§ HER MAJESTY'S SPEECH having been reported by The Lord Chancellor,
THE EARL or WINCIIILSEA
I rise, my Lords, to move that an humble Address be presented by this House to Her Majesty in answer to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech from the Throne. But, before, my Lords, I commence making the few observations which I have to offer, I must bespeak that kind courtesy and indulgence on the part of your Lordships which I have observed to be uniformly extended to all persons who stand in a similar situation to myself. I assure you, my Lords, that it is with no ordinary feelings of nervousness and diffidence that I have undertaken that which I have felt to be my duty upon this occasion. I hove done so, because I think that the matters communicated to us from the Theme by Her Majesty are of the utmost importance. Scarcely ever has there been a Speech 7 from the Throne which has pointed to greater results or led us to hope for greater efforts of legislation.
In the first place, my Lords, it is always satisfactory to hear Her Majesty tell Her Parliament that a spirit of general contentment prevails, and that the country is in a general state of prosperity and well-being. It is, in my opinion, my Lords, most indispensable to the calm and deliberate discussion of important legislative measures which may be introduced to the notice of Parliament that the content and well-being of the community should be secured; for it is under such circumstances, and not when misery and want, and a consequent feeling of disquiet and discontent prevail, that measures before Parliament for bringing about important changes will be likely to meet with that mature consideration which it is essential to their success that they should receive. But, my Lords, while it is satisfactory to receive from the lips of the Sovereign this assurance of the general prosperity of the country, it is not less gratifying to hear that Her Majesty not only bears testimony to the valour of our troops in India, and to the skill of those by whom they are commanded—which we knew before—but to find that Her Majesty is in a position to inform your Lordships that there is every prospect that that valour and that skill will be attended by happy and permanent results. Never, perhaps, in the history of the world has a more extraordinary or more sanguinary or a more pervading rebellion than that which sprung into existence in India broken out in any country. The nations of Europe looked on England, some with alarm at the struggle which ensued, some with delight at the prospect that an empire larger than the ancient dominions of Rome—larger than that over which any potentate has ever ruled—was about to be wrested from our grasp. We had, my Lords, almost lost that empire—to many it seemed that we had lost it altogether. But the valour of our troops, the steadfastness of our civilians and private individuals—a devotion almost unparallelled in the annals of history—and the wise conduct of the Governor General have saved our empire. In a short time we have suppressed that great mutiny, and with every prospect of permanent success. And, having accomplished that great object, a Proclamation has been issued to the people of India by the Sovereign than which, my Lords, a more magnificent ma- 8 nifesto has never emanated from human pen. Other public documents may, it is true, be adduced as affording more eloquent expressions; but the sentiments it enunciates could not be more befitting a great country and a great Queen, and it must be must satisfactory to your Lordships to know that the Proclamation, while it preserves unimpaired the dignity of the Throne, and gives utterance to those feelings of clemency which must ever animate a British Sovereign towards those who have been seduced into revolt, but may be willing to return to their allegiance, has been received by the people of India in the spirit in which it was framed. It is true that a Proclamation might have been issued more in accordance with Oriental ideas and with more Orientalism of expression. We may even be told that Orientalists do not fully comprehend the phrases of the English language; but I am persuaded that in issuing such a Proclamation no mistake has been committed, and though it may not be couched in Oriental phraseology, it will not fail to be understood and appreciated by those to whom it is addressed, and, as a consequence, be productive of the best and happiest results.
But to pass from this topic—I am happy, my Lords, to be able to call your Lordships' attention to the statement that Her Majesty still continues to receive from all foreign Powers assurances of their good feeling towards this country. That this should be the case I can well believe. I am also gratified to hear Her Majesty's solicitude that the faith of public treaties should be maintained inviolate. For after all, my Lords, let wars last as long as they will, they must terminate in treaties, and all the wars which have occurred in Europe for the last 200 years have terminated in treaty stipulations with a return to their old limits, and I trust, notwithstanding the circumstances that have lately taken the public by surprise the existing public treaties will be main, tabled inviolate. It appears to me that under the present circumstances there is no reason to fear the breaking out of hostilities. I trust that this will turn out to be the case, for though we have been surprised by the apprehension of war which has suddenly arisen on the horizon like a small cloud and overspread the whole of Europe, yet I hope that it will be speedily dissipated, and that the political horizon will reassume its former aspect of serenity. I 9 may be allowed to observe that I feel the more strongly disposed to entertain this hope because I am of opinion that the entente cordiale which is said to exist on the side of the French Emperor is not a mere matter of words, but of truth and reality. The concession which His Majesty has made to our feelings with regard to the slave trade and his abolition of the system of Negro emigration—a system which however guarded must, as Her Majesty expresses it, unavoidably tend to the encouragement of the slave trade and render nugatory all our efforts to suppress it—furnish hopeful indications of the probable success of our good offices for the preservation of peace. Her Majesty says further that—This wise act on the part of his Imperial Majesty induces her to hope that negotiations now in progress at Paris may tend to the total abandonment of the system and to the substitution of a duly regulated supply of substantially free labour.This concession appears to me equally grateful and honourable on the part of His Majesty, and I look with the utmost confidence to the friendship existing between the two Sovereigns in the present situation of affairs on the Continent. I am certain that Her Majesty may interpose her good offices with the best effect, not only as the Sovereign of this great country, but as a lady whose individual character derives weight from the highest virtues and excellencies. I do trust then, that Her Majesty's interposition will be effectual, and that the present threatening appearances will pass away as a summer cloud.
My Lords, there is another part of Her Majesty's Speech which is less satisfactory—that paragraph I mean which relates to the Republic of Mexico. Her Majesty says—The state, of the Republic of Mexico, distracted by civil war, has induced me to carry forbearance to its utmost limits in regard to wrongs and indignities to which British residents have been subjected at the hands of the two contending parties. They have at length been carried to such an extent that I have been compelled to give instructions to the commander of my naval forces in those seas to demand, and, if necessary, to enforce due reparation.It is, indeed, I believe, but too certain that British subjects have been subjected to great wrongs and indignities at die hands of contending factions, and the distraction of civil war is but too faithful a description of the state of Mexico at this moment. Forbearance is no doubt a most commend- 10 able quality; but even forbearance must have its limits, and your Lordships will agree with me in thinking that a proper course has been adopted in sending instruction to the commander of the naval forces in those seas to demand, and, if necessary, to enforce reparation for the wrongs and indignities inflicted on British subjects.
My Lords, there is another point of vital importance to which Her Majesty in Her Speech invites our attention—the state of our navy. A great naval country like this could scarcely watch with too great vigilance over the state of its navy. If it appears to Her Majesty's Ministers that our navy is not in that efficient state, either in point of number or equipment, which the improvements of late years introduced by steam navigation have rendered necessary to enable it to contend with the fleets of foreign nations, upon the national element, I am certain that the people of England will come forward as one man, and through their representatives will vote the sums necessary to reconstruct it upon such a footing that it shall be competent to protect this country against all assailants. The reason why such large sums are from time to time demanded for this purpose is, on account of the great improvements which are continually brought forward both as regards guns and ships. The introduction of steam has introduced an entirely new element to our consideration; it is impossible to say how much further it may yet be extended, but certainly the introduction of steam power has proved most expensive to those Powers who maintain strong navies, for their old stock in trade has become totally useless, and may as well be sold for fire-wood. Such being the state of things, it is necessary that we should keep our eyes fixed upon what other nations are doing for the development of their navies. Other nations, I am told, are introducing improvements and rebuilding their slops upon the most improved models, and upon a scale of such magnitude, that unless we not only follow in their track, but fully keep pace with them, we shall find that instead of being the first naval Power of the world, and holding the command of the sea, we shall be reduced to a position of inferiority, and probably, when we are in the most urgent want of ships we shall have to set to work to build them. My own opinion is that we ought always to have a navy at command, so powerful as to give complete confidence in the country; and I would urge that there 11 is nothing like a time of peace for preparation, and that we should at this time place our fleets in such a state of completion as will insure to this country the same superiority in reference to steam-ships which it has always maintained as to sailing ships.
One subject escaped my observation at the moment, the paragraph of the Speech in which Her Majesty speaks of the great results which have been derived from the success of Her Majesty's arms in China. The disputes which had broken out there have now been entirely terminated, and the Chinese empire has been reduced to a proper sense of what it owes to other nations and to this country, and to our Ally especially, and I may add, that the advantageous treaty which has been concluded between the two countries may be fairly attributed to the skilful management by Her Majesty's representative, Lord Elgin, of those most difficult negotiations with which he has been entrusted. Hitherto it has been found almost impossible to frame a treaty which should be satisfactory to us, and yet be binding on the Chinese. I hope, however, these objects have been effected by the existing treaty. Lord Elgin has moreover employed his leisure time, and has displayed the most consummate ability in negotiating and completing another treaty with Japan, the effect of which at this moment can scarcely be estimated. It is also to me most gratifying to find that during all these transactions in China, Lord Elgin has worked in full and cordial conjunction with the French Ambassador, Baron Gros, and that there has existed but one mind and one heart between the representatives of Her Majesty and the Emperor of the French. In Her most gracious Speech from the Throne, Her Majesty has directed your Lordships' attention to various measures of legal and social improvement. Her Majesty says,I have desired that Bills may be submitted to you without delay, for assimilating and amending the laws relating to bankruptcy and insolvency; for bringing together into one set of statutes, in a classified form and with such modifications as experience will suggest to you, the laws relating to crimes and offences in England and Ireland, for enabling the owners of land in England to obtain for themselves an indefeasible title to their estates and interests, and for registering such titles with simplicity and security.Now, all these are very important questions, and I believe that if the measures recommended by Her Majesty are adopted the result must be highly beneficial to the 12 country—and especially the one last mentioned. I must say I think that the In-cumbered Estates Court in Ireland has proved the salvation of that part of the kingdom, and that the man with whom the idea of constructing the Court originated deserves the gratitude of the Irish nation; for I have no hesitation in declaring that in my opinion it has done more to remove discontent and to prevent crime and misery, than all the other enactments upon the statute book put together. The same advantage which is enjoyed in the sister island I am anxious to see extended to England, and that means should be given for giving an indefeasible title to the owners of land, and providing a system of registration of deeds here as well as there.
My Lords, another and very important subject is alluded to in the Speech from the Throne, though it is one upon which I cannot say that I am in a situation to give your Lordships much information; at the same time I have no doubt that I can indicate the general principle upon which a reform in the representation of the people in Parliament is likely to be effected. I believe, then, that by the proposition which Her Majesty's Government will bring forward, considerable classes of the community will be admitted to the exercise of the elective franchise which do not enjoy it at present. The law as it now stands certainly has always appeared to me to be most anomalous in respect of the arrangements under which some persons have the right of voting for Members of Parliament whilst others have it not. For example, I myself have been many years an inhabitant of the city of Westminster, and should have been eligible to represent it, yet I never possessed a vote for the house in which I lived. Why it was that I should have been fit to represent, and yet unfit to vote, I have never been able to comprehend. I simply mention the fact, which I own has greatly astonished me. I have no doubt, therefore, that the Reform Act is susceptible of improvement without destroying the principle upon which it is based. But there are changes contemplated by some people which would not reform or improve, but destroy all that is valuable in our representative institutions. Need I say that I am no friend to the introduction of such sweeping and destructive measures under the name of reform as have recently been propounded to us. I believe that the object of these Tribunes of the People in bringing for- 13 ward those measures is power, after which it is the custom of all ambitious men to strive. Certainly the individual who has been foremost in proposing them is not a person likely to be content with half-measures; for anything more conclusive than that Gentleman's speech with regard to his intentions I must say I have never read. True, your Lordships have, to a certain extent, been made the butt of the hon. Gentleman's sarcasm. Nevertheless, you must not allow yourselves to be carried away in the exercise of your legislative functions by personal feeling or prejudice, but must legislate in a manner befitting the Senate of a great country. We have been told that the landowners are almost exclusively represented by your Lordships' House, and in the same breath we are assured that your Lordships' House is an antiquated institution, and the sooner it is swept away the better. It appears to me, therefore, as a logical conclusion, that, the landholders being sufficiently represented in this House, and the sooner the House is swept away the better, the landholders stand a chance, very shortly of being left without any representation at all. Now that, I have no doubt, may suit the purposes of certain individuals, but I must be permitted to say that it is unjust and unfair in itself, nor is it likely to meet with the approval of the great body of the people.
My Lords, I thank your Lordships for the kind attention with which you have been pleased to listen to my very imperfect remarks. It is the first occasion on which I have opened my lips to address your Lordships since I have been a Member of this House, and I have consequently felt a diffidence and nervousness of which I would gladly have divested myself. I beg to conclude by moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in reply to Her most gracious Speech from the Throne.
The following is a copy of the Address agreed to:—
"Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble Thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious Speech which Your Majesty has been pleased to make to both Houses of Parliament.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that in the internal State of the Country there is nothing to excite Disquietude, and much to call
for Satisfaction and Thankfulness; that Pauperism and Crime have considerably diminished during the past Year and that a Spirit of general Contentment prevails.
We assure Your Majesty that we join with your Majesty in Thankfulness that the Blessing of the Almighty on the Valour of Your Majesty's Troops in India, and on the Skill of their Commanders, has enabled Your Majesty to inflict signal Chastisement upon those who are still in Arms against Your Majesty's Authority, whenever they have ventured to encounter Your Majesty's Forces; and we humbly express our cordial Concurrence in Your Majesty's Hope, that at no distant Period Your Majesty may be able to announce to us the complete Pacification of that great Empire, and that Your Majesty may be able to devote Your Attention to the Improvement of its Condition, and to the Obliteration of all Traces of the present unhappy Conflict.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that, on assuming the direct Government of that Portion of Your Majesty's Dominions, Your Majesty deemed it proper to make known by Proclamation the Principles by which it was Your Majesty's Intention to be guided, and the Clemency which Your Majesty was disposed to show towards those who might have been seduced into Revolt but who might be willing to return to their Allegiance, and for having directed that a Copy of that Proclamation should be laid before us.
We humbly express to Your Majesty the gratification with which we learn that Your Majesty continues to receive from all Foreign Powers Assurances of their friendly Feelings; and that to cultivate and confirm those Feelings, to maintain inviolate the Faith of Public Treaties, and to contribute, as far as Your Majesty's Influence can extend, to the Preservation of the general Peace, are the Objects of Your Majesty's unceasing Solicitude.
We humbly express our Gratification that Your Majesty has concluded, with the Sovereigns who were Parties to the Treaty of Paris of 1856, a Convention relative to the Organization of the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, and that those Rouman Provinces are now proceeding to establish, under its Provisions, their new Form of Government.
We humbly assure Your Majesty that we partake in the Satisfaction with which Your Majesty informs us, that Your Majesty has concluded a Treaty of Commerce with The Emperor of Russia, a Copy of which Your Majesty bas graciously directed to be laid before us, and which is a satisfactory Indication of the complete Re-establishment of those amicable Relations which, until
their late Interruption, have long subsisted, to the mutual Advantage of the Dominions of Your Majesty and those of His Imperial Majesty.
We rejoice to learn that the Measures which, in concert with Your Majesty's Ally The Emperor of the French, Your Majesty thought it necessary to take upon the Coast of China, have resulted in a Treaty, by which further Effusion of Blood has been prevented, and which holds out the Prospect of greatly increased Intercourse with that extensive and densely peopled Empire.
We humbly express our Gratification that Your Majesty has entered into another Treaty with The Emperor of Japan, which opens a fresh Field for Commercial Enterprise in a populous and highly civilized Country, which has hitherto been jealously guarded against the Intrusion of Foreigners. We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that as soon as the Ratifications of these Treaties shall have been exchanged they will be laid before us.
We humbly assure Your Majesty that we partake in the great Satisfaction which Your Majesty feels in announcing to us that the Emperor of the French has abolished a System of Negro Emigration from the East Cost of Africa, against which, as unavoidably tending, however guarded, to the Encouragement of the Slave Trade, Your Majesty's Government has never ceased to address to His Imperial Majesty its most earnest but friendly Representations.
We join in the Hope that by this wise Act on the Part of His Imperial Majesty the Negotiations now in progress at Paris may tend to the total Abandonment of tbe System, and to the Substitution of a duly regulated Supply of substantially Free Labour.
We learn with Regret that while the State of the Republic of Mexico, distracted by Civil War, has rendered it necessary for Your Majesty to carry Forbearance to its utmost Limits, in regard to Wrongs and Indignities to which British Residents have been subjected at the Hands of the Two contending Parties, they have at length been carried to such an Extent that Your Majesty has been compelled to give Instructions to the Commander of Your Majesty's Naval Forces in those Seas to demand, and if necessary to enforce, due Reparation.
We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that, in the Belief that further Measures of legal and social Improvement may be wisely and beneficially introduced, Your Majesty has desired that Bills may be submitted to us, without Delay, for assimilating the Laws relating to Bankruptcy and Insolvency; for bringing together into One
Set of Statutes, in a classified Form, and with such Modifications as Experience may suggest to us, the Laws relating to Crimes and Offences in England and Ireland; for enabling the Owners of Land in England to obtain for themselves an indefeasible Title to their Estates and Interests, and for registering such Titles with Simplicity and Security.
WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that our Attention will be called to the State of the Laws which regulate the Representation of the People in Parliament, and we assure Your Majesty that we will give to that great Subject that Degree of calm and impartial Consideration which is proportionate to the Magnitude of the Interests involved in the Result of our Discussions.
WE humbly assure Your Majesty, that to these and other Propositions for the Amendment of our Laws we shall give our earnest and zealous Attention; and, in common with Your Majesty, we earnestly pray that our Counsels may be so guided as to ensure the Stability of the Throne, the Maintenance and Improvement of our Institutions, and the general Welfare and Happiness of Your Majesty's loyal and faithful People.
said, that he rose to second the Address which had just been moved by the noble Earl. He did so in consequence of the unavoidable absence of a noble Friend of his (Lord Delamere), who had previously undertaken the duty; and therefore, as he had consented to second the Address in answer to the Speech from the Crown at a very short notice, he trusted that he might claim that indulgence from their Lordships which he had often before received from them on other occasions. His experience in this and the other House of Parliament had now extended over a period of upwards of thirty years, and during that period he had often heard the paucity of matters referred to in the Speech from the Throne severely criticised; but he thought that no such reflection could be cast upon the most gracious Speech which had that day been delivered, for that Speech dealt with a great variety of subjects, many of which were of a most important and striking character. He thought that their Lordships must all feel that they stood on the verge of great events, and that any expressions of irritation, or any precipitate action in either House of Parliament, which should have a tendency to create dissensions or animosity, might produce much evil in the present position of af- 17 fairs. They could not but feel, when great and powerful nations stood bristling in arms in an attitude of mutual defiance, that, though they hoped that the risk of general war might be averted by wise and kindly counsels, yet any hasty expressions on the part of politicians and leading statesmen in this country might be productive of the most serious consequences to the peace of the world. He would, therefore, express the most earnest hope that for the moment the struggles of party might be allayed, and that that confidence would be placed in the Executive Government which would enable them to prepare such measures as they might in their judgment deem necessary for the safety of the country, and to maintain the high position it held in the community of nations. Under circumstances such as the present, when the very character of liberal institutions and the cause of rational freedom were at stake, if the Parliament of this country exhibited an attitude of calmness, firmness and forbearance, the cause of free institutions would be recommended and promoted; but if, on the other hand, anything like the voice of faction should be heard in their deliberations, then an argument would be furnished to the enemies of constitutional freedom, which would eagerly be seized on, in favour of the doctrine that a more centralized authority and the iron hand of despotic power were, after all, the most beneficial mode of government. On this account he ventured to express a hope that due credit would be given to Her Majesty's Government for the views and intentions they had enunciated in the Speech from the Throne, and that the measures they recommended to Parliament would receive the fairest and most dispassionate consideration at their Lordships' hands.
In following his noble Friend it would be his endeavour not to weary their Lordships by going over the same ground, or repeating the arguments of his noble Friend; but there were one or two points relating to the present condition of the country that his noble Friend had not adverted to, and to winch he (Lord Ravensworth) might perhaps be permitted briefly to allude. In Her most gracious Speech from the Throne Her Majesty said,'I am happy to think that, in the internal state of the country there is nothing to excite disquietude, and much to call for satisfaction and thank-fulness. Pauperism and crime have considerably diminished during the past year; and a spirit of general contentment prevails.18 Now, in all these statements he perfectly concurred. He agreed that there was much in the circumstances of the country that called for satisfaction and thankfulness. He was compelled to state, however, that one at least of the great industrial interests of the country was not in so satisfactory a state as was no doubt desirable. His connection with seaports, both in the north and in other parts of England, had induced him to view with considerable anxiety, not unmixed with apprehension, the statements which had lately been put forth by the great body of the shipowners of this country with regard to the distress and repression which was now felt by the shipping interest. Much might be said to account for it, and to mitigate the anxiety which such statements were calculated to cause. For instance, it might, be said that we had only just emerged from a war during which the demand for ships was unprecedentedly extensive, and that the existing state of things was simply the reaction which naturally followed upon a period of such activity. That, however, was not sufficient, in his judgment, to account for all the grievances of which the shipowners complained. They and he believed, and he had always believed, that the repeal of the Navigation Laws was undertaken and carried out with too great precipitation and without sufficient calculation as to the results. And now, seeing that Her Majesty's Government were of opinion that the navy was not in that state of efficiency which would enable it to meet the demands and requirements of the country in certain contingencies, and were prepared to recommend an increase in the number and power of steam ships, then the question arose how far we might be able to obtain, as heretofore, a regular supply of seamen to man the fleet. In former days the character of a British ship was marked by the nationality of het crew. It was necessary, he believed, thaf three-fourths of them should Consist o British seamen, and that a proportion of youths should also be employed as apprentices. He did not exactly know how the law stood at present in reference to this subject; but this he knew, that of late a not inconsiderable amount of foreign seamen had been imported into the English merchant service, and that an immense number of British seamen were employed in the service of foreign Powers, and espe- 19 cially in that of the United States. He was not aware what powers Her Majesty's Government had in the case of war breaking out of recalling the latter to this country; but he felt assured that the feeling of the British shipowners were strongly in favour of some revision of the existing law, and he believed he might also venture to say that the subject would, at no distant date, be brought forward in the other House of Parliament. He felt that he should have been wanting in his duty to those who had formerly trusted him as their representative were he to refrain from presenting the matter at this the first opportunity to their Lordships' notice, and expressing the hope that, if a Motion were proposed in the other House of Parliament for the appointment of a Committee of inquiry into the subject, at least no opposition to such an inquiry would be given by Her Majesty's Government. On referring to other portions of the Speech from the Throne, he admitted he found some crumbs of comfort—indeed, some substantial comfort—for British shipping in the commercial treaties which had just been concluded with China and Japan. These treaties would open new fields for enterprise, and fresh channels for our commerce; and he trusted that the announcement would give some consolation to the suffering shipping interest, and that ere long we might see a revival of the carrying trade and a demand for our shipping which at present did not exist. But he could not pass from the consideration of these treaties without adding his humble tribute of applause and admiration to the ability and wisdom displayed by that most able of negotiators, and skilful of diplomatic agents, the Earl of Elgin. From the very commencement of his career in the East, Lord Elgin had shown himself equal to cope with all the difficulties of his situation. Nothing could have been more admirable than his conduct when at the very outset he found himself suddenly placed in a position of embarrassment by the diversion of the armament intended for China, to the assistance of the Government of India. Nothing could be more determined and decided than his conduct on that occasion; and ever since, by his activity and his skill as a negotiator, and by the able manner in which he had opened up new channels of enterprise, he had shown that he deserved the thanks of a grateful country. He would now offer a few words upon the pre- 20 sent condition of our Indian empire. No man could make any objection to the paragraph in the Speech from the Throne which referred to that subject, or to the Proclamation which the Government had issued for the pacification of India—a Proclamation which he had reason to believe, wherever it had been received, had met with universal approbation. He believed that strenuous efforts had been made in India to prevent, as far as possible, the dissemination of that important document, but he trusted that it would, nevertheless, ultimately be productive of all the benefits which had been expected from it. He could not refrain from expressing his admiration of the heroism which had been displayed by the troops employed in the suppression of the Indian revolt. He could speak on this subject with the more certainty because he had a younger son serving Her Majesty in India as a soldier; and from the account he had received from him, as well as from other quarters, he knew the incredible difficulties which our troops had had to sustain, and with what wonderful cheerfulness and courage they had borne their hardships. When their Lordships considered the harassing nature of the duties which our soldiers had had to perform—the unremitting pursuit of rebels who appeared in one place only to disappear before they could be reached, the midnight marches through swamps and jungles, to find the enemy at the end of these fatigues disappearing in an inaccessible jungle, and, above all, the terrible effects of the sun, which in one instant laid prostrate the strongest and most vigorous constitutions—it would be impossible for them to value too highly or to give too much encouragement, by the expression of their admiration, to the men engaged in so difficult and dreadful a warfare. It was a consolation to him to be able to state that, in spite of all the difficulties and dangers which they had had to encounter, the general health of our troops in India was at least as good as, if not better, than it had been often known to be in a state of profound tranquillity. Let their Lordships, then, hope that the expectations of Her Majesty might be realized to the full, and that before any long time elapsed Her Majesty might be able to announce to Parliament the entire pacification of her great empire in India.
Upon that paragraph in the Speech from 21 the Throne which referred to the Republic of Mexico, he would not trouble the House with many observations. Their Lordships might have read in The Times of that morning how it was hardly possible for the English people to realize the present state of Mexico. Bloodshed was carried on there in a wholesale way that was really awful, and he was sure the Government had exercised a wise discretion in instructing their agents and commanders to demand reparation for the injuries inflicted upon British subjects in that quarter.
With respect to the paragraph relating to contemplated reforms in the law, and the consolidation of various statutes, he would simply express his satisfaction that Her Majesty's Government were about to endeavour to afford a more secure and facile mode of obtaining a title to landed property. There was a power in England which overrode almost every man who had any property to manage—he meant that great "solicitor power" without which nobody could move a step in questions relating to the sale and transfer of land. Those only who had had to do with such, transactions knew the difficulty and delay attendant upon any attempt to ascertain the validity of a title. The moment a title, or, indeed, any other deed was produced, the first object of a solicitor was to look out for flaws, and to discover difficulties which delayed the conclusion of the contemplated arrangement. Now, difficulty and delay in legal questions meant great expenditure of money, and he was satisfied, therefore, that any well considered measures which should render more easy and expeditious the sale and transfer of land would be received as a great boon by both the lauded and commercial interests.
He had now to make a few observations upon that which out of doors was considered the most interesting and important topic introduced into the Speech from the Throne—he meant the paragraph which referred to a change in the laws affecting the representation of the people in Parliament. He had heard expressions of regret from well-meaning persons of his own political opinions that the task of revising those laws should have fallen into the hands of a Conservative Ministry. He could not see the force of any such objection. It was not the fault of the Conservative party that a revision of the representation was rendered necessary. The great change brought about by the Reform Act of 1832 having been once effected, the Conservative 22 party gave their adherence to it, and were prepared to abide by and maintain it. He recollected the late Sir Robert Peel stating in the House of Commons that he felt convinced the day would come when it would be his duty to defend the Reform Act against the attacks of its authors. So long as any disposition was manifested by parties in Parliament to adhere to the settlement of 1832 the Conservatives determined—and faithfully had they abided by their resolution—to support it. But such was no longer the case. Upon three different occasions during the Administration of noble Lords opposite an intention to bring in a Bill to amend the Reform Act had been announced from the Throne, and upon two of these occasions Bills had actually been introduced by the leader of the Government in the other House. The attention of the public having been thus directed to the subject, and excited by the harangues of popular orators, large classes of the community undoubtedly had been led to expect a measure of Parliamentary Reform, and it was certainly no part of the duty of the Conservative party to adhere obstinately and pertinaciously to the settlement of 1832, of which they were not the authors. He was prepared to admit that the Reform Act might be improved in many respects. By the limitation of the right of voting to a £50 franchise in counties, and to a £10 household franchise in towns, many parties were excluded who were as well qualified to exercise that right as many of those who now enjoyed it, and if by a calm and temperate revision of the law a further extension of the franchise could safely be made, as he believed it could, he should hail such a measure as a real boon to the country. There were other questions connected with Parliamentary Reform With Which he would not trouble their Lordships r but, standing there in entire ignorance of the extent of the measure which Ministers might be prepared to submit to Parliament, he would yet express the hope that it would in no respect resemble a Bill which had now been before the country for some months, framed and produced by a roan who had made himself more renowned for his powers as an orator than he had acquired character as a statesman. The hon. Member for Birmingham had undoubtedly exhibited great powers of oratory, great industry and great ability to sway large masses of the people; but, in spite of all his inflammatory harangues and all the 23 pains taken to get up a popular agitation in favour of his scheme, it was unquestionable that throughout the country generally there was no sympathy with him in the task he had undertaken. He believed that if the nation were polled upon this measure it would not receive any great proportion of support. One statement of its author alone was enough to excite the disapprobation of the country—namely, his laying it down as a principle, that their Lordships were really and truly the representatives of the landed interest only, and that therefore the other House of Parliament ought to be made to represent merely the masses and the commercial interest. Independently of the falsity of the statement of fact involved in this proposition, the hon. Member could not, had he wished to introduce confusion into all our councils, have devised any scheme more calculated to set class against class than the promulgation of such a notion as this. The theory of the constitution was, that the two Houses of Parliament should work in harmony together; and to lay down as a principle of future legislation a doctrine so extravagant as that one interest should be represented in the House of Lords, and another in the House of Commons, was merely to do that which would bring confusion into all our councils, and set up a perpetual antagonism between the two Houses, which must necessarily result in some such end as this,—that the House of Commons would continually pass measures which could not be assented to by their Lordships, and at length, angry at the continued disagreement, would arrogate to itself the power of governing the country without the consent of the Upper House; and that their Lordships' House and their Lordships' ancient privileges and place in the constitution would then be overridden and trampled upon by a dominant House of Commons, elected by an irresponsible constituency—he said an irresponsible constituency, because one of the provisions of this Bill was to establish a system of secret voting which would relieve the constituency from all responsibility except that which a man owed to his own conscience and his own honour—a very uncertain protection indeed against the innovations of democratic violence. Therefore, he held that nothing could be more mischievous in its provisions than this measure which bad now been so ong before the country. But he had no fear that such a measure as this would be carried either in their Lordships', or in the 24 other House of Parliament, and he would only repeat the hope to which he had already given expression, that; when the measure of Her Majesty's Government was submitted to Parliament, it would be found to be a wise, a considerate, a safe, and a salutary measure, and one differing as widely as possible from that of which the hon. Member for Birmingham was the author. He would detain their Lordships no longer; lie thanked them for the kindness and indulgence with which they had received his remarks, and begged leave to second the Address which had been moved by his noble Friend.
§ [See Page 13.]
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I entirely concur in the opinion expressed by the noble Earl who moved the Address, that the Speech from the Throne recommends to our consideration many important matters both at home and abroad; and the noble Lord who seconded the Address having impressed upon us the necessity of avoiding all factiousness and party spirit leads me to rejoice that the moderation of the tone and the prudence of the sentiments expressed in the Speech which Her Majesty has been advised to deliver are such as to render unnecessary any opposition to the Address in answer to it, at least on my part, and on the part of those with whom I act. It gave me great pleasure to hear the noble Earl the mover of the Address acquit himself with so much credit. I am not altogether ignorant of the difficulties encountered by those who have to move or second an Address. Some years ago I had the great honour of moving the adoption of the first Address presented by the house of Commons to Her Majesty after Her accession to the Throne. The Seconder of the Address and myself were kindly received by the Prime Minister of the day: he communicated to us the heads of the Speech which was about to be delivered, told us that he had no doubt we should admirably discharge our duty, and referred us to the heads of Departments for any further details which we might wish to obtain. We went to the different Departments, and were kindly received by their several heads; but, somehow or other, the head of the Colonial Office thought it would be better for us to adhere to foreign and home affairs; the Foreign Secretary thought that we had better confine Ourselves to the affairs of the Home Office; while that was the only subject which the 25 Home Secretary thought that we had better avoid. The consequence of this was that I had to fill my short address with a topic of great interest at the time—namely, the prospect of happiness and glory during the reign which had just commenced—a promise which has been most nobly fulfilled during what we may hope is only the small portion of the long and glorious reign of a Sovereign whose happiness has lately been crowned by the affectionate feelings displayed by all classes of this country upon the marriage of Her eldest daughter, and the happy event which has lately occurred in Her family;—while the Seconder of the Address—a man of great ability, of much political knowledge, and not unaccustomed to public speaking, was so entirely impressed with the subjects which he was to avoid, that he entirely failed to make a speech satisfactory to himself. In the course of the debate which followed, however, we had the consolation of hearing different Ministers give most brilliant and satisfactory explanations upon subjects with which they were thoroughly acquainted, and which, with great prudence and judgment, they had hesitated to confide to young and inexperienced men. I cannot help thinking that the noble Earl and the noble Baron who have addressed us tonight have laboured under a similar difficulty. I am sure that it would have been a privilege for any of us to hear the hints on public speaking which the Prime Minister must have given to my noble Friends. I can conceive the feeling with which they were received by the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, and the horror which he evinced at any notion of the Colonies being touched upon in their addresses: "We do not introduce the Colonies into the Queen's Speech, and if you refer to them that unfortunate affair of the Ionian Islands is sure to be brought on." I can picture to myself, also, the cold shiver which the noble Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs must have experienced when the noble Lords went to him for information. With regard to the United States I am sure that he said, "It is quite true that we made it a subject of very serious attack upon the late Government that they did not introduce the United States into the Queen's Speech; but still, considering the communications which I have had with Mr. Dallas, and which have partially appeared in the newspapers, I think you had better avoid that subject." The 26 noble Earl must have equally warned them against touching upon any Eastern questions for fear they should put it into the head of any indiscreet Member of the House of Commons, or equally indiscreet Member of this House, to ask some explanation of what we certainly did not understand at the time—a simultaneous reference to the Porte as to the massacre at Jeddah and the instruction to bombard that town. With regard to other questions connected with Europe, it is quite clear from the speeches of the noble Lords that they received full permission to speak upon any subject whatever, so that they did not touch upon France, Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Germany, or Italy. The other Member of the Cabinet to whom reference was made was probably my noble and gallant Friend opposite, the Lord Privy Seal; and I can fancy that, as nothing very important had happened in his department since the prorogation of Parliament, he recommended the noble Lord the Seconder of the Address, to address his speech to naval affairs, and advised both the Mover and Seconder of the Address to pour a broadside into Mr. Bright. With regard to the Colonies, their total omission from Her Majesty's Speech, is, to my mind, satisfactory to the views of the Government, because it is a recognition that the general state of our colonial possessions, produced by the qualities of the Anglo-Saxon race, and also in some degree, contributed to by that course of legislation which has lately been followed under different Governments, is satisfactory and ought not to be disturbed. The question of the Ionian Islands I do not now wish to discuss. If the noble Earl opposite, having failed to obtain the aid of that able and distinguished gentleman, Mr. Gladstone, as an associate in his Cabinet, has sought to obtain him as a subordinate by a colonial appointment, he has no doubt succeeded in that object, but I very much doubt whether the nomination of so important a person, and the language of the despatch announcing his mission, is likely to remove the difficulties connected with that question. I now come to a very grave portion of the Speech from the Throne. For a considerable number of years—ever since 1830—the relations between this country and France have, as a rule, been of a friendly character; the alliance has subsisted under different Governments, though occasionally interrupted for a time: circumstances of different kinds, 27 probably faults on both sides, and national prejudices, have sometimes produced sentiments of irritation and hostility: but I believe that at the bottom there is in the minds of both nations an extremely strong feeling, that their alliance is of great importance to both countries, and also to the welfare and prosperity of Europe. This alliance is accompanied by conditions. It is clear that neither of two great countries like these can pretend to be the leader, and to make the other its follower; and it is equally clear that, to preserve the alliance, neither must follow any selfish object incompatible with the interests or the honour of the other if these conditions are faithfully fulfilled, I believe that the alliance between England and France will rest on a firm foundation. Nothing, my Lords, could be further from my wish than to reopen the question as to who was right and who was wrong on the subject which led to the resignation of the late Government. As to the mere historical fact, there can be no doubt that there was inconsistency on this matter on the part of those who now hold the reins of power. The late Government's defeat had been ascribed partly to its having introduced the Conspiracy to Murder Bill, and partly to its not having answered a despatch from a French Minister. Now, that Bill was warmly defended by our present Prime Minister, and also by some of his colleagues; and as to the despatch which was alleged to have been left unanswered, the gravamen of the charge was that it contained an insult to the British people, and it so happened that in their very first official communication the new Government of this country distinctly exonerated the French Government from an intention to offer the English nation any such insult; his inconsistency must have made it difficult for the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to maintain that tone, firm and frank, but devoid of offence, which is absolutely necessary to maintain the alliance. As to a recent case—namely, the Charles et Georges—although, until the papers are produced, it would be premature to pronounce an opinion, either as to the conduct of the French Government or of Her Majesty's Ministers, yet, without further explanation, it certainly does appear as if, unmindful of the treaties which bound us to Portugal, unmindful of the interest we have long taken as a nation in the question upon which the whole dispute turned, there has been some preci- 28 pitation on the part of our Government in supporting the stronger party to the quarrel, and urging the weaker one to make concession. I come next to another very important topic, which must now be engaging the attention of Her Majesty's Government—namely, the rumours afloat and opinions entertained in some quarters, both here and on the Continent, that we are on the eve of a great European war, of which no man can possibly foresee the end, arising out of what is called the Italian question. I do not attempt, because I feel unable, to throw any light on that absorbing subject. No doubt there is much that is to be deeply deplored in the state of the Italian peninsula. Your Lordships are all aware of the kind of Government that exists in Naples. But with regard to that kingdom the case presents no complication, because it depends solely on a change of opinion in the ruler, who may yet call to his councils some wise and influential Minister, or may, in the natural course of events, be succeeded by his son, when it is quite possible that that which is now a bad Government may be converted into a good one. With respect to Central Italy the question is widely different. I have lately come from the capital of the Papal States, and shall certainly not make an unhandsome return for the hospitality I enjoyed in common with my countrymen by abusing what I saw there; still, it would be the idlest affectation to deny that the condition of that country is one which must cause great grief to all who desire the welfare of its people. The system of government existing there—the only one of its kind left in Europe—is such as to render the work of reform most difficult, and, without entering into details as to the defects which prevail—the existence of antiquated laws, the mode of administering them, or the obstacles in the way of anything having for its object the material progress or the intellectual development of the nation—it is undoubtedly the fact that the entire lay population of the Papal dominions are, almost to a man, hostile to the government under which they now live. I am perfectly aware that bad government is a state of things which will be found, more or less, to prevail in other countries; that other countries are badly governed, and that the people are more or less dissatisfied with the governments under which they live; but there is one very important circumstance which puts the Papal States in a different category from any other State 29 in Europe. They are occupied,—not temporarily occupied, not occupied for a month or a year, but occupied as it would seem almost without prospect of cessation by the armies of two of the most powerful nations of Europe. It is true that where the sovereign of a country agrees to such an occupation there may be in it nothing, strictly speaking, which is contrary to international law; but it is clearly opposed to the balance of power in Europe, and offers a legitimate occasion, not, it may be, for any such extremity as war, but for the friendly interference of diplomacy both with regard to the general security of Europe and the well understood interests of the particular countries more immediately concerned. Passing over some other smaller and unimportant States, I come to the Lombardo-Venetian provinces of Austria. My Lords, it is not my desire or intention to become the apologist of the Austrian Government. I believe it weighs heavily on the minds of the people of those provinces; the pressure of their taxation is severe, the degree of liberty they enjoy is certainly not great, and the rigours of the conscription to which they are exposed are oppressive. But these are evils common to the majority of the continental nations. Some of the evils complained of by the intelligent Lombards living in towns and subject to Austrian rule are—I will not say sentimental, because that phrase might imply a sneer against feelings which are creditable enough in themselves—but hardly of a very practical nature. Their internal government is certainly better cared for than that of any part of Southern Italy. But it is not for us to discuss whether Lombardy might or might not be better or worse governed, or whether the people of those provinces should be admitted to liberty in a greater or less degree. What we have to consider is that these provinces belong to Austria under treaties which, whether good or bad in their origin—and certainly they must at first have been deemed beneficial—have by long continuance become a portion of the public law of Europe. Remember, my Lords, in looking at this Italian question, that there is not that agreement among Italians which some persons suppose. I believe that nearly all parties have now given up the hope of having one united Italy. Some are for an Italian empire, and a despotic government, some for a constitutional, and some for a republican form of government. And as their objects are 30 various, so their means of accomplishing them are equally diverse. Some are for perpetual agitation, or diplomatic intervention, some for war, and some even for the execrable crime of assassination. No doubt the deep seated feeling is a detestation of the foreigner; and we must not deceive ourselves by believing that this hatred is directed exclusively against the Austrians, though they now happen to be its most prominent objects. Depend upon it the rival of Austria in Italy, France, was certainly as unpopular at the time of its armed occupation of that country, and would speedily become again as unpopular as Austria if it stood in the same position. It is vain to deny that in Italy there are at this moment Italians utterly unmindful of the lessons of history, and who believe it possible by the aid of one race of foreigners against another effectually to get rid of foreign domination altogether. With regard to Sardinia, I believe every one of your Lordships feels admiration and respect for the gallant manner in which that country has, under circumstances of great difficulty, established a government of a very liberal character. The greatest sympathy is felt in this country for the efforts which she has made to establish and extend liberal institutions, and the greatest respect is entertained not only for the King but for the ability of her Prime Minister: and if she steadily pursues the same course, will no doubt secure for her an increasing influence throughout Italy. But it appears, that partly from motives of sympathy with the Italian cause, and partly—it is vain to deny it—from an ambition for territorial aggrandisement. Sardinia is now arming herself far beyond her resources, and language is held by her which leads to a well founded apprehension that she is about to engage in war. Now, that Sardinia would engage in a war with Austria without an assurance of the co-operation of some more powerful State is not likely, and the rumour is that France will support her in her attempt. As far as I can trace the source of that rumour, it is first of all to be found in the attitude of Sardinia, the great armaments which are taking place in France, and the words which were used by the Emperor of the French to the Ambassador of Austria—words which, however, might, even if they were correctly reported, mean everything or might mean nothing at all. Now independently of the effect these warlike rumours have had on the public mind of 31 Europe, I do not think we are, on other grounds, requiring too much of Her Majesty's Government if we ask it for some explanation on this subject. The words of Her Majesty's Speech in the paragraph relating to the assurances received from all foreign Powers, and the maintenance of public treaties, are perfectly unobjectionable—perfectly suited to the occasion; they are words of general import, to which nothing can be objected. But with regard to Her Majesty's Government the case is somewhat different. For the sake of this country and for the sake of Europe, which is awaiting with great interest what occurs in the Parliament of England this evening, the Government may fairly be asked to declare what is the posture of affairs, and what is the line of policy they have adopted, or what they intend to adopt, with regard to the circumstances that have produced these rumours? I trust that we shall receive a clear intimation of the views of the Government in this matter. Of some of the possible motives that might influence the Emperor of the French to engage in a war at this time it is, of course, quite as easy for us on this side of the House to form a judgment as the Members of Her Majesty's Government. Those motives might be personal, dynastic, or national; of these we can form some conclusion. But there are some points of great importance of which we must necessarily be ignorant. I cannot think but Her Majesty's Government must be in possession of more information as to the probabilities of war, and particularly of the preparations for war, than what mere rumour can convey to us. There is a great difference between carrying out improvements in the army and navy and those extraordinary military preparations which are said to be going on in France. This would form a most important element in the formation of any opinion on the subject, and I trust the Government will afford some information on that point. On a momentous question like this it is most important, notwithstanding the general paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech, to know what assurances have been received by the Government from the different Foreign Powers. If no precise assurances have been received, there is, of course, only one inference to be drawn; if assurances have been given that there is no intention of war, it would be satisfactory to know it; it would be most important and material to the judgment to be formed as to the 32 present state of affairs. Such assurances must have the greatest weight and importance, coming from a Sovereign who has hitherto been a faithful ally of this country, and who, from personal motives, and on the ground of self-interest, must have strong reasons for desiring to maintain that alliance. Whether Her Majesty's Government do or do not think themselves justified in expressing an opinion on the future course of events, I think we have a right to demand of them some clear statement of their policy in this instance. If they can say that during the course of these events they have spoken equally to Austria, to Sardinia, and to France, in the firm, candid, and friendly manner in which they were entitled to speak, avoiding any unnecessary or irritating menace on the one hand, but on the other declaring their steady conviction that the maintenance of existing treaties is necessary to the peace and tranquillity of the future; and if, in addition, they are able to say that they have entered into no engagements whatever, binding this country to take any course, at any time, or under any circumstances, other than the honour of England and the welfare of Europe may demand,—in that ease, I am sure that Her Majesty's Government will receive the hearty support of the people, a support that will enable them to speak with greater force and influence in any difficult circumstances that may hereafter arise. There are other points connected with foreign affairs to which I need not allude at any length. We are told that the articles of the Treaty of Paris relating to the organization of the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia have been carried into execution in a satisfactory manner. It is also satisfactory to receive the assurance that a treaty of commerce has been concluded with Russia which is likely to extend the field of British industry and enterprise, though I cannot say I have any great confidence in a treaty of commerce negotiated by my noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury), if he engaged in the negotiation on the same principles on the subject as he has advocated, even during the recess, in his letter to the shipowners. As to the paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech addressed to the Gentlemen of the House of Commons, I do not doubt they will be ready to provide for the expenditure that may be required for the improvement of the navy. That indeed is a matter more peculiarly belonging to the other House of Parlia- 33 ment; but so far as your Lordships' House is concerned, they will be ready to support any measures which shall combine efficiency with economy. It is satisfactory to hear that Her Majesty's Government have taken this course at once, because this paragraph of the Speech indicates a change of the opinion held by the Government last year, when they thought it right to diminish the Naval Estimates of their predecessors, and were obliged, subsequently, to come to the House and ask for an increase, not however equalling the proposal made by Her Majesty's late Government. As to home affairs, there is an important paragraph in tier Majesty's Speech relating to law reform: this paragraph is apt to be longer in the opening than in the closing Speech from the Throne, and the fault does not mainly rest with this House. I hope the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) will take the opportunity, in the discussions of those reforms, to distribute the business of the House of Lords over the whole Session, so as to obviate the complaints of hurry and haste which arrive at the close of every Session. I think there are some omissions from the paragraph, as I see no announcement of any Measure on the question of church rates: I hope that subject will not be lost sight of. There is, however, one very important passage, in which we are told,Your attention will be called to the state of the laws which regulate the representation of the people in Parliament.This does not define clearly in what manner the subject is to be brought before us, as the passage might denote either that a Committee of Inquiry might be appointed, or that a measure would be brought in; but as he read the words, they imply that the Government have a measure prepared which they will introduce themselves. All I can say with regard to this subject is, that if the Government bring in a Bill which is calculated to settle fairly this great question—to give a duo representation to the people, and one which is likely to be for their advantage—the Government would not meet with any party or factious opposition on my part, and the measure will be considered with that degree of attention which Her Majesty recommends us to give to so important a subject. With regard to the statement as to the internal state of the country, that there is nothing to excite disquietude or alarm, and much to call for gratitude and thankfulness, I concur in thinking that it 34 is not only an important but a most satisfactory statement. I have now only to repeat that I do not intend to offer any opposition to the Address, and to beg pardon for having detained your Lordships so long.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, before I reply to the very able and temperate speech which your Lordships have just heard, I trust that the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) will pardon me if I pause for a single moment to express my warm acknowledgments to my two noble Friends who have severally moved and seconded the Address in reply to Her Majesty's gracious Speech,—to my noble Friend who moved the Address with singular ability and singular clearness, and whom I trust we shall often hear upon future occasions in this House, of which he has so recently become a Member. I must also express my gratitude to my noble Friend the Seconder of the Address, not indeed so new to this House as the noble Mover, but who, in the kindest and handsomest manner, upon the shortest notice, has taken the place of another noble Lord who had promised to undertake the task, but who has been prevented from doing so by domestic illness. It is at all times satisfactory to find that the language which Her Majesty has been advised to use in addressing Parliament is of such a character as to lead to no division of opinion in the House, and that it contains nothing which could prevent the loyal acknowledgments contained in the Address from being accompanied by a feeling of entire unanimity. But, my Lords, upon the present occasion I must confess I feel more than ordinary gratification at the manner in which the Address in reply to Her Majesty's gracious Speech has been dealt with by the noble Earl opposite and by the House; because I think, so far as opinion has been expressed by the course taken by my noble Friend, and by the language of his able and lucid speech, there is something more than a more expression of unanimity, which under certain circumstances may be a more form; but I imagine there is a general substantial agreement in opinion upon all the more material topics treated of in Her Majesty's Speech. My Lords, there never was a time at which I am quite certain it was of deeper and more vital interest to the wellbeing and the peace of Europe, as well as to the happiness of this country, that there should be a well marked and intelligible accordance of opinion between 35 us upon all points. At all times the weight of public opinion in England must exercise a great and deserved and salutary influence on Europe, and there never was a time when that combined public opinion could operate with greater force and greater power than at this particular period at which I address the House, the critical period in which we now are.
Before I proceed to the more important topics which have been referred to, I will just allude for a moment to the criticisms of my noble Friend upon the subject rather of matters which are omitted from the Speech than of anything which is contained in that Speech, and I will endeavour, as shortly as possible, to give an answer which, I trust, will be found satisfactory to the noble Earl. At all events, I will speak with perfect frankness, for I can assure your Lordships that neither my colleagues nor myself have aught to conceal.
My noble Friend, in alluding to the absence of certain topics both in the Speech and in the Address said, that judging from his own experience, he concluded that I had given advice to my noble Friends carefully to avoid those particular questions to which he has adverted. I can assure my noble Friend that I gave them no such advice. I did give my noble Friends such information as they desired upon the topics which are dealt with in the Speech, and I presumed that, according to the usual Custom, my noble Friends would have for the most part addressed themselves to the topics which are treated of in that document. If there was any divergence from that usual course, it would naturally be expected to arise from the anxiety of my noble Friend who seconded the Address to take the earliest opportunity of bringing before Parliament the exceptional case of that great interest with which he is so closely connected. My Lords, I do not mean to deny that that interest at the present moment is not in a state of considerable, but I hope only temporary depression. Into the causes of that depression I am sure your Lordships will feel that I ought not at the present moment to enter. I think those causes are various; but, in alluding generally to the prosperous condition of the country, I did not mean to convey an opinion that there were not now, as there are at all times, certain interests which are in a less prosperous condition than is desirable. What I wished to convey was this—that with regard to 36 the general state of the country, both as to the condition of the people and the abundance of employment, as well as the diminution of crime and pauperism, which in both cases are most striking, there is much cause for congratulation. And as to one very important indication of the prosperity of the humbler classes, I may refer to the vast increase that has taken place in the course of the year in the amount of deposits in savings' banks throughout the country. I have the documents by me, but I will not at the present moment trouble the House with them, and will only state, that in every week during the last quarter the amount of pauperism in this country has been considerably below not only the pauperism of last year, which was an exceptional one, but also below the corresponding periods of 1857; and, moreover, so equally was that improvement spread over the whole country, that from the accounts taken last December, in all the ten or twelve districts into which England is divided for the purposes of the poor law, there was not one district in which the amount of pauperism was not below both the amount in 1858 and that in 1857. With respect to the savings' banks I will only state what I recollect of the figures—that whereas in the last year, from the beginning or middle of December to the middle of January, there was an excess of withdrawals over deposits to the extent of £600,000; in the course of the present year there has, on the contrary, been an excess of deposits over withdrawals, amounting to about £500,000. In point of fact, upon balancing the accounts of the savings banks in the two years there appears a difference in favour of their present state of £1,100,000 as compared with the preceding year.
Now, the principal matter of which my noble Friend opposite complained, as not being noticed in the Speech, is the case of the Charles et Georges. My Lords, the reasons for that omission are obvious. In the first place, so many subjects are treated of in the Speech, that it is more than ordinarily lengthy, and it was not deemed desirable to encumber it with any matters which it was not absolutely necessary to introduce. The affair of the Charles et Georges, however, is one upon which the Government will not hesitate to give the House the fullest information in its power, and I am quite sure that when the papers are before your Lordships, you will be satisfied that in no respect whatever have 37 Her Majesty's Government fallen short of the requirements of the Treaty of Paris, nor of the obligations which treaties or our long-standing friendship with Portugal imposes. But the non-introduction of such a subject into the Royal Speech is easily to be accounted for. It is not customary to introduce into the Speech questions which may have arisen between two Foreign Powers with which the British Government is not directly concerned. Upon this occasion the discussion was between France and Portugal, upon a matter as to which full information was not before Her Majesty's Government, and thus it would have been impossible for them to form any accurate opinion; but they adopted the course which I believe was suggested by my noble Friend opposite, that of offering to both parties their best advice and friendly offices. Unfortunately, however, neither party accepted the advice so tendered, the one declining it upon one point, and the other upon a different point; but we have not the less received an assurance from Portugal of satisfaction and gratitude for those friendly offices which were tendered before they were asked for. No doubt, in the affair of the Charles et Georges, there were circumstances which enlisted in favour of Portugal the sympathies of this country, because it appeared as though Portugal were suffering unjustly for attempting to put a stop to proceedings which it regarded as a revival of the slave trade. I will not now enter upon the discussion of that question, but I will say that we never for a moment varied our opinion, or in the expression of that opinion, week after week to the French Government, that it was impossible to separate the so-called free emigration sanctioned by them from the commission of acts of the slave trade in the interior of Africa, even if no irregularities were committed by their own officers. While we have never ceased to press that view as strongly as had been done by the noble Lord opposite (the Earl of Clarendon), who lately filled the office of Secretary for Foreign Affairs, I believe no recommendation, no circumstance could have brought the matter so home to the convictions of the French Government as the facts elicited by the inquiry into this very case of the Charles et Georges, and it is creditable to the French Government that as soon as their own experience satisfied them of the immense difficulty, if not impossibility, of preventing one system from degenerating 38 into the other, they immediately gave orders to put a stop to the exportation of negroes from the East Coast of Africa, where the greatest difficulties prevailed; and now arrangements are pending, with a prospect of speedy termination, by which the French Government intend to put a complete stop to negro emigration from either coast of Africa, and, moreover, to give us cordially and readily a more active co-operation for the suppression of the slave trade. I will not, however, enter further into the question at present, though I shall be quite ready to discuss it when the papers are laid on the table.
With respect to the case of the Ionian Islands, it is impossible for me at the present moment to enter upon a full discussion of the steps that have been taken in that matter. Within a very short time the very distinguished Gentleman who has undertaken a temporary mission to those islands will return to this country, and be enabled to give his own version and his own explanation of the duties he has had to perform, and the manner in which he has performed them. But what I would wish to state to your Lordships is the original reason why Mr. Gladstone consented to go out, and afterwards to act as Lord High Commissioner to the Ionian Islands. The statement reached us from all sides, and the fact had become notorious, that from various causes the Government in those islands had come to a dead lock, and that for several years it had been impossible for the Government and the representatives of the Ionian people to carry on satisfactorily together the legislation of the country; and, in fact, the Government was carried on in a most exceptional manner by a system of fiction—by perpetual prorogations of the popular branch of the Ionian Legislature. Mr. Gladstone, my Lords, was appointed Lord High Commissioner Extraordinary to the Ionian Islands for the purpose of satisfying himself, by means of personal investigation upon the spot, as to the real causes which stood in the way of the prosperity and well-being of that portion of the dominions under Her Majesty's control. He accepted that mission, which we considered his high position, his powerful abilities, his great authority, the interest which he had always taken in Grecian affairs, and Ids conciliatory manners rendered him peculiarly well qualified to undertake. Your Lordships must at the same time bear in mind that he undertook this duty simply as a mission of inquiry, with- 39 out the slightest intention of superseding the Gentleman who then filled the office of Lord High Commissioner of the islands in question. Circumstances, however, with which your Lordships are doubtless aware, immediately afterwards transpired, for which Her Majesty's Government can be held in no way responsible, which rendered it absolutely impossible that any improvements in the position of the Ionian Islands, or any reforms in the administration of their affairs, could be introduced by Sir John Young with any chance of their being accepted. We therefore thought it desirable that Mr. Gladstone should, for a short period longer, continue to lend his services to the country, and that he should himself be the means of recommending to the Senate and people of the Ionian Islands those alterations and amendments which he might deem it expedient to submit to their notice. He consented to undertake that task for a short time at considerable inconvenience to himself, and to launch the reforms to which I have alluded with all the authority and advantage which must be the result of the intimate knowledge which he has obtained of all the circumstances and bearings of the case. Mr. Gladstone's appointment will in the course of a few days be brought to a close; he will be replaced by a permanent successor, and when he resumes his seat in the House of Commons—to which he will, I trust, be shortly restored—he will, I have no doubt, be able to satisfy your Lordships and the country as to the wisdom of the policy which has been adopted by the Government, and also to furnish such explanations with respect to the present state of the Ionian Islands as he may deem to be consistent with his duty to afford.
If, my Lords, I refrain from touching on many of the other topics which are mentioned in the speech from the Throne—such, for instance, as that which relates to internal legislation, or that which has reference to the treaties which have recently been concluded with foreign Powers—it is not because I am not fully alive to their importance, or to the greatness of the results to which they may lead, but because future occasions will arise on which those subjects can be more conveniently discussed. I may, however, in passing, be permitted to say, with respect to the treaty which has been concluded with Russia, and to which my noble Friend who has just spoken has adverted, that it is not only to the treaty itself, but to the whole course of proceed- 40 ings adopted of late towards this country by the Emperor of Russia, that the expressions of satisfaction to be found in Her Majesty's Speech at the re-establishment of friendly relations with that Sovereign are to be attributed. I make this statement, my Lords, because I think it is due to the Emperor of Russia that I should bear testimony to the fact that even before the signature of the treaty, British subjects having been previously placed in a more unfavourable position than the subjects of other nations, His Imperial Majesty voluntarily conceded to them all those advantages from which they had so long been exclusively debarred. Nor can I, my Lords, pass over the subject of treaties without adverting to those which have been concluded with China and Japan, and without at the same time expressing my high admiration of the conciliatory, but, at the same time firm and determined course, which Lord Elgin has pursued in the difficult position in which he was placed. I derive, my Lords, increased satisfaction from the success which has attended the efforts of that noble Earl, and the zeal and ability which he has displayed, from the circumstance that—although he was appointed to his present position by my predecessors in office—I was one of the first to introduce him into public life as successor to Lord Metcalfe in Jamaica, and subsequently in the Government of Canada.
§ The EARL OF DERBY
I can assure the noble Earl that I have no wish to deprive him of any credit which might accrue to him from having appointed Lord Elgin to the governorship of Canada. It is quite true Lord Elgin did not succeed Lord Metcalfe in that office until the noble Earl became Secretary of State for the Colonies, but it was well known previously that Lord Metcalfe would be obliged to resign office in consequence of the state of his health, 41 and Lord Elgin was looked upon as the person who was to supply his place.
§ EARL GREY
When the noble Earl left the Colonial Office Lord Metcalfe was in a state of health which rendered his retirement from office necessary, but nothing had been done to supply his place. Mr. Gladstone subsequently became Secretary of State for the Colonies, and he appointed General Cathcart who was Commander of the Forces in Canada, as Governor General with the concurrence of the noble Earl, inasmuch as in the state of affairs which at the time prevailed in reference to the Oregon question it was considered expedient that the supreme civil and military authority should be united in the same person. At the expiration of six months after the noble Earl resigned his seals of office Lord Elgin was still governor of Jamaica, and there was no question of his resigning that position; but when I became Secretary of State I was of opinion that the aspect of affairs in Canada required the presence of a Governor of great civil experience, and I, therefore, advised the recall of Lord Cathcart, and the appointment of Lord Elgin in his place.
§ THE EARL or DERBY
My Lords, I shall not pursue the question further. I may be in error; but whether that be or be not the case, the satisfaction with which my personal friendship for Lord Eight causes me to regard the manner in which he has performed the duties committed to his charge can undergo no diminution. But, to advert to the other topics of which mention is made in the Royal Speech, I can assure your Lordships that if I have as yet omitted to allude to the important subject of India, it is not because I in the slightest degree undervalue its magnitude, or do not fully appreciate the great and distinguished services of those men, civilian as well as military, by whose efforts such great results have been attained in that country. I feel confident your Lord ships, without a single exception, rejoice at the success that has already crowned their unparalleled and inimitable exertions, and that you will concur with Her Majesty in hoping for the fulfilment of the expectation—which God grant may at no distant day be realized!—that Her Indian empire may be completely pacified, and that we may be able to devote all our energies—and I am sure there is no object nearer to the heart of the Sovereign—to the improvement of that too long neglected portion of Her dominions, and to the oblite- 42 ration of all differences between the various classes of its inhabitants. Nor, my Lords, do I think we need despair that that time will soon arrive; for, although the unhappy rebellion which lately broke out in India still continues, yet it does so only to a certain extent; every thing like organized resistance has been for some time past put down, and our troops are now, I am happy to say, engaged rather in pursuing bands of desperate robbers than in contending against any formidable military display.
And now, my Lords, I come to a most important topic, to which the noble Lord (Earl Granville) also adverted in the course of his speech, and in reference to which it affords me much pleasure to think I can follow him throughout the entire of his observations without feeling that there exists the slightest difference of opinion between us as to the course which it is desirable that the Government of this country should pursue. The subject is one, no doubt, of considerable delicacy, but, notwithstanding that such is the case, I feel that it is due to your Lordships, in the critical position in which matters stand, that I should speak with respect to it plainly and unhesitatingly. I am fortunately in a position to do so, my Lords, because in the present state of Europe, and with respect to that portion of it which now gives just cause for anxiety, England has no separate interest to subserve, no revenge to gratify, no rankling ambition to urge her on; and above all, and I say it emphatically, because site has no secret engagement with any power whatsoever which would interfere with, fetter, or hamper her free action. But there are, my Lords, principles which Her Majesty's Government have never shrunk from expressing, and to which they have over and over given utterances not in any hesitating terms, but with that frankness of speech which my noble Friend opposite thinks we might have some difficulty in using towards the Emperor of the French, but which we have not abstained from using towards all parties, in order that they may be placed fully and distinctly in possession of the views which Her Majesty's Government entertain. And if, my Lords, in the Queen's Speech allusion has not been made to the state of apprehensions under which Europe at the present moment labours, it is simply because in them England has no direct concern; no direct concern, I mean, beyond that which every great commercial 43 and maritime power must always have in the general peace and prosperity of Europe. I am enabled, moreover, to say that, so far as the information of her Majesty's Government goes, not only are we upon perfectly friendly terms with all the great Powers, but that I know of no question at present pending between any of those Powers beyond the reach of the most ordinary diplomatic intercourse, or which could in the slightest degree justify a recourse to the fatal abitrement of war. Nevertheless, my Lords, it is not to be doubted that there are circumstances in the present state of Europe, and in the attitude assumed by various Powers, which are calculated to arouse serious apprehension and alarm. The state of Italy is one of constant danger to the peace of Europe. I concur entirely in the description which has been given by my noble Friend (Earl Granville) of the position of that unhappy country, of the impossibility of realizing that enthusiastic dream of Italian unity which at all times and under all circumstances has been indulged in, but which is never likely to be fulfilled, simply because it is not hatred of foreigners, but internal dissensions and internal differences of opinion among the Italian States, which, if even there were no pressure from any foreign Government, would render such an union an absolute impossibility. I entirely concur with my noble Friend as to the point at which he considers that the greatest danger to the peace of Europe arises. It may be true that the normal state of almost the whole of Italy is that of a slumbering volcano, of which the internal throes are exhibited by muttered rumblings, and which at any moment is liable to burst forth in an eruption, and to overwhelm the country in a torrent of destruction; but it is not in Lombardy nor in Naples that the main danger exists. My noble Friend drew a just picture of the state of government in Lombardy. Those provinces have little to complain of in the administration of government; and, of late years more especially, the labours of the Austrians have been unremittingly applied to the amelioration of the condition, and the improvement of the circumstances of the people. The people may have certain grievances and certain causes of discontent, but the main, the single, the irremediable grievance is, that they are placed under the yoke, and have to submit to the government of a different and, as they consider, of a foreign nation. That, my Lord, is a 44 source of discontent which absorbs all others, and in anxiety to overcome which, Lombardy has too often forgotten that of which my noble Friend has properly reminded us, namely, that struggles for Italian freedom have terminated in every case simply in a change of masters; and that the dream of Italian independence has never been—and it is difficult to say when it ever can be—substantially realized. Whether, under these circumstances, the Lombard provinces, rich, prosperous, and fertile as they are, are a source of strength to Austria, and form a desirable possession for her, I do not pretend to say; but of this there can be no doubt—and cordially do I subscribe to the doctrine of my noble Friend on the subject—that with the internal government of Lombardy, with the manner in which Austria exercises her dominion over her Italian provinces, be it wise or unwise, be it mild or severe, be it prudent or imprudent, we have nothing whatever to do. By inheritance, by long continued possession, by the faith of treaties which, if once broken through, must cause incalculable mischief to the tranquillity of Europe—by all these ties Austria has acquired a hold over her Italian provinces, of which neither we, nor any nation, under any plea or upon any pretext, has a right to deprive her.
My Lords, I say nothing of the state of Naples. The Government of Naples is one repugnant and abhorrent to all our notions of Government, and quite unsuited, at all events, to any other atmosphere than that which actually surrounds it. But, at all events, it must not be forgotten, that in Naples there has been no necessity on the part of the Sovereign to put down discontent by the interposition and control of foreign troops. I do not say that, if any of the nations of Italy rose to redress wrongs, whether real or imaginary, exaggerated or otherwise, it would be the part of this country to interpose, either for the purpose of maintaining order, or of encouraging the efforts of a struggling people and of overthrowing the existing dynasty—on the contrary, I deny that it would be either the interest or duty of this country to do so. My opinion—an opinion which I have never shrunk from avowing—has always been that, in matters of this kind, the de facto Government must ever be respected by this country, and that in our relations with other nations we have no sort of right, as we have no sort of interest, in interfering as 45 to the form of that Government and the persons who administer it. My Lords, it is not in Naples, however, it is not in Lombardy, that we must look for the principal cause of anxiety and alarm, but it is in that unhappy portion of Central Italy which is subject to the temporal jurisdiction of the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church. That is the real plague spot of Italy. It is in this portion of the Peninsula that discontent rises to its height, and there it has risen to such a height that it is notorious to all the world that, if public feeling were not kept down by the presence of two foreign armies, all the respect and veneration which are paid to the Sovereign Pontiff in his spiritual capacity would not prevent the overthrow of his tottering throne, or be held to compensate in the minds of his subjects for the weak and paltry oppression by which the Government of that country is sustained. My Lords, it is from the presence of these two armies—not placed there in either case to uphold the liberties of Italy, but only to maintain, by their joint efforts, an incompetent Government—that the real danger of serious disturbance in Italy is to be apprehended. Now, upon both the Powers by whom those armies are kept up Her Majesty's Government—whether effectually or not I do not pretend to say, nor will I affirm that I entertain any very sanguine expectation as to the result—have pressed with all the earnestness of friendship the necessity of coming to some understanding with regard to the advice they shall tender to the Papal Government for diminishing the grounds of dangerous discontent which under the present system exist there. I mention these two Powers especially because it is their mutual jealousy which keeps alive the real source of danger, because they are the two great Roman Catholic Powers of Europe, and because, both as having local interests, and also as being able to speak With a degree of authority and of influence which no other State could assume, they are obviously the parties whose union and whose harmonious action would be most likely to be effectual with the Papal Government. It would be idle for us—for any Protestant country—to pretend to interfere and to proffer its advice, but we have assured both Austria and France that if they will combine to give salutary counsel, our best endeavours will not be wanting to second their efforts for the amelioration of the internal administration of the Papal States.
46 My Lords, there is one part of Italy in which, as my noble Friend very emphatically said, up to the present moment we have taken the deepest interest. I allude, I need not say, to that small but heroic State—one of far greater importance than its geographical limits indicate—the kingdom of Sardinia. That State has been hitherto a bright spot amidst the gloom which surrounds Italy, and there it has been proved experimentally that the concession of a large amount of constitutional liberty does not impair the loyalty of the people to their Sovereign, while it contributes largely to the prosperty of the country. Supported by the sympathies of all the free nations of the world, strong in the consciousness of its own rights and of its own internal union, the policy which ought clearly to have been pursued by such a State was to busy itself with internal improvements, not to maintain an army disproportionate to its finances and ruinous to its credit; not to trust to the efforts of its army, however valiant, but to rely on the sympathies of the world at large, and on the faith of the treaties which secure its dominions—treaties precisely the same as those under which Austria holds her Italian provinces. Such was the obvious policy of Sardinia, and such was the policy by which, in the face of, and in strong and glowing contrast to, every other Government of Italy she might have pursued—I will say even now that she may yet pursue—an example of moderation, of firmness, and of constitutional liberty, which should shame the most despotic Government, and lead it not to put Sardinia down, but to imitate her institutions and seek to attain her prosperity. It may be that such a Government as I have referred to will be shamed by the contrast which will be presented between the discontent of its own subjects and the happiness and prosperity of the Sardinian people, and seek to imitate a system which throws so strong a light upon the errors of its own administration. But, however this may be, if there were anything which could fatally affect the estimation in which free institutions are beginning to be held in Italy—if there were anything which could withdraw from Sardinia the sympathy to which she is entitled, and which has been so largely bestowed upon her in this country, it would be by her affording a proof, not that free institutions tend to internal tranquillity, but that they are calculated to encourage the war like propensities of a monarch, and lead 47 him into schemes of aggression upon his neighbours under the plea of resisting an attack from them. I can truly say that it is in a spirit of the sincerest friendship for Sardinia, and of the deepest interest in her well-doing, that we look with anxiety, and have given expression to our anxiety, upon the attitude which of late she appears disposed to take—an attitude inconsistent alike with her interests, with her duty to society at large, and with the maintenance of that sympathy and regard which her previous conduct has obtained for her throughout the civilized world. This advice and these opinions, not once, but over and over again, have we pressed on Sardinia. I trust that it is not too late for that country to reconsider the course which apparently she had contemplated. Those were ominous words which fell from the lips of the Kim, of Sardinia, and words in such a state of things falling from Royal lips have the deepest significance. But I trust that Sardinia will be better advised, and that she will reconsider the course on which she was apparently about to enter. We have the strongest assurances on the part of Austria—and I believe those assurances—to the effect that she has not the slightest intention of interfering in the internal concerns of the dominions of any of her neighbours, intending to confine herself within her own limits and within the obligation of treaties, and to direct her attention exclusively to the administration of her own affairs. So long as this is really the intention of Austria, Sardinia would be most ill-advised if she should offer provocations for hostilities which may involve her in an unjustifiable war, but which, at all events, cannot but be seriously ruinous to her internal prosperity.
But there is a graver consideration behind. It is impossible that Sardinia, so comparatively weak as opposed to Austria, could enter upon a struggle upon whatever plea, and expect that it could conclude in any other result but her own discomfiture, unless she thought that she might rely on external aid. To no country for that aid could she look but France; and I cannot bring myself to believe, looking to the manifest interests of France—looking to the sagacity and prudence, and let me add to the loyal adherence to the faith of treaties which has hitherto characterized the ruler of that great nation, France—I cannot believe, I say, that under any circumstances, unless indeed of 48 provocation and aggression taking place on the part of Austria, he would sanction on the part of Sardinia, even by his moral support, and still less by his great military means, an unjustifiable and aggressive war undertaken by Sardinia in violation of treaties and without provocation from Austria. I do earnestly trust—and I do not abandon the hope—that the Emperor of the French will still persist in that wise, and prudent, and loyal course which he has hitherto pursued. We have represented in friendly and earnest terms the importance of exercising the utmost forbearance in every respect in any differences he may have with Austria, and, above all, of abstaining from holding out the idea to Sardinia that any assistance would proceed from France in case of an aggressive and unprovoked war with Austria, and we have received assurances, that so long as Austria confines herself to her own limits, Sardinia must not expect from France any assistance in an aggressive war. This course is consistent both with the interest and the honour of France. It cannot be forgotten with what satisfaction Europe heard that memorable expression—L'Etripire—c'est la paix. Those words resounded throughout Europe, and were more valuable to the Emperor of the French than thousands of bayonets and millions of money. They tended to confirm the stability of his own dynasty, and promoted the internal improvement of France. If, unfortunately, the Emperor should depart from such a course, and should induce the people of Europe to believe that those sentiments were altered, and that the new empire is again returning to the lust of universal dominion—if Europe should have any reason to suspect that he has any design of placing on different thrones in Italy subordinate Sovereigns connected with himself by alliance, and of thereby reproducing that dangerous system the introduction of which ultimately led to the fall of the great Napoleon, he will shake the confidence of Europe in the intentions and dispositions of France, and by awakening suspicion from without, he will at the same time destroy credit at home. There have been indications, and so far most satisfactory indications, on the part of the world at large, with how much reluctance it would see a war entered into on any ground, and there prevails a strong opinion how much war interferes with those domestic, internal and peaceful pursuits which no country more than France of late has 49 shown a desire for. There can be no demand for glory on the part of the French people. Of that they have had enough and to spare, and the idea would be lamentable of employing their legions, so often triumphant, gratuitously in war, overbearing all considerations of loyalty and good faith for the purpose of gaining fresh laurels, unmindful of the good faith which had hitherto kept France in the position of peace. I will not believe, whatever may be the appearances in Europe, that the Emperor of the French will enter into so dangerous a course, or so greatly mistake the interests of his country, and the interests of his dynasty, whose maintenance could by nothing be more effectually secured than by the prevalence of continued peace and prosperity in France. But if, unhappily, a different course should be pursued—if, notwithstanding the friendly efforts of this Government made in respect to Prance, Austria, and Sardinia, war should be the result of questions, which I know not how to characterize—which I know not whether to style questions, or mutual suspicions, and mutual armaments, prepared to protect each other against supposed danger—if war, I say, should ultimately be the result, it would be a satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government, though a melancholy one, that they had done all in their power by friendly remonstrances to prevent so formidable a calamity; and such is their position, that they are bound by no secret obligations, treaties, or understandings, but are perfectly ready to take in any contingency the course which their duty and the honour of this country might appear to require. I believe I have now touched on most of the important points which have been referred to; I rejoice to find that between the noble Earl and myself with respect to the present position of affairs, and with respect to the course which this country ought to pursue in present circumstances there is little or no great difference of opinion; and, no doubt, a moral support will be given to the Government in the preservation of peace by this concurrence of opinion on both sides of the house.
§ EARL GREY
was understood to express his great satisfaction with the doctrines which had been laid down by the noble Earl at the head of the Government, and especially with his emphatic declaration that the faith of treaties ought to be maintained. That was the only ground which England could take upon such a question. He would not go at length through the 50 various subjects embraced in Her Majesty's Speech: but there was one passage—that which states that,The universal introduction of steam-power into naval warfare will render necessary a temporary increase of expenditure in providing for the reconstruction of the British navy"—which he had heard with deep regret, not because he objected to any outlay to make efficient the navy, for, seeing that other nations were so extensively augmenting their naval forces, he admitted that it became absolutely necessary that we should take efficient measures for increasing our own means of maritime defence; he felt this to be absolutely necessary: but he said he regretted this passage, because it seemed to imply an in, tention of incurring a large expenditure in building ships according to the plans that had now for some time been prosecuted. If they did so be was persuaded they would make a great mistake. More than twenty years ago, during the administration of Lord Melbourne, of which he had then the honour of being a member, he expressed his conviction to the Admiralty of that day that, although steam navigation was in a very imperfect state, the time would come when it would take a very leading part in naval warfare. He was then persuaded that improvements were being effected so rapidly that, in the event of another naval war, in some way or other steam would be the main power employed, and that ships of the line built upon the old plan, without improvements, would be found utterly useless. That feeling he entertained and expressed very strongly; but it found no favour with that or succeeding Governments. We still went on for a great number of years spending many millions of money in increasing our sailing fleet. And what was the result? Precisely that which he had anticipated. Steam came to be an absolutely essential power in naval warfare, and the old ships of the line, as the noble Earl who moved the Address had so forcibly expressed it, were of no more value than so much firewood—they were utterly useless. We had now, by means of a great expenditure, created a steam navy, and he was very much afraid from what the noble Earl had said that we were going to repeat the mistake we had formerly committed by continuing to build those enormous and expensive ships of the line which were now in fashion. That he thought was a great mistake, and in that opinion he was confirmed 51 by the report, which had appeared in the public journals a few days ago, upon the great naval review in 1856, made by Commander Walker of the United States navy, in which he found the opinion expressed that in the present state of warlike science large ships would only prove large targets. He believed that instead of building enormously expensive ships, even though according to the best plans that had hitherto been devised, we ought rather to be cautious in building any considerable number beyond those which were immediately employed. The real safety of this country lay in our keeping a larger number of men and officers afloat in training and in practice for war; that was really important; even more important than building ships, which in all probability would turn out to be altogether obsolete at the moment when they were most required. Let this be done: maintain also large stores of materials for building steam ships whenever the necessity arose, and trust to the vast manufacturing power and unrivalled skill and energy of the country in the emergency, and he was persuaded they would do more to place the country in a safe position than by spending any number of millions sterling in what was termed reconstructing the fleet. But trained sailors and trained officers could not be produced in a moment: they could only be produced and could only be kept efficient by continual practice and continual training. Therefore, whilst he did not object to the intentions of Her Majesty's Government to increase the outlay upon the naval service, he contended that the proper principle upon which that increased outlay should be made was in adding to the number of ships afloat and the number of men employed, and not to the number of ships in ordinary.
THE EARL OF HARD WICKE
was highly gratified at finding that his noble Friend concurred with the Government in the necessity of in some degree proceeding to an outlay of money for the improvement of the navy. In many of the remarks which had fallen from his noble Friend he entirely agreed. Her Majesty's Government were deeply sensible of the progress in military science which was being made in the present day, and that they lived at a time when so rapid were the changes made in its application to maritime purposes, that it required great foresight and prudence in making an outlay to any large extent. He totally differed from his noble Friend, how- 52 ever, in that part of his speech where he spoke of relying upon the manufacturing skill and enterprise of the country to produce ships rapidly enough to meet an emergency. On the contrary, he believed that we had no harlequin's wand with which to strike the face of the ocean and raise at a moment any given number of ships that we might require. If his noble Friend would reflect upon the power of steam, and, looking at the naval forces of surrounding nations, without indicating any one in particular, comparing them with our own, he would agree with him, that it was absolutely necessary to construct a number of ships, at least of the same description that they were likely to meet in the event of a war. He (the Earl of Hardwicke) admitted that the constant changes and improvements which were being introduced in mechanics and gunnery, pointed out clearly that we should not proceed too rapidly in a new fashion; but at all events, it was our duty to be prepared to encounter any danger which might present itself with the most effective machinery and weapons. It was under the influence of such considerations, that the Government had advised Her Majesty to ask Parliament to increase the Estimates, for the purpose of placing our navy in a fitting position to meet any emergency that might arise.
said, he heartily agreed with his noble Friend at the head of the Government, that, in the present critical state of affairs in Europe, it was of the utmost importance that there should be no difference of opinion between the Government and those on the other side of the House, but that their Lordships should with one heart and one voice concur in the principles which had that night been laid down on both sides. Having lately come from France, it might be necessary that he should state his entire adoption of those principles, lest his silence should be misconstrued—not in France, where there was the most entire unanimity of opinion among all ranks and all classes; but in Sardinia, where it might be supposed that he did not share the opinions which had been so generally expressed, more especially as the course which he took upon a former occasion in the other House of Parliament had already been referred to. It was then his fortune to lead on the attack which was made upon the Holy Alliance, as it was called, for intermeddling in the government of foreign countries; and he had been asked how he 53 who complained of the "three gentlemen of Verona"—Prussia, Austria, and Russia—for having coalesced and issued from that place their decree to destroy the liberties, the free constitution of Spain, could abstain from objecting to the proceedings of Austria in Italy, and especially to the thraldom in which she was said to hold the Lombards. His answer was short and clear. The objection taken to the, proceedings of the Holy Allies was increased and their offence aggravated, no doubt, by the fact that they were endeavouring to put down a free constitution in Spain; but the gravamen of the charge against them was their interfering at all in the affairs of other States—their undertaking to perform the functions of the police of Europe; and if, by one of these caprices to which despotism was subject by the incongruities of its nature, which not seldom led it into a false position, they had interposed to support a free constitution against tyrannical rulers, the argument would have been precisely the same—they had no right, even for that good cause, to interfere with the affairs of another State. He would put a case which applied closely to the present subject. Suppose the Holy Allies, instead of attacking the constitution of Spain, had thought fit to support the Genoese against Sardinia, the objection of those who attacked them would have been precisely the same. They would have said that they were sorry that the Genoese were subject to Sardinia, but that that was the result of the treaty arrangements of the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and that, in the very fit language of Her Majesty's Speech, "the faith of treaties must be maintained inviolate," and that, under the false pretext of supporting the liberties of the Genoese, the Holy Allies had no right to interfere with the solemn arrangements of the treaty of Vienna. Now, it must be observed, that with all that was said against the Holy Alliance, they had at least no interest in the proceedings which they undertook. It was not with any view to their own aggrandisement or to the increase of their territories that they interfered. It was in order to put down, upon principles which were utterly false and ever to be reprobated, the constitution of Spain; but at least it was not for their own aggrandisement that they undertook the task. He wished he could say the same with respect to Sardinia at the present moment. The pretence she put forth for her present 54 attitude was her desire to favour the oppressed Italians; but he feared that under that pretext lurked no small disposition to enlarge the territories of the Sardinian kingdom. No one could rejoice more heartily than he did at the establishment of a free constitution in Piedmont; no one could more admire the conduct of those who, in spite of many obstacles, and in the midst of great difficulties, had maintained that constitution; and it was with a grief which he shared with his noble Friend behind and his noble Friend opposite that he saw this departure front the sound, honourable, and straightforward principles which had heretofore regulated the conduct of the Sardinian Government. He hoped and trusted that the universal reprobation, or, if that were too strong a term, the universal sorrow, which was felt at their departure from a sound and righteous policy would have the effect of causing them to think twice, and more than twice, before they persisted in their present course. With respect to France, he really entertained no apprehension, at least, he had no right to entertain any. Its whole interest, differing as it did most essentially from its position forty years ago, when it had no commerce, no manufactures, no accumulation of capital, no railways, no commercial speculations, either of home or foreign trade—the difference between that and the almost artificial state in which the French nation was at present placed by the great and happy increase of its commercial industry and resources, the universal opinion—the united opinion and strong feelings—of all classes and all parties against any breach of the peace, and the uniform good faith of the French Government, of which we had recently had a striking instance in the case of the African slave trade—all led him to form a confident expectation—hope was, perhaps, not a sufficiently strong expression—that on the part of that country there would be no attempt to join in the Sardinian speculation, as it was called, and that that speculation would turn out an entire failure. While this was the state of France, in Germany the feelings were the same. In all parts of Germany there was but one feeling and one opinion deprecating any breach of the peace of Europe, and strongly urging the maintaining inviolate the faith of treaties. He did not believe that the French Government had given any engagement to help Sardinia to extend her territory. The utmost that they had 55 done was to give an assurance that if Sardinia were attacked by Austria, of Which there was not the shadow of a chance, she should receive assistance from France. A greater calamity could not be conceived than such a movement as was threatened in Italy, because, looking at the state of Europe, it was impossible that a war between Sardinia and Austria could long be confined to Lombardy. Sooner or later it must end in a general European war. Such a calamity as that it really frightened one to contemplate, and he heartily joined with his noble Friends who had addressed their Lordships in expressing a sanguine hope that no such misfortune would befall the world.
§ THE EARL OF CARLISLE
said, he did not rise to prolong the discussion on the subject which had naturally engrossed the greater part of the speeches delivered that night. He referred especially to the speeches made by the leaders on each side of the House, full, weighty, and admirable as they were, and which he trusted would have their effect not only within those walls, but in the country and throughout Europe. He was most happy to find that those speeches had confirmed his own Strong opinion on the great topic which now interested the public mind, and gave ground for the hope that England would be kept to the latest moment—he would fain say for ever—from the guilt and madness of wantonly engaging in war. However, when the promised papers were before their Lordships there would be other and more favourable opportunities of addressing the House on that subject. There was one point in Her Majesty's Speech which referred to our internal and domestic condition, compared with which even such questions as those of peace and reform, in all their immense importance, were still but subsidiary. He knew not that it was any part of his duty to point out to Her Majesty's Government how they might secure a great and just popularity. But while he gratefully accepted the declaration contained in the Speech from the Throne respecting that decrease of pauperism and crime on which Her Majesty congratulated them, yet being convinced that a very large proportion of the miseries and disorders which infested this country could be traced to the prevalence of drunkenness, he believed that if the Government would address themselves as soon as might be to the means of remedying the evils and abuses now produced and heightened by 56 the system of beerhouses, they would go a great way towards gaining for themselves the approbation and thanks of all the best thinking and sound-hearted men in the kingdom. This was not the proper time for entering into particulars on that subject. The questions whether the licensing power should be put into the hands of magistrates, whether beerhouses should be placed under strict police regulations, or whether after a certain day the issue of any new licenses should be prohibited for the future—the latter being, perhaps, the most effectual mode of proceeding—would of course be best left to the consideration of the Executive. But the ease for Parliamentary interference was strong and urgent, and there was now every prospect that an earnest endeavour to deal with it would meet with success. There was such a general concurrence of opinion among all magistrates and ministers of religion, almost all country gentlemen and leading manufacturers, on the subject; and if the Government would introduce an efficacious remedy for the evil, they would not only earn great honours for themselves but confer great and lasting benefit on the community.
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 the Committee, which, being read, was agreed to, and Ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.