be laid before us:
To assure Her Majesty that we partake in the great satisfaction which Her Majesty feels in announcing to us that the Emperor of the French has abolished a system of Negro Emigration from the East Coast of Africa, against which, as unavoidably tending, however guarded, to the encouragement of the Slave Trade, Her Majesty's Government have never ceased to address to His Imperial Majesty its most earnest but friendly representations:
To express our humble concurrence with Her Majesty in the hope that by this wise act on the part of His Imperial Majesty the negotiations now in progress at Paris may tend to the total abandonment of the system, and to the substitution of a duly regulated supply of substantially free labour:
Humbly to express our participation in Her Majesty's regret, that, while the state of the Republic of Mexico, distracted by civil war, has rendered it necessary for Her Majesty to carry forbearance to its utmost limits, in regard to wrongs and indignities to which British Residents have been subjected at the bands of the two contending parties, they have at length been carried to such an extent that Her Majesty has been compelled to give instructions to the Commander of Her Majesty's Naval Forces in those Seas to demand, and if necessary, to enforce, due reparation:
To thank Her Majesty for having directed that the Estimates for the ensuing year shall be submitted to us:
To thank Her Majesty for informing us, that in Her Majesty's opinion the universal introduction of steam-power into naval warfare, will render necessary a temporary increase of expenditure in providing for the reconstruction of the British Navy, and to assure Her Majesty that we will cheerfully vote whatever sums we may find to be requisite for an object of such vital importance as the maintenance of the Maritime Power of the country:
Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that, in the belief that further measures of legal and social improvement may be wisely and beneficially introduced, Her Majesty has desired that Bills may be submitted to us without delay
for assimilating the Laws relating to Bankruptcy and Insolvency; for bringing together into one set of Statutes, in a classified form, and with such modifications as experience may suggest to us, the laws relating to crimes and offences in England and Ireland; for enabling the owners of land in England to obtain for themselves an indefeasible title to their Estates and Interests, and for registering such titles with simplicity and security.
To thank Her Majesty for informing us that our attention will be called to the state of the laws which regulate the Representation of the People in Parliament, and we assure Her Majesty that we will give to that great subject that degree of calm and impartial consideration which is proportionate to the magnitude of the interests involved in the result of our discussions:
Humbly to assure Her Majesty, that to these and other propositions for the amendment of our Laws, we shall give our earnest and zealous attention, and that, in common with Her Majesty, we earnestly pray that our counsels may be so guided as to ensure the Stability of the Throne, the maintenance and improvement of our Institutions, and the general welfare and happiness of Her Majesty's loyal and faithful People.
§ MR. BEECROFT
Sir, it is with feelings of great diffidence that I rise to second the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne. My diffidence, however, arises in no degree from a sense of weakness in the cause intrusted to me, but solely from the consciousness of my own imperfections as its advocate. This is no ordinary occasion. The topics alluded to in Her Majesty's Speech are of no ordinary character. I feel that I ant unable to do justice to this occasion, and to these topics: and I must, therefore, throw myself at once upon what I shall greatly need, the indulgence of the House. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Address has taken a more general view of the subject than the one which I propose to adopt. It will be most becoming in me, as the representative of a large mercantile community, to approach the question from a business point of view—to devote myself mainly to its commercial and financial aspect; and regarding our present condition from a commercial and financial point of view, it is undeniable that Her Majesty has the strongest grounds for the congratulations she this day addressed to the British Parliament and the British nation. The present satisfactory state of things stands out in strong and happy contrast with the sombre past. 68 We all remember—commercial men, assuredly, will not soon forget—the extraordinary depression and panic which prevailed in the last quarter of the year 1857. Deplorable as were the reverses of the great crisis of 1847, they were far surpassed in painful intensity by those which reached their culminating point in the month of November last but one, when the minimum rate of discount stood at the unparalleled height of 10 per cent; when the diminution of employment in the manufacturing districts produced so much pauperism and local distress; and when our mercantile houses, great and small, were falling to the around, fast and thick, almost like the leaves of autumn. Now if with this state of alarming commercial prostration we compare the present state of our monetary and mercantile affairs—if we mark the gradual but sure reaction to improvement which has taken place—if we contemplate the satisfactory condition of trade during the last few months, so thoroughly healthy, so remarkably free from speculation—if we consider the immense decrease which has taken place in the pauperism of the country—if we regard the present flourishing condition of the revenue, which exhibits in every one of its regular items so marked and decided an increase, which (putting aside the exceptional item of property and income-tax) shows an increase in the year ending 31st December, 1858, as compared with 1857, of nearly £3,500,000,—in all these respects I think the admission must be consentaneous that there are abundant reasons for general satisfaction and weighty arguments for general congratulation. I believe it was thought by some to have been rather a bold step on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, so soon after emerging from the late crisis, he should have carried out the arrangement of 1853, for the diminution and final extinction of the income-tax. And if I recollect rightly, some hon. Gentlemen opposite gravely shook their heads, and insinuated forebodings that the estimate of the year's revenue, upon which the proposition of the Finance Minister was in a great measure based, was higher than the circumstances justly warranted. It is a great satisfaction to the country and the Government—a satisfaction, I am persuaded, shared also by right hon. Gentlemen opposite—that the course of events have fully justified the wisdom of the step then taken. The vaticinations of un- 69 favourable results are happily unfulfilled. The "prospective finance" of the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been justified. His estimates, so far from being over-sanguine, were not, it seems, sanguine enough. Faith has been religiously kept with the nation. The promised re-mission of a portion of the income-tax, amounting to more than £7,500,000 on the year, has been realized. The effect of this remitted taxation has been to stimulate the consumption of the country, and thereby to increase the revenue; so that, on the whole, I think we must conclude that, if there was boldness displayed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was a happy boldness,—boldness not resulting from rash daring, but founded on accurate calculations,—such a boldness as in war shows the hero, and in politics the statesman. Leaving now any further consideration of the present state of things—satisfactory though it be—I will ask the House to look at the commercial prospect which is spread out before us, and to contemplate the brightness of that future which seems to be in store for us, if happily peace be preserved. It cannot, indeed, be denied that upon the political horizon there have been resting some dark portentous clouds, obscuring the sunshine of our hopes, and placing in jeopardy our lofty expectations. I hope and trust that these threatening clouds, which seem to have been gradually receding, will, ere long, have completely passed away; that the peace, for a time imperilled, may eventually be preserved. Should our pacific aspirations be gratified, and the contingency of war be avoided, I think then we shall have every reason in the world for expecting such an expansion of our trade, and such an accession to our commercial prosperity, as the proudest pages of our mercantile history have never yet been able to unfold. The prospects of our home trade are most cheering. Food is likely to continue cheap, wages to remain good, and employment to be found abundant. The chief obstacle, according to our Chambers of Commerce, is the increasing scarcity of the raw materials of flax, wool, and cotton. But, surely, we shall be able to obtain these most important articles in any quantities that we may require from one or other of those immense countries whose trade has been either restored to us by our own arms or opened out to us by our diplomacy. In India the last embers of rebellion are being stamped out. The insurgents are dissolv- 70 ing. They tell us that their salt has choked them—that conscience has made them cowards. We may think they have succumbed to other forces than moral ones: but I care not now to ask how this may be; I would rather ask of this India—pacified and restored—whether her 180,000,000 of people, spreading themselves out from Cape Comorin to the Himalayas, and from the Indus to the Ganges, will not be able to supply as much cotton as the largest manufacturing enterprise of Lancashire or England can ever demand or require. The wool and the flax, so much desiderated, may surely be supplied, if not from India, at any rate from those three great empires with which we have entered into treaties of commerce. There is Japan, with its 25,000,000 of people; there is Russia, with its 60,000,000; and there is China, with a population variously estimated at from 350,000,000 to 400,000,000. When we think that this little England of ours is about thus to enter into such close commercial relations with countries numbering more than 600,000,000 of souls, and which, with our own territorial possessions, offer a field for trade girdling the globe itself, if there be room for despair at all, it is because of the very magnitude of the prospect which lies before us. Is it possible that wool, or flax, or cotton should ever fail us? Will not ample marts be provided for all our varied productions, for the broad-cloths and worsteds of Yorkshire, for the cottons of Lancashire, for the linens of Belfast, for the silks of Macclesfield, for the lace of Nottingham, for the hosiery of Leicester, for the cutlery of Sheffield, and for the hardware of Birmingham? There is ample scope and verge enough for British industry and British enterprise; and I trust it will not be forgotten, that in the vastness of the mercantile opportunities thus afforded to us abroad, there is also room for British prudence and British caution. It will be well to curb the spirit of excessive speculation, and to second the persuasions of our missionaries by examples of Christian principle and commercial integrity. We have heard a good deal of late about measures of reform. To practical and useful reforms I shall most willingly give my humble support; and in the number of these I will venture to include the reform of the law of Bankruptcy and Insolvency. The whole mercantile community are anxiously looking for such a measure as, while it discharges the honest, but unfortunate 71 debtor, shall effectually provide for the punishment of the swindler and the rogue, and shall force the dishonest debtor and the fraudulent or usurious creditor (whatever may be his position) alike to face the ordeal of a public court. With respect to the question of Parliamentary Reform, I believe that the time has come when it is expedient to make some change. I hold, indeed, that the welfare of the people—ever the supreme object of a paternal Government—depends less upon perfection of theory than upon the mode of administration. In my judgment, we possess something better than any mere electoral changes can give us when we have a wise, a capable, and a benevolent Executive, anxious by a preventive policy to reduce the burden of taxation, and esteeming it a nobler work to make treaties of commerce than to make war. Nevertheless, I confess I think that in the lapse of time, in the increase of population, in the advance of education, in the spread of intelligence, in the expansion of some places, and the contraction of others, there is a just call for such a measure of reform as shall be sufficient, without being violent. I have no doubt Her Majesty's Government will propose a scheme suitable to the emergency—one that will settle the question for a long time to come. It is hardly complimentary to the constitution of this House that it should require to be patched and tinkered every quarter of a century. But, while their measure will be conceived in no peddling spirit neither, on the other hand, will it display a genius for revolution. We may be sure that it will not ignore Royalty, or eliminate an estate of the Realm. It will not speak evil of dignities, or pander to mobs. It will not set up class legislation, and subject all other classes of the community to the domination of the lowest. It will not exclude any one class from its fair share of representation in this House, under the pretence that it is represented elsewhere. But it will aim at making this House of Commons the exponent of the views of all classes, the reflection of the population, the industry, the wealth, the worth, the intelligence of the people. Her Majesty's Government, I am persuaded, will show us that there is a better reform than that which seeks to destroy; that there are truer friends to their country than those who rail against its institutions; that there are higher apostles of peace than those who array class against class; that there are brighter prospects for this 72 country than any mere theorists can give us; and I trust that when the next Session of Parliament shall be inaugurated we shall have to be grateful for loftier triumphs than those of arms, and nobler victories than those of war. I thank the House for its indulgence. And I have much pleasure in seconding the Address to the Crown.
Motion made and Question proposed—"That," &c. [See Page 64.]
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of adding a "No" to the "Aye," which has already been expressed. I rise to propose no Amendment. I might indeed, perhaps, if it were not taking a liberty, propose some Amendment in the composition of the Speech; but that would be to trifle with the House upon an occasion like the present. Sir, it has seldom, I think, happened to this House to meet at a moment when greater and more important questions were coming under discussion than on this day. We assemble with the prospect, according to general impression, of war on the Continent, which must, if it takes place, be productive of great disasters. We assemble with the announcement that we shall be called upon to enter into solemn deliberation upon important changes in the constitution of this House. These are questions of themselves sufficient to engage to the utmost the most anxious attention which the Members of the Legislature can bestow upon any subject. Sir, before I enter upon the topics of the Speech I must express my cordial concurrence in those sentiments of congratulation with which the hon. Member who moved this Address alluded to the auspicious event which has recently taken place in the family of Her Majesty. I am persuaded that there is not a man in this country who will not respond to the sentiments which the hon. Gentleman has so properly and with such good feelings expressed. When the illustrious Princess to whom he has alluded quitted these shores, the people of England looked upon her as the daughter of England, and expressed the liveliest interest in her future welfare. We may reasonably hope that the Prince to whom she has lately given birth may live long to be an ornament and an advantage to the country of his birth, and an honour to the lineage from which he has sprung. I agree entirely in the sentiments of satisfaction with which the Mover and Seconder of this Address have received the announcement, officially made by Her Ma- 73 jesty's Government, of the prosperous internal condition of the country. It is indeed most gratifying to find that such are our internal resources, such the energy of the people, that we have in a comparatively short period of time recovered from that disturbance of our various interests which took place a little more than twelve months ago. And not only is that consideration most gratifying as to the present, but it also inspires confidence in the permanent prosperity and future good state of the country. Upon that point, therefore, I most cordially concur in the Address which has been moved. The Speech next adverts to that most important subject—our interests connected with India—a country, I may say in passing, which the Speech first describes as a great Empire, separate of course from the British Empire, and afterwards only as a part of Her Majesty's dominions. I presume that the latter description is that which Her Majesty's Government would, upon due reflection, abide by. It is most gratifying to find that the arrangements which were begun by the late Government, and the appointments which that Government recommended to Her Majesty have been attended by the success which is now recorded in Her Majesty's Speech. It is impossible to over-praise the valour of our troops, or the skilfulness of our commanders, and it is peculiarly gratifying to think that this valour huts been exhibited by every Englishman who has been engaged, whether civilian, or military, or naval, throughout the whole course of these transactions, and that all the commanders have shown great skill in the conduct of the operations intrusted to them. With regard to Lord Clyde, who has had the chief command, it is impossible to praise too highly, not merely his shill in the management of his troops, but the discretion and prudence with which he has abstained front committing them to enterprises which were beyond their strength at the moment, and the care which he has taken of the lives and health of the troops under his command; for it is as great a quality in a general to care for the health and safety of his troops as it is to conduct them to victory in the hour of battle. Sir, it is most gratifying to those who were Members of the late Government to find that the appointment which they recommended Her Majesty to make with respect to the command of the forces in India, and the Governor Generalship of that country 74 have been crowned with the success which has attended the career of those two most distinguished men; and I am sure that the country will appreciate their merits in their respective offices. Although I cannot go so far as the hon. Seconder of the Address, in saying that the last embers of rebellion have been stamped out, because we are told, even in the Speech from the Throne, that there are still in India enemies in the field, yet it is evident that the rebellion is substantially put an end to, arid that what remains to be done will be chiefly the pursuit of those fugitive bands who are more marauders than enemies in the field. It is most gratifying to know that Her Majesty's advisers will turn their attention to those subjects which are essential to the permanent tranquillity of that great part of the British Empire. There is great anxiety in this country to know what are the views of Her Majesty's Government as to the principles upon which India shall be governed. The Speech next adverts to the state of our foreign relations, and undoubtedly that is one of the most anxious matters to which the attention of the country can be turned. Judging by what we are told, there seems to be a probability of a great European war, beginning by a conflict in Italy between France and Sardinia on the one hand, and Austria on the other, the object of which will be, I presume, the expulsion of Austria from and out of Italy. Now, there are many who think, and I undoubtedly am one of those, that it would be most desirable, with a view not merely to the interests of Italy, but to the interests of Austria herself, that site should not possess her provinces south of the Alps. I do not believe that those possessions contribute to her real strength. I am sure that they place her in a point of view which makes her an object of hatred to many, and involves a course of policy from which a wise Government would be desirous to abstain. But we must recollect how it is that she is in possession of those provinces. She possesses those provinces by virtue of that general treaty of 1815, which is the title-deed of many other territories in Europe possessed by other Powers. That treaty was the great settlement of Europe. It might, perhaps, have been better if many portions of that arrangement had not been inserted in the treaty, and as it now turns out, it would have been better, I think, if a different arrangement had been made for Northern Italy. But we must, in order 75 to judge of that, carry our thoughts back to the state of things at the time when that treaty was made, and the reasons which at the time led the parties concerned to think that the existing arrangement was the best. There were certain claims on the part of Austria founded upon ancient possession. There were other considerations connected possibly with the future defence of that portion of Italy. At all events, right or wrong, that was an arrangement in which all the great Powers of Europe concurred, and they sanctioned it by treaty; and I humbly submit that no Power could justly violate that treaty by attempting, without reason or cause, to dispossess Austria of that which the treaty gives her. Treaties are standing obligations, which ought to be respected. If once you begin on any theoretical preference to set aside the stipulations of a treaty so solemnly agreed to, all the affairs of Europe would be at sea, and it would be impossible to tell the convulsions to which such a principle would lead. The beginning of a war is not a light thing. It is easy to Login it; it is impossible to say what will be its limits. War between two such great Powers as Austria and France may begin about the possession of Lombardy, but where it might end—and who would be the combatants ultimately involved in the contest is beyond the sagacity of man to foretell. Those, therefore, who would encourage, or commence such a war should duly weigh the responsibility which attaches to public men. To commence such a war would be to involve Europe in calamities which it would be difficult to describe, for an object which, however in the abstract desirable, would by no means justify the dangers of such a course. But in saying this I must also say, that although Austria stands upon the firm ground of right with regard to those provinces, which she holds by virtue of a treaty to which all the Powers of Europe are parties, she does not stand upon the same ground of right when she goes beyond the limits which that treaty assigns her; and that the occupation of the other portions of Italy not belonging to her is not justified by any treaty right which Austria possesses. Austrian possession is one thing, and Austrian occupation is another. I should hope that, although there will be no war,—I trust there will be none—I should hope that these subjects having been taken into consideration by the different Governments of Europe, 76 arrangements will be made for the cessation of that exceptional state of things which now exists by the occupation of the Papal States by Austrian troops on the one hand and by French troops on the other. That is a state of things which has continued long enough. It is a departure from the ordinary state of things. It is not a violation, undoubtedly, of any treaty; but it is sanctioned by no treaty. It is founded on a principle which we in this country do not approve. It is said as a justification, that if these troops in occupation were withdrawn, revolution would break out in the Roman and Neapolitan States. But why, Sir, should such a revolution break out? Only because the people of those States are groaning beneath a system of government, oppressive and tyrannical, which it is impossible for the minds of men to bear patiently; and when the pressure of occupation is removed it is likely they will rise and revolt against the tyranny. But I would suggest that there is a better remedy for that state of things than foreign occupation. I would suggest a reform of those abuses which have created the discontent; let those Governments adopt the advice given them so long ago as 1832, by the five great Powers of Europe—let them reform their system, let them put an end to tyrannical abuses which oppress and exasperate the people, and then there will be no revolution—then the occupation might cease, and the internal tranquillity of the country would be no longer endangered. But if those Governments will not put an end to their abominable system of maladministration they must abide by the consequences, and suffer from that revolution which they themselves have excited and provoked. Therefore, Sir, I unite with all men of reasonable minds in the satisfaction which is expressed in the Address, that the efforts of Her Majesty's Government will be directed to the preservation of peace, and in deprecating that war of which rumours have spread far and wide, and I trust that those efforts will be crowned with success, and that the sagacity of rulers and the good sense of nations will keep undisturbed the peace of Europe. I am glad to hear that the arrangement of those Provinces which of late have got a new name—which we used to call the Danubian Provinces, but which we are now it seems, to call the Rouman Provinces—is going on satisfactorily; and I hope that the new name they have obtained will not give 77 rise to new ideas at variance with the interests to protect which was the object of their present organization. We are informed that a treaty of commerce has been concluded with Russia, which has re-established those friendly relations which had been disturbed by the late war. I heartily rejoice in that announcement. Our commercial relations with Russia are on an unsatisfactory footing; great improvements are needed with regard to our having access to the interior of the country, and I presume that this treaty will give us all the advantages which the French treaty gives to the subjects of France, and will remove those internal obstacles which preclude our subjects in Russia from extending their enterprise into the interior of the empire. We had differences with Russia on matters of great political importance, but I am persuaded the feelings of the people of this country will lead them to look with interest to a friendly intercourse with Russia the moment we are assured that those ambitious projects which prompted our resistance are laid aside, and that Russia is disposed to afford facilities of access to her interior, and to reciprocate with other nations of the earth the advantages of trade and commerce. The Speech then adverts to the China war. We are glad to find that our successors in office appreciate fully the great advantages which have arisen from the war with China, that those operations in China, which the Government might have said in this congratulatory paragraph were undertaken, in concert with our ally the Emperor of the French, by the advice of their predecessors, have resulted in the prospect of an extended intercourse with that country. It is never too late to welcome repentant sinners, and it is most gratifying to find that although the hon. Gentlemen opposite were not disposed to do justice to the motives and views of those by whom those operations were recommended, they are at least willing to accept credit for the fruits in which they have resulted. I have no doubt, with the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address, that the result of those operations will be an extended intercourse with the great population of China and also with the empire of Japan. And allow me to say, in passing, that Her Majesty's late Government contemplated opening negotiations with Japan as well as with China; and that instructions were given by them to the Earl of Elgin, on which he acted in his negotiations with the Japanese. I concur with the hon. 78 Gentleman in thinking that the commercial intercourse, the prospect of which is now opened to us, will be productive of great advantages to the commercial and manufacturing interests of this country; but I also concur with him in warning the country against indulging in exaggerated expectations; because, as we found when the former treaty was made that we did not reap the advantages of it so rapidly as might have been expected, so also on the present occasion those who enter into this commercial intercourse should be cautious and not too hasty in their expectations of the results. Sir, I am most delighted to learn, not only from the Speech from the Throne, but also from what we have seen in the foreign papers, that that system of slave trade into which, under the name of free immigration, the French Government had incautiously been led, has been at last stopped from the east coast of Africa, and I most earnestly hope that it will be put an end to on the western coast also. It was the slave trade in its worst form. You may call it "free immigration" if you please, but men bought and sold are no more free when taken on board a vessel of the French house of M. Regis and Co., than they would be if exported in a Spanish or Portuguese slaver. The traffic was characterized by all the abominations of the old slave trade, and when those unhappy victims were landed in a French colony, their condition, though it was denominated free, was, in truth, anything but free; for, although slavery has been abolished in the French possessions, and the condition of those unfortunate persons is not so bad as it would have been in Cuba, still they are not free agents and are practically slaves. But the French Government were led into a mistake on this subject; they were deceived by interested men, and led to suppose, what is not the case, that the transaction in question was free from the taint of the slave trade. Their eyes, however, have been opened by the flagitious and iniquitous circumstances connected with the conduct of the Charles et Georges; and I shall be glad if those circumstances have convinced the French Government of the iniquity of the enterprise in which that vessel was engaged. The French Government must remember that in 1815 it made, in conjunction with the other Powers of Europe, the most solemn protest against the slave trade. They declared that the slave trade had been considered by just and enlight- 79 ened men in all ages repugnant to the principles of humanity, and that they would endeavour to put an end to a practice which had for so many years been a scourge which had desolated Africa, degraded Europe, and afflicted humanity. If the Government of a country which was a party to that noble declaration in 1815. should now, more than forty years afterwards, and after having abolished its slave trade and emancipated its slaves, fall back into all the criminalities then denounced, it would be the most afflicting spectacle of human degradation that the eyes of man ever witnessed. I cannot believe, therefore, that this practice will be persisted in, and I hail with great satisfaction the intimation in the Speech from the Throne that negotiations are going on which will, it is hoped, put an end to this abominable trade, not only on the eastern but also on the western coast of Africa. I presume, with regard to the transactions connected with the case of the Charles et Georges to which I have alluded—transactions with which, I apprehend, the public are at present very imperfectly acquainted—Her Majesty's Government will, at the earliest period, lay papers on the table, in order that the House may know what has been the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government in reference to that matter. We know there are circumstances in which we are bound by treaties of ancient date and acknowledged force to render assistance to Portugal should she be unjustly attacked. That is a consideration which may bear on the transaction in question, and therefore it is desirable to know in what manner Her Majesty's Government have acted in the matter. The Speech says the patience of Her Majesty's Government has been exhausted by the continued outrages inflicted by the two contending parties in Mexico on British subjects. I believe the Government have acted wisely in that respect. The conduct of those Spanish American Republics, from the one end to the other, has been a series of outrages on all foreign residents. In Mexico especially our fellow countrymen have had the greatest cause for complaint. Though what I say may not be acquiesced in by all the hon. Members of this House, yet the truth is that the very nature of Republican Governments renders it difficult for other nations to deal with them. They are very much in the habit of obeying no law but that dictated by passion and Ca- 80 price, and their external relations are as unsettled as their internal condition. With regard to these Spanish American States especially, I believe that if you are to have any commerce with them, the only course open from time to time is to employ force in order to obtain that justice for British subjects which persuasion and diplomatic negotiations may fail to enforce. Sir, we are informed that a large expenditure will be necessary to provide for the reconstruction of the navy. It is undoubtedly true that the general employment of steam as a propelling power for ships of war has rendered comparatively useless many of those vessels of which our navy was formerly composed. I shall, of course, wait to hear what the proposal of the Government on this subject may be; but I am sure the House and the public will feel that at all times, and more especially at the present moment, it is an object of vast importance to this country to have a powerful and efficient navy. We hear of great armaments elsewhere, and though we have no reason to think that these armaments are in the remotest degree intended to be directed against us, yet, at the same time, when other nations arm it is essentially due to the security, the dignity, and the interests of this country that we should provide proper means of defence. We are informed that several new Bills are to be presented to the House. Many of these Bills—I may say most of them—relate to matters to which the late Government had given their attention, and with regard to some of them, measures had been in preparation. Indeed, I think the Lord Chancellor of the late Government had brought Bills into the House of Lords calculated to accomplish some of the objects now brought under our notice. I am sure, Sir, the House will give ample attention to the measures which Her Majesty's Government may introduce, especially in connection with matters so important to the commercial interests of the country as the laws affecting bankruptcy and insolvency. We have been informed that in the course of the Session a Bill is to be brought in to make indefeasible the title of every man to the estate which he possesses. I am sure such an announcement will be received with the greatest satisfaction by all owners of land, for they must be charmed to think that all doubtful titles will be made undoubted, and that henceforth they will have an indefeasible title to their land whatever the 81 nature of their present titles may be. I presume the announcement implies the establishment in this country of something like the system that has been so advantageously in operation in Ireland; and, I have no doubt that, if properly devised and well carried out, it will be received with satisfaction by the House, and prove a most useful measure, not only to the landed but also to the commercial interest of the country. It is not an unusual practice to reserve the best and most important things for the last, and accordingly Her Majesty's Government, after having kept the House and the public on the tenterhooks of expectation through many long preceding paragraphs, at last come to the topic which is at present most exciting the attention of the public—namely, the subject of Parliamentary reform. I take the last paragraph in the Speech to mean that Her Majesty's Government have a Bill ready prepared upon that subject, and that it is their intention, without the least delay, to lay it on the table of the House, in order that the House and the public may have an opportunity of considering its provisions. I think that is a proper course for them to pursue, and quite consistent with the usual course of procedure. A measure of such deep importance as that properly belongs to the responsible Government of the country; the House will receive with due respect the measure which Her Majesty's Government are about to propose, and will make it the subject of their serious and anxious deliberation. When it is proposed, of course the House will have an opportunity of judging of its merits or its faults; but all I wish to do on the present occasion is, to express my opinion that any measure involving a change in the existing state of the representation is a measure which the responsible Government of the country ought to take upon itself. We are told in the Speech that the measure they are about to propose will not affect the stability of the Throne. Well, I should hardly imagine any measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government could be likely to affect the stability of the Throne or of the great institutions of the country. I am persuaded there is in this country a most devoted attachment to the monarchical system of government. I am persuaded that the great institutions of this country rest on the sincerest convictions of their utility and the deeply-rooted affections of the people. I am persuaded that when the people of this 82 country look around them in the world, and see, on the one hand, the nations which are ruled by despotic authority, and, on the other, the nations which are ruled by a power coming from below—I mean the Republican—when, I say, the people of this country see the results of these two opposite systems, and the effects which they produce, and when they compare the condition of these countries with the happy condition in which we are fortunately placed, the attachment which, as Englishmen, they feel to those institutions under which this country has so long prospered must become every day more deeply-rooted, and they would not consent to any changes that are likely materially to affect those institutions which are the pride, the glory, and the happiness of our country.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I am glad to hear that neither the noble Viscount nor any other hon. Member of the House is about to offer any opposition to the Address which has been moved and seconded to-night by my two hon. Friends with such distinguished ability. And, Sir, it would hardly have been necessary for me to rise after the noble Viscount, had it not been that wished to show him that courtesy which is always accorded to each other by the Members of this House, and had he not, made one or two observations which, if I had not risen, might have led to misconception. The noble Viscount has followed and discussed the various subjects referred to in Her Majesty's gracious Speech, and these touched upon in tee Address which has been proposed in a manner more elaborate than probably it is the wish of the House that I should imitate in adverting to his remarks. He seems not, to be satisfied with the composition of the Speech, though the subject matter of it meets with his approbation. Criticism, we know by experience, is easier than composition. I have, in the course of my life, heard even the composition of the noble Viscount criticised. With respect to that epithet which appears to have attracted more particularly the critical attention of the noble Viscount—that by which we describe the Danubian Principalities—I believe the epithet "Rouman" was borrowed from a despatch of the noble Viscount. Sir, the noble Viscount has referred to that passage in the Royal Speech which announces the probable termination of the system of emigration known as the free-labour scheme, which 83 has so long excited the attention and reprobation of this country, and he thinks that is a result on which the House and the country may be congratulated. But the noble Viscount in referring to this subject also made some allusion to the conduct of the Government with respect to the ship Charles et Georges, and expressed his belief that we should not hesitate to place on the table of the House the papers that will be necessary to illustrate the course taken by the Government with respect to it. The noble Viscount is under no mistake on that head. I will take a very early opportunity of laying the papers on the table of the House; but I may be permitted to say, as so much has appeared in the newspapers of a very unauthorized Character, accompanied with garbled extracts from the official documents connected with other countries, that I shall lay these papers on the table with the full conviction that they will prove that the advisers of Her Majesty have done their duty to their Sovereign and their country in respect to that question. As the noble Viscount has alluded to treaties under which he seems to think we were bound to come forward at a moment of emergency in support of our ancient Ally, Portugal, I may be permitted to inform the noble Viscount that no question under those treaties was ever raised, that no appeal in consequence of those treaties ever was made to Her Majesty's Government, and that when it was recently demanded of the Prime Minister of Portugal in the Parliament of his own country why he had not made that appeal to the English Government he declared, among other good reasons wiry he did not, that it was his belief that no casus fœderis had arisen. When the papers are placed upon the table it will be seen, and, I believe, accepted by the House, that the proper advice was given by the Government to our ancient Ally, that all the good offices which, considering the relations that subsist between Portugal and this country, might have been expected of us were exercised in the right quarter in her behalf, and that terms were obtained which might have been accepted by Portugal with honour to herself and with satisfaction to Europe. The reason why those terms, unfortunately, were not accepted will appear in these papers; but I believe it will be the opinion of the House, and also of the country, when the subject is calmly and completely investigated, that the conduct of Her Majesty's 84 Government in that respect was such as became a British Ministry towards an ancient Ally. I have no wish to avoid the topics on which the noble Viscount has commented, but, as those remarks really lead to little controversy, I should be wasting the time of the House if I entered upon a discussion scarcely provoked by anything that has fallen from the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount says Her Majesty's Government have kept for the last paragraph of the Speech the most important and most pressing subject which it contains. That it is one of the most important no one can doubt, and it is as pressing as the House in its wisdom will consider any subject to be which demands its calm consideration. But when the noble Viscount expects that, without the least delay, the measure for the amended representation of the people shall be laid upon the table, I beg to state that the noble Viscount is perfectly right in supposing that the measure in question is prepared, and that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to introduce it at a period when it can receive ample deliberation, and when Parliament will have time to comprehend the nature and purport of all its details. But the noble Viscount cannot expect, or if he does indulge so unreasonable an expectation he will be disappointed in supposing, that Her Majesty's Government will bring forward that measure before the urgent business of the country can be put in a proper frame, and before my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty can bring forward that subject which he admits is not second in importance to any that can occupy our attention. At the proper time, and giving to the House the most ample opportunity to consider its merits, I shall be prepared on the part of the Government to introduce that measure to their consideration. Sir, the noble Viscount has touched upon a subject which I believe at this moment engages the anxious attention of Parliament and the country even more than the one upon which I have just ventured to remark, and that is the state of our relations with foreign Powers, and the state of the relations existing between two of our principal Allies. The noble Viscount has talked of the probability of a war, which he himself describes as one that may be general. Now, Sir, for my own part, I have no wish to conceal front the House that, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the state of affairs abroad is critical at the present moment. 85 If I attempted to conceal that opinion it would be in vain, because in these days of rapid communication few men, who are well instructed in public affairs, are ignorant that events have occurred or are threatened, Which may in a brief space of time bring about a very critical state of affairs. But if the noble Viscount expects that I can entirely agree with him in the opinion that a war between two great Powers—a war which may involve the whole of Europe—is a matter of probability, I must say that I should hesitate before I accepted that description of the present emergency. That the state of affairs is critical I admit, but at the same tune it is not a state of affairs that makes me believe that the maintenance of peace is by any means hopeless. Sir, the House is well aware—because hourly and daily something occurs which impresses the fact upon its knowledge—that there exists at this moment great jealousy and distrust between France and Austria. Sir, Her Majesty's Government, under the present state of affairs, have taken that course which they believed was the one most conducive to maintain peace and remove that jealousy and that distrust between two great Powers who are the Allies of Her Majesty. We have frankly communicated to France and Austria our views of their relative position in Italy, which has led to this unfortunate jealousy and misconception between these two great Powers. We are as much alive to the unsatisfactory condition of parts of Italy as the noble Viscount himself, or any of his late colleagues can be. We have before discussed in this House the subject of Italy, and high authorities on all sides, and representing all parties in this House, have expressed their opinions, and upon some points in respect to it all are agreed. Sir, I think the House will agree with the noble Viscount, whose observations I listened to with complete satisfaction, when he deprecated any conduct on the part of any Power that would disturb those important treaties which are the guarantees and title deeds of European order. The noble Viscount spoke so explicitly on that head that no misconception of his opinions can possibly prevail. But the noble Viscount justly observes—and all men of sense must agree with him—that the state of Central Italy, highly unsatisfactory as it is, is very little, if at all, connected with the important treaties, the validity of which the noble Viscount wishes, like all sensible 86 men, to uphold. The present Government have long been conscious, and I am bound to say their predecessors were equally aware, of that unsatisfactory state of Central Italy. But let me ask the House calmly to remember what is the cause of that unsatisfactory state? What is one of the principal causes that have created at least externally, among Foreign Powers, a dissatisfaction with respect to its condition? It is that Central Italy is occupied by the armies of Foreign Powers. It is because Central Italy is occupied by the armed force of two of the great military empires of Europe. And let the House recollect what are the Powers in question that occupy Central Italy. They are this very empire of France and this very empire of Austria, between whom so much mistrust has arisen, and front whose jealousy so much danger to the peace of Europe is apprehended. What, then, has been the course taken by Her Majesty's Government under these circumstances? We have impressed upon our Ally the Emperor of the French, and upon our Ally the Emperor of Austria, and we have not limited our representation to those two great Powers, but have impressed upon the Courts of Turin, of Berlin, and of St. Petersburg our opinion, that the state of Italy is no doubt unsatisfactory, and that it is highly expedient that measures should be taken to remove those long existing causes of public discontent and those circumstances which at all times are calculated to disturb the general peace. But we have equally and firmly expressed our opinion that these great and beneficial results cannot be obtained by attempting to subvert the established order that has been secured by the public treaties to which the noble Viscount has referred, but rather by using the influence of the States most interested in the condition of Italy to improve the condition of Central Italy itself. While we have done this—while we have endeavoured, both with regard to France and Austria, to remove the mistrust that has unfortunately arisen between those two great Powers—while we have sought to allay the suspicions that have been unhappily excited—while we have placed before them every consideration that could be urged for maintaining that general peace which has been so long preserved, and which has been, upon the whole, so beneficial to the cause of humanity and civilization—while we have done this we have equally impressed upon those two 87 great Powers the duty that devolves upon them of entering, not into hostile rivalry for the military command of Italy, but into that more generous emulation of seeking to advance its interests and improve its condition. We have pointed out to France and Austria that their peculiar position—the one being an essentially Italian Power, and the other a Power in military possession of the ancient capital of Italy, and lying in geographical contiguity to Italy—while Austria and France are the two favourite children of the Church—makes it the primary duty of these two Powers to hold counsel together, and see whether by their united influence a course of policy cannot be urged upon the Princes of Central Italy which—shall lead to the removal of those abuses and that misgovernment which a general and universal opinion has pronounced intolerable. We have shrunk from joining in those efforts ourselves, not from any wish to avoid responsibility or the fulfilment of the high duties which must devolve at a critical moment in the affairs of Europe on all great Powers, but we have felt that England being a Protestant State, her obtrusiveness on such an occasion might be misinterpreted, and that it would be better that France and Austria should join and exercise their united influences to obtain those results which England is equally anxious to see realized as themselves. The same feeling, no doubt, has also influenced Prussia and Russia, both States which hold no communion with the See of Rome. But while we have refrained from obtrusively thrusting ourselves forward—while we have used every persuasion to induce France and Austria to combine together and unite their influence for the great object, the improvement of the Italian Government—we have also told them that if the result of their deliberations be that it would, in their opinion, be of importance that the other great signatories of the treaties of 1815 should combine with them for ulterior and ultimate purposes—if, for example, some new arrangement of the territory of Central Italy should be deemed by France and Austria necessary and expedient—we would assist them to the utmost with our counsel and influence to bring about such a result, and we would call upon the other signatories of the great treaties of 1815 to join and aid in that object. I believe that the course which Her Majesty 's Government has taken in respect of this grave matter, is one which, 88 when fairly understood and discussed, would be approved by the House of Commons. It is a course which counsels and would secure peace; but it would secure peace by a policy which would ameliorate the condition of Italy, and advance the general civilization of mankind. We cannot believe, and no sensible man can believe, that the improvement or regeneration of Italy can ever be secured by making it once more the battle-field of contending armies. Sir, the course which we are recommending appears to me to be so sound, so moderate, but at the same time one which so recommends itself to all judicious men, that I do not, and cannot, despair of its ultimately proving to be the course which will be adopted by the great Powers to whom we have proposed it. And therefore, although I admit that the condition of affairs is critical, I will not yet agree with the noble Viscount, that war—and, perhaps, European war—is a matter now of probability. I may, perhaps, have misunderstood the noble Viscount, or the word may have escaped inadvertently from his lips; but it is a word of great import, and it escaped from lips which, on these subjects, have just weight on public opinion; and, therefore, the House will excuse me for making this comment upon the expression. I have already said we made representations to the Court of Turin, in the same sense and with the same frankness and fullness which characterized our representations both to France and Austria. The position of Sardinia is one which necessarily and naturally commands sympathy in a free Parliament; and there is no state in Italy which the English feelings have more clustered round than the Kiagdoni of Sardinia, especially during the last few years. We have all hoped that Sardinia may be the means by which the improvement of Italy, morally and materially, in public liberty, as well as in other respects, may be effected; and I do not relinquish—I will not readily relinquish hopes which seemed so well founded, and which were so encouraging to every generous spirit. But I would impress on that interesting State, that patience in her career is as necessary and as valuable a virtue as all that energy and all that enterprise which she has shown; and that by maintaining order, by maintaining her public liberty, by becoming experienced in the practice of public liberty, in which every year she is advancing more and more, she is more certain of obtaining her ultimate 89 end—namely, the advancement and elevation of the country, than by combining with any great Power, who may lend to her for a moment the unnatural impulse of overwhelming force, but who will probably only draw her into scenes of unnatural exertion, which must eventually terminate in the degradation of any small State. I cannot tell the House—I should be misleading the House if I attempted to convey to them—that the representations which we have made have already as completely effected the purpose which we wish. But they have been made frankly, fully, and freely to all the States of Europe. No misunderstanding exists respecting the intentions of Her Majesty's Government; and, whatever may happen, the advice which we have given to our Allies, and the principles of the policy which we have upheld, are such as, I believe, will be sanctioned and ratified by the House of Commons. I confess that, among other causes why I still indulge in the belief that these rumours of war, which have been so rife, will pass away, one main reason is, because I have confidence in the character of the ruler of France. Whatever may be said, he has proved to this country a faithful Ally, and he has shown himself, for no short period, a sagacious Prince. We are told sometimes, indeed, that although a faithful Ally, he is always meditating some blow against this country, which may take it at a fatal disadvantage; but you will recollect that when in a distant dominion—I will not call it an empire, as the noble Viscount disapproves of the phrase—we were ourselves involved in a large and dangerous war, we did not find on the part of the Emperor of the French any great eagerness to avail himself of the occasion when we were at least embarrassed and perplexed, and I cannot, therefore, suppose, looking merely to his interest, and not to his inclination—although I give him credit for the best and highest—I cannot suppose, Sir, that he would select for the moment of quarrel the peculiar time when England is stronger, and has more resources at her command than she ever had since the peace of Paris in 1815. When we have a larger army in England itself than we have ever had for the last forty-four years; when our fleet, notwithstanding what we have read in the newspapers, still is capable—and when my right hon. Friend (Sir J. Pakington) has detailed his plan for its complete reconstruction, the House will also agree is still capable—to maintain the maritime honour 90 of this country; which the nation, as Her Majesty has most truly and most graciously informed Parliament to-day, is content and prosperous; when our resources never were more considerable; when the spirit of the country never was higher, why should I suppose that one who has avoided an opportunity when, had he looked for it, he might have attacked us with advantage, should deem this the moment, of all others, to quarrel with a Power the alliance with which I believe to be his proudest boast? Sir, I have always maintained in this House the high policy of an alliance with France. In expressing my opinion that it is a policy which this country ought to uphold, I have reminded the House that it is a policy which the most sagacious Sovereigns and most eminent statesmen that England ever possessed have at all times advocated. An alliance with France was the policy which Queen Elizabeth and the Lord Protector both adopted. It was the only point upon which Lord Boling-broke and Sir Robert Walpole agreed. I believe it was the policy that Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt alike approved. It is no new policy. There may have been intervals of misunderstanding between the countries. There is still the recollection of a great war which a great revolution produced, but it has been followed, let me remind the House, by a peace which is already of double the duration; and why are we to suppose for a moment that an alliance which the greatest Sovereigns and the greatest statesmen have always adopted, which for 200 years has more or less prevailed between the two countries depends on the caprice of an individual or the fleeting fancy of a nation? There must be deeply-rooted reasons why that alliance is what I will call it, a natural alliance. There may be a thousand superficial difficulties arising from the contiguity of the two countries, from the quick and constant emulation which subsists between the two nations, each confessedly in the van of civilization, from the recollection of an ancient and a passing quarrel, or from the difference and contrast of the national character, yet there must be deep reasons for the political connection of the two when we find it extending over so long a period of years and see it sanctioned by such high authorities as the greatest Sovereign and the most illustrious statesmen we have ever known. It is, in my mind, an alliance independent of dynasties, individuals, or forms of government. We 91 have nothing to do with them; all that we have to be assured of—and we are assured of it—is that the relations between the two countries are such as must be to the advantage of the two nations and of the world at large. These being my general opinions on the subject, and having expressed them when other Princes were on the throne, when other dynasties flourished, and when a different form of government prevailed, why should 1 be pre vented from saying now that, so far as this country is concerned, it has found in the Emperor of the French a faithful ally, proved at a moment of emergency, and I believe the alliance between the two countries is prized as a great act of policy by that Prince? I cannot, therefore, bring myself to think that so sagacious a Prince is about wantonly to disturb the peace of the world, and to subvert the good opinion which his previous wise conduct has gained from the other States of Europe. Until much more has happened than has yet reached us, I will not relinquish the opinion that the agitation which now undoubtedly exists in men's minds as to the state of the relations between France and Austria will pass away—1 will still cling to the opinion that the termination of the present state of things will not be a struggle between two military Powers which cannot benefit Italy, but rather a wise, politic, well-considered union between two great Powers in devising measures which will lead to the improvement of the condition of Italy and to the removal of those causes of war, which so long as that condition remains unimproved must periodically recur, I have attempted, not in answer to the observations of the noble Viscount on this important subject, but in noticing them, to place before the House the policy which the Government have pursued arid arc pursuing with reference to the condition of Italy and the jealousies at present existing between two great Powers. We have entered into no alliances; we have made no agreements on the subject, but we have given to all the powers concerned the same frank, friendly, and cordial counsel. It is a counsel which has two objects—first, the maintenance of peace; secondly, the improvement of the condition of Italy; and I cannot relinquish my persuasion that, in an age like the present, when public opinion, if not omnipotent in every country, exercises in every country a great and benignant sway, a military struggle will not be entered into from a wanton spirit 92 of aggression, but that great Princes, wherever seated, whether in France or in Germany, will feel that there is a higher glory than mere military glory—a truer source of power than the mere development of military force. I think that the occurrences of every day must more and more convince Monarchs and Cabinets that there are sources of strength to be enjoyed by a nation, for the enjoyment of which moral influences are required, and which no material resources can command. The respect of the world, the appreciation by the civilized communities of Europe of the conduct of a Prince, give him a credit on the exchanges of Europe more important than the treasure which he derives from his subjects. The belief that he dares to resist the temptation of military lust, that he desires to acquire reputation for political justice, gives to that Prince an authority which the organization of troops will never command. These are opinions prevalent in high places—they are no longer confined to the closets of philosophers—they are influencing, even at this moment, the course of public affairs. The very announcement in the Speech from the Throne this day, referring to the termination of the misconception between Portugal and France, is an illustration of the power of public opinion. A great Prince was placed in momentary,—I will not call it collision—but painful misconception with an honourable Power of very inferior strength. His fleets arrived in the Tagus, and by the demonstration of superior force he obtained the object of his desires. But at the moment he felt that public opinion did not approve of that recourse to superior power, he reflected upon his position, he acknowledged the force of truth, and in the letter to his relative, Prince Napoleon, in the commission which he issued and in the treaty which is virtually concluded, he showed the respect he felt for the public opinion of enlightened Europe. I believe His Imperial Majesty will act in the same spirit now. It is natural that he should take especial interest in the condition of Italy. He is connected with it by blood, by his contiguity to it as a great Power, and by many considerations which cannot influence a northern and Protestant State; but we have confidence in his sagacity, and evidence in his past conduct of his deference to public opinion; and I cannot think that the questions now pending will not receive from him that judicious consideration which experience gives us a right to expect. I 93 am glad that the House has shown itself disinclined to question the general accuracy of the representations made by the hon. Mover and Seconder of the Address, and I trust that the rest of the Session will be as pacific as this night.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I wish to set myself right with the House. The right hon. Gentleman conceives that I expressed an opinion that war was probable. I may have said so inadvertently, just as the right hon. Gentleman stated that he did nut think peace utterly hopeless, while the tenor of his argument was quite the other way. What I meant to say was that there was a general opinion on the Continent that war was likely, but I endeavoured to adduce reasons why, in my opinion, the Sovereigns concerned were too wise to do anything of the sort.
§ Loan JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I do not rise to find fault with the Address just proposed—on the contrary, I have heard Her Majesty's Speech with great pleasure; nor shall 1 think it necessary to enter into any of the questions which we may have to consider hereafter. The right hon. Gentleman had told us that the papers with regard to the Charles et Georges will be laid on the table, and he has expressed an opinion, that when we have read them we shall agree that the conduct of Her Majesty's Government redounds to their credit, and proves the friendly nature of their feelings towards Portugal. I shall read those papers with the most perfect impartiality, and I shall be glad if I can come to the same conclusion as the right hon. Gentleman. Neither, Sir, do I wish now to enter into the question of the increase of our naval forces. I shall listen to the statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty on that subject, and if he makes out his case, I shall give my vote in support of the proposition with great pleasure. These are matters for future consideration; but there does appear to me to be one matter which, if we are to discuss, we must discuss today, and on which the right hon. Gentleman wishes to give the House as much satisfaction as possible, and has felt that he could not give that satisfaction in any complete form. He has told us, that with regard to the breaking out of war between two great Powers of Europe, he should hesitate to say that war was probable, or that peace was absolutely hopeless. Those are expressions which I have no doubt convey a right impression of the present state of affairs, and they are not a little alarm- 94 ing. I must say that I entirely agree with almost every word that has fallen from my noble Friend the Member for Tiverton upon this subject. I could have wished that in 1815 some other arrangement had been made with regard to the northern provinces of Italy. I could have wished that even of late years Austria had thought it conducive to her interests to relinquish some of the territories which she possesses in northern Italy. But the treaty, fully made and ratified, which gives her those territorial possessions, is part of the public law of Europe, and no one can attempt to disturb by force that territorial arrangement, without committing an of fence against the public law of Europe, and, of course, without deep injury to the peace of Europe. Therefore, I should hope, with the right hon. Gentleman, that no such wanton violation of that treaty will be committed. But if an aggression were to be made, for the purpose of aggrandisement—if France were to have territories added to her, and Sardinia also was to increase her possessions, that would only make the aggression more odious than the merely wanton violation of a treaty. I have always taken a very deep interest in the independence and freedom of Italy; but I cannot say that I think that the cause of Italian freedom and independence would be promoted by such a war as appears to be in contemplation. In the old days of the Whig Club there was a toast which used frequently to be given and responded to,—"The Cause of Civil and Religious Liberty all over the World." When Mr. Canning became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, he changed his seat from Liverpool to Harwich; and he went down to Harwich and presided at a dinner, and the toast which he gave was "The Cause of Civil and Religious Liberty all over the World." I also am for the cause of civil and religious liberty all over the world, but I cannot for the life of me see how that cause would be promoted by any such aggression as is now spoken of. We have no right to criticise the form of government which is adopted in a neighbouring nation. The people of France, by the value which they set on peace, and by the prevalent opinion which is now said to be almost universal, that peace ought to be preserved, show their estimation of the condition in which they now are, and it is not for us to quarrel with them as to their form of government. But if that Government is to make an invasion upon another coun- 95 try, with the view of improving the form of government in that country, then we certainly should have a right to ask whether the freedom and independence of that country will be promoted by such a proceeding.. Therefore, Sir, for all these reasons I should deprecate, as an infraction of the peace of Europe, as one of the very worst examples that could be set, and as tending to shake men's confidence in all treaties in which the present stability of Europe is founded, any such war as is now spoken of. But we must not attempt—and we should gain no advantage for the Cause of peace, no advantage for the future welfare of Italy or of Europe, by endeavouring to do so—to blind our eyes to those serious evils and misfortunes which from time to time have been inflicted upon Italy. Austria, since the peace of 1815, governing according to her own views—and they are often very enlightened ideas—has maintained strong garrisons and forts in that country. From the very first year of the signature of the treaty, Austria attempted to govern the whole of Italy. She early interfered to prevent the King of the Two Sicilies from introducing into his kingdom institutions based upon principles different from those which prevailed in Austria; and when in 1821, the Neapolitan people attempted to improve their institutions, and established a representative assembly, which earned the respect of Lord Colchester, a retired Speaker of this House, who declared it to be remarkable for the decorum and moderation of its proceedings, what was done? Why an Austrian army was marched into Naples, and 40,000 troops were placed in that kingdom to pre vent the people from having that constitution and those laws which they deemed best. Lord Castlereagh upon that occasion, in the name of the British Government, declared this fact—which was a sort of protest—that the British Government could not approve the principle upon which that invasion took place. Again, when the people of Parma, who were suffering at that time under the worst form of government, the worst kind of aristocracy, and the worst class of clergy that were to be found in any part of Europe, endeavoured—certainly by violent means—to improve their position, 12,000 Austrian troops were marched into the country to prevent the people from improving their institutions. Again, in 1831, there was a similar kind of interference. Advice was, no doubt, 96 given to the Pope, as has been said, but at the same time forcible means were used. In 1848 the people of Tuscany, in the general confusion and fury that prevailed upon the Continent, became discontented with their very mild Government, and established a Republic; but they had not had a Republic long before they themselves repented of their haste and of their revolution, and overset the Republican Government and restored again the authority of the Grand Duke. Here, then, was the example of a people who of their own accord wished to revert to that mild form of government which they had found was most consistent with their happiness and prosperity; but that was not enough—not a bit of it. A great Austrian division was marched into Tuscany, and kept there some years, for no purpose of necessity, but to insult that very mild and docile people with the spectacle of a foreign armed force domineering over them. And now again with regard to Central Italy, of which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken, be it observed that it is these interferences of Austria which have attracted the attention and excited the jealousy of France. It is useless for us. to inquire why these great Powers should be jealous of one another, because we know that it is and must be the case. Accordingly, in the early part of Louis Philippe's reign a French force was sent to Ancona to counterbalance the interference of Austria in other parts of Italy. Again, in 1848, Austrian troops interfered with the Government of the Legations, and a French division was immediately sent to Rome, and captured Rome, and according to the statement of almost every official person in this country then representing France it was done entirely because France did not choose Austria to have the entire command and dominion over Italy. But the jealousies of those two great Powers have resulted in misery to the unfortunate people over whom that military force has imposed a government which is most distasteful to them. For, be it observed, the Emperor of the French, not wishing to impose bad government, wrote himself a letter in which he pointed out what might improve the condition of the Roman people,—the introduction of the Code Napoleon, secular administration, and other provisions. But that advice was not taken. The Austrian Government is, as I have said, in many respects a very enlightened Government; but it is not the Austrian 97 Government at Bologna and Ancona, but it is the Austrian forces and the French forces which impose upon that country about the very worst form of government that any country ever had. Those who doubt this may consult various works describing what has been the case with the Papal Government. Among others, there is one very interesting and amusing work by the present right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland. He travelled in Italy, and he is not content with a superficial view, but he gives you parts of the Code of the Roman State, and he points out how inconsistent those provisions are with anything like justice and freedom. I have heard myself the way in which the Government is conducted and the manner in which every attempt at improvement is frustrated. The people said at one time "Let us have a secular Government, and let the ecclesiastical officers be replaced by secular officers." Well, secular officers were sent to them, but they were men so ill calculated to create confidence, and so entirely without character, that the poor people said, "Let us have the priest back again, or let us have a cardinal, or anything in preference to these people." Thereupon it was argued that they were not in favour of a secular Government. In the same way municipal institutions were introduced, and it was said that the people did not want municipal institutions. Before the French Revolution there were municipal institutions. The people very notch governed themselves. The French destroyed all these municipal institutions, but they put in their place a good administration of justice, and what is called an enlightened despotism. Since 1852 they have had neither municipal institutions nor an enlightened despotism. They have abuses of every kind, corruption of every shade, and, indeed, are suffering under evils of every kind that maladministration can possibly engender. If persons are required to pay allegiance they should receive protection from the Government, and in what respect is protection more required than in the administration of justice? It is one of the first objects of Government that there should be justice between man and man; that criminal justice should be fairly administered; that civil justice should be had without corruption; hut I happened to be reading. I think last night, a description of the Roman Government by a noble Friend of mine, a Member of the other House of 98 Parliament, Lord Broughton, and, as his description is contained in a very few words, and in his own nervous style, perhaps the House will allow me to read it. This is his description of a Government, let it be recollected, that for the last ten years has been carried on by the aid of foreign forces. Lord Broughton says—If under this theocracy there were a tolerably impartial administration of justice—if the lives, persons, and properties of the citizens were secured by any contrivance—it would be no great hardship to submit to the anomaly of receiving laws from the altar, instead of the Throne. But the reverso is notoriously the case, and there is scarcely a single principle of wise regulation acted upon or recognized in the Papal States.Again, he says—The first principles of criminal jurisprudence seem as much forgotten or unknown as if the French code had never been the law of the land; a secret process, a trial by one judge and a sentence by another, protracted imprisonment, disproportioned judgments, deferred and disgusting punishments, all tend to defeat the ends of justice and to create a sympathy with the culprit rather than a reverence for the law.Sir, I mentioned two years ago in this house, the sentence of a tribunal, which I had then before me at great length, by which many persons bad been tried, of whom it was said that their particular confessions could not be received, because, having been taken under torture, and having been afterwards disavowed by the accused persons, they could not be considered as valid. And that is the administration of justice in the Roman States! Then, can you wonder that the people of Central Italy thus governed—and thus governed by means of a foreign force—have become impatient under that burden, and can you wonder that they Would resort to any extremity, that they would look to any resource, rather than continue in their present state? But what is the remedy? The right hon. Gentleman, if I understand him right, says advice has been given, no doubt with the most benevolent intentions, namely, that Austria and France should frame measures, should point out ho justice should be administered, how the general administration should be purified, and how the Government should be carried on. Well, this is all very good advice. But there is one plan better than any of these, and that is that the people should be allowed to settle the law for themselves. I remember reading a pamphlet some time ago on Italy. It was written by Signor Farini, whose History of the Papal States was translated by my 99 right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, who I wish were here on this occasion, because there is no man whose voice has been raised so powerfully on behalf of Italy. Well, Signor Farini said this; he had been reading the Treaty of Paris:—I observe that by this treaty the people of Moldavia and Wallachia are to be allowed to meet to consider their own form of Government. Why should not we have the same thing? Why should not the people of Romagna meet and declare what are the laws under which they wish to live?It seems to me that Signor Farini was perfectly right in that suggestion, and you have here, in this very Queen's Speech, a declaration that the Assemblies of these Danubian Principalities—these Routnan States, if you choose to call them so—have met and are settling their own laws. Whether these will be good laws or not it is impossible to say, but they will undoubtedly be laws which are fitting for the people of those Provinces, and I hope that those people will be happy and contented, under them. I am convinced that the people of Central Italy—a people who for five centuries have been glorious in literature, a people who have been an enlightened nation during those five centuries, and who are, therefore, far superior in mental resources than the peasants in the Danubian Principalities—if the foreign forces were withdrawn, if provision were made, as provision could easily be made by the Catholic Powers of Europe (with which arrangement the Protestant Powers have nothing to do) for the furnishing of any contingent forces to secure the personal security of the Pope in Rome—I am convinced that such a people would soon settle such laws for their own government as would produce contentment and prosperity. Let the people of Bologna, let the people of Romagna, frame laws for themselves, and I believe the difficulty of Italy would be almost entirely solved. I believe there would be no need of this bloody war—this conflict of great armies, which will give nothing to their freedom, and which will, I am afraid, not add much to their independence. I believe that while the personal safety of the Pope is carefully provided for, the people should be left to settle what should be their own form of government, of course under the suzerainty of the Pope. I agree with I the right hon. Gentleman, with my noble Friend, and with the whole House, in hoping that no such dreadful calamity as war will come upon Europe. I cannot 100 believe that there is any sufficient cause for it. I cannot believe that there is any necessity for it. You have said in the Treaty of Paris, and said most wisely, that there shall be no interference in the Danubian Principalities, no interference in Servia by any foreign troops, unless all the contracting Powers of Europe are consenting parties to that interference. Now, why should we not say that with regard to the whole state of Italy—that neither in the States of the Church, nor in Tuscany, nor in Naples, shall there be any interference by a foreign force unless the Powers of Europe are parties to that interference, Indeed I cannot believe that anything short of such a determination is likely to solve the Italian problem, or to put an end to the misery which has existed in that country ever since 1815. I cannot believe that any plan that can be framed even in a spirit of the utmost benevolence by the Austrian Government, or by the French Government, for the government of the Papal States, will have any success, because the Papal Government has talent and cunning enough to defeat and evade any new provisions, and this is an evil which ought to be guarded against. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman in all that he said as to the French alliance. There is no alliance so valuable to this country. I believe the disposition of the Emperor of the French is friendly to this country. I have never seen anything in his foreign affairs that has indicated hostility to this country. I think there is nothing so desirable for the people of Great Britain and the people of France, who live so close to each other, and whose productions and manufactures are so different, as to cultivate that alliance of commerce which Mr. Pitt endeavoured to obtain by treaty, but which you will better obtain by feelings of amity and respect for one another. I trust, therefore, that the course of prosperity which Europe appears to be entering upon will not be interrupted. Sir, there is another subject which the right hon. Gentleman touched upon somewhat tenderly, and which appeared just at the end of the Speech from the Throne. It certainly appears to me as if Her Majesty's Ministers had gone through all the topics upon which they thought Parliament would expect to be addressed, and that then some Member of the Cabinet said, "Is there nothing forgotten? We have not left out Mexico, have we? No, there it is. There is also a passage about China and Japan. 101 I cannot think of anything that is omitted." But at last some ingenious Member of the Cabinet perhaps said, "There is one subject forgotten—there is the reform of Parliament; we must put that in." The right hon. Gentleman seemed as unwilling to touch on that subject here as the Cabinet were in putting, it into the Speech. Heaven knows how it has fallen into their charge Bow came they to be Reformers? How they will answer that question when it is put by the country, I cannot say. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Radnor (Sir George Lewis) has properly said, "Before you ask for a reform in Parliament and au amendment of the representation you ought to point out the evils which you want to redress." There are some evils in the system of Parliamentary representation which I wish to redress. I think there are vast numbers of people who are not electors, but who are well entitled by their honesty to be admitted to electoral rights. I believe that their being admitted to these rights will give them a greater sense of their stake in the constitution and will strengthen the bases of the constitution. I do not believe this extension will shake any of the institutions of this monarchical constitution, with its aristocracy and its Established Church. I co not believe the admission of those persons who are fitted to exercise the franchise will tend to injure any of the institutions of the country. I believe the mass of the country in general are of the opinion of our forefathers before us—of the opinion of Burke, Fox, and Pitt—that the institutions of this country have given the people as great a share of liberty and happiness as was ever enjoyed under any institutions which bunion wisdom has devised. That, no doubt, was the opinion of Mr. Burke, Mr. Fox, and Mr. Pitt, and they were no fools. I believe such to be the opinion of the country in general, and I wish to see those benefits extended. But I am at a loss to understand the hesitation in this matter. The right lion. Gentleman—'Now fitted the batter, now traversed the cart; And often took leave, but seemed loth to depart.He seemed unwilling to apply the noose or to fix the time. I do not want to hurry he Government on this subject. I think t is quite fair that the First Lord of the Admiralty should say, "We want to increase our naval force;" but I do not see hat there is any subject which the Government intend to bring forward that will furnish them with any excuse for delay in 102 this matter. We had under consideration last year the great subject of India, which was enough to absorb the attention of any Government, fraught as the circumstances were with danger to our whole empire there; but there is now no such excuse for procrastination. If the Government have made up their minds to introduce a Reform Bill let them lay it on the table. I will give no opinion on a measure of that kind until I see what it proposes to do. If it should be a good one, no doubt the great majority of the House will be disposed to accept it. But I think that Her Majesty's Government having accepted this obligation, they are bound to fulfil it. I can easily understand that that will give them many a pang, and that they will be apt to think it is not the sort of task for which they are best fitted. One right hon. Gentleman—the Vice President of the Committee of Council for Education (Mr. Adderley)—is stated to have said in reference to this subject:—"To be sure we never before played the fiddle, but that is no reason why we should not now play it as well as anybody else." Well, let them take it in hand now, and let us know what is the tune they are disposed to give us. There is every disposition in this House to wait their time; but they must not be putting off the subject. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Bright), I am afraid, will hardly be able to restrain his impatience. But really it is the business of a Government to undertake great questions of this nature; they have given a pledge in this matter and they are bound to perform it.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, after the discussion to which the House has just listened, it is not my intention to trespass upon this occasion at any length on its indulgence. I am anxious, however, to endeavour to remove the mistaken impression which the noble Lord the Member for London seems to entertain with regard to the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, in consequence of the place they have assigned in Her Majesty's Speech to the subject of Parliamentary Reform. The noble Lord seems to think that we have treated that question with a great want of proper respect; and the noble Lord seems disposed even to doubt the sincerity of Her Majesty's Government with regard to legislation upon the subject, because they have not assigned to it a more prominent position in the Speech from the Throne. The noble Lord appears to be perfectly convinced that it was only after a long con- 103 versation in the Cabinet, and it may be as an afterthought, that the subject of Reform found its way into the Speech at all. Now, of course we should be very unwilling to incur the censure of the noble Lord, and therefore we naturally looked around us to see what consolation we could find, or what precedent there might be for the course we thought it advisable to pursue. Now I hold in my hand the Speech delivered by Her Majesty to Parliament at the opening of the Session in 1852, when the noble Lord was Prime Minister of this country, and I find that that Speech, after containing various references to finance and a great number of other questions more or less connected with the government of the country, ends with the following paragraph:—It appears to me that this is a fitting time for calmly considering whether it may not be advisable to make such amendments in the Act of the late reign relating to the representation of the Commons in Parliament as may be deemed calculated to carry into more complete effect the principles on which that law is founded.Then there is in the Speech only one other sentence, which contains nothing more than the usual formal wind-up of documents of the same character; so that whatever error we may have committed, whatever remissness we may have shown upon this subject, we have at least the consolation of knowing that we are following in the footsteps of the noble Lord. The noble Lord assigned to this his favourite topic—his own subject of Parliamentary Reform—precisely the same position in Her Majesty's Speech which we have assigned to it, and I hope, now that I have removed from the mind of the noble Lord the unfavourable impression he seems to have formed upon this point, I have only to add that I trust a notice will at no very distant day be given to the House which will equally remove from his mind any doubt he may entertain of the determination of the Government to deal with this great question in all sincerity and honesty.
Motion agreed to.
Committee appointed to draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution:—Mr. TREFUSIS, Mr. BEECROFT, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Mr. Secretary WALPOLE, General PEEL, Lord STANLEY, Sir JOHN PAKINGTON, Mr. HENLEY, Lord JOHN MANNERS, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lord NAAS, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for Ireland, Sir WILLIAM JOLLIFFE, and Mr. FITZROY, or any Five of them;—To withdraw immediately
Queen's Speech referred.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Eight o'clock.