HL Deb 18 December 1854 vol 136 cc422-3

in presenting a Petition of John Gilmour, Secretary of the London Committee of Merchants associated fur the Assimilation of the Commercial Laws of the United Kingdom, praying that a similar measure to the Bills of Exchange Bill of last Session may be passed, said, I hope your Lordships will suffer me on this occasion to express my regret at having beets unavoidably absent on the opening of the Session —not that there was any reason to apprehend a struggle in Parliament upon the great matters which caused its assembling, unless the struggle who should render most effectual assistance to the Government in carrying on the war, there being in every quarter an entire abnegation of all factious views and feelings—nor that it was necessary to join my voice with more eloquent tongues in the chorus chanted to the immortal glories of the Allied arms, or to mingle my tears with those which unhappily bedewed their laurels. It is, indeed, a bitter cup of which we have now to taste, when, at the close of a long life, devoted, according to the measure of my humble means, to the cause of peace, the furtherance of improvement in knowledge and in freedom, in all that constitutes civility and refinement, I find the world plunged in war such as has never before been waged—the war of enlightened government against benighted despotism—of civilisation itself against barbarism—barbarism armed with the weapons which civilisation puts into its hands, and with the superadded, the unhallowed force that it derives from a savage nature's execrable resources, to which its humaner antagonists would blush and shudder to resort. That in this conflict the right may prevail, and our arms be crowned with victory, all good men, all rational must pray, and the happy union which binds the Western Powers together is the best earnest of it. But I would fain be permitted to remark the unreflecting injustice with which, in our anxious desire of success, we are apt to regard another great Power, Austria, forgetting how very different is her position and ours in relation to the common enemy. She touches on his territory, is in part surrounded by it, while we have all Europe between. Yet let me add, that the combat is now raging at our cost for her even more than for ourselves; that the contest is not more for the Ottoman than for the Austrian empire; that, if it ends unfavourably, our Ottoman Ally will be less injured than our Austrian, by the reverse of fortune. To ward off so fatal a result from her by all means, is the most imperative duty which Austria owes to her own States; and, let me further say, she is grievously, most grievously, deceived, if she imagines that any effort she may make to ensure the success of the Allied arms, can possibly increase the hatred of her felt by Russia, or quicken the desire of vengeance for what Austria has already done. With her aid, or without it, we may look for a successful result of the present operations; and then let us hope that he who broke the blessed peace of thirty-nine years with which Providence had crowned the glorious, the equally glorious, efforts of the Allies in twenty years of war—he who had once earned so high a character, probably for moderation, possibly for self-denial, certainly as the enemy of anarchy and the defender of order, a character in later times, I will not say forfeited, but in abeyance—not confiscated, but sequestered—may be disposed to regain the possession of it, as he easily may, for the honour of his arms, in a military view, is untarnished, and he may cause the past to be forgotten by once more listening to counsels of justice and moderation, and allowing the peace of the world, which he broke, to be restored.

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