§ MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
rose to call the attention of the House to the 1540 Report of Colonel Jervois with reference to the Defences of Canada, and to ask Her Majesty's Government for information with reference thereto. The hon. Gentleman said: Sir, I am not aware that the course I am about to take in bringing the question of the Defences of Canada before the House is one that may be misapprehended and misrepresented. There are, I know, those in this House, as there are some out of doors, who think that the discussion of a question such as this may possibly in certain events tend rather to endanger than to facilitate the maintenance of friendly relations between this country and the United States of America; they may say that the very discussion of the possibility of hostilities between the two countries is likely to induce rather than to postpone those hostilities. They may say that by constant allusion to this question, by public argument and discussion as to the possibility of such hostilities, the people of the two countries might come to consider first that they were possible, then probable, and at last natural and almost inevitable; and upon this ground they may object to any discussion and choose to shut their eyes to existing facts rather than by discussion and argument to put this House and the country in full possession of the present state of affairs. Now, I am not of that opinion myself. I believe that the truest policy in cases such as this is, that the House and the country should be made fully acquainted with the real facts; and beyond that I would say that if any remonstrance against such a discussion were to be made—if any remonstrance were to be addressed to anyone in this House or out of it, it ought to be addressed to Her Majesty's Government, who had placed upon the table of the House papers not only contemplating the possibility and probability of hostilities, but considering the possible course these hostilities might take, considering and pointing out what they seem to think might be the result of those hostilities, and the disgrace and defeat they must, or at any rate might, entail upon British arms. By publishing those papers they have, I believe, done as much as in them lies to discourage the friends if not to encourage the adversaries of this country. But there are others also I know by whom the object of this Motion may be misunderstood and misrepresented. There are those in this House and out of it who from a persistent parti- 1541 ality for the Federal States of America, and from a sympathy—a conscientious sympathy I have no doubt—with the object of the Federal policy would be likely to attribute to me a desire to increase rather than to allay irritation in this country against the Federal Government, and in that way to augment rather than to diminish the probability of hostilities. If such imputations be made, all I can say is that nothing can be more unjust. For myself, I believe there is no one in this House who would not deprecate the utterance of a word, either here or out of the House, that would increase irritation or which might possibly lead to hostilities between this country and America. I differ widely from the hon. Member for Radnorshire (Sir John Walsh), who seemed to consider that the course lately taken by the American Government to effect the termination of the Convention relating to the limitation of the naval force of the two countries on the Lakes was conceived by the American Government in a spirit of hostility to England, and that the termination of the Reciprocity Treaty marked a clear spirit of hostility to this country. I have never held such language, nor do I think it is justified. As to the termination of that Convention, the American Government are perfectly justified in proposing it. What are the circumstances under which the notice to terminate the Convention is given? A party of sympathizers make a descent from Canada; an American vessel is seized on one of the great Lakes; it is only by accident that a second vessel is not seized; and then the avowed object might have been carried out— namely, the liberation of a large number of Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island. Under such circumstances, seeing that there were nearly 2,000 prisoners there— that an attack had been made on American property in American waters, I think the American Government were justified in having recourse to this measure, the object being an increase of force for police purposes on the Lakes. I would also say this, that this measure was proposed, in the first instance, by the Federal Government as a temporary measure during the continuance of the war, and a communication announcing this was made to this country; but afterwards notice was given for the permanent and total termination of the Convention. For this Her Majesty's Government are to blame. The moment the Federal Government 1542 intimated their intention to take some measures of a temporary character, or increase their naval force, the English Government ought at once to have met them and have said, "The object is as important to us as it is to you; we are ready to enter into arrangements for a temporary increase of the forces on both sides for the naval police on these Lakes." If we had done that we should never have had that which may produce complication and embarrassment in the future — the notice to terminate completely and permanently this Convention. Then, as regards the Reciprocity Treaty, the notice relating to it may have been given in a moment of irritation, and in consequence of the events in Canada; but I must say this, that the course our Government ought to have taken was to say, "Do not prematurely put an end to this treat)', which has removed so many causes of difference and quarrel; point out where it may be amended, we are willing to meet you, and to modify the treaty." If that had been done the Reciprocity Treaty need not have been terminated, questions with respect to the fisheries which have placed the country on the brink of war would not have been opened, and we should have been free from having these questions raised. I wish, in these observations, not to attribute to the American Government anything like a feeling of hostility to this country; on the contrary, I think that for the last few months the communications that have passed, generally speaking, have been marked by a far greater spirit of conciliation, consideration, and moderation than characterized the earlier communications of the American Government. I am happy to believe this; and I believe it is owing to the wise, discreet, and prudent bearing that has always marked the conduct of the American representative in this country, who has done more than any man living to preserve peace between the two countries, and who has conferred by so doing equal benefits on the citizens of his own and of this country. I will not attribute to the American people the desire of war with this country. I believe the educated and intelligent class, and also the most influential one in that country—though not those who take the most prominent part in public affairs—I believe the bulk of them would deprecate, as much as the people on this side of the Atlantic, hostilities with this country. I am also free to 1543 admit that in prospect of the termination of the struggle yet going on, the bulk of the educated people in America will feel the necessity of healing the wounds and distresses which such a long course of intestine warfare has brought on their country; therefore I do not desire to attribute to the American Government or people any hostility to this country, or desire to be engaged in war with it; but I think it would be worse than folly to shut our eyes to what may possibly happen. Let us take one instance—what might have been the result of an accident in the course of last year or year and a half? Supposing that the ill-tempered and hasty declaration of General Dix—a declaration at once most honourably disavowed by the American Government — had been acted on, that an attack had been made upon Montreal—that American troops had been met by French and British troops, and that blood had been shed and life lost. I say, what might have been the result? Take, again, the case of the vessels on Lake Erie. Suppose that both had been seized, and the whole of the 2,000 Confederate prisoners set free, might not the flames of war at once have burst forth? Therefore it would be idle for us —though we may give credit for a desire for peace to the American Government and people—to shut our eyes to all this, that under certain contingencies it is far from improbable, certainly far from impossible, that hostilities might have been provoked. Then, again, it is not long since I read a despatch from Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams, giving an account of the interview between the Federal and Confederate authorities, and what is the account that Mr. Seward gives? Mr. Seward, giving an account of the interview, says—What the insurgent party seemed chiefly to favour was a postponement of the question of separation, upon which the war is waged, and a mutual direction of the efforts of the Government, as well as those of the insurgents, to some extrinsic policy or scheme for a season, during which passions might he expected to subside, and the armies be reduced, and trade and intercourse between people of both sections be resumed. It was suggested by them that through such postponement we might now have immediate peace, with some not very certain prospect of an ultimate satisfactory adjustment of political relations between the Government and the States, section or people, now engaged in conflict with it.Now, the first thing I would point out is that this proposition has been made, though it has not been accepted; but this 1544 is also to be remarked, that when the proposition was communicated to Congress by the President, in the references made by Mr. Seward to the subject, there was not one word expressing disapprobation of the proposal, or repudiatory of it; not one word was used in denouncing it as a faithless and treacherous proposition against a friendly Power. I am aware that the Confederate Government, who have made a statement to the French Government, and no doubt also to ours, repudiate the proposal as having come first from them. It does not matter from whom it came first; all that I wish to point out is that the proposition has been made. It has not been adopted; but if it had been, it would not be the first time that two conflicting Powers have thought it the best way to gain their objects to turn upon a defenceless neighbour, and join in acts of violence against him. Why, it was only last year that we had the spectacle of two great military Powers of Europe, who had objects of their own to gain—thinking, moreover, thereby to establish concord between themselves—turning upon a third and defenceless Power and committing acts of violence and spoliation which will ever redound to their shame. What I wish to point out is, that though I do not believe this system will be acted on by the Federal Government, yet that they have not repudiated it, that they might find themselves in an emergency compelled to entertain it, in which case the consequences to us would be most serious. What is very important is to consider the position if the Federal Government should be successful in the conflict with the Confederate States. I would give the American Government the fullest credit for a desire to maintain peace with this country; I believe the educated, intelligent class are doing everything to maintain peace. It may be of the greatest importance to them to have time to recover the strength they have lost in this gigantic struggle; but, at the same time, let us remember that the Americans are proud, high-spirited, boastful. They may be intoxicated with success, and they may say that they have cause of complaint against this Government. Not without a show of reason they may complain that they have had their commerce swept away. They have been told that the vital strength of the rebellion lay in the fact that England set the example of an acknowledgment of belligerent rights. 1545 They will be exulting in their triumph, and they have the paper produced by the Government of England to prove that they have only to stretch out their hands to seize the prize which we should not have the power to keep from them. Giving every credit to the Government and people of the United States for a desire to maintain peace, are we to shut our eyes to all this? If that be so, the question that we have to look to is very shortly and simply set before us in the Report of Colonel Jervois laid on the table by the Government. Almost the last paragraph in that Report is this—The question appears to be this—whether the British force now in Canada should be withdrawn in order to avoid the risk of its defeat, or whether the necessary measures shall be taken to enable that force to be of use in defence of the colonies.That is the question I wish to bring to the notice of the House this evening, and to which I shall address myself; and of the two propositions contained there I do not think there are five men in this House who hesitate as to what ought to be done. I do not believe there are the men, either in this House or in this country, who would say they would abandon Canada to her own defence, abandon the Canadians in their difficulty, and withdraw our troops lest they should be defeated or taken prisoners. I do not believe there is a man in this House or out of it who would assent to a proposal so disgraceful to the British name. Then I come to the other alternative, whether the necessary steps should be taken to render the British troops of use. Now, it has been urged here by speakers both on this side of the House and that, that the first thing to make the colonies understand is that if they take the management of their affairs upon themselves they must be responsible—if not entirely, still for the greater part—for their own defence. I think there is sound ness in that proposition; but I wish to point out that the case of Canada, certainly under the circumstances I am alluding to, is very different from that of any other colony we can name. We have given responsible government to New Zealand. We have war with the Natives, but it is not for us to bear the expense of the Maori war, which the policy of those in New Zealand—we having no control over that policy—has brought upon us. Again, it is not for this country to be 1546 engaged perpetually in Kaffir wars. These are cases where, having given responsible government, it is for those who have accepted it to exert themselves in their own defence. My belief is that if Canada were independent to-morrow she would not run the slightest danger of a conflict with the United States. My opinion is that there are impediments, financial, industrial, and political, which would interfere with the annexation of Canada. My belief is that they would be content to see that colony, if independent, growing up side by side with them. But Canada is united to this country; she wishes to remain so united, and we have the authority of Earl Russell for saying that as long as the Canadians choose to stand by us we are bound to stand by them, and that it would be a disgrace and dishonour if we allowed them to be swallowed up by another Power. But we must remember this, that the only cause of quarrel that can occur between the Canadians and the North American States is their connection with us; it is only because the Americans can strike us through the Canadians that a breach could occur between them. In this case the American had not cause of quarrel with the Canadian as such, but because he is in connection with this country. It must be firmly borne in mind that the quarrel is not between Canada and the United States. The Canadians have not permitted the Alabama to escape; they have not precipitately acknowledged belligerent rights; they have done everything they could, as far as these raids are concerned, to put them down; they have met the American Government half-way in all the measures which have been adopted to secure the peace of the frontier; and it was only the other day that a distinguished American said to me, "I only wish that the conduct of the mother country had been half as loyal to America as that of her colony has been." Therefore there can be no cause of quarrel between Canada and the United States except the fact that she is united to England. Well, then, what are the means and preparations for her defence? I think it is perfectly clear that if the cause of dispute were an Imperial one—if we were bound to stand by the Canadians while they were willing to stand by us, it would be impossible for us to do otherwise than exert every means in our power to contribute towards the defence of a country brought into danger wholly by its connec- 1547 tion with us. What are the means of defence that have been proposed by Her Majesty's Government? They have had commission after commission sent out to Canada. They had a commission in 1862 of which Colonel Gordon was a Member; and although its recommendations were very similar to these they were more extensive, and contemplated an expenditure of money and construction of fortifications so vast that the Government sent out another commission in 1863. Another commission also was sent out in 1864, and what has been done? Practically, nothing. I wish to point out to the House what are the propositions made by the Government. The Report of Colonel Jervois proceeds on this ground—that the defence of Canada must be military, by a union of a certain amount of British force with a large Canadian force, protected and supported by additional fortifications. Colonel Jervois also points out what is of still greater importance — namely, that the great and real means of defence for Canada must be a defence by the Canadians themselves. What is it that is now proposed in regard to fortifications? What you propose to do is not to touch the fortifications of Montreal, but the only thing you will undertake to do is to strengthen the fortifications of Quebec; and so slow and prudent are you in the course you are taking, that you are not going to expend more than £50,000 in the present year. Now, the first thing I wish to know is this—if you now come forward convinced of the necessity of fortifying Quebec, why did you not take steps to effect this object three years ago, when this work was recommended to you by Colonel Gordon, who told you that it was imperative and inevitable, and when Colonel Jervois recommended it to you in the very Report which you have laid upon the table? He says—I pointed out to your Lordship, in my Report dated February, 1864, as the result of my inspection in Canada, that the construction of certain works of fortification at Montreal and Quebec was essential to enable the British troops and local forces to resist an invasion by the Americans with any prospect of success.Now, you had Colonel Gordon's recommendation before you three years ago, and you had this Report of Colonel Jervois before you since February, 1864; and yet it is only this year that you acknowledge that it is your bounden duty to assist in the defences of Canada by the fortifica- 1548 tion of Quebec. I ask you, then, why have you delayed it until now, or why have you not completed those defences long ago? I am aware that to a certain extent Her Majesty's Government may find a justification in their proposal to expend only £50,000 in the present year; for as regarded the permanent works which are to be erected on the right bank of the St. Lawrence, the expenditure of £50,000 was perhaps as much as could be well expended at that point. But what is the course which the American Government have taken in respect to their fortifications? Have they been contented with spending only the sum necessary for the establishment of permanent works? Have they been content with the completion of the permanent fortifications in a certain number of years? No. What they have done is this. They are now engaged in constructing, side by side of their permanent fortifications, temporary earthworks, which are necessary for the security of their permanent works, and efficient for the defence of their possessions and their harbours. Now, if you confine yourself to the erection only of the fortifications in question, £50,000 might be as much as could be expended for that purpose at this particular period. But, at the same time, with respect to the erection of earthworks on the other Bide of the river, it is your duty promptly and without loss of time to put Quebec in that state of defence by the erection of earthworks which shall make it secure against any attack during the construction of the permanent fortifications. I wish also to ask you, what are you doing with regard to the armament of Quebec? No doubt it has been improved. I have been informed —indeed I know—that within a short period guns of considerable calibre, but very few in number, have been sent. But what is the general character of the armament? The guns are of the most antique description, and utterly useless against iron-clads at 100 yards distance. They are absolutely inefficient, and even those inefficient guns, according to letters I have received, are placed upon carriages so rotten that if you stumble over them you will break them to pieces. Well, I ask, is that a position in which a great Imperial fortress should be left, considering that the Government had at least three years' notice of the pressing and vital importance of putting it in a state of complete defence, and which obliga- 1549 tion they now at length acknowledge. Now, as regards the fortifications proposed for Montreal and Kingston. The fortifications of Montreal are put down at £450,000. I wish to know whether the Canadian Government are to find that money; and who are to construct the works. Do you leave these works to the Canadian Government to construct, or do you mean to do them yourselves? If you mean to do them yourselves, do you intend to wait for the Canadian Government to raise the money? Now, remember what the position of the Canadian Government is at the present time, when you are putting upon them the responsibility of finding an amount equivalent to your £1,000,000 sterling, at the time that they are carrying out their project of Confederation, when it is obvious that they cannot engage in the financial operation of raising a large sum of money by loan. I want to know what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking in carrying out the recommendations of Colonel Jervois, and whether they are to be carried out on the understanding with the Canadian Government that the British Government are to advance the whole sum necessary, to be repaid by instalments, or whether you are going to proceed with a shilly-shally policy, taking neither the one course nor the other, but throwing upon the Canadian Government all the responsibility, and then, when it may perhaps be found that they are unprepared to help themselves, reproaching them by saying that as they did not find the money in time they must take all the consequences of their want of preparation. Let us remember what was done when we were engaged in a foreign war. What did Her Majesty's Government then do in the case of Sardinia? You came down to the House and proposed a loan of £1,000,000 to Sardinia. Recollect, too, that Sardinia was then a foreign Power, and engaged with us in a foreign war. Well, I want to know if the emergency was so pressing then in regard to a foreign ally, are you prepared to do less for your own countrymen, for the vindication of your own honour, and for the security of your brethren in Canada now than you did in the case of Sardinia when engaged with us in the war against Russia. I wish an answer to the inquiry of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell), not in general, but in plain and distinct terms—in what position are you, Her Majesty's Ministers, placed in relation 1550 to the Canadian Government, as regards the ability of the Canadian Government to carry out those works, and if they are able to carry them out whether they or the British Government are actually to carry them out. There is another matter connected with these defences suggested by Colonel Jervois—namely, the Government works at Kingston. This was connected with the communication with the western districts; and in the view of Colonel Jervois the country between Lake St. Louis and Lake Ontario should be protected by naval forces on the St. Lawrence and the Lakes, as well as military defences. From the sea to Quebec there are some most powerful sea-going vessels having free access from Quebec, and from Quebec to Montreal and Lake St. Louis on the St. Lawrence there could be a most effective and successful defence by gunboats drawing fifteen or sixteen feet of water, iron-plated vessels, and armed with heavy artillery. That is clearly a position of defences that must be undertaken by the country, and cannot be undertaken by Canada. Prom Kingston to the head of the Upper Rapids again the defences must be by gunboats. But it is obvious that if you are to have efficient maritime naval defences on the Lakes and the St. Lawrence you must have some place where a depot could be provided for steam vessels, where they can go to coal and to repair and where their stores would be in safety. It is, therefore, proposed for the safety of the vessels engaged in the naval defences of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence that a large depot shall be established in Kingston. Now, I wish to ask what Her Majesty's Government are doing there? Are Her Majesty's Government or the Canadian Government about to carry out the scheme that was proposed? Are you or the Canadian Government to find the necessary money for the purpose, or are you prepared to assist the Canadian Government with money? Furthermore, I wish to know in regard to these fortifications, which are admitted to be of the greatest importance and most formidable character, whether Her Majesty's Government are doing anything in the way of temporary arrangements by the erection of earthworks which are essential to secure the safety of the two positions upon which, according to Colonel Jervois's Report, the security of the British troops depends. There is another question regarding the system of defences recommended by Colonel Jervois. What are Her Majesty's 1551 Government doing with regard to gunboats? Beyond a certain point, we have at present only two vessels of small size. What are you doing towards preparing others, without which you cannot defend the St. Lawrence from Quebec to Montreal? There are no gunboats upon the Lakes. It is perfectly true that until the expiration of the notice of the American Government respecting the Lakes, we can not have an increased force upon Lake Ontario. But we can all recollect what the French Government did when placed in similar straits, and what I understand the American Government 'are doing now. In the time of the Italian war the French Government constructed iron-plated ships at Toulon, which were carried in segments to the Italian Lakes. They were there put together in a few days and rendered most efficient service to the French arms. The same thing I am informed is now being done in the navy yards of New York and Boston. I wish to know whether Her Majesty's Government are taking any steps whatever, in lieu of the present inefficient force, to place on Lake Ontario an adequate naval force at the time the notice expires to terminate the convention. If I am told that this is a precipitate course, I will ask the House to listen for a moment to what the American Government are doing in respect to this matter. We had notice of the feeling of America in regard to this country soon after the affair of the Trent; and I do not think that anyone can wonder that a high-spirited people like the Americans should feel humiliated at the result of that transaction. But what have they been doing from that moment? They know in case of a war with this country the points we should attack, and without ostentation they have been sparing no expense in placing their weak and vulnerable points in a complete state of defence. What, then, is the position in which they are now placed? I am told that in Portland there is a new granite work erected mounting upwards of eighty guns, that the earthworks which before existed have all been strengthened by the construction of permanent works, and that these fortifications, one and all, are armed with the heaviest artillery that the United States could produce. And as regards Boston, I understand that the old forts have not only been strengthened, but are armed with the most formidable artillery. Upon the adjoining island new batteries have been raised, prin- 1552 cipally of earthworks, in anticipation of more permanent works, mounting over 100 guns of the most formidable character. As regards New York, a naval officer who has been there lately, and who has seen, the works of Cronstadt and Sebastopol, states his belief that the fortifications of New York are infinitely more formidable than either of the other two, and equal to any fleet that can be brought against them. I want to know what we have done in this direction, after having been warned repeatedly that hostilities might at any time break out. Now, I do not believe that the American Government are anxious to precipitate hostilities with us; but, at all events, they have been wise enough at the earliest possible time to establish the most perfect defences that modern science could suggest upon their vulnerable points, not with the view of ever coming over to this country, whilst the noble Lord and his friends were spending almost fabulous sums upon Portsea Down and other places at home. Now, in the case of war with America, the frontier of Canada was our vulnerable point. You were warned three years ago by the Report of Colonel Gordon of the defenceless state of that frontier, and yet no steps whatever have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to remedy that evil. Even your own works at this moment are armed, not with weapons of war such as the United States Government have armed their forts, but with inefficient and antiquated pieces of artillery. So much for what our Government have done with regard to fortifications. Now what have they done with regard to gunboats? The American Government have opened a large credit for increasing their gunboats upon the Lakes, whilst we have been doing nothing. I am told that for the defence of Lake Ontario and other places the navy yards in New York and Boston are busily occupied; whilst Her Majesty's Government are at this moment taking the chance of the chapter of accidents. And if, luckily, we do escape any cause of quarrel with America, as I hope and trust we may, it will not be from any feeling on their part that we have placed ourselves in an efficient state of defence, but it will be owing to a lucky accident or to their forbearance, or to the circumstance of no political question arising to excuse a declaration of war. But I have received another letter on this subject, of the contents of which I believe Her Majesty's Government are perfectly aware. I shall read an extract of that 1553 letter, which is dated "New York, Feb ruary 20, 1865." The writer says—You may not, perhaps, be aware that the Federal Government are now actively but quietly preparing for a conflict with England, should such unhappily take place, and which the nation are looking forward to.Now, as I have said, I do not agree in the slightest degree with the views of the writer. I do not believe that the steps taken by the American Government in reference to the revocation of the Reciprocity Treaty concerning the Lakes have been taken with any feeling of hostility to England, but they are justified by a consideration of their own interests and the security of their defences.
All this," continued the writer, referring to the Reciprocity Treaty, "is well known, but the operations of the American navy with regard to the American Lakes are not well known, nor their course of conduct even in London itself. They are these:—An American firm of boat builders in London have received an order from the Federal Government for the construction of forty steam launches or gunboats, to be forty-five feet in length, fifteen feet deep, on the double-screw principle, with high-pressure engines, to carry one gun each, and to move in a small draught of water. It is unnecessary to point out how mischievous such gunboats may be. They will be made to sail with a light draught of water, with great speed, and will be capable of acting vigorously in shallows and creeks. Already five of these formidable wasps, as they are called, have arrived out in the States, and the remainder are to follow when they are completed. If my information be correct, and I have no doubt it is, they are packed in cases in London, and will arrive here in such a condition as to render it a matter of no difficulty to transfer them by means of a double truck to Buffalo.Now, I believe that Her Majesty's Government are in full possession of the facts contained in this statement. I believe that their attention has been called to them. I am also perfectly aware that they could not, under the existing state of the law, interfere with these operations; but still I want to know, not why we do not interfere in this matter, but what Her Majesty's Government are doing to meet the difficulties that appear to be arising? Are they preparing in the dockyards of this country anything by which we shall be enabled to place the American Lakes and the River St, Lawrence in a condition of defence, without which Colonel Jervois says in his Report that the only resource left to the British troops will be to retire to our ships as fast as they can, in order to avoid being taken prisoners? Now I have spoken at greater length than I at first intended, but I have been induced to do so from an earnest conviction that this is a matter 1554 of the most vital, pressing, and paramount importance. I ask the House to consider what has been our position during the last three years. During that time at any moment, in consequence of a raid from Canada—a step possibly set on foot by Confederate sympathizers with the intention of implicating this country in an act leading to a war with America—or in consequence of the intemperate order of an injudicious commander, or of some event striking alarm into the minds of the American people, war might at any time have broken out between this country and the United States. And once such a war commenced, who could say where it would end? You have in Canada the Guards, the flower of our army; you have troops there not only bearing the prestige of the Royal name, attached personally to the Sovereign, but counting amongst their members the scions of the nobles, and the best blood, and, what is nobler and better still, the annals of these regiments are illustrated by deeds of glory and heroism, achieved at Waterloo and the Crimea. But what was the position of these men during all this time? If war had unexpectedly broken out, Colonel Jervois tells you, the only counsel you could have given to them would have been to fly as fast as possible to their ships, to leave Canada and take refuge in this country. And if they scorned such advice—if they scorned to leave Canada to be conquered and ruined —as I am sure they would, then what would be left to them? Nothing but defeat and disgrace, a hopeless resistance and certain destruction. Well now, you have still 8,000 or 10,000 troops in Canada placed at this moment in the same position. What I want to impress on the House is, the fact that no man can say for certain whether hostilities may not break out suddenly between this country and the United States. But what you can say for certain is this—unless you set to work promptly, energetically, and without the loss of one hour to place the frontier of Canada in a state of defence, the best blood of your troops may be sacrificed and the honour of England tarnished. I, therefore, hope I have said enough to induce this House and the country to impress upon the Government the fact that the system which they have been following for the last two or three years will do no longer. It will not do to inquire and do nothing. It will not do to receive reports from our Commissioners and do nothing in 1555 respect to them. What you are bound to do is to come to an understanding with Canada as to the preparations that should be made under existing circumstances, and who should bear the expense attendant upon the fortifications and other necessary works of defence. You are bound at once to put in force the whole means at your command to make Canada what she ought to be—namely, capable of defence, and not a source of danger to this country. For my own part I shall be more than repaid for the trouble I have taken in the matter if one great object which I have in view is answered—that is, if the country and the Government are induced to put Canada into an efficient state of defence, so that in case the war at present raging in the Northern and Southern States should come to an end, the population of America—and I am speaking now not of those placed at the head of its affairs, or of those who might have influence—but I say emphatically, the population, intoxicated with success, should not allow themselves to be led into a war with this country under a belief that Canada is incapable of making any defence. I believe that by making Canada capable of defence you will strengthen the bonds of peace by removing one great source of temptation from those who might otherwise take advantage of it. And, on the other hand, should the day unfortunately arrive and hostilities arise between this country and the United States, I shall at least have done my duty in pressing upon the attention of Her Majesty's Government and this House the necessity of our adopting such efficient means of defence as might remove all possible danger from Canada, and prevent disgrace being brought upon our armies and dishonour upon our name.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, I do not rise in any way to deprecate the discussion which has been raised, and still less do I wish to object to the tone in which the hon. Member for Horsham has introduced the subject to the attention of the House. I only wish that the same tone may be generally exhibited in the course of the debate. My reason for troubling the House with any remarks is, that I wish to state how earnestly I desire, when a reply is given, that that reply should be most full and most frank; and that not merely as regards any question of duty we may owe to Canada or that Canada may owe to us, but as affecting the relations between the United States and Canada, 1556 and between the United States and this country through Canada. There are two or three questions raised by the hon. Member. One is, how Canada can be best defended from attack. Upon this I shall offer no remarks, as it is an engineering question. I can only simply say that I fear that if what the hon. Member wishes us to do is done, and we make Canada defensible throughout the length and breadth of her border against the aggression of her powerful neighbour, the expense will be enormous, beyond what he has any notion of, and I am afraid the hon. Gentleman will be handed down to posterity as an imitator, still more extravagant, of those fortifications which will immortalize the noble Lord. Then, there is another question. If Canada is to be armed, what is the relative share of the cost to be borne by this country and by Canada? On this subject I shall not trouble the House, seeing that the principle is becoming more established every day that the situation between this country and British America is very much one of an offensive and defensive alliance between two self-governing communities united together by allegiance to one legitimate Sovereign. Therefore we have a right to call upon the North American colonies by organization and union to assist in their own defence, and to prove their patriotism by a willing contribution of money and of men. There is, however, another question referred to by the hon. Gentleman which has a more immediate interest to all in this House. That question is whether there be any urgent necessity that those two allies should at once enter into arrangements for the defence of Canada against a possible invasion by her powerful neighbour. No one can object to the tone of the hon. Member for Horsham; but is it clear that there is such danger as he seems to apprehend? Is there reason to fear that peace between the two sections of the North American States now contending with each other would mean war by them against this country, with Canada and the ocean for battlefields? I know that fear does prevail extensively, but I need hardly say that I do not entertain it, as I believe it to be utterly groundless. Still that fear does prevail; it keeps down the funds and affects all the calculations of commerce. A contest between the United States and ourselves would be a disgrace to civilization, and might almost be called one civil 1557 war taking the place of another. Though I believe that fear to be utterly unreasonable, and based upon no foundation, certainly men of great eminence and high position—men whom the country looks upon with respect—have done their best sincerely, without doubt, to excite this fear. I do not say this of the hon. Member for Horsham. He could not have expressed that fear in more moderate language or more conciliatory terms than he had done. But this has not been the case with other members of the party to which he belongs. We all know that a statesman who is not only respected by his own party, but by Members sitting on this side of the House, has taken occasion to express fears of an immediate war with the United States in a much more urgent manner and with a much less conciliatory spirit than the hon. Gentleman—the Earl of Derby, in the House of Lords. ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, it would be contrary to Order to read a report of a speech made in the House of Lords during the present Session.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I will only say that the noble Earl made a speech somewhere—but I will not say where— and that he took occasion of the despatch which had been brought forward to-night being laid on the table, to say that he considered that the publication of that despatch showed very great danger — a danger arising from the hostile feelings of the American people towards this country; and he went on to say he considered that danger arose from symptoms of menace from the United States, and that the danger was great, urgent, and absolutely impending upon us. Well, when eminent statesmen in the position of Lord Derby come forward and express their fears in such language as this, can we wonder that they are felt throughout the country? I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said to-night, and I hope from its being known that he is in relation with that statesman, that the speech he made to night will, to some extent, undo the harm in this country and in America which the remarks of the noble Lord were so likely to cause. The fact of such a debate as this gives us a right to call upon the Government for the fullest explanation. Let them tell us if there are any despatches or facts of which we are not at present aware, which would warrant the language that had been so used else- 1558 where. If there are no such despatches or facts, let them reassure the country. Though I believe this fear to have no foundation, and that this danger is nonexistent, I cannot deny that the expression of fear does tend to call the danger into existence. Perhaps I should not say "fear," for we are a brave and high-spirited people, and fear is not one of our besetting sins. But we are a suspicious people, and when suspicions are aroused we know that, however unreasonable, they are by their very nature irritating, provocatory, and aggressive. "We know how it was two or three years ago when we were afflicted with a French panic. I believe there is nobody now who is not ashamed of having believed that the French Emperor would come over like a thief in the night and land an army on our shores. No man looks back on that period who is not ashamed of it. But how near was that suspicion realizing its own fear, and with America the danger is still greater, for the similarity of language between the two countries gives double force to irritating taunts and expressions. Take the remarks which appeared in the most influential journal in this country only last week. In a leading article last week The Times made use of this language:—"If the Federals can go to war with us with a prospect of success, they will go to war." I see there are some Gentlemen in the House who hold the same opinion; but will they agree with the concluding paragraph of that article, in which a hope is expressed that the present terrible contest will continue to devastate America and to decimate the population, so that the Northern people, to whom are imputed hostile intentions against us, may become exhausted? If there be such hostile feelings entertained towards us, it is important to ascertain the fact. True, there have been articles in American newspapers of a hostile character, but articles of a similar tendency towards America have been published in newspapers here. For every attack in the American papers, I could get one in this country attacking America; and because of these articles is it to be supposed that we wish to go to war with America? There have been speeches made in the American Congress which I consider to be unwise, but have we had no unwise speeches in the English Parliament? But after all, nations can only be made responsible for the acts of 1559 their Governments by which they speak. Now, what have the Government of the United States done to produce this feeling? I am glad the hon. Gentleman acquitted them, but there again he differs from his chief, who said he considered the notice given for the discontinuance of the arrangement with respect to the vessels to be kept on the Lakes was without provocation. Now, what is the fact in relation to this point? I will refer to the notice given by Mr. Adams of the discontinuance of the arrangement because the hon. Gentleman, no doubt unconsciously, did not fairly represent the effect of that notice. He seems to have an impression that the notice was final, but I do not understand the notice in this way, for Mr. Adams, after referring to the attacks on the steamers in the Lakes, and the raid made upon St. Albans, and the necessity of preventing the recurrence of such acts, says—I am, therefore, with great regret instructed to give this formal notice to your Lordship, that, in conformity with the treaty reservation of the right, at the expiration of six months from the date of this note the United States will deem themselves at liberty to increase the naval armament upon the Lakes, if, in their judgment, the condition of affairs in that quarter shall then require it.We all know, however, that a great deal may happen in six months. It is my belief—and in that belief many persons coincide — that before that time has elapsed it is by no means impossible that the war itself, and with it the very state of things which has led to this notice, may be at an end. Mr. Adams goes on to say—In taking this step I am desired to assure your Lordship that it is resorted to only as an indispensable measure to the national defence, and, so far from being in a spirit of hostility, that it springs from a wish no less earnest than heretofore to preserve the most friendly relations with Great Britain. I take pleasure in adding that it is the fixed purpose of my Government in every case to direct its energies to the prevention of all attempts to invade the British territory, whether by way of retaliation or otherwise.If words express any meaning at all that despatch conveys the impression that that arrangement is not regarded as a bad one by the American Government, but that it is simply thought necessary to depart from it on grounds of self-defence, and that as soon as the causes which have led to the departure had ceased, the desire for its termination would no longer 1560 remain. My hon. Friend evidently labours under a misapprehension with respect to the Reciprocity Treaty, because as yet no notice has been given for its termination. Notice has been given of a Motion to that effect in the American Congress, and if carried the repeal can only take place at the end of the year. That is a case in which diplomacy may be expected to interfere with effect. There are two parties in America, one of which is interested in the maintenance, and the other in the abrogation of the treaty, and the party who think that their interests are injured by it have unexpectedly an argument given to them by the expression of sympathy in this country and in Canada in favour of the Confederates. But when the cause of irritation is removed I believe the feeling to which it has given rise will also depart. My full belief is that the great majority of the American people believe that the treaty in its main principle is of immense advantage to both, that it has led to great prosperity and good feeling between them, but that in reality it is more advantageous to the greater portion of America than to Canada. I have no doubt they will exercise their influence over the Government of the United States, and that instead of a repeal, the treaty will only be slightly modified. The hon. Gentleman dwelt upon the efforts which the Government of America made to fortify their own shores, but surely he did not wish it to be supposed that their taking measures of defence was to be construed into an act of hostility, or as imputing an intention of hostility against this country. Though our Government has pursued a strict course of neutrality, attempts have been made to cause them to depart from that neutrality, and in the apprehension that these attempts may be successful, surely the American Government would not have done their duty if they had not made such preparations for defence as they thought might be required in such an eventuality. Other complaints have been made against the American Government. It is said that they have a hostility towards us, and that the claims which have arisen out of the depredations of the Alabama and other ships which have issued from our ports—claims which this country will feel itself bound in honour to refuse—will be made an excuse for war. Now I wish to ask the Government if there is any despatch which gives ground to believe that such claims will 1561 be enforced in such a manner—whether there is any despatch affecting the principles of these claims since the despatch of Mr. Seward to Earl Russell of the 23rd of October, 1863? I trust the House will allow me to call attention to the words in which that claim was made. After giving the reasons on which the claim was founded, such as the destruction of property, and accusing us of a want of promptitude in our attempts to hinder the departure of these vessels from our shores, Mr. Adams says—Upon these principles of law and these assumptions of fact resting upon the evidence in the case, I am instructed to say that my Government must continue to insist that Great Britain has made itself responsible for the damages which the peaceful law-abiding citizens of the United States sustain by the depredations of the vessel called the Alabama. In repeating this conclusion, however, it is not to be understood that the United States incline to act dogmatically or in a spirit of litigation. They desire to maintain amity as well as peace. They fully comprehend how unavoidably reciprocal grievances must spring up from the divergence in the policy of the two countries in regard to the present insurrection. They cannot but appreciate the difficulties under which Her Majesty's Government is labouring from the pressure of interests and combinations of British subjects apparently bent upon compromising by their unlawful acts the neutrality which Her Majesty has proclaimed and desires to preserve, even to the extent of involving the two nations in the horrors of a maritime war. For these reasons I am instructed to say, that they frankly confess themselves unwilling to regard the present hour as the most favourable to a calm and candid examination by either party of the facts or the principles involved in cases like the one now in question. Though indulging a firm conviction of the correctness of their position in regard to this and other claims, they declare themselves disposed at all times, hereafter as well as now, to consider in the fullest manner all the evidence and the arguments which Her Majesty's Government may incline to proffer in refutation of it; and in case of an impossibility to arrive at any common conclusion, I am directed to say there is no fair and equitable form of conventional arbitrament or reference to which they will not be willing to submit.This despatch shows that the American Government put forward the claim in a conciliatory manner; that they did not put it forward in a peremptory manner, or wish to make it a question of honour between the two countries. The hon. Member for Birmingham brought it out the other night that we had a number of claims against the American Government. By a Parliamentary Paper of the 31st of March, 1864, it appears there are 451 such claims. I dare say the vast majority of these claims are just; but it would be 1562 quite unreasonable to say that because we made these claims we would peremptorily enforce them. The United States are likely to act towards us in the same manner. I wish to ask the Treasury Bench to inform the House whether there is any despatch from the American Government altering the principle on which these claims have been put by Mr. Adams; whether, in fact, any claim has been made since that letter except one claim on account of the destruction of the Sea Bride by the Alabama, and in that case according to the principle thus laid down? If the conduct of the American Government is so different from what it is said to be, why these extraordinary misrepresentations?"Why this suspicion of the American Government? I do not believe, as Lord Derby, and as other Gentlemen in this House seem to believe, that there is a desire in America for a war with this country. The people in America have a longing for peace, the}' desire it with eagerness, as any one who mixes with Americans knows, and I cannot believe that with the debt and the sacrifice and loss of life which war has imposed on them, they will inaugurate peace amongst themselves by an unprovoked war against a nation that is more powerful than the Southern States, and which would be attended with burdens far greater and sacrifices much larger than they now experience, even though their attempt against Canada was in the first instance successful. I attribute the present feeling in this country to two classes of men who have got hold of the British public and misled them. They are, first, the Confederate agents and those who sympathize with the South, and, secondly, disappointed prophets. My hon. Friend the Member for Horsham allowed, I think, the first class to get at him. That letter, containing the extraordinary account of the gunboats, came, I think, from a Confederate source. [Mr. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD: No !] Many men in this country have been most active as Confederate sympathizers—I do not blame them for entertaining strong feelings—and in this the last gasp of the rebellion they are straining every nerve to frighten England into taking the only step which is likely to rescue from defeat the cause to which they are devoted. There are men, too, of great literary fame in this country who must be vexed at the shortcomings of their prophecies, and who, after having foretold from day to day the miserable failure of the Federal Power, 1563 deem it convenient to hide their fallacies, or, at all events, divert attention from their mistakes, by continually urging upon their countrymen that success in the North would only be the herald of a war with this country. These are the men who say that whatever the American Government may say or do, we are not to trust to it, because however friendly the Government may be, the people are unfriendly. The question is of such immense importance that I trust the House will allow me to state my reasons for believing that the charge against the American people is as unfounded as the charge against the American Government. That charge is based on three ideas, all of which I believe rest on fallacies. The first idea is, that the United States—I mean the Federal Power, the Federal people—are greedy of empire and of dominion. The second is, that they are vindictive and eager for revenge, and the third is that their Government is unable to control the people. I believe there is a fallacy in each. I will take the last first. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham seems to suppose that the American Government are unable to control the temporary irritation of the people. Now there is no Government in the world to whom such an inability can be less attributed, because though the American Government is a Government of the people, it is not therefore the Government of a mob; and I challenge any hon. Member to produce a case in which the mob of America has controlled the Government. There are dangerous mobs in New York, and maybe in one or two other towns of America, but America is not so much responsible for them as England and Ireland, who sent them. But supposing there are mobs in the cities, it does not follow that they have any influence over the American Government. The real power over the American Government is the great body of farmers throughout the country, who care nothing for the mobs in New York or in any other city in the Union, and there are checks in the forms of the American Government which prevent any yielding to temporary irritation much stronger than any which exist in this country. If there be faults in the American Government—and there are very great faults—it is because that Government is less liable to be influenced by the temporary feeling of the people than it ought to be. The reason of that is that the Executive is more independent than ours. The 1564 President has far greater power in that respect than the Prime Minister of England; and the fact which seems to us so strange, that the Members of the House of Legislature sit for months after they are virtually turned out, is an evidence of the checks which are provided by their system against temporary influences. What has happened during the war shows this. If an English Ministry had made the failures which have occurred in the conduct of the American armies and of American policy the English people would not have shown the same long-forbearing patience, but we should have had change after change of Administration. Therefore the fear that the American Government is likely to plunge into war through any temporary irritation on the part of the people is totally unreasonable. It is said, in the second place, that the people are eager for revenge. I do not deny that there are and have been some things done by England which America might feel somewhat bitterly, but these have been the acts of individuals, and not of the Government, or of the great body of the people. I am sure that the adherence to their cause of the Lancashire operatives during their great trials has tended to create as good a feeling in America as any thing said or done by persons in high stations in this country has tended to create a contrary feeling. For one man in this country who has deluded himself into the belief that this great experiment — the greatest in modern times — is failing, and has boasted with premature joy over the bursting of the bubble, there are at least a hundred who, like the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office, have hoped from the beginning that the great Republic would come out of the struggle unscathed, and rejoice now that it seems likely that she will emerge purified from that slavery which has been her weakness and shame because it has been her sin. I now come to what is more beneath this feeling than almost anything else—namely, the belief that the American people are greedy of dominion. For this the noble Earl (Earl Russell) is in some measure responsible, because in one of his speeches he declared that the North was fighting for empire and the South for independence, from which statement the deduction is easy that if the American people fight for empire in the South they would also fight for empire in the North. I will not say 1565 whether the North has been fighting for empire or not, but it certainly has not been conscious of it. The Northern people believe that they are fighting to prevent the destruction of their country; and in any attack upon Canada they could not feel that they were fighting in anything but an unprovoked war for empire, and that would be a very different feeling from that which now animates them. Then, if there be no such immediate danger, surely we may consider the question of fortifications with coolness and deliberation, and not with the certainty of incurring expenses which may affect the Budget not only of this year but of future years. Besides, these fortifications would be of little avail if Canada were attacked. The matter would have to be fought out by our inflicting injuries on the Americans in other quarters. If Canada is to be defended, her best defence will be a perseverance in those principles of neutrality which, through her Government and her Assembly, she has shown a determination to enforce, by preventing these midnight raids upon her neighbours. The best aid we can give to her is for us to take care to hasten the time when the wounds of this terrible war between North and South may be healed over; in the prosperity of that country which will arise from its fruitful soil and boundless resources, freed from slavery; when the jars which the war has caused between America and England shall be forgiven if not forgotten; when all English-speaking men, either in these islands or her dependencies, or in the great Republic, shall feel themselves so bound together by common interests, by the ties of language, blood, and faith, and common freedom, that war between any of these communities will be as abhorrent and revolting to their inhabitants as a war within their own borders.
§ MR. CARDWELL
Sir, the hon. Member for Horsham concluded his speech by saying that if ever a disaster overtook us from the want of proper energy and foresight on the part of the Government, he should feel the utmost satisfaction from the reflection that he had at least given early notice of the danger. But if such a contingency did ever arise it would be a still more natural source of satisfaction to any person, whether a subject of the Queen, or a citizen of the United States, to be able to say that not a syllable had fallen from him which could have the remotest tendency to bring about the great 1566 calamity of a war between the two countries. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, in his eloquent speech, has called on the Government to answer two questions. He has asked us to state distinctly whether we cannot truly assure the House that our relations with the United States are, as they have been, perfectly friendly. I can, without reserve, give that assurance to the House. My hon. Friend has also asked whether there is not some correspondence, unknown to this House, varying the tenour of the demands made on this country for compensation on account of the destruction of American merchantmen. With equal pleasure and confidence I can assure my hon. Friend that the answer I have to give is the answer which he desires. There are no papers varying the tenour of the principle on which that question stands between the two Governments. The hon. Member for Horsham began his speech in a tone of which we can make no complaint. All I will say of it is that it contrasts most advantageously with the tone which has been taken by other persons on the same subject, and I sincerely trust that that tone will always be observed. I should feel deeply reprehensible if I allowed a single syllable to drop from me which would tend to exasperate any difference of opinion or to turn that which might be a matter of passing controversy into a serious subject of dispute. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the Reciprocity Treaty, and also to the termination of the agreement of 1817 with regard to the number of vessels on the Lakes, and he said he saw no evidence of hostility in the course pursued by the United States on either of these questions. I have the satisfaction of telling him, with regard to the number of vessels on the Lakes, that the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary has already communicated to the United States Minister his desire that another agreement might be substituted for the one which the Government of the United States have given us notice to terminate. With regard to the Reciprocity Treaty, when notice shall have been given by the United States, Her Majesty's Government will not lose a moment in endeavouring to renew the negotiations on a subject of such importance to both the United States and this country. The hon. Gentleman has referred in just terms to the cancelling by President Lincoln of the order issued by General Dix, and to the uniform courtesy 1567 manifested to this country by the United States Minister in London. I cordially agree with him in respect of what he has said of the high character and conduct of Mr. Adams, and I must say that in selecting their representatives in this country the Government of the United States have always paid us the compliment of choosing from among their most distinguished citizens. The hon. Gentleman, after speaking in this mode in the early part of his speech, then passed, with a rapid transition through which I was unable to follow him, to a consideration of the dangers which he sees in the future. He thinks that after the present civil war is over there is imminent danger of hostilities between the United States and this country. I do not believe that in using the expressions to which I refer the hon. Gentleman meant to give his sanction to the demands made by the United States; but I understood him to say of Canada that she had sent out no Alabama, and had not given cause of complaint, as we had done, but I wish, in using expressions of that kind, the right hon. Gentleman had been a little more careful. Whatever may be the hon. Gentleman's opinion on that point, I will admit with him that whatever may be the prospects —and I hope the prospect of relations between the United States and Great Britain is not one in which we are obliged to see hostilities—it is not on the justice or goodwill of any other country, nor on the forbearance of any other country, we are to calculate for our defence. It is on our own position, on our own inherent strength and means of defence that we must ever rely. The hon. Gentleman has a right to call on us to state what we have done and are doing with a view to the defence of Canada. He knows that for the last three years we have been impressing on Canada the necessity of making greater preparation as regards her defence. We are prepared to do our part in defending that colony; but we have always held that for her own defence a country must mainly rely upon the spirit, energy, and perseverance of her own people. The hon. Gentleman also knows that in England there were serious complaints that Canada had not shown herself disposed to take those measures for her own defence, with regard either to her militia or volunteers, which this country had reason to expect from her. In 1863 a new militia law passed, but the Vote which passed in Canada last year was 1568 an inconsiderable one. In consequence of that circumstance, a right hon. Gentleman opposite was so dissatisfied with the state of Canadian preparation that last Session he felt it his duty to come down to this House and call on Her Majesty's Government to concentrate all our forces at Quebec. We did not agree in that proposal, for reasons which appeared to us to be sufficient. It is now perfectly well known that when, in the autumn of last year, a proposal was made for the union of the British Provinces in Forth America, a totally different spirit began to be manifested, and the Canadians manifested the greatest desire to prepare for their own defence. Anxious to promote that desire, we sent out Colonel Jervois, who held a friendly communication with Canada, and drew up a Report on the Canadian defences, which now lies on the table of the House. The hon. Gentleman asks me what we are going to do with reference to this Report, and I shall answer all the questions he put to us as far as I think the hon. Gentleman is entitled to an answer. The Report laid on the table points to the fortifications of Montreal and Quebec, positions of the greatest importance for the defence of Canada. The defence of Quebec we engaged to undertake; the defence of Montreal we called on the colony to undertake. The armament of both we are willing to undertake, so that the division of expense will be about two-fifths to the mother country and three-fifths to the colony. The hon. Gentleman speaks as if he thought the whole question of defence was mainly, if not entirely, for the mother country. [Mr. SETMOUR FITZGERALD intimated his dissent.] The hon. Gentleman did not say so in terms, but I drew that inference from his remarks. If, however, that is not his opinion, it only helps my case. If it is not, he agrees with me. We think that is a right division; that the position which is the gate of Canada, through which the military and naval forces of England are to enter to defend Canada, should be fortified by the mother country; and that Montreal, the strategic and commercial capital of Canada, should be fortified at the expense of the Canadians themselves. And now, in answer to the hon. Gentleman's first question—why did we not proceed sooner?—I reply that, as long as Canada made no exertions, and showed no readiness to prepare for her own defence, we felt it would be wrong 1569 in us to come to the House and ask for Imperial money to defend Canada; but the moment that spirit was shown which was manifested in the autumn of last year it became our duty to come and ask the House of Commons to enable us to give assistance to Canada. As to his second question—why are we only asking £50,000 for the present year?—the hon. Gentleman himself has relieved me of the largest part of my answer, because he admits that £50,000 is as much as can be advantageously spent during the present year in the preparation of the Canadian defences, and when the Estimate comes to be discussed, we shall satisfy the House that this sum is as large a one as it would be right and proper to ask for during the first year of the work. It has, I know, been represented that because we ask for only £50,000 the first year—the total amount of the Estimate being £200,000—we are going to keep the works in hand for a period of four years; but nobody would make that remark who is acquainted with the subject. In the first year you can make but a comparatively small progress with the actual works of such fortifications. Only the earthworks are raised in the first year, whereas in the second nearly the entire of the permanent works may be completed. The third question of the hon. Gentleman I have already answered. Then with respect to Kingston, the first step towards the defences of the Lakes is the providing of a place of safety for coaling and harbouring our vessels. We have called the attention of the Canadian Government to that necessity. We regard it as the business of the colony, and not of the Imperial Government, to furnish that fortification. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's sixth question, which is as to what we intend to do in future, I have to observe that I feel he is entitled to an account of what we have done and what we are doing, but I must respectfully refuse to furnish him with information as to what we intend to do with regard to the defence of Canada at some future day and in some future emergency. The first consideration in the defence of Canada is this, that war with Canada is war with England. The Imperial forces will be brought to the aid of Canada, and wherever it will be most effective in destroying the power of the enemy there the Imperial power will be exerted. The second consideration is the exertion made by her own people; 1570 the disposition of her own population to constitute a force, of which the regular troops furnished by the mother country may be the nucleus and centre. I have the satisfaction of stating that in Canada large bodies of officers are being trained to take the command of the militia in time of emergency; that the number of training places has been increased, and is still being augmented; and that other preparations are being made to bring a large number of militia into a state of active efficiency. This being the spirit in Canada, and the mother country acting in unison with this spirit, I think it may be said very confidently that fair and just preparations are being made for the defence of Canada against the attack of any enemy. That that enemy should be the United States of America I sincerely trust will never be the case. I cannot express the feelings of regret with which I should regard a controversy between the United States and the subjects of Her Majesty. I should look upon it as a fratricidal war —a calamity almost unequalled by anything that the world has ever seen, and I sincerely trust that, however we may debate amongst ourselves these questions of the defence of Canada and the mutual relations of our possessions with the mother country, we shall be careful to employ no language calculated to irritate temporary differences, or to exasperate into greater disputes questions which might pass away. Let us continue to believe that those feelings of the educated classes and the Government of the United States to which the hon. Gentleman alluded—those feelings which we know to be prevalent among the community in which we live are prevalent not only among the educated classes, but also among the general body of the community in the United States of North America.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I do not think that Her Majesty's Government, after placing the Report of Colonel Jervois upon the table, could have expected that the subject of the defence of Canada would be unnoticed by the House of Commons; and it could not have been brought forward to-night in a manner more distinguished for moderation, clearness, and accuracy than it has been by my hon. Friend. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. E. Forster) should have considered that that statement favourably contrasted with an other expression of opinion which he referred to as having been made in another 1571 place. I am myself totally at a loss— speaking, of course, from memory at the moment—to recall to recollection any expression of opinion in another place by the personage to whom he referred which at all justified the criticism of the hon. Gentleman. On that occasion, if I remember aright, recalling to the recollection of those whom he addressed the great irritation that occurred at the time of the affair of the Trent, now four years ago, it was naturally argued, "Why have you allowed four years to pass away without making those preparations which you now confess are necessary?" And, Sir, that appears to me to be an argument very difficult to meet. With regard to the opinions of that eminent statesman upon the general subject of American affairs, living as I do with him in perfect confidence, and having expressed in this House sentiments in reference to it, I can only say that in those sentiments he fully and completely shared. I am not myself conscious at this moment of ranking among those mortified and baffled prophets to whom the hon. Member (Mr. W. B. Forster) referred; and I can only say that I have expressed no opinion upon American affairs in this House which has not been entirely shared and concurred in by the Earl of Derby. For do I think that throughout these four years it is possible to produce any expression that has ever fallen from the lips of that eminent man which in any way could justify the observations of the hon. Gentleman. Sir, I am not here to-night to impugn—and I have never impugned—the conduct of the Government of the United States throughout this struggle. I am prepared to say now, with increased experience of their behaviour, it appears to me—as I stated two years ago—that under circumstances of unprecedented difficulty that Government has conducted itself with great energy and with great discretion. Nor, Sir, am I at all of opinion that we are in any immediate danger, in case the war between the Northern and Southern States terminates, of being placed in collision with the Government of the United States from our connection with Canada. Sir, I do not pretend now to express any opinion upon what may be the termination of the present contest; that appears to me to be perfectly unnecessary to the discussion of the subject which is before our consideration to-night. But assuming even the result to be such as the hon. Member for 1572 Bradford supposes, I do not myself conclude that the citizens of the United States of the North, if entirely and completely victorious, will feel inclined immediately to enter into another struggle with a Power not inferior in determination and resources to the Southern States of America. I have formed that opinion because it appears to me that the people of the United States are a sagacious people. I do not think they are insensible to the glory of dominion and extended empire; I give them full credit for being influenced by the passions which actuate mankind generally, and nations who enjoy a state of great freedom particularly; but being a sagacious people, I do not think they would seize the moment of exhaustion as the one most favourable to the prosecution of an enterprise requiring great resources and immense exertion. Sir, there are other reasons, too, which induce me to adopt that opinion. I have not been influenced in forming a judgment upon such grave matter by that sort of rowdy rhetoric which is expressed in public meetings and public journals, and from which I fear in this country is formed too rapidly Our opinion of the character and possible conduct of the American people. I look upon such expressions as something like those strong, fantastic drinks that we hear of as such favourites on the other side of the Atlantic; and I should as soon suppose that this rowdy rhetoric is a symbol of the real character of the American people as that those potations are symbols of the aliment and nutrition of their bodies. Sir, there is also another reason which very much influences my opinion that these violent courses which are apprehended will not occur. The democracy of America must not be confounded with the democracies of old Europe. It is not the scum of turbulent cities, nor is it a mere section of an excited middle class speculating in shares and calling it progress. It is a territorial democracy, if I may use that epithet without offending hon. Gentlemen opposite. Aristotle, who has taught us most of the wise things we know, never said a wiser thing than that the cultivators of the soil are the class least inclined to sedition and to violent courses. Now, being a territorial democracy their character has been formed and influenced by the sort of property with which they are connected and the nature of the pursuits which they follow. There is a sense of responsibility arising from the reality of their position that very much 1573 influences their political conduct; and, at the present moment, I believe they are much more inclined to welcome the return of labourers to their fields, and, being a very domestic people, again to see assembled around their hearths, to which they have long been accustomed, the household in whose lot they are interested, than to indulge in schemes, plans, and dreams of invading the dependencies of Her Majesty. But, Sir, although these are my opinions generally upon this immediate point, I cannot conceal from myself the fact that very great changes have taken place in America which must affect the future; and I am inclined to believe that in this House those changes are not rated at sufficient importance. What has happened in America, whatever may be the consequence of the present struggle, does not appear to me to be less than a revolution. I would ask hon. Gentlemen to recall to their recollection what was the state of North America when we met in this House about four years ago. Why, North America was then divided among what I may call three great Powers. There were the United States of America, the colonies, settlements, and dependencies of our own Sovereign, and there was a country which certainly did not possess great political power, but which in extent of resources, fertility of soil, and mineral treasures is perhaps not equalled in the world—Mexico. Now, North America was divided under these three heads, and in reference to every one of these you will see vast changes have occurred. In the United States civil war has raged, and is still raging; and even if it terminate (I myself give no opinion as to its termination) as the hon. Member for Bradford anticipates, I cannot myself believe that you will see the same society and form of Government re-established—certainly not in spirit though you may in form—as existed before the civil war commenced; because we must remember this, that even if the Federal Government is triumphant it will now have to deal with a perplexing and discontented population. I will not dwell much upon the population that will then represent the Southern communities; but look to the slave population no longer slaves. There will be several millions of another race emancipated; legally in the full enjoyment of the rights of freemen, So far as the letter of the law is concerned, placed upon an equality with the Saxon race, with whom they can possibly have no 1574 sympathy. But whatever may be the letter of the law we know from experience that in practice there will be a difference —a marked difference—between these recently emancipated and, I will not call it the superior race, because I may offend some Gentlemen opposite, but a race which is certainly not identical. Well, nothing tends more to the discontent of a people than that they should be in possession of privileges and rights which really and practically they find are not recognized, and which they do not enjoy. These are elements of political discontent; and therefore if the United States be triumphant they will have to deal With what they had not before — great masses of discontented population. For such a condition of affairs you must have a strong Government. But What does a strong Government mean? It means a central Government; and the United States of late in their troubles and emergencies have had recourse to the centralizing principle. A Central Government must have an army at command for the purpose of maintaining that order and unity which it is their duty to uphold. Well, Sir, I think these are elements which will produce a very great difference in the condition of the United States, even if they come triumphant out of this Struggle. What is the condition of the colonies, settlements, and dependencies of Her Majesty? Before this struggle, four years ago, there was very little common sympathy among them. The tie to this country was almost one of formality, and yet what has been the consequence of this great change in North America? There has already developed a formidable confederation, with the element of nationality strongly evinced in it. They have counted their population; they feel that they are numbered by millions; they are conscious that they have among the possessions of the Queen in North America a district of territory which in fertility and extent is equal to the unappropriated reserves of the United States. These are elements of power and prognostics of new influences which will very much change the character of that country. Nor is there any reason to suppose that they are less influenced by the ambition natural to free communities than the United States themselves. Perhaps they may foresee that they may become the Russia, I will say for example, of the New World. But what is the condition of Mexico? Before this civil war Com- 1575 menced Mexico was a republic, with a very weak Government. She is no longer a republic, but an empire, and she has become an empire by the interposition of two of the most powerful and ancient states of Europe—France and Germany. Well, Sir, when we see all these immense changes, it is impossible to deny that in North America a great revolution is occurring; and when these struggles are over, when peace again appears, and when tranquillity in all these departments may be again established, you will find communities governed by very different influences and aiming at very different objects from what they have hitherto avowed and recognized. Sir, I have often heard in this House statesmen, even distinguished statesmen, mumbling over what they call the balance of power in Europe. It appeared to me always to be a great mistake when we consider the distribution of power to confine our consideration to merely European elements; that the time must come, and speedily come, when we should find that other influences from other quarters of the globe would very much interfere with all those calculations, which now are become obsolete. Well, Sir, I think this war in America has rapidly precipitated the recognition of a new definition of the balance of power, not as a system of small and great States, leaving all the strongest positions in the hands of the weakest; but, on the contrary, that the proper meaning of the balance of power is security for communities in general against the predominance of one particular power. I think, when you have to consider the balance of power in future, you will have to take into consideration States and influences which cannot be counted among European Powers. Sir, it is impossible, notwithstanding what hon. Gentlemen may say with regard to the character of the United States, to conceal from ourselves that there is a feeling among those influential landowners to whom the hon. Member for Bradford has referred with reference to Europe which is of a peculiar nature. I will not say, for example, that the United States look to old Europe with feelings of jealousy and vindictiveness, because words of that kind should not unnecessarily be used with respect to the relations between nations; but it is certainly undeniable that the United States look to old Europe with a want of sympathy. They have no sympathy with countries which have been created and 1576 which are sustained by tradition. The only part of old Europe they do sympathize with is that part which is new, and that you will invariably observe in their course of conduct. If, then, I am at all justified in this view, it is quite clear that we must make up our minds to know what our relations really shall be with Her Majesty's dependencies on the other side of the Atlantic. We are on the eve, no doubt—I do not mean to-morrow, or next year; but taking those large views which become the House of Commons, we may be soon upon the eve of events in which our relations with our American dependencies must be clearly apprehended and acted upon by this country. Is this country prepared to renounce our American colonies or to maintain the tie? Sir, I am perfectly willing to admit that if, they express a wish to sever that connection; if those views were well founded which have often been mentioned in this House, that they prefer to be absorbed by the United States, as we heard years ago, then we may terminate that connection with dignity and without disaster; but if, on the other hand, those views which are now more generally accepted are just—if there be on the part of Canada and the other North American colonies a sincere and deep desire to form a considerable State, to develope their resources with the patronage and aid of England until that mature hour arrives when we may lose perhaps our dependencies but gain permanent allies — then, I say, it would be one of the greatest political blunders conceivable for us in any way to renounce, relinquish, or avoid the responsibility of upholding and maintaining their interests at the present moment. I am sure, Sir, if from any consideration of expense the position which we now occupy in North America were relinquished, it would ultimately be, as regards the resources of our wealth, as fatal and disastrous a step as a nation could take— that our abject prosperity would not long be a consolation for us, and that we should then indeed have to prepare perhaps for the invasion of our country and the subjugation of our people. I infer from what has been stated that hon. Gentlemen below the gangway do not themselves uphold those views which I regret have been expressed in other places, in other quarters; that they adopt what I hope is the sound and truly patriotic view of the subject; not to force our connection upon any depend- 1577 eney, but if at a moment like the present —a moment of revolution in North America —we find English colonies asserting the principle of their nationality, foreseeing, perhaps, a glorious future, but still depending till the moment of their entire emancipation arrives upon the faithful and affectionate assistance of the metropolis, it would be the most shortsighted, as it would be the most spiritless conduct in the eyes of the world to shrink from the duty which Providence has assigned to us to fulfil. Well, Sir, under these circumstances, what is the course we ought to adopt? I cannot doubt that the course we should pursue is to assist in placing our North American provinces in a state of proper defence. When we are told it is impossible to defend a frontier of 1,500 miles, I ask who has ever requested you to defend such a frontier? What we recommend and require is that Her Majesty's troops in Canada should not be placed in a position in which the utmost bravery and skill would be of no avail, but that they should defend the country according to the military conditions upon which all countries are defended. You do not defend hundreds of miles of frontier. Austria has an immense frontier, but Austria does not defend it all. She takes care that when she is invaded there shall be forts round which her troops can rally for her defence. That is all we wish to see. We wish to see Canada placed in such a condition that if defended by her own countrymen, assisted by Her Majesty's troops, they should at least have that fair play which troops have a right to count upon, and the advantage of those fortifications which, if devised with sufficient skill, double the strength of armies, and tend to the success of campaigns. That is what is required, and what I trust Her Majesty's Government have resolved to give. I confess that these four years need not have been lost. I do not think that from the first affairs in America have been considered of the importance to which they have attained and which, indeed, I myself always felt they must attain. My complaint against the Government is that from the first they did not adequately estimate the affairs of America. I formed that opinion from the judgment expressed upon them by Her Majesty's Government during the last four important years. Their opinions formed upon the nature of the struggle in America, upon its possible consequences, and upon the general results which it would 1578 bring about, are for the most part inconsistent. One day we have been told by an eminent Member of the Government that the South might be said to have completed their independence, and very shortly after that a very great authority, lost now to this House (and whose loss no one more regrets than I do—Sir George Lewis), said he did not recognize that any single element of independence had been accomplished by the South. These two opinions perplexed the country. One day we were led to believe, by the highest authority of the Government, that there was on the part of the Government the utmost sympathy for those who were struggling on behalf of the Southern States; while, on the other hand, the Minister who had peculiarly to pass judgment on these matters, and whose official position gave weight to his opinions, expressed conclusions of a totally different character. I do not care to blame Her Majesty's Government for these inconsistencies of opinion in a position of extreme difficulty, and in a period of revolution; but what I regret is the consequence of these discordant opinions on their part, and that all this time the colonies of this country have not been prepared for defence as they should have been. After the loss of four years we are now about to commence an effort on a small scale, but this, after all, is a small matter, provided we now act on sound principles. If the Parliament of England has determined to maintain the colonies of Her Majesty, founded upon the unequivocal expression on their part that to that connection they cling with feelings and sentiments of a character which show that the national feeling is wholly unimpaired; if they show that the reports and rumours which have been circulated with regard to the feelings of the colonies are unfounded; that they are proud of their connection with this country; and that they are resolved to maintain it, until they rival us in our great career, and have become our allies and our friends, then I should not regret anything which has been done. It appears there are two consequences which have resulted from public opinion being of late agitated upon these topics— that we are conscious now of what our duty to the colonies is, and that we are prepared to fulfil that duty in a manner which will produce confidence, and strengthen and maintain the British empire.
§ ME. LOWE
Sir, I should like to take 1579 up this matter just where the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has set it down. I will not enter into any discussion as to the intentions or motives of the American Government, because it appears to me both dangerous and unnecessary. In the first place, it is dangerous, because in public, as in private life, nothing irritates more than such discussions and examinations, and psychological dissections of nations and men just as if they were mere natural curiosities, In the second place, it is unnecessary, because, whether the American Government have or have not any designs upon Canada, it is our duty to do what is needful. It seems to me perfectly plain that it is our duty in this extremity, whatever complaints we may have had against Canada—and I think we have had many—to consider any attack upon them as an attack upon ourselves. This is not an occasion for picking quarrels or examining too nicely whether the Canadians have always acted towards ourselves as they should have done. Now is the time to stand by them and to make it known that those who go to war with Canada go to war with us. But, having cleared up this preliminary matter, what I want to put to the House, and what it becomes us to consider, is what this country is bound to do for the defence of Canada. And upon that point I think we have had a difference of opinion. There is the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald), who goes all along the St. Lawrence for 800 miles up to Quebec, and says we are to keep large vessels of war in those waters, Then he leaps at once to the Rapids of the St. Lawrence; the waters above them to be defended—I know not exactly how, but I believe with other vessels of war of a smaller kind. My hon. Friend finally seems to think that it is the duty of this country to put, at the Imperial expense, the frontier of Canada in a complete state of defence, and to find all the maritime expenses that may be wanted, Then I take my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and he says, with great force and pithiness, that the real defence of Canada is that she belongs to England. But he does not stop there; he says that something roust be done by Canada herself, and that what we do must be regulated by what may be done by her. It is my misfortune to differ from both. Let us look at the question on the supposition that we are actually at war. What does Colonel Jervois say will happen? He 1580 says if you have no fortifications besides those which exist, your troops will have to retreat to their ships, and they will be happy if they are not cut off before they reach them. Therefore, says Colonel Jervois, make fortifications along the frontier. But what is to happen if we have them? He says as soon as the Americans invade Canada you will be driven like sheep into the fortifications, and then the hope is that the country will rise around you. You will become a sort of nucleus— for that is the favourite expression on such occasions—and this nucleus will gather to itself a sort of vapoury mass — the Canadian militia — whose existence has been hitherto of that nebulous order, through which you can see a star of the sixteenth magnitude. But look at this thing from a common-sense point of view, and with reference to the force which the Americans would bring to bear against us. Do not look to the old analogies of 1812 and 1814. The Canadians then made an admirable defence, and the Americans had nothing to boast of as to the result of the engagements on land. But on the Lakes we met the Americans, and on Lake Champlain we got right well thrashed, and the figure we cut on Lake Ontario was not a very agreeable one. Well, fifty years have elapsed since then, and have things remained the same? Are we going to embark on the defence of Canada as if the principles which we deemed sound in 1813 and 1814 were still to be relied on, and as if railroads had not been laid down over the whole of American territory? Take the Lakes. If America was more than a match for us in 1813 and 1814 on the Lakes, what must she be now, when by means of the New York Central and Erie Railroads she can transport both men and means to the scene; when she can carry down gunboats, as many as she pleases; when to one man of ours she can oppose ten, and if ten will not do, twenty? Can anything be more idle, or more unworthy of a great nation than to think of carrying on war on such a principle as that? Could anything be more wild than an attempt to vie with America on her own ground? Canada has not a gunboat to put on the Lakes, while America has boundless facilities of outnumbering us in any proportion that she thinks proper. Are we really to squander the money of the people of this country in such a manner as that? Then let us turn to the land forces, I have no doubt that 1581 the eight thousand men we may have in Canada will fight. But what support have they from Canada? Colonel Jervois tells us that you have 21,700 Volunteers, some of whom he has seen, who have got through their exercise very well, and others besides whom he has not seen, but who, he doubts not, would do their duty equally well. And then there are 470,000 militiamen on paper, whom nobody has ever seen at all. But we are told they have no matériel, and that the fortifications would be utterly inadequate for their support or protection in case of war. And with what forces could America invade? Why, with any number that she thought proper—and these trained, disciplined, veteran troops, ten times the number that we could bring into the field. It would not be as it was with General Montgomery in the War of Independence, when he had to struggle through impenetrable woods in the depth of winter. America has railways now to transport to the frontier any number of men she pleases, so that under these circumstances the disparity of forces would be absolutely and entirely overwhelming. You will say, perhaps, that this is a good argument for building fortifications. But it is impossible for me to describe to the House what, probably, many have seen for themselves—the situation of the places that we are asked to fortify, and the difficulties which that situation creates. General Wolfe cannonaded Quebec from Point Levi, about three-quarters of a mile from the town, and was able to do this even with the artillery of that day. If Point Levi were seized now, it is certain that, with modern artillery, Quebec would lie absolutely at the mercy of the enemy. Then what are your means of preventing them from taking Quebec? You may, perhaps, build a fort on Point Levi, but how are you to hold it against such a force and such artillery as America can bring against it? Setting this aside, however, I have never seen a place which seems to be commanded from more points, and to be more entirely exposed, than Quebec is. The town is so built that you seem able to pitch a shell into every house in it, and it would be hard to find a better mark than the citadel itself. Mind, I do not grudge the money for these fortifications if they give any satisfaction to the Canadians. No doubt we can strengthen Quebec, because now it is not defendable in any way whatever. Indeed, I doubt whe- 1582 ther it ever was defendable, because when Wolfe attacked it and gained the Heights of Abraham, Montcalm judged it prudent to march out into the open field instead of awaiting the assault behind his fortifications. I shall not object to fortifications if they are thought desirable. But it seems to me perfectly impossible that when our troops are once hunted into Quebec and Montreal for that seems to be what it is thought will happen—they can ever escape again. Colonel Jervois, you must remember, assumes that you can only make war in Canada during the summer. But, in fact, in the rebellion the war was carried on in winter time, and General Montgomery, who besieged Quebec, made his way through Maine, where there were then no roads, in the depth of a severe winter. He assaulted Quebec at that time of year, and if an extraordinary casualty had not happened—if he, with seventeen of his staff, had not been killed by the discharge of a single cannon—he might have taken Quebec, and the destinies of Canada might have been entirely different from what they are to-day. What, then, is to guarantee your 8,000 troops against a similar catastrophe when the St. Lawrence is closed from November to May, and the besieging army have the means of passing across the natural bridge which the ice then makes for them? It seems to me that to coop up our men behind these fortifications will be like enclosing them in a net for the enemy to take them at their discretion; as Hannibal said at Canné, when the Roman Consul desired the cavalry to dismount and engage the enemy on foot, Quam utinam vinctos mihi traderet, "Had he not better deliver them to me bound hand and foot at once?" I cannot conceive why we should enter into arrangements which seem to imply that in time of war we are to keep these troops in Canada. There is another consideration which appears to me to be a most powerful one. When we once go to war with America—it may be about Canada—will Canada be the best place for us to carry on the war? In such a struggle we must consider not merely local but Imperial interests; we must wage war in the mode least likely to injure the forces of the Empire, and strike at points which are vital to the interest of our antagonist. If we allow the Americans to lead us, if we follow them to the points they may choose to attack—points, after all, only of local and subordinate interest — leaving un- 1583 guarded other places which are of Imperial importance, such a policy would end in certain failure and disaster. We should he like the unskilful boxer of whom Demosthenes spoke, and who put his hands to the parts where he felt the blows instead of striking at the vital parts of his adversary in return. If that be so, the defence of Canada sinks into a small matter indeed, because, considered from an Imperial point of view, the question is not what is the proper defence of Canada, as the sole point of probable attack, but what are the points at which America will be able to attack us with the greatest power, and at which we can best attack her in return? It may be that the most effectual way of defending Canada would be by abandoning her altogether, and concentrating our forces upon a place of such importance to the enemy as would compel them to cease attacking Canada, and run to the vital point at which they were themselves assailed. As far as military considerations go, therefore, my conclusion is that it would be unwise, and indeed impossible, for us to retain any force worth speaking of in Canada, in the event of so great and awful a struggle as that between this country and America—that we should want all our troops for the defence of these islands, or for other points more essential to us, and partaking more of the arx imperii, than Canada. Of course I do not profess to give any authoritative opinion on a military question; but I should think that Bermuda and Halifax were much more important than any points in Canada, not for the sake of the places themselves, but because the whole safety of our fleets in North American waters would depend on those two places. In the same way it would be necessary to defend certain points in the West India islands for the protection of our ships. I apprehend, therefore, that we should act very imprudently in case of war in keeping our men in Canada. But if it would not be prudent to keep our troops there in time of war, is it right or is it wise to keep them there in time of peace, thereby encouraging the Canadians to believe that they will have these troops if war should break out, though we know—at least those who take my view know—that the necessary result of the war which begins with the invasion of Canada must, if we are true to Imperial interests, be the speedy withdrawing of these troops? I say, that unless you are prepared to maintain that the same force 1584 should be kept in Canada in war as in peace, it is wrong to retain our troops there now, because we are thereby urging the Canadians on under false pretences. Better they should know the truth at once—know that they and not we are to fight the Americans; that, with our small army, we should, as we did in the Crimean campaign, soon feel the wear and tear to be so severe that we should be compelled to withdraw our troops from Canada for our own protection. There is another point of view which I think deserves consideration. I believe that if war does break out, nothing is so likely to cause it as the presence of British troops in Canada. There are those in America who look upon the presence of British troops in Canada as a standing menace. I believe that a sincere conviction prevailed among these persons that on the 4th of March, England was about to recognize Mr. Lincoln as only the President of the Northern States, thus recognizing the South by implication. There is nothing which these people do not suspect. Then there is the Monroe doctrine; and the presence of our troops in Canada seems to connect this country with it, and to excite ill-will against us. Another point of still greater importance should be borne in mind. In my opinion, nothing would be so strong an incentive in America to war with this country, as the notion that they could catch a small English army, and lead it in triumph. Never mind, if they were thirty to one, it would be all the same. The popularity which such a capture would confer upon the successful general or the president of the period would be irresistible. To humble us and exhibit an English army as captives and vanquished, would be to Americans a gratification which no words can express Sir, I grudge them that gratification, and therefore I say that we should act wisely in withdrawing these troops, which, while too weak to protect Canada, are quite numerous enough to give a powerful motive and incentive to war. That such a war may be averted must be the prayer of all of us. It would be one of the greatest calamities that could befall either country—perhaps even the whole human race; and it is because I wish to destroy every excuse for war, and every incentive to war—because I am convinced the English troops in Canada, though powerless to defend, are numerous enough to provoke—that I say our wisest course, both in the interests of peace and for the 1585 purpose of carrying on a successful war, if war there must be, would be at once to withdraw our troops from Canada.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had deprecated anything being said which might give umbrage to the people of the United States. That expression of feeling was joined in by hon. Members on that (the Opposition) Bide of the House. He gathered from the remarks of the hon. Member that he would regard any measure for the defence of Canada as something partaking of an affront to the United States. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) in his usually able and lucid manner, had now put forth the new doctrine that we should leave Canada absolutely undefended for fear of a disaster to our arms. Now, he ventured to think that if the House gave any encouragement to such notions, a painful chill would be cast on the warm sentiments of loyalty so recently expressed by the nascent British Confederation in North America. Such an expression would come but ill after the hearty approval given by the Government to the aspirations of these provinces; and what would be thought throughout the world, if we were to declare that in the event of danger to these colonies, through no fault of theirs, but owing merely to their connection with the mother country, they were to be left absolutely at the mercy of America? He ventured to think that the suggestion of leaving Canada to take care of itself, however ingenious, was not likely to find much favour in the House. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to throw ridicule upon the Report and recommendations of Colonel Jervois, and it had been asked by the right hon. Gentleman, what would be the use of shutting up our troops in fortifications, when the Americans, with their improved ordnance, would batter those fortifications to ruins, and capture the troops. But surely the right hon. Gentleman did not expect the House to suppose that the fortifications to be erected in Canada would be of obsolete form, exposing the troops within them to the mercy of the blockading and bombarding force. Those fortifications, of course, would be constructed in accordance with all the improved appliances known to modern warfare, and with a view to the purpose of all fortifications—that of enabling a small force to compete with a large one. Whether in systems of defence such as 1586 were established all over the Continent, or in those erected for the defence of valuable points at home, for which the noble Lord at the head of the Government was, in his opinion, entitled to so much credit, the intention was to keep the bombarding force at such a distance from the place thought necessary to be defended, as would prevent their artillery from reaching it. And of course those points in the vicinity of Quebec, which the right hon. Gentleman pointed out as commanding the town, would all be protected by suitable works to enable the troops to prevent the invaders from bombarding it. There was nothing in the remarks of his hon. Friend (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald) to lead to the construction placed upon them by the right hon. Gentleman, that he sought to cover the Lakes with ships, and the river St. Lawrence with vessels of light draught. He had merely enforced the opinion expressed in Colonel Jervois's Report, that it was necessary to have a certain number of ships capable of assisting in the defence of the maritime towns on the Canadian frontier. It might be a question whether we could multiply ships out there with the same rapidity as the American Government, but it was evident, as he himself had pointed out at the outbreak of this American war, that the main defence of Canada must be conducted upon its Lakes and rivers. Surely England would not yield her right to protect by her navy her North American dependencies. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) and likewise — unintentionally he believed— the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had thrown cold water on the notion of providing for the defence of Canada, while there was yet time to do so. The right hon. Gentleman, in particular, seemed to apprehend that any such steps upon our part, would be like flinging a menace in the face of the Americans. But in a time of tumult, when the streets were filled with an armed force, and no one could tell to what excess the passions of the crowd might drive them, it was not considered any menace for a peaceable individual to put up his shutters. And when, unhappily, nations which had anything to apprehend perceived that affairs began to wear a threatening aspect the invariable practice was to place an army of observation on their frontier, and by unusual measures of precaution to guard against and possibly avert the impending danger. At the time when we 1587 admitted and proclaimed that the defence of Canada was bound up with our honour was it not as incumbent on us to take measures to prevent its being overrun by a coup de main, as it was to protect the shores of the British Channel from invasion? Unless those measures of precaution were taken which the interests and wealth of England demanded, how was it possible that our diplomacy could have force, or our commerce enjoy safety? "Unless England were prepared to disarm and await with patience whatever humiliations the future might have in store, it was the duty of Parliament to guard against possible attacks on our North American possessions. The Government had placed before the House a scheme by which in the cheapest and most moderate manner the most vunerable points of Canada might be defended. The complaint of his hon. Friend (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald), which he begged to second, wag that the Government had done so little towards the accomplishment of what they themselves acknowledged to be necessary. What was an expenditure of £50,000 compared with the object to be gained? Did they think the danger to Canada would abstain from presenting itself till those fortifications had been completed at the rate of £50,000 a year? The day had gone by when the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) could uphold the American people as free from those disturbing causes that operated on other countries, and as models of all that was economic and peaceful. Their appreciation of money was as nothing compared with their love of making a demonstration. The proposal, therefore, to create permanent defences for Canada at the rate of £50,000 a year, seemed to fall little short of a mockery. If we were really determined to stand by our Canadian fellow-subjects, let us go forward in an earnest spirit and take energetic steps to have these works erected. We might then hope, not unreasonably, that measures more efficient than any yet taken would be adopted for drilling the Canadian militia; and in that event we might look forward to being able to take up such standing points as would give time for the arrival and concentration of British forces. At any rate, he hoped the country would never have to submit to the indelible disgrace of seeing troops in British uniform retreating before the enemy, unable to strike one blow for the national honour. MR. WHITE felt compelled by the re- 1588 marks of the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr (Sir James Fergusson and his hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Fitzgerald), to ask those Gentlemen what they proposed to do for the defence of Canada? and whether they were prepared to sanction an amount of expenditure which would soon double the National Debt, obliging them meanwhile to forego all hope of the reduction of the malt duty, and sending up the income tax immediately to 1s. in the pound? Every one acquainted with the geographical position of Canada, and the extent of frontier to be defended, would know that these things must be looked plainly in the face, if England undertook to hold that country against a hostile attempt on the part of the Americans. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr- Lowe) represented the opinion of every one whose opinion was worth having, when he spoke of the utter impossibility of then holding Canada without an expenditure of money and blood on the part of Great Britain which was fearful to contemplate. As to the alarm created by the recent conference between the Northern and Confederate Commissioners, and the correspondence between Mr. Seward and Mr. Adams, it would be sufficient to state that the proposal for joint action on the part of the present belligerents had reference to a suggestion that the French should be expelled from Mexico. Any one conversant with the tone of American politics would know that this was the most tempting bait which the Confederates, as they thought, could offer to the North. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had mentioned the Monroe doctrine; he much wished he had explained its nature to the House. Everybody acquainted with English and American history knew that the doctrine in question was essentially of British origin, and had been suggested by Mr. Canning. France, having in 1823 put down the constitutional regime which prevailed in Spain, entertained the notion of indemnifying herself for the expenses incurred in so doing, by acquiring portions of the old Spanish colonies in South America; and England, naturally indignant at a scheme so detrimental to her interests, and with the aversion which Mr. Canning had ever shown from the principles of the Holy Alliance, induced President Monroe to enunciate the doctrine which had since been so famous. Lest an American authority upon this point might be received with some mistrust, he had referred to a 1589 work which was in the library of almost every gentleman, and from the last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica took the following extract:—James Monroe succeeded Madison in the Presidency, and retained it eight years (1817 to 1825). Towards the close of his administration (1823), in compliance with the suggestion of his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, he introduced into his Message to Congress—adverting to the purpose of the European allies of Spain to assist her in subduing her revolted colonies in Central and South America—the assertion of a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent position which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.…With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European Power,' continues the Message, we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny by any European Power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States.'Congress took no action upon this, but the spirit of that body and of the nation was in favour of the Monroe doctrine. Lord Brougham, in referring to the President's declaration, stated that it had diffused joy over all free men in Europe; and Sir J, Mackintosh spoke of it in the following terms:—This wise Government, in grave, but determined language, and with that reasonable but deliberate tone which becomes true courage, proclaims the principles of her policy, and makes known the cases in which the care of her own safety will compel her to take up arms for the defence of other States. I have already observed its coincidence with the declarations of England, which indeed is perfect, if allowance be made for the deeper or at least more immediate interest in the independence of South America which near neighbourhood gives to the United States. This coincidence of the two great English commonwealths— for so I delight to call them, and heartily pray that they may be for ever united in the cause of justice and liberty—cannot be contemplated without the utmost pleasure by every enlightened citizen of the earth.He trusted that the citation of such high authorities would dissipate the apprehensions which some seemed to entertain of the operation of the Monroe doctrine. With respect to Canada, England had not such vast interests in connection with that country as with the United States. By the latest Returns of the Board of Trade he found that the total value of the British 1590 exports to the United States last year was £16,704,000, exceeding by £5,000,000 the exports to Australia, and being twice as much as the exports to France, while the 150,000,000 of the Queen's subjects in India took only £3,000,000 more. The trade which this country carried on with Canada and the whole of British North America did not amount in magnitude to one-third of the British trade with the United States, under the influence of a high tariff and during the agonies of war. He might mention that the vast immigration pouring into the United States would really, in case of a conflict between England and America, impart to the struggle almost the character of a civil war. During the last seven years 3,152,794 foreigners arrived in the port of New York, and of that number 1,816,566 were natives of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. He considered that the tone and temper evinced by the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Fitzgerald) was quite satisfactory, as contrasted with the tone and temper evinced in a speech delivered in another place by a noble Lord, who, they were taught to believe, was the hon. Member's leader. The only consolation he derived from the speech delivered elsewhere was that the noble Lord did not regard his return to power as very probable, or he would not have ventured on such inflammatory language as would cause his advent to office to be regarded by the Americans as a declaration of war.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, it was of importance in discussions of this kind that there should be an agreement as to the object in view. Now it was evident that the great majority of the House did not agree with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White). He understood the hon. Member to argue that the retention of British North America depended on a calculation of figures and on a question of profit and loss. Her Majesty's Government, on the other hand, and the great majority of that House, regarded the retention of those colonies as a matter of duty which a great country like this was bound to perform, provided only that those colonies were willing to remain dependent on the Crown of England, and to play a manly part in their own defence. Knowing, then, by more satisfactory evidence than had been obtained for many years, that the colonies of British North America desired to remain attached to the Crown of Great Bri- 1591 tain, and to form a portion of the realm, and that they were willing and able to exert themselves in their own defence, and in maintenance of the connection with this country, Her Majesty's Government deemed it their duty to make proposals to the House to enable them to perform their part in maintaining that connection. Therefore, with respect to the end in view they did not agree with the hon. Member for Brighton, though they did agree with the great majority of the House. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) expressed, as he understood, in his remarkable speech agreement with the Government and the majority of the House as to the end in view, and only differed as to the means. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the policy which gave a certain number of British troops to the Canadians in order to assist and encourage them in their defence. He did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to object to the proposed fortifications. The right hon. Gentleman justly reminded the House of the immense changes which had taken place since the last struggle between Great Britain and the United States, and of the enormous disproportion between the power and resources of Canada and those of the United States. Well, the proper conclusion to be drawn from those facts was that fortifications were more than ever necessary to the Canadians in the present day; because it was evident that they would aid them in gaining time for mustering their forces or serve as a protection while waiting for reinforcements. What his right hon. Friend really objected to was the presence of a single British soldier in British North America. Now, they all knew that the logic of his right hon. Friend ran a straight course of the most unbending and merciless kind; but such logic was apt to leave facts, and important facts, which were evident perhaps even to inferior minds, to the left and right of its path. There were some points in the argument which he had totally overlooked. His right hon. Friend said they were to withdraw every British soldier from Canada for three reasons—first, because their presence was deceptive towards the Canadian people, and tended to flatter them with hopes of a support which we should not be able or willing to give; secondly, because their presence would be useless; and thirdly, because it would offer a temptation to the United States to attack Canada. To what did these three 1592 reasons come? As to their deceiving the people of Canada, if by keeping their troops there they were incurring a new, an improper, and an excessive responsibility, he should be inclined to agree with his right hon. Friend. But could anybody say that what they did in this matter would affect their general responsibility for the defence of Canada if, unfortunately, a state of things arose in which we should be bound to help to fight her battle? Then, with regard to the presence of these troops being useless, he need only ask any hon. Gentleman to look at the expressions of opinion on that subject which had ever been received from Canada down to the present moment, and see whether the Canadians considered the presence even of a very moderate body of British soldiers to be useless. On the contrary, they had the authority of the Canadians themselves, who were the best judges of their own interest in that matter, and the authority also of their own officer, Colonel Jervois, in his Report that, the presence even of a moderate body of British soldiers would be of the greatest possible importance as a nucleus—the term was a sensible and appropriate one—for the purpose of encouraging and training the more irregular troops of a country like Canada. So far from agreeing with the right hon. Member for Calne, Colonel Jervois recommended these fortifications for the very reason that in case of extremities—and in all these cases, however much they might deprecate that result, it was quite impossible to suppose they could send troops to Canada or anywhere else without running some risk of disaster—their regular force would be comparatively safe, and would become a nucleus round which the people would rally to repel aggression and preserve that connection with the mother country which their loyalty, their interests, and their love of freedom alike made them desirous to maintain. There could be no doubt that for the purpose of kindling the military spirit of a country like Canada, of setting an example and giving instruction to the comparatively irregular levies which formed the armies of the New World —those of the United States, he might say, as well as that of Canada—the presence of a moderate body of our regular soldiers, the finest perhaps in the whole world, would be of essential service. At the present moment a most valuable process of training was going on among the Canadian militia, which without the presence of these British troops would be 1593 quite impossible. Schools of military instruction at Quebec and Toronto had been in operation for several months, and others were about to be formed elsewhere, assisted by the officers of British regiments; and every week they were turning out young Canadian officers fit to take the command of the militia of their various districts. Indeed, he had not the least doubt that in a space of time which, perhaps, few Gentlemen in that House would believe, on any serious alarm of danger the Canadian militia would be turned into a force capable of giving a good account of any troops that were likely to be brought against them on the American Continent. The right hon. Gentleman said, in the third place, that the presence of our regular troops would be nothing but a temptation to the Americans to make war in Canada for the sake of the honour and glory to be acquired by their defeat or capture. But was there no temptation on the other side of the account, supposing the right hon. Gentleman's advice to be taken and every red coat withdrawn from British North America? Were that advice followed to-morrow, would it be possible under those circumstances to convince the people either of Canada or of the United States that we were in earnest in our professed determination to defend the Canadians as long as they wished to remain part of our Empire? It stood to reason that such a policy on the part of this country would be such a declaration of indifference as no fair words used in that House or elsewhere could outweigh; and that it would have its due effect on the minds both of the Americans and the Canadians it was impossible to doubt. On these grounds it seemed to him that, however logical his right hon. Friend's arguments might appear, it would not be wise for this country to act upon his views. He was glad to think that the House, on the whole, agreed with the Government in the moderate and reasonable measures of defence which they had decided to take for the purpose of meeting the exertions of the Canadian people. He heartily concurred with many of those who had spoken that night in deprecating exaggerated alarm on the subject of the immediate invasion of Canada by-the United States on the conclusion of the civil war. He thought that debate would prove useful if it tended to dissipate panic and check a state of feeling which seemed to be gaining ground in the country. And he would add that it appeared to him that 1594 the success of the Federal Power in reducing the South, if it were a success, was likely in itself, if there should be any danger of aggression from that quarter, to make that danger far less. The North, even if successful, would, he thought, still have enough on its hands in controlling and governing its new subjects as they must be called. And, more than that— their National pride would be naturally so well satisfied, the sources of disappointment, irritation, and passion so far removed, that if under any circumstances there were danger of any such insane conduct—an amount of folly and wickedness in which really one could hardly bring one's mind to believe—as that of a great country turning without cause, and to its own great loss, upon its neighbours, he believed that the success of the Northern cause would make that danger much less. Anyhow, Her Majesty's Government felt that they had done their duty in seizing the occasion when it arose of meeting the loyal and manly wishes of the Canadian people to provide for their own defence; and with that view they recommended their proposition to the House.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
said, the House and the country must feel special obligations to the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald) for originating this debate. It would tend to dissipate the doubts of many in this country, and would reassure the loyal Canadians who desired to maintain their connection with England. From the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell) it would appear that the Government had come to the determination to stand by Canada if the necessity arose. He (Sir Frederic Smith) would be glad to know whether there was to be any, and what, limit to the assistance which we were prepared to afford her. It was the intention of the Government to fortify or strengthen the fortifications of Quebec, but to leave to the Canadians the defence of Montreal, Toronto, Kingston, and Richmond; but for these places we were to provide the armaments and ammunition. Before one penny was voted for the defences of Canada, they ought to know what was to be the cost to the taxpayers of England, of fortresses, armaments, ammunition, and of the British force which would aid the Canadians. Colonel Jervois said nothing of the force that would be necessary for the protec- 1595 tion of the colony. He stated, indeed, in his Report, that there were 28,000 effective militia, and 400,000 which might be available. These 400,000 must, he apprehended, be at this moment perfectly untrained men, while the 28,000 were but indifferently trained. Colonel Jervois said he saw some of them at drill, and that they went through a field-day with tolerable precision. Were we then, he would ask, blindly to enter upon the defence of Canada, with only such a programme as that which Colonel Jervois had furnished? Of the ability of that gallant officer he had a high opinion; but it should be borne in mind that the question at issue involved the protection of a large province, and he should, under these circumstances, have supposed that the Government would, before taking any decided step in so grave a matter, have instructed Colonel Jervois to make a Report to Sir Fen wick Williams, the Commander-in-Chief in Canada, that he would have sent home that Report with his opinion upon it, and that then it would have been submitted by His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief to the consideration of those most experienced officers Sir John Burgoyne and the Quartermaster General, who knew Canada well, and to other officers who had commanded armies and seen service on a large scale. The Report, though well drawn up, gave no definite idea with respect to the number of troops which would be required in Canada, or their cost, or what must be abstracted from the force at home, perhaps at a time when they might want them. The Government were to provide Canada with arms and ammunition; they were told a few evenings ago, that the larger guns would cost £4,000, each and the ammunition must be very costly. The Estimate of £100,000 must totally inadequate for providing the arms and ammunition. But in the course of the discussion on the Army Estimates, he should call upon the noble Lord the Under Secretary for War to state what the supply to Canada was likely to cost. A sum of £50,000 was to be expended this year, and £150,000 next year.
§ MR. CARDWELL
explained that he did not say that £150,000 would be spent next year, but that the works would be almost completed next year, and that the larger part of the expenditure would take place in that period.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
understood the Estimate to be £200,000—£50,000 this year, and £150,000 next year; but 1596 in his opinion it ought, if possible, to be finished in the course of this year. There might, if they were fortifying Montreal at the same time, be some difficulty in finding labour; but there were hon. Gentlemen in this House who would undertake to send out sufficient men to complete the works in eighteen months at the furthest from this time. The Government ought either to give up the idea of defending Canada—which he did not recommend— or they ought to put their shoulder to the wheel and proceed with the works at once and as rapidly as possible. At the very least Montreal and Quebec ought to be put on a respectable footing, and he did not think that £200,000 would do more than complete the works that were needed at Quebec. The House had not the most distant idea of what the nature of the works was to be, or what it could take to complete them in a solid form. This £50,000 was to be expended chiefly in earthworks—
§ MR. CARDWELL
I said the preparations for permanent works would of themselves constitute a temporary defence.
SIR FREDERIC SMITH
differed from that idea, unless it was by throwing up earthworks; and if that were so, he was right in saying that £50,000 was to be expended chiefly on earthworks. But what was wanted was a determined resolution as to the line they meant to take. If they meant to abandon the Canadas, let them say so and do so. But the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) said they intended to take the opposite course. He (Sir Frederic Smith) applauded that. He thought they were bound in honour to defend the Canadas, and that it would be degrading to England not to do so. But while he said that, he also said, "Let us have an Estimate in full of the costs we are to incur." Members of this House and the country would then know what they were about to do. There was no reason why the armament should not commence at once. The Government ought to take money for that purpose in the present year, but he did not find anything of the sort in the Estimates. If they were going to take ten years about it, he should like to know what chance the Canadas had of new ordnance in time to be of use. It was said that all they had now were of the very oldest construction, and a few rounds would blow every gun-carriage to pieces. Again, he should like to have some idea of the force 1597 they expected to have in the field; because if the Americans did go to war, they would do so in right earnest, and their forces of all kinds would doubtless be sent into the field in overwhelming numbers. He did not see how the best infantry force we could send into the field, backed merely by volunteers and militia, however gallant and well-trained, would be of much use without cavalry and artillery. Battles Were not won by infantry alone. There must be cavalry and artillery in proper proportions. Then it was said that in case of defeat the troops could withdraw into the fortresses; but did that mean that the Canadians were to be abandoned and left outside to fight, or flee, or yield, as they found best? These works were, however, indispensably necessary, in order that if severely worsted we might have the means of embarking our troops. They had been told by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lowe) that our troops would have to retire disgraced and defeated. He regretted ever to have heard such language in respect to the British army in that House. Defeat might be, but disgrace never. Again, there was nothing in the Estimates with respect to the defence of the Lakes, and he believed at this moment the Americans were taking active steps to establish a superiority there. He was willing to vote any amount of money for the defence of Canada; but not to have it dribbled over year after year in the style in which so much of the public business of this country was done. Then communications were necessary, and they required time, but nothing was done in respect to them. In fact, the Government had either gone too far or not far enough. Let them boldly ask for what sum was required, and let the House of Commons decide at once what it would do. They had heard to-night that the war with the South would soon be brought to a close; but, in his opinion, if their great armies were defeated, they would still keep the field for a long time, and that the armies of the North would, even if successful, be required in the South for some years to consolidate their dominion over the people they had conquered. He considered that war with the United States was a bugbear, as the Americans knew well that a war with England would be a most serious matter. Although the Canadians had not in their commercial relations shown themselves very worthy of our exertions in their favour, the honour of England was, nevertheless, engaged for their defence.
§ MR. WATKIN
said, that having, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), visited Canada not once but frequently, he felt unable to corroborate the description given of Quebec; nor could he agree as to what had been said of other places. The fortifications of Quebec were not those of the days of Wolfe; they had been systematically enlarged and strengthened. Quebec, naturally a position of enormous strength, was now most efficiently fortified, and so far from the nature of the surrounding country exposing it to attack, that country presented features enabling the speedy and easy construction of additional works rendering the fortress impregnable. In fact, it might easily be made the strongest work upon the continent. Nor was it fair to say, as the gallant Member opposite had declared, that the guns were all antiquated and the gun-carriages rotten. It was true that many of the guns were old, but newer ordnance had been supplied; there were abundant stores of shot, shell, and rockets, and a considerable number of Armstrong guns had been received at the citadel very recently. Canada could be made capable of defence, without difficulty, though, of course, not without cost. No one would contend that the defence of Canada, if an Imperial duty, was simply an Imperial liability. Every one would admit that the colony should contribute, both in time of peace and of war, its fair share of the burden. Independence and defence were co-existent ideas, and Canada, desiring to be free of foreign control, should, and he hoped would, be ready to defray her just and honest share of the burden. He took this as admitted on all hands and on both sides of the Atlantic. His objection, then, to the proposal of the Government was that it was not worthy of that emergency which alone could justify the policy of the fortification of a frontier. But the question really before the House was not one of the extent of territory to defend, but plainly this — was this House, was the country ready to abandon—to alienate for ever from the British Crown, the vast expanse of territory lying between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans? There was no half-way house between "cutting the painter," as one or two hon. Gentlemen near him now and then suggested, in conversation only, as regarded Canada, and severing all connection, now and for ever, with Prince Edward's Island, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, on the 1599 east; British Columbia, one of the most thriving and hopeful of the British possessions, on the west; and that vast intermediate country known as the "Hudson's Bay territory"— which they were told contained within itself fertile land enough to sustain 50,000,000 of people. Hon. Gentlemen near him should remember their geography a little, and they would cease to speak of Canada as more than a section of that northern continent over which the Queen of Great Britain ruled, and which comprised an area larger than that of the Federal and Confederate States put together. Now what was that great property? He could not describe it better than in the language of the United States. If the House would refer to the Report on the Reciprocity Treaty laid before the House of Representatives at Washington in 1862 by Mr. Ward, they would find a glowing description of the vast extent, the wonderful means of internal navigation, the richness of mineral resources, the bracing healthiness of climate, and the immense extent of fertile soil which British North America contained. The Report said—The great and practical value of the British North American provinces and possessions is seldom appreciated. Stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, they contain an area of at least 3,478,380 square miles—more than is owned by the United States and not much less than the whole of Europe, with its family of nations.And, again, it said—The climate and soil of these provinces and possessions, seemingly less indulgent than those of tropical regions, are precisely those by which the skill, energy, and virtues of the human race are best developed. Nature there demands thought and labour from man as conditions of his existence, and yields abundant rewards to a wise industry.Indeed, the warmth of language used irresistibly suggested the idea that the people of the United States, with whom the love of territory was a passion, were disposed to cast a covetous eye upon these possessions of old England. Now, knowing something of America, he must express his belief that there was no very imminent danger of war with the United States. The issues of peace and war, however, depended upon the attitude of that House and of the country. Weakness never promoted peace, and an uncertain and half-hearted attitude was provocative of war. This country had, he believed, the desire to preserve its power and influence on the American continent. It was for the good of mankind that the rule of the British Crown 1600 and the influence of the wisely-regulated liberty of Britain and of the British Constitution should continue. The way to prevent war was not to talk of severing the connection with Canada or of withdrawing our troops from Canada for fear they should be caught in a net, but to announce boldly but calmly, in language worthy of the traditions of that House, that these vast American possessions are integral parts of the great British Empire, and come weal come woe, would be defended to the last. If that language were held there would be no war in America. The only danger arose from impressions produced by speeches in that House and elsewhere, leading to the belief that we were indifferent to our duties or our interests on the American continent; for we had duties as well as interests. Those who thus spoke — humanitarians by profession —could support the continuance of a war which, in his humble opinion, disgraced the civilization of our time; and, while professing to be Liberals, they were ready to thrust out from our Imperial home of liberty the populations of some of our most important possessions to satisfy some imaginary economical theory of saving. They spoke of the Empire as if it were this mere island, and they seemed enchanted with the idea of narrowing our boundaries everywhere. That was not a question of simple arithmetic, it was a question of empire; not a question of a single Budget, but a question of the future destiny of our race. These Gentlemen seemed to prefer to live in a small country. For his part, he hoped he should all his life live in a great one. No country could be stationary without becoming stagnant, or restrict its natural progress without inviting its decay. It was so in all human affairs; it was so even in ordinary business. Every man of business knew that if his enter-prize ceased to grow bigger, it soon began to dwindle down; and so a country must grow greater or else must slide away to weakness, until at last it would be despised. Now the Government proposed to spend £50,000 at Quebec; £50,000, he repeated, was really nothing if it were necessary to carry out the fortification policy at all. He had two objections to make. One was that Quebec was not the vulnerable point; that point was Montreal. Montreal was the key to Canada. Once holding that key, the enemy would cut Canada in two—would separate Upper and Lower Canada from each other. Yet the Govern- 1601 ment proposed to leave all that to the unaided resources of Canada—to do nothing, in fact, where, if action were necessary at all, that action was pressing and imperative. He should deplore to see this country commencing and carrying on a competition of expenditure on fortifications with the United States. The results must be, as he warned the House, excessive Votes of money, of which this one was only the small beginning, and an entire change in the nature of those relations which had so happily subsisted between the United States and the British North American possessions. Let the House remember the case of France. England and France had for years been running a race of competition of this kind. If France raised a new regiment, or added a new ship of war, or built an iron-clad, or erected a fortress, we must do the same. And thus it had been that the forces still remained on a measure of some sort of equality, notwithstanding a vast outlay, which had crippled the resources of both countries, and here at home had delayed fiscal reform and retarded, nay, even prevented the most obvious measures for the elevation and education of our people. Were we to play the same game over again with the States? Now as regards the great Lakes and water ways of America, possessing a coast line of above 3,000 miles, we had since 1817 neutralized these waters as regards armaments. Under that truly blessed arrangement, the sound of a hostile shot, or even of a shot fired for practice, had never been heard now for nearly half a century. Here was a precedent of happy history and worthy of all gratitude and of all imitation. Now, if they were to fortify, let it be done adequately whatever the cost. That cost would, he repeated, be great and also uncertain. Now he would venture to make a suggestion to the Government. It was to try negotiation. Place before the minds of American statesmen the neutralization of the Lakes and ask if the frontiers could not be neutralized also. Was it not possible that if Her Majesty's Government took Brother Jonathan in a quiet mood, he might be disposed to save his own pocket and thereby to save ours, and unite with us to set a bright example to surrounding nations? The people of the United States had their faults and we had ours; but they were distinguished by their common sense. No people had more of it. This suggestion would, he thought, come home 1602 to it; for they would argue if we lay out millions, so will the British, and, after all, it is merely adding burdens to both and not really strength or dignity to either. Let the Government try. If they failed the trial would have shown them to be just and in the right. If they succeeded how happy would it be for us. Reference had been made by the right hon. Gentlemen to the fortifications at New York, Boston, and Portland; but no one had mentioned a very strong work within forty miles of Montreal itself. He had seen that work. It was called "Fort Montgomery," and there was a railway all the way from it to Montreal. It was now very strong. He believed it had embrasures for some 200 guns. All the time this war had been going on, this work had been going on also. Now this looked like menace. Our Government had been informed about it, but he failed to find that they had made any representation to Washington. Surely they might have said, and would have been justified in saying to a friendly nation—"If you must have 200 guns forty miles from Montreal, we must have 250 at Montreal; and whatever you do, we must imitate — therefore, why should either of us lay out our money? "But Government had done nothing; and now, before attempting any negotiation, they asked the House to agree to make fortifications. He had humbly offered a suggestion to the Government. Let them take one of two decided courses. Let them deal firmly and wisely with the question. Let them state, in no spirit of offence, to the United States that, as Canada was part of the British Empire, we would defend it at all cost; or let them endeavour to induce the Government of Washington to distinguish itself for ever by adopting the alternative — the neutralization of the Lakes and the avoidance of hostile fortifications on both sides of the frontier.
SIR MINTO FARQUHAR
said, he thought they had all reason to be thankful to his hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. S. Fitzgerald) for having brought this subject under their consideration. No thoughtful man could have any doubt as to the great importance of the question. His hon. Friend had moreover brought it forward in a most moderate and temperate speech. He would follow the example of his hon. Friend, and avoid entering into the question between the Confederates and the United States. What they had now to consider was the rela- 1603 tions between this country and Canada. He must say he had read the letter of Colonel Jervois in The Times —for he had not then seen it as a Parliamentary paper —with surprise. When he put a question regarding it privately to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cardwell), the answer he received was that the contents of the Report were perfectly well known in New York. But, having a good many friends connected with Canada, he could state that they too were exceedingly surprised at the publication of the Report, because it placed before the whole world the difficulties of defending Canada. He was ready to admit that at the commencement of the American civil war the people of Canada had not been disposed to look with any apprehension at the nature of their relations with their neighbours of the United States; they thought that as long as the contest between the Confederates and Federals lasted there was no need for their coming forward, but they were now aware of the nature of their position, and they had evinced their determination to prepare for any exigency that might arise. Lord Monck, who had borne himself in a most admirable manner, had called the different provinces together to consider what line of conduct they should adopt, and the news which had arrived to-day showed that the Confederation resolutions had been adopted in the Legislative Council by a majority of forty-five to fifteen. The course which England would take depended on the line adopted by the Canadians themselves, and now they had shown that they wished by every means in their power to keep up the connection; this great country could not refuse to assist them without shocking every sense of propriety and every feeling of honour. He had heard it said that this country had really no great interest in Canada. But he believed that the reading a few statistics would afford an ample refutation of that notion. What were some of the investments in Canada? In railways the Grand Trunk represented a capital of £16,747,000; the Great Western of Canada, £5,262,589; the Northern of Canada, £1,296,000; the Buffalo and Lake Huron, £1,477,860; the Welland, £345,667—in all, £25,129,116. Adding banks, trust companies, and Canada land companies, the sum would be about £27,843,000. The public debt of Canada was nearly £16,000,000. In all, about £43,843,000 in which this country was 1604 more or less interested. He begged on this subject to quote an extract from the report of the British North American Association—Of the whole British Colonial Empire, British North America occupies a prominent place. It contains 4,000,000 square miles, and occupies one-third of the American Continent. It is larger than all Europe or the Federal and Confederate States together. Its population is about 4,000,000. The tonnage of its shipping enables it to rank seventh among the nations of the earth, and in the last decade its trade has more than quadrupled. Its exports and imports reach £27,000,000 a year, and the agricultural produce amounts to not less than £30,000,000 per annum. Its total revenues during the past year of 1864 are estimated at £3,000,000, and the expenses at £2,700,000. Its greatest length from the Atlantic frontier of Nova Scotia to the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver's Island is 3,000 miles, and its greatest breadth 1,600 miles.The Canadians were ready to do everything they ought to do, and they would derive from the speeches made to-night the greatest satisfaction—from none more than from the short statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell), summing up, in a few important words, that war with Canada was war with England. But the right hon. Gentleman had at the same time deprecated all irritating discussions, just as his right hon. Friend below (Mr. Disraeli) had done, and his hon. Friend who had brought forward this Motion. Still, danger was at hand, and it was the duty of a great nation to be prepared for it. He believed the Reciprocity Treaty to be of undoubted use to Canada as well as to this country, and would refer to Reports which confirmed his views, and which advised the American Government not to act hastily in this matter, but rather to call a meeting to see if the treaty could not be maintained, and thereby nullify to a great extent that feeling of hostility which had arisen. He was glad that debate had taken place, as it would show the American Government that that House was prepared to look with moderation upon all that had been said, however irritating the expressions made use of might have been towards this country, and to make allowance for the irritations which the Americans felt amidst the difficulties and losses of the great crisis through which they had of late years been passing. The Canadians wished this country to state distinctly what it intended to do. Canada was proud to be connected with the old country, and so long as England did her part by the Ca- 1605 nadians they would stand by her to the last breath.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, they had had of late years many important questions discussed in that House—Crimean and other wars; but that which involved the question of war between this country and America put all other subjects into the shade. He believed he need hardly say how thoroughly he agreed with every word that had been spoken in that debate as to the necessity of avoiding all allusion which could create unnecessary irritation between this country and the United States of America. He was glad to find that the hon. Gentleman who introduced the subject had set an example of moderation which had been followed by the subsequent speakers. He had heard the discussion which had taken place in another place on the subject, and he confessed he did not like what he heard there, nor did he like what had been stated in the Report of Colonel Jervois with respect to the defences of Canada. He knew the intentions of the Government, but his first impression was not favourable towards them; and after listening attentively to what had been said in that House, he thought the speech which had most practical common sense in it, and was most likely to command the attention of practical Englishmen, such as those assembled there, was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe). He joined with all that had been said by Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench as to the duties of the mother country towards Canada, and if Canada were anxious to stand by England it was the duty of England to support that colony. The only question between his right hon. Friend and the Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench appeared to be as to the best mode of doing that. They must not allow America to choose her own ground. He thought it would be impossible to defend Canada in the way suggested by Government. Did any one believe, even supposing these fortifications were erected, unless they had a sufficient number of men to man them, and the population of Canada were thoroughly armed, they would be of any avail? This country could only send a small nucleus of men over there. How did they propose to man the fortifications? The gallant officer, who had been sent over to Canada to report, said—On the other hand, if the works now recommended be constructed, the vital points of the 1606 country could be defended, and the regular army would become a nucleus and support round which the people of Canada would rally to resist aggression.He wanted to know how they were to rally? At the present moment there only existed something like 20,000 trained men in Canada. The difficulty felt in Canada was similar to that felt in this country when endeavouring to raise a Volunteer force in the rural districts. The people lived a considerable distance from each other, and were scattered over a large extent of country; it was, therefore, very difficult to get them together for training purposes. If they succeeded in training 50,000, or even 100,000 men, could such an army as that make a successful stand against the whole forces which the United States could bring against them? Supposing the army were driven into the fortifications, how was the rest of Canada to act against an overwhelming mass of troops? How were they to get by this nucleus sufficient trained men to repel such an enemy as they would have to cope with? It appeared to him that the course suggested by the right hon. Member for Calne was the only practical and sensible one. They might say to Canada that they would give her a loan of say £500,000 for fortifications, and sufficient men for the purpose of drilling the population; and when this work had been accomplished, and if war were unfortunately threatened, it would be a consideration whether England should not fight America on Canadian as well as on other ground. It appeared to him that what the Government proposed would be powerful to provoke war, but powerless to defend Canada.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the Government had adopted what appeared to him to be a most extraordinary course. They might have come to the House, and, as in time of war, asked for a Vote for the amount which they considered necessary for the defence of Canada, simply saying that the affairs of the province demanded the outlay, and taking, of course, the responsibility which would naturally attend such a demand. If the Government possessed the entire confidence of the House the money might have been voted without any demur, and hon. Members opposite would have had another opportunity of exhibiting that willingness to support the Government in all kinds of expenditure which they had latterly continually displayed, and of inveighing against a small 1607 number of Members on his side of the House who had endeavoured to check the lavish expenditure of the present Administration. Such a course would have been intelligible, but it had not been adopted by the Government. Then the Government might have come before the House in another way. They might have given a complete explanation of all the circumstances in connection with the proposed expenditure, and thrown the responsibility upon the House. Instead, however, of doing either of those things, the Government had taken the extraordinary and most unsatisfactory course of throwing upon the table of the House the Report of Colonel Jervois, and practically asked for a Vote of money upon the faith of that Report. That Report was most unsatisfactory. There was not one word in it which would enable—he would not say a civilian—but a military man to form an opinion as to the necessity of the fortifications. Though making great pretensions, the Report did not contain one word of real information. The scheme, in reality, embraced the defence of several hundred miles of frontier, including the fortification of Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, Montreal, and Quebec. They ought, however, to be informed whether those towns were to be completely surrounded with fortifications, and whether, having regard to the implements of modern warfare, the fortifications would be of such a character as to protect the towns from destruction in case of an attack upon the fortifications themselves. Above all, it was necessary for them to know the number of men that would be required for their defence. It would be advisable, moreover, that the House should be made acquainted with the intentions of the Government in regard to the erection or non-erection of barracks and bomb-proof accommodation within these fortifications for the protection of the garrison. Then, too, they ought to know how long a siege the fortresses were designed to maintain—because they knew that such works could not be regarded as impregnable, and that their reduction was only a matter of time. These were all salient facts which ought to be brought clearly under the notice of the House before it could form an opinion; and even then they would have to consider whether these fortifications were expedient at all. It might be said that the matters he had referred to, being of a technical character, came purely within the province 1608 of a military man; but he believed that there was a point where technical art ended, and common-sense began. A military man was no more competent than a civilian to decide upon the necessity of erecting fortifications, providing always that accurate technical information was placed before the latter. Several suggestions had fallen from hon. Members with regard to the proper mode in which we should treat Canada, and he should not have ventured to touch upon the subject but for the unsatisfactory answer which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies had returned to the questions which had fallen from the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). After all it seemed to him that the best way of protecting Canada was to preserve proper relations with the United States. If we were prepared to break those relations upon the slightest ground, any speculation on the defence of Canada would be of no avail. The claims made by the American Government and referred to by the hon. Member for Bradford might, according to the suggestion of Mr. Adams, be submitted to arbitration; at all events, he interpreted the despatch from that gentleman as containing such a suggestion. Having heard a good deal about arbitration being one of the chief principles adopted by Her Majesty's Government, he must confess that he had read with intense surprise the answer sent by Earl Russell to the temperate and legitimate despatch of the United States Government. It was not for us to consider whether the claims made by the United States were founded on justice and right. It was sufficient for our purpose that we possessed the knowledge that a great Power solemnly asserted its belief in the justice of those claims according to the principles of International Law and of justice. He held it was the bounden duty of our Government to enter into the negotiation, and fall in with the proposal as far as practicable. What, however, was the course adopted by Earl Russell? He wrote a despatch, which to his (Mr. Ayrton's) mind was most unsatisfactory, and it could not be denied that the publication of that despatch had caused great dissatisfaction in the United States. The fact was, that the disregard of the demands of the American Government was the real latent cause of the growing irritation in the minds of the American people. He thought that some further explanation was due to the House 1609 than had been offorded by the right hon. Gentleman to the question of the hon. Member for Bradford. The answer of the Secretary for the Colonies substantially was that the question remained in the same state as when that document was written. But that state was one of irritation and annoyance on the part of the United States. The hon. Member for Bradford must have expected some better answer—something to soften down that feeling of irritation. Had any steps been taken to meet the demands of the United States Government? It was obvious that those demands would be repeated, and must be repeated if the United States Government had any regard for its own honour; and then what would be the position of this country? We had a demand preferred by the United States when in difficulties, accompanied by a suggestion of a reference to arbitration. That demand we had flung aside; but it would be repeated when the United States were as strong as they hoped to be. What would then be our position? We must do precisely that which we refused to do now. We must do that or go to war; and where was the man who would stand up and say we ought to go to war after such a demand from the United States? Would it not be better for the country to look the question fairly in the face now, that the Government should again take the subject into its consideration, and endeavour to put it into a train for adjustment? Instead of that they came down with demands for fortifications and works of a defensive character. He thought the Government had better withdraw the Vote altogether—at least they ought to furnish the House with the necessary information for forming a judgment upon it. But he would prefer to hear from them that our relations with the United States were such as to induce a reasonable hope that they might be able to neutralize the great Lakes and to render unnecessary the further prosecution of hostile discussions.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
Sir, I have no doubt great advantages have arisen in recent times from the practice which has grown up of reporting to the public outside the debates which pass in this House; but, on the other hand, it is impossible to listen to such a debate as this without feeling that the practice has its drawbacks too. On speaker after another has got up and protested that he has not the faintest idea of any possible danger of a rupture with the United States; but one cannot 1610 but feel that there is something contradictory in the very existence of this debate and the statement which has been so ostentatiously brought forward—a contradiction not altogether flattering to our confidence in our own strength or calculated to increase in the minds of the rest of the world a favourable opinion of it. We value Gibraltar, but we are not always discussing how we will defend Gibraltar from Spain. We value Malta, but we are not always discussing how we will defend Malta from Italy. We are now discussing how we shall defend Canada, for one reason, and no other—that there is a Power which can attack Canada, and which has the will to do so. I have heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Ayrton), opinions which make me feel with greater force the drawback of having our debates reported to the public out of doors. The hon. and learned Gentleman has expressed in the broadest and strongest language his opinion that it is of little use for us to defend Canada unless we can contrive to make peace with the United States. I concur with him that, if we do so, it will be unnecessary for us to defend Canada. I was sorry to hear the observations which he made respecting the Alabama —observations similar to those which have been made elsewhere in the course of debate, and which may be misrepresented on the other side of the water—observations which entirely misrepresent the spirit and feelings of this House and the policy which England is likely to pursue. I am sure that England will never consent to submit to the excessive and extravagant demands which the Minister of the United States made in this respect—contrary, as has been repeatedly proved to the principles of International Law. I wish to protest also against the exaggerated application of the principle of arbitration. Arbitration is very well as to facts. If there is a dispute as to facts it is desirable to submit them to arbitration; but where the dispute is not as to facts but as to great principles of International Law, to submit them to arbitration is to hand over to the arbitrator the power of selecting or establishing that view of the principles of International Law to which you must adhere in all future time. Now I do not think that International Law can be framed on such principles, and I believe that if any attempt were made to do so the parties who appeared before the arbitrator would not submit to be bound 1611 by his decision. But there is another ground on account of which I think the debate we have heard to-night may operate prejudically to the interests of this country. In discussing this question it seems to me that we have thought of the interests of everything except the interests of the people of Canada. Now, the people of Canada have a solid and real danger before them. What presses on them is not the question of the British Empire—whether British honour shall be maintained or not —but the question of their own lives, their own homesteads, their own prosperity; and what they want to know is whether England is prepared to back them up, or whether she is not prepared to do so. And what answer do they receive? The Secretary for the Colonies gives generous and large spoken promises, destitute, as it seems to me, of any definite value, but still showing most amiable intentions. But in the House at large there is every possible theory for the defence of Canada which the imagination of man can conceive. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Watkin) says, "you are bound to defend the whole frontier of Canada." Another hon. Gentleman says, the Government are merely bound to defend a few fortified points. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) says, Canada will be best defended by abandoning her altogether and attacking the Americans somewhere else, or by defending the English Empire somewhere else. So that if we amassed a force to defend the Isle of Wight we should be defending Canada. But the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) says, the best way to defend Canada is never to quarrel with the United States. But what the people of Canada desire to know is, supposing we do quarrel with the United States, what will happen to them? They know that the House of Commons is the source of all political power, that it directs the policy of this country, and they will study the records of this debate with the anxious interest of men whose lives and interests are at stake. [ME. BRIGHT: Let us take care of ourselves.] The hon. Member for Birmingham says the best course for this country would be to take care of ourselves. That is a fifth suggestion. What I desire to press upon the House is that ambiguity and uncertainty is more dangerous to the interests, more fatal to the honour of England than any other course that you could adopt. You are bound to let the Cana- Lori Robert Cecil 1612 dians know, not by any vague generalities, not by mere generous and amiable sentiments, but in a business-like manner, and in accurate debate, what is the precise assistance they may expect from you, so that they may know how to conduct themselves accordingly. If you say you will defend them by abandoning them altogether, perhaps they may think the best means of defending themselves will be by abandoning you. If you tell them you will defend them on condition of their giving you the power to call out auxiliary forces from amongst them, they will know exactly what you require, and what they must do to earn your aid. But as the matter now stands, as far as I can understand from the Secretary for the Colonies, we are going to defend Canada, not as we should defend Scotland, as being an integral part of the British Empire, but with the admission to Canada that her defences must depend mainly upon herself. That seems to me an indefinite liability contingent on a perfectly indefinite condition. And I am afraid if you continue in this course you will drift into a condition not dissimilar to that in which we found ourselves last year. Denmark and Canada are not strictly related, but the unhappy similarity of policy which runs through all the acts of Her Majesty's Government brings them into close relation. Last year there were warnings of an approaching crisis—and we had the same ambiguity of language—there were general professions, there were encouragements to believe in assistance, not supported by any definite words; there was vague language, leading the weaker Power to risk her whole existence on the chance of our support; and then when the trial came, and we thought and found it too much for our strength, we withdrew from the vague ambiguous promises we had made, and allowed that weak Power to rush on to her own destruction. I think England has suffered sufficiently in reputation from that one experiment. We cannot afford to try such an experiment twice in two years. If Canada now trusts to the vague promises of the Secretary for the Colonies, and allows herself to be drawn into a quarrel with the United States—and I agree with the hon. Member for Horsham—the quarrel will not be with Canada but with England. I fear that the disastrous scenes of last year will be repeated over again. We shall then see the enormous danger— we shall then have 300,000 men on the 1613 frontier, a nucleus of 10,000 men to oppose them, and 20,000 volunteers, and an order for gunboats, which may some day make their appearance in the St. Lawrence. And when we are face to face with the difficulty we shall inquire what amount of obligation we have to Canada and what we have promised; the Secretary for the Colonies will then open Hansard, and find his speech delightfully vague, and then we shall look back to our despatches and discussions on the subject, and find that there is no definite promise which can be diplomatically enforced; and then perhaps shall persuade ourselves that Canada is best defended by abandoning Canada altogether, and that the best thing is to leave her inhabitants to the mild and paternal rule of the United States. [Mr. WHITE: Hear!] I have no doubt the hon. Member for Brighton conceives that would be the best consummation that could happen, and I trust that if it does happen he will become an inhabitant of Canada. But I entreat the House to consider the matter as one that seriously affects the honour of England. Make up your minds what you can do and what you will do for Canada—make up your minds what you determine to do, and do it thoroughly and completely. Whatever yo do, let Canada know distinctly the conditions on which you are prepared to aid her, the extent to which you will go, and how far you do or how far you do not regard her as an integral portion of the British Empire. When you have made up your minds on that point and recorded your determination in some formal document, you will be able to look forward without fear to any change the future may bring, you will be prepared to do your duty as you have defined it, and to act up to the pledges you have given.
§ MR. BRIGHT
Sir, I am not sure that I should have addressed the House on this occasion but for the observations which have been made by the noble Lord. I think he has been perhaps a little more frank in his declarations on this occasion, and in pointing out the real thing which I suspect is passing in his mind, and in the minds of very many Members of the House who have made no statement of their own opinions during this debate. I hope the debate will be useful, although I am obliged to say, while I admit the importance of the question that has been brought before us, that I think it is one of some delicacy. That it is important is clear, because it 1614 refers to the possibility of war between this country and the United States, and its delicacy arises from this—that it is very difficult to discuss this question without saying things which tend rather in the direction of war than in the direction of peace. The difficulty that is now before us is this—that there is an extensive colony or dependency of this country lying adjacent to the United States, and if there be a war party in the United States—a party hostile to this country— that circumstance affords to it a very strong temptation to enter without much hesitation into a war with England, because it may feel that through Canada it can inflict a great humiliation upon this country. And at the same time it is perfectly well known to all intelligent men, especially to the statesmen and public men of the United States—it is as well known to them as it is to us—that there is no power whatever in this United Kingdom to defend successfully the territory of Canada against the power of the United States. Now we ought to know that, in order to put ourselves right upon this question, and that we may not talk folly and be called upon hereafter to act folly. Now the noble Lord at the head of the Government—or his Government, at any rate—is responsible for having compelled this discussion; because if a Vote is to be asked for this Session—and it is only the beginning of other Votes—it is clearly the duty of the House to bring the subject under discussion. I think the Vote now is particularly inopportune for many reasons, but especially as we have heard from the Governor General of Canada that they are about, in the North American Provinces, to call into existence a new nationality; and I, for one, shall certainly object to the taxes of this country being heedlessly expended in behalf of any nationality out our own. Now, what I should like to ask the House is this—first of all, will Canada attack the States? Clearly not. Next, will the States attack Canada—I am keeping out of view England altogether? Clearly not. There is not a man in the United States, probably, whose voice or whose opinion would have the smallest influence in that country, who would recommend or desire that an attack should be made by the United States upon Canada with a view to its forcible annexation to the Union. There have been lately, as we know, dangers on the frontier. The Canadian people have have been no wiser than some Members of 1615 this House—or than a great many men amongst the richer classes in this country. And when the refugees from the South—I am not speaking now of respectable and honourable men from the South, many of whom have left that country during these troubles, and for whom I feel the greatest commiseration, but I mean the ruffians from the South—who in large numbers have entered Canada and have employed themselves there in a course of policy likely to embroil us with the United States —I say that the people of Canada have treated these men with far too much consideration. They expressed very openly opinions hostile to the United States, whose power lay close to them. I will not go into a detail of what we are all sufficiently well acquainted with- the seizing of American ships on the Lakes, the raid into the State of Vermont, the robbing of a bank, the killing of a man in his own shop, the stealing of horses in open day, and another transaction of which we have very strong proof, that men of this class actually conspired to set fire to the largest cities of the Union. All these things have taken place and the Canadian Government made scarcely any sign. I believe that an application was made to the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office nearly a year ago, that he should stimulate the Canadian Government to some steps to avoid the dangers that have since arisen; but with that sort of negligence which has been so much seen here, nothing was done until the American Government and people, aroused by the nature of these transactions, showed that they were no longer about to put up with them. Then the Canadian Government and people took little notice. Now, Lord Monck, the Governor General of Canada—about whose appointment I have heard a great many people to complain, saying that he was a mere follower of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who lost his election and was therefore sent out to govern a province— I am bound, however, to say, from all I have heard from Canada, that Lord Monck has conducted himself in a manner very serviceable to the colony, and with the greatest possible propriety as representing the Sovereign there. Lord Monck has been all along favourable to the United States, and I believe his Cabinet has also. I know that at least the most important newspaper there has always been favourable to the North. Still nothing was done; but the moment these troubles arose then 1616 everything was done. Volunteers had been sent to the frontier; the trial of the raiders has been proceeded with, and possibly they will be surrendered; and the Canadian Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed a vote in their House of Parliament to restore to the persons of St. Albans, who were robbed by the raiders, the 50,000 dollars that were taken from them. And what is the state of things now? There is the greatest possible calm on the frontier. The United States have not a word to say against Canada. The Canadian people have found that they were wrong and have now returned to their right mind. There is not a man in Canada at this moment, I believe, who has any kind of idea that the United States Government has the smallest notion of attacking them, now or at any future time, on account of anything that has transpired between the United States and Canada during these trials. Well now, if there comes a war in which Canada shall suffer and be made a victim, it will be a war got up between the Government of Washington and the Government in London. And it becomes us to inquire whether that is at all probable. Is there anybody in this House in favour of such a war? I notice with general delight—and I was not a false prophet when I said some time ago that some day it would be so— I say I notice with delight the changed tone taken here with regard to these American questions. Even the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) can speak without anger, and without any of that ill-feeling which I am sorry to say on past occasions he has manifested in discussing these questions. Now, I believe there is no man out of Bedlam—or at least who ought to be out of it —and I suspect there are very few men in Bedlam, who are in favour of our going to war with the United States. And in taking this view I am not arguing that it is because we see the vast naval and military power and the apparently inexhaustible resources of that country. I will not assume that you or my countrymen have come to the conclusion that it is better for us not to make war with America because you find her with a strength that you did not even suspect: I will say that it is upon higher grounds that we are all against a war with the United States. Why, our history for the last 200 years, and further back, is a record of calamitous, and for the most part unnecessary, wars. 1617 We have had enough of whatever a nation can gain by military successes and military glory. I will not turn to the disasters that might follow to our commerce nor to the wide spread ruin that might be occasioned. I will say that we are a wiser and better people than we were in these respects, and that we should regard a war with the United States as even a greater crime, if needlessly entered into, than war with almost any other country in the world. Looking at our Government, we have preserved, with a good many blunders —one or two of which I shall comment upon by-and-by—neutrality during this great struggle. We have had it stated in this House, and we have had a Motion in this House, that the blockade was ineffective and ought to be broken. Men of various classes, parties agents of the Richmond conspiracy, persons, it is said, of influence from France—all these are reported to have brought their influence to bear on the noble Lord at the head of the Government and his Colleagues, with a view of inducing them to take part in this quarrel, and all this has failed to break our neutrality. Therefore, I should say, we may clearly come to the conclusion, that England is not in favour of war; and if there should be any act of war, or any aggression whatever, out of which Canada will suffer, I believe honestly it will not come from this country. That is a matter which gives me great satisfaction, and I believe the House will agree with me that I am not misstating the case. Now let us ask, Is the United States for war? I know the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) has a lurking idea that there is some danger from that quarter; I am not at all certain that it does not prevail in other minds, and in many minds not so acute as that with which the noble Lord is gifted. If we had at the Bar of the House Lord Russell as representing the English Government, and Mr. Adams as the representative of the Government of President Lincoln, and if we were to ask their opinion, they would tell us the same as the Secretary of the Colonies has this night told us—that the relations between the two countries, so far as it is possible to discover them, are perfectly amicable; and I know from the communications between the Minister of the United States and our Minister for Foreign Affairs that they have been growing more and more amicable for many months past. Now, I take the 1618 liberty of expressing this opinion—that there has never been an administration in the United States since the time of the Revolutionary War, up to this hour, more entirely favourable to peace with all foreign countries, and more especially favourable to peace with England, than the Government of which President Lincoln is the head. I will undertake to say that the most exact investigator of what has taken place will not be able to point to a single word he—President Lincoln—has said, or a single line he has written, or a single act he has done, since his first accession to power, that betrays anger against this country, or pain of any kind, or any of that feeling which some persons here fancy occupies the breasts of the President and his Cabinet. Then if Canada is not for war, if England is not for war, and if the United States are not for war, whence is the war to come? This is what I should like to ask. I wish the noble Lord the Member for Stamford had been a little more frank. I should like to ask whence comes the anxiety, which undoubtedly to some extent prevails? It may be assumed even that the Government is not wholly free from it; but they have shown it in an almost ludicrous manner by proposing a Vote of £50,000. It is said the newspapers have got into a sort of panic. They could do that any night between the hours of six and twelve o'clock, when they write their articles. They are either very courageous or very panic stricken. It is said that "the City" joins in this feeling. We know what "the City" means—the fight hon. Gentleman alluded to it to-night. It means that the people who deal in shares —though that does not describe the whole of them— "the monied interest" of the City are alarmed. Well, I never knew the City to be right. Men who are deep in great monetary transactions, and who are steeped to the lips sometimes in perilous speculations are not able to take broad and dispassionate views of political questions of this nature. As to the newspapers, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) when, referring to one of them in particular, he intimated that he thought its course was indicated by a wish to cover its own confusion. Surely, after four years' uninterrupted publication of lies with regard to America, I should think it hag done pretty much to destroy its influence on foreign questions for ever. But there is a much higher authority—that is 1619 the authority of the Peers. I do not know why we should be so much restricted with regard to the House of Lords in this House. I think I have observed that in their place they are not so squeamish as to what they say about us. It appeared to me that in this debate the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) felt it necessary to get up and endeavour to excuse his chief. Now, if I were to give advice to the hon. Gentlemen opposite, it would be this—for while stating that during the last four years many noble Lords in the other House have said foolish things, I think I should be uncandid if I did not say that you also have said foolish things, —learn from the example set you by the right hon. Gentleman. He, with a thoughtfulness and statesmanship which you do not all acknowledge, he did not say a word from that Bench likely to create difficulty with the United States. I think his chief and his followers might learn something from his example. But I have discovered one reason why in that other place mistakes of this nature are so often made. Not long ago there was a great panic raised, very much by what was said in another place about France. Now an attempt is made there to create a panic upon this question. In the hall of the Reform Club there is affixed to the wall a paper which gives a telegraphic account of what is being done in this House every night, and what is also being done in the other House, and I find almost every night from the beginning of the Session the only words that have appeared on that side devoted to a record of the proceedings of the House of Lords are these words, "Lords adjourned." The noble Lord at the head of the Government is responsible. He has brought this House nearly to the same condition. We do very little, and they do absolutely nothing. All of us in our younger days, I am quite sure, were taught by those who had the care of us a verse which was intended to inculcate the virtue of industry. One couplet was to this effect—Satan still some mischief findsFor idle hands to do.And I do not believe that men, however high in station, are exempt from that unfortunate effect which arises to all of us from a course of continued idleness. But I should like to ask this House in a most serious mood, what is the reason that any man in this country has now more anxiety with regard to the preservation of peace with the United States than he had a 1620 few years ago? Is there not a consciousness in our heart of hearts that we have not during the last five years behaved generously to our neighbour. Do not we feel someway a pricking of conscience, and are we not sensible that conscience tends to make us cowards at this particular juncture?
Well, I shall not review the past transactions with anger, but with feelings of sorrow; for I maintain, and I think history will bear out what I say, that there is no generous and high-minded Englishman who could look back upon the transactions of the last four years without a feeling of sorrow at the course we have pursued on some particular occasions. As I am wishful to speak with a view to a better state of feeling, both in this country and in the United States, I shall take the liberty, if the House will permit me for a few minutes, to refer to two or three of these transactions, where, I think, though perhaps we were not in the main greatly wrong, yet in some circumstances we were so far unfortunate as to have created an irritation which at this moment we wish did not exist. The hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald) referred to the course taken by the Government with regard to the acknowledgment of the belligerent rights of the South. Now I have never been one to condemn the Government for acknowledging those belligerent rights, except upon this ground —I think it might be logically contended that it might possibly become necessary to take that step—but I do think the time and manner in which it was done were most unfortunate, and could not but produce very evil effects. Going back nearly four years, we recollect what occurred when the news arrived of the first shot having been fired at Port Sumter. That, I think, was about the 12th of April. Immediately after that time it was announced that a new Minister was coming to this country. Mr. Dallas had intimated to the Government that as he did not represent the new President he would rather not undertake anything of importance; but that his successor was on his way and would arrive on such a day. When a man leaves New York on a given day you can calculate to about twelve hours when he will be in London. Mr. Adams, I think, arrived in London about the 13th of May, and when he opened his newspaper next morning he found the proclamation of neutrality, acknowledging the belligerent rights 1621 of the South. I say that the proper course to have taken would have been to wait till Mr. Adams arrived here, and to have discussed the matter with him in a friendly manner, explaining the ground upon which the English Government had felt themselves bound to issue that proclamation, and representing that it was not done in any manner as an unfriendly act towards the United States Government. But no precaution whatever was taken; it was done with unfriendly haste; and had this effect, that it gave comfort and courage to the conspiracy at Montgomery and at Richmond, and caused great grief and irritation amongst that portion of the people of America most strongly desirous of maintaining amicable and friendly relations between their country and England. To illustrate this point allow me to suppose a great revolt had taken place in Ireland, and that we had sent over within a fortnight of the commencement of such an unfortunate transaction a new Minister to Washington, and that on the morning after arriving there he should find that without consulting him the Government had taken a hasty step by which the belligerent rights of the insurgents had been acknowledged, and by which comfort and support had been given them. I ask any man whether, under such circumstances, the feeling throughout the whole of Great Britain, and in the mind of every man anxious to preserve the unity of Great Britain and Ireland, would not necessarily be one of irritation and exasperation against the United States? I will not argue this matter further—to do so would be simply to depreciate the intellect of the hon. Gentlemen listening to me. Seven or eight months afterwards there happened another transaction of a very different but unfortunate nature—that is the transaction arising out of the seizure of two Southern envoys out of an English ship—the Trent. I recollect making a speech down at Rochdale about the time of that occurrence. It was a speech entirely in favour of the United States Government and people—but I did nor then undertake, as I do not undertake now, in the slighest degree to defend the seizure of those two envoys. I said that although precedents for such an action might possibly be found to have occurred in what I will call some of the evil days in our history, at any rate it was opposed to the maxims and principles of the United States Government, and as I thought a bad act which should not have been done. 1622 Well, I do not complain of the demand that those men should be given up; but I do complain of the manner in which that demand was made, and the menaces by which it was accompanied. I think it was wrong and unstatesman-like that at the moment we heard of a transaction, when there was not the least foundation for supposing that the United States Government were aware of the act, or had in the slightest degree sanctioned it, as we since well knew they did not—that you should immediately get ships ready, and send off troops, and let out the organs of the press—who are always ready to inflame the passions of the people to frenzy, to prepare their minds for war. But that was not all; because before the United States had heard a word of the matter from this country their Secretary of State had written to Mr. Adams a despatch, which was communicated to our Government, and in which it was stated that the transaction had not been done by any orders of theirs, and therefore, as far as they and we were concerned it was a pure accident, and they should consider it with the most friendly disposition towards this country. How came it that that despatch was never published for the information of the people of this country? How happened it that during one whole month the flame of war was fanned by the newspapers, particularly by those supposed to be devoted to the Government, and that one of those newspapers, supposed to be peculiarly devoted to the Prime Minister, had the audacity— I do not know whence it obtained its instructions—to deny that any such despatch had been received? Now, Sir, I am of opinion that it is not possible to maintain amicable relations with any great country— and I think it is not with any little one—unless Governments will manage these different transactions in what I will call a more courteous and more honourable manner. I happen to know, for I received a letter from the United States, from one of the most eminent men in that country, dated only two days before those men were given up, and he said the real difficulty in the course of the President was that the menaces of the English Government had made it almost impossible for them to concede; and the question they asked themselves was whether the English Government was intending to seek a cause of quarrel or not? And I am sure the noble Lord at the head of the Government if such a demand had 1623 been made upon him with courtesy and fairness, as between friendly nations, would have been more disposed to concede, and would have found it much more easy to concede, than if the demand had been made accompanied by menaces such as his Government offered to the Government of the United States. Now the House will observe that I am not condemning the Government of this country for the main point of what they did. I am only condemning them because they did not do what they had to do in that manner which would be most likely to remove difficulties and preserve a friendly feeling between the two nations.
Then I come to the last thing I shall mention—to the question of the ships which have been preying upon the commerce of the United States. I shall confine myself to that one vessel, the Alabama. She was built in this country; all her munitions of war were from this country; almost every man on board her was a subject of Her Majesty. She sailed from one of our chief ports. She is reported to have been built by a firm in whom a Member of this House was, and I presume is, interested. Now, Sir, I do not complain —I know that once, when I referred to this question two years ago, when my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford brought it forward in this House, the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird) was excessively angry—I did not complain that the Member for Birkenhead had struck up a friendship with Captain Semmes, who may be described, as another sailor once was of similar pursuits, as being "the mildest mannered man that ever scuttled ship." Therefore, I do not complain of a man who has an acquaintance with that notorious person, and I do not complain, and did not then, that the Member for Birkenhead looks admiringly upon the greatest example which men have ever seen of the greatest crime which men have ever committed. I do not complain even that he should applaud that which is founded upon a gigantic traffic in living flesh and blood, which no subject of this realm can enter into without being deemed a felon in the eyes of our law and punished as such. But what I do complain of is this, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birkenhead, a magistrate of a county, a deputy-lieutenant—whatever that may be —a representative of a constituency, and having a seat in this ancient and honourable Assembly—that he should, as I believe 1624 he did, if concerned in the building of this ship, break the law of his country—driving us into an infraction of International Law, and treating with undeserved disrespect the proclamation of neutrality of the Queen. I have another complaint to make, and in allusion to that hon. Member. It is within your recollection that when on the former occasion he made that speech and defended his course, he declared that he would rather be the builder of a dozen Alabamas than do something which nobody had done. That language was received with repeated cheering from the Opposition side of the House. Well, Sir, I undertake to say that that was at least a very unfortunate circumstance, and I beg to tell the hon. Gentleman that at the end of last Session, when the great debate took place on the question of Denmark, there were many men on this side of the House who had no objection whatever to see the present Government turned out of Office, for they had many grounds of complaints against them, but they felt it impossible that they should take the responsibility of bringing into Office the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire or the party who could utter such cheers on such a subject as that.
Turning from the Member for Birkenhead to the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office, he who in the case of the acknowledgment of belligerent rights had proceeded with such remarkable celerity, undue and unfriendly haste, in the course he had pursued, when he came to the question of the Alabama amply compensated for it by his slowness of procedure. And what was a curious thing, which even the noble Lord's Colleagues have never been able to explain, although he sent to Cork to stop the Alabama if she arrived there, she having gone out of the jurisdiction of the Crown of these islands, he allowed her afterwards to go into a dozen or a score of ports belonging to this country in different parts of the world. It seems to me that this is rather a special instance of that feebleness of purpose on the part of the noble Lord which I regret to say has on many occasions done much to mar what would otherwise be a great political career. Now I will not detain the House on the question of the rams. The hon. Member for Birkenhead, or the firm or family, or whoever the people are at Birkenhead who do these things, this firm at Birkenhead, after they had seen the peril into which the country was drifting on account 1625 of the Alabama, proceeded most audaciously to build those two rams; and it was only at the very last moment, when on the eve of a war with the United States on account of those rams, that the Government happily had the courage to seize them, and thus the last danger was averted. I take it there are some shipowners here. I dare say there are many in London— there are many in Liverpool—what would be the feeling in this country if they suffered in this way from ships built in the United States? There is a shipowner in New York, Mr. Lowe, a member of the Chamber of Commerce of New York. He had three large ships destroyed by the Alabama; and the George Griswold, that came to this country freighted with a heavy cargo of provisions of various kinds for the suffering people of Lancashire, was destroyed on its return passage, and the ship that destroyed it may have been, and I believe was, built by these patriotic shipbuilders of Birkenhead. These are things that rankle in the breast of the country that is subjected to those losses and indignities. Even to day I see in the paper that a vessel that went out of this country has destroyed ten or eleven ships between the Cape of Good Hope and Australia. I have thought it unnecessary continually to bring American questions before the House, as some Gentlemen have done during the two or three last Sessions. They should have asked a few questions in regard to those ships; but no, they asked no question upon these points. They asked questions upon every point on which they thought they might embarrass the Government and make the great difficulties of the Government greater in all their transactions with the United States. But the Members of the Government have not been too wise. I hope it will not be thought that I am unnecessarily critical if I say that Governments are not generally very wise. Two years ago the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the Attorney General addressed the House. I asked the noble Lord—I do not often ask him for anything — to speak, if only for five minutes, words of generosity and sympathy to the Government and people of the United States. He did not do it. Perhaps I was foolish to expect it. The Attorney General made a most able speech. It was the only time I have listened to him, in all the time I have known him in this House, with pain, for I thought his speech was full of bad morals and bad law. I am quite cer- 1626 tain that he gave an account even of the facts of the case which was not as ingenuous and fair as the House had a right to expect from him. Next Session the noble Lord and the Attorney General turned quite round. They had a different story about the same transaction, and gradually, as the aspect of things was changed on the other side of the Atlantic, there has been a gradual return to good sense and fairness, not only on the part of Members upon the Treasury Bench, but of other Members of the House.
Now, Sir, I would not willingly say a word that would wound either the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because I do not know amongst the official statesmen of this country two men for whom I have greater sympathy or more respect; but I have to complain of them. I do not know why it is that they both go down to Newcastle—a town in which I feel a great interest—and there give forth words of offence and un- wisdom. I know that what the noble Lord said was all very smart, but really it was not true, and I have not much respect for a thing that is merely smart and is not true. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a statement too. The papers made it appear that he did it with exultation; but that is a mistake. But he made a statement, and though I do not know what will be in his Budget, I know his wishes in regard to that statement — namely, that he never had made it. Those Gentlemen, bear in mind, sit on the hill; they are not obscure men, making speeches in a public-house or even at a respectable mechanics' institution; they are men whose voice is heard wherever the English language is known. And knowing that, and knowing what effect their speeches will have, especially in Lancashire, where men are in trade and feel the profits and losses of everybody, they use the language I complain of; and I can conceive some idea of the irritation those statements must have caused in the United States. I might refer to the indiscriminating abuse of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield; and I may add to that the unsleeping ill-will of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford. I am not sure that these two Members of the House are in the least degree converted yet. I think I heard the hon. Member for Sheffield utter to-night some ejaculation that looked as if he retained all his old sentiments. [Mr. 1627 ROEBUCK: Exactly.] I am sorry it is so. I did hope that these things -would be regretted and repented of; and I must express my hope that if any one of you who have been thus ungenerous shall ever fall into trouble of any kind you will find your friends more kind and generous than you have been to your fellow-countrymen —for I will still call them so—at the other side of the Atlantic. And as to the press, Sir, I think it is unnecessary to say much about that, because now every night those unfortunate writers are endeavouring to back out of everything they have been saying; and I can only hope that their power of evil in future will be greatly lessened by the stupendous exhibition of ignorance and folly which they have made to the world.
Now, Sir, having made this statement, I suppose the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, if he were to get up after me, would say, "Well, if all this be true—if we have done all these injurious things, if we have created all this irritation in the United States — will it not be likely that that irritation will provoke a desire for vengeance, and that the chances of war are greatly increased by it?" I do not know whether the chances of war are increased, but I will say that not only is war not certain, but it is to the last degree improbable. But, Sir, there is another side to this question. All England is not included in the rather general condemnation which I have thought it my duty to express. There is another side. Looking to our own population, what have the millions been saying and doing—the millions you are so much afraid of?—especially the noble Lord the Member for Stamford who objects to the transference of power to those millions from those who now hold it, and that is a natural thing. But I beg leave to tell the House that, taking the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire — your great counties of population—the millions of men there, whose industry has not only created but sustains the fabric of your national power, have had no kind of sympathy with the views I have been condemning. They have been more generous and more wise; they have shown that magnanimity and love of freedom are not extinct. And speaking of the county from which I come—the county of many sorrows, whose griefs have hung like a dark cloud over almost every heart during the last three years—all the attempts there of the agents of the Confederacy by 1628 money, by printing, by platform speeches, by agitation, have utterly failed to get from that population one expression of sympathy with the American insurrection. And, Sir, if the bond of union and friendship between England and America shall remain unbroken, we shall not have to thank the wealthy and cultivated, but the laborious millions whom statesmen and histories too frequently make little account of. They know a little of the United States, which Gentlemen opposite and some on this side the House do not appear to know. They know that every man of them would be better off on the American continent, if he chose to go there, and would be welcome to every right and privilege that the people are in possession of. They know further that every man may have from the United States Government a free gift of 160 acres of the most fertile land in the world. [A laugh.] I do not understand that laugh, but 160 acres of land is a great deal for a man who has no land to get under the Homestead Act of America. I can tell you that the Homestead Act and the liberality of the American Government have had a great effect upon the population of the North of England, and I can tell you this —that the labouring population of this country— the artizans and the mechanics —will never join heartily in any policy which is intended to estrange the people of the United States from the people of the United Kingdom. But, Sir, we have other securities for peace which are not less than these, and I find them in the character of the Government and people of the American Union. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) referred to what must reasonably be supposed to happen in case this rebellion should be put down— that when a nation was exhausted it would not rush rashly into a new struggle. The loss of life has been great, the loss of treasure enormous. Happily for them this life and this treasure has not been sacrificed to keep a Bourbon on the throne of France, nor to keep the Turks in Europe —it was for an object which every man could comprehend, which every man could examine by the light of his own intelligence and his own conscience; and if men have given their lives and their possessions, it was for the attainment of a great end, the maintenance of the unity and integrity of a great country. History in the future must be written in a different spirit 1629 from all history of the past if it shall express any condemnation of that people. Mr. Lincoln, who is now for the second time President of the United States, was elected exclusively by what was termed the Republican party. He is now elected by what may be called the Great Union party of the nation. But Mr. Lincoln's party has always been for peace. That party in the North has never carried on any war of aggression, and has never desired one. I speak of the North only, the Free States. And let the House remember that in that country landed property, property of all kind, is more universally diffused than in any other nation, that instruction and school education are also more widely diffused there than amongst any other people. Well, I say, they have never carried on hitherto a war for aggrandizement or for vengeance, and I believe they will not begin one now. Canada, I think the noble Lord will admit, is a very tempting bait, not for the purpose of annexation, but for the purpose of humiliating this country. I agree with the hon. Gentlemen who have said that it would be discreditable to England, in the light of her past history, that she should leave any portion of her Empire undefended which she could defend. But still it is admitted—and I think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) produced a great effect upon those who heard it—the House admitted that in case of war with the United States, Canada could not be defended by any power on land or at sea which this country could raise or spare for that purpose. I am very sorry, not that we cannot defend Canada, but that any portion of the dominions of the British Crown is in such circumstances as to tempt evil disposed people to attack it with the view of humiliating us, because I believe that transactions which humiliate a Government and a nation, are not only disagreeable, but a great national harm. But, now, is there a war party in the United States? Well, I believe there is. It is that party which was a war party eighty years ago. It is the party represented by hon. Gentlemen who sit on that Bench— the Irish party. They in the United States who are hostile to this country, are those who were recently malcontent subjects of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth. It is these, and such as these, to whom the noble Lord at the head of the Government offers only such consolation 1630 as that of telling them that "the rights of the tenants are the wrongs of the landlords," who constitute the only war party in the United States; and it was the war party in the days of Lord North. But the real power of the United States does not rest on that class. American mobs—and excepting some portion of the population of New York, I would not apply the language even to them—for the sake of forcing their Congress and their Executive to a particular course, are altogether unknown. The real mob in your sense, is that party of chivalrous gentlemen in the South, who have received, I am sorry to say, so much sympathy from some persons in this country and in this House. But the real power depends upon another class—the landowners throughout the country, and there are millions of them. Why, in this last election for President of the United States, I was told by a citizen of New York, who was most active in the election, that in the United States alone 100,000 Irish votes were given, as he expressed, solidly—that is, in one mass— for General M'Clellan, and that not more than 2,000 were given for President Lincoln. You see the preponderance of that party in the city of New York, and that is the feeling thoughout the State of New York; but, throughout the whole of the United States, it is merely a small percentage which has no sensible effect upon the constitution of Congress, or upon legislation or government.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) referred to a point which I suppose has really been the cause of this debate, and that is the temper of the United States in making certain demands upon our Government. I asked a question the other night after the noble Lord had asked a question upon the subject?— I asked whether we had not claims against them. I understand claims were made upon us by the United States amounting to £300,000 or £400,000. I am afraid that we have claims against them, amounting probably to as much as that. If any man thinks he has a right to go to law with another, and that other has an answer to his claim, the case must be heard. And so between two great nations and two free Governments. If one has claims against the other, and the other has claims against it, clearly nothing can be more fair than that those claims should be courteously and honestly considered. It is quite absurd to suppose that the English Government and 1631 the Government at Washington can have a question about half a million of money which they cannot amicably settle. The noble Lord, I believe, thinks it is not a question for arbitration, but that it is a question of principle. Well, all questions of property almost are questions of law, and you go to a lawyer and settle them if you can. In this case it would be surely as easy to have the matter settled by some impartial person as it was to ask the Senate or somebody at Hamburg to settle a question between this country and the Empire of Brazil. Our most perfect security is, that as the war in America draws to a close—if it should happily soon draw to a close—we shall become more generous to them, and their Government and people will probably become less irritated towards us. And when the passions have cooled down, I am quite sure that Mr. Seward on that side, and Earl Russell on this, Mr. Adams here, and Sir Frederick Bruce there, will be able, without much difficulty, to settle this after all unimportant matter as a question of accounts between the two nations.
I have only one more observation to make, and it is this—I suspect the root of all the unfortunate circumstances that have occurred is in the feeling of jealousy which we have cherished with regard to the American nation. It was very much shown at the beginning of this war, when a Member whom I will not name, for I am sure his wish is that his name should not be mentioned in connection with it now, spoke of the bursting of the bubble republic. I recollect Lord John Russell, as he then was, sitting on that Bench, turned round and rebuked him in language that was worthy of his name, and character, and position. I beg to tell that Gentleman, and anybody else who talks about a bubble republic, that I have a strong suspicion he will see that a great many bubbles will burst before that. Why should we fear a great nation on the American continent? Some people fear that, should America become a great nation, she will be arrogant and aggressive. It does not follow that it should be so. The character of a nation does not depend altogether upon its size, but upon the instruction, the civilization, and the morals of its people. You fancy the supremacy of the sea will pass away from you; and the noble Lord, I dare say, who has had much experience, and is wiser on the subject than any man in the House, will say 1632 That "Rule Britannia" would become obsolete. Well, inasmuch as the supremacy of the seas means arrogance and the assumption of supremacy on the part of this country, the sooner that becomes obsolete the better. I do not believe that it is for the advantage of this country or any country in the world that any one nation should pride itself upon what it terms supremacy of the sea; and I hope the time is coming—I believe the hour is hastening —when we shall find that law and justice shall guide the councils, and shall direct the policy of the Christian nations of the world. Nature will not be baffled because we are jealous of the United States—the decrees of Providence will not be overthrown by aught we can do. The population of the United States is now not less than 35,000,000. When the next Parliament of England has lived to the age that this has lived to, that population will be 40,000,000, and you may calculate that increase at the rate of rather more than-1,000,000 of persons per year. Who is to gainsay it? Will constant snarling at a great republic alter the state of things or swell us up in these islands to 40,000,000 or 50,000,000, or bring them down to our 30,000,000? Hon. Members and the country at large should consider these facts, and learn from them that it is the interests of the nations to be at one—to be in perfect courtesy and amity with the English nation on the other side of the Atlantic. I am sure the longer that nation exists the less will our people be disposed to sustain you in any needless hostility against them or jealousy of them. And I am the more convinced of this from what I have seen of their conduct in the north of England during the last four years. I believe, on the other hand, that the American people, when this excitement is over, will be willing, so far as aggressive acts against us are concerned, to bury in oblivion transactions which have given them much pain, and that they will make the allowance which they may fairly make, that the people of this country—even those high in rank and distinguished in culture —have had a very inadequate knowledge of the real state of the events which have taken place in that country since the beginning of the war. It is on record that when the author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was about beginning his great work, David Hume wrote a letter to him urging him not to employ the French but the English tongue, "be- 1633 cause," he said, "our establishments in America promise superior stability and duration to the English language." How-far that promise has been in part fulfilled we who are living now can state; but how far it will be more largely and more completely fulfilled in after times we must leave after times to tell. I believe that in the centuries which are to come it will be the greatest pride and the highest renown of England that from her loins have sprung a hundred millions—it may be two hundred millions—of men who dwell and prosper on that continent which the old Genoese gave to Europe. Sir, if the sentiments which I have uttered shall become the sentiments of the Parliament and people of the United Kingdom—if the moderation which I have described shall mark the course and Government of the people of the United States—then, notwithstanding some present irritation and some present distrust—and I have faith both in us and them—I believe that these two great commonwealths will march abreast, the parents and the guardians of freedom and justice, wheresoever their language shall be spoken and their power shall extend.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, however long this discussion may have been, I, for one, cannot regret that it has taken place; for by the majority of Members in this House two opinions have been expressed which cannot fail to be useful in the quarters to which they have been addressed. The first opinion is that which has been peculiarly dwelt upon by the hon. Member who has just sat down— namely, the most earnest desire that the most friendly relations should be maintained between Great Britain and the United States of America; and next, the opinion that we should maintain the connection which exists between this country and our provinces on the North American continent so long as the people of those provinces are desirous of maintaining their connection with the mother country. The hon. Member who has just spoken (Mr. Bright) has made what in one respect may appear a paradoxical, but what, I think, as human nature is constituted, was a very conciliatory speech towards the United States: for though the hon. Member reviewed a long course of events to prove that the United States have been most grievously ill-treated by this country—I do not agree with him in any one of these points—it is no doubt a part of human 1634 nature that you cannot better please any man or, any set of men, than by telling them they have been exceedingly ill-used. I will not follow the hon. Member when he complains that we admitted the belligerent rights of the South—an admission which was the result of necessity and not of choice; I will not follow him into the discussion of the Trent question, which I thought had been fully disposed of, and into the questions which have arisen between the Government, or rather, I should say, the people of some parts of Canada and the United States; because, as he admitted himself, the conduct of the Canadian Government has been such as to be acknowledged gratefully by the Government of the United States as a full and complete fulfilment of the duties of friendly neighbourhood. The hon. Gentleman says there exists in this country a jealousy of the United States. Sir, I utterly deny that assertion. We feel no jealousy of the United States. On the contrary, I am sure that every Englishman must feel proud at seeing upon the other side of the Atlantic a community sprung from the same ancestry as ourselves, rising in the scale of civilization, and attaining every degree of prosperity—aye, and of power, as well as wealth. I therefore entirely deny that there exists in this country any feeling of jealousy as regards the United States. Undoubtedly there are men who, differing from the hon. Gentleman in their theory of government, cannot see with the same approbation which he feels the trial on the other side of the Atlantic of a system of government which we do not think is the best or the most conducive to the happiness of those for whom it was established. But that is an entirely different thing from the feeling which the hon. Gentleman has supposed. No doubt during this contest in America there has been expressed, and probably felt, both in the North and in the South, some irritation against this country. But that irritation has been caused by the natural feeling which two parties in a quarrel have, that a third party who does not espouse either sides is to a certain degree doing both sides an injury, or giving them some cause of complaint or of jealousy. The North wished us to declare on their side; the South wished us to declare on theirs; and as we maintained a perfect neutrality between the two some slight degree of irritation arose on both sides against us. But I am equally persuaded, with the 1635 hon. Gentleman, that among the great bulk of the people of the United States there are feelings deeper than that irritation—feelings of goodwill towards the country from which their ancestors were derived; and I am satisfied that when this unfortunate contest shall have ceased, whatever its termination, the natural feeling of goodwill and relationship which ought to prevail between two kindred nations will take the place of any temporary irritation which the circumstances of the war may have occasioned. I am quite satisfied also that England will not give to the United States any just cause of complaint—that war will not proceed from us; and if war does not proceed from our side, and if, as the hon. Gentleman thinks, it does not proceed from theirs, then we may have a well-founded expectation that in spite of adverse appearances for the moment, and in spite of the prognostications of many, the friendly relations between this country and the United States will not incur any real danger of interruption. But that is no reason why we should not use the means in our power to place our fellow-citizens, if I may so call them, in Canada and the Northern Provinces in a state of defence should they be attacked. Sir, there is no better security for peace than strength to resist attack, if attack should come. That is no provocation. It is an abuse of terms to say that when you employ means to prevent danger if it should arise, you are provoking that danger and irritating the party against whom those precautions may be taken. If no animosity exists these precautions can have no effect except that of inspiring confidence in the party in whose favour they are made. If, on the other hand, there be a disposition to attack, that disposition is sure to be lessened in proportion as the chance of success is diminished. Now, I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) in thinking that whatever are the difficulties—and difficulties undoubtedly there may be—in successfully resisting an attack, if it should be made by America on Canada, we should regard the defence of Canada as an undertaking which we could not succeed in accomplishing. I think, on the contrary, that Canada may be defended. And I also feel that the honour of England and the good faith which is due to our loyal fellow-countrymen in these Northern Provinces require that, at all events, we should make the 1636 attempt successfully to defend her. Not concurring, therefore, in the argument of my right hon. Friend that Canada cannot be defended, least of all do I concur in his conclusion that, assuming defence to be impossible, we ought forthwith to withdraw our troops. I neither admit the argument nor assent to its conclusion; and I am anxious that there should be no mistake on the subject, and that it may be fully understood that it is not the intention of the Government to follow the advice of my right hon. Friend and withdraw our troops from Canada. On the contrary, I feel that the honour of England demands, and that our duty as a Government binds us to do everything—moreover, that we shall have the sanction of the British Nation in doing everything—that we can to defend our fellow-countrymen in Canada if attacked. As I have already said, I am persuaded that the tone of moderation which has prevailed in this debate must be useful both in Canada and in the United States. No doubt there are those who have endeavoured to persuade the people of the United States that there exists in this country a spirit of hostility towards them, and that we are looking out for grounds of quarrel. There can, however, be no real and just grounds for quarrel between us. We certainly shall not seek such grounds, nor shall we invent them; and if the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down be a true and faithful exposition of the sentiments of the people of the United States, there can be no well-founded apprehension that the peace happily prevailing between us is in danger of interruption. I can confirm the statement of my right hon. Friend, that the present relations between the two Governments are perfectly friendly and satisfactory. We have no complaint to make of the Government of the United States; they have acted in a fair and honourable manner in all the matters that may have arisen between us. No doubt there are claims which they have put forward, not urging them at present, but laying the ground for their discussion at some future time. No doubt, also, we have claims upon them which we do not put forward at present, but have announced to be claims which at some future time may be discussed. But I should trust that we both feel it to be for the interest —aye, and for the honour—of the two countries, that peace should be preserved, and that matters of this sort ought to be 1637 capable of a friendly and amicable adjustment. All I can say is that the Government, as long as they continue to be chargeable with the conduct of affairs, will do everything that the honour and interests of the country permit them to do to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and friendship between the two countries.