§ His Majesty's most gracious Speech having been again read by the lord chancellor, and also by the reading clerk at the table,
The Earl of Belmore
rose for the purpose of moving an Address of Thanks to his majesty. He commenced by expressing his earnest hope that their lordships would concur unanimously in the motion which he was about to propose. He felt most inadequate to the task which he had undertaken, but it gave him confidence 4 when he reflected that the duty he had to fulfil required neither argument nor persuasion, because it was impossible for their lordships to entertain any other desire than to approach his majesty with sentiments of unshaken loyalty, and a firm determination to maintain the constitution, and support the dignity of the throne. This, it appeared to him, was not only the paramount duty of their lordships, but of every man in the kingdom who enjoyed his liberty and felt the blessings of the constitution. Entertaining as he did the deepest feelings upon this subject, he could not but deplore the circumstance that, in the midst of the distress and difficulty which had oppressed the nation, so licentious and lawless a spirit should have existed among portions of his majesty's subjects—a spirit which turned destruction upon itself, and was calculated to overthrow every establishment in the country. If such a spirit was for a time suffered to threaten the public welfare, how gratifying must it be for their lordships to perceive the strong feeling of loyalty, and attachment to the constitution, which now pervaded every class of the community!—The noble lord then adverted to the strong assurances of the friendly disposition of foreign powers towards this country. At such a time as this such a declaration could not but afford to their lordships the greatest satisfaction, and he entertained the strongest hope of the continuance of those friendly dispositions. At the present moment it was impossible to conceive what would be the result of the deliberations now pending on the continent. It was most ardently to be wished, that the tranquillity of Europe should not again be disturbed; but it must afford satisfaction to all classes to know, that his majesty was most anxious that the blessings of peace should be preserved to this country.—He next alluded to the reduction which his majesty had mentioned in the military establishments of the country, and observed that this was the best pledge his majesty could offer of his pacific intentions. He then touched upon the improvement which had taken place in the several branches of the commerce and manufactures of the country. It was, indeed, on the flourishing state of these two branches that the national prosperity mainly depended; but while he congratulated their lordships, and he could assure their lordships that he did so with a proud satisfaction, it was to him a matter of deep regret that this prosperity did 5 not affect equally all parts of the kingdom. The distresses which had been felt in Ireland were of a nature peculiarly severe, in consequence of the unfortunate circumstances which had affected the commercial credit of that part of the united kingdom; but he sincerely hoped that that commercial prosperity which had been felt so materially here, would extend itself ultimately to all parts of the kingdom. But while he adverted to these distresses, and dwelt upon the sufferings which Ireland had endured, he could not help noticing, in terms of high admiration, the perseverance and fortitude displayed by that part of the united kingdom. The people of Ireland had struggled through every difficulty; and so nobly had they borne their afflictions, that misfortunes seemed to add new vigour to their exertions: and be could declare without hesitation, because he had himself paid peculiar attention to the subject, that at no time did the people of that country entertain a more zealous attachment to their king and constitution than at the present moment. It was by entertaining such noble sentiments that the country would be enabled to surmount the many difficulties by which it was so grievously oppressed; it was by such feelings, and such alone, that this country would be restored to prosperity.—The noble lord concluded by observing, that, whatever difference of opinion might exist among their lordships upon various questions which might come under the consideration of parliament—however noble peers might disagree in certain points, on subjects relative to the internal and external welfare of the nation, he hoped there would be but one opinion upon the motion which he would now submit—The noble lord then moved an address of thanks to his majesty, which embraced all the topics of the Royal Speech.
§ Lord Prudhoe
rose to second the address, but spoke in so low a tone of voice that little of what he said could be collected below the bar.—He remarked, that as the noble earl who had just set down had done full justice, in submitting the Address, to the statements in his majesty's Speech, he should not trouble their lordships with many words. On the question of our foreign connexions, he fully agreed in the sentiments expressed by the noble earl; for, notwithstanding the pacific assurances of foreign powers, it became this country to observe their proceedings with a vigilant eye. He hoped at the same time, that 6 peace would be continued to us, as it was the only means likely to relieve our distresses, revive our resources, and restore us to prosperity. He would not detain their lordships on the subject of our internal situation, though it was impossible not to perceive that the distress of Ireland must have affected this country. There was another point touched on by the noble earl, respecting the reduction of our military establishment as noticed in his majesty's speech, which must afford great satisfaction to every noble lord, more especially when coupled with his majesty's known desire to alleviate the burdens of his subjects in every practicable way. With regard to those testimonies of loyalty and attachment which had flowed in from every part of the country, they required but a very few words; yet, when it was considered that the public mind had latterly been in so agitated a frame, it could not be otherwise than gratifying to their lordships to hear such expressions of attachment to our glorious constitution. This feeling, it was worthy of remark, was coupled also with declarations in favour of religion, which showed that the designs of incendiaries and atheists had failed to eradicate from the minds of the majority the seeds of morality. This was a state of things in which their lordships had reason to rejoice, for, while such sentiment* pervaded the great body of the people, the country had nothing to fear either from foreign or domestic enemies.
§ Earl Grey,
in rising after the noble mover and seconder of the address, intimated that it was not his intention to offer any opposition, in consequence of what had fallen from these noble lords, or of what was contained in the address itself. He must say, however, that he could not concur in the address, because, though he had no objection to make to what it contained, both it and the Speech from the throne, fell far short of what he thought ought to have been found in them. In the Speech there was a total absence of those explanations on the state of the country which were to be expected from the throne at a period like the present. The noble earl who moved the address anticipated their lordships' concurrence in the congratulations offered to the throne on account of those expressions of loyalty and attachment recently received by his majesty, from all quarters of the country. In this anticipation the noble lord was perfectly justified; because, whatever differ- 7 ence of opinion there might exist on the conduct of the government, there could be none on the subject to which the noble lord's observation applied. That there were persons who wished to subvert that spirit of loyalty which prevailed through the country, and the existence of which noble lords now acknowledged, he believed to be true; but of this he was confident, that there was not in that or the other House of Parliament any persons who thought it their duty to oppose the measures of government, who did not at the same time cherish the most loyal, dutiful, and affectionate attachment to the throne. Neither from the part of the royal Speech to which the noble lords had directed their observations on this subject, nor from the general language in which the noble mover and seconder had expressed themselves, was it clear what was the nature of the addresses to which they alluded. Undoubtedly there never had been a stronger expression of public opinion than that lately made by the people of this country. That their addresses had breathed loyalty and devotion to the king was most true; but it was also true, that the declaration of those sentiments had been accompanied with expressions equally strong of universal disapprobation and of dissatisfaction with regard to the measures of the government. If, therefore, it was intended on this, as he knew it had been on other occasions, to infer from addresses containing expressions of loyalty and attachment to his majesty, an approbation of the conduct of ministers, such an inference was directly contrary to fact, and totally inconsistent with the opinions of the people of England. He could take upon himself to say, that the universal opinion of the country, instead of being favourable to the government, was, that the system should be changed. That no indication of renouncing that system was held out in the Speech, and that no recommendation to that effect appeared in the Address, were circumstances which he had to regret; but he did hope that both their lordships and the members of the other House would see the necessity of compelling his majesty's ministers to recede from the system they had hitherto pursued in the conduct of public affairs, and which now, after six years of peace, had produced only increasing difficulties and distress. Hopes, it was true, of more favourable circumstances were held out in the Speech. It was stated in the 8 Speech from the throne, that the situation: of the country was improving. With respect to the revenue, it was stated, that, as compared with that of the preceding year, the amount had increased. It was also stated, that considerable improvement had taken place in several of the most important branches of our trade and manufactures. He most sincerely hoped that these statements might not be found fallacious. He believed some branches of our trade had recovered a little; but if he were to speak from his own opportunities of observation, he must say, that there appeared to him no prospect of general amelioration. In that part of the country with which he was most particularly connected, he had not seen any of those symptoms of improvement which were alluded to. There was one great branch of national prosperity to the state, to which no reference was made in the Speech—he meant agriculture; and in that, he would take upon himself to assert, there had been no improvement. Perhaps the depression was less in some other parts of the country than in that with which he was acquainted; but it was such as to be generally viewed with apprehension and alarm. In this state of things he confessed he could not understand how it was possible that there could be a considerable improvement in several important branches of commerce and manufactures, and an increase of the public revenue; and yet that agriculture, on which all these sources of wealth depended, should be in a state of the greatest decay. It would be necessary for their lordships and the other House of Parliament to consider seriously, in the course of the present session, what was to be done on this important subject. Let it not, however, be believed that he meant to recommend any additional corn laws, for he thought the principle of those laws erroneous; but what he meant to say was, that their lordships must devote to the internal situation of the country the greatest attention and care, if they wished to avoid an increase of the evils they already experienced. He was sorry, however, that he could not say, that he had heard with equal satisfaction what was stated in the Speech upon the events which had occurred in Italy. Nothing was there explained—nothing distinctly stated as to the line which the government had taken with respect to these important events. Their lordships were left completely in the dark 9 on a question which it was most important for them to know at the present moment, namely, whether the conduct of ministers with regard to Naples had been such as became the government of a nation which had been raised to greatness by the enjoyment of a free constitution. He must regret that nothing had been stated to satisfy him that the course which justice and true policy dictated had been adopted. The present, he was sensible, was not the moment for discussing this question, but the time would soon come when he hoped their lordships would be put in possession of such facts as would enable them to form an opinion. He could not, however, help expressing his sorrow at finding that ministers had not on this occasion taken steps which would have been worthy of the character of the country—that they had not adopted measures which would have put an end to any prospect of hostilities. The apprehension he entertained on this subject was the stronger, from the recollection of a question relating to Naples, which had last session been put to the noble earl at the head of his majesty's government. Their lordships would recollect that the answer given to that question was by no means satisfactory, because, from what the noble earl then said, it did appear that this country had no accredited minister at the court of Naples. This state of things he believed still continued; so that while the closest bonds of union subsisted between this government and those powers styled the Holy Alliance, with that power which was the object of their threats there was no British minister capable of carrying on the accustomed intercourse between friendly states. From the language of the Speech it might be supposed that this country maintained a state of strict neutrality with respect to Naples. He did not think, however, that strict neutrality was a state which became the character of this country when such a question was at issue—when a sovereign was called before an assembly of despots to answer for his conduct in correcting abuses in the internal government of his country—when he saw the arrogance with which those powers, called the Holy Alliance, had summoned the king of Naples to their bar, to account for the free constitution established in his country, he, as a friend of liberty, could not help feeling a strong degree of suspicion on this subject, and expressing that suspicion, though he knew their lordships 10 could not at present be prepared to discuss it. In the mean time he must declare his opinion, that ministers had not acted as became the government of thi9 country, if they stood by as indifferent spectators of the dispute regarding Naples; and that they had acted still worse if they had given any encouragement to what was called the "monarchical principle," by which it was pretended that henceforth there should be no improvement in government except what came from thrones; which was plainly saying, that the shackles of despotism should be for ever rivetted on mankind. It would have been much more creditable for ministers to have prevented so atrocious an attack on the rights of nations, than to have been cool spectators or encouragers of it. What excuse could be set up for such conduct? There had been as little violence in the Neapolitan revolution as ever occurred in any event of the kind. There had been some lamentable occurrences in Sicily; but there was nothing in the state of Naples threatening to other countries. In short, no reason could be assigned for the attack on Naples, except this—that the members of the Holy Alliance wished to prevent any improvement in other countries, lest their own subjects should look more narrowly at the abuses under which they suffered, and be thereby induced to require some amelioration of their condition. Engaged by close political ties with [he powers now threatening the independance of the Two Sicilies—with the functions of the British minister at Naples suspended—with an Austrian army marching on the frontiers of that kingdom—and with a British squadron riding in the Bay of Naples, and appearing to be acting in concert! with the enemies of the new constitution—whatever the intentions of ministers might really be, their conduct, under those circumstances, did certainly wear the aspect of giving encouragement to that despotic alliance which had assumed to itself a right of censorship over every other government. He sincerely hoped that peace would not be interrupted; but he was much more anxious that the honour of the country should on this great question be preserved unstained. Would it be said that ministers could not prevent the attack on Naples? Then indeed there would be little reason to boast of the influence they possessed in Europe.—an influence which it had been said their splen- 11 did successes had secured—if the combined powers could not be withheld or restrained from their wicked attack by any remonstrance of this government.—There were many other topics which pressed for consideration, but which would be more conveniently brought under review on any other occasion than on a motion for addressing the throne on the first day of the session. He was glad to find that there was to be a reduction of the army; but as the amount was not stated, he could not judge what degree of benefit was likely to be derived from it. He hoped it would be considerable; for it was only by reducing the burthens, and conciliating the good will of the people, that the difficulties of the country could be overcome. He was sure that by the sincere adoption of conciliatory measures, by placing confidence in the people, by a proper attention to their wants and their wishes, and by a departure from that system of suspicion and restraint with which they had of late been treated, much might be done by any persons who held the government of this country. He was perfectly convinced, if it could be made known that conciliation was to be the policy of government, and that considerable reductions in the expenditure would take place, that the existing dissatisfaction would be greatly diminished. He was also certain that, if it was wished to preserve a free constitution to the country, it was absolutely necessary that a change should take place, and that there should be a decided departure from the military system which ministers had adopted.—He found from the Speech that his majesty had been advised to express his acknowledgment of the provision made last session for the civil list. When this circumstance was only now noticed, their lordships surely could not fail to reflect on the singularity of its having been so long deferred. He, therefore, could not help alluding to the extraordinary prorogation of parliament which took place at the end of the last session. Their lordships could not forget how they were then dismissed, without any information on the state of the country, or any notice being taken of the large grant which they had made to the civil list, and which was dictated more from their personal regard for the sovereign than from a consideration of the situation of the country.—There was only one topic more in the Speech to which he should, allude, and that was what was stated re- 12 specting an establishment for her majesty: on that subject he hoped the arrangements would be such as justice required, and as would put an end to the question in dispute. If such were the intentions of his majesty's ministers, he should feel great satisfaction. He only desired that the measures to be adopted should be consistent with justice, and calculated to compose the agitations of the Country; with sincere joy should he see his majesty's ministers changing their system of policy, and resorting to measures by which the tranquillity and prosperity of the country would be likely to be secured.
The Earl of Liverpool
observed, that as the noble earl had not opposed any thing in the address, but only objected to it for what it did not contain; as, subject to this objection, there was no statement in the Speech from the throne which the noble earl did not approve, it was not necessary for him to detain their lordships by entering into any detailed reply. As, however, he might be supposed to acquiesce in the statements of the noble earl if he allowed his speech to pass entirely unnoticed, he thought it necessary to say a few words on some of the topics to which the noble earl had called the attention of the House. In noticing the sentiments of loyalty alluded to in the Speech from the throne, the noble earl had been pleased to intimate that the universal opinion of the country was, that the present system of government ought to be changed. He had not, however, explained what he meant by the system of government, or what was the nature of the change supposed to be required. He was ready to allow that at public meetings a distinction was to be made between expressions of loyalty to the throne and approbation of the measures of government. That the former did not include the latter he fully admitted, and he hoped the time never would come in this country, in which the vices and errors of the government were not separated from the throne, and the distinction the noble earl contended for maintained. The noble earl would, however, find himself much mistaken in the opinion he had advanced. Instead of wishing for a change, it was certain that all the thinking part of the country approved of the system on which the government was conducted, and would consider any departure from it as leading to inevitable ruin. He was not prepared to say 13 that there might not have been errors committed in carrying on the government; but that the system on which it had been conducted was erroneous or wrong, he never would he brought to admit.—In the course of his speech, the noble earl had next proceeded to make some observations on the internal state of the country; and here he had to complain of some of the remarks of the noble earl; he had to complain that he had both mistaken the purport of the Speech from the throne, and of the speech of his noble friend who moved the address. Neither in the one nor the other was any thing overstated, or any thing omitted that it was proper to introduce. No intention was manifested to blink the question; no attempt was made at subterfuge or concealment. It was truly stated in the Speech from the throne "that a considerable improvement had taken place within the last half year in several of the most important branches of our commerce and manufactures, and that in many of the manufacturing districts the distresses which lately prevailed had greatly abated." His noble friend who moved the address adverted to this statement, and expressed his satisfaction at the gratifying intelligence; but he did not mean to carry his congratulations further than they were warranted by facts. But, said the noble earl, the subject of our agriculture was kept out of view, and our agriculture is in a state of depression. True it was that our agriculture was not alluded to by name; but the depression under which it was labouring, if not expressly mentioned, was at least sufficiently hinted at in the paragraph of the Speech which spoke of M the distress which still presses on a large portion of the king's subjects." He would remind the noble earl of former discussions, and caution the House and the public against forming any rash opinions on the cause of the evil, or proposing any plausible remedies, that might increase instead of diminishing its pressure. The matter was one of the most serious nature: it had engaged the attention of parliament several years ago; and a legislative enactment was then passed to meet a state of things which did not now exist. The evil five years ago arose from a cause different from that which was now complained of, and required a different remedy. The prices had then fallen, from importation, so as to excite alarm for our domestic agriculture; and they had fallen still lower at the pre- 14 sent moment. But to what was this fall in the latter case to be ascribed? To an increase in our home production. This, if examined, would, he was convinced, be found a full explanation of the fall of prices. There had been no importation for the last two years, so that no part of our agricultural distress could be ascribed to a competition of foreign grain in our market. There was no ground for supposing, as some did, that our warehousing system had any share in the effect which was complained of; and if not, then the inference was irresistible, that we now grew enough for our home consumption—that formerly we did not, and that the low price of grain was to be attributed to an abundance, or an excess of production. This was his settled opinion—an opinion which he would be ready to discuss and support on any proper opportunity. What he would particularly caution the House against was, that they should not enter on the inquiry with the idea of new legislative enactments. No good could be attained by such incessant legislative interference. Things would find their own level if allowed to remain free. Having said thus much on the subject of the internal state of the country, he would now proceed to follow the noble earl in the observations which he had made on the posture of our foreign relations. These observations were of such a nature that he could not allow them to pass without some comment, though the present was not the proper time for an extended discussion or a full explanation. He must first set their lordships and the public right on the real state of the question-The Speech from the throne, and that of his noble friend who had moved the address, might have been considered as sufficiently explicit. In the Speech it was stated that his majesty received "from foreign powers the strongest assurances of their friendly disposition towards this country, and that it would be matter of deep regret to his majesty if the occurrences which have lately taken place in Italy should eventually lead to any interruption of tranquillity in that quarter; but that in such a case it would be his great object to secure to the people of this country the continuance of peace." Thus, whether the tranquillity of other countries was disturbed or not, the system of this country was said, to be peace: our object was, to maintain peace, not only for our own sake, but for that of the other 15 powers; and surely nothing could be more explicit than such a declaration. Independently of the general desire to maintain peace and to avert war, which would lead this country to exert itself for the tranquillity of Europe, he had no hesitation to say, that he had other reasons for maintaining the peace mentioned in the Speech from the throne. If it was necessary to engage in war, the system of war in which we should be most backward to engage, would be that which had for its object to interfere in the internal affairs of other states. While he said this much, he had never maintained that the principle of non-interference could admit of no exceptions; that there never could occur occasions in which we ought to interpose to prevent the adoption of certain internal arrangements; or that there might not be cases in which it was not only justifiable but necessary to do so for our own security. All that he would state was, that the standing policy of this country was peace, and an abstinence from intermeddling with the internal affairs of other nations. This was not of course the time for detailed explanation or specific statement. There might occur an opportunity of expressing his sentiments on the subject, though it could not be expected that he would enter on the discussion at present. But the noble earl had argued for a perfect neutrality in all cases. ["No, no," from earl Grey.] The principle, however, which the noble earl had sanctioned would be any thing but neutrality. To adopt his recommendation would be to take a side with the one party or the other. Though a party against interference, still it would be taking a party. See the consequences to which this would lead! Without knowing all the circumstances that connected the revolution of Maples with neighbouring states—without knowing how such an event might affect them—without waiting for explanation or defence, we were to take a side. He was not one of those who, in determining our policy towards revolutionized states, could leave out of his view the circumstances by which they were accompanied—he was not one of those who loved revolutions for themselves—he was not one of those who viewed with the same eye a revolution against an oppressive and a mild government. In viewing such constitutional changes, he examined the discriminating character of each particular case: he weighed the possibility of success: he 16 calculated the chances of improvement, and he estimated the effect which the revolution would produce on other governments. What two countries in which political changes occurred were placed exactly in the same situation, and how could a common course be chalked out to both? In these circumstances our abstinence from all interference with cither party appeared to him to be the best policy—as to interfere would be exercising a judgment without the means of forming a correct one. He would not enter further into the subject at present: our object had hitherto been to take no measure but on the principle of neutrality; and so far from interfering, to guard against all interference.—The next topic of the noble earl's observations was, the intended military reductions; and he was glad that, though undefined, they gave him satisfaction. There were circumstances last year which required an increase of our military establishment; but he was happy to say, that this year those circumstances were altered. A considerable saving would thus be effected; and he would mention it as a circumstance that must give general satisfaction, that the supplies of the year would now be provided for without creating any new stock. He felt pleasure in stating, that in the fifth year of peace we could go on without additional funding—a degree of good fortune which did not happen to other countries, which were frequently applied to as subjects of disadvantageous comparison.—The noble earl, in his animadversions on the conduct of ministers, had stated, that the prorogation of parliament without a Speech from the throne, and without thanks for the grant of the civil-list revenue, was without precedent, and was in itself unjustifiable. With regard to the first, if the noble earl would refer back to the year 1785, he would find the same course pursued as at the termination of the last session, and nearly in similar circumstances. Propositions that were then submitted to the Irish parliament were rejected, and the British parliament, which was to meet for the despatch of business only—in the event of their passing in Ireland, was prorogued without a speech. But, independent of this precedent, be had no difficulty in saying that, considering a call of the other House would have been enforced at a most inconvenient time if parliament had not been prorogued, and considering that if the call had not been enforced, 17 there would not have been a sufficient attendance of members to receive the expression of his majesty's thanks, the most proper course was the one that was followed. On the last topic to which the noble earl had alluded, he would say nothing. A proposition for a provision for the Queen would soon come from the other House, and it would then be open for their lordships' consideration. This was all he felt it necessary to observe at present; for though the noble earl did not agree in the general policy pursued by his majesty's government, and though he could not give his unqualified approbation to the Speech from the throne, it was yet a satisfaction to find, that there was nothing cither in the Speech or in the Address to which he felt himself called upon to make a specific objection.
said, it was not his intention to enter into a wide field of discussion upon the general state of the country. His object originally was, to put two or three very simple questions to the noble earl on the other side of the House; and he should have confined himself to those questions, if it was not for the topics that had been introduced. At the same time he should avoid entering into any review of the general system of the government. The noble lord (Liverpool) had professed not to understand what was meant by a system of government; perhaps he did not. It was natural enough that those who were in the habit of adopting measures one day, and abandoning them the next, should find out that they had no system whatever, and consequently be puzzled by expressions which seemed to imply that they had. His noble friend, however (earl Grey), had marked out distinctly, as he thought, the meaning which he attached to the words. What he meant by a total change of system was, a restoration of the confidence which used formerly to exist between the people and their rulers; a restoration of the old English homely good-humoured government, which had been so long abandoned, and so much impaired by the practices of the present administration. Such was the change to which his noble friend had alluded. It was not his intention, at present, to point out how a contrary system might be adopted, but there was one part of the speech from the throne, upon which, notwithstanding the explicit commentary of the mover of the address, he should feel that he was not acting as an honest man if he did not express 18 his dissatisfaction; it was that part which referred to our foreign relations. In the speech from the throne, which was the speech of the minister, they were told that his majesty had received assurances from foreign powers of the existence of amicable relations. For his own part, he could not see what matter there was for congratulation,—what cause the people of England had to exult, because their monarch was not called before the congress of Laybach. Ministers had plunged this country into wars—they had burthened it with taxes—and now, while they were taking credit for having delivered Europe, the great powers of Europe, enriched by our losses, aggrandized by the possession of territories to which they had no right, were proceeding to further outrages, while we must be content with saying, we shall feel regret if you go to war, and this shall be the amount of our remonstrance. The noble lord had amused the House with a set of abstract opinions as to interference in the government of other nations, when it would be right, and when it would not be right; but what they wanted to hear was, whether he approved, aye or no, of the principles adopted by his pretended allies, who were bound by treaty to communicate and to consult with the government of this country. He did not think, ill as the noble lord had conducted the affairs of this country, and almost contemptable as his counsels had made it in the eyes of Europe, still he did not think, that if a proper remonstrance had been made, it would have proved unavailing. Such a remonstrance would not be an interference with the government of another country but an effort to prevent the interference of those who intruded it. To compare small things with great, for with all his feeling for Naples, he could not help feeling that her cause was still inferior to that of France; but still, to make the comparison, he remembered that the very same language which they heard that clay had been used when the duke of Brunswick was on his march towards Paris. He would rather become a party to the infamous designs of those proud conspirators against liberty, than exhibit the meanness of mere regret when successful interposition was practicable. At all events, it would be better to say to Naples, we have been exhausted by wars until we are able to go to war no longer; these despots have got our money, and we can only give you our good wishes. The present condition of 19 ministers reminded him of some verses, which he knew not whether he ought to quote in that august assembly—
The doctor understood the call,But had not always where with all.This brought him to the other part of his subject. It appeared from the correspondence of the Neapolitan government, that a treaty was concluded on the 12th of June, 1815, between the king of Naples and the allies. It further appeared, that Austria at present claimed the observance of a stipulation in that treaty, which, though not acknowledged by the government, was admitted by the duke of Campochiaro. It was a secret article, by which Naples was bound not to make any: alterations in her government injurious to the interests of monarchy; and that the king was not to introduce any change which was contrary to the system (for these powers knew very well what their system meant, though the noble lord opposite and his colleagues, did not profess to understand it) which the emperor of Austria adopted towards his Italian states. Now if his majesty's ministers were aware of this article, he maintained that they had dealt most unfairly with the people of this country in not making it known. They were most unjust in agreeing to it, if it was known to them; for it was in direct hostility to the principle upon which they now went—that they would not attempt any interference in the internal arrangements of any country. But he could not think that his majesty's ministers were aware of this secret article, for he could not bring himself to believe that they were sunk so low as that, if they had known it, they would not have remonstrated against it at the time. They were bound to do so now, and it was their duty as the ally of Austria—as well as of Naples, to remonstrate with the government of Austria on the steps which she seemed about to pursue towards Naples. He would point out a mode in which such remonstrance could be made with effect. He would have ministers say to Austria "You are now flush in cash, you are raising large sums in certain places, and some Englishmen are engaged in advancing it to you, who will, no doubt, look anxiously after the payment of the interest of their advances. You are about to commence a crusade in a part of Italy; but before you begin to expend your vast sums, recollect that we have a little account against you—be just before you are generous, and pay your debts." He was reminded on this oc- 20 casion of a short passage in the renowned tragedy of "Tom Thumb the Great," in which the flatterers of that celebrated personage advised him to follow up some extravagant project he had taken into his head; and their advice was exactly what the servility of many of the smaller powers of Germany would give to the emperor of Austria at the present day. His flatterers thus addressed Tom Thumb.—
"Great sir, the purpose of your soul pursue." But while such advice was given, he would have the noble earl opposite say to his majesty the emperor—
"Great sir, I have an action against you." This, he thought, would prove a most effectual remonstrance, and an excellent hint to the emperor. What could be more natural than that, before the Austrian government began to expend such large sums as must be wasted in a war with Naples, it should pay us part of her large debt to us—a debt which, he apprehended, was at the present moment not less than: from sixteen to seventeen millions sterling. Leaving such a vast sum due and uncalled-for, he would say, was one cause of the government not having before now paid the dividends (in gold we understood his lordship to say, but at this part of the sentence his voice was suddenly lowered, and the remainder of it was not heard distinctly below the bar.) We understood him, in continuation, to observe on the former system of the currency and the losses thereby occasioned to individuals who were obliged to receive in payment a currency of a considerably deteriorated value. When this, he added, was the situation of the country, was it too much to say to Austria, that being now about to engage in this crusade against Naples, a crusade which would put it out of her power to fulfil her former engagements with us "pay us our debts, before you show yourself able to do these things." This, he maintained, was in the power of ministers, according to existing treaties, which it was their duty to enforce. His belief was, that ministers did not wish for a war on the part of Austria against Naples. But it was not enough that they should confine themselves to the mere circumstance of not wishing it. They should remonstrate, and say to Austria, on the part of their sovereign, "I disapprove of this war, as I disapprove of any war with any nation founded on the principles of such interference in its internal concerns. I disapprove of a war against a nation with which I am 21 connected by treaties, and in which you cannot engage without destroying the principles on which we have acted." Such ought to be the language which the ministers of the Crown should hold to Austria, and he was satisfied it would not be without the proper effect. He did not know what papers the noble lord opposite might be likely to produce on this subject; but if it should appear from them that this country had ceased to be on terms of amity and perfectly good understanding with Naples, in consequence of the late change in her government, he would maintain that the government of this country had not done its duty. A word from us against her present proceedings would, he was satisfied, be sufficient for Austria; and if our sentiments were firmly and decisively expressed on this occasion, she durst not refuse her concurrence. It was therefore nothing but idle mockery to say to the people of England that the government wished for peace, if the necessary steps were not taken to ensure it. He was sure that the noble duke opposite (the duke of Wellington) must have felt (though none of his colleagues had dared so to express themselves) mortified and disappointed at finding that the Spanish constitution (and here he begged not to be understood as meaning to say that the Spanish constitution was without defects—he knew it had defects; but if he were a subject of Spain, where it originated, or of Naples, where it was adopted, he would shed the last drop of his blood in defence of it, with all its defects, rather than suffer it to be wrested from him by any of the armed despots of Troppau)—but he was about to observe, that the noble duke must have felt mortified and indignant at finding this Spanish constitution, which had been established under his auspices, so violently opposed; and however much he might differ from the noble duke on many great political questions, yet he felt it but justice to him to say, that this country was not more indebted to its valour and skill—as a general, than to the wisdom he evinced on several occasions in his negotiations with Spain, and in conciliating the good-will of that nation towards us; but he acted on those occasions with the very government, and under that very constitution, to which, as he had observed before, the noble duke must since have felt mortified and indignant at finding the despots of Troppau so violently opposed. It was said, that these revolutions were effected by the army. 22 He was not a friend to the principle, as a general one, that they were the fittest instruments for new modelling a government. He was too much attached to the principles of the Revolution of 1688 to adopt such a doctrine; but he confessed he was glad of the mode of change in the recent instances, as it gave another proof, that those who leant entirely on spears for their support, would sometimes feel the wound in their own sides. It was not now a matter of consideration, how the revolution in Naples had been effected. One thing was certain—it was a bloodless one; but if it were as bloody as it was peaceable—if it were as little calculated for the peculiar advantage of that nation, as he was satisfied it was conducive to their better government, still he would denounce the principle of foreign interference with the internal affairs of any nation, and still less could he support such interference when made by an armed Force.—But it might be said, that we had no right to offer our advice to Austria. He maintained we had. Austria was our ally; and was he to be told that if he saw his friend about to plunge into the commission of some atrocious crime, or to commit some cruel act, that he was to withhold all advice until the deed was done? The advice would be then too late, and he should not act the part of a true friend if he did not give the advice while its adoption might be of use. He would then say to ministers, "Give your advice to Austria to desist;" and if Our advice be reasonble she1 dare not refuse you. But he had heard it said, that though Austria could not expect any direct assistance from this country, she still would calculate upon the moral assistance of England. Now this he could not too strongly condemn; and it was a great reason with him for maintaining the necessity of having the most explicit avowal of the disapprobation of this government. If it was once known that the British government were warmly opposed to any hostile proceedings towards Naples, it would soon have the effect of depriving Austria of that moral assistance which she might look to in other quarters in the absence of a positive disavowal. Let England say to her ally Austria, I say that your interference is improper, and in no one way will I give it any support or sanction."—It was for these reasons that he disapproved of the language of the Speech and of the Address as equivocal. It gave their 23 lordships no information on subjects the most important, and which, for aught that was said of them, it might as well not have touched. As the speech and of course the address gave no information on the important subject to which he had alluded, he would put a few questions to the noble earl, and he hoped, for the information of their lordships, he would answer them. He would wish to be informed whether our ambassador or agent at Naples was still the accredited agent to the Neapolitan government; and if so, whether he had received instructions to assure that government, that this country would not disturb the state of affairs there, or give any support or sanction whatsoever to any such disturbance by any other power, on the principle of interfering in her internal arrangements. His next question was, whether the secret article of the treaty of 1815, to which he had before alluded, was communicated to his majesty's ministers; and if so, was it followed up by any remonstrance on our part; and, if it was not then communicated, whether ministers when they became acquainted with it, remonstrated (as he thought they were bound to do) against any treaty in which this country was concerned containing principles which we disavowed His next question was, whether within the last year the noble lord had applied for the repaymeat of the Austrian loan, or any part of it, or of the interest which we ought to receive from Austria—this interest of which Mr. Pitt once talked so confidently.
The Earl of Liverpool
observed, in reply to the noble baron, that the questions he had put involved subjects of such magnitude that he could not attempt to answer them without going into a detail, which he was not prepared to do at that moment. If, however, the noble lord should think proper to call for specific information on any of the points to which he had referred, and should give notice of a motion to that effect, he would be ready on any such occasion to go into the subject, and to answer the inquiries of the noble lord. At present he hoped their lordships would see that he could not well go into such a detail.
said, that the questions which he had put to the noble earl could not excite discussion at present, or require that detail which the noble earl seemed to imagine. He would, however, put them in a shape where they might be answered by a single "Ay" or "No." And, first, 24 he would ask, were our diplomatic relations with Naples changed by the recent political changes in that country? His next question should be, whether the secret articles of the treaty of 1815 were communicated to ministers, and when? And the third was, whether an, and what application, had been made to Austria last year respecting the re-payment of the loan?
The Earl of Liverpool
again observed, that the present was not the moment to go into such details, but that he would be ready to meet the noble lord on the subject on any future occasion, when he should think proper to submit a motion respecting it.
after this refusal, wished the noble lord joy of belonging to an administration whose affairs were so complicated, as that the head of it could not give an answer, ay or no, to a few plain questions.
said, that undoubtedly that man was to be regarded as the greatest benefactor of his country, who could take the most certain means of preventing the calamities which might befal it. If, then, we looked back upon the state of the affairs of Europe for the last twenty-five years, who was to be considered as the man capable of conferring the greatest benefit upon his country? Not the noble general opposite, who had succeeded in putting an end to the war, but the individual who, at its commencement, possessed the means of altogether preventing the war. He congratulated the House and the country, that the noble baron possessed the means of preventing a war, which by many persons was considered likely to take place, not by bringing into action the military power of the country, but by a few words in the speech from the throne, and, what was still more extraordinary, by an application for the payment of a debt! Surely the noble baron must be aware, that the only effectual way of enforcing the payment of a debt must be, an application from a general at the head of an army. It certainly appeared to him, that every thing had been done by this government, which, under the circumstances, was proper to be done. The answer which they had given to the Austrian government, was this, "We sincerely hope you will not go to war; and if you do, we will give you no assistance." The noble baron had dwelt much upon the situation to which 25 we were reduced by the wars in which we had been previously engaged; and there could be no doubt, that, in the present distressed state of the country, war was a thing of all others most to be deprecated, But was this the moment which the noble baron would chuse to press for the payment of a debt? Surely that was a measure but little calculated to prevent a war, which, if it took place, was extremely likely to become general throughout Europe. He was glad to hear from the noble earl, that he was ready to give full information to the House on the subject of the negociations as to the affairs of the south of Europe, when they should be brought regularly before the House. He was the more gratified to hear this, as he had apprehended, from what had first fallen from the noble earl, that there would be some difficulty on this subject. In the present state of ignorance in which they were as to the causes of the late revolution, it was perfectly impossible to form any judgment of the conduct which ministers had pursued. He wished the noble baron, however, to state in what terms, and what precise form of words, he would frame that remonstrance, which was to prevent the possibility of war.
said, that he could have no objection to answer the question of the noble lord. The language which this country ought to have used to Austria, should hate been plain and unequivocal-We should have declared explicitly, that we would take no part in such a war; and we should have expressed, openly, in the face of Europe, not only our disapprobation of the war, but of the principle of the war. The noble baron had said, that the most effectual way of addressing an emperor was, by a general at the head of an army; but he forgot that this was no longer the case, when that emperor was looking for assistance and support from the party addressing him. Notwithstanding the surprise expressed by the noble baron, he saw nothing so preposterous in supposing, that if, instead of the paragraph which the speech now contained, there had been one, lamenting that any of the allies should think of interfering with the rights of independent nations, the conduct of Austria would have been influenced by such a declaration. For his own part, he believed it would have prevented Austria from marching; at all events, they who thought that it would not have kept her for a long time hesitating and 26 vaccillating, knew very little of Austrian councils.
congratulated the noble baron and the country, since, notwithstanding the lamentable effects which he had ascribed to the policy pursued in this country for the last twenty-five years, he still thought its moral character stood so high, that a solemn declaration of its opinion must be imperative upon the greatest military power in Europe.
said, that the noble baron had totally misapprehended what had fallen from him. He had never dreamt of ascribing any such miraculous effect to the moral character of the country.
The Lord Chancellor
said, it might not be amiss to observe, that if one noble lord were Austria and the other England, it would be extremely difficult to determine, whether they might or might not be prevented from going to war [a laugh].
§ The Address was agreed to nem. diss.