HL Deb 05 February 1839 vol 45 cc7-49
The Earl of Lovelace

rose for the purpose of moving an humble Address, in answer to her Majesty's most gracious Speech; and he could assure their Lordships, that it was not without the utmost diffidence that he came forward on this occasion. He had now the honour of addressing their Lordships for the first time, and he had, therefore, in consequence of his inexperience, earnestly to pray for their Lordships' indulgence, and in return for that indulgence, he should endeavour to detain their Lordships for as short a time as possible, consistently with the importance of the topics on which it would be necessary for him to touch. He was quite aware of the difficulty of his situation. In the first place, he well knew that there were many amongst their Lordships much better able to expatiate on these topics than he was; and, in the next, he was desirous that perfect unanimity should prevail on this occasion. He should most deeply deplore if anything introduced by him should have the effect of endangering any reasonable probability of their Lordships taking the same view of the Speech from the throne which he had done. He was happy to find, from her Majesty's Speech, that her Majesty had received from the several foreign Powers the expression of a perfectly harmonious feeling. They had to congratulate themselves on the approaching termination of the long-existing differences between Holland and Belgium. It was most gratifying to learn that treaties had been entered into with Austria and Turkey, by means of which a modification had been effected of that restrictive system which had proved so vexatious to our merchants, and by which our commerce had been greatly crippled. From this alteration the most beneficial results might confidently be expected. The stipulations entered into with Austria would afford to British enterprise the opportunity of supplying the wants of 34,000,000 persons, occupying a great variety of soil and climate; and when he looked at the geographical position of this country, and the present state of the population, it must be admitted, that no treaty could be more favourable or more opportune. With regard to the continuance of the civil war in Spain, it was certainly much to be lamented; and, great as were the calamities which that contest had inflicted on the country, it was much to be regretted, that advantages, commensurate with such great sacrifices, had not been secured to the Spanish people. But let their Lordships hope that the lesson inculcated by this hitherto unavailing war would not be ultimately thrown away. The only exception to that general peace which prevailed amongst the relations of this country abroad, and which was referred to in the Speech from the Throne, related to certain operations of a warlike character that had occurred in India and Persia. Those operations had rendered it necessary for the supreme Government of India, even in a time of peace, to take strong and efficient measures, which he trusted would put an end to those differences. No blame could be attached to her Majesty's Government on account of what had taken place. Proper steps had been adopted to secure our empire in India, and the conduct which had been pursued by the Government abroad would, he hoped and expected, be approved of by their Lordships. Looking at the internal condition of Ole country, he could not but believe, that they had just grounds for considering, that great improvements had taken place in many branches of domestic industry. The year 1837 had been remarkable for very great commercial depression. Whether that was to be attributed to over-trading or to speculation was not then the question to be examined into; but this might be said, that a great deal of it was owing to the unfortunate state of public credit in the United States. He was happy to find that the commercial prosperity of that country had been placed upon its former basis; and it was gratifying to know, that the more a country advanced in civilization, the more the resources of a bountiful Providence were bestowed upon a country—the more skill, the more industry, and the more arts that were to be found, the more were the prosperity and the welfare of the country increased. He was very far from saying, that, though the country had improved in some respects, there were not facts before them calculated to excite their grief. He need not, for instance, allude to the very high price of the necessaries of life. That was a circumstance well calculated to excite the deep sympathies of their Lordships. High prices were the natural result of a short harvest, and the unfortunate operation of laws affecting the importation of corn. He had, from an early period, felt the injustice of these laws, and he was convinced they were injurious to agriculture itself. He did not think, that blame could be cast upon her Majesty's Government for not giving a prominent place to this subject in the Speech from the Throne, and of their giving the weight and influence to one side of the question which was to be derived from their situations. Considering the state of the public mind upon this subject, and considering the exaggerated expectations which were entertained upon the one side, and the unfounded apprehensions that might be felt upon the other, it was most important for her Majesty's Ministers to consider impartially the effects of this question, and to take no step which might be the means of withdrawing that capital which was now so beneficially employed in agricultural labour. Considering, then, all the circumstances, he did not think that her Majesty's Government were bound to declare either that they would be in favour of wholly repealing the existing laws, or of maintaining them in their present state. He thought they had chosen a wiser course than either of the preceding could be. The great distress which had been occasioned by the high price of food had been much mitigated by the beneficial operation of the new Poor-law. In 1831, when great distress had arisen from the same cause, the greatest misery was experienced, and very great outrages had been perpetrated; and at that time the price of bread was fifteen or twenty per cent. lower than it is now; and yet there was far more real distress then than at this moment. In the country the wages had not risen to the level to be desired; yet there seemed to be a disposition on the part of the landowners to consider the condition of the labourer. It was true, that the introduction of the measure into some districts, not the most enlightened or the most intelligent, had led to disturbances; and though in some cases the promoters of these disturbances had contrived to keep within the pale of the law, yet there were cases in which an example would be made of the most prominent, if not the most guilty, of them. A measure reproducing some of the most essential characteristics of the English Poor-law had formed a principal measure of the legislation of her Majesty's Government for Ireland; and whatever differences of opinion might have existed on that measure before it passed the House of Peers, it was satisfactory to think that no sooner had it become law, and the Executive officers and commissioners for its administration had been appointed, than the people of Ireland had received it with a respect and attention highly creditable to the country. This said much for the tranquillity of that country and the confidence which it possessed in the executive Government, and afforded an answer to the sweeping assertions sometimes made, that the English Parliament did not understand the wants and wishes of the people. An opportunity for acting in accordance with the wishes of that people would be presented to their Lordships whenever the report of the Irish Railway Commissioners should come before them. The great mass of statistical information contained in that Report would go far to abridge the labours of the House. In coming to a conclusion on those labours, great as would be their responsibility on that measure, he was not without sanguine hopes that this session would not pass away without their being able to give considerable attention to the measure. Upon the subject of reform in the Church Establishment of Ireland, and with regard to the Irish Municipal Corporations and to the administration of the laws, these were subjects which had been so often before their Lordships, and so often discussed in that House that it would be idle in him to attempt to say anything regarding them; and the more so, as it was understood that their Lordships had objected, not so much to the principle of Reform, as to the degree in which it was to be carried in these various branches of legislation. There was also another subject to which he would draw attention; it was that of the furtherance of the education of the people. No one could read the appeals which had lately been made to the exercise of physical force in the large towns without feeling that improvement in the moral feelings, and in the intellectual character of the lower orders of this country had not kept pace with the advance of the arts and of civilization. There were some who objected to information being afforded to the people altogether, and others who limited it to a certain extent, and confined it within certain doctrinal and religious restrictions. But he submitted that education to be afforded must be viewed not as a boon to the members of the Established Church, so much as an assurance of what their Lordships were desirous to effect by its operation on the minds of the people against popular commotion. If it were to implant in them principles of honesty, and instil habits of self-control and reflection, then assuredly it would not be wise to limit education within any narrow or exclusive grounds, or conduct it on principles that would have the effect of shutting out of the schools the large and increasing class that dissented from the doctrines of the Church. Although at present it was not desirable, in the deficient state of information in which they were, to legislate on this subject, yet it might be hoped, from the number of experiments that were making throughout the country, that no long period would elapse before their Lordships were in possession of sufficient information to warrant them in conceding some comprehensive plan of education. On the subject of what was once West Indian slavery, they had to rejoice in the bloodless revolution which had converted nearly a million of slaves to apprentices, and from apprentices to free men, without shedding of blood, or momentarily depreciating the value of property. And were anything wanting to enhance the value of that measure, it was the contrast which was exhibited at the other side of the Atlantic, where the successors of those who signed the declaration of independence had shrunk from the task which the Legislature of this country had, by the blessing of God, carried to so successful a termination. With regard to Canada, he, for one, should not cease to regret the act of last Session, which had interrupted the prospects that they had indulged in the hope of seeing realized, not without reason, on the approaching termination of that Session—that that act should have interrupted the noble Earl, who had lately returned to this country, in his plans which would have organized the jarring elements that existed in that colony. But he felt the delicacy of touching on that subject in the absence of that information which alone would enable their Lordships to form a just conclusion on it, and which both the House and the country were entitled to expect. He had only now to appeal to their Lordships' indulgence in having taken up so much of their time and attention; and, thanking them for their forbearance, he should conclude with moving that a humble address be presented to her Majesty.

Lord Vernon

My Lords, at all times and under all circumstances would it be necessary for me to bespeak the kindness of your Lordships' House; but with especial earnestness must I throw myself on your Lordships' indulgence when every topic has been so ably treated by the noble Earl. My noble Friend has, indeed, so fully illustrated the subjects referred to in her Majesty's Speech, that it might, perhaps, be sufficient for me to express my cordial concurrence in the tenor and language of the Address. But, I trust your Lordships will excuse me for a few minutes while I endeavour, as shortly as I can, to notice some of the subjects in which I feel more peculiarly interested. Taking into view the position of this country, I find one subject which is especially noticed in her Majesty's Speech, and to which no Englishman can be indifferent. It is a subject on which, if I may be permitted to say it, I feel somewhat of an hereditary and personal interest—I mean the condition of the navy. I am sure that your Lordships will sympathise with me in the lively satisfaction with which I have received the direct, and, as it seems to me, conclusive refutation given to the misstatements put forth upon this subject; to the reports circulated, and assertions made, of a nature to fill with alarm every one to whom the honour of the British navy is dear; reports well calculated to weaken the hopes of successfully repelling foreign invasion, and to excite the rivalry of those who have been hitherto content to admit our naval superiority. It has been stated through the various channels through which the public credulity is generally assailed, that our yards are destitute of stores, our docks without vessels fit for service, and, in short, that the country is exposed without defence to the aggressions of a hostile army. Your Lordships, I am sure, have seen with pleasure the answer given to these misstatements on the authority of Sir John Barrow—a vindication of truth, and a support of the peculiar glory of this country, in which no party prejudice could by possibility have been engaged. The eminent public officer to whom I have referred would have disdained to allow himself to be affected by any political influence on a subject of such vital and paramount importance. With Sir John Barrow I have not the honour of being personally acquainted; but he certainly never could be considered a partisan of the present Government. But I may avail myself of the testimony brought forward by this gentleman of the superiority of our navy. Upon the information and experience acquired during many years' service in that department, he has declared—and in my opinion incontrovertibly proved—that so far from our naval resources being in a diminished or deteriorated state, at no time in our history could it boast of more professional knowledge and skill, or was it in a more serviceable state. I trust, my Lords, that many years may elapse before it may be demanded for purposes of war. But whenever the occasion may arise, or from whatever quarter an enemy may come to wrest from us the dominion of the seas, I have no apprehension of the result. I care not how soon, to use the expression of Mr. Canning, at the call of patriotism or necessity, the naval power of England may be compelled to collect the scattered elements of its strength, and arouse its sleeping thunders. But, my Lords, though I see every reason for satisfaction in the present state of the navy, I see none for overweening confidence; the subject is one of too vital importance to admit of apathy; and let it be remembered, that foreign nations are using every effort to compete with us. I confess I deeply regret the destruction of some of the elements of our naval strength, such as the marine artillery, and the coast blockade. But for this the present Government is not responsible. I should rejoice much if measures could be taken by which our steam force would be no longer left in a merely potential state, but be placed in a condition fit for actual service. I am anxious, also, that effective means should be adopted for providing nurseries of seamen, so as to render it unnecessary that impressment should ever be resorted to—a practice of which the only justification is an imperious and inflexible necessity. But, my Lords, while I recognize the wisdom of being prepared for war, I rejoice, that there are many securities for the continuance of peace. The first of these securities I find in the state of our foreign relations, in our natural and beneficial alliance with the French and other constitutional governments. And here I may express my gratification, that the five great powers have agreed to an arrangement for the settlement of the dispute between Holland and Belgium. I trust that these powers will not hesitate to accede to an arrangement the justice of which is so strongly guaranteed. The second reason is furnished by the increasing intelligence, of the European populations, who are all inclined to prefer the solid advantages of peace to the barren glories of military success. The third reason is to be found in the commercial treaties which, so much to the honour of our Government, have been lately concluded with Austria and Turkey, and which are valuable as affording an additional outlet to our commerce in the East, but are still more so as furnishing an additional guarantee for peace, and as laying the foundation for the commercial and financial prosperity of Turkey and its dependencies—a prosperity essential to the peace of Europe, and, perhaps, of India too. I rejoice in these cases that prejudices so destructive of our commercial system have vanished. But while I applaud the wise and equitable principle of these arrangements, I feel, that if we do not adopt them in our turn, they will be but an unreal mockery; and that without establishing something of reciprocity, the commercial glories and preeminence of England must pass away. On this account the Corn-laws merit some regard, as well as on other considerations. It is to be hoped that this question may be settled at an early period, with a just regard to the welfare of all classes of the community, so that the restrictions on the importation of corn may be carried no further than is necessary to countervail the burdens which fall exclusively on the agricultural interest. If we hesitated to remove any restrictions not absolutely necessary, or which tend directly or indirectly to diminish the supply and enhance the price of food to the poor, it appears to me that we should be violating our first duty as legislators, and incurring as members of a Christian community, a fearful responsibility. It is not, my Lords, I assure you, my wish to enter into the details of what is termed the Corn question, at this moment. I would only endeavour to impress upon your Lordships what I feel myself, the necessity of coming to an early settlement of it. I consider it perfectly vain to stave off the consideration of this question to a more convenient season. Look at what has happened on former occasions—the Roman Catholic question—Reform—Slavery. How were these questions carried? If not by agitation, at least in the midst of agitation. Let us not disregard the example furnished by these instances, nor fall into the same error with regard to the Corn-laws. Let us not hold the dangerous doctrine, that what we deny to justice may be wrung from us in difficulties. Let us endeavour, rather by judicious and well-considered measures, while there is time for deliberation, to endeavour to put an end to the jarrings on this subject, and reconcile conflicting interests. There is a peculiar fitness for the consideration of this question now, when the agricultural interest has been relieved of a heavy burden by the operation of the New Poor-law. The experience of the working of that measure proves it to have been most successful. Its benefits have not been attained without some severe suffering amongst the lower classes, but these, it is to be hoped, are evils only incidental, while the good is essential. Some alleviation of these sufferings might, perhaps, be found in a change of the laws which regulate the importation of food. However this may be, it appears to me, that every reason—moral, social, and political—should induce us, at all events, to endeavour earnestly and dispassionately to bring this question to a satisfactory settlement. But in speaking of the condition of the state of the laws which affect the means of sustenance, I am naturally led to refer to the disturbances which have broken out in the northern parts of the country, although by the wise forbearance of the Government they have now for some time subsided. The itinerant preachers of sedition are reduced to silence. Yet that they should have been able to create agitation to such an extent, does indeed furnish matter for grave reflection. That speeches of so inflammatory a character, addressed to such large masses, should have caused so little mischief, is certainly a proof of the good feeling of the people; but that they should have been listened to at all, is a proof of the grossest ignorance. The ignorance of the great mass of society has been looked upon by some as a security for property and the public peace. Alas! my Lords, we have seen the lamentable effects of such ignorance in occurrences which not long ago took place in a neighbouring county. And what was the remedy proposed by the Archbishop of that province? What, but education? National education, indeed, is a subject attended with enormous difficulties—difficulties sufficient to immortalise the name of any one who shall overcome them. I trust, that the noble and learned Lord, whose name is so honourably identified with the promotion of education, will not be prevented by any personal or party considerations from giving the Government on this subject the aid of his name and talents. There is another subject to which I cannot help referring, though it has occupied so much of your attention, and though it has for many years past been invariably mentioned in the speeches from the throne as a subject of the greatest anxiety. The noble Lord proceeded to observe, that the prospects of Ireland were at present considerably ameliorated, although there had always been great difficulties in the way of constitutional government in that country. Whatever race had ruled in that country, whether the Saxons or the Normans, or whatever principle had been predominant, whether of the Reformation, of the Commonwealth, or of the Revolution—all seem to have increased the uneasiness, and to have aggravated the discontent. The time was now come, however, for a more generous policy, and for treating the Irish not as strangers, but as fellow subjects, and treating them as England is bound to treat in time of peace those who did so much to save her honour in time of war. We may yet be enabled to allay the irritation which is the consequence of past neglect. I trust that a scheme of municipal corporations may yet be devised which will materially contribute to the great object of accustoming the Irish people to self-control and self-government, and thus fulfil, in some degree, the intentions of nature towards a country for which it has been truly said, that God has done so much and man so little. There is another subject referred to in her Majesty's Speech. It is a matter of concern, that a portion of her Majesty's Canadian subjects should have been urged by ambition or national jealousy, or misled by ignorance, into open rebellion against her Majesty's authority. But it is a subject of congratulation, that that rebellion had been suppressed with the least possible quantity of bloodshed; and for that they were indebted to the loyalty of the inhabitants and the valour of the troops. It is impossible to speak too highly of that distinguished officer, Sir John Colborne, who had had to contend with great difficulties, from the nature of the country, from the extent of the frontier, and from the severity of a Canadian winter. Those difficulties were considerably aggravated by invasions which the government of the United States were unable to prevent. Yet, under all these circumstances, the indefatigable exertions of the troops were often exceeded and anticipated by the zeal and spirit of the inhabitants. I look upon it, my Lords, as a most fortunate circumstance, that from the suppression of this rebellion, whatever her Majesty may be advised to grant to the people of Canada, will be received as a boon, whereas heretofore it might have been regarded as the obtainment of a right. I should wish to direct your Lordships' consideration to the benefit which must arise from the valuable information collected on the spot by the noble Earl who was lately her Majesty's representative in that colony, and who, from his talents, is eminently capable of appreciating the character and circumstances of the Canadian people, and the untimely close of whose administration, I join my noble Friends in most sincerely regretting. For the sake of the British empire, as well as for the sake of the Canadians themselves, I trust, that the calamities which afflict them may be brought to a happy termination—that the winter of their discontent may be turned to bright summer by the wisdom of Parliament—and that her Majesty's loyal subjects in Canada may exchange their present state of alarm for a firm reliance on British support and for an increased and increasing attachment to British connection. When this question comes before the House it may be reasonably hoped that it will be discussed without acrimonious or party feelings, or any other feeling but an anxious desire to provide for the safety and good government of that important colony. I shall follow the example set by the noble Duke who has always shown himself ready to sacrifice party feelings and questions whenever the welfare of the country demanded such a sacrifice. Before I quit the subject of the colonies, I wish to be allowed to refer to the great and peaceful change which has taken place in our West-India possessions. Perhaps the world has never beheld a nobler spectacle than that which was presented by 800,000 human beings assuming in one day the rights of freemen without a single disturbance, a single act of violence throughout those colonies to mar the splendid solemnity of that glorious scene. It was worthy of the English nation, and worthy of the mild and beneficent spirit of Christianity in which it originated, and honourable to all who could claim a share in having brought it about. I must, in conclusion, thank your Lordships for the kindness with which you have heard me, and I beg to assure your Lordships, that if I have said anything which, in the slightest degree, tends to disturb the unanimity of the House, I most sincerely regret it. Undoubtedly I entertain decided opinions on these subjects; but I should feel, that I was taking an unfair advantage of the position in which I am placed, if I were now to raise questions which ought to be reserved for other occasions. I shall most sincerely regret if anything that has fallen from me is calculated to offend the feelings or principles of any of your Lordships.

The Duke of Wellington

I rise to state to your Lordships that I feel no objection to the speech from the throne, or to the motion for an address made by the noble Earl in an able speech, and seconded likewise in a speech of equal ability by the noble Lord. My Lords, in adverting to the topics brought under your Lordships' consideration, I shall beg leave to adhere principally to those which are the subject of the motion made by the noble Lord who proposed to your Lordships the address to the Queen rather than to those other subjects which have been adverted to. My Lords, the Speech delivered by her Majesty, and the address submitted to your Lordships by the noble Earl, and seconded by the noble Lord who sits near him, has nothing to say (and in my opinion very properly) to corn-laws, to poor-laws in England or in Ireland, to education, to the return of a noble Earl from his mission in a distant part of the world, or to many other topics adverted to by the noble Earl and by the noble Lord who followed him and seconded the Address. These, my Lords, may very properly become subjects of future discussion in this House; but it would, in my opinion be only useless to detain your Lordships to refer to them at the present time. To the Speech from the Throne, and to the motion for an address made by the noble Earl, and to the topics contained in the Speech, and in the Address, I shall address myself, and I shall endeavour to draw your Lordships' attention for a few moments. My Lords, I entirely concur with the noble Lords, and likewise with the tenour of the Address, and with the Speech, in congratulating your Lordships on the state of foreign affairs, especially in respect to the proposition for a peace between Holland and Belgium, and in respect of the unanimous concurrence of the five allied powers, in having made that proposition. My Lords, I hope it will never be lost sight of in this country that the original foundation of Belgium as a separate and independent kingdom, and condition connected with its holding such a position was that of perpetual neutrality. It was so stated by the noble Earl (Earl Grey), the predecessor of the noble Viscount, and I hope that proposition will never be forgotten by this country or by Belgium. My Lords, I sincerely rejoice in the renewal of the commercial treaty with Austria, and in the improvements which have been made in our commercial and other relations besides with the Ottoman Porte. In respect of the commercial relations with the Austrian government, the noble Lord is mistaken in supposing that the commercial treaty contains any principles different from former treaties, excepting one most important condition, namely, the opening of the navigation of the Danube. That arrangement and condition has been added to these treaties, and it is a most important arrangement; but, in respect to the other advantages adverted to by the noble Earl, they might have been adverted to hereafter, but I think there is no reason at present to bring them under your Lordships' consideration. My Lords, there is a question adverted to in the Speech, almost overlooked by the noble Earl, though it is alluded to in the Address, and that is the state of affairs in the East. My Lords, it is impossible for me, or for any person ever so little acquainted as many of your Lordships must be with this subject, to pretend to give any opinion upon the point; but, as it is alluded to in the Speech from the Throne, and in the Address moved by the noble Earl, I conclude that her Majesty's Government will consider it their duty to give this House, and the other House of Parliament all the information in their power, in order to enable the public to form a judgment on these important transactions. I shall advert to this presently, in drawing your Lordships' attention to the situation of this country, as involved in a very extensive system of warfare; but, my Lords, I do not pretend to blame any one for these transactions, of which I know nothing, excepting what is mentioned in the Speech and the Address. My Lords, in a former Session of Parliament I recognised the principles of a Reform in the Municipal Corporations of Ireland, with a view to their being founded on the principles of election. But, my Lords, in the last Session of Parliament, a measure founded on this principle passed the House of Commons—was amended in this House, and sent down to the other House of Parliament, where it was considered and amended again, but finally lost. My Lords, I do not allude, in reference to this subject, to what is going on in Ireland; but I am not disposed to depart from the principles acted on in the last Session of Parliament. All I can say upon the subject is, that I do not consider myself pledged further than I should feel myself bound as in the last Session of Parliament to consider, with a view of perfecting any system, or any measure which her Majesty's Government may propose. My Lords, I must advert to the use of the word "essential," in that part of the Speech which refers to this subject. Her Majesty's Speech states,—"that the Reform and Amendment of the Municipal Corporations of Ireland are essential to the interests of that part of our dominions." My Lords, in allowing the application of the word essential to the Reform of the Municipal Corporations in Ireland in the Address, it must be understood as only admitting the principle of these reforms. My Lords, upon the other topics adverted to by her Majesty, I can only say that if any measures are presented to Parliament, I shall be disposed to consider such measures, and to give every assistance in my power towards rendering them as complete as possible. My Lords, with respect to that part of the Speech which speaks of measures "for the better enforcement of the law, and the more speedy and certain administration of justice," it is impossible for me to know exactly what is intended. In these circumstances I cannot be expected to say more than that I shall give such measures, whenever they are brought forward, every consideration that I can devote to them. My Lord, no one can rejoice more than I do at the termination of the question of West India slavery. Certainly, my Lords, in the last Session of Parliament I entertained a strong objection to the course taken by the noble and learned Lord opposite for accelerating the period at which that measure should be carried into effect. The colonial legislatures, however, who are the best judges on this subject, have thought proper to accelerate that period, and I hope that their measures may be successful. I anxiously hope to see whether we shall have property protected in those countries; for it comes to that—whether we shall have destroyed property in those countries, or whether we have placed it on a solid foundation—on the secure basis of labour regularly hired and paid for. My Lords, I now come to the last part of the Speech, to which I have listened with the utmost anxiety; and I am happy to find in this Speech what was thought necessary on a former occasion, namely, a declaration on the part of her Majesty of her firm determination to maintain her sovereignty over her provinces in North America. My Lords, I could wish that this declaration of her Majesty had been accompanied by corresponding efforts to enable her Majesty to carry these intentions into effect. The insurrection is confined to one part of the country; but it has been accompanied by an invasion and an attack upon the persons and property of her Majesty's peaceable subjects on all parts of the frontier adjoining the United States, by inhabitants of the United States, and for no reason whatever but because her Majesty's subjects are obedient and loyal to her Majesty. Certainly, my Lords, I should wish to see a corresponding preparation made, and measures adopted, with a view of carrying into execution the intentions which her Majesty has declared, of maintaining her sovereignty over these provinces. My Lords, the system of private war which prevails on that frontier is unknown in any other part of the world. We read of such things in the history of barbarian nations we read of such a system carried on against the British settlements in Africa, and which lasted from century to century. All these were wars of barbarism against civilization. Never were there any instances of such wars between civilized nations, except in the case before us. Her Majesty's loyal subjects in this province were united there—were fixed in their habitations under the protection of the sovereign of these realms, and they had the clearest claim to have the strong arm of Government extended over them for the defence of their lives, their rights, and their property. Yet though hundreds after hundreds of the persons who assailed the loyal portion of the Canadian population have been taken prisoners by her Majesty's officers, yet so ineffectual seem the laws, that the same outrages continue as rife as before. I trust noble Lords and the other House of Parliament will look a little further into this very important subject, and draw the attention of Government closely to it; for it appears to me eminently necessary, that some measures should be taken to induce the government of the United States to put into operation some effectual steps for the suppression of these outrageous proceedings. Let the House look to the history of the invasion of Texas—let the House consider the consequences of that invasion, which took place in a very similar manner to the invasion of Upper Canada. Let them consider closely the consequences of that invasion, for it seems to me, that if some steps are not speedily taken on the part of her Majesty to enforce that passage of the royal Speech of which I approve so highly, which expresses her determination to maintain her sovereignty in this province—I say, if some steps are not speedily taken to carry into force this part of the Speech, we shall find our province of Upper Canada treated much in the same way in which the province of Texas has been treated. This is a point to which I beg to draw the particular attention of her Majesty's government. I entreat of them to consider this war as a great national war; to remember that the highest national interests are involved in it, and that we must proceed on a large scale of action, if we wish to bring it to an early and satisfactory conclusion. My Lords, I thought it necessary to trouble your Lordships on this subject at greater length than on any other. I rejoice to see that her Majesty has announced her intention to maintain her sovereignty over this province, and I trust her Majesty's government will see, that this determination is acted upon in a manner to do honour to the Crown of Great Britain. I have no doubt of the intentions of the President of the United States in the matter, but, at the same time, I cannot but feel regret when I see American subjects coming armed into our territory, armed and provided too, with cannon taken from the United States, and belonging to the United States. I cannot, I say, but feel deep regret and much surprise, when I see these American subjects publicly invading our territories, and am told, that it cannot be prevented by the government of the United States. I remember a discussion in this House and elsewhere upon the question, as to whether the Spanish government could prevent a body of Portuguese troops from moving through Spain; and I remember very well, that it was shown the Spanish government could prevent it, and in the same way. There can, I conceive, be no doubt, but that the civil government of any country is capable at any time of preventing the collection of bodies of troops within its territory, and their invasion of neighbouring states. But here we see the United States government sitting down quietly, and taking hardly any notice whatever of the invasion by its subjects of the British provinces. My Lords, I am now come to the last paragraph in the Speech of her Majesty, in which she complains, that she has observed with pain the persevering efforts which have been made in some parts of the country to excite her subjects to disobedience, and to a resistance of the law, and to recommend dangerous and illegal practices. Now, my lords, I could wish her Majesty's government and the Noblemen who are in the habit of supporting them to attend most particularly to this subject. It is but too true, that such efforts have been continuously made to excite her Majesty's subjects to disobedience and resistance to the laws. But, in connexion with this fact, let me remind your Lordships of a discussion which took place in Parliament on a former occasion, when noble Lords, and one high in office, came down and insisted, with the utmost warmth, upon the indispensable necessity of not interfering with what he described as the rights of the people; when he demanded in particular, that no restrictions whatsoever should be thrown on the right of the people's assembling in large bodies; and when, in broaching this dangerous doctrine, he omitted even the restriction distinctly laid down by the law of the land, that such assemblies must not be in numbers sufficient to create alarm to the community. Let noble Lords remember, too, that at the very moment when the noble Lord at the head of the Home Department was proclaiming a doctrine of that kind in its most unlimited extent, at a meeting at Liverpool, that at that very moment large crowds of men were alarming the country by torch-light meetings. My Lords, one more remark: we have now heard for several years an annual announcement of the great tranquillity of Ireland. On all occasions when this tranquillity has been announced, I have distinctly called it in question. Now, at any rate it appears clear, that there is a Gentleman, high in the confidence of her Majesty's Government, who has been forth seeking new modes of agitation every day. One of his schemes seems to have been to raise a sum of 20,000l., but this new scheme of agitation fell to the ground, when it came out, that the amount was to be deposited in the private bank of the Gentleman who originated the idea. But we hear of another scheme for raising 2,000,000 of fighting men. I am not aware of the success of this plan, but I confess I never heard before of this Gentleman's being employed as a recruiting officer. I trust these paragraphs of the Speech which refer to the execution of the laws will not be lost sight of by the Government, and those Noblemen who lend them their support. I repeat, my Lords, I have no opposition to offer to the Address, and will only add once more my earnest hope, that Ministers will carry into effectual execution those parts of the Speech to which I have more particularly referred.

The Duke of Richmond

would not have said a word upon this occasion had it not been for what had fallen from his two noble Friends the Mover and Seconder of the Address upon the question of the Corn-Laws. He could not allow these observations to go out to the people without stating his opinion, which was, that if these laws were repealed, the agricultural interest must go to ruin, and then the manufacturing interest must follow, for what could they do without the consumption of the other interest? His noble friends had said those laws ought to be altered, because the agricultural interest had obtained some relief from the Poor Law Amendment Act, but he would ask how long was the malt tax to remain, and when was the land tax to be assimilated and properly apportioned throughout the country? He could not allow such opinions to go to the country without his entering his protest against them and the doings of those speculators who wished to set the two great interests at variance. A question of so much interest should be soon settled, and he hoped an early opportunity would be afforded for discussing it, and he trusted the farmers of England would not be deluded by any one, however high his station, who talked of a moderate fixed duty.

Lord Colchester

was surprised no notice whatever had been taken in the Speech of the state of our navy, when it had been publicly stated that we were without supplies, and that our navy was in such a state that it would be no difficult matter for a foreign admiral to burn Sheerness. Our coasts were in a most unprotected state, and the question was of sufficient importance to deserve their Lordships' earnest and most serious attention.

The Earl of Minto

The House would understand his motive in not entering into the discussion of that question upon that occasion. They would be fully aware it was from no disrespect to their Lordships, but he considered that the discussion could come on much more conveniently under the notice which had been most properly given by the noble Earl. Upon that occasion he would be prepared to enter into the discussion, and show their Lordships that there was no truth in the statements alluded to.

The Earl of Winchilsea

agreed in everything that had fallen from the noble Duke on the cross benches (Richmond). He was perfectly convinced that if the agricultural interest were ruined, the manufacturing interest could not stand. It was a fallacy to suppose that the British farmer would in any degree be protected by a fixed moderate duty. Now, he would ask, could any government at present impose any fixed tax that would in any way remunerate the British farmer and the British landowner for the burdens which were imposed upon the land. He was most sorry to hear the sentiments which had fallen from the two noble Lords, the mover and seconder of the Address, and he implored that great interest to which he belonged to be perfectly aware of the situation in which they stood, for those two noble Lords would not have so expressed themselves had they not been aware that it would not be displeasing to the Government. He was sorry that noble Lords and others in high authority should not have taken the more honest and manly course, of stating, in their places in Parliament, any change of opinion with respect to so great an interest. A letter had been put forth from one holding a high situation as a feeler for the people, but he could assure the noble Lord and his colleagues that the agitation so raised, though it was joined in by the manufacturers, did not receive the sanction of the great masses who were interested in manufactories. In 1822, when the agricultural interest was reduced to so low an ebb, that the loaf of bread was selling at 3d. to 3½d., and meat at 2d. a pound, he had himself made a journey through the manufacturing districts, and found that distress prevailed to a frightful and enormous degree, there by showing that the depression of the agricultural interest did not raise the manufacturing interest. The former consumed nine-tenths of the produce of the latter; and how could the manufacturing interests do without such customers? The capital employed in the cultivation of the land ought to be protected. If this country were to lean for support upon the produce of foreign countries, in a very short time their supplies would fail us. In the meantime a great portion of the land of this country would be thrown out of cultivation. The agricultural interest would be ruined, and the distress would not be upon them alone, but the ruin would be equally extended to the manufacturing interests. There was one part of the Speech which he felt himself obliged to protest against. It was that paragraph which stated that a reform of the Municipal Corporations of Ireland was essential for the peace of that unfortunate country. He was of opinion that they would only keep up that agitation and strife which was the view of the country, and no bill for such a purpose would ever receive his support.

Earl Roden

also felt himself compelled to enter his protest—his most decided protest against that paragraph in the Speech of her Majesty's Ministers. He felt also obliged to complain that no allusion had been made in the Speech to the situation in which the loyal population of that country was placed. The only mention made of unfortunate Ireland was to give more power to those who had ever been opposed to her Majesty's loyal subjects. There never was an opening of Parliament in which the public mind was so excited with regard to the Speech from the Throne. He did not know how it would be received in this country, but he was certain that it would be received with surprise and indignation by the Protestants of Ireland, and not by them alone, but by many loyal Catholic subjects of this country, because no mention was made of the situation in which they were now placed. He trusted the subject would be taken up by some noble Lord, but if not, he would feel it his duty to bring it under their Lordships' attention.

Viscount Melbourne

My Lords, though no mention was made in the Speech from the Throne of the laws regulating the importation of foreign corn, or of several other topics which were introduced by the noble Lords who opened this debate, yet I cannot think it in any degree unnatural, considering the nature of the present discussion, which takes a general review of the present circumstances of the country, I say I cannot think it in any respect unnatural or improper, on the part of those noble Lords, to have entered upon those topics, and to have stated their opinions respecting them—and when they had thus stated their opinions—their views on these questions—when they had brought them forward as fit matter for discussion, it was also extremely natural and indeed unavoidable, that other noble Lords should also express their opinions respecting them. For myself, I should have been inclined to have pursued the prudent course of the noble Duke opposite, and have abstained from touching upon these topics, had it not been for the observation of the noble Lord opposite, who stated his belief, that she noble Mover and Seconder would not have introduced their sentiments upon the Corn-laws, had these not been previously known and sanctioned by the administration, as an administration, and as Members of Parliament. Now, the Corn-laws had been, ever since the formation of the present Government, an entirely open question—a question on which all the various members of the administration had formed their own distinct opinions, and have ever acted according to those opinions. Unquestionably, my Lords, I believe that the majority of these gentlemen are favourable to a change in the present system, but if the noble Lord infers his opinion from the Speech which has been heard from the Throne, I beg leave to tell him that he infers that opinion erroneously. I am not willing to go into any debate on the Corn-laws on the present occasion, I wish to avoid it, but I have no reluctance to state my individual opinion on the Corn-laws; and this, my Lords, is that which I stated in the few observations which I made last year; observations which attracted considerable notice, more of course from the eminent station which the individual who delivered them happened to possess, than from any intrinsic force of their own. The opinion, my Lords, which I then expressed, and to which I now distinctly adhere, is that though I am not prepared to pledge or bind myself to the maintenance of the present system as the best possible, I am not at the same time prepared, either as a member of the Government, or as a Member of Parliament, to pledge myself from any information which I have, to a change or alteration of the law as it stands. The noble Duke opposite has gone very distinctly and clearly through all the topics of the Royal Speech, and has made many observations in which I quite concur; but he has at the same time made several observations which I think hardly fair, hardly just. The noble Duke says, that as far as he knows of it, he approves of the conduct which has been pursued in reference to the dispute between Holland and Belgium, and of the definitive treaty of peace, which has been prepared for the acceptance of both parties, and the noble Duke added his hope, that it would not be forgotten, that the independence of Belgium, her separate existence from Holland, is bound up with the condition, that while she is protected from aggression herself, she should be kept from committing aggression on others. My Lords, I quite agree in the justice of this condition, and the noble Duke may be sure it will not be lost sight of. In reference to the noble Duke's observation regarding the treaty with Austria, I may point out to him, and to the House, that the free navigation of the Danube is a material exception to what was the state of things under the former treaty. With reference to the great affairs of the Oriental empire, to all the important measurses which are being taken in the East, I trust the House will adopt the expectation of the noble Duke, and suspend their judgment on these matters till we have full information and knowledge of all the various circumstances, and of the principles on which the operations have been conducted. The Address on the Speech has been so framed, as to call on no Member of the House for a decided opinion on the subject. Everybody knows the magnitude of the question, the danger, the difficulty, and delicacy of its position, and I do hope, with the noble Duke, that the House will not proceed to consider the question till it is in possession of full information on the subject, and that then it will be debated with the utmost calmness and impartiality. Some observations have been made in reference to the wording of the passage respecting municipal corporations in Ireland, and two noble Lords have declared, that in voting for the Address, they do not pledge themselves to the adoption of any measure which may be introduced on that subject. Undoubtedly some other phrase might have been chosen than that of "absolutely essential," but, at the same time it is unquestionable, that in voting for the Address, no one necessarily votes for any particular measure, or expresses an opinion beyond that of declaring the question to be one of great importance, well worthy the consideration of the House, and consequently in voting for that paragraph of the Address, no one involves himself in any pledge on the subject. The measures which it is intended to introduce for the more speedy enforcement of law and justice throughout the country, the various measures intended for giving greater vigour to petty sessions and police, and generally strengthening the execution of the law in its inferior branches, throughout both the rural and urban districts of the country, have been referred to in general phrases, for the purpose of enabling Parliament to introduce general measures. In reference to another subject, it is well known that great changes have taken place in the negro population of our West Indian colonies, and there are changes which will necessarily require other great changes to be made in order to secure the full advantages of those already effected, and to render the state of society in those parts of the empire safe, and likely to be beneficial. In alluding to another part of the Speech, the subject of which it is impossible to regard without considerable uneasiness and vexation—I refer to the state of Canada—the noble Duke, while he appears to approve of the tone of that part of the Speech, expressing as it does her Majesty's determination to uphold her sovereignty in that quarter, states that he could have wished to have seen some corresponding measures of vigour adopted by the Government, in order to carry that determination into effective operation. It is quite clear that a state of things does exist on the North American frontier greatly to be deplored; yet, when we remember the disposition exhibited by the various states there to interfere with each other's affairs, and the tendency to private warfare with each other, not greatly to be wondered at. When, however, the noble Duke so strongly expresses his regret at not seeing a vigorous demonstration made in our Canadian province, in order to enable our subjects there to repel the outrageous aggressions upon them, I am somewhat at a loss to understand what he has to complain of in this respect. There is, in that country, a very large regular establishment, besides a very considerable militia force, together forming an army powerful enough to laugh to scorn any attempt which may be made by the sympathisers. When, however, we consider the character of the country, its innumerable and extensive lakes, forests, morasses, it would be quite impossible to keep up such a force as utterly to prevent all sudden aggressions and predatory excursions. Therefore I know not, with reference to this province itself, what stronger measure you could adopt; but, with respect to the government of the United States, I agree with the noble Duke that every means should be taken to do that which it is the duty of every Government to do, namely to keep its subjects within its own frontiers, and prevent bodies of men, the subjects of one state, making attacks on their neighbours in another. There is no reason, I apprehend, to doubt the sincerity of the government of the United States as to its wish to carry into effect the stipulations binding on it as regards its duties to its neighbours; but, considering the nature of the country—considering the vast extent of the frontier—considering the comparative wildness of those districts—and also considering the character of the Government—it must be admitted, that it has serious difficulties to contend with in carrying this object into effect. Every exertion, however, has been used, and every representation has been made, in order to induce the government of the United States to exert itself for this object. I, therefore, trust that these exertions will be successful, and, above all, when it is known what has been the result in our provinces, where every attempt that has been made at invasion has been completely discomfited. I trust, therefore, that an end will be put to this wild spirit, which is as dangerous to their neighbours as it is discreditable to those citizens of the United States. The noble Duke concluded his speech by remarking on the last paragraph of her Majesty's Speech, in which allusion is made to the large meetings that have been held in various parts of the country, of a most lawless and dangerous character—meetings held by night, and at seasons the most favourable for disorder and for the concealment of crime—meetings where excitements were held out to the commission of the most criminal offences, and even to murder. At these meetings language of the utmost violence was used with the view of creating intimidation, and exciting the populace to acts of violence. The noble Duke said, that while the people were exhorted and admonished in her Majesty's Speech to abstain from such proceedings, they had been recommended by a noble Friend of mine, one of the Secretaries of State, to take part in other public meetings, and that he had recommended them to take part in public discussions. Perhaps I am not so precisely informed on the subject as the noble Duke, nor with the same accuracy as to the language which fell from my noble Friend on the occasion alluded to; but if I am not much mistaken, it was something in favour of public discussion, holding as my noble Friend does, meetings for public discussions to be highly advantageous and useful; but I am sure that nothing could fall from my noble Friend that could in any way justify the language which has been used at such meetings as have been alluded to in her Majesty's Speech. The noble Duke also said, that an hon. Gentleman, high in the confidence of the Government, had been allowed to go about the country exciting the people for various objects, and, among other things, threatening to raise two millions of men. I suppose the noble Duke alluded to the hon. Member for Dublin, although I confess I should not have recognised him very readily under the description given by the noble Duke. If that Gentleman, however, is not in the confidence of the Government, it would appear, at any rate, that the Government possessed that Gentleman's confidence. The noble Duke, I presume, alluded to the Precursor Society. I beg to state, that I disapprove, as much as the noble Duke, of the existence of this or similar associations. I never approved of the existence of the Catholic Association, nor of its proceedings, nor of any similar bodies, in all their shapes and phases, as I conceived them calculated to supersede the authority of the law. I never did, nor do I now approve of such bodies; and certainly my opinion has undergone no change on this subject. But I do not hold that the Precursor Society should be regarded in the same point of view as bodies that exist in this country. The same extreme and violent language is not used in this society as at the meetings in the north of England, in which districts the adoption of murder and fire, and all kinds of violence and intimidation, have been suggested and recommended. The noble Duke said, that that Gentleman stated, that he could raise two millions of men. I presume that he meant by this to declare that he could get two millions of men to give a shilling a-piece for the purpose of becoming precursors. I therefore really think, that the observations of the noble Duke were hardly justifiable in confounding two things really and essentially different. I conceive that there is a fair right to consider public affairs at meetings, provided this is done calmly and fairly; but I do not consider that public meetings should be sanctioned, when there are encouragements to massacre, and violence, and outrage. But under all the circumstances of the case, I am extremely satisfied to find that there will be unanimity in the vote we shall give to-night. Having made these observations on what fell from the noble Duke, I will not trespass longer on the time of your Lordships.

Lord Brougham

assured their Lordships, that it gave him unfeigned satisfaction that nothing was to be found, either in the Speech from the Throne or in the manner in which all their Lordships, save the noble Mover, had handled the great subjects contained in it, that called for any material difference of opinion, or that was likely to interrupt the harmony of debate on an occasion on which courtesy to the Crown enjoined all possible forbearance, and begot in all, strong as their opinions might be at other times, a disposition to consider the Address as an act of courtesy on the part of the House in return to an act of courtesy on behalf of the Crown, and to treat it as a measure which pledged them to nothing except that the matters contained in it were worthy the serious consideration of their Lordships, rather than as an act of well matured and deliberate policy. He should not raise any question on the Address, regarding it, as all experience proved it to be, an occasion rather for joining in an act of courtesy, than pledging themselves to any one substantive proposition. But both the Mover and Seconder of the Address, had referred to several topics, which, with the exception of one single allusion to himself personally, he would dismiss with this observation, that they were marked by a curious infelicity in the selection of all the topics which ought, with proper judgment and delicacy, to have been least noticed, and with a parallel infelicity in omitting the mention of all those topics on which the Speech ought to have touched, but did not, as he should presently have occasion to illustrate by one or two examples. What the noble Seconder of the Address had said with reference to his connexion with the subject of national education, thereby supplying one of the omissions in the Speech, but which he, preferring one paragraph in the Queen's Speech to two in any noble Mover's or Seconder's speech at any time, regretted it had not, as he wished it had been, found there—what his noble Friend had said in reference to that subject he was fully justified in saying, and he would not frustrate the hope which had been expressed, that he would be ready at all times to redeem the pledges he had given to their Lordships and the country in behalf of any reasonable, soundly-principled, justly-contrived, practical plan of national education; and that no personal motive, as he called it, and no party motive, would ever make him swerve from the course he had ever holden on that great question, only taking leave to add his lamentation, which his noble Friend had omitted in his speech, that that Address did not contain some paragraph pledging their Lordships to the adoption of some practical measure on the subject, which he, notwithstanding personal, notwithstanding party considerations, should then have been too ready, too happy, too delighted, to have supported, provided it were framed, bottomed, and propounded on those sound and liberal principles to which he had alluded. And now with respect to one, the only matter on which he differed on the present occasion from the noble Duke (Wellington)—he meant the conduct of certain parties in the United States on the frontier of Canada. He purposely abstained from all observation on the question of Canada; he abstained from it, not because he agreed in the observations of the noble Mover of the Address upon that subject, the sort of lecture which, in passing, his noble Friend had read to their Lordships, the other House of Parliament, and the drown, on account of a measure which was passed last Session by Queen, Lords, and Commons; but upon that he would say nothing, because his noble Friend, the last Governor of Canada, had that night most manfully, and in a manner which, in his opinion, did him the highest honour, testified his anxious and most natural and justifiable earnestness and even impatience of every hour that passed over his head, until that question bad been brought in his presence before their Lord- ships. He reserved what he had to say upon the general question to that occasion, which would be the proper time for the discussion. But the noble Duke made a remark to which he could not avoid adverting, because he did not think the noble Viscount who spoke last was sufficiently aware of the grounds on which the noble Duke put the question, and the failure of his argument, which seemed to him, with all respect, to be complete in that point of view. "Why," said the noble Duke, "did riot the American Government interfere along that widely-extended, barren, uninhabited, and, in many respects, uncultivated, frontier, to prevent individuals passing over under the influence of political opinions, or worse motives, in order to commit predatory, or aid in rebellious, expeditions?" The noble Duke, as appeared to him, in a great degree answered himself; for he said, "let me tell the Government, that if such expeditions from the United States across the Canadian frontier continue, if such a predatory or political system of interference is persevered in, all the power of the English Government in Canada will not avail to prevent retaliatory measures by the subjects of Canada on those of the United States." But if all the power of a government much more solidly established—a government with much better means of repressing such proceedings—a government much more vigorous than that of a republic like the United States could be supposed to be—if an established government, with 12,000 regular troops, besides militia, backed too by the great mass of the people, was unable to prevent such incursions, what could Mr. President Van Buren be expected to accomplish with no such means, with an equally extended frontier, with a people not taking part with him to repress such incursions, but sympathising with them, having no standing army and no regular militia, when we professed that our own Government, much more vigorous, much better armed, having a standing army, a regular militia, a much better force at home and abroad, could not prevent reprisals? But then it might be said, it would be just to make reprisals on the one hand, while the predatory incursions on the other were lawless and unjustifiable. The difficulty of prevention, however, was not in proportion to the injustice of the aggression or the badness of the cause, but in proportion to the intensity of the motives of the sympathisers; and whether the motive was plunder or political sympathy did not in any degree alter the question. He rejoiced in the harmony which prevailed between this country and America. He looked on the continuance of peace between those two countries as of the utmost possible importance to England, as well as to America—to the peace, civilization, and happiness of the whole world; and putting into one scale the continuance of those pacific dispositions, the uninterrupted endurance of that unbroken harmony, and into the other the whole value of all the Canadian possessions of the Crown put together—if he held the balance, the latter would kick the beam. Having stated the only ground on which it was his fortune to differ from the noble Duke, he must express his entire concurrence in the other observations which had fallen from him. At the same time he hoped and trusted the noble Duke had been misinformed as to what a noble Friend of his was supposed to have said at Liverpool. Perhaps it was not very prudent for a Secretary of State for the Home Department to say anything about the propriety of the people holding large meetings; but he was morally certain that his noble Friend had not said anything by way of countenancing disorderly or rebellious meetings; he had read the words: his noble Friend said, it had always been the characteristic of a Whig Government, as it was of the present, rather to allow the people the power of meeting in a legal and peaceable manner for the purpose of temperate discussion,—he believed the word "temperate" was used; and the other word "legal," as used on such occasions, clearly meant, not only that nothing illegal, but that nothing violent, nothing very strong, should take place at those meetings; and further, to show that he did not mean to extend his permission beyond the letter of the law, within twenty-four hours of the time he learned the fact of the torchlight meetings, his noble Friend issued a proclamation to put them down. Some observations had been made on that part of the Speech which related to our policy in India. He hoped no great time would elapse before that important question was brought under the consideration of the House. He was unwilling to anticipate that necessary discussion. He was aware of the difficulty and complexity of the question. He was also aware that the present Government in India, stood in a peculiar position. If he mistook not, one important branch of its conduct had not been fortunate enough to meet with the approval of the authorities at home. [Viscount Melbourne.—Yes, yes.] He was sorry to hear it. He must then transfer his blame from the authorities in India to the authorities at home. He had hoped that the rumours which were so extensively circulated, and which had been referred to, if he mistook not, by his right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Controul, last summer, as being well founded—he meant that most culpable proceeding of the Calcutta Government with respect to Oude.

Viscount Melbourne.

—Oh! as to that, you are quite right.

Lord Brougham

would then re-transfer his blame from the authorities at home to those in India; he would leave his blame there. But it was placing our Government in India in a very peculiar situation, leaving it in the hands of those whose most important act from the beginning of their administration to the present hour, had been so blamed, as to be formally repudiated by the authorities at home; for the treaty was refused ratification; it could only be refused ratification for having been disapproved of, and it was disapproved of, in his judgment, most wisely and justly, as a treaty that brought dishonour on the English name in India. In these circumstances, and armed with all the power over public opinion in India, which a dissavowed, disclaimed government, might possess in that country, it fell to the lot, unhappily, of that government, whether necessarily or unavoidably, to carry on one of the most large, extensive operations, both of policy and of war, which he would venture to say, from the days of Lord Clive—from the time when the fate of their eastern empire depended on the battle of Assye, had never been contemplated, promulgated, or executed by any English statesman in India. He said nothing now of the capture of the Island of Karack, in the Persian Gulf; he said nothing now of the negociation with the Afghanistan Princes, on the violation of which that capture was effected—of these things, he said nothing, nor would he be carried into an argument on that singular process of reasoning, by which an Indian Government thought itself justified in avowing in a proclamation to all the world, containing, he admitted, a most candid statement of the motives, views, and arguments on which their policy was framed, and the reasoning or the misreasoning, the contempt of all colour of argument by which in this way a conclu- sion was arrived at—that because the King of Persia did something they did not like, therefore, they would march an army to dethrone the King of Cabul. Of all these things he said nothing. He did not advert to the history of Cabul—to the kind of man now about to be set up—a pretender—a mendicant pensioner on our charity.—a man twice dethroned, because he was hateful to his people in Cabul, and their only reason for preferring him to Dost Mahomed, now on the throne, and whom our own envoy, Sir John Burnes, declared in his dispatches to be a wise, able, and politic Prince—their only reason for preferring him, being, that the one was the legitimate Sovereign of right, and the other only the popular Sovereign, whom the people preferred—so different were the principles of their foreign policy, on this side of the Cape, recognizing particular Sovereigns, because they were the choice of the people, in preference to others who were not the choice of the people, but, having a legitimate character, were expelled by the people. The empire of India was founded on opinion—that had been said again and again, until it had become a byword and a proverb of Indian policy; but, believe him, it meant nothing but the opinion—1st, that they governed there better for the people themselves, which he freely admitted had been the case up to the present hour; 2nd, that they governed justly as regarded their foreign relations with the native princes, which he could not admit; and lastly, the opinion of their power and force; he hoped in God, that opinion would not now be weakened by its being found that they had marched 600 miles to the north-west of India on a speculation of dethroning one king and putting another in his room, all that force, that body of actual, effective, substantive power, in the opinion of which they held their eastern dominions. There was a resolution of Parliament; it was incorporated in a statute, and that resolution, and the exigency of that statute, he greatly feared would not be found to be violated on the present occasion; it declared it to to be against the wishes, policy, and honour of England, to extend our conquest in India. They need not be afraid that the present proceeding would violate that resolution, or break that statutory enactment; they need not fear the wish of the public would be thwarted, or the policy of the country counteracted, or the honour of the country tarnished in the present instance, by any extension of our Indian dominions; whether those Indian dominions would be reduced in extent, in consequence of those wild, wide, unintelligible operations, which they would have a better opportunity of afterwards discussing when they could see more than they now saw—always reminding their Lordships that he was now giving the Indian Government great fair play, for he was observing only, he was deciding, if he decided at all, only on their own case—he had seen no other—he made no attack—all he was in possession of was their own manifesto, giving a full, candid, and, he had no doubt, honest exposition of their motives and plans. He came now to say a word or two with respect to our western settlements; and here he would heartily join in all that had been said respecting the conduct of the colonies in emancipating their slaves; but among the omissions in the Speech, which he had in vain listened to from the Mover and Seconder of the Address, which he had in vain listened for, was one very remarkable one, and that was in alluding to what the West Indies had done, no reference had been made to what the Mauritius had not done. Why had there been no mention of that in the Speech? Any man, not acquainted with the subject, would be led to believe that all the West-Indian colonies had emancipated their slaves; but here was the Mauritius, a Crown colony, containing about 80,000 or 90,000 slaves, without any legislature, and the Mauritius had done absolutely nothing, How stood the case with respect to the Mauritius? If there were ten reasons in Jamaica for emancipating the slaves before their time, there were ten thousand reasons in the Mauritius why that should be done, because in Jamaica there was a sort of title to the slaves, every holder of an estate having a right to possess them; but 30,000 of the 80,000, as was stated by Sir George Murray, and he knew that it had been underrated by 10,000, or perhaps 20,000 had been carried to the Mauritius since the abolition of the slave trade, and each of these slaves was there by no legal title, but by a title derived from a commission of a capital felony. Was ever so strong a case made out for insisting upon the emancipation of the 80,000 slaves. Suppose a jury of twelve men had been impanelled to try whether six men had, or had not been guilty of a capital felony, and that evidence was incomplete, did any man say that the jury would not, at once, acquit the whole six on the well-known principle, that it was better that these guilty men should escape, than that one innocent man should suffer? Was it not better, then, that the whole 80,000 should be liberated than that those among them who were free men, and as much entitled to their liberty as any of their Lordships, should be detained two years in bondage. My Lords, said the noble and learned Lord, I will give notice, perhaps irregularly, that if some satisfactory explanation is not given of this omission in the Speech, in a few days, I shall urge upon the House the necessity of adopting a wise and just policy towards our West-Indian colonies, not to say the Mauritius, in order that justice may be done not merely to the slaves, but the colonies, which have behaved so admirably. Now, my Lords, I say one word on that, to which the noble Duke referred, and to which I have already incidentally adverted, the meetings and the supposed illegal proceedings in Lancashire, &c. My Lords, I believe that the speakers, rather than the Speech, or the Address, have somewhat exaggerated the extent of those disturbances: but I am far from saying that no ground exists for the observations made upon them. That speeches criminal, not to say insane, have been uttered by parties now in imprisonment or going to be tried for misdemeanours, is undeniable; but my Lords, it is equally true that these are not the only parts of the empire in which illegal speeches have been made—in which lawless excitement has been tried—on an exciteable race of people—a people, many of whom we find are so ignorant, that they do not form their opinions for themselves, but suffer other men to think for them—who act as though they were positive—I can say no less, as if the motive which set their hands in motion to commit crimes hateful in the sight of God and man—not by any motive residing in their own bosoms, but by some base, or sordid, or fanatical, or rebellious—I care not what—but by some form of illegal and immoral interest or wish, residing in the bosoms of other men, and communicated by those other men through their lips, and instilled into the ears of their reckless mechanical puppets. My Lords, it is a shocking thing, that in the nineteenth century, and towards the middle of it—that in a civilised country—a land that boasts of its police and its constitution—of its regular system of laws, and above all, of its admirable administration of justice—that in a christian country, under these circumstances, blessed with such institutions, human life seems no more to be regarded than mere animals or chattels—and human blood seems to be poured out as water upon the land—where any set of men may have an interest, or supposed interest, or desire to make the sacrifice. My Lords, I well remember asking a high law authority in that country, whether mortal man ever saw such a state of things in any country calling itself civilised, as that of a country where any one who is rich enough to give 20l. to another may have his enemy's life taken away? To which he added—"provided he be also not only rich enough, but extravagant enough, to give 20l. for what he could get done for 20s." My Lords, is it not monstrous—and can it be denied? Have we not seen it proved on oath, notwithstanding all the impediments which beset witnesses, so that we have not only to grant a sum of money, but an annuity, that he may expatriate himself to Constantinople, or to Algiers, or to Herat, or to some other land, where human life is more valued than in his own? Notwithstanding all these difficulties, we have had it proved within the last month, that when it was resolved by persons minded to kill two individuals, that one should kill the man, and the other the woman, an objection was made, not to the criminality—not to the foul and hideous crime of murder, but that the person on whom the lot had fallen to kill the woman happened to have some conviction, that it was more convenient that he should kill the man, so he changed the parts, and both the man and the woman were murdered. And yet, my Lords, to my infinite astonishment, I have heard the Crown lawyers who conducted the prosecution, congratulate themselves and the country that the charges of conspiracy had been disproved—that there existed no "extensive" conspiracy in that part of the United Kingdom. My Lords, I know not what that learned person meant by "extensive" conspiracy, and I care not; but this I do know, that the state of society in that part of Ireland—I go no further—is such, that murder is spoken of, tried, ordered, discussed, agreed to be done, compassed, and perpetrated in a way which I defy you to find a match for, I had almost said in the centre of the African desert. And, my Lords, while these examples of criminal justice were actually being made, an amiable, a respected nobleman, an admirable member of society, beloved by those about him, endeared even to the bulk of his tenantry by his conduct as a landlord—is murdered—is shot at, as a beast, from behind a hedge, and no more idea seems to be entertained of discovering who did the deed, than if it were physically impossible to trace the steps of the assassin. My Lords, I cannot help asking whether all can be well in the administration of the law and police in a country where such shocking—such revolting scenes take place—and where the most impudent audacity—the most enormous effrontry, coupled with the blackest malignity, endeavours to turn suspicion from the real assassin, and to fix it upon one in whom, bad as the crime would be, in whoever did it—on one in whom the deed would have been a crime of incalculably blacker dye—and would almost curdle one's blood in one's veins. This is the last effort of factious and desperate audacity—of profligate falsehood—of an unprincipled and malignant nature. This last crowns the whole; and I devotedly hope that justice be done, if not upon the murderer, at least upon those who only yield in infamy to the assassin of the father—I mean the assassin of the reputation of the son. They little know what Englishmen are made of, they little know what English blood boils in English veins who fancy that all their influence with the Government can protect them, if they show their faces in this country, from universal execration and horror. My Lords, that there has been less of political agitation than of what is called—by a convenient distribution of the subject—"Agrarian" outrages, I am ready to admit, but have we not had political agitation, and the noble Viscount—with his usual good humour, with which he often succeeds in involving serious and important subjects in a momentary pleasantry—the noble Viscount, adverting to what the noble Duke had referred to, as a person supposed to be very high in the confidence of her Majesty's Government—the noble Viscount said he did not know of it; that was a very ungrateful return. However, if he did not know it, he soon discovered it, for he directly said, perhaps the noble Duke referred to the Member for Dublin. I should not wonder if he did. Oh, but says the noble Viscount, he is not in our confidence at all, I am not in his confidence—there's a deal of love lost between us—we don't like him—we have a great contempt for him—we have no confidence in him—we think him a man not to be trusted in the slightest degree—of course we never offered to make him the second judge in Ireland; but if we did, we had no confidence in him—though it is certainly considered a great mark of confidence on this side of the water—and my noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Lyndhurst) would have thought it very strange to be told that the Government of which he was a Member, showed their distrust of him by making him Master of the Rolls; and possibly Ministers wished to show greater distrust of the individual I am alluding to by making him Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench in Ireland, for by the rule of three, if the Mastership of the Rolls shows distrust, the Chief Justice ship of the Queen's Bench shows more distrust. All this is very pleasant, taking it upon the footing of drollery, on which the noble Viscount put it. But, now, just see what's going to happen in consequence of all this—the rev. Mr. Stephens is going to be tried, and for that reason I abstain from saying a word as to his offence; but I know how important it is—God forbid I should say that any one should be convicted—but that the law should have its course; that if he be guilty, he should be found guilty; that if he be innocent, he be acquitted. God send him a just deliverance; but it is not always that men are tried upon the merits of their case. An ingenious counsel—and no counsel could be found more ingenious than the one selected by Mr. Stevens—does not apply himself to the issue of guilty or not guilty but to topics that will tell in the minds of the jury—and juries lend their ears to such topics. And, my Lords, how does it happen that the arm of the law, so omnipotent in Lancashire as to arrest any man who makes a seditious speech, drops paralyzed on the other side of the channel. The counsel for the defendant will say, how is it that the man escapes who talked about 2,000,000 petitioners approaching the Queen, all loyal subjects, but "fighting men" and such topics would influence the jury, and they have influenced many who are not jurymen—and I think I may ask her Majesty's Ministers whether they have any confidence in those individuals in Ireland, and whether they will, I will not say use strong language, that would be dangerous, that might risk some votes, but whether they will use their influence humbly to intreat these individuals who have such confidence in them to abstain from a course productive of such pernicious results. My Lords, I have discharged my duty, and a painful duty it was, and the more so because I have long taken part with those very individuals, and, therefore, I feel the more bound when I see them transgressing all law, and hoping to be countenanced, and being countenanced by those who have no confidence in them, though they do show them some favour; to persuade them to desist from such proceedings, and I have discharged my mind of that heavy load which I have felt pressing upon it ever since I heard of the murder of Lord Norbury, and the horrors of the Tipperary Special Commission. My Lords, it cannot be said that Lord John Russell or the Government are reluctant to put down turbulence and lawlessness; for though the individual to whom I have referred has stigmatised Lord Grey and Lord Brougham as the most unprincipled Ministers of the country, because they passed the Coercion Bill, and lauded the noble Viscount (Melbourne) as having resisted that bill, when, in fact, the hill was the bill of the noble Viscount, who was at the head of the Home Department; but then there is this difference—and an important difference it is—that Lords Brougham and Grey cannot make men judges now, and, therefore, we are the most unprincipled of politicians; and, therefore, the noble Viscount is most fit to be trusted; and so much to be trusted that they lavish their confidence on him who rejects it with a sneer, and who says, "You may confide in me as much as you please, it is no matter, you are better known than trusted, I am more trusted than known." I have a right to say that because the party who trusts is in a state of gross ignorance; he says the noble Viscount was no friend of the Coercion Bill, although it was his own measure. Now, my Lords, the last, and I am sure I am glad to be able to say the last, of these matters which have been brought before us refers to the subject of the Corn-laws; and as I have a petition to present to your Lordships, of which I shall give immediate notice of bringing it on, I purposely abstain from any argument on either side of the question. I think this would be the most unseasonable time, and the most awkward of places in which to introduce it. But, my Lords, some things must appear—on Movers' and in the Seconders' Addresses, and in the omission in the Speech which make it an imperative duty for me to give you my ideas upon one matter connected with it. The noble Viscount said that he remained of precisely the opinion of which he was last Session, and then repeated, what he doubtless thought, was what he said last Session. I, being for the abolition of the Corn-laws, rejoice to hear him give that gloss, for it was very different: all he says to-night is, I won't pledge myself to bring in a bill to repeal the Corn-laws. I think he pledged himself last Session to resist any repeal. Now that is one step towards it; and I hope the next step he takes will be the easier and cheaper step of giving me his support when I make my motion. But there was one thing said by the noble Viscount last Session which I know had very great influence on certain parties. He said, I will resist any alteration of the Corn-laws, unless I find that the people of this country call out for the repeal, I think that was what he said—whether it was very prudent for a person in his situation to say so, is another thing—I rejoice that he did state it, because I, being for the repeal of the Corn-laws, and having a very great disposition to see (I hope not anything like agitation in a bad sense)—but to see the people meet peaceably, and express their opinions in such a way as deserves attention—felt convinced that that observation would have a very considerable effect in creating more proceedings. My noble Friend's (the Secretary of the Home Department) letter has had another effect; but now comes that which alone makes me broach this subject, first premising, as I pass, that there has been undoubtedly a very great misstatement of my speech in 1827 on that subject, and I have been quoted as if I had been for a protective duty. Now the speech made then was distinctly against any such protection. I said at the beginning of it, "I have no objection to give you whatever protection you are entitled to." I was listened to by the landed Gentlemen when I said that—to that they confined their attention; but I went on to say, "I will show you now what sort of protection you are entitled to." I then went through the whole items, and proved, that they had more protection by the freight and insurance of the voyage, than they had the slightest pretence to say the taxes gave them any title to. That might be a very bad argument, but I spoke for three-quarters of an hour in the greatest noise I ever heard in any place. My noble Friend was then in the other House as Chancellor of the Exchequer. I could compare it to nothing else but being on the deck of a ship in a storm. I could not hear what I said myself, and therefore you may imagine what my wonder was how any reporters could catch even a word that I said. However, I found an account of my speech reported. In the midst of all this noise I was going on to show, they had no right to any protection at all. What brings it to my recollection is, that I remember saying, I was exposed to the land storm, and that it was with great difficulty I could make myself heard. I have taken, my Lords, the earliest opportunity of touching upon this question, because this is the first time I ever heard it said a subject of this sort could be considered what in technical terms is called an open question. My Lords, I know there have at different times, and in different Governments, been what are called open questions; and I know there have been examples (the Slave trade and the Catholic Question are two) of Governments who having opinions upon every other subject, have lost the functions of rulers by declaring, that on this subject they had none. Is the experience of those two questions, are the results of this experience such as to tempt you to look with favour to a practice which is inconsistent with principle, which is subversive of honesty—which means, I have opinions, but I will not act upon them; which means, I have principles, but I prefer my interests; which means, I admit, as who does not frankly admit, that upon unimportant particulars—upon the details of important questions even, the most honourable and well-principled men may compromise and modify, and surrender their opinion for the sake of unanimity upon things of greater weight and moment—but, my Lords, I now speak upon those ardua regna, upon those greater interests of the Crown Ecclesiastical Establishments—the administration of justice—our law reforms—Parliamentary reform—aye, my Lords, and upon such questions as the Corn-laws, which is one of the greatest and the most important, and the most interesting, which can divide the Parliament, or distract the community. It is upon those questions alone opinions are to be formed; and by whom? By the very men who of all others are the most imperatively bound, by every consideration of honour and of duty, to form an opinion, and upon that opinion to act. Why do one set of men league together as a party? Why do one party assume to govern the country rather than another? Why, but that they are knit together by community of sentiment upon great public questions. "Idem sentire de republica," has been in all times, and among the best of statesmen, a bond of union, fair, intelligible, honourable, conductive to the common weal. It is grounded on honest principle; reared in virtuous conduct supporting the public good. But there is another bond of union formed of a baser material, a tie that knits together far other natures—the "Eadem velle atque nolle," and of this it has been known and been sail, "ea demum inter malos est firma amicitia." The abandonment of all opinions, the sacrifice of every sentiment; the preference of sordid interest to honest principle, the utter abdication of the power to act as conscience dictates, and sense of duty commands—such is the vile dross of which the links are made that bind profligate men together in a confederacy to seek their own interests at the expense of every duty—and that is the literal meaning of "open questions." It is that each has his known and recorded opinions, but that each is willing to sacrifice them rather than break up the Government to which all belong. The "velle" is to keep in offiee; the "nolle" to keep out all antagonists; and none dare speak his mind in his official capacity, without losing the firmitas amicitiœ, by shaking the foundations of the Government. The constitution of this country is ignorant of, and if it knew it would abhor such a principle. These are subjects on which I may be right and you wrong, or on which you may be right and I may be wrong; but at all events no man can think otherwise that has formed an opinion upon important questions like this. If they are for the public benefit, the people have a right to the support of the Government upon them: if they are for the public detriment, the people have an indefeasible sacred right to the help of the Government to resist them, and to resist them as a Government—not one man on the treasury bench answering another, as I long saw with shame and disgust upon the Catholic question—not by men getting up and answering one another, one for it, another against it, and leaving the whole case to its fate; and you see what has become of it—that it was granted at last after the agitation had become too great to let it produce its good effects. These are my reasons for not being able to endure the name of what is called an open question. My Lords, I have deemed it my duty to state fully and frankly the opinions which I have long held and expressed elsewhere as well as here upon this subject, and as it was the first time I heard the matter avowed, and in terms broached before your Lordship, I have taken the first opportunity of entering my protest against it. I thank your Lordships for enduring the length of these observations, and now think it my bounden duty to abstain from any further remark.

The Marquis of Lansdowne

did not intend to follow the example of the noble and learned Lord, by protracting this debate. The noble Lord had gone far beyond the example set by the noble Lords who bad moved and seconded the Address, in introducing other topics and further comments, which, with great respect for the eloquence with which they were introduced,—listened to as they had been with delight and amusement by all the House, and with great rapture, no doubt by many of the noble Lords opposite,—he thought himself justified in passing over this evening, because they almost all invariably related to subjects which had been the subject of notice in this House as practical questions hereafter, or were topics upon which it had been announced that papers and communications would be laid before the House at no distant period. But avoiding all these topics, there was one which might be liable to much misapprehension, if the observations of the noble and learned Lord remained unnoticed, and he therefore deemed it indispensably necessary to say a few words. He understood his noble and learned Friend to suppose, that the policy of the government of India during the last year, was a policy which his Majesty's Government were not prepared to support. Now in justice to his noble Friend at the head of, the government of India, but still more in justice to the interests of that empire, which he had administered with such honour to himself, he wished distinctly to state, that to every word of that noble Lord's manifesto (as the noble and learned Lord had called it), but of his exposition of the motives of the policy of the government of India as there published to the world, her Majesty's Government were parties, as far as they could be made parties, not only by adopting the conduct there announced, but by applauding the wisdom, and, he would add, beyond the wisdom, the justice, with reference to the interests of the Indian empire, of the course which had been there pursued. He would not go into those transactions now, but this he would state, adopting the test laid down by his noble Friend, that the empire of India was an empire of opinion; when that discussion came to be entertained in that House, he would ask it to determine, whether the empire, as founded upon opinion, was not sounder and safer than at any former time. He had risen simply to make these observations in order that no misapprehension might go forth to the country upon the subject. Many of the other topics to which his noble Friend had alluded he considered it unnecessary to advert to; he had, however, alluded to the state of Ireland, and their Lordships might perhaps expect, that he should say something upon that subject. No one viewed with more horror than he did the crime that had been committed in that country, but it was not because particular parts of that country were stained by the commission of crimes such as had been adverted to, that it was to be said, that the peace of Ireland was in danger, or that any charge should be brought forward against the governor of that country. It was painful for him to advert to the crimes that had taken place in Ireland long since; but the very first year he landed there, the, part of the country in which he resided was stained with the commission of crime little less atrocious than the one that had been adverted to. A most amiable magistrate had been murdered. The murderer was never discovered, but at that time it was not thought that the Government was to blame with respect to that particular act and the other acts that had taken place in Ireland; no vigilance or energy was wanting upon the part of the local government in expressing their detestation of the atrocity of the deed, or in their attempts to bring the individual who had committed it to punishment. His noble and learned Friend had spoken about the seditious language that had been used in Ireland. He would put it to him whether it was not far better to take no notice of it than to prosecute the party. The public policy and justice of the country in his opinion, did not require that it should be made the subject of public prosecution, and he trusted that his noble Friend would give credit to those who had abstained from prosecuting, on the ground that if they had done so, it would only be the means of increasing the criminality which it was the object of all Government to repress. The Government, of which his noble and learned Friend was a member had abstained from such prosecution, and it was in the deliberate exercise of their judgment, that the present Govern- ment had acted as they had done. He denied, therefore, that they were to be charged with remissness for the course they had adopted. On the part of the Government of this country, as well as on the behalf of the government of India he courted the utmost latitude of inquiry, either in that or in the other House of Parliament. He was glad that the generality of the topics of the Speech had met with the approbation of their Lordships, and he trusted that their Lordships would unanimously agree to the Address.

Address agreed to.

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