§ "WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to convey to Your Majesty our humble Thanks for Your Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne.
§ "WE humbly congratulate Your Majesty upon the signal and important Success which, since the Close of the last 10 Session of Parliament, the Arms of the Allies have achieved; and upon Sebastopol, the great Stronghold of Russia in the Black Sea, having yielded to the persevering Constancy and to the daring Bravery of the Allied Forces.
§ "WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that the Naval and Military Preparations for the ensuing Year have occupied Your Majesty's serious Attention; but that, while determined to omit no Effort which could give Vigour to the Operations of the War, Your Majesty has deemed it Your Duty not to decline any Overtures which might reasonably afford a Prospect of a safe and honourable Peace. That accordingly, when The Emperor of Austria lately offered to Your Majesty and to Your august Ally The Emperor of the French to employ His good Offices with The Emperor of Russia, with a view to endeavour to bring about an amicable Adjustment of the Matters at issue between the contending Powers, Your Majesty consented, in concert with Your Allies, to accept the Offer thus made.
§ "WE assure Your Majesty that we participate in the Satisfaction which Your Majesty expresses in informing us that certain Conditions have been agreed upon which Your Majesty hopes may prove the Foundation of a General Treaty of Peace; and that Negotiations for such a Treaty will shortly be opened at Paris.
§ "WE humbly thank Your Majesty for acquainting us, that, in conducting those Negotiations, Your Majesty will be careful not to lose Sight of the Objects for which the War was undertaken, and will deem it right in no Degree to relax Your Naval and Military Preparations until a satisfactory Treaty of Peace shall have been concluded.
§ "WE thank Your Majesty for informing us, that, although the War in which Your Majesty is engaged was brought on by Events in the South of Europe, Your Majesty's Attention has not been withdrawn from the State of Things in the North 11 and that, in conjunction with The Emperor of the French, Your Majesty has concluded, with The King of Sweden and Norway, a Treaty containing defensive Engagements applicable to His Dominions, and tending to the Preservation of the Balance of Power in that Part of Europe.
§ "WE humbly thank Your Majesty for acquainting us, that Your Majesty has also concluded a Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation with the Republic of Chili; and to convey to Your Majesty our Thanks for having directed that these Treaties shall be laid before us.
§ "WE humbly beg leave to acquaint Your Majesty that we participate in the Gratification expressed by Your Majesty at finding that, notwithstanding the Pressure of the War, and the Burthens and Sacrifices which it has unavoidably imposed upon Your People, the Resources of the Empire remain unimpaired. We humbly thank Your Majesty for the Confidence with which Your Majesty relies on the manly Spirit and enlightened Patriotism of Your loyal Subjects for a Continuance of that Support which they have so nobly afforded Your Majesty; and for the Assurance that Your Majesty will not call upon them for Exertions beyond what may be required by a due Regard for the great Interests, the Honour, and the Dignity of the Empire.
§ "WE assure Your Majesty that we will give our best Attention to the several Subjects connected with internal Improvement which Your Majesty has recommended to our Consideration.
§ "WE thank Your Majesty for informing us that Measures will be proposed for applying a Remedy to the Inconvenience which a large Portion of Your Majesty's Subjects engaged in Trade have experienced from the Difference which in several important Particulars exists between the Commercial Laws of Scotland and those of the other Parts of the United Kingdom.12
§ "WE thank Your Majesty for acquainting us that Measures will also be proposed for our Consideration for improving the Laws relating to Partnership, by simplifying those Laws, and thus rendering more easy the Employment of Capital in Commerce.
§ "WE beg leave to express our humble Thanks to Your Majesty for informing us, that the System under which Merchant Shipping is liable to pay Local Dues and Passing Tolls having been the Subject of much Complaint, Measures will be proposed to us for affording Relief in regard to those Matters.
§ "WE beg leave humbly to assure Your Majesty that the other important Measures for improving the Law in Great Britain and in Ireland, which Your Majesty informs us will be proposed to us, shall receive our attentive Consideration.
§ "WE assure Your Majesty, that we unite with Your Majesty in fervently praying that in those and all other Matters upon which we may deliberate the Blessing of Divine Providence may favour our Councils, and may guide them to the Promotion of the great Object of Your Majesty's unvarying Solicitude, the Welfare and the Happiness of Your People."
§ THE EARL OF ABINGDON
said, that in rising to second the Address which had been moved by his noble Friend, he could not help feeling his utter inadequacy to do justice to the task which he had undertaken, especially at a period so important—at a crisis so eventful, when the whole country was absorbed in the great question of peace or war—a question on which the public mind was agitated with anxiety and hope, but at the same time with doubt and apprehension—anxious that these negotiations should be brought, if possible, to a successful issue, but apprehensive lest any terms should be accepted inconsistent with the honour and dignity of the country, and which, in their effects, might be injurious to the ultimate peace and tranquillity of Europe. He must confess that he could not bring himself to share in those apprehensions, because he entertained a confident conviction 13 that Her Majesty's Government would never be party to terms of peace ignominious to the British name; and he felt an equally confident conviction that, if they were a party to such terms, they would justly forfeit the confidence of their Lordships' House, as well as that of the other House of Parliament. But if anything were required to convince him that due regard would be paid, in the negotiations about to take place, to British honour and British interests, he should find it in the fact that he understood that these negotiations were to be conducted on behalf of this country by his noble Friend who had so ably conducted the Foreign Affairs of this country—who had shown so much skill and ability in the performance of his important duties—who had conducted these affairs so much to the satisfaction of the country, and so much to the advantage of the public service, and who had been so eminently successful in all negotiations in which he had taken part. He thought that no man who had watched the progress of this war could deny that if the just demands of this country were not complied with by Russia, we were in a position to enforce those demands by a vigorous resumption of hostilities. What, he might ask, was the relative position of Russia and this country? Russia commenced the war, calculating, in the first place, on the weakness of Turkey and her inability to offer any prolonged resistance to her aggressive designs—calculating on the want of support on the part of the commercial classes in this country to a war policy—calculating that if we did go to war we should become involved in quarrels and disputes with neutral Powers—and calculating, above all, upon a want of cordial co-operation between this country and France. In all these calculations Russia had been completely baffled. Turkey, instead of showing weakness, had exhibited an amount of strength and vitality not before expected of her. The calculations of Russia, with respect to the want of support from the commercial classes in this country to the war, had been baffled by the cautious policy which had been pursued by the noble Earl then at the head of the Government (the Earl of Aberdeen), before war was declared. That policy had exposed the noble Earl to much obloquy and misrepresentation, but it had, in the end, enlisted the sympathies of the commercial classes in favour of the war, and had enabled us to obtain a hold over the public opinion of Europe which 14 we might otherwise have wanted. Moreover, by the judicious concessions which had been made by England, the maritime cooperation of France had been secured; and we had, by the same means, removed a just and legitimate cause of complaint on the part of the neutral Powers. Russia had also calculated on the want of sufficient military preparations on the part of this country. She calculated on the strength of those vast armies, fleets, and arsenals, on which she had lavished all the resources of her mighty empire. But what had been the result? In the first place, we had sent out the largest army that was ever sent out from the shores of this country within so short a space of time. Russia had not calculated the power of our navy, and she had over calculated her own, which had been annihilated in the Black Sea, and rendered powerless in the Baltic; it had been unable to protect her coasts from blockade. She was crippled in her military and internal resources—her commerce, her trade, and her finances were destroyed—she had no resources at home, and she was unable to obtain credit abroad. Such was the miserable condition to which that great Power had been reduced. But what was the position of this country? We commenced war to preserve the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire, which we considered essential to the maintenance of the balance of power in Europe. Much as we might regret the necessary evils of war, and the pressure of taxation which war had produced, we had the satisfaction of knowing that the Government had raised the necessary supplies without being driven to any alteration in that system of commercial policy which recently had been established in this country; that our trade had not been affected to nearly the same extent as in former wars; and that we had mitigated many of the evils of war by the wise and humane regulations we had adopted at the commencement of hostilities with respect to neutral Powers, and by the abolition of the barbarous practice of privateering. We had also the satisfaction of knowing that the comforts of our troops had been carefully and anxiously studied during the past year, and that they had not been exposed to the hardships and sufferings which had occurred during last winter. He would not stop to inquire whether or not those sufferings and hardships had arisen from any individual incapacity at home—though he entertained a strong opinion that they had arisen from the difficulties 15 which were inherent to the commencement of a great war. We had also the consolation of knowing—though it was a melancholy consolation indeed, considering the tremendous sacrifice of life with which they had been accompanied—that brilliant achievements had been performed by the British army, achievements which reflected honour and credit on our national name—achievements which, at the commencement of the war, no one would have been sanguine enough to have anticipated. He would but allude to the glorious victories of Alma and Inkerman—to the brilliant but fatal charge of Balaklava, led by the noble and gallant Earl opposite—victories which paved the way for that great and crowning victory, the capture of that important fortress, the orders for which had been sent out by the noble Duke (the Duke of Newcastle). Those orders had been carried out by the successor of the noble Duke, and by the united efforts of the Allied Powers that one great object of the war had been accomplished—they had obtained possession of Sebastopol—a fortress which had cost Russia millions of money, and which was the key of her southern provinces; and, notwithstanding the gallantry and determination with which that fortress had been defended, the people of England had the satisfaction of knowing that, whilst the eagles of France were planted upon the Malakoff, our gallant Allies had borne cheerful and honourable testimony to the gallantry and devotion of our troops engaged in the attack upon the Redan. At sea we had avenged the massacre of Sinope by the destruction of the Russian fleet which had perpetrated that outrage. We had complete possession of the Sea of Azoff; and after having accomplished these great results, we found our finances flourishing, and in such a condition as to enable us to carry on the war with ease, should that prove to be necessary; and, though desirous of peace, there is among the people of this country a spirit and determination, if need be, whatever may be the difficulties and privations, long and wearisome as may be the struggle, and distant as may be the time at which peace may be brought within reach, a steady determination to continue those efforts until peace shall be obtained upon secure and honourable terms. What, then, he might ask, could be more agreeable to the people of this country than the following words in the Speech from the Throne—the language of the responsible advisers of the Crown— 16 that "I shall deem it right in no degree to relax My naval and military preparations until a satisfactory treaty of peace shall have been concluded." He (the Earl of Abingdon) rejoiced that these negotiations were to be held in the capital of Her Majesty's most august Ally, of that illustrious Prince who now swayed the destinies of a people distinguished for military prowess and renown, who were second to none in valour and heroism, and foremost among the nations of the Continent of Europe in all the arts of civilisation. He could scarcely find words to express his admiration of the noble and generous conduct of that illustrious Prince, and of his gallant people, in having come forward in so honourable a manner, forgetting all former grievances, all former rivalries and causes of complaint, and acting so cordially with this country. Nor could he forget the cordiality we had seen so satisfactorily evinced between the two armies in the field, and the interesting circumstance that that alliance had been cemented and strengthened by the act of Her Majesty in conferring upon the French army a signal mark of Her esteem for their gallant and brilliant services, bestowing those marks of Her regard by the hand of a gallant and illustrious Member of their Lordships' House, a Prince of the Blood Royal, who had shared the dangers, and participated in the successes of that army, and who had shown himself worthy of the confidence reposed in him by his Sovereign, and of his high and exalted station. There was also another illustrious Ally, who had furnished more than the stipulated number of troops, and whose soldiers had shown themselves worthy to contend side by side with the best troops of England and France—a sovereign who, though surrounded by nations to whom freedom and constitutional government were unknown, and where revolutionary fury was ever threatening to burst forth, had nevertheless succeeded in establishing in his dominions a Government based on free and constitutional principles. It was highly satisfactory to know that we enjoyed the alliance of such a Sovereign and such a people, He rejoiced, also, that a defensive alliance had been concluded with Sweden. Such an alliance was of the utmost importance to Sweden; and to us it was of great importance that we should be able to contend against the encroachments of Russia in that quarter. It was of the utmost importance to Russia that she should have a harbour free of ice, and by 17 the action of the Gulf stream it was well known that there were harbours on the coast of Sweden which were always free from ice, and which would therefore be most valuable in the hands of an ambitious Power like Russia. It was also satisfactory to know that a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation, had been concluded with the republic of Chili—a republic which had been distinguished among the South American States for her advance in social progress, and for her desire to promote the development of her resources. His noble Friend (the Earl of Gosford) had mentioned the various measures which they were informed in Her Majesty's Speech, would be introduced by Her Majesty's Government connected with our internal improvement and with the freedom of trade and the advancement of the commerce of the country. He (the Earl of Abingdon) rejoiced that, amid the din of military preparation. Her Majesty's Government had not been forgetful of the trading and commercial interests of the country, and that they were prepared, by the removal of all unnecessary restrictions, to facilitate the employment of capital, and to act in conformity with that great commercial policy, the soundness of which had enabled us to appear at this moment with undiminished resources in the face of a great and powerful enemy. If ever there was a time in which unanimity was desirable, that time was the present. He would therefore entreat their Lordships to show to the people of this country that, when great interests were at stake, party spirit was put in abeyance; to show to our Allies, to Europe, and, above all, to the enemy, that there was perfect unanimity in the British House of Parliament; and that, anxious and desirous as we were for the blessings of peace, yet if that peace could not be obtained on a firm, safe, and honourable basis—and obtained in a manner likely to be permanent and enduring—then we were unanimous in our determination to support the Crown in an instant, immediate, and vigorous resumption of hostilities. Thanking their Lordships for the indulgence which he had received, he had only to entreat their Lordships' unanimity in favour of the Address which had been moved by his noble Friend (the Earl of Gosford), and which he now begged to second.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just sat down concluded the observations which he offered to 18 the House by expressing his hope that on this occasion, under circumstances so important and so critical, there would be no false encouragement given to the enemy by any idea that the ties of party can by possibility prevail over that unanimity which I concur with him to be essential at this time to the best interests of the country; and I can assure the noble Earl that on my part, and on the part of those of my Friends with whom I have the honour and satisfaction to act, there is no desire in our Vote this evening to interfere with that unanimity to which he has referred, or to prevent the Answer to the Speech from the Crown from being carried by the unanimous sanction of your Lordships.
My Lords, I go along with the Address in answer to that which, in constitutional phrase, I must call Her Majesty's most gracious Speech; but, having said so, I must be permitted to deal with that Speech as it is, and not as it is not—to deal with it as the speech of the Ministers, and not as the Speech of our gracious Sovereign; and I do so because I feel that in my comments on that Speech I may make use of some expressions and apply some terms that would hardly be complimentary or even fitting if they were applied to anything emanating directly from the Sovereign. We are not accustomed to look in documents of this kind for ornaments of style, or for any great elegance of diction or language; and long experience has induced us to be perfectly satisfied if in plain and intelligible English the First Minister of the Crown conveys his meaning and intentions to the House. But I must venture to say, that of all the documents of this kind that ever came under my observation I never met with one that could so little pretend to the graces of diction, or even to the intelligible conveyance of information to the House. This document is chiefly confined to the subject of the war. Of course, I am ignorant by whom the paragraphs relating to the war may have been framed; but if they were the suggestion of my noble Friend opposite, to whose department they especially belong, it must have been at the close of one of those exhausting attacks to which he as well as I am unfortunately subject, or under the influence not more exhilarating of that meagre diet which is their necessary accompaniment. The Speech is redolent of water-gruel. It reminds me of nothing more than those documents which 19 in our early school days we wore accustomed to prepare, and which went by the name of "themes," in the composition of which the object was to accomplish the allotted task, and fill up the six-and-thirty lines of writing, taking especial care not to exceed the allotted limit, but within that limit to dilute with the largest possible amount of unnecessary and epithetical language the smallest possible quantity of meaning. We are not accustomed here, neither do we desire that the Speech from the Throne should emulate the longwindedness and diffusiveness of our Transatlantic brethren. I do not desire—far from it—that the Queen's Speech should be a copy of the President's Message; but we certainly have been accustomed on former occasions to see, though not at great length, yet the main interests and the main subjects of the day, connected with the well-being of the country, glanced at and treated of in the Speech from the Throne—some notice taken of our foreign relations—some mention made of the internal affairs of the country, of its commerce and its finances—some indications that we have such a thing as an empire in India, and some communication as to the condition and prospects of that empire. We have also been occasionally reminded in the Speech from the Throne that we have colonial possessions, and that the people of this country are not altogether indifferent as to what becomes of those possessions. I do not say that Her Majesty's Government should give us a broad and general résumé of all that has been done and all that they are about to do, but that the great and leading features appertaining to the Administration of this great empire ought to be brought, to a certain extent, under the view of Parliament in the Speech from the Throne, and that some indications at least should be given of the principal measures which it is intended by the Government to submit for the consideration of Parliament.
Now, in the Speech this day delivered from the Throne we commence with a paragraph so bare, so bald, so meagre, that I am at once warranted in drawing that distinction which I have already done between the Speech of the Sovereign and the speech of the Minister. We have a bare announcement in the first paragraph that—Since the Close of the last Session of Parliament, the Arms of the Allies have achieved a signal and important Success—that Sebastopol, 20 the great Stronghold of Russia in the Black Sea, has yielded to the persevering Constancy and to the daring Bravery of the Allied Forces.One of the noble Lords who either moved or seconded the Address has spoken of the glowing encomiums which were passed by Her Majesty's Government on the gallantry and bravery of the troops; but all I can say is, that never was praise so faint for achievements so great, and never was a reception so ungracious given to heroic endurance, to unparalleled bravery, and to sufferings all but unparalleled, and to exertions that have achieved results which it was almost impossible to hope any amount of gallantry or endurance could have accomplished. I remember seeing it related of an officer that, in reporting to his immediate superior the result of a great victory, he couched his despatch in these short and emphatic terms—Sir—Yesterday Her Majesty's squadron under my command burnt, sunk, and captured the enemy's ships as per margin.This was a most modest and emphatic way of reciting the result of a great action; but that commander was speaking of his own deeds and not of the achievements of others; he was only claiming for himself that meed of praise which the energy and gallantry of himself and of his comrades deserved; he was not undertaking to bestow the meed of praise to others which their actions had deserved. The present, however, is an occasion on which the Sovereign, in the presence of Her assembled Parliament, ought to perform—and would have performed, had She been left to the promptings of Her own heart—the pleasing task of declaring Her gratitude—Her unbounded gratitude—for the exertions, and Her sympathy with the sufferings of those brave men to whom this country is indebted for the success which has been achieved. My Lords, who has not watched with admiration the personal course which Her Majesty has pursued—the warm, kindly, and womanly sympathy She has shown for the sufferings of Her wounded soldiers? Who that has beheld Her decorating the survivors; with Her own hand, with those marks of honour which acquire a double value from being thus conferred; who that has heard of Her visiting the sick beds of the wounded, speaking to them of their private and individual sufferings, and cheering them with words which from any one would carry comfort and consolation, but which, from the lips of the Sovereign, must gratify the pride of those to whom 21 they are addressed, and excite feelings of the most loyal devotion; who that has observed the language, the demeanour, and the actions of the Sovereign towards Her soldiers will believe that, had Her Majesty been left to the promptings of Her own heart and to the expression of Her own feelings, the language of the Speech would have been thus cold and ungracious, and would have been confined to a simple statement that, since the close of the last Session of Parliament Sebastopol, the great stronghold of Russia in the Black Sea, has yielded to the persevering constancy and to the daring bravery of the allied forces? My Lords, if Her Majesty had followed the dictates of Her own judgment, I think I know what would have been the tone in which She would have addressed you. Her Majesty would have expressed a deep sense of gratitude to that Almighty Disposer of all events without whom arms can do nothing, and would have asked you to join in the expression of a nation's gratitude towards those brave men who, under that mighty Providence, have been enabled to achieve so important a success. Language such as that would have gone to the hearts of many and many thousands in this country. Language such as that, addressed by the Sovereign to Her Parliament, would have kindled anew and strengthened the flame of loyalty which burns among your troops, and would have encouraged them to those deeds of daring upon which such a paragraph as I have read is calculated to throw a damp.
But, my Lords, we are told in the Speech from the Throne, that—Since the Close of the last Session of Parliament, Sebastopol, the great Stronghold of Russia in the Black Sea, has yielded to the persevering Constancy and to the daring Bravery of the Allied Forces"—and we are now asked to thank Her Majesty for giving us this information—information which for the last three months has been notorious all over the world; within that time information of that fact, so far as it is a fact—because unhappily it is not a fact—might be derived from the columns of any newspaper. Unhappily it is not a fact. "Sebastopol, the great stronghold of Russia in the Black Sea," has not yielded to your valour and to your daring, whatever that valour and daring may have been. It is true, that by unparalleled achievements, you have succeeded in forcing a portion of that strong- 22 hold. You have obtained possession of the southern side of Sebastopol. You have destroyed the fleet of Russia—or, at least, she has destroyed them herself, and has saved you the trouble. You have blown up, or you are blowing up, those splendid docks which were miracles of art, of perseverance, and of skill, but "the great stronghold of Russia" still holds you at defiance. In front of that stronghold upon the northern coast, beleaguered rather than beleaguering, lie your armies at this moment, while your fleets are floating at a respectful distance from that stronghold which you declare has yielded to the persevering constancy and to the daring bravery of the allied forces. Although, therefore, I am ready to congratulate Her Majesty, as we are invited to do, upon the success which has been attained, I must yet say that it is not correct to say what this paragraph of the Speech says, and that it is an erroneous statement that the great stronghold of Russia has yielded to the daring and valour of your troops, however great that daring and valour may have been.
My Lords, I rejoice to learn that the naval and military preparations for the ensuing year have occupied the serious attention of Her Majesty's Government. I must confess, that, whatever hope of peace I may have entertained, or may entertain, as the result of these negotiations, I have not derived any great encouragement to look for a satisfactory issue from the language which has been held by my noble Friend who opened the debate and by the noble Earl who seconded the Address. Both those noble Lords expressed considerable doubt as to the issue of the negotiations which are now in progress; and I concur with them that, while we should welcome, and cordially welcome, in the interest of Europe, any peace which would effectually attain those objects for which we originally went to war, it will be a permanent disgrace to this country if we accept any peace which should fall short of the full accomplishment of those objects. I rejoice that, while we are not declining overtures of peace, we are making effective preparations for war; and, although I fear that the noble Earl has, to a certain degree, overrated the state of exhaustion and difficulty and distress of our great foe, yet I believe he has not overrated the amount—the formidable amount—of the preparations which we are mak- 23 ing, and which my noble Friend would seem somewhat reluctant to see altogether wasted, and not applied in the new campaign of 1856; and I am sure that he has not overrated the stedfast, stubborn perseverance which this country will always display for the attainment of any object which it feels to be just and necessary to attain. I cannot blame Her Majesty's Government for having consented to enter into negotiations, although I may entertain considerable suspicion with regard to the quarter from which these negotiations proceed; and I must say, though I do not doubt that the framer of the paragraph before us has accurately described the course of events, yet the language used in that paragraph is by no means satisfactory to my mind. We are told that—The Emperor of Austria lately offered to Myself mid to My august Ally The Emperor of the French to employ His good Offices with The Emperor of Russia, with a view to endeavour to bring about an amicable Adjustment of the Matters at issue between the contending Powers.I doubt not that this is a correct statement of the facts, and that the Emperor of Austria has applied to the Emperor of the French and to Her Majesty for their sanction to these negotiations with the Emperor of Russia in order to the attainment of peace; but I confess that it would to me have borne a more gratifying appearance if the Government had been enabled to state that the Emperor of Austria had applied for the sanction of the Emperor of Russia to employ his good offices with the Emperor of the French and the Queen of England; for from the language of the Speech—and I doubt not that language was well considered—the impression in Europe, and I fear it is a correct impression, will be that, after all, we are virtually applicants to Russia for peace, and that Russia is not the applicant to us. ["No, no," from the Ministerial benches.] Noble Lords opposite say "No, no." The statement they make is this—that Austria has applied for your consent to employ her good offices with Russia towards obtaining the assent of Russia to certain conditions in which you have previously signified your concurrence, Now, if in that case you are not the party seeking for peace—you having given your assent to the conditions and applying for the concurrence of Russia—and if Russia is not the party preserving the right to 24 grant those conditions or to refuse them, I confess I do not understand what is the force of language, or how it could be more clearly intimated.
My Lords, there are in the Speech from the Throne two very remarkable omissions. The noble Earl who seconded the Address has to a certain extent supplied one of them. He has done justice to the merits and to the services and to the position of one of our Allies—the most disinterested, the most energetic, and the most deserving of our support and consideration—I mean the King of Sardinia; but strange it is that, during the whole course of the Speech, not only is the existence of the King of Sardinia altogether ignored, not only are the services he has rendered to the cause totally excluded from any mention, but—what is something more extraordinary still—from first to last in this Speech there does not occur the slightest allusion to the name or the existence of Turkey. Why, I thought Turkey was the principal in this war! I thought you were at war in defence of the integrity of Turkey. I thought it was because Turkey boldly and gallantly threw herself into the breach, and refused to assent to the degrading conditions which Russia sought to impose upon her, that we came forward as allies to her assistance; but now, forsooth, propositions of peace are made to France and England; they are accepted by France and England; and, having assented to those conditions, we are—certainly in conjunction with our Allies, as we find at the close of the paragraph—proceeding to discuss them as the foundation of a general treaty: but nothing is said of the principal party concerned. I must say, that this entire silence with regard to both Turkey and Sardinia—this thrusting of them both so entirely into the shade—is little consistent with the comity of nations, and the relationship in which those countries stand to France and England.
My Lords, I commented just now on the ungracious terms in which Her Majesty has been made to refer to the services of Her own troops in that successful and honourable achievement—the capture of portion of Sebastopol; and certainly, if such ungracious terms are applied to those whoso efforts have been crowned with such an important measure of success, it does not surprise me that Her Majesty's Ministers should have found no terms of commendation to throw away upon others 25 whose sufferings have been not less unparalleled, whose deeds have been not less heroic or less distinguished, although, alas! their efforts, their long-suffering endurance, have not been attended with success—it does not surprise me that the Government should have found no language in which to record the matchless endurance and indomitable gallantry of those brave men who, in a distant and deserted Asiatic town, maintained so well and so nobly the honour of the English arms, and showed in so signal a manner that when directed and commanded by British officers, the Turkish soldiers are capable of as great devotion and heroism as any troops in the world. My Lords, were there no words of praise or of sympathy from their Sovereign and the Parliament which might have cheered these brave men in the depth of those prisons to which their gallantry has consigned them—which might have given them fresh courage to support their sufferings and their misfortunes, and proved to them that their exertions and their hardships had not been undergone in the service of an ungrateful country? It is but little that individual sympathy can do in such cases; but some such words of sympathy and praise as I have indicated coming from their Sovereign in the presence of Her assembled Parliament, would carry with them a weight which can accompany the language of no other individual;—yet, standing in this place, and feeling that my words may possibly reach the prisons to which they have been doomed, but by a not ungenerous enemy, I would say to those gallant spirits—to Williams, to Teas-dale, to Lake, and Thompson—" You may rest assured that this House and the country deeply sympathise with you in your misfortunes; and we honour the valour and prize the fame of the brave but unsuccessful defenders of Kars as not below those of the more fortunate conquerors of Sebastopol." I am not surprised that there should rise a blush of shame on the cheek of the Minister, or that he should hesitate and be paralysed, when about to inscribe in the Queen's speech the significant name of Kars!—a name of everlasting triumph and distinction to the valiant souls who, amid all the horrors of famine and hemmed in on all sides by an overpowering force, again and again repulsed their enemy, on whom they on one occasion inflicted a loss almost exceeding the carnage of any battle of modern times; and who, despite of every dis- 26 couragement, maintained their high spirit, and achieved victory after victory, until finally compelled to yield, not to the overwhelming numbers of the foe, but to the still more unconquerable force of sheer famine. The name of Kars, then, will be remembered to the immortal honour of its defenders; and let me add, that its name also confers no slight degree of honour and credit on the conqueror of those brave men, who, in the generous terms of capitulation which he granted, showed that he, at all events, knew how to appreciate an enemy's valour and fortitude, even when unavailing. Fortunate, indeed, was it for the gallant garrison of Kars that they had to deal with a Mouravieff, and not with a Coronini. Fortunate was it for the brave Poles and Hungarians who formed part of that undaunted garrison that the chivalrous spirit of their high-minded conqueror suffered them to go free, without incurring those additional dangers to which, as other than mere prisoners of war, they might have been exposed. Well was it for them that he was not one of those who would seek to strain the law of nations for the purpose at once of insulting an ally and trampling on the misfortunes of an exile. Yet, my Lords, if on the conqueror of Kars, and still more on its heroic defenders, the name of that fortress reflects imperishable renown, I must say, with deep regret, that it is equally a name of eternal reproach and shame to those, be they who they may, by whom this devoted band was left without support and without relief, and this important town allowed to fall unsuccoured, and even unavenged. My Lords, I know not to what influence we may ascribe this fatal, this inexcusable error. I have heard—but I cannot for a moment entertain the idea, and I bring the subject forward to give Her Majesty's Government an opportunity of giving to the rumour the most unqualified denial—I have heard it whispered abroad that while my noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough) was earnestly pressing upon the War Minister day by day the necessity of defending Turkey on her Asiatic frontier, warning him, from history and example, that that was the quarter from which Constantinople had most cause for apprehension, and reminding him that in the fatal years 1828 and 1829 the disastrous Treaty of Adrianople was hardly loss attributable to the advance of the Russian troops upon the European side of Turkey than to the successes of Paskiewitch and Mou- 27 ravieff at Kars and Erzeroum—while my noble Friend was urging these considerations upon the attention of the Government, it is alleged, though I can hardly credit it, that this important strategical post was neglected and abandoned to its fate because of some miserable jealousy between the two great Allies of Turkey—some paltry fear that we should be suspected of seeking, under cover of an expedition to the coast of Asia, to promote, not the conjoined interests of Turkey and the Allies, but our own isolated and exclusive interests. If this impression that has gone abroad were in any degree well founded, I should look, my Lords, upon the prospects of peace for Europe with the utmost alarm and dismay; I should see in this circumstance a convincing proof that, whatever the alliance which I deem so invaluable and on which I set such vast store, may be in name, it is nothing in substance—that there is no real alliance, no cordial co-operation between the two great Powers, the union of which is indispensable to the wellbeing and tranquillity of Europe. I should blush, my Lords, for my country, if I could believe that, under the pretence of advancing the common cause, any measure could be undertaken by the British Government, having for its object the separate and exclusive advantage of England only. On the other hand, I think it would be unworthy of France, and wholly inconsistent with the frank and loyal course which our illustrious Ally has hitherto pursued towards us, for him to harbour for one moment any such dark suspicion against the Government of this country as that we were influenced by a desire of attending only to our own interests and abandoning the other interests involved in the war, because we supposed that a particular course would more immediately contribute to our own advantage. I say that while, on the one hand, it would be disgraceful to this country to cover any such projects as those to which I have alluded under the mask of an expedition which was, in fact, directed to other objects—so, on the other hand, it would be equally disgraceful to France to cast suspicion upon us, and so to paralyse our efforts in the common cause; and it would be doubly unworthy of us to yield to, or to submit to such a suspicion; and, if I could for one instant believe that there was the slightest ground for anything so derogatory to the character of both nations, I should say then that we were reduced to 28 the miserable position of submissively and obsequiously following in the wake of France, instead of standing in the manly attitude of complete equality with her, and acting in friendly and honourable community of councils and of arms. I have thought it my duty to make this statement, for I know there is an impression in the public mind to that effect, which I know is unfounded, and I earnestly appeal to Her Majesty's Government to profit by this opportunity, and give to the notion the most unequivocal and unqualified denial. My Lords, it has also been stated that the brave garrison of Kars, day after day, and week after week, watched, but watched in vain, for the arrival of succour—for provisions, ammunition, and money—which they had repeatedly applied for to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople. I have the very highest opinion of the services that have been rendered to his country by Lord Stratford de Redcliffe; I have had the opportunity of testifying in the most unmistakable manner my sense of the value of those services; and I cannot and will not believe, until I have had the most indisputable evidence of it, that he has so far forgotten what he owed to his Sovereign and Her Ally, and to the common cause in which we are engaged, as to treat with neglect, and even with contempt, repeated and urgent applications made to him for aid by British officers, who were bravely encountering the greatest difficulties, and resolutely supporting the severest privations to uphold the honour of their country's arms. Doubtless my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs will feel it to be his duty to lay, at the earliest moment, upon the table of both Houses of Parliament a statement of all the circumstances that relate to this disastrous abandonment of the garrison of Kars. Let the blame lie where it may, this country has a right to know, and will know, on whose shoulders it properly rests. It will not do to cast it upon this or the other Pasha. It will not do attribute it, for instance, to the dilatoriness of Selim Pasha, who, having at his command a force of not more than 10,000 or 12,000 men, exercised, as I believe, a very sound discretion in maintaining his position at Erzeroum, instead of endeavouring to relieve Kars in the face of the vastly superior force of the enemy. We must know to what we owe it that when this advanced position had been taken up, and so fortified as to be rendered impregnable, or nearly so—we 29 must be informed how it happened that, for several long months before it was invested, while communications were still open, while money was abundant, and while the means of transport were easily attainable, no measures were taken to relieve that fearless and gallant garrison which, as has been since ascertained, were invincible except by famine. My Lords, I do not hesitate to assert that there is a primâ facie case of grievous charge against Her Majesty's Government for neglecting to see to the provisioning and supplying of Kars while the communications were yet open, and I cannot but think that it will require some ingenuity to show why, even after the communications were closed, no effort was made to relieve the garrison—to break through the line of the besieging army. It may perhaps be said that no men could be spared from the army before Sebastopol. I have heard the remark made, that the first great blunder of the campaign was the entire concentration of all our efforts upon Sebastopol. Into the discussion of that question I will not now enter; but I may be allowed to ask, if of the troops before that mighty fortress not one man could have been spared, where was the Turkish Contingent of which we last Session heard so much? During the discussion on the Foreign Enlistment Bill last year, we were repeatedly told that what we wanted was not soldiers who would require six months training, but an abundance of ready-made soldiers, who could be found over the whole of Europe, already prepared and disciplined for every service of war, and who would be available in a very short period for any purpose for which we could possibly require them. Parliament sanctioned last year a very considerable loan for the purpose of securing the disciplined services of such a body. What has become of the men who were raised under the Foreign Enlistment Act? What has become of the money that was procured under the terms of that loan? What has become of the Turkish Contingent which, having been embodied so slowly and organised so tardily, was sent at last to a point where they could do nothing for the assistance and relief of Kars? How are we to account for the imprisonment of 30,000 or 40,000 men at Eupatoria, where they were powerless for the relief of the distressed garrison, and of no possible advantage to the common cause? How do you account for your inactivity, when, with money in plenty to 30 obtain provisions long before the place was surrounded by the enemy, you made no effort to furnish it with ample supplies, and with troops in abundance no attempt was made to relieve it after the Russian forces had invested it? I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able to give such explanation on these points as will tend to remove the deep imputation which rests upon them as having sacrificed that gallant band of men, and lost that important post. These, my Lords, are momentous matters, and well deserve the serious consideration of the country. I hope that they will obtain the attention they merit, and that we shall have such an explanation of this apparent neglect on the part of the Government as will redeem them from the deep imputation which now rests upon them—of having sacrificed a gallant army, abandoned an important post, and permitted the occurrence of a calamity, which, though thanks to the heroism of that devoted band it has not dimmed the lustre of our arms, has yet given to the enemy a cause of exultation, and filled the heart of the British nation with the most painful emotions.
My Lords, we are informed in the Speech from the Throne, that negotiations for a treaty of peace will shortly be opened at Paris, and Her Majesty goes on to say,—That in conducting these Negotiations She shall be careful not to lose Sight of the Objects for which the War was undertaken, and that She shall deem it right in no Degree to relax Her Naval and Military Preparations until a satisfactory Treaty of Peace shall have been concluded.I have, my Lords, deemed it within my province, as a Member of your Lordship's House, and I have thought it a part of my Parliamentary duty, to express myself thus freely, frankly, and unreservedly upon the past; but there is a limit beyond which it would not be wise for me to go. I am sensible that it would be unsafe, unwise, and injurious to the public interest for me to say one single word either with regard to propositions which may be under discussion, or with reference to those terms and conditions on which, as I believe, peace might be fairly and honourably concluded. I entirely concur with the noble Lord who seconded this Motion, that it is in no degree desirable that we should entertain any views or contemplate any objects more extensive than those which, at the commencement of the war, were submitted to our consideration by the noble 31 Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I am far from giving my sanction to those exaggerated opinions and somewhat Utopian projects, which, as I understand, have obtained the approval of a noble Friend of mine on the opposite benches (the Earl of Harrow-by), nor can I at all commend the idea, that the war should be continued with a view to the relief of oppressed nationalities. I trust that your Lordships will view the question in the same light, and that you will not give any such extension to the character and purpose of the war. If I remember aright, the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department laid it down that these were the objects of the war—to secure effectually the integrity and independence of the Turkish Empire, to include that empire as a component part of the great European system, and to take ample and decisive securities to curb the unjust ambition and to repress the territorial aggressions of Russia. These the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs intimated to be "the objects of the war." With these objects permanently and effectually secured by the terms of a treaty, I profess that I shall be satisfied; with less than these, securely obtained, neither I nor, as I think, the country will ever be contented. With regard to the details connected with the obtaining of these objects I shall carefully abstain from saying a single word. Nay more, I am prepared to give Her Majesty's Government this assurance, that during the course of the deliberations now about to be entered on I will myself carefully abstain—and I will impress on all with whom I have the slightest influence the necessity of refraining from making any comments, suggestions, or observations which can have the effect of unnecessarily embarrassing the Government in the conduct and management of the negotiations. It may, no doubt, be gratifying to the self-love of this or the other House of Parliament to believe that in matters of this kind they are to be the constant and daily advisers of the Sovereign and the Minister; but, my Lords, I have not so read the history of our country, nor do I so interpret our constitution. In my opinion the prerogative of peace and war rests with the Sovereign, and with the Sovereign alone; but that privilege and prerogative of the Sovereign is exercised by the responsible Minister of the Crown. He to whom that great duty is confided has power to bind and tie down the nation to such terms as he may think advisable, 32 inasmuch as he is intrusted, or supposed to be intrusted, with the confidence of the Sovereign and the country. To him is committed the conduct of affairs, and he is in a position to bind irreversibly both the Sovereign and the country. Such is the part which the constitution assigns to the responsible Minister of the Crown; and the duty of Parliament, I humbly submit, is not to interfere injuriously and gratuitously with the discharge of that duty, but to allow the Minister to pursue without impediment that course which he may think most consistent with the end to be attained. When the Minister has performed his task it becomes the duty of Parliament to signify its approval or condemnation of the policy he has pursued, and of the measures he has taken to give effect to that policy. This, I am well aware, is not the popular doctrine of the day; but it is the theory of the constitution, and great will be the evil if in practice we depart from it. Therefore, though I grieve to say that I cannot entertain for the Government those sentiments of confidence with which the Sovereign honours them, and which the majority of the country is not disposed to withhold from them, I am, nevertheless, prepared to give them an assurance that, as far as I am concerned, they shall be vexed with no wanton interference, with no vexatious comments, with no unnecessary questions, and that no impediment shall be offered to the course of their proceedings until they shall have brought us to one of two issues—a durable and honourable peace, or the renewal of a just and necessary war.
My Lords, one of the noble Lords who have already spoken used the words "resumption of hostilities," and I find that Her Majesty speaks in a similar tone. The paragraph in the Royal Speech runs thus—In conducting those Negotiations I shall be careful not to lose Sight of the Objects for which the War was undertaken; and I shall deem it right in no Degree to relax My Naval and Military Preparations until a satisfactory Treaty of Peace shall have been concluded.I confess that the alteration of a few letters in this paragraph would have made the sentence much more satisfactory to me. For "preparations" I should have much preferred the word "operations." I do sincerely hope that it is not intended to grant an indefinite and uncertain suspension of hostilities, and so to give the opportunity, by protracting the negotiations, 33 to waste in inactivity the early months of that season now fast approaching for which we have made such great preparations. I hope, above all, that there will be no armistice by sea. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be especially careful to avoid consenting to any armistice whatever, for any description of armistice must be all in favour of the enemy. It will give him in the Crimea the undoubted right to move his troops from point to point, to carry his troops uninterrupted anywhere that he pleases in his own territory, and will give him permission to provision and reinforce Sebastopol by land, and it may be by sea also—an element from which he is now banished; while we, who have the uncontrolled command of the sea, will derive no advantage from the sea that we do not now possess, whereas on shore we shall be tied down to the simple occupation of the very spot, contracted as it is, in which our army is now placed. I should say that, if it be possible, there should be no armistice at all. The season and the weather alone will prevent all active military operations for a month or six weeks to come, and I trust that long before that period expires the Government will have brought to a definite issue the question of peace or war. What I most earnestly deprecate, and what Russia is, no doubt, most anxious to obtain, is an indefinite prolongation of, perhaps, fruitless negotiations which waste our time and spoil our opportunities, while they afford to Russia the means of recruiting her strength, which, if not so much shattered and shaken as was asserted by the noble Earl who seconded the Address, I believe to have been considerably crippled.
My Lords, the next paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech, I confess, appears to me one of rather a singular character, but I will not quarrel with it, although, certainly, a very curious sort of geographical puzzle is made in it. Her Majesty has been advised to say, as though we supposed it quite impossible that attention should be paid to both the south and the north, that—Although the War in which I am engaged was brought on by Events in the South of Europe, My Attention has not been withdrawn from the State of Things in the North.Nor am I going to say a single word against the Treaty with Sweden, which is about to be laid before us. As far as I can collect from public sources of information, I believe it to be one of a satisfactory character, and certainly of a very 34 satisfactory character to the King of Sweden and Norway, because, as I understand it, we enter into an engagement which is very much as if I were to undertake with my neighbour that I would join in the expense of watching and guarding his house, provided he would promise me he would not let the burglar in at the back door. What advantages we are to expect, except very contingent ones, I cannot as yet discover. There may, it is true, be a secret article; but, as far as I can judge, the effect of the Treaty is that we bind ourselves that Sweden shall not be robbed, and Sweden binds herself that she will not be robbed if she can help it.
Your Lordships will excuse me if I pass over very slightly that very important commercial treaty "of friendship, commerce, and navigation "which we are informed has been concluded with the Republic of Chili, upon which much stress has been laid by the noble Earl who seconded the Address, and which will no doubt in due time receive all the consideration which its importance deserves. But, my Lords, while Her Majesty is engaged in this geographical tour from south to north, and thence to the Republic of Chili, it would have been satisfactory to know what impression had been produced upon Her Majesty's mind by events in the east and the west. I should have liked all the points of the compass mentioned, and it does, my Lords, I confess, strike mo as singular that no notice is taken of any of our foreign relations in other countries, although, if I am to believe very current rumours, those relations are not in every case of a very satisfactory character. It would not have been dissatisfactory, if it had been known to us what is going on at Teheran and Washington. These are not unimportant points, and I should have thought that some mention might have been made of our relations with the Shah of Persia, from whose Court our Minister has withdrawn; and that something might have been said about our relations with the Cabinet of Washington, where those relations are in such a position that the recall of our Minister is said to have been demanded by the Cabinet of Washington. These, I should have thought, are matters of sufficient importance to have justified at least a passing notice in the Speech from the Throne; and if Her Majesty was unable, as She has done on most previous occasions, to inform us that all our relations with Foreign Powers were amicable and friendly, it might, at least, 35 have been intimated to us whether there was any, and what, danger of a rupture of our relations with Asia and the West. Her Majesty's Government, however, have not thought it expedient to open, this subject at all, and I am therefore very unwilling to deal with it; but, so far as I can collect as to our rupture with the Court of Teheran, it appears to be of so slight and trivial a character that, unless it is an indication of altered feeling on the part of the Persian Government, prompted by sympathy with Russia, I could almost have forgiven noble Lords opposite for not having introduced any allusion to it. But the case is far different as regards the United States. There is no country in the world with which we are bound by such ties of close and intimate relationship—none with which our commercial relations, exclusive of the ties of common language and laws, are so vast and important—none with which a war would be so mutually suicidal as with the United States. As to the United States I can excuse no such omission. I do not suppose that all the language we see used by the American press, and which would be wholly unworthy of the dignity of a great country, is adopted by the American Government; but if that Government have made the representations to the Legislature which they are reported to have made, then I think our relations with America are most threatening, not to say most alarming. With regard to what is called the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, relating to Central America, so far as I am able to judge, I agree with Her Majesty's Government in the explanations they have given; nor, looking to that Treaty and to the circumstances which preceded it, can I conceive that a different construction can be put upon it from that put upon it by Her Majesty's Government. A dispute concerning the interpretation of a treaty is not, however, one which ought to excite great alarm as to the consequences; it is of all things in the world a most fitting subject for reference to the arbitration of a friendly Power, and I trust there can be no apprehension of the rupture of friendly relations on this account. I wish I could speak as confidently with regard to the other question of dispute; because, although I think every amende and every apology have been made by Her Majesty's Government, I cannot conceal from myself the fact that the Government have, in the first instance, given just and reasonable cause of complaint to the Government of 36 the United States. When the Foreign Enlistment Bill was under discussion, one of the main objections brought against the measure was, that we should, in all probability, involve ourselves in constant disputes with those Powers whose subjects, without their concurrence, we were seeking to enlist; and, say what you please, and guarded as may be the language of the Bill, it is indisputable to my mind, that in carrying out the provisions of that Foreign Enlistment Bill, if you do not infringe upon the letter, you have proceeded in opposition to the spirit of the municipal law of the United States. I deeply regret that the Government should have been betrayed into such an error, and I do not wonder that at a period of great popular excitement it should have aroused angry feeling and a sense of insult on the part of perhaps the most susceptible nation in the world on the question of their institutions. At the same time I will entertain—I will not say confidence, but hope, founded on the sound common sense of that great and intelligent community, that when the first feelings of indignation and of anger have passed away—when the cause for which agitators are striving to inflame the public mind shall have ceased to exist—they will calmly and deliberately consider the unintentional character of the offence in the first place given, and will be content with that full and ample apology which I understand Her Majesty's Government has made to the offended dignity of the United States, and which I think any great nation, truly conscious of its own strength, would accept as a sufficient reparation for the wrong done. I therefore venture to entertain the hope that in that quarter more friendly relations will exist, though, at the same time. I must say that I think Her Majesty's Government would have acted more wisely, with a view to soothe any angry feeling, and to pave the way to more friendly relations, if they had inserted in Her Majesty's Speech a conciliatory paragraph applying to the people of that great country, instead of passing over the subject in a contemptuous way, as though it were unworthy a moment's consideration.
My Lords, upon the latter portion of the Speech I am not disposed to offer any lengthened remarks. Her Majesty informs us that "there are many subjects connected with internal improvements," which She recommends to our attentive consideration. With this recommendation of subjects to our serious attention, which would 37 lead us to suppose that they are of importance, there might, I think, have been coupled some little information as to what those subjects were. I hope it was not intended to limit our consideration to those four questions with regard to which, with somewhat unnecessary and unusual tautology, we are informed that measures will be proposed to us. I do not undervalue the importance of the questions suggested for the consideration of Parliament; some of them are, perhaps, matters of national importance; others are matters in which the intervention of Parliament is required, for the purpose of remedying the somewhat bungling legislation of past Parliaments. But there are other topics of perhaps greater difficulty and importance which, I think, might have been mentioned. For example, the education of the people of this country will, perhaps, be considered as more worthy of allusion than many of the questions introduced into the Speech; but I suppose these topics are introduced as being most easily dealt with, on the principle that—QuæDesperat tractata nitescere posse relinquit.In conclusion, I will only say, that I do not intend to offer the slightest opposition to the unanimous adoption of this Address. I do not propose to offer any amendment, though I think the Speech itself might be re-written with advantage. But not being responsible for the matter, or for the style, which I leave to Her Majesty's Government to settle among themselves—concurring with the general policy of conducting these negotiations with arms in our hands—of consenting to no peace except a just and honourable peace, and one which will effect the objects of the war—of carrying on the war for not one single moment after those objects are accomplished, but of carrying it on with unflinching perseverance and undaunted courage up to the time when, either with or without those who call themselves our Allies, those objects can be obtained by this country—assuming, I say, that this is the spirit of the Speech, I will not only give no opposition to the Address in answer to it, but the noble Earl (the Earl of Clarendon) may depend upon me and my friends in carrying out such a policy as I have described, and abstaining from taking any ungenerous advantage, which circumstances might afford us, to embarrass Her Majesty's Ministers.
My Lords, there is another subject to which no reference is made in Her Majes- 38 ty's Speech, but to which I wish to call the attention of your Lordships, because, in my opinion, it involves a question of the deepest constitutional importance. We have heard that Her Majesty has been advised to confer upon an individual, distinguished for his eminent ability, the dignity of the peerage, but that that peerage is limited to the life of that distinguished person. It appears to me, my Lords, that that peerage has been conferred most unnecessarily and gratuitously as far as regards the limitation for life, because the distinguished person on whom it has been conferred has no son, nor is he likely to have one. A peerage, therefore, of such a description can only have been conferred in order to try the prerogative of the Crown. Now, my Lords, without venturing to discuss the constitutional side of the question, I may venture to say that when it is sought to exercise a prerogative, or supposed prerogative, of the Crown, of such a nature, such a subject ought not to be passed over in silence on the first night of our meeting. It is a prerogative which has never been exercised for a space of 300 or 400 years—one which during that space the greatest sticklers for prerogative have never ventured to advise, and which those who have been most desirous to swamp your Lordships' House have never dared to recommend. The gratuitous assumption of such a prerogative is a matter for the deepest consideration, and I earnestly exhort all your Lordships—for the subject is one which concerns all, and which especially affects the constitutional liberty of the country—to carefully consider whether you will, or can, or ought to submit to the exercise of a prerogative which has been dormant for many years, and which, as I believe, at no time your Lordships' House has ever sanctioned as conferring a right to sit and vote in Parliament. I do not wish to discuss that question; and I trust that it will not fall to my lot to do so, but rather that it will fall into the hands of those who are far more experienced in constitutional law, and much better able to deal with such subjects. I trust also that it will fall into other hands for different reasons. This is a question which should be discussed in such a manner as to exclude all suspicion of anything like party feeling; and if the subject were brought forward by one in he position which I have the honour to hold, party motives would in all probability be attributed to him. I trust, therefore, 39 as I have before said, that this duty will fall into the hands of those much more able to undertake it than I am, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will, without previous notice, taking into consideration the importance of the question, give us a locus standi by laying on the table of your Lordships' House the patent of peerage which Her Majesty has been advised to confer on the distinguished person to whom I have referred. That patent will necessarily be produced when that learned person takes his seat in your Lordships' House, and it is most desirable that the subject should not be discussed upon that occasion. I say, therefore, that we ought to have the patent laid upon the table as a formal locus standi, in order to obviate the great inconvenience of discussing this subject in the presence of the person chiefly concerned, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will not object to laying the patent upon the table.
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON,
who was very imperfectly heard, was understood to say, that the noble Earl had addressed several observations to Her Majesty's Government in reference to the topics contained in Her Majesty's Speech, to which he wished to take an early opportunity of replying, and that he would begin with the latter topic adverted to by the noble Earl in reference to our foreign relations, namely, that connected with the differences which had arisen between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States. With reference to both the questions which formed the groundwork of those differences, he begged generally to express his entire concurrence in the views of the noble Earl. With respect to the first of the points in dispute between the two Governments, he thought there could be no two opinions as to the commonsense view of the obligations of the Bulwer-Clayton Treaty. It was simply as to the legal interpretation that any difference of opinion could take place. Entirely taking the same view as the noble Earl, that when differences of this kind arose between two Governments correspondence was generally useless as a means of settlement, he had lost no time in making the offer to the United States Government to refer the whole question in dispute to any third Power that might be willing to undertake the reference, both parties agreeing to be bound by the decision. This offer, he regretted to say, had not been accepted by that Government; but he had 40 since renewed it, and he thought it was so plain and so obvious that this was the fairest and the most rational mode of settling the difference, that he earnestly hoped that that offer would in the end be accepted. With respect to the other point of difference which had arisen between the two Governments, he must say that he concurred in the opinion expressed by his noble Friend that the Speech from the Throne should be as little like the President's Message as possible by entering into the details of pending negotiations; he thought that to bring such details prematurely under discussion was the least likely mode of promoting a friendly solution of existing differences. He considered that a subject of this nature ought not therefore to be referred to in the Speech from the Throne unless the Government were prepared at once to lay all the correspondence that passed between the two Governments in regard to it upon the table. But as that correspondence was still in progress, to produce it on the table of the House would possibly tend rather to prevent than to promote a satisfactory solution of the difference, and Her Majesty's Government would have ill served the public interest if they had advised Her Majesty to make allusion to it. The most recent demands of the Government of the United States arrived only two days ago, and to lay it on the table would be only to disturb the public mind without any necessity. The charge brought against the British Government was this. On the breaking out of the war numerous applications had been made to the British Minister in America from British subjects and from the subjects of other Powers residing within the territory of the United States for permission to join the Foreign Legion in the service of England. Some of these applications were made from feelings of loyalty towards the Queen, some on account of deep political interest in the cause, and some from other motives. In consequence instructions were sent to the Governor of Nova Scotia directing him to consider whether such persons, desirous of enlisting in the British service, could be lawfully received in Halifax; and he was instructed that, however desirous Her Majesty's Government were to obtain recruits, they were still more desirous that there should be no violation or infringement of the municipal law of the United States. These instructions were communicated to Mr. 41 Marcy, the United States Foreign Secretary, and he was satisfied with them. Soon after, an agent appeared in the United States and said he was authorised to raise recruits for the British Government; but Mr. Crampton, Her Majesty's representative at Washington, at once disavowed him, and made known to Mr. Marcy the instructions which he had received on the subject from Her Majesty's Government, and desired that it might be made known that the British Government did not recruit or raise soldiers in the United States; and Mr. Marcy expressed himself satisfied. The passage of persons wishing to go to a British colony to enlist was paid, and Judge Kane laid down the rule that to pay the passage of men to a foreign port and then enlist them was no violation of international law. Those persons whose passage to Canada was paid went as volunteers, and were perfectly free from any engagement, and, upon arriving there, they were not bound to enter into the British service, and, in point of fact, a large number of them preferred undertaking work in Canada. Undoubtedly a correspondence of a not very amicable character had taken place between the two Governments; but the transactions to which it refers were bygone transactions. It was in the month of July last, after Mr. Buchanan wrote to him (the Earl of Clarendon) bringing the matter under the consideration of the Government that he stated explicitly for the information of the Government of the United States that Her Majesty's Government never had the slightest intention of violating or infringing the law of the United States—that they regretted if it had been done, and that the agent who might have so violated or infringed any such law, bad done so contrary to the wishes and against the instructions of Her Majesty's Government. Finding that it would be impossible in any way to procure men from the United States without giving offence to the Government of that country, or running the risk of directly or indirectly infringing the United States law, orders were sent to put an end to all such proceedings, and this was done before the receipt of Mr. Buchanan's note. Any difference, therefore, that might exist as to this point had reference, as he had said before, to bygone transactions only, and, like the noble Lord, he could not believe that, between two nations bound together by so many ties of blood and interest, and which had so long 42 maintained amicable relations, such a question was not capable of a speedy and amicable solution. With the judgment and tact and straightforward conduct of the British Minister at Washington, Mr. Crampton, the Government had every reason to be satisfied. He would answer for it that that gentleman never had intentionally, and he believed he had never even unintentionally, infringed the law of the United States; and if that law had been infringed by others it was entirely without his knowledge or concurrence, and entirely against the intention or wish of Her Majesty's Government. Under these circumstances, therefore, he hoped and believed that this question would be speedily brought to a satisfactory solution, provided that on the part of the Government of the United States there existed the same good will and the same desire to terminate the matter amicably as were intended by Her Majesty's Government. At the same time he did not consider that that object would be promoted by making allusions to the subject in the Speech from the Throne, and thus prematurely inviting discussion upon it. He was sorry that his noble Friend opposite should so entirely have mistaken the feelings of the Government of Her Majesty as to think that the absence of such allusion arose from any slight, or was the result of any want of appreciation of the importance of the question, for he could assure him that such was not the fact.
Next, with regard to the surrender of Kars. He thought it was hardly necessary for him to say that he fully concurred in the eulogium which his noble Friend had passed upon the valour, and, above all, the moral courage and patient endurance which had been displayed by the brave garrison by whom that place had been so long and so nobly defended, under such adverse and trying circumstances. At present, all he would add further upon that point was, that all the papers connected with that event—from the first occupation and fortifying of the place, and from the period when Colonel Williams was sent by the British Government to aid in its defence to the day of the surrender—would be laid before Parliament at the earliest moment; and he would ask their Lordships to suspend their judgment until they should have had an opportunity of reading those papers as to the manner and the degree in which the blame attaching to that melancholy event should be apportioned. There was 43 one other topic in relation to this subject, to which, however, he thought it necessary to advert. His noble Friend had alluded to the reports, which had certainly been in extensive circulation, that assistance had been withheld from Kars in consequence I of a feeling said to exist in the mind of the French Emperor and the French nation, that England had personal objects to serve in that part of Asia. To those reports he could give the most unqualified contradiction. If the opinion obtained in France, or in any portion of the French press, that England desired to carry on the war in Asia Minor for the purpose of promoting English interests, he now gave to it the most unqualified contradiction, as he did, also, to the report, that any such feeling had been expressed by our Ally the Emperor, or by the French Government. In entering upon this war the British Government had in view only the general interests of Europe, and in support of these interests she was prepared to continue it if the negotiations now about to be opened should not result in a safe and satisfactory peace. With regard to these negotiations for peace, he was sure their Lordships would feel that it would be indiscreet of him, on the present occasion, to give their Lordships more information on the subject than he should be strictly justified in doing; and as Her Majesty in Her Speech from the Throne had indicated the course which had been pursued, he need scarcely add that the Government, fully relying on the support of Parliament and of the people of this country, were prepared, if necessary, to carry on the war with the utmost vigour, and with far greater means for insuring success than they had hitherto possessed. At the same time they had never at any moment been disinclined to listen to proposals of peace, and they had been all along most anxious to bring the struggle to an honourable and satisfactory conclusion. But it certainly was not for either England or France to make overtures to Russia for that purpose, and he thought they could well understand, and he had almost said respect, the motives which might have induced Russia not to make overtures directly to us. Austria, however, was in a position to proffer her good offices, and the time she chose for doing so—namely, at that period when winter had put a stop to all warlike operations—was certainly not inopportune. But it was no mediation that Austria offered. The offer of Austria was to ascertain and make 44 known to the Government of St. Peters-burgh the terms upon which the Allies would consent to make peace; and he must do the Austrian Government the justice to say that from the first she admitted the necessity of making these terms clear and precise, in order to preclude the possibility of their being evaded, and the negotiations that might be founded upon them not being brought to a successful issue, but also to prevent those misunderstandings and complications which last year had placed Austria in a painful position. It would not accord with the sense of duty which actuated the Government of Her Majesty to refuse this offer; and however confident they might be, from the extent of the preparations which had been made, that another campaign would have increased the military fame of England, or have led to a treaty of a different and more comprehensive character, such anticipation would have been no justification for prolonging a war when there appeared to be a reasonable prospect that the specific objects for which the war was undertaken might be accomplished. Notwithstanding, therefore, the statements which had been put forward to the contrary, notwithstanding the spirit which now animates this country, his belief was that the cool judgment and right reason of the people of England would support Her Majesty's Government in upholding the propositions of Austria as the basis of peace, and in continuing the war should the negotiations fail. The original proposal of Austria was to communicate the terms, whatever they might be, to Russia, on her own responsibility; but it would have been useless for Austria to send those terms to St. Petersburg without the sanction of the Allies; they were, therefore, first submitted to England and France, and their concurrence having been obtained, they were made to Russia. Here let him say, that there was no disrespect intended either to Sardinia or Turkey by omitting to mention them from Her Majesty's Speech. Her Majesty's Government was deeply sensible of the courage and good faith which Sardinia had exhibited from the beginning, and of the generous manner in which she had embarked in the contest, and fulfilled both in the letter and the spirit the conditions of the treaty into which she had entered. But in making the announcement to Parliament that negotiations for peace were about to be opened, it was thought suffi- 45 cient for Her Majesty to declare that, in concert with Her Allies, she had thought it advisable to accept the offer the Emperor of Austria had made, to endeavour to bring about an amicable adjustment of the matters at issue between the contending Powers. Austria, however, had herself become a party to the terms proposed, and had, in fact, made herself responsible for them. She had entered into an engagement with the Allies to break off diplomatic relations with Russia in the event of her propositions being rejected; and then to concert with the Allies as to the best means of coercing Russia into a peace. The Austrian Minister at St. Petersburgh was sent with these terms, to which he was directed to receive only a categorical answer—yes or no. He was simply the bearer of a despatch; he was forbidden to discuss its contents, and he was on no account to admit any modifications or counter-propositions whatever. The answer of Russia was transmitted to Vienna; but it was found not to be in the form required by Austria, but contained some material alterations; and the Austrian Government thereupon informed the Russian Minister at Vienna, that unless a categorical acceptance was received within the stated period the Austrian Minister and the whole Austrian mission would leave St. Petersburgh, and passports would be sent to the Russian legation at Vienna. That was communicated by Prince Gortschakoff to his Government, and the result was, that the acceptance of the propositions of Austria by the Russian Government, "pure and simple," was telegraphed, and a despatch was received at Vienna, he believed on the 24th, to that effect. The substance of it was communicated to Her Majesty's Government the day before yesterday, and the plan which is proposed to be adopted is this—that the terms which have been accepted by Russia shall be agreed to by the representatives of the Allies at Vienna; that the representatives shall then sign a short protocol, agreeing that the preliminaries shall be signed at Paris; that an armistice shall be entered upon, and that the provisions of the treaty shall then be determined. Though he was sure the House would not insist upon his entering further into the subject, in alluding to the terms of the treaty, or in alluding to the duration of the armistice, he felt called upon to take that opportunity of stating that he fully agreed with his noble Friend 46 that the armistice should be of the shortest possible duration. He had now informed the House of all that he thought ought, in the present state of affairs, to be made known. It was impossible to deny that much doubt and anxiety was still felt as to the result. It was impossible to deny that much doubt existed as to whether Russia was sincere in her desire for peace, and the readiness with which she had accepted the propositions, after having at first rejected them, and the manner in which she acted last year, after accepting the four points as a basis of negotiation for peace, were urged in support of those doubts. It was not, however, for him to explain the intentions or analyse the motives of the Russian Government—he could only hope they were sincere—he was sure it was for their interest to be so. Russia desired peace, and he thought the Emperor of Russia had exhibited great moral courage in accepting terms which he believed to be distasteful to the war party in that country. He hoped he would continue to exhibit that moral courage, and that he would, without any attempt at evasion, abide by the letter and the spirit of the engagements into which he had entered. Should such fortunately be the result, he thought there was a prospect of speedily obtaining that which throughout has been the object of the war—a safe and honourable peace. But by honourable peace he meant honourable to both sides; because a peace dishonourable or degrading to Russia would not be a safe, because it could not be a desirable peace. For his own part he thought that Russia, in accepting the propositions of Austria, had accepted conditions which could cast no stain upon her honour. She must be aware that the aggressive policy which had been imputed to her had long been a source of irritation and alarm to Europe; she now knows that it will be resisted, and that it is upon that account she had been required to give, and had consented to give, guarantees for respecting the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. He said there was no dishonour or degradation cast upon Russia by the acceptance of these terms; the only dishonour would be in the evasion of them. But the sincerity of England in these negotiations had also been called in question. Their Lordships would be aware that throughout the Continent England was accused of insincerity in consenting to 47 those conditions; it was said that although she had consented to them, she meant, nevertheless, to continue the war, not because she had any definite object in view in doing so, but because she expected that another campaign would be productive of a more abundant harvest of military glory, which would compensate her for the sacrifices she had made. He noticed this charge first, because it was widely circulated; next, because it was pretty generally believed; and, thirdly, because he was desirous of giving it, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, the most unqualified contradiction. However much he might be aware of the war spirit that animated the country, and however much it might be regretted that such vast preparations as had been made—preparations such as there had been no instance of before in the history of this country—should not be turned to account, and made to redound to the enhancement of the military and naval fame of England, he was convinced that the number of persons who entertained those feelings would rapidly diminish, provided that we obtained the full measure of the conditions to which we had agreed. But should any attempt be made to delude us of the conditions which we have a right to demand, and to which we have already agreed, then he believed the people of this country would be united as one man—he believed there was no sacrifice which the people of this country would not make to carry on the war with greater vigour and determination than ever, and then they would be entitled to expect conditions of a very different nature from those which Her Majesty's Government have accepted, and to which, therefore, they will faithfully and honourably adhere. There was another motive which induced him on the present occasion to allude to these rumours, and he hoped he might allude to it without being accused of presumption, although there was something personal to himself in it. Her Majesty had been pleased to command that the negotiations on the part of this country should be conducted by him. (the Earl of Clarendon): and however gladly he would have declined this honour, and however unaffectedly mistrustful he must feel of his own ability to conduct negotiations involving go many difficult questions and such complicated interests, he had not hesitated to obey Her Majesty's commands, and to devote to the public 48 service such experience as he might have gained in the office he had now the honour to hold upon the questions which would come under discussion. But whatever power of usefulness ho might possess would, he felt, he entirely extinguished if it were thought that he undertook a mission or was capable of undertaking a mission, with any other object than that of endeavouring honestly to bring it to a successful issue. Acting on the part of Her Majesty's Government, he should enter on the duties of this mission with an earnest desire for peace, and in the belief that the terms which formed the basis of the negotiations were capable of affecting it; and it would be with deep and unfeigned regret he should find himself compelled to withdraw from them under the conviction that peace was impossible on terms consistent with the dignity and honour of this country. And he thought he might say, without any violation of official reserve, that the feelings of Her Majesty's Government in this respect were entirely shared by the Emperor of the French; and it would not, perhaps, be considered presumptuous in him to say that of the judgment, firmness, and moderation, the honourable and straightforward conduct of that illustrious Sovereign it was impossible to speak in terms of too high praise. The Emperor of the French desired peace, but he would make no peace that was inconsistent with the honour and dignity of France; and, pending the negotiations, he, like Her Majesty's Government, was determined that the military and naval preparations should go on not only with uninterrupted, but with increased activity, so that both countries might be fully prepared to renew the war on the very day it should be known that negotiations for honourable peace had failed.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, that there was one subject mentioned by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), to which he was desirous of alluding. The noble Earl had stated that Her Majesty had conferred a life peerage upon a certain learned Judge, and that creation the noble Earl described as illegal, unconstitutional, ill-advised, and as one to which their Lordships' House should not submit. The noble Earl expressed the hope that when this question came to be discussed it would be discussed without any intermixture of party spirit. He (Earl Granville) reciprocated that hope. There was no Lord in that House so base 49 as not to feel an interest in every matter which concerned the constitution of the House of Peers. The noble and learned Baron came into the House unfettered by any political pledge whatever, and without any previous understanding with Her Majesty's Government. The noble Earl had said that he hoped the discussion would be left to the noble Lords learned in the law. He (Earl Granville) thought that the Crown had only exercised an undoubted prerogative, and any legal knowledge which the House could derive from the noble and learned Lords would no doubt be advantageous; but he must express the hope that the House would not follow the advice of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), and that all their Lordships would take part in the discussion of the question, which was one of great constitutional importance, affecting the real utility and dignity of their Lordships' House.
also hoped all their Lordships would take part in the discussion, and not limit it to the law Lords. It affected one as much as another. He (Lord Campbell) entertained extreme doubts whether what had been done was lawful, and whether it could be done, if desirable, without the authority of Parliament—without a new law to alter and establish precedent. He thought it was expedient that that should be discussed. It might turn out that it was within the prerogative of the Crown, and then their Lordships would only have to consider whether the prerogative of the Crown had been wisely exercised or not.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
explained that what he bad meant to say was, that he was very desirous of having the question settled; and, with that object in view, that it might be introduced by some Member of their Lordships' House who was more cognisant of the law on the question than he could possibly pretend to be. In the absence of his noble and learned Friend (Lord St. Leonards), he would take that opportunity of stating that his noble and learned Friend would probably introduce the matter to the House on Thursday next.
§ Motion agreed to, Nemine Dissentiente; and a Committee was appointed to prepare the Address. The Committee withdrew; and, after some time, Report was made of an Address drawn by them, which, being read, was agreed to, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with white staves.
§ House adjourned till To-morrow.