§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I shall endeavour to condense as much as possible the statement which I feel it is respectful to make to your Lordships in behalf of Her Majesty's Government. Your Lordships are already aware, from what fell from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) on Monday week last, of the reasons which induced Her Majesty's late Government to take the constitutional course of resigning their offices. I then received the great and unexpected honour of being commanded by Her Majesty to attempt to form an Administration. There is no one in this House more sensible of the insufficiency of my own abilities for that task, but I was determined that having once undertaken it, no diffidence of mine should prevent me from persevering with it as long as I thought any public utility could result from my efforts. But as soon as I found that a butter and a stronger arrangement might be made, I at once requested Her Majesty to absolve me from that task. That the resignation of it relieved me from a sense of great personal responsibility your Lordships will readily believe, and I gave it up with feelings of loyal gratitude to my Sovereign and deep respect for those public men with whom I had had occasion to communicate. Since that time Lord Palmerston has formed an Administration. I have heard two noble Earls describe in this House the labour and anxiety of forming an Administration, and certainly the personal relief which I myself experienced in being relieved from the task was increased by closely watching the anxiety which my noble Friend Lord Palmerston experienced during the formation of his Government, and especially from not being able to include in his Administration many old friends and colleagues for whose character and abilities he felt such deep respect, and on whoso long-tried services he set such high value. He has himself assured me, however, that that feeling was much diminished by universally finding that those with whom he communicated expressed the most unselfish desire to postpone their own personal objects to the advantage of the public service. The Government which Lord Palmer3ton has formed is of a comprehensive character. He has been anxious to fill the public offices with persons competent to their several duties. I may say, although it would be egotistical for many of 458 my colleagues to do so, that it comprehends many men who by their past services to the State and by their high character have claim to the confidence of the country. At the same time, my Lords, my colleagues and myself feel that it is not upon any past services that we must rely, and that we can only hope for support from Parliament and from the country by the manner in which both our own and our foreign affairs are administered. With regard to home affairs, I may observe that the question which more than any other presses for the immediate consideration of Her Majesty's Government is the arrangement of the finances, and this will be a task of no inconsiderable difficulty. Although there is no decided ground for alarm in the country with respect to our finances, yet undoubtedly their arrangement will require skill, and honesty, on the part of the Government; and I have no doubt that the measures they may propose will be responded to by the good sense of Parliament and the public spirit of the country. It will be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to introduce measures with regard to law reform and other subjects. There is one question of special importance—namely, the improvement of the representation of the people in the House of Commons. There ore many reasons for dealing with that subject at once. At the elections which have just taken place the subject of Parliamentary Reform formed one of the chief topics; public opinion has been formed and brought to a point by the discussions which have taken place; and there has moreover been manifested that disposition to make concessions, which is one of the characteristics of public discussion in this country — all these considerations give us reason to hope that if the question be now taken up there will be less difficulty in bringing about its settlement. But I believe that to attempt to deal with it in this Session would be to trifle with it. Her Majesty's late Government, on the re-assembling of Parliament, thought it too late to reintroduce a measure of Reform, and since that time several precious weeks have been lost to the purposes of legislation. The budget, the questions with regard to expenditure, which have yet to be brought before the House of Commons, and some legislation of a minor character, make it almost impossible to hope that a Reform Bill could be passed through the other 459 House of Parliament during the present Session. And even if it could be passed through the other House, I am quite sure your Lordships would feel that you were treated with a great want of respect if you were asked to consider a measure of so much importance as that at a time when it was utterly impossible to expect a full attendance in this House. Therefore, with regard to the question of Parliamentary Reform, I have only to state that it is one of the subjects which will engage the most anxious consideration of Her Majesty's Government, and that they will think it both their duty and their privilege to bring it before Parliament as soon as Parliament shall meet again. There is another subject connected with home affairs which greatly occupies public attention at this moment. I allude to the national defences. There have been rumours of a perfectly unfounded character with regard to the intentions of the Government as to the naval defences. I am happy to say that the notice which my noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) has given of asking a Question on that subject tomorrow will give an early opportunity to the noble Duke now at the head of the naval department (the Duke of Somerset) to show that no imputation whatever can be thrown on Her Majesty's Government with reference to our naval defences. Her Majesty's Government think that this country should be in a proper state of defence. Nothing can he more deplorable than the system of all the great European nations arming one against another, spending their money in great armies and great fleets, and thus driving each other into useless expenditure, and taking away from the productive labour of the respective countries. But this is a question that cannot be settled by one nation alone; and this country is not so separate, commercially, or politically, or, I will add, geographically, from the other parts of Europe as to justify one of the most powerful and most wealthy of nations, in not making a proper expenditure, not only to place it in a proper state of defence against invasion—as to which I see no possible ground for alarm—but also to make an invasion of it an impossibility, and to place it in that position which will give it weight in diplomatic considerations with regard to the settlement of the present anxious state of foreign affairs—It would be quite out of place for me to go back into the grounds or occasions of the war in Italy. The great difficulty with 460 regard to our foreign affairs at this moment appears to me to be the avoiding any false step which might entail fatal consequences upon Europe and upon this country. But there are not two courses open to us. It is the opinion of all the statesmen of both parties—both those connected with the late Government and those connected with this side of the House— and it is certainly the opinion of the great majority of the people of this country, that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to maintain a strict and bonâ fide neutrality with reference to the war in Italy—to use every endeavour to keep this country out of war, but at the same time, if possible, and as early as possible, to restore peace to Europe. I think your Lordships will agree also that the proper way of doing so is not by taking the earliest opportunity of intermeddling—not by frittering away our influence by making propositions which one or perhaps both parties would refuse to accept—but by watching carefully and considerately—by taking care that not one opportunity of conciliation should be allowed to escape—by taking a statesmanlike view of all the circumstances which attach to the situation, so to bring our influence to bear either alone, or, what would be much better, in co-operation with the other Powers of Europe, as to secure not only a present peace, but an arrangement that would be likely to be permanent—an arrangement that would not be dishonourable to either party, at the same time that it consulted the happiness of the populations. I am sure that in following out these opinions we shall meet with no opposition from your Lordships. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) on the occasion of his announcing to your Lordships his resignation of office, stated that it was not his intention to offer any factious opposition to Her Majesty's present, Government. I am afraid, my Lords, the past history of parties shows that these promises, so often made on both sides, however sincerely they may be made at the time, are not such a perfect rock that it would be wise for any Government to build on them their house. But I admit that it is a wise, dignified, and graceful tone for a Minister to adopt on leaving office; I accept it as acknowledging the general opinion, both in Parliament and the country, that the Queen's Government must be carried on, and though I do not hope that the noble Earl's forbearance will endure for any long time upon mere 461 party questions, yet I derive from his statement the greatest possible assurance that whenever the national interests of the country do require it, all parties in the State, as heretofore, will he found unanimously aiding in whatever is requisite to maintain the real interests and honour of the country.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
said, he was glad to hear from the noble Earl that Her Majesty's Government intended to pursue a course of strict and bona fide neutrality. He hoped it would be so; but he could not but recollect a remarkable statement made by the noble Lord the new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the electors of the City of London, in which he told them that the present war, which they all lamented, was mainly owing to one Power, and that that Power was Austria. For his part, he thought that statement was not borne out by the facts of the case, and that it was not in accordance with the maintenance of a strict and bona fide neutrality. He thought it was not owing to Austria that the present war was commenced; he did not think, either, that it was owing to the Emperor of the French; but he thought is was owing to another Power, and that that Power was Sardinia. He found in the Correspondence lately laid before them a statement made by Count Cavour, that though the conduct of Austria was not contrary to the faith of treaties, it was contrary to the great principles of equity and justice on which social order rested,—it was opposed, also, to all the precepts of modern civilization. Now, previously to that he had stated that Sardinia intended to make good against the Austrians the complaints which had been urged against them, at the same time that Sardinia admitted that Austria had violated no treaties. But if it had come to this, that treaties were not to be respected, and that each individual State was to judge of the justice and equity of the government of a country that she admitted had not acted contrary to treaty, how was it possible for the peace, tranquillity, good government, and liberty of any nation to be preserved? Treaties were no doubt of value in protecting the strong against the weak; but they were of infinitely more value in protecting the weak against the strong. It was Sardinia herself that was most interested in the maintenance of the treaties of Europe; 462 because it was by the treaties of 1815 alone that the Sardinian monarch reigned over his people. He begged pardon for thus anticipating the discussion that was to be raised in their Lordships' House on next Friday fortnight, but that period seemed to be so distant, and the events were so momentous, that he could not help taking the opportunity of referring to the question now.
LORD STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
explained that, at the request of the Government, he had fixed Friday week, instead of Friday fortnight, for bringing forward the subject.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
was anxious, at all events, to take that opportunity of thanking his noble Friend below him (the Earl of Malmesbury) for the moderation and patience, combined with firmness, ability, and indefatigable industry, which he had displayed in his endeavours to maintain the peace of Europe. Unhappily, his noble Friend was not successful in achieving that object; but at all events he did succeed in maintaining a strict and an impartial neutrality, and in keeping England free from the horrors of this war. And it was at that moment when war had broken out, when two great Powers and one smaller one had engaged in this deadly conflict; when no one could tell where it would end, or on what shore the wave of war might next break—it was at that moment, when his noble Friend represented fully and impartially the public opinion in this country, that Her Majesty's Opposition felt it their duty to turn out the late Government, in order—not more fully to represent the policy which had been fully represented by his noble Friend—but that they might, by some fortuitous chance, form another Government, which would equally carry out the policy so ably followed by his noble Friend. Well, they had succeeded in forming a Government. Of the talents of its members and the integrity of their motives he wished to speak with the greatest possible respect; but he must be allowed to remark that, in consequence of that unfortunate step, the country had been left two weeks or more without a Government, whilst even now two of the most important offices in the State were not filled up; one because we did not yet know whether the constituency would return the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) to the House of Commons; the other because we did not know that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cobden) would consent to join the 463 Government. He (the Duke of Rutland) did not know whether Mr. Cobden had accepted the office for which he had been named; but having listened to the speech of his noble Friend opposite to-night he rejoiced to hear his noble Friend's assurance that the armaments of this country were to be kept up, so that not only should there be no invasion, but not even the possibility of an invasion. Their Lordships, however, would permit him to read to them an extract from a speech which had been made by Mr. Cobden on his arrival at Liverpool, which certainly did not agree with the admirable sentiments of his noble Friend. In that speech Mr. Cobden said:I have heard it remarked that they (the Americans) look with dread to the amount of preparation making in England, for, what is said by these gentlemen who speak in public, the purpose of preparing to meet any eventualities. The opinion of the United States is that war between two great powers on the Continent does not necessarily involve more danger to England than if they were at peace, and both had large standing armies unemployed. I once heard this question put—Suppose I was at sea in a merchant vessel; I should feel much more comfortable if I saw two pirates fighting each other, than I should if I saw them standing aloof, and both ready to fall upon mo. And that is just the case in this war. I do hope that you, the people of England, having now taken the initiative, that you will keep the power in your own hands, and I hope that the executive government, and that the governments of foreign powers, will come to know that we will not on this occasion allow the blood and treasure of this country to be diminished and wasted for any chimerical or dynastical objects whatever.He rejoiced most sincerely when he heard the noble Earl opposite state that the armaments of this country were to be kept up, so as not only to meet but to prevent the possibility of invasion. Now, as he had already stated, he did not know whether Mr. Cobden had declined or accepted office; but if the hon. Gentleman had accepted office, he hoped he would renounce such opinions as he had expressed at Liverpool and adopt those of his noble Friend opposite. He (the Duke of Rutland) thought that this country ought to be prepared for any and every eventuality. He hoped, however, that we should be able to keep out of this fearful conflict, but he said that we ought to be prepared: not that he doubted the sincerity of the Emperor of the French, but that the Emperor of the French was no longer master of the situation. The passions of the French army had been roused, and he could not now say to it, "so far shall you go and no further." He readily admitted that the 464 Emperor of the French had carried out his policy towards this country in a spirit of loyalty and of frankness for which we must ever feel grateful to him; but he felt that he was no longer able to say, "I will restrain the French army from going further;" and no one could now tell what events might next take place.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
I would not trouble your Lordships with any remarks this evening were I not otherwise obliged to wait some time before I could have the opportunity of answering certain charges, as I must call them, which have been made by a very eminent Member of Her Majesty's present Government—I mean the Prime Minister—in "another place," with respect to that part of the policy of the late Government for which I was particularly responsible. On the last occasion that we met in this House my noble Friend opposite, the President of the Council, did not indeed make any charges upon the policy which I had felt it any duty to carry out; but he made two or three insinuations of neglect with regard to which I think he will be ready now to confess that he was mistaken. He insinuated, in the first place, that Her Majesty's late Government had not adopted in time such measures as were desirable for the purpose of preventing the collision which eventually took place between Austria and France, and Sardinia. My noble Friend, evidently with the conviction in his own mind that such had not been the fact, asked whether I had taken any practical step before the month of February, and within three weeks afterwards, to put a stop to the unfortunate state of things which then existed. My noble Friend will, I am sure, if he has had time, and has taken the trouble to read the book I have placed upon your Lordships' table, be candid enough to say that we did all we possibly could at the period to which he alluded to prevent the subsequent events. It was as early as the 10th of January that the late Government addressed both the Courts of Paris and Vienna entreating them to come to some understanding; they being, as we believed, the only two Powers who, by acting in concert, could stop the calamities we foresaw, and which have since ensued. I shall not trouble your Lordships with any extracts from those despatches. They are within your own reach, and you can read them for yourselves; but I do not believe that any language could be stronger, or 465 any advice more candidly put forward, than that which was lately addressed by the late Government to those two Courts on that occasion. My noble Friend then went on to insinuate that Lord Cowley's mission to Vienna was invested with great mystery and confusion, and that there were no definite objects in the mission which had come to the knowledge of the Emperor of the French. Now, your Lordships will find in the blue-book that before Lord Cowley quitted Paris he had a personal interview with the Emperor, who consented to the drawing up of a memorandum of the points which he wished to be settled with the Court of Austria; that with this in his possession Lord Cowley repaired to Vienna; and that nothing could be more exact and definite than the points the statement of which Count Walewski, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, handed to Lord Cowley when he left Paris. I am sure, therefore, that upon that point also my noble Friend will acknowledge that he was in error. But, my Lords, I am not aware that my noble Friend, when he made that speech, laid any such stress upon what he considered these obscure points in our foreign policy as to say that the late Government ought to be excluded from office on that account. My noble Friend confined himself to the expression of a hope that the supposition on which his statement was based was not true. But there arc other Members of the present Ministry who were not content to pursue a similar course. The noble Viscount at the head of the Government himself did not scruple to use in "another place" language to which I shall, with your Lordships' permission, briefly refer. He was, in the course of the speech in which that language occurs, attempting to show that the late Government was not entitled to the confidence of the country, and to adduce proofs that they ought to be immediately ejected from office as unworthy to give counsel to the Sovereign. The ground on which he based his argument as to their incapacity to discharge that duty was this:—He said,The course which the Government has taken has brought on war. They are the cause of the present hostilities.And how, in his opinion, had we produced this result? By the use of language hostile to France and Sardinia and by patronizing Austria. He said we held out hopes of supporting Austria against Franco; that we were ignorant that Austria was de- 466 termined on war, and that Franco was not prepared for it; and, that being the case, that the breaking out of war was attributable to us, and that we were as a consequence no longer fit to hold the seals of office. Now, my Lords, if this imputation be correct—if we were in reality the cause of this dreadful war, no verdict could be more just than that which the noble Lord asked the House of Commons to pronounce. But let me for a moment endeavour to show your Lordships how reckless is the language which the present Prime Minister has deemed it not unfit to use, and how totally he must have neglected to look into any source of information by moans of which be could arrive at a knowledge of the real facts of the case. He went on to say, on the occasion to which I allude:—I cannot but believe that friendly, firm, but temperate language would have induced Austria to pause, and to abstain from that act of aggression which, in the opinion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, removed her from the position of a dignified conciliator to that of a criminal. It is plain Austria was alleging that her treaty rights in Lombardy and Venice were to be invaded, The Government might then have fairly said, 'Go into Congress. Let all the great Powers of Europe assemble, and we will stand by you in negotiation in maintaining your unquestionable treaty rights; but do you and France consent to withdraw all military interference and all improper administrative influence from countries which are not your own, Free the South of Italy from military occupation and from dictation to Governments, and let the Italians and their Governments deal with each other as independent nations invariably do.'"—[3Hansard, cliv., p. 180.]That is the course which the present Prime Minister thinks we ought to have adopted; that is the language which he thinks we ought to have used. And what will your Lordships say when I tell you that it is almost verbatim the very language which we did use, and which we have stated we had used? On the 10th of January last, I wrote to Lord Augustus Loftus, Her Majesty's Minister at Vienna, in the following terms:—Your Lordship will frankly tell Count Buol that should such a struggle as we deprecate be the result of the present estrangement between Franco and Austria, England would remain a neutral spectator of the contest, and that in no case would public opinion in this country render it possible for her to assist Austria as against her own subjects, if the contest assumed the aspect of a revolution of her Italian provinces against her Government. The public opinion in England has a natural tendency to sympathize with Italian nationalities, but Her Majesty's Government believe that those sympathies would not be aroused to any active form against Austria, unless Austria 467 put herself patently in the wrong, and either became an aggressor or gave France or Sardinia a fair excuse for beginning a war. Her Majesty's Government do not deny that Austria has cause of uneasiness in Italy, but they maintain that it cannot be mitigated or removed by plunging into war with France or Sardinia. If Austria and France could be induced to take a just estimate not only of their own political interests, but of the course which would most effectually contribute to the happiness of the Italian populations throughout the whole extent of the peninsula, Her Majesty's Government feel that the work would be already half-accomplished, and the rest of Europe, instead of looking forward with anxiety to the future, would only have to congratulate itself on the prospect at length opening to them of Italian regeneration unstained by deeds of violence and bloodshed.So, in those few short sentences we plainly told Austria that nothing would induce us to assist her in maintaining Lombardy against her own subjects, and urged upon her in the strongest terms possible—in the very language which the noble Lord at the head of the Government says we ought to have used—the expediency of entering into some agreement with France as to the best course to be adopted with the view of contributing to the happiness of the Italian States.
We said to Austria as the blue-book will show:—If Austria and France, laying aside mutual suspicion, were to join heartily with a view to promote by peaceful means the regeneration of Italy, their combined influence would speedily effect a change in their unhappy state of affairs, and contribute to establish confidence between rulers and their subjects.Now, with respect to treaties, the language which I held in writing to Lord Cowley on the 26th of January was this:—The unceasing advice of Her Majesty's Government to Austria has been to keep strictly within the limits of treaties; to avoid all causes of offence to her Italian neighbours; to relax, as far as possible, all rigour towards her Italian subjects; and to adopt towards France a friendly and conciliatory policy.Yet, in the face of all this, the noble Viscount at the head of the Government says that we threatened France and Sardinia, while we patronized Austria and held out hopes to her that we would support her against France. The noble Viscount stated that we ought to have said to Austria, "Let all the great Powers of Europe assemble in Congress, and we will stand by you in the negotiations which may take place," but we did use the very language which the noble Lord says we ought to have adopted, for I wrote in these 468 terms to Lord Augustus Loftus on the 30th March:—Her Majesty's Government entreat the Austrian Government not to approach this Congress with distrust and reluctance, but to take the lead in its formation, and when formed, in its deliberations. It will find in Her Majesty's Government a sincere ally, anxious to relieve it from unfair pressure, and to maintain its rights.Yet it was on these statements that the noble Lord thought proper to base the accusation that we were unfit to hold the reins of office which he made against us in "another place." Your Lordships will, I trust, not think that I have acted unbecomingly in calling your attention at the earliest possible moment to the subject, and repudiating the charge which the noble Lord has brought against us. I shall not trespass upon your Lordships' time by commenting upon the language which was used on the same subject by another eminent Member of the Government—I mean the noble Lord the present Minister for Foreign Affairs (Lord John Russell). He spoke in much the same spirit as his noble colleague, though the terms in which he expressed himself were not quite so strong. I base my defence on the papers which have been laid on your Lordships' table, and they are my justification. I may, however, be permitted, before I sit down, to put a question to my noble Friend opposite. I was struck this morning by a passage in a speech which is said to have been made by a right hon. Baronet now Secretary of State for India (Sir Charles Wood) to his constituents at Halifax. It is not the first time that the right hon. Baronet, when occupying an analogous position, has exhibited less than might be deemed desirable of that quality of reticence which is supposed to be peculiarly adapted to a newly created Minister when taking his first step in that capacity. I think the right hon. Baronet has gone further than the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs will approve. He is reported to have said:—We have seen recent accounts that in a large portion of Germany a strong spirit prevails by which they seem disposed almost to engage in hostilities. I hope and trust their own good sense, aided by our advice, which we have given them since we came into power, will induce them to abstain from hostilities.Others of the Members of the present Government have also taken two or three occasions to declare that they intended to assume an attitude of rigid neutrality i and I understand that such is the inter- 469 pretation which is to be put upon the statement which my noble Friend opposite (Earl Granville) has made this evening. I wish, therefore, without further remark, to call your Lordships' attention to the nature of the step which, if the right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax be correctly reported, has been already taken by Her Majesty's Ministers. It is a step, my Lords, which goes further than anything which the late Government did, and seems to me to be the first move towards leaving a position of absolute and complete neutrality. Those of your Lordships who have read the Correspondence will have seen that Her Majesty's late advisers most carefully abstained from giving Germany any advice with respect to her conduct in taking hostile measures or refraining from them. We confined ourselves advisedly and carefully to telling the Prussian Government and the Government of the other German States, that if they went to war before the Confederation was attacked they must not expect the slightest assistance from Her Majesty's Government. We thought it right and fair to tell them so, because no doubt there prevailed in Germany a hope and delusion which went so far as to make the people of that country believe that Her Majesty's Government would lend their aid to Germany in case she entered upon a war. The language which we used, however, is quite a different thing from advising Germany not to judge for herself, and not to make war, even though she may deem it to be necessary to her safety. The result of such a course may be that you may find yourselves committed by a moral obligation hereafter to support her, inasmuch as the people of Germany should their apprehensions be realized, may turn round upon you and say, "If you had left us alone, we should not be in this scrape." It is upon these grounds that I think the statement made by the right hon. Baronet the Member fur Halifax possesses a degree of importance which at the first blush it may not seem to wear. My object in alluding to the statement was to show your Lordships that it is realty of some consequence, and, if it be not indiscreet, I should be very glad to know from the noble Earl, whether that statement is correct.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
—My lords, no one can feel surprised that the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) should have taken advantage of the forms of the House to defend himself from accusations 470 made against him in the performance of the duties which lately devolved upon him as Secretary for Foreign Affairs. At the same time I am sure your Lordships, as well as my noble Friend, will agree with me that upon this occasion it is unadvisable, not only for any member of the Government, but, I will add, for any member on either side of this House, to enter at length into the questions in the blue-book, considering that a notice has this evening been given which will bring on a full discussion of those questions so early as to-morrow week. And I say so the more, because, although I by no means deprecate such a discussion, I am certain your Lordships will concur with me in the opinion that these subjects can never be debated without some risk to the public service—can never be discussed, even in the temperate atmosphere of this House, without giving rise to expressions from one side or the other, which may, and in all probability will, endanger the future attempts of the Government to restore the peace that has been so unhappily broken. If, therefore, I do not refer to what has fallen from my noble Friend, he must not think there is any disregard of his position by the present Government; and I am certain when this discussion takes place, that he will find every member of the Ministry disposed to do him ample justice, and that no attempt will be made to represent to the House and the country any other than an anxious desire on the part of my noble Friend and his colleagues (whatever may be our opinion of the means which they employed) to preserve peace so far as it was possible to do so by any zeal on their part. My noble Friend has enjoyed within the last few days a privilege which has been wanting to me—I mean leisure to read the recent election speeches. Until, therefore, he quoted just now the speech of my right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Wood), I was not aware of the words which are said to have fallen from him, and I am not able to state whether they are accurately reported. Probably the report is perfectly accurate. If so, I can only say that the despatch which must have been alluded to does not bear the construction which my noble Friend deprecate? Whenever the papers are laid before the House—and of the next papers that will be laid on the table on this subject this will be one of the earliest—my noble Friend will find that the present Government have not incurred the risk he has 471 spoken of, nor have they placed themselves in the position which he so justly reprehends. Your Lordships will perhaps allow me to take this opportunity of alluding to another topic. From some words which he quoted from the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the noble Duke who just now addressed the House (the Duke of Rutland) appeared to fear that a difference exists between that noble Lord and my noble Friend the President of the Council, (Earl Granville) as shown in his speech this evening, with regard to the maintenance, during the present war, of a fair and honest neutrality. I assure the noble Duke that he will not be able to maintain his position. It is one thing to express an opinion as to the origin of the war—I am not saying whether such expression of opinion be prudent or not, but I think they are best avoided—it is one thing to say who is the cause of the war, and a very different one to exhibit an intention on the part of the person expressing it to take a partisan view of the present state of things. The noble Lord who is now at the head of the Foreign Department not only agrees with the President of the Council, but with every other member of Her Majesty's Government, in the determination to maintain an entire and strict neutrality without reference to who began the war, and who was originally to blame for its commencement. Our object will be to hold the balance between the belligerents, so that at the earliest opportunity, consistently with that neutrality, we may be in a position fairly to both belligerents and effectively as regards Europe, to introduce ourselves as mediators in this unhappy quarrel. I can assure my noble Friend, also, that whatever he might think of the two appointments yet left somewhat incomplete in Her Majesty's Government, with regard to one I think I can relieve my noble Friend's anxiety. I can assure him that there is a prospect of Mr. Gladstone, not only continuing a member of Her Majesty's Government, but also of becoming a member of the House of Commons in a few hours. With regard to the other hon. Gentleman, I cannot at present relieve my noble Friend's anxiety. I cannot state whether any answer has yet been sent by Mr. Cobden to Lord Palmerston. But this I can say, that if Mr. Cobden joins the Government, as I sincerely hope he will, he will join it with the full knowledge that it is the intention of the Government to maintain and 472 strengthen the defences of this country,— not to provoke but to prevent aggression,— and not only not to relax, but if necessary to increase the efforts made by the late Government with that object. So that in any case, the noble Duke and the House may be assured, that whatever the important part we may be called upon to play—whether or no it be to offer terms of pacification to the other Powers of Europe —whatever may happen, the defence of the country will be in no degree or manner neglected. The noble Duke will, I think, find with regard to the speech of the Gentleman he has quoted (Mr. Cobden) that there is nothing inconsistent in the views of an hon. Gentleman, who while he not only hopes but believes that there is no fear of an invasion, nevertheless takes every precaution to prevent even its possibility, and to repel it if attempted. Different views may be entertained as to the probability of an invasion; but of this I am quite sure, that there is not one of your Lordships, and very few persons indeed in the country who do not believe it to be the primary duty of England at this moment to strengthen bee defences and to be prepared for every emergency.
§ LORD HOWDEN
thought the opinion of the Parliament on the present state of affairs at homo and abroad could not be too soon known, not only to England, but to the Continent. Things were going on so quickly in Europe, that even in a week the discussion might be too late. He trusted that the observations he was about to offer would not be deemed unwise or indiscreet; but he thought at such a time it was the duty of every Member of their Lordships' House to speak out plainly; because he was of opinion, that if England had spoken out plainly in the first instance, this iniquitous war might have been prevented. He took the opportunity on the first night of the Session of calling their Lordships' attention to a startling declaration which appeared in the Manifesto of the Emperor of the French. It was possible the phrase he alluded to might have been inserted in the document in which it appeared, because it looked well to the eye and sounded well to the ear—which was a very common reason for much that was said and done and written in a neighbouring country. He received no answer—no explanation from Her Majesty's then Government—ho hoped the present Government would give themselves the trouble of discovering whether that startling declara- 473 tion meant anything or not. Having as much at heart as any man living, the real independence of Italy—the real practical independence of the whole country, and not a phantasmagoria evoked for the purpose of the hour—he was glad to have an opportunity of raising his voice against the very unholy means taken to arrive at a very holy end. He did not join with those who maintained that the means in such a ease sanctified the end. He believed every man in England was in favour of the Italian cause, and wished it well; but he had not met one single person who had approved of the means by which that cause was sought to be advanced. In his belief it was undertaken with no more definite object than to give, as circumstances might admit, an additional prestige to the French army. But what then would inevitably follow? A proportional decrease in the legitimate influence which liberal England really would and ought to have, not only over the future destinies of Italy, but over the progress of real Liberalism in all parts of the world. He saw in the blue-book which had been referred to, that Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris stated, in a despatch at the end of February, that "he did not believe in war, because there were no preparations for war." Now that France was not quite ready when she was called to march into Italy—that the Emperor Napoleon, like a lady in an interesting situation, might be somewhat out in his reckoning, might be true enough; it was certainly matter of wonder to him that any man, living in Paris, even with the most amiable and energetic determination of believing anything that was told him, could possibly believe that. He believed that the determination of France was taken long before the month of February. Yet still, when he heard of Italy proclaiming the Emperor Napoleon as its liberator and regenerator, he very much doubted whether, at the bottom of his capacious mind, the Emperor ever intended or expected the real liberation of Italy, because the real liberation of Italy, political, social, and intellectual, begins at home. In the blue-book he saw that when, in 1857, certain reforms were about to be introduced through the united influence of England and Austria, Lord Cowley states, "those reforms were allowed to fall to the ground;" and that afterwards representations made on the subject met with the most discouraging reception at the Court of France. At the same time he thought it would be a great misfortune, 474 not only for the character of England but for the future welfare if Italy, if, when England desired a change or amelioration in the Papal States, it could possibly by any manner of means be suspected that she was actuated by any motive of sectarian policy. That the Emperor intended to do something in the Austrian States he had not the slightest doubt, but that was another matter. Supposing all these small States in Italy were drawn up in a cluster to the moon, what was to become of Imperial Rome—that part of the earth to which the hearts of many, and the imaginations of all, clung from their childhood? Did the inhabitants of Southern Italy, whose intelligence was as bright as their own skies, count for nothing? Was, also, no regard to be shown to Naples? He believed that great pains had been taken to ascertain whether there was an available feeling in Southern Italy in favour of the Murats, and that it was found so fickle and transient, that as the French said, "le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle," and the project was abandoned—that was to say, to open that country to French influence in the same way in which it was exercised in Northern Italy. With regard to the Papal States, there was a body in France to whom the Emperor was under the very greatest obligations, and not only for their co-operation, for he regretted to say that he owed to them a very great part of the six or seven millions of votes which came out of the electoral urn in his favour. Of the influence of this body he was by no means independent, and they were a body who would do all they could to cramp and reduce any efficacious reform in the Roman States which might be obtained through French influence. He did not say there were not underhand intrigues, dark machinations, and anonymous incitements to revolt at work among the subjects of the Roman States. On the contrary, he felt perfectly sure there were, and that they were going on at that moment; but what he said was, that there would be none of those measures of Reform which were called chivalrous measures in that part of Italy. And what would be the result of the liberation of a certain part of Northern Italy? It would only serve to plunge the magnificent regions of Southern Italy into, if not deeper darkness, at least into deeper disappointment and despair. Dangerous and even ridiculous as it was to attempt to prophesy in these times, he thought he knew very well what would 475 happen to England as the result of the iniquitous war now raging in Italy. At some period—and probably at an early period—England would step in with the view of stopping hostilities and preventing a greater effusion of blood; she would honestly and ardently offer her mediation; and then by the unfortunate fiat of fate which seemed always to belong to her, by that curiosa infelicitas which attached to all she did, would make herself only more odious than she now was to all the parties. If she failed, she compromised her name and her position as a great Power; if she succeeded, there would arise a cry from one end of the Peninsula to the other that but for perfidious Albion, who was only alive to her own interests and the dispersion of cotton—Italy would have been free—that she had arrested the splendid schemes of the Emperor, paralysed his magnificent intentions—the development of nationalities—and what not; all the fine things elaborated in that region which was so propitious to human liberty—the Tuileries at Paris—all the vituperation of the Liberals in Italy, of the Reds in France, and of the Radicals in England, would fall on England, and the credit of all those magnificent plans for the establishment of nationalities which were never intended to he carried out, would be given to France. But in the name of God, he said, let us have peace if it could be attained, no matter how. As to what was disagreeable or disadvantageous, or little flattering to this country, whilst England was in alliance with France she must make up her mind to that. Under the pretence of negotiation there would be a permanent occupation of Lombardy by the French, and the questions at issue would remain permanently unsettled—a circumstance which he would look upon as one of the greatest misfortunes to the whole world. What he feared was now on the cards was the prolonged occupation of Lombardy and Piedmont by the French. He believed in his conscience that at the time when the Emperor marched with his great army into Italy nothing was wanted for the ulterior liberation of that country but the honest and quiet retirement, then and for ever, of the French and Austrian troops from the places where they were and ought never to have been, and at the same time the removal of the influence exercised by Austria over the States where she had so long exercised a fatal supremacy. It was remarkable that we did not even yet know 476 why so good a proposal—a proposal which would have liberated the whole and not a part of Italy, and liberated it, moreover, without the smallest risk of retrocession —was not carried out. What was really wanted in Italy could not be obtained by a summary process, but must be a work of time. An honest, conscientious Government in Sardinia, mindful of their own affairs, and not coveting what did not belong to them, would have held out in the most impressive manner a model which present Italy might imitate and future Italy succeed in adopting. An honest and conscientious Government in France—in that country which, from its rare position, must, according to its Government, always be either the curse or regenerator of Europe —a constitutional Government in Franco aiding without protecting or exciting Sardinia, would have infiltrated the principles of constitutional Government into the hearts of Kings, and would have attached itself to the sister institutions of this free country, and thus formed an alliance which from the force of things—by a law superior to the temporary convenience of any man—could not, thank God, permanently exist between liberty and despotism. Thus England and France might have given freedom to the world. This quiet but infallible action would have encouraged struggling races and raised drooping nationalities. It would have done so righteously and peacefully. It was a process which would have pleased all the wise reformers of abuses in all parts of the earth; but it was a process which did not, and could not, be accomplished through the wild ambition and rash desires of those who were equally above the real interests and wholesome opinions of mankind.
§ House adjourned at half-past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.