§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON moved, that the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the notice of Motion relating to Poland.
§ Ordered, That the Orders of the Day be postponed till after the Notice of Motion relative to Poland.—(Viscount Palmerston.)
§ MR. HORSMAN
Sir, the war in Poland had some time ago attracted the attention of all Europe; and there is not a Cabinet in Europe which has not made the condition of Poland a subject of anxious deliberation and given the result of that deliberation in some form or other to the world. The proceedings of the British Government are set forth in the Papers that have been presented to Parliament, and they show that England has taken an active and prominent part—I may say, indeed, the most active and prominent part—in the diplomatic transactions with. Russia and other Powers. Whether that activity and prominence will be hereafter remembered as a cause of national pride or of national reproach—of pride for great services rendered to Europe, or of reproach for the aggravation of calamities and perils already too deplorable—has yet to be determined. But it is very difficult to exaggerate the importance of the Papers which have been laid on the table, or the responsibility in which they involve the Government. I confess that I approached the perusal of these Papers with the sort of half-reluctant interest that attaches to a very painful and familiar question, which statesmen had abandoned in despair and philanthropists had only taken up further to depress. But as I read on I was surprised and startled by the new interest imparted to what had seemed politically defunct, and I closed the first perusal of these Papers with a feeling of perplexity and alarm. I have never seen a volume of diplomatic correspondence of which the interest was so sustained throughout. The despatches of our Foreign Secretary are not only interesting, but the studied moderation of their tone makes them in parts more exciting. But they derive their importance not so much from the transactions they narrate, as from the far graver events 1059 which they portend. These despatches are but the introduction to a history which is yet preparing. We have as yet but the prologue to the drama. The whole plot is not yet developed, and no one can pretend to tell the sequel. It is impossible, however, not to see that England is placed by this correspondence, as regards Poland and Russia, and most of all as regards Europe, in a state of entanglement from which it seems impossible to escape. Whether the placing us in that position by the Government has been a matter of choice or of necessity—whether it has been on their part politic and praiseworthy, or to the last degree rash and reprehensible—we may probably be able better to judge after the explanations we shall hear to-night; but I own that when the war first broke out I viewed with feelings of apprehension the possible renewal of an irritating and tantalizing diplomacy, which cannot be abortive without being highly mischievous. Poland has been diplomatized to death, and I hold it to be unworthy of England that her Ministers and statesmen should, by speeches and despatches, excite the Poles only to abandon them in international councils. To my mind, therefore, the only possible justification for this renewal of diplomacy could be a strong conviction on the part of the Government that a new and better opportunity had arisen capable of being so used that the attempted settlement of the Polish question should not again be abortive. Therefore, I approach the question with this feeling:—If these despatches have been written with a clear object in view—if the Cabinet have had a policy well-defined and understood, deliberately adopted, to be consistently pursued, with a fixed determination, that so far as might depend on the resolution of a united Cabinet, it should be pursued to a successful termination—then, I say, the House will do wisely not only to suspend any judgment adverse to those renewed negotiations, but to hold itself free to accord all the praise that may be due to a Government addressing itself to a question of such magnitude with courage, and sagacity, and success. But if it should be otherwise—if it should be, as some language, which we have lately heard attributed to our Foreign Secretary would lead us to believe, but as I will not believe until I hear it confirmed by the higher authority of the head of the Government—if all the virtue and energy of the Cabinet are exhausted in these despatches, and if, after having so well stated the case against Rus- 1060 sia not on behalf of Poland, but on behalf of Europe, which gave Russia its sole title to Poland—if, having taken such pains to convict Russia, to excite Poland, and to wake up the conscience of Europe, our Government are now to say, "We have discharged our duty, and can go no further"—then I foresee that at no distant day Parliament may turn upon the Government and reply, "You have not discharged, but you have exceeded your duty. If you did not mean to go farther, you have gone a great deal too far, for you have exasperated Russia, you have once more deluded and victimized Poland, or you have invoked and let loose other Powers and passions in her defence, and so may have lit a flame in Europe beyond your power to extinguish." Now, the Polish question takes its rise in these Papers with the Treaty of Vienna, and from the date of that treaty the national rising in Poland has been one long growing event. In order to understand our position and its duties, we must consider this as a continuous historical question, and examine it as a whole from 1815 to the present day. The House is so familiar with everything pertaining to the Treaty of Vienna, that I need only refer to it to refresh its recollection on two points. First, let me remind it of the objections taken by the plenipotentiaries at Vienna, and so well and wisely urged by Lord Castlereagh, to the proposed extension of Russian territory by the annexation of Poland, because it was foreseen that the Russian frontier would be brought so near to the capitals of Austria and Prussia, as to enable Russia to menace and overawe those Cabinets, and so obtain a preponderating influence in European affairs. The second objection was that taken by every leading statesman of the day whose opinion has been recorded, to the proposed experiment of uniting Poland by a constitution to Russia; for it was obvious that two such antagonistic systems—a constitutional and a despotic—could not work together, and that ere long an assimilation must take place, either by giving a constitution to Russia, or—which was more probable—by taking away the constitution from Poland. But I should be guilty of an omission if I did not dwell on these despatches of Lord Castlereagh, written during the Congress of Vienna, in order that the House may remark the vigorous and prophetic language of Lord Castlereagh, so honourable both to the man and the nation he represented; and I also think that hon. 1061 Members should have before them the ipsissima verba of the plenipotentiaries of Austria and Prussia. The representatives of Austria and Prussia were very much alarmed at the Russian project of annexing Poland; but being too timid to fight their own battles in the Congress, they made Lord Castlereagh the confidant of their fears, and the mouthpiece of their remonstrances. The correspondence begins by a despatch from Lord Castlereagh to Lord Liverpool, dated October 19, 1814, from Vienna. In that despatch Lord Castlereagh says—Vienna, Oct. 19, 1814.The existing Congress appeared to me to furnish a suitable expedient, as it enabled these Powers to represent to Russia, without menacing her with war, that they could not make themselves, in the face of Europe, the instruments of their own humiliation.…. With this view I desired an audience of the King of Prussia.…. I pressed His Majesty not to abandon the interests of his monarchy in despair, and begged that he would oppose every obstacle, short of arms, to an arrangement which left his provinces uncovered, and his State in obvious dependence on another Power.Shortly after that Lord Castlereagh was applied to formally to be the champion of the Austrian and Prussian plenipotentiaries with the Russian Government, and to make the remonstrances which they feared to make for themselves. Prince Metternich wrote on the 2nd of November to Prince Hardenberg in these words—Vienna, Nov. 2, 1814.With the view of facilitating and accelerating the progress of the negotiations, the undersigned has the honour to propose to His Highness the Prince de Hardenberg to invite Lord Castlereagh to be the spokesman in the name of the two Courts to His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, and be believes that he will not less advance the negotiations themselves than give a proof of the frankness of the conduct of his Court by annexing to the present communication a note containing the propositions which the Secretary of State of His Britannic Majesty might be requested to make in the name of the two Courts.Memorandum by Prince Metternich [enclosed with above]Animated by principles the most liberal and the most conformable to the establishment of a system of equilibrium in Europe, and opposed since 1772 to every project for the partition of Poland, Austria is ready to consent to the re-establishment of that kingdom, free and independent of every foreign influence, on a scale commensurate with its dimensions previously to the first partition.Lord Castlereagh accepts the invitation made to him by the plenipotentiaries of Austria and Prussia to be their mouthpiece, and with these credentials he goes to the Emperor of Russia. I will give 1062 only one specimen of the mode in which he discharged his functions. On the 12th of October he wrote thus to the Emperor of Russia—Vienna, Oct. 12, 1814.I do not hesitate to declare, Sire, my solemn conviction that it depends exclusively upon the temper in which your Imperial Majesty shall meet the questions which more immediately concern your own empire, whether the present Congress shall prove a blessing to mankind, or only exhibit a scene of discordant intrigue and a lawless scramble for power.Very shortly afterwards—within a fortnight of that manly and outspoken language being addressed to the Russian Emperor—a council of the three Plenipotentaries was held at Lord Castlereagh's house, and he sent this report to Lord Liverpool on the 24th of October—Vienna, Oct. 24, 1814.It was agreed that the Austrian and Prussian Ministers should meet the following day at my house, and I have the gratification to state that the result was satisfactory.… The measures to be jointly adopted with this view were then discussed, and they desired me to prepare a memorandum of the result, a copy of which I now enclose, on which they mean to take the pleasure of their respective Sovereigns. From the memorandum spoken of above, it appears that there was an agreement for the complete and entire re-union of Poland under an independent Sovereign, as it existed previous to the first partition, to the accomplishment of which arrangement, if it shall be acceptable to the Emperor, Austria and Prussia, are ready to make the requisite sacrifices.But if the Emperor of Russia should reject these propositions, he had the choice of two others of a very modified character; and in the event of his refusing these also, then the Plenipotentiaries reserved to themselves the right of falling back on the first, which they considered the best—namely, the reconstruction of the old Polish kingdom. But the Emperor peremptorily rejected every one of those propositions, and then Lord Castlereagh found himself abandoned by his feeble colleagues. On the 22nd of January he wrote to Lord Liverpool that they had ceased to oppose themselves to the projects of Russia, and the Congress became, as he had predicted, the scene of discordant intrigues and a lawless scramble for power. He told Lord Liverpool that Austria and Prussia were devoting all their energies to intrigues for their own aggrandisement in other directions, and the complete and final triumph of Russia was attested by the signature of England being, along with those of Austria and Prussia, affixed to the arrangement which they had all three denounced as fatal to 1063 Europe. But Lord Castlereagh did not take leave of Congress without placing on record, with a force and prescience which must now astonish us, his views as to the inevitable consequences. In a circular note to the Plenipotentiaries of the Conference, dated January 12, he writes thus—Experience has proved that it is not by counteracting all their habits and usages as a people, that either the happiness of the Poles or the peace of that important portion of Europe can be preserved. A fruitless attempt, too long persevered in by institutions foreign to their manners and sentiments to make them forget their existence, and even language, as a people, has been sufficiently tried and failed. It has only tended to excite a sentiment of discontent and self-degradation, and can never operate otherwise than to provoke commotion and to awaken them to a recollection of past misfortunes.Is that a prediction in 1815? Is it not rather history in 1863? Is it not, without the change of a word or syllable, as faithful a description of events in Poland during past years as any of our contemporaries could write. I have not mentioned France; but Prince Talleyrand, on the 13th of January 1815, wrote thus to Lord Castlereagh—Vienna, Jan. 13, 1815.Your Excellency knows that France shared the wish of Great Britain for the re-establishment of the kingdom of Poland in a state of perfect independence.Thus you have Austria, Prussia, France, and England agreed that the re-establishment of Poland in the same condition as previous to the first partition was not only practicable but essential to the safety of Europe. To be sure, we are told that that is fifty years ago; but though that is but a short space in the life of nations, it has more than sufficed to test the wisdom of those days. And when we find every prediction of evil fulfilled—that Poland has only changed from bad to worse—that she has been a standing reproach and growing difficulty to Europe, so that the Powers of Europe parties to the Treaty of Vienna are now brought together again to deliberate on that, which every one knows to be a failure, I say that the earnest but disregarded warnings of Lord Castlereagh, instead of being weakened, gain strength and authority from time, and solemnity from grave events. I will detain the House by reading one more extract, in order completely to lay the foundation of the discussion we are now about to engage in. I wish the House to observe what were the grounds of that 1064 apprehension which so excited the minds of the plenipotentiaries in consequence of the encroachments of Russia. The following passage occurs in Sir J. M'Neil's work on the Progress and present Position of Russia in the East:—A reference to the map will show that Russia, since 1772, has advanced her frontier in every direction.… It will be seen that the acquisitions she has made from Sweden are greater than what remains of that ancient kingdom; that her acquisitions from Poland are as large as the whole Austrian empire; that the territory she has wrested from Turkey in Europe is equal to the dominion of Prussia, exclusive of her Rhenish provinces; that her acquisitions from Turkey in Asia are equal to all the smaller States of Germany, the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, Belgium, and Holland, taken together; that the country she has taken from Persia is about the size of England; that her acquisitions in Tartary have an area equal to Turkey in Europe, Greece, Italy, and Spain; and that the territory she has acquired (since 1772) is greater in extent and importance than the whole empire she had in Europe before that time. During the same period (since 1772) her empire in Europe has been nearly doubled. She has advanced her frontier 850 miles towards Vienna, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, and Paris; she has approached 450 miles nearer to Constantinople; she has advanced to within a few miles of the capital of Sweden, from which, when Peter I. mounted the throne, her frontier was distant 300 miles. Since that time she has stretched herself forward about 1,000 miles towards India, and the same distance towards the capital of Persia, Every portion of these vast acquisitions, except perhaps that in Tartary, has been obtained in opposition to the views, the wishes, and the interests of England.And all this by the stealthy workings of a traditional diplomacy, which coils itself round every neighbour whose propinquity had doomed him to be a victim. I know there are some who say that since then the strength of Russia has considerably diminished, relatively to the other Powers of Europe. That is the result of a very superficial view. We must remember that the material resources and military strength of the other Powers have been developed and enlarged by the construction of railways. If Russia had had a railway in the Crimea. Sebastopol would not have fallen. If she had proper railway communication with Poland, the insurrection would not have held out a month. Distances are the weakness of Russia: but in a short time, when a system of railways has annihilated distances, as it has done in other countries, there is no reason why Russia should not become more formidable than ever. The Emperor of Russia, as we have seen, unfortunately gained his point in 1815, and the consequences have proved exactly 1065 as predicted. The relations of Austria and Prussia with Russia from that day ceased to be those of independent States. For although by courtesy they are still ranked among the five great Powers, there have, in fact, been only three great Powers in Europe since that time. Russia, the patron and protector of two of them, has carried their proxies in her pocket, and they sank to the status of despotisms of the second class, always at war with their own subjects, ever intriguing against and tormenting each other, but exercising no influence on great European questions, except of that perplexing and noxious character which was exercised by Austria during the Crimean war, oscillating between two sides, honestly assisting neither, and seriously aggravating the calamities of both. The truth of the second prediction, of the incompatibility of two opposite systems of Government among the same people, was proved by the insurrection of 1831. The correspondence relating to that event affords a curious illustration of the tendency of history to repeat itself; for if we transmute the dates, the events of one of those periods tell the history of both; and this it is which imparts so peculiar and grave a responsibility to the present proceedings of our Government. Never was there a diplomatic path so plainly beaten and trodden before them. There never was a difficult and dangerous navigation more accurately sounded, with every rock and shallow designated on the chart. Not one single new difficulty has arisen. The old course was so plain that the blind might almost steer through it. Let us recall for a moment the events of 1831, and see how completely they furnish a guide for the present year. What was the cause of the insurrection of 1831? It was provoked by the cruelty and illegality of the Russian Government. How was it brought under the notice of the English Parliament? By a Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Westminster, calling the attention of Government to the conduct of Prussia, who was making herself a party to the war, and hunting down the Poles for Russia. What was the next remarkable event connected with those transactions? An invitation from France for a joint interference on behalf of the Poles. And how was that invitation received? It was declined by us, but the right of the Poles to claim the protection of England was fully admitted, and the Government protested in the strongest 1066 terms against the conduct of Russia, and called on the Emperor to fulfil the obligations he had contracted under the Treaty of Vienna, How did the Emperor meet that? By the bold assertion that the Poles by insurrection had forfeited every right, and thenceforth Poland ceased to be a kingdom, and was incorporated into a Russian province. Did that plea satisfy the British Government? By no means. The Emperor was reminded by Lord Palmerston, then Secretary of State, that the engagements he had contracted were not with Poland, but with Europe, and that it was idle to pretend that he could excite the Poles to rebellion by trampling on their constitution, and then take advantage of his own wrong to annul that constitution. The Russian Minister, being hard pressed by the noble Lord, waxed indignant. He replied by utterly repudiating every obligation under the Treaty of Vienna, and asserting his master's absolute title to Poland by conquest, and not by treaty; and he endeavoured to close the correspondence by this somewhat startling and arrogant assertion of the Emperor's rights, intended to be final. It was thus that Count Nesselrode, in 1831, wrote to the noble Lord: "The Emperor is fully determined to admit no further intervention on a question which concerns himself exclusively." He then goes on to explain the abrogation of the constitution, which he declares "for fifteen years had kept alive among the Poles that discontented and turbulent spirit which on the first spark kindled into open rebellion;" and then endeavoured to close the mouth of the noble Lord by this message, conveyed to him at the close of the same despatch—His Imperial Majesty trusts that these assurances will be satisfactory to the British Government, and that this is the last time he will be called on to give explanations on a subject which concerns himself exclusively.The mouth of the noble Lord was not, however, so easily closed. He hung on the skirts of His Imperial Majesty for six months longer, and when he took leave of him was careful to have the last word. And now I must call the attention of the House to the noble Lord's lust word. But I ought to mention that Lord Palmerston had been advised by our Ambassador at St. Petersburg that remonstrances that were to end in words, instead of being an advantage, were highly injurious to the Poles, because they irri- 1067 tated the Emperor into greater severity and cruelty, in order to show his disregard and independence of England. And Lord Palmerston put on record his other reasons for allowing the subject then to drop, as follows:—If the view which Her Majesty's Government takes of that question had been shared by Austria and Prussia, as it was by France, the representations of the four Powers would have been attended with success; but Austria and Prussia having concurred with Russia in her interpretation of the Treaty of Vienna, and having approved of the changes which the Russian Government proposed to make in the Polish constitution, it was evident that the remonstrances of Great Britain and France could not be effectual unless they had been supported by a threat of war—a threat to the execution of which so many obstacles were opposed both by the general state of Europe and by the negotiations in which, in concert with Russia, Great Britain has been, and still is, engaged. In adverting, therefore, to the affairs of Poland, great delicacy and caution will be required. It would be inconsistent with the power and dignity of the British Empire to insist too strongly upon points which, from the considerations stated above, it might be inexpedient, if not impossible, to enforce by arms.So far, therefore, as the diplomatic transactions of that year went, France and England sustained a great defeat. The Emperor had put his own construction on the Treaty of Vienna; he had repudiated every obligation to Europe; he had destroyed the nationality of Poland, had absorbed it as a Russian province, and had informed the Ministers of France and England that he expected it was the last time they would meddle with what was in no way their concern. Lord Palmerston, protesting against all this, was, nevertheless, obliged to submit for two reasons:—First, because England was not prepared to enforce her demands by war; and secondly, because remonstrances without war only called down greater calamities on the Poles. And this unhappily was too soon verified; for no sooner was the war over, for the termination of which, and the retirement of the French and English Ministers from the field, the Emperor assured them he was waiting to show the full extent of his benignant feelings towards the Poles, than one of his first acts was to issue that decree, which has lately been extracted and published from the Russian archives by Mr. Edwards, and which decree the Emperor corrected and enlarged with his own hand before he signed it, by which the almost incredible number of 45,000 Polish families—not individuals, but families—were at one fell 1068 swoop carried off from their homes to the desert and the mine. In 1831, therefore, our diplomacy was singularly unsuccessful, and calamitously so for the Poles. But no one could find fault with it on that account. Lord Palmerston avowed that he wrote those despatches under the obligations of a duty imposed on him as the Minister of a nation peculiarly responsible for the condition of Poland under the Treaty of Vienna. That treaty was Russia's sole title deed to Poland; it was equally Poland's charter of nationality and freedom. And as England was the leading Power at that Congress, and as such in a great degree responsible for the placing of Poland under the keeping of Vienna, so was she to a like degree responsible for the fulfilling or exacting of the conditions to which she had set her hand and seal. And therefore, not as a matter of choice, but as an imperative and solemn duty, from which it would have been base in England to have shrunk, Lord Palmerston, as Minister of England, called on the Emperor to redeem the pledges by which he had acquired his title. And this duty the noble Lord discharged in a series of despatches so sound in spirit, so clear in argument, so unanswerable in their conclusions, that at this day they furnish a textbook for European statesmen on the Polish question. But the noble Lord was obliged to succumb, as we have seen, for two reasons, which cannot be too carefully kept in mind for their applicability to current events—because England was not prepared for war, and because remonstrances without war were disastrous to Poland. And it is but justice to the noble Lord to say that from that date his conduct in regard to Poland has been entirely consistent with the conclusions he then avowed, for he has refrained from countenancing those cheap demonstrations of popular sympathy with the Poles which have so often hurried them to destruction. Such were the transactions of 1831, of which, as I have said, those of the present period are merely repetitions. For, as in 1831, the insurrection had been provoked by the cruelty and illegality of the Russian Government; as in 1831, it was brought under the notice of the English Parliament by Members indignant at the conduct of Prussia, who was making herself once more the executioner of Russia. And, as in 1831, we received an invitation from France for joint intervention on behalf of Poland, which again, as in 1831, was declined. And this brings us ex- 1069 actly to the position in which we left the question in 1831. If we were to adhere to the policy adopted in 1831, here was the point at which to make our stand; or if we were to abandon that policy and adopt a new one, here was the point of divergence. In February we had the choice of two answers to give to the appeal made to us by Poland. We might have said, "We can't help you; we tried in 1831, and failed. We found that diplomacy, without war, was derogatory to England and injurious to Poland. England will not now go to war for Poland, and therefore we refrain from raising hopes which can only end in disappointment and distress." That was language which the Government might have used; it was language for which the country was prepared, and which, as a necessity, though a painful necessity, it would have unanimously supported. Or the Government might have held this language—they might have said—"Circumstances are changed, and our policy is changed with them. We offer you now the warmest expressions of our sympathy; but we do so not in words only, because we are prepared to follow them up by acts; and strong though your oppressor be, we will compel him to fulfil the conditions under which we surrendered you to his cruel keeping." Either of these courses the Government might have adopted. Either of them would have been intelligible and consistent, but no middle course could be consistent or intelligible, or even safe. Have the Government adopted either? We know they have not adopted the first, because diplomacy has been renewed, and therefore they have abandoned the position they took up in 1831. Have they adopted the other policy indicated by the noble Lord, that England should not again speak unless she was prepared to strike? That were a bold policy, somewhat hazardous, very responsible, and calculated to try the mettle both of the Government and of the nation; but is it or is it not the new policy which the Government adopted when the old one was discarded? I have my own decided opinion upon that point, but will let the despatches tell their own story. The precedent of 1831 was for some time longer punctiliously adhered to. The Government determine once more to protest and appeal to Russia to respect the Treaty of 1815, and the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office could be at no loss for the best form in which to convey that determination to the Russian Government. He had only to look in one of 1070 the pigeon-holes at the Foreign Office to find the excellent despatch of his predecessor in 1831, which had to be but slightly corrected and re-copied, and sent off to Lord Napier, at St. Petersburg. Prince Gortschakoff was as little at a loss where to find an answer. He also had his pigeon-hole, whence he could draw Count Nesselrode's reply of 1831, which was dusted and deciphered and discharged at Baron Brunnow in London; and so the old controversy as to Congress pledges, treaty rights, and rebellion forfeitures was revived and carried on, with all the changes rung on it, till both pigeon-holes were exhausted—the first part of this correspondence closing, as it has done in 1831, with a polite request from the Russian Minister to the English Secretary of State that he would have the goodness to attend to his own business, and put down cosmopolitan revolution at home, instead of encouraging it abroad. So far the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs had taken little by the renewal of correspondence. He found himself landed exactly where his chief had been landed thirty-one years ago. He had emitted some animated despatches, which had every merit save originality, and he had experienced what, freed from diplomatic ambiguity, must be termed a polite but most unquestionable snubbing, which his chief could also tell him was entirely devoid of originality. Meanwhile, Russia, thanks to English diplomacy, was more exasperated than ever, and every unhappy Pole, thanks again to English diplomacy, fought with a rope round his neck, twisted more remorselessly than ever. And now, I say, the House has a right to ask whether all this is English policy, or is it Ministerial levity. It must be one or the other. If it be levity, after the experience of 1831, does it not amount positively to a crime? Do we accuse the Government of that? Do we suspect them of it? No; I am glad to say that a closer inspection of the despatches furnishes evidence of a meaning and a design sufficient to acquit the Government of levity at least, and to warn us that any danger to be apprehended, if danger is to be apprehended, approaches from an opposite direction. And here the despatches suddenly assume another and a far more serious character. Joint intervention with France had been declined, prudently and properly, in February; but the British Government did not refrain from taking action nevertheless. They then adopted a proceeding which, if it were part of a settled and deliberate 1071 policy, as I now believe it to have been, was the most judicious and effective they could have adopted, and by which an entirely new aspect was given to the Polish question. They addressed a circular to all the Powers that had been parties to the Treaty of Vienna, inviting them to address separate communications to Russia, and suggesting that those communications should bear the same spirit and character as the communication that had already been addressed by England. As this is the most important part of the whole correspondence, and, in fact, is the turning-point of the policy of the Government, I will, in order to prevent any possible inaccuracy on my part or misapprehension on the part of the House, read the circular to which I have referred. On the 22nd of April 1863, Earl Russell writes to Lord Cowley as follows:—Foreign Office, April 22, 1863.I have to acquaint your Excellency, in reply to your despatch of yesterday, that Her Majesty's representatives at the several Courts in Europe will be instructed to communicate to the Governments to which they are accredited a copy of my despatch to Her Majesty's Ambassador at St. Petersburg on the affairs of Poland, dated the 10th of April, and to request them to give instructions in a similar sense to their respective representatives at the Court of Russia.And in the circular enclosed there occurs this paragraph—You will communicate a copy of this despatch to the Government to which you are accredited, and invite them to make a communication of a similar tendency to the Russian Government.This brings us to the most interesting point in all these negotiations, from which the policy of the Government takes a new departure, and at which the real character and aim of that policy break upon us. We have now a combination and a movement. The Powers that were parties to the Treaty of Vienna, having taken counsel together, are to address simultaneous communications to Russia, and these communications are to be in the same sense and of the same tendency as the communication already addressed by England. We have now only one further point to ascertain in order to see where we stand—what had been the sense and tendency of that English communication that was suggested as a model? For the House will agree with me, that in the concert thus established, and in the language held to Russia after that concert was made known, we shall find—if we are to find it anywhere—a key to the real policy of the Government. The despatch that Earl Russell mentions is a despatch of the 10th 1072 of April; but in the blue-book there are two despatches dated the 10th of April, No. 138 and No. 140. The first is the one mentioned by Earl Russell; but as the second is only an explanation of the first, they may be taken together as one despatch. Though the despatch is dated the 10th of April, it was written on the 9th, and on the 9th a copy of it was sent to Lord Cowley in Paris. On the 9th, also. Baron Brunnow saw Earl Russell, and asked him to explain the character of the despatch on the point of being sent off. Lord Russell explained it in a long conversation, and the second despatch was written in order to narrate to Lord Napier that conversation. The second despatch, therefore, is an explanation of the first, and the House will observe they are written on the same day, are transmitted by the same courier, are printed on the same page of the blue-book, and the second is avowedly an explanation of the first; and so, as I have said, they may be taken as one despatch. And now I beg the House to turn with me to that despatch No. 140. I confess I read it with an astonishment which no words of mine can express; I was not prepared for it by anything that had transpired in the course of the negotiations; but after reading that despatch, I could no longer doubt that the Cabinet had a policy, and one, too, which had imparted to the Polish question such proportions that it could never again be evaded or postponed. Writing to Lord Napier on the 10th of April, Earl Russell says—I had a long conversation yesterday with Baron Brunnow, some parts of which were of much interest.…. Baron Brunnow asked me some questions as to the nature of the representations about to be made at St. Petersburg; and when I told him that the despatch of Her Majesty's Government was chiefly founded on the non-observance of the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, he expressed some satisfaction that we still founded our demands on the basis of that treaty. But there was one question he felt he was entitled to ask, and that was whether the communication Her Majesty's Government were about to make at St. Petersburg was of a pacific nature. I replied that it was, but that as I did not wish to mislead him I must say something more. Her Majesty's Government had no intentions that were otherwise than pacific, still less any concert with other Powers for any but pacific purposes. But the state of things might change. The present overture of Her Majesty's Government might be rejected, as the representation of the 2nd of March had been rejected by the Imperial Government. The insurrections in Poland might continue, and might assume larger proportions; the atrocities on both sides might be aggravated and extended to a wider range of country. If in such a state of affairs the Emperor of Russia were to take no steps of a conciliatory nature, dangers and 1073 complications might arise not at present in contemplation.There is here not only a vision of war, but it goes to show also a vision of something that might happen after war. The despatch goes on—Baron Brunnow said he could not call our former despatch an overture The intentions of the Emperor towards Poland were most kind and benevolent But there were projects afloat for altering the map of Europe. In these projects compensations to Russia were included. Russia entered into none of these projects; she wanted no compensation; she held by the present territorial arrangements of Europe, and he (Baron Brunnow) trusted Great Britain would do so likewise. I said it was the wish of Her Majesty's Government to do so. But Russia herself had in some cases been active in proposing and carrying into effect territorial changes.And now I ask the House, how were foreign Cabinets to interpret the sense and tendency of that despatch? Was its sense entirely pacific? Was its tendency to stop short at diplomacy, or to go beyond it? Did it not imply that we began with diplomacy; but that if diplomacy failed, there was something behind of which we warned Russia to beware? There is not a sentence I have read which does not combine very mild professions of peace with unmistakable indications, not of contingent war, but of war, predetermined and inevitable, under certain contingencies, every one of which has come to pass. The noble Lord says, in effect—"Our present communication is pacific, but I warn you not to be misled by that. We have no concert at present with foreign Powers for purposes of war; but the state of things may change. We have no wish to curtail the territorial limits of Russia, but Russia herself has set us an example of which we now significantly and ominously remind her." Sir, I quite believe the noble Lord, when he tells Lord Napier that Baron Brunnow found that conversation very interesting. I should think a conversation that began with the threat of a Russian war, and ended with the hint of a Russian dismemberment, must have been, to a Russian Minister, one of the most interesting conversations in which he ever found himself engaged. And Baron Brunnow must have been particularly struck with those portions of the noble Lord's discourse that were preceded by the monosyllable "but." The first half of every sentence was reassuring and comforting enough; but the last half, following that oft-recurring and most portentous monosyllable, was such a condensed volume of eventualities and 1074 warnings, conveyed in a tone of such earnest but calm severity, as must have left on the mind of the Russian ambassador a profound impression that Poland had become a question on which neither the English Minister nor his country could be longer trifled with. But that is not all. The despatch is grave enough, but its gravity is immensely increased by its immediate publication. It is transmitted to St. Petersburg in the second week of April, and in the course of the same month, before the answer is received, it is placed in the hands of the Parliamentary printer, and published to England, to Poland, and the world. Now, Sir, let us not attempt to shut our eyes to the real character and consequences of that proceeding. The Government cannot ignore them—they do not wish to evade them. By the early publication of their despatch they challenge our opinion upon it. Well, how are we to answer that challenge? We can only answer it in one way We must assume—as, dealing with a cabinet of sagacious and experienced statesmen, we are bound to assume—that the effect inevitably produced must have been the effect intended. It would be an insult to their common sense to impute to them what would be otherwise so palpable and puerile a blunder and so prolific of mischief. Can we doubt, then, what must have been the effect of that despatch abroad, and what must have been its influence on the feelings and conduct of those who were watching with the most intense anxiety for every word spoken, every line written, every sign given by the English Government at such a moment? I have no hesitation in declaring my conviction that in Poland and out of Poland, everywhere among her friends, this combination against Russia must have been rejoiced at as the greatest diplomatic victory ever achieved over a Russian Government. It accomplished in their eyes one universal condemnation of the cruel and aggressive policy of Russia; and it proclaimed as general a determination to call her to account. There cannot be two opinions about it. That judgment of Russia by the voice of every free State in Europe was pregnant with a meaning that must have struck home to every Russian and Polish understanding. To Russia it was the handwriting on the wall. To Poland it was the bow in the heavens; and many a broken-spirited Polish exile, who had never suffered himself before to see a gleam of sunshine through the dark vista of the future, must have felt his heart leap within him at the success of that move- 1075 ment, initiated by England, by which, in every Cabinet of Europe, this down-trodden, dirt-trailed question of Polish nationality, derided as the cry of the fanatic or the dream of the visionary, became exalted into a real, practical, pressing, statesman's question, admitting but of one solution, which should combine the regeneration of Poland with the upraising of a strong bulwark against the much-dreaded, and what, after the proceedings of General Mouravieff, I do not use too strong a phrase in terming the brutalizing encroachments of Eastern barbarism. And that I conclude must have been the deliberate intention and settled purpose of the Government. But an inquiry then arises in the mind of every dispassionate and reflecting man—How does all this tally with your pacific policy of 1831? To what does this new policy tend, and what is its justification? Is it not strange that England, the most constitutional and conservative of peaceful States, should in a time of profound tranquillity and with reference to events on the Asiatic frontiers of Europe, initiate a movement which may endanger the general peace? And stranger still, how is it that the noble Lord who sent the question to sleep in 1831 should be the Minister to wake it up now? No man so well versed as he in the complications and perils of the Polish question. He is the official link between the three great historic events embraced in these despatches—the living witness of the calamities which he, in vain, endeavoured to assuage, for he alone may exclaim of them——quæque ipse, miserrima, vidi,Et quorum pars magna fui.For even at the period from which these despatches took their rise in 1815, he, the Jupiter of the War Office, launched the thunders by which the atmosphere was cleared for the Congress to meet and dispose of Poland. Again, in 1831, directing our foreign administration, he shone the impersonation of the British hon. that only ceased to roar when it was not allowed to fight. And now in 1863, when Poland once more knocks at the Cabinets of Europe, it is the Nestor of diplomacy who shows her in; and he, the veteran statesman, in whom experience has ripened caution—who is deemed the foe equally of revolution and of despotism—he it is who, apparently flinging aside his peaceful policy of 1831, invites the Powers to combine and summons Russia, almost with the trumpet of war, to stand at the bar of Europe. It is said that wonders never cease; neither do they, 1076 except in one sense, that they cease to be wonders when, tested by a very easy analysis, they prove to be the simplest operations of Nature's first and most immutable law of cause and effect. The problem of the changed policy of England under the noble Lord's direction is very easily solved if we seek the solution in the proper quarter. It is not to be found in these despatches. But if we cast our eyes abroad and mark the transitions which Europe has been undergoing during the present and the last generation, we shall find, that although the events of 1831 have been repeating themselves now, yet all the accompanying and surrounding circumstances are so changed; the condition of States and of Governments, and their relations to each other have been so completely metamorphosed, that what would have been Quixotic thirty years ago may have become a very rational and sober enterprise at the present day. For example, in 1831 the partitioning Powers, the despots of the North, were fast friends and sure allies; and it was before the attitude they then presented to Europe that, as the noble Lord told us, England and France were compelled to fall back. But since then those changes have occurred which place the present policy of the Cabinet entirely into harmony with the policy of 1831. That Holy Alliance is dissolved; Austria is detached; Prussia is divided within herself, if, indeed, you can call that a division where you have on one side a nation and on the other a King, of whose abdication any telegram may bring the news. Again, in 1831 Russia was a colossal Power, invulnerable from without, full of health and solidity within, with a countless army in the highest state of efficiency and discipline, with a powerful fleet, a devoted population, and, what the Chancellor of the Exchequer can appreciate, a flourishing finance. But all this is now, for a time at least, changed. That army has been shattered, and is now demoralized; that fleet is gone; her people are in the throes of a social convulsion, and her finances are embarrassed and disordered. Again, in 1831 Poland, though agitated and excited, was not united. The insurrection was an insurrection of the nobles; but this war takes its rise with the urban population. It is the middle class, on whom the conscription chiefly fell, who, throwing themselves into it as to them a matter of life and death, are imparting its desperate character to a war in which the Cossack shows no mercy, and the Pole accepts no quarter. The movement is national, and the bond of strength and union is nation- 1077 ality. Again, in 1831, that experiment of constitutionalism in Poland and despotism in Russia had had a comparatively brief trial. But now, after half a century has elapsed, the experiment has proved a failure, and the Powers of Europe, which were parties to that experiment, self-convicted of injustice, are once more brought together by their conviction of an imperative and pressing duty, not in the interests of humanity and justice to Poland, but of the general peace and safety of the world, to correct the errors of 1815. And if that combination holds together, and is well directed—and all that I believe depends on England—if those Powers are true to one another and to themselves, it is manifestly impossible for Russia to attempt to make head against it. In a good cause, no doubt, Russia might defy almost any combination, and a devoted and patriotic people would fight hard and long before they would submit to what they might deem dismemberment. But here Russia has a very had cause, in which she quibbles away treaties in the spirit of an Old Bailey practitioner after having fastened herself on Poland as a garotter. It is the law, the justice, the morality of the case, that are more formidable to Russia than any armaments; and, in expiation of such a crime as hers, Russia, after a century of triumphant wrong, overtaken by justice, has no alternative; she must bend, bow, prostrate herself, if need he, in sackcloth and ashes, not before the armies of Europe, but before that stronger and more resistless power, which is the birth and glory of our age—that great tribunal of opinion, before which despots quail and armies disband themselves, or take to flight. And, Sir, that Russia has quailed is shown even by the time she has taken to deliberate on these humiliating six points. Never was there, so far, a diplomatic triumph more complete. Never had sound, hold statesmanship a better vindication. Russia has shown that she trembled before the Europe she defied. The Powers had but to act honestly and vigorously together to impose their own law and to be obeyed. And all those political outrages that Europe has viewed with sorrow and indignation—the Partition of 1772, the spoliations of 1774 and 1794, the overbearing aggrandisement of 1815, the faithless and lawless absorption of Poland in 1831—all were gathering to retribution. For Russia, isolated by the wise policy of England, and confounded by its boldness, without an ally or sympathy or friend in Europe, what alternative had she but to submit? But I am mistaken. 1078 Russia had a friend, and though not a very sincere or disinterested one, still a very timely friend, that stepped in at the critical moment, to rob Europe of the fruits of this wise policy, and secure for Russia impunity for the past, with undisturbed present possession and invigorated future opportunities of consummating her worst designs. The Governments, combining against Russia, have left the direction of events to three Powers—as a sort of committee of Powers—to France and England as great and strong Powers, and to Austria as a Power whose geographical position and peculiar interests give her an exceptional importance. But it is on England that the whole responsibility of guiding that triumvirate devolves, for England stands midway between the dangerous activity of France and the no less dangerous uncertainty of Austria; and the colleagues for whose good conduct England is thus made answerable are the antipodes of each other in their character, their power, their policy, and their relations, and antecedents to Poland. France has ever been the friend of Poland. The restoration of Poland is the traditional policy of France, and the present Emperor has an opportunity and temptation such as France never had before; and he is not a man to throw it away with all France at his back and Europe on his side. It is by his energetic use of opportunities that in fifteen years he has raised France to the foremost place in Europe. He has proved himself before the world a man of great capacity and courage; and whether in the crisis of revolution, in the shock and smoke of battle, or when sauntering at mid-day in his own peaceful capital, an easy mark for an assassin, be has shown himself a man of a fearless heart and a sagacious head; and he guides the fortunes of a nation that has many noble and generous sympathies with England and with Poland. Austria, on the other hand, so far from being the friend, is the despoiler of Poland; she gained Galicia by a robbery in 1772, and retained it by a massacre in 1846; and when she professes now to march with France and England in the cause of justice and freedom, she has not only her antecedent history to redeem, but her current actions to confront. Unhappily, it is too notorious that Austria has been, for the greater part of this century, the chief sinner against the liberty and enlightenment of Europe. Italy, Hungary, Poland, have been the theatre of her crimes. Every petty tyrant in Italy scourged and persecuted after her example. The 1079 Neapolitan dungeons steamed with the victims of the policy she directed. All the worst abuses of the Papacy were perpetuated under her protection. Her political history is the blackest in Europe; and it seems only the other day that her generals could not even walk our streets in safety, so much did the misdeeds of Austria stink in the nostrils of Englishmen. And this is the Power that is now claiming an equal voice in council with France and England in the cause of justice and freedom. But we are told all that is changed now. Austria has become liberal, and our Foreign Secretary tells us that the Government of Austria is a wise Government, and overflowing with sympathies for Poland. Well, then, why does she not give more play to her sympathies nearer home? Has she not in Venetia a Poland of her own? and if there are not outbreaks and massacres there, is it not that the repressive system is so complete that resistance is killed down—the spirit surviving, but the power utterly dead. Austria, we are told, is anxious to give a national representation to Poland—then why does she withhold a national representation from Hungary? [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear, hear!] My hon. and learned Friend is mistaken. Austria does not give Hungary a national representation. Hungary asks for a national representation, but Austria insists that the Hungarian deputies shall go to Vienna and join the Reichsrath. Again, we are told that Austria is penitent for her past sins in Italy—then why does she not recognise the new Italian kingdom? Let me tell my hon. and learned Friend, that as long as Austria continues to play the tyrant and tormentor wherever she has the power to do so, we are driven to the conclusion that she cannot be the sincere friend of Poland, nor can she be the political associate of England; and the only terms even of a temporary alliance must be that Austria must follow, not guide France and England; she must obey, and not pretend to dictate. For we in England know very well that on this question of Poland she can have no free action, apart from the Western Powers; for if she were to break off from France and England, and dare to declare herself for Russia and against Poland, that moment there would be revolution in her provinces, and dismemberment of her empire. Well, Sir, Austria was unfortunately admitted to an equal voice in council, although she had been the accomplice of Russia in the partition of Poland, and the first duty the three 1080 allies had to discharge was to prepare a joint reply to the notes of Prince Gortschakoff, communicated in the beginning of May. But that was more easily said than done, because Prince Gortschakoff, who appears a better letter-writer than all the triumvirate combined, had thrown a shell into the camp of the allies by saying "You base your communication on the Treaty of Vienna. I am ready to give you, so far as is consistent with my construction of the treaty, everything you want, only be kind enough to tell me what you do want." But this was exactly what they could not tell him, for they all want something different, and they took seven weeks to reduce their differences to agreement. Not but that France and England, who had clean hands with regard to Poland, could have agreed on something just and sensible in twenty-four hours, but Austria could not be got to make up her mind to anything just or sensible, and so France and England consumed seven weeks—weeks of calamity to Poland and precious time lost to Europe—in pulling and tugging at Austria to get her on; and when at last Austria's courage is screwed up to the sticking place, we are blessed with the fruits of her combined wisdom and audacity in these six points, and six precious points they are. For what do they propose? Nothing more nor less than a complete and permanent and to all parties satisfactory settlement of every Polish difficulty—by what? By reviving that exploded hypocrisy of 1815, to which Lord Castlereagh had too much manliness to accord the decent term of compromise; but which he denounced as a gigantic fraud and outrage, which the overbearing ascendancy of an unscrupulous will had imposed on the mean and abject instruments with which it had to deal. And if Lord Castlereagh pointed the finger of scorn at it in the presence of kings and emperors fifty years ago, when its calamities were matters of prediction, what must we think of its reproduction now after fifty years' experience of its desolating effects? But I pay it an undeserved compliment in terming it the constitution of 1815 revived. There might be some excuse in 1815 for saying that the seeming hopelessness of the task of administering an impossible constitution might be got over by the large discretion vested in a capable and sagacious ruler. But this constitution of 1863 is amended by altogether taking away that discretion. It is here reduced to a very stringent code under very precise heads. By a very 1081 simple and summary process it relieves the Emperor of the responsibility of governing his own dominions. It assumes to do that which I venture to say was never attempted in the world's history before—to dictate to the haughtiest monarch in the world not only the principles, but the details of his internal administration. It prescribes the form of Government, the mode of appointing ministers independently of the Crown, the laws to be passed, the language to be spoken—nay, it even goes so far as to insist on the framing of red-tape regulations, under which a great military despot is to recruit his semi-barbarous armies. And all this is done with a pretended, for it cannot be a real, forgetfulness of the fact that every one of these stipulated provisions for the good government and happiness of the subjects of the degraded Emperor is directly at variance with the laws, and usages, and habits, which are the second nature of Russia—that they are directly in the teeth of the Emperor's repeated and emphatic declarations that he will suffer no interference with his own exclusive affairs—equally in the teeth of the sworn rejection of those conditions by the Poles—equally in the teeth of Lord Castlereagh's predictions fifty years ago, and of the experience of Europe during fifty years since, that all such arrangements are absurd, and mischievous, and delusive. Yet this is what the wise Ministers of Austria, after seven months of painful parturition present to the world; and ignoring the repugnance equally of Russia and Poland, ignoring the experience of Europe, ignoring past history and present events, as if these wise ministers had seen nothing, read nothing, heard nothing, during the last fifty years, they present for the sincere and honest acceptance of Russia, for the contentment of Poland, for the peace and credit of Europe, this mischievous combination of political imbecility and hypocrisy, of which it is difficult to say whether the Members of an English House of Commons ought most to regard it with shame or indignation These six points have been not only prepared by the Austrian Government, but they have been approved by the Reichsrath as—what does the House think?—as the wisest and surest mode of maintaining the integrity of the Empire. But is there anything in the least degree practical about them? Have France and England adopted them as a practical mode of settling the Polish question? Why, as a practical solution of the difficulty, the Em- 1082 peror of France would laugh at them, and I venture to predict that the noble Lord to-night will be ashamed to own them. Then it may be asked, how could France and England be justified in adopting these terms and submitting them for the acceptance of Russia. These papers, to any one rending them attentively, furnish an intelligible answer, and they bring out in strong contrast the attempt of Austria to cheat the Poles, and the determination of England to befriend them. These six points prepared by Austria we shall now see were in reality an act of hostility and treachery towards the Poles, under the guise of friendship, but their acceptance by England and the mode of their presentation to Russia were not only a skilful stroke of diplomacy, but as an act of statesmanship were not deficient in wisdom and justice, and good faith. The co-operation of Austria was of vital importance in these negotiations, and Austria, as the price of her co-operation, insisted upon the presentation of these points to Russia. And England and France seem to have perceived a mode of making the presentation of the six points to Russia answer the double purpose of securing the co-operation of Austria, and making that co-operation subservient to the wiser policy of France and England. The House has seen that the whole controversy of 1831 and of the present year between Russia and the British Government turned upon one point, whether Russia holds Poland by virtue of the Treaty of 1815, or by virtue of conquest in 1831. These six points prepared by Austria and revised by England, evidently tended to bring Russia to bay upon that issue, for it was plainly impossible for the Emperor to abandon the claim of conquest, so arrogantly made and acted upon for the last thirty years, without confessing before all Europe that he had been guilty of injustice and bad faith. The English Government had a right to think they were safe against such an act of self inflicted humiliation. But at the same time, these instructions to Russia, or these mandates, as I may call them, almost in the form of an ultimatum, as to the internal government of Poland, were an assertion of that European sovereignty over Poland for which the noble Lord had so long contended. They declared, in terms too clear and strong to be mistaken, that the European Powers were the lords of Poland, and that Russia only held Poland in trust from them. These six points contained a recital of the conditions 1083 of tenure, and they were served upon Russia as a necessary form, in what the lawyers would call a process of ejectment. But the English Government did not rely too confidently upon the rejection of these terms by Russia. They knew with whom they had to deal. They knew, that when these six points arrived at St. Petersburg, it might happen that Austria had been beforehand with them, and that the Emperor might have been made to see that the time was unfavourable for resistance; and that by temporizing and diplomatizing the pressure might be removed—the combination might perchance not hold together, the entente cordiale between England and France might be relaxed, or even political changes might take place in either country, or the internal difficulties of Russia might be diminished. Russia could, therefore, lose nothing by temporary concession; for if the Emperor were to accept the constitution, as he had done before, he would soon find a better opportunity to destroy it than he had done before. Therefore, when the noble Lord, three weeks ago, gave us an outline of the English despatch, it caused a feeling of apprehension, because it did seem, that if Russia were to accept these six points—which she might do by a dexterous, although dishonest move—England would be placed in a serious dilemma. She would be bound to accomplish two impossibilities. She must secure the acceptance of these points by Poland, or, in default of that acceptance, she must give her moral countenance and support to Russia; and in the second place, she must guarantee to Poland the faithful observance by Russia of those conditions in all time to come. It was manifestly impossible for a British Government to undertake such obligations, or for a British Parliament to sanction them. And I must confess that to me it was a matter of astonishment amounting to bewilderment, how the noble Lord, who for thirty years has given so much of his heart and head to Poland, could have incurred the danger of being placed in so grave a dilemma, if met by so obvious and transparent a manœuvre. But now the mystery is cleared up. We have Lord Russell's despatch in extenso, and we find it contains a postscript, which the noble Lord did not allude to, and which is not to be found in the Austrian despatch. That postscript changes the whole character of the proposals, and leaves the English Government still in command of the situation. The English despatch does not limit itself, as the Austrian des- 1084 patch was limited, to one demand upon Russia, but Earl Russell makes three distinct demands. He first demands the acceptance of the six points; next, the proclamation of an armistice; and thirdly, a conference of the Powers which signed the Treaty of Vienna. These two last requirements make the English Government quite safe. If Russia accepts those two conditions, in addition to the six points proposed by Austria, there would be no difficulty whatever in obtaining their acceptance, so far as it is necessary, by the Poles, because as to the six points it would be unnecessary for them to give any opinion until they had been submitted to the conference. The armistice, too, the Poles would gladly accept, not only to stop the effusion of blood, but because it would recognise them as a belligerent party; and the conference they have declared themselves ready to accept upon the single condition that the National Government of Poland should have a representative at the Congress. And this demand from the National Government raises the one question upon which the whole policy of Europe must now turn. The House now sees that the six points of Austria submitted to Russia in their nakedness would have been a delusion to Poland, and, if accepted by Russia, would have placed England in a dilemma. But the six points of Austria, with the addition of the two conditions insisted on by England, are a protection to Poland and still keep England on a vantage-ground. Russia, if she ever contemplated accepting the six points, is checkmated, because the acceptance of the Austrian points alone would profit her nothing, so long as France and England were unsatisfied. Now we have Russia's answer, and it is an unqualified rejection of everything which England has proposed. That brings the question, both on the part of Russia and of England to one plain, unmistakable issue, and the real question which we have to decide is reduced within the narrowest possible compass. We made the Emperor of Russia King of Poland under the conditions of the Treaty of Vienna. We recognise no title to sovereignty but what that treaty gives him; and if he is not King of Poland by treaty, he is not King at all. The Emperor, on the other hand, constitutes himself King of Poland by right of conquest, and by no other. He repudiates the title and obligations of the treaty, and, by his own showing, if he is not King of Poland by conquest, he is not King at all. Well, then, 1085 no treaty title to sovereignty exists, because the Emperor contemptuously destroyed it thirty years ago, consumed it in the flames of his burning cities, and for that legal title he has substituted a spurious right of his own manufacture. And you, being men of peace and reason, submit it decorously to the Law Officers of the Crown; and what do they tell you?—that the title is bad, utterly worthless, and the Emperor is no more King of Poland by conquest than the Pope is King of Italy by marriage. What, then, is the result? There is no King of Poland at all, because the sovereignty by treaty was a forfeiture and an abdication thirty years ago, and the sovereignty by conquest is a violent usurpation consummating a fraud. And what can it profit us in such circumstances to talk of restoring the kingdom of 1815, with its 4,000,000 of inhabitants? Have not two classes out of three in the Russian provinces of Poland cast in their lot with it? Are not the landed proprietors and townspeople of Lithuania, of Volhynia, and of Podolia, as Polish as the Congress kingdom? and if advantages are given to the kingdom that are denied to them, will they not remain in a state of chronic insurrection? And can the Emperor accede to their demands? Can he draw a distinction between his Polish and Russian subjects, to the advantage of the former, which the latter will not resent? It was these considerations that made the statesmen of 1815 pronounce the new kingdom and its constitution a delusion, and it has ever since proved a political pestilence, decimating the inhabitants, and contagiously affecting neighbouring states; and, for my own part, I cannot understand how any man pretending to the character of a statesman can at the present day believe that the Polish question is to be settled by papers and protocols, which is nothing but an invitation to Europe to enter on a new series of evasions and impostures only to perpetuate confusion, calamity, and danger. But we may save ourselves all trouble in that way. The Emperor of Russia will have none of our Congress kingdom. He has told us what we all know to be true, that he cannot and will not rule Poland under a different system from the rest of his dominions; and you, the Ministers of England, have retorted by telling the Poles that they are justified in taking up arms against the Sovereign we gave them, and you have advised them to treat his amnesty with the same contempt as he did their constitu- 1086 tion; and they have followed your advice. Well, then, how do you mean to follow it up? The Poles are fighting for nationality, and nothing else. You know that—you, who are proclaiming yourselves to the world as the instigators and advisers of the insurgent Poles—you know that they are fighting for nationality, and will take nothing less. Do you mean to give, them that nationality? Do you mean now, when the Crown you made is vacant, when all lawful government is at an end, when the independence and nationality of Poland are proclaimed over a district half as large as the whole Austrian Empire, and when the war has assumed those proportions under your own instigation and advice, do you mean to apply to Poland the principle which you proclaimed in Italy—that a nation should be the sole judge and manager of its own affairs? That principle had not been brought to light in 1815, when crowned heads disposed of nationalities by divine right. Poland was then like Italy, treated as a chattel; but with this distinction, that Italy was made over absolutely to Austria, while Poland was only intrusted conditionally to Russia. You think that you have done a good work in Italy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer always refers to it with pride. He never loses an opportunity of attempting to further that work, which, unhappily, is not yet complete. He is proud of belonging to a Government that stepped in at the eleventh hour to secure Italy for the Italians. Well, it was a good work—and you deserved and have obtained lasting credit for it. Now, I see my right hon. Friend in his place to-night, and may I not ask him, has the champion of Italy no voice for Poland? Can he not tell us that Poland is a yet stronger case? For Italy, after all, was delivered by a foreign army—her nationality was guaranteed by no treaty—her citadels protected Europe from no barbarous invader. But Poland is indeed a theme to inspire the eloquence of a just and generous statesman, who unites a love of freedom with a respect for public law. For Poland—there is not a Minister on that Bench whose conscience has not long since whispered him, what, indeed, the conscience of every reflecting man in this House has told him—Poland is the ward of Europe; England is the legally-constituted guardian of Poland. England assumed, in 1815, to dispose of Poland's destinies, and placed her under the iron 1087 heel of Russia. Poland's enslavement, then, was our blunder—her torments since have been our crime—her political extinction has been Europe's weakness, and her resurrection would be a safeguard and defence. And now, when after a century of unsuccessful conspiracies to crush her by dismemberments and confiscations, and banishments, and burnings, and massacres, crowned by this last unparalleled attempt at the midnight execution of a nation by penal conscription—when Poland, with an almost supernatural vitality, still survives, a standing rebuke to the folly and iniquity of the Congress which placed that cruel yoke upon her—and when she appeals to us, not the Poland of 1772, in whose sad debasement her doom was written, but the Poland of 1863, a nation in mourning for its past sins and sorrows, that for a century has been draining the cup of misery to the dregs—and when she now appeals to us, a suppliant for no favour, whining to us for no assistance, but demands, as one escaped from the grave, the enforcement of our own bond on which her national life is inscribed as part of the public law of Europe—how can we, I ask, reconcile it with any principle of justice, or morality, or any reverence for the source from which, as a Christian Legislature, we derive our sense of duty—how can we, without afresh crime greater than any that have preceded it, deliver up the Poles once more into the hands of the oppressor, whom their experience has told them no oaths can bind to justice and no suffering can move to mercy? God forbid that by such a crime to Poland our Ministers should efface what they have done in Italy. No; let them rather recognise in Poland, as in Italy, an historic though fallen nation, purified by suffering, elevated to patriotism, taught by the past, aspiring to a new and better future; and as our Ministers gained credit to themselves, and did service to Europe by proclaiming Italy for the Italians, let us not be wanting now in the courage, the virtue, the wisdom to proclaim, "Poland for the Poles!" and so make some reparation for the wrongs of Poland by welcoming her once more into the brotherhood of nations as a new and hopeful element in the freedom and progress of the world. But, much as I desire this now, and ardently as I advocate it, in the position in which we find ourselves I should not venture to suggest any thing so bold or what would lately have been deemed so visionary, if our Ministers had not led the way. I think the manner 1088 in which they have expanded an unavoidable, but embarrassing, alliance with France into a great European combination has been most able and masterly, but it leaves only one logical conclusion to be drawn from these despatches. The restoration of Poland in the eyes of all Europe, reading those despatches, must now be considered the adopted policy of the Cabinet, as it will speedily be the adopted policy of England, and the only remaining question is—can it be peaceably accomplished? That is a question to which the answer is not difficult, nor is it discouraging or unsatisfactory. Can, then, the restoration of Poland be accomplished without recourse to war? That depends entirely on the conduct of one Power—it depends upon Austria. It is Austria that has the peaceful solution of the difficulty in her sole keeping. Will Austria make restitution of Galicia? That is the question on which every other eventuality depends. If Austria will come forward now, and boldly, wisely, and honourably make restitution of Galicia, Prussia on the same ground must relinquish Posen, and the Kingdom of Poland is re-established without a blow. But, it may be said, "How can you expect Austria and Prussia to give up territory without equivalent?" Equivalent, Sir, what equivalent can they require for being placed in safety? From the frontier of Russia now to the capitals of Vienna and Berlin is a shorter march than from York to London. Is it no gain to a monarchy like Austria to have the frontier of Russia thrown back six hundred miles? Is it no gain to Austria to have her territory more guarded—her capital more secure—her commerce more freely and uninterruptedly developed, and the constantly-recurring dangers of an Eastern Question sensibly diminished? Why, the advantages to Austria, politically, commercially, nationally, from the removal of this Russian incubus are so great, that instead of haggling about equivalents she ought to be too grateful for being allowed to purchase them by the relinquishment of a territory acquired by such a crime. I believe there is no Government in the world so much interested as England in maintaining Austria as a strong power in Europe. But she can be strong only by being liberal and progressive. Poland now offers a golden opportunity to Austria to take the first great step to reconcile herself with progressive Europe and win the respect and good-will of England 1089 —for if she gives up Galicia, though her example may not shame her accomplices into a like virtuous course, it will be valuable to Europe as a lever with which to work out great results; and therefore I repeat, if Austria is now sufficiently alive to her real interests to take this first step and make over Galicia to Europe as the basis of a new arrangement, although much will still remain to be done before the work is perfected, still the first great barrier is broken down—Poland is inevitably established, and war averted. But if Austria refuses—what then? And there are some passages, I grieve to say, in these despatches that would prepare us for that refusal; and there are some other passages, I grieve still more to say, from which we might infer that the British Government would hold Austria justified in that refusal, and would countenance her in it; and so, I ask, if Austria refuses, what then? Would England draw back and adhere to Austria, and leave France to follow her own counsels? I am discussing eventualities for which these papers tell us we must be prepared, and I ask again, if Austria holds fast her gripe on Galicia, and thus forbids the only peaceful solution of the question, and if England falters by the side of Austria, what will France then do? Sir, no one can venture to foretell with confidence what the French Emperor may do, and for the best of all reasons—because he does not himself yet know; but that very uncertainty constitutes a danger. We all know, that when this war first broke out, it was his intention to do nothing. The press in Paris had orders to write down Poland, and to write up Russia, and the Poles were advised to throw themselves on the generous mercy of the Czar. So, when the war broke out, the English Government wished and intended to do nothing; and we do not blame them for that—the line of prudence was the line of duty. But we may remember that the noble Lord, who in 1831 so vigorously insisted that England had not only a right, but was under an obligation to interfere, did modify that opinion very much at the beginning of this Session, when he reasserted the right, but denied the obligation. I refer to that only to show that there was no alacrity on the part of our Government to act. But public opinion showed itself too strong in France. The Emperor durst not disregard the opinion of France, and the English Cabi- 1090 net durst not disregard the possible policy of the Emperor. They saw another Italy ahead, with another Savoy on the Rhine, and England once more consigned to the ignoble part she had then to play in Italy. No one can tell what opinion in France may require the Emperor to do. But is that a policy which we can leave to chance? Remember it was the English Ministers that kindled and fanned this flame. Europe would not have moved if England had not given the signal. All the most stable elements of French society waited for England before they threw themselves into the movement. And I beseech you also to remember that this is the one question that unites every party in France. There is a love of Poland which fought under Napoleon; there is a hatred of Prussia that rode rough-shod through Paris; and then there are all the subsidiary but powerful elements of religious sympathy, military glory, territorial gain, and the gratification of tearing still further the Treaties of 1815. But above all this, and stronger than all, is the feeling which I mentioned first, and which is most honourable to France—a real and genuine love of Poland, that will make a war for her deliverance a holy war, and that must and will rally the liberal sympathies of Europe to the champion who goes forth to battle in her behalf. And let us also remember that the combination which these papers proclaim has been England's work, and it gives England, that alone has the confidence of every Power, the command of the situation, if her Ministers can keep it. But if England abandons the lead, we may rely on it, that when the time comes, France will be compelled to take it. We know that the roll of the war drum is at this moment being heard in France, precisely as it was on the eve of the Italian campaign. We know that the Poles now have the same instinctive reliance on French aid which sustained and justified the Italians five years ago. And we have heard not a rumour merely, but as something apparently more authentic than mere rumour, that the Emperor of the French has already sounded the Italian Government, and has received for answer the offer of an army of 60,000 men. Will Hungary, when she hears that Austria pares down concessions to the Poles, lest they should be a precedent in Hungary, not send a similar response? And will the war-cry of Italy and Hungary fall on deaf 1091 ears in Galicia? And then, with Italy, Hungary, Galicia in arms, on what part of the world's map shall we look for the great empire of Austria? But will these be the only allies of France? Sweden, with a good army and a fleet stronger than the Russian, is already moving. Denmark is full of sympathy for Poland. Finland has already half thrown off her allegiance, and Turkey, we know, is a sure ally. And behind all these—every one of whom feels its own safety involved in that of Poland—there is the strongest ally of all in the moral support and endorsement of their cause by every free State in Europe which the English Government has procured for them and proclaimed in these despatches. Now, let us be wise in time. England and Austria have still the power to retain France in a conservative alliance—safe and honourable to France and beneficial to Europe, and in which the loyalty of France need not be doubted. But if we are so insane as to throw France loose on other allies, she must invoke the elements of change and the passions of revolution; and the war-cry of nationalities, boundaries, treaties, and Imperial missions may light a conflagration in Europe of which England must remain a passive spectator, because her Ministers have laid the train; but after that conflagration who shall answer the question that so troubled the mind of Baron Brunnow—who shall foretell in what form the map of Europe may emerge? I warn you to save Europe from such a danger. I warn you to save France from such a temptation. It is evident that circumstances have given to England, on this question, a prominence which her Ministers have not sought, but which has been, to a great extent, forced upon them, but it may not be the less to their credit if they deal wisely with the difficulties which they have not created. But will they deal wisely with them? The answer to that inquiry can only be given by one man. The Polish question, as we have seen, is especially the property of the noble Lord. His spirit, the old spirit of 1831, unmistakably pervades these despatches; and it is therefore to the noble Lord we look to correct the feeble utterances and counteract the mischievous hallucinations of others in high places. A saying has been lately attributed to our Foreign Secretary of so ignominious a character that we, who have known him in this House, deem it to be incredible. It is, that however much the honour and interests of 1092 England may demand it, and however much the safety of Europe may require it, England will on no account draw the sword for Poland. Another saying, equally incredible, has been attributed to a noble Earl who has been, and may hope again to be, Minister of England—that if Poland obtains its independence, it will be not only without the goodwill, but contrary to the judgment, the wish, and the desire of England. Now, the first of these declarations is so unstatesmanlike, that it must be a libel on the Cabinet of which the noble Lord is chief; and the second is still more a libel upon the nation whose generous character he is believed to represent. I think, therefore, we may look to the noble Lord to-night to vindicate at once the national policy and the English character, by publicly repudiating in the name both of his Cabinet and of his country those ignoble sentiments. The noble Lord's career as a Minister of the Crown has been one of unexampled duration, with constantly-accruing popularity and success, and fortune has favoured him with unlooked-for opportunities of making it most memorable. History will ask how has the world at large been benefited by the opportunities of that long unbroken career. Sir, I hope that history is about to be furnished with an answer. Italy and Poland, twin nationalities, but new political creations, called into young, fresh, ardent, and progressive being to prop the tottering fabric of disjointed Europe, and give fresh guarantees of its invigorated and healthful moral life—these may be the noble Lord's best legacies to the world, bequeathed as the fruits of his unconquered efforts and the monuments by which it may read his life. But is the noble Lord about to show himself equal to the greatest occasion of his life? Never had Minister so long-continued a success, offering so glorious a culmination; but the capital is not yet crowned, and on the next few weeks will depend whether the Crown shall be a chaplet of laurel or a wreath of cypress. It is evident that the task which the English Government have undertaken is very arduous, and to some extent even hazardous, for no one can be blind to the complications which may ensue as they advance. But there is no true-hearted Englishmen who will not wish the noble Lord success, and there is no lover of freedom in the world who will not bless him for it. If, however, to advance be dangerous, to retreat now is absolute ruin. No middle course is possible to the Go- 1093 vernment. They cannot now halt between two opinions. The restoration of Poland, not as a matter of humanity and sentiment, but as a wise act of European policy, is about to become the great event of our day. Courage and success must bring honour to those by whom it is accomplished. Faintheartedness and failure now—I do not say it will cover the Government with disgrace—it will do more, for in the case of the noble Lord it will reverse the judgment on a life. For my own part, knowing as I do, and as we all do, the difficulties, the responsibilities, the anxieties of the task undertaken by the Government, I feel bound to do my utmost to support them in it by the assurance, that after a most careful and critical examination of these papers, I have been brought to a conclusion which I am certain is shared by others whose opinions are more valuable than mine—that these negotiations, taken as a whole, have been so conducted, that if our Ministers now do not abandon themselves, they ought not to be, they will not be, abandoned by Parliament and the country.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, the arrangements made with regard to Poland by the Treaty of Vienna have failed to secure the good government of Poland or the peace of Europe; and any further attempt to replace Poland under the conditions of that Treaty must cause calamities to Poland and embarrassment and danger to Europe."—(Mr. Horsman.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, my right hon. Friend has addressed the House upon this occasion with even more than his usual ability, and the House has listened to him, as it always does, with the utmost interest. On behalf of Her Majesty's Government I must say, that if I except one short but very emphatic reference towards the close of his speech to language which he supposes has been uttered by my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office in another place, I think that we can have no cause to complain, so far as we are concerned, of the spirit in which he has discussed the subject. But if the censures which he has, I must say, sparingly distributed cannot be accepted. I fear there are compliments which he has been willing to pay us, and views which, in a liberal spirit, he has been disposed to ascribe to us which we must humbly disavow. If, having thus spoken of the spirit of his speech towards the Government, I were disposed to indulge in criticism with respect to that speech, I should say that it appeared to me as a 1094 whole to partake of a sanguine and therefore of a speculative character. My right hon. Friend thinks that Poland ought to be re-constituted. In the latter part of his speech he did not scruple to grapple with the question, "What is Poland?" and he exhibited to us a splendid vision of what Poland ought to be and might be if only the British Government would do their duty. In one portion of his speech my right hon. Friend said, that if Austria only abandoned Galicia, then everything else would follow. Well, but what an "if" is that? In another portion of his speech my right hon. Friend referred to the emphatic and all-powerful effect of the monosyllable "but," introduced in the middle of a sentence; yet that other monosyllable, "if," to which my hon. Friend referred, when he spoke of the surrender of Galicia, is also a potent word. Supposing, however, that "if" to be reduced to nothing, and that Galicia was given up, then my right hon. Friend says that the surrender of Posen by Prussia follows as a matter of course. That is clear to the mind of my right hon. Friend, but I am not at all so certain that it is equally clear to the mind of Prussia. What are we to understand by Prussia? The King, of whose abdication my right hon. Friend has a somewhat sanguine expectation to hear, or the Prussian nation? My right hon. Friend must have been sanguine indeed, when he supposed that even on the surrender of Galicia and Posen there would follow that re-constitution of Poland such as he imagined.
It seemed to me, Sir, that there were parts of his speech, able and eloquent as it was, which did not at all cohere with other parts. When he spoke of the condition and struggles of Poland, and the title of Europe to deal with the Polish question and address Russia in emphatic terms, he then seemed to limit his views to the Poland comprised within the Duchy of Warsaw; but when he spoke of re-constituting Poland, my right hon. Friend then appeared to contemplate the combination in one great kingdom of all those portions of Europe inhabited either wholly or in a majority by the Polish race. But, if we were to look at so vast a question, I confess that I am almost amazed at the confident and sanguine expectation entertained by my right hon. Friend that it would be possible not only to detach Galicia from Austria and Posen from Prussia, but also to sever the whole mass of the Russo-Polish provinces from Russia. That is a 1095 work so gigantic and so entirely beyond the reach even of speculations—of political speculations such as ordinarily indulged in this House—that I find myself unable by any limited powers of my own to follow my right hon. Friend in his adventurous career. If the compliments which my right hon. Friend has bestowed on my noble Friend and the Government are in any degree founded on the supposition that we, like him, see our way to bring about a result of that character, I am bound to assure him that to those compliments we can lay no claim.
My right hon. Friend commenced his speech with a sketch of an historical and interesting nature, not only calculated to command our sympathy, but our assent in respect to many important and some very painful truths. There was, however, one consideration which I could have wished my right hon. Friend had taken into account. I think, that amid all the painful emotions that the cause of Poland excites—amid the sentiments of sorrow, of shame, and of indignation with which we all look back on the past history of Europe in regard to the transactions affecting Poland, we must still feel that the position of the present Emperor of Russia has some claims too on our sympathy. I have not forgotten—and I do not believe the House has forgotten—the memorable words of my noble Friend at the head of the Government, when he said in an earlier discussion on this subject, that we ought to bear in mind that the Emperor of Russia has had the misfortune of succeeding to an inheritance of triumphant wrong, and the disposition which the Emperor has shown in the government of the great mass of his people, the great things which he has achieved on their behalf, the courage with which he has engaged in political problems of the gravest character, and the success with which his wise efforts have been attended, must make us deeply lament that he was ever brought into so unhappy a position with respect to a portion of his dominions. Now, Sir, my right hon. Friend, when in his historical survey he arrived at the year 1831, made a remark which I venture to think was not altogether just. My right hon. Friend appeared to think that at the period of 1831 all intervention of a purely diplomatic character was renounced by my noble Friend, who was then Secretary for Foreign Affairs; but I do not know that that assumption is at all justified by anything declared by my noble Friend, or the Government to which 1096 he belonged. On the contrary, if we are to consider that intentions are best interpreted by the light of subsequent actions, it appears to me that in reference to the case of Cracow, when a clear violation of the Treaty of Vienna was contemplated and carried out by force, my noble Friend pursued the very same course of pacific, though it might be of indignant remonstrance, and registered a protest on the part of England against that proceeding, but without the menace or idea of arms. [Mr. HORSMAN: That was a new question.] But it was a part of the Polish question. If I understood my hon. Friend rightly, the substance of the whole of the earlier portion of his speech amounted to this:—That we ought to have war, or we should have done nothing; and that the adoption of a language unequivocally contemplating war might have had the effect of preventing it. Now, I must say, that if a country like Great Britain holds language which in a general and reasonable sense means war, we must be rightly held as being ready to resort to war. Therefore, my right hon. Friend's proposition was this—either war or nothing.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
There I think my right hon. Friend is under a mistake. The Government in 1831 recognised that there was a point beyond which diplomatic interference could not be pushed, and what was done by my noble Friend was simply to signify that that point had been reached. If in contemplating the first alternative of war I had been disposed to be seduced by the powerful representations of my right hon. Friend as to the facility with which great objects, precious and valuable to mankind, might have been obtained, yet I must Bay in other parts of his speech I might have found an antidote, and especially in that part of it in which he referred to the position of the German Powers since 1815. With respect to France, my right hon. Friend has spoken to-night in terms of great justice of the ability and courage of the Emperor of France, and of the vigour and warmth and ardent feelings of that great nation. But I have heard my right hon. Friend at other periods describe in this House the dangers—draw most highly-coloured pictures of the dangers—that were to be apprehended from French ambition, and I thought that a very considerable change had come over my right hon. Friend's 1097 mind. But if he thinks that Austria and Prussia are so much weakened, morally and physically, that they cannot stand on a footing of equality with Russia, and that France is a Power dangerous from her ambition, I can only ask, is it not hazardous on his part to propose, as he did with so much facility, a great European combination against Russia, in which our dependence must be placed upon Austria, Prussia, and Prance? It is quite evident that only by a combination could war be carried on; and if such a combination is to be made, the war can only be successfully carried on when there is a clear understanding among the parties—an unequivocal abdication on all sides of selfish purposes, or an exact understanding in what degree the spoils are to be shared by each party. In the case of the Crimean war the understanding was that neither Power was to receive any benefit, and most honourably was that understanding kept on the part of France, no less than on the part of England. The Crimean war was a war with respect to which such an understanding was practical. How could such an understanding be arrived at with respect to Poland? How does France stand with respect to Poland, and what might be the consequences of a war which was to involve all Europe? It requires all the courage and ardent imagination of my right hon. Friend to overlook and tone down the enormous difficulties that beset any plan of a European combination for the purpose of re-establishing the Kingdom of Poland by military force. My right hon. Friend said that Russia might be strong in a good, but would be weak in a bad cause. I should like to know whether he referred to the case of the Duchy of Warsaw or to the whole of the Russo Polish provinces. If he confined his remark to the former, I must say that the surrender of the Duchy of Warsaw would not, in the slightest degree, satisfy the arguments he used, or come up to the conditions of a united Poland. If, however, he means that the cause of Russia is bad to a much greater extent, and that it is the duty of Russia to sever from the body of her empire the whole of the Russo-Polish provinces, then the boldness of my right hon. Friend abashes and alarms me. I cannot go that length. The incorporation of provinces with an empire after a hundred years brings about great changes of circumstances, of social, moral, and political relations, and I hesitate to accept the proposition of my right hon. Friend. He may be right. If we could see a reconsti- 1098 tuted Poland in the fullest sense, it would no doubt be a great safeguard and a great glory to Europe; but when my right hon. Friend advocates the severance of the Russian provinces as a proposition on which to found a practical policy, I must say it is a policy to which the courage neither of Her Majesty's Government, nor that of any Government likely to succeed them, is at all equal.
I now come to the other side of my right hon. Friend's alternative—that if the Government were not prepared for war, they should have said nothing, and done nothing at all. This may be easy for my right hon. Friend to assert, and I confess it appears considerably less difficult to assert than the proposition laid down with regard to the facility of reconstituting Poland by means of a military combination; but when he says it was the duty of the Government, if they were not prepared for the alternative of war, to remain entirely silent, I must altogether demur to that proposition. Such a course would not have been consistent with their previous proceedings in 1831, and it would have been utterly impossible, on account of the state of feeling both in this country and on the Continent, especially in France. It will be remembered what was the tone of the first debates on this subject in Parliament. How universal and how warm were the expressions of sympathy! The confidence reposed in my noble Friend at the head of the Government, and the exertions he was known to have made in previous times in this cause, alone served to keep the general enthusiasm within anything like due bounds. I am satisfied, however, that neither the noble Lord nor my right hon. Friend would have been able to command the assent or even the acquiescence of the House, had they risen then and said, "We see what is going on, we know the cause of this rising among the Poles, we bear in mind her history in past epochs, and we know the attitude and language of Russia; but yet we mean to be silent and inactive." Such a course would not have been possible to any Government in this country. Moreover, looking beyond the Channel, observing the state of feeling in France, and knowing the traditional and historical position of that country in regard to Poland, it would have been most unwise on our part to separate ourselves from France at the very threshold—to say nothing of Austria—and decline to go a single step along with her in recognising the rights 1099 and obligations which accrued to us with respect to Poland under the Treaty of Vienna. My right hon. Friend seems to think that great mischief must arise from the proceedings of the Government if they should be cut short, or should not be continued in the sense he has described. I do not think he is justified in that view. He himself owned that there had been a marked concession on the part of Russia, that there had never been a more signal triumph of diplomacy. If the time taken by Russia in framing her answers to the proposals of the three Powers was a proof of the immense weight attached to those proposals, it was also a justification of the action which has been taken. I do not think we ought to hold, that because the remonstrances of England in 1831 did not produce immediate and full effect, they were therefore entirely useless. The policy of 1831 was substantially similar to that adopted by Mr. Canning in 1823, when he protested against the French invasion of Spain. There never was a policy which remained more barren of visible and palpable fruit; and yet I do not believe that there was any chapter in the history of modern diplomacy, with respect to which the approval of England has been more decided and uniform from that day to this, than the policy of Mr. Canning in remonstrating against the French invasion of Spain, and likewise in limiting his proceeding to diplomatic correspondence. It was on that principle that at various epochs we have proceeded, and, I think, we have seen, even if we compare what has happened now with what happened in 1831, that remonstrances which may be destitute of palpable fruits may yet not be without important consequences. Russia has not held the same language in 1863 as she did in 1831. In 1831 she denied our locus standi, refused to recognise our right to interfere, and maintained that the condition of Poland was a matter with which the Emperor of Russia had alone to do. But now, on the contrary, it has been admitted in unequivocal terms, in the earlier despatches of the Russian Government, that we have a title to be heard. Prince Gortschakoff, in one of his despatches, says—The Imperial Cabinet admits the principle that every Power signing a treaty has the right to interpret the sense thereof from its own point of view, provided always that that interpretation remains within the limits of the meaning that is possible to be put upon it according to the text itself. In virtue of this principle, the Imperial Cabinet 1100 does not dispute this right in any one of the eight Powers which have concurred in the general proceedings of Vienna of 1815. This consideration was perfectly brought out by your Excellency when you informed the principal Secretary of State of Her Britannic Majesty that the Imperial Cabinet was ready to enter upon an exchange of views upon the basis and within the limits of the Treaties of 1815. That declaration we adhere to, and my despatch of this day will furnish the best proof of our perseverance in the same disposition.Here we have a distinct change of position on the part of Russia in regard to her relations to the other Powers on the Polish question. In 1831 she repudiated their claim to be parties to the question; in 1863 she admits it. That is no slight change and it is a change eminently favourable to whatever hopes we may entertain of a solution of this most difficult and painful question.
My right hon. Friend also adverted to a particular despatch of Earl Russell of the 10th of April which, he says, was the point at which the contingency of war was brought into view. My right hon. Friend seems to think that some pledge was given on the part of Government to go forward, in case of need, even to the alternative of force. The construction put by my right hon. Friend upon that despatch cannot, I think, be sustained. He describes it as a menace of war. In my judgment it bears no such character. He founds himself upon the following passage:—The state of things might change. The present overture of Her Majesty's Government might be rejected as the representation of the 2nd of March had been rejected by the Imperial Government. The insurrections in Poland might continue, and might assume larger proportions; the atrocities on both sides might be aggravated, and extended to a wider range of country. If in such a state of affairs the Emperor of Russia were to take no steps of a conciliatory nature, dangers and complications might arise not at present in contemplation.My noble Friend subsequently said it was the wish of Her Majesty's Government to hold by the present territorial arrangements of Europe; but Russia herself had in some cases been active in preparing and carrying into effect territorial changes. Now, Sir, I must confess that it appears to me that my right hon. Friend has drawn a very broad conclusion from very narrow premises. I cannot think that any menace of war was contained in any of the words so used by my noble Friend. What my right hon. Friend calls a menace of war, I call a wise reservation of a discretion which it was absolutely necessary to reserve on account of the nature of the ques- 1101 tion under discussion. Who was to answer for it that the Polish question would be confined to the limits of Poland—that that festering sore might not spread over the greater portion of the body of Europe? We had to regard at that time not only the intrinsic danger of the Polish question, but also the peculiar attitude assumed by Prussia. It was impossible not to see that the attitude of Prussia involved the probability that the question might assume the form, not of a quarrel between a particular Sovereign and a portion of his subjects, but of a combination of Governments to put down a particular race. Under these circumstances, was it not wise, in giving an assurance that the proceedings of the Government were pacific, to point out that that assurance had reference to the present limits and character of the question, and did not of necessity convey any pledge with respect to a time when those limits might be indefinitely extended, and when that character might be essentially changed? My right hon. Friend has given the Government his approbation with reference to the six points submitted to Russia, though when considered as the workmanship of Austria he thinks it necessary to visit them with severe condemnatory judgment. He thinks that the British Government have contrived to present the six points in such a way, that if accepted at all, they would necessarily lead not only to the concession of an armistice, but to the assembling of a congress at which, along with the Powers that signed the Treaty of Vienna, there should appear the representative of another Power in the shape of a Polish Commissioner. Well, Sir, it is ungracious for any Member of the Government to disclaim an honour which may be offered to the Cabinet of which he is a member; but I do not think that the rather refined and subtle conception of bringing Russia, either with her eyes open or shut, to a conference where a Polish Commissioner should appear, was involved in the proposition of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. HORSMAN
was understood to say that he did not intend to suggest that the Government meant to bring about such a result, but only that such might be the effect of their propositions.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
My right hon. Friend further thinks that grave results have already followed to the Poles from the diplomatic action of Her Majesty's Government. He 1102 imagines that the Poles have put upon the despatch of the 10th of April the same construction which he has put upon it, and that they have been encouraged in their resistance to Russia by a confident anticipation of aid from without, altogether or mainly founded upon the proceedings of the British Government. But my right hon. Friend has not supported his statements to that effect by anything in the nature of evidence. He has produced no circumstances or declarations which at all connect the prolonged resistance of the Poles with the proceedings of the British Government. He told us that immense excitement was kept up in Poland; but he did not supply anything which established a relation between that excitement, whatever it may be, and an expectation of assistance from abroad, founded upon any acts or declarations of Her Majesty's Government. We know, indeed, that an expectation of foreign aid is one which is too generally entertained by the weaker party in every quarrel. It is probably not too much to say that such an expectation influenced the outbreak of the great struggle now proceeding with such lamentable circumstances in America; but I am not aware that in the present case any evidence can be adduced to show that the policy pursued by her Majesty's Government has led the Poles to deceive themselves with delusive hopes of external aid. After all, however, it did not depend upon the Government to decide whether the Poles should be so encouraged or not. Committees were formed, subscription lists were opened, and debates took place in this House much more calculated to stimulate the hope of foreign intervention than anything said or done by Her Majesty's Government.
My right hon. Friend has also referred to a speech delivered by Earl Russell in another place, and couched in terms which he thinks deserve condemnation. [Mr. HORSMAN: I said it was hardly credible.] I am satisfied that whatever was said by my noble Friend was stated in terms in entire conformity with those of the despatches on the table, and that my noble Friend never surrendered the liberty of England to decide, at any of the stages of any great European question, upon the course which it might behove this country to adopt. My right hon. Friend has not pressed the Government for any declaration of their future intentions. He has, doubtless, felt that an important despatch, 1103 containing the answer of Russia, having just been laid on the table, it follows that the present is not the moment at which any further development of future policy would be appropriate. Acting as we have done in concert with others, it is of course our absolute duty, upon receiving a reply on matters of such great importance, in which we have a common interest and concern with France and Austria, to take counsel with those Powers before deciding upon the future policy that ought to be pursued.
Before sitting down, however, I must make one or two observations on the terms of the Motion. My right hon. Friend invites us to make what I may call a solemn renunciation of the Treaty of Vienna, to record our sense of its failure, and to declare that any further attempt to replace Poland under its provisions would cause calamities to Poland and embarrassment and danger to Europe. A Motion simply condemnatory of the Treaty of Vienna may be open to exception on other grounds, but my right hon. Friend will himself feel that it would be a most inadequate organ for the conveyance of all those sentiments which he has expressed this evening, all those sanguine anticipations with respect to the reconstitution of Poland conterminous with the Polish race, and all those confident predictions as to the comparative facility of attaining that great consummation. To condemn the Treaty of Vienna may be perhaps the first step on the road which my right hon. Friend invites us to travel, but it is quite evident that such a Motion would be a most lame and impotent declaration on the part of a Parliament which is invited by the mover of it to contemplate a European war and to expect a reconstituted Poland. But limited as the Motion is, it is one which, I think, it is not desirable for the House to adopt. Whether the case of Poland is parallel to the case of Italy, as my right hon. Friend asserts, I will not undertake to say, but Her Majesty's Government have pursued the same policy in both instances. By an intervention strictly diplomatic, by the use of their good offices, by a plain expression of opinion, they have endeavoured to do what little good might lie in their power. Whether the case of Italy is a parallel to the case of Poland—whether the possibilities of the two cases are the same—is a question which it would not materially edify or assist us to discuss on the present occasion. What we have had in view with 1104 respect to Italy has been this—that no Government ought to commit itself in any cause except where it is righteous, and that no cause is really righteous, with reference to its being taken up by Governments, unless the objects that are contemplated are practicable and attainable. Well, but that is a most important qualification. In regard to Italy, I do not think my noble Friends have at any time endeavoured to recommend anything beyond that which we believe to be strictly practicable and attainable. In the case of Poland, I am not aware that Her Majesty's Government have shrunk from recommending anything coming within the same description. But would my right hon. Friend, by inviting us simply to condemn the Treaty of Vienna, really confer any benefit on Poland? I might, perhaps, object to a particular expression used in his Resolution—namely, that "any further attempt to replace Poland under the conditions of that treaty must cause calamities to Poland and embarrassment and danger to Europe." We have always contended not that Poland requires "replacing" under the conditions of that treaty, but that Poland is now under its conditions. That is the language held by my noble Friend more than thirty years ago, and that has been the effect of all which has been represented on the part of Her Majesty's Government on the present occasion. Are we to regard the Treaty of Vienna as something which in itself is injurious to Poland? True, you may say we ought to have obtained a better treaty and better arrangements. But that is not the question now before us. The question before us is—Can we do good to Poland by the formal abandonment and renunciation of the Treaty of Vienna? What would be the effect if we simply renounced and surrendered that treaty? Why, that we leave the Poles subjects of Russia by conquest; that we depart from the only definite and tenable ground, determinately recognized by international law, upon which and from which we have the right to address Russia on this subject. We should not by such a course as that improve, but, on the contrary, materially worsen the position of Poland, as far as her position may depend on any efforts of ours in her behalf. For that reason I trust the House will be indisposed to adopt the Resolution of my right hon. Friend. It may be that but little is to be hoped for in this matter from any intervention—diplomatic or otherwise. The question of Po- 1105 land has intrinsic difficulties, which my right hon. Friend seemed to regard as light, but which are, I fear, enormous. The consequences of former misdeeds dog the steps not only of those who have inflicted, but of those who have suffered wrong. To repair a political wrong, or undo a political crime after it hag long subsisted, is in many cases almost beyond the power of man. If in Italy we have hoped there might be redress for wrong inflicted through a long course of generations, that has perhaps been a peculiarly happy case. In respect to Poland, I trust that no British Government will ever shrink, or ever place itself under the suspicion of shrinking, from any exertion to obtain by legitimate and practical means whatever can be obtained on behalf of that gallant, that unfortunate, that long-suffering people. But, with these opinions, it would be a betrayal of duty on our part if we were to accede to a motion which, although undoubtedly intended for the benefit of Poland by one of its ablest and most enthusiastic advocates, appears to us calculated rather to weaken than to strengthen the position of that country, by depriving friendly Powers of the only basis of right upon which they are warranted in making efforts on her behalf.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them they ought not to inquire what were the intentions of the Government; but there was one question which they might put, and which they were themselves in a position to answer—namely, what were the intentions and wishes of the people of England with reference to this great question? The people of England had always taken the profoundest interest in the cause of Poland. It was their favourite foreign question, and one in which they had always felt a livelier concern than hon. Members of that House. On other questions of foreign policy that House had been ahead of the people, but it was not so with the question of Poland. On that occasion the people had expressed their sentiments in the constitutional way by Petitions to that House and to those Petitions he would appeal. He saw from the Report of the Committee on Petitions that a Petition had been presented from the bankers, merchants, traders, and inhabitants of the City of London, assembled in public meeting at the Guildhall, called by the Lord Mayor of London, and it stated that Russia by her treatment of Poland 1106 had forfeited all right to its possession, and that the peace of Europe was endangered by the conduct of Russia in Poland. Similar language was held by the people of Liverpool, of Sheffield, of Birmingham, of Edinburgh, and Aberdeen. The Petitions from the most important constituencies of the United Kingdom complained that the peace of Europe was disturbed by the conduct of Russia towards Poland; and that the interests of England being involved in the peace of Europe, it was her duty to interfere. Very little reference was made to the Treaty of Vienna. They addressed themselves to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer called the festering sore of Europe, and they asked the Government to remedy it. If such were the sentiments of the people of England—if they desired that an independent Poland be restored for English interests and for the sake of Europe, he thought they might fairly ask, not what would be their answer to Russia, but what had been the policy of the Government? His right hon. Friend who commenced the discussion—and he rejoiced for the sake of Poland that his great influence and ability had been enlisted in the cause—his right hon. Friend said, while he was bound to praise the Government, he had strong ground to denounce Austria. His great charge against Austria was that she had prepared the six points and almost forced them on England and France. Now, the reverse was the case. The six points were not new. They were as old as March 2 of that year. Earl Russell, in his first despatch to Prince Gortschakoff, made his claim against Russia, and what was it? He said—Great Britain, as a Party to the Treaty of 1815, and as a Power deeply interested in the tranquillity of Europe, deems itself entitled to express its opinion upon the events now taking place, and it is anxious to do so in the most friendly spirit towards Russia, and with a sincere desire to promote the interest of all the parties concerned. Why should not His Imperial Majesty, whose benevolence is generally and cheerfully acknowledged"—(not quite so generally or cheerfully acknowledged as the noble Lord would have it)—"put an end at once to this bloody conflict by proclaiming mercifully an immediate and unconditional amnesty to his revolted Polish subjects, and, at the same time, announce his intention to replace without delay his Kingdom of Poland in possession of the political and civil privileges which were granted to it by the Emperor Alexander I., in execution of the stipulations of the Treaty of 1815?" (No. 60.)There were the six points and something more. The six points omitted one very important stipulation in the charter of 1107 Alexander I.—namely, a national army; but all the rest was included in the six points. Strictly speaking, therefore, Earl Russell asked for the six points on March 2. What did Austria say to that? Earl Russell, in writing to Earl Cowley, said—Count Rechberg concludes by saying that he thinks it right to add one more observation. No one is more interested than Austria in seeing an end put to a deplorable state of things which is a constant menace to the security of her own territory. But past experience, the events of 1831, and the well-known aspirations of the leaders of the Polish movement, make it doubtful whether the measures which I recommend the Government of the Emperor Alexander to adopt are sufficient entirely to pacify Poland, to satisfy its inhabitants, and fulfil the wishes of those who are now in arms." (No. 104.)Austria thus gave full notice that the proposals made at that time would not be sufficient to pacify Poland. His right hon. Friend, therefore, was not justified in saying that the six points had been forced on England by Austria. He was also in error in referring to the attitude of Austria as unfavourable to the Poles. The question had been asked, "What was Poland?" and it would be well for them to consider what was Austria. She was now a constitutional monarchy, where the people had means of making their views known and their influence felt. He believed her Government was an enlightened one, which would carry out the wishes of the people. But when they recollected that Austria was close to the seat of war, and that two of her provinces were engaged in it, they would readily understand how it was that Austrian statesmen were a little timorous in their action. Still Austria had been among the first to send a despatch to Russia on the subject of Poland, and Russia was constantly remonstrating against the attitude of Austria. The wishes of the Austrian people were with the Poles, and so he believed were the great body of officers in the Austian army, while the tone of the press in Austia was even more warm towards Poland than that of the English newspapers. In a report made by one of the attachés to our Embassy at Vienna, was a statement which his own experience confirmed. When Langiewiez and his followers surrendered, they were confined in the Riding-house at Cracow, whence in a few days they all escaped, the Austrian troops sympathizing with them. He could also speak from his own knowledge of an instance in which 400 or 500 insurgents were about to cross the frontier. Two Austrian regiments were sent to intercept 1108 them; but the insurgents crossed, and only five stragglers were brought prisoners into Cracow. He was told by an Austrian officer that notice had been sent by him to the insurgents, informing them of the road his troops would take, and which, of course, the insurgents carefully avoided. The sympathies of the troops were with the Poles, although that portion of them nearest the spot were not Galicians. The Galician contingent of the Austrian army was an important one. The infantry of that force consisted of thirteen regiments of the line, numbering 37,180 men; three battalions of Chasseurs à pied, 2,262; officers and volunteers dispersed among other regiments, 6,000; making a total of 45,442 infantry. Of cavalry there were seven regiments of Lancers, 8,680; two regiments, consisting in part of Moravians, 1,500; one regiment of Cuirassiers, 1,860; officers and volunteers in other regiments, 500; making a total of 12,540. The artillery numbered 3,500, the engineers 1,600, the field train and miscellaneous corps 7,000 besides a reserve of 30,000; making a total available contingent of troops furnished by Galicia for the Austrian army of upwards of 100,000. Therefore, Austria had a great interest in Poland. The right hon. Gentleman asked, "What is Poland?" and it appeared that Earl Russell had asked the same question in another place. That was strange, because in 1861 Lord John Russell, then in that House, said, speaking of Poland—One cannot but think that for a people which is endowed with so much courage, and which has so long kept alive the holy flame of national existence, a time is reserved when it may recover its ancient glory and resume its place amongst European nations." [3 Hansard, clxiii. 229.]The hon. Baronet the Member for Buckingham (Sir Harry Verney) observed that that speech of the noble Lord was the most hopeful sign for Poland which he recollected in a long Parliamentary experience. On the same occasion, the noble Lord at the head of the Government said—I concur with my noble Friend in thinking that a nation which, under such a long course of oppression, has resisted all attempts to destroy its national spirit must be destined some day or other for a better fate." [3 Hansard, clxiii. 234.]That was not quite so strong as the language of the noble Earl, but at all events it was some answer to the noble Earl's question what was Poland. But there appeared to prevail some confusion about what was called Poland at the time of the Treaty of Vienna, and the Chancellor of 1109 the Exchequer had spoken of the Duchy of Warsaw as if that alone had been the Poland with which the treaty dealt. That was not so. The Treaty of Vienna must be read by the light of the papers which had recently been laid before the House. Among those papers he found a letter of Prince Metternich, in which that statesman said Austria was ready to assent to the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Poland upon a scale commensurate with its dominions previously to the first partition. There was also in the papers a memorandum of Count Hardenberg, the Prussian Plenipotentiary, bearing upon the same subject. He said—Let us then decide on declaring with straightforwardness to the Emperor of Russia that in renouncing the Secret Article of the 25th (16th) January 1797, we will consent to the re-establishment of a Kingdom of Poland separate from the empire of Russia, in which he should unite all the Russian provinces formerly Polish, and should grant to them a separate Constitution, provided that he agrees to lend himself to a territorial arrangement which shall content us, and that he guarantees us our Polish States.But, more important still was the Treaty of Vienna itself. That treaty, so far from being confined to the Duchy of Warsaw, Commenced by speaking in these words—"The Duchy of Warsaw, except the districts otherwise disposed of by the following article," and added, that the Polish subjects of Austria, Russia, and Prussia should obtain national institutions. Article 24 also said that the navigation of all the rivers and canals throughout the whole extent of the Kingdom of Poland, as it existed in 1772, should be free. It was clear, therefore, that the Treaty of Vienna referred to other Polish provinces besides the Duchy of Warsaw. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, on March 22, 1831, in writing to Lord Heytesbury, said—Your Lordship is instructed to state that it does not appear to Her Majesty's Government that the provisions of the Treaty of Vienna, applicable to the Polish provinces of Russia, have been hitherto carried into execution.And the Russian provinces were in the same position under the Treaty as Galicia and Posen. He should like the House to read the answer to the question—"What is Poland?" by the light of the events which had occurred in Poland. Had, he would ask, the present war been confined to the Duchy of Warsaw? No! Martial law had been applied to the whole of Poland before the insurrection broke out. It was, he contended, their duty to look abroad and ascertain what was the feeling of Europe on the subject. In Austria the 1110 people and the army were in favour of Poland, while the Government were divided into two parties, the one of Count Rechberg favourable, the other of M. Schmerling unfavourable to her cause. At the head of the former he might reckon the Emperor of Austria himself, of whom he had heard people in Vienna say that he was young, that he had been brought up as a soldier, that he was most anxious to do what was just, while he was at the same time ambitions to obtain glory. He believed, moreover, that which was talked of freely there to be the fact; and that was, that the Emperor was among those members of the Government who were favourable to Poland. He therefore differed from his right hon. Friend opposite in thinking that Austria was a great source of apprehension to the friends of Poland. But his right hon. Friend had referred to Prussia, in which he said there were two great parties—the one the nation, and the other the King and M. Bismarck. With the former, however, might be reckoned the Prince of Prussia, who had something to say to the future of the country. Then there was Sweden, the most Protestant Power in Europe, and the most friendly to Poland. There was also Denmark, so that in favour of Poland, in short, they had almost every nation on the Continent. But it was, after all, perhaps, to France that she must mainly look. And what, let him ask, were the sentiments of the French people in her regard? No war, he believed, ever took place in Europe in which France was engaged, in which the wishes of her people were more heartily in favour of a cause than they would be in favour of that of Poland. There was, he believed, no greater mistake than to suppose that selfish motives of territorial aggrandisement must necessarily actuate the Emperor of the French in undertaking such a cause. The moral advantage which he would gain from the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Poland would be so great as to put all territorial results in comparison out of the question. The consequence would be to effect much towards the firm establishment of the Bonaparte dynasty in France, because such a policy would unite opposite and most dangerous interests in its support. If, then, the people of England expressed a strong desire that an address should be presented to the Queen in favour of the independence of Poland, and that measures should, in conjunction with the Emperor of the French, be taken with that object, and that they found the 1111 whole of Europe would be with them, the House would, he thought, be misled if it was induced to think that the present great struggle would terminate without the establishment of the independence of Poland. He held in his hand, he might add, the reply of the Russian Government to the last despatch of Earl Russell, in which they stated they never denied the right of this country to interfere on behalf of Poland. In the despatch, which was dated July 1st, Prince Gortschakoff admitted the principle that every Power which signed the treaty had a right to interpret its sense from its own point of view. The despatch went on to state, however, that no practical result had followed from adherence to the principle in 1831, and here he must observe that he entirely differed from his right hon. Friend with respect to the praise which he gave the noble Viscount at the head of the Government for the course which he then pursued. The noble Lord was asked by the Government of Louis Philippe to mediate in favour of Poland, and he refused to do so; while, if he had done so, under the circumstances, some practical result might have been arrived at. Prince Gortschakoff in his despatch, alluded to the national assistance and moral encouragement obtained from abroad by the Polish insurgents. Now, he denied that the war in Poland was the result of foreign agency, and he would answer the question, "Of whom does the Polish movement consist?" in the words of the official Gazette of St. Petersburg, which declared that it consisted exclusively of small landed proprietors, the lower class officials, and of upper farm servants. Lord Napier, on Prince Gortschakoff's authority, added to these the artisans of the town, and then the Prince himself added the rural clergy and the students of the universities. The fact was, that the movement was originated in Poland, and consisted exclusively of the national element. In the first instance it was not countenanced by the leaders of the Poles; and as to foreign aid, the Central National Committee in Warsaw, who would now be called the Polish Government, alluded with truth in the early part of the year to the obstacles thrown in their way by the French Government. In the first instance the French Government did all in its power to oppose the movement; and the British Government also did something secretly, perhaps accidentally, to put it down, by sending two police detectives from Scotland Yard, to Warsaw. It might 1112 be thought that these detectives had done little, but it was a remarkable fact, as showing what was thought of their services in Warsaw, that the Russian Government had given each of them £1,000. The House had heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer something about the benevolent character of the Emperor of Russia, but that potentate was the only person in. Europe who had ventured to speak of the conscription as satisfactory. Lord Napier described the conscription as an attempt to arrest the opposition and carry them off to Siberia. He said that it was a measure that seemed to violate all the principles of justice and policy, and that it was a malignant effort of the old system of despotic violence. Lord Napier also said that the Emperor of Russia, having summoned a number of military officers round him, addressed them upon the affairs of Poland, and said, "After the recruiting of January the 2nd and 3rd, which terminated in so satisfactory a manner at Warsaw, the insurgents showed themselves on both banks of the Vistula." Lord Napier said that on that occasion many officers were moved to tears, and the Grand Duke Michael wept aloud. A very remarkable result. At that time no fewer than thirteen officers in the Russian army had flung up their commissions on hearing of this "satisfactory" conscription, and one had blown out his brains when called upon to attack the insurgents. Count Rechberg had said, and he agreed with him, that it was not likely that the proposals made by Earl Russell would pacify Poland; but could Russia carry out the six points? We knew now that she had rejected them. But what would be her position if she had accepted them? It was utterly impossible for Russia to govern Poland. When he had spoken on the Polish question early in the Session, he had stated that several of the institutions of which the Emperor boasted so much had been abolished. There then remained, however, the Council of State, the Municipal Council of Warsaw, and the Marshals of Nobility. But these last remaining links between the two countries had now been broken. From Colonel Stanton's despatches it was clear that the Polish nobles and the members of the moderate party had been driven into the arms of the insurgents by the acts of the Russian Government. He then came to the question—What was this Polish Government? Within the last few days the Invalide Russe had published an ar- 1113 ticle, in which it was stated—and he would accept the authority of that official organ—that the insurrection was promoted and fostered by the people of Poland; that in most of the villages they purchased arms and drilled publicly in uniform, taking care to resume their ordinary avocations on the approach of the Russian troops; and that they were assisted by even the public functionaries, because one great feature of these flying squadrons was, that they were furnished with passports en règle. He knew an instance which confirmed that view. A Polish gentleman going to Warsaw with important papers for the National Government was stopped at a railway station short of his destination, and told by a person in Russian uniform that his only chance of safety was to give them up to him. He did so, and at Warsaw he was arrested, searched, and carried before an official, in whom he recognised the same person who had taken the papers from him. As there was nothing found upon him, the Polish gentleman was discharged, and within a very short time had the papers restored to him by the Russian official. It was the same thing with the Government telegrams. Their contents were, however, known to the national party before they reached the Russian officers for whom they were intended. There was a good deal of truth in the anecdote of a conversation between the Grand Duke Constantine and General Berg. The Prince said, "Your police seem no better than mine in finding out the secret organization of the Poles in Warsaw." "I beg your Royal Highness's pardon," said the General, "it has led me to the discovery, that, except your Highness and myself, every one in the country is in the conspiracy." The Russian functionaries in Warsaw were Russian only in name. They were all officials of the Polish Government, which printed every morning five journals in Warsaw, guaranteed tranquillity when 50,000 persons walked in procession, divided Poland into districts, governed those districts by Chambers, levied taxes, and raised the money without foreign aid by which the movement was supported. Poland had a national Government then, which preserved order, made laws, and imposed taxation; but let the House contrast that with the Government of Russia in Poland. The Russian Government deserved this credit in 1863—that they had 1114 thrown off the mask. In his despatch of April 10 Earl Russell told the Russian Government that their policy was contrary to good faith and destructive of international treaties. In answering that despatch Lord Napier said:—"The Russian Government avow that their authority cannot be maintained by legality; legality, they say, is our death." Colonel Stanton in a despatch told the Government, that though he had heard of many cases of atrocities committed by the Russian troops, he had not heard of any committed by the insurgents. He himself had talked with a number of wounded insurgents in a town of Poland, and in describing to him the manner in which the war was carried on, they said their invariable practice was to send the Russian troops whom they took prisoners back to their regiments. An English gentleman who had visited one of the Polish camps had remonstrated against the practice, but they said they had generally found these men act as messengers of peace with their fellow-soldiers when they got back to them. Prince Gortschakoff said that he was at a loss to know from what sources Her Majesty's Government derived their information as to what was passing in Poland, but he presumed it was not from an impartial authority. Her Majesty's Government, he supposed, were guided chiefly by the representations of Lord Napier and Colonel Stanton. Lord Napier was not a likely man to be partial to the Poles; indeed, it had been said of him that he was apt to yield too much to the influences of the Court at which he was accredited. "Calumnies," said Prince Gortschakoff, "have been circulated against our brave soldiers, who are performing a painful duty in Poland, which have been heard with indignation throughout all Russia." But if Prince Gortschakoff would read the reports made to his Government by the mayors of different communes in Poland, he would find that great excesses had been committed by the troops. Again, what did Lord Bloomfield state from Vienna? He spoke of outrages committed by the Russian troops, not only on Poles but on Austrians, and he added that "those illegal acts were probably solely referable to the demoralization and want of discipline which now characterize the Russian army." But no more conclusive testimony could be adduced of the barbarity of the present Russian rule in Poland than the proclamations of General 1115 Mouravieff. Those proclamations had been very properly denounced by Earl Russell, who states, that if they were to be taken as indications of the mode in which the Russians governed Poland, he could see little hope of peace in that country. The Russian Government themselves avowed that legality in that case would be death to them. That avowal showed the true position of Russia in the contest; it stamped her as an outlaw in Europe; and it placed the Poles before the world as the supporters of law and order. Within that single word "legality" lay the claims of Poland. He said that they ought to ask legality for the Poles; and as surely as it would be death to Russia, it would to them be life and liberty.
confessed that he hardly thought his hon. Friend who had just sat down had brought any great accession of strength to his cause by exalting the power and dignity of the Government sitting at Warsaw; because, after all, they must recollect that it was an anonymous Government. In his (Mr. Kinglake's) view, one of the greatest difficulties Her Majesty's Government had to contend with was the very fact that the Government sitting at Warsaw had no name. It was, in point of fact, a great secret society, with which the hon. Gentleman proposed we should ally ourselves. If there was but a man of an honoured name, and surrounded by a people holding even one great town in Poland against the Russian Government, he confessed he should look at that as something more tangible—something, so to speak, to which we might carry a flag of truce. But he rose principally for the purpose of alluding to one or two points in the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman). In the speech which he had delivered that evening he had traced an historical summary of the modern events in Poland. In much of what the right hon. Gentleman said he agreed, but he was bound to say that there were some material omissions in his historical sketch. In the first place, his right hon. Friend dealt with the Poland of 1815 as if he thought it was some territory lying perfectly loose in Europe, of which the great Powers might dispose as they chose. That was not the case. A little reflection would bring to the minds of hon. Gentlemen that there was no option on the part of any of the great Powers but Russia. The Emperor Napoleon made the Duchy of Warsaw, and the adjacent pro- 1116 vinces of Poland, the base of his operations in his invasion of Russia. He failed; the Russian troops pursued him, and in the natural course of things remained in occupation of the territory. Therefore, as the Emperor Alexander said—and it was difficult to contradict him—the Russians were there in right of conquest. But the Emperor Alexander was considered by some friends of Poland to be a man of generous sentiments, and he was pressed to make that portion of Poland which he was to receive as large as possible, because those who so pressed him were caught with the assurance that not only Poland, but the Polish provinces which Russia had taken previously, were to receive a constitutional government. In that state of things, Lord Castlereagh, greatly to his honour, exerted himself to the utmost of his power to prevent the seizure of the whole country by Russia. He was bound to say that in that endeavour Lord Castlereagh was aided very substantially by Austria, because Austria offered to give up Polish possessions which she had acquired by conquest. Nothing could have been more generous in the way of territorial sacrifice than the conduct of Austria on that occasion. The offers of the Emperor of Russia, who was then a strong man, were also of a generous kind as regarded constitutional government. He was now speaking of a period before that at which the treaty was signed, and not of the moment at which it was finally agreed upon. The Emperor expressed his willingness to give a constitutional government to the Duchy of Warsaw, and to annex to that duchy all the Russo-Polish provinces. His liberality went to the extent of his professing a willingness to withdraw all the Russian troops from the kingdom so to be constituted, in order that none but Polish soldiers should touch its soil; but his right hon. Friend the Member for Stroud had forgotten to mention the event which had upset all that arrangement—namely, the return of the Emperor Napoleon from Elba. That led to the treaty being signed hastily and without that deliberation which was desirable in the case of so important a document; and hence the short paragraph only in relation to Poland, of which every one has heard so much. He would not follow his right hon. Friend in what he had said of the events of 1831, because he did not think in what he had said in relation to these occurrences there was much about which he had to quarrel with him; and they did not appear to him 1117 to have much special relation to the subject they were then discussing. He would therefore pass at once to a consideration of the occurrences of the present year. In dealing with these transactions, his right hon. Friend took what, he ventured to say, was not a statesmanlike view of the question. In the first place, he seemed to lay down that in a transaction of this kind there must be no such thing as negotiations—we must make up our minds at once as to whether we should fight for the object in view. A policy of that kind would, of course, at once put an end to diplomacy; but he did not think it was much calculated to benefit the Kingdom of Poland. Now, he ventured to say, that under the circumstances which had occurred it would have been impossible for Her Majesty's Government to justly do anything but what they had done. We must remember that the insurrection of the Poles was one justly commenced. The conscription, which was the immediate cause of the insurrection, was not only an intolerable tyranny, but also a new kind of tyranny, and one to which no people of spirit could be expected to submit. That being the case, would any number of hon. Members in that House have been content to see Her Majesty's Government assume an attitude of perfect torpor, when they had a right to appeal to Russia to fulfil her engagements under the Treaty of Vienna? And here he must say that he thought some hon. Gentlemen fell into the mistake of confounding treaties which contained guarantees with those which contained none. This treaty which gave us the right to interfere in behalf of Poland did not contain any guarantee. England had a perfect right to remonstrate against the violation of that treaty, and to protest against the conduct of Russia in violating it. He admitted that she had also a right, if she thought her own interests were at stake, to go to war in consequence of the violation of that treaty. But there was a great difference between such a treaty and treaties containing guarantees. In the present case the obligation was not commensurate with the right, and though England had the right to go to war, she was not bound by the treaty or by any principle of international honour to do so, if she did not feel that it was her interest to go to war. It was not pleasant not to succeed in anything that one undertook; but that England was bound to go to war in case Russia did not fulfil her obligations in respect 1118 of Poland was what he could not admit. If therefore England, having remonstrated without effect, did not go to war, she would not be dishonoured by not going to war. Again, that England was right in making this claim upon Russia under the Treaty he had no manner of doubt, and he thought Her Majesty's Government were right in relying on the treaty, instead of relying on mere philanthropic ground. To have appealed to Russia on such grounds would have been calling on principles a great deal too shallow, or a great deal too deep. If the interests of this country were not involved, the country would not be carried into war merely for the sake of sympathy; on the other hand, the advancement of those principles would be extremely perilous. His right hon. Friend had told the Government to be wise in time, and to see how they steered in conducting these negotiations in alliance with Austria and France. In speaking of one of those Powers, he had offered a testimonial which seemed to have caused no little amusement to the House. For himself, he could not help feeling that the right hon. Gentleman's testimonial was something like a recantation. As far as he could charge his memory, the language of his right hon. Friend in respect to Savoy and Nice was not consistent with the language he had held that night. [Mr. HORSMAN: Quite identical.] While proposing this great triple alliance, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to impute to one of the parties that she is imbecile and hypocritical, and asked her at the same time to submit to the dismemberment of her Empire. Was that the way in which they were to start with this great alliance? He wished the House to consider some scheme less warlike and more likely to be carried into effect. Whenever any great wrong was being perpetrated in Europe, there was always some Power, most likely a Power bordering on the aggrieved State, which had an interest in redressing the wrong. Austria was on the frontier of Poland; and being in possession of Galicia, was she likely, unless driven, to take such a course in Polish transactions as England was likely to approve? It was not possible for Austria long to endure that this insurrection should continue on her frontier. His next proposition was, that having entered on the career of constitutional government, it was not possible for Austria to attempt to put down the insurrection otherwise than in a sense favourable to Poland. He made this asser- 1119 tion on the faith of debates going on in the Reichsrath on the subject of Poland, which exceeded in earnestness and animation those which took place in that House. In these debates the strongest sympathy for Poland had been expressed. He held in his hand a translation of a speech delivered by a member from Galicia, in which occurred this passage—But this has still for Austria a very particular interest. In her young constitutional existence the solution of the Polish question forms, so to speak, for her a crucial test of constitutional government. If asked why disturbances had not taken place in that province, I answer—first, because the Poles have been better governed than Russian Poland; secondly, the inhabitants enjoy religious and civil liberty; and thirdly, because the policy of Austria has been so humane and constitutional, when contrasted with that observed in Russian Poland, that the Poles there are reconciled to remain under the rule and control of Austria until at least they see a more favourable opportunity of acquiring their independence.And no one could say that the Galicians were wrong. It was also stated in a despatch from one of the attachés to the British Embassy in Austria that the reason why the insurrection had not extended to Galicia was because the people there enjoyed perfect religious equality, and that the policy of Austria had been humane and considerate. He conceived that one of the questions which Her Majesty's Government would now have to determine was whether the reluctance of Russia to admit the principle of an armistice should be the cause of breaking off the negotiations. He did not desire to say anything that might in any way prejudice pending negotiations, but he hardly knew what answer this country could make, should Russia ask what security could be given for the observance of an armistice by the other side. Then, again, if they went to the insurgents—though he thought that it would be difficult to find them—and pressed on them the acceptance of an armistice, he could not say that that course would be beneficial to their cause; because, if the insurgents accepted the armistice, they would then have to go to their homes. The insurrection would consequently cease, and the grounds which now existed for calling on Europe to interfere for the purpose of re-establishing tranquillity by negotiations would no longer exist. Therefore, he thought it would be wrong to break off too suddenly the negotiations with Russia, because she might be unwilling to accept an armistice; and he thought that the amnesty she offered, if a real amnesty, 1120 would, to a certain extent, supersede an armistice. The Resolution before the House expressed despair of any good being derived by the Poles from the Treaty of Vienna, and no one could deny that there was a good deal of truth in that declaration; but there never had been a time in which it would have been more inapt than at present to express this despair at the Treaty of Vienna, for, slight as might be the ground, still it was the only available ground on which they could endeavour to obtain justice for Poland.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, he thought that there was not much in the Resolution, but there was a great deal in the speech which ushered it in, because the right hon. Proposer of the Resolution in that speech virtually called on the Government to go to war on account of Poland. He believed the House and the country were equally unanimous, that whatever their sympathy might be for Poland, they would not go to war with Russia on their account; and, above all, they were determined not to be dragged into a second Russian war at the tail of Prance. There were three ways in which one Government might legitimately interfere in the affairs of another. The first was as a friend, amicus curiœ, and the second was in the interests of peace and humanity. The last was the attitude assumed by France, and the other by Austria. The third was as a party to a treaty. Her Majesty's Government, however, seemed to have found out a fourth way of interfering, and that was as one who did not know on exactly what grounds his right to meddle was based. The noble Viscount at the head of the Government said it rested on the Treaty of Vienna, but the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, in another place, said that they thence derived only a sort of a right, and in one of his despatches declined to fix the precise meaning of the article respecting Poland in that treaty, thereby exercising, perhaps, a wise discretion. The right hon. Gentleman had run amuck at Austria in his speech, and had described her as a mere second-rate Power that had no influence during the Crimean war. It was, however, a matter of fact, he understood, that the withdrawal of Russia from the Danubian Principalities was due solely to the position that Austria took up upon the flank of her army. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to imagine that the six points of the joint proposal were drawn up by Austria, but he (Mr. Peacocke) 1121 thought, that constituting as they did a little Reform Bill for Poland, they bore traces of the authorship rather of Earl Russell than Count Rechberg. The first referred to a general amnesty. He had always understood that an amnesty followed, and did not precede, the subjugation of a country in revolt. The third article, requiring that the Poles should be employed as public officers so as to form a national administration, was quite unnecessary, as the hon. Member for the Queen's County had proved, for he stated that at present all the public offices, down to the telegraphs and the railway, were in the hands of Poles, The fourth article, enforcing religious toleration and the removal of restrictions on Catholic worship, was almost the only fair and reasonable one, and he doubted whether it would meet with approval from all the supporters of the Government. The hon. Member for Perth, for instance, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Government and friend of the Poles, but then he was also an enthusiastic enemy of the Catholics. As regarded the sixth point, it was one to which no great Power would give its assent. What great Power would allow foreign Powers to prescribe regulations with respect to the recruiting of its army? He wished, moreover, to call attention to the position in which this country was at present placed by the action taken by the Government in this matter. We had agreed with France and Austria to present joint notes to Russia, but in case the points contained in them were not accepted by Russia, which had turned out to be the case, we had not agreed upon a common course of action. He thought he might venture to say that this country would not go to war for the purpose of enforcing the six points, but there was nothing to prevent France doing so. If, therefore, France commenced a war of aggression, we should find ourselves with our hands fettered, and he wished that House and the country to understand that France on the Vistula meant France on the Rhine. He hoped the House would not agree to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, because he (Mr. Peacocke) thought that the whole responsibility should rest upon the Government, which had placed the country in a position of considerable difficulty and of considerable danger, from which it could not advance without peril, nor recede without his honour.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
trusted that the House would allow him to make 1122 some observations on the subject under consideration, in which he felt an interest, not only on grounds common to him with most other Englishmen, but also because the members of the religious community to which he belonged, who were counted by hundreds, or at most by thousands, in many other European countries, might be reckoned by the million in Poland, and because the fate of those millions was likely to be seriously affected for good or ill by the result of the pending contest. The fact of so many Jews inhabiting Poland seemed to be attributable to their ancestors having settled there in the middle ages, at a time when religious persecution did not prevail in that country, though it was prevalent in most other parts of Europe. But of late years the Russian Government, adopting the usual policy of despotisms, had succeeded in setting one part of the population against another in order to rule all, in using to a certain extent the Jews as an instrument against the Catholics, and in inducing the Catholics to acquiesce in the persecution of the Jews. Now, however, this policy was seen through by all the parties concerned, and there were several indications that the Jews were making common cause with their countrymen, while the Catholics were ready to hold out the right hand of fellowship to the Jews. One of these indications had, he believed, been mentioned by a noble Lord in another place. The Chief Rabbi Meisel, the same who had shared with the Roman Catholic Archbishop the honour of imprisonment for participating in a patriotic demonstration, was sent for by the Grand Duke Constantine, and urged to use his influence with the Jews to induce them to take part with their father the Emperor. It is true, replied the Rabbi, that the Emperor is our father; but then Poland is our mother, and in quarrels between parents the children generally take the side of the weaker. Another interesting incident of a similar tendency had not, he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) believed, been publicly stated in this country. In 1861, when the manifestations were beginning, which the continued and increasing tyranny of Russia had developed into the existing movement, the Government was apprehensive of any concourse in the streets of Warsaw. The funeral procession of a Catholic, a man well known and respected, though of no political importance, was accompanied by a large number of persons, and preceded, as was usual, by a cross. The Govern- 1123 ment, fearing some patriotic demonstration, ordered the Cossacks to disperse the crowd. They accordingly charged, scattered the people, and trampled on and destroyed the cross. On this becoming known to the congregation of the Synagogue, they presented to the church a handsome cross similar to that which had been destroyed. And this, he (Sir F. Goldsmid) apprehended, the Jews did, not as indicating any want of adherence to, any wavering in, their own ancient faith, but in order to mark their respect for the religious feelings of the majority of their countrymen, and their indignation at the conduct of the common oppressor, by whom the symbol which he was bound to reverence as sacred, had, on the mere baseless supposition of its being used as part of a demonstration against the Government, been desecrated and trodden under foot. There were many other facts tending to illustrate the part taken by the Polish Jews in the contest, with which he (Sir F. Goldsmid) would not trouble the House. He would merely remind them that the son of the chief Jewish banker at Warsaw had been carried away by the Russians towards Siberia, and had died on the road, and that one could now scarcely read a newspaper paragraph respecting Poland without remarking some instance of the rigour practised by the Russians towards Jews as well as others, to avenge their resistance to the Imperial Government.
Passing now from these facts, which showed that the cause of Poland deserved the sympathy of the friends of religious, as Well as of civil liberty, he would ask leave to say a few words on the main questions raised by the Motion before the House. These questions he apprehended to he, whether England had hitherto taken the right course in this matter, and what course ought now to be taken by her. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had understood the right hon. Gentleman who opened the debate (Mr. Horsman) to argue, that Her Majesty's Government ought to have done nothing unless it were prepared for war. He (Sir F. Goldsmid) believed that this was not the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. At all events it was not his (Sir F. Goldsmid's) argument. He expressed no opinion whether the Government ought or ought not to determine on war as a last resort; nor did he say, that if the Government did not even in the last resort contemplate war, it ought therefore 1124 to have remained silent with reference to Poland. But he did venture to contend, that whether this country were to proceed beyond diplomacy or not, the diplomatic measures taken were not the right ones. In the first place, it was most singular that in the despatches written by Lord Russell during the last spring (that of the 10th of April might be particularly referred to) he had expressly limited the right of England, founded on the Treaty of Vienna, to address Russia on behalf of Poland, to the Kingdom of Poland, excluding the Polish provinces of Russia. Now, this was a mistake. The Treaty of Vienna, as had been pointed out by the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy), applied to the Polish provinces as well as to the kingdom, though its stipulations with respect to each were different; and this had been stated by the noble Lord now at the head of the Government, with his usual force and clearness, in his despatches of March 1831 and March 1832. What the noble Lord had then known had not ceased to be known to him now; and it was certainly, therefore, very remarkable that this important matter should have been so inaccurately stated in the despatch which was sanctioned by his Government in April last. The error appeared, however, to be corrected in the despatch of the 17th of June, which was right in addressing Russia on behalf of Poland generally, that is, on behalf of the provinces as well as of the kingdom. But then this despatch was in other respects most unsatisfactory. Its "six points" were, in fact, a mere amplification of the conditions of the Treaty of Vienna in reference to Poland. Now, it might have required the sagacity of Lord Castlereagh to foresee in 1815 that the attempt to induce Russia to govern Poland in accordance with those conditions would fail. But no unusual foresight or sagacity—nothing but the most ordinary application of common sense, was now requisite in order to perceive that the experiment which had already failed could not succeed, if tried again under circumstances still more unfavourable—if tried again when, within, the mutual hatred of the Russians and Poles had been increased by oppression on the one hand, and the vain attempt to resist it on the other—when, without, it had been shown in practice, though he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) was glad to learn to-night that it had not been avowed as a principle by the Foreign Minister of England, that hardly any breach 1125 of those conditions would rouse into active interference the Powers who had signed the treaty. If it were asked, what then ought England to have done, he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) would venture to state in reply, the opinion of men who had given to the consideration of the affairs of Poland more hours than any Member of that House had given minutes—of men who had sacrificed to the Polish cause their homes, their prospects, the bulk of their fortunes, and the greater part of their Jives. And this opinion was, that to that cause a most essential service might have been, and might still be, rendered by a solemn declaration made by England that in her judgment Russia, having systematically broken the conditions on which her right to the possession of Poland had been recognised, has forfeited that right. If, again, it were asked how this declaration could be useful to Poland, he would answer, that as compared with the "six points," it would at least have had some negative advantages. It would not have requested Russia again to consent to conditions which she had positively declared to be impracticable. It would not have requested her to repeat promises which, during the half century that has elapsed since they were first made, she has continually broken, and which, whether she repeat them or not, we may be sure that so long as she shall retain her hold on Poland she will continue to break. It would not have been a mockery somewhat resembling the act of handing back the victim to the torturers, and at the same time requesting, that if the rack were to be applied, it might be done with all tenderness and care. But men well acquainted with the subject thought also that such a declaration of forfeiture might have some positive advantages. The cession by Austria of Galicia, with a view to the reconstitution of Poland, had been treated by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) as a dismemberment of our ally, and he had remarked that at all events the Galicians themselves ought to be consulted respecting it. Now he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) was sure that he was speaking the opinion of the Poles when he said that they would desire nothing better than that the matter should depend on the wishes of the Galicians; and he was confident that those wishes would be directly opposed to the opinion of the individual Galician deputy in the Austrian Reichsrath, who had been cited by the hon. Member. As to such a cession being a dismemberment 1126 of our ally, it was not suggested by any one that it should be forced on Austria. That Power had herself proposed it in 1814 as conducive to her own security. She might make the same proposal again, and competent judges were convinced that nothing would have a greater tendency to accelerate that proposal than a declaration by England that Russia had forfeited all right to her Polish possessions. Again, it was believed, by persons well acquainted with Poland, that such a declaration would greatly encourage the Poles in their present struggle, by showing them that their subjection to Russia was no longer part of the public law of Europe. And if, notwithstanding such encouragement, they should for the present fail, the fact of that declaration having been made, would at least render impossible the recurrence of what we had seen during the last ten years, a fierce war carried on by powerful States against Russia, coupled with an abstinence, by all her opponents, from attacking her in her most vulnerable point. Such a declaration of forfeiture, even if unaccompanied by any threat of immediate action, would significantly reserve for the probably not distant future, for the period of the first serious quarrel between Russia and the other great Powers, their task of following up that declaration by appropriate acts.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he thought that but little consideration had been shown to Russia in many of the suggestions that had been made, and that nothing could be more unfortunate than the proposal that the Government should abandon their only ground of negotiation and attempt by violence to overthrow the provisions of the Treaty of 1815. He had been reminded throughout the debate of the saying that paper constitutions were worth nothing, he thought the vision of a restored kingdom of Poland, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud had held up for admiration was a "kingdom in the air." What was the ground of complaint against Russia; it was that she was resisting a rebellion conducted by a secret agency, at a time when she was not proceeding upon the principles of despotism, but endeavouring to advance her form of Government and her people from despotism and slavery into the community of constitutional states. It had been too much overlooked that no empire had done so much for freedom in this century as Russia. They talked of freedom in Italy, but 1127 let them compare the number of those who had been set flee in Italy with the numbers who had obtained liberty in Russia by the abolition of serfdom. And was such conduct to bring on the Emperor the hostility of Europe? Would it be either wise or generous for constitutional England to come forward and attack Russia at such a time? He thought Her Majesty's Government ought to be very careful how they insisted upon the proposals, contained in the six points, as exclusively their own. He had perceived that several newspapers, especially some expressing ultramontane opinions, seemed to entertain an arrière pensée. Those who held ultramontane opinions in Ireland seemed to ask how it was that the British Government had not adopted in that country during the Rebellion of 1798 the course which they were now pressing upon the Emperor of Russia, although the position of Ireland towards England in that year was analogous to that of Poland towards Russia at present. He (Mr. Newdegate) rejoiced that two of the Catholic Powers were parties to these proposals—France and Austria. Since this rendered it impossible to assert that these proposals originated solely from England, he wished to take that opportunity of stating his belief that the matter was safe in the hands of the Government, and that he had come down to vote against the Motion of the right hon. Member for Stroud. He thanked Her Majesty's Government for the steps they had taken, which, though they might not lead to success at once, might hereafter furnish a solution of the difficulty. The House should show every consideration to the Emperor of Russia, who might otherwise say "You are trying to defeat my efforts for the liberation of my people by inopportunely urging upon me the adoption of a course which, if left to myself, I could pursue successfully, though not with reference to Poland in her present state of insurrection."
§ LORD HARRY VANE
said, he could not think the hon. Member for Reading had judged rightly in thinking it would be proper to pass an abstract Resolution like that before the House, and then leave the matter there. He thought such a course would only be embarrassing, and would place us in a difficult position in our negotiations with Europe. He quite agreed that the question was beset with difficulties, but he thought hon. Members could not do better than leave it in the hands of 1128 Her Majesty's Government. Diplomatic action was necessary on the part of Her Majesty's Government when Russia was not acting in conformity with the stipulations of the treaty of Vienna. They had a right to protest against the manner in which the stipulations of that treaty were regarded by Russia, and, having that right, they were justified in urging the different points put forward by the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department. He was in St. Petersburg as an attaché in his younger days, and he had remarked that great jealousy was felt by the Russians when any of the privileges enjoyed by them were extended to Poland. The favour shown by the Emperor of Russia to the Polish army at the time was also a subject of great jealousy to the Russians. The Emperor was obliged to throw himself into the arms of the old Russian party, and it was impossible for him to establish a constitutional Government at that time in Poland. The time might come when Russia would find it her interest to enter into some arrangement, but that time was not yet come, From private persons he had received information that there was at that time existing in Russia a feeling somewhat akin to that which existed in 1812. He was told that the fanaticism amongst the Greeks was beginning to operate directly upon the Government, and that the Emperor had great difficulty in resisting the Russian nobles and the pressure put upon him by the old Russian party. Their object was to prevent the concession of privileges to the Poles, and the Emperor was driven to have recourse to warlike measures, for the purpose of being ready for any emergency that might arise. On the whole, then, he thought it would be much better to leave the matter in the hands of Government than to make speeches which tended to irritate without producing any useful result.
MR. SOMERSET BEAUMONT
said, he hoped the Poles would soon become a great and free Power in Europe. The brutal acts of the chief general of Russia had created a universal feeling of indignation. Nevertheless, he should feel it his duty to vote against the Motion of the right hon. Member for Stroud, not because he disagreed with it as an abstract Resolution, but because he did not wish to cast any reflection on the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government. That course had been a wise and prudent one, and, if followed up with energy, would, he believed, 1129 be successful in vindicating the rights of the Poles. The state of things which the noble Lord at the head of the Government bad desired many years ago had now occurred. England, France, and Austria bad gone cordially together; and although the Prussian Government had so disgraced itself in the eyes of Germany and Europe, yet the debates in the Berlin Chambers showed that, whatever might be the course taken by the King, the heart of the Prussian people was with the three Powers. He must express his satisfaction at the contradiction given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and at his assurance that England was free to act as she thought proper. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs recently quoted with approbation in another place the policy of Sir Robert Walpole, who was distinguished as a peace Minister, but who nevertheless on one occasion sent a fleet of twenty sail of the line to Lisbon to vindicate his policy. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government, if they found a fitting opportunity, would be able to vindicate their views in regard to Poland by sending twenty sail of the line to the Baltic. It would be a disgrace to British diplomacy if, after expressing such strong views, it should remain barren of results.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, my right hon. Friend who made this Motion introduced it, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, in a speech marked by his usual ability, and to which the House listened with the greatest attention and delight. But, as he went along, it appeared to me that that speech was not so consistent with itself as the speeches of my right hon. Friend usually have been; and that, moreover, it was not consistent with the Motion which my right hon. Friend has made. In the beginning of his speech my right hon. Friend found fault with the Government of 1831, and with myself, as the organ of that Government, for having interfered diplomatically with the affairs of Poland. My right hon. Friend reproached the Government with timidity in not having pursued their policy to the arbitrament of arms. [Mr. HORSMAN: I approved of everything they did in 1831.] Well, but my right hon. Friend went further. I am glad we have his approbation for what we did in 1831, he certainly passed high praise on the course taken by my noble Friend at the head of Foreign Affairs on the present occasion, for he said that it was 1130 a great diplomatic triumph to have obtained the concurrence of almost all the Powers of Europe in the representations made to Russia in regard to the affairs of Poland. But it seemed to me that the gist of the speech of my right hon. Friend was that mere diplomatic representations were unavailing unless they were followed by force. He seemed to me to deny the power of public opinion. Now, I always thought—and the praise my right hon. Friend gave to my noble Friend for having obtained the concurrence of most of the States of Europe in representations to Russia seems to imply that he also thinks—that the power of public opinion is almost equal to that of arms, and no doubt public opinion is a powerful engine in its influence upon the conduct of men and Governments. That which has happened is indeed a striking proof of the power of this. In the discussions of 1831 and 1832 the Russian Government denied that we had any right to remonstrate with them upon the affairs of Poland, founding ourselves on the Treaty of 1815. They said that Russia had re-conquered Poland after the revolution, and that this conquest annulled all the engagements of 1815. The Russian Government, therefore, argued that any interference in the affairs of Poland was an interference in the internal affairs of Russia, and that we had no right to meddle with that which concerned the Emperor of Russia alone. Now, the ground taken by Russia is entirely different. Yielding to the joint opinion of so many of the Powers of Europe, Russia is willing to enter into discussions in regard to Poland within the limits of the Treaty. That is a great step gained, and it affords a prospect of a better condition of things than the former ground taken by Russia entitled us to expect. It is quite true, as the hon. and learned Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) has stated, that the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna were twofold—one relating to the Kingdom of Poland, and the other to the Poles who were the subjects of Austria, Russia, and Prussia; and as Poland was a separate kingdom attached to Russia by the Crown, it is quite clear that this latter paragraph related to the Russian subjects of the ancient provinces of Poland which were incorporated into the Empire of Russia. It is said that England at the Treaty of Vienna was mainly instrumental in giving Poland to Russia. But the fact is, as may be seen by the despatches laid upon the table, that the Emperor of Russia had 1131 at that time a large army in Poland and that he insisted on keeping Poland. It was not England that gave Poland to Russia, but Russia had occupied and conquered Poland, and refused to give it up; and the Treaty of Vienna was the best arrangement that it was possible to make under the circumstances. That arrangement was made by the Emperor of Russia in the interest of Poland. He was then very much guided by Prince Czartoryski, and contemplated giving to Poland a very liberal constitution, and intended to annex a large portion of the ancient Polish provinces that had been incorporated with Russia and now form part of the Russian Empire. It is said by some that it is impossible to suppose that a free Parliamentary constitution for Poland could co-exist with a despotic authority in Russia. I do not see the force of that assertion. It was not that impossibility which prevented the constitution of Poland from working; it was the arbitrary tendencies of the Grand Duke Constantine of that day, who was then Governor of Poland, and the change of feeling on the part of the Emperor of Russia, which led to the suspension of the constitution, and to the tyrannical and arbitrary Government that was set up in the place of the liberal and free institutions which it was intended by the Treaty of Vienna to establish. This led to the revolution of 1831, which was created and carried into effect by the large Polish army which the Emperor had established in Poland at the time when he was desirous of giving liberal institutions to Poland. But, then, we are told by my right hon. Friend that we have no alternative now between either remaining perfectly passive or insisting upon the establishment of Poland according to its ancient limits. No doubt, if all the Powers of Europe were prepared to go to war with Russia to compel her to restore everything she has taken from Poland, I could understand it might be thought desirable that the object of such a combination should be the establishment of the Kingdom of Poland with its original limits. But it is quite clear that such an object could not be accomplished by persuasion, and that it must be accomplished, if at all, by force. The only ground on which we or the other Powers of Europe are entitled, as a matter of international right, to address Russia with respect to her treatment of Poland, is the Treaty of Vienna. That treaty entitles us to require that certain arrangements con- 1132 templated by it should be established in the Kingdom of Poland, and that certain arrangements should be carried out with respect to the Polish provinces of Russia. But the moment you begin to go beyond that treaty, and to demand that Russia shall reconstruct a separate Kingdom of Poland, such as it was before the partition, you have no ground of right on which such a demand can be made, and it then becomes a demand which can only be enforced by war, and a successful war. Well, Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to take that course. But the right hon. Gentleman, having, as I understood him, argued at considerable length to show that we ought to go to war with Russia for the purpose of that great change, then moved a Resolution which does not tally with his speech. His Resolution goes to this:—That we should declare to Russia that the Treaty of Vienna in regard to Poland is at an end, and that we should therefore divest ourselves of the right we now possess of remonstrating with Russia in respect to her treatment of Poland. I cannot understand how we should be assisting the Poles by adopting such a course. We are now entitled to represent to Russia that she has not fulfilled certain engagements into which she entered by that treaty—that she has not given to the Poles of the kingdom that constitution which the treaty distinctly stipulated should be the link between Poland and the Imperial Crown. We are entitled to say to Russia, "By the second paragraph of that article you are bound to do that which Austria and Prussia have done with regard to Galicia and Posen—that is to say, to give national representation and national institutions to your Polish subjects." The moment we declare to Russia that the treaty is at an end, Russia says, "I accept your admission; I hold Poland no longer by treaty, but by conquest. It is mine by right of the sword, touch it who choose. I have the same right to keep it without any condition whatever as I have to hold any part of the great empire which belongs to the Russian Crown." It appears to me that this, so far from being an advantage to the Poles, would only be banding them over tied hand and foot, to be dealt with according to the pleasure of General Mouravieff or anybody else whom Russia may place over them. I hope, therefore, that the House will not accede to my right hon. Friend's Motion; I think it would 1133 be a most lame and impotent conclusion. It was well said by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it was impossible for Her Majesty's Government to remain quiet and do nothing after the commencement of the Polish insurrection. At the beginning of the year, the opinion of the House and the country, the opinion also of Europe, was loudly expressed in favour of some representation to be made to Russia. And I hold it to be quite at variance with the common transactions of human affairs to say that you are never to remonstrate or negotiate unless you are prepared immediately to have recourse to arms, if you do not obtain by diplomacy what you are endeavouring to accomplish. That would put an end to all intercourse between nations, and it is the rule neither of States nor of individuals. We all know that much is gained without a resort to that final arbitrament for which my right hon. Friend would contend. Her Majesty's Government in this case did that which I think was required by the public opinion of the country and which was advocated in debates in this House. We also did that which we have a right to do—we invoked the Treaty of Vienna, and we obtained the concurrence of France, of Austria, of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, and Sweden, all of which agreed with us in urging upon Russia a milder course towards the Poles. It has been said that it would be no satisfaction to the Poles if that result were gained. Sir, I cannot see that there is any just foundation for that opinion. The condition of the Poles would be very much improved if they were re-established in the position in which the Treaty of Vienna placed them. But then it is said that we suggested one thing which was perfectly impracticable—namely, an armistice. Well, can any man look at the cruelties committed—I fear by both sides—in this lamentable struggle, at the dreadful waste of human life, and the sacrifice of some of the most distinguished members of the Polish notion, and not wish to see these hostilities suspended, even for a time, if they cannot be entirely stopped? But if that war were suspended for a time, I cannot but think that negotiation would intervene and a final settlement prevent the recurrence of the contest. It is asked, "How can that be done?" Well, I think that has been answered in the course of this debate. If the Russian Government were to assent—which I am sorry to say they do not—to a suspension of this unhappy strife, we 1134 have been told, from what one would suppose to be authority, that the Revolutionary Government in Poland has made it known that it would agree to a Conference, provided it was represented in that Conference. Well, who has authority to say that? Could not those who have access to this representation of Polish authority on that point obtain from the same authority—secret or whatever else it is—some assurance which, if the Russian Government declared itself ready to agree to suspend hostilities, might draw from the other side some corresponding engagement, so that between the two the object might be accomplished of putting an end to such a frightful sacrifice of life and effusion of blood? Sir, I think that is worth attempting, and that we should have been neglecting our duty if we had not included an armistice among our proposals. Upon Russia be the responsibility of having refused it—we have done our duty. Although of the other points the Russian Government say they have already determined to carry some of them into effect, while they are disposed to adopt the others as soon as tranquillity is restored, however advantageous those points may be, it seems to me there can be no useful negotiation for the purpose of carrying out any of the points therein mentioned unless by some means or other we can arrest a sacrifice of life so painful to contemplate, and which appears to be daily extending. I am sure, the House does not expect Her Majesty's Government now to state what course they may follow upon this matter. The only thing I can say is, that as we made our communication to Russia in concert with the Governments of France and Austria, it will be our duty to communicate with those Governments with respect to the answer which each of the three Powers has received from Russia; and I am persuaded that the course to be taken, whatever it may be, will be such as will meet with the approval of this House and the country.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he quite agreed with the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Government, having received the Russian answer only that morning, could not as yet be expected to state the decision they might come to upon it. Of course, it would be necessary for them to hold council with the other Powers. When he gave notice of his Motion, he could not anticipate that it would come on for discussion on the very day on which the Russian 1135 answer was received. Both the noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in criticising the terms of his Motion, had put a somewhat wrong construction upon it. They supposed that it was his wish, and his object now to take Poland out of the provisions of the Treaty of Vienna. But what he maintained was, that the Emperor of Russia, by abolishing the constitution of Poland, and repudiating his obligations to Europe, had himself taken Poland out of the provisions of the treaty; and the present Motion was condemnatory of the policy of ignoring the events of the last thirty years, and considering the arrangements of 1815 as applicable and valid at the present time. When he (Mr. Horsman) was told that what he proposed was impracticable, he begged to say he proposed no more than Lord Castlereagh, Prince Metternich, Prince Talleyrand, and the Prussian plenipotentiaries had recommended and urged fifty years ago. He assured the noble Lord, he had not said one syllable in derogation of his policy in the year 1831. From the beginning to the end, he thought the noble Lord's policy on that occasion was to be approved; but the conclusion of the negotiations of 1831 was that the English Ministry had no choice but to submit as they had done, or go to war, with France and England on one side, against Austria, Russia, and Prussia on the other; and from the latter alternative they naturally shrank. But on the present occasion, so far from censuring the policy of the Government, he supported it as not leading to war, because the Government had made a combination which so isolated Russia that she would have no power of going to war, and thus without moving a soldier or commissioning a ship the objects of the combination might be secured. But if this were not done, if we were to suffer France to negotiate and act alone, a European war must ensue, into which, sooner or later, it would be impossible that we should not be drawn. He assured the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) that he was mistaken in supposing that he (Mr. Horsman) had ever varied one hair's breadth in the opinion he had formed of the character and policy of the Emperor of the French. At the time to which the hon. Member had referred he had declared aggression and aggrandisement to be the traditional policy of France. He said so now. He had formerly maintained that whilst England was weak and defenceless she could ex- 1136 ercise no power to restrain that aggressive policy. Since England had become the equal of France, she had been able to exercise a salutary influence as an ally, but that traditional policy of aggrandisement would again be carried out if France were left to act alone. The first thing she would do would be to fall upon the Rhine; whilst if England and Austria restrained France by a wise and well-conducted triple alliance, she would be compelled to abandon a self-seeking and disturbing policy. Of course, under the circumstances, it would be very inexpedient now to press for any opinion from Her Majesty's Government, whilst the answer of the Russian Government was under consideration, and therefore, with the leave of House, he would withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.