§ MR. CALTHORPE
rose to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in reply to Her Most Gracious Majesty's Speech. The hon. Member said, that although the Government of this country was a popular and constitutional one, it could not be doubted that the personal character of the Sovereign exercised a most important influence upon the country; and in no instance had that influence been more deeply felt or widely extended than during the beneficent reign of Her present Majesty. Under these circumstances, looking to the fact that in the course of nature they might expect at some future period—which he prayed might be a remote one—His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales would sit on the throne of this country, he thought that it was the duty of the House, upon what might be termed the commencement of his public career—His Royal Highness having this day taken his seat in the House of Peers— and also upon the occasion of so important a step as the marriage of His Royal Highness, which was an event of the highest consequence in the life of any man, whatever might be his rank in society, to offer their congratulations to Her Majesty, with, a renewed expression of their loyalty and good-will. When, moreover, all had heard of the beauty and the winning grace of the Royal lady whom His Royal Highness had chosen for his bride, and knew that it 67 was a union which was not the result of dynastic motives or political consideration, but was founded on mutual affection, arising from an intimate knowledge of each other, he thought they might look forward with confidence to the future and lasting happiness of the Royal couple. Then there was another member of the Royal Family to whom the Greek nation had offered their crown. When we recollected that only seven or eight years ago we, in concert with our allies the French, occupied the Piraeus, that at that time Russian influence was paramount at Athens, that we had always been the staunch ally of that Power which the Greeks regarded as their mortal enemy and old oppressor, and had always sternly opposed any aggressive extension of their frontier, the unanimous election of Prince Alfred to the Greek throne could only be attributed to the appreciation of the personal character of Her Majesty, to a desire to compliment the gallant Prince her son, and to a conviction that a constitutional system, as it worked in this country, was most conducive to personal liberty and to the material progress of a nation. They were informed in Her Majesty's Speech of the reasons which had induced the Prince to decline that offer. It was not for him to express any opinion of the reasons which had induced Her Majesty's Ministers to give the advice that the offer should be refused; but he might state, that one result of the events which had taken place in Greece was, that the British Government had proposed the cession of the Ionian Islands to the Greek nation. The intelligence and mercantile energy of the Greeks were so great that he had no doubt, that if they could only obtain the services of a chief of ability and of honest purpose, and, following the example of Piedmont under the guidance of Count Cavour, would turn their attention to the internal improvement of their country, they might yet become one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. To such a people the addition of a territory containing a population of 230,000, speaking a common language and sprung from the same race, with the territory of the Seven Islands, could not fail to be of most material advantage. Individually, he congratulated the Government upon having taken the first opportunity of relieving this county from a reproach which had of late years been frequent in the mouths of our ene- 68 mies. Since the revolution of July we had always maintained the principle that the governed had a right in the choice of their rulers; but of late years, whenever we had given our moral support to those who were carrying out this principle, we had been met by the sneering reply, "Why, the very Representative Assembly which you gave to the Ionian Islands have repeatedly voted for their annexation to Greece and their release from your yoke, and yet you have refused to comply with their wishes." That this reproach was unmerited there could be no doubt. We were not in the ordinary position of ruler and governed. We had been placed in these Islands by the great Powers of Europe as their Protectors; but if the great Powers would consent, he hoped that the Government would adhere to their expressed intentions, and would concur in the wishes of the Ionians. He believed that this proposal had been a successful stroke of English diplomacy, because our detractors could only say of what was an act of justice that it was a whimsical fit of generosity.
Some months ago a dark cloud of famine lowered over the heads of half a million of the most industrious of Her Majesty's subjects. How that cloud had been lightened, not only by the brilliant generosity of the people of this country, but also by profuse contributions from Her Majesty's subjects in all parts of the world, was well known. From every colony, however distant, from every people, however remote, from all races and from the members of all sects of religion, wherever the flag of England waved, there had come substantial aid and assistance. We had also to acknowledge with thankfulness the munificent offering which was now on its way to these shores from the Northern States of America. It was a cheering sign that, at a moment when the Northern press and Northern politicians were displaying a pettish and almost childish hostility to this country, there were to be found many Americans who, in the midst of their financial difficulties, and with their hearts torn by the dreadful carnage in their armies, in the midst of all the sufferings they were enduring, could feel sympathy with, and offer assistance to, those of our people who were suffering from no fault of their own. The suffering operatives themselves had, by their patient endurance and their law-respecting resignation, proved to the world the signal advantages 69 of extended education, cheap literature, and the complete absence of any real political grievance.
The Speech from the Throne informed us that, notwithstanding the distress which prevailed in the manufacturing districts, the state of the revenue was not unsatisfactory. He took that to mean, not only that there was no deficit, but that there might be a surplus, and he trusted that he was not out of order in expressing a hope, that should that be the case, and should a reduction of the Estimates be possible, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take into consideration the weight with which the income tax pressed upon the poorer portion of the middle classes. That in a year during the whole of which half a million of people had been out of employment, and during five months of which they had been on the verge of starvation, the revenue should be pronounced to be in a state not unsatisfactory was a proof of the buoyancy and elasticity of our resources. He should think that even the opponents of the commercial treaty with France must admit at least that the moment of its conclusion was opportune, for by its action and by its action alone had the deficit which must have resulted from the paralysis of our trade with America been made up and supplied. If the commercial treaty with Belgium only had the same success as had attended that concluded with France, the advantages of which would, he believed, be materially extended in future years, we might fairly say that we had before us a prospect of sound prosperity.
He cordially supported Her Majesty's Government in their determination to adhere to a policy of non-intervention in America. He could understand that at any period of last year they might have been induced to join the Imperial Government of France in proposals of mediation; but after the 1st of January of this year, the day on which the proclamation of freedom to the negroes was issued by Mr. Lincoln, he thought that no Government of this country would have ventured to interfere. It might be said that Mr. Lincoln proclaimed freedom to the slaves over whom he had no control, and that those who were in his power he rather consigned to slavery than attempted to free. But in this he believed that Mr. Lincoln had remained strictly within the Constitution. As President of a great 70 federation of States, he had no power to act against any institution in those States; but as Commander-in-Chief he had a right to adopt any measure which might tend to the complete discomfiture and discouragement of those whom he regarded as rebels. Hence this proclamation must be regarded as a military expedient, and not as the result of any moral obligation to the cause of freedom, which of course would operate to the liberation of all slaves in all the States of America. It was also true that the proclamation had not been issued till other means had failed, and was not prompted by a strong feeling against slavery in the North. Indeed, it seemed as if the majority of Northern Americans were indifferent, or at least not unfavourable, to the continuance of slavery; and unless the proclamation exercised a most important effect during the remaining two years of Mr. Lincoln's presidential office, the Democrats, on coming into power, would probably make peace with the Southerns on any conditions they liked to impose. Still the great fact remained that freedom had been proclaimed to millions of black men by the President elected by 30,000,000 of whites. It was difficult not to entertain some feeling of contempt for the Federal Government, for they had brought into disrepute the great principle of self-government. Grosser extravagance, more corruption, and peculations to a larger amount, had been permitted by them than were ever before seen in the world. They had committed frequent violations of personal liberty, of freedom of speech, and of the freedom of the press. They had exhibited to the world a financial system so reckless, so desperate, that it would be ludicrous if it had not involved the most disastrous consequences. But the worst feature of all displayed by the Northerners was the abject moral cowardice of the well-informed classes. From the letter published in connection with the New York State election it was known that at the commencement of the war General Scott counselled a peaceable separation; and from other sources—especially from that self-evidently truthful book of Mr. Russell's—they learnt that these men, who in any other country but the United States would have exercised a commanding influence—statesmen, diplomatists, historians, literary and scientific men, and travellers, nay, even Members of President Lincoln's own Cabinet — 71 would gladly have consented to a peaceable separation. Ought not people in this country to believe, or at least to hope, that the most respectable portion of the Abolitionists would gladly wash their hands of the sin and crime of a connection with slavery? And yet throughout the whole country there was not found one man with moral courage enough to stand up and attempt to stem the torrent of popular lust of power—not one who dared to come forward in the hope of softening, reasoning with, or calming the popular frenzy of the moment. Indeed, it seemed as if no American ventured on any public platform who was not prepared to advocate the most extreme opinions in the most violent and virulent language. On the other hand, it was impossible not to feel admiration for the unanimity and patriotism shown by the Southerners, for the dauntless courage and patient endurance of their troops, the consummate generalship and brilliant strategy of their superior officers. Neither had their civil administration nor their fertility of resources proved inferior to their military exploits. The knowledge that they personally were not answerable for the detestable institution of slavery had likewise its share in the sympathy aroused by their deeds. They inherited that institution—they did not originate it—they were born to it; and the result of the meeting of the bishops and clergy lately held made manifest what moral obliquity of vision must be induced by constant intercourse with slavery. Neither was England quite faultless in this matter. Though she had done much for the repression of slavery and the slave trade, and she expended £20,000,000 in the manumission of her own slaves, her people eighteen years ago were such energetic free-traders that, in order to render their free-trade policy symmetrical, they abolished the differential duty upon slave-grown sugar, and thereby gave a fillip to that very slave trade which they were spending a million annually, besides valuable lives, to check by the squadron in the West Indies. It might be said that it was hard on the Southerners that they should be continuously deprived of their means of living. It was hard, no doubt; but in all countries in a state of transition there must be suffering and misery; and how much harder were the sufferings of the slaves, how many generations had gone through similar treatment; and if the system were 72 not terminated, how hard would be the sufferings of generations yet unborn! For years the philanthropists of Europe and America had been racking their brains to discover some solution of this vast problem, but they had always been beaten by numbers. How were they ever to buy up 4,000,000 souls? A means at last offered itself unexpectedly. Already more than 100,000 slaves had escaped, and they were told the other day that planters in exposed positions, such as the coast, and banks of navigable rivers, were entering into pecuniary bargains with their labourers. Remembering what the United States were only three years ago, the warm hospitality which they extended to the unfortunate and oppressed of all nations, and that in their population was to be found a larger proportion of prosperous, educated, happy, and contented human beings, enjoying a larger amount of personal independence and personal freedom—of a certain sort— than was to be found in any other country of the world, those who believed in the beneficent acts of an all-merciful Providence were at a loss to account for the infliction of evils so grievous, of miseries so monstrous, as those brought upon that unhappy country by the civil war, unless it were to work out and develop the deliverance and redemption of a race which had suffered so horribly as the negro. The proclamation of President Lincoln was not addressed only to the slaves of the Southern States. Its influence would extend beyond the bounds of the United States. There were three great slave-holding Powers in the world—Brazil, Spain, and the Southern States. It was useless to argue with either of the smaller Powers as long as a nation either of 30,000,000 or of 8,000,000 kept 4,000,000 negroes in bondage. But if President Lincoln's proclamation had the effect of liberating these unhappy beings, he believed ten years would not elapse till Spain and Brazil would cease to be slave-holding countries. In the midst of diverging opinions and conflicting arguments, of reasons based on the same premisses, but arriving at different conclusions, through the chaos of hopes and fears, they still saw shining with steadfast brilliancy the sacred light of human freedom, and the hope of moral elevation for that race which hitherto had been treated as accursed. He had attempted to advocate a great cause, which he believed was the real—though, possibly, the indi- 73 reet—origin of this war; and he felt convinced that that the good sense and right feeling of the people of England would always prevent any Government from attempting to interfere with or counteract the possible—and, he hoped, the probable—effect of such a proclamation. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to thank Her Majesty for the most gracious Speech delivered by Her Command to both Houses of Parliament:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing ns that She has declared Her consent to a Marriage between His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Princess Alexandra, daughter of Prince Christian of Denmark; and for commanding that the Treaty which has been concluded thereupon with the King of Denmark should be laid before us:Humbly to express to Her Majesty our full participation in Her sentiments on an event so interesting to Her Majesty, and which, with the blessing of God, will, we trust, prove so conducive to the happiness of Her family, and the welfare of Her people; and to assure Her Majesty that we will make provision for such an establishment as may be thought suitable to the rank and dignity of the Heir Apparent to the Crown of these Realms:Humbly to assure Her Majesty that we cannot fail to be highly gratified and deeply to feel the unsolicited and spontaneous manifestation of goodwill towards Her Majesty and Her family, and of a due appreciation of the benefits conferred by the principles and practice of the British Constitution, which has led the Greek Nation to express so strong a desire that Her Majesty's son, Prince Alfred, should accept the Greek Crown:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that the diplomatic engagements of Her Majesty's Crown, together with other weighty considerations, have prevented Her Majesty from yielding to this general wish of the Greek Nation:To assure Her Majesty that with Her we trust that the same principles of choice which led the Greek Nation to direct their thoughts, in the first instance, towards His Royal Highness Prince Alfred, may guide them to the selection of a Sovereign under whose sway the Kingdom of Greece may enjoy the blessings of internal prosperity and of peaceful relations with other States; and to express our thanks to Her Majesty for informing us that if, in such a state 74 of things, the Republic of the Seven Islands should declare a deliberate wish to be united to the Kingdom of Greece, Her Majesty would be prepared to take such steps as may be necessary for a revision of the Treaty of November 1815, by which that Republic was reconstituted, and was placed under the protection of the British Crown:Humbly to express the gratification with which we learn that Her Majesty's relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly and satisfactory:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that She has abstained from taking any step with a view to induce a cessation of the conflict between the contending parties in the North American States, because it has not yet seemed to Her Majesty that any such overtures could be attended with a probability of success:To assure Her Majesty that we share in the concern with which She has viewed the desolating warfare which still rages in those regions, and in the heartfelt grief with which She has witnessed the severe distress and suffering which that War has inflicted upon a large class of Her Majesty's Subjects, but which have been borne by them with noble fortitude and with exemplary resignation; that we trust with Her Majesty that this suffering and this distress are rather diminishing than increasing, and that some revival of employment is beginning to take place in the manufacturing districts:To express to Her Majesty our deep gratification at the abundant generosity with which all classes of Her Subjects in all parts of Her Empire have contributed to relieve the wants of their suffering fellow-countrymen, and the liberality with which Her Majesty's Colonial Subjects have on this occasion given their aid, proving that, although their dwelling-places are far away, their hearts are still warm with unabated affection for the land of their Fathers; and to convey to Her Majesty our sense of the value of the constant and laborious attention with which the Relief Committees have superintended the distribution of the Funds intrusted to their charge:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that She has concluded with the King of the Belgians a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, and a Convention respecting Joint Stock Companies, and for directing that Treaty and Convention to be laid before us; together with Papers relating to the Affairs of Italy, of Greece, and of Denmark, and to occurrences which have lately taken place in Japan:75To thank Her Majesty for having directed the Estimates for the ensuing year to be laid before us:To express our satisfaction at learning that notwithstanding the continuance of the Civil War in North America the general commerce of the country during the past year has not sensibly diminished; that the Treaty of Commerce which Her Majesty concluded with the Emperor of the French has already been productive of results highly advantageous to both the nations to which it applies; and that the general state of the Revenue, notwithstanding many unfavourable circumstances, has not been unsatisfactory:That with Her Majesty we trust that these results may be taken as proofs that the productive resources of the country are unimpaired:To convey to Her Majesty the expression of our deep gratification at the spirit of order which happily prevails throughout Her Dominions, and which is so essential an element in the well-being and prosperity of nations:Humbly to assure Her Majesty that we will give our most serious attention to the various measures of public usefulness and improvement which may be submitted for our consideration, and that with Her Majesty we fervently pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend our deliberations and guide them to the promotion of the welfare and happiness of Her people.
§ MR. BAZLEY
Sir, in seconding the Address, which has been proposed in answer to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, I am exceedingly glad of the opportunity afforded for expressing my satisfaction at the general feeling and sentiments displayed in that Speech. We have in it the satisfactory intelligence that we are at peace with all nations, a blessing which I hope may be long continued to us; and it is most gratifying not only to the Legislature, but I believe also to the people of the United Kingdom, that the Prince of Wales is about to form that happy connection which, whilst it secures his own happiness, and will add to the happiness of his Family, has secured the approbation of the country. I believe that His Royal Highness is the worthy son of a worthy sire, and I do not doubt that he will be a solace to the illustrious parent who is spared to him, and an honour to his country.
In common with every feeling man, I deplore the grievous calamity that has 76 befallen our brethren on the other side of the Atlantic, where the grievous spectacle is witnessed of brother meeting brother in mortal combat. I wish I could see any prospect of an early termination of that fatal strife. On the contrary, the war, for all I can see, may be continued for a long period, and its continuance cannot fail to be attended by a prolongation of the distress in our own manufacturing districts. The sufferings of the people there have been very acute, but they have borne them with loyalty and resignation; but deep as has been their distress, and much as they long for the restoration of peace, they are still firm in their desire that their labour should not be renewed with material which is the produce of slave labour. The consequences of the struggle between the Northern and the Southern States have fallen upon us in two ways— first, by the loss of the raw material; and, secondly, by the closing of a great market for our manufactured products. We must now, therefore, look not only for new fields of supply for our raw material, but also for new markets in which to vend our products. The distressed operatives of the manufacturing districts have received the kind sympathies not only of their own countrymen, but of every people on the face of the earth. We have had substantial assistance afforded to us from every part of the United Kingdom. I have received important information from Mr. Farnall, the Poor Law Commissioner, on the subject of the prevailing distress, with which I will not trouble the House, as I have received more recent information from Mr. M'Clure, the Hon. Secretary of the Relief Committee. It appears that in the week ending January last—that is, a few days ago—the guardians of 147 unions in the manufacturing districts were affording relief to the amount of £15,612, which was distributed among 221,045 persons. From the Relief Fund during the same week the sum of £39,474 was expended in the relief of 374,630 persons. The total relief was therefore £55,086, which was distributed among 595,675 persons. The total contributions from all sources—the spontaneous contributions of the people of the United Kingdom, of the colonies, and of foreign countries up to the end of January —amounted to the large sum of £760,692. It is quite true that the cotton operatives have been slightly better employed of late 77 but I fear that there is no possibility of any improvement at present to any great extent. I regret, too, that the distress is increasing to a lamentable extent among the class of small tradesmen, and other classes who have not hitherto received assistance from the Relief Fund. The fact is, that for the last two years a large portion of the people of the manufacturing districts have been living upon their capital. The workpeople have been compelled to part with their furniture and their clothing, and both they and the middle class of tradesmen have, little by little, exhausted all the means they possessed, so that the provident and the improvident have sunk to the same common condition of distress and destitution. The Savings Bank of Manchester is principally resorted to by domestic servants and other classes than those employed in the cotton trade, and does not therefore afford a fair criterion of the distress among the operatives. The cotton operatives are for the most part spirited individuals who look to building clubs as a more eligible investment, who save money with a view of commencing some little business, and who would not accept the low rate of interest of the savings banks. The distressed labouring classes are now asking for a supply of the raw material; they do not want charity; they only ask for the means of prosecuting their labours and obtaining a subsistence for themselves. I trust that the Government will do something to obtain from our vast colonies an increased supply of cotton. There are many colonial dependencies from which it might be obtained—Australia, the British West and East Indies—and I trust that a year or two will put us in possession of a largely increased supply. There is a prospect of a sufficient supply of cotton being obtained to enable the operatives to work half-time during the ensuing year; but it must be remembered that the inferiority of Indian cotton is so great, that even if they work half-time, the operatives will not be able to earn more than one-third their usual wages. I trust that the producers of East Indian cotton and the authorities of India will be induced to exert themselves, not only for the benefit of the ryot, but of the labouring classes of Lancashire. I may be permitted to refer to the great difference between our cotton trade in 1860 and that in last year. The exports of cotton to all parts of the world were in 1860 £56,000,000 sterling, while 78 last year they only reached £37,000,000 sterling. This is a frightful diminution; but the money value of the exports is not a correct indication of the diminution in trade, because, as the price is somewhat increased, quantity and not value is the more accurate test. The fact is, that last year only half the usual quantity of cotton was manufactured. The textile exports of 1860 consisted of two-thirds of all the exports, of which cotton manufactures supplied much the largest portion. So that the importance of the trade in a national point of view is greater than those of iron, woollen, linen, and silk put together. It is true that the industry of the country was generally in a prosperous condition, and that the cotton trade is the only branch of industry under a cloud. The iron trade, the woollen trade, the linen trade, and the silk trade are all in. a state of considerable activity; and if the cotton trade had remained in its ordinary state, there would have been almost too much prosperity for the kingdom to hear with temperance and moderation. In our distress, generous contributions have flowed in from all classes and from every part of the kingdom; but it is only justice to the manufacturing districts to state that up to the end of last year they had contributed very nearly one-half the total amount raised for the relief of the distress. The manufacturing districts have contributed £260,000 for this purpose, besides supporting a multitude of persons at a cost that had never been published. The other parts of the country have contributed £275,000; the colonies £53,000; and from foreign countries the sum of £5,000 had been received. It is with great pleasure that I state that the contributions of the North American States have been most liberal, that they have been received in the manufacturing districts with the greatest satisfaction, and that the utmost gratitude has been expressed for the supply of food which had so timely arrived. I congratulate Her Majesty's Government that they have at length achieved a commercial treaty with Belgium. I know how great are the difficulties that have to be overcome in concluding commercial treaties; but the example which was so beneficially set by the commercial treaty between England and France, having been now followed with respect to Belgium, I hope that the President of the Board of Trade, and the other members of the Government, 79 will do everything in their power to extend these beneficial arrangements to the other countries of Europe. In respect of the French Treaty, I do not know how too much can be said in its praise. The advantages derived from the treaty of commerce with that country have nearly compensated for the loss of our American trade. In the year previous to the commercial treaty with France the value of the exports to that country amounted only to £4,754,354, but in the first year after the treaty it was no less than £9,901,179. And here I am glad to acknowledge the gratuitous services rendered by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cobden). No greater triumph has ever been achieved by any individual than has followed from my hon. Friend's efforts in bringing about this treaty. I hope the same enlightened policy will spread, and that the nations of the earth will derive the benefit. It will be a satisfaction to the country to see that the Estimates are to be framed on a principle of strict economy. A prospect of a reduction of expenditure at this particular juncture would be most welcome to the country. I trust that Her Majesty's Government will strain every nerve to reduce the public burdens and to make the taxes fewer and lighter to the people. At this particular time—and in the manufacturing districts in particular—the people could ill bear the burden they have to sustain, and I therefore trust that we may have fewer exactions made upon us. I cannot here avoid expressing my trust, that as the labouring classes have conducted themselves with such extreme propriety under extreme suffering, when the day comes for Parliamentary Reform their conduct will not be forgotten. I think it only an act of justice to state that that is my hope, and I believe it is the general wish of the country that the suffrage should be extended in some degree to the operatives in the manufacturing districts. The resources of the British Empire are vast—they are immense; in fact, they are wonderful; and I am sure I only express the wish of the House and of the country when I say that I sincerely hope that those resources may be developed to the honour of the Crown and to the great prosperity of the nation. The hon. Gentleman concluded by seconding the Address.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That," &c. [See page 73.]80
§ MR. DISRAELI
Mr. Speaker, I am sure that there is no passage in the Speech of the Lords Commissioners which will be received with more complete and more cordial sympathy by this House than that in which the persuasion is expressed by the commands of Her Majesty that this House will sympathize with, the sentiments which Her Majesty feels on so interesting an event as the marriage of the Heir Apparent of these realms. Sir, there was a time when Royal marriages were the perplexity of politicians, and it was supposed that by the adroit negotiation of such transactions we might often control and sometimes even change the balance of power. Those times, happily, are for ever passed. But, Sir, it would be, I am sure, a great error to believe that in a country like England, where happily the domestic affections are cherished and venerated, a Royal marriage might not conduce greatly to the power and influence of a Prince. We have seen in our time and in this country what may be the effect in that respect of a Royal alliance. Sir, his Sovereign parent offers to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales an example which, if followed, will, I am sure, endear him to the hearts of all Englishmen; and, Sir, I am equally confident that at this moment he will not forget that other parent whom a year ago in this House we met to mourn, who built up a Royal hearth on the principle of household love, and who yet, by his refined and profound intelligence, elevated it above the majesty of thrones. Sir, there is another matter in the Speech in which this House must deeply sympathize. I refer to the communication which has been made by command of Her Majesty as to that portion of our fellow-countrymen who have been subjected of late to so great a vicissitude in their fortunes. But, Sir, when we remember the fortitude with which they have endured that visitation, when we remember the spirit with which our suffering fellow-subjects have been sustained, I think there is, if I may so express it, some moral compensation for the material losses; and if it prove, as I hope and believe it may prove, that ultimately this trial may conduce to the sounder and more permanent prosperity of the community, I hope we may be justified in treating this great visitation rather as a misfortune than a calamity. Sir, I will not stop to panegyrize the conduct of any 81 particular class. I will not offer now a needless, perhaps a fulsome tribute of admiration and approval to any particular body of Her Majesty's subjects. What in this terrible trial is of good cheer for England, is the proof it has furnished of the mutual trust and the entire affection that subsist among all classes of Her Majesty's subjects, and which indicate, whatever may be our form of Government, the existence of a real Commonwealth. If even, Sir, that question had not been touched upon in the Speech of the Royal Commissioners to-day, it would have been impossible, on the re-assembling of Parliament, to avoid inquiring what prospect there is of the cessation of this great misfortune. Her Majesty has not felt herself justified in offering to Parliament any prospect of an immediate termination of the causes of these difficulties. I know that there is nothing more difficult than to ascertain the precise character of contemporary events, though all will admit there is no knowledge more valuable to the statesman and the politician. For my own part, I am bound to say that from the first—and subsequent events have only confirmed my conviction —I have always looked upon the struggle which has occurred in America in the light of a revolution, and of a great revolution. Great revolutions, whatever may be their causes, are not lightly commenced, and are not concluded with precipitation. Before the civil war commenced, the United States of America were colonies, and we should not forget that such communities do not cease to be colonies because they are independent. They were not only colonies, but they were colonizing, and they existed under all the conditions of colonial life except that of mere political dependence. But oven before the civil war I think that all impartial observers must have been conscious that in that community there were smouldering elements which indicated the possibility of a change, and, perhaps, of a violent change. The immense increase of population; the still greater increase, perhaps, of wealth; the introduction of foreign races in large numbers as citizens, not brought up under the laws and customs which were adapted to a more limited and homogeneous race; the character of the political constitution, consequent perhaps on these circumstances, which became intolerable; the absence of any theatre for the educated and refined intellects of the 82 country, which deteriorated public spirit and lowered public morality; but, above all, the increasing influence of the United States upon the political fortunes of Europe—these were all circumstances which indicated the more than possibility that the mere colonial character of these communities might suddenly and violently be subverted, and those imperial characteristics appear which seem to be the destiny of man. I cannot conceal from myself the conviction that whoever in this House may live to witness the ultimate conclusion of the consequences of this civil war will see, whenever the waters have subsided, a different America from that which was known to our fathers, and from that even of which this generation has had so much experience. It will, I believe, be an America of armies, it will be an America of diplomacy, it will be an America of rival States and manoeuvring Cabinets, of frequent turbulence, and of frequent wars. With these views, I have myself, during the last Session, exerted whatever influence I might possess in endeavouring to dissuade my Friends from embarrassing Her Majesty's Government in that position of politic and dignified reserve which they appeared to me to have taken up on this question. It did appear to me—looking at these transactions across the Atlantic not as events of a mere casual character, but as being such as might probably influence America as the great French revolution influenced, and is still influencing, European affairs—that there was on our part due to the existing authorities in America a large measure of deference in the difficulties which they had to encounter. At the same time it was natural to feel, what I would not attempt to disguise, great respect for those Southern States who, representing a vast population of men, were struggling for some of the greatest objects of existence—independence and power. It appeared to me that the course which Her Majesty's Government had apparently resolved upon was one which, on the whole, was honourable to this country, and would prove beneficial to all classes of the community. I was therefore surprised and, individually speaking, somewhat mortified, when I found that in the course of the autumn Her Majesty's Government commissioned one of their Members to repair to the chief seats of industry in the country to announce, as I understood it, an entire change in the policy which they 83 had throughout supported and sanctioned. It was not an accident; the declaration was made formally, and it was made avowedly with the consent and sanction of the Government. Now, Sir, what did that declaration mean? If it meant anything, it meant that the Southern States would be recognised; because, if it be true that they have created armies navies, and a people, we are bound by every principle of policy and of public law to recognise their political existence. It appeared to me that upon the face of that declaration there was a great inconsistency. I thought that a course of conduct was then recommended by the Government which nothing had occurred in the interval to justify. It is most inconvenient that, upon a subject of such importance, arid upon which the Government appeared from the first to have taken up a correct and dignified position, Her Majesty's Ministers should have exhibited such contradictory conduct and such conflicting opinions, and that during the autumn they should have felt it their duty to communicate this vacillation of purpose and this inconsistency of judgment to the whole nation. At the commencement almost of the struggle we were told by one Minister, who, above all, ought to be best informed on these topics—namely, the noble Earl the Minister of Foreign Affairs—what in the opinion of the Government, were the motives of this civil war. We were told that on the part of the North there was a desire to establish dominion, and on the part of the South to achieve independence. It may have been perhaps indiscreet on the part of the Government to make that public declaration of their opinion; but what are we to say of the subsequent definitions of this contest which have also been supplied by the Government? It is only a fortnight since one of the Cabinet Ministers told us that the whole cause of this war was the existence of slavery, and he vigorously denounced it as a pestilent institution. What agreement is there, then, between the President of the Board of Trade, who spoke but a fortnight ago, and the Foreign Minister, who ought to be the highest authority on matters of this character? What are we to say when one day we find an eminent member of the Cabinet recommending the recognition of Southern independence, and the next day another equally important colleague telling us that none of the conditions on which independence should be recognised 84 exist in the Southern States. These varying opinions are so prevalent among the members of the Government that only a day or two ago one of them, not yet admitted to the Cabinet, but whose lips are steeped in the gravity of the Privy Council, told us that in the opinion of the Government the "Lord of Hosts was on the side of the Southern States." Sir, I think it is very much to be regretted that the Government did not adhere to that reserve which distinguished them last Session upon this subject, and that it is much to be regretted, that unless a change has taken place in their policy, there should not have been more silence during the recess as to their individual opinions.
But whatever may have been the disinclination of Her Majesty's Government to interfere in the conflict between the Northern and Southern States, there does not appear to have been any objection to interference in other States. So far as we can judge of the state of affairs, they have employed the autumn in interfering in almost every part of the world, except America. Their objection, therefore, to interfering is not an abstract one. We are promised in the Speech of the Royal Commissioners papers in reference to Greece, Italy, and Denmark. I should say that on all those subjects papers are very necessary; they may throw some light upon transactions and communications which certainly startled and perplexed us during the recess. But there is one country which is not mentioned in the Royal Speech, respecting which I should be glad to get some information and some particulars as affecting the popular question of the day—non-interference—and that is China. I wish we had a more accurate, or rather, I should say, a more precise idea of what our relations are with the Chinese, and what is going on with the Chinese, than seems to be in the possession of Parliament, and I wish we could command more knowledge on the subject than is to be obtained from the Royal Speech. So far as I can judge from the communications which arrive by every mail, there is constant fighting going on in China, and that fighting appears to be supported in a great degree by our fellow subjects. By one mail we learn that a British Admiral is severely wounded. Another mail informs us that an English Colonel has been killed. A great deal of slaughter is oc- 85 casioned by causes at present unknown to us. But in the recess there was a communication made to the public by a member of the Government on the subject of China, which was of a startling character. There was a meeting of a scientific society, the Geographical Society, and it was attended by some very distinguished officers in Her Majesty's service, and these officers informed the meeting that they were going to China, having been engaged by the Emperor of China, to enlist their fellow subjects to fight in his behalf—in fact, another Spanish Legion. That was a communication which created a considerable effect, and there seemed some doubt on the part of the eminent chairman whether it could be depended upon; so, seeing a member of the Government present, he ventured to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman whether there was any authority for the statement made to the meeting, and that right hon. Gentleman rose and said it was perfectly true; he entirely agreed in the operations and enterprise, and wished all success to the gallant Englishmen who were enlisting their countrymen to fight for the Tartar dynasty of China, and he trusted that they would completely accomplish their object. There is, then, war in China. Officers in Her Majesty's service are enlisting British subjects, in order to interfere between the Emperor of China and his rebellious subjects; and I want to know whether that is a policy which the House approves, and whether they do not think it requires some explanation? Let me remind the House that about twenty-five years since our Chinese policy commenced. The noble Lord, the present First Minister, may be said to be its author. It began by attempting to put down the Tartar dynasty, and the noble Lord when informed by the late much respected Sir James Graham, then a Member of this House, that the population of China was very considerable, nearly half the population of the globe, and that it was not so very easy to put down a Government commanding resources of such magnitude, said it was very true the population consisted of about 300,000,000, but half the population consisted of secret societies; that the great body of the subjects of the Emperor of China were discontented with his Government, and he was confident they would have support of which the House had no knowledge; the Government was 86 well informed, and the House might depend upon it the war would be successful. The war was successful. It was successful in developing ever since these secret societies, which have taken other names familiar to the House. Twenty-five years have elapsed, and the noble Lord who made war against the Tartar dynasty is now supporting the Tartar dynasty and making war against these rebellious subjects of the Emperor of China. We have completely changed our position. We are making war against the Taeping insurrection. There has been a great controversy in this House as to the origin of the insurrection. Who are the Taepings? What are the Taepings? Sir, I maintain that we have nothing to do with the Taepings. Whether they are patriots, or whether they are brigands, is nothing to the people of England. The status of the Taepings is a question for China, not for England; and if we attempt now in this illegitimate and roundabout manner to support the Tartar dynasty, we shall ultimately be involved in another Chinese war for a different object and on a different side from that which we have hitherto taken. I say it is a matter of great importance, at a moment when we hear for the first time of a reduction of public expenditure, that we should not got involved again in a China war. Chinese wars have been one of the most considerable causes of financial embarrassment in this country, and have led very much to that increase of taxation against which we have heard so many murmurs lately. We are promised in the Speech a reduction of the public expenditure, and no doubt it will not be inconsiderable, or it would not be announced in a Speech from the Throne. I am extremely glad to hear it. I ventured last year, knowing what must inevitably occur, to call the attention of the House to our expenditure. We were then told retrenchment was impossible, because if we retrenched, we should be subservient to France. I am happy to hear now that retrenchment does not involve subserviency to a foreign Power. But if we want any real retrenchment, it is not by a careless and hasty cutting down expenditure, which possibly may be necessary; it is by taking care that our policy is a policy which, does not lead to expenditure. Chinese policy and some other policies lead to expenditure, and we must take care to check such a policy if we want any re- 87 duction which is not mere moonshine. We hear a great deal of the frugal Government of the Duke of Wellington, The Duke of Wellington was not a Prime Minister who would have starved the army. The Duke of Wellington, it is well known, had an equal admiration and feeling for the other branch of Her Majesty's service. It is quite clear the army and navy under the Duke of Wellington would be in an efficient and complete state. We are told that in those days we had not the Empire which we now possess. We have some colonies which we did not possess in the days of the Duke of Wellington, but I believe that the colonial expenditure then was greater than it is now, because those considerable changes in the government of colonies, which have led to a reduction of expenditure, had not then been carried into effect. Therefore the Duke of Wellington had a, great army and navy to maintain, and our establishments abroad and our colonies, and yet was a frugal Minister. Why was he a frugal Minister? Because he did not follow a diplomacy of intrigue—because his policy was a truly Conservative policy. It was not a policy of sensation. It was not a policy of surprise. Such a policy may suit Continental nations, where public opinion only takes in the consideration of external affairs. Such a policy may suit new dynasties; but a diplomacy of intrigue and a policy of sensation and surprise are not necessary for a country like England, where liberty and industry occupy sufficiently the energies and minds of the people, and where we are blessed with a Constitution deeply rooted in the convictions of the country and supported by the traditions of centuries. It is necessary clearly to understand this. Let it not be supposed that because we advocate a frugal and economical administration of the public funds, we are opposed to an efficient state of the public service or the maintenance of those establishments abroad which are necessary to maintain our position; and let it be remembered that the inevitable result of a restless policy must be an expenditure very incompatible with the permanency of the reductions which are now promised us.
Well, we are to receive these papers on Denmark, Italy, and other places, I will wait until they are before us before I touch on those subjects, certainly 88 before I touch on the subject of Denmark. I may say I think with due humility that Denmark is a subject of which I am not entirely ignorant. I remember in the year 1848 taking the liberty of bringing the subject of Schleswig-Holstein before this House, and I was supported at least with the sympathy of the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and I think by a speech from the noble Lord the First Minister. I will not venture to introduce that subject on, this occasion. Not being entirely ignorant of it, I will venture to say of the Schleswig-Holstein question that it is one which few understand and none can explain. Who, then, could have supposed that the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs would, during the recent autumn, when we supposed him to be in the enjoyment of that relaxation which I am sure nobody could have grudged him, have thought it discreet and necessary to revive this interminable question—that he should, at a moment when there were so many other points of importance to engage his attention, have deemed it his duty to write a despatch into the merits of which I will not now enter, but of which I must be permitted to say this, that it laid down doctrines apparently contrary to the policy which the noble Lord advocated when he was the most responsible Minister of the Crown? Now, I will hardly make a remark upon what occurred at Rome, because I imagine we must have some information on the subject. I deem it but right, however, to remind the House that two years ago, on an occasion when I thought it my duty to speak in reference to some of our relations with Italy, suggesting that the settlement of the Roman question might not be found to be so easy as some hon. Gentlemen seemed to suppose, I added, that the question of the residence of the Pope was not one to be disposed of offhand; that it was one which involved his independence, one which was equally interesting to Protestant as to Roman Catholic States, and peculiarly interesting, as had always been held by our greatest statesmen, among Protestant States, to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. I also ventured to say that the selection of the country in which the Pope should take up his permanent residence would, before it could be arrived at, result in considerable and distressing misunderstanding. 89 What did the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, who was then a Member of this House, say on that occasion? He said that the fears to which I gave expression were merely imaginary, and that I contemplated the occurrence of contingencies which would probably never come to pass. Now, however, although twenty-four months have not since elapsed, we find Roman Catholic and Protestant Powers in active competition on the very question where the Pope is to take up his residence and under whose influence he is to remain. I shall postpone adverting to the more important considerations connected with this theme until another occasion, but I thought it my duty to remind the House to-night of the remarks which I once made on the subject, and which have been completely justified by the event. Something will, I take it for granted, appear in the papers to be laid on the table which will explain, or at least mitigate, the alarming and intolerable absurdity of the position as it now presents itself to impartial observers. Well, the noble Lord, in this mellow harvest of autumnal indiscretion to which I have been alluding, was not content with disturbing the waters of the Baltic, but appears to have been very active in the Mediterranean; and here, I think, we arrive at a point in reference to which much information ought to be expected from Her Majesty's Ministers. Controversies have often taken place with respect to the foreign policy of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Very different opinions prevail on the subject, and very different descriptions are given of it. Sometimes the foreign policy of the noble Lord is called spirited, sometimes it is pronounced turbulent. Sometimes the noble Lord is described as the incarnation of Liberalism; at other times he is denounced as the ready tool of any despot, provided only the despot be powerful. We shall, I suppose, have some information in a few days respecting the incredible intelligence which has within the last few hours reached us relative to the conduct of the Government in the case of Brazil. But, be that as it may, there is one point on which the noble Lord has been fortunate enough not to have been misconceived in the course of his life—a destiny which awaits few eminent men. The noble Lord, at all times and on whichever side of the House he happened to sit, has had the credit of being a con- 90 sistent and determined and most able supporter of the independence of the Turkish Empire. The noble Lord maintained not only that this independence was of the utmost importance to this country, but went much further, and contended that the resources of Turkey, if they had but fair play, were amply sufficient to uphold her integrity and independence, without the ultimate assistance and contrivance of Foreign nations. The noble Lord was, in short, supposed by some to have taken even an exaggerated view of her case. He opposed, for example, with, great warmth and ardour, the undertaking of a French gentleman to effect the penetration of the Isthmus of Suez. That the noble Lord deemed to be an enterprise dangerous to the Turkish empire. It would, he contended—to use his own expression—cut the territory of the Sultan in two; and he offered, therefore, to the project his strongest opposition. When he took that course, the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs dissented from his view of the question. He was in favour of penetrating the Isthmus, and he gave expression to many opinions which were considered quite heretical by those who took up the same view of the matter as the noble Lord opposite. When, therefore, the present Government was formed, and the noble Lord made choice of the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs to fill the important office which he holds—the very statesman who seemed so widely to differ from him as to the expediency of maintaining the existence of the Turkish empire—great anxiety was felt among some of those by whom the opinions of the First Minister on the subject were shared. But in the course of this extraordinary autumn an opportunity presented itself to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary to relieve the public mind of Europe and Asia from all anxiety with respect to it—an opportunity, which perhaps no Minister has had for a considerable time, of in the most formal manner expressing the policy of the Government on this vital question of the maintenance of the Turkish empire and the general disposition of political influence in the Levant. It so happened that shortly after the House rose there took place in Turkey a series of what I should term artificial insurrections—I mean insurrections got up by foreign agents and patronized and paid by foreign Governments. One of considerable importance took place in Montenegro. That 91 insurrection was put down promptly and effectively by the Porte, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs at St. Petersburg, who was supposed—perhaps unjustly—to be a very enthusiastic patron of the Prince of Montenegro, generously wishing to cover his discomfiture and retreat, wrote a despatch to our Government in which he complained of the hard terms which the Sultan exacted from the conquered rebels. Now, I do not think there was any necessity to answer that despatch. That, however, is of course a matter of taste, and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs is not a Minister who passes over an opportunity of writing a letter, as we all know. He did, at all events, answer the despatch in question, and very conclusively as to the immediate point of complaint, because he said he did not think the terms were more severe than any conquering Power would, under the circumstances of the case, have exacted. He, however, went further, and said he would take the opportunity of entering into the whole question of our policy with regard to the Turkish empire. Now, all temperate men are, I suppose, anxious for tranquillity in the Levant, as of importance, not only to English but to European interests. That desire is at the same time consistent with the belief that in the case of the subject races of the Porte there should be at least progress, and, for all we know, ultimate independence. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs was, however, not at all satisfied with this moderate opinion. He accordingly laid clown in his despatch, as an absolute alternative, that the Turkish empire must be maintained, or that the subject races—Slavonian and Greek —would be involved in internecine struggles; and that finally, after cutting each other's throats, the country would be partitioned, and that the partition would probably lead to a general war. Not satisfied with this—the despatch is dated the 27th of September, 1862, only four months ago—the noble Lord warns these poor Slavonians and Greeks, representing many millions of an industrious population, that they are not to indulge in what they call great ideas. He says to them, "You aim at terminating your allegiance to the Porte and ultimately reviving the Greek empire, but these are views which we shall never tolerate. They must end in general disaster. They are views which will lead not only to the destruction of the Porte, but which will subvert every 92 other throne in Europe." Well now, Sir, a few weeks after this a revolution occurred in Greece, and one of their first steps was to elect an English Prince for their Sovereign. What encouragement the Greeks had to elect an English Prince of course it would not now be convenient to inquire. From what reaches me, I apprehend, however, that that subject will sooner or later occupy the attention of the House of Commons. We were told to-day by Her Majesty's Speech that the diplomatic engagements of Her Majesty's Crown prevented the acceptance of the throne of Greece by Prince Alfred; but if that was the case, why were the Greeks kept in suspense?— a suspense most injurious and most trying under the circumstances in which they found themselves. Diplomatic engagements are precise and positive; they are not engagements more now than they were four months ago. Therefore, this is a passage in the conduct of Her Majesty's Government which requires some elucidation. But that to which I now wish to call the attention of the House is the extraordinary circumstance that about the same time the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—who is opposed to creating any ideas amongst the Greeks of extension of their borders and increase of their territory, to the destruction of the Turkish Government, and ultimately, perhaps, to the convulsion of Europe—should have taken that opportunity to announce the intention of Her Majesty's Government greatly to increase the territory of the Greeks, and that in a very peculiar manner, by reducing the territories of Her Majesty. Upon this subject I hope that we may receive some information to-night. I know that we are told that public opinion has decided in favour of the cession of the Ionian Isles to Greece. I think that the gradual and mature opinion of an enlightened and inquiring people ought to receive the vigilant attention of an English Minister, and should greatly influence his conduct, but I deny that the gabble of clubs is public opinion, or that public opinion is the irresponsible chatter of a desultory multitude. Public opinion upon such a question as the cession of provinces cannot be formed except after mature inquiry, with ample knowledge and the grave deliberation which becomes Cabinets and Parliaments. We are told that this is no cession of territory whatever —merely a resignation of a Protectorate 93 intrusted to us under the treaties of 1815. This is very dangerous ground to take; and I most earnestly recommend the House to pause before they accept representations of this kind. The treaties of 1815 intrusted the Ionian Isles to England about in the same manner that they intrusted Paris to the French people. Both parties previously possessed what was intrusted to them. We possessed the Ionian Isles before the treaties of 1815, and it becomes us to consider how we possessed them. We possessed them by right of conquest, and the question immediately arises why were they conquered? You do not conquer places out of mere wantonness or for amusement. The Ionian Isles were conquered because the great men to whom was intrusted the duty of guarding British interests and maintaining British power in those waters represented most earnestly to the English Government that they could not accomplish their behests so long as these insular harbours were in possession of our powerful rival and enemy. It is, or it should be well known, that the occupation of the Ionian Isles by the French was part of the secret negotiations of Tilsit, and it was only in consequence of an arrangement with Russia, before war was declared between that Power and England, that French troops were landed from Russian ships on these Islands, where the injurious influence exercised by them during the war upon British shipping and British interests was so great that no less a man than Lord Collingwood impressed upon the British Government that it was absolutely necessary that these harbours should be in our possession. And they were in our possession. Corfu was not seized in a military sense, but six of these islands, including Cephalonia, which was described by Sir Charles Napier—no mean authority on this or any subject—as possessing the most considerable harbour in the Mediterranean, had been conquered, and had been even years in the possession of England at; the time of the peace. And why was not Corfu in our possession? Why, Corfu was a thorn in our side. We had not succeeded in taking Corfu, but we had strictly blockaded it; and when Napoleon suddenly fell, the French surrendered it to England by a military convention. It was in every sense a military surrender, and therefore, when the Congress of Vienna had to deliberate upon the settlement of Europe, we were in military 94 possession of these islands, which we had in fact conquered and occupied, because in the possession of our enemy we had found them most injurious to our power and our interests. The noble Lord proposes that these islands shall now be given to Greece. See what is the effect of that! You are favouring that very policy which, on the 27th of September of last year, the noble Lord denounced with, I think, such unnecessary warmth in his despatch to Prince Gortschakoff. You are increasing the resources, the population, and the wealth of Greece. What interpretation the Greeks put upon this cession you may learn from the meeting which immediately took place in Corfu, and in which they, to use a phrase well understood in this House, intimated to you that they accept the Ionian Isles as an instalment. You are encouraging them to aspire to the possession of Albania, Thessaly, and other provinces, and to develop that great idea which the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary says is full of such fetal consequences, commencing with an attack upon the integrity and independence of the Turkish empire, and bringing about possible partition and certain war. It may be right to do all this, and this is not the occasion on which to enter into a discussion as to what our policy ought to be; but let us clearly understand that Her Majesty's Government are now following a policy different from that which they have hitherto pursued upon the Eastern question. They have changed their course. It is not the policy which the noble Lord has always upheld in this House with regard to Greece; it is not the policy which the Foreign Secretary only in September last advocated in such burning terms in his despatch to Prince Gortschakoff. You are entirely changing your course, and you are encouraging the Greeks to occupy that position and to pursue that career which you have denounced as most injurious to the interests of England, and perhaps hostile to the tranquillity of the world. It is said that the Government will not give up these islands without conditions, but the very fact that you are going to exact conditions proves that you ought not to give up the islands; because if the surrender can only be made upon conditions, it proves that the surrender without conditions would be injurious. And then what security have you that your conditions will be fulfilled? What are your 95 conditions? To my mind no Minister ever plunged into a deeper abyss of absurdity. Your conditions are that Greece shall have a constitutional monarchy, and at the same time shall not disturb her neighbours. But what is the immediate result of a constitutional monarchy? A constitutional Government immediately produces parties, and is it not quite obvious that the principle upon which the Opposition, or as it will then be called "the Liberal" party, will be formed in Greece, will be the extension of the territories and carrying out the great idea? And therefore when the noble Lord talks of conditions, his conditions will perpetuate the very conclusions which he opposes. If this be true, then, so far as regards Greece, you have changed your policy; so far as regards Greece, you are pursuing a policy which will produce results which you yourselves have deprecated and denounced. So much as to your policy upon Greece. Now, what is its influence upon England? I have shown the House that these islands were taken by us because their possession by an enemy was injurious to our interests, and therefore it is quite absurd to maintain that their possession by England is not conducive to our interests. It is idle to meet us by arguing the case on a technical term and to tell us that we are not the possessors of the islands, but only the protectors. You might as well say that the treaties of 1815 made Prussia the protector of the Rhine, and not the possessor, because the Rhine was given to Prussia for the specific purpose of making a barrier against France; you might as well say that the Italian provinces were only intrusted to Austria for the common good of Europe, as was alleged at the Congress; but Prussia and Austria believed, and believe, that the possession of the Rhine and of the Italian provinces contributed to their power, or do you think they would have retained them? We are told that we are only protectors. Are difficult questions like the cession of a province to be settled by technical special pleading such as this? I am sure the House of Commons will never sanction such a spirit of dealing with public interests. Within the last twenty-five years the route to our Indian possessions has been changed; and, whatever the intention of the treaties of 1815, the country has been constantly congratulated on having a chain of Mediterranean garrisons, which secured our Indian empire. I 96 am perfectly aware that there is a school of politicians—I do not believe they are rising politicians—who are hostile to the very principle of a British empire. But I have yet to learn that Her Majesty's Ministers have adopted the wild opinions which have been prevalent of late. Professors and rhetoricians find a system for every contingency and a principle for every chance; but you are not going, I hope, to leave the destinies of the British empire to prigs and pedants. The statesmen who construct, and the warriors who achieve, are only influenced by the instinct of power, and animated by the love of country. Those are the feelings and those the methods which form empires. There may be grave questions as to the best modes of obtaining wealth—some may be in favour of protection of domestic and colonial interests, some of unrestricted competition, or some, of what I am quite surprised has now become so modish— commercial treaties and reciprocal arrangements for the advantage of commercial exchange — propositions which used to be scouted in this House; but there can be no question either in or out of this House that the best mode of preserving wealth is power. A country, and especially a maritime country, must get possession of the strong places of the world. I have heard no argument to justify the course Her Majesty's Government has hitherto pursued, or the expectations they have held out relative to the Ionian Islands. The language of the Speech leads me to hope that the arrangement alluded to is by no means matured. As far as I can understand, from what I have read in other places, a considerable period must elapse, under any circumstances, before that arrangement is effected; and in that time much may happen. You propose to give these settlements, which have been fostered by the power of England, and which abound in wealth and public spirit, to the Provisional Government of what at present certainly is a distracted country. Whatever the present posture of affairs, I trust we shall not precipitately adopt a policy which appears to me to have been taken up with some caprice, and may lead to serious consequences. The noble Lord will have an opportunity of informing us as to the intentions of the Government. I understand that we are not at all pledged by the mode in which the Address is framed to give any approbation to the policy 97 indicated in the Speech, With that feeling, I shall, of course, offer no objection to the passing of the Address. But after the formal announcement which has been made I felt it my duty to throw out these suggestions to the House, to show that the question is not one of that simple character which some are apt to suppose—that it may lead to very dangerous consequences, and involve some of the gravest considerations that can possibly be brought before public men.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, he was sorry to say his Indian experience inclined him to strengthen the doubts which he had formerly expressed regarding the likelihood of a perennial adequate supply of cotton from that quarter, and he expressed these doubts in the interests of the helpless operatives in Lancashire, lest the generous public might relax in its efforts to mitigate human sufferings, which, if left to themselves, might give rise to dangerous results. He must warn the House that the present supply, he feared, was only spasmodic, as, owing to the high prices attained in the Liverpool and Manchester markets, the whole of the cotton ordinarily used in India for domestic purposes was finding its way to this country. But was there any reason for believing that the field of culture had been in any great degree enlarged? For the most part in India the cultivators were also the proprietors of the soil, whereas in this country tenants were bound usually by their landlords to a rotation of crops; the Indian farmers were absolutely unfettered by any analogous regulations, and the Government had no power of interference. In case the cultivator thought he could profit more by raising cotton than sugar, indigo, oilseeds, or the cerealea, he might be induced to do so; but otherwise the ordinary instincts of man told us that he would not sacrifice his own interests to the wishes of others. There was no doubt but that India, with its area of 1,488,070 square miles, possessed diversities of soil and climate adapted to the production of all the ten known species of the cotton plant, but whether the farmer would engage in their cultivation depended upon remunerative prices in Europe; and as long as the present prices lasted in Europe, a good deal of cotton would come from India, but he feared they could not flatter themselves that the turning point in Lancashire distress had yet been reached. His hon. Friend the Member for Man- 98 chester (Mr. Bazley) had said that we were at peace with all the world. But what was the fact? We were actually at war, contrary to our professed neutrality, with nearly one-third of the Chinese empire, at least a hundred millions of people. The cost of the position which the English Government had taken up in China was not less than £1,000,000 per annum, and the cost of our past Chinese wars, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was seven million five hundred and fifty-four thousand pounds, which enormous sum had been spent to compel the Chinese to legalize the traffic in opium for the benefit of the East Indian revenue and the amassing of millionaire fortunes for individuals. The Tartars and the Chinese had been in hostility for the last two centuries, and secret societies had been in constant action in China against the Tartar or Foreign Government. The indigenous Chinese or Taepings, who are now at war with the Tartar Government, were men who professed Christianity, who asked the British nation to accept their friendship, and who had shown that they knew how to conduct trade, notwithstanding the statements of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The truth was, there had been a systematic suppression of all that was favourable to the Taepings and an exaggeration of all that was damaging. It was a fact that since these insurgents had been in possession of the districts from which green tea and silk were obtained, 20,040 bales of silk for the year ending October 31, 1862, had been exported from Shanghai in excess of the usual quantity. That was effected by European agents traversing these so-called desolated districts with money in their hands wherewith to make their purchases, and they were protected and encouraged by the Taepings. This fact alone illustrates the animus that prompts the statement that they are universal desolators. We were now drilling the Tartars—putting arms into their hands, and supplying them with shot and shell, allowing foreigners to command them, and the chances were, from their past perfidy, that they would take an early occasion to turn these arms against ourselves. It was alleged that it was a mockery to call by the name of Christianity the religion which the insurgents professed, and it was said that they ought to be exterminated as blasphemers and desolators. Much blood had been shed, and the Taepings had 99 been overwhelmed by our shot and shell, yet they had never retaliated, though provoked by acts at which humanity shudders. He would read an extract from a letter from Shanghai, which he had received by the last China mail—S—told me that he was at Tsingpoo at the capture, and had to hold the heads ot fourteen women whose throats were being sown up. There were many more, but he held the heads of fourteen with his own hands.Sir, said the hon. Member, this is but a microscopic illustration, so to say, of the gigantic horrors that have occurred in our Chinese wars; and the blood both of Tartars and Taepings is reeking up to Heaven in judgment against us. The House was told that the Taepings were blasphemous, and that their Emperor was especially blasphemous. But he (Colonel Sykes) held in his hand the first copy which hurl reached England of a Taeping Bible and Testament. It had been printed at Nanking, by order of this so-called "blasphemous Emperor," and had his Imperial seal upon it, who thus at all events gave his followers an opportunity of judging of his pretensions. All the books of the New Tetsament were complete, and of the Old Testament the Pentateuch was also complete. The translation was the work of one of the ablest of our Chinese scholars, Gutzlaff. So much then for the blasphemous character of the Taepings. With regard to the Tartar boy Emperor, his authority, or rather that of Prince Kung, did not extend far beyond the walls of Pekin; and of this we had a patent illustration by tea boats being stopped above Hankow, and double duties levied, contrary to treaty; which provoked the exploit of Lieutenant Poole, in the gunboat Havoc (appositely named), who not only released the tea boats without paying any duty at all, but brought away as prisoner the custom-house officer of Tan-kau, and seized the Mandarin and Imperial war junks! Yet we were engaged in supporting Prince Kung. At Shanghai we collect the customs duties, and they ought to be sent either to the Emperor at Pekin, or to the local viceroy. But they were instead used in paying Mr. Lay his £4,000 or £5,000 a year, and his forty-one European custom-house assistants; in purchasing gunboats and munitions of war in England, and in paying Captain Osborne and British officers to go out as mercenaries If we went on as we had been doing, we should become the 100 rulers of China, as we had become the rulers of India; and how would that be regarded by Franco and Russia? We should inevitably get into disputes, if not into hostilities, with those countries. He was very glad the question had been raised by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, and he hoped that daring the Session a definite vote of the House would be taken on the subject.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Address had in his speech shown a strong sympathy with the Southern States of America, defended the institution of slavery, and manifested his dislike to the Northern States, his hatred of popular institutions, and his aversion to liberty. The speech of the Mover of the Address was, it was well known, always inspired by the Government; in this case it was of course suggested by the Tory Leader of the Radical party. There was one thing that surprised him in the Royal Speech, and that was the announcement of a reduction of expenditure. He was surprised, because, remembering the antecedents of the Government, he had never expected any reduction in the Estimates. He must confess that he was offended at the tardiness of this act of justice; for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had shown last year that the expenditure might have been reduced by £5,000,000; many other hon. Members had added their entreaties to the denunciations of the right hon. Gentleman; but Her Majesty's Government turned from them with scorn, and despised both proofs and denunciations. Her Majesty's Government were strong then; but what had happened since? The Home Secretary had nursed and bred up a gang of Thugs, so that it was unsafe to go abroad at night in the metropolis of civilization. The Secretary for India had been threatened with impeachment, and was, it was reported, about to be put in a place of safety, by being stowed away in the pleasant refuge across the lobby. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland was unpopular in that country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had been disappointed in his revenue. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs had hedged his real opinions with regard to Denmark, he had meddled with Greece, and got into difficulties in America. The noble Viscount still held the undulating reins of power, but it was with the feeble and senilc 101 grasp of a palsied hand. The hon. Mover of the Address had stated that a surplus was anticipated. If there was a surplus, it would be the first that Her Majesty's Government had had to boast of. He (Lord Robert Montagu) however anticipated not a surplus but a great deficiency. It must be remembered, in the first place, that last year had been a very bad year; this was then taken for an excuse; it may not be used as a foil to this year. The Revenue must always be compared with the Estimated Revenue. The total Estimated Revenue was £70,190,000. Three quarters of this was £52,642,000, while the actual receipts in three quarters of a year had amounted to only £51,389,000, thus showing a deficiency of a million and a quarter in three quarters of a year. In 1858–9 there was an expenditure of £60,961,315, and a surplus of £813,401. In 1859–60, when the Estimates were also prepared by Lord Derby's Government, there was a surplus of £1,587,379. But in 1860–1, under the Government of that financial reformer the noble Viscount, the expenditure was £68,354,611, and there was a deficit of £2,558,384. In 1861–2 there was another deficit, to the amount of £2,412,006. What was taken out of the pockets of the people in 1858–9 was less by £4,000,000 than in 1861–2—a year in which there was misery in Lancashire, want in Warwickshire, and starvation, he believed, in Ireland. The expenditure in 1860–1 was eight millions greater than in 1858–9, which increase was owing chiefly to naval and military expenditure. In the years 1858–9 the surpluses amounted to two millions and a half. In the two succeeding years, under the noble Viscount's Government, there were deficits to the amount of five millions, besides which the Exchequer balances were reduced; while we had anticipated all our extraordinary resources—war taxes on tea and sugar, war income tax, and war duties on spirits. This he would prove to have arisen from the meddling foreign policy of the noble Viscount. Sir Richard M. Bromley said, in his evidence before the Committee on Public Accounts (149)—The last ten years hare been an exceptional period; it has been a race for building, a race for getting in stores, a race for getting men into the service," hence "Parliament has lost the control which it had," when the "Votes were of the usual amount.The hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir Mor- 102 ton Peto), said, in his book on Taxation, that we had spent £150,000,000 more than we should if expenditure had regained as in 1853. The Duke of Somerset (1408) said—The excesses are almost always owing to unforeseen circumstances of an uncertain character —demands made upon the Admiralty for naval force by the Foreign Office, and by the Colonial Office, in different parts of the world.Afterwards (1522–7) he showed that secret and illegal meddling with other countries was the cause of all this extra expenditure. Mr. Gladstone (1543) said—That in 1853–4 the expenditure of the army and navy ran within certain accustomed channels," while "for the last three years either military operations, or political operations approximating to a military character, have been in progress," so that "the Estimates have ceased to be mere financial questions, and have become political questions of the first order.He afterwards explained this (1554) by saying that it was difficult to estimate when, the country not being in a "recognised state of war," we "had important military operations in hand;" but that before 1853 "questions ran in an easy and established course." This meddling foreign policy might be traced to another cause, also fostered by the present Government. He alluded to the question of foreign loans, which he had brought before the House last Session. It was reported that we were going to guarantee a debt of five millions for the construction of a railway in Nova Scotia. As the Grand Trunk Railway did not pay, he did not see what benefit the country would receive for raising this money by imperial debentures. Last year this country had lent half a million to Morocco and eight millions to the Porte, and the success of both of these loans was secured by the direct interposition of the Government. There was a loan to Venezuela, the interest of which the consul was to gather; besides upwards of eighteen million in loans to other countries. These loans bring us into unpleasant contact with other nations, and cause this constant meddling and expense; besides which, this money, which goes in unproductive works, is withdrawn from the capital which employs labour. If this money did not go abroad in loans, it could not lie idle, but must be invested in industrial works at home. It might be urged that these loans are private matters; yet the Government encouraged the system, when a Commission was sent to one 103 country; treaties were made with others, mortgaging the customs to the bondholders, and when an ambassador received the interest in one place, and a consul in another. He was sure he would be answered, as he was last year, by hearing quoted Lord Palmerston's Circular to the Representatives at Foreign States—It has hitherto been thought by the successive Governments of Great Britain undesirable that British subjects should invest their capital in loans to foreign Governments, instead of employing it in profitable undertakings at home.He was glad to be supported in his opinion by the noble Viscount's words; all he complained of was that the noble Viscount did not act up to his words. If he had, we should not have gone to war with Mexico last year for the sake of the bondholders. These guarantees and securities caused meddling; for a security was given only where a debtor had no credit. Now, in the case of a State, how was a security to be realized? By sending ships and armies, and fitting out expeditions. Thus it was that loans caused meddling, while a meddling foreign policy caused expense. He now came to the gravamen against the Government—namely, the proposed dismemberment of the empire. His principal objection to the cession of the Ionian Islands was the suddenness and secrecy with which it had been resolved upon. It was said in excuse that the cause of it was sudden and unexpected—namely, the revolution in Greece; but he contended that Her Majesty's Government must have foreseen that event. No papers had been laid before Parliament to explain it; but the able correspondent of The Times— General Eber—who was now in Greece, had pointed out that one of the main causes of the revolution was the disposition of the Government to centralize the whole administration of the country. Centralization, by increasing the number of boards and of paid functionaries, of course augments the expense of the county; while it took from the people all participation in the management of affairs. If this, then, was the cause of the Revolution, it was not sudden. The cause had operated gradually until the crisis or culminating point was reached. Moreover, the Revolution had begun in Thiotis, where "ignorant peasants, and illiterate men, without one political idea," had all shouted for Prince Alfred. They could know nothing of his character; hence their choice was not made on personal 104 grounds. They had not a political idea; and therefore it was not on political grounds. It must have been the result of some intrigue. For revolutionary agents were merely the tools of other Powers; and outbreaks were the anticipated results of intrigues; while the Power who was readiest could possess itself of the passions which were aroused, but which were blind. On this point he could not forbear quoting words used at Sunderland last October, by the Member of the Cabinet who, being the most eloquent, uttered most fully the thoughts of the Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said—And if under peculiar circumstances, in his humble sphere, he had been either a promoter or a favourer of revolution, he did not disclaim the responsibility.He would, however, not press this point. All he contended was, that the pretended cause or simulated occasion of the cession was not sudden nor unexpected. In former days it used to be the practice to uphold the Constitution, to respect the rightful authority of the Sovereign; and non-interference used to be the Whigcry. The year before last, the astounding doctrine had been propounded by Lord Russell, that a people was at liberty to get rid of its rulers; that the sovereign's authority was not to be respected, nor the Constitution maintained. This was followed by ballot-box hoaxes, and annexation decrees. This year we had gone a step further: a people was not to choose its own rulers, nor settle its own affairs; and yet the Constitution was not to be maintained, nor its sovereign to be respected. But the Great Powers (if there were any such) were to impose a King and overturn a Constitution; while the ballot-box hoaxes were still to be practised. And this bitter dose was to be sugared down by the gift of the Ionian Islands. States before now had intrigued to acquire territory, without waging war, without incurring expense, and without running risks. But he had never heard of a Government intriguing to lose a territory which had been gained by the flow of British blood and by the creation of an enormous debt. What right had the Government to give away, without sanction, that which had cost so much money? The money had each year been spent for some object, which was now to be given away without the nation's consent. What right had the Government to contract the landmarks of the Empire? That which had 105 been received in solemn trust should not be repudiated in secrecy and haste. The duties arid liabilities of trustees were not pleasant; they were often costly. But when once a trust had been accepted, it was neither safe nor honourable to shirk it. What was founded on international compact remained binding until we had been absolved by the same authority which was a party to it. And if Parliament had voted supplies on the faith of those treaties (which it had done in 1817), then Parliament also should be consulted before the treaty is broken. However, what he especially objected to was the secrecy and haste which had been used, in order to evade the scrutinizing eye of the House. When the House had separated, no one dreamt that the Empire would have been dismembered, shorn, and clipped, before we had again assembled. If such a step were necessary, it could easily have been foreseen, and advice asked of Parliament. Or if Government had no forecast or prescience, then the House could have been assembled in December. He had always observed, however, that these great events were done in the recess, and were accomplished facts when the House met. With such contempt was the House usually treated; so despised on the part of the Government! He would now notice some arguments which had been used in favour of the cession. The Seconder of the Address had brought forward Lord Russell's despatch of August 1860; or rather that of October 1860, which had proclaimed a disregard of law and constitutional government and a scorn of treaties; that of August had proclaimed the sanctity of treaties, and the divine rights of Kings. Soon after the despatch of October had been published Signer Dandolo demanded that, in accordance with its doctrines, the Ionian islands should be ceded. Lord Russell answered by another despatch, in which he refused, on the ground that we had "paramount interests in the Adriatic." On this point he was questioned in the House just before he left it with a peerage, when he proved in reply that Corfu was "a very important position" to us, because of the danger of an insurrection in Greece, and of an attempt being made to extend the Greek Empire. However, that despatch of October, 1860, did not apply to this case; for the Ionians were not Greeks. Their language was Italian. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had addressed 106 their assembly in Italian; and the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Layard), on May 7, 1861, had said—If they could assort nationality, might not Malta and Gibraltar do so too? or even some island with which it might be still more inconvenient for us to part?…. We ought first to define in what nationality consists. Does it mean identity of race, of language, of religion, and of geographical limits? If identity on all these points were required, the Ionian islands had no right to claim nationality with Greece." [3 Hansard, clxii. 1699.]We had therefore no opening to brag of our consistency, to brag of our generosity to Greek nationalities. Besides, to this desire to do something to brag of, he would apply the old proverb:—"Brag may be a very good puppy, but old Holdfast is a far better dog." We never could persuade other countries that we acted from motives of generosity. For no nation had ever surrendered territory, except on compulsion, or else in exchange for some material benefit. Besides, we piped, but Corfu would not dance. For Corfu resented the notion of being separated from this country. Why, then, should we ignominiously haul down our flag; and let our prestige suffer in the East; where this surrender would be regarded as a sign and symptom of weakness? It was said that the cession of the islands was a financial measure, in order to remedy our state of chronic deficit—to which he had alluded. If that were so, the House of Commons, whose privilege it was to decide on what objects public money should be expended, was, by this measure, being robbed of its control over the expenditure. Again, if the surrender took place merely to relieve our finances, then we certainly had nothing to brag of; we were selfishly consulting our own profit, and foisting off on the Greeks that which it was inconvenient for us to retain. Besides, what saving would be effected? We should not keep one soldier or one sailor the less, after the cession of Corfu. Again, it had been objected that the Ionians were turbulent and discontented, and ungovernable. Yet the Greeks, who could not govern themselves, were not likely to govern those restless islanders better than we could. Again, it was objected that an increase of territory was necessary to the improvement of Greek finances. They certainly were sorely in want of improvement; seeing that for thirty years they had paid no interest on their debt. Yet how an expenditure of £280,000 a year, in keeping up Corfu, would be 107 of advantage to Greek finance was not very clear. If it were answered that the expenditure hitherto made on Corfu were not necessary, it would be an admission that the British taxpayer had "been robbed for years to the extent of £280,000 a year. This argument proved too much: for it established this dilemma; either the Government had for years robbed the British taxpayer, or else they would ruin Greece with their baneful gifts. The Greeks had not paid the interest of the loan; yet their financial depravity was to be rewarded by an increase of territory. The Turks had always paid the interest of their debt; and if the boon were to be accorded to any one, it should be to the Turks. The Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Layard), on May 7, 1861, after saying that "in Albania there are very few Greek families," continued, "Corfu is not Greek, but Albanian; and if given up to any Power, it ought to be surrendered to Turkey." [3 Hansard, clxii. 1700.] Yet Lord Russell, on the contrary, had empowered Mr. Elliot to treat with Turkey for the cession of Albania and Thessaly. Whereupon The Times Correspondent (General Eber) said that this would be "fraught with immediate danger to Turkey," that it would "lead to a dismemberment of the Empire," for that the vassal slates would throw off the suzerainty of the Porte. "Hence this negotiation indicates a complete change of our policy in the East." The strategic objection had now to be considered. The opinion of the Great Napoleon as to the importance of Corfu in a military point of view had been contested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his evidence before the Committee on Colonial Expenditure. The soundness of the opinion of the First Napoleon on that military mutter had been disputed by the right hon. Gentleman; but he had never heard any independent military opinion in conformity with that of the right hon. Gentleman, and it would moreover be hard to invent an argument with regard to Corfu, which did not equally apply to Malta or Gibraltar. The strategic value of Corfu was, however, fully proved by the eagerness with which Corfu had been always seized and grasped by contending Powers in time of war. France had first held it, and it was confirmed to her by the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797. It was then taken from France and erected into a Re- 108 public, by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. Russia then seized it in 1804, and planted 7,000 troops there; France again seized it, and was confirmed in the possession by the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807; Lord Collingwood took it in 1809, and it was finally put under our protectorate by the Treaty of Paris, of November 15, 1815. The objection might be quite true that distant positions weaken a state; because that the secret of war, as of a battle, was the power of rapid concentration at a single point. But a strong place, which could be held by a small body of men, acted as a diversion, and had the effect of keeping idle a large force of the enemy, which had to be employed in watching it. History showed that this was more especially the case with an island off an enemy's coast; for as the garrison may effect a landing at any point of the coast, an equal number of the enemy must be posted at various positions. This was clearly proved by the memorandum of the statesman Turgot, written for the use of the, French King, during our war with our American Colonies. Thus Corfu might threaten the whole coast of the Adriatic; and, if surrendered, would be a menace to Trieste, to Italy, or to the Turkish coast of Albania. In this light the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarded the cession of Corfu in 1861. For after saying that—It would be a matter of great and serious risk to remove the Ionian Islands from the British protectorate,"—he continued—And I believe it would be nothing less than a crime against the safety of Europe—(I might even say against its immediate tranquillity—as connected with the state and course of the great Eastern question)—if England were at this moment to apply to the Powers of Europe to be allowed to surrender the protectorate of the Ionian Islands for the purpose of uniting them to free Greece. I must confess I think there would be great risk indeed—nay, that it would hardly be compatible with good faith to Turkey, if we were to allow Corfu to become under present circumstances, a portion of the Greek territory." [3Hansard, clxii. 1688.]The object of Greece in obtaining an extension of territory was merely to carry out the "Greek idea." This was fully proved by the Address of the Ionian Legislature to the Legislatures and Governments of Europe (of March 11, 1861). They used these words:—" The right is practically desired of placing the Cross over the Crescent." And "the first step" (in "the 109 emancipation of the whole Greek race,") is "the restoration of the Seven Islands to Greece." Again, the Deputation to the Lord High Commissioner on December 23, 1862, used these words in the Address which they presented—We add a hope of seeing magnanimous Albion, who now, by the annexation of the Ionian Islands, strengthens the central home of the liberty of the Hellenic race—a hope, we say, of seeing England also co-operate in the future contest which the Hellenes will have to sustain in the East in the interest of Christian civilization.It was true that certain vague conditions were appended to the promise of cession. But these conditions had been invented a month after the promise had been made. They were as follows: —If the new Assembly of the representatives of the Greek nation should prove faithful to this declaration, should maintain constitutional monarchy, and should refrain from all aggression against neighbouring States.Now, for how long were they to prove faithful before they were to obtain Corfu? for how long were they to maintain constitutional monarchy? for how long were they to refrain from their projected aggressions? And when Greece had already received the Ionian Isles—if she no longer remained within bounds but fought for her "idea," what would then be our course? How, then, should we coerce her? Should we occupy Greece, while the Russians went to Constantinople, and the French to Syria? Or should we jointly occupy Greece, and quarrel among ourselves in that little corner of the Earth? If we were once to endorse this principle, there would be no end to the claimants and their demands; Jersey would seek a union with France, Gibraltar must be annexed to Spain, and Malta to Italy— unless Malta, indeed, were reserved as a refuge for the Pope when driven out of Rome. The press had been already preparing the way for the cession of Gibraltar. It had been spoken of by the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright), whispered in the lobbies of the Cortes, and discussed in the Spanish Chambers. The English are said to be so fond of grasping and having that they swallow down unjust annexations in India. Should we, then, now submit to a cession of territory r Should we lose our hold on a strong place like Corfu, Gibraltar, or Malta, on which we had, year by year, spent so much money? Nay, should we allow it to be 110 handed over slily behind our backs, and ourselves treated with contempt, as if we were not worth consulting; as if our efforts to assort our rights were puny, weak, miserable, and to be despised? And should we be further insulted by being assembled to see the ink dry on the deed of British dishonour, and the sign of British weakness? On the other hand, what words could be more appropriate than these?—To abandon possessions gained at the cost of so much blood and treasure—many of them important outposts for the protection of our commerce and the security of our dominion—would be a violation of public faith and a forfeiture of national honour.These were the words of the noble Viscount.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
differed from the noble Lord on the question of Ionian cession, which he thought was a wise and prudent act, and it was one which Sir John Young, the British Governor, had long since recommended. With respect to Lancashire distress, he was glad to learn that it had abated. He, as chief magistrate of one of the principal cities in Ireland, had done everything in his power to evoke sympathy for the operatives; he had, however, now to state that Lancashire distress was very far exceeded by the misery that prevailed in Ireland. The statements which he made last year were evaded or denied, but he had since had the honour of laying upon the table papers proving the truth of all that he stated. But however bad the state of things might last year have been, it was now infinitely worse. There was not, he believed, a single man in Ireland, whatever his rank might be, who was not filled with alarm at the prospect which was before his countrymen for the next twelve months. The last harvest was a melancholy failure. Ireland was an agricultural country, not possessing the resources that this country enjoyed, and she had suffered from a long succession of failures in the crops, of which the last dealt the crushing blow. Some few estates, no doubt, continued prosperous, but generally speaking rents could not be paid with anything like punctuality or to any large amount this year. The small farmers throughout the country were almost annihilated because they were crushed under the weight of an accumulated load of debt, and they had no prospect before them but that Providence might give them an abundant harvest this 111 year, which would to some extent compensate them for the successive failures of the previous years. The labouring classes had no employment in the towns, the mechanics and artisans were reduced almost to a state of starvation. The state of things might be indicated by the fact that last year there were 65,000 or 70,000 people leaving Ireland, notwithstanding the war raging in America, and the awful slaughter of their countrymen in that disastrous contest. He solemnly believed, that if there were peace to-morrow in America, and in this he spoke the opinion of many thoughtful and far-seeing Irishmen, that the next census would not show the population of 1845, which was approaching nine millions, but would show something nearer four millions, and he should not be surprised if it did not far exceed three millions. Three bad harvests in succession would tend to bring down the most prosperous nation in the world, but it was absolutely a crushing calamity to a nation like Ireland. Although the state of the workhouses might be, to a certain extent, an indication of the condition of that country, it was no real proof of its prosperity or adversity, because there was no out-door relief there. Would it not, for instance, be a most fallible test to judge of the number of poor in Lancashire by the number of persons in the workhouse? Yet, in Ireland there was no other test. People would not break up all family ties till they arrived at the last extremity, and many of the people of Ireland would rather suffer the direst torments of hunger than go into the workhouse. There was that sense of pride and decency still existing in the crushed-down people of Ireland, but still the number in workhouses was increasing—the number was larger than last year, and fifty per cent over what it was the year before. He rejoiced that the commercial treaty with Prance had produced such great results as they were told it had; but he rose with the one object only of telling the Government in the face of the country that the condition of Ireland was imminently dangerous, and he challenged any Member for Ireland to dispute the statements he had brought forward. It was well when the distress in Lancashire was talked of that he should tell the House what was the state of things in Ireland. He made no suggestion on the subject, but the Government were responsible; and the same people of Ireland who sympathized 112 with the distress in Lancashire were entitled to the protection of the English Government and the sympathy of the English people. He believed that employment was the best remedy; but the means of the gentry of Ireland were restricted by the very extent of the calamity with which they had to grapple, and it was to the Government, with the recollection of the struggles and sacrifices of the Irish people to maintain, the honour of the British Crown, that they must look for aid in the existing distress.
§ MR. C. FORSTER
said, he was rejoiced to hear of the flourishing state of the revenue, and the country would receive that announcement with great gratification. He thought it unnecessary to remind the Government, in the face of the depression and stagnation now unhappily prevailing in a largo portion of the country, that it was their duty to take advantage of the present state of the finances to give to that portion of the community the relief from the pressure of taxation to which they were entitled. His object, however, in rising was to remind the House of a very serious question which must soon command their attention, he meant the Income Tax; and to press upon the Government the necessity of making some provision to meet the just expectations of the country in that respect. He regarded the Income Tax as a powerful engine at the command of the Government to meet emergencies, and for the remission of indirect taxation; but, looking to the present condition of the revenue and the undue amount of that tax, as well as to its unjust, offensive, and inquisitorial character, he felt bound to declare that the time had arrived when it should be materially modified. He was aware that the Committee which was appointed upon the subject had reported adversely to such a proposal, but he warned the Government that the country would not be deterred by the Report of that Committee from agitating the question, and from insisting upon the relief which was justly their due. He knew that there was a deeply-rooted feeling in the country upon the subject—many cases of undoubted hardship had been brought under his notice, and he was anxious, therefore, not to allow the first night of the Session to pass without calling attention to the matter, and expressing his hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the disposal of the surplus, which 113 he believed might be now regarded as a matter of certainty, would direct his attention to the Income Tux as a matter demanding his first notice.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he should not have risen in the course of the present debate but from certain observations made by the noble Lord who had recently spoken (Lord R. Montagu). He did not think that this was a time to discuss the question of the Ionian Islands, as there were papers to be produced in regard to it, when it could be more satisfactorily entered upon and the whole details would be better understood. The noble Lord spoke of the attitude and conduct of the Greek nation in reference to the proposed concession. Now, he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) thought those observations of the noble Lord were most unfair towards the Greek people, who amid the greatest difficulties exhibited the most becoming moderation, prudence, and discretion in their conduct. He was anxious that Her Majesty's Government should inform the House of the negotiations that were going on with the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, as it was of the utmost importance that the present state of uncertainty in regard to the crown of Greece should be removed—whether it was likely that that Prince would accept the sovereinty of that country; and if so, what those mysterious conditions hinted at were, which were connected with the acceptance of the kingly office. After the King left Greece, Her Majesty's Government proposed that a note should be written to the three Powers in the terms of the protocol of February 1830, excluding any member of the reigning families from the Greek throne. It was understood that Russia objected to the note being signed. But the strangest thing was, that it was currently reported in Greece, and generally believed, that Her Majesty's Government suggested Prince Alfred to the Greek nation, or, at any rate, did not discountenance in any way his candidature. Indeed, evidence of this was furnished by the leading articles of the Morning Post, which had long been regarded as the confidential organ of the noble Lord opposite. Some of the earlier articles in that paper were distinctly in favour of Prince Alfred, and were well calculated to mislead the Greek nation. In one of these it was said—It is for the Greek nation now to choose whether they will have Liberalism and Conservatism united in the person of Prince Alfred, or 114 whether they will have the uncertainty and dangers which must surround the candidature of the -Due de Leuchtenberg.M. Drouyn do Lhuys, in his despatch of December 4, says:—"The organs of the English Government supported the candidature of Prince Alfred." The evil that had resulted from this supposition was very great. He understood that the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary prided himself on what he had done; he had taken advantage of the Russian Government, and in this manner he had got rid of the Duke de Leuchtenberg; and he considered that he had practised a clever dodge on the Powers. But they must remember the injury done to the Greek nation by keeping them so long in uncertainty, when it was perfectly easy to say at once that the Government could not accept the candidature of Prince Alfred. Why was not Mr. Scarlett instructed in the first instance to express himself distinctly on that point? Deputations waited upon him daily, and he replied that he had received no instructions. His object, however, in. rising was to protest against the language of the noble Lord the Member for Huntingdonshire respecting the Greek nation. The position of the King of Greece was entirely different from that of any other Monarch. He was not elected by the people, but was nominated by the Great Powers on positive guaranteed conditions, which he never fulfilled. The strong monarchical tendencies of the people were shown by the application which they made at once to this constitutional country for a King. In doing so he did not think the Greeks were animated so much by a sense of the advantages which they might obtain from the English alliance as by the knowledge that this country had always carried out a just policy towards them, and that its representatives never took part in the miserable disputes and intrigues which used to agitate the Greek Kingdom. He trusted the noble Lord at the head of the Government would tell them the position of the Duke of Coburg, and allude to the charge that the Government did not discountenance the candidature of Prince Alfred.
SIR JOHN HANMER
said, that as a Welsh representative he wished to take that opportunity of saying that the Welsh people regarded with great interest everything relating to the Prince of Wales; and, on the part of the Welsh people, he 115 begged to express their loyalty, their sympathy, and their gratification at the announcement that had been made that day.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he rose to confirm the statement of the hon. Member for Dungarvan with regard to the present lamentable condition of the tenant farmers in Ireland. Successive bad seasons had rendered them unable to pay more than a portion of their rents, and although landlords had allowed them to occupy their farms for two years under these circumstances, they might feel that their first duty was to their own families, and refuse to allow them to continue in possession a third year. Anything like a system of universal ejectment would too probably be followed by an increase of crime and of those unfortunate assassinations which had lately disgraced the country. He did not say that the Government could interfere beneficially by legislative proposals, but they might very fairly consider whether it would not be possible to give extensive employment on works of a reproductive character.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he was anxious to express his sense of the state of things existing in Ireland and the impending condition of the country. He wished to make an appeal to the House, not to the Government, for the Government of Ireland was a perfect nonentity—willing, but incapable to do anything. At its head, no doubt, was an accomplished, eloquent, and experienced statesman, but he was surrounded by some half-dozen of the old school of Irish Whigs, who prevented Lord Carlisle from learning the true state of things. The noble Lord was assisted by a Chief Secretary, likewise very able though not experienced, very eloquent, and in that House and in England, he believed, very popular. But of late years there never had been a Chief Secretary of Ireland more unpopular with all classes in that country, or more incapable of understanding Irish interests than the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tarn worth. Why the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, who knew more about Ireland than any other Member of the Cabinet, should have selected the right hon. Gentleman to govern that country he could not understand. Everything that indicated prosperity was wanting in Ireland. The population was declining. The money spent ill works of a reproductive character was every day diminishing. The quantity of live stock, the acreage of 116 land under cultivation, the money in the savings banks were all in course of reduction. Ireland had 105 Members, not one of whom was found on the Treasury bench. Could the present be called a representative Government, which did not contain a single Irishman? [An hon. MEMBER: Colonel White.] This proved that the people of Ireland differed from the Government as to the policy to be pursued towards Ireland. He was not surprised, therefore, that under these circumstances there was no mention of Ireland either in the Speech from the Throne or in the Address. There was another topic to which he begged to direct the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. England was bound by solemn treaties which had been violated, and the effect of this treaty violation was being felt in a part of Europe in which the people of this country felt a lively interest. He had during the last Session asked the noble Viscount, and he begged now to repeat his question, whether during the Crimean war overtures had not been made by Austria to the Allies with reference to Poland? A most eminent European statesman had authorized him to state that Austria had offered to join the Allies on condition that Poland should be declared independent, and that an army of 100,000 men should be sent into Poland. The present was a moment when England was bound to look into this subject, seeing that England was mainly responsible for the existing condition of Poland. Within the last two years despatches that had been concealed for thirty years had revealed the startling fact, that when in 1831 Poland was in, arms to demand the performance of the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, England refused to join Prance in using her influence on behalf of Poland. That country exhibited the rare spectacle of a united people. Princes, peasants, the clergy of all denominations, were of one mind, and all desired to see the ancient kingdom of Poland restored. He contended we were bound to ask for this restoration, because the treaty to which we had been a party had been violated by Russia. During the last three or four years the people of Poland had shown more than usual symptoms of nationality. The Russian Government felt that they were about to be beaten by moral force, and they therefore determined to drive the people into insurrection. An order was made for a 117 further and heavier conscription. Some of the municipal bodies remonstrated with the Government, but in vain. The conscription went on, and was directed, not against the lowest, but against the middle classes. In the middle of the night houses were entered, and the young men were sent to Siberia as soldiers. Still the people submitted, and only broke into insurrection when the final insult was passed upon them by the Russian official journal of Warsaw, which declared that the people of Poland took up arms joyfully for the Russian Government, and that they viewed the conscription with satisfaction. We were bound by treaty to protect the interests of the Poles; and when he found they were not mentioned in the Royal Speech, he felt so keenly that he was inclined to move an Amendment to the Address. He trusted that the subject would again come before the House. He believed, that if the people of this country knew of the engagements of England and the present position of Poland they would insist on something being done. He trusted, however, that the subject would again come before the House. Another question which he wished to address to the noble Viscount referred to certain proceedings which had recently taken place at Rome. They had heard that Lord Russell had sent a message to the Pope, and they were also told that the papers would be laid before Parliament. It would be very interesting to know whether the blue-book would include all the papers that had been sent either directly or indirectly to the Pope, because it appeared, from the French despatches on this extraordinary proceeding, that the final act was conveyed by Mr. Odo Russell in a private letter from Lord Russell to Cardinal Antonelli. Now, private letters might be useful in diplomacy, but it would only be fair to allow Parliament to have a glance at that private letter, as if seemed to have conveyed a threat or menace. Now, what was the account of the transaction given by the French Minister? Why, that Mr. Odo Russell, having urged upon His Holiness the propriety of quitting Rome and taking refuge in Malta, concluded by saying that he had reasons for believing that His Holiness would in a very short time find himself under the necessity of doing so. Cardinal Antonelli abstained from making any reply to that communication, and he did right not to make a reply, because the communication 118 did not degrade the Papal Government or annoy them. But it did degrade another Government. When a Government like that of England threatened another Government supposed to be weaker, and when it was known to the Minister who did so that he had not the power to carry out his threat, it was a degradation to the Government whence it proceeded. He (Mr. Hennessy) was inclined to think that such an offer as had been made by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs was a piece of extraordinary hypocrisy, seeing that it had been made by the author of the Durham letter, and that he did it as he said in the interest of the Catholic Church, So profound was the noble Lord's interest in the Catholic Church that he recommended the Pope to quit Rome, and accompanied the recommendation with a threat. English policy on the Roman question from beginning to end had been a disgrace, it had been inconsistent, feeble, and a failure. The basis of that policy had been laid down by the noble Viscount himself. In March, 1849, when the Pope was at Gaeta, and the question was whether he was to be restored or not, the noble Lord laid down the basis of English policy on this subject. On the 9th of March, 1849, the noble Viscount at the head of the Government addressed the following instructions to Lord Normanby:—Her Majesty has many millions of Catholic subjects, and the British Government must therefore be desirous, with a view to British interests, that the Pope should be placed in such a, temporal position as to be able to act with entire independence in the exercise of his spiritual functions.… It seems to Her Majesty's Government that a strong and unanimous manifestation of the opinion of the Catholic powers, in support of order on the one hand and of constitutional rights on the other, would bring to reason the minority who now exercise paramount authority in Rome, and would give courage and confidence to the majority, who have been hitherto intimidated, and overborne. Her Majesty's Government have learnt with much pleasure that France has been included in the invitation addressed by the Pope to some of the Catholic Powers, requesting them to take an active interest in the present condition of Ms affairs. It would be desirable that every endeavour should be made to bring about a settlement between the Pope and his subjects by negotiation and moral influence before resorting to the employment of force.In another despatch of Lord Palmerston, March 27, 1849, he speaks of "the deep regret with which Her Majesty's Government witnessed the proclamation of a Republic at Rome." All that took place before the French Government determined 119 to send their troops to Rome, which was done in the following month. Now, though he (Mr. Hennessy) entirely concurred with the noble Viscount in thinking that the Pope should be placed in such a temporal position that he would be able to act with entire independence, yet he was not at all certain that any English statesman was justified in meddling in the matter or in laying down the proposition that the Pope must have a temporal position for any purpose whatever. That the noble Viscount was justified in going that length he very much doubted. He had said that the policy built up by the noble Lord was a failure; it was also treacherous, and he thought so for those reasons. While the French troops were at Rome, Cardinal Antonelli, as appeared over and over again from the despatches of Lord Lyons, was anxious that the French occupation should cease, but it could only cease when the Pope had got an army to repel the Garibaldians. What was the conduct of England on this subject? There again she went out of her way. She advised, admonished, and even threatened. At the Paris Conference, in 1856, Count Cavour prepared a memorandum, which was approved by Lord Clarendon, and communicated to Cardinal Antonelli by Lord Lyons. That memorandum stated that it was desirable the Pope should have an army to be composed partly of foreigners and partly of natives. When it was suggested to the Cardinal to increase the strength of the foreign regiments, and if necessary to meet the expense by reducing the number of native troops, his Eminence objected, on the ground that it would show distrust on the part of the Government if the native troops were reduced. The advice of the British Government was followed, except in this respect, that Cardinal Antonelli preferred to have a larger proportion of natives than of foreigners in his army. When Mr. Odo Russell went to Rome, he also urged on the Pope's Government the necessity of employing a foreign army, and, acting on the advice of the British Government, an army was at length formed, and the time came when the French troops might be ordered to withdraw. Many persons would be surprised to hear that notice to quit actually was given to the French troops. On the 22nd of February, 1859, according to the Moniteur, Cardinal Antonelli announced to the Ambassadors of Austria and France that the Papal Government felt itself able 120 to suffice for the preservation of peace within its own dominions; and that they were ready to concert measures with Franco and Austria for the simultaneous evacuation of the Roman States by their troops. Up to this time the Pope's Government had acted with perfect loyalty towards the British Government. They had raised an army amounting to 18,000 men, composed of two-thirds natives and one-third foreigners. Lord Russell about this time had brought in the Foreign Enlistment Bill, and had defended the employment of foreign mercenaries; and the noble Viscount, when he was Secretary at War, had often proposed Votes for more foreign mercenaries than the whole number of the Pope's forces. Well Count Cavour got an intimation that the French troops had notice to quit, but it did not suit the policy of Count Cavour, and of a greater personage still, that they should leave. The Emperor of the French raised some difficulties, which, however, were cleared away; and Count Cavour then began to make speeches in the Turin Parliament, and to write despatches on the subject of foreign mercenaries. In a short time matters got to such a pitch that the Turin Cabinet sent a despatch to Rome summoning the Papal Government to disband all its foreign mercenaries. And yet Count Cavour, who sent this despatch, was the very person who had suggested the employment of foreign mercenaries. In a few days after, General Cialdini entered the Roman territory with 35,000 men, attacked the army which the Government had formed with such care and labour, and completely destroyed it. The effect of that was that the French troops could not withdraw. The occupation would have terminated long since but for that act of the Piedmontese Government. Every European statesman protested against that act but one, and the only statesman who defended the destruction of the Pope's army was Lord Russell, who had recommended its formation. The policy of the noble Viscount towards the Papal Government would not tend to strengthen our cordial alliance with the people of France. Every one knew that the people of France were completely unanimous on this point, and that they must be deeply offended at the conduct of the British Government. No one would dare to appear on any hustings in France, or wherever the election of deputies were conducted, who approved the policy now 121 advocated by the noble Viscount and who did not approve the policy Lad down in his famous despatch of March, 1849. He (Mr. Hennessy) entreated the noble Viscount to make the papers complete, that the people of England might not be supposed to sanction the disgraceful conduct of Piedmont in destroying the Pope's army under a pretext which they themselves created, and that the alliance by which England had something to gain and everything to lose might not be imperilled as the noble Viscount was imperilling it. He had referred to Poland, and he wished to contrast the conduct of the Pope with the conduct of Victor Emmanuel. Two messages arrived in Italy about the same time from the Emperor of Russia. By one the Pope was requested to remove the Polish bishops, who appeared to be patriots, on pain of the Czar recognising the kingdom of Italy. To that request the Pope replied that he was not prepared to interfere with the people of Poland, who, for years, had borne their sufferings with patience and resignation. The other despatch promised the recognition of the kingdom of Italy if Victor Emmanuel would dismiss the Polish emigration out of Italy, and close the Polish schools. General Durando, who was the Foreign Secretary at Turin, in reply, said that the King of Italy had received a despatch in which the Russian Government expressed concern at the presence and conduct of the Polish emigration in Italy, and requested that plots against the integrity of the Russian empire might be put an end to; that the formation of a Polish legion might not be allowed; and that the Polish schools should be controlled. These desires were conformable to the usages established by all civilized nations, and the schools would be closed in July, and not re-opened. The Emperor Alexander was perfectly satisfied with General Durando's note, and sent an envoy to Turin. This was the history of the recognition of disunited Italy by the Czar. The Pope would not interfere with the patriotic sentiments of the Poles; but Victor Emmanuel obtained the recognition upon these conditions, and not, as the noble Viscount had stated, unconditionally. He mentioned this for the purpose of illustrating that in the Papal question the strong power was the Sovereign Pontiff, and the weak power was Victor Emmanuel.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, he hoped that an early opportunity would be taken to bring under discussion some prominent topics connected with British India. It was a great misfortune that the members of the Council of India were excluded from the House, as the effect was to make the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India dictator over 180,000,000 of people. With the single exception of the hon. Member for "Windsor (Mr. Vansittart), he was unable to induce any hon. Gentleman to join in the debate at the close of last Session, upon the question of land tenure in India; gentlemen whom he had personally solicited excused themselves on the ground that they were utterly unacquainted with the subject. It was a very good reason for not speaking, and he only wished it was acted upon more strictly on other occasions. As soon, however, as Parliament was prorogued, meetings were held in Manchester, Glasgow, and other large places, where, in strong language and in the presence of persons of influence and position, the right hon. Baronet (Sir Charles Wood) was stigmatized as perfectly incompetent, and Members of Parliament were required to demand his impeachment or to dismiss the noble Viscount the First Lord of the Treasury from his office. A deputation from one of these meetings waited, in October, upon the noble Viscount at Cambridge House, and they were introduced by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bazley), who had so ably seconded the Address. It was derogatory to the character of the House that gross charges of misconduct should be made against the right hon. Baronet in his absence and where he could not defend himself, and he felt strongly that those charges, if made at all, ought to be made in Parliament.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
—Sir, I am not going to follow all the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken in the course of the evening into the many and desultory topics upon which they have made their observations; but there are a few remarks which I think it my duty to address to the House. In the first place, I am sure the country must be gratified by the manner in which this House has received the announcement of the approaching marriage of the Prince of Wales—a matter of the deepest interest, not only to the Royal Family but also to the whole nation; of the deepest interest for the present and of 123 augury of good for the future. And I may remark that His Royal Highness has been peculiarly fortunate in this respect—that whereas the common fate of Royal marriages has been that persons are contracted together who have had no previous knowledge of each other, and with whom political considerations are the guiding principle of union, in this case the marriage may, in the fullest sense of the word, be called "a love match," while the amiable and excellent qualities of both parties give the fairest promise of permanent and complete happiness.
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) who spoke immediately after the Seconder of the Address took a wide range of attack upon the foreign policy of the Government. That appeared to me to be the topic uppermost in his mind. He made broad accusations against the Government—some really, I must say, of a very disagreeable kind. He accused the Government of an intriguing policy. I could not help thinking in my own mind that the right hon. Gentleman must have had a sort of recollection of the policy of some former Government, of which he has, doubtless, more knowledge than of the proceedings of the present Cabinet; or that, by some confusion of ideas, he was reflecting rather upon the conduct of certain leaders of the Opposition than upon that of the Government of the day. All I can say is, that I utterly deny and repudiate the accusation of the right hon. Gentleman; and I will venture to add that there never was an accusation brought against any Government more completely unfounded than that comprised in the words he used. If any proof were wanting of the influence—the just influence—which this country possesses over the opinion of other nations, without intrigue, without any underhand or other than honourable conduct, it would be afforded by that which we have seen lately passing in Greece. The whole nation—not simply that portion of it which inhabits Greece, but also those members of the Greek community who are scattered over every country in Europe—has with most astonishing unanimity declared in favour of a Royal Prince of England, on account of the high character of the Royal Family of England, and on account of the fair and honourable policy which England has pursued. A curious instance of that happened the other day in the Moldo-Wal-lachian provinces. A deputation of the 124 Greek merchants and other persons residing in one of the towns of those provinces called upon our Consul—a person they did not know except by name—and said their object was to tell him that the Greek nation were unanimous in their desire of having a British Prince as their ruler, because, they stated, of the honest and straightforward policy of England, and because England was the only Power which invariably protected the weak against the strong. I shall take first of all the topic which the right hon. Gentleman referred to in his speech—our relations with China. The right hon. Gentleman found fault with the Government for not having mentioned China in the Speech from the Throne. If there are any papers which anybody wishes to have relating to recent transactions in China, there will be no difficulty in producing them to the House. But the right hon. Gentleman said that the policy we were pursuing in China is inconsistent with that which we originally followed, and is a policy leading us into a Chinese war. The policy we have pursued in China from the beginning is to protect our trade and commerce with that country; and those who know anything of China will not hesitate to admit that our commerce with that country is a most important outlet for the productive industry of these islands. Whence in the outset proceeded the obstructions to our commerce in China? From the Imperial Government. It was the duty of the Government of this country to endeavour to remove those obstructions, and to insist that those rights and privileges to which our subjects resident in China were entitled should be afforded to them. At that time, therefore, we were in conflict with the Government of China. We are no longer in conflict with the Government of China; on the contrary, our Minister and officers there are on the most friendly footing with the Government, which, having its eyes opened to its true interests, namely, commercial relations with European nations, are now desirous of promoting trade and commerce. The prejudices which in former times operated to keep "the outside barbarians," as they were pleased to call us, from the interior, having been seen to be mere delusions, the barriers which kept us from entering have been removed, and the Chinese Government now does all it can to promote the commercial interests of the empire. Who now are the obstacles? 125 The Taepings. My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Sykes) will forgive me for holding very different views from his with regard to the Taepings. All the information we can get from China goes to show that wherever the Taepings pass peace, commerce, industry, are destined. Their course is marked by murder, by bloodshed, by plunder, by everything that destroys commerce and the elements of commerce. But we are not making war against these Taepings, except so far as this—we require them to respect the neighbourhood of those cities in which our commercial establishments are fixed. We are withdrawing troops from China, instead of sending them there. It is true, indeed, that we have authorized British officers to engage in the service of the Emperor of China, to organize in his service and his pay certain small bodies of men who, by drilling and instructing his troops and his navy, may enable him to restore tranquillity in his dominions. You may depend upon it that there is a strong English interest in that. Until tranquillity and order are restored in the provinces of China, we cannot expect that development of British commerce which otherwise could not fail to take place. So much for our policy in China, which is not in contradiction to, or inconsistent with, that which we originally acted upon, but is entirely in unison with it. The result has shown the success of our policy, because we have converted an enemy into a friend, a suspicious and jealous people into friendly and eager traders.
Passing from China, the right hon. Gentleman touched upon the question of Denmark, and he said—which, no doubt, was true, with reference to the person speaking—that he found it impossible to understand or to explain anything relating to that subject. If he had extended that observation to those other topics upon which he dilated, perhaps we should not have been much disposed to question the accuracy of his description of his own comprehension, because he certainly showed in his remarks how essential it is that the Government should do that which they have announced their readiness to do — namely, lay explanatory papers on the table of the House. Here is a right hon. Gentleman of undoubted talent and genius, who has turned his attention very much to these questions, whose study of the ordinary sources of information has brought him into that sort of 126 hazy condition of mind with respect to them, which shows how much he would be benefited by a perusal of the papers which we have intimated our intention to produce. But the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in supposing that the despatch of Lord Russell, to which he referred, and which appeared in the autumn, was a sudden act, unconnected with anything that passed before, and that my noble Friend suddenly dashed, as it were, into a transaction with which we had no previous connection. The fact is entirely different. We had for several years previously been engaged in attempts to mediate between Denmark and Germany. It had been my lot while in the Foreign Office to endeavour—but, I am sorry to say, without much success—to accomplish that object. Our mediation was invited by the two parties; but they were found so completely at variance, and the question was encompassed by such difficulties, that all that could be effected was a sort of provisional arrangement which prevented the worst consequences of the dispute. But in the course of last year there was a threat of what was called "execution" on the part of the Diet at Frankfort. The Diet of the German Confederation threatened to march troops into Holstein with the object of carrying into effect their view of the matters then in dispute. My noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office prevailed on them to suspend that operation; but in having so prevailed lie was bound, at all events, to make suggestions by which a permanent arrangement of a friendly character might be established between the two parties. We cannot say that we succeeded in our endeavour; but that endeavour was a link in the chain, and not a sudden thought unconnected with the transactions that had previously taken place. Papers will, however, be presented on that subject, and the House will then see upon what ground the step was taken to which the right hon. Gentleman adverts.
Then, with regard to Greece, the right hon. Gentleman hopes that we took an early opportunity to inform the Greek Government that it was impossible that Prince Alfred should accept the Greek crown. We did make the fact known as early as occasion required. The very first moment that the Greek nation indicated a desire to elect Prince Alfred we communicated with France and Russia, the other two protecting Powers, and stated our opinion that the Protocol of 1830 was still in force, by 127 which no member of the reigning families of either of the three protecting Powers can ascend the throne of Greece. There was, undoubtedly, some delay, arising, I will not say from an objection on the part of the Russian Government to admit the principle, but from a hesitation to admit its application to the Duke of Leuchtenberg, to whom, however, it was ultimately admitted that it undoubtedly does apply. But the Greek Minister was informed at the earliest possible moment, and by myself, that in our opinion the Protocol applied to Prince Alfred, and excluded both him and the Duke of Leuchtenberg from being elected as Sovereign of Greece. I am asked what is the present state of the question in regard to the Duke of Coburg. I am not able to answer that question, because communications are still going on, the result of which I am not yet acquainted with. The right hon. Gentleman expatiated at great length on the intimation made by Her Majesty's Government of a readiness, under certain circumstances mentioned, to recommend a revision of the treaty by which the Ionian Islands were placed under the protectorate of Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman really treated that question in a manner that surprised me. He said that the Ionian Islands were by the Treaty of 1815 placed under the British Crown in the same way as Paris was placed under the protection of France. The right hon. Gentleman is not a man who speaks in this House without knowing what he is saying; he knows the value of words and the nature of things; but I was astonished at his making an assertion of that kind. He compared it to Piedmont and to the Prussian Rhenish provinces. Why, he himself stated that which negatived that general assertion. The Ionian Islands were, as he said, six of them, occupied militarily by a British force at the time of the termination of the war, and Corfu surrendered at the downfall of Napoleon. But their fate was determined, like the fate of many of the countries of Europe, by the treaties concluded in 1815; and to those treaties, and especially to the treaty in regard to the Ionian Islands, Great Britain was a party. Well, what did that treaty do? Did that treaty say that the Ionian Islands were to be, what the right hon. Gentleman stated—a British territory, and to belong to the British Crown as one of its possessions? Quite the contrary. It stated that 128 the Septinsular Republic was to be a separate and independent State, but, as a separate and independent state, was to be placed under the protection of the British Crown. But it is no part of the dominions of the British Crown. The Queen is not Sovereign of the Ionian Islands. Our treaties do not include or bind the Ionian Islands. When a treaty of commerce is made, there must be a separate act on the part of the Ionian Islands to give them the benefit of that treaty. They have a separate Legislature of their own; we do not make laws for them. They are to all intents and purposes literally and legally a separate State, forming no part of the British territory or dominions, but under the protection of England, by virtue of the treaty concluded between England and the other great Powers of Europe. Therefore, all the argument of the right hon. Gentleman founded on the supposition that Corfu and the other Ionian Islands were to England what Paris is to France is, if he will allow me to repeat his own words, a perfect absurdity, and has no bearing whatever on the question which the House may have to consider with reference to these Islands. It is not now the time to discuss the policy of making that cession under the circumstances contemplated by the paragraph in the Queen's Speech. My own opinion is that it would be a wise measure. I think it would be a generous measure. I think it is due to that Ionian State, which was placed under our protection for its benefit and not for our advantage. We were bound to do the best for it. I believe we have done the best for it hitherto by maintaining the Protectorate. But I think if Greece is established under an enlightened Sovereign, who will develop her internal prosperity and maintain her external peace, it will be for the benefit of those Islands to be united with their fellow countrymen. I think, too, that it is an example which may not be lost upon other countries. There are other questions pending in the world, in Europe especially, with regard to which an example of generous disinterestedness on the part of Great Britain, for the benefit of those whose fate has been committed to her charge, may not be without result, and I trust it may have a salutary effect on the solution of those questions.
The right hon. Gentleman adverted, as other hon. Gentlemen have done, to cer- 129 tain communications which, have taken place in respect to Italy, and especially with respect to Rome and the Pope. Now, the statement which has been quoted appeared in a book published by the French Government, and was contained in a despatch from the French Minister at Rome, which was founded upon a complete misapprehension and misinformation as to what had really occurred. The statement made to the French Ambassador, and by him conveyed to his Government, was that Mr. Odo Russell one fine day asked for an audience of the Pope, and having been admitted, recommended His Holiness to leave Rome and to accept a refuge which the British Government offered him at Malta. Now, the course of the transaction was exactly the reverse of that. It was the Pope who sent for Mr. Russell, and, Mr. Russell not knowing what he was sent for, it was the Pope who in conversation expressed a wish to know whether, in the event of his being compelled by circumstances—which he, of course, did not then think likely, but which were possible—to leave Rome, he would be received and protected in England. An hon. MEMBER: In England?] Yes, in England. Well, Mr. Russell could not, of course, give any other answer than that he had no instructions, but that it was the custom of the English nation to receive, and hospitably to receive, all those who might from any circumstances feel it desirable to take up their abode in their country. Mr. Russell was then on the point of coming home to England. When he returned in November to Rome he carried a despatch, which was to be communicated to Cardinal Antonelli, in which Earl Russell instructed him to say, that if circumstances should occur which would lead the Pope to leave Rome, and he should not think fit to take refuge in France or in Spain, the British Government would provide for him a suitable residence at Malta, where he would be received and treated with all the respect due to his rank and position. I think that was a proper communication, and it was one that was received apparently with great satisfaction by the Pope, as a proof of the goodwill and friendly feeling of the British Government towards him. The hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) has gone into a long dissertation on transactions which took place in the year 1848, and he accuses me especially of inconsistency in the views which 130 I have at different times entertained in regard to the occupation of Rome by the French. The hon. Gentleman should recollect that the circumstances of 1848 were totally different from the circumstances of the present time. The hon. Member says that the Pope had no army in 1848. Why, if my memory does not very much deceive me, the Pope declared war against the Austrians, and sent his army to assist Piedmont in attacking them. I think I am not mistaken in stating that. But, no doubt, in the then state of Italy, it was thought desirable for the peace of the country that that revolutionary Government which had been established at Rome should cease, and that the Pope should return into the possession of his dominions. I believe there was a great deal of unjust accusation brought against that revolutionary Government. It was a much better Government than that which has since prevailed, but the state of things was very anomalous, and we thought it wise and useful that it should be terminated. It does not follow, however, that because we hold it to be an unobjectionable move on the part of the French in 1849 to restore the Pope, we should think it advisable that the French troops should continue there from that time to this, with the appearance of remaining till Heaven knows when, for the purpose of maintaining a Government which, in our opinion, is distasteful to the majority of the people of Rome. There is no inconsistency in that. At any rate, if we are to be condemned for having approved the entrance of the French into Rome, we may fairly be acquitted of any desire for the continuance of foreign bayonets in that city in order to maintain a Government which the people do not wish to have.
Allusion has been made to certain recent transactions in Brazil. They arose from a just claim for compensation for British losses and injuries to British subjects. The Brazilian Government would not agree to meet that claim until reprisals were commenced. Communications are still going on, but I believe that a satisfactory understanding has been come to on the subject. A very legitimate tribute has been paid by the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. B. Cochrane) to the Greeks for their recent conduct. They have certainly shown as much self-restraint and moderation as the Italians, and higher 131 praise can scarcely be bestowed on them than by comparing them to that nation. The Greeks have behaved with great good sense, and I trust that when they have obtained a King fit to rule them, and a permanent Government, they will become a prosperous and successful State. Their ancestors were distinguished in every department of intellectual power. They produced the first warriors, the first statesmen, the first poets, the first orators, the first historians, philosophers, painters, and sculptors. I see no reason why the descendants of those great men should not follow in their steps. In the history of nations we find that there is some influence at work, not easily to be explained, by which the people who inhabit a country continue, notwithstanding immigration and changes of population, to exhibit the same qualities; and there is no cause why the Greeks, when they get a good Government, should not become one of the most enlightened and distinguished nations in Europe. It is said that in giving up the Ionian Islands we are changing our policy towards Turkey, and are encouraging the Greeks to be aggressive towards the Turks; we are told, that if we were bent on making a present of them, it should have been, of all the people in the world, to the Turks. That would certainly have been a singular way of changing the distribution of population and the limits of States. But I wish to say that we have not altered our policy towards Turkey. We hope that under the present Sultan Turkey will set her finances in order, and establish a sound Government and just laws, fairly administered to all classes of the people of his vast empire. We trust that Turkey will then become strong both within and without. I certainly cannot see how the union of the Septinsular Republic to Greece can have any tendency to disturb the tranquillity of the Ottoman Empire.
There is one topic which has been adverted to, and which is calculated to excite great regret—I mean the statements made by various hon. Members from different parts of Ireland as to the distress which they say prevails in parts of that country. There is no doubt that Ireland has had three bad years; and no country can endure three bad years in succession without suffering severely. My information, however, does not go so far as some of the statements which have been made to-night. I am told that the potatoes and 132 oats were not generally bad in Ireland last year. The people were also able to save their turf. The crops were certainly shorter than the average, and doubtless there is a good deal of pressure in many parts of the country. I think, however, that some of the assertions which have been made are exaggerated, and, at all events, the appeal which has been made for a grant of money for public works would require to be supported by stronger evidence of its necessity than we have yet received. It is impossible that English Members should not feel deeply for the miseries of any portion of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom. we sympathize as heartily with the sufferers in Ireland as with those in Lancashire. There is, however, this distinction between the two cases, that the misfortune in Ireland is the result of the act of Providence in the ordering the seasons, while that in Lancashire is the result of human causes, which, however, are beyond our control, and were not to be expected.
I am glad that the Address is likely to be voted without more than a discussion upon it; and I will no longer interpose between the House and the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. S. FitzGerald) who, I see, is anxious to address it.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he thought it his duty to direct the attention of the House to that part of the speech of the noble Lord in which he had spoken in praise of the Government of the Sultan and in condemnation of that of the Pope. The former was universally considered to be the very worst Government in the world. He could never have supposed that in a Christian country a preference would have been given to a Mahomedan Government over that presided over by a Christian Bishop; and he thought that that preference had shown a most unjustifiable partiality. The noble Lord had given a very inaccurate version of Mr. Odo Russell's interview with the Pope. The noble Lord had told the House that the Pope had sent for Mr. Russell and had asked him whether, if he were obliged to leave Rome, England would give him an asylum? The statement of the French Minister gave a different description. He (Sir George Bowyer) would tell the noble Lord what really occurred. But first he must remind them that Mr. Odo Russell was not an accredited minister at Rome, but an English agent residing there. Until recently he was Secretary of Lega- 133 tion at Florence, but allowed to reside at Rome. Since that Legation had been abolished he did not know how Mr. Odo Russell could be diplomatically described. [Viscount PALMERSTON: He is attached to Turin.] He is attached to Turin in more senses than one—to the Legation and to the Turin policy. At any rate, he had no diplomatic character at Rome, and could only see the Holy Father as any other stranger or traveller obtained admission to him. And in that capacity, and in no other, did he visit the Vatican. During one of these audiences, as Mr. Russell was leaving, no other person being present, the Holy Father said good-humouredly, but without any political meaning whatever, —"Well, my dear Sir, if ever I am in trouble, I may perhaps ask you for assistance." That was all that really passed. What Mr. Odo Russell wrote home to the Government, the noble Lord knew, and he (Sir George Bowyer) did not; but subsequently, after communicating with the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Russell went back to Rome, and having obtained another audience, told the Holy Father that he was commissioned to state from the British Government that in case he should leave Rome he should have an asylum at Malta; and he went further, and advised him to leave Rome and go to Malta, saying that if he did not do so, he might be compelled—it was not exactly a threat, but very much like one or a warning. Now, what had been the result? Why, it had given great offence to the French Government, for it seemed to imply that that Government was not able to maintain the Head of the Church in his dominions, or that they were going to act in bad faith towards him. But all these matters must be thoroughly sifted. He had the statement of the French Minister. [Mr. ROEBUCK: He was not present at the interview.] His hon. and learned Friend said that the French Minister was not present, but he had the means of obtaining the best information, and there could be no doubt that Mr. Russell made a great mistake, and that the noble Earl (Earl Russell) had deviated from his doctrine of non-intervention which he had professed to act upon. The noble Lord had been pleased to pronounce a great eulogium on the Government of Mazzini and the other Triumvirs at Rome during the republic, and he remembered Earl Russell pronouncing a similar eulogium. He was, however, ready to show that there never 134 had existed a more atrocious Government; for it murdered some of the most excellent and exemplary priests wholesale, merely because they were priests and ministers of religion. A more sanguinary and atrocious Government never existed since the days of Robespierre. The noble Lord had said that the population of Rome was adverse to the Government of the Pope. He denied that most emphatically. Of course there were some discontented spirits in Rome as elsewhere—there was discontent in England even under our blessed constitution, but there were less of them now at Rome than formerly, because the Romans found that they were taxed the tenth part of the taxation of the rest of Italy, and were subject to no conscription. Let the noble Lord look to Naples. There thousands of people had been imprisoned, some of them for two years without any trial, and without knowing the charge against them to the present day. Fourteen towns in the Kingdom of Naples, containing a population of 39,000 had been destroyed by the Piedmontese. The people were driven out of their houses to starve, and to become what was called brigands. These were the loyal people, struggling and fighting against foreign dominion of a most galling and intolerable nature. The British Government had produced, through their influence, a state of things in Italy which was not liberty but enslavement, and they would be cursed eternally for it. [Laughter.] Those hon. Gentlemen who laughed, laughed because they knew nothing of the subject—it was the laugh of ignorance. Let them read the history of that country. When, he should like to know, was Italy great? Was it in the days of her unity? It was rather in the days of the Medicis and—[Cries of "Borgia!"] Would hon. Members, because there happened to be one bad man, ignore the glories of Florence, and Venice, and Genoa, and the great artists and poets which Italy, though not united, produced? The greatness of Italy, he for one should maintain, was due not to unity, but to the national development and the municipal liberty fostered by individual States. He would go further, and say that the unity which would be the result of placing the whole country under the iron heel of Piedmont would turn out to be to Italy not a blessing but a curse. The noble Lord at the head of the Government seemed to imagine that the Roman people were entirely opposed 135 to the authority of the Pope; but in that opinion the noble Lord was grievously mistaken; and if the French garrison were withdrawn from Rome to-morrow, and the Piedmontese prevented from taking possession of it by military force, the rule of the Pope would, he felt assured, be as safe as that of Queen Victoria was in England. Indeed, the sole reason why it was expedient to keep a French garrison in Rome was because she had at her gates a piratical Government which knew no respect for law. The noble Lord did not, perhaps, concur with him in that view, but he should mention a circumstance which had taken place some days before in Turin, which ought, he thought, to make men pause before they endorsed the sentiments which the noble Lord entertained on that subject. An attack was made on the Piedmontese Government in the Parliament at Turin because, it was said, they had not sufficiently encouraged the revolutionary cause in Italy. Count Pepoli, a friend of the Government, however, rose, and contended that they had done everything they could in the direction; adding that Bologna would never have overturned the rule of the Pope if he had not been furnished with very large supplies by his Government at Turin to effect that object. Count Pepoli, moreover, stated that his Sovereign had been so good as to send him from his privy purse a considerable sum with the view of bringing about a change in the Government in Bologna. There was an instance of rebellion being promoted by secret service money, and revolution excited by a Sovereign in a neighbouring State, against which he had no cause of quarrel.
§ MR. WHALLEY
rose to protest against such statements, affecting, as they did, the character of a foreign Sovereign, while they were irrelevant to the subject-matter before the House. ["Order!"]
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
contended that he had a perfect right to mention an occurrence which had taken place in the Parliament of Turin, and to show how it supported the view which he had advanced when he mentioned that the Piedmontese Government and Sovereign were conspirators against the peace of other nations from which they had received no provocation. He might further observe that the Romans, seeing discontent prevail in all directions in the territories subjected to Piedmontese rule, were very far 136 from being desirous of being reduced to the same condition. He must also protest against the doctrine that that which styled itself the Liberal party in Italy was entitled to claim Rome as the capital of the country. When, he should like to know, was Rome the capital of Italy? Never. In the time of the ancient Romans Rome was not the capital of Italy in the sense in which it was now sought to make her the capital—she was then rather the conqueror and mistress of Italy. Italy rather belonged to Rome than Rome to Italy. They might as well claim Constantinople because that was once the residence of the Emperors. Rome was the scat of the most ancient dynasty in existence, the dynasty of the Popes; and if the dynasty were overturned, there would be no safety for the Throne of any country in Europe, no matter how long established. If, he might add, any Sovereign had an interest in maintaining a dynasty consecrated by innumerable treaties, it was the Queen of England, who was herself the wearer of an ancient Crown.
§ MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
said, that he should not have risen to address the House at that late period of the evening but that he was anxious that it should not be thought that he avoided the discussion of the subjects alluded to by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or acquiesced in the manner in which he had treated them. The noble Lord's speech, remarkable as it was for the dexterity with which he had dealt with some topics, was still more remarkable for its omissions. If there was one topic referred to in the Speech of the Royal Commissioners which above all others interested the public mind at the present moment, it was the struggle which was going on in America; yet, notwithstanding that that conflict had inflicted the greatest injury upon a large portion of our population, notwithstanding that there were circumstances connected with it which must appeal to the heart of every man in this country, although it had been made the subject of a most important diplomatic communication from our most important ally, and although the Government had taken upon itself, perhaps wisely, the gravest responsibility in declining to accede to the proposal of the Emperor of the French, yet the noble Lord, in addressing the Commons of England for the first time this Session, had passed over everything connected with the civil war 137 in America and the propositions of Franco, and, preferring to address himself in a light and jocular tone to other questions, had omitted any reference whatever to this the almost paramount topic of the day. There was another omission which did not altogether surprise him, but which must be rather distasteful to the House. The hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) had again addressed the House upon a subject on which he took great interest, and upon which he had on a previous occasion spoken with great force and ability—the case of Poland. When revolutions were going on in other parts of the world Her Majesty's Government were sure to be found either taking them under their patronage, or, at all events, speaking with commiseration and sympathy of the sufferings which had caused them; but with reference to Poland the noble Lord had on a former occasion, when the hon. Member for the King's County brought forward the subject, devoted his whole speech to an apology for the Russian Government, without one word of sympathy or commiseration for the Poles. Now, the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office could address letters to Denmark complaining that not more than three persons could sign a petition, and that there were restrictions upon the freedom of the press; but when a long-suffering and gallant people were by the proceedings of Russia driven into revolution, and the noble Lord at the head of the Government was challenged upon the subject in that House, he made a reply in which he entirely omitted any reference to the question. The noble Lord had entirely misrepresented the observations which were made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) with reference to the correspondence with the Court of Denmark. The complaint was not, as the noble Lord had represented it, that the Government had without rhyme or reason, without any excuse whatever, rushed into a correspondence with the Crown of Denmark on the subject of the Danish Duchies; but it was this—that a persistent and uniform policy having been adopted by the Government of this country in respect to Denmark, and it having been the language of the noble Lord himself that the German Confederation had no right to interfere in the question between the Duchy of Schleswig and Denmark, the noble Lord the Secre- 138 tary of State for Foreign Affairs had suddenly, without any reason whatever, changed the whole course of policy, and with all the affairs of his own country and all the business of the office pressing upon him, had sat down and in a very few lines had traced a new Constitution for the kingdom of Denmark. It was all very well for the Government of the noble Lord to say that they were a Government of non-intervention; but that the Foreign Minister of England should sit down and tell the Danish Government that their representations as regarded the state of their own population were utterly inaccurate and fallacious, that he should think it necessary to call the attention of the Danish Government to the fact that in the Duchy of Schleswig only three persons could sign a petition, and that the freedom of the press was somewhat restricted, although probably not so much as in other countries of Europe, and certainly not so much as in Paris—that he should think it necessary to address himself to these petty questions, and reverse the whole policy of England, taking up the cause of the strong against the weak, that he should do this at the very moment when it was of the greatest importance to the interests of this country and of Europe that an independent and strong Scandinavian Power should be raised in the north of Europe— that he should side with Germany in a manner which could only weaken the Danish Crown, and encourage those who opposed the just rights of Denmark to enforce their unjust pretensions by military power—that was the complaint which his right hon. Friend had made, and that was the complaint which the noble Lord had not attempted to answer. He could not omit to notice the extraordinary manner in which the noble Lord had dealt with the question of the cession of the Ionian Islands. A proposition more impolitic, more inexpedient, more unjustifiable, more contrary to the interests of this country and those of the Ionian Islands, and more fatal to the peace of Europe, was never made by any Government of any country. He was not going to take up the position which the noble Lord had unfairly attributed to his right hon. Friend, that the Ionian Islands were part and parcel of the territory of this country. The case against the cession was much stronger, because they were not part and parcel of that territory. Under what circumstances did we hold the Ionian 139 Islands? The circumstances of the conquest of six of them, and the cession of another, had been accurately stated by the noble Lord and by his right hon. Friend. In the year 1814 the British Government represented to the Plenipotentiaries who were negotiating the Treaty of Paris, that they were alive to the importance and value of these Islands, not to England, but to Europe; they pointed out that, from their geographical position, they might be made the means of aggression and of constant menace, either against the Venetian provinces, against the frontier provinces of Austria, or, what was still more important, against the Turkish empire; consequently, upon the character of the Power which had possession of the Ionian Islands depended the tranquillity of the East; and they proposed that these Islands should be placed under the protectorate of Austria. That was opposed by some of the Powers, and, ultimately, in the year 1815, the Islands were handed over to England, which was to be the protecting power of an independent Republic. At the same time, all the fortresses and strong places were put into the absolute possession and under the absolute dominion of England. He was not fond of referring to Hansard, because public men might change their opinions upon important public questions; but when the expression of opinion was very recent he thought that such a reference was justifiable; and he was now about to quote expressions which were far more eloquent than any which he could use, and in the justice and logic of which he thought that no one could refuse to concur. He wished to refer to the language used eighteen months ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose absence that night they all regretted, and still more the reason to which that absence was attributable. Apart from the distinguished position occupied by the Member for the University of Oxford, his opinion on this question was entitled to the greatest weight, having been sent upon a special mission to the Ionian Islands to inquire into the feelings of the inhabitants and the course of policy which he would desire to see adopted. The right hon. Gentleman expressed himself thus—England must look to the exact and regular fulfilment of the obligations which she contracted with Europe. The obligation she has contracted with Europe," he repeated, "was for the benefit of Europe. She undertook that protectorate be- 140 cause it was deemed to be safest in her hands. She contracted then an obligation which she can never surrender until it can be surrendered in a manner that is likely to conduce to the benefit of Europe. I am asked why do we not apply to the other Powers, and see whether they will agree to release us from our obligations. But, Sir, there are conditions preliminary to any such application. You must be convinced in your own mind that it is desirable in the interests of Europe that you should be so released." [3 Hansard, clxii. 1687.]The question was not whether the change would be for the benefit of Greece—and in some of the earlier language of the Government there was considerable vacillation on this point; the question was not whether the transference would be in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands—and from the information which had reached him he believed that any such change would be opposed to their wishes—but the question was whether it would be for the interest of Europe that the Ionian Islands should be surrendered by England, and surrendered, as the proposition now stood, to a people without any government at all. The importance to Europe of the Ionian Islands was twofold, arising from political and military considerations. Into the military part of the question he was incompetent to enter; but the noble Lord knew very well that there was no officer of distinction connected with either the naval or military service who did not consider the occupation of the Ionian Islands as of the greatest importance to this country in case of war. A despatch of Sir John Young's, which attained great notoriety from the fact of its having been stolen from the Colonial Office, contained the following remarks:—The best illustration of the importance of Corfu is afforded by the fact that at the commencement of the Crimean war a Russian frigate and two corvettes were cruising in the Adriatic, and with the knowledge that there was only one vessel in the harbour of Corfu, they did not dare to sail the short distance separating Corfu from Trieste, but preferred to take the vessels to a neutral port, and to send the crews overland to St. Petersburg.As to the political importance of the Ionian Islands there, were authorities which he did not think any Gentleman in that House would be inclined to dispute. As his right hon. Friend had already stated, those Islands came into the possession of France by a secret article of the Treaty of Tilsit, and it was now clearly known that the understanding was that there would be a partition of the European provinces of Turkey. That 141 was the great object which Napoleon had in that treaty. In the correspondence with his brother Joseph his whole energy was directed to the retention of Corfu, which he spoke of as the key of the Adriatic, as a position without which his great projects of aggression against Turkey could not be carried into execution, as an acquisition which he would not change a thousand times over for the Island of Sicily. If their possession was of such importance to the Emperor Napoleon in 1807, were they quite certain that they might not be turned to advantage by some other Power in our own day? And was it at a moment when the Greek nation was absolutely without a Government and in the throes of revolution, when we knew, that even if a monarchical Government were formed, it must take years before its power was consolidated and its position in Europe asserted —was it at such a moment that we were going to surrender a post declared by the greatest authorities of modern times to be of the utmost political and military importance—such a post to such a people? The noble Lord with great adroitness had passed by one point in the speech of his right hon. Friend, who, after paying a just tribute to the policy which the noble Lord had followed through good report and evil report—that of securing the integrity of the Ottoman Empire— pointed out that this new proposal was in direct opposition to the course which the noble Lord had so long and so successfully pursued. Whether they regarded the dissatisfaction which would be excited in other States, or the discontent that would be stirred up among the Greek subjects of the Porte, the result of the change must be equally mischievous, if not fatal to the Turkish empire. And here again he would quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said—I believe it would be nothing less than a crime against the safety of Europe—I might even say against its immediate tranquillity—as connected with the state and course of the great Eastern question, if England were to apply to the Powers of Europe to be allowed to surrender the Protectorate of the Ionian Islands for the purpose of uniting them to free Greece. Consider, again, the bearing of this union, if it took place, upon the condition of what I may call the Greek provinces of Turkey. What are we to say to the people of the Ionian Islands? 'It is so intolerable that you should remain apart from the kingdom which has its capital at Athens that we will disturb the European arrangement and remove forthwith the protectorate of England 142 in deference to the principle of nationality;' and could we at the same time say to the people of Candia, of Thessaly, and of Albania, 'You shall remain not under a Christian protectorate but under a Mahomedan sovereignty, and your desire for nationality shall remain ungratified. A Christian protectorate was too bad for others, a Turkish domination is good enough for you.'" [3 Hansard, clxii. 1688.]Whether it might be from any desire of popularity, or because the inducement held out would possibly lead the Greeks to attach greater importance to the candidature of a member of our Royal Family, was it fitting that we should refuse to fulfil the sacred obligation we had contracted in the face of Europe, and should take a course with regard to the Ionian Islands imperilling not only the safety of conterminous countries in the East, but running the risk of throwing the whole of Europe into the flames of a long and bloody war? He thought the concluding observations of his right hon. friend (Mr. Disraeli) deserved the attention of the House, and he was sure they would impress themselves upon the country. If we were to have a foreign policy vacillating and uncertain, at one time maintaining and at another ignoring the great and important reasons which led to settlements in Europe for the interest of all the world — if we were to disregard treaties—if we were to see the correspondence of the country carried on in the flippant and almost rude manner in which it had been conducted for some months back—Her Majesty's Government might talk of reduction in the public expenditure as much as they liked without effecting any permanent retrenchment. It was only by the adoption of a policy more in consonance with the faith of treaty obligations—more in consonance with the interests of England—that such a retrenchment could be secured for this country.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, that if the Ionian Islands were to be ceded, they could only be ceded after further deliberation and with the consent of the other Powers interested. It was, however, his belief that the policy of the Government in respect to the Ionian Islands had been adopted quite irrespective of any views connected with the candidature of Prince Alfred or of any member of the Royal Family. His principal object in rising, however, was to deprecate the making that House a platform for the exposition of statements regarding the Pope and his affairs. He was convinced that the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hen- 143 nessy) and the hon. Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer) had been entirely imposed upon in regard to the statements they had been induced to make.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Committee appointed,
§ To draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution:—Mr. CALTHORPE, Mr. BAZLEY, Viscount PALMERSTON, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Sir GEORGE GREY, Sir GEORGE LEWIS, Sir CHARLES WOOD, Mr. MILNER GIBSON, Mr. CARDWELL, Mr. VILLIERS, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Sir ROBERT PEEL, The LORD ADVOCATE, Mr. PEEL, and Mr. MASSEY, or any Five of them:—To withdraw immediately.
§ Lords Commissioners' Speech referred.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Twelve o'clock.