§ LORD LYNDHURST
rose pursuant to notice to call the attention of the House to the Military and Naval Defences of the Country, and said,—My Lords, it was suggested to me that, after the discussion which took place the other night on the question of my noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), and especially after the statement of my noble Friend opposite and the speeches of my noble friends the two noble Earls on these benches, I should withdraw the notice which I had placed on your Lordships' paper. At first I was inclined to do so; but the subject is one of such great importance that it ought to be repeatedly discussed, in order to satisfy the people of this country of the necessity of submitting to those charges and those expenses which our present situation requires. I was the more dis- 617 posed to proceed with this question because there is a party in this country—of whom I wish to speak with the greatest respect, a party likely very soon to increase in power and influence—who are not disposed to believe that we ought to expend our resources at present in any extension of our military and naval power, and that, so far from doing so, we ought to abstain from any extension of that power, because by such extension we might involve ourselves in hostilities. Now, my Lords, I beg leave, in the first place, to say that any observations which I shall make will be made, not with a view to aggression, but to defence. I shall say nothing whatever in any party spirit, for party can have nothing whatever to do with this question. I shall endeavour, as simply as I can, to point out those circumstances and those topics which I think are important to be brought under the consideration of your Lordships, leaving it to others who are more acquainted with military and naval details than I can pretend to be to fill up and supply the defects in the statement which I shall make. The first circumstance that strikes one in considering this subject is the great difference between our present and former position. That is a distinction which ought never to be lost sight of. We have hitherto felt the greatest confidence in our situation and in our domestic safety. We owe that confidence to our naval superiority—to the superior number of our vessels, and to the skill and gallantry of our seamen. We have been accustomed always to look to what we call "our wooden walls" as our best defence, and experience has justified us in that opinion. We have sometimes, indeed, received checks and affronts. The Dutch at one time sailed up the Thames, burnt our ships in the Medway, and in the river. At a much later period the combined fleets of France and Spain chased our fleets into the waters of Plymouth, under the heights of Mount Edgecumbe. But those clouds soon passed away. They were amply avenged, and we shone out with more distinguished lustre than before. My Lords, there was another source of our confidence and safety, and not an immaterial one—namely the difficulty of transporting any body of troops from the opposite coasts to our own shores. It was impossible to collect any number of troops on an opposite coast without being observed by us, and without giving us notice and allowing us time to prepare ourselves 618 against them. Besides, an expedition of that kind was necessarily liable to many casualties. Any joint operation, therefore, from different points was impossible, or nearly so. A few thousand troops might, perhaps, occasionally be landed on our coasts, sufficient, indeed, to give trouble, but not sufficient to excite any fear of danger. The greatest force that ever was landed here was that of the Prince of Orange, amounting, I think, to about 14,000 or 15,000 men. But that force was invited to this country by some of the most eminent men in England; it was received with enthusiasm by the people; it led to no catastrophe, and James II. retired from the country the victim of his own bigotry, folly, and tyranny. But that expedition was very nearly defeated by an accident. It sailed down the Channel with a fair wind; when it arrived opposite Torbay a dense fog arose; it passed therefore the place where it was intended to disembark the troops; it was followed by the English fleet; it was therefore in the greatest peril, but on a sudden the fog dispersed, the wind veered round, carried the Dutch fleet into Torbay, and checked the progress of the English fleet. The English fleet shortly afterwards was dispersed in a storm. I mention this to show the accidents to which, under our old system, enterprises of this kind were subject. This was our past situation—a situation of perfect security. What is it now? A great change has occurred. That change arises from the application of steam power to commercial navigation and to naval warfare. What do we know of the effect of that power as applied to naval warfare? We have had no experience of it. No person can venture to predict what will be its effect. I have consulted many officers, both of the army and of the navy, upon the subject, and I have never been able to persuade myself that any one can with any degree of confidence say what will be the result of this great change. I have read in the admirable work of Sir Howard Douglas that military officers in France believe that this change has a great effect upon our naval power, and will reduce it to comparative unimportance. There is one advantage which we hitherto have had in naval combat over our adversaries under the old system—the skill and experience of our seamen, and their knowledge of everything connected with the management of a vessel. Unfortunately, though we have not entirely lost that 619 advantage,—it has greatly lessened under the new system. There is, moreover, a change in the armaments, in the materials, in the construction, and in the form of war vessels. A great facility of boarding arises out of the new system, and numbers, therefore, would have a great advantage. Above all, the new system of manœuvring which must follow this new system is such that it is doubtful what would be the issue of a naval contest. I have stated these points for your Lordships' consideration, because you will be satisfied when you have considered them that we cannot, as heretofore, leave everything as heretofore with perfect confidence to our naval defences. Still, however, and perhaps more so in consequence of what I have stated, it becomes necessary that we should carry our naval machinery and everything connected with it to the highest point of efficiency, and that we should refuse no sums necessary for that purpose. Let me now, my Lords, call attention to what is the actual state of our navy. I will begin by referring to last year. I speak of the spring of last year, and of steamers, which are the only vessels which it is material to consider. Last year we were in this position:—France exceeded us in line-of-battle ships in a small proportion, but she exceeded us in an enormous proportion in steam frigates. At present we surpass her in line-of-battle ships considerably, but we are still greatly inferior in those important vessels, steam frigates. We shall, in the spring of next year, surpass her still more in line-of-battle ships, but we shall still be inferior to her in steam frigates. This is a point for the consideration of your Lordships and for the consideration of the country. Give me leave, my Lords, to mention one circumstance which I think most material for our consideration when we are considering the subject of naval warfare. You will make a great mistake if you suppose for a moment that the relative power depends entirely on the number or size or force of the vessel. A more—I will not say a much more important, but a very important power consists in trained crews of vessels. The French for several years have had a system of training of a most perfect kind—training in the conduct of the vessel, and training not only in the conduct and management of the vessel, but in gunnery. The moment a French ship is afloat and ready for sea, that moment they have trained men ready to go on board her. I am sorry to say, from all I hear and all I 620 observe, we have not such a system as that to which I have referred—a system of the utmost importance, but which in this country hitherto has been almost entirely neglected. Now, with respect to force. What is required, first, in the Channel? We require not only a force for warfare equal to France, but we require something more. We require a powerful reserve. France requires no reserve. The reason is this, and I beg your Lordships to mark it. If in a combat of the two fleets the English fleet should be victorious, we have no power of landing with any effect upon the French coast; whereas, if we have no reserve and our fleet is destroyed in a contest with the French fleet, we are entirely at the mercy of the enemy. We have seen lately what France can effect. Suppose the English fleet defeated and driven from the Channel, the events which have passed almost under our eyes within the last few weeks show the great peril to which we should be exposed from the extraordinary facility with which a military force to an immense amount might at once be landed on our shores. But it is not sufficient for us to have a Channel fleet capable of coping with the country directly opposite to us. Our Channel fleet must certainly and necessarily be of an amount sufficient to cope against any two Powers which may be united against us. We know full well that at this moment the Russians have seven or eight line steamers fitted for sea. If by any accident or by any event—which might easily occur—we should be engaged in a dispute with France and with Russia, we should be in a very unfortunate situation if we had not a naval force sufficient to combat both those Powers. Our naval power is essentially defensive. It is absolutely essential to our security. The naval power of France is not defensive—not necessarily so. It is aggressive in its character. Then, I say, with respect to the amount of the Channel fleet, if we wish to be in a state of security, if we wish to maintain our great interest, if we wish to maintain our honour, it is necessary that we should have a power measured by that of any two possible adversaries.. It is not very easy beforehand to say what that power should be; but we must watch events and extend our naval power according to the necessity of the case, and whatever necessity requires, whatever the expense, we must submit to incur that expense. But the Channel fleet is only one part of the force necessary. We must have a fleet sufficient to command 621 the Mediterranean. If we have not a fleet sufficient to command the Mediterranean, every one of our strongholds will inevitably fall into the possession of Franco. Not only would that be the case, but the desire and the wish of the First Emperor to convert the Mediterranean into a French lake would at once be realized. Do your Lordships suppose that that idea is abandoned? Far from it. I recollect very well that when the present Emperor—of whom I wish to speak in terms of respect—made his southern tour, and when he, arrived at Bordeaux, declared that "The Empire is peace,"—I recollect in that progress, when at Marseilles, and about to proceed from Marseilles to Toulon in a fleet of war ships, reference was made to this desire of Bonaparte the first Emperor. Was it repudiated? It was adopted by the present Emperor amid the enthusiastic cheers of the audience assembled on that occasion. But, allow me to say, with respect to a fleet necessary for commanding the Mediterranean, if France has the command of the Mediterranean, what is the inevitable consequence? She will be able to leave and return to the Mediterranean at her pleasure. She will be able to take our Channel fleet in flank at any moment. She will be able to unite her Mediterranean and Channel fleets. She will be able to cross the ocean, and one by one to take possession of our Colonies, and she will be able to sweep the ocean of our ships, and destroy our whole commerce. It is necessary, then, not only to have such a Channel fleet as I have stated, but such a fleet as will enable us completely to command the Mediterranean. Something further is still necessary. We must have a fleet for the protection of the West India Islands. I admit not a strong fleet, nor do I pretend to say where that fleet should be stationed. I must leave that to military and naval persons to determine. There is another point with respect to the Mediterranean, Unless we have the command of the Mediterranean—if we are driven out of the Mediterranean—what is our situation with respect to India? We cannot communicate with India, except round the Cape of Good Hope, while France will be able to communicate by a direct and easy course by means of Egypt and the Red Sea. What would be the result of that state of things I leave your Lordships to imagine. I have thus shortly directed attention to what I conceive to be necessary in reference to a Channel fleet, a fleet in the Mediterranean, 622 and a force for the protection of our colonies and to take care of our commerce. There are one or two points more to which I beg leave to refer. I find by examining the Report of the Commissioners for Manning the Navy, that they recommend a reserve of seamen. That reserve, I consider, should be made immediately, without the least possible delay. It should be so considerable and so well-trained as at any moment when necessary the men might be placed on board any ship, put into commission, well instructed in all the arts of gunnery and the management of a ship. There is another point, my Lords, to which I beg leave also to refer. It relates to a matter of great importance—the efficiency of our arsenals. It is of the utmost consequence that they should be as effective as possible, and that the docks and slips should be of such dimensions as to be adapted to the present size of our vessels. In that respect they are, as yet, greatly defective. There ought to be, also, such a system of machinery as to enable us, at a moment's notice, and with the greatest rapidity, to fit out armaments for our ships of war. These, my Lords, are the observations which I have to offer on this occasion with regard to the naval part of the case. I trust that what I have stated in that respect will meet with your Lordships' concurrence. Of this I am persuaded, that the more you examine the different parts of the subject and investigate the whole, the more strongly will you be impressed with the necessity of incurring the expenditure, whatever it may be, that may be requisite for the purpose of accomplishing the objects to which I have called your attention. But, my Lords, that to which I have been alluding constitutes only one portion of this important subject. Hitherto, as I have already observed, you were, notwithstanding the absence of your fleet, comparatively in a state of domestic safety for the reasons which I mentioned. But what is your position now? In what state would you be if your Channel fleet were dispersed or absent, or from any cause removed for a short time from its proper station? The noble Lord the leader of the other House of Parliament has told you in very emphatic words that steam has converted the Channel into a river and thrown a bridge across it. These are truly emphatic words, but they hardly exceed the reality. They are scarcely exaggerated. Mark, my Lords, the state of things which has been more than once detailed. We 623 know from recent experience that the materials of war may without exciting any observation he placed on board ship on the opposite side of the Channel. We know that in a few hours a large army may by means of railways, and without any notice whatsoever, be brought down to the coast to different points of embarcation. The facility of embarcation is quite extraordinary in consequence of the new provisions made for that purpose by France. We know that such a force as that to which I refer may within a few hours—in the course of a single night—be landed on any part of our shores. With so much certainty, indeed, can the movements of such a body be regulated that from different quarters it3 component parts might arrive at the point of disembarcation without any difference in point of time. That is the state of things, my Lords, with which we have to deal. You will very naturally ask what probable force could be brought together in the manner I have described. It is not my province to give an opinion upon such a question. Military and naval men are the proper persons to form a judgment with respect to it. I may, however, be permitted to state one or two circumstances which may serve to guide you in arriving at a just conclusion on the point. I know that in 1849, when France sent troops to Civita Vecchia one frigate carried, a distance of 300 miles, 2,000 soldiers with all the munitions of war. I am further aware that a much larger force than that can be embarked for a short period of time on board a frigate, and a force still greater on board a ship of the line. I know from information which I have received, and the accuracy of which I do not doubt, that the French are at the present moment building steamers for the purpose of transporting troops, each of which is being constructed to carry 2,500 men with all the necessary stores. This, therefore, is the description of force which you must prepare yourselves to meet. I do not mean for a moment to say that there is no risk in such an adventure as that against which I would call upon you to be on your guard. No great military enterprise can ever be undertaken without some risk; but I believe from all I have read and heard, and from all the consideration which I have been able to give to the subject, that the risk in the case to which I am adverting is much less than it has been in many instances in which the result has been attended with success. What, then, my Lords, does it become our duty to do? 624 What precautions does it behove us to take? What force ought we to maintain in order to be prepared for any emergency which may arise? My answer is, a force of regular troops—not volunteers—not undisciplined men; but, I repeat, a force of regular troops, capable of opposing any military force which in all probability can be landed on our shores. It is absolutely imperative upon us to maintain such a force. It is a duty which we owe to ourselves. It is a duty which we owe to the character of our country. But, my Lords, independently of all this we must provide for our garrisons, and also for that which is of greater importance still—our arsenals. They are—I regret to say it—at present in a very imperfect state of defence. Much exertion, much expenditure, and much engineering talent will be necessary for the purpose of placing them in such a position as to prevent their being seized upon as the result of a sudden attack. If I am asked what is the force which the safety of the country demands that we should keep up, my answer is, that after consultation with many persons competent to form an opinion on the point, I put down that force at, at least, 100,000 regular troops—and when I say regular troops I include the embodied and trained militia—while I think there should be an equal force of disembodied and trained militia. Every observation, my Lords, which I have made on this subject applies as well to Ireland as to this country. Perhaps the precautions which I have indicated may be even more necessary in the case of the former than the latter. Ireland may possibly be looked upon on the other side of the Channel as one of the "oppressed nationalities;" as a country trampled upon by a nation differing from her in customs, in language, and in religion. We cannot tell what misrepresentations may be made. We must, at all events, my Lords, provide equally for the safety of Ireland as for our own. In the years 1804 and 1805, the only periods, I believe, in which we were threatened seriously with invasion by France, the force which we maintained was much greater than that which I have just mentioned. But that was merely a temporary force; while that which I have just indicated as necessary to meet the existing state of things ought, in my opinion, to form part of the permanent force of the country. If we wish to live in security, to maintain our interests abroad, to uphold the honour of the nation, we 625 must be willing to make every exertion necessary for the accomplishment of an object something like that which I have pointed out. I have experienced, my Lords, something like a sentiment of humiliation in going through these details. I recollect the day when every part of the opposite coast was blockaded by an English fleet. I remember the victory of Camperdown and that of St. Vincent, won by Sir John Jervis; I do not forget the great victory of the Nile, nor, last of all, that triumphant fight at Trafalgar, which almost annihilated the navies of France and Spain. I contrast the position which we occupied at that period with that which we now hold. I recollect the expulsion of the French from Egypt; the achievement of victory after victory in Spain; the British army established in the South of France; and last of all, that great victory by which that war was terminated. I cannot glance back over that series of events without feeling some degree of humiliation when I am called upon to state in this House the measures which I deem it to be necessary to take in order to provide for the safety of the country. But I may be asked, "Why do you think such measures requisite? Are we not in alliance with France? Are we not on terms of friendship with Russia? What other Power can molest us?" To these questions, my Lords, my answer shall be a short and simple one. I will not consent to live in dependence on the friendship or the forbearance of any country. I rely solely on my own vigour, my own exertion, and my own intelligence. Does any noble Lord in this House dissent from the principle which I have laid lown? I rejoice, my Lords, to find that such is not the case. But while this is a matter for congratulation, I regret to be obliged to say that we do not stand well upon the continent of Europe. I do not think late events have improved our position in that respect. But I go further, my Lords, and express my belief, as the result of my own careful observation, that if any plausible ground of difference should arise between this country and France, and that difference should lead to hostilities, the declaration of war with England on the part of the Government of that country, would be hailed with the utmost enthusiasm, not only by the army of France, but by the great mass of the French people. If I am asked, "Will you not rely upon the assurances, and the courtesies of the Emperor Napoleon?" I reply that I have a great respect for that 626 high person, and that I will not enter into any explanation on the subject, but will leave every noble Lord to draw his own conclusions, and to form his own opinions. This, however, I will say, and I can say it without impropriety. If I am asked whether I cannot place reliance in the Emperor Napoleon, I reply with confidence that I cannot place reliance in him, because he is in a situation in which he cannot place reliance on himself. He is in a situation in which he must be governed by circumstances, and I will not consent that the safety of this country should depend on such contingencies. My Lords, self-reliance is the best road to distinction in private life. It is equally essential to the character and to the grandeur of a nation. It will be necessary for our defence, as I have already stated, that we should have a military force sufficient to cope with any Power or combination of Powers that may be brought against us. I know there will be great opposition to the expense. I feel and observe this. But look at the opposite coast. An army of 600,000 men, admirably disciplined, admirably organized, superior to any other force of the same kind in Europe, lies within a few hours' sail of our own shores. That army is composed of brave troops, skilful, well-commanded, eager for conflict, enthusiastic, fond of adventure, thirsting for glory, and, above all, for military glory. That is the Power arrayed against you. I do not ask you to combat that Power aggressively, but only to put yourselves in a state of sufficient defence to resist it, What have we seen within the last few weeks? France, with a peace establishment, with no preparation for war, no desire for war, a nation that could not reduce its establishment because it had never advanced it—so the Emperor told us, and I am bound to put faith in that statement—was yet able in the short period of five or six weeks to transport an army of 170,000 men to the banks of the Mincio, with 200 pieces of cannon, and a siege train, gaining two great battles in its progress, besides other lesser fights, while she has a fleet of fifty war steamers in the Adriatic at this moment, with, I believe, an army of 40,000 men. Cross the opposite coast, then, and you find the power of action, of motion, of hostility, of injury. Are we to sit supine on our own shores, and not to prepare the means necessary in case of war to resist that Power? I do not wish to say that we should do this for any aggressive purpose. 627 What I insist upon is that we are bound to make every effort necessary for our own shelter and protection. Beside this the question of expense and of money sinks into insignificance. It is the price we must pay for our insurance, and it is but a moderate price for so important an insurance. I know there are persons who will say, "Let us run the risk." Be it so. But, my Lords, if the calamity should come, if the conflagration should take place, what words can describe the extent of the calamity, or what imagination can paint the overwhelming ruin that would fall upon us. I shall be told, perhaps, that these are the timid counsels of old age. My Lords, for myself, I should run no risk. Personally, I have nothing to fear. But to point out possible peril and how to guard effectively against it, that is surely to be considered, not as timidity, but as the dictates of wisdom and prudence. I have confined myself to facts that cannot be disputed. I think I have confined myself also to inferences which no man can successfully contravene. I hope what I have said has been in accordance with your feelings and opinions. I shall terminate what I have to say in two emphatic words, words of solemn and most significant import—Vœ Victis!
LORD STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
said, he was not entitled by any long standing in this House to interpose between their Lordships and the noble Earl who had just risen (Earl Granville). Indeed, even without reference to that noble Earl, he had no claim to address the House on a subject of this kind. But he believed he should reflect the general feeling of the House when he expressed his gratitude to the noble and learned Lord for calling attention to this most important and solemn question, at so anxious a time as the present. It seemed to him that he might read in the address of his noble and learned Friend a strong evidence of the sentiment prevailing throughout the country on this subject. When he remembered that, although the supplies necessary for taking the precautionary measure now suggested, could not originate in this House, that nevertheless, those measures had first been brought under consideration there—when he remembered that the noble Lord did not belong to the naval or military profession, but that his honourable—he might say his glorious—public life had been passed in pursuits of a totally different kind, and moreover when he saw him rise at a very advanced age and overcome the infirmities of that 628 period of life in order to perform a solemn duty towards the country, he could not but feel the deep importance of the subject—he could not withhold his support from the noble and learned Lord while thus engaged in pointing out the dangers to which the country was exposed, and the growing sentiment which prevailed among the people in that respect. And indeed the subject had not been brought under their Lordships' attention without adequate reason. In all countries possessing free institutions, there might be observed a certain unwillingness to prepare for defence in anticipation of war. Such institutions tended to bring out the feelings of our nature, and among them were those of self-reliance and a general reluctance to endure sacrifices before a strong conviction of their necessity had arisen. He said, therefore, that it was with good reason that the noble and learned Lord had called attention to the present question. It was, however, well known that considerable preparations of a defensive character were in progress. Assurances had been given as well by the late as by the present Administration—indeed they were to be found in the language of the Crown itself—that the whole matter was not only under consideration, but had for some time been the object of vigorous exertions on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He confessed that it had given him much satisfaction to remark some few days ago the tribute so justly paid to the late First Lord of the Admiralty by the noble Lord who is now at the head of the Foreign department when addressing his constituents in the City. He quite agreed with his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) that the point in question was by no means what degree of confidence might be reasonably placed by this country in foreign Powers or in the Emperor of the French, but that it was a just cause of shame, and an intolerable humiliation that a great Empire like ours should appear, though it were only for one hour, to exist by sufferance, and at the good pleasure of a forbearing neighbour. A condition so wholly at variance with our national character was not only calculated to inspire a sense of shame which we ought indignantly to repel; but its necessary tendency was to render us incapable of performing those duties which we owed to the world and to Providence who had placed us in the proud position of doing good without limit. As far as his information went the noble and learned Lord, 629 he believed, had in no respect exaggerated the offensive means of which our neighbours could dispose. When we looked to the extent of those means, to the relations in which we stood towards other countries, to the spirit which was thought to prevail, but too generally in Europe respecting us, there was ample room for anxiety, and still more deeply might that anxiety be felt, if we fully appreciated the altered proportions of our national power when viewed comparatively with respect to the marvellous extension of scientific discoveries as applied to military operations and navigation. When we looked, moreover, at the growing demands upon our naval and military services for the protection of many distant settlements, and at the extent of our daily-increasing commerce with all parts of the world, he could not but recognize additional motives for requiring and submitting to augmented means of defence, and submitting to those sacrifices which were necessary to secure the safety of our shores and to maintain a salutary influence in our negotiations with other States. He was not one of those who laid an exclusive stress on the danger of invasion. Whatever reason we might eventually have to apprehend a hostile attack upon our shores, he was willing nevertheless to believe, that with a prudent and at the same time a firm policy on our part, and with some feeling of regard for right and consistency on the part of others, we were not likely to incur any immediate danger of that kind. But there were other considerations which made it an imperative duty for us to lose no time in completing the national defences. It could not with any shadow of reason be denied that in hastening to accomplish that indispensable object, we should only work out what the honour and interests of the country alike demanded at our hands. He was free at the same time to admit, that in contemplating the high pitch of prosperity to which we had attained, the concord and union of sentiment that existed to an almost unprecedented extent among us, and our command of resources nearly unlimited in amount, it was not easy to entertain any serious apprehensions for the fate of England. Our danger—if danger there was—would be found to arise out of a careless self-confidence, a complacent recollection of past successes, and, more especially, out of our constant unwillingness to recognize those important changes which had of late unquestionably, though gradu- 630 ally, taken place. He was, nevertheless, convinced that if the warning now offered were frankly accepted, if the country would boldly look the defects of its naval and military system in the face, and seasonably turn to account the mighty resources at its disposal, far from having any reason to dread a conflict with France or any other foreign Power, the day on which we should be called upon to defend our honour and interests would prove, with the blessing of God, the most glorious day that ever shone upon the destinies of England.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I fully concur in the feeling of admiration which has been expressed by the noble Lord who has just spoken with respect to the speech of the noble and learned Lord opposite. I fully admit that in this remarkable intellectual effort the noble and learned Lord has put his views before your Lordships with his usual clearness and eloquence, and that those views, so lucidly stated, contain much of truth, and picture vividly the patriotism and the spirit which pervade the country on this all-important question. At the same time I cannot refrain from asking myself whether any great practical good is likely to result from what has fallen from the noble and learned Lord. I am not sure whether the object of his observations is to stimulate the country or to stimulate the Government; but I have no hesitation in saying that, as regards other countries and other Governments, I cannot foresee any advantage likely to arise from the course which has been taken. There is nothing which gives such weight to this House as the debates which take place in it upon all the important subjects relating to our connection with foreign States, but at the same time it cannot be denied that upon each individual Member—and certainly upon each individual Member of the Government—rests a grave responsibility in regard to what may be spoken by him. During the first three months of the present Parliamentary year, I think we had only three debates upon the delicate subject of our foreign relations. Those debates were not devoid of spirit or of frankness, but they were conducted with a prudence and discretion which were not only highly approved by the public at large, but produced a good practical effect on the Continent, and even in some countries where our free institutions are little loved. Since the accession of the present Government to office, this House has sat only four nights, and during 631 three of them sharp discussions have taken place upon some delicate matters connected with our foreign relations. One noble and gallant Friend of mine, whom I do not see in his place, spoke on two consecutive nights with an eloquence and facility and a precision which are certainly most remarkable in one whose professional career has prevented him from acquiring experience in Parliamentary or any other kind of public speaking; but at the same time, I must say, that his attack upon the head of a Government which is at present in friendly alliance with us, and still more the irritating remarks which he made upon the whole French nation, were not well calculated to be of advantage in the existing state of affairs. I am bound to state, however, on the contrary, that the two noble Earls whom I now see sitting together—I mean the late Prime Minister and the late Foreign Secretary—having recently felt the responsibility involved in the conduct of public affairs at a crisis like the present, have abstained from observations of an imprudent and injurious character. The noble Earl who was at the head of the late Government—though never backward in debate—has carefully abstained from taking any part in the discussions to which I have referred; while the noble Earl the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has confined himself almost entirely to a very legitimate personal defence against attacks which he thought had been made by myself and by two of my colleagues in the present Government. But I cannot say that the same discreet line of conduct has been pursued by all the Members of the late Administration. One noble Earl, who for some time held the office of President of the Board of Control (the Earl of Ellenborough) told us, with that strength of language which stereotypes every thought that comes from his lips, that he believed with the certainty of prophecy that sooner or later an attempt at invasion would be made. I feel reluctant, my Lords, to admit the contemplation of such an event; and it is some comfort to me to reflect that prophecy when uninspired is one of the most fallacious guides in the political conduct of the world. If there be anything more likely than another to give to prophecy a realization in truth, it is possible that another noble Earl (the Earl of Hardwicke), who held one of the highest offices in the late Government, observed, during the last year, a singular silence upon public affairs; 632 but the very moment he got out of harness, like Cowper'sPost-horse, right glad to missThe lumbering of the wheels,he gallopped about without thinking what mischief he might inflict, or where he might place his foot. I do think that when that noble Earl, in defiance of all international law, and in defiance of the feelings of a great maritime Power—our neighbour, declared what his ideas were of the limits of the British shore, he ought to have recollected that such remarks were but ill fitted to preserve the peaceful character of our foreign relations. And now, my Lords, we have this evening been addressed upon the same subject with greater weight, greater moderation, and greater temper. But I am not sure that the noble and learned Lord opposite has been judicious in all he has said. If a feeling of hostility does exist, as he says it does, not on the part of the Emperor Napoleon, but on the part of the French people, I doubt that his speech will tend to allay it. When he points out in the most marked way the defenceless character of our shores—when at the same time he boasts of our former victories, and when he makes something like insinuating and sneering allusions both to the Government and the people of France—I am afraid that, coming from such lips as his, such language is not well calculated to promote the object of unbroken friendly alliance. When you consider how much irritated a majority of the public and of Parliament were last year by the foolish phrases of a few foolish French colonels, isolated in their garrison towns, and smarting under an attempted assassination of their Emperor and commander, you will be able to estimate the effect which such language as we have heard to-night is likely to produce upon a people so sensitive as the French. Again, my Lords, I have to ask myself whether such speeches are necessary to stimulate our countrymen at home. I believe they are not. It is impossible to read the language of the public press, or the speeches made at public meetings, or to see the points upon which even theologians think the election of a Member for Oxford University ought to turn, without seeing an indication on all hands of the readiness with which the people are prepared to make sacrifices in order to preserve the inviolability of our shores, and maintain the national honour—it is impossible not to see that the feeling so eloquently described by the 633 noble and learned Lord is one which is fully participated in by the people at large. Unquestionably a proper feeling in that respect already exists, and the only fear is that it may be excited beyond its legitimate work. The noble and learned Lord has talked of invasion; but that I believe is at the present moment out of the question. While we are on the best possible terms with the United States, while Russia is notoriously not prepared for war, and while France is engaged in a bloody and costly contest in Italy, at such a moment, we are certainly not in danger of an invasion. But what we all feel is, that it would be absolute folly for a great and rich country like England not to take those permanent precautions which at all times will relieve us, not only from invasion itself, but from the very alarm of invasion, so injurious as it might be to our commerce and our prosperity. If there be any truth more clearly to be derived from the teachings of practical political experience than another it is this—that if we excite a feeling to an unnatural degree that excitement will be followed by a reaction, and the probability is that if the people are too much agitated now they may at some future time be seized with a fit of economy which will prevent the Government of the day from continuing those permanent means of defence, which I, for one, consider of the most absolute necessity that this country should provide. I now come to the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, and to the question whether it is necessary to stimulate them with regard to this most important subject, My noble Friend (the Duke of Somerset) and myself have already had occasion to make in this House explicit declarations upon this point, and I am glad to have the opportunity of repeating that those declarations are not mere expressions of individual opinions, but the authorized statement of the views of the whole of the Cabinet intrusted with the Government of the country. I know nothing in the character of Lord Palmerston, the head of the Government, which should excite alarm in this respect. I believe that all who have seen anything of that noble Lord know that for years there has been no man—except perhaps the late Duke of Wellington—who, both in private and in public, has more anxiously pressed the importance of maintaining our national defences in a proper state of preparation than he has done. Some doubt may have been created by what fell from the noble 634 and learned Lord (Lord Brougham) with regard to the state of the navy at the beginning of last year, which was cheered by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), and which must have been founded upon a statement made by the noble Earl himself the other day, that at that time the navy was in a state of "weakness, impotence, and decrepitude." [The Earl of DERBY: Hear, hear!] The noble Earl cheers; but I really venture to ask him how he reconciles that cheer with the statement made by the head of the Department concerned last year? I do not wish to trespass upon your Lordships' attention, but perhaps I may be allowed to give you a very short sketch of what has occurred with regard to the navy. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Brougham) referred to the great difference in the comparison between the forces of France and England which resulted from the application of steam to navigation. No sane person can doubt that whereas it had formerly been impossible for the French nation to equal us in sailing vessels, as soon as steam was introduced the terms became equal, and the race equal to both countries. In the year 1852, however, we were superior to the French in steam vessels by, I think, 52 ships. During the war we maintained our superiority both in the Baltic and in the Black Sea. At that time I think 284 ships, besides 107 mortar vessels, were added to the navy. In 1858 we bad 16 large ships in excess of the number possessed by the French; and although it might be true that we were deficient in frigates, we had 224 smaller steam vessels more than they had. At the cessation of the war the country required, and to a certain extent reasonably required, a reduction of our armaments. The Government did not entirely comply with those requisitions. They reduced the navy, but instead of returning to its condition previous to the war, they went hack to the standard of the first year of preparations for war, which exceeded the peace establishment by about 1,000 men, and in the shipbuilding department by about 50 per cent. Last year a cry arose in the country, which was most eloquently enforced by Mr. Disraeli in Parliament, that not only our civil but also our military and naval expenditure must be reduced in proportion to the reduction of our taxation. The charges which were made against the then head of the Admiralty (Sir Charles Wood) were that he was spending too 635 much money and building too large ships. Her Majesty's late Government acceded to power, and ten days afterwards Sir John Pakington, their First Lord of the Admiralty, went down to the House of Commons and said that the Navy Estimates of the preceding Government were so large that the Ministry could not take the responsibility of proposing them to Parliament without due and mature deliberation. They took one month to consider the matter, and then Sir John Pakington in his place in Parliament proposed reductions under three not unimportant heads,—the wages in the dockyards, the purchase of steam-engines for ships, and the extension of Keyham yard; and he defended these reductions on the ground that the Government, after ample inquiry and careful deliberation, had come to the conclusion that those reductions could be made without in the slightest degree impairing the efficiency of the navy. Sir Charles Wood remonstrated with him; and in reply to his remonstrances Sir John Pakington proved, or endeavoured to prove, that Sir Charles Wood's calculations were erroneous; that there was a greater difference between the French and English fleets than he supposed, and that with regard to weight and number of guns especially, the latter was greatly superior. His whole argument was to show that Sir C. Wood was wrong in proposing such large Estimates, while the Government was quite right in reducing them. Later important intelligence was received by the Government as to great activity in the French dockyards. I believe that this great activity commenced after the change of Government took place; but whether that was so or not, it certainly afforded a sufficient stimulus for exertion on our side. Well, but Her Majesty's late Government did not then either propose large additional Estimates to the House of Commons, nor did they on their own responsibility spend large sums of money for the expenditure of which they might subsequently be indemnified. What they did was this. They diverted workmen from the establishment for repairs to the conversion of ships, which otherwise could not have been effected. They converted four ships—that may have been right, but at the same time they sacrificed an amount of money which might have been usefully employed in other repairs—and they energetically pressed the completion of eight ships of the line, which were almost ready to be launched when the previous Government 636 retired. I am really afraid of wearying your Lordships with these details, and I do not refer to them with the slightest intention of throwing blame upon the late Government. On the contrary, I am ready to admit that from the beginning of this year they have shown the most laudable energy and activity in increasing the navy to the greatest possible extent. Within a recent period they have prepared additional Estimates. Those Estimates are very large, but I believe them to be strictly necessary; and when the time comes for their discussion in "another place" it will be found that, if there is any difference, it is that the noble Duke near me (the Duke of Somerset) has in some cases looked a little further than even Her Majesty's late Government. It is not necessary for me to enter into a defence of the army. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) repeated the other day what he so handsomely stated when he took office—namely, that he was surprised at the number and efficiency of the troops which he found in this country. I quite admit that the army which we now possess is not large enough to meet any great force coming suddenly upon us; and I think it is clearly the duty of the Government to direct its attention to these questions of the army, and of defending our arsenals so as, if possible, to make them impregnable, to consider most carefully those applications of practical science which have already produced weapons of so deadly a character, and, moreover, to consider the vitally important point of the means of defence against such murderous weapons when directed against ourselves. To these must be added the question of the embodied militia, the experience of which has been most satisfactory to the country, and of other systems. I do know anything that would be more likely to be valuable as a means of defence than the formation of volunteer corps of artillery, while I believe that rifle corps will afford considerable assistance. It will also be the duty of the Government to consider how far they can encourage the formation of a reserve. I beg, however, to state explicitly that no person in this House is more convinced of the necessity of putting our national defences in proper order than is every Member of her Majesty's Government. There is no desire on our part to conceal our preparations from foreign nations. We have no reason to be reluctant to explain to them that, however much we may deplore that all Europe 637 should be arming, yet when all Europe does arm, we cannot be left entirely behindhand in the race, and that we require to he placed in such a position as shall give us the influence which we ought to have in the counsels of Europe when the proper opportunity comes for restoring peace, and shall enable us to ensure the conditions most favourable to the happiness and interests of all who are concerned. But while we are engaged in this difficult, this responsible, and this all-important task—while you allow us to retain our seats on this bench—I think we may with confidence ask your Lordships to give us your support and your assistance, and not in any way to embarrass us—a result which, I think it will appear to your Lordships, on cool reflection, cannot be secured if on every occasion of our meeting we rush tumultuously into the consideration and discussion of questions of the most delicate character.
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
said, he had listened with great pleasure to the speech delivered by the noble and learned Lord, which he concurred with the noble Lord (Lord Stratford de Redcliffe) in thinking was as patriotic and useful as it was important; and he thought that it would be pleasing, not only to their Lordships' House, but to the public at large, from its calm and dispassionate review of the condition in which, under present circumstances, we might be placed, and which we had a right—not he trusted, to anticipate as rapidly approaching, but at least to contemplate as possible. When we considered that the British empire composed of numerous and detached portions of the globe—separated by the ocean, the common highway of all the world, and that if the forces of the two great maritime nations should by any accident be combined against us, they were not in a condition to satisfy the people of this country that they were secure, matters assumed a serious aspect. We were an unaggressive power, thinking of defence and not of offence; and he, for his part, desired to speak only in terms of high respect for the man who ruled the great French nation. But there was nothing improper in a Member of their Lordships' House, calling the attention to the defensive condition of the country at a time like the present; but the noble Earl (Earl Granville) instead of pursuing the patriotic course, seemed to be desirous to divert the debate into a mere party question, whether a ship more or less was built during the 638 late Administration—instead of addressing himself to the great question, the noble Earl seemed to consider himself in the light of a criminal, and that he was obliged to raise party questions in order to defend himself; when, in fact, the noble and learned Lord had not meant to throw the slightest reflection on him or the Government. The noble Earl had described him (the Earl of Hardwicke) as one who, when the drag-chain of office was on, had been steady and quiet; but having got rid of it, galloped here and there until he at last got so far as to say, that the boundary of this country was the low-water mark on the French coast. He would recommend the noble Earl to gallop to the same conclusion as fast as he could for purposes of defence; the power of shutting up the French fleet in their ports, or of making them fight on their own coast, and not on ours, was what he meant and not that which had been attributed to him, that he was so foolish as to say that the British Channel should be the property of this country. If any French naval officer thought that England was an aggressive power, would he not recommend that if possible the British Channel should be considered the French Channel, and that the low-water mark of England should be the frontier of France? It was to the importance of putting our navy into such a position, that at the breaking out of a war it might be able to blockade the enemy's ports, that his noble and learned Friend addressed himself when he spoke of the necessity of our having ready an overwhelming naval force. Were they going to wait until there actually was war? The time to prepare was now, when we were at peace, by building and manning our ships; for, otherwise, instead of our being able to drive the enemy to the opposite shores, we should be compelled to retreat into our own ports and incur the chance of the war arriving to this country in another shape. As to the party question. What the noble Earl said in reference to the condition of the fleets of England and France when Sir Charles Wood was in office was, as he understood, that we had something like 160 or 200 vessels more than France; and no doubt it was true if you took every vessel propelled by steam, without regard to quality or size, to say that the excess was 140 or 150, but it was made up of gunboats, of which France had twenty-eight, and England 160. As regarded line-of-battle ships we had been reduced 639 to a condition which we had never before been reduced to within the memory of living men—that of having two or three ships of the line less than was possessed by Prance, and being very considerably weaker in the matter of frigates. It was perfectly true that the First Lord of the Admiralty of the late Government did offer to reduce, or did actually reduce, the Navy Estimates by a small amount, but as soon as that Government became acquainted with the real state of the navy their minds were directed to its improvement. They found that the way in which the construction of the navy had been conducted by their predecessors was this: they had taken from Parliament certain Votes for the construction of ships, but, instead of applying it to that purpose, they applied part of the money to shipbuilding and the rest to other purposes in the dockyards. He did not say whether it was necessary or not that they should do so—that was not the point, but the effect produced was that the public, believing that the navy was increasing in proportion to the money voted, were deceived by the money being laid out for other purposes. What course did the late Government take? They determined to produce as much as they could for the money, and instead of frittering away a portion of the fund in repairing paddle-wheel steamers, and altering ships which never could be of any use, they devoted the whole of it to the construction of new steam-ships, and to the conversion of sailing vessels into steam vessels. That course enabled them in a very short time to launch seven or eight ships, and this year they demanded from Parliament money sufficient to enable them to raise the steam navy to something like fifty sail of the line at the close of 1859, and in 1861 it would be fifty-eight or fifty-nine. The late Government also increased their building power by directing a certain number of vessels to be built by contract. They turned all their energies to the improvement and construction of ships, and they took counsel over the whole country on the subject; and if their course of procedure were followed out there would be large and powerful armaments forthcoming when the country needed them. During the late recess, too, the Government, on their own responsibility, had offered a bounty to induce seamen to enter the navy, and altogether had left the navy on such a footing, that if the noble Duke opposite, now at the head of the Admiralty, followed up the 640 measures of his predecessors the country might depend on having a powerful navy forthcoming whenever an emergency arose., He advised the present Government to let no time be lost in raising their fleet to 100 sail of the line, and not to grudge the cost, for they might depend upon it that, although such force might not be needed they would be laying out the money in the best possible manner. They would by so doing strengthen our alliances; they would greatly assist the Foreign Minister in his communications with other countries; they would render commerce secure wherever the British flag floated; the fluctuations in the price of funds, in consequence of the slightest breeze on the other side of the water, would cease, and they would improve their position in the opinion of the great man that now ruled France. He was firmly convinced that the Emperor of the French would rejoice at a considerable augmentation of our naval strength, because it would furnish him with a powerful argument against such of his subjects as desired an invasion of this country by France. He believed that that ruler would much rather quiet than stimulate that desire of invasion, and would be glad to see the maritime power of this country raised to a considerable pitch, that the question might not be pressed upon him as to whether he should make war upon England or not.
§ THE DUKE OF SOMERSET
must express his regret that a question of such grave importance as that of the naval defences of this country had been treated as it had been by the noble and learned Lord. In the observations which he himself made the other evening upon this subject he carefully abstained from saying anything to irritate the feelings of any other nation. With reference to the noble and learned Lord's charge that his noble Friends, when in office before, had reduced the naval force of the empire—he had had nothing to do with that Government, and therefore he was perfectly free to express his opinion on that subject. He thought that the charge refuted itself; for noble Lords opposite, when the Conservative party accepted office, found that the former Government had left the navy in such a state that after a month's consideration the new Government made up their minds to reduce the Estimates. In consequence of what had been said in their Lordships' house the other day, he had looked at the records of the Admiralty, and found that 641 the information relative to the growing superiority, or rather great increase, of the French navy had been received here at the commencement of July, 1858. There was plenty of time to have come down to Parliament that Session and ask for increased Estimates; but nothing of the kind was done; but on the contrary, the works in the dockyards were reduced, and the order went forth to stop the extra jobwork. But he admitted that at last the late Government did come to Parliament and state the growing increase of the French navy, and that they vigorously set to work to improve the state of our own navy. He greatly regretted the exciting language which their Lordships had just heard. If such language were persevered in it would be necessary to have not only a peace but a war establishment. There was no peace whatever in the language of the noble and learned Lord. All he said was for war. That language was calculated to excite the passions of England and France, and he thought it most unwise to talk as the noble and learned Lord had done of two great nations. The noble and learned Lord might have done good service if he had simply shown the present position of affairs, and had urged upon the Government the necessity of increasing our naval force and the land fortifications of the country; but instead of doing so he had used exciting language which would spread throughout the country, and which, as it came from a man of so much eminence, and from a man who had recently taken so distinguished a part in foreign policy, would have a very bad effect. He well remembered the strong language which the noble and learned Lord used not long ago when pleading the cause of Italy. His sympathies were then with Italy, but they were now utterly gone, and nothing remained but his anger with France. During the short time that he (the Duke of Somerset) had been in office he had done everything in his power to increase the power of this country by sea. He had thought it his duty to continue works in the dockyards which had, indeed, been begun by the late Government, but as they had only taken a Vote for six months, they must have been discontinued had the late Government continued in office, and 3,000 workmen would have been dismissed from the dockyards next autumn. He (the Duke of Somerset) on the contrary, had thought it necessary to take an additional sum for the works now in progress, in order that they might 642 be carried on until the commencement of the next financial year. He hoped that the people of this country would not be induced by exciting language to demand armaments on a war scale, for the putting of armaments on that scale led to war. He thought it was our duty to steadily increase our armaments, but he would not adopt the language of the noble and learned Lord who said that we must at once prepare for defence in every quarter of the globe where the English flag floated.
said, they seemed agreed on both sides of the House, without one single exception, as to the expediency, or, indeed, the necessity, of defensive preparations. In that there was nothing invidious either towards foreign nations or their rulers; but it was simply caused by the posture of affairs in Europe, where the different countries were swarming with great armies under the control of a few individuals possessing absolute and unlimited power, and whose caprices might any day lend to a breach of the peace. Under such circumstances we were bound to stand prepared in our own defence for whatever might happen, without expecting anything to happen, or dreading anything that might happen. He deeply lamented what had been said by his noble and gallant Friend (Lord Howden) who was not in his place, in reference to the feelings of the French people with regard to the invasion of England. He (Lord Brougham) positively denied that the feeling was such as had been represented. There was no desire on the part of the French people to engage in war with this country; but, on the contrary, there was an almost universal desire to maintain peace. With respect to the rulers of Russia, of Austria, and of France, it was not safe to allow either of them to encroach ever so little upon the rights of others. There was an old maxim to the effect that they whom you allowed to go but a very little beyond the line which divided right from wrong, were very apt to go a great deal further without your leave, cui plus licet quam debet eum semper plus velle quam licet. If you gave them an inch they would take an ell. He had confidence in the Emperor of the French, but whether we trusted him or mistrusted him we certainly ought to trust to ourselves; and without expecting war or dreading war we ought to be prepared for our own defence whatever might happen. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) 643 and his noble and gallant Friend (Lord Hardwicke) seemed to have performed the proverbially superfluous office of preaching to those already converted, for no one denied, or even doubted, that we should be fully prepared for all accidents. As to the French people we had no mistrust of them; but there existed but one opinion as to the absolute necessity of our being fully prepared in the present state of Europe. We had no distrust of foreign nations; but on the other hand, they had no right to complain of our being prepared when they had proved themselves to be prepared.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
My Lords, I have only a very few words to offer, but I cannot leave the House with satisfaction to myself without taking the opportunity of expressing to my noble and learned Friend my most grateful thanks for the great service which, in my opinion, he has performed. My noble and learned Friend has put an end to that fatal course of self-deception in which this country has for so many years been indulging. He has distinctly placed before the House and the public the picture of what we were and what we are—of what we are under circumstances the most perilous which have occurred for the last half century. I feel convinced that upon the most mature after-reflection my noble and learned Friend will not find one word in the great speech which he has delivered to-night which he would desire to alter. My Lords, the people of this country have, by almost all who have been in the habit of addressing them, both within the walls of Parliament and at public meetings, been led to think much more of the past than of the present, and not at all of the future. They have been resting upon the memory of past glories, and they have been imagining they were only on the morrow of Waterloo and Trafalgar. That is not my feeling, and it is now twelve years since I took the opportunity of calling attention to the great changes which had then taken place in the circumstances of Europe since the year 1815, and urging upon the House the adoption of some other measures than the mere law for ballotting for the militia, now enforced for the purpose of giving us the requisite security. I have since upon several occasions pressed the same considerations, as far as I could, upon the public mind. Of all the nations of Europe we are the most vulnerable at sea, because we have, in addition to our own territory, our Colonies and our great commerce to 644 defend; and if we have not superiority at sea we are more vulnerable than all other nations on land, because we have a much larger frontier, and one much more exposed than any other nation. On all sides we are exposed to attack, if we have not a naval superiority to protect us. My Lords, we have been desired to-night to change the language which some are disposed to use with respect to the armaments and councils of our neighbours. My Lords, were we to do so, it appears to me that we should adopt a course of conduct very inconsistent with our duty as Members of the Legislature. In what part of the world will liberty of speech take refuge if it is not to be permitted to take refuge in this House? What are the circumstances of the war, and how has that war been described on both sides of the House? I believe, since we met after the dissolution, I have heard the word "iniquitous" applied to it. No one has questioned the correctness of that description. It is certainly a war without justification. Even if the object be a good one, it is not justifiable by wrong and bad means to attempt to accomplish it. But I do not believe, nor do I think any one believes, that the pretended object of the war is the real one. We see a war, which is declared to he iniquitous, entered into for the purpose of changing the existing distribution of Power in Europe, and the settlement made in the year 1815, which has lasted untouched from the Treaty of Vienna to the present time. We are desired to regard that war, conducted as it is by such an extraordinary force, as if it were an event which could not in any manner produce alarm in the mind of any man in this country. My Lords, France in this war appears almost as a new Power in Europe. If it be true—and I accept the declaration of the Emperor that he made no preparations—it is on that account I entertain the greater alarm. If, without any previous preparation, the Emperor of France can in six or eight weeks place 200,000 men, perfectly equipped, for military operations in the centre of Northern Italy—if he can send 80,000 of these men by sea most rapidly, with most perfect arrangements, with all that is required of munitions of war and provisions carefully packed as if there had been forethought, and as if intended for transmission by sea—if, in addition to that, in a small space of time, he can place from 30,000 to 40,000 men in a powerful fleet in the Adriatic, and there propose 645 a descent and a rehearsal of the invasion of this country—when I see these things done, when I see the diminished force of this country, as detailed by my noble and learned Friend, in comparison with the force of France, I do feel apprehensive, and I do feel that it is the bounden duty of Government and of Parliament to place this country in a state of unattackable security. I am not satisfied with the expressions of the noble Earl (Earl Granville). I am not satisfied that merely ordinary means should be adopted, that "what is proper" should be done. What I desire is that the country shall be placed in that degree of unattackable security, that strength shall be restored to our diplomacy, that we may be able really to interfere with effect in putting an end to this war and preventing the commencement of any general hostilities. Until we do that all our diplomacy is valueless. I have often heard of "moral influence." Moral influence varies exactly as the amount of physical force behind it. No one, I think, unless inspired with a feeling hardly English, can speak of the present ruler of France as one calculated, of himself and by himself, without any association of force, to exercise moral influence in Europe; yet no man in Europe has more moral influence, because no man commands greater force. And noble Lords opposite may depend upon it that, until they place this country in a degree of security which renders it hopeless for France or any other Power to attempt to attack our shores, all efforts to terminate the war by intervention and negotiation will be entirely without avail. During the last eleven years—since 1848—all the Powers of Europe have been endeavouring, partly from distrust of each other, and partly from distrust of their own subjects, to increase their military force. They have effected that object; they have effected it by great financial sacrifices. I dread both their financial weakness and their military strength, because I know that against the burdens to which they have been submitting their only hope of remedy and relief is by a combined war on this country. My Lords, it is not safe for this country to remain unarmed in the midst of armed nations. When of two neighbouring nations who have ever been rivals, and have often been engaged in desperate hostilities against each other, one determines to apply all her energies to making money, and the other to making preparations for war, it is obvious enough with which of the two nations all 646 the money must ultimately remain Our only security is in our own energies, and I trust the Government will adhere precisely to those expressions of firm resolve, and will follow out that decided course which in the first instance they seemed determined to adopt. But I confess I am not perfectly satisfied with what fell from the noble Earl to-night. I fear there is a slight variation from the decided course which in the first instance they said they were fully determined to pursue. I trust they will adhere absolutely to that course, as I believe it is by that only they will secure the confidence of Parliament and the safety of the country.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, I can assure the noble Earl who has just sat down that the fear he has now expressed is entirely without foundation. No such change, as he appears to suspect, has come over the intentions of the Government; but the demands made upon the Government and noble Lords opposite are daily rising. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Hardwicke) told us a few nights ago, that seventy sail of the line would be the requisite provision for the defence of our shores; but to-night his estimate has risen to 100. And if the speech of the noble and learned Lord to-night—a speech remarkable for dignity and eloquence—were to be taken as indicating the overture now put forward upon this subject, it would follow that the Government must at once produce a war Estimate, and provide for war taxation. That doctrine was neither more nor less than this—that we must at all times maintain a naval force that shall be equal to the combined navies of the rest of the world. I believe such a course would be productive of the most mischievous results. It might be possible in a time of general suspicion and alarm to propose such measures with success. They might even be received with popular satisfaction for the moment; but a re-action would inevitably follow: the Opposition would take the advantage of that re-action, as Oppositions always did, and then would follow a clamour for reduction of expenditure, leaving us, probably, in a worse position than before. This has been the usual order of events; and in so far as we can he said to be suffering at all, we are suffering from the cause at the present moment. I very well recollect that when the Government of Lord Aberdeen was first formed, it was a period of popular alarm about invasion: and the earlier meetings of his Cabinet 647 were much occupied by the subject of the national defences. The Estimates of our predecessors were increased. The noble Earl at the head of that Government was, with his usual strong sense, the first to call a halt in the measures pointed at by the general feeling of the time. Then followed soon after the Russian war. Our navy was raised to a position of great power—involving, of course, large expenditure, and corresponding taxes. What happened on the peace? A cry for immediate reduction; and at the beginning of 1857, we could not reduce rapidly enough, or to a sufficient extent to meet the urgent demands of the Opposition. Very unjust complaint is now made against Sir C. Wood, on the opposite ground that he allowed the navy to fall too low. Yet, what are the facts? His Estimates for (1858) were accepted by the Government of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) not only without complaint that they were inadequate, but with many apologies and excuses for adopting Estimates so very high. Sir J. Pakington explained that they were so high, that he must ask time to consider whether he could not reduce them; and at the end of a month he came down to the House of Commons, explaining that he could only effect a comparatively small reduction—that reduction being principally in the very item—steam machinery—in which our comparative backwardness is now laid at the door of Sir C. Wood. Depend on it, my Lords, if we were now, on the ground of vague suspicions merely, to ask for war taxation to cover war expenditure, there would be a speedy re-action, leaving us, probably, in a worse position than we were before. There is another point with respect to which I wish to say a few words before I resume my seat. The present war had been described by the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) as an iniquitous war on the part of France and Sardinia. I can assure the House that it was with the utmost reluctance that he had sat silent during the recent discussions which had taken place on the subject. I do not mean to say that circumstances of very grave anxiety with respect to the origin of the war did not exist, but I beg most decidedly to dissent from the opinion which, without argument, would assume that the present war was one of an iniquitous character, so far as France and Sardinia were concerned. Such an opinion would be inconsistent with the language held by the late Go- 648 vernment, for it would be found in the papers which were to be discussed on Friday next that the war had been denounced in language stronger than I should be disposed to use—by the noble Earl the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs—as resting entirely on the head of Austria, which it certainly did, in so far at least as that it was she who took that last step which had led to the immediate commencement of hostilities.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
said, he thought their Lordships owed a great debt of gratitude to the noble and learned Lord who had brought the subject under discussion before the House. It was, he thought, of the utmost importance that the country should be placed in such a position of defence as that we need not be under the necessity of relying for our security on any man or any nation, and he could assure the noble Duke who had just spoken, that there was no occasion to be alarmed at any reaction on the score of expenditure for that purpose taking place in the minds of the people of England, so long as great armaments, such as at present existed, were maintained on the Continent of Europe. When the war in Italy came to a termination, and those armaments were decreased, it would be time enough to look for that change of public opinion which the noble Duke seemed to apprehend. He did not mean to contend that this country was likely to be invaded by France; but he thought it right we should be prepared. He could remember when the other House was considering whether it was advisable to adopt the principles of Free Trade, they (the House of Lords) ventured to remind them that by possibility, although we had been thirty years at peace, war might again break out. And what was their answer? They said that war was now an impossibility, with the advancement and enlightment of the age. And what ensued? First, in 1854, we engaged in a war with Russia. That was, in his opinion, and he said so at the time, a most unfortunate war. It was of the most sanguinary character, and it was in the contest then carried on that, in his opinion, the seeds of the present hostilities were sown. Who, then, would he so bold as to tell them that this country would never be invaded, and that therefore they should not be prepared for such an event? He for one would not be so rash as to arrive at any such conclusion. But his principal object in rising was to point out to the noble Duke at the head of the 649 Admiralty (and who he was sorry to say had now left the House) what he believed had not been alluded to by any noble Lord who had addressed the House that evening. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) had said that very much of the defences of this country must depend on the "wooden walls of Old England;" and he added, what was more important, the spirit and efficiency of our seamen. Now, he (the Duke of Rutland) must remind their Lordships that the Navigation Laws had been repealed. He was not going to argue the policy of that measure, but only to say that before it was passed it was necessary that the master and three fourths of the crew of each merchant ship should be British seamen, and from whom the Royal Navy was largely recruited; but the repeal of the Navigation Laws had done away with that, and left the British shipowner in competition with all the world. But when the Legislature exposed the British shipowner to competition with the world, they very properly and justly felt that it was only fair to take off all restrictions from him; previously every ship or vessel of 80 tons and under 200 was obliged to carry at least one apprentice;
but this was done away with when the Navigation Laws were repealed, and there is now no nursery for seamen. He believed it to be expedient that if a supply of efficient seamen was to be secured, that an alteration of the existing rules, as to manning the mercantile navy, should be effected, and his object in rising was to draw the attention of the noble Duke to the subject. For his own part, he would not be so rash as to arrive at any such conclusion, and he should therefore earnestly impress upon his noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty the necessity of rendering as efficient as possible those "wooden walls" which his noble and learned Friend who opened the discussion had so justly designated as the main defence of the country. In order to secure that object it was expedient, as his noble and learned Friend had suggested, that there should be an ample supply of efficient seamen, and he therefore trusted the existing rules in relation to employment in the merchant service would be so far modified as to attain that end.
200 and under 400 2 apprentices; 400 and under 500 3 apprentices; 500 and under 700 4 apprentices; 700 and upwards 5 apprentices;
§ House adjourned at Eight o'clock till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.