The Marquess of Londonderry,
in rising to bring forward his motion on the subject of the War in Spain said, that it would not have become him to have occupied their Lordships' time during the debate on the Address in answer to her Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne. He regretted, that that Speech did not express the course which it was the intention of the Government to pursue with regard to Spain. He had already been often under the necessity of troubling the House on this subject. He had moved, during the course of last Session, for various papers and returns, which were now before the House, and he would ask whether they did not completely verify every statement which he had made to the House? He would appeal to the candour of the noble Viscount, at the head of the Government, whether he had indulged in any exaggeration with respect to the policy pursued with regard to Spain. It was an unquestionable fact, that there had been expended in that country a sum of 509,160l., and no less than 8,000 men. Were we still 704 to expend our money and our means to uphold a cause defended in a manner, so disgraceful, and which, he might venture to say was generally deprecated? In offering these observations he must confess, that the expressions of the Royal Speech on this subject were so different from the expressions in former speeches, that he had a doubt on his mind whether or not it were the intention of the Government to abandon the course of policy they had hitherto pursued. He was credibly informed, that her Majesty's Government, through Lord John flay, and her Majesty's commissioner in that part of Spain had opened a communication with the Basque provinces, through the aid of Munagorri, and had sent thither a large supply of arms cannon, and money. He was only surprised, after the return and disgrace of the Legion, that the Government should have thought proper to engage in so unfortunate a proceeding He would read to their Lordships an extract from the Speech from the Throne in 1835 for the purpose of showing, that it contained a declaration of a determination of the Government to adhere to the provisions of the Quadruple Treaty. The noble Marquess read as follows:—I will give directions, that there be laid before you articles which I have concluded with my allies, the King of the French, the Queen of Spain, and the Queen of Portugal, supplementary to the treaty of 1834, and are intended to facilitate the complete attainment of the object of that treaty.In 1836, said his Lordship, we were told—I have still to lament the continuance of the war in the northern provinces of Spain. The measures which I have taken, and the engagements into which I have entered, sufficiently prove the deep anxiety for its termination, and the prudent and vigorous conduct of the present Government of Spain inspires me with hope, that the authority of the Queen of Spain will soon be reestablished in every part of her dominions.In 1837, their Lordships were again told—I lament, that the civil contest which has agitated the Spanish monarchy has not yet been brought to a close; but his Majesty has continued to afford to the Queen of Spain that aid which, by the treaty of Quadruple Alliance of 1834, his Majesty engaged to give. His Majesty rejoices, that his co-operating force has rendered useful assistance to the troops of her Catholic Majesty.705 In November, 1837, her Majesty in the Speech from the Throne said—I lament, that civil war still afflicts the kingdom of Spain I continue to exercise with fidelity the engagements of my Crown with the Queen of Spain, according to the stipulations of the treaty of Quadruple Alliance.At that time, therefore, it appeared, that her Majesty was anxious, to take every means to put an end to that war. Now, he came to her Majesty's Speech on opening the present Session, when she merely said—I lament the continuance of the civil war in Spain, which engages my anxious and undiminished attention.Their Lordships would observe, therefore, that there was a great difference in the expressions her Majesty had used. There was a complete departure from previous expressions used by her Majesty, and on the last occasion, the noble Viscount, with all the loyalty, and all the devotion, which, no doubt, he felt towards her Majesty, had recommended to her a speech which was little more than the lamentations of Jeremiah. He begged to know whether it were right, after the enormous expenses which had been incurred, to recommend to a young and powerful Queen, to come down to that House, and declare her undiminished anxiety at the continuance of that war, whilst her Majesty's Ministers were not enabled to tell their Lordships what they meant to do? Were they still determined to continue the same system? Were they determined to act up to the stipulations of the Quadruple Treaty in its proper sense, or to continue affording assistance to the Queen of Spain by such an extravagant extent of blockade, by employing marines on shore, and by all those other means which had been resorted to in the course of the war? He thought that the House was entitled to a distinct explanation, whether it were the intention of the Government to pursue the war on the same footing as on the year before, or to adopt, as they had with regard to some other circumstances, a wiser and more prudent course. He begged to state his firm determination to expose the extravagant loss incurred by this country, if they went on on the same scale. How was the matter to terminate? Would the country be satisfied? What credit had we gained? Let them look at a part of the case, to 706 which he had frequently called their attention. Those just claims which the Legion had on the Spanish Government, and naturally upon our Government too, were still unsatisfied; the Legion was still unpaid; and he would ask the noble Viscount whether bonâ fide and conscientiously, he belived, that those claims would ever be settled? He had stated a great deal on that subject last Session; and in one of those discussions, if he recollected rightly, the noble Duke near him (Wellington) had stated, that the prolongation of this war was nothing but a stock-jobbing concern; and that, undoubtedly, was a matter connected with this war. He should not have alluded to that, but that he had heard recently, that there actually were now in the City negotiations going on for another loan to the Queen of Spain, he believed, that another loan was now being negociated under false pretences, and he thought that they ought to know from the noble Viscount, whether directly or indirectly, the Government had afforded any encouragement to that transaction; he understood that the attempt was being made with the moral sanction of the Government. What the moral sanction of her Majesty's Government was, he professed not, in his limited acquaintance with Downing-street, to know; but, if he could judge at all of the morality of Downing-street, from certain correspondence which had lately been exhibited in the public journals, he must say, that for his own part, he could trust very little to it; he alluded to the correspondence between the noble Viscount, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Urquhart. That correspondence had caused the greatest curiosity, and he must say, had not added very much to the respect entertained for the morality or discretion of the party implicated. He was not then in a situation to follow that discussion further, but he believed the matter would soon be discussed elsewhere; and, at all events, that correspondence had excited such a sensation in the public, that, if those papers were genuine—and he begged to ask the noble Viscount, whether the Government had any information in regard to them, or whether the noble Viscount believed them to be genuine, because, if they were, it was impossible that the disclosure could end there. That subject had been alluded to by a noble Viscount (Strangford) last Session, and it was clear 707 that evidence of such a nature had been produced, as that the matter must be brought under public discussion; for a circumstance so extraordinary and unexampled, and which had created so much noise at home and abroad, could not be allowed to pass by in silence. So much then with respect to the morality of Downing-street, which he understood, the Government had employed by giving their moral sanction to the loan now about to be raised for the Queen of Spain. He would forbear from going further into the question of their foreign policy at present; but, before he sat down, he could not refrain from saying a few words on one subject of great interest. He undoubtedly felt much satisfaction at finding, that the affairs of Holland and Belgium were nearly brought to a close; but did her Majesty's Government deserve any credit from the country for settling that question. It was to be remembered that the question between Holland and Belgium had been going on for five years; they had had protocol on protocol, despatch after despatch, during that time; there had been endless plans and projects, all of which had failed; and at last, the Government, having been so well pleased with their cheval de bataille—the Quadruple Alliance in the east—had resorted to a Quadruple Alliance in the north, and by its means had accomplished that object which the noble Viscount at the head of Foreign Affairs, might long since have accomplished by himself, if he had adopted a decisive course. He only hoped, that the termination of the negotiations would not be delayed by reason of any changes elsewhere. With regard, however, to the subject immediately before the House, he thought that the country demanded and required this—to know what the Government intended to do in future with respect to the war in Spain; whether they meant to feed the war as they had hitherto done, by exhausting our Treasury, our means, and our money. That was the principal object of the question he wished to put to the noble Viscount, and in conclusion, it was his intention also to move for certain returns, which would explain the state of things which he had described, and he begged to state that he should follow up the course which he had taken, by exposing to the House and the country, the extravagant and enormous loss which this coun- 708 try had suffered, only for disgrace and discomfiture. The noble Marquess concluded by moving "for a return of all the supplies forwarded to the service of the Queen of Spain from July 1838, to the latest period, specifying every article supplied, whether money, arms, cannon, or stores; also of the extra charges of our navy occasioned by the continued blockade, and by the employment of our marines on shore; also for copies or extracts of any correspondence with the Government of Spain since July, 1838, relative to the continuance of the atrocities of that war, and for copies or extracts of correspondence between Lord John Hay, Colonel Wyld, the Board of Admiralty, and the Foreign Office, relating to the aid and support which had been afforded to the Spanish chief Monagorri." The concluding part of his motion related to the atrocities which continued to disgrace that war; and upon that part of the subject, he must do her Majesty's Government the justice to say, that it appeared from the correspondence, that the Government had made some efforts to put a stop to those barbarities, but not such powerful efforts as they might have made. The concluding paragraph of a letter from the Count Luchana to Colonel Wylde proved that, and he called on the Government to take some more decisive steps; for in that letter the writer said, that "he was resolved to put to death every foreigner whom he found in the service of Don Carlos." Important memorials on that subject had been addressed to the noble Viscount; and he really wished to know what communications had taken place, and what prospect there was, that in the campaign about to begin, these monstrous atrocities would not be continued. He would not detain their Lordships further. He moved for these papers with a view of eliciting an explanation, for which he thought he had shown sufficient reasons.
§ Viscount Melbourne
then said: My Lords, if I heard rightly what fell from the noble Lord on Tuesday night, he only gave notice, that he should to-night ask certain questions relating to the war in Spain. He did not give notice of any motion for papers.
The Marquess of Londonderry
begged the noble Viscount's pardon. He had expressly stated across the table, that it might be convenient to the noble Viscount to know, that it was his intention to make 709 a motion, and he distinctly said, that he should move for returns relating to the supplies which had been given to the Chief, Munagorri.
§ Viscount Melbourne
continued: I certainly entirely misunderstood the noble Lord. I undoubtedly considered, that he intended to have asked a question; I did not know at all, that he meant to make any motion for papers; and I submit to the noble Marquess, seeing that he has moved for returns of supplies and despatches, whether it will not be better he should give an exact statement, of what he means to move for, that the Government may have an opportunity of determining whether it be prudent or wise to produce the returns or not. The noble Lord has said, that the main question which he wishes to ask has reference to the course which we mean to pursue in respect to the war in Spain. My Lords, that question may be answered in one word. It is our intention to observe the Quadruple Treaty; we mean to carry into effect our engagements, and to persevere in the system on which we have hitherto proceeded, which, though it is impossible to deny, that it has not been attended with that speedy success which was expected, but which has not been—and on this point I beg entirely to deny the noble Lord's assertion from the beginning to the end—a system of nothing but failure and disgrace. The noble Lord has asked, whether we intend to feed the war at the rate at which it has been already fed, and whether we should continue affording supplies to the same extent. With respect to that, I can only say, that we shall exercise our own discretion; we shall act according to circumstances, according to that which the occasion and opportunities may require; but undoubtedly we shall continue to pursue the same system—that of maintaining our engagements with the Queen of Spain. The noble Marquess said, that he should have supposed, that we were willing to abandon the war in Spain, and to abandon the system on which we have proceeded, had he not heard in the course of the last year, that her Majesty's Government had sent supplies to the chief, Munagorri, who had recently made a movement in the northern provinces. That, my Lords, was a movement for the purpose of producing peace; the object was to procure a reconciliation between the conflicting parties by a mode altoge- 710 ther new—by acknowledging on the one hand the Queen's Government, but, at the same time, promising to maintain the peculiar rights and privileges of those provinces. When the Government saw a spirit of that kind arising in that country, and demonstrating itself, and when in that spirit they saw, by encouraging it, the means of terminating those hostilities, they unquestionably did think it a wise policy to encourage that attempt by communicating their sympathy with, and approbation of, that movement, which had for its object the establishment of final peace between the provinces and the Queen of Spain. Certainly communications did take place between the agents of her Majesty's Government and that leader, and a small amount of supplies was placed at the disposal of Lord John Hay, in order that he might, according to his discretion, afford assistance to that leader or not; whether any has been afforded I know not, but unquestionably to produce any returns on that subject there can be no objection. The noble Lord has adverted again to a subject which has been before discussed by your Lordships, viz, the arrears still due to the Legion. The noble Lord knows very well how that matter stands. Commissioners are sitting in London on the subject, and they have proceeded to a considerable length in ascertaining the claims of the Legion on the Spanish Government. The noble Lord asks me whether in my conscience I believe, that those claims will ever be satisfied. My Lords, I can speak as to facts—I can speak as to what has taken place; but as to what will take place it is impossible that I can pretend to speak. Everybody knows the difficulties under which the Spanish Government labours as to its finances—every body is aware of them; but I believe that there exists in the present Government of that country a strong anxiety and desire to fulfil the engagements into which it has entered. The noble Lord mentions a subject, somewhat connected with this to be sure, that a loan is raising in this country under the moral sanction of her Majesty's Government, as the noble Lord says. Now, I beg distinctly to state, that her Majesty's Government has in no respect encouraged or even said or done anything which could at all amount to any encouragement of that loan, or which could induce any persons to enter into it, or which could afterwards 711 impose upon the Government the slightest responsibility to, or even connection with, any persons who may be induced to enter into it or engage in that speculation. The noble Lord then referred to a certain correspondence, and he asks me whether it be correct or authentic? I have not seen that correspondence, and, I therefore, cannot say whether it be authentic or not; but as the noble Lord did not think proper to bring that under the consideration of the House, I do think as he only adverted to it in so imperfect a manner, that it would have been better if he had not adverted to it at all. As to the motion of the noble Lord, I don't exactly understand how the wording of that motion may be, but I apprehend that there can be no great objection to any part of those returns. Certainly, my Lords, as to those documents to which the noble Marquess adverted in the latter part of his speech, and which relate to the efforts which have been made to mitigate the atrocities of this war, not only is her Majesty's Government not unwilling, but they are most desirous, to lay all these documents on the table of the House. They would consider it a great reproach to themselves if they had not done all in their power, by communications with the Government in Spain, by communication with the Carlist leaders, and with the governments of other countries in Europe, to put an end to a system of warfare which is a disgrace to the times in which we live. My Lords, we know that it is impossible that such a system practised and exercised on one side, should not be followed up, and returned; and retaliated on the other; it is not in human nature that it should be otherwise; it is the result of the common feelings of our nature; it is scarcely more than justice; force begets force; violence and the shedding of blood lead to the shedding of blood; but in justice to the Queen's Government, and the officers who have served under it, I must say, I believe that those who began such a system are responsible for the whole misery which follows, and I believe that on Don Carlos and his officers that responsibility rests. In the course of such horrors and violence I do not doubt that some violence may have been committed on the other side; but the beginning, the commencement, of that system of warfare rests on the Carlist side; and that the Queen's Government and those who have served under her, are not justly chargeable with the atrocities 712 which have been perpetrated. Upon that subject, my Lords, we will not only produce the correspondence for which the noble Lord has moved, but that which we have had with other countries. There could be but one feeling on such a subject, and on all sides we have heard the utter reprobation of these proceedings, and the greatest anxiety to terminate them; and though naturally any great power of influencing Don Carlos would be disclaimed by many of the Powers with whom we have entered into correspondence, yet from all quarters the greatest readiness has been exhibited to endeavour to put an end to the system so outrageous to humanity. I am not aware of any objection to the motion of the noble Lord, but if he would consent to withdraw it now, and give notice for to-morrow, that perhaps would be a more convenient course.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, if the noble Marquess will consent to withdraw his motion until to-morrow, I would ask the noble Viscount at the same time to produce the despatches with regard to this mode of warfare, which have never yet been laid on the table of this House, and which were written in 1834, and 1835; because, my Lords, these despatches will open to your Lordships the state of the case at that period, and will show the policy that was then pursued; and I think your Lordships will then see, that if that course had been adhered to, we should never have seen the state of things at present existing. Under these circumstances I submit to the noble Viscount opposite that he should produce the despatches of 1834 and 1835.
§ The Earl of Ripon
wished to say a word relating to the encouragement which had been given to the Chief, Munagorri. He should like to know how far what had been done in that respect was done in communication with the Spanish Government, because if it had not been done in communication with the Queen of Spain we had involved ourselves, and had taken a new part in a new character with respect to the affairs of that country. By the encouragement the Government had afforded to that movement they must have induced persons in that country to join it; and they must have placed those people in the most dangerous situation, if that encouragement had not been given by the consent of the Queen of Spain. He considered that a principle so serious was 713 involved in the matter, that he begged to ask the noble Viscount whether that encouragement had been given, in consequence of a communication with the Queen of Spain?
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
understood that the efforts of that leader had been repudiated by the Queen's commanders, with whom he certainly was not in communication, and against whom they were acting in some respects hostilely. In point of fact, that chief was a third party, whom we had set up, independent alike of Don Carlos and the Queen, and who had endeavoured to bring the conflict to a settlement on different grounds from any which had before been taken. He thought that this was a most preposterous assumption on our part, to set up a third party in the country independent of the other two, for the purpose of settling their disputes. That could not be said to be acting up to the stipulations of the Quadruple Treaty. It was no defence to the Queen of Spain; it was a setting up a third party, whom if he failed, we were bound to support. It was leading the people to engage in an under taking which might bring upon us a very heavy responsibility. It was quite gratuitous on our part, and he thought that already we had been sufficiently mixed up in these contests, without bringing another barbarian into the field.
§ The Duke of Wellington
wished his noble Friend to alter the word "blockade," which was in his motion. Begging his noble Friend's pardon, there could be no such thing as a blockade; the squadron on that coast was engaged in operations, not a blockade, but in operations in conjunction with Munagorri.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that undoubtedly Munagorri was a third party independent of the Queen and of Don Carlos, and that chief proposed the settlement of the contest on grounds which had not been in the first place assumed by either party. The question was whether they were right or wrong in encouraging him on his principles, and it certainly appeared to the Government desirable to terminate the war on those principles; and he begged to ask whether, if there were any possibility of any result of that kind, and if there were any chance of that movement tending to the final pacification of the country, it was not worth while to 714 take the chance which offered itself of producing that desirable result?
The Marquess of Londonderry
said, that really they had now got a new feature in the case. It now seemed that whoever might raise the standard of war in Spain, we were to join in his attempt, however Quixotic. Why, for aught their Lordships knew, this new leader, whom we were supporting, might be gone, and his bands all dispersed by this time. What the noble Viscount had now stated was another ground for additional information to the House and the country on this subject. The noble Viscount had expressed his belief that the Spanish Government would settle all the claims of the Legion upon it. He had certainly no such confidence in that Government. He did not believe that those claims would be settled any more than the 600,000l. which we had advanced in arms and stores to that Government. If Government had taken the precaution of having the advances to Spain and the claims of the Legion settled upon some fund, they would have been settled, or be in a fair way of settlement long ago. He would adopt the suggestion of his noble Friend the noble Duke as to the omission of the word "blockade," and would include the despatches of 1834 and 1835, and in that shape he would move it the next day, when he trusted it would be acceded to without further discussion.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
wished to add to what had fallen from his noble Friend, that not only had every step been communicated to the Spanish Government, but no remonstrance whatever had been made by that Government on the subject.
§ Motion withdrawn.