§ LORD RICHARD GROSVENOR
Sir, in rising to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in answer to the Gracious Speech we have this day heard, I must beg the House to grant me that indulgence which it has never refused to any Member who has been placed in the position I have now the honour to fill.
Sir, this is the third successive Session on which Her Majesty has alluded to events personally connected with the Royal family. Three years ago it was to announce the death of the great and good Prince Consort — a bereavement from which Her Majesty has not yet recovered, and from which I fear She never will entirely recover; although I trust that the sympathy which has been so generally extended to Her by this House and the country, will be of some avail as proving how entirely Her Majesty possesses the love and devotion of Her people. Last year Her Majesty was pleased to inform the House that She had given Her consent to the contemplated marriage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales; and on the present occasion we have to congratulate Her Majesty on the birth of a Prince, who, it is to be hoped will, though at some far distant day, be called upon to reign over this great country. The Princess of Wales has been but a short year among us, but in that time we have learned to love and honour her— every day has increased the love and respect which greeted her on her first arrival; and I have no doubt that the sympathy which has been shown for her native country, now plunged into the horrors of an almost civil war, will show her that the country loves and respects her, and that she has not cast her lot in an inhospitable land.
Sir, the first paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech to which I shall call particular attention, deals with the complicated question of Schleswig-Holstein, and I must beg the House to bear with me a few moments while I allude to that complicated subject. Her Majesty is pleased to inform Parliament that "the state of affairs on the Continent of Europe has been the cause of great anxiety to Her," and that the stipulations of a certain treaty has been brought into immediate application by the death of the late King of Denmark. It is a sad thing that the Government of Denmark did not 75 learn from the difficulties of 1848 to deal with the people in Sohleswig and Holstein in a more satisfactory manner. If they had only learnt wisdom by that civil war, we should have been saved from the difficulties which are now hanging over both this country and Europe. When we look at the state of the Danish Kingdom—Denmark proper—Schleswig, and Holstein in the year 1857, we shall find that with one exception it was almost identical with the state of that country in 1847, just before the last war, and that that one exception was the appeal to the German Federation. The late King of Denmark was most unfortunately situated with regard to his Ministry, and I may say that the present King is in the same difficulty. If, when he came to the throne, instead of yielding to his Ministers, His Majesty had yielded to his own common sense, he would have revoked the Constitution which at this moment he has called the Rigsraad together to revoke. But can the Rigsraad, illegally constituted as it is, abolish that Constitution? And, after the commencement of war and the shedding of blood, will it at this moment be more disposed to do so than it would have been if the matter had been settled by diplomacy? I think not. The conduct of the Austrians and Prussians in this difficulty had been bullying and most aggressive. Had they only one month ago yielded to the expostulations both of Denmark and of this country, we should have been spared the difficulties which have now arisen. Their excessively aggressive spirit, and the dangerous precedent which they have set of seizing territory as "a material guarantee," have been the cause of these difficulties, and I trust that before it is too late they will be induced to see how false is the step which they have taken. There is, however, no prospect of their doing so, and nobody, therefore, can dare to foretell what would be the end of the war which they have so unjustly begun. We must hope that the representations which Her Majesty has made and is still making with a view to the maintenance of peace will have the desired effect; but whether we assume a passive or an active attitude, we must preserve the balance of power and maintain the conduct which England has always pursued in similar cases. There is nothing more noble in the conduct of England than her strict observance of international duties and international engagements; and it is not too much to say that if the other great 76 Powers of Europe had imitated her example in that respect, the troubles which, are now impending over us would have been avoided. Sir, the next paragraph in the Royal Speech alludes also, I am sorry to say, to war. It alludes to Japan, a country of which but little is known even at the present day. The murders and insults which we have to regret in that country may, I trust, be attributed to ignorance of the good intentions of the British Government and of the power of England. I hope, however, that by this time we are at thorough peace with that country, that over usual commercial intercourse with, it will soon be resumed, and that the Daimio of Satsuma, who was the cause of the late misfortune at Kagosima, will see that England is always ready and willing to avenge such murderous atrocities as those recently committed in Japan, when inflicted even upon the humblest of her people. A great deal of feeling has been manifested against Her Majesty's Government on account of the unfortunate burning of Kagosima. But nobody who had seen a Japanese city, and has become acquainted with the combination of wood and brown paper which constitutes a Japanese house, can doubt that two or three shells dropping into the town will immediately cause the conflagration of the whole place. It is impossible that orders should have been given to burn an inoffensive town, and I have no doubt that it will be found that the destruction of Kagosima was entirely attributable to accident.
Sir, Her Majesty next alludes to the insurrection which broke out last year in New Zealand, which we all hope will before long be successfully quelled. The prosperity of the Colony continues unimpaired. The insurrection, being confined to the northern part of the island, interferes in no respect with the southern portions, where are our richest settlements, and of these the prosperity is as great as ever. As I have said of the Japanese, so I will say of the natives of New Zealand, that I hope they will soon learn to know our power, to learn that our intentions are just and honourable, and that we cannot be insulted with impunity.
Her Majesty next informs the House of the treaty which has been concluded with the great Powers of Europe with reference to the Ionian Islands. I think that the House may well congratulate Her Majesty's Government upon having got rid of that dependency, and I trust that the Ionians 77 may never have occasion to regret the day when they ceased to be under the protectorate of England. Corfu and the other islands will long bear marks of our influence, and, thanks to measures adopted by our Lord High Commissioners, their representatives will carry into the Greek Parliament some reflection of our Government.
It must be gratifying to the House to learn from Her Majesty that the condition of the country is, upon the whole, satisfactory—that I think is undoubtedly the case—and that owing to the wise measures which have passed in the last few years, notwithstanding many reductions of taxation, the revenue has in no degree suffered, but that at the end of the financial year there will be a large surplus. "The distress in the manufacturing districts has been in some degree lessened," are the words of the Royal Speech. I had hoped to have heard that it was "greatly lessened," for I believe that since this time last year, when the distress was enormous, a great diminution has taken place, and that the amount of suffering now existing is not by any means so great as it was at that time. The introduction of cotton from various parts of the world has proved most beneficial to Lancashire, and will, I trust, make us thoroughly independent of the United States of America; although it is, of course, to be regretted that this year we are unable to draw our supplies from that country.
The House must, I think, heartily reecho the prayer with which Her Majesty's Speech concludes; and, in the same spirit, I beg now to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in answer to Her most gracious Speech. The noble Lord then moved—"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to thank Her Majesty for the most gracious Speech delivered by Her Command to both Houses of Parliament:To assure Her Majesty that we heartily join in the expression of gratitude to Almighty God on account of the Princess of Wales having given birth to a son, and to offer to Her Majesty our cordial congratulations upon an event in which we, in common with all Her Majesty's faithful People, take the deepest interest, and which we hail with feelings of devoted loyalty and attachment to Her Majesty's person and family:To assure Her Majesty that we fully participate in the anxiety caused to Her Majesty by the state of affairs on the Continent of Europe:78Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that the death of the late King of Denmark brought into immediate application the stipulations of the Treaty of May, 1852, concluded by Her Majesty, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of the French, the King of Prussia, the Emperor of Russia, the King of Sweden, and the King of Denmark, and afterwards acceded to by the King of Hanover, the King of Saxony, the King of Wurtemberg, the King of the Belgians the King of the Netherlands, the Queen of Spain, the King of Portugal, and the King of Italy; which Treaty declared that it is conducive to the preservation of the balance of power and of the peace of Europe that the integrity of the Danish monarchy should be maintained, and that the several territories which have hitherto been under the sway of the King of Denmark should continue so to remain; and for this purpose settled that, upon the death of the late King and of his uncle Prince Frederick without issue, His present Majesty King Christian the Ninth should be acknowledged as succeeding to all the dominions then united under the sceptre of His Majesty the King of Denmark:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that, actuated by the same desire to preserve the peace of Europe, which was one of the declared objects of all the Powers who were parties to that Treaty, She has been unremitting in Her endeavours to bring about a peaceful settlement of the differences which, on this matter, 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; and humbly to express the satisfaction with which we learn that Her Majesty will continue her efforts in the interest of Peace:To convey our thanks to Her Majesty for informing us that, in consequence of the barbarous murders and cruel assaults committed in Japan upon Her Majesty's subjects, Her Majesty considered it necessary that demands should be made upon the Japanese Government, and upon the Daimio by whose retainers some of those outrages were committed; that, the Government of the Tycoon having complied with the demands, and full satisfaction having been made, the friendly relations between the two Governments have continued unbroken; but that, the Daimio Prince of Satzuma having refused to comply with the demands which were made upon him, and which your Majesty considers to have been just and moderate, his refusal renders measures of coercion necessary:Humbly to express to Her Majesty that we share in Her regret, that while those measures 79 have brought this Daimio to an agreement for compliance they led incidentally to the destruction of a considerable portion of the town of Kagosima; and to thank Her Majesty for commanding that Papers on this subject shall be laid before us:Humbly to express to Her Majesty our gratification at learning that there is reason to hope that the Insurrection which broke out last year among some portion of the native inhabitants of New Zealand, and which still unfortunately continues, will, before long, be put down:To thank Her Majesty for informing us that She has concluded a Treaty with the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of the French, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia, by which Her Majesty consents to give up the Protectorate of the Ionian Islands, and also agrees to the annexation of those Islands to the Kingdom of Greece, and for directing that this Treaty shall be laid before us:Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that She is also negotiating a Treaty with the King of the Hellenes for regulating the arrangements connected with the union of the Ionian Islands with the Kingdom of Greece:To thank Her Majesty for having directed the Estimates for the ensuing year to be laid before us, and for having caused them to be framed with a due regard to economy, and to the efficiency of the Public Service:To assure Her Majesty that we learn with gratification that the condition of the Country is, on the whole, satisfactory; that the Revenue has fully realised its expected amount; that the Commerce of the United Kingdon is increasing; and that, while the distress in the manufacturing districts has been in some degree lessened, there is reason to look forward to an increased supply of cotton from various countries which have hitherto but scantily furnished our manufacturers with this material for their industry:To thank Her Majesty for having commanded to be laid before us a Copy of the Commission which Her Majesty has directed shall be issued for the purpose of revising the various forms of Subscription and Declaration required by the Clergy of the Established Church:Humbly to assure Her Majesty that we will give our earnest attention to the measures of public usefulness which may be submitted for our consideration; and that, in common with Her Majesty, we trust that the blessing of Almighty God may attend our deliberations and prosper our councils for the advancement of the welfare and happiness of Her loyal and faithful People.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Sir, In rising to second the Address to Her Majesty so ably moved by the noble Lord beside me, I also must ask the indulgence of the House, and the occasion is one which makes such a request less than ever a formal phrase; for the importance of the circumstances attendant upon the opening of this Session and of the questions which must arise, impose upon me a responsibility which nothing but the compliment paid to the great city I represent by the selection of me for this duty could have induced me to accept. On the other hand, I will not detain the House long, for the House must be impatient to get through the more formal part of the business, and to hear the opinions of those great leaders of Parliament upon whom, at the present moment, when everything seems doubtful and uncertain, the attention not only of this House but of Europe is fixed. In endeavouring to express our general and cordial concurrence in the congratulations conveyed by the Address to Her Majesty upon the birth of a son to the Prince of Wales, I need ask for no indulgence. The sympathy which the event has elicited from the people gives a further proof of the close connection existing in this country between loyalty to the Throne and the affection—amounting almost to family feeling—for our Queen and her children. The domestic happiness of the Royal family is a matter of such deep national interest, that every occurrence which seems likely to insure its permanence is certain to be welcomed by the people, to whom the Throne, always sacred as an institution, becomes an object of personal love when endeared by the virtues of its occupant. In passing from this bright topic, on which England is unanimous, I come at once to a question confessedly involved in the greatest difficulty —that of Schleswig and Holstein. Whatever may be the differences of opinion that exist, I trust a solution may ultimately be arrived at with that practical harmony which has been, and I trust may long be, a source of England's strength and security. There can be but one opinion as to the object of the policy which Her Majesty's Government are pursuing with regard to the Schleswig and Holstein question; that end is peace. Her Majesty declares, in the Speech from the Throne, that the object of the Treaty of 1852 was to secure the peace of Europe, and that she had been unremitting in her efforts with that end in view. But unanimous as we may be with regard to 81 the end in view, there may still be differences of opinion in the nation as to the means by which that end can best be secured. That does not seem to me necessarily a warlike policy, which contemplates the possibility of strong measures for the coercion of disturbers of the peace; or that necessarily a peaceful policy, which, by laying down beforehand the doctrine of absolute non-intervention, almost holds out a temptation to aggression. The House will doubtless rejoice with me that the Speech from the Throne, although breathing an ardent aspiration for peace, does not by any premature declaration surrender the country's choice as to the course it may ultimately be our interest or our duty to pursue. At the present moment, as on the eve of all continental struggles, the idea uppermost in every mind is, whether England is likely to be drawn into the struggle. The country is divided between the modern policy of non-intervention and its traditional pride of influence, and regard for international obligations; it appears to debate, with some uneasiness, into which scale on this particular question it ought to throw its weight; and I believe it has not yet made up its mind that the doctrine of non-intervention can be of universal and absolute application, if it means that the Government should stand aloof whatever principles are at stake, whatever interests may be involved, or whatever the issues impending. The country cannot comprehend how, while the barriers separating different nations are being thrown down every day by increasing intercourse, by the surrender of ancient prejudices, by treaties of commerce, and by the inculcation of the principle of universal benevolence, the first utterance of England on the approach of a European danger should be to proclaim an utterly selfish and isolated policy, repudiating not only her international obligations, but also, I may say, her international interests. It seems to me as impossible, as it would be inconsistent and impolitic for England in the face of Europe, to lay down a rule of absolute non-intervention. Those professing to desire peace at any price, seem often unwilling to pay the heavy price which might be asked for it—and that is war itself. But the responsible Government of a great country can not adopt such a course as to say, "Whatever happens it is impossible for us to have recourse to any measures stronger than diplomatic 82 remonstrance." A confusion seems to exist in the minds of many as to the nature of the wars waged in these days. It has been declared that all wars spring from kings and aristocracies; in the present day the struggles entered upon appear rather to have their origin, not in the hearts of kings, but in the aspirations and interests of the peoples. In Italy, in Poland, and in America, the war surely had a popular character, and the cause now setting in motion the Germans, whose excitement lay smouldering so long, is entirely of a national and popular kind. It is not the kings who wage war for their own aggrandisement, but the nations who fight for their own interests, or for ideas which are rooted in the popular mind. If the war were reduced to a question between the Houses of Glucksburg and Augustenburg, one might well subscribe to the strong declaration which has been made, that it would be criminal for any Government in England to go to war merely to support a foreign throne. But any one who has studied the question must see that this is not so. The treaty signed by so many European Powers in 1852 declared that it was made for the preservation of the peace of Europe, and that the maintenance of the integrity of Denmark was essential to that object. I will not intrude upon the House my personal opinion as to what our engagements, our interests, or our honour now call upon us to do, but I think it for the interest of the county that a protest should be made against the assumption that the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty is one in which under no circumstances whatever will this country involve itself in hostilities. It is universally believed on the Continent that nothing would induce England to go to war. And yet England is believed to have interests at stake. The Germans believe that one of the chief reasons for our support of Denmark is that we are afraid the harbour of Kiel should fall into German hands, and that thus our commercial prosperity would be imperilled; and they attribute other deep designs to us of which the Government is entirely innocent. Be this, however, as it may, the one dominant conviction abroad is that nothing will tempt our Government to war. And, indeed, the House may feel full confidence that the Government of this country will not depart from the system of non-intervention as far as it is possible to abide by it. The Government 83 has given too many pledges already that, in cases of dispute between Governments and people, it is not to be tempted from its policy of non-intervention, even when subjected to very strong pressure. The neutrality which we have observed towards the belligerents in America was a good proof of this, and it may be confidently believed that Her Majesty's Government will not be tempted rashly to interfere in the Danish quarrel, but will abide by the principle of non-intervention as long as the honour, the dignity, and the interests of the country admit. And while on this point I will only say that I earnestly hope that the steps taken by Austria and Prussia are really meant, as they are said to be, as pledges for the maintenance of the Treaty of 1852, and that the battles which are now being fought, and the lives that are being sacrificed in the friendly occupation of the Danish territory, will not be turned into a dishonourable argument, pleading that the war tears up that very treaty which the war is made to uphold. Sir, passing now to the subject of our internal condition, we may well be thankful that Her Majesty is able to say that the condition of the country is, upon the whole, satisfactory. It is a subject for deep gratitude. It should be remembered that our prosperity has been increased in a time of great commercial and industrial depression. But a few years ago it was believed that the whole prosperity of England depended on her cotton manufactures; and when at length the crisis came which some had foreseen, but none had forestalled, the enemies of England predicted that the bubble of her prosperity would burst; and even her friends believed that though ultimately she was sure to recover, she would have to go through a long period of commercial depression, starvation and discontent. But instead of depression, our commerce has received a magnificent development; the apprehended starvation has been mitigated first by a splendid example of national liberality, and then the energy and elasticity of our enterprise which replaced America by India; and as for insurrection, the only cry that has been heard from Manchester is that the Government should not attempt to depart from its neutrality towards America, and that it should not be tempted to let ships be launched the object of which was to break the blockade which had brought famine to their doors. 84 I think that the country has good ground to be proud of the buoyancy of English capital, with the enterprise of her manufacturers, and, above all, with the endurance and self-control of her working classes. Some advantage, however, has been found for the country in the extension of its commerce through the American war. English ships are now employed in carrying cargoes which were carried heretofore in American vessels, and the precious metals emigrate in such quantities from America to India, that the only grievance of India at this moment was that the mints of Calcutta and Bombay were not able to keep pace with the increasing demands upon them. There had even been a fear that there might be commercial disaster in India, owing to the very enlargement of its trade; but the latest advices showed that the danger was passing away. India had unquestionably been a great gainer by having become the purveyor for Lancashire. Some people think the present state of our commercial relations is unsound, and are anxious because, to use a commercial expression, money is exceedingly dear. But this simply means that the enormous capital of England is commanding a high price. It is feared that the specie which is going out of the country cannot be easily replaced. But this specie is going out of the country because our commercial transactions have been largely increased; and because every country in Europe, America, and even Africa has become tributary to our exchange. The numerous commercial enterprises and joint-stock banks, the advertisements of which we read constantly in the papers, do not absorb the whole of the savings of the nation. It is an error to suppose so. They only show that a change is taking place, which may be termed commercial centralization. Those joint-stock enterprises are partly new firms that take the place of old ones, and our trade is only taking a new direction. It is the natural result of the principle of limited liability, and, looking at the matter fairly, it is not clear that the large undertakings that are being attempted are at all too large for the capital of this country. Our exports show that the trade of the country has increased, and with respect to our imports there is a falling off only in the article of wheat and broadstuffs. We have saved £11,000,000 on the decreased importation of food, and that will go a long way to pay for the £18,000,000 additional which our cotton 85 has cost. Moreover, if our cotton costs more we get it back in a great measure in the increased prices of our manufactures, while the saving on our wheat is absolute. There has been a slight diminution in the consumption of coffee; but the immense increase in the consumption of tea seems intended to show the gratitude of the people to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the remission of duty which he has given; for the public, to show that the right hon. Gentleman was right, had consumed four million more pounds of tea. "Whether, then, we look to our powers of consumption or taxation, we should find that everything bore out what has been said in Her Majesty's Speech, that the prosperity of the country was on the whole satisfactory. I do not wish to diminish the sense of satisfaction the House must feel at that prosperity, when I venture to express an earnest wish, that side by side with that prosperity there should be a proportionate and parallel advance in the condition of our working classes and of that pauper population, to whom, living in almost historical misery, our annual congratulations on increasing prosperity may sometimes convey more irony than truth. It would be a natural and excusable error if those classes, judging from their own immediate condition, were somewhat sceptical as to the growth of a prosperity which scarcely seemed to grow to them. But if there be men who, having influence over the masses, instead of correcting this natural short-sightedness, and regardless of the honest efforts that are made by the rich to work off the legacy of the past, attribute to contemporary and personal intention that destitution which is rather due to an irresponsible past, they appear to me to be sacrificing possible improvement to plausibleagitation, and statesmanship to sentiment. Rejecting as I do every theory of the cause of English pauperism which attributes its origin to class legislation and its maintenance to class egotism, I, as a member of the great Liberal party, and as the representative of a City the picture of whose splendid wealth is set in a frame of the darkest poverty, cannot overlook the question which is now attracting so much attention, the question of the condition of the working classes. I sincerely believe much has been done. Cheaper bread, better education, and the financial policy of the Government, have done much to show that the interests of no class of Englishmen are forgotten in 86 our Parliament even as it is. Still we must persist in that impartial legislation, and I hope the day will come when the doctrine of free trade, which has been applied with such signal success to capital and commerce, and from which such wonderful results have flowed, will be brought to bear upon other factors of our national prosperity—for instance, upon labour— when the restrictions which now impede the free circulation of labour, as well as of land, will be temperately reconsidered. I think the House will agree that nothing I have said prevents my hearty concurrence in that part of the Royal Speech which states that the condition of the country is on the whole satisfactory.
There is one paragraph more to which I will allude. Every one, on this side of the House at least, must have heard with satisfaction the announcement that Her Majesty's Government are about to take the initiative and institute an inquiry in regard to the revision of the declarations required to be made by the clergy of the Established Church. I trust that the result of the Commission about to be appointed will be, that the consciences of many of the most distinguished and loyal members of the Church will be relieved. If that end be arrived at, it will be worthy of the reputation of the great Liberal party. It would be a sad day for the Church of England if an issue should arise between those who support the present system of subscription and those who, it may be with more courage, maintain that the Church rested more upon the truth of her doctrines than the severity of her tests. I trust that by the revision of the subscriptions and declarations of the clergy such an issue may be avoided.
I have now only to thank the House for the patience with which they have heard me, and to trust that they will all unite in the prayer of the concluding paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech, that the blessing of Almighty God may attend our deliberations, and prosper our councils for the advancement of the welfare and happiness of Her Majesty's loyal and faithful subjects.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That," &c. [See page 77.]
§ MR. DISRAELI
Mr. Speaker, my first impression when I read the Speech of the Lords Commissioners was that it was a document not addressed to the times in which we live, and that it did not bear 87 a just relation to the circumstances of the day; and after having listened to the interesting Addresses of the Mover and Seconder, I still retain that first impression. Indeed, if it were not for one paragraph in which an appeal is made to the unaffected loyalty of the nation—that reminding us of the birth of an heir to the Prince of Wales—I really see no reason why this document should have been composed in the year of our Lord 1864. And yet, Sir, since we last met in this House a great deal has happened. Indeed, I can hardly recall move numerous or more important subjects upon which the House of Commons would have been grateful to have been enlightened by the Crown. We certainly are assured —and we receive the announcement with pleasure—that in the opinion of Her Majesty's Commissioners "the condition of the country is on the whole satisfactory, and that the distress in the manufacturing districts is in some degree diminished." But, Sir, I cannot but believe that there are other parts of Her Majesty's kingdom in which very great distress has for a long period prevailed and still prevails, the condition of which is by no means on the whole satisfactory, and where the amount of distress since we last met has certainly not diminished. Now, Sir, if the sympathy of the Sovereign and of Parliament be—as I believe sincerely it is—an expression of sentiment highly valued by the nation, I think it would have been as well if Her Majesty's Government had taken the occasion to refer to the condition of Ireland. Last year we were all sensible of the sufferings of the agricultural population of Ireland, who were then enduring the result of three successive bad harvests. In England this year we have been favoured by exuberant and abounding crops; but I fear that that blessing has not been extended to the sister kingdom. The distress in Ireland, therefore, must be greatly aggravated, and therefore I think it would have been wise—I am sure it would have been true, and I think it would have been politic—to acknowledge not merely the existence of that distress in Ireland, but that it has been borne in a manner which for patience and fortitude is as exemplary as that which has been shown by our fellow-subjects in Lancashire. I know, Sir, that there are philosophers at present who look upon the increased emigration from Ireland as a matter which need not occasion any anxiety to the State. I have no doubt that that emigration has 88 been occasioned by blended causes—that it may not entirely proceed from the agrarian distress which has so long prevailed in that country; but I do not believe that any sagacious Minister—particularly in the times in which we live—can view the flitting of large portions of Her Majesty's subjects with indifference, a race upon whom in the hour of trial we, have much depended, and whom we have always found a gallant and gifted people. But, Sir, that is not the only omission I have remarked in the Speech of the Lords' Commissioners. "We have been assured that the condition of our fellow-subjects in Lancashire is in some degree improved; but I should like to have seen some reference to that country to the convulsions in which that distress is entirely attributable. It seems somewhat strange that the United States of America are not mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech; for our relations with the United States are at this moment very intimate, and have been very active, and some expression of opinion on the part of the Government as to the probable duration of that eventful struggle would have been received, I have no doubt, with great satisfaction. It is said that the Government have received official communications on that subject, and we should certainly have been obliged if they had communicated the results. But if they could not venture on giving an opinion as to the probable duration of the struggle, they might, at least, have assured us that the policy they have adopted with regard to that contest, and which has been sanctioned by Parliament, is at least unchanged. It would have been satisfactory to us to know that the principle of strict neutrality is still the principle of our policy with the United States, and that during the recess it has been rigorously observed and severely and strictly enforced. I say so, because much has occurred in the interval that might have, and has, occasioned suspicion on this subject in the public mind—and though I freely own that these circumstances may be susceptible of an interpretation perfectly satisfactory on the part of the Government, still I do not doubt that the subject is one that will require the attention of Parliament, and I think it would have been wiser if, at the commencement of the Session, there had been some notice of our relations with the United States in the Speech of the Lords' Commissioners. There are some other subjects that I do 89 not observe in the Speech, and of which I, in common with most other hon. Members, expected some notice. I should have liked to have heard something about China. Our relations with China, and especially with the Chinese Government, is a topic of great interest to the English people. When we remember the extraordinary announcement made last year of what was to be our policy in reference to China, and the engagements made with that Government by officers of Her Majesty's service, with the enthusiastic sanction of Her Majesty's Government, and when we remember what we have recently heard as the result of those engagements, I think some light on that vexed state of affairs might have been expected in the Speech. In the period which has elapsed since we met here last, the subject of Poland has not been forgotten. I know no subject more rife and busy since we met than the diplomatic action in regard to Poland. "We cannot have forgotten the extreme interest taken by Her Majesty's Government in this matter; and I think, considering the declaration of policy that was made during the last Session, it would have been satisfactory to have heard some official announcement on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers of their views on the subject of the Polish insurrection. It was only a few weeks ago that one of the most powerful Sovereigns of Europe, who was, I believe, at the time Parliament was prorogued, still our cordial ally, proposed a great scheme for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government, which, in its possible consequences and considering the quarter from whence it came, no one would doubt was of the highest importance. I think it would have been satisfactory if that proposition had been noticed in the Speech, and in noticing it perhaps an opportunity would have been offered to Her Majesty's Government of removing some of the irritation which it is understood exists, and of explaining some misapprehensions which, it is said, prevail. There is, notwithstanding all these omissions in the Speech to which I have called the attention of the House, one more significant still. The country is in a state of profound peace, and this is the first time in which England, being in a state of profound peace, has not been assured by the Sovereign at the commencement of the Session of Parliament that Her Majesty has received from all foreign Powers expressions of amity and good will. The 90 singular omission of this passage alone renders it necessary that the House of Commons on the first night of its meeting should not allow that omission to pass unnoticed, and forces us to consider the nature of our foreign relations. Taking a general view of our external relations at the present time, what strikes me as their principal feature is their utter confusion. Everything is in an inconsistent condition —sometimes approaching even to the incoherent. Everything appears to be done with a total want of system, and we are forced to ask ourselves daily this question —What are our objects and who are our allies? I will take an instance—because an instance is always better than an argument—to illustrate my meaning. I will take the case of Russia. It is very possible that Her Majesty's Government might have been of opinion that the power of Russia is one menacing to the tranquillity of Asia and the independence of Europe, and ought to be checked and curtailed. I give no judgment whatever on that opinion, for I deprecate to-night any discussion on controverted points; but it is an opinion that is neither new nor extravagant, one that has been held in this age by eminent statesmen, and might have been without eccentricity the opinion of Her Majesty's Government. Had it been so, I think their conduct last year, when the insurrection in Poland broke out, would have been perfectly intelligible. An insurrection in Poland, accompanied as it might have been by a rising in Circassia, and sanctioned, stimulated, even supported as it might have been by the great Western Powers, would no have brought about results by no doubt means insignificant. If that was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, their conduct was intelligible; they excited the movement, they fanned the flame —and then in the midst of the tumult and the conflagration they suddenly drew up. Their conduct became involved in perplexity and ambiguity; and they never once relapsed into frankness, except at last to declare that on no consideration whatever would they ever go to war in favour of a policy which, in justice to Poland and the Poles, they never should have adopted unless they were prepared in reality to support it. But it may be said by Her Majesty's Government—and I give them the fair advantage of the alternative—We repudiate this hypothetical policy you have attributed to us with regard to Russia; we 91 believe that it is the interest of England to maintain the empire of Russia in its strength and integrity as a necessary portion of the political balance, and a bulwark against the aggressive ambition of other great European Powers. But if that be really the policy of Her Majesty's Government, how can they account for those mysterious months of last autumn when the question of peace or war was absolutely a struggle between the capitalists of Europe and the secret societies? Two very strong bodies no doubt—but what we wanted was that some Prince or Potentate, some Sovereign or Minister, some of those individuals who affect to guide the destinies of nations, should, under the circumstances, have come forth to enlighten and to strengthen the opinion of Europe. Take the case of Greece, again. Do we not see in Greece the same confusion, arising from the same inconsistency produced by the same want of system? During the last year hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House—and I shared the feeling—viewed with great reluctance the resolution of Her Majesty to relinquish her Ionian garrisons; but I freely admit that I can conceive a British Minister in a position in which, in order to obtain great results and carry out a bold policy, he might be justified in recommending such a material sacrifice. For example, to establish the strength of the Greek kingdom, and earn the good feeling and confidence of the Greek people, that would have been an object perhaps so paramount as to justify a Minister in making the sacrifice. But then your policy should have been complete. "When the sacrifice was made it was not the time to talk over the conditions on which it should have been effected. What is the fact? No sooner does the King of the Greeks arrive in his dominions than the conditions crop up. One day his fortifications are to be razed; another day he hears to his astonishment that a portion of his new dominions is to be neutralized. The neutrality of a portion of a kingdom is almost unprecedented, and is always perilous. Instead of a magnanimous policy, we find one of suspicion—instead of a policy that would make Greece powerful and devoted, we find one that would make it more subordinate. How, too, have we treated this young prince? In what position have we placed this ingenuous youth—who so far, I may be permitted to say, has shown no deficiency of energy and spirit? He must 92 be regarded by the Greeks either as incompetent, or guilty of bad faith. Now, from, what I know of the Greeks, with such a painful alternative, I should hardly doubt they would take refuge in the consoling conclusion, that their Sovereign was only guilty of duplicity. Against bad faith one may guard, but what sagacity can baffle the unconscious machinations of stupidity? When we parted last year we did so under the impression that the good understanding existed between England and Trance. Notwithstanding our refusal to mediate between the contending Powers in America—notwithstanding Mexico—notwithstanding other incidents of the time still fresh in the memory of every hon. Member of the House, the general impression was that the good understanding between England and France existed. A good understanding between England and France is simply this—That so far as the influence of these two great Powers extends, the affairs of the world shall be conducted by their co-operation instead of by their rivalry. But, Sir, co-operation requires not merely identity of interest, but reciprocal good feeling. In public as well as in private affairs, a certain degree of sentiment is necessary for the happy conduct of matters. A kind thing, for instance, ought not to be done in a rough manner, and, if possible, a rough thing ought to be done in a kind manner. The feelings of nations must be considered. Now, Sir, the position of the Emperor of the French, at the end of last year, everybody knows, was a distressful one. The Emperor of the French had held out expectations which he could not fulfil, and he had been worsted in the diplomatic encounter. If ever a Sovereign was in a situation in which he might count on the sympathy of an ally, it was the Emperor of the French; but especially an ally who had very much encouraged him in the erroneous course he had taken. I look upon the proposition for a Congress to have been an adroit manoeuvre. Amid a burst of martial music and the roll of artillery the Emperor of the French would have retreated with flying colours. The proposition itself was deficient in soundness. It is very true that there have been great modifications of the Treaty of Vienna. No one denies that. But the scope and tendency of the policy established by the settlement of Yienna has not been changed. Whenever there has been a settlement of Europe affecting to 93 be comprehensive and permanent, it is in the nature of things that there should be periodical variations in its conditions. But unless the scope and tendency of the policy of these settlements is changed, no one ever calls for the abrogation of the Treaty itself. Now, in the 250 years 'which form diplomatic history, amidst the crowd of Congresses and Conferences which have taken place, there are only three settlements of a permanent and comprehensive character—Westphalia, Utrecht, and Vienna. If you examine the condition of Europe fifty years after the settlements of Westphalia and Utrecht respectively, I will be bound to say you will find as numerous and as important modifications of those settlements as have occurred during the almost fifty years that have elapsed since the settlement of Vienna. But the scope and tendency of the policy fixed at the Treaty of Westphalia and afterwards at Utrecht, was never changed; and no Power, notwithstanding the many disturbances which might have taken place in Europe, ever called upon Europe to abrogate those treaties As it was with the settlements I have just mentioned, so it is with the Treaty of Vienna. Great as have been its modifications, the scope and tendency of that settlement have not been changed, or France would not be so eager to induce Europe to recognise it as a nullity. Now, Sir, under those circumstances, far from disapproving of Her Majesty's Government declining to attend the proposed Congress, giving them credit for the validity of the reasons which induced them to take that course, I cannot extend the like approbation to the manner and to the mode in which their refusal was conveyed. The position of the Emperor of the French is peculiar. He has publicly—almost ostentatiously—proclaimed it to Europe, and therefore there can be no indelicacy in referring to it. He is not, as he has told you, like other Emperors—like the Emperor of Austria or of Russia. He does not stand upon tradition. He is not hedged in by the magic of prescriptive right. He has been created, and can only be maintained, by the sympathies of his people—a proud, imperious, and apt to be discontented people. Humiliate the idol, and the worshippers become disquieted and indignant. A considerate ally ought to have remembered this. But an ally who had encouraged the very policy which had involved the Emperor of the French in his difficulties—an ally who had been 94 the partaker of his projects and a full sharer of his diplomatic discomfiture— such an ally ought not to have received his proposition of a Congress in a spirit of cynical criticism. Sarcasm is no doubt a great ornament of debate, and is recognized as an efficient weapon of rhetoric. But the natural language of diplomacy is conciliation, and it is to be regretted that Secretaries of State, when they convey to foreign Powers the decisions of Sovereigns and Cabinets, should find no happier medium of expression than a sneer. But what makes the conduct of Her Majesty's Government so much less defensible in the present instance is, that when this refusal, couched in this spirit and in these terms, was made to this proposition, they must have been sensible that at that very time, and for a long time, there was approaching the English Government for solution, even pressing for solution, one of those European difficulties in which the cordial sympathy and assistance of our ally must prove of the greatest utility. And that, Sir, brings me to the subject which absorbs almost the only important part of the Speech which we have heard to-day from the Lords' Commissioners. It cannot be said that the affairs of Schleswig-Holstein are passed over without notice in their Speech, but they are noticed only to bewilder. Any person who reads those three paragraphs to which I shall presently call the attention of the House, will find that they do not put the real state of affairs before the House of Commons, and not only do they not put the real state of affairs before the House of Commons, but they place the real question in such a position that Her Majesty's Government have altogether evaded giving an opinion upon it. I have shown the House that in the general conduct of our affairs, whether we look to Russia, to Greece, to France, there have been exhibited by Ministers a confusion, an inconsistency of conduct, a contrariety of courses with regard to the same Powers, and a total want of system in their diplomacy. How this case of Denmark and Germany, is that an exception to the conduct which I have illustrated in such and so many important instances? When we met last year we were full of the subject. The House expected some explanation of a despatch which had been written by the Secretary of State upon this very question of the relations between Denmark and Germany. I will not upon 95 this occasion give any opinion on the merits or demerits of that despatch. I acknowledge it as an important statement. But although I do not at present propose to enter upon a discussion of the views which it contains on a question which must he discussed at some future day with amplitude of knowledge and precision of argument, and which cannot be treated in a desultory debate on the Address to the Crown on the first night of Parliament—still I will say this of the despatch—that, considering the policy that was recommended in that state paper—considering the time when it was published, and particularly the place where it was penned, its consequence was to encourage the German party—the extreme German party; and I believe that the general impression of Germany as well as of Denmark was that the bias, the strong bias of the English Government was in favour of Germany. Any man who happened to be in Germany at that time must know that for months that despatch was looked upon as indicative of the policy of the English Government, and that a fresh impulse to force a Federal execution was the consequence. To so great an extent did that feeling prevail, that, in the House of Commons, though it was the last night of the Session, the subject was brought before our notice by the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. S. Fitzgerald), and the Prime Minister made a speech on the subject. Now, what was that speech of the Prime Minister? I give no opinion whatever as to the justness or expediency of the course he recommended, any more than I do of the despatch of the Secretary of State for "Foreign Affairs. I would, however, appeal to any one who listened on that occasion to the speech of the Prime Minister, in which he declared that the independence and integrity of Denmark was a great European interest, in which he declared, while duly acknowledging the relations of Holstein to the German Diet, that if the border was passed Denmark would find that she was not alone in the quarrel—I ask the House—I ask both sides of the House with equal confidence—whether the necessary effect of that speech was not, what we all know now it was, to encourage a party that never required any encouragement—namely, the extreme Danish party. Therefore, you see, in this grave question of Germany and Denmark, the same confusion, the same inconsistency, the same incoherency, and the same oppositeness, which I have 96 traced throughout in the diplomatic conduct of Her Majesty's Government. This despatch and this speech having worked, one to encourage Germany to take an extravagant view, and the other to support Denmark in a view equally irrational, we now find the question discussed in the Speech of the Lords Commissioners. I do not doubt that these three paragraphs are perfectly familiar to every hon. Gentleman. The third, fourth, and fifth paragraphs of the Speech from the Throne, the three most important paragraphs in this Speech, are, in fact, a statement of premisses. They are premisses drawn up with great art, and no doubt for very great objects. They were drawn up to impress on the country and upon Europe the solemn and important engagements that have been entered into by all the principal crowned heads of Europe. It reads, in fact, like the Almanac de Gotha. First of all there is the treaty; then the style and names of the Sovereigns; then the policy is brought forward, which was the preservation of the balance of power and of the peace of Europe, by the maintenance of the integrity of the Danish monarchy, and that in order to do this his present Majesty, King Christian, should be acknowledged as successor to all the dominions of the late King of Denmark. Now, having brought forward all these premisses, what is the conclusion that is drawn from them? It cannot be found in the Speech, because the third paragraph ends only, "And Her Majesty will continue Her efforts in the interest of peace." The logical conclusion of these three paragraphs is to be found in the speech which the noble Lord at the head of the Government made in this House on the last day of last Session—that in consequence of this treaty, in consequence of the admission into this treaty of all the Sovereigns of Europe, in consequence of the vital interests involved in that treaty, Denmark — if an act of violence was committed against her (for that was the language of the noble Viscount)—Denmark was not to find herself alone in the contest. But here we have these pompous premisses; and what is the conclusion in the Speech? "Why, "that Her Majesty will continue Her efforts in the interest of peace." The interest of peace! "Why, would any stranger who had listened to the Speech of the Lords Commissioners to-day, and had no other knowledge on the subject, believe that when they thus referred to Germany, the 97 Eider had actually been passed, that blood had been shed, that perhaps at this moment a great engagement may be taking place? And is Denmark alone? But, Sir, before I touch on the policy of Her Majesty's Government in that respect, there is one observation I must make on those three paragraphs, because they contain an incongruous expression, which if not noticed now may be found very inconvenient in future debates, which are no doubt impending. The House will observe that having stated the object of the treaty, which was to obtain the succession of King Christian to the throne of Denmark, the third paragraph proceeds, "Her Majesty, actuated by the same desire to preserve the peace of Europe, which was one of the declared objects of all the Powers who were parties to that treaty, has been unremitting in Her endeavours to bring about a peaceful settlement of the differences which on this matter have arisen between Germany and Denmark." An utterly inaccurate description of the state of affairs! No dissensions have arisen between Germany and Denmark on this matter, that is, the succession—the undisputed succession—of King Christian to the throne of Denmark. Not even the Diet of Frankfort has come to any resolution questioning the succession of King Christian; and, therefore, the differences existing between Denmark and Germany at this moment have nothing to do with this matter as is alleged by this paragraph of the Speech. No, Sir, these pompous premisses were drawn up in order to prepare us, I doubt not, for what in the opinion of the noble Lord must be the logical and legitimate consequence of the speech which he made last year. But a new light has fallen apparently on the Government. The convenience of Parliamentary Government is appreciated in a free country; but there is one advantage in Parliamentary government not always understood, but which it appears to me at the present time Her Majesty's Government entirely comprehend, and that is, that when the Ministry has not a policy a Parliament may find one for them. What I wish to impress upon the House to-night is that that is by no means our duty. If there be a prerogative of the Crown, which no one has ever challenged, it is the prerogative of the Crown to declare peace or war without the interference of Parliament, by Her Majesty alone, under the advice of her 98 responsible Ministers. And, Sir, if Her Majesty's Government had been of opinion that this country ought to go to war for any cause or on any side, and had advised Her Majesty to take that step, whether that war had been just or unjust, there is no doubt that the Parliament would have supported Her Majesty, at the same time taking their constitutional opportunity of expressing their opinion on the policy of the Government. I mention this because I do not think Her Majesty's Government are eminent for the conciliatory manner in which they treat the House of Commons. It is only very recently we have been reminded—not by the noble Lord, but I dare say by writers whom he recognizes as great masters of the English language—that the affairs of this country are now carried on in a very satisfactory way, so far as the House of Commons is concerned; that the great Departments are principally represented by Under Secretaries, that nobody much cares what they do or say, and that the relations between Her Majesty's Ministers and the House of Commons are fast arriving at that satisfactory condition which subsists between the French Chambers and their master. Well, Sir, humiliate us if they like; degrade us if we must submit; but, at any rate, do not call upon us to bear responsibilities. Sir, if the relations of the House of Commons to the Government are fast approaching the same condition as the relations of the French Chambers to their master, then I say we have a right to look upon the Government to do that which in the language of the day is called "taking the initiative." I, for one, will not help Government out of the difficulties in which they find themselves by coming forward with a cut and dried policy to settle all the differences of Europe. The condition of Europe is, no doubt, one of a grave character, and upon the conduct of the English Government and upon the conduct of Parliament much depends. But it is for the Government to frame a policy and recommend it to us; and I have no doubt that when it is brought before us, if it be a wise policy, the House will unanimously support them; for I have always seen that when foreign affairs have occupied the attention of the House there has been an absence of party strife. But let us be sure about the policy which we are pursuing. Let us be quite sure, if we go to war, first of all that it is a necessary and just war; and secondly, if now necessary, whether it 99 might not have been prevented by more skilful management. I think I have shown some reasons why the country should look with some suspicion on the foreign policy of the present Government. I looked with some suspicion on it last year. I thought I observed in it an uncertainty, an inconsistency, a variance in the course recommended by different Ministers, which seemed to portend the greatest of all evils in public affairs—namely, indecision when the critical hour arises. Her Majesty's Government, indeed, through this particular business of Germany and Denmark, much resembles a certain Danish Prince. He was not a Prince of Augustenburg, nor a Prince of Glucksburg, but one whose name will probably survive them both— that unfortunate Dane was "infirm of purpose"—The times are out of joint: O cursed spite! That ever I was born to set it right.But you are Ministers to set them right, and I do protest against your coming to Parliament in a critical state of affairs without a policy. If you have a policy, let it be brought forward fairly and candidly; but do not come masked and vizored here without our knowing whether in your opinion the claims of Denmark are just or the claims of Germany can be defended. Let us know what is the opinion of the Government; and I more particularly wish to know the opinion of the Government, because what occurred in the recess is not such as to induce an opposition to give a blind confidence on a question of foreign policy. It could hardly have been in our expectation when last we met—when we were listening to those bold words of the noble Lord on the position of Denmark, and the determination of England to uphold Denmark—which is the only interpretation to be placed on the declaration of the noble Lord—it could hardly have been in our belief that during the six months which have since elapsed a policy so profound, so adroit, so deeply skilful should have been pursued by Her Majesty's Government that they have contrived in that space of time alike to forfeit the confidence of Russia and to lose the cordiality of France. That seems a masterpiece. But what are we to say of men who, having brought about two such opposite results, should now be within an ace of going to war with Germany! I say, Sir, then—I must end as I begin—" What are your objects, and who are your allies?" I will not say you have 100 none. You have the King of Denmark, whom you are not going to aid. Sir, is that a position for England? Can we believe that our affairs have been properly conducted when, a crisis having arrived, we find ourselves literally without allies? But even if the Government were without allies but had a clear course, and frankly appealed to the House of Commons, the House of Commons, I am confident, would support them. But we find them, with all this reserve and reticence, which may be justified in the case of Ministers who have singular ability for conducting public affairs, who, if not supported by the House of Commons, may be supported by France, by Russia, or Austria—we find them with all this reserve and reticence when they are in as desolate a condition with respect to their foreign policy as any Cabinet can be placed. They are bound to tell England at this moment what is the policy they recommend, confident that the country and Parliament will support them if their cause is just; and I am equally sure that, having brought our affairs to this condition, if they have at this moment no policy whatever they have not fulfilled their duties as Ministers of the Crown. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) may tell me—it is one of his stereotyped passages—" If you have not confidence in the Ministers of the Crown why don't you tell us so?" I tell the noble Lord, that when the opportunity is fitting we will challenge the opinion of Parliament. There is no such opportunity given in the document which I hold in my hand. Would it be becoming in me to move an Amendment to the Address, because there is incongruous diplomatic language in these three paragraphs? That is not a ground upon which the issue at stake should be decided. Will the noble Lord inform us what is his policy? Will the noble Lord place the necessary papers before us, which papers are not even promised in the Speech of the Lords Commissioners? If he will, we will form an opinion upon them. We are told, indeed, that "Her Majesty is actuated by the same desire to preserve peace, and has been unremitting in Her endeavours for that object." But what evidence have we that those labours have been unremitting? I should have thought that the noble Lord would have appeared at the Bar the very first night of the Session, and would have placed these proofs on the table of the House. What of the mission of Lord Wodehouse? I 101 cannot suppose that we shall be met with the pedantic reply that Lord Wodehouse had no mission but one of congratulation. We know that Lord Wodehouse went away in a great hurry—that Lord Wodehouse went to Berlin; to Copenhagen; returned by Paris;—we know that Lord "Wodehouse had a mission of vast importance, which was eminently unsuccessful. But when this House of Commons is told that there have been unremitting efforts to maintain peace, and not a single paper is placed upon the table, are we to be silent? Are we to submit to the commonplace retort, "If you have no confidence in the Government propose a vote of want of confidence? Give us the documents which will throw the necessary light upon the present state of public affairs, now involved in obscurity, perplexity, mystery, and we will form upon those documents a fair Parliamentary opinion. If the policy of the Government is clear and well-considered then they will be supported. But if they have no policy, if they are at this critical moment without allies, looking for the vague sympathies of Parliament to guide and support them, then I say they are taking an unworthy course—that they are unfit for the offices they fill, and the places they occupy; and, if it is proved that that is the state of affairs, I do not believe that Parliament will hesitate to express its opinion on their conduct.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I have waited because I should much have preferred to have heard the opinions of other hon. Members besides the right hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down. Of course, the abilities and position of the right hon. Gentleman entitle him to every consideration; but as it appears that the hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House have intrusted to him an unlimited proxy to make their appeal to the House, I shall take leave to deal with the speech which he has delivered. The great complaint of the right hon. Gentleman seems to be, not as to what Her Majesty's Speech contains, but as to what he thinks it ought to have contained. I think that I shall have no difficulty in explaining to the House the reason why some, or many, or all of those topics to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded were not introduced into the Speech. In the first place, he complained that no mention has been made of the civil war now going on in America. Why, we have over and over again lamented and 102 still continue to lament the continuance of that war, and we have declared more than once that Her Majesty's Government profess to act, and intend to continue to act, upon a principle of strict neutrality in regard to that contest. Unless, then, the House had thought that Her Majesty's Government were going to depart from that policy, of which there is no indication whatever, it would have been matter of mere surplusage to have filled the Speech with a repetition of the statements made on former occasions, and which are still binding upon Her Majesty's Government. Then the right hon. Gentleman complained that no mention is made of our relations with China. There is no need to mention your relations with a country as long as they are good, and as we continue to be upon relations of confidence and amity with the Chinese Government, there was no occasion to mention that circumstance. The right hon. Gentleman also complains that the Speech does not contain a repetition of the statement which is to be found in other Speeches as to the nature of our relations with foreign Powers. Why, everybody must know that there have been between Her Majesty's Government and certain foreign Powers discussions which even until within the last few hours were not brought to a satisfactory termination, and that was the reason why the subject was not alluded to in Her Majesty's Speech. It was unnecessary to state anything about Poland. Every one knows that the efforts made by England, France, and other Governments to induce the Government of Russia to adopt a more humane and conciliatory course of conduct towards Poland have failed; that the answer received from the Emperor was, that until the insurrection was put down he could not change his proceeding, but that when the insurrection should have ceased he was prepared to do those things which we recommended; and there was no need to repeat in Her Majesty's Speech that which was perfectly well known many months ago to this House and to everybody in the country. The right hon. Gentleman then complains of the manner in which the proposal of the Emperor of the French for a general Congress was received and answered by Her Majesty's Government. I totally deny that there was anything discourteous said or meant in the answer. The habits of this country are perhaps more plain and simple in giving expression to their opinions than those of 103 Continental nations. We state our opinions and we give our reasons, but we do not often abound in those superfluous expressions of compliment which we are accustomed to hear from our neighbours. But there is nothing in that answer which can, with any semblance of justice, be called uncourteous, uncivil, or unfriendly, or otherwise than was due between two Governments which are upon a footing of reciprocal confidence. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that the proposal for a Congress ought to have been accepted. He quoted instances in which the general principles which had governed Congresses were maintained for a great lapse of years, although many of the detailed conditions of the arrangements had been changed. So it is with regard to the Treaty of Vienna. A Congress can only with advantage take place under circumstances such as those which existed in the year 1815. At that time the course of conquest, proceeding from the banks of the Seine, had flowed to Moscow, and had overturned all the previously existing arrangements in Europe. The reflux of the tide had swept away everything that French conquest had established in lieu of what had existed before. It was necessary that Europe should be rearranged, and there was power to re-arrange it, because the Congress which assembled consisted of the Governments which had armies in the field to maintain their decisions, and in point of fact had military possession of Europe. Nothing similar to that exists at the present moment. You might assemble a Congress representing all the Powers of Europe, and if all the members of that Congress were agreed upon any particular proposal, that proposal would naturally be adopted. But a single dissentient voice would upset everything; for it must be borne in mind that in such cases there is no authority in the majority to bind the minority, and therefore the result of the Congress would be absolutely nil. The Congress might have met for the purpose of sanctioning, by a new treaty, the present state of things. But can you for a moment believe that Austria at such a Congress would give her sanction to the present condition of things in Italy? Or could you have asked the King of Italy to sign a treaty by which he agreed to circumscribe his territories as now existing, and to forego any future claim upon Venetia and on Rome? Why, of course, you would not. Then, could the existing state of 104 things have been taken as a basis for introducing such changes as the Congress might deem it expedient to make? Those changes would have involved a transfer of territory from one Power to another. To that, of course, there would have been an objection on the part of the Power that was to make the cession which could not be over-ruled by the opinion of the majority. It was our opinion, therefore, that such a Congress, instead of confirming and strengthening the foundations of peace, would have led to the separation of its members after rendering differences of opinion more pointed, and diversities of interest more irreconcilable. The right hon. Gentleman, indeed, suggested an amendment of our answer: whether it would have contributed to confirm the good feeling between England and France I do not know, but he seemed to imply that we might have inserted in our despatch that this proposal for a Congress was "an adroit manœuvre." Well, we really did not think that such was the state of the case. "We believed the proposal to be made in perfect sincerity and good faith by the Emperor of the French, who thought it might lead to the good results he anticipated. We differed from that view of the Emperor of the French—we stated our reasons for that difference—and we trust that our difference has not made any permanent or material alteration in the good feeling between the two Governments. Indeed, I can give the House the assurance, because I have had recent communications to that effect, that the relations between the two Governments are as cordial as they were before the correspondence. Of course, when the Governments of two great countries like France and England are in communication upon matters of great interest to them and to Europe, strong as may be their desire to act together, each must have views and interests of its own; and without any interruption of friendly relations there may and must often be differences of opinion as to the practical application of principles upon which in general they concur. And, therefore, if upon a particular subject the English and French Governments may not take the same view of what is to be done, it must not be supposed that a man is justified in saying the relations between the Governments are less friendly than they were before. Mexico was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. Is that cited as an instance of an occasional coldness be- 105 tween the two Governments? A jealous English Government might have looked with disfavour upon the attempt to establish in Mexico a monarchy under the protection of France. But have we expressed the slightest jealousy, the slightest disfavour towards such a proceeding? On the contrary, we stated, fairly and cordially, that if the French Government could establish order and regular government in Mexico, even though that might be accomplished by a French army, we thought the step would be not only for the benefit of the people of Mexico, but also for the advantage of all the nations of Europe having commercial intercourse with that country. And, therefore, far from being an instance of coldness or distrust between the two Governments, the right hon. Gentleman might have mentioned the case of Mexico as an instance of confidence on our part, well deserved and well appreciated by the Government of France. The right hon. Gentleman stated tauntingly that sarcasm was a very fit instrument to use in debate. He might have recollected that sarcasm is not a test of truth, and that though very useful as a flourish, it does not establish an argument unless it is accompanied by something more solid and substantial. The right hon. Gentleman addressed himself mainly to the Schleswig-Holstein question, and complained that the Government came down to the House without a policy. First of all, I deny that, and I will show him by-and-by that he is in error. But really, from the manner in which he dealt with the subject, I was every moment expecting that he would give us his policy. He kept dangling before our eyes a sort of half expectation that he would offer some suggestion, but ultimately disappointed us. He promised us support whenever our policy should be declared, and for that promise we feel very thankful, and shall not fail to remind him when the time comes; but he did not condescend to tell us what he thought the policy of the Government ought to be. He said the Government had no policy; but he read a paragraph from the Royal Speech which contains our policy. That has been to endeavour to bring to a friendly settlement the differences which have arisen between Germany and Denmark, connected with the Treaty of 1852. He says there were no such differences. Why, does not the right hon. Gentleman know that many of the Governments of Germany have repudiated that 106 treaty, and declared that the Prince of Augustenburg ought to be Duke of Holstein, in place of the King of Denmark? Does he not know that Bavaria was never a party to the treaty, and is therefore free to act; and that Wurtemburg, which became a party by acceding to the treaty, has thrown it over and espoused the cause of the Prince of Augustenburg? Does he not know that Saxony, also a party to the treaty, has pursued the same course; and that when the Federal troops entered Holstein the Royal Arms were torn down and the Duke of Augustenburg declared Sovereign, of Holstein? And, knowing this, can he say that there were no differences between Germany and Denmark as connected with, or arising from, the Treaty of 1852? "We have been employed in endeavouring to bring those difficulties to a friendly settlement. Is that not a policy? or is it a policy which, according to the tenour of his argument, the right hon. Gentleman condemns? He hints that the Government were bound, and ought to have gone to war immediately; that, instead of employing diplomatic persuasion with a view of preserving peace, we were bound by our former declarations to rush headlong into war for the purpose of establishing the Treaty of 1852. That was not the policy of the Government. We thought it right and proper to exhaust the means of diplomatic persuasion, and to a great extent we have succeeded in that policy. At the time the Governments of Austria and Prussia seemed to be hesitating whether they would abide by the treaty or not, there was a plea set up in Germany that those who had signed or acceded to the treaty were released from its engagements, because Denmark had not fulfilled another and a distinct engagement entered into before the treaty in a separate correspondence, not alluded to in the treaty as forming one of the conditions, and, therefore, entirely disconnected from the treaty. We protested against that idea. "We said, "The Treaty of 1852 is plain, simple, positive, and unconditional; there is nothing in it which entitles you to say that because Denmark has not fulfilled a prior engagement—an engagement, namely, not to incorporate Schleswig with Denmark— therefore you are released from your engagement to acknowledge King Christian as King of all the territories held under the Danish sway. If you had intended to couple these two things together, you ought to have done so in the Treaty of 107 1852. You could have inserted a condition providing that you would only recognise King Christian if the arrangements were made upon which you insisted with regard to Schleswig and Denmark. You did not do so, and you have no right to discharge yourselves from the obligations of that treaty because the Danes failed in another and a different matter." We said, "The failure of Denmark gives you a right of war if you do not choose to accomplish your object by negotiation and persuasion—a right of war against the Ring whom you are bound by the treaty to acknowledge; but it does not give you a right to release yourselves from that treaty and to acknowledge the Prince of Augustenburg as Duke of Holstein." There has been a great deal of negotiation and communication on the subject; and I am happy to say that within the last very few hours we have received information from the Austrian and Prussian Governments, that they are prepared to declare that they abide by the Treaty of 1852, and will maintain the integrity of the Danish monarchy in accordance with the provisions of that treaty. We have no policy! Is not that a policy? I say it is; that it is a sound policy, and one which will be approved by the people of this country. Speaking fairly and impartially, I must say that while, on the one hand, I think the Germans have been guilty of great and unjustifiable aggression, on the other hand one must confess that the Danes have been wanting in the fulfilment of their obligations. The patent of March last was a violation, in many of its details, of the Federal laws applicable to the States within the Confederation, and the Diet called on the late King of Denmark to revoke that patent. The late King was advised by Ministers who were many of them very able, but yet took too exclusively Danish a view of matters, and the result was that he did not, and would not, revoke that patent. Execution was decreed by the Diet; and the Diet in exercising their powers decreed that troops should go into Holstein, being part of the Confederation, for the purpose of compelling the Sovereign to revoke the patent. Well, we foresaw that if the troops of the Confederation, under the excitement which existed in Germany after the death of the late King, and in the midst of the demands which were made by the smaller Powers to upset the treaty and dismember Denmark, should go into Holstein for the 108 purpose of execution, under the shadow of their protection revolutionary movements would be got up by the active party in Germany, and the authority of the Sovereign would for the moment be overthrown. We therefore urged the King of Denmark to lose no time in revoking the patent, and to put himself in the right with respect to Germany. He did so; but, nevertheless, execution took place. The Federal troops marched into Holstein for the purpose of obtaining the revocation of the patent after the patent had been actually revoked. Well, it is fair to say that, for reasons the force of which we certainly admit, Austria and Prussia moved in the Diet that that measure should be a measure of execution, instead of being, what the smaller Powers who wanted to dismember Denmark recommended, a measure of occupation—that is to say, occupying Holstein in order that the Diet might determine who should be Duke. Well, Austria and Prussia by persuading the Diet to send their troops into Holstein as a measure of execution, acted in a manner more friendly to Denmark than if occupation had taken place. We must admit there is force in that. We deny altogether that the Diet has any power or any authority whatever to determine who should be Duke of Holstein. There is not one word in the Federal Act which forms part of the Treaty of 1815, by which the Diet was constituted, which gives any such power or authority to the Diet of Frankfort; nor is there anything in the final Act of 1820, which was an Act of the Diet, which gives any such power; and, therefore, we contend that it would be an act of usurpation to declare the Prince of Augustenburg Duke of Holstein instead of the King of Denmark. But the moment that Austria and Prussia persuaded the Diet to send in troops by way of execution, the question, as far as Austria and Prussia were concerned, was settled, because it was an acknowledgment of the King of Denmark as Duke of Holstein. Then came the other point—namely, the Constitution of last year, which we must admit did virtually if not actually tend to incorporate Schleswig with Denmark, because it established one Parliament for both; and in the negotiations which preceded the conclusion of the Treaty of 1852, two agreements were made, one balancing the other—an agreement by Denmark that she would not incorporate or do anything that would tend to incorporate Schleswig with Denmark, and an agreement 109 by Austria and Prussia on behalf of Germany, that they would forego all those claims and demands which up to that time had been made for an administrative and political union of Holstein with Schleswig. Well, Austria and Prussia now claim the fulfilment of the first of those agreements—that made by Denmark—and of course they ought to be prepared to fulfil their own, which was the compensating agreement. But the Government of Denmark unfortunately—I will not say why or how — sanctioned, upon the accession of the present King, the Constitution of November, which was so objectionable; and the Parliament, which might have revoked its own Act, was dissolved, and therefore in December last there was no authority that could legally and constitutionally comply with what we admit to he the just demands of Austria and Prussia with regard to Schleswig. In that state of things Austria and Prussia summoned the Danish Government to revoke the Constitution; but, unfortunately, their summons was so limited in point of time that it was physically impossible it could be complied with. When you call for an impossibility and threaten violence if that impossibility is not done, you put yourselves in the wrong. Such was the menace of Austria and Prussia. Well, we, in conjunction with France, Russia, and Sweden—we have no allies, as the right hon. Gentleman says, but it so happens by some accommodation of circumstances, call it what you like—we and other Powers who think with us urged Austria and Prussia to wait and give the time necessary to assemble the Danish Parliament and propose to it the revocation of the Constitution. Unfortunately, that advice has not been complied with. The Austrian and Prussian troops have entered Schleswig violently, although the Danish Government, at our urgent request and that of the other Powers whom I have mentioned, formally promised to lose no time in convoking its Parliament and proposing the revocation of the November Constitution. Nevertheless, although the demands of Austria and Prussia are virtually conceded—that is to say, they would be conceded as soon as it was practicable to do so —they have forcibly entered the territory of Schleswig, and, as everybody knows, a conflict has arisen, most lamentable, and, as we think, most unjustifiable. We made many applications to prevent this—we have no policy, Sir—but it was done somehow 110 or other. But after the two Powers had refused to give Denmark the time necessary to make the arrangements by which alone that Constitution could be revoked, we made this proposal:—We said, "You ask to take Schleswig as a material guarantee. That is a most dangerous principle. The taking of the territory of a weak Power by a strong Power as a material guarantee for compliance with demands is a principle dangerous to the independence of every small State in Europe. It is a principle which was acted upon by Russia when she took possession of the Principalities as a material guarantee for compliance by Turkey with demands made upon her, and it ended in the Crimean war." But we added, "We offer you a diplomatic security. We propose that a protocol, which is equivalent to a treaty, should be signed in London by the representatives of England, Prance, Austria, Prussia, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, and that by that protocol Denmark should promise to take the earliest steps for revoking the Constitution of November; that time should be given her; that England, France, Russia, and Sweden should be, as it were, pledges to Austria and Prussia for the fulfilment of that condition, and that Austria and Prussia should accept that treaty guarantee in lieu of the territorial guarantee which they demand." Well, they told us that it was too late; that military arrangements had been made; that troops could not be kept waiting on the frontiers of Schleswig until the Danish Parliament should assemble; and perhaps it would not revoke the Constitution after all, and therefore they must go on. We said, "We cannot believe that the Parliament, when assembled—considering the state of danger in which the country is, and how the Danish Monarchy is pledged—will refuse to make good the arrangement. All we can say is, if you agree to that and Denmark fail, Denmark will be entirely in the wrong, and she must not look for assistance, moral or material, from any Power whatever." Well, Sir, that is the present state of things with Austria and Prussia. We think they are not justified in entering Danish territory. One motive, no doubt, has weighed with them. They think the winter season more favourable to their operations than the spring would be; that in the winter it would be difficult if not impossible for Denmark to receive military or naval aid from any other Power, however disposed to render it, and therefore they 111 consider the present movement peculiarly favourable. But they have now declared that they mean as soon as possible to send us a formal declaration that they abide by the Treaty of 1852; that they will maintain the integrity of the Danish monarchy; that the invasion of Schleswig, however lamentable it may be and however much to be deplored, is not undertaken for the purpose of dismembering the Danish monarchy; and they are thus committed to evacuate Schleswig whenever the conditions which they attach to the entrance shall have been complied with. The right hon. Gentleman complains that we have not promised the papers about Danish affairs. "Well, we thought the Speech long enough, and we did not wish to encumber it with unnecessary statements. Of course, we shall lay the papers on the table, and I only wish any man joy who wades through them. I have given many hours to them. Perhaps my noble Friend (Earl Russell) may not think it necessary to encumber the table with all that we have had to read; but I assure the right hon. Gentleman that there will be enough given to enable the House to ascertain the course of events, and the part which has been taken by Her Majesty's Government. Well, Sir, the last complaint of the right hon. Gentleman is that there is nothing in the Speech of the Royal Commissioners which enables him to move an Amendment. Well, I must say that is a very mortifying circumstance, and one of which he is entitled to complain. It may be said, in a Parliamentary sense, that while it is the duty of the opposition to move an Amendment if possible, it is part of the fair game on both sides of the House that the Government shall furnish the opposition with a peg on which they may hang an Amendment. I think that is wanting in the present instance, and so far I have to apologize to the right hon. Gentleman for the omission, although the House is thereby saved on the other hand from the lengthy debate which an Amendment, founded on any incautious or unguarded expression in the Speech, would have occasioned. Well, Sir, thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his very courteous, frank, and unqualified promise of support whenever we come down on a future occasion and state our policy, I am persuaded that any further development of our future policy will receive his support and acquiescence. If, however, there should be any hesitation on 112 the right hon. Gentleman's part, I shall take leave to remind him of the assurances that he has made to-night. In the meanwhile I venture to think that the policy we have announced, and which is a policy of peace—of laborious and unremitting endeavour to reconcile differences, to prevent quarrels and collisions between the States of Europe—a policy which is, I contend, a real policy, and in accordance with the wishes of the country, will receive the approbation of this House; and, until I hear anything to the contrary, I and my Colleagues will rest satisfied that this will be the verdict of the country.
§ MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
The speech of the noble Lord, just addressed to the country, is worthy of his experience in this House, and his accustomed dexterity as a debater. It has been an adroit effort carefully to avoid all those points which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bucks, so forcibly brought before the House. In the first instance, my right hon. Friend complained that the Speech read by the Royal Commissioners this day in the House of Lords was not more remarkable for what it contained than for what it omitted, and he particularly referred to the case of Poland. Now, Sir, how has the noble Lord attempted to deal with that complaint? The noble Lord says that the subject of Poland is not mentioned in the Speech, because it is notorious to all the world that the Governments of England and France have entirely failed in their efforts in favour of that country. But that was not the only comment of my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend not only complained that the policy of the Government with regard to Poland was not alluded to in the Speech, but that the policy adopted by Her Majesty's Government was in itself radically wrong. It was not that my right hon. Friend is wanting in sympathy for Poland; but for this reason, because the course taken by the Government appears to the country and to Europe not only to be unworthy the position we hold in the councils of Europe, but to be more likely to compromise and retard the cause of Poland than assist it. The language of the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in the early stages of the correspondence as to Poland, was marked not by a tone of moderation and conciliation, but was calculated only to irritate the Government of Russia. In advance of the language used by France or Austria, the tone of the noble Lord was more marked 113 and hostile. In short, there was a great difference between the despatches of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for France and those of the Minister of this country. Yet after having commenced with language the most warlike and irritating, the noble Earl at a time when a common action between the three Powers was more important than ever, for no reason whatever takes the first moment to say, "You may make concessions or not as you like; but, whatever you may do, you may he sure that England will not draw the sword on behalf of the policy she has so energetically espoused." I can understand a policy of non-intervention. I can understand a policy which says that whatever may happen abroad, unless the material interests of England are involved, nothing should induce you to draw the sword. If you like to adopt a policy of isolation, and to advocate your position in Europe, I can understand such a policy; but if you adopt it you must turn over a new leaf. You must not be offering counsel to one Power and menace to another. You must make it really a policy of nonintervention. You must not claim to speak for England as one of the leading Powers of Europe, and then, if your counsels are not followed, or your protests disregarded, turn round and say you will not draw the sword to enforce the policy you have recommended. But the noble Lord has otherwise not fairly represented my right hon. Friend in his comments on his speech. My right hon. Friend pointed out that the statement in the speech as to the Schleswig-Holstein dispute is not only not an accurate description of the question as it now stands, but that it is couched in language and represents circumstances in a manner calculated to mislead. A conclusive proof of this is to be found in the speech of the noble Lord, who says that the quarrel between Prussia, Austria, and Denmark, has arisen out of the treaty, but at the same time various minor States in Germany have taken advantage of the misunderstanding to raise this question of succession. It is clear that in the time of the late King of Denmark there was no question as to the rights of succession. My right hon. Friend also pointed out that the Diet has come to no resolution whatever about the succession. That question may have been raised by the minor States of the Federation, but as to Germany the question of the succession has been reserved. The great question before Europe is not war between Germany and Den- 114 mark, but war between Austria and Prussia on the one hand and Denmark on the other; not for questions arising out of the treaty of succession, but as to those relations respecting which the noble Lord expressed himself so energetically last year. My right hon. Friend complained that the policy of Earl Russell has been confused, vacillating, and contradictory. "So one who is aware of the course of events during the last few years will hesitate for one moment to endorse that statement. What was the first position which the noble Earl took with regard to the relations that ought to be established between Denmark and the duchy? In April, 1861, the noble Lord made his first proposition, which was, that as far as Holstein was concerned, she should have a totally separate organization. A quota of the common budget was to be submitted to the States of Holstein for assent, amendment, or rejection. All the laws affecting Holstein were to be similarly submitted. As to Schleswig, his proposition was, that there should be a common parliament for Denmark and the duchy of Schleswig; that that parliament should vote the common expenses, and legislate in common, and pass laws in common for Denmark and Schleswig; and that for Schleswig there should be a separate Diet for local purposes alone. That, Sir, is exactly what Denmark has done. It has given Holstein its separate organization. Holstein was to have the power of voting the normal budget of the kingdom, as well as of the Duchies, and have powers of amendment, assent, or rejection, notwithstanding that the body is the local and peculiar Diet of Holstein alone. There is a local Diet and a common parliament for the common affairs of the kingdom. The first proposal of the noble Lord is exactly that which Denmark has done and which the noble Lord now tells us is contrary to her engagements and to the Federal law. There were two other proposals. The second is as nearly as possible the reverse of the first, so that I think my right hon. Friend was right in saying that the policy of the Government—if policy it can be called—was confused, uncertain, and contradictory. I say this the more especially as the second proposal has been again contradicted, if not entirely overruled, by the third. The second proposal of the noble Earl is contained in that famous despatch to which my right hon. Friend alluded—a despatch suspicious from the place from which it emanated—sus- 115 picious from the influences to which the noble Lord had necessarily been subjected for some short period previously, and still more suspicious because it was contrary to that which the noble Lord had before proposed, and which had been the uniform policy of this country for many years. The noble Lord proposed that Holstein and Lauenburg should have all that the German Confederation asked for. He consented that Schleswig should have the power of self-government, but he added that it was not to be represented in the Rigsraad, or common Parliament. In the first instance, the noble Lord proposed that a common Constitution should be granted; but in the second it was not to be given at all. The next proposal of the noble Lord is, that the normal budget should be agreed to by Denmark and the three Duchies, Holstein, Schleswig, and Lauenberg; but that any extraordinary expense was to be submitted to the Rigsraad and to the separate Diets of Holstein and Schleswig, for their amendment, rejection, or adoption. So that, having in the first despatch proposed a common Constitution, in his second the noble Lord said a common Constitution was totally impossible, and proposed an entire separation, not only of Holstein, but of Schleswig, from the Danish monarchy. But the noble Lord's third despatch was as contradictory of his second as his second was of his first. In this he condemned entirely the project of having separate Diets, each with the power of negativing votes which might be necessary for the common defence of the country; and he said it was not to be endured that, supposing, for instance, any vote for the common defence of the monarchy were agreed on by Denmark and Schleswig, the whole system should be paralyzed by the independent action of the Diet of Holstein. But the proposal which he blamed in this despatch was exactly that which he had proposed in his second. My right hon. Friend, therefore, had the best ground for characterizing the noble Lord's policy, from the beginning to the end of this matter, as vacillating, confused, contradictory, and consequently dangerous to the peace of Europe, because at one time you encourage the pretensions of Germany, at another time the pretensions of Denmark; the result being neither of them knowing which side you take, both flattering themselves that they have your sympathy, till at last they are brought into that state of relations, and into that dangerous position in 116 which they now stand. The noble Lord who has just spoken to some extent differs from the noble Lord at the Foreign Office on this question; but he has shown himself almost as inconsistent as the noble Earl himself. In the remarkable declaration which he made at the end of last Session, in answer to some observations of my own, the noble Viscount said that the Germans were free to act as they like as regarded Holstein, because Holstein was a German province; but that as regarded Schleswig questions, they could not be raised between Germany and Denmark alone; and the Germans, if they attempted so to limit the discussion of them, would find to their surprise that other Powers would deal with those questions. But now the noble Lord entirely shifts his ground, and tells us that he himself thinks that the new Constitution for Schleswig is contrary to the engagement entered into by Denmark in 1851, and that it either is the incorporation or it tends to the incorporation of Schleswig. The noble Lord on this occasion has not been favoured with his accustomed accuracy of memory. True, mutual concessions were made on both sides on that occasion, Germany saying that she would give up any question as to administrative union between Schleswig and Holstein, and Denmark, on the other hand, undertaking that there should be nothing like incorporation; but, at the same time, there was an express declaration on the part of Austria, that the establishment of a common Constitution between Schleswig, Holstein, and Denmark for the common affairs of the monarchy should not be considered any breach of those stipulations, and should not be considered incorporation. The noble Lord, therefore, now takes up a position totally opposed to the express declaration of the German Powers. The noble Lord also says that the Constitution given to Holstein in March last was a total breach of Federal law. I should like an explanation on that point. That Constitution was of the freest kind; it gave to the people of Holstein the control over their own taxes, over their own legislation—for purposes of religion, education, Customs, and the like; it gave them in short, complete consent over their own affairs. I can understand how such a Constitution may be contrary to the spirit of some of the German Sovereigns who are now opposed to Denmark; but it will severely tax even the noble Lord's ability to prove that 117 it was a breach of Federal law. The great point after all, however, is, what is the policy of the noble Lord in this matter? The noble Lord says that it is sufficiently expounded in the Speech of the Royal Commissioners, but the speech of the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address proved the fallacy of that assertion. That hon. Gentleman said the policy of the Government might be directed to secure peace. The Government may secure peace in two ways, either by surrendering everything, and inducing our ally to surrender everything, or perhaps it may be best to take our stand boldly and energetically by the side of our ally. I am not recommending the one policy or the other, but I want to know what the Government are prepared to do? Are we going to secure the peace of Europe by standing by our allies or by deserting them? Each course may be called a peaceful policy, but what appears to be a peaceful policy may lead to a general war, while what may be called a hostile policy may be more calculated to secure the general peace of Europe. There is, I may add, one thing which is obvious on the face of the Speech, and that is that it is a speech fishing for a policy. It announces nothing; it is dictated by a Cabinet of compromise—by a Cabinet whose members are divided in the opinions which they entertained. In support of this view I may refer to a speech which some time ago appeared under the heading, "Extra Parliamentary Utterances," in the columns of the leading journal, and which was attributed to the President of the Board of Trade, who seemed to have seized the opportunity to draw the widest distinction between himself and his Colleagues. One of those Colleagues had not very long previously said that the question of Reform, had gone by, while another had observed that it was a question no Government could deal with, inasmuch, so far as it was concerned, the country was entirely apathetic. The President of the Board of Trade, nevertheless, thought proper to direct nearly the whole of his speech to a subject which his Colleagues were disposed to regard so lightly, while, when challenged at the close of his address to say a word with respect to the great question which was agitating at the moment, and was still agitating, not only this country but Europe—a question involving peace or war—he had no better answer to make than that his study of that question had been somewhat negligent, and that he had no infor- 118 mation relative to it to afford. Such is the reply of a Minister who is in the counsels of the Queen, and who, in a grave crisis, does not hesitate to confess his ignorance on one of the most important points on which he could be called upon to give an opinion. "When we find a Cabinet constituted of such men, it is, indeed, no wonder that the country should be without a fixed policy, while it is painful to think that in every State on the Continent through which an Englishman might pass, he is exposed to the humiliation of hearing the course which has been pursued by our Government as one without principle, and as one degrading to our position as a nation. For my own part I will say, that if the foreign policy of England and the zeal of her Minister are to be demonstrated by the writing of despatches destitute alike of dignity and courtesy—if sarcasm is to pass for argument, and if the language to be used is such as is calculated rather to irritate than to conciliate, I can understand the course taken—call it energetic if you will—by the noble Lord the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The noble Lord never loses an opportunity of writing despatches of a character more calculated to alienate than to conciliate, and to make enemies instead of preserving friends. If your policy be that of no surrender, it seems to me a most extraordinary step for you to offer our guarantee that the Danish Parliament should abrogate the constitution which it has itself created. If that is to be our position—if you say to your ally that the moment all concessions are granted that you will leave her to fight her own battle, then I say that is a policy that will be justly stigmatized in every country in Europe as humiliating and degrading, and I think the country will agree with me in that opinion.
MR. GRANT DUFF
said, the gracious Speech to which we have to-day listened contains one paragraph, the interest of which is so absorbing that I shall confine the observations which I have to make exclusively to it. I allude of course to the paragraph which refers to the Danish war. In this country, Sir, and I fear in this House, public opinion is enlisted rather in favour of Denmark than of Germany. I have never been able to take that view of the matter, and I hope that I may be allowed to explain as shortly as I can why I cannot do so now. It is constantly and truly said that Germany is strong, while Denmark is comparatively weak, and the 119 people of this country look upon the straggle which has now been going on for so many years pretty much as a contest between two boxers, where all the strength is on the side of the one, and all the pluck on the side of the other. But, Sir, because a Power is weak, is that a reason why we should sympathise with it, when it can be shown to have for years been presuming on its weakness, and acting with the most glaring disregard of justice? Why, what is the truth about this Schleswig-Holstein question, which is difficult, but has, I will venture to say, the credit of being more difficult than it really is, and with regard to which the remark of Bacon is emphatically correct, "that the kernel of the biggest business lies in a very little room." The truth of the whole affair is simply this, that the Eider-Dane party, the party, that is, which carried through the revolution of 1848 at Copenhagen, had set its heart on a Scandinavian union, and it shrunk from the idea of entering that union only with Jutland and the Isles, and thus putting Denmark at a great disadvantage as regards Sweden and Norway. That party comprised before 1848 all the young and vigorous life of Denmark. Aided by the storm which rushed through Europe in that eventful year, it swept away the old "Whole State Party" altogether, and prevailed upon the King to decree its darling project, the incorporation of Schleswig. Then followed the Schleswig-Holstein war, for the aspirations of the Eider-Dane party, aspirations perfectly natural in themselves, met the equally natural enthusiasm of the Schleswig-Holsteiners. There was, however, it will be observed, this difference between the aspirations of the Eider-Danes and the enthusiasm of the Schleswig-Holsteiners: one was aggressive and innovating, however natural; the other, equally natural, had its root deep in the traditions of many hundred years. In 1846, when the celebrated patent of Christian VIII. was thrown as a firebrand among the political writers of Europe, this was the state of things. Holstein was, by the admission of all, connected with Denmark only by a personal union—that is, by the same kind of union by which, before the accession of her present Majesty, England was joined to Hanover. Schleswig and Holstein were, however, strange to say, united to each other by an incorporate union—that is, by a union as close as that which connects England and Scotland, whilst Schleswig 120 was connected with Denmark, according to one party, by a personal, according to another, by a real union—that is, by a union like that which, de jure, exists between Austria and Hungary. No one, however, pretended to say that Schleswig was connected with Denmark by ties so close as those which bound her to her sister duchy. That was the state of things in 1846. But the mind of Christian VIII. was agitated in that year of European calm by a grave solicitude. It seemed that but a short time would elapse before Denmark and the Isles would pass to the Landgravine of Hesse, and both duchies, perhaps, but Holstein assuredly, would pass to the Duke of Augustenburg. No wonder that the mind of the king was disquieted by this prospect. He sought for a remedy. There was a famous precedent in European history—the precedent of Charles VI., the Pragmatic Sanction. Unluckily, the King of Denmark did not choose to follow this precedent. Instead of negotiating with the parties concerned, he had recourse to an act of authority which agreed well with both the traditions of his house and with the passions of his people, but ill, indeed, with their ultimate interests, or with the peace of Europe. He presumed to alter the succession to all his dominions by an arbitrary act. "Well, this arbitrary act and the Eider-Dane agitation, of which I have spoken, brought on the Schleswig - Holstein War. What would have been the result of that war, if Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein had been left to fight it out? That question will be differently answered, of course, as one turns to Danish or to German authorities; but no fair-minded man will deny that the combatants were pretty well matched. What happened? The reaction had set in in Germany, and the reactionary party forced the German Diet, in the teeth of the wishes of the German people, to pacify Schleswig-Holstein. Holstein was occupied by Federal troops; the insurrectionary Government—if, indeed, it deserves a name which seems to imply a censure—laid down its arms, and arrangements were come to of great importance upon the subject of Schleswig. Further arrangements were come to on the same subject in the succeeding year, Austria and Prussia acting as negotiators for the German Diet. All the trouble that arose between 1851 and the end of last year, arose from Denmark's obstinate and most dishonest refusal to carry out, in a fair spirit, the stipulations 121 of 1850 and 1851. In the end of last year, a fresh element of difficulty was added to the question. The King of Denmark died; and he died, Sir, without having carried out either his obligations towards Germany, created in 1850–51, or the obligations which it was necessary for him to fulfil before the provisions of the London Treaty of 1852 for the regulation of the succession could come into effect. In short, Sir, he never took care that that right of succession to the Duchies, in the person of the present King of Denmark—which I fully admit we are bound to recognize, when it is once called into existence—should ever exist. Sir, I am not one of those who think that the rights of any sovereign, merely as rights, are worth shedding much blood for; but Duke Frederick has as good a right to rule, probably both these Duchies, and most certainly Holstein, as any sovereign in Europe has to wear his crown. It comes, then, to this. English opinion is enthusiastic in its support of the Danish people, which supported a legitimate sovereign, Frederick VII., who cast to the winds his legal and honourable obligations in the Duchies, and which now support the present King, who, at least in Holstein and probably in Schleswig, is a pretender, and has no more right to rule there than any man in this House. But, Sir, while I deny that Denmark has any right to our sympathy, I have no Sympathy to offer to either Austria or Prussia. The governments of these two countries are playing their own game, irrespective of the feelings and wishes of the populations which they rule. The Austrian Government is hardly half-trusted by its Parliament; the Prussian Government is at open war with the legislature in Berlin. The action of the small German States and of the Diet, on the other hand, has been perfectly logical, and is supported by nine-tenths of the German people, and is not open, so far as I can see, to any objection upon any grounds of right or of law. I say emphatically of right or of law," for I do not mean for a moment to say that I applaud the policy which finds favour with the German people at this moment. I cannot understand how any one, not a German or a Dane, can feel very warmly upon either side of the question. I have been treating it as a pure question of law, which seems to me calculated to excite as little enthusiasm in the mind of any reasonable person not directly interested as the most common-place question 122 of real property law that was ever argued in the Court of Chancery. I can, however, perfectly understand the strong feeling which exists in Germany on the subject. Let us pair off the nationality mania of Germany against the nationality mania of Scandinavia; although it is obvious enough that, of the united Duchies, something like three-fourths are German, and only one-fourth Scandinavian. Let that pass. There still remains the fact that the German people were made by their reactionary rulers to play a most absurd and humiliating part in the last Schleswig-Holstein war, and that this Schleswig-Holstein question has become inextricably bound up with the aspirations of Germany for what it so ardently desires—real political life. On the other hand, I know and perfectly understand that the cry of "Denmark to the Eider "has become identified with the highest political aspirations of the Danish people. "What, Sir, results from all of this? It results that we have nothing to do except to let it alone; and having failed in our attempts to avert hostilities, we should retire from any connection with an affair in which we have neither honour nor interest to defend. What interest have we? Is it a dynastic interest? The heir to the throne has married a daugher of one belligerent; the husband of the Princess Royal commands, or is to command, a division in the armies of the other. Is it an interest of trade? Does it make any matter to us what Power holds the Southern half of the Danish peninsula? Is it a naval interest? Do we care three farthings whether the Germans have or have not a fleet? or who holds the harbour of Kiel? I am glad to find, from the observations of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, that there seems good reason to conclude that our honour is not so engaged as to oblige us to go to war. The noble Lord has stated that, within the last few hours, he has receive information that Austria and Prussia are prepared to stand by the Treaty of 1852. That means, I suppose, that they are prepared to stand by the interpretation which they are pleased to put upon that treaty. But does the noble Lord really imagine that such a settlement as Austria and Prussia are disposed to come to would be likely to be a permanent one? Does he know the extent to which passions are roused upon both sides? Is he aware of the intense excitement which prevails at Copenhagen, and of the not less intense 123 excitement which prevails from the North Sea to the Danube, and from the Vistula to the Rhine? I think it is more than possible that no really definite settlement of this question will be arrived at before there is a German Union and a Scandinavian Union. It may be that the formation of these Unions is far off; it may be that the day for them will never arrive; but let us at least do nothing to make them impossible. We have enough to do in the world, without trying to galvanize dead nations, or preventing new ones from being called into life.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, that although it was not worth while shedding much blood to decide whether a Glucksburg or an Augustenhurg should reign in Denmark and the Duchies, it was worth while running some risk and shedding a little blood in order to establish the principle, that the inhabitants of a country having constitutional representation and a constitutional Government should be consulted as to the monarch who should rule them. There were constitutional Estates in Schleswig and Holstein, and it was therefore a most extraordinary proceeding that a liberal and constitutional Government like that of England should join with the other nations of Europe to say who should be the future ruler of the Duchies without consulting those Estates. The quarrel of the Bund with Denmark was founded upon the fact that the King of Denmark attempted to impose upon Holstein a constitution which had never been submitted to the Estates; and M. Hall, the Danish Minister, himself admitted that any attempt to incorporate Schleswig with Denmark would give to Austria and Prussia and the German Bund a right to interfere. Until the year 1846 the people of Schleswig and Holstein were a well governed, happy, and contented population; and all the discontent and all the trouble which had since occurred had arisen from the attempts of the King of Denmark, at the instigation of a certain party, to incorporate Schleswig with his kingdom. When the Austrians and Prussians, acting for the German Bund, compelled the Schleswig-Hol-steiners to lay down their arms, in 1848, they guaranteed that the King of Denmark should restore to them their ancient privileges. This, despite the exertions of our Ministers and their own, had never been done, and, therefore, the Bund had not only a legal right, but was bound to interfere for the protection of these people. 124 The principal stipulations into which the King of Denmark entered were that he would never incorporate Schleswig with Denmark, that he would give equal privileges to the German and Danish inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein, and that he would govern the two duchies by the natives of each respectively. English Ministers had stated that these promises were constantly and systematically violated by Denmark. There were in the blue-hook at least a hundred despatches to that effect. The Schleswig- Holstein question was one of race; the Scandinavian race oppressing the Germans. He had visited those countries with the view of inspecting their beautiful farms, whence come the cattle which keep down the price of meat in England, and he must say he had never witnessed a more moral, religious, or patient people, or a people better deserving the sympathy of England. The greatest injustice was done them by the Danish Government, nevertheless they bore their sufferings with the most praiseworthy calm and fortitude. One mode of oppressing them was, taking advantage of the value of the inhabitants for the ordinances of religion, to provide that they should not be confirmed unless they learnt Danish; and although, upon the representation of England and France, that had been modified, candidates for confirmation were still required to pass a previous examination in Danish. From statements resting on the authority of our Minister, Mr. Paget, it appeared that on the eve of elections persons were frequently arrested and charged with crimes which, by the law of Denmark, forfeited for the time the franchise of the accused. He hoped Her Majesty's Government had no intention of involving the country in war; but he believed, if the truth were told in England, as it had never yet been, the sympathy of the country would go with the German subjects of Denmark, and not with the Danes. All the Danes whom he had met were accomplished, agreeable, excellent men; but in Schleswig-Holstein they were tyrants, and, as such, were detested. It is well that the Germans should know, that one reason why their countrymen in Schleswig-Holstein had not experienced that sympathy to which all oppressed people were entitled in England was, because Germans themselves acted the part of oppressors in Posen; a very illogical reason, to be sure, but still one exercising considerable influence in this country.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, that during the Polish debate of last Session, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had stated, in reply to the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), that Earl Russell in declaring that under no circumstances would England go to war for that country, made one important reservation—namely, that any attempt on the part of Russia to exterminate the Poles would cause England and other European nations to interfere actively and put a stop to the design. That declaration was made in July, and in November of the same year the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in speaking at the Mansion House, alluded to "the barbarous system of deliberate extermination" carried out by Russia at the expense of the Poles. That was a true representation of the system deliberately adopted by the Russians; and, if so, he wished to ask what steps had been taken to give effect to the declaration of Earl Russell. During the recess, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary made a still more important declaration. In 1859 the noble Earl selected Scotland as the place from, which to proclaim the policy of the Government with respect to Italy; and in 1863 he chose Blairgowrie as the spot from which he would announce his views in reference to Poland. He then declared that the conditions upon which Russia obtained her dominion in Poland had not been fulfilled, and, consequently, that the Russian dominion in Poland was forfeited. That was taking a step in advance, and the diplomatic effect of such a statement contained in a despatch would have been very great. The noble Lord did, in fact, prepare a short despatch, which was to close the correspondence for 1863, and in that he inserted a sentence equivalent to his Blairgowrie declaration, that, as far as England was concerned, Russia had forfeited her right to rule in Poland. That despatch, he believed, was communicated to Count Rechberg at Yienna, to M. Bismark at Berlin, and Lord Napier was instructed to sound Prince Gortschakoff privately as to the effect which such a despatch would have upon the Russian Government. "Whatever the answer was which Prince Gortschakoff gave to Lord Napier, or whatever the criticism from M. Bismark or Count Rechberg, this much was known, that the important declaration which Lord Russell had put into the despatch was erased, the despatch itself 126 recalled, and sent to Prince Gortschakoff in its altered form. He wished to ask the Government what was the character of that altered despatch, and what were the reasons which could have produced so serious a change in their policy? The effect of Earl Russell's declaration would have been to recognise an independent Poland, and he wished to know whether the Government still adhered to the view that Russian dominion was forfeited. England had fallen low enough already, but it would add to her disgrace if it appeared that a Foreign Office despatch had been altered and the only important sentence in it struck out upon an objection made by the Minister of a Foreign Court. He wished to ask the House to consider the propriety of insisting upon the Government making such a diplomatic declaration; because it did not involve us in war, but it would simply wash our hands of a business that had covered us as well as Russia with so much disgrace. Such a course would give the Poles the utmost satisfaction. The Poles had never asked us for armed intervention in their behalf; but they did ask with justice that they should have the benefit of a solemn declaration by the British Minister, and that it should not be withdrawn upon a menace by a Foreign Minister. The Poles had acted very prudently in not asking for our intervention, and they had shown that for the last year they had been able to fight their own battles, notwithstanding the system of extermination adopted by Russia.
The war in Poland had lasted more than twelve months, and the official journal of Warsaw stated that the number of Poles actually killed on fields of battle was 40,000. That might be an exaggeration, but Lord Napier represented that in a single engagement alone 1,000 had been killed; and bearing in mind that during the whole Crimean campaign only 3,500 British troops were actually killed in fight, and that little more than 2,000 were left upon the field of Waterloo, the numbers alleged to have fallen in Poland indicated an amount of carnage truly horrible. The last number of the Invalide Russe which had come to hand stated that the Polish insurrection could not be suppressed, and that in all probability the struggle would increase in violence in the spring.
Long before the German and Danish question became critical, the money-market 127 showed symptoms that there was disquietude in Europe. Commercial men were uneasy on the subject of Poland. No wonder the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have said that "Russian rule in Poland was a festering sore in the heart of Europe." And how had that "festering sore" been treated? In the year 1815 there was a piece of court-plaster put on it, and ever since various Governments had been employed in bandaging it up; but the sore inflamed and increased. Her Majesty's Government had concluded the recent correspondence with Russia by saying they had learned with the greatest pleasure the benevolent intentions of the Czar. But who was that man whose benevolent intentions they so much admired? He was the author of certain instructions to General Mouravieff, one of which was, "You are to employ, in the event of certain demonstrations, severe measures, even against the women." Such were the instructions given by a prince to a military commander in a district where martial law prevailed, and where everything was in the hands of the soldiery; and who, then, could be surprised at the atrocities committed under the rule of Mouravieff? It was related that Ivan the Terrible, though one of the most cruel of men, never went so far as to inflict torture on women; but his descendant, the present Czar, could not make that boast.
The greatest atrocities were being committed in a part of Europe to which England was bound by treaty engagements. Was Her Majesty's Government going to keep those engagements? Were they prepared to maintain public law? The conduct of Russia in Poland was not only a violation of the letter of treaties, but of public law. The noble Viscount, three or four years ago, said "humanity was outraged by the conduct of Russia towards the Poles." Well, were they prepared to do anything for them on the grounds of humanity? But there was another reason for doing something. Every commercial community in England had signed Petitions telling that House that the peace of Europe was in permanent danger from Russian rule in. Poland. Who could believe that the Schleswig-Holstein question would be in its present position but for Poland? Poland had powerful friends, who would do all they could to call the attention of the Powers of Europe to the condition of that country, and if they saw questions like that between Germany and 128 Denmark threatening the peace of Europe they would not regard them, because they said Europe deserved to have its peace broken.
The Schleswig-Holstein question would have been settled without war if an intimate alliance existed between France and England. Who was it that had endangered that alliance? The noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office proposed to France to do something. In one of his despatches to Russia, the noble Earl said the public law had been broken, and when asked were his intentions pacific, he replied, "Yes, they are now; but I must not mislead you, the insurrection may continue, Russia may reject our proposals, and then new complications and embarrassments may arise, which all may deplore." What other interpretation could the Emperor of the French put upon that despatch but that something should be done for Poland? The Emperor proposed to England to take new steps on behalf of the Poles. He did not propose that England should send an army into Poland; he was ready to do that; but that the English and French fleets should be sent to the Baltic. The national army of Poland would have been, sufficient for Polish independence if the fleets had been sent to the Baltic. That proposition, which would not have entailed much expenditure on England, was not accepted by the Government; they preferred to swallow all the insults flung at them by Prince Gortschakoff. But there was another chance for Poland. The Emperor made another proposition. He proposed that a Congress of the various European Powers should be called to consider the state of European treaties. That proposal, if adopted, would have prevented the war raging between Germany and Denmark, and might have brought the Polish question to a pacific termination. But the proposal was rejected by Her Majesty's Government in language amounting almost to rudeness. Was it any wonder that when the British Governnent came to him with proposals he should have adopted towards them a similar course?
The Emperor of the French had been solicited by the noble Earl to join England in a war in favour of Denmark, and the noble Earl had written a despatch showing what he thought of the Treaty of London. The Emperor of the French called it an "impotent convention condemned by events;" and it was worse. Nothing could be more interesting than to trace the 129 position of Russia, if the Treaty of London were valid, which he believed it was not. Russia had a certain distant claim to the throne of Denmark, and by the Treaty of London nineteen legitimate heirs to the throne between Russia and the late King were cut off. One of the Danish Princes who stood in the order of succession had been sent to Greece, and now between Russia and the Throne of Denmark there only stood the present King of Denmark and two of his sons. When the Treaty of London was the subject of debate a short time since, Mr. Bunsen, son of the late Minister of Prussia at the Court of St. James's, stated in the Prussian Chamber of Deputies that his father had opposed the Treaty of London because it gave a predominance to Russian influence, and that Russian gold was lavishly employed when it was negotiated—probably to influence the minor States. The Treaty of London was, in short, a Russian treaty. Some of the minor princes were not consulted. The present Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha was not consulted. It deprived the people of Holstein of their legitimate Sovereign and their rights without consulting them. The Holstein Diet was against the treaty. The Danish Diet was dissolved three times before a packed assembly could be got to confirm the treaty. And that was the treaty paraded for the approbation of Parliament in the speech of the Lords' Commissioners! Several delicate questions arose as to the treaty, but he did not see why they should not be mentioned. It was perfectly well known that England had been prevented by the Queen from getting into this war. It was no use mincing matters, and he at least was not bound to silence—the credit was due to the Queen; and as some one had said, on an occasion when the country was saved from a great calamity by the other House, "Thank God we have a House of Lords!" so, in that case, they might thank God they had a Queen. After the treaty was negotiated in 1851 a document was read in that House by the present Foreign Secretary. It related to the conduct of foreign affairs by the then Foreign Minister, for when the noble Viscount negotiated the treaty some of the despatches were not subjected in due course to the Sovereign. Lord Russell thereupon read in his place in the House a memorandum from the Queen, in which she laid down the constitutional rule according to which the Foreign Minister ought to conduct the 130 business of his Department. The practice of sending off despatches without the consent of the Sovereign, and of coming to decisions without the sanction of the Sovereign, was one it was stated that would entitle the Queen to exercise her constitutional right of dismissing a Minister. The confidential adviser of Her Majesty at that time was an illustrious Prince of great information, but who did not interfere in politics. It was now well known that he entertained a very strong opinion in regard to the Treaty of London, and thought that the rights and interests of the people of Holstein ought not to have been set aside and signed away by people who had no business with that part of the world.
The whole of Germany was now in arms. In the language of the Emperor of the French, the Treaty of London was condemned by events. Holstein was no longer part of Denmark. The Denmark of 1864 was dismembered. The Denmark of to-day was much smaller than the Denmark of 1863. England, with all her strength, could not fix upon the people of Holstein a Government that they repudiated. The people of the Duchy had received the Duke of Augustenburg with open arms. The elder brother of the King of Denmark, Prince Charles of Glucksburg, had refused to swear allegiance to his brother, and might now be fighting on the banks of the Eider side by side with the Crown Prince of Prussia. Above all questions this had been one with which we ought not to have interfered. The Minister of the King of Denmark had accused Earl Russell of being the cause of the dismemberment of Denmark; and he was quite right. Mr. Paget related that when he read the noble Earl's despatch to M. Hall, "he was visibly agitated, and declared it to be the most disastrous blow that could have been inflicted on the cause of Denmark." In October, 1852, Lord Russell bullied Denmark and browbeat the Danish Minister, and then, having raised a flame in Germany, he turned round and changed his language. It was generally understood that the Cabinet was divided on this question. There was a minority in favour of war, but though numerically small, it was a powerful minority, and with such influence as the noble Viscount could bring to bear it was possible that one day they might find themselves engaged in war. Under these circumstances, 131 it was doubly important to point out the parallel between the two great foreign policies of the last year. The Government had refused to go to war in favour of the people of Poland, but they were on the brink of war against the people of Holstein. In the case of Poland they had a treaty; they had everything in favour of going to war for an oppressed people; in Holstein it was just the reverse; they had every reason why they should not go to war to deprive a people and their sovereign of legitimate rights. The policy of the Government was most dangerous, and he called on the House to take every possible step to prevent the Ministers from pursuing a course which would be not only digraceful to them, but, in all probability most disastrous to the country.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, after the somewhat discursive speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, I do not rise for the purpose of entering at large into the debate, but the hon. Member has adverted to a topic which was also noticed by the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald). He spoke of a "divided Cabinet." I think the best answer I can give to an observation of that kind is to say, that my desire was to have left the statement of the policy of the Government precisely as it stood in the speech of my noble Friend, without the addition or substraction of a single word. Reference was also made to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton (Mr. Milner Gibson), although Certainly the materials were very slender for fastening on him the imputation of a difference of opinion. But I am authorized to state that my right hon. Friend is exactly of the same mind as myself. Our wish is to be represented to the country and the House of Commons by the able and luminous speech of my noble Friend at the head of the Government. There was another observation of the hon. Member which I think ought not to pass without notice. He said it was notorious—the whole country knew it; in fact, there was no motive for concealing it—that it was Her Majesty who had prevented the Cabinet from going to war upon this question. It appears to me far from desirable —indeed, hardly decorous—to introduce into the debates of the House the name of Her Majesty, a Sovereign of all who ever sat on the Throne who has thoroughly and entirely comprehended her duties as a constitutional monarch. But if that be far 132 from desirable, and not altogether decorous as a general rule, it certainly is additionally unfortunate that a reference of this kind should be made when the statement of the hon. Member is founded entirely and absolutely in error. The hon. Member's statement was that the Cabinet had advised Her Majesty to take steps—
§ MR. HENNESSY
The right hon. Gentleman misunderstood me altogether. As it is a matter of some importance I may repeat what I did say, which was this:—I said, it has been whispered abroad, and is notorious, that peace has been secured by the Queen; and then I referred not to a statement, but to a document read in this House in 1851.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not quite understand how a document read in this House in 1851 can avail the hon. Gentleman in support of a statement made by him in 1864—that the advice of a Cabinet, which would have carried the country into war, had been nullified by the action of the Queen. I do not think the explanation of the hon. Gentleman at all mends the matter, but then it shows, I am happy to say, some sense on his part of the inconvenience of the reference he has made. The hon. Gentleman devoted a great part of his speech to criticizing the Treaty of London, but he must not forget that it is a treaty which has been signed and ratified; by which we are bound, and to which, in the fair and honest construction of its terms, we must adhere. I am not aware that the hon. Gentleman is correct in his construction of that treaty; I am not aware that it contains any stipulations which override the wishes of the people of the Duchies; nor do I know that the statements made by the hon. Gentleman with regard to the nature of the sentiments of the people of the Duchies are true; but, be that as it may, he will allow me to remind him that it is of little use to refer to what he looks upon as the inexpediency of the engagement itself, when it is at any rate an engagement to which the good faith and honour of the country are pledged. But my principal object in rising was to reply to the remarks which have been made by the hon. Member for Horsham and the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him on the other side of the House with reference to another point. The hon. Member for Horsham found fault with my noble Friend for stating that the patent of March, 1853, referring to the govern- 133 ment and constitution of Holstein, was at variance with the engagements which had been made by Denmark, and he seemed to think it was quite sufficient for him to enter into argument in the matter with my noble Friend, and to contend that in his opinion the patent was not at variance with those engagements. I would, however, remind the House that this is not a point to be settled by the private or even official opinion of my noble Friend on the one side or the hon. Gentleman on the other. The question is, who has jurisdiction in the case, and who are the parties competent to form a judgment upon it? It so happens that my noble Friend is of an entirely different opinion from the hon. Gentleman, and believes that the patent was at variance with the engagements of Denmark; but it is not because he personally is of that opinion that he refrains from taking public and formal exception to the Federal occupation: it is because it is a matter of German concern, entirely within the jurisdiction of the Germanic Diet. But the hon. Gentleman made it a subject of complaint that Her Majesty's Government have, as he seems to think, inflicted injury on Denmark by extracting or obtaining from her one concession after another. First of all it is said that Denmark has been led to make concessions in regard to Holstein, and then concessions about a constitution to Schleswig; and then it is conveyed to us that we have in that way induced her to make sacrifices which entitle her to expect at our hands compensation in return. Now, the sum and substance of the advice given to Denmark by Her Majesty's Government is this, that she should fulfil her engagements; and so far from contracting a debt to Denmark, or any other country by giving her such advice, I hold that in tendering it we are performing the part of a true friend, and conferring on her a real obligation. But the hon. Member for Horsham, and likewise the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him, have fallen, I think, into a very serious error in the reference which they made to the important declaration which was made by my noble Friend at the head of the Government in July last. The statement of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) is that that delaration was a proper sequel to a paragraph in the Queen's Speech relating to the Danish question; that the state of affairs contemplated by my noble Friend in July last has now ar- 134 rived, and that the course then indicated by my noble Friend is one which, in order to be consistent, he ought to follow up. The hon. Member for Horsham also contends that my noble Friend had in view this very line of action which Prussia and Austria as we think are very unfortunately now pursuing, when he intimated, at the close of last Session, that if attacked Denmark would not find herself alone. Now, these statements would be of a very important character if they were well founded. They proceed, however, on an entire misapprehension of what fell from my noble Friend, as any hon. Member may convince himself by a reference to the debate in question. I hold in my hand the record of that debate, and it is in the power of any one who hears me to ascertain whether what I am about to say is well founded. There are three forms of subject brought into the controversy in this matter, which are of quite a distinct character. One is the succession to the Danish dominions, which is dealt with by the Treaty of 1852; the second is the engagements entered into by Denmark with respect to the incorporation of Schleswig; the third comprises a class of topics connected exclusively with the internal government of the Duchies, as to which complaints have been made against Denmark, and I am afraid not without reason. I do not undertake to estimate the value of those complaints or enter into details, but there are complaints relating to the unequal and oppressive manner—not with regard to the general Government, but to the particular bearing on the national feeling—in which it is contended that Denmark has governed the Duchies, These three subjects are entirely distinct as to the foundation of right on which they rest. The treaty is the affair of the Powers who signed it; the second point is rather the affair of those who act as the mandatories of Germany; while the internal government of the Duchies, as regards the use of the Danish language and so forth, never ought to have been made in the same sense a matter of international engagement, while it must be admitted to be a matter of fair public interest. Now, the representation made with respect to my noble Friend is this, that he has stated that if Germany attempted to enforce the engagements entered into by Denmark by force of arms, then a case would arise when she might call upon England for help. My noble Friend, however, referred to no such circumstances as those which are now 135 taking place. He did not maintain that Germany had no right to feel an interest in the way in which the Duchies were governed. On the contrary, in the speech referred to he uses these words—But there is in Schleswig a very considerable German population, and therefore it is not unnatural—indeed, it is perfectly justifiable—that the Germanic Confederation should take an interest in the condition of the German population, and it is entitled to make representations to the King of Denmark, requesting that the German population should be put on a fair and equal footing with regard to the Danish population of Schleswig.Still later in the speech he says, having in view nothing but this class of subjects—As I have already said, we concur entirely with the hon. Gentleman, as I am satisfied will all reasonable men in Europe, including those in France and Russia, in desiring that the independence, the integrity, and the rights of Denmark may be maintained. We are convinced—I am convinced at least—that if any violent attempt were made to overthrow those rights and interfere with their independence, those who made the attempt would find in the result that it would not be Denmark alone with which they would have to contend.Now, what is the meaning of these words? Plainly this, that if Germany should attempt to take on her own hands matters connected with the internal Government of the Duchies, she would he committing an outrage against all public right, in regard of which she might expect that consequences inconvenient to herself might follow. But that is not the case which has arisen. [Mr. WHITESIDE: "Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman cheers me ironically, but I am sure he does so rather in his character of a warm political partisan than of an acute and logical reasoner. It is, I am sure, he will admit, a totally different thing to exact by means somewhat unjustifiably harsh something to which you are entitled, and to use force to obtain that to which you have no title at all. The doctrine of my noble Friend was that Germany has no title to interfere by force for the purpose of gaining certain privileges for men of German race in the Duchies; but the question which has now arisen, as to what estimate is to be formed of the conduct of Germany in interfering by force for the purpose of compelling Denmark to keep her engagements, is one of a different character. My noble Friend has distinctly stated the view which we take of the conduct of Austria and Prussia in the matter. We all feel the responsibility, the heavy responsibility, assumed by two great Powers, who unnecessarily, even in pursuit of 136 a right object, set aside reason and resort to force. It is impossible too deeply or too seriously to lament such a course, but then it is a course totally different from that of resorting to arms for the purpose of settling a matter in which you have no title to interfere, and entirely distinct from that contemplated by my noble Friend when he said, that in the event of any violent attempt being made to overthrow her rights, it would not be Denmark alone with which those who made the attempt would have to contend. These I offer simply as casual observations on points which have arisen in debate, which it was important to clear from misrepresentation. With regard to the general statement of the views of Her Majesty's Government—the question whether they have a policy or no policy, and whether that policy is likely to be approved by the voice of the British nation —I am content to rest the case in the hands of my noble Friend, who stated their views at an early period of the evening.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he had been anxious to say a few words on some of the statements which had fallen from the noble Viscount; but if he was anxious before, he was doubly anxious to do so after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that but for the remarks of the hon. Members for the King's County and Horsham, he should have been content that his own sentiments and those of his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade should be expressed by the noble Viscount; it was therefore satisfactory to know that the Premier had spoken for at least two Members of the Cabinet as well as himself. The noble Viscount seemed quite indignant that any one should entertain a doubt as to the policy of the Government with respect to the Schleswig-Holstein question. Their policy, he said, was clearly explained in the Speech delivered by the Lords Commissioners; and if any Gentleman was too dull to arrive at it, he would enlighten that dense individual by telling him that the policy of the Government, which he said had been successful, was to maintain peace. Had peace been maintained? Had the policy of the Government been successful? Cannon had been fired—war had commenced, yet the noble Viscount came down to the House and said the policy of the Government was peace; he put it in the mouth of his Royal Mistress that she was anxious to continue her labours for the 137 preservation of peace, and he told them the Government deserved the confidence of the country for the success of his policy of peace. He said the policy of the Government had been successful at least in this, that, whereas the conflict between Germany and Denmark had arisen about the succession, the efforts of Her Majesty's Ministers had been directed exclusively to procure the recognition of the rights of the King of Denmark, under the Treaty of London, from those Powers which had shown a disposition to retreat from or deny its stipulations. They were told that Bavaria, who never acceded to the treaty, was disposed to repudiate it; and that Wurtemburg and Saxony, who were consenting parties, had shown a disposition to retreat from it. The noble Lord took great credit for efforts made to procure the continued support of Saxony and Wurtemburg to the Treaty of 1852. He thought that certainly to be a lame and impotent conclusion from the labours which were vaunted in the opening paragraphs of the Royal Speech. The noble Lord went on to say, that even within the last few hours they had received the most important and gratifying intelligence that their labours had not been thrown away, and that both Prussia and Austria at the last moment had entered into a most solemn and binding guarantee that the Treaty of 1852, under all circumstances—even it might be of the conquest of Denmark—should be scrupulously observed by them. A great cheer arose from the benches behind the noble Lord when he made that announcement; but he should like to ask the noble Lord what was his real and honest opinion as to the worth of that declaration he vaunted so much a couple of hours ago? "Was it true that the Colleague of the noble Lord who was intrusted with the management of foreign affairs, in the hearing of many whom he now addressed, had said not an hour ago, that he would place no reliance whatever in that declaration? Nay, more, that he did not even understand it, but he trusted time would elucidate a matter which was beyond his comprehension. Was that a declaration to satisfy the country for the abandonment of Denmark, and seeing it overrun with the troops of Austria and Prussia? At the conclusion of last Session the noble Yiscount had made a most remarkable declaration, which he said had reference to the question of succession, and not to the intention of the great Powers 138 to interfere with the internal concerns of Denmark; and the right hon. Gentleman, feeling so much the inconsistency, had endeavoured with great ingenuity to reconcile the conflicting statements, and show that the noble Lord, in those sentences which still rung in their ears, had no intention to threaten the Powers of Germany with the might of England in defence of Denmark, unless they interfered absolutely with the internal affairs of Denmark. He quoted and argued from an isolated passage, with all that rhetorical and extra forensic ingenuity of which he was so remarkable a master, that he only promised Denmark assistance in case of Germany invading her rights and independence. What, however, was the statement of the noble Lord that night? He said that Prussia and Austria had asked an impossibility of Denmark. In what did that impossibility consist? It consisted of a demand made at the sword's point by Austria and Prussia, that the King of Denmark, by one stroke of his pen, should suspend not merely the common constitution which had been given to Schleswig and Denmark, but should suspend, abrogate, and destroy the constitution of Denmark itself. That was the demand which they were now told by the right hon. Gentlemen in no way concerned the rights or independence of Denmark. He thought in the British House of Commons he might be excused if, with some warmth, he repudiated such a construction of the rights and independence of a country. The noble Lord told them in his speech, and he was surprised to hear it, that this invasion of Danish territory was, if not counselled, suggested by Her Majesty's Government. [Viscount PALMERSTON": I did not say any thing of the kind.] He certainly understood the noble Lord, in order to keep Austria and Prussia straight with regard to their Treaty obligations contracted in 1852, had said to them, "If you have a quarrel with Denmark about the international stipulations which Denmark may have entered into with you in 1851—if you say that Denmark has disregarded and not fulfilled these obligations—then, indeed, if you have a mind, you have a perfect right to go to war with her." If that statement were made to Austria and Prussia, they were but acting on the suggestion—he did not say the advice of the noble Lord.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
— What I stated was this:—We said to Austria and Prussia, if you have a just demand on 139 Denmark, and Denmark refuses compliance with it you have a right to go to war; but Denmark says she will comply, and only asks for time to do so in the only way in which it can be done, and therefore you have no cause of war.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
The subsequent answer of Denmark no doubt put them entirely in the wrong, but Denmark in 1851 had made promises which had not been fulfilled, and the noble Lord's statement was that if Denmark had not fulfilled her stipulations with Austria and Prussia, they had a just cause of war against her. Although Denmark had given a promise that she would fulfil her pledge to the best of her ability, still the casus belli for the non-fulfilment of her previous pledges, according to the statement of the noble Lord himself, dearly came from the English Government. He understood the noble Lord to say that Germany having accepted the Treaty of 1852, there was now no real cause of complaint. If that were so, let him ask whether, in the matured judgment of Her Majesty's Government, the war was likely to come to an end? What was the meaning of the wonderfully satisfactory intelligence which was said to have been received? Was the House of Commons to understand, that in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government Austria and Prussia were about to retreat from that expedition which the noble Lord now reiterated was in his opinion utterly unjustifiable? The explanations both of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord had entirely failed to remove the doubt, hesitation, and mistrust which the country felt, and must feel, in the policy pursued by the Government; and if any other Member of the Cabinet then present could give a more rational, consistent, and satisfactory explanation of the course of events, and could hold out a clearer and more hopeful prospect as to the future, he believed that the House and the public would be deeply indebted to that moat fortunate Minister.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
said, he could not help expressing his opinion that some most important topics were "conspicuous by their absence" from the Royal Speech, in spite of the explanations of the noble Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They had received no information with respect to America, especially on points in which this country was particularly interested. They heard from time to time of seizures of British vessels made 140 by United States' cruisers in almost a piratical manner; and he was therefore desirous of learning what course the Government were taking to vindicate the national honour. He was also anxious for information on the subject of the seizure of the "rams" at Liverpool, and he would state why. Within a few weeks of their seizure the Foreign Secretary told a deputation of the Emancipation Society that there were no sufficient grounds for seizing them—that that could not be done upon mere suspicion, but only upon clear evidence and positive facts. Perhaps the Government would tell the House what additional information reached them within the fortnight to warrant the order for the seizure of the rams. If private reports were to be trusted, the only additional information they received was a swaggering menace from Mr. Seward to Lord Lyons to the effect, that if those vessels left the Mersey it would be at the peril of England. This supposition had since been confirmed by the diplomatic papers laid on the table of the American Congress, from which it appeared that Mr. Seward had distinctly stated to Her Majesty's Government, that if the rams left the shores of England the United States would retaliate by war. Lord Russell, in his speech at Blairgowrie, said that Her Majesty's Government would not abate one jot or tittle of English right or English law in consequence of the menaces of foreign Powers. Some might think that the Minister who used such language was incapable of weak concession; but besides his many admirable qualities Lord Russell had also his failings, and one of those failings was that he used the biggest language when he did not intend to fight, and invariably employed strong words to cover weak actions. He pursued that course in the case of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, and likewise in his correspondence with. Russia last year on the subject of Poland. The noble Lord at first gave Russia to understand that if she did not accept the six points very awful things would ensue; but when he found that she stood firm, and was prepared even to make war for her independence, he frankly acknowledged that if she was ready to fight he was not, and he wound up by writing a despatch saying that he was but too happy to be rid of the correspondence. That was not an original line of conduct; it had already been performed in the play of The Rivals, and in the character of Bob Acres. He 141 trusted that, at all events, it would not be repeated in regard to Schleswig-Holstein. [An hon. MEMBER: It has been.] On that point he could not express an opinion, as he did not yet know what was the conduct or the policy of the Government. The popular theory as regards the Schleswig-Holstein question was that that question had been mastered only by one man, a certain German professor, who went mad in consequence; and the panic appeared to have reached even the Ministerial mind, for when the President of the Board of Trade spoke at Ashton the other day, he frankly told his constituents that he knew nothing about the matter except that we were parties to a treaty. But the Sohleswig-Holstein question might be reduced to two simple and salient points—namely, the treaty settling the Danish succession, and the promises given by Denmark in 1851–2 with regard to the non-incorporation of Schleswig and an equality of rights as between its German and Danish subjects. That was not the fitting time for a full discussion of this question, hut he was prepared to show that from 1852 down to 1864 Denmark had systematically endeavoured to shuffle out of the performance of those engagements. Some spoke of Denmark as a small Power which was being bullied by two great Powers; but there was such a thing as a small Power taking advantage of the very fact of her weakness; and he thought a large amount of sympathy was thrown away upon Denmark. If there was one party less entitled to the sympathy of the Conservatives than another it was the Eider-Dane party, which had unfortunately long exercised sway over the counsels of Denmark. It was an ultra-Democratic party, advocating that Schleswig-Holstein should be ruled by means of a tyrant majority at Copenhagen, without any respect for the prescriptive rights or the traditional privileges of the provinces; whereas the Conservative party in Denmark, as elsewhere, advocated an autonomy for those provinces and local self-government. Thus we find, whether on the banks of the Eider or the Potomac, the democratic party always the same, everywhere despotic, everywhere intolerant of opposition, everywhere seeking by means of the centralized action of tyrant majorities to crush opposing nationalities, and to trample under foot every shade and shadow of opinion which dares to differ from their own. Under these circumstances, 142 he asked the House to pause before it gave an unqualified support to that party in whose hands the Government of Denmark had so long rested, and before it exchanged for the alliance of a kingdom, which during the great revolutionary struggle was about the most faithful supporter of France, the friendship and sympathy of that Germany, and, above all, of that Austria, which had ever shown herself England's most natural and most trustworthy ally.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, he regretted the omission of all allusion to the subject of the American war from the Speech, but was not much surprised at it. Ministers, it was true, had taken every opportunity of declaring a policy of strict neutrality, and that such a policy was entitled to the approval of the country. If, however, it could be shown that they had departed from that policy, and yielding to the threats and pressure of the Federal Government they had connived at a violation of international law for the purpose of assisting one side to the manifest injury of the other, the people of this country would have a right to complain. The principle of neutrality consisted in a strict adherence to those rules which had been laid down by writers on international law to be observed by neutrals with regard to belligerents, and he did not hesitate to assert that the Government had departed from that neutrality which they professed to maintain. All writers on international law were agreed that a blockade, in order to be accepted as binding on neutral States, must be effective. That principle was considered so important that it formed the subject of a solemn declaration, which was inserted in the fourth article of the protocol annexed to the Treaty of Paris, which, explained an effective blockade to be a blockade maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy. Such was the law which England had bound herself to uphold. How had Ministers performed that duty? They had admitted as binding a so-called blockade of the whole Confederate coast—a blockade which never was effective, which never could by any possibility be made effective, which, in fact, was neither more nor less than a "paper" blockade. It might be possible to make effective a blockade of a single port or harbour, though even that was a difficult matter against steamships; but it was impossible to blockade effectually 3,500 miles of coast. The Federal Government, however, had never been able 143 to make effective the blockade of any one of the Southern ports. In proof of that he might refer to a quasi-official document supplied by the Confederate agent in this country, from which it appeared that during the first ten months of last year, from the 1st of January to the 23rd of October, no fewer than ninety steamers entered the port of Wilmington from foreign ports, while forty-three entered the harbour of Charleston. Colonel Freemantle, of the Guards, in his recently-published Diary, stated that when he arrived at Wilmington on the 16th of June, 1863, the river was quite full of blockade runners; that he counted eight handsome steamers which plied their trade with the greatest regularity; that many ships were employed in carrying goods on Government account; and that, in short, it was quite absurd to call the blockade an effective one. So that while Her Majesty's Ministers were protesting against German Powersfor violating the Treaty of London, they were themselves conniving at a violation of the Treaty of Paris. What had been the consequence of that connivance? The Federal Government having found it to be impossible to make the blockade effective, had had recourse to a series of outrages upon British trade and commerce, with what object it was difficult to know, unless it was for the purpose of intimidation. They had given instructions to their naval officers to capture all merchant ships coming within 300 or 400 miles of the Confederate coast; they had extended their operations to almost every part of the Gulf of Mexico; they had captured our ships going direct from English ports to the Mexican coast, and those vessels had been condemned in the American Prize Courts, apparently with the consent of our Government. Nor was this all. Finding they could do so with impunity, the Federal Government had actually had the audacity to go into the port of Matamoras and capture all the English merchant ships there taking in cargoes of cotton. That appeared to him to be a much greater outrage than the Trent affair. It was not a case which could be referred to the American Prize Courts; it was a question of direct piracy authorized by the Federal Court, and for which Her Majesty's Ministers should demand immediate reparation. The Federal Court had also given instructions to their naval officers to capture ships sailing direct from ports in this country to Her Majesty's Colony of the Bahamas, and the vessels so 144 captured had been condemned in the American Prize Courts on the ground that upon their arrival at Nassau they might have transferred their cargoes to blockade runners. So flagrant a violation of international law had excited the indignation of the French press. The Mémorial Diplomatique had pointed out the injustice of arbitrarily assimilating articles of commerce to contraband of war, of seizing a whole cargo on account of a few insignificant articles alleged to be contraband, and of capturing a neutral vessel going from one neutral port to another, under the pretext of an improper ultimate destination. This, however, seemed to be a matter of no interest to Her Majesty's Government. After their great exertions in the Trent case, they perhaps thought that they had done all that the national honour required of them, and that they could now afford to rest and be thankful. It was, however, unhappily too true that the flag of England no longer gave protection to the trade and commerce of the country, and that our merchant ships were illegally seized on the high seas. The Federal cruisers respected the tricolour of France, because they feared the power of the French Government; but they made it their special mission to outrage and insult the colours of England because they despised our Government. Who ever heard of French ships trading with Mexico being captured by the Federals? Would French merchants submit to ask permission from the Northern Government to trade with Mexico? No, that was a degradation reserved for our countrymen alone. To the sufferers some consolation was, indeed, offered by The Times, which, he supposed, was the official organ of the Government. That journal argued that it was a great advantage for the people of this country that the rigid laws of blockade should not be relaxed, because if we happened to be engaged in war we might make these American precedents serve our own interests, and enable us to establish a paper blockade. He did not know whether or not that was the opinion of the Government, but it was certainly a delusion. England might tolerate violations of international law, but would other nations do so? Suppose we were engaged in a war with the Federal Government, and had established a paper blockade on their coasts, would France allow her ships to be captured under such circumstances? There could be little doubt that if we ventured to do anything of the kind we should 145 soon find ourselves engaged in hostilities with France. There could not, in his opinion, be a greater blunder than for a Government to countenance any violation of those laws which had been instituted for the purpose of regulating the conduct and protecting the rights of civilized nations. It might, perhaps, be said that concessions had been made by the Government for the purpose of avoiding war, and he had no doubt that war had been threatened. Peace was an inestimable blessing, but it might be purchased too dearly. The sacrifice of national honour was a high price to pay, more especially as it could, after all, secure peace for only a short time. Every concession would only augment the insolence of the aggressors, and tempt them to fresh outrages. Notwithstanding all we had yielded, we had not in the least conciliated the Federals, or lessened their animosity against us; but we had given great and just cause of complaint to the Confederates. He sought no favour for the latter; but he claimed from the Government the exercise of that honest and impartial neutrality which on all occasions they so ostentatiously professed, but which hitherto they had failed to practise. There was another topic omitted from the Royal Speech—Poland. He held that it was unwise for England to interfere in any way in the affairs of Poland, because it was always impolitic to enter on an enterprise which one was unwilling or unable to carry to the end. If, however, it was necessary to remonstrate with Russia on this question, it should have been done through the Minister at St. Petersburg in such a manner as not to wound the susceptibilities of a proud and patriotic people. The course adopted by our Government only roused the Russians to resistance, united them to a man against all foreign intervention, and rendered it impossible for the Russian Government to make concessions, even if the naturally kind feelings of the Emperor had tended that way. The noble Earl seemed to have been conscious that he had committed a mistake in the style of his despatch to Russia, for he followed it up by the explanation that, whatever the reply might be, England would not go to war. Except for the mercy they might expect from the monarch of Russia, that declaration sealed the doom of Poland. He did not hesitate to say, on behalf of the friends of Poland, that they felt no gratitude to the Minister for a mode of interference which had only servd to 146 intensify the miseries and sufferings they now endured.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I have one, or rather two questions to put to the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I have no intention of entering at any length into the present state of the Danish question. The powerful speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), and my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald) remain at present unanswered; and I am quite content to leave the extraordinary language of the most unsatisfactory Speech delivered by the Lords Commissioners to their able criticism. I wish only to ask the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary, whether he will be good enough to state to the House the full and entire substance of the despatch referred to to-night by the noble Lord opposite as having been received within the last few hours? I am quite sure that the noble Lord cannot for a moment have intended to mislead the House in regard to the contents of that despatch; but if I am correctly informed as to what has passed in another place, the House has practically been misled on that point by the statement of the noble Lord. The noble Lord opposite, in reply to the charge that the Government had no policy, declared with an air of triumph that the Government had a policy, and that that policy was successful; and in proof said that within the last few hours a despatch had arrived stating that Austria and Prussia were willing to enter into a formal declaration, to the effect that they adhered to the Treaty of 1852, and that as soon as the object of the invasion of Denmark was attained they were ready to maintain the integrity of the Kingdom of Denmark. The noble Lord stopped there, and the only construction that could be put on the statement of the noble Lord was, that that is the whole of the despatch. But I understand that this evening the despatch has been read in extense in another place, and that it went on to make the proviso that they were not to be met with protracted resistance in Schleswig. Other provisos are introduced, and the effect of them is, in fact, to destroy the value of the whole of the promises and engagements, and to leave the whole matter in exactly the same unsatisfactory position as it stood in before. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman, who represents the Foreign Office in that House, whether the despatch ends where the noble 147 Lord opposite led the House to believe that it terminated, or whether the portion read by the noble Lord is not followed by a proviso such as I have mentioned? There is another question I wish to put. The noble Lord in his speech told us that nothing was stated in the Queen's Speech about producing the papers concerning Denmark, because it was not thought necessary to lengthen the Queen's Speech by any reference to them. I was amused when I heard that statement, as it has not been thought unnecessary to lengthen the Queen's Speech by a reference to the despatches concerning Japan. However, the noble Lord stated that he has no objection to produce the papers respecting Denmark, and I shall be glad to know how soon they will be produced.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, that there was no objection to give the contents of the despatch to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and with the permission of the House he would read it at length. The despatch was as as follows:—Berlin, Jan. 31.Monsieur le Comte,—The Government of the King, by basing on the stipulations of 1851–2 the rights which, in concert with Austria, it is proceeding to enforce upon Denmark, has by this very act recognized the principle of the integrity of the Danish monarchy as established by the transactions of 1851–2 The Government of the King, in proceeding to the occupation of Schleswig, does not intend to depart from this principle. If, however, in consequence of complications which may be brought about by the persistence of the Danish Government in its refusal to accomplish its promises of 1852, or of the armed intervention of other Powers in the Dano-German conflict, the King's Government were to find itself compelled to renounce combinations which would no longer offer a result proportionate to the sacrifices which events might impose upon the German Powers, no definite arrangements could be made without the concurrence of the Powers who signed the Treaty of London. The British Government would then find the King's Government ready to come to an agreement with them as to the definitive arrangement of the Dano-German question. Tour Excellency is requested to read and give a copy of this despatch to Earl Russell. Receive, &c.,BISMAKK.He might add that the Danish papers were very voluminous, but they were in preparation. As soon as they were ready they would be laid on the table.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he wished in addition to the questions which had been put to the hon. Gentleman to ask another, and that was whether he understood the meaning of the paper he had just read. He had heard a distinguished person in another place declare that he did not 148 understand it, and he thought the hon. Gentleman would add to the kindness he had already shown to the House if he would throw on the document that light which it seemed very much to require. He could not understand how that paper assisted the noble Viscount at the head of the Government. On a former occasion, the noble Viscount made a clear speech on Denmark, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained away. The noble Viscount said that if the integrity of the Danish monarchy should be in danger, Denmark would be defended. The territory of Denmark was now being invaded, and that certainly looked like an interference with the Danish kingdom, in a mode at once disagreeable and emphatic. He should have supposed, but for the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the noble Viscount's statement had some meaning, but he was now compelled to hold that it had none. He wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to ask why there could not be that unanimity in the Cabinet of which the right hon. Gentleman boasted on such a subject as America. Some time ago the right hon. Gentleman used these words—The people of the North have not yet drunk of the cup—they are still trying to hold it far from their lips—the cup which, all the rest of the world see, they nevertheless must drink of. we may have our own opinions about slavery—wo may be for or against the South—but there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made what is more than either—they have made a nation. ‥ We may anticipate with certainty the success of the Southern States, so far as regards their separation from the North. I cannot but believe that that event is as certain as any event yet future and contingent can be. … It may be that a time might arrive when it would be the duty of Europe to offer the word of expostulation or friendly aid towards composing the quarrel.The criticism of the leading journal on that statement was, "that Mr. Gladstone has only made a statement considerably within the truth." When the American Minister in London read that speech he was greatly alarmed, considering it to be the exposition of the Government policy with respect to America. The American Minister meant, it appears, to send for his passport, pack up, and cross the Atlantic; but previously he made an excursion to the North of England, and fell in with the discreet Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), than whom no man was more capable of giving a distressed Ambassador 149 advice. The hon. Member for Bradford recommended the American Minister to be a little more calm, because he might depend upon it, that as the erratic genius of the Cabinet had made a speech in the North, some more discreet Member of the Government would be set up to make an opposite speech in the South, and in a few weeks something would be done in that way to establish unanimity in Her Majesty's Cabinet. This was the case, and it appeared that the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis did present himself and make a speech on the opposite side. Thus the hon. Member for Bradford was enabled to point out to the American Minister how truly he understood the mystery of our constitutional system, which seemed to be founded on the principle of counteraction. One member of the Cabinet had an opinion, another contradicted him; the subject was a large and great one, but as they could not agree, they said "let us agree to differ," and so the matter was dropped and nothing more was said about it. He believed that Germany had no more authority over Schleswig than they had over Westminster Hall. That being so, he could not understand how the German Confederation could make any difficulty about Schleswig, as ho understood Holstein was given up and the Danes were ready to give a guarantee for accomplishing everything which they were asked, and more than they were asked. When Canning, who had the genius of an orator and the spirit of an Englishman, was asked to remonstrate publicly with a foreign Power, he said, "Let us first consider what we shall do if our remonstrances are defied. England is too great a country to submit to insult, and therefore we will not remonstrate if we are not prepared to act should we be defied." The same rule should have been applied in the case of the Poles. He had not opened his lips on the subject, because he did not see the way to any practical conclusion; but he believed that nothing could have been more impolitic, even for the Poles themselves, than to send despatches, as had been sent to Russia, couched in very offensive terms. There were other questions upon which he would not then address the House, as other opportunities would occur on which Her Majesty's Government might give as clear and as satisfactory an account as the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had just given of this important despatch.
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman could not understand how the German Confederation could have any right to interfere in Schleswig, as it was no part of the Confederation. The answer was an extremely simple one. The German Confederation having gained the occupation of Holstein had a basis on which to negotiate, and did negotiate, with the Danish Government, and did obtain, internationally be it observed, certain engagements -which the Danes had failed to observe. That he was right in the statement that there were engagements which the Danes had failed to observe was perfectly certain; for they all knew that there was no Power more closely allied with Denmark or more ready to support her, if need be, in arms than Sweden, and the Government of Sweden had freely acknowledged that Denmark did enter into engagements with the German Confederation and had failed to fulfil them. It now began to appear that these struggles were but a continuance of the efforts which Denmark commenced in 1848 to wrench the Duchy of Schleswig from its state of union with the sister Duchy of Holstein. "Whether such an attempt were right or wrong, it was surely to be expected that the threatened disruption would create resistance on the part of Schleswig, and it became more certain when they reflected that Schleswig had behind her the sister Duchy of Holstein, and behind that again the great population of Germany, or 40,000,000 of people, who could not but exercise attraction much in the same way as a great body in the physical world exercised its attraction in proportion to its bulk. After the war came negotiation, and they all knew the result. But it was important to keep that result in mind, not for the sake of Denmark or Germany, but for the credit of England. Terms were obtained by England which were assented to by Austria, Prussia, and the German Confederation, and were approved by Russia; and he thought that if hon. Gentlemen would lay aside for a moment the considerations of party, they would be inclined to acknowledge that Lord Russell was one to whose opinion upon a constitutional question and what would be a fair practical working Government for a free people they would be disposed to defer. It was very important to observe that the present war took place because one party accepted the terms of 1852, and the other party, whether rightly or wrongly, rejected them. 151 He did not mean to say that it was not justifiable for Denmark to say that she was the best judge of what was fit for her; but when England was asked for advice that advice was given, and a strong Power which, was then threatening Denmark was brought to consent to terms which England thought to be sufficient. What he desired to know was what was the Power which was now invading Schleswig. It was no answer to say they were Austrian and Prussian troops. He wanted to know what Power was really propelling this force. The experience of the last few weeks had thrown some little light upon the matter. The refusal of the supplies in Berlin and the refusal of a portion of the supplies in Vienna, seemed irresistibly to force the conclusion that upon this question and for this purpose there was no longer any Austria or Prussia, and that what they had to do with was the German Confederation; if so, they could understand the pride which must be felt by 40,000,000 of people in the exercise of a power of which they had only recently become conscious. When they saw how Germany was surrounded, he thought they would perceive additional reasons for making it very easily intelligible that Germany was disposed to push her claims with almost undue energy. When these troubles began in 1850 Germany was oppressed by the power of the Czar Nicholas. He trampled with undisguised contempt on the kingdom of Prussia, he patronized Austria, and he weighed with so great a weight on the rest of Germany, that it was no exaggeration to say that at that time his will was law in Germany. On the other hand, the French Republic was powerful for purposes of coercion, but was not threatening Europe with dangers. Now the position of things was greatly changed. It was evident that Russia, being engaged in a struggle in Poland—he would not say in exterminating the Poles—was indisposed to take part in any question which Germany might raise, and was acquiescent in the course which Germany might take. On the other hand, he thought he might infer from some of the papers which had been published, that by France Germany had not been seriously discouraged. He professed to have no extraordinary knowledge, but judging from the letter addressed to the Duke of Augustenburg, he was inclined to infer that the Duke of Augustenburg had some reason to suppose that on the western frontier of Germany he would not be without 152 support. Recollecting how things of that kind were done, one would be disposed to come to the conclusion that such a letter as the Duke of Augustenburg thought fit. to address to the Emperor of the French would not have been written unless he had beforehand had very good reasons for knowing how it would be received. It was probable that as a matter of courtesy a draught of that letter had been submitted to the Emperor before it was sent. It was very natural that in such a state of things Germany should be elated, but he would entreat Germany to beware of that sudden prosperity. He would entreat the Germans to recollect that this unity, which gave them a sense of dignity and power for the moment, was a unity which would almost certainly cease the moment the Schleswig-Holstein question was settled, and the very moment it was superseded by any greater subject. The very moment that that occurred they would see Germany again become the rope of sand to which she had so long been reduced by the too great abundance of Princes. It would be well for Germany to recollect that Russia and France, although they might have had their good understanding for the moment interrupted upon the question of Poland, were acknowledged to have been for some years upon terms of secret amity of such a kind as to give support to one another in transactions which they had regarded as disturbing the peace of Europe. If Germany were to go too far in the direction in which she seemed to be advancing, she might bring upon herself perils which were almost too dreadful to think of. She might find that she was gaining Schleswig and losing the Rhine. She might find that she was shaking off Prussia and Austria—and he could quite understand her hating their very names. She might find that she was exchanging that thraldom for another, and was preparing herself to receive such a rope as that which was known in the early part of this century by the name of the Confederation of the Rhine. Already he heard materials for a combination of that kind were not wanting. Princes they knew were always to be tempted. They knew from experience that there was nothing so easy as to establish relations between a despotic Sovereign and a democracy. That relations of that kind were going on between France and Germany was, he only feared, too certain. Under these circumstances, he hoped that a few words of counsel 153 would not be in vain, and that the propellers of this movement in Germany would he advised by their friends. So much of the trouble which the Schleswig-Holstein question had occasioned had resulted from what he would call political foresight, that he would entreat Her Majesty's Government to be very careful how they drew us into anything like war or dangerous engagements, from a mere fear that the balance of power in Europe might be disturbed. Men were so much governed by imagination that they were prone to rush into immediate dangers and instant wars from fear of some spectre of distant danger, or distant war, which they thought it expedient to avoid. Late experience, however, had, he thought, taught us that it would often have been wiser to have had less foresight, and to have waited until the danger had actually occurred. He was sure that in this instance it would be better to wait until we saw some actual crisis of danger occurring from the displacement of the balance of power by the change of a duchy the more or a duchy the less belonging to Denmark, rather than to foresee it as the negotiators did in 1852, and thereby create a serious danger in order to avert one which, if no attempts to avert it had been made, might perhaps never have pressed upon Europe. Independently of that, we could not be blind to the fact that there had been a solemn treaty, that there had been a protocol, that there had been a vast abundance of correspondence, and that at least one special envoy had been sent. It might result, that either by the rash leap of a treaty, or by the slow but more insidious process of continually giving advice, we might have fallen or slid into some engagement which might seriously imperil England's freedom of action at this moment. That would be a most distressing discovery to make. Still, if we were to find that the honour of England had, by any of these transactions, been seriously engaged, it would never do for her to recede from the consequences of her acts, or even from the consequences of her words. But he repeated, that would be a most distressing discovery to make. Let the Government think of Poland. They abstained from war in defence of Poland, and the country ratified their choice. The country ratified their choice, not because the people were insensible to the justice of the cause—not because they were untouched by the sufferings of the Poles, but 154 because they believed that there was no cogent interest which compelled us to go to war in such a cause, and because war was so tremendous an evil, that even the sympathy we felt for the Poles was not motive strong enough to justify us in engaging in it. What would they say if, after having abstained from war for Poland, they were now to be told that they were to go into a war—a war of succession, a war about Prince This or Duke That, a war about agnates and cognates; and, above all, what would they say if they were to be told that they were to go into a war for the purpose of imposing a ruler upon a reluctant population? He thought he might say of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who assented to the Protocol of "Warsaw, and he was sure he might with equal confidence say of the Earl of Malmesbury, who signed the Treaty of 1852, that they, no more than any other public man on either side of the House, would deliberately have signed a treaty with a view to force upon the people of any foreign country a ruler whom they declined to accept. He did not believe that that could have been the intention of any one who signed the treaty in question, and he observed with great pleasure that the terms of the treaty were exactly consistent with that view of the matter. Pledged as this country was to the principle of non-intervention, it would have been mortifying in the extreme to find that the Foreign Secretary of this country, and his predecessor in office, had assented to a treaty which was diametrically opposed to that principle. But when he looked at the treaty, he found that, as he read it, it sanctioned no violence of that kind. "What the treaty did was this. It began by saying that there was a wish— that was the word—" a wish," on the part of the King of Denmark, to change the law of succession in a way which was specified, and to make the arrangements necessary for the purpose; and then the treaty went on to engage, and that in language carefully kept in a contingent form, that the eventuality occurring, the Powers signing the treaty would give sanction and recognition to support the arrangements made by the King. The obvious meaning of the treaty so worded was to do those acts—"arrangements" was the word in the treaty—was to make those arrangements which were necessary for establishing the title at home; he was to do what had to be done at home for altering the 155 Succession, and then the change would be duly recognized by the other Powers. That was exactly the view which apparently the King of Denmark took of it. The King of Denmark never affected to have altered the succession from the moment that the treaty was signed. He proceeded to make those home arrangements to which he had referred. Accordingly he applied to the Parliament of Denmark Proper; it at once gave him what we should call an Act of Parliament, and as far as Denmark Proper was concerned the law of succession was changed. But there he stopped short. No attempt was made to establish the new order in either Holstein or Schleswig by an appeal to the Estates. No step whatever was taken. And again, not only was there no step taken to obtain the assent of those States, but the assent of the German Confederation was never obtained. The transaction was very much the same as if we had undertaken to give a reigning Prince to the State of New York without consulting either the Legislature of New York or the Federal Government. Putting out of the question what might result from the fortune of war, and looking at the title of the King of Denmark in the light of a peaceful transaction, he could come to no other conclusion than that the King of Denmark was an impossible candidate for the dukedom of Holstein, and an all but impossible candidate for the ducal crown of Schleswig. If that were the state of things, it was obvious that the casus fœderis, the eventuality in which the Powers were called on to act, had not occurred, and until the States and those two Duchies expressed their will, it would be altogether unfitting that any violent effect should be given to the treaty. Independently of that it must always be remembered that the Treaty of 1852 was not a guaranteed treaty, and though diplomatists were well acquainted with the means of imparting such a character to the instrument, they refrained from doing so; and he must say that had any guarantee treaty been proposed, no one in England would have assented to such an arrangement. It would have been preposterous for England to engage herself to enforce such an agreement by arms. The Emperor of Russia was, he believed, the only person willing at the time to adopt such a course. Of the five great Powers who were parties to the treaty if four stood aloof there was surely no obligation on the fifth to advance alone; and in this case Austria and Prussia were 156 acting adversely, Russia was standing aloof, and the French Emperor was understood to meditate a similar line of policy. Under such circumstances, it would be impossible and unlawful for England to attempt to enforce the treaty. He trusted Her Majesty's Government, in the face of these considerations, would pause before going further in the direction of engaging this country to maintain the course of descent attempted to be established in 1852. If they did cherish any such intentions, our preparations ought to be vast, and, indeed, colossal, for we should have to do with 40,000,000 Germans, our natural allies, while it would be madness to forget that the Emperor of Russia was hanging back, and that the Emperor of the French was biding his time. He hoped and trusted that we would remain at peace, and in that event he ventured further to express a hope, that the diplomatic language of the country would be kept in accurate conformity with the peacefulness of our aims and the moderation of our intentions.
SIR MINTO FARQUHAR
said, he had remarked in the course of that debate, as well as during the late Session of Parliament, that the foreign policy of the Government found but feeble support at its own side of the House. Although the subject had been brilliantly debated by the two front benches, not a Member had risen from the seats behind the Government to express his concurrence in the views put forward by the Government. He confessed that he had listened with surprise to the paragraphs in the Royal Speech referring to the question of Schleswig-Holstein, which was absorbing the attention of the country; and the conclusion was forced upon him, that they had been drawn up by a body of gentlemen between whom such grave difference of opinion existed, that they had confined themselves to a simple narrative of facts. The true question now to be solved was this—a treaty being in existence, did the parties who signed it intend to adhere to it or not? Were the Austrian and Prussian troops to continue their attacks, and shed more blood, now that everything had been conceded by the King of Denmark? He had been surprised to find that the noble Lord, from his speech, appeared to think that England was on good terms with all the world. Was our position in China or Japan agreeable? or did he imagine that our relations with Russia were all that could be desired after the remonstrances 157 we had made about Poland? Did we stand well either with the Federals or the Confederates? and were we in a comfortable position as regarded Brazil? And to come nearer home, at the very moment when we were lecturing the minor States of Germany for non-observance of a treaty, did the noble Lord know that France was stigmatizing that very treaty as an impotent work, and using a considerable amount of what he might call "soft sawder" to those States? Without some such countenance it was impossible that one of those minor States would have ventured to make use of language so offensive to a British Minister, as that used by the Minister of Saxony. A policy of perfect isolation would be intelligible; but if we felt it necessary to give advice, either we ought to offer it in moderate and courteous terms, or else be prepared to sustain in action the policy we had put forward. He had resided formerly in Germany for some time, and he believed the country was now in a most dangerous state. If Austria went on the ground of nationalities, she should look at home. He hoped Austria and Prussia would listen in time to reason and avoid the dangers they were otherwise likely to encounter.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that although he generally listened with great pleasure to the hon. Member for Bridgewater, he could not say that the general tendency of that which he had just said had produced any feeling of pleasure in him (Mr. Newdegate). The hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to draw a comparison between the question that had arisen in Poland and that which had arisen in Denmark. But it appeared to him (Mr. Newdegate), and he believed that the thinking classes of this country saw, that there were some very considerable differences between these two subjects. In the first place, it was almost impossible for us to assist the Poles effectually because we could not reach them. But with respect to Denmark the case was entirely different. "We could reach Denmark, and we could reach the Powers that were assailing Denmark. The history of this country—and no very ancient portion of that history—showed plainly that if any great Power hostile to England, obtained possession of the maritime resources of Denmark, such a state of things would be productive of great danger to our commerce, and even to our national security. It was the conviction of that danger which had led to operations in 158 which we had engaged in Denmark in the years 1801 and 1807. In 1801 England had found it necessary for her own safety to bombard Copenhagen in order to cripple the Danish fleet, and Lord Nelson declared that the battle was the most bloody encounter in which he had ever been engaged; and in 1807 we had found it necessary to seize on the navy of Denmark as a measure of self-defence. He did not wish to urge Her Majesty's Government to take one step beyond that which the justice of the case demanded. But he was glad to hear the noble Lord at the head of the Government declare, that the present aggression on Denmark was wholly unjustifiable, because if there were engagements in the German Diet which had remained hitherto unfulfilled Denmark was at present willing to fulfil them, and was only prevented from so doing by the presence of hostile arms on her territory. The people of this country were a practical people; they wished to fulfil their engagements to Denmark as to every other Power; but let not the House suppose that they felt no more direct interest in the independent existence of Denmark than in the fate of Poland. It would be a great mistake to imagine that in the estimation of the people of England there was any comparison between the attainment of the objects of the Poles and the maintenance of the independence of Denmark. He should not, however, have taken any part in the debate if he had not thought that a tendency had been evinced towards its close to underrate the interest which the country generally felt in the solution of the Danish question, and their readiness to endure any sacrifices that might be necessary in order to maintain the independence of a Power with which this nation is allied, and which is important to them in every sense, as being the Power which practically held the keys of the Baltic. The truth was that several feelings, but among these a feeling of national ambition, seemed to have been stimulated among the minor States of Germany, The people and Governments of those States appeared to be animated by a desire to obtain an addition of territory; the Germans moreover were not contented at home, and this was inducing their rulers to undertake a war of aggression against Denmark, which the noble Lord had most properly characterized as wholly unjustifiable.
§ Motion agreed, to.159
§ Committee appointed,
§ To draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution:—LORD RICHARD GROSVENOR, Mr. GOSCHEN, Viscount PALMERSTON, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Sir GEORGE GRET, Sir CHARLES WOOD, Mr. MILKER GIBSON, Mr. CARDWELL, Mr. VILHERS, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Sir ROBERT PEEL, The LORD ADVOCATE, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, Mr. PEEL, and Mr. MASSEY, or any Five of them; —To withdraw immediately.
§ Lords Commissioners' Speech, referred.
§ House adjourned at Twelve o'clock.