§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
Whatever, Sir, may be the faults or shortcomings attributed to the House of Commons, I can hardly think it can be attributed to us amongst them that we are of an impatient or inquisitive turn of mind; for, though professing the greatest interest in the sanguinary contest now going on in the North of Europe, sympathizing and in many instances subscribing to the necessities of the Danes, in spite of five bulky volumes having been published, containing 1,215 despatches, no inquiry has been made into these bulky volumes, and no discussion has yet taken place upon the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government. Whatever else then may be attributed to me, I do not think it can be said that I am acting in a premature manner in bringing this subject under the consideration of Parliament. In doing so I shall endeavour to avoid all the genealogical and all the other mystifications by which it has been endeavoured to sink this case of Schleswig-Holstein. I know it has been laid down on the highest authority in this House, that this case of Schleswig-Holstein is above the comprehension of the ordinary Parliamentary intellect. The mysteries of this Eleusis none but the favoured hierophants of the Cabinet can unravel or explain. On 1293 a recent occasion, one of the most skilful Members of the Cabinet, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ash ton (Mr. Milner Gibson), declared to his constituents his utter inability to comprehend the points at issue between Denmark and her Duchies, and his resolution to leave these points to be elucidated by the German professors, and this at a time when the Cabinet of which he is a Member was consulting together as to the expediency of going to war with Germany. Let me hope the House of Commons will not follow the fatal example of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton, for, although the subject has been mystified by medieval research and obscured by professorial explanations, it is simple in its origin and easy of comprehension. Had not diplomacy rushed in with the tyrant plea of expediency, the question would long ago have settled itself. When diplomacy stepped in and manufactured a succession, and also upset the rights of a people, then the question became almost inextricably confused. For to what is all this bloodshed, this confusion in the North of Europe—to what is it to be attributed? I am one of that, it may be small, but faithful, band which attributes all this confusion to that Treaty of London of the 8th of May, 1852, which was concocted by the noble Lord the present First Minister of the Crown, and was signed by another noble Lord, whom I consider not at all to blame for his signature, inasmuch as having but recently acceded to office, he could not be expected to have studied minutely a question of such intricacy. Be that as it may, the treaty was the concoction of one Government, and was signed by the Earl of Malmesbury as the Foreign Secretary of another. Now, let us see what were the provisions of that treaty. The provisions of that treaty trampled alike upon the rights of an ancient people, and also upon the rights of an hereditary Duke. The pretext for the treaty was, that it was to support the integrity of Denmark and that balance of power for which this country has paid so much and profited so little—the balance of power in Europe. What have been the effects of the treaty? Can anybody say that the Treaty of 1852 has settled the balance of power or maintained the integrity of Denmark? It has settled no point, and has satisfied no party. While Germany denied the legality, Denmark sedulously evaded all the stipulations in the agreements of 1851 and 1852, and 1294 England is the only Power which, upon a strict examination of these blue-books, will be found pertinaciously adhering to and ready to go to war, mark you! for the maintenance of that treaty by which the people of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein are compelled to accept the supremacy of the Danish Monarch, which has no right or title to those Duchies.
The origin of that treaty is somewhat curious and recondite. I have no hesitatation in saying, having taken some pains to look into the subject, that the noble Lord in making this treaty, in an unfortunate moment, and not exercising his usual sagacity, became the catspaw of the northern despot. For I shall show to the House most conclusively that England had no interest, no possible interest, for making this treaty, but that she became a tool in the hands of Russia to advance the ambitious designs of that despotic country. It will not be necessary for me to fatigue the House with the ancient history of this Question. I shall altogether pass over the questions so much insisted upon by the professors who have mystified my hon. Friend the right hon. Member for Ashton. I would remind the House that in 1448 Christian I. of Oldenburg succeeded to the Danish throne, and was elected ruler of the Duchies of Sehleswig and Holstein in 1460. There was an old charter which he swore to maintain, and pledged himself that the two Duchies should remain for ever undivided. However people may dispute about the original title, all those who have studied this Question are agreed that the relations between Denmark and the Duchies were purely dynastic and of a personal character, much the same as the relations that formerly existed between this country and Hanover. It is necessary to remember that the local Governments of Schleswig and Holstein were conducted entirely apart from that of Denmark, and that since 1665 the succession to the Crown of Denmark was by females, but in the Duchies the succession was rigidly restricted to males. It is not necessary to go further into the ancient history of this Question, only always let the House bear in mind the nature of the succession. I will now take a skip from those almost antediluvian periods, and next will come to the year 1846. In that year Christian VIII. issued his famous letters patent. He, fearing the extinction of his dynasty, and dreading the separation of the Duchies from Denmark, issued letters patent which 1295 undertook to unite Denmark and the Duchies into one state, with a common constitution and a common succession. These unfortunate letters patent were the origin of all the subsequent conflicts of the unlucky Treaty of 1852, and of all the confusion that has since arisen. Upon these letters patent being issued, the Duchies appealed to the German Confederation, and some pressure having been applied, Christian VIII. recalled those letters patent, and not only recognized the rights to the succession of the Duchies, but—a most material point—he expressly recognized the union between Schleswig and Holstein. In the year 1846—let the House remember—he expressly recognized the union between Holstein and Schleswig. That state of thing endured for two years. In the year 1848 a democratic revolution broke out at Copenhagen, and the new King Frederick VII, who had succeeded to the throne of Denmark, was compelled to throw himself into the arms of what is called the Eider-Dane party, whose object was to let Holstein go, but to incorporate Schleswig into the Danish Kingdom. Thence arose the celebrated war of that year between Germany and Denmark. After a time Prussia, for whom I have nothing to say, but perhaps less for her conduct in 1848 than for that of 1864—Prussia interposed, and, after a conflict with Denmark, peace was established between those two Powers on the 2nd of July, 1850. But the Duchies, not being satisfied with the conduct of Prussia, and the engagements she had entered into affecting them, still held out, and at first with considerable success. But on the 25th of July, 1850, was fought the battle of Idstedt, in which the Danes routed the forces of the Duchies, and then Austria and Prussia stepped in, and they imposed a peace which was considered by the Duchies to be an ignominious peace. It is material to consider what were the terms of that peace. In the first place, Austria and Prussia took what was, in the eyes of the inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein, the fatal step of giving up the political union of the Duchies—that political union which had been recognized for ages, and which had so recently as 1846 been explicitly guaranteed by Christian VIII. Denmark, on her side, gave up the incorporation of the Duchies, and gave solemn pledges never again to endeavour to incorporate Schleswig and Holstein with Denmark. She also guaranteed equal rights and pro- 1296 tection to the German and Danish nationalities, and granted to the Duchies separate legislation for their internal affairs. Those terms were to be submitted for the approval of representatives of each separate community. Need I tell the House that they never were submitted to the representatives of the States of Schleswig and Holstein? Those, however, were the conditions of peace which were imposed upon the Duchies by Austria and Prussia.
I come next to the Correspondence which has been laid upon the table, and I hope I may be allowed some little latitude in dealing with it, although I will not quote overmuch; but as it has been made the subject of accusation against me, that I have not read these blue-books, I must impress the House and the mind of the noble Lord by reading sundry passages, in order to convince them that I have studied the literature of Schleswig-Holstein with some attention. And, Sir, although it may appear an extraordinary complaint to make, that the mass of papers with which the House has been overwhelmed is insufficient, yet still I must say that I think we have not all the papers we should have before us. I regret that the correspondence upon this subject in 1848 and 1849 is not in possession of hon. Members, because most material information would be obtained from the Correspondence. In it would be found a note of the Chevalier Von Bunsen, dated May 18, 1848, in which he proposed to consult the feelings of the inhabitants of Schleswig, and first shadowed out the idea which was taken up by the noble Lord then the Foreign Secretary, but now the first Minister of the Crown—of separating the Duchy of Schleswig, drawing a line across it, and giving that portion north of the line to Denmark, and adding the portion south of the line to Holstein. What was the reply of the noble Lord then Foreign Secretary, and now First Minister? If those papers were on the table the House would find that on the 19th of May, 1848, the noble Lord, improving upon the suggestion thrown out by the Chevalier Von Bunsen, made a proposal that the Duchies should be consulted, that a line should be drawn across Schleswig, and the portion of the Duchy north of the line should be given to Denmark, while the southern portion should be attached to Holstein. That was the proposal of the noble Lord, and I find it quite impossible to reconcile that proposal with his conduct now in 1864, when he is up- 1297 holding quite dissimilar propositions. Not only that but on the 23rd of June, 1848, he followed it up by formal proposals to Prussia and Denmark upon the subject. That incident was the first interference of this country with respect to the affairs of the North of Europe. To come down, however, to the years between 1850 and 1853, it will be found that our first interference took place on February 19, 1850,—I beg the House to follow the date—when the noble Lord the present First Minister of the Crown, and then Foreign Secretary, wrote to Sir Henry Wynn, our Ambassador at Copenhagen. On that occasion the noble Lord, for the first time, impressed upon the Danish Government the advisability of settling the succession to the Crown, so as to insure the continuance of the Sovereignty of Denmark and of both Duchies in one person, and he goes on to suggest that the Duke of Oldenburg should be regarded as the successor to the reigning Sovereign. A great deal of correspondence took place upon this subject, but somehow or other after a time the name of the Duke of Oldenburg disappears from the scene, because, I believe, he was found to be obnoxious to the Emperor of Russia, The suggestion of the noble Lord, however, was not listened to. We then began protocolling. A protocol in diplomatic language is I believe a note of the Conferences which precede a treaty. On the 4th of July, 1850, was issued a protocol, I called the protocol of London. There were present the plenipotentiaries of Austria, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden and Norway. That protocol stated—Considering that the maintenance of the integrity of the Danish monarchy is bound up with the general interests of the balance of power in Europe, and is of high importance for the preservation of peace, it is unanimously resolved, at the invitation of His Majesty the King of Denmark, that the possessions at present under the Crown of Denmark should be maintained in their integrity; consequently they recognize the wisdom of the views which have determined the King of Denmark to regulate the order of succession and manner of facilitating the arrangements, and the means by which the integrity of the Danish monarchy shall remain intact.That is the Protocol of London. "On the invitation of the King of Denmark," the plenipotentiaries of the different nations resolved to adopt a course recommended by that monarch, without at all taking into account the feelings of the people of the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, and without paying the slightest regard to their legal rights. Round the table which the noble 1298 Lord had characterized as the panacea of everything that would produce peace, they resolved to destroy and trample upon the liberties of the people of Schleswig-Holstein. A very remarkable circumstance took place with reference to the interference with the succession. The House will remember that in February, 1850, the noble Lord made his first suggestion concerning the order of succession, to select the son of the Duke of Oldenburg, he having no rights to succession. Something, too, was said about compensation, but he first of all in 1850 suggested this English meddling, or what I call this unhallowed proceeding of manufacturing Sovereigns without consulting the people, I find that on the 20th of March, 1851, the attention of the House was directed to our meddling policy, and that an hon. Member asked the following question:—"Whether there had been any negotiation as to the succession to the Crown of Denmark, or in respect to the succession in the Duchies?" The answer returned by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was a most extraordinary one, because the House will remember that it was the noble Lord himself who had proposed a successor to the Crown of Denmark. The noble Lord's reply was couched in the following terms:—A good deal had passed in regard to these points. But Her Majesty's Government had studiously and systematically held themselves aloof from taking any share in these negotiations. Her Majesty's Government had confined themselves strictly to the mediation which they undertook; which was a mediation for the purpose of bringing about a restoration of peace between Denmark and the Germanic Confederation."—[3 Hansard, cxv. 221.]That was in 1851. I find that in 1864 Her Majesty's Government are still negotiating for the purpose of bringing about peace between Denmark and the Germanic Confederation, in spite of the Treaty of 1852. I think that the House is entitled to some explanation from the noble Lord. It is true that the question has remained for a long time in abeyance, because I well remember that when a noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) the Member for Huntingdonshire brought forward a Motion upon the subject, the whipper-in of the Government went to the Speaker and said, "Sir, there are not forty Members present," and the House vanished, and we heard no more of it. From that time to this not the slightest explanation has been given. I now come down in the history of protocols to the origin of the Treaty of 1852, and 1299 I think it will somewhat surprise those Members of the House who have been in the habit of regarding the noble Lord as the emblem of the British lion, to find that the treaty emanated from the neighbourhood of Warsaw. On June 5, 1851, the Emperor of Russia, who began to feel rather uncomfortable as to this question of the succession in Denmark, arranged another protocol — a very quiet little affair—Russia and Denmark being the only parties connected with it. In this protocol the Duke of Oldenburg is, for the first time, not mentioned, but Prince Christian of Glucksburg is named by Russia as the eventual successor to the crown of Denmark, and also to the Duchies. I think the House ought to bear in mind that in naming Prince Christian of Glucksburg, who had no more hereditary right to the throne than the noble Lord himself, Russia passed over seventeen heirs, though not all of them in a direct line of succession, and that in endeavouring to carry out this protocol, which I shall afterwards show you she did, there remained only three lives between her and the succession, not only to the Crown of Denmark, but also to the Duchies. I think it will strike the House as an extraordinary circumstance, that a protocol which sought to effect such a policy was confirmed by the Treaty of London, on May the 8th, 1852. Sir, that treaty not only confirmed the protocol of Warsaw, and set aside the rightful succession to the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, but it never contemplated making any reference to the people whose interests were concerned, and it abstained altogether from referring the treaty to the Germanic Confederation, or asking their consent to the arrangement proposed by it. I shall have something curious to say about the history of the Germanic Confederation, which has been treated with so much slight in former years, and which is now so suddenly taken into the confidence of Her Majesty's Ministers. I find that on January 9, 1852, Earl Granville was so much struck with the injustice of the proposed treaty, that he insisted upon referring the question to the Germanic Confederation. In his despatch of that date, which, I think, the House ought to weigh very carefully, Ear Granville, writing to Sir Henry Wynn, says—Her Majesty's Government cannot but consider that in an arrangement affecting the succession to German as well as to Danish States, the acquiescence of the Germanic Confederation would 1300 be necessary before third parties could consider that arrangement as settled. You will urge these considerations upon the serious attention of the Danish Minister.Sir Henry Wynn, in reply, on January 17, 1852, said—You have thrown the whole Court of Denmark into confusion.And then he adds—It is my duty not to conceal from your Lordship the unfavourable effect of the proposition you lave made. The Danish Minister came to me evidently harassed by a long previous discussion with his colleagues, and I had, therefore, more difficulty to satisfy him by expressing my opinion that he had given a false interpretation to your Lordship's despatch.In a despatch from Berlin, on January 19, 1852, Mr. Howard, writing to Earl Granville, said that Baron Manteuffel did not consider a reference to the Germanic Diet to be requisite. That shows that Russia had set her face against this mode of settling the question. Earl Granville was evidently placed in an awkward position, and his reply to Sir Henry Wynn's despatch is a curious one—You were quite right in expressing the opinion that M. de Bluhme had given a false interpretation to my despatch. Her Majesty's Government do not require or expect that either the Diet or the Duke of Augustenburg should be made parties to the proposed arrangement as to the succession to the Crown of Denmark.I believe that there never was a more extraordinary state of things. Here was the Foreign Secretary at one moment pressing on the consideration of Denmark the propriety of submitting the proposition to the Germanic Diet, and the second week afterwards, entirely abandoning the only interpretation that could be placed upon it, and characterizing it as false. The consequence was that the Treaty of 1852 has never to this day been recognized by the Diet, by whom it is considered to be, in fact, a nullity. I see my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton (Mr. Milner Gibson) looking incredulous at this; but if he will turn to these blue-books, and not leave this question to the German Professors, he will, with his ability, rise from the subject as well-informed respecting it as the noble Lord himself. I am afraid of becoming tedious; but, with great humility, I say that this question of Schleswig-Holstein has never been discussed, and is totally misunderstood both in this House and in the country. What were the opinions of German statesmen upon this Treaty of 1852? On the 4th of February, 1851, in a remarkable memoir addressed by him to 1301 the King of Prussia, Count Von Usedom, a friend of the noble Lord's writes as follows upon the proposed change of succession to the Crown of Denmark, before Prince Christian was nominated:—In attempting to break the legitimate succession in the Duchies, violently, and without a free renunciation on the part of those concerned, the dangerous principle of arbitrary power is installed in the place coexisting rights, the seeds of future insurrections will be sown in favour of legitimacy. I pray your Majesty may at any risk keep free from establishing the principle of 'integrity not in existence, but intended to be artificially created.'These are words which I could have imagined the noble Lord using in his best days, whether speaking or writing. They do honour to this Prussian Minister, and I think they justly describe this attempt to palter with the rights of succession in Denmark. That was the opinion of Count Von Usedom in 1851. Again, on the 3rd of December, 1863, a remarkable speech was made in the Prussian Chamber by the son of a celebrated man, the Chevalier Von Bunsen, who lets the Chamber into the I secret. He says—King Frederick William IV. long resisted the pressure of Russia, and of influences in the pay of Russia, urging him to sign the Treaty of 1852. I well remember my father's observation on that treaty:—'the first cannon-shot in Europe will annihilate this bungling piece of business.'This is the evidence of the son of the Prussian Minister. Have we not seen how accurately his father's prophecy has been fulfilled? Is it not patent, however you may try to hush it up, that this bungling piece of diplomacy has been rent asunder by a cannon shot? But this is not the only evidence I have to adduce. M. Von Beust, who is about to attend the Conference on behalf of the despised Germanic Confederation, in a speech made in the Saxon Chamber in 1863, corroborates the statement as to the pressure of Russia at that time on the minor Powers of Germany, and says that pressure was so great that they were obliged to recognize in some sort the Treaty of 1852. Perhaps I shall be told that the King of Denmark had a right to alter the succession to his Crown and to set aside the legitimate heirs to the Duchies. But I maintain, and I think I shall be supported in this by all who form any liberal party in this country, that the King of Denmark had no right to alter the succession of his own Crown; that he had no right to call in the Powers of Europe to set aside the legitimate hereditary heirs of the Duchies; and that he had no right, 1302 and the noble Lord had no right, to call this a legal and proper mode of proceeding, as he does in these despatches. I was twitted the other night with having confounded the Treaty of 1852 with the engagements entered into by the Danes in 1851–2, I hope I shall set myself right on this occasion. Of course, there was a material distinction between the engagements of 1851–2 and the Treaty of 1852. In the first place, the engagements of 1851–2 were solely between Austria, Prussia, and Denmark; while the treaty which provided for the succession was signed by all the great Powers. By the agreements of 1851–2 Denmark undertook that a common constitution should be provided for the whole monarchy; that certain local rights should be guaranteed to the Duchies; and that neither Holstein nor Schleswig should be incorporated with Denmark. To this day these engagements have never been carried out. Denmark has systematically evaded compliance with them; and however we may sympathize, and very properly sympathize, with a small State which is fighting gallantly against great odds, we are at the same time bound to consider the justice of the case, and not to forget that the small State has availed herself of her weakness, and has for twelve years evaded compliance with the agreement she undertook to fulfil. And what has been her conduct in the Duchies? It has been marked by the most arbitrary and tyrannical pleas. In the first place she suppresses altogether the German language; it is made penal for two or more householders to club together to maintain a German instructor for their families, and this prohibition is extended to females. Only three persons are allowed to sign a petition; in fact, the most arbitrary powers are exercised over the German population of these Duchies. Do these statements rest upon mere German representation? Let the House turn to the remarkable Reports from Mr. Ward and Vice Consul Rainals, which have been laid on the table. Mr. Ward is one of our most active and intelligent Consuls, and it is certainly a great proof of fairness that, with the views which he enunciates, he should be retained at Hamburg, for he certainly writes with German sympathies. The date of Mr. Ward's despatch is the 28th of May, 1857, and he mentions an extraordinary fact—namely, that a town in the Duchies contributing £28,125 of taxes to the State is not allowed the convenience of a news- 1303 paper, even as a medium for advertisements—The town of Kiel has also no newspaper, except an insignificant sheet appearing three times a week, and carefully avoiding polities. The Duchy is, in fact, not allowed to have a press of its own, and is obliged to vent its complaints through the journals of other German States, as opportunities occur. The abolition of the censorship, proclaimed by the Royal ordinance of March, 1848, is merely nominal, for as every paper appearing without special permission, or containing objectionable matter, is immediately seized by the police, no man dares to publish anything without the previous approval of the Government functionaries; while in Denmark, on the contrary, since 1849 the press has enjoyed a very high degree of liberty, which it abuses often enough.The liberty of the press is thus entirely suppressed in Holstein. Mr. Ward goes on to say—The feeling of all classes of the inhabitants of Holstein, from the nobility down to the common people (and I have had many opportunities of observing it), is equally strong against the partial and unjust system of government pursued by the Danes, and it is pretty certain that they will never rest satisfied until they have obtained guarantees for the protection of the German nationality within the monarchy, and for placing it on a footing of at least equality with the Danish race.That is the position of Holstein. What takes place in Schleswig, which is the great bone of contention—Schleswig, which the Danes undertook should never be incorporated with Denmark and should have the same rights as other nationalities in Denmark? Mr. Ward adds—The practical grievances of that Duchy as regards its constitution, finances, administration, and exclusive employment of Danish functionaries, are in all respects the same as those of Holstein, with the addition of that most serious evil, the systematic forcing of the Danish language upon the German portion of the inhabitants.In another passage he says—The Danish police in the Duchy is not only rigorous, but highly aggressive, in its treatment of the German inhabitants; consequently, it is not easy to see how the grievance of the language, or indeed any other grievance, is to be redressed so long as the corporate relations exist which have been forcibly established de facto between Schleswig and the kingdom.And then he says—I submit, that what the great Powers have to consider is, not what the Danes are willing to agree to, but what they reasonably ought to agree to, considering the actual legal position of Holstein as a German State, the engagements entered into by the King with both Schleswig and Holstein, and the impossibility of making the people of those Duchies permanently submit to the exclusive rule of the Danish race.That is a very strong report from Mr. Ward. But then the noble Lord will perhaps say Mr. Ward has German sympa- 1304 thies. Will he say the same of our Consul at Copenhagen? It is evident that Mr. Rainals has Danish sympathies, and I do not complain of him for having them. The extract I am going to quote will be strong enough, I should think, even for the noble Lord—Most of the clergymen are Danes, and some of them, by the admission even of their own colleagues, are but imperfectly acquainted with the German language, in which, nevertheless, they have to deliver a sermon every alternate Sunday. With few exceptions, they appear abitrary in small matters, and consider their principal duty to be to force the Danish language upon their congregation, instead of propagating the Christian faith. In consequence they are generally more shunned and feared than respected and loved by their parishioners, and their churches are almost empty when Divine service is held in Danish, and indifferently attended when the service is German. I saw a few clergymen who made exceptions to the general rule. Their humane conduct was fully appreciated, and their churches were better attended, though the cause they were obliged to advocate was not more popular. I have, however, good reason to believe that such men run some risks of losing their appointments for want of 'zeal.'He goes on to say—That the espionage of the police and gendarmes is great, and that they annoy and irritate the population at large, I had evidence of during my journey, and afterwards personal proof of, so much so that I remained a week less in Angeln than I had intended, because I found I could not pursue my inquiries without fear of injuring others by making them suspected. The petty village officials I invariably discovered were chosen from among the few who are ready to serve as instruments of the Danish party, and the like persons almost exclusively held licences as carpenters, tailors, &c.; whereas, inns and public-houses were kept by opponents, as others did not apply for licences, knowing they would meet with no support from the public. I always sought these 'loyal' villagers, and found them, as a general rule, decorated with the Order of the Dannebrog; but, nevertheless, with few exceptions, they admitted, when alone with me, that forcing the Danish language on the people was unjust, and did not advance the Danish cause, but had rather a contrary effect. They said the clergymen were unpopular, not so much because they are Danes, as because they care less for the religious welfare of their congregations than for the progress of the Danish language and Danish institutions. These men invariably made me promise secresy, lest they should lose their licence or their appointment.I need not quote further, for I think I have shown conclusively from these Reports of Consul Ward and Consul Rainals that the Government of Denmark has been in the highest degree arbitrary and unconstitutional towards the people of these Duchies. [An hon. MEMBER: Mr. Rainals is a Vice Consul.] Well, I suppose he is 1305 not the worse for that. I believe he is a Dane also, hut, Dane as he is, he cannot withstand the force of public conviction as to the arbitrary conduct of the Danish Government. You may say, "That was in 1861;" but what is the Report of Mr. Grosvenor, dated January 14, 1864—what are his accounts? I believe he is not a person who can be complained of as having German; sympathies; and in inclosure 713, sent by Sir Alexander Buchanan from Berlin, he says, after describing the unanimity of the townspeople in favour of the Duke of Augustenburg—Although the question may be settled at present, by the superior force of the great Powers, and Schleswig and Holstein be made to continue under the rule of Denmark, no satisfactory solution of the question will ever be obtained by this means, and the people of Schleswig, as well as those of Holstein, will never cease to endeavour to bring matters to a crisis, until they are freed entirely from the yoke of Denmark.I will not go further with this diplomatic evidence, for we have it confirmed in the special correspondence of The Times, dated March 1, 1864, and coming from the "own correspondent" who writes such excellent letters, and gives us such a graphic account of what is going on in the Duchies, He states, he was surprised to find that even in the north of Schleswig the inhabitants were entirely opposed to Danish rule.
Well, Sir, I think that so far I have made out my case. I left the King of Denmark making peace with the Germanic Confederation; and now what has occurred since? On the 18th of November, 1863, Prince Christian of Glucksburg mounted the Danish throne as King Christian IX., and what was the first thing he did? Contrary to the express stipulations given twelve years before, he proclaimed the incorporation of Schleswig with the kingdom of Denmark. Well, Sir, that was a most extraordinary step to take, considering that over and over again Denmark had pledged herself never to incorporate Schleswig with Denmark. Nobody will dispute that the title of Christian IX. to the throne of Denmark is a good one, because it was submitted to the Parliament of Denmark Proper. It is true that the Parliament was dissolved three times before it could be got to consent to the change of succession; but on the third occasion, and after it had undergone some judicious manipulation, I believe it consented. But what possible title has Christian IX. to Sehleswig-Holstein? The change in its succession to 1306 those Duchies has never to this day been submitted to those Estates, and his claim to be rightful Sovereign of the Duchies I deny. I deny that he is Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. The Duke of Augustenburg has received very hard measure with the great Powers. I do not undertake to say, with the German professors, that the Duke of Augustenburg is the rightful heir to those Duchies; but a vast number of the people themselves say he is. The noble Lord says the Duke of Augustenburg has received compensation. The first idea of this compensation came from the noble Lord in the remarkable despatch of 1850. What was that compensation? It was nothing but an equivalent for his estates, which were seized by the Danish Government and confiscated at the instigation of the King. I believe the compensation amounted to one-half the value of those estates. But it is not necessary for my argument to show that he is the rightful Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. I only go the length of maintaining that Christian IX. cannot show his title to those Duchies. If the Duke of Augustenburg renounced his claim, he could only do so in the regular order of succession. What would be thought in this House if the Prince of Wales and all the male children of Her Majesty renounced their succession to the throne of Great Britain in favour of the Princess Royal, and if she renounced it in favour of the Prince of Prussia? That is exactly the case before us. Let us apply it to England, and ask could the female descendants of Her Majesty succeed to the throne under such circumstances? If the thing be wrong and illegal in itself, the agreement of five Powers cannot make it otherwise. Whatever may become of this act of secession, I do not think the House of Commons will affix its seal to an endeavour to force an unwelcome Prince upon an unwilling people without consulting the Estates. That is not a course which either a Liberal Government or that sham—that greater sham—the Liberal party, ought to consent to. I myself think that many hon. Gentlemen will be inclined to regret the settlement which was proposed by Earl Russell on the 24th of September, 1863, and for which the noble Earl was very much abused at the time, was not accepted by Denmark. If that settlement had been accepted, war never would have taken place, and Germany would have been perfectly willing to come to an agreement, and a settlement of the question; but 1307 Denmark, with her usual obstinacy, and trading as usual on her weakness and on articles in her Ministerial papers, held out and would not consent. I, for one, grant from the beginning the excellent intentions of the noble Lord at the head of the Government; but I regret that he has been so incessant in writing despatches, for it must be evident to every one who has waded through this desperate bog of papers in order to find the substratum on which our foreign policy may be supposed to be based, that by incessant meddling and interference this country has lost the ear of Europe; that we are looked upon by the minor Powers as troublesome meddlers, and that the greater Powers regard us as an incorrigible bore. No one, after reading those papers, can help asking in his own mind whether they were intended to confuse or to instruct. I will not go through them at any length, because I think what has been so well typified in a despatch of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary himself has really come to pass. I allude to the following passage, which is to be found in volume 4,542, page 436. You must be particular in volume and page when making your quotations from these papers, or you will be told that you have not read them all; and if I bore the House as much as the noble Earl bored Germany, it is in consequence of the noble Lord at the head of the Government telling me I had not read the papers. I will give him enough of them. Well, this passage is in a despatch of Earl Russell to Earl Cowley, dated December 28, 1863, and it is such good despatch-writing that I must commend it to the notice of the House—There can be no more ungrateful task than the labour of reading long and obscure despatches in which the meaning is concealed under a multitude of words.I think the House will agree with that. But having read these papers with attention, it appears to me not a little remarkable that in another place Her Majesty's Government take great credit for their pacific policy. Let us see what that claim is founded on. I cannot help thinking that this House has not been treated with courtesy or candour in regard to the management of this question. I have a great respect for the noble Lord; but I think he has been keeping bad company lately, and has been playing a double game with the House of Commons. In the Queen's Speech of the 4th of February in the present year, hon. Members will remember 1308 the following passage, which was alluded to by an hon. and gallant Gentleman the other evening:—Her Majesty has been unremitting in her endeavours to bring about a peaceful settlement of the differences which have arisen between Germany and Denmark, and to ward off the dangers which might follow from a beginning of warfare in the North of Europe.What was Earl Russell doing on January 18, 1864? He was instructing Earl Cowley to inquire whether France would co-operate with England and Russia. The French Minister, with that remarkable simplicity which characterizes his class, professed not to know what our Ambassador meant by co-operation. Earl Cowley then let the cat out of the bag. He did not want, he said, to anticipate difficulties; our people never do anticipate difficulties; but he explained to the French Minister that co-operation with England in affording material assistance to Denmark meant a fleet—that, in fact, it meant war. So, then, while the Government told us on February 4 that they were unremitting in their endeavours to preserve peace, we have it proved that, a fortnight before, they were trying to get up a league with France for the purpose of going to war with Germany—to undertake that greatest of all madnesses—to uphold that balance of power of which we are so fond. They actually proposed to go to war with Germany, and if it had not been for the wise and prudent conduct of the French Government we might have been involved in war at this moment. What, under those circumstances, would have become of the splendid Budget presented to us the other night I really do not know, but I am satisfied that instead of a reduction of 1d. in the income tax we should have had an increase to 10 per cent, and a war likely to last many years. I think some explanation is due to the House of the discrepancy between the representations made to us in February and the overtures addressed to France in January. We are not safe from one moment to another so long as we permit Ministers to pursue so inconsistent and contradictory a course. If ever a nation, like an individual, can say "Save me from my friends," it is that unfortunate State of Denmark. We have been told that Denmark had no reason to rely upon England. I deny that altogether. The obstinacy of Denmark has proceeded from the hopes held out to her by Ministers in this House. Not long ago the Ministerial 1309 press in this country teemed with the names of the regiments which were to be sent to the aid of Denmark, and in one paper I actually saw the name of the Commander-in-Chief. Of course, those journals being read in Denmark, the foreign Ministers being more apt to rely upon them than upon the statements of our Government, Denmark naturally calculated upon direct assistance from England. But there was also a declaration made in this House. On July 23, 1863, on the third reading of the Appropriation Bill, when everybody was going out of town, the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald) drew attention to the relations between the Germanic Confederation and Denmark, and asked what was the policy of the Government? The noble Lord at the head of the Government replied as follows:—We are convinced—I am convinced at least that if any violent attempt were made to overthrow or interfere with the independence of Denmark, those who made the attempt would find in the result that it would not be Denmark alone with which they would have to contend."— [3 Hansard, clxxii. 1252.]I think that is pretty strong from the First Minister of the Crown. The noble Lord went on to say—… I do not myself anticipate any immediate danger, or, indeed, any of that remote danger which the hon. Gentleman seems to think imperils the peace of Europe, arising out of the Danish and Holstein question.The noble Lord on that occasion gave a distinct promise to Denmark. If any man were to say to me, "I will stand by you; you will not contend alone," I should most assuredly conclude that he gave me an express promise. That Denmark did take the words uttered by the noble Lord as a promise may be easily proved. The speech of the noble Lord was made at the end of July. In a despatch dated October 14, 1863, Sir Augustus Paget gives Earl Russell an account of a conversation with M. Hall, the Danish Minister. I shall read one passage—M. Hall, while admitting the gravity of existing circumstances, spoke nevertheless with considerable confidence as to the future. He said that Denmark had gone to the utmost lengths to meet the requirements of the Confederation; that a free and independent position had been given to Holstein by the Patent of the 30th of March, and that the Danish Government had moreover declared that they were ready to negotiate with the Diet if there was anything in that Patent which withheld from the Holstein States aught that they had a right to claim. It was evident, therefore, that what the German Confederation was aiming at was not simply the position of Holstein 1310 in the Monarchy, but had reference to other parts of His Danish Majesty's dominions which were not within the territory or competency of the Diet, and such demands the Danish Government and the Danish people were firmly determined to resist. His Excellency went on to observe, that although a war with Germany would undoubtedly be a misfortune now as at any time, the present moment was perhaps as favourable for Denmark and as unfavourable for Germany as any that would occur; that it was impossible for Denmark to live under a continual menace of hostilities; that Sweden was with her; that the public feeling of England, France, and Europe in general was roused in favour of Denmark at this moment; that there was a more complete comprehension of the rights of the question now than was, perhaps, to be hoped for at any future time; in short, that there was a combination of circumstances highly advantageous to Denmark at the present time which might very likely never occur again. If, therefore, his Excellency continued, the question must be settled by an appeal to arms, it had better be so now; and he felt convinced, he said, that Denmark and Sweden would not stand alone.It will be seen that the Danish Minister used the very words of the noble Lord. Under all the circumstances it is not surprising, I think, that Denmark went to war thinking she would get direct material assistance from us. But there is more evidence of the effect produced by the statement of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. On February 11, 1864, the Danish Ambassador addressed a despatch to Earl Russell. He applied for the guarantee provided by the Treaty of 1720, which, he said, is still in full vigour; but I need not follow him further upon that point, because the guarantee in question referred merely to certain portions of the Duchies, and because, too, as the matter has been referred to the Law Officers of the Crown, I am convinced we shall never hear another word about the Treaty of 1720. Bat M. Bille goes on to say—and it is curious as illustrating the reliance which, up to the last moment, the Danish Government placed on the aid of England—But the Danish Government need not look so far back in the past to gain the assurance that the active assistance of England will not fail them under the present circumstances. The Treaty of London, in contempt of which the German Powers are at the present moment invading a Danish country, is especially due to the invariable interest which England takes in the maintenance of the Danish Monarchy. And of all the great Powers, England has always been that which has endeavoured with most perseverance to remove the prospects of a collision. Recently, too, the Cabinet of London gave it to be understood at Frankfort that, in the case of an attack of Schleswig, Denmark would not be left alone in the contest. Germany has thought she could continue 1311 her course, and pay no attention to these words, but the Danish Government have not failed to see in them the expression of a determination which the British Government will put in execution with all the energy which characterizes the English nation."The invariable interest which England takes in the maintenance of the Danish Monarchy!" Unhappy Denmark! She now knows that England only requires to take an interest in a country to bring it to the verge of ruin. I can find no allusion elsewhere to the despatch to Frankfort mentioned by the Danish Minister. I am afraid the papers have been more than usually curtailed, and that that despatch is one of the elegant extracts to which I have referred. Talk of the mutilation of documents, I would suggest to the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) that he should move the dismissal of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs for mutilating the despatches. If he were to do so I am sure the Under Secretary would meet with a juster fate than has been doled out to my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe). Let me now show the extraordinary pertinacity with which the noble Lord at the head of the Government, after every other European Power had given up the Treaty of 1852, clung to his youngest child, the fruit of his diplomatic dalliance with Russia. That pertinacity is remarkable, and I might almost say that it is ridiculous. It seems that the people at Frankfort would not call the London Treaty a treaty at all, but only a "protocol," and that they would not call the new Sovereign of Denmark King Christian IX., but the "Protocol Prince." So Earl Russell took up his pen, and in a despatch dated December 22, 1863, directed Sir Alexander Malet, if anybody should have the impertinence in his presence to call the London Treaty a protocol and King Christian a protocol prince, to interrupt the speaker and not allow him to go on until he corrected his language. The same thing goes on with all the petty States of Germany. I fully expect to learn that one after another our Ministers have written to Lord Russell, "In accordance with your instructions I have had the honour to 'interrupt,' "and soon all round. Sir Alexander Malet—poor man—is placed in a most unfortunate position. After a brisk week of "interruptions" he writes on the 26th of December, 1863, to Earl Russell—and this, mind you, is the effect of our interference and the influence 1312 we get by it. It is only another of those "elegant extracts" to which I have alluded; and I must say I should certainly have liked to see what went before. It begins abruptly in this way—It will not be thought surprising in England that Her Majesty's Government exercise scarcely any influence in Germany as regards the dispute with Denmark. All publicists of Universities are engaged in demolishing the validity of the London Treaty.It seems that on one occasion the noble Lord nearly drove a Foreign Minister mad. This is no joke, mind you. Mr. Gordon writes from Stuttgard on December 27, 1863. It is 557 in the blue-book. I hope the House will look at it for itself, for I never could have believed it unless I had read it myself. Mr. Gordon had been insisting on the treaty, and I am sure the poor baron was much to be pitied, and this is our Minister's account of his success—Baron Hugel said he might as well order an apartment in a lunatic asylum as counsel an adherence to the Treaty of 1852.These are his literal words. Sir Henry Howard at Hanover does not quite drive his Minister mad, but he writes quite as despondingly. Hanover, you know, is one of those States which the noble Lord held fast to this treaty as long as possible. Hanover held to this treaty as long as she could, but at last on the 31st of December Sir Henry Howard writes, No. 596—and here goes their last hope—I regret to say that I have reason to apprehend that Count Platen is preparing to beat a retreat from the Treaty of London, 1852.This is the end of all your despatches, and of your pertinacity in sticking to the treaty. All the German States cry in unison, "None of my child; it is a treaty and not a protocol;" and not one of them will give in their adhesion to that unfortunate instrument which we are endeavouring to patch up. But there is something more. France had been a signatary to this treaty. The noble Lord relies on France. The Earl of Clarendon has been sent to Paris, and we hear that in vulgar phrase he has "squared" it with the Emperor. We shall see. But what did the Emperor call the Treaty of 1852—the proudest treaty of the noble Lord's lifetime? The Emperor, in a letter well known to all the world, characterized it as "an impotent convention condemned by events." But there is another opinion still more curious. A noble Lord who was sent abroad as a plenipotentiary to preserve peace if possible (Lord Wodehouse), condemns altogether 1313 your policy in this matter and in regard to Poland, and he says he doubts altogether the expediency of such treaties. I am sure that the House—because an illegal treaty has been signed, taking away the rights of an ancient people—is not going to be led astray to sanction that treaty as the basis of this Conference. Has not this country paid enough already for the old superstition of maintaining the integrity of a kingdom and supporting the balance of power? All these treaties—whatsoever they may be, whether guaranteed or not—must give way to the "inexorable logic of facts." What has the noble Lord seen in the course of his career? He has seen Cracow occupied, Poland partitioned, Savoy and Nice annexed. He has seen the Treaty of Paris of 1815—by which this country solemnly guaranteed "with all her forces,"—that is the expression—that no descendant of Napoleon should ever sit upon the throne of France — treated as so much waste paper. He has lived to send over a plenipotentiary to beg the attendance of that proscribed Emperor at a Conference to settle the affairs of Europe, and he has lived, too, to declare in this House that that dynasty was necessary for the peace of Europe. Do not tell me then that the Treaty of 1852 is more sacred in the eyes of this House than the Treaty of 1815. We have got thus far—Düppel has been taken, numbers of gallant Banes have fallen — the horrors of war are raging worse than ever, and now we are to have the plenipotentiaries round the green table of which the noble Lord talks to settle the affair in Conference. I want to know the object of that Conference, because I think the House will be of opinion, that if the object of this Conference is merely to patch up the Treaty of 1852, it will be a failure. In fact the integrity and, what is better, the independence of Denmark can never be restored on the basis of that treaty. Considering the great mass of papers which the Government has been kind enough to give us, I am surprised that they have held back the replies of the Powers to the invitations to the Conference. I should have thought there was nothing so necessary to the information of this House as these replies of the Powers. The hon. Under Secretary, in a tone which I thought was more pert than complimentary, told the House the other night that it was not the intention of the Government to go on giving any 1314 more papers. It was suggested to me—and it gave me a considerable fright—that it was evident from this that Her Majesty was going to dissolve Parliament. I hope it is not so; but, whatever the House does with the rest of my Motion, I hope that it will insist on that part of it which requires that the answers of the Powers to the invitations to attend the Conference shall be laid on the table.
Sir, I see with some surprise and some regret that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, a distinguished leader on the other side of the House, is going to move the Previous Question. I had hoped, with the strong opinions on this subject which I have heard him express, that his mind was made up entirely on this Danish question. Having put some questions to the Government, I think I am entitled to ask Her Majesty's Opposition, what is their foreign policy in this matter. If their foreign policy be merely, because the Earl of Malmesbury signed that Treaty of 1852, to patch that treaty up again; if they are prepared, like the noble Lord in another place, to make a league with France to enforce that treaty upon the reluctant Duchies, I say that no Government, whether it be taken from this side or the other side of the House, can hope for the confidence of the people which is prepared to plunge this country into a war for that purpose. In the absence of any declaration of policy on the other side of the House, the noble Lord may say in the words of Charles II. to his brother James, "No man will get rid of me to put you in my place." I do hope that hon. Gentlemen on the other side will tell us what their foreign policy will be. I hope they will tell us whether their foreign policy will be one not merely pacific in words, but one of non-intervention, and of refraining from this incessant meddling in affairs in which England has no interest, and from which she has no honour to gain. I have said so much, speaking in favour neither of Denmark nor Germany. We have heard much of sympathy with the Danes, and we have heard pleas for Germany. I have endeavoured to-night to speak entirely from an English point of view, and to represent to this country that England has no interest in maintaining what is called the balance of power in the North of Europe, nor in interfering with the affairs of another State. However content the taxpayers of this country may be to bear the burdens which have been entailed upon them by foreign statesmen 1315 and by old interferences in foreign affairs, I am well assured that they are not prepared at this time of day to have any new burdens cast upon them for the support of a worn-out diplomacy and an unjust attempt to meddle with the affairs of the North of Europe.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it is both unjust and inexpedient to insist on the provisions of the Treaty of London, 1852, so far as they relate to the order of succession in the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, as a basis for the settlement of the Dano-German dispute."—(Mr. Osborne.)
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, he rose for the purpose of moving an Amendment slightly altered from the form in which it stood on the paper. Seeing that there were two other Amendments on the paper, the House was likely to have full opportunity of discussing the Question, he regretted he could not adhere to the course of the right hon. Gentleman who was about to move the Previous Question. If that motion was made and agreed to, the country would be under the impression that hon. Gentlemen on the Conservative side of the House had no policy, and that the House itself had no opinions on the question. He should like to know, whether the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had the assent of the gallant General the Member for Huntingdon, who some nights back promised the House and the country a speedy opportunity of discussing the matter. The "Previous Question" was an efficient mode of stifling discussion. Her Majesty's Government would have such a Motion with pleasure, as it would amount to a vote of confidence in the Government in a modified and diluted form. If they said they would not express any opinion as to what policy the Government pursued, it proved that they had no inconsiderable confidence in those who administered affairs; and he had no doubt that that was the spirit in which the Government would receive the proposition. He thought the House was called upon to express an opinion as to what policy ought to be pursued in the approaching Conferences; and he intended, therefore, to move, in order to give the House an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it, the following Amendment—That in the opinion of this House it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government, at the approaching Conferences, while calling upon Denmark to fulfil the promises which she made to the two great German Powers in 1851–2, to maintain the provisions of the Treaty of London of 1852, so 1316 that the various States composing the Danish Monarchy may remain united under the same Sovereign.The best defence of the Treaty of 1852 was to be found by a consideration of the difficulties which existed on the question as to who should succeed to the States of Denmark, supposing that monarchy to be broken up. As regarded the kingdom proper, the person who had the best claim to the throne was Prince Frederick of Hesse. That Prince gave up his rights in favour of his eldest sister, who, in turn, gave up hers in favour of her second sister; and the present King only sat in right of his wife. As to Schleswig there was a disputed succession. The Danes contended that it went with the kingdom; and the Holsteiners that it went with Holstein. Russia also claimed a portion of Schleswig. With respect to Holstein, Russia had the best claim to one portion, and a right to the rest was asserted by other claimants. Therefore, independently of the Treaty of 1852, what was the state of that question? Why, they had a disputed succession to Schleswig and to Holstein; and he held that the great Powers were perfectly justified in stepping in to remove such a fertile source of disorder and misunderstanding. Previous to 1848 the most intimate connection prevailed between Schleswig and Holstein. There was an administrative and judicial union between them, and they were governed by a Lord Lieutenant resident at Schleswig. When King Christian VIII. died, he was succeeded by Frederick VII., who, on ascending the throne in 1848, in accordance with the ideas of that time, gave a Constitution to the whole kingdom. That Constitution created a rebellion in Holstein. The people of Holstein invoked the aid of the Germans, and a Prussian army went to the assistance of the Schleswig-Holsteiners. After various successes Jutland was invaded, and so strongly was that invasion opposed by the great Powers, and notably by Russia, that Prussia was constrained to agree to the Treaty of Berlin. The terms of that treaty were, first, the status quo ante bellum, and secondly, that Denmark should apply to the Confederation for the pacification of Holstein. In consequence of that agreement an Austrian army entered Holstein, and then came the celebrated promises of 1851–2. By those promises Germany on her side gave up the administrative and judicial union between Schleswig and Holstein, and Denmark, on the other hand, 1317 undertook to bring forward no measure to incorporate, or tending to incorporate, Schleswig and Holstein. Disputes went on, and at last, by his celebrated despatch of September, 1862, Earl Russell attempted to settle the question. If the terms of that despatch had been accepted by Denmark in accordance with the promise of 1851–2, there would have been an end of that question. The proposal was agreed to by Germany, but rejected by the Eider-Dane party. So early as the spring of 1863, M. Hall declared that the maintenance of the common Constitution for the kingdom and for Sehleswig was a question of life and death for Denmark. Instead of making any attempt to carry out the promises of 1851–2, King Frederick issued the patent of March, and Germany threatened Federal execution. Then came the Constitution of November, which Sir Augustus Paget condemned in the strongest manner. The execution was declared, Federal troops entered Holstein, and the Prince of Augustenburg was proclaimed. Austria and Prussia determined to take the matter out of the hands of the Diet, sent an army to occupy Schleswig, and summoned the Government of Denmark to suspend the November Constitution in forty-eight hours, and it was only after that period expired that Denmark evinced a disposition to yield. Count Rechberg said it was for the interest of Denmark that she should have to deal with Austria and Prussia and not with the Bund; he said that if he allowed a Parliament to be assembled under the November Constitution to repeal that Constitution, he would be virtually acknowledging its validity, against which he protested. Great objections were urged against Austria and Prussia for not arresting the march of these armies, but Count Rechberg went on to ask who would guarantee that the Parliament of Copenhagen when called together would withdraw the November Constitution; and when he asked Lord Bloomfield whether England would guarantee it, that noble Lord observed the most discreet silence. It was a remarkable fact that the Parliament which was to have revoked the Constitution of November called on the King, in the strongest language, as its first act, not to weaken in any way the tie between Schleswig and the Kingdom. Up to the 1st of January last, Austria and Prussia were perpetually offering to go into Conferences and accept mediation; but after that day, when the 1318 Constitution of November came into operation, they said that they would no longer go into a Conference acknowledging the Treaty of 1852, while Denmark would not acknowledge her promises of 1851–2. Austria and Prussia then advanced beyond the Eider. The House had a right to complain of the conflicting tone of the English despatches. In one despatch Earl Russell disclaimed the responsibility of advising Denmark to resist; in another Lord Wodehouse told M. Hall that the English Cabinet would not take on themselves the responsibility of the determination at which the Danish Government might arrive. Again, Earl Russell said that Denmark might be aided; and Sir A. Paget told M. Hall that Denmark would, at all events, have a better chance of securing the assistance of the Powers by retiring beyond the limits of the Confederation. It was not surprising then that Bishop Monrad expressed to our Minister at Copenhagen his hopes that at least the English Government would abstain from urging negotiations or interfering with the policy which the Danish Government was then determined to pursue. Again, he found Earl Russell praising the great Powers for interfering. How, then, could he make war on them for the course they had taken? The policy of Earl Russell was about to be crowned with a partial success. He presumed that noble Lord had two objects in view. The first was the pacification of Europe, and the second that these Conferences might last as long as the present Session. The latter result was a most likely one, but as to the former, he did not feel the same confidence. In the last volume of the despatches, Denmark positively declared she would never yield the incorporation of Schleswig with the kingdom until she was utterly exhausted. Now what was the position of the various Powers at the approaching Conference? We find there England, Austria, and Russia sincerely desirous to maintain the integrity of Denmark; next we had Prussia, the depth of whose policy nobody had fathomed; again we had France, avowing her adherence to the principle of nationalities; lastly we had Sweden, who alone, of all the Powers, had given the perfidious counsel, not to repeal the constitution of November, because she saw perfectly well that if Schleswig and Holstein gravitated towards Germany, Jutland and the Islands would gravitate towards Sweden; but he trusted that the Danish Government would see through the 1319 transparent hypocrisy of such perfidious counsels. What chance, then, was there of their arriving at peace with such conflicting elements? And if the principle of nationality was to be applied to Schleswig-Holstein, why should it not be applied elsewhere? If applied to Ireland, for instance, was it likely the Union would be maintained? He hoped the voice of England, in the approaching Conferences, would be raised strongly against the doctrine of nationalities. Using the language of peace and conciliation, and standing midway between conflicting interests, England, whilst urging on the one people that treaties must be respected as the landmarks of international policy, should equally impress upon the other that solemn promises and binding engagements must not be recklessly broken or lightly cast aside, but that they must be honourably observed and righteously fulfilled. He begged to more his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government at the approaching Conferences, whilst calling upon Denmark to fulfil the promises which she made to the two great German Powers in 1851–52, to maintain the provisions of the Treaty of London of 1852, so that the various States comprising the Danish Monarchy may remain united under the same Sovereign,"—(Mr. Peacocke,)
§ Question proposed "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. A. F. EGERTON
said, he should support the Amendment, because he thought it a very proper one. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Osborne) appeared to have derived his arguments from German sources. Certainly he had taken entirely the German view of the subject. But the House should remember that there was the Danish view of the question, in support of which arguments of great weight might be adduced. The Amendment referred both to the course to be taken in the future and to that which had been taken by past diplomacy. So far as the policy of the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office was peace he entirely concurred with the object, and he did not think that any one who considered the subject would be of opinion that at any period of the dispute there had been a sufficient casus belli to justify this country entering 1320 into the strife. The fault he found with the policy of the noble Lord was precisely the same as that found by the hon. Member for Liskeard. His desire for peace was very often doubtful in its expression. The Government never intended to go to war, but they seemed to wish to create an impression on the Continent that, under certain circumstances, England would go to war, taking very good care never to say what those circumstances were likely to be. In fact, the noble Lord used as strong language as he possibly could, without giving any settled clue to his intentions; and the German Powers might very well quote Shakespeare, and say of the noble Lord that he was letting "I dare not wait upon I would." Throughout the struggle no cause had arisen why we should mix ourselves up in the war. The Federal execution was a perfectly legal proceeding as far as Germany was concerned. There was no casus belli there. The Federal execution, however, was somewhat superseded by the Austrian and Prussian invasion. That course of invasion no Englishman approved of. Still they had a colourable right to invade Schleswig, their object being to make something more than a protest against what they conceived to be the wrongs done by Denmark to the Duchies. These wrongs were very considerable, and were brought to a point by the promulgation of the Constitution of November, 1863. It was true that the right of Austria and Prussia to invade Denmark was very harshly exercised. No time was given for the withdrawal of the constitution, although the Danes offered to do so. Still Austria and Prussia were in some respects the mandatories of the Diet, and were carrying out the wishes of the German people. There was no casus belli there. With respect to the course to be taken in future, he conceived the policy of the Government to be indicated in an extract he would venture to read from one of the despatches of Earl Russell to Sir Augustus Paget, in which he said—It will be for the neutral Powers to support the engagements of 1851–2 with the modifications adapted to present circumstances, and suggest such an organization of the monarchy as may lead to the permanence of the power and the strength of Denmark as an independent State.If that was the policy to be pursued he entirely concurred in it. The hon. Member for Liskeard appeared to admit the doctrine of nationalities. That was a dangerous doctrine. How would it do to apply 1321 it to Europe? France had a large German population; England had a large Celtic population; Austria had eight or ten different nationalities. It was, therefore, to be considered how far the doctrine should be applied to Schleswig-Holstein. If the election were carried on in Schleswig and Holstein there could be no doubt that the Duke of Augustenburg would be chosen. He, however, would deprecate such a course, because it would be conferring upon the Duchies a right to select their own Sovereign, which would be a virtual exclusion of Denmark from the Conference. It ought to be the English policy to keep a strong power in the Baltic in order to preserve the balance of Power. Denmark was the oldest Monarchy in Europe, and it would ill become them to adopt any course which would lead to its dismemberment. He hoped that the representatives of England in the Conference would do all in their power to retain the present boundaries and the independence of Denmark.
MR. GRANT DUFF
said, it seemed to him that as far as England was concerned, the whole pith and marrow of the controversy lay in the question whether the casus foederis under the Treaty of London had or had not arisen. The first thing to consider was what were the stipulations of the treaty as affecting the signataries. He contended that they were to recognize the rights of succession of Prince Christian of Glucksburg to the whole of the Danish monarchy when that succession was created. The signataries had no power to create such rights in any part of the Danish monarchy. In order that these might be created, it was necessary that the regular constitutional machinery, which existed in various parts of that composite body called Denmark, should be put in motion. The late King, Frederick VII., understood that, and soon after the conclusion of the treaty he set to work to create a right of succession for Prince Christian of Glucksburg to Denmark Proper—that is, Jutland and the Islands. After some trouble, he carried his point, and, immediately after the breath was out of his body, it was the duty of the Powers which signed the Treaty of London to recognize Prince Christian's claim to the monarchy of Denmark Proper. Unfortunately, great difficulty arose in carrying out a similar policy with the two Duchies, and still more unfortunately death surprised Frederick VII, before he had been able to establish the right of Prince 1322 Christian to succeed to the Duchies. It was no doubt painful to the noble Lord, whose scheme it was, and also to the noble Lord who signed the treaty, to find that their endeavours to settle this troublesome question had been in rain—hinc illoe lacrymoe; but those who agree with himself and the hon. Member for Liskeard could not doubt that the treaty had been a complete and ignominious failure. Even were that proposition doubtful, every one must admit that the Treaty of London was not a treaty of guarantee, and therefore we were not bound to assert its validity by force of arms. Those who had nothing to do with framing it were clearly at perfect liberty to declare that it was an impolitic treaty. That treaty marked the culminating point of the European reaction and also the culminating point of the influence of the Emperor Nicholas in Europe. If that work of English diplomatists had been as successful as they wished, England would have been committed to the task of imposing a monarch upon an unwilling people. He did not deny that the Treaty of London expressed on its face the good will of the great Powers who signed it to maintain the integrity of the Danish monarchy. He did not object to that integrity, but he could not see why its maintenance was of such extreme importance to this country. The only question which the House had to consider was, whether it would encourage the Government to go into the Conference merely in order to patch up the treaty—to gain a temporary diplomatic triumph, it might be, but entailing on Europe an inheritance of a third Schleswig-Holstein war; or should the House encourage the Government to seek to obtain in the Conference what he considered to be the only reasonable and possible solution of the question—namely, to leave it in some form or other to the population of Schleswig and Holstein to decide who should be their ruler? That might be done either by consulting the States of the respective Duchies, as he should prefer; or by consulting the whole population, as France was supposed to desire should be done. There was no doubt that at last the question did resolve itself into a question of nationalities. With the cry of nationality he had but an imperfect sympathy, but if any people had a right to go mad upon that subject, surely it must be the inhabitants of the southern part of the Danish peninsula, among whom had been born the illustrious Niebuhr, who was the 1323 first man of any eminence who gave currency to the doctrine of nationality.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
was not disposed to enter upon the ancient history of the question, but would confine himself to the blue-books which were before the House. There was one element of the Question which must be considered before a proper conclusion could be arrived at, and that element was the character of those persons who had been brought upon the scene—the dramatis persona—as represented in the blue-books. In the first place, there was M. Hall, who was described as "inflexible," whose "determination was not to be shaken," who "pertinaciouly resisted every friendly suggestion," who was "very little disposed to make concessions;" and yet, if some small concessions had at first been made, the present state of things would not have arisen; whenever a concession had been wrung from him, it came too late, and was accompanied by a taunt which spoiled its effect. Then there was the Eider-Dane party, which wished to separate Schleswig from Holstein and to incorporate Schleswig; and finally, to establish a Scandinavian kingdom, consisting of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Then came the German populations, who were in such a state of wild frenzy, that Austria and Prussia were hardly able to stem the torrent, while the smaller governments were obliged to yield to the pressure of the people. On June 20, 1861, Earl Russell wrote—The public mind of Germany has been roused and inflamed by a view of this question of the German Duchies, going far beyond the claims of the Diet of Frankfort. That view contemplates the re-annexation of Schleswig to Holstein, and the incorporation of Schleswig, as well as Holstein, in German territory. The parties who favour this view are closely connected with the 'active party in Europe.'… That active party is eager to promote changes in Germany, which … can only be brought about by civil war and revolution.And Sir H. Howard wrote on December 21, 1863—There can be little doubt that the Schleswig-Holstein agitation was a revolutionary movement, got up by the party who are desirous of subverting the existing order of things.The hon. Member for Liskeard had said that the stipulations upon which the Duchies had been given back by Austria and Prussia to Denmark after the events of 1848 were broken. But the hon. Member had forgotten that Austria and Prussia at that time desired that the King of Denmark should 1324 "rule as an absolute monarch;" and in that case what right had they to say that the question of the succession should be put to the vote? The facts of the case were as follows. In the eventful year of 1848, the Duchies desired annexation to Germany, and rose in rebellion for that end. Austria and Prussia then invaded that territory, nominally in the interest of the Duchies; when they had quelled the excitement, they handed them back to Denmark. But certain conditions were imposed on each party. Austria and Prussia stipulated that the King of Denmark should govern as an absolute monarch, and that "a concentrated direction of affairs was indispensable." The King of Denmark stipulated that Austria and Prussia should support his plans for the change of succession, and promised never to incorporate Schleswig. So early as the year 1851, the Prince of Glücksburg was designated as the future king, and the Duke of Augustenburg was deprived of his hereditary vote; and the German Diet approved of the King's Proclamation to that effect. He would now proceed to narrate the events which had recently occurred. The decree of the 30th of March, 1863, gave to the Holsteiners, as Sir A. Paget wrote, all that they could desire, if their only object was their legitimate interests and their real welfare. It, however, undoubtedly tended to the incorporation of Schleswig; it was part of the Eider-Danish policy. The present King protested against it. Bluhme, formerly minister for foreign affairs in Copenhagen, openly asserted that it broke "the engagement not to incorporate Schleswig." Sir A. Paget corroborated this opinion, and said, moreover, that M. Hall, by this act, threw down a gauntlet to Austria and Prussia, and precipitated the dreaded crisis of affairs. The four Powers, England, France, Russia, and Sweden, in 1861, had proposed this as a "provisional" arrangement; but M. Hall had then repudiated it, but promulgated it now when its effect could only be baneful. Then followed a great excitement throughout Germany. Meetings were held in all the great towns, and resolutions were passed at each town, so identical in their terms that they were evidently the production of the same hand. The objects aimed at in those resolutions were the abolition of the Treaty of 1852, and the repudiation of the engagements of 1851–2, so that the revolutionary status 1325 of 1848 might be brought back again; and the central German Parliament of the Revolutionary Constitution again established. It was also desired to annex Schleswig and Holstein to Germany under Prince Frederick of Augustenburg. The active party in this affair was the National Verein; the meetings were attended by the leaders of the Democratic party, who sought to bring about their object by civil war and revolution. In order to put an end to this excitement England, France Russia, and Sweden advised M. Hall that no opposition should be offered to the Federal Execution in Holstein, and that the decree of the 30th of March, 1863, should be withdrawn. M. Hall wrote that this "might easily be done; but that Germany would not be satisfied." On this ground he refused to follow the advice, and was "inflexible" in his determination. At length, however, he was persuaded, with great difficulty, to make the arrangement provisional. M. de Bismark replied that this concession had come too late, and that Germany would not be satisfied because the decree had been "received with a storm of disapprobation in Germany." Bismark, however, allowed himself to be persuaded, and was about to yield, when a telegram arrived from Copenhagen, announcing that "Denmark would regard the execution in Holstein as an act of war." And our Minister at Berlin wrote home that "there was an end of all hopes of conciliation." In October, Austria and Prussia desired the mediation of England, and the German Diet promised to accept it. But M. Hall refused to propose mediation, and said that he "did not desire it." He was at length, however, brought to agree to it; but he would not propose it, nor seem, in any way, to wish it. On the 14th of November, however, he made "another false move," The announcement by M. Hall, that the obnoxious Constitution of March, 1863, should come into force on the 1st of January, ended the whole of the negotiation for mediation. It "made mediation a mockery," as our Minister wrote. The next day came the death of the late King; and on the 18th of November, Lord Bloomfield wrote to Earl Russell that Count Rechberg had stated that the event might have a favourable effect on the Holstein affair, as His Majesty's successor had always been desirous for the adoption of conciliatory measures; but his Excellency "seemed apprehensive lest the ultra-Danish party at Copenhagen should 1326 force the new King to abandon the principles which he had heretofore expressed." Then Mr. Jerningham wrote from Sweden that King Christian would have been obliged to leave Denmark if he had declined to sign the Constitution; and consequently he was forced to take that step for fear of losing his throne. Mr. Ward wrote that the state of things in Copenhagen bore a strong resemblance to the condition of affairs in 1848, when the late King had been forced by a tumultuous assembly of people to identify himself with the party of Eider - Danes. After this the German Diet refused to allow the representative of Denmark to sit in that body, either for Schleswig or Holstein or Lauenburg. The Diet, unfortunately, was for forcing on an Execution, not as a mere legal act, but in the interest of the Prince of Augustenburg, so that the new King's authority might not be established. Count Manderström wrote that it wasNot a question of the Patent now, but of separating Schleswig and Holstein for the benefit of the Prince of Augustenburg.Then M. Hall appears on the scene again, and withdraws the decree of March, 1863, after first raising a frivolous question of etiquette. But he was told it was too late, because the question had gone by that; and besides, as the Constitution had been adopted, the Patent was nothing. Sir A. Paget thus related M. Hall's words—He (M. Hall) must confess it appeared that it would be now considered, by Germany, quite illusory to do so (to withdraw the Patent); because, since the passing of the Constitution, the Patent had become of very little importance.It appeared from the despatches that "extraordinary means of agitation" were resorted to in Germany; and professors of ultra-democratic opinions were foremost to uphold the rights of legitimacy in favour of the Prince of Augustenburg, whilst those of the most reactionary tendencies united with them in the same objects. He felt certain that whenever there was a combination between the tory and ultra-radical parties there must always be a loss of principle on both sides. The meetings held throughout all parts of Germany were of the most excited and democratic character. Incendiary articles were published in the newspapers calling on the people to revolt. Lord A. Loftus said the danger of revolution was imminent, and that the German Governments appeared powerless and unable to resist the popular will. They felt themselves placed, as it were, between two fires. On the one 1327 side was the danger of war abroad, and on the other that of revolution at home. Those assertions were borne out by the despatches of Lord Wodehouse and Count Rechberg. Lord Wodehouse wrote, December 12, 1863—M. de Bismark said, that the popular feeling throughout Germany was so violently excited … and the feeling in most of the minor States wag so strong on the Schleswig-Holstein question, that the thrones of the Sovereigns of those States would be in danger if they attempted to oppose the wishes of the people.AndCount Rechberg said, he considered the smaller States to be acting under the direction of the National Verein, and to be rapidly passing into a state of democratic revolution.The Diet of Germany and the smaller States did not desire peace; they sought rather to provoke such a collision as would bring about a European war, in the hope of ultimately effecting the unity of Germany. With that view the Federal forces marched through Holstein with bands playing revolutionary tunes, and committed acts of revolution wherever they came. Austria and Prussia, on the other hand, endeavoured to establish a simple Federal Execution without the recognition of the claims of Prince Frederick of Augustenburg. In adopting that course the two great German Powers professed to be acting in the cause of peace, and endeavouring to check revolutionary tendencies and democratic influences. This was evident from the despatches of M. Bismark and Sir A. Buchanan. At all events, Austria and Prussia were then of opinion that the danger of war abroad was much preferable to that of revolution at home. Sir A. Buchanan wrote, November 28, 1863—To acknowledge the popular voice by adopting some half measure, seems (to the Prussian Government) to be the only safe course which is open to the Government; and they maintain that an Execution in Holstein … would prevent any revolutionary movements in the Duchy … The danger of war abroad is preferable to the certainty of revolution at home.Lord Bloomfield wrote, December 24—Count Rechberg said, one of the most important objects of Austria was to prevent revolution. … Both Governments feel intense alarm at the progress which the spirit of democratic revolution is making.Prince Gortschakoff also held that this Execution would "check the designs of the revolutionary party." Austria and Prussia were ultimately successful in carrying a vote through the Diet of Frankfort in favour of simple execution, without the recognition of the claims of 1328 Prince Frederick of Augustenburg. The people of Germany became at once incensed against them, and did all they could to bring about a union of the smaller Governments, with a view of putting a pressure upon Austria and Prussia. Lord A. Loftus, in his despatch of January 26, 1864, stated that—The most violent language was held against the two great German Powers. The policy of Austria and Prussia was characterized as 'treason, to Germany.… No chance was now left to the minor German States, but that of accepting the thraldrom of the two German Powers, or of civil war.On February 16, he wrote that the Central Commission sitting in FrankfortAssumes a more and more authoritative tone, … and are now doing their best to excite to armed resistance against Austria and Prussia.On February 15, Sir A. Malet wrote that there was nearly being a collision between the Prussians and the troops, under the Saxon General Hake. Things had now got to a very bad pitch. The minor States threatened revolutionary violence against the two German Powers. What did those two Governments do? They said they did not care for the Diet—that it was nothing but a large assurance company—as bad as those described the other day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; that they did not mind the decrees of the Diet; for that Federal decrees were either dilatory or unconstitutional; and that they were determined to take the matter into their own hands. They thereupon inarched their troops into Schleswig. The King of Denmark about this time desired to call together the Rigsraad, in order to abolish the obnoxious Constitution. M. Hall had taken care to dissolve the chamber that had existed, in order to increase the difficulty of repealing the Constitution. It was, therefore, necessary to call together a new Rigsraad, by virtue of that very law which the King intended to abolish by their means. M. Hall hereupon resigned. The day before he resigned Lord Wodehouse wrote a despatch from Copenhagen, dated December 25, in which he thus recorded M. Hall's words—The German Powers were, he knew, persuaded that it was useless to negotiate with any ministry of which he (M. Hall) was the head.And Lord Bloomfield wrote, December 24, from Vienna—Count Rechberg said, that as long as M. Hall was at the head of the Danish Government, the chances of an arrangement as to Schleswig would be next to impossible.1329 Subsequently the troops of the two German Powers marched into Schleswig in order to anticipate the Federal forces. Lord Napier in a despatch from Russia, dated January 20, 1864, said—M. de Bismark has distinctly stated that the occupation of Schleswig by the forces of Austria and Prussia, is undertaken with a view to the maintenance of the Treaty of 1852, for the integrity of the Danish Monarchy.And Lord Bloomfield wrote, January 28—The march of this large force could not be stopped… If they did halt on the Eider, the excitement produced thereby in Germany would become uncontrollable, and might lead to civil war.This view was corroborated by Sir Alexander Malet, who wrote, February 2, from Frankfort—The agitation has been adroitly seized upon by the leaders of the National Verein and democratic party to create an organization, which will hereafter be used for other purposes, which are probably preparing more serious embarrassments for the Government of the Confederation than any which they have yet had to encounter since the year 1848.It was in order to foil this attempt that Austria entered Schleswig. After the advance into Schleswig, Sir Alexander Malet wrote that Germany saw the unopposed advance of Austria and Prussia into Schleswig with "shame and bitterness," and appeals to the people to rise and constrain their Governments. This step, on the part of Austria and Prussia, raised the worst feelings in the minor States of Germany. That was clear from the fact stated by Sir Alexander Malet, that a very large meeting had been held at Hamburg, at which the National Verein had boldly advised a general rising of the people in order to overturn the thrones of their rulers. Two thousand agents of the National Verein were immediately sent into Schleswig and Holstein for the purpose of advocating the claims of the Prince Frederick of Augustenburg, after which a "system of terrorism prevailed." On the 19th of February Prussia entered Jutland, and matters became more and more complicated. Now, up to that time, if Earl Russell had interfered against Prussia and Austria, it was obvious that he would have interfered against the cause of order and Government, and in favour of anarchy and revolution. It was therefore impossible up to that stage for England to have gone to war on behalf of the Danes. For if his interference had been in favour of Denmark, the result would have 1330 been the weakening of the influence of Austria and Prussia; an influence which at that time was being exercised for the purpose of calming the revolutionary feeling which was so rife throughout Germany. A reaction, however, then took place. Lord A. Loftus stated that—The fear of the revolutionary party is becoming every day greater, and … is weakening the effervescence in favour of the Schleswig-Holstein cause.… The German Governments are beginning to pause and reflect on the dangers of a schism in Germany, which may eventually lead to the triumph of the democratic party, and the destruction of the minor Sovereignties.Again, he wrote on March 1—A fear of the revolutionary party has lately produced a desire for a better understanding between the minor States of Germany and the two Great German Powers.The minor States of Germany thought it prudent to pause in their onward movement in presence of the danger which threatened them—a danger which might lead to the destruction of the minor Sovereignties. Towards the end of March, Lord Russell wrote to say that it had been agreed to by all the great Powers that they should not go to war, inasmuch as they believed that such a step, instead of tending to produce peace, would only increase the embroilment in Europe. The chief difficulty at that time rested with Denmark, on account of the excitement caused at Copenhagen by the retreat from the Dannewerk. The Danish people had become greatly irritated at the belief that their country had been betrayed. The invectives uttered against His Majesty were loud and numerous. The people assembled in large crowds before the Royal palace and cried, "Death to the King!" and remained there "yelling and shouting the most seditious cries." That was the reason why the King of Denmark could not give a definite answer to Her Majesty's Government's invitation to join the Conference. This whole question was, in fact, an instance of the blindness of agitation. For it was not to be supposed, on the one hand, that Prussia would otherwise have consented to see her Constitution torn up, and allow the liberties of the people to be sacrificed, in order to relieve the Danish Duchies from a fictitious tyranny, and to enforce a hypothetical promise. And, on the other hand, there was the same want of rule in Denmark; the Danes also were swayed by an angry democratic faction; so that they refused good counsel through passion, and then made tardy concessions through weakness. No 1331 doubt a word from France might have concluded the strife. A breath from her would have fanned the flames of revolution; the word "Rhine" would have caused the sword to drop from Prussia's hand; a whisper of Venetia would have paralyzed the arm of Austria. The Emperor of France was the arbiter of the destinies of Europe. This was an expensive luxury; but not a glorious one, unless war was more glorious than peace. But there was as little doubt, also, that France had as difficult a card to play as Germany; for her finances were in a perilous condition; and she, too, was in imminent danger of the infection of revolution. As to Earl Russell, it seemed to him (Lord R. Montagu) that he could not have acted otherwise than he had done. If the noble Lord were to be blamed at all, he must be blamed for his over industry in the interests of peace. A charge might be brought against the Foreign Minister for his niggling in the matter, instead of taking a more decided course. For he had drilled foreign countries into the belief that they could despise our threats, and disregard our remonstrances. He seemed to have had no settled purpose; but whenever a suggestion had been made, he hastened to propose it; when a counter-proposition was offered, he as readily urged that; and when an objection was raised, he yielded at once. The noble Earl seemed to him (Lord R. Montagu) to resemble a good-natured female, who was trying to separate two angry combatants before a public-house. From her you hear repeated objurgations and reiterated supplications; from him you got a perplexing industry of voluminous despatches. He was devoting all his efforts to promote peace—Striving against his quiet all he canTo gain the title of a busy man;And what is that, but one whose restless mindIs made to tire himself and all mankind.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, that after the able, comprehensive, and convincing speech of the hon. Member for Liskeard, he should not think it necessary to trouble the House with many details. He wished, however, to address a few words to Her Majesty's Government, with a view, if possible, of extracting from them a declaration of the principles upon which they acted when intervening in the affairs of foreign countries. He was desirous of asking them for some explanation of the strange inconsistency which was the characteristic of their foreign policy. There could be no doubt that in the month of 1332 January last the Foreign Secretary wished to concert a league against the German States generally. The noble Earl had applied to France and Russia to assist him, and but for the good sense of the rulers of those empires he might have carried his purpose into effect. He ventured to say that if Germany had conducted herself selfishly or unfairly towards England, it might be retorted that England had conducted herself selfishly towards Germany. Now, what was the casus belli against Germany? Simply the alleged infraction of the Treaty of 1852. It appeared to him (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) rather hard for the noble Earl, or any of his political friends, to object to the infraction of that treaty by Germany, for it was the opinion of many statesmen upon the Continent—an opinion, he must say, justified by circumstances—that the noble Lord and his Colleagues had done more in the last few years to destroy faith in treaties than any other statesmen who had governed in Europe during modern times. He would not go so far back as 1830, and allude to the violations of treaties which were then sanctioned, but would confine himself to what had taken place in the last three or four years, and more especially to two remarkable instances. Lord Russell charged the two great German Governments with violating the Treaty of 1852, and yet he was the Minister that allowed the Treaties of 1815 to be violated with impunity. Now, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would ask any jurist, or other person conversant with International Law, to compare those treaties together, and to say which was the most binding upon modern statesmen. He would venture to say that the Treaties of 1815 were infinitely more binding than that of 1852. His hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard had given many cogent reasons for the non-observance of this last treaty by the German Powers. Amongst others, it should be recollected that it wanted the respective assents of the German Diet, of the Estates, and of the Holstein Agnates. Those reasons might be considered valid or invalid, but he would say they, at all events, raised a question which was open to argument and discussion. It had been urged that the Treaties of 1815 were unfair, unjust, and inexpedient. But no jurist or person acquainted with the first principles of International Law would say that they were not valid. Remembering, however, how they had been violated, with 1333 the Foreign Secretary's assent, it was remarkable, under these circumstances, that he should insist on the strict fulfilment of the Treaty of 1852. But when the noble Earl inveighed so bitterly against the infraction of 1852, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would remind him of one or two cases that appeared to him to involve similar principles. The seizure of the Papal States in 1860 was one case. The Pope might not be considered a very popular Sovereign. Many persons in this country, even Members of that House, believed that to do the Pope a wrong was one of the highest services they could render. Nevertheless, every honourable-minded Englishman must maintain this principle—that the Pope had a right to the fulfilment of treaty obligations towards him as well as a Sovereign of any other religious denomination. But what happened in 1860? The King of Sardinia wished to possess himself of the dominions of the Pope, if the French Emperor would but allow him. So, in September of that year, without any declaration of war — without any of those formalities which were recognized by all civilized nations, he ordered his troops to enter the Legations and Umbria, and to expel the Pope's troops. Within a fortnight of that occupation the Austrian Government addressed a strong circular to the great Powers of Europe protesting against that occupation, and asking for the co-operation of those Powers. Lord Russell in answer to the circular, justified the seizure of the Papal territory on the ground that the King of Sardinia had undertaken to be the chief of Italy, and it was his business to substitute a Government of order for one of oppression. But there was a still stronger case which occurred about the same time—the case of Naples. Now, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would not argue whether the acts of the King of Sardinia were right or wrong—expedient or otherwise. Indeed, for the sake of argument he was willing to admit that the state of affairs in those parts of Italy was bad, and that the Piedmontese invasions were desirable. But where was the legality of that policy? The King of Sardinia, in like manner, wished to possess himself of the dominions of the King of Naples; but he did not dare to declare war or to fight for those dominions in a manly, straight-forward manner. The King, thereupon, came to an agreement with General Garibaldi, and offered him material assistance 1334 if he would raise the standard of revolution in Sicily. Now, the noble Lord might have a high opinion of the veracity of General Garibaldi; and if they were to believe General Garibaldi, Admiral Mundy had also afforded General Garibaldi material assistance, without which Garibaldi could not have succeeded in establishing himself in Sicily. It subsequently became a question whether Garibaldi should be allowed to transfer himself and his army to the continent of Italy. The French Government viewed this movement with great apprehension, lest it should lead to an attack upon Venetia, and ultimately to an European war. The French Government, therefore, made the strongest representations to the Government of England for a joint intervention to prevent General Garibaldi from proceeding from Sicily to Naples. In a despatch from M. Thouvenel to Earl Russell, dated in July, the former Minister stated that his Government did not think that France or England, with a due regard to their own dignity, could submit to be passive spectators of the advance into Naples of the revolutionary army, but that they ought to prevent General Garibaldi crossing the straits with an army of revolutionary followers, and effectually to interfere, so as to leave the question as one simply between the King of Naples and his own subjects. In the case of Naples Her Majesty's Government laid down for the second time that it was a question of the will of the population. Earl Russell wrote that the people of Naples should be left to themselves, whether to receive or reject Garibaldi. When that noble Earl said that people ought to be free and happy, and ought to be left to settle their own affairs and choose their rulers, did he reflect that he was introducing a new principle which might be turned against England at any time? Indeed the case had happened, for in a despatch of the 19th of January Earl Cowley described his interview with M. Drouyn de Lhuys. The latter asked in what measure the proposed concert and co-operation were to be established, and then proceeded to say—We are not bound by any guarantee to maintain the stipulations of that Treaty of 1852. For instance, if we have to choose between its modification and the commencement of a war, uncertain in its duration and dubious as to its results, to speak frankly, we should prefer the former alternative; and in saying this we are only following in the footsteps of Great Britain, who in 1830 thought it better to consent to the separa- 1335 tion of Belgium from Holland than incur the risks of a war for the maintenance of the union, and who later (speaking of the Government then in power) would have preferred the continuation of the ancient order of things in Italy, guaranteed by proper liberties, but would not employ force for the purpose, both events having been in violalation of existing treaties.To that Earl Cowley replied—That the comparison would not hold good unless his Excellency could show that the same sentiments animated the Schleswig-Holsteiners as had been demonstrated by both the Belgians and the Italians. The Belgian revolution had been the work of the Belgians themselves; their desire to separate from Holland had been unmistakable. The aspirations of the Italians for unity had been the demonstration of a whole people, whereas there was every reason to believe that the present movement in the Duchies was mainly the result of foreign interference, and that the sentiment which generally pervaded the Duchies was not for separation from Denmark, but for the maintenance of close relations between themselves.So that Earl Cowley maintained the extraordinary proposition, that if the will of the people had been against the treaty, the treaty would not have been binding. At first sight that reply, as published in the papers, looked very like the answer of a puzzled man, who had had a proposition put to him which he could not quite answer, and had given way to the impulse of his mind, and one would have thought that he would have been rebuked by the Home Government; but, so far from that, the Foreign Secretary, after stating that co-operation and concert meant the acting together of France, Russia, and Sweden in order to give, if necessary, material assistance to Denmark, stated that he considered Earl Cowley's answer to M. Drouyn de Lhuys as quite correct, and went on to add that in Belgium the people rose and got possession of the capital, whereas in Holstein the accession of the new King was peacefully accomplished, and it was not until the German troops encouraged revolutionary movements (just as if the case of Naples was not exactly in point), that the rural population showed any disaffection to the Government of the King. The noble Lord, therefore, bound himself to this — that if the people of Schleswig and Holstein had risen and made any stand whatever against the King, we should not be bound to the treaty. On the other hand, if the Prussians, or any other German Power, thought there was an under current of disaffection in the Duchies, and had engaged General Garibaldi, or any other adventurer, to go with a 1336 number of foreigners, dressed in red shirts and under a tricoloured flag, into Holstein, and if they had there defeated or made any stand against the Danish troops, and if Prussia, following the example of the King of Sardinia, had then supported the insurrection with an army — according to the precedents of the last four years—it would have been perfectly impossible for Her Majesty's Government to allege that the Treaty of 1852 was valid and of full force. He called, therefore, on Her Majesty's Government, especially now that the Conference was about to assemble, to give some distinct and intelligible statement of their policy with regard to the principle of non-intervention. If they stood to the propositions laid down in the despatches, he could not see how they could resist the Motion. If, on the other hand, they dissented from them, he hoped they would give to the House and the country their reasons for so doing. It had been said that England had been very much humiliated. He thought so. She had been humiliated, not only by the empty bombast and threats of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, but also by the want of any intelligible principles to guide her foreign policy, and he was almost prepared to agree with the remark that had been made in 1862 by a distinguished foreign Minister Count Apponyi, with regard to Earl Russell's policy—that the principles of his intervention were, indeed, elastic, for they seemed to take effect just as the interests of the Minister for the time being required. If he should not receive a satisfactory explanation of the policy of the Government on the points to which he had called attention, he should feel compelled to support the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, that it would perhaps have been better if the Question had not been brought before the House on the eve of a Conference; but the Question having been introduced by his hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, in a speech remarkable for eloquence and close reasoning, and the debate evidently promising to occupy the whole night, he was prepared to take part in it. His own opinion was that it was not so much a question of Schleswig, Holstein, and Denmark, which had been truly called a most complicated question, and one that, as his hon. Friend had said, had nearly driven one man mad, but he thought it very desirable that an opportunity should be taken of pointing 1337 out to the House and the country what really was the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. Having recently returned from the Continent, he was enabled to corroborate the statement of the hon. Member for Liskeard, that the moral influence of England had greatly deteriorated. Whatever the cause, since Earl Russell had been at the head of the Foreign Office the weight and consideration attending English opinion had diminished very much. That was a result that all must lament, and he would take the liberty of pointing out one or two circumstances which he thought had of late tended to a diminution of our influence abroad. In the first place, he wished to ask the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State if he could explain in any way, by what principles his Department was guided, for in the cases of Poland, the Eastern Nationalities, and that of Denmark, they appeared to be altogether contradictory. It was not sufficient to say that the policy of Her Majesty's Government had prevented the country from becoming involved in war. The country demanded something further. We ought to abstain from meddling with other nations of Europe in such a manner as to lead them into war and misery. In the East the noble Earl's policy altogether differed from what it was in the West. At Constantinople he wore the turban, and in Italy the cap of liberty, except when he laid it aside, as in the case of Sir J. Hudson. The great evil of this policy was that it misled foreign countries, which were brought to ruin by the noble Earl's desire to write sentimental despatches. In the words of Sir Peter Teazle, "There is nothing so noble as a man of sentiment." He would not quote from the blue-books familiar passages about other countries "taking the responsibility" of interfering with Denmark, but there was a significant passage in a letter of the noble Earl to Lord Bloomfield, where he said that on a former occasion "he had spoken in the sense that Denmark would resist an occupation of Schleswig, and might be aided by Great Britain." Nothing could be more explicit than the manner in which Earl Russell, in the same despatch, dwelt upon the current of feeling in Parliament and in the nation as leading to active assistance of Denmark. Again, on the 4th of January, Sir A. Buchanan said to M. Bismark that if the Government of Germany invaded Schleswig unnecessarily they would be responsible for a war which might extend to the whole of Europe. 1338 Independently of this, Earl Russell had laid down a general principle, which had had, and would exercise for a long time, a most injurious and misleading effect upon the Continent. The despatch of Earl Russell dated October 27, I860, and addressed to Sir James Hudson, would, if carried out, lead to an active intervention in favour of Denmark. The noble Earl then quoted the eminent jurist Vattel, and said that when a people for good reason take up arms against an oppressor it was but an act of justice and generosity to assist brave men in defence of their liberties. If that principle were adopted, the Government were bound to assist the brave men who were then fighting in Denmark for their independence, for it was clearly the intention of the Austrians and Prussians to overrun Jutland as well as Schleswig. Earl Russell was responsible for the existing state of things. There was one despatch of Earl Russell on which everything turned, because the first excitement in Schleswig and Holstein arose from the noble Earl's despatch of the 24th of September, 1862. Nothing could be more touching than the reply of the Danish Government to that dispatch. They declared that the acceptance of the noble Earl's propositions would lead to the destruction of constitutional life in Denmark, and would soon even imperil the existence of the Danish monarchy itself. The effect of the noble Earl's policy had been that Great Britain had not only sustained a great loss of influence on the Continent, but he had himself been subjected to the most severe abuse. When Earl Cowley, according to his instructions, applied to M. Drouyn de Lhuys, proposing that the French Government should join in active interference in the affairs of Denmark, M. Drouyn de Lhuys replied—The mode of proceeding suggested by his Lordship would be in a great measure analogous to the course pursued by Great Britain and France on the Polish question. He had no inclination to place France in the same position with regard to Germany as she had been placed in with regard to Russia. The formal notes addressed by the three Powers to Russia had received an answer which literally meant nothing, and the position in which those three great Powers were now placed was anything but dignified; and if England and France were to address such a reminder as that proposed to Austria, Prussia, and the German Confederation, they must be prepared to go further, and to adopt a course of action more in accordance with the dignity of two great Powers than they were now doing on the Polish question.That reply showed the little confidence 1339 which France placed in the policy of Earl Russell. The second interview, with regard to intervention, between Earl Cowley and M. Drouyn de Lhuys was almost amusing, because it proved the sort of dead lock to which the noble Earl's diplomacy had brought us. Earl Russell, on the 5th of January, 1864, sent a telegram to Earl Cowley, suggesting that the Confederated Powers shouldStop all acts of hostility, if any are now being carried on, and be satisfied with the present state of military occupation in Holstein.EARL Cowley's reply was as follows:—After listening to the proposal, M. Drouyn de Lhuys asked what was to be done should Germany refuse to suspend hostile operations?The reply, in Earl Russell's words, was, that,If unsuccessful, each Power will be at liberty to pursue the course which its own honour and its own interests may seem to demand.That was very like Bob Acres in The Rivals. Bob Acres said, if you call me coward it is nothing; but call me poltroon—call me poltroon, and—I shall call you a very ill-bred man. The noble Lord said, "Remain as you are, and it is nothing; but cross the Eider—cross the Eider, and then you take a great responsibility on yourselves." Some of the statements of the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Motion were altogether untenable. For instance, he stated that Schleswig was never part of Denmark. Why, it was called South Jutland, and it had always been a portion of Denmark. As far as he remembered, however, Schleswig had always been a part of Denmark. From the most ancient times the Eider had been the boundary between Germany and Denmark. A French treaty, ratified by the King of France in 1720, gave a complete and regular guarantee on this point. The French King said—Having been informed that insurmountable difficulties have arisen as to the restitution to the Crown of Sweden of the island and principality of Rugen, of the fortress of Stralsund, and of the rest of Pomerania as far as the river Pehne, which are occupied by the Crown of Denmark, unless it should be assured of the possession of Schleswig, which His Britannic Majesty has already guaranteed, the most Christian King has thought it well, for these considerations, and on the representations of the Kings of Great Britain and of Denmark, to grant to that latter Crown, as he does by these presents, the guarantee of the Duchy of Schleswig, promising, in consideration of the above-stipulated restitutions, in the treaty signed this day at Stockholm by the plenipotentiaries of Sweden, to maintain the King of Den- 1340 mark in the peaceable possession of the ducal part of the said Duchy.Nothing could be more complete and regular than that guarantee, and the King of Denmark in consequence of it gave up possession of the island of Rugen, Stralsund, and Pomerania. If any further proof were wanting, it was to be found in the following declaration of the Prussian Plenipotentiary to the Diet in 1723:—Upon the maintenance of the union between Holstein and Schleswig, the Federal Diet cannot exercise any imaginable influence, for this reason—that the Duchy of Schleswig does not belong to the German Federal territories, and consequently lies altogether beyond the influence of the Confederation.The hon. Member was therefore, he submitted, in error in doubting the position of Schleswig in relation to Denmark. He regretted also to hear the manner in which the hon. Gentleman had spoken of the Danes, for the sympathy of the whole of Europe was enlisted on behalf of these poor people, who were fighting for their existence against such terrific odds. It was, indeed, somewhat ungenerous in the hon. Gentleman to attempt to weaken the influence of the Danes just when the Conference was about to assemble. There was something at once noble and affecting in the appeal which had been made by Denmark to Europe—Why," said this appeal, "does Denmark continue an apparently hopeless struggle? Why does she not succumb to a superior force, and accept any peace she can obtain? Surely there can be no dishonour in giving way before so many. Thus speak none of the high-minded and generous nations of Europe—none of those who, from far and near, from north, from south, from west, have shown a hearty sympathy for the struggling Danish people, which has raised its courage and imparted loftiness to its soul. But these questions may be asked by statesmen who stand coldly by and see a nation bleed to death in fighting for its rights, its independence; by men who, totally dead to feeling for their own people, only seek to escape from the obligations they are bound in honour and by treaty to fulfil. To such men our answer is ready. As the matter now stands, Denmark cannot yield; not only for her honour's sake, but because her existence as an independent nation is at stake.That a Conference should be held at the present moment was like a consultation of doctors over a dying man. Schleswig was entirely overrun by the Germans, and they were Germanizing the whole Duchy, though Austria had promised that the integrity of Denmark should be respected. Would the noble Viscount at the head of the Government tell the House how long the Conference was to last, and what steps 1341 would be taken to stop the progress of military operations? Earl Russell said he had been accused of unworthy motives, but he appealed to the commerce of the country and the danger of encountering 60,000,000 of people. He was not for a war policy. He was for keeping clear of war; and he condemned this system of intervention—this giving of opinions unasked on every question of foreign politics—because he believed it was calculated to lead us into hostilities. He hoped that the foreign policy of the Government would soon be brought forward in a direct form, so that hon. Members might be able to express their opinion on the constant meddling and interference with other nations by the Foreign Secretary, on every possible occasion—a meddling without conciliation, and an interference without prevailing anywhere. If they were to have the Conference, which seemed to him so prejudicial to the interests of Denmark, he hoped the result would be such as to maintain the interests of Denmark and the honour and integrity of this country,
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he hoped to be permitted to make a few comments on the speech of the hon. Member for Liskeard, who had condemned the pertinacity of the noble Lord at the head of the Government in adhering to the Treaty of 1852 as a guarantee for the independence of Denmark. He (Mr. Newdegate) was afraid, that the observations he was about to make might entail upon him the accusation of entertaining low and selfish motives. But he held that England never intervened with respect to foreign nations for an idea; and it was his opinion that England had a deep interest in the maintenance of the independence of Denmark. He deprecated senseless interference with foreign nations as much as anyone; but he could not forget that this country had very large commercial interests, and that it had always been her policy to defend them. With that view England maintained possession of Gibraltar on the extremity of the Spanish Peninsula. He had never heard any thinking man contest the propriety of England holding Gibraltar. It had always been conceded that the possession of Gibraltar was necessary to this country, in order to secure the free navigation of the Mediterranean; and he believed that the independence of the Power which commanded the Sound, the mouths of the Elbe, and all the ports that were within the reach of Denmark, was the best gua- 1342 rantee that we could have for the free navigation of the Baltic and for free access to these ports. In 1801 the maritime resources of Denmark had fallen under the influence of a first-rate Power, which was at that time hostile to us. The consequence was that England found it necessary to bombard Copenhagen and destroy the Danish fleet. In 1807 we were again obliged to take possession of the Danish fleet. He might be told that circumstances had changed since then; but the relative geographical positions of countries had not changed — the map of Europe had not changed—and obviously, the independence of Denmark was, at least, quite as important for us at the present time as it was in 1801 and 1807. He held in his hand a Return of the quantity of British shipping which had passed the Sound, or had carried on the intercourse of this country with the other ports commanded by Denmark, during a period of three years. The total of British tonnage entered at and cleared from ports in the United Kingdom in the year 1860 was 24,689,000; in the year 1861, 26,595,000; and in 1862, 26,585,000. Of that tonnage there passed the Sound, or passed to and from the ports commanded by Denmark, in 1860, 25 per cent; in 1861, 23 per cent; and in 1862 (the date of the last Return), 23 per cent. Since the commencement of the century, the changes made in our commercial system rendered the free navigation of the seas and ports commanded by Denmark still more important to us. England had to a great extent become dependent on foreigners for food. The total quantity of corn imported into Great Britain and Ireland in the three years he had named—1860–2, averaged 14,000,000 of quarters annually, and from 18 to 19 per cent of that corn passed through the Sound, or came from the ports within the command of Denmark. These were serious considerations, and matters of increasing importance; and when he heard members of a peculiar school—he had almost said of the foreign Department of the House—sneering at the importance of maintaining the balance of power in Europe, sneering at our maintaining such posts as Gibraltar, and the independence of Denmark, which was in alliance with us, he could not help remembering with some astonishment that they were representatives of that portion of the population which depended chiefly upon our external commerce, and that they were sneering at our retention of those 1343 means upon our maintenance of which our credit depended, which was the very life-blood of their employment. It seemed an extraordinary policy on their part to sneer at the balance of power, to speak disparagingly of our means of defence, to raise their voices against the expenses necessary for the maintenance of our establishments, whilst they represented interests more directly dependent upon those establishments, and the protection they afforded to our shores and to our commerce than any other interest of the country. As the representative of a commercial constituency he should consider himself not only a madman, but as false to the interests of those whom he was sent to that House to represent, if he did anything to damage the credit of England. He regretted that the policy of Her Majesty's Government, in the matter of Denmark, had not been more decisive. It was obvious that a Power like England, always using strong language with an apparent fear of striking, must fall in the estimation of other nations. He did not, however, under-estimate the difficulties which the noble Lord at the head of the Government had to encounter with followers such as the hon. Member for Liskeard, with supporters who took every opportunity of threatening a domestic war, if a foreign war should become necessary. Encompassed as the noble Lord was by every difficulty—even in his Cabinet as he had been told—he (Mr. Newdegate) was not surprised at the policy of the Government; but he held it to be the duty of independent Members of that House to express the strong feelings of the people of England—that their interests and their honour both dictated that the Government should not hesitate in securing the independence of an ally so important in her position and in the proportions assigned to her in 1852 as Denmark. He was not urging war; but he deprecated that apparent fear of war which was sure eventually to lead to it; he deprecated that vacillating policy which brought into discredit the prestige of England, for on that prestige depended her credit, her safety, and the extension of her commerce. He should not have gone so far into detail, but it appeared to him that from the discussion some hon. Members had given an exaggerated weight of nationality. It was absurd to contemplate the idea of setting up another petty State. Holstein, by itself, was totally incapable of independence. Holstein might desire to be united to Germany, but that could not be said of the in- 1344 habitants of Schleswig while they had an independent voice. He (Mr. Newdegate) could place no confidence in a mere plebiscite, extracted by the pressure of both military and civil power. Holstein, no doubt, desired separation; but, on the other hand, Schleswig would wish to remain connected with Denmark, and it would be a most absurd policy on the part of England not to support that wish. He was decidedly adverse to the multiplication of petty States in Germany, for there were indications that such a multiplication would lead to a renewal of the petty wars which had disgraced the mediaeval ages, and which, if renewed, would only terminate by being swept away through the predominance of some great military despotism. The object of the German democracy was an united Germany, with a strong fleet. English economists should bear that in mind, that in calculating the amount of naval force necessary for this country, it had always been usual to take into consideration what might be the united power of the other navies of the world. Another fleet would add another element to the calculation, and the establishment of a German fleet meant a permanent addition to our naval Estimates. In conclusion, he begged to state, that he felt fully the wisdom of the noble Lord in making earnest exertions for the independence of Denmark; and, as an independent Member of that House, he should be happy to support the noble Lord in any means he might think necessary for effecting that object.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, he was sure that the hon. Member for Liskeard was only anxious that the people of Schleswig and Holstein should have an opportunity of expressing their own free and unbiassed opinion as to the arrangements which were to be made, and he would desire that their feelings should be ascertained in the best way that could be devised. Probably, the best way would be by the convocation of an assembly ad hoc in each province, and withdraw all the troops until both assemblies had pronounced their opinion. He shared completely in the admiration of the courage and determination displayed by the Danes in their contest against overpowering odds. Never had there been a more remarkable instance of self-sacrifice than that exhibited by the Copenhagen regiment of infantry which had covered the retreat of the Danish army to Düppel. They owed, too, a deep debt of gratitude to the King of Denmark for the excellent 1345 education which he had bestowed on the Princess of Wales, which would render her as great a blessing in her mature age as she had been an object of admiration for her beauty in her youth. But the question was one of such deep importance to the welfare of Europe, that we must consider it independently of all considerations but those of truth and justice. It was said that the interests of the nations of Europe required that the entrance of the Sound should be in the hands of an independent Power; but it was likewise of importance to maintain that feeling of friendship and amity which had existed so long between this country and Germany, Twenty years ago there was a feeling of amity between Germans and Englishmen, but Englishmen were then regarded with hostility by Germans because they considered that our conduct in the mutter of Schleswig-Holstein was unjust. The existing difficulties and the war in Schleswig might be traced to the conduct of the Eider-Dane party since the year 1848. Before that time there was no province more valuable to a kingdom than Schleswig and Holstein were to Denmark. He had never seen a people more calculated to excite sympathy and admiration, and any one who had read the interesting accounts of them given by The Times correspondent, must feel that they were not a people to be handed from one monarch to another without their own consent. Earl Russell over and over again had urged upon the Government of Denmark to fulfil their promises to Germany in reference to Schleswig and Holstein, and not to give the German Powers a pretext for interference. But the Danish Government had taken a course directly contrary to his advice. By refusing justice to their subjects in the Duchies they had imposed on Germany the positive duty of interfering, and that really was the defence of Austria and Prussia. In 1851 the King of Denmark, as a member of the German Bund, called upon Germany to reinstate him in Holstein. The Bund assented; and Austria and Prussia, as mandatories of the Confederation, obliged the Schieswig-Holstein army to lay down their arms, at the same time engaging that they would obtain for the people of the Duchies the privileges to which they were entitled. The privileges which the King of Denmark then promised to concede were nothing extraordinary. They were only that he would equally protect both languages, and would make no attempt to incorporate Schleswig with the 1346 kingdom of Denmark. The Germans complained that from the moment these promises were given they had been systematically violated, and the evidence of the blue-books established the truth of that assertion. M. Hall himself admitted to Sir Augustus Paget, that any attempt to incorporate Schleswig with the kingdom of Denmark would furnish a casus belli to Germany, and Sir A. Paget, Earl Russell, and Lord Wodehouse agreed that not only had such an attempt been made, but what was equivalent to that incorporation had been effected. If the noble Lord at the head of the Government had desired to prevent war, he should have said, not that if the Germans invaded Denmark she would not stand alone, but that if she obliged Germany to engage in war she would stand alone. What had induced Denmark to resist the performance of her promises was the belief that she would be supported by this country. That had produced all the evils and miseries of a dreadful war. He should like to know upon what authority Earl Russell made the assertion that the National Verein had sent 2,000 agents into Schleswig to induce the people to revolt. His belief was that the feeling in Schleswig as well as in Holstein was entirely in favour of independence, and that the movement to throw off the Danish yoke was entirely spontaneous, and needed no foreign emissaries to stimulate or originate it. No man desired more than he did the independence of Denmark; but if the aversion of the people of the Duchies was so strong as he believed it to be, he doubted whether their union with the monarchy would be a source of strength to that country. The Treaty of 1852 was solely for the advantage of Russia. It had been stated that seventeen lives had been swept out of the line of succession by the Treaty of 1852; another had since disappeared by the election of the new King of Greece. He believed that if the Treaty of 1852 was to remain in force there would be but three lives between the Imperial family of Russia and the Crown of Denmark, and he, therefore, looked with great satisfaction upon the despatch addressed by Earl Russell to Sir Alexander Malet, in which he assured the German Confederation that that treaty was not to be the basis of the Conference, but that the object of its deliberation was to be the restoration of peace in the North of Europe. All who desired the welfare of the present King of Denmark must regret that his first act as a 1347 Sovereign was the signature of the Constitution of November. Only twenty-four hours before he had said to his brother that he would never forget that he had a million German subjects, and that nothing should induce him to sign it. Weakness in a king was worse than wickedness, and it was a lamentable want of strength which led him to give his assent to a measure which would alienate so large a number of his subjects. In conclusion, he might observe that one of the great objects which the Conference ought, in his opinion, to have in view, was to see justice done to the inhabitants of the Duchies. However, the existing difficulty might be patched up: if justice was not done to them, the seeds of future dissension would remain, and it was not for the British Parliament to do anything which might restrict their liberty.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he fully concurred in the opinion which had been expressed by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), that it was most desirable to maintain the integrity of Denmark. He regretted that the forms of the House precluded the hon. Member for Bridport from bringing forward his Amendment before the other had been disposed of, but he felt disposed to vote against the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Peacocke), because it asked the House to support the Government in maintaining the Treaty of 1852. As a Conservative Member of a constitutional House of Commons, he could not recognize the right of a constitutional Sovereign so far to step beyond the limits of the constitution as to violate the very condition of his sovereignty, and still less could he recognize the right of a democratic majority to tyrannize over, to stifle, and to suppress, the national rights of an independent people. In arguing this question of the Duchies, he begged to remind the Liberal party that they were treading on very tender ground. It had been said that we must not question the Treaty of 1852, because it now formed part of the public law of Europe. But, if it could be shown that the peace of Europe had been imperilled by the operation of that law, was it not, he would ask, time that it should form the subject of reconsideration? It was a law, he believed, which, in Parliamentary language, had been hastily framed and very inadequately discussed, and he desired to see it recommitted for the purpose of being amended. But be that as it might, the acts of Frederick VII. in 1851–2 were, he con- 1348 tended, a violation of the very conditions on which he held his sovereignty. What were the fundamental rights of those ancient Duchies? One was that they were to be regarded as independent States in their own right. The second was that they were indissolubly connected. The third was that males, and males only, had the right of succession. Two out of the three conditions were violated by the dishonest compromise of 1851, which led to the Treaty of 1852. That compromise was framed between the King of Denmark, as Duke of Holstein on the one hand, and the representatives of the German Confederation on the other. The conditions of the compromise were that Germany should give up the indissoluble union of the Duchies (the King of Denmark agreeing on his part to take no step towards the incorporation of Schleswig); and that offer was accepted, but it was a dishonest one on the part of the commissioners, because it violated one of the fundamental principles of the German Diet itself, that no state being a member of the Diet, could introduce or adopt any organic change except by constitutional means. Frederick VII., however, accepted the compromise, and coupled with it the alteration of the law of succession, and the operation of those two circumstances had led to the war which was now being waged in the North of Europe. In arriving at a settlement of the question, the Government would not, he hoped, be too strict in their adherence to the terms of the Treaty of 1852, because that instrument had within it, he believed, the seeds of weakness to Denmark. Nor did he think that a fancied union, and a tyrannical rule, over a discontented people could ever be a source of strength to any nation. The rule of the democratic majority over the nationalities of the Duchy had been continued with increasing severity ever since the close of the great war in 1815. He knew well enough that the King of Denmark was an unwilling instrument and driven to what he did by his people, but he (Mr. Liddell) hoped that the voice of the House of Commons would be a warning to that people, and he hoped that that House would not justify the acts of the ultra-party in Copenhagen to whom he alluded. He hoped to see the union which had existed before 1846 restored, for he believed that such a restoration would be the best security for the integrity of the kingdom. In common with ninety-nine out of every hundred Englishmen he deplored this mis- 1349 crable, this unnecessary war—he deplored it the more because he believed it to be an insincere war. He did not believe that the German Powers, in undertaking that war, were actuated either by motives of vengeance or even of hostility against the people whom they had gone to massacre. They were urged forward by the fear of revolution at home. Austria and Prussia knew, that unless they took the lead in that great German movement, revolution would be knocking at their own doors. They had therefore thrown aside their engagements, and sacrificed everything to what he could not help regarding as a most selfish feeling; but he trusted that the Conference that was about to assemble would remember that fact, and that they would not separate from their first meeting until they had found some means or other to stop this needless effusion of blood. Of course, they must all admire the valour and determination with which the Danes had defended themselves; but he blamed the obstinacy of the Danes. He had felt no sympathy with them up to the moment of the invasion of Schleswig. He even thought the Germans were justified in enforcing their claims on Denmark by a legal execution in Holstein, but from the moment they invaded Schleswig his sympathy, like that of ninety-nine out of every hundred Englishmen, was turned to the weaker side. It had been said that Denmark was not to be blamed, because she had made concessions. True, she had made concessions, but he could not help remembering that every successive concession had been made too late, and only under foreign pressure. Such had been the case with the constitution of October, 1855, with the Royal Decree of March, 1863, and the constitution of November last. In these respects he thought that Denmark had been to blame. He was about to give expression to an opinion which he was afraid would be unfavourably received in that House, and might possibly be regarded as foolish by the public. England was about to play at the Conference an up-hill game, and every possible method of conciliation would be wanted. He was at a loss to understand how our Government would be able to explain satisfactorily to Russia, Austria, and Prussia the very ill-timed visit which was now creating such a sensation in this country. [Cries of "Oh!"] He knew that that opinion would be unfavourably received, but it should be borne in mind that that distinguished man, 1350 General Garibaldi, for whose private virtues he entertained the highest respect, represented in the eyes of the Northern Powers the principle of revolution. Foreigners could never be made to understand correctly the English people, and he could not help fearing that the cause which England had to plead in the presence of Powers flushed with success, and so possibly rendered more obstinate than ever in the assertion of what they believed to be their just rights, might be pleaded in vain. He had no great confidence in the success of the Conference. It was possible that Austria and Prussia, now that they had vindicated—to us a foolish phrase—their honour, lost in 1848, would be more reasonable and less violent in their demands; but he was afraid the chances of success were much more distant than the advocates of peace would desire to see them. Nevertheless, he trusted that means might be found to maintain the integrity of Denmark by that personal union which had existed before and which might, even under the altered circumstances of the moment, exist again.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he rose to address the House with great reluctance, for it appeared to him extraordinary, and not very desirable, that within a few hours of the time when a Conference was to meet to discuss questions of the greatest importance, those questions should be made the subject of debate in the House of Commons. He had no wish to curtail the privileges of the House. Every matter in which the Government were engaged was a fair subject of discussion in that place, but still he thought that when questions of such enormous importance were about to be considered by the assembled representatives of Europe, the present debate ought to have been avoided. The House must feel that he rose under great difficulties, inasmuch as, under other circumstances, he might be at liberty to say a great deal which on that occasion would be left unsaid, from a fear of prejudging matters that would shortly be deliberated upon elsewhere. He need hardly remind the House that the questions under consideration were of the greatest possible importance, to be discussed with calmness, and not treated with the rollicking rhetoric in which the hon. Member for Liskeard was so fond of indulging. [Cries of "Oh!"] The hon. Gentleman had roundly rated almost every Member of the Government and it was only right that a reply should 1351 be made to his taunts and charges. He had said that the question in dispute between Germany and Denmark was so simple that he could in a few words explain it to the House; that though it had driven German professors mad, he could make it plain and intelligible to the ordinary Parliamentary intellect. If the question were as light as the manner in which the hon. Gentleman had dealt with it, there would be little difficulty in explaining it to the satisfaction of the most ordinary intellect, but he had no hesitation in saying that the hon. Member had treated it altogether on false principles. He had talked with the greatest assurance, as if he alone could form a correct opinion upon the question of the succession to Denmark and the Duchies. [Cries of "Oh!"] "Oh" was not an argument, and, perhaps, hon. Gentlemen would have the goodness, instead of interrupting him, to get up and answer his speech after he had made it. The right of succession involved considerations of the greatest difficulty, and had puzzled the most learned men in Germany. Whether the Estates of Schleswig and Holstein should have a voice in determining this right was also a question of no little intricacy, not to be treated in the light manner of the hon. Member for Liskeard, but to be calmly and gravely discussed. The Estates might have a right to be consulted, but the question was a most difficult one to decide, and Europe was divided upon it. Again, the hon. Member had spoken as if Schleswig and Holstein were one, and had for ever been united; but that was another question, on which the opinion of Europe was divided, and he was afraid the ipse dixit of the hon. Gentleman would not settle it. Everything might be said to turn upon it, and it would shortly be made the subject of a solemn deliberation. The hon. Member had said that the German Diet had been treated with contumely, and that it ought to have been asked to become a party to the Treaty of 1852. Whether the assent of the Diet was necessary to changes in the succession in the States which were members of it, was a point in dispute among the German States themselves. Austria denied the right of the Diet to be consulted, and the same view was taken by other countries. The question, therefore, was not one which the hon. Member could hope to decide offhand, with the lively assurance belonging to him. But he would proceed to deal 1352 with the speech of the hon. Gentleman point by point, showing how fallacious were his arguments and how baseless were his assertions. It was not necessary to go back to the early history of the Schleswig-Holstein question. After the events of 1848 the question assumed a new and distinct phase. It was well known that at that time, owing to events which had led to disturbances in Holstein, an interference took place on the part of the German Powers, including Austria and Prussia, who acted as mandatories of the Diet, which led to war with Denmark. The treaty which closed the war was negotiated under the auspices of the British Government, and peace was made upon certain terms. On the one hand, Denmark promised that no steps should be taken tending to incorporate Schleswig or Holstein with Denmark, and that certain rights should be secured to the populations of the Duchies; on the other, Austria and Prussia promised to agree to an arrangement for the settlement of the succession. His noble Friend at the head of the Government had been taunted, in not very elegant terms, with concocting that treaty, and also with being the cat's paw of Russia. He had really hoped that all that rubbish would have been thrown aside. The treaty was a thing that was wished for by all the great Powers of Europe. The papers opened with a despatch of the noble Lord which spoke of the arrangement of the succession, but which spoke of it as a question that had been long in agitation. Everybody knew that the great difficulty to be anticipated in respect to Denmark was, that if that question were not settled before the death of the late King it might give rise to war in Europe. We had no particular candidate. [Mr. BERNAL OSBORNE: The son of the Duke of Oldenburg.] The son of the Duke of Oldenburg and some others were mentioned; but all we required was, that the succession of the then reigning monarch should be determined in the event of his dying without direct heirs. The Treaty of 1852 was concluded, a protocol recognizing its principle having been signed in 1850. The hon. Member had been very lively, as usual, about the difference between a treaty and a protocol; but, although he appeared to know everything, he did not seem to know the difference between these two things. A protocol was a document which passed between plenipotentiaries, and was, indeed, binding on their 1353 respective States, but it was not a solemn instrument formally ratified by the sovereign like a treaty. The Treaty of 1852 was quite distinct from the Protocol of 1850, and whatever German philosophers might say, all who were not ignorant of the common forms of language knew the difference between the two things. The hon. Gentleman had insinuated that the treaty bound us as something like a guarantee. [Mr. BERNAL OSBORNE: No.] It merely bound us to recognize as the successor to the King of Denmark such a person as he might appoint—that was the Prince Christian of Schleswig - Holstein Glucksburg Sönderborg, and his issue by the Princess Louisa of Hesse. That was the simple article in the treaty which bound this country. Another special article of the treaty reserved the right of the Germanic Confederation as regarded Holstein—not the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein, as the hon. Gentleman constantly repeated. The hon. Member said that though the Earl of Malmesbury signed the treaty he had nothing to do with it. That was not the case. On the contrary, the Earl of Malmesbury had a considerable share in its negotiation. He conducted the negotiation with much ability, and was justly proud of having brought about an arrangement of so much importance to the peace of Europe. He received several congratulatory despatches from foreign States on having concluded the treaty, and on the benefit which it had conferred on Europe. And who was it that had lauded that treaty? It was concluded by the great Powers, and afterwards communicated to the small German Powers, some of whom adhered to it, while others refused it their adhesion. Among those who adhered to it and praised it was Baron Beust, himself the leader of the opposition raised to it during the previous year. At page 232 of the papers, M. Beust would be found bearing his testimony to the gain to the peace of Europe from the conclusion of that treaty. Almost all the Powers looked upon it at the time as an excellent arrangement for the maintenance of peace. The hon. Member said it ought to have been communicated to the Diet. Now, he had reason to believe that Denmark was not opposed to the treaty being communicated to the Diet; but, on the contrary, desired that that should be done. Earl Granville proposed that it should be so communicated, but who opposed that? Why, Austria and Russia—and to some 1354 extent Prussia also—on the ground that the Diet was not a body competent to deal with the question; that such instruments never were communicated to it, and that it would be giving it a power which it did not possess. Our Government was quite willing to communicate it to the Diet, and thought there was no reason why it should not be; but of course they respected the judgment of those Powers, who had the best right to form an opinion on the subject. The hon. Member said the States of Holstein and Schleswig ought to have been consulted. He had endeavoured to ascertain, if possible, what the attributes of those States were, and, although the hon. Gentleman thought that was an easy question, it really was not. The greatest confusion existed on that point. As he could understand it, the States of Schleswig and Holstein had no deliberative power whatever. They had merely local and provincial functions which were strictly limited, and no power over questions of that nature. The hon. Gentleman said it was otherwise; but therein he disagreed with some of the highest authorities. But the treaty did not settle the question of the succession at all. Count Rechberg, in a despatch given in the blue-books, disclaimed the doctrine that the treaty had settled that question, declaring that it only bound the signataries to recognize the course of succession which the King of Denmark by legal forms might bring about. A law regulating the succession was passed by the only representative body then existing in Denmark—the Rigsdag. That assembly was not, however, a Parliament, in our sense of a truly representative body. The Rigsdag — not the Rigsraag—the Rigsdag having had extraordinary powers given to it, had the subject of the law of succession submitted to it, and, after discussion, and having been twice dissolved, it agreed to alter it by repealing the lex regia. The alteration of the lex regia changed the order of succession in Denmark, and not the treaty. That Count Rechberg laid down as an undoubted fact. The step thus taken by the Danish Government was communicated in a proclamation to the Diet, and the Diet accepted that proclamation without ever objecting to it, thus virtually admitting the right of the King to change the succession. Moreover, it was contended that the States of Holstein themselves in 1853 had virtually thanked the King for what he had done in settling the succession, 1355 declaring that he had conferred a great, benefit on the country. The Diet then were in full possession of the fact, but never protested against it; and the question of the succession was never raised in the Diet until within the last few months. Either that question was material or it was not; and, if material, it was extraordinary that the Diet should have overlooked it. The hon. Member said that by the proposal of his noble Friend's (Earl Russell) despatch of September, 1862, the question might have been settled, and then no war would have arisen; but that proposal did not in any way affect the question of succession. On the contrary, it admitted it. The hon. Gentleman had taunted Her Majesty's Government with having favoured one party in the quarrel; but, in fairness, he ought to have taken another view of the matter. So far from that being the case, Her Majesty's Government had incessantly, and to the last moment, urged Denmark to fulfil her promises. They had not denied for a moment that she had endeavoured to evade those promises and had not fulfilled them. But, on the other hand, he did not think that the great Powers had quite performed their promises but had violated them systematically by exciting constant disaffection and disorder in the Duchies. Again, it must be admitted that the engagements into which Denmark had entered, not by treaty but by protocols and despatches, the binding force of which he did not seek to weaken—were very difficult of fulfilment. Denmark virtually promised to give Schleswig and Holstein an equal representation in the common Parliament with Denmark itself. That would, in effect, have thrown the whole power into the hands of those Duchies. It was unfair, because it was not a representation according to population, but would have given the Duchies a preponderance over Denmark. But that ought to have been considered when the promises were made, and no doubt Denmark was bound as far as possible to carry out those promises. The Constitution of 1855, by which Denmark professed to fulfil her engagements, was abrogated upon the remonstrances of the Diet. Then came the unfortunate Patent of March, which was afterwards withdrawn; and next followed the November Constitution, which was a violation of the promises of Denmark as regarded Schleswig. There was scarcely a despatch sent to Denmark 1356 in which the British Government did not insist that the engagements entered into had been violated, and did not urge the Danish Government to fulfil its promises. Such was the state of affairs when a new element was introduced by the sudden death of the late King, which brought into operation the law of succession. Reference had been made to the answers given last year by his noble Friend at the head of the Government to the hon. Member for Hors-ham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald), that, under certain circumstances, Denmark would not be allowed to stand alone. An interpretation had been given to that answer which was not warranted. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite must not jump too hastily to a conclusion. One ought to try and be somewhat logical in the matter. What his noble Friend said was, that if the integrity of Denmark were threatened, Denmark would not be left alone. But under what circumstances was that answer given? It was before the death of the King, when Germany had no legitimate cause of complaint against Denmark. The question of the succession had not arisen. [Mr. PEACOCKE: It was after the Patent of March.] No doubt it was after the Patent of March, but the question of Schleswig had not arisen—it was then merely a question of Holstein. Had there been a wanton, causeless aggression on Denmark, he did not mean to say that the British Government would not have deemed it necessary to interfere. But that case had never arisen. The state of things contemplated in the answer of his noble Friend had never occurred. Well, the King died, and the British Government did all they could to induce Denmark to fulfil her promises. Most unfortunately a very strong party at Copenhagen drove the Government to pass the November Constitution, and only one thing was wanting to make it law—that was the signature of the King. Nobody ever accused His Majesty of anti-German tendencies. He had been throughout opposed to the very Constitution he was then required to confirm; but he felt it right now that he had ascended the throne to sign that Constitution. Her Majesty's Government were disposed at first to advise him not to sign the Constitution; but under the circumstances they afterwards thought, in presence of the strong feeling which existed, he had no alternative. Now, a state of things had previously arisen which justified the interference of the Diet in Holstein, 1357 The Diet had already decreed execution, and it only remained to put the decree into effect. Some members of the Diet were inclined to convert the measure of execution, which was legal as against the Duke of Holstein as a member of the Confederation, into an occupation of the Duchy on international grounds. That proposal was negatived, however, and simple execution was ordered. The very act of the Diet in carrying out the execution was an admission of the right of the King who had succeeded under the new law of succession to be Duke of Holstein, because otherwise he could not have been treated as a member of the Confederation and execution decreed against him. Her Majesty's Government thought these proceedings too hasty, for in consequence of their representations and previous to the execution, the King of Denmark had already repealed the patent, and had made a promise to repeal the constitution. Thus, the King had gone even further than the Diet had a right to ask, because they were not entitled to demand a repeal of the Constitution, as Schleswig was not under the jurisdiction of the Diet. The execution was de facto converted into occupation. The troops of the Diet commenced by pulling down the arms of the King of Denmark and substituting German for Danish employés. The Duke of Augustenburg was allowed to enter the Duchies, and every encouragement was given to the German population to take part with the Pretender. Then the two great Powers of Germany appeared as the mandatories of the Diet, and as parties to the negotiation of 1851–2, They alleged that Denmark had broken her engagements by the attempt to incorporate Schleswig with Denmark, and gave forty-eight hours for the repeal of the constitution, threatening to march troops into Schleswig if the condition was not fulfilled within the time specified. The Danish Government being a constitutional Power, with Chambers to consult, it was impossible for it to accede to these terms. The British Government endeavoured to prevent the two Powers from carrying out their threat, but their representations were in vain. He could not but own that, in his opinion, M. Hall seemed to deserve the remarks which had been applied to him by hon. Members that evening, that his proceeding was certainly at variance with his desire to set Denmark right, in that he sent away the Chamber, for at that time the Chamber might have been induced to 1358 repeal the constitution. If that had been done, all pretence would have been removed for the invasion by the two German Powers. Her Majesty's Government, however, did their best to avert war. They had been taunted with supporting Denmark to a certain point, and then abandoning her. Such was not the case. The papers showed, and the Danish Minister had distinctly acknowledged to Earl Russell, that we had never promised more than moral support and sympathy. The British Government told that of Denmark plainly that they could give no material support. If they had promised support they would have given it. A great deal had been said about a despatch which had been sent to Earl Cowley. No doubt France and Russia were asked whether, in the event of any attempt being made to dismember the Danish Monarchy, they would co-operate with England to prevent such a proceeding. That situation had, however, never arisen. The Austrian and Prussian Governments, in consequence of the action taken by the British Government, distinctly declared that they had not in view the dismemberment of the Danish Monarchy, and that they adhered to the principle of the integrity of that kingdom. Well, then, would the British Government have been justified in going to war with Austria, Prussia, and the rest of Germany under such circumstances? Austria and Prussia might be behaving badly to a small Power, but as long as they maintained that they did not contemplate the dismemberment of Denmark, there was no ground for war. ["Oh!"] Did hon. Members opposite mean to say we ought to have gone to war? ["No!"] Then he must ask what they meant? That was always the way with the Opposition. When challenged on any point of policy they immediately hacked out of it. He was satisfied, at any rate, that the country was with the Government in this matter, and that a war was not desired by the people. It was very easy to say that England had been degraded and humiliated. There was no humiliation in trying to preserve peace, even although their efforts had proved unavailing. In fact, they were bound when one proposal failed to make another. Her Majesty's Government were not intermeddling as had been said. ["Oh, oh!"] Would hon. Members get up and answer him, and not cry "Oh, oh?" The treaty was negotiated under our auspices. We were asked to mediate by the Diet, by Prussia, and by 1359 Austria. If we had not complied with that invitation we should have been recreant to our principles. There was a great difference between intervention and mediation. The former implied the use of arms to force a people to accept a Government, or an arrangement to place a Government over a people. Mediation was a friendly attempt to reconcile differences and prevent war; and it was a duty imposed on every civilized Government. Unfortunately, they had not been able to prevent the outbreak of war in Denmark, but they had been able to prevent that war from becoming a general, a great European war. It was entirely owing to the exertions of Her Majesty's Government, and the influence which they possessed in Europe, that the war had been prevented from extending over the whole Continent. That was his conviction; the country believed so, too, and when the question came to be calmly considered, it would also be the opinion of the House. He would not follow the hon. Gentleman into the details of the question. Common decency prevented it. That was a House of debate, and he felt it would be wrong in him were he, humbly representing the Government, to express his opinion on questions of great gravity in which other Powers besides ourselves were deeply interested, when within twenty-four hours a Conference would assemble to consider them. The people of Schleswig-Holstein would be represented there; if not adequately represented by the King of Denmark, by the Plenipotentiary of the Diet. The whole question would be heard and discussed, and, he repeated, it would be altogether unjustifiable and unprecedented if he ventured to express an opinion on its details. [A laugh.] He would not be driven by taunts or cheers to do so. He did not know that there was any other matter on which he need dwell. He believed no subject had ever been submitted to the consideration of the House involving so many and such difficult questions. It would be impossible for them to decide these questions in a hasty manner. The conduct which the Government had pursued was a just one. He believed the country was of the same opinion. They had endeavoured to keep the country out of a general war, and although the policy they had pursued had excited some feelings of animosity to England in Germany, yet he believed the German people were too moderate and calm not to see that Her Majesty's 1360 Government had been influenced only by a desire to act justly. He made great allowance for the German population, but if his information was true, the feeling against this country was rapidly passing away. There was a much calmer feeling arising in Germany, and the German people, fairly considering the matter, could not fail to perceive that the conduct of the British Government had been just and moderate, intended to reconcile their differences and to respect their rights.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I wish to express to the House the reasons that have induced me to give notice of moving the Previous Question on the Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard, in case, as I anticipate, I shall have an opportunity of so doing. And I am desirous on the part not merely of myself, but of many who sit on this side of the House, to take as early an opportunity in the discussion as I can for giving those reasons, because it has been said that proposing the Previous Question in this discussion implies a certain degree of confidence in the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. Now, Sir, as I am very much indisposed to gain any votes under false pretences, I beg to state that I have no confidence whatever in the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government, and that I was animated in no degree by sentiments of that kind in giving a notice of this contingent character. Sir, I think the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government, especially during the last twelve months, such as to occasion very just and grave anxiety and apprehension in this country. I think the course pursued with regard to the insurrection in Poland — a matter intimately connected with this affair of Denmark—the course pursued in that matter was one which certainly disentitled the Government to the confidence of this House. Sir, I have before referred to the total want of system which seems to characterize the management of our foreign affairs by the present Administration. I think the climax of mismanagement was reached in the conduct of the Government with respect to the Polish insurrection, and its diplomatic communications on that subject, both with France and Russia. The noble Lord, on a previous occasion when I expressed that opinion, said I was dissatisfied with the Government because they had not gone to war with Russia in the interests of Poland. Sir, although I may, and believe every one in this House must, feel 1361 that the partition of Poland was one of the most deplorable events in history, still I think that England going to war with Russia last year for Poland would have been an act of insanity—of insanity not less than going to war with Germany, which, it appears, Her Majesty's Government were quite prepared to do only a very few months ago. In conducting those negotiations we held out expectations to France, with respect to co-operating with France, in regard to the Polish insurrection which we were not justified in doing. We were not justified, because the course we apparently contemplated was one opposed to every principle of English policy, and one which no Ministry, I think, at any time was authorized to contemplate. The policy of France with regard to Poland is different from ours. We cannot blame France for that. We cannot say that France should have the same views on this question with ourselves; and when countries are on terms of intimate alliance and co-operation generally in the management of public affairs, and a different policy is pursued in matters of consequence, it is by friendly communications, sacrifices, and concessions that those misconceptions and misunderstandings which otherwise would occur are prevented. But Her Majesty's Government took a line with respect to the insurrection in Poland which anticipated all that the traditionary policy of France in regard to that country required, and then when France, encouraged by representations, by speeches in this House, by despatches in the regular course of diplomatic communications, and by extraordinary statements made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on occasions made for the purpose—when France took a line and was prepared to follow a policy she sincerely believed perfectly consistent with her interests, we were under the necessity of suddenly drawing back and leaving France in a position which she herself candidly acknowledged was not one of dignity or self-respect in the eyes of Europe. I say we were not justified in taking that course; it was a very grave error—one of the gravest errors of modern times so to manage negotiations with Russia with respect to Poland, as to place a Power like France, in intimate terms of alliance and friendship with us, in such a position. I said we were not justified in taking that course, and the noble Lord the First Minister instantly replies, "Oh, you mean to say we ought to go to 1362 war with Russia? "I say nothing of the kind. But I do say you committed one of the gravest errors statesmen could commit. The direct evil was great, but the indirect consequence on the position of Denmark is still graver, much more deplorable, and strictly to be traced to the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in their negotiations with respect to Poland. Now, this question of Denmark and the Duchies was most clearly, originally, a very small question. If you look to the size of the countries, the amount of population, and the resources that could be commanded by the States whose destiny was immediately at stake, it was impossible not to think that when a question of what may be called the police of Europe was raised, if there had been, which there was originally, a thorough understanding, a sincere similarity of opinion on the matter between England, France, and Russia—a rare circumstance that there should be a sincere and thorough similarity of opinion between three Powers of such paramount influence — it is impossible to suppose for a moment that the present deplorable state of things could have happened. But your influence you had destroyed by your previous conduct, and almost at the moment you quitted France and refused haughtily, even rudely, her proposition for a Congress, within forty-eight hours you were obliged, as it were, to appeal to her for assistance in the matter of Denmark and the Duchies, which has led to these serious results, to a bloody and destructive war, which has shaken the peace of Europe, and which even now may not be settled without a general state of hostilities. It may be said, and indeed it has been said, "If these are your views, why have you not brought this subject of the management of our foreign affairs under the consideration of the House?" Now, Sir, I think the answer to that is simple and satisfactory. The state of affairs which I have slightly sketched was a state of affairs existing before Parliament met. It was after the House was prorogued last year that the crowning absurdity of our negotiations with Russia was accomplished; it was during the recess that the estrangement of France arose, in consequence of our refusal to assent to a Congress; it was before Parliament met that the state of affairs with Denmark assumed its critical character. When Parliament met there was—I believe, and I have no object in concealing it—a 1363 general impression that the first duty of this House would be to consider the conduct of the Government in regard to our foreign relations, and we came here with a belief that, in the state of feeling existing in the country, and considering the alarming circumstances which attended the position of affairs on the Continent, the moment Parliament met those documents would be immediately placed upon the table of the House, which were the only foundation upon which, with any chance of success, a Motion could be based upon a subject of this kind. It is very well for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne), concerning whose study of these papers I take a very different view from that taken by the noble Lord, for I think he has maturely considered them—it is very easy for the hon. Member, with no responsibility attaching to him, to get up and make a Motion with a very clever speech, and then to say to me and hon. Gentlemen sitting on these benches, "Why do you not come forward and declare your policy; and if you disapprove the policy of the Government, why do you not take the opinion of the House upon it?" But, Sir, at no time is a vote which really would amount to a vote of want of confidence to be lightly called for. It is not an act of mere courage, to be done without due consideration; and I maintain that, in the present position of parties, now nearly balanced, to bring forward a Motion impugning the foreign policy of Government, without at the same time taking every reasonable means of insuring success, would be an act of the greatest imprudence and of the most unjustifiable character.
In bringing forward a question of this kind there are two conditions of success which I hold to be absolutely necessary, and without which it is impossible to appeal to this House with any prospect of success. The first condition is that we should have before us all the Parliamentary documents which the House of Commons has a right to expect from the Government in explanation or vindication of its conduct. If I had given notice of a Motion challenging the policy of the Government as to Denmark, without having before us the information which we had a right to expect, the unanswerable argument of the Government would have been, "You, the House of Commons, are called upon to pronounce 1364 upon a most important matter, and question the policy of Government while you have not the documents before you to enable you to come to any conclusion." We know well—and it is a fortunate thing it should be so—we know that there are Gentlemen on both sides of the House not holding extreme party views, who would not allow themselves to be influenced or to be brought to vote without full consideration; who would say that such an appeal could not be resisted, and consequently many Members who might perhaps have voted with us upon the merits of the question would probably vote against us. That being the first condition of success for such a Motion, how did we find ourselves situate as to the production of papers? We did assume that when Parliament met these papers would be immediately produced. There were no papers, although for weeks before Parliament met the whole country was talking of no other subject. It was not until nearly four weeks afterwards that what I may call the first batch—the first three parts of these papers—came into our possession. The explanations given by the Government upon the subject of the delay, are, I must say, to me most unsatisfactory. When the subject was first mooted in this House, the noble Lord at the head of the Government spoke in his usual manner, certainly implying that he intended to produce papers, and saying that they would be produced in due time. But the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in another place on the same evening, I think, said that no papers had been prepared, because it was not contemplated that any should be produced while negotiations were still going on. I say that the House of Commons for a considerable time was left without any knowledge of the course the Government were pursuing. It was nearly a month after we first met that these papers came into the hands of Members. Easter fell early, and just at the time when we had tolerably mastered these papers the Minister came forward and announced that negotiations were about to recommence with a considerable prospect of success.
Well, then, Sir, the second condition of success for a Motion of this kind is, that a Minister shall not be able to meet you with a statement that negotiations are going on; that by your Motion you would be interfering with them, and that you must accept the responsibility of what may follow. No person could bring forward a Motion impugning the foreign 1365 policy of a Government with any prospect of success, if the First Minister declares upon his authority that negotiations were going on. I say, then, that the two conditions of success for a Motion of this kind did not exist. We had various papers laid before us, but some of no ordinary importance—perhaps the most interesting papers—were not delivered to us until after Easter, so that we had not the opportunity of studying them during the holidays. When we met after Easter, and we had these papers in our hands, then we were told that the prospect of a Conference was almost a certainty. I took an opportunity at that time of expressing the little hope I had of any Conference without an armistice, because the incidents of one day would set aside the deliberations of the previous one. Still there was a possibility of a Conference, and we had to consider what was at stake. It was a question of great importance—no less than a question of peace or war—and although I admit that the feeling of the people of England has been one of great sympathy with the people of Denmark; although I think it is impossible not to admire the determined, even the heroic manner in which that people have defended their country, still watching public opinion, naturally with some anxiety, I must say I am much mistaken if the predominant sentiment has not been from the first that peace should be preserved as long as it could be preserved consistently with the honour of the country. I say, then, that Gentlemen sitting on this side, strong as their feelings may have been, were not justified as patriotic men in bringing forward a vote of want of confidence—for it would have amounted to that—first, because they had no or insufficient information, and next, because they were told negotiations were about to commence.
It is impossible for any one not to have seen that for a considerable time the tendency of events has been that we should have a Conference certainly; and that probably, and now almost certainly, we should have a Conference with an armistice. The Conference is to meet tomorrow, and I shall not be surprised if an armistice is at once announced as the necessary consequence of events which I think disgraceful and deplorable, but which still are events of great magnitude, and which must exercise that influence upon human conduct and the situation of affairs that events of such magnitude usually do. 1366 Well, we are on the eve of the Conference, and it is to meet in this city—in this parish—in the sound of that very bell which is now tolling; and this is the moment that we are asked to give an opinion—and what sort of opinion?—on the present state of affairs. The Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard is not a censure of the general conduct of the Government—neither is the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Maldon, nor the Supplementary Amendment of the hon. Member for Bridgwater. They are all suggestions of bases for the Conference which is to meet to-morrow; and though I am the last person who would feel inclined to diminish the attributes and functions of the House of Commons, yet I do not think the House of Commons is exactly the place where the bases of a Conference should be devised. We have heard a great deal about sitting round a green table, but the Gentlemen sitting on these green benches are not exactly the persons to settle by commanding majorities in American style, with all their passions and Parliamentary conflicts, the bases of a Conference. On that ground I disapprove all these Motions and Amendments which are on the paper of the House. Then what is the course which we ought to adopt? My opinions on public affairs have been intimated pretty freely since Parliament met, though I have not felt justified in asking the House for a formal vote on the policy of the Government. Still, I reserve to myself the right to do so. The period of the Session is still early, and why, then, should we now be hurried to a decision? Weeks ago — before Easter—we were taunted because we did not ask the opinion of the House on the policy of the Government. All that has since occurred shows how prudent it was to allow them to develop their policy—if it may be so called—so that we might really understand what scheme they had, because it was most extraordinary that when Parliament met the Government seemed to have no policy. It is the fashion now to taunt the Opposition on the ground that they have no policy, but it would be a new function for us if we had one. We are the constitutional critics of public affairs; but the originators of measures and inventors of a policy, the individuals who come forward with their schemes and suggestions for public approbation, are not the Opposition, but the Ministers of the Crown, and we stand here to criticize the suggestions and 1367 schemes which they bring forward, and which are founded on knowledge which we cannot share, and inspired, no doubt, by the feeling of responsibility under which they act. My opinion, as far as I can form one, on the conduct of the Government, with respect to their mauagement of Danish affairs, is such as I have always expressed, and I have seen nothing to change it. So, with regard to the affairs of Poland, we have come to that deplorable position—for it is deplorable—which we have occupied for many months. As for the question of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, "Are you for war or not?" I deny that that is the whole issue. I am not for war. I can contemplate with difficulty the combination of circumstances which can justify war in the present age unless the honour of the country is likely to suffer; but I can understand that things have been so mismanaged by Her Majesty's Government as to be brought into a position which, had they been managed with firmness, and at the same time with conciliation, they never would have occupied; and this system of Government—of always supposing that the Gordian knot can only be cut—is one which will some day drift us again into war, as it drifted us into the Crimean war. I have now given to the House the reasons, which I know are sincere, and which I trust are satisfactory, why we, with all our objections to the conduct of the Government in respect to foreign affairs, with respect to the affairs of Poland, and to the condition we are in by the estrangement of France, and with respect to the deplorable events in Denmark, have it not in our power, nevertheless, to bring forward a vote of want of confidence in the Government with those fair conditions of success which would counsel such a course in Parliament. Why, it would have been an act of absolute insanity to bring forward such a measure, had we placed it thereby in the power of the Government to say, "In the first place, you have not the information which would explain our conduct, or you are making this Motion at a time when we are about to carry on negotiations," I could not take the responsibility of bringing forward such a Motion at a moment like the present. I do not despair now that this Conference is about to assemble, but, on the contrary, I hope and believe that we shall speedily have the announcement of an armistice. I cannot, therefore, now take upon myself the responsibility of 1368 challenging the Government of the Queen, and of throwing any additional obstacles in the way of the difficult task they have to accomplish, But, at the same time, I do not want our situation to be misunderstood, or our feelings to be misinterpreted. we reserve our right, as we have done from the first, to ask the House to give an opinion on the course of the Government with respect to its management of foreign affairs, I think that it is no arrogant step on our part if we presume to take the opportunity which we think the most advantageous and justifiable for that purpose. I think it is one of the first duties of those who are responsible for our party conflicts, not to fight the battle on the ground or at the time selected by our opponents. We think that we are ourselves the best judges of that question; but do not let the House suppose that in making the Motion of the Previous Question any degree of confidence is implied by us in the conduct of foreign affairs by the Ministers; and do not let the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or his Colleagues, suppose that we will not take the first fitting opportunity to ask the House to pronounce its judgment on their policy.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I should have hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would have been sufficiently aware that we never could have fallen into the delusion that he would propose a vote of confidence in the Government. We do not expect that, for it is not in the nature of things, and the disclaimer on his part was by no means necessary to enlighten our minds. But if there had been any doubt on the subject, that which has just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman is calculated to dispel it. I did not, however, expect that, in a debate on Danish affairs, we should have been led back to discuss the question of Poland or that of the Congress. The right hon. Gentleman, greatly blaming our conduct throughout the whole of the transactions to which he referred, has omitted to explain what it is that we ought to have done. He blamed us for what we did, but omitted to state what he would have altered for the better. He has blamed the conduct we pursued in regard to Poland, but he has said that it would have been insanity for the English Government to go to war with Russia in respect to the affairs of Poland. Then, what other course would he have had us take? Are we to infer that, while on the one hand he thought war insanity, on the other he thought silence 1369 proper? But was it possible for the British Government to be silent in respect to the affairs of Poland? Hardly a fortnight passed last year without some question or Motion on the part of hon. Members, especially those sitting on the other side, urging Her Majesty's Government to take steps to remonstrate with the Russian Government on what was justly deemed the violation of the engagements of the Treaty of Vienna with regard to Poland. We were urged not simply to express our own opinion, but that of this House and the country, and we were urged too, not to express the English opinion only, but to endeavonr to collect in a body the opinion of all the Powers of Europe, in order that the collective voice of Europe might sway the Government of Russia, and induce them to do that which it was justly contended they were bound to do by the engagements they had entered into. Therefore I say that the steps which we took with regard to Poland, were steps urged on us by the opinion of this House and of the country, and we should have been liable to censure if we had not done that which the unanimous opinion of the House and the country imperatively called on us to do. Consequently, the right hon. Gentleman having only blamed what we did, and having omitted to say what we ought to have done, we are entitled to say that our conduct with respect to Poland does not deserve the censure he has passed on it, and that there was no other course which we could pursue even according to the sentiments he has expressed. Diplomatic action was strongly forced upon us. We were repeatedly told to go to Russia with the opinions of all Europe. We did go and we failed, but that was not our fault, and we are not blameable for it. But, when the right hon. Gentleman says we lured France into a position of humiliation, I utterly deny the allegation. There was no humiliation to France. France, like Spain, like Austria, like Prussia, joined with us in urging upon the Government of Russia to fulfil the obligations of the Treaty of Vienna. Russia, admitting those obligations, and not saying, as she did before, that the conquest of Poland in 1832 emancipated her from the obligations of the Treaty of 1815, declared that she would perform them when peace and tranquillity was restored to Poland. And therefore I say we gained a point, although it was, perhaps, a small one, and there was no humiliation suffered by any of the 1370 Powers concerned—by this country, by France, by Austria, or by any other State; and I say further that that which we did was in harmony with the wishes of this House and of the country, and that France, so far from being humiliated, may look back upon the result with a feeling of satisfaction that her exertions have not been thrown away.
Then, again, we are brought back by the right hon. Gentleman to the discussion of the Congress. But, when that question was discussed in this House, we gave reasons which we thought unanswerable for not acceding to it; but as to giving a "rude" answer, I entirely deny that there was anything which could merit that epithet, although we gave in a plain and straightforward manner the reasons why we thought that Congress would lead to no useful result. So much for that which is past and gone. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has at considerable length stated the reasons why he and those who act with him have not thought fit upon those Danish affairs to call upon the House to pronounce an opinion on the policy of Her Majesty's Government. In all sincerity, I think the right hon. Gentleman has made out a very sufficient case for the satisfaction of his own party. For I admit there has not been a moment since the meeting of Parliament at which, consistently with Parliamentary practice and the real interests of the question, he could properly have called upon the House to express an opinion upon the transactions which were going on. It was no fault of ours that that could not be done. We produced the papers as soon as they were ready—we gave them by instalments from time to time up to the last moment; but the transactions to which they relate were going on from week to week and from month to month, and therefore there was no moment at which we could have given all the papers which had passed up to that time. We could only give them by instalments, and the right hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying that, the papers being always in arrear, he could have been always met by the assertion that circumstances had changed since the period up to which the papers were given, that the negotiations were still going on, and that discussion might prejudice the transactions which were then in progress. But the right hon. Gentleman gave two reasons why he could not hope for success, and I quite admit the weight and justice of those reasons. But might I presume to suggest a third, which is that the 1371 opinion of the country and of the House upon the subject of these negotiations was such that I do not think he could have hoped for success in any such Motion? This is a question upon which he and I naturally entertain a difference of opinion. I think, however, the right hon. Gentleman in the course which he has pursued or moans to pursue this evening is acting very judiciously. For the reasons stated by my hon. Friend (Mr. Layard), it is exceedingly difficult for a Member of the Government upon the eve of a Conference at which the representatives of different Powers will meet to discuss an event of great and European importance—it is difficult, nay impossible, for a Member of the Government to speak without the greatest reserve upon matters which are to be subjects of discussion and deliberation in that Conference. Anything which might be said bearing upon matters which are to be made the subject of discussion would be liable to do injury either one way or the other—either by implying admissions which we ought not to make, or by laying down conditions which it might not be expedient to urge, and therefore I am precluded by the position in which I stand from following the hon. Member for Liskeard into the long and elaborate statement which he made in connection with the Danish question and the Treaty of 1852. All I can say is to repeat what my hon. Friend the Under Secretary insisted on—namely, that perpetual confusion arises from not realizing and bearing in mind the distinction between a protocol and a treaty, a protocol being simply an engagement between plenipotentiaries which may be disavowed by the Government, and a treaty being a document not only signed by plenipotentiaries, but ratified by the hand of the Sovereign, and therefore binding upon the State whose Sovereign has concluded and ratified the engagement. The Treaty of 1852 is a document of that description, and my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office is perfectly justified in saying, that when any person talks of the Treaty of 1852 as an instrument of no effect, he is wrong, be cause it is a treaty to the observance and execution of which every Sovereign who ratified it is bound. Well, Sir, all the Powers who were parties to that treaty, and whose plenipotentiaries are to meet to-morrow, acknowledge its validity and obligation, and therefore the case which was contemplated by the questions and answers to which allusion has been 1372 made as a ease of intended dismemberment of the Danish monarchy has not arisen, and cannot arise as long as the Powers who are parties to the Treaty of 1852 maintain that which I hold they are bound in honour to maintain—namely, the engagements to which they pledged themselves by that treaty. As for the share which fell to my lot in the negotiation of that treaty, I am proud of it; but the merit of having finally concluded it belongs to the Government of the Earl of Derby, and to the Foreign Secretary of that day, the Earl of Malmesbury, who signed it, and brought it to its completion. Therefore, the merit, if merit there be, is to be divided between us, and of the blame, if there be any, the right hon. Gentleman must consent to take his share. As I have said before, I think that the course which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to adopt on the present occasion is the right one. I think that upon the eve of the meeting of a Conference of the different Powers who signed the Treaty of 1852, for the purpose of endeavouring to restore peace, and of establishing at the outset, as I hope, an armistice, if there were to be any strong expression of opinion on the part of this House, it would tend prejudicially to effect the result of the negotiations which are about to take place. I therefore concur with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that the course which this House would most wisely adopt would be to agree with him in his Motion of the Previous Question. I will myself cordially be his follower on the present occasion. I will give him that confidence in this instance which he refuses to give to me, and I will most willingly follow him into the lobby on the Previous Question.
said, it was with the greatest reluctance that he rose on that occasion after the leaders of the House on either side had spoken; but as he had an Amendment on the paper, he thought it his duty to address a few words to the House. The noble Lord who had just sat down had stated that the near approach of the Conference forced upon him so great a reserve that anything like free discussion on his part was all but impossible. But the Amendment which he (Mr. Kinglake) had put upon the paper was in the interest of that very reserve. It was founded on the fact that the noble Lord a few days ago, well knowing that the Conference was about to meet, came down to the House and prejudged the question by 1373 asserting that the King of Denmark was to be deemed the lawful Sovereign of the people of the Duchies. So much, therefore, for that Ministerial reserve of which the noble Lord would make so great account. The noble Lord had thought it necessary for the third or fourth time to explain the difference between a protocol and a treaty; just as if his hon. Friend (Mr. Osborne), who had shown so intimate a knowledge of the whole question, did not know the one from the other. But the noble Lord entirely misunderstood the cause of the use of the phrase "protocol of London" on the Continent. It was not that the Germans did not know the difference between a protocol and a treaty; they knew it very well, but the indignant people intentionally went back to the origin of those proceedings, and called it the hateful protocol of London, because it was hateful to them. To that very day the Treaty of 1852 had not received the assent of the German Confederation. He entirely agreed with the opinion expressed by the hon. Under Secretary of State that there was no justification for a war in the matter against Germany; and he compared that opinion very gladly with the invitation which, towards the end of January, was addressed to France, Spain, and Russia, to join in a league for resisting, if necessary, the invasion of Schleswig. That proposal failed, partly because it encountered the refusal of the French Government; and, when Parliament met, the feeling of the House of Commons was sufficiently shown to make it certain that England would not go to war in any such cause. It was true that in the progress of the negotiation there was seemingly an approach towards war. And now that we knew there was to be no war, the country was undoubtedly open to the taunt of its enemies, that while England had acknowledged in many ways that she was bound in honour to go to war for Denmark, she, in fact, had not done so. That was a wrong conclusion gratuitously arrived at, but it was one full of danger, for the people of England would not long endure to have it imputed to them that they were enjoying a dishonourable peace. In his opinion, it was not a dishonourable peace, and war would have have been unjustifiable under the circumstances. But it was of the greatest importance for the honour of England to show that the peace which we were enjoying was not a peace arrived at for the sake of retaining the magnificent state of things indicated in the Budget; that 1374 it was not a peace to which we clung for any base purpose, but that we held to peace simply because war would have been impolitic and unjust. A moment's thought would show us that the position of England in this matter was not so dishonourable as the enemies of the country represented. When a weak Power was leaning on a strong one in the expectation of assistance, the former did not immediately plunge into war, but proposed terms of a moderate kind which might be acceptable to the smaller Power, and which its opponent might also be persuaded to accept. Well, that was what England did. She succeeded in obtaining the assent of Austria and Prussia to certain terms, but Denmark refused them. No doubt, Denmark had a perfect right to refuse them, but that refusal surely absolved England from responsibility, On the first day of the Session he had pointed out that neither the Earl of Malmesbury nor any of those who were parties to that treaty could have framed it on such a plan as that the consent of the Estates of Holstein and Schleswig should be excluded. He never supposed that any English statesman would deliberately set his hand to a treaty which was to infringe the liberty of a constitutional country. But, since then, papers have been laid before Parliament which explained in the frankest way what were the views of those who commenced the negotiations in 1850, and who brought them to a close in 1852. In 1850 the noble Lord was inviting the Powers of Europe to a Conference. Did he then pretend that by a treaty of the kind the rights of persons in the country dealt with were to be superseded? Not at all; and that was a view which extricated the noble Lord from much of what was said by his hon. Friend (Mr. Osborne). The noble Lord thought that all the internal arrangements necessary for giving effect to his scheme should be made in Denmark and the Duchies, and that then Europe should give its sanction to the arrangement so made. The noble Lord then wrote that it was not professed that the Conference of London should interfere with the arrangements which the King of Denmark should make in the order of succession, but that the parties to the protocol should approve these arrangements when and after they should have been made. In other despatches the noble Lord used language which was equally clear; and again, in a statement drawn up on the eve of the treaty by Baron Brunnow, who was propelling these arrange- 1375 ments, he distinctly said that the Chambers would be crushed. That being the intention of those who were acting at the time, and it being obviously consistent with what the statesmen of a constitutional country must have intended, he could not help thinking, that when the matter came to be properly understood, the Government would see the necessity, not of asking these Estates to choose a Government, but of requiring that they should be consulted before the change of succession took place. The answer of the Foreign Secretary to that question seemed a most curious one. The reason for not appealing to those Estates was, he said, that they came into existence after 1815, and that, therefore, as he explained it, they had no attribute to alter the law of succession, But, surely, it was unnecessary to go back to a period anterior to 1815 in order to find a right to be consulted upon changes of the kind. It really seemed to him that the course pursued was one which involved a misinterpretation of the treaty, a contempt for that principle of nationality which in other cases we had taken so much to heart, and for that principle of non-intervention which was never so well applied as when it was directed to prohibit interference in the affairs of foreign States. It was a course besides which put us in antagonism to nations of Europe who were our natural allies, and all that was done not to avert a war, but to prevent the restoration of peace.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
said, that before the Question was put he wished to know how they were to vote. There were two Amendments before the House as well as the Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard. Now he intended to vote for the Previous Question, but what he wished to know was, whether in order to do so they must not first vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Maldon, and then, as it were, for the Motion of the hon. Member for Liskeard, and afterwards, when the original Motion was put, to vote in favour of the Previous Question.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
I think I shall simplify the Question very much by saying that I am so satisfied with the discussion which has taken place, so satisfied with the reserve which has been displayed by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who has come out to-night in a new character as the representative of decency and delicacy, so satisfied with the reserve of the noble Lord, and above all, so convinced that this Treaty of 1852 is a dead letter, 1376 which will never patch up the so-called integrity of Denmark, that I shall be content to be adjudged by the events of the Conference. I will therefore simplify matters by saying that on this occasion, like the noble Lord, I shall also be a follower of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli). [Cries of "No, no!"]
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, he wished to ask how the question really stood. As he understood it, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liskeard did not press his Motion, and consequently his (Mr. Peacocke's) Motion was gone.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the Amendment had been withdrawn by the consent of the House; but as the House did not consent to the withdrawal of the Original Motion, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) would have an opportunity of moving the Previous Question.
§ Whereupon Previous Question, "That that Question be now put,—(Mr. Disraeli)—put, and negatived.