HC Deb 08 July 1873 vol 217 cc52-90

in rising to move— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to instruct Her Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to enter into commu- nication with Foreign Powers with a view to further improvement in International Law and the establishment of a general and permanent system of International Arbitration, said: *Mr. Speaker, I venture to bespeak the kind indulgence of the House while I attempt to bring before its attention a subject which all, I think, will acknowledge to be one of great importance, and which no one feels more deeply than myself to be one of great difficulty. It is no affectation of modesty, but a very unaffected sense of my own in competency, which prompts me to say that I cordially wish the treatment of this question had fallen into hands more qualified to do it justice than I can pretend to be. Twenty-four years ago the late Mr. Cobden submitted to this House a Motion in some respects similar to the one I am about to submit this evening. Would that he had been spared to us to bring forward the subject again with the authority of his great name and illustrious services, and under what I venture to believe are rather more favourable auspices than existed at the time to which I refer. My only title for dealing with this matter arises from the fact that. I have spent some 25 of the best years of my life in humble endeavours to promote this cause—the cause of peace on earth and goodwill among men, if not with much success, at least, I hope, with entire sincerity. It is a great satisfaction to me to feel that the question is one which stands quite apart from—may I not say that is raised far above—all considerations and interests of party. It appeals to great principles of justice, humanity, and religion, in which all parties are equally interested, and to which all parties are equally prepared to do willing homage. Indeed, I am strongly encouraged by the consciousness that I am sustained on this occasion by a large amount of public opinion not only in this country, but in all countries of the civilized world. Since I gave Notice of my Motion, I have received many communications from excellent and distinguished persons on the continent of Europe and in America, expressing their warmest sympathy with the object of my Motion, and the earnest hope that it may find acceptance with the British Parliament. The Petitions that have been presented to this House indicate in some degree the interest excited out-of-doors in our own country in reference to my proposal. But numerous as those Petitions have been, I believe that they afford but an imperfect representation of the depth and extent of that feeling. Many—I think I may say most—of the large religious bodies in this country at their annual assemblies or conferences have passed resolutions or adopted Petitions to this House in support of the Motion. It gives me very sincere pleasure to add, that some of the most distinguished Prelates of the Church of England and many of its clergy, have declared with no less earnestness and emphasis, in favour of the general principle of arbitration. But above all, the working men have thrown themselves into the movement with an ardour and unanimity that are quite remarkable. At Trades Union Councils and Congresses, at conferences of different trades, and at all sorts of representative meetings of the working men that have been held in various parts of the kingdom for the last two years, this question has been brought forward, and resolutions in support of the movement have been carried with scarcely a dissentient voice. From a Paper that has been circulated among the Members, it appears that the number of working men who have petitioned for the proposition, either directly or through the representative bodies to which I have referred, amounts to upwards of 1,038,000 persons. And I feel bound to say that this agitation has been perfectly spontaneous on their part. It originated with themselves, it has been organized by themselves, and conducted by themselves, and conducted, I am happy to add, for I have had ample opportunity of watching its course, with a good sense and moderation, as well as an earnestness and energy very honourable to the working classes themselves, and full of encouragement and hope to those who are engaged in promoting this object. I must premise one other remark. It will not be necessary for me this evening to put forward any of what are called extreme peace views. It is the pleasure of some persons to describe the party with which I have the honour to be associated as the "peace-at-any-price party." I do not know exactly what that means. No doubt it is intended to mean something very bad and opprobrious. If what is charged against us be that we hate war too much and love peace too well, I must own that the accusation lies lightly enough on my conscience. But be that as it may, I need not on this occasion affront anyone's prejudices by maintaining or assuming anything, which all reasonable and humane men are not prepared frankly to admit. I presume all will admit that war is an infinite evil inflicting such manifold mischiefs, material and moral, upon mankind—and its moral mischiefs are in my opinion deeper and greater even than the material—that it is our duty to do everything we possibly can to avert its recurrence. Most of those who hear me will, I believe, also admit that the present state of things under which so-called civilized and Christian nations, when differences arise between them, and those often differences of very trivial import, are ready to plunge into wholesale and mutual slaughter and rapine, is deplorable and disgraceful, an affront to reason, an outrage on justice, a scandal to civilization, and especially a reproach to that religion of peace and charity and brotherly love which these nations profess to receive and reverence. Why is this? It is owing largely, I think, to the fact that no precautions are taken, no provisions made to meet those contingencies which occur, and must occur in the relations of States. Differences will arise between nations as between individuals, and they may arise, and I believe often do arise, without any unfair or unjust intentions on either side, from imperfect acquaintance with facts, from simple misunderstandings, from differences of opinion as to the nature and extent of international obligations, all no doubt somewhat aggravated by that obliquity of vision which affects us all, individuals or communities, where our own interests are concerned. But unhappily no means, no regular and recognized means exist, no stated tribunal to which such differences can be referred for an honourable and pacific settlement. The only acknowledged solvent of international disputes in the last resort is the sword. The consequence is that Governments are driven, or imagine themselves driven, to that fatal system of rivalry in armaments which, in my opinion, is at this moment the greatest curse and calamity of Europe. They argue thus—that if there are no other means but force by which nations can defend their rights or redress their wrongs, then each nation must provide itself with the largest possible amount of force, and when one Power adds to its armaments, all the others with headlong haste rush to a proportionate augmentation of theirs. This has at last culminated in the state of things which we now witness, under which it is calculated that there are, some say 4,000,000, some say 5,000,000 of men in the armies of Europe—men in the prime and vigour of life, for war will accept as its servants and victims only the picked men of society. The result is that the nations are weighed down by burdens of taxation that are so enormous as to be almost intolerable. It is not very easy to estimate what is the cost of these armaments. But a very respectable French writer, M. Larroque, who has written an able and elaborate work on The Standing Armaments of Europe, and has taken great pains to procure authentic data for his calculations, estimates the cost at £400,000,000 sterling. This sum he divides under three items. First, the naval and military budgets—the sums directly extracted from the pockets of the people for maintaining these armaments he estimates—and I believe considerably under-estimates—at £120,000,000. Then he takes the interest on capital invested in various military property, such as fortifications, barracks, ships of war, arms and munitions, capital wholly unproductive, and this item amounts to £30,000,000. The third, and the most important item, which is very apt to be overlooked, is the loss to society by the withdrawal of such a host of able-bodied men from all the occupations of productive industry—for a soldier produces nothing, only helps to consume the productions of other men—and M. Larroque estimates this at £250,000,000. If to this be added the interest, and the cost of management of the National Debts of Europe, nearly the whole of which has been contracted for war or warlike purposes, and which may be taken at £150,000,000, we have a grand total of £550,000,000 annually taken from the capital and industry of nations for the cost of past wars, and the preparations for future wars. And what is the condition of the people in the various countries from which this prodigious sum is annually extracted for war purposes? That they are a wonderfully ingenious, energetic, industrious population is proved by the fact that they are not absolutely crushed beneath these burdens laid upon them by their Governments. But it is rather a melancholy reflection that, admirable as are the enterprise, invention, skill, and laborious industry of the producing classes in Europe, they are deprived of so large a proportion of the fruits of their labours by the perpetual drain made upon them to sustain this armed rivalry kept up by their rulers. Let us picture to ourselves these toiling millions over the whole face of Europe, from the Rock of Gibraltar to the Oural Mountains, and from the Shetland Islands to the Caucasus, swarming forth day by day to their labour, working ceaselessly from early morn to dewy eve, in the cultivation of the soil, in the production of fabrics, in the exchange of commodities, in mines, factories, forges, docks, workshops, warehouses; on railways, rivers, lakes, oceans penetrating the bowels of the earth, subduing the stubbornness of brute matter, mastering the elements of nature, and making them subservient to human convenience and weal, and creating by all this a mass of wealth which might carry abundance and comfort to every one of their myriad homes. And then imagine the hand of power coming in and every year sweeping some five hundred millions of the money so laboriously earned, into the bottomless abyss of military expenditure. But there is something worse than even this pressure on the means of life, I mean compulsory military service. The House, of course, is aware that in every country in Europe but our own, the naval and military services are recruited, not by voluntary enlistment, but by the conscription. Now this is becoming a tyranny so terrible as almost to provoke an insurrection in some countries. Even in Germany, which has given the example—in my opinion, the evil example—of sweeping the whole male population into the Army, there is a strong reaction setting in against the system. Some months ago, I read this in one of our journals— The German Government continues to be much disquieted by the large dimensions of the emigration to America. It is stated that according to authentic advises from Berlin, the numbers are growing in such proportions that by the 1st of January the figures will be double what they were in the years preceding the late war. As usual, the bulk of the emigrants are young men anxious to avoid military service. It was in reference to this movement that the Circular from the War Minister, by the Emperor's order, was issued last July. As it has seemingly had no appreciable effect in checking the ever-widening stream, a second Circular, couched in more threatening terms than the first, has just been issued. At the same time, a special service is being instituted for the more effective surveillance and supervision of the districts from which the emigrants mainly come. But in spite of all this, the emigration to America has been only slightly affected. And, indeed, those who profess to be acquainted with the feelings of the working classes on the Continent, assure us that there is a general and growing feeling of discontent among them on this subject, of which the Governments will do well to take account. They feel that in past times their lives have been used as mere pawns, with which Princes and Governments have been wont to play their own selfish games of ambition and intrigue. And there is an angry muttering among them that they will not submit to this much longer. But there is another view of this subject which those in authority ought to take to heart. In spite of the enormous sums I have described constantly extracted from the pockets of the people, the finances of many European States are in a normal condition of embarrassment and deficit. In Austria there has not been a year since 1789 in which revenue has come up to expenditure. The accumulated deficits of that State from 1851 to 1866 amounted to £130,000,000. France, even before the last terrible war, was sinking rapidly into debt; her debt increased from £213,000,000 in 1851 to £550,000,000 in 1870. The new kingdom of Italy is absolutely reeling and staggering beneath the burdens of her military expenditure. The annual deficit from 1861 to 1869 was £22,000,000. Spain, I need not say, is in a still worse financial condition. Turkey, we are told, was brought into the European family of nations by the Russian War, but the only privilege she has seemed to derive from that is the privilege of borrowing of money and sinking into debt. From 1854 there has been a continued series of deficits at the rate of about £5,000,000 a-year, covered with loans in two years out of three. Even the condition of Russian finance is one of chronic deficit. The revenue has increased £14,000,000 in four years, and yet the deficit continues. Mr. Dudley Baxter, in his valuable work on National Debts, has shown that the national indebtedness of the world has increased within 22 years to the prodigious amount of £2,218,000,000. Europe's part in this increase is £1,500,000,000. What is the cause of this alarming condition of things? The cause is mainly war and warlike armaments. Mr. Baxter has calculated that only 12 per cent, or one-eighth of the National Debts of the world have been raised for productive purposes; 88 per cent has been for war, warlike preparations, and other unproductive purposes. And what aggravates the absurdity is, that while all this is going on, the nations of the world are being constantly drawn into closer relation of mutual dependence and friendly intercourse. Railways and steamships, to employ the bold image of the Prime Minister, are like gigantic shuttles rushing to and fro over the earth and weaving the nations into one. Men of different races are being combined in common enterprises, not only of trade, but of art and science and philanthropy. Men will always seek some justification for their conduct, however absurd. They seek their justification on this matter in an old Latin proverb—Si vis pacem Para bellum. Now, I venture to say that an axiom more absurd than this, more at variance with common sense, with all our experience of human nature, and with the testimony of history never was palmed on the credulity of mankind. You may just as well say, that if you wish to preserve your house from fire, the best thing you can do is to accumulate any amount of gunpowder and petroleum and lucifer matches in your cellars, and let a number of mischievous boys go to play at hide-and-seek among them; for these boys may well represent the Princes and diplomatists of Europe, who do play the strangest pranks in the midst of the inflammable materials they have heaped around them, and which yet they say are the only true security against a conflagration. Now, Sir, the state of things I have thus described seems to me utterly deplorable and humiliating in the heart of what calls itself Christendom in the 19th century. Every Government in Europe is spending beyond all comparison the largest proportion of its resources upon the art of destruction, while myriads of its subjects are sunk in pauperism, ignorance, and degradation. The people ask for bread, and the Government offer them bullets; they ask for a useful education, and they offer them the military drill; they ask for better dwellings, in which they may lead a decent domestic life, and they offer them barracks and fortifications. Science, which ought to be the handmaid of civilization, has sold herself to the devil and exhausts her skill and invention in devising infernal machines of more and more destructive power, which have no other result than to exhaust the wealth of nations, since in two or three years they are superseded by other inventions still more infernal and destructive. And let the House observe that there is absolutely no limit to this process—that not only it may, but it must go on repeating itself at an accumulating ratio. I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the military expenditure of Europe has doubled within the last 30 years, and there is no reason in the world why it should not, but every reason according to the system now in vogue why it should, double itself again within the next 30 years; and so through every 30 years to the end of time. Now, is there no remedy for this? Cannot the human reason be brought to bear upon this monstrous system of mutual waste and ruin? Is the combined statesmanship of Europe equal to nothing better, as international policy, than playing on a more and more gigantic scale this miserable game of "beggar my neighbour," by which they exhaust their resources, embarrass their finances, and oppress their peoples, while they leave themselves at the end of the process comparatively and proportionally just where they were at the beginning? While spending so much of time, thought, skill, and money in organizing war, is it not worth while to bestow some forethought and care in trying to organize peace, by making some provision beforehand for solving by peaceable means those difficulties and complications that arise to disturb the relations of States, instead of leaving them to the excited passions and hazardous accidents of the moment? No doubt something has been done, and something very considerable has been done—which I gladly and gratefully recognize—in the way of settling disputes by arbitration, after those disputes have arisen. Quite enough has been done in this direction to prove that such a method is practicable, and that there is no necessity for mankind to cut each other's throats by way of trying to decide questions of disputed right. It is an entire mistake to imagine that the recent instances of arbitration between this country and the United States are the first and only, though no doubt they are the most significant and conspicuous, examples of the successful application of this principle. There have been many other cases within the last 50 or 60 years. Indeed, I am not sure, if using the word arbitration in its broadest and most generic sense as expressing every kind of reference for settling differences without having recourse to the sword, that within the period I have mentioned arbitration has not been the rule and war the exception. But there is this difference—that whereas war is loud, noisy, demonstrative, making itself seen and heard by the whole world, arbitration is often carried on in a quiet, unostentatious manner that escapes general observation. I will not trespass on the time and patience of the House by enumerating all the instances of that kind that have occurred. But I may be permitted to cite a few cases by way of illustration. There was the question known as the Portendic claims between England and France, arising out of the blockade of the Portendic coast by the French during their wars with the Moors in 1834–5. These claims, after occasioning considerable trouble to the two Governments, were referred to the arbitration of the King of Prussia, and his award was cheerfully accepted by both countries. In 1853, all outstanding claims that had arisen between Great Britain and the United States since the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, were referred to two Commissioners, who were empowered and instructed to choose an umpire or arbitrator when they could not agree. The claims connected with the brig Creole, which had been the subject of long diplomatic discussion, the claims of the Florida bonds, the M'Leod claims, and many others, were included in this reference. Mr. Joshua Bates, of London, was chosen as umpire, and all these claims, after careful consideration, were finally and satisfactorily adjusted. Questions of considerable difficulty between the United States and New Granada, and between the same Power and Costa Rica, as well as Paraguay and Peru, have at different times been settled by arbitration. In 1863, a dispute between this country and the Empire of Brazil, which had previously given occasion to a great deal of angry and irritating diplomatic correspondence, was referred to the arbitration of the King of the Belgians, and disposed of without difficulty. I will mention another case which may be considered as a crucial example of successful arbitration. In 1868–9, as hon. Members will recollect, the relations of Turkey and Greece became full of danger on account of the insurrection in Crete. There was everything in this case to exasperate animosities between the two parties—difference of race, difference of religion, terrible memories and sinister traditions of the past. But at the suggestion of Prussia there was a Conference of the Great Powers at Paris, who agreed to certain resolutions to be submitted to Greece for her acceptance. These, be it borne in mind, were offered merely as recommendations, and not backed up by any threats of force on the part of the mediating Powers; and yet in spite of the forebodings of the prophets of evil, who loudly prognosticated failure, the success was complete. Greece accepted the resolutions, and the danger passed away. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, speaking in the House in reference to that case, spoke of it most justly as "an evidence of real advance in civilization." I have the greatest pleasure in citing the words he used on that occasion— Here is a case where two Powers, exasperated by traditional animosities, and with their respective transactions entangled by various sympathies and antipathies of race, were on the point of resorting to the arbitration of force and bloodshed for the settlement of their differences—and where the employment of purely moral interference has been sufficient to avert that calamity. Now, I am quite certain that if there exists one sentiment more unequivocal than another on both sides of this House, and on every bench of it, and throughout the country, it is that, without resorting to arbitrary doctrines or pedantic rules, we may be enabled quietly and steadily to make progress towards establishing in Europe a state of feeling which shall favour and facilitate that common action among the Powers of Europe whereby, becoming the organ of legitimate and strong opinion, they may be able by this kind of influence alone to avert the great calamity of war."—[3 Hansard, cxciv. 76–77.] Now this is precisely what I want the right hon. Gentleman to help in bringing about—namely, a common action of the Powers to avert the calamity of war. Perhaps it may be said in reference to the cases of successful arbitration I have cited that they referred to comparatively small matters. My answer is, that they could not possibly refer to smaller matters than those which have often led to long, bloody, and desolating wars between nations. They were not smaller matters, for instance, than the question whether the cupola of a particular church at Jerusalem should be repaired by Greek or Latin monks, and yet that was the quarrel which, through the infinite un-wisdom of some of the Great Powers, led to a war which cost Europe, according to Mr. Kinglake, 1,000,000 of human lives and some four or five hundred millions of money. But. I may be told, in reference to this and similar cases, that the avowed and apparent causes of a war are often not the real ones, that they are mere superficial pretexts, but that there are occult forces at work which impel nations irresistibly into collision with each other. But all this talk is mere fatalism, the elaborate attempts of men to find some justification for their follies and crimes by referring them to the operation of natural or providential laws, instead of their own evil passions. Men love to believe that they are driven into ill-doing by necessity. This is the plea of justification which Milton represents the author of evil as putting forward to extenuate his own revolt— Who with necessity, The tyrant's plea, excused his devilish deeds. I do not believe in necessity to do evil, to commit crime. It is a profane, an impious, an atheistic doctrine. And I can quote the authority of the most experienced statesman of his time as respects, at least, all recent wars. Lord Russell has said— On looking back at all the wars which have been carried on during the last century, and examining into the causes of them, I do not see one of these wars in which, if there had been proper temper between the parties, the questions in dispute might not have been settled without recourse to arms. But I must refer also, as an evidence of progress, and as an indication that even the Great Powers are beginning to recognize that there is some principle in the world besides force for regulating the intercourse of States, to what took place at the Conference of Paris in 1856. England had the honour of taking the initiative on that occasion, through the mouth of her Plenipotentiary, Lord Clarendon, who submitted a proposition to the Conference, which was accepted unanimously, and expressed in the following language:— The Plenipotentiaries do not hesitate to express, in the name of their Governments, the wish that states between which any serious misunderstanding may arise should, before appealing to arms, have recourse, as far as circumstances might allow, to the good offices of a friendly Power. The Conference instructed its President, Count Walewski, to communicate this declaration to other civilized Governments, and to invite their adhesion; and about 40 other Governments did adhere to it. The right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister, speaking in this House soon after, referred to that Protocol in these words— As to the proposal to submit international differences to arbitration, I think that it is in itself a great triumph. It is, perhaps, the first time that the assembled representatives of the principal nations of Europe have given an emphatic utterance to sentiments which contain at least a qualified disapproval of a resort to war, and asserted, at least in qualified terms, the supremacy of reason, of justice, of humanity, and religion."—[3 Hansard, cxlii. 99.] The late Lord Derby also referred to the principle of arbitration as The principle which, to its endless honour, was embodied in the Protocol of the Conference of Paris. Unhappily, it has hitherto remained inoperative. But in spite of that I still believe, with the right hon. Gentleman, that it was a great gain to have elicited from the leading Powers of Europe, and to have placed on permanent record such a declaration as that. This is the history of all human progress. Men labour long to get from those in authority the distinct recognition of some great principle. It may be long after that before it is reduced in practice. But the acknowledgment of its justice and importance remains, and may be pleaded against themselves. We have an illustration of this in the condemnation of the slave trade, pronounced at the Congress of Vienna, and repeated in a yet more rigorous form at the Congress of Verona in 1822, principally, I believe, through the influence of the Duke of Wellington. That condemnation did not lead to the immediate abolition of the slave trade; unhappily it is not yet abolished. Still that act of the Great Powers was of the greatest possible value to those who were, and are, engaged in a crusade against the slave trade. It placed the accursed traffic under the ban of the civilized world, and rendered it impossible for any Christian State again openly to defend it, though some of them have continued wickedly to connive at it. So I believe the Declaration of the Protocol of Paris, though not immediately operative, is not without great value. As has been recently said by a distinguished French statesman, M. Drouyn de Lhuys— In trying to realize the idea embodied in the Treaty of Paris, we obey a sentiment which, evoked at that epoch, will not cease to manifest itself among civilized nations until it has obtained satisfaction. I come now to the Geneva Arbitration. I own that my views on that subject are as wide as the poles asunder from those expressed by some hon. Gentlemen in this House, a very small minority, I am happy to believe. I look upon that transaction as one eminently honourable to the spirit of our age, and especially to the two great nations principally concerned in it. And I have no doubt that in spite of the little irritations which have for a moment ruffled the temper of a few of our countrymen, that it will be regarded hereafter as constituting, a landmark in the history of civilization. No doubt some mistakes were made in connection with this great work of international peace, and that is no wonder, considering that the proceeding was somewhat an untried and unwonted one. But are there no mistakes made in connection with international war?—unless, indeed, the right thing to say is that the whole of that bloody business is one huge and monstrous mistake. No doubt some portions of the Treaty of Washington might have been expressed in language less ambiguous and more precise. No doubt the Three Rules themselves were somewhat vague, though I question if there is any form of words which human ingenuity could devise upon which clever and practised lawyers could not put two or three different constructions if it suited their purpose to do so. No doubt the interpretation put upon those Rules by some of the distinguished men who acted as adjudicators at Geneva was of rather dangerous latitude. No doubt there were also still graver errors on both sides, which I forbear to refer to lest they revive feelings that had better be let sleep. But after all these deductions are made, the fact, the signal, the glorious fact re- mains that these two great kindred and Christian nations, each of them with abundance of pride and self-assertion, for John Bull and Jonathan are in that respect as like as two peas—each of them conscious of having almost inexhaustible resources at command wherewith to inflict injury upon each other—that these two nations, in regard to a question that had strongly excited public feeling on both sides of the Atlantic, and notably on the other side, were content to lay aside their prejudices and passions, and allow their case to be referred to the arbitration of reason and justice, instead of running the risk of having to refer it at any future time to the blind and brutal arbitrament of the sword. This fact remains, unaffected by the petty jealousies and passions of the hour, affording a grand and memorable example to the nations, which I have no doubt will be fruitful of beneficent results. The attitude of the two nations has been noble. During many months of irritating suspense while the two Governments were negotiating as to the true meaning of the Treaty of Washington, these 70,000,000 of people maintained their calmness and self-control. This, I believe, was in great part owing to the conduct of the Press. No doubt there were exceptions; but, as a rule, the Press on both sides did itself great honour by the way in which it conducted the controversy. I must especially pay my humble tribute of respect and admiration to what is called the leading journal in this country, for the calm, judicial spirit which it preserved throughout, and by which I have no doubt it contributed largely to the peaceable and satisfactory settlement of the matter. I remember the late Lord Derby some years ago when administering a severe rebuke to the Press for stimulating one of those dishonourable panics of French invasion, by which we have been so often affected in this country, making this remark— That journalists in these times exercised something like the influence and power of statesmen, and that therefore they ought to feel something of the responsibility of statesmen. To my mind one of the most hopeful signs of the times is in the fact that the Press is evidently beginning to recognize this responsibility. For my part, I must say, in reference to this American Arbitration, that I feel more grateful than I can express to Her Majesty's Government, and especially to Lord Granville, for the combined firmness, patience, temper, and tact with which he persevered, in the face of great difficulties and some provocations, in seeking to extricate the two countries from embarrassments, which at one time threatened to wreck the arbitration. And I feel no less grateful to the Leaders of the party opposite for their wise and patriotic forbearance during the whole of those difficult and delicate negotiations. I confess that when I saw the Notice of Motion placed on the Paper some weeks ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy), I had some apprehension lest in the discussion that would ensue, something might have been said to rekindle animosities happily allayed, or to discredit the principle of arbitration, or to bring into question the judgment at Geneva. But nothing of the sort took place. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which gave a tone to the debate, appeared to me as admirable in temper as it was in ability, and proved, as did that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), which followed in the same discussion, that they at least were determined not to convert this great international question into an arena for party strife. If they should ever come into office again—and I suppose that is a contingency that is on the cards, and have to deal with any difficult question of foreign policy, I hope the course they have taken on this question will not be forgotten by those who now sit on this side of the House. But some people say the judgment has gone against us. Well, I suppose judgment must go against somebody in every suit or trial at law. I hope the House will not misinterpret my meaning when I say that I am almost glad that it did go against us, because it afforded the people of this country a noble opportunity, which I believe they have nobly embraced, of showing their respect for law and their readiness to submit to a judicial decision even when it is against their own interests. By this dignified acquiescence in the judgment of Geneva—and I contend that the great bulk of the people of this country have so acquiesced—they have done more to consecrate the principle of arbitration than if the verdict had been ever so much in their favour. But we are sometimes told that only England would have the sense of justice and dignity to submit to such a decision. Well, it is a very pleasant thing to have a high opinion of ourselves, and if it soothes our vanity and helps us the better to bear our defeat to think so, I have no objection. But I am bound to express my own belief that if the judgment had gone against the United States the great body of the people of that country would have done the same. Let me ask the attention of the House to the noble words uttered by Mr. Colfax, the Vice President of the United States, at the time when difficulties had arisen between the two Governments owing to conflicting interpretations of the Treaty of Washington, and before the tribunal had been opened at Geneva— Though the arbitration were to adjudge to us not a single dollar, I will stand up before my fellow-citizens, and will cry to them, Accept the resolution and renounce all indemnity rather than recede one hair's-breadth from that high moral position in which you have placed yourselves along with England before the face of the other nations of the world.' All this is, no doubt, highly encouraging. But the disadvantages of leaving the arbitration to be provided for after the quarrel has arisen are obvious. The original difference often becomes greatly complicated and aggravated by angry diplomatic recriminations, and the clamorous outcries of popular passions; whereas if there were some stated means of reference, these disturbing influences need not at all come into operation. And undoubtedly the mere existence of such stated means would prevent many quarrels from coming to a head. "The great end of law," it has been truly said, "is not to decide, but to prevent disputes; for every dispute which British civil law, for instance, decides, there are thousands of eases in which disputes are prevented from arising by its certainty and clearness." What is wanted is that the Great Powers of the world should take some steps towards the establishment of something like a regular and permanent system of international jurisdiction. That I may not be charged with indulging in mere chimerical visions beyond the range of practical statesmanship in saying this, I let me cite the words of the present Lord Derby. Speaking in this House in the I year 1867, apropos of the question with Spain about the ship Mermaid, he said— Unhappily there is nothing in the nature of an international tribunal to which all cases of this kind might be referred, and there is no International Law by which parties can be required to submit such cases to arbitration. I do not hesitate to say that it would be one of the greatest benefits to the civilized world if such a tribunal existed."—[3 Hansard, clxxxviii. 1752.] No statesman living is less likely than Lord Derby to indulge in longings after what is impracticable and Utopian. And yet such are his views as to the importance and value of an International Court. It is well known that such a Supreme Court does exist in the United States to adjudicate between different States of the Union and between States and the Federal Government. A great man who has recently passed from among us, Mr. John Stuart Mill, referring to that institution says— The Supreme Court of the Federation dispenses International Law, and is the first example of what is now one of the most prominent wants of civilized society—a real international tribunal. I do not say that the world is ripe for such an institution in its completeness at the present moment. But surely we may take some steps in that direction. I ask the Government to communicate with the other Powers with a view to the appointment of an International Commission to examine into the present state of International Law, and to reduce it into something like a clear and coherent system. This is a great necessity of civilization. Perhaps, indeed, if we use the word law in its rigid sense, we may say that there hardly exists such a thing at present as International Law. What passes under that name consists of custom and consent, provisions in Treaties between nations, judgments of Prize Courts, and the opinions of eminent jurists from Grotius downwards. I am very far from saying that even in its present imperfect form all this has not been of the greatest possible service in regulating the relations and intercourse of States, in diminishing the frequency and mitigating the ferocity of war. And it is impossible not to admire the noble enthusiasm of humanity by which Grotius was inspired in the composition of his great work—a work, as Mr. Hallam says, the publication of which is acknowledged to have made an epoch in the philosophical and almost in the political history of Europe. Still what now exists can hardly be called law in the strict sense of that term, seeing there is no enacting authority to give it force, and no recognized tribunal by which it can be administered. At any rate, it will not be doubted that the present state of International Law is far from satisfactory; that there are many important points connected with the relations and intercourse of States, which are unsettled, ill-defined, or unprovided for; and that the whole system of International Law requires to be revised and digested and brought into something like consistency and harmony. There is an almost entire consensus of opinion among authorities on this matter. An American gentleman recently visited Europe expressly to put himself into communication with the leading jurists and publicists of the Continent and of this country on this very subject, and he found among them an almost universal concurrence of opinion on this—that there exists urgent necessity for further mutual understanding and consent among nations as to the principles and rules of International Law. Now we have a precedent for what I want to be done as the first step, in what took place at the Congress of Paris in 1856. When the Great Powers came to negotiate terms of peace, they did not restrict themselves to matters arising out of the war just concluded. But they found certain points of international maritime law in such a condition as urgently to require consideration and decision. Accordingly, they adopted a Declaration, to which they attached the following Preamble, which I especially commend to the attention of the House:— That maritime law in time of war has long been the subject of deplorable disputes. That the uncertainty of the law in such a matter gives rise to differences of opinion, which may occasion serious difficulties, and even conflicts. That it is consequently advantageous to establish a uniform doctrine on so important a point. Therefore, as Lord Russell said, the Governments, in order to prove the sincerity of their wish to give permanence and fixity to this part of the Law of Nations, adopted the Declaration abolishing privateering, defining the rights of neutrals in maritime warfare, and settling the law of blockades. Other Governments were invited to accept the Declaration, and some 39 Governments did send in their adhesion, so that now, as between these 46 Governments, and as respects the matters treated of in the Declaration, there is something like positive and authoritative International Law. Now, is there any reason why the work thus begun in Paris in 1856 should not be continued? No one denies that there are other points of International Law in a condition as unsettled and unsatisfactory, and as likely to give rise to differences of opinion, leading to difficulties and conflicts, as those dealt with in the Declaration of 1856? Is it well to wait until those difficulties and conflicts arise? or, would it not be wise to avail ourselves of the present lucid interval of peace to try to come to a common understanding as to some of the principles and rules of International Law, and so, by gradually preparing a system of law, to lay the foundation for a general and permanent system of international jurisdiction? There is a remarkable experiment now in progress in Egypt, which, if it succeeds—as I cordially hope it may—will furnish a practical illustration on a limited scale of the kind of international Tribunal for which I contend. The subject was brought forward in the early part of the Session by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane). It is admitted on all hands that the present mode of administering justice in that country, especially as between natives and foreigners, is utterly unsatisfactory. This has been long felt by the European Powers. With a view to remedy this an International Commission was appointed, and has been sitting at Constantinople, the object of which was to draw up a code of laws, and to prepare the constitution of an International Court, to administer justice both in civil and criminal cases. The Powers represented on that Commission, as stated by the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for the Foreign Department, were—Great Britain, France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia, Belgium, the United States, Holland, Sweden, Norway, and Turkey. The Commission has completed its labours and presented its Report, and is only waiting for the approval of the Governments to come into operation, when we shall have a real International Court, administering an international code of laws. Now, all I ask the Government to do at present is to enter into communication with foreign Governments, with a view of doing something for Europe and the civilized world like what they are actually doing for Egypt. It seems to me that each of the two great parties in this country are at the present moment groping—and not very successfully groping—for a policy. Would that one of them had the courage to aspire to become the leader of a real peace party in Europe, to take the first steps towards establishing peace on sure and firm foundations—the foundations of law and jurisprudence. They would meet with a response of which they have little conception. The world is growing weary of war. The nations are groaning under the burden of military expenditure and military servitude, and are longing to be delivered. I believe even that the Governments, and especially the minor Governments of Europe, would most gladly and gratefully follow the leadership of England. A distinguished Member of a foreign Legislature wrote to me some time ago in reference to my Motion— I believe you are hitting the right nail on the head. It will be impossible for the nations to enter upon the process of mutual disarmament until first of all they shall find some means presented to them by which they can settle their disputes without arms, and I feel convinced that England, of all nations in the world, is the right country to take the initiative in this matter. I also, Sir, have the ambition to secure the honour of this great initiative for my own country. There are people who charge us of the peace party with being careless of, or indifferent to, the honour of England. I repudiate and repel the imputation. What possible reason can those who make the imputation, and who arrogate to themselves the credit of an exclusive patriotism to love England and her dignity and glory, have, that we have not in an equal degree with themselves? Is not England also our country, the home of our childhood's joys, the place of our fathers' sepulchres? Are not her name and character and greatness closely intertwined with our dearest earthly affections in the memories of the past and in the anticipations of the future? Do we not also feel that we rise with her renown and sink in her degradation? Of course, there may be differences of opinion as to what constitutes honour for a great country. I do not believe that the honour of a Christian nation consists in being conspicuous for deeds of violence and blood, though even if it were so, we have had enough of that in past times to glut the most insatiable appetite for military glory. But to my mind the honour of England consists in this—that she is the birth-place and home of freedom; that she has been able to teach the nations by her own example how to combine order and liberty in her political life; that she is the mother of free communities which perpetuate her ideas and institutions in all parts of the globe; that she was the first to strike the fetters off the slave and bid the oppressed go free, and that she is stretching forth her hand to scatter the blessings of civilization and Christianity among the nations to the uttermost ends of the earth. These are the things which, in my opinion, honour England, and it will be a still greater honour if possible—a signal, a crowning honour if she becomes the harbinger of peace to the world, if she takes the first step towards the organization of that peace on solid and lasting foundations, so as to do something to realize the glorious vision of our poet Laureate— When the war-drum throbs no longer and the battle-flag is furled, In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world. When the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe, And the kindly earth shall slumber lapt in universal law. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to instruct Her Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to enter into communication with Foreign Powers with a view to further improvement in International Law and the establishment of a general and permanent system of International Arbitration"—(Mr. Henry Richard.)


said, his hon. Friend was right when he stated that this was not the first time that the present subject, which was one of profound interest, was introduced to the notice of the House. In 1849, Mr. Cobden first formally drew attention to it, and made a Motion not very different from that of his hon. Friend. The Motion of Mr. Cobden differed mainly from that of his hon. Friend in this respect—that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was to enter into communication with foreign Powers, and invite them to make treaties binding the respective parties, in case they should have any future misunderstanding which could not be arranged by amicable negotiation, to refer the matter in dispute to the decision of arbitrators. His hon. Friend invited them in the same manner to communicate with foreign Powers with the same object in view. The communication was to be general, and it was to contemplate a further improvement in International Law, and the establishment of a permanent system of International Arbitration. In truth, his hon. Friend had very considerably widened the scope of Mr. Cobden's Motion as to the means he prescribed. He could not say, however, that the change made by his hon. Friend was an improvement. If progress was to be made in this direction, it was more likely to be made in ordinary times and under ordinary circumstances, by beginning in particular cases with particular countries in regard to particular subjects, as occasion arose, rather than by an ambitious attempt to draw all the civilized nations of the globe into general communications on a matter involving changes so great in their extent, and so very difficult, of necessity, in the mode of their operation. His hon. Friend had referred to a great variety of cases in which, as he said, the principle of amicable arrangement, in one shape or another, whether by formal arbitration or not, had been usefully employed. All the cases he had enumerated were just and true. But his hon. Friend might have added other instances. He might have cited the case of the King of Holland, who undertook to effect an arrangement with respect to the San Juan Boundary which had recently been settled by the good offices of the Emperor of Germany. He might have referred to an analogous instance—namely, the arrangements with respect to the navigation and international rights at the mouths of the Danube. He might likewise have quoted the case of the unfortunate difference which arose between this country and Greece in 1849–50, when our neighbour France offered, not a formal arbitration, but her good offices to this country, and those good offices were beneficially employed. In fact, so far as this country was concerned, and to a great extent other countries, there was gradually growing up a series of precedents which we might hope—but it must be by degrees—would harden into rule. But the real duty which could fairly be imposed, and the performance of which could reasonably be expected from any Government of this country was that it should avail itself of every opportunity as it arose, and of all the I means which it possessed, to bring to a peaceful issue differences between other States, or between this country and some other State, which if not peacefully settled might threaten great international evil and calamity. If he went on to examine minutely the history of the last few years and the transactions of the Foreign Office, with which he had necessarily been closely conversant, he could add very considerably to the instances mentioned by his hon. Friend. His noble Friend the late Lord Clarendon had not for many weeks assumed the seals of the Foreign Office at the end of 1868 when he was enabled to intervene, with the utmost tact, good feeling, and ability, in a question, apparently of a paltry and trumpery character, with respect to the railways between France and Belgium, and. by his intervention not only a most perplexing and prolonged, but possibly a very dangerous, controversy was got rid of. In the ease of Luxembourg, also, the exertions of Lord Derby would be justly remembered to the credit of the preceding Government. In truth, speaking without reference to any one Government, it was the practice of the Foreign Office, and would be a duty which Parliament would exact, that it should accept as a principle that very rule the adoption of which by every nation in the world his hon. Friend sought to procure. At the same time, it was important to consider not only what we preached, but also what we practised, not only that we should recommend with zeal to other countries to resort to arbitration, but still more was it a matter of consequence that we should examine whether our own proceedings were in all cases wise, and before they had assumed the form of menace, quarrel, or controversy, whether they wore governed by the rules of good sense and moderation. Because, if the settlement of disputes was good, the prevention of disputes was better; and the best mode of prevention was the careful observance of that rule which was enjoined for the government of our private and personal conduct, to do unto others as we would be done by, and to expect from them no more than we were prepared to give. When we had acted in this way we should have laid the founda- tions of the most important parts of a good and sound foreign policy. There was, indeed, another part, and that was a vigilant defence of the honour and interests of the nation, whenever circumstances might call for it; but that was a point on which it was less necessary to insist, because it was a portion of our duty with respect to which this country never had failed, nor did he think it was likely to fail in the future. When Mr. Cobden made the Motion to which he had referred, Lord Palmerston said he entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman in attributing the utmost possible value to the Motion, and in feeling the greatest dislike and he might say horror of war in any shape. He need in this case only substitute for Mr. Cobden's the name of his hon. Friend on whom the mantle of Mr. Cobden had fallen, and he fully adopted the words of Lord Palmerston. But Lord Palmerston was not prepared to adopt the Motion of Mr. Cobden. He did not think it would practically contribute to the object in view, and he moved the Previous Question; but so satisfied was Mr. Cobden with the tone of his declaration that he said in his reply the noble Lord had led him to suppose there was not much difference in their views. Mr. Cobden, however, pressed his Motion to a division. It was seldom that he looked upon any proceeding of Mr. Cobden otherwise than with warm approval not only of its purpose, but of its judgment; but he ventured to doubt whether Mr. Cobden exercised a wise discretion in this instance. A division was taken, and the result was—Ayes, 79; Noes, 176; so that a very large majority of the House of Commons was announced to the world as repelling and refusing the Motion of Mr. Cobden at a time when the person who had spoken as the organ of the Government was declared by Mr. Cobden himself to have delivered sentiments which differed but little from those he had himself expressed. He was not prepared to ask the House to join in the adoption of his hon. Friend's Resolution. At the same time, he now stood in some respects in a position of greater advantage than Lord Palmerston did when he addressed the House; because while Lord Palmerston was compelled to rely principally on a perfectly frank, sincere, but still somewhat abstract, declaration of concurrence of opinion, it was now in their power to point to a course of facts and events which gave strength to those declarations, and enabled him to found himself on a solid basis when he pointed out that he had but one motive for declining to request the House to adopt that Motion—namely, that its adoption would tend to put in jeopardy the progress of the very cause his hon. Friend had at heart. For, while they had much gratifying progress to refer to, they had also many painful circumstances to recall. It was true that in our relations with the United States of America we had been enabled, in a case of primary importance and moment, to adopt and carry through to its conclusion the principle of preferring a settlement by arbitration to a settlement by war, or to what was practically much the same thing—that of leaving unsettled a controversy which in the long run must eventually lead to war. But did the state of facts they perceived on the Continent indicate such a progress in the general mind of Europe as would justify us in departing from the course we had hitherto pursued—namely, of seizing every opportunity of recommending, where we had the title to do so, that method of peaceful procedure, and also of resolving to give the most marked instances we could of our own practical adoption of the principle? For himself, he did not think so. He saw opinion growing in some quarters in favour of that principle; but as yet it was sectional opinion rather than national sentiment. It had not extensively found its way into the Cabinets of statesmen, or into the popular mind of Europe. They must not conceal from themselves the state of facts which characterized the times in which we lived. His hon. Friend himself had described the monstrous and portentous development of armaments they had seen of late years in Europe, and had justly referred to the natural consequences of that development in that vast growth of National Debt and that anticipation of future resources which, when they reached a certain magnitude, became themselves among the most formidable menaces, both to internal tranquility and the general peace. He held in his hand the work of that eminent Belgian author, M. Laveleye, on the existing causes of war in Europe, written manifestly in the sense and with the object of his hon. Friend. M. Laveleye recognized the obstacles in his way. He alluded almost with exultation to the Treaty of Washington and its results, and spoke of the Arbitration of Geneva as having re-animated the hopes of the friends of peace throughout the world. But such was the sense that gentleman entertained of the dangers of Europe that, towards the close of his most able and luminous disquisition, he urged, with his usual earnestness, that, for the sake of liberty itself, considerable armaments must be maintained, and that the people both of England and Belgium would do well to submit to the law of compulsory and universal military service. He was not able to follow M. Laveleye in that opinion; but it showed what must be the pressure of the motives which led such a man to a conclusion that must be so painful to him. M. Laveleye, however, in discussing the methods of giving effect to pacific views, looked in the first place to a gradual formation of a code of International Law, and then eventually to the formation of a High International Court. That Court was to be one entirely devoid of any command over physical force. It was to trust to moral force alone. That presupposed a condition of nations in which moral force, they must assume, would be strong enough to induce each of them to give up the prepossessions and predilections connected with its own particular interests and passions, and to adopt a judgment proceeding from some impartial source. Well, we might fairly say with respect to ourselves, and in an equal degree to the United States, that in a matter of the utmost difficulty and delicacy, touching most intimately both the honour and the pride of two great nations, we had fearlessly applied the principle of arbitration. His hon. Friend was glad the Award had gone against us, because it gave us a better opportunity of showing the value we attached to the principle; and he (Mr. Gladstone) thought there was great force in that declaration. If it was a gain to mankind that the people of this country, in conjunction with those of the United States, should resort to the process of Arbitration adopted both at Geneva and Berlin, it was still more important, now when the whole question at Berlin had been given against us, and likewise a modified judgment at Geneva, that the world should see that our attachment to the principle of arbitration was not a vulgar and sordid attachment founded on a confident expectation of success; that we valued it for its own sake; that we valued it far more than either the territory or the money involved in the dispute; and the opportunity of testing that value by the unhesitating acquiescence—nay by the cheerful and uncomplaining acquiescence—which we had endeavoured to show in those Awards, was that something might go forth to the world as a proof that there must be some real vital force in the principle that indicated and prompted conduct such as that. But let them look at another case. He did not wish to speak in tones of Pharisaic superiority, moral or intellectual, over the civilized nations of Europe. Providence had endowed England and America also with immense advantages and facilities for the propagation of the principle of arbitration, and rendered it far easier for them to apply them than in the case of Continental nations. There was really an enormous difference in all those questions of international conflict between insular and Continental Powers. It was probably owing to the great difficulties arising out of their close contact with their neighbours, and all the historic associations connected with it, that it had been found much less practicable for the nations of the Continent to give effect to Arbitration than for England and America to do so. But let him call to mind one remarkable instance of the failure of that principle which, although it came and went like a flash of lightning, was yet deserving of historical record. He referred to the outbreak of the war of 1870. What was its immediate occasion? The Hohenzollern candidature for the Crown of Spain, followed by an allegation, and with that allegation an undoubted belief prevailing in France of something in the nature of a slight or an insult personally offered. If those questions were judged in the abstract, it would be impossible to conceive questions better qualified to be disposed of by arbitration, because it was in those matters of feeling that a sensible man in private life would endeavour, when he could not settle his difficulty, to obtain the intervention of a. friend. That was the view which the British Government took in reference to the relations between Germany and France. Even upon the spur of the moment they did not scruple to press upon the two Powers concerned the objects of the Treaty of Paris. Reminding them that they had given in their adhesion to arbitration as a principle, and that it was impossible there could be a more suitable occasion for the application of that principle than that which unfortunately had arisen. They were all aware of the result. However earnest and well meant the efforts of Her Majesty's Government were, they entirely failed, and the result had been written in blood upon the history of Europe. What he wanted to point out to his hon. Friend was this, that there was a practical duty connected with the Treaty of Washington that still remained unfulfilled, namely—that which related to what were called the Three Rules. In consequence of the controversies which arose last year, the proceedings connected with those Rules had been suspended. Nor was there, so far as he was able to judge, an immediate likelihood of their being resumed. He could not but think there was some advantage in bringing to a close the proceedings more immediately connected with the Arbitration before they considered the steps to be taken in relation to the Three Rules. The adoption of those Rules if they were sufficiently clear—with amendment if they were not—was a step in the direction in which his hon. Friend desired to go. But there was the utmost apprehension and danger of engendering jealousies and producing re-action by anything like precipitate proceedings in matters of this kind. He was sure that there was even now more or less of an opinion afloat among the various countries of Europe that the Three Rules were meant to give selfish expression to that which was for the interest of Great Britain and America, and not for the benefit of the States of Europe generally. The House would see the great risk we ran if, while a question of that kind was pending, we set about so extensive—he might say so ambitious—a matter as inviting the Powers of the world to adopt an arrangement for the construction of a Code of International Law and a general and permanent system of International Arbitration. Lord Palmerston saw great value in the Motion of Mr. Cobden; he (Mr. Gladstone) saw great value in the Motion of his hon. Friend; but he was convinced that this question for a long time to come would only make practical progress by a steady adherence on the part of those Powers who were rightly inclined and convinced and persuaded on the subject to the principles—first, of governing themselves by justice and moderation, and next by losing no opportunity of recommending the peaceful settlement of disputes between nations. He did not wish to damp or chill generous aspirations like those of his hon. Friend. There was, he knew, something invidious in endeavouring to rein him in in his career of benevolence and philanthropy. It might seem that they were jealous of his voluntary aid; but he trusted to his hon. Friend's sense of justice to attribute the course they adopted to a better motive and truer conviction. They felt the duty that was incumbent on them of doing all in their power, when the occasion arose, to recommend the principle and practice to which he had referred. But, on the other hand, there was the apprehension that the recommending even of the soundest proposition under circumstances which might give rise to a suggestion of selfish motives—however unfounded the suggestion might be—would not advance the object which they all had in view. He hoped therefore his hon. Friend would not invoke the judgment of the House on his Motion. The sentiment his hon. Friend had expressed was, he believed, the sentiment of all who heard him; but there must of necessity be great difference of opinion as to the policy and expediency of endeavouring to give effect and formal expression to that sentiment in a manner which might tend to force the Government to act and make itself responsible for submitting recommendations at an inopportune time having regard to the existing state of the circumstances of nations. Having used so many expressions tending perhaps to damp the expectations of his hon. Friend, he wished to acid one cheerful word. He felt convinced, with a sentiment to which he might almost give the elevated name of faith, for all the hope he had for humanity was so closely associated with it—he felt convinced that there was reserved for this country a great and honourable destiny in connection with this subject. They must be content to proceed step by step. They must by degrees make a character. It was to be recollected that they had not always been in the history of their foreign policy distinguished for remarkable forbearance or sedulous regard for the rights of others. If they were to become effective missionaries of those principles they could only derive authority by making them their own, and by giving to them practical effect by acting on the principles of moderation, good will, and justice. If they did so, then every year would add more and more weight to the abstract doctrines they preached. It would be in this case as it was in that of Free Trade. At first it was suspected that they were Free traders only so far as it was for their advantage to be so, but they persevered, and soon it became known that the microscope could not discover the smallest remnant or fragment of exclusive privilege in their Commercial Code, and progress in the principles of Free Trade was consequently made in other countries. So also would it be here. It might not be given to those who were engaged in that discussion; it might not be given to those who then sat within the walls of the House to witness the ultimate fruit of such a course. Great and desirable results in the mixed and chequered world in which they lived were only to be achieved by the patient and persevering use of rational and appropriate means. There was not much which excited or appealed to the imagination in preaching lessons of that kind. Still, they were lessons of practical wisdom, and if happily they adhered to them, sooner or later they would not lose their reward, and nations who would profit from walking in the same path would not lose the benefit of our example.


said, that as the speech of the Prime Minister seemed to be so much in favour of the Motion, he was surprised to hear him say he should vote against it.


explained that what he had recommended his hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr to do was to withdraw it.


said, he did not think there was a prospect of their doing very much more; but he believed that if they could carry this Resolution, it would be one good done. He supposed that nobody would dispute the evil which was so ably depicted by the hon. Member who had brought forward this Motion; but the worst of it was that the system of keeping up enormous hosts of armed men for the purpose of settling international disputes appeared to be getting worse instead of better. It seemed to him, moreover, that it had become the settled policy of this country, for when during last Session they challenged the large number of men kept up by the present Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War told them it was absolutely necessary to maintain this large body of men in the presence of the enormous military forces of the Continental nations. That meant that this country and the other nations of Europe bad as yet no better way of settling their disputes than by finding out which was the strongest—which had the greatest number and the best body of fighting men. He thought such a state of things was utterly deplorable and miserable. Why, he wondered what the Shah thought of them? They bad him over in this country the other day, and he supposed that his Majesty was brought over that they might civilize him and send him back to do good to Persia. They had taught him a number of things. They taught him to drink champagne. They carried him about and showed him all that they thought most noble. They showed him guns at Woolwich, ironclads at Portsmouth, warriors at Windsor, boxers at Buckingham Palace. In fact, they took him all round, and showed him their power and might. But there was one place they did not take him to—they did not take him to church where he might have heard a sermon proclaiming that the national religion taught them to love their enemies. He did not believe that if the Shah had been taken there, he would have believed the interpreter who told him that that was the principle of their religion. International Law was in what might be truly called a state of international anarchy. Every nation had now a law of its own. There was no overruling law to decide who was right and who was wrong and they knew what would happen if every man in every case which affected himself should be his own judge, his own jury, and his own executioner. That was the case at the present moment with regard to International Law. He ventured to differ from the Prime Minister in thinking that the Motion brought forward by Mr. Cobden 24 years ago was practically the same as that which they were now considering. That in- structed the Minister to make treaties, whereas this Motion left him virtually free to act on the policy which he might think the best. He dared say hon. Gentlemen had read the debate which took place in 1849. On that occasion the present Lord Russell said he could not himself believe that, connected as the nations of Europe now were, we were destined to have a revival of those wars which, he thought, had been a disgrace to civilization, a disgrace to humanity, and a disgrace to that Christianity which the nations of Europe professed. There was no more far-seeing statesman in that day than Lord John Russell, but how had his prophecy been fulfilled? Why, since 1849 every one of the great European Powers had been engaged in one kind of war or another, and he did not suppose that they were near the end of them yet. They seemed to be on the brink of a mine. Look at Prussia, look at France, and they saw them ready to explode on the shortest possible notice. The main objection to any system of International Arbitration was to be found in the question, where is the power to enforce the decrees of the arbitrators? No doubt that was the great objection—he thought he should be justified in saying the only valid objection, to a measure of this kind. But if they looked to their own country, what did they find had brought about all the great changes which they had seen during the past two generations? Why, public opinion. And although the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government said he did not find that public opinion was growing on this subject, he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) ventured to think that passing such a Resolution as his hon. Friend had proposed in that House would be the way to stimulate and increase the growth of that public opinion. What they wanted in this matter was to create an international opinion. No doubt opinion in international matters, as in other matters, ultimately was supreme. It might be said that the Foreign Secretary would be repulsed in making overtures to other Powers respecting an agreement of this kind. He should say that it was better to try and fail than never to have tried at all. The dishonour would not be with those who made a rational proposition; it would remain with those who refused to accede to it. It could not lead to any more expenditure than they were carrying on at present for warlike purposes. He regretted to say that the current of opinion in this country had prevented those who would be anxious to check great expenditure on warlike forces from doing so. Nobody supposed that the Prime Minister really was satisfied with the expenditure of this country. Nor did anybody suppose that the leader of the Opposition really approved of it. They had heard the sentiments of both on the subject. They had heard the Prime Minister's sentiment before he came into power at the last election; and they had heard the leader of the Opposition condemn, in eloquent language, the bloated armaments which were so extravagantly kept up. Now, they could not, he imagined, raise up any hostility on the part of, or give affront to, other nations by adopting a course of action which was so manifestly dictated by feelings of peace and goodwill. It might be said that they should give up the honour of the country. He did not understand that any honour was to be gained by entering into wars when they might settle matters in any other way The honour and the true statesmanship consisted in keeping out of war. He had heard what was called the "Manchester School" described as mercenary—that they did not care about the honour of the country. His hon. Friend had ably vindicated them that night. They were not mercenary, they were not blood-thirsty, and he believed that school would rather give up large sums of money than they would shed one drop of the blood of the people of this country. They did not say this country was not to be defended. They only said that there was a more excellent way of defending it than by keeping up enormous hosts of men for the settlement of any international disputes which might arise. But the greatest reason of all for attempting something of the kind proposed that night was that the present system had avowedly failed. All these preparations for settling disputes by war had not given a sense of safety and security to the people of this country. Although now and then they were told that they had everything necessary to meet any emergency which might arise, yet ever and anon they were rudely awakened by some authority stating the contrary. Why, the other day, when that great fleet appeared at Portsmouth, it was felt that now, at any rate, they had a perfect fleet, equal to all the fleets of Europe, and that they might be satisfied. But two or three days after came a letter from Sir Spencer Robinson saying it was all sham—it could not fight. He did not say he believed Sir Spencer Robinson—but nothing satisfied them—nothing of this sort in the way of armament kept them at peace. Why, as regarded their Navy, they kept a constructor and a re-constructor of the Navy, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich. He did think that the precedent which had been alluded to already for the settlement of the Alabama Claims by means of arbitration, was in favour of the House accepting this Motion at the present time. ["No"] Somebody said "No;" but why should they say "No?" That was a longstanding, a bitter, and an envenomed dispute, and it was settled, as they knew, by arbitration; and he was ready to concur that nothing which the present Government had done had been really more widely popular with the people than the settlement of that question in the way in which it was settled. And he was entitled to say so. Who was there in that House who had dared to impugn the principles upon which that question was settled? They had had Notices given about passing votes of money for the purchase of pieces of plate for the arbitrators, and paltry things of that kind; but nobody had got up, and nobody, he believed, would get up, to make a Motion condemning the system of arbitration which was carried on on that occasion, and which would be the most honourable duty to be hereafter commemorated in connection with the present Ministry, and honourable also to hon. Gentlemen opposite and the party to whom they belonged, for they could not forget that Lord Stanley was the first to propose that arbitration. If that were so, and having gone into that arbitration and come out of it, as he freely confessed, second best, having been to a certain extent done in the matter, but having nevertheless freely and fully accepted the Award, did they not go with clean hands before other nations and say—"Now we support this system of arbitration, not that we can gain more than we have lost, but we believe the saving of blood and bad feeling and international hatred is so great that we are ready to press it upon other nations also?" He believed that Lord Granville would be willing to accept this Motion. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman was justified in saying that his hon. Friend advocated any precipitate action in the matter. He simply wished to strengthen the hands of the Government in trying to get other nations to agree to this plan. If it would meet the views of the Prime Minister, and prevent a division on the question, he would venture to suggest that it might be well to let the Motion read thus— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She would be graciously pleased to instruct Her Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to enter into communication with Foreign Powers with a view to further improvement in International Law,"—omitting that part which said—"and the establishment of a general and permanent system of International Arbitration. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would agree to that. If he would, he thought the House would agree to it also. All he had to say, in conclusion, was that he did trust that the Government would not oppose this Motion, but would agree to it, so that they might do something to get rid of the present evil system, and hasten the time when the settlement of international disputes should no longer be carried on by brute force, violence, and bloodshed, but conducted in accordance with the dictates of justice and the principles of common sense.


said, that after the kind and patient attention with which the House had listened to him at the opening of this debate, he should feel that he was wanting in courtesy to the House if he were to detain it by commenting at any length upon matters of reply. He had to express his gratification with the whole tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He thought the sentiments which the right hon. Gentleman had expressed would produce a salutary effect throughout Europe and the civilized world. At the same time he thought the right hon. Gentleman misinterpreted the scope of his Motion. He seemed to think that he (Mr. Richard) wanted to do something, suddenly, and violently, and extreme. But he (Mr. Richard) took pains to explain in the course of his remarks that he did not expect that what was the ultimate aim of this Resolution could be attained at once. He said they looked forward to the time when there should be something like a Code of International Law agreed upon by the nations, and a tribunal or High Court of Nations established to administer that law. But he said at the same time that he had no expectation of realizing the hope at once, and all that he wanted was that the Government should make one step in advance by entering into communication with other Governments, with a view further to define, and settle, and adjust disputed rules of International Law, and upon that ground he felt he was bound to ask the judgment of the House upon his Motion. It could hardly, perhaps, be expected that the Government should accept at once the Resolution he had placed before the House; but it would be a great stimulus and encouragement to them if the House should affirm the Resolution, and hand it over to them as an Instruction.


moved the Previous Question.

Previous Question put, "That that Question be now put."—(Viscount Enfield.)

The House divided:—Ayes 88; Noes 98: Majority 10.

Main Question put, and agreed to. Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to instruct Her Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to enter into communication with Foreign Powers with a view to further improvement in International Law and the establishment of a general and permanent system of International Arbitration.

To be presented by Privy Councillors.

Allen, W. S. Colman, J. J.
Anderson, G. Cowen, Sir J.
Balfour, Sir G. Cunliffe, Sir R. A.
Bass, A. Dalrymple, D.
Bassett, F. Davies, R.
Bazley, Sir T. Dent, J. D.
Brewer, Dr. Dickinson, S. S.
Bright, rt. hon. J. Digby, K. T.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Dimsdale, R.
Brinckman, Captain Dixon, G.
Brogden, A. Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.
Buckley, N. Ewing, H. E. Crum-
Burrell, Sir P. Eykyn, R.
Cadogan, hon. F. W. Fawcett, H.
Candlish, J. Forster, C.
Carter, R. M. Fowler, R. N.
Cave, T. Fowler, W.
Chadwick, D. Gilpin, C.
Cholmeley, Captain Goldsmid, Sir F.
Clifford, C. C. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Gower, Lord R. Morrison, W.
Grieve, J. J. Onslow, G.
Hardy, J. Palmer, J. H.
Headlam, rt. hon. T. E. Parry, L. Jones-
Herbert, hon. A. E. W. Pell, A.
Hermon, E. Pim, J.
Hodgson, K. D. Potter, E.
Holland, S. Ronayne, J. P.
Holms, J. Rylands, P.
Hoskyns, C. Wren- Samuelson, B.
Illingworth, A. Sartoris, E. J.
James, H. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Johnston, A. Shaw, R.
Lawson, Sir W. Sheridan, H. B.
Lea, T. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Leatham, E. A. Smith, E.
Leeman, G. Stevenson, J. C.
Leith, J. F. Stuart, Colonel
Lloyd, Sir T. D. Taylor, P. A.
Lubbock, Sir J. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Lush, Dr. Tory, J.
M'Arthur, W. Tracy, hon. C. R. D.
M'Clure, T. Hanbury-
Marling, S. S. West, H. W.
Melly, G. White, J.
Miall, E. Whitwell, J.
Milbank, F. A. Wingfield, Sir C.
Miller, J.
Mitchell, T. A. TELLERS.
Morgan, G. O. Mundella, A. J.
Morgan, hon. Major Richard, H.
Morley, S.
Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Agnew, R. V. Foster, W. H.
Akroyd, E. Galway, Viscount
Amphlett, R. P. Garnier, J. C.
Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Baker, R. B. W. Gore, J. R. O.
Barrington, Viscount Grant, Colonel hon. J.
Barttelot, Colonel Grosvenor, hon. N.
Bates, E. Guest, M. J.
Bateson, Sir T. Hambro, C.
Beresford, Colonel M. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Bourne, Colonel Hibbert, J. T.
Brassey, T. Hick, J.
Brise, Colonel R. Holt, J. M.
Bruce, rt. hon. H. A. Hutton, J.
Bruen, H. Jardine, R.
Campbell-Bannerman, Jones, J.
H. Kavanagh, A. MacM.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Kay-Shuttleworth,
Carington, hn. Col. W. U. J.
Cartwright, W. C. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Laird, J.
Cavendish, Lord G. Liddell, hon. H. G.
Childers, rt. hon. H. Lowther, J.
Corrance, F. S. Lyttelton, hon. C. G.
Corrigan, Sir D. Macfie, R. A.
Cowper, hon. H. F. M'Lagan, P.
Dalway, M. R. Maxwell, W. H.
Dillwyn, L. L. Mellor, T. W.
Duff, M. E. G. Miller, W.
Dyott, Colonel R. Monckton, hon. G.
Egerton, Adml. hn. F. Newport, Viscount
Enfield, Viscount Parker, Lt.-Col. W.
Ewing, A. Orr- Powell, W.
Fielden, J. Read, C. S.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Russell, Lord A.
Samuda, J. D'A. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Simonds, W. B. Whitbread, S.
Smith, F. C. Wilmot, Sir H.
Smith, R. Winn, R.
Stanhope, W. T. W. S. Winterbotham, H. S. P.
Stansfeld, rt. hon. J. Wynn, C. W. W.
Starkie, J. P. C. Yorke, J. R.
Tipping, W.
Wallace, Sir R. TELLERS.
Walter, J. Adam, W. P.
Whalley, G. H. Glyn, hon. G. G.