HC Deb 30 June 1862 vol 167 cc1213-4

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, considering the great and increasing distress in the country, the patient manner in which it has hitherto been borne, and the hopelessness of the termination of hostilities, the Government intend to take any steps whatever, either as parties to intervention or otherwise, to endeavour to put an end to the Civil War in America? He wished to give the Government full opportunity of considering this question, as he should not proceed with the Motion to-morrow which stood in his name.


Sir, I trust I need not assure the hon. Member and the House that Her Majesty's Government are deeply sensible of the sufferings now existing in the cotton-manufacturing districts. We know that the privations in those districts are great, and also that those who suffer them have endured them with the most heroic fortitude and patience, thus doing the greatest possible credit to their understanding and intelligence. They know that the sufferings which they endure have not resulted from any bad legislation or any misconduct on the part of the Government of the country. They know they are caused by circumstances in other countries over which we have no control. Her Majesty's Government would be most happy, if it were in their power, to do anything which would be likely to afford relief to those unhappy classes of the population. But I am sure the House will see that anything like interference with the war now going on would only aggravate still more the sufferings of those now under privation. With respect to mediation and good offices, there is no doubt whatever that both Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Emperor of the French would be delighted to avail themselves of any opportunity that appeared to offer a fair prospect that such a step would be attended with success. But in the present state of the contest, while the two parties seem animated with the most bitter feelings and angry resentment against each other, I am afraid that any proposal of that kind would not be well timed, and would be sure to meet with rejection on both sides. If, however, at any time, a different state of things should arise, and a fair opening appear for any step which might be likely to meet with the acquiescence of the two parties, it would be not only our duty to offer our services, but would afford. Her Majesty's Government the greatest possible pleasure to do so.