HL Deb 08 March 1841 vol 57 cc1-3
The Earl of Mountcashell

wished to put a question to the noble Viscount opposite, respecting certain information which had just arrived from America, of great importance to this country and which had produced not only a great sensation in the city, but he believed had also had a material effect on the funds. He referred to the report made to the Congress of the United States, by the committee of foreign affairs, on the thirteenth February last, which, although it related principally to the affair of Mr. M'Leod, could not but have great influence in determining the other subjects of dispute between this country and the United States. He would be the last person to say one word likely to produce a greater division of opinion between the two countries than what now unfortunately existed, but he thought, when such a report as the one alluded to had appeared in the public prints as an official document of great importance, they were bound to ascertain at once whether it was so or not. He could not believe it to be genuine; he was inclined to think that it must be an invention. It was no uncommon thing for the public prints in foreign countries to insert documents for the purposes of stock-jobbing, and he thought that the report in question had been inserted in the American newspapers with some such view. He had also great doubts of its being genuine, from the high opinion which he had of the practical good sense of the inhabitants of the United States. It was impossible, he thought, that they could be so blind to their own interests as to bring forward a document of that kind. He thought it unlikely that such a report could be adopted by a majority in Congress without some individual moving an amendment. He was convinced that if the inhabitants of the United States considered their own interest—if they looked to the state of their own finances—if they would but recollect the three millions of negroes who would take part with England—if they recollected the great body of Indians whom they had driven from their lands, and who were ready at the first opportunity to take vengeance on them—, if they pondered well these things, he was sure they would see but little inducement to their entering; on a war with England. They ought also to take into account the loyal feelings of the people of Canada, who would certainly retaliate on the United States the injuries done to them, and revenge Mr. M'Leod should he be murdered. They ought also to consider the large body of regular troops which were now in the British North American possessions, and the large naval force which, now that the Eastern question was settled, could be brought to bear against them. If they considered these things, they would very soon find, even in their calculations of profit and loss, of which they were so fond, and by which they seemed in the present instance not to be guided, that they were more likely in such a contest to add to their loss, than to increase their profits. For these reasons he was of opinion that the document was not true, but as it had produced so strong an impression on the public mind, he thought it necessary and right to ask the noble Viscount at the head of her Majesty's Government, whether he had received any intelligence respecting the report, and whether he considered it an official document or not? If it turned out to be official, he should, at the proper period, feel it his duty to make some observations in regard to it, for a document more insulting o this nation had never been penned. He wished, therefore, to know from the noble Viscount whether any information had reached him on the subject?

Viscount Melbourne

was unable to answer the question of the noble Lord, as no information had as yet been received from her Majesty's representative at Washington. He apprehended, however, that considering the form of the document, and the manner in which it had reached this country, there could be no doubt of its authenticity.

Subject at an end.

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