HL Deb 06 February 1862 vol 165 cc5-48

The LORDS COMMISSIONER'S Speech having been reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR,


, on moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in answer to the Speech of the Lords Commissioners, said: My Lords, in rising to perform the duty which has devolved upon me, I feel that scarcely ever has any Member of your Lordships' House been called upon to address you under more solemn or more trying circumstances; and most painfully am I aware how great is my need of your Lordships' patience and indulgence. My Lords, for nearly a quarter of a century it has been the invariable privilege of those who have successively found themselves in the position I occupy to-night to direct your attention to topics of a pleasing, hopeful, or triumphant character,—to a gratifying retrospect, or a promising future—to projects of law calculated still further to promote the rapidly-increasing prosperity of the country—to treaties of amity and commerce with foreign nations—at the worst to difficulties surmounted, or disasters successfully retrieved—to foreign wars gloriously conducted and victoriously concluded. But, my Lords, to-night a very different task awaits me. For the first time since Her Majesty commenced a reign of unexampled prosperity, we have been overtaken by a calamity fraught with consequences which no man can yet calculate—unexpected—irremediable—opening up alike to Sovereign and to people an endless vista of sorrow and regret. Under such circumstances even the most practised speaker in your lordships' House might well shrink from the responsibility of intruding the inadequate expression of his individual feelings on a grief which must have endowed the heart of every one who hears me with an eloquence far greater than any he can command. If, however, my Lords, there is anything that can mitigate the painful anxiety of my situation, it is the conviction that, however inefficient,—however wanting to the occasion—may be the terms in which you are urged to join in the proposed sentences of condolence with Her Majesty, the appeal must in its very nature command such an unanimity of earnest, heartfelt acquiescence, as to leave the manner in which it may be placed before you a matter of indifference. My Lords, this is not the occasion, nor am I the proper person, to deliver an encomium on the Prince whom we have lost. When a whole nation has lifted up its voice in lamentation, the feeble note of praise which may fall from any individual tongue must necessarily be lost in the expression of the general sorrow; but, my Lords, superfluous ' as any artificial panegyric has now become, right and fitting is it that that public grief which first found vent in the visible shudder which shook every congregation assembled in this metropolis when his well-known name was omitted from the accustomed prayer—which, gathering volume and intensity as reflection gave us the measure of our loss, swept towards the Throne in one vast wave of passionate sympathy, and is even still reiterated from every distant shore that owns allegiance to the British Crown,—right and fitting is it that such a manifestation of a nation's sorrow as this should find its final embodiment and crowning consummation in a solemn expression of their feelings by both Houses of the British Legislature. Never before, my Lords, has the heart of England been so greatly stirred, and never yet has such signal homage been more spontaneously rendered to unpretending intrinsic worth. Monarchs, heroes, patriots have perished from among us, and have been attended to their grave by the respect and veneration of a grateful people. But here was one who was neither king, warrior, nor legislator,—occupying a position in its very nature incompatible with all personal pre-eminence,—alike debarred the achievement of military renown and political distinction, secluded within the precincts of what might easily have become a negative existence,—neither able to confer those favours which purchase popularity nor possessing in any peculiar degree the trick of manner which seduces it,—who, nevertheless, succeeded in winning for himself an amount of consideration and confidence such as the most distinguished or the most successful of mankind have seldom attained. By what combination of qualities, a stranger and an alien—exercising no definite political functions—ever verging on the peril of a false position—his daily life exposed to ceaseless observation—shut out from the encouragement afforded by the sympathy of intimate friendship, the support of partisans, the good fellowship of society,—how such an one acquired so remarkable a hold on the affection of a jelous insular people, might well excite the astonishment of any one acquainted with the temper and the peculiarities of the British nation. Yet, my Lords, after all, how simple and obvious is the secret of the dominion he acquired ! If, my Lords, the death of Prince Albert has turned England into a land of mourning; if each one of us is conscious of having lost that calm feeling of satisfaction and security which has gradually been interwoven with the existence of the nation from the day he first took his stand beside the Throne; if it seems as though the sun of our prosperity were darkened, and a pillar of our state had fallen; it is because in him we have lost that which has never failed to acquire the unlimited confidence and enthusiastic veneration of Englishmen—a man who in every contingency of life, in the presence of bewildering temptations, in the midst of luxury and splendour, in good report and in evil report, in despite of the allurements of vanity, of selfishness, and ambition, trod day by day and hour by hour, patiently, humbly, faithfully, the uninviting path of duty. My Lords, great must that people ever become whose highest notion of human excellence is the fulfilment of duty; and happy may that man be considered who has been able to realize their ideal! Of the various achievements of Prince Albert's career I need not remind your Lordships. We can, most of us, remember the day when he first came among us, and every subsequent chapter of his blameless life has been open to our inspection. We all know with what prudence he proceeded to exercise the functions of his elevated but difficult station, and with what simplicity of purpose he accepted the position marked out for him by the Constitutions. Noble Lords on either side of the House can describe the impartiality of the welcome he extended to all the Parliamentary advisers of the Crown. Those who have had the honour of enjoying personal intercourse with him can speak not only to the grasp of his remarkable intellect, and the inexhaustible store of his acquirements, but still more to the modesty, the gentleness, and chivalrous purity of a disposition which invested the Court over which he presided with an atmosphere of refinement and tranquil happiness such as, probably, has never yet been found in a Royal home; while his various speeches, replete with liberal wisdom—the enlightened influence he exercised over our arts and manufactures—and, above all, the triumphant establishment of the Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862, will bear witness to that practical sagacity which in spite of the apparent inaction to which he was condemned, could call into existence an unimagined field for the exercise of his untiring energy. And yet, my Lords, it is not so much for what he did, as for what he was, that the memory of Prince Albeit will be honoured and revered among us, though, probably, all that he has been to England no one will ever rightly know. As I have already had occasion to remark, the exigencies of Ills position required him to shun all pretension to personal distinction. Politically speaking, the Prince Consort was ignored by the Constitution—an ever-watchful, though affectionate jealousy, on the part of the people, guarded the pre-eminence of the Crown. How loyally arid faithfully the Queen's first subject respected this feeling we are all aware; yet who shall ever know the nobler loyalty, the still more loving fidelity with which the husband shared the burdens, alleviated the cares, and guided the counsels of the wife? Some there are among us, indeed, who have had opportunities of forming a just idea of the extent to which this country has profited by the sagacity of Her Majesty's most trusted counsellor: but it will not be until this generation has passed away, and those materials see the light from which alone true history can be written, that the people of England will be able justly to appreciate the real extent of their obligations to probably one of the wisest and most influential Statesmen that ever controlled the destinies of the nation. But, my Lords, deserving of admiration as were the qualities I have enumerated, it is by ties of a tenderer nature that he will have most endeared him-self to our affection. Good, wise, accomplished, useful as he was, little would ail these engaging characteristics have availed him, unless, before and above all else, he had proved himself worthy of that precious trust which two-and-twenty years ago the people of England confided to his honour, when they gave into his keeping the domestic happiness of their youthful Queen. How faithfully he has fulfilled that trust, how tenderly he has loved, guarded, cherished, honoured the bride of his youth, the companion of his manhood, is known in all its fulness but to one alone; yet, so bright has shone the flame of that wedded love, so hallowing has been its influence, that even its reflected light has gladdened and purified many a humble household, and at this moment there is not a woman in Great Britain who will not mournfully acknowledge that as in life he made our Queen the proudest and the happiest, so in death he has left her the most afflicted lady in her kingdom. Well may we then hesitate, my Lords, before we draw near even with words of condolence to that widowed Throne wrapped as it is in the awful majesty of grief; yet if there is one thing on earth which might bring—I will not say consolation, but some soothing of her grief, to our afflicted Sovereign, it would be the consciousness of that universal love and sympathy for her with which the heart of England is at this moment full to bursting. Great as has been the affection always felt for her by her subjects, the feeling has now attained an intensity difficult to imagine. Death and sorrow have broken down the conventional barriers that have hitherto awed into silence the expression of her people's love;—it is not a Monarch in a palace that they now see, but a stricken Woman in a desolate home; and public meetings, and addresses of condolence, and marble memorials utterly fail to interpret the unspeakable yearning with which the entire nation would fain gather her to its bosom, and, if it were possible, for ever shelter her from all the ills and sorrows of this storm-shake world. Surely, next to the compassion of God must be such love from such a people To give expression to these sentiments, as far as the forms of State will admit, will, I am certain, be the heartfelt desire of your Lordships' House; and not, even when in some day of battle and defeat your Lordships' ancestors made a rampart of their lives round the person of their king, will the Peers of England have gathered round the Throne in a spirit of more genuine devotion; and heartily, I am sure, my Lords, will you join me in praying that the same inscrutable Providence which has visited our Queen and country with so great calamity will give to her and us patience to bow before the dread decree; and that the Father of the Fatherless and the Comforter of the Afflicted will, in His own good time, afford to our beloved Sovereign such a measure of consolation as is to be found in the love of her lost husband's children, in the veneration of his memory, the fulfilment of his wishes, and the imitation of his bright example. Such a wish can be embodied in no nobler words than those furnished by the great poet of our age:— May all love, His love unseen, but felt, o'ershadow Thee, The love of all thy sons encompass thee, The love of all thy daughters cherish thee, The love of all thy people comfort thee, Till Clod's love set thee at his side again. And now, my Lords, glad should I be might my task of sorrowful reminiscence be here concluded; but on such an occasion it is impossible not to remember that since we were last assembled the service of two other trusted and faithful councillors has been lost to the Crown and to the State—the one a Member of your Lordships' House, cut off in the prime of his manhood and in the midst of one of the most brilliant careers that ever flattered the ambition of an English Statesman—the other a Member of the other House of Parliament, after a long life of such uninterrupted labour and unselfish devotion to the business of the country as has seldom characterized the most indefatigable public servant. My Lords, it is not my intention to enumerate the claims upon our gratitude possessed by those two departed Statesmen; but, in taking count of the losses sustained by Parliament during the last recess, it is impossible not to pause an instant beside the vacant places of Lord Herbert and Sir James Graham. Bach has gone to his account, and each has died, falling where he fought, as best befitted the noble birth and knightly lineage of each. My Lords, whenever in her hour of need England shall marshal her armies for the vindication of her honour, or the protection of her territories, the name of him who laboured so assiduously for the improvement or the sanitary condition of the soldier at a time when peace was devastating our barracks in more fatal proportion than war our camps, will never lack its appointed meed of praise. And when the day shall come for the impartial pen of history to blazen those few names to whom alone it is given to be recognized by posterity as the leading spirits of a by-gone age, the trusted friend, the laborious coadjutor, the sagacious colleague of Lord Aberdeen, and Sir Robert Peel, shall as surely find his just measure of renown. But, my Lords, it was neither in the hopes of winning guerdon or renown that the Prince whom we mourn and the statesmen whom we have lost preferred the path of painful, self-denying duty to the life of luxury and ease that lay within their reach. They obeyed a nobler instinct; they were led by the light of a higher revelation; they cast their bread upon the waters in the faith of an unknown return. " Omnia fui, nihil etpedit," sighed one of the greatest of Roman emperors as he lay upon his death-bed at York; yet when, a moment afterwards, the captain of his guard came to him for the watchword of the night, with his dying breath he gave it, "Ldboremus." So is it, my Lords, with us; we labour, and others enter into the fruit of our labours; we dig the foundation, and others build, and others again raise the superstructure; and one by one the faithful workmen, their spell of toil accomplished, descend it may be into oblivion and an unhonoured grave—but higher, brighter, fairer, rises the fabric of our social policy; broader and more beautiful spread out on every side the sacred realms of civilization; further and further back retire the dark tides of ignorance, misery, crime—nay, even of disease and death itself, until to the eye of the enthusiastic speculator on the destinies of the human race it might almost seem as if in the course of ages it might be granted to the intellectual energy and moral development of mankind to reconquer a lost Paradise and reconstruct the shattered harmony of creation! In what degree it may be granted to this country to work out such a destiny none can tell; but, though heavy be the shadow cast across the land by the loss of the good and great, most eloquently do their lives remind us that our watchword in the darkness still should be Laboremus.!

My Lords, there are but one or two other topics of importance to which I need allude, and in a very few minutes more I shall have ceased to trespass on the attention of the House. My Lords, if anything could have deepened the gloom spread over the country by the death of our illustrious Prince, it would have been the prospect of a sanguinary war with a nation connected with us by such various ties as the people of America; and if any proof had been wanting of the degree in which grief had swallowed up every other feeling in our minds, it would have been found in the secondary importance we evidently attached to what at that time appeared so imminent a contingency. Happily, my Lords, the impending tempest has been dissipated by the firmness and moderation of Her Majesty's Government, and England has escaped being drawn into that vortex of civil strife which is daily swallowing up millions of money and so many precious human lives on the continent of America. My Lords, I am sure there is no one in this country who is not proud of the attitude adopted by Great Britain during the whole of this momentous crisis; and if the vindication of the national honour in the firmest, the most temperate, and the most successful manner is any title to our esteem, I am equally certain that there is no one in this House, no matter on which side he may be sitting, who will not be willing to congratulate the noble Earl, Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on the memorable auspices under which he has assumed his well - merited honours, and taken his seat in your Lordships' House. My Lords, although the disruption of the United States, entailing as it was sure to do such fearful consequences to our external trade and domestic manufactures, was viewed with the greatest anxiety in this country, yet from the first moment that the contest began to assume those portentous proportions which now characterize it we at once determined to maintain an attitude of the most absolute neutrality. When it became evident that one half of a continent was in arms against the other, when armies almost as large as those Napoleon used to handle were seen face to face on the banks of the Potomac, when all the elements of a gigantic, dubious, and desperate struggle had been called into existence, we at once recognised each of the contending sections as belligerents; and from that day to this we have never departed in a single particular from the strict impartiality we then assumed. Unhappily, the most inaccurate interpretation was put upon our conduct by the inhabitants of the Northern States. Because we refused to reject the evidence of our senses, and would not, regard the levée en masse of the Southern Confederation as the partial and spasmodic effort of a transient disaffection, because we declined to stigmatize its adherents as rebels and hang its cruisers as pirates, we are accused of being the allies and patrons of slavery, jealous of the great republic, and saturated with the poison of what are called "Southern proclivities." My Lords, nothing can be more unreasonable or more mistaken than this view of our sentiments. The institution of slavery will always be regarded with abhorrence by the English people. Far from being jealous of the prosperity of America we have always regarded the expansion of her trade, the development of her vast resources, as affording the most satisfactory security for the increase of our own wealth and the invigoration of our industrial energies; we loathed and derided the idea of war between two communities bound by every moral and material tie to the maintenance of a mutually advantageous peace. Every year the ocean interposed between us was felt to be a lessening barrier, and Lancashire began to look across the Atlantic as familiarly as it had hitherto done across St. George's Channel. When, therefore, news of the unexpected cataclysm which has overwhelmed the American Union reached our shores, we were as much dismayed as if a devastating volcano had exploded in the Isle of Man. Distress throughout our manufacturing districts, impediments to our trade, were the least of the disasters which seemed likely to overtake us From henceforth all was to be uncertainty and agitation; we had exchanged an intelligent, methodical, enterprising correspondent for a firm apparently in the agonies of a dissolution. As to sympathizing with one side or the other, or sitting in judgment on the questions at issue between them, we had neither the inclination nor the materials fur doing so. We could not even rightly comprehend the elements of their quarrel; those subtle distinctions between the sovereignty of the Union and the independence, of the component States seemed more difficult to reconcile than the conflicting claims of prerogative and privilege which used to puzzle our boyhood. Secession might he injudicious, undutiful, suicidal, but it seemed the apparent consequence of incompatibility of temper; and, if so, to seek for the restoration of conjugal rights at the point of the bayonet might prove an unreasoning remedy. Again, though slavery be a horrible institution, though great and heavy have been the sacrifices made by this country to free herself of its taint, its mere existence can never become, in our opinion, a casus belli; nor will any circumstances ever justify, to our ideas of morality, the proclamation of a servile war: while the same feeling which conducted the steps of the Prince of Wales to the tomb of Washington must always induce us to regard with the greatest misgiving the efforts of one section of a co-ordinate community to subdue by force of arms the affections of another. Under these circumstances, the only thing left for us was patiently to await whatever solution Providence might decree. This, accordingly, we were prepared to do, when suddenly all England was astounded by the intelligence that a blundering sea-captain, besotted apparently with a vulgar lust for notoriety, had stopped one of our packet-boats while running between two neutral ports, and had violated the sacred shelter of our flag. Never, perhaps, has the temper and self- control of the British people been more signally manifested than when the news of the capture of Messrs. Slidell and Mason reached our shores. For forty-eight hours there was an almost absolute abstinence from all expression of opinion. We were busy searching out the sacred dicta of precedent and law. Who can doubt, if this investigation had proved favourable to America, that we should have acquiesced in the result? As it was, the wrongfulness of the wrong we had endured stood out in unparalleled relief. Europe pronounced in our favour, and Her Majesty's Government, backed by the approval of the entire nation, forwarded a demand, couched in terms of unmistakeable courtesy, for immediate reparation and redress. Then followed a period of suspense such as will not easily be forgotten. Each mail from America brought us files of American papers, replete with threats and menace against England, with the most fulsome adulation of Captain Wilkes, with notes of preparation for the inevitable war. We had seen the small cloud no bigger than a man's hand rising up out of the sea; we were now encompassed by the mist and the darkness, the mutterings of the tempest. At last arrived the still small voice of Mr. Seward. No one has probably ever had the advantage of addressing a more attentive audience. Luckily, perhaps, his communication did not reach us in extenso until its contents had been sublimed in the alembic of a telegraph office, and reduced by a discriminating clerk into a compact and satisfactory residium; the essence of which was, that the kidnapped Commissioners were to be released. My Lords, there can be no doubt that the solution of the difficulty was hailed with delight by everybody in this country. Though we were quite ready for war, if it were necessary; though, humanly speaking, success was certain; though the first effect of such a contingency would have been the liberation of the cotton crops, yet every one was glad to have escaped so barbarous an alternative. So strong, indeed, was this feeling that when the original of Mr. Seward's despatch came to hand but very little notice was taken of the unsound and exceptional explanations which somewhat dimmed the grace of the reparation offered by the American Government. My Lords, I intend to imitate the discretion of the public; it is always contrary to etiquette to look a gift horse in the mouth. The missing Commissioners have come to hand; we need not inquire what was the colour of the paper in which they were wrapped up. At all events, if the act of the American Government has been in accordance with the dictates of justice, law, and common sense, we may well afford to ignore the ungracious commentaries by which they have been accompanied. It is sufficient for U3 to remember that a sensitive, courageous, and powerful people, having been betrayed into a false position by the folly of one of their unscrupulous citizens, has acknowledged the error, and afforded the only satisfaction the nature of the case admitted. Such conduct will do more to maintain the consideration of the American Government in the eyes of the civilized world than any amount of self-assertion, or obstinate disregard of the obligations of public law; and let the convulsions which seem doomed to signalize President Lincoln's administration terminate as they may, his compliance with the demands of this country in connection with the affair of the Trent will entitle him to our respect as a just and upright politician, and render us still more anxious to maintain those friendly relations with his Government which have for so many years subsisted between us.

My Lords, my task has now drawn almost to a conclusion, and it is with but a very few more observations that I shall have to weary your attention. Still, my Lords, in looking back upon the events of the last three months, it is impossible for me not to wish, before I sit down, to congratulate your Lordships and Her Majesty s Government on one or two mos gratifying circumstances in connection with them. In the first place, my Lords, no one can have failed to mark with extreme satisfaction the loyal and patriotic spirit which has been evoked in Canada by the prospect of an American war. Without a moment's hesitation, with an unanimity of sentiment which could not have been exceeded in this country, with the certainty of having to bear the brunt of a formidable attack along a comparatively unguarded frontier, the Canadian people manifested an amount of energy and determination which has well merited the affectionate admiration of the mother country. How universal and intense the military enthusiasm of our North American fellow-subjects has become it is needless for me to stop to demonstrate. When a gentleman with such antecedents as Mr. Thomas D'Arcy Magee gives the signal for the onset; when a Roman Catholic bishop, of French extraction, offers his palace for a barrack; when even the poor Irish emigrants, so cruelly maligned by those who professed to be their friends, form themselves into regiments for the defence of their Queen and for the protection of her empire, the old-fashioned notion of the province being tainted with secessional disaffection may well be considered as for ever exploded, and from henceforth the loyalty of Canada is as completely established as that of Middlesex or of Kent. Doubtless a certain proportion of this feeling may be traced to the wisdom with which the British Government has consulted the interests of that important section of the empire; but, my Lords, in examining the manifestations of patriotic feeling which have been called forth on the other side of the Atlantic, it is impossible not to perceive that a large measure of it has been inspired by an absolute sentiment of loyalty towards the person of Her Majesty. My Lords, it is on such occasions—in such moments of anxiety and doubt—that Englishmen are made to feel how vast is the debt of gratitude due from them to that Sovereign whose gracious influence, whose spotless life, whose unswerving fidelity to her sacred duties, has so powerfully strengthened the hands of her Ministers, and welded together in the bonds of a common loyalty the wide spread communities which own allegiance to her sceptre. My Lords, another circumstance on which I shall venture to congratulate your Lordships is, the marvellous precision, rapidity, and completeness with which the naval and military-resources of this country were made available against the anticipated contingency of war. I am sure it will be admitted that the greatest credit is due to Her Majesty's Government, and more especially to the illustrious Duke the Commander of the Forces, the noble Earl below mo (Earl de Grey), and to the noble Duke the First Lord of the Admiralty (the Duke of Somerset) for the unexampled activity with which an army, with all its encumbrances and impedimenta, complete in every branch, was equipped, marshalled, embarked, and conveyed across a tempestuous ocean in the space of three week, while with similar celerity and skill a formidable fleet was commissioned, fitted out, manned, and despatched to reinforce the squadron already stationed in the Amen can waters. Seldom has it been reserved. my Lords, to any Administration to exhibit such a triumph of military and naval organization; and long will the country remember with pride the success of these remarkable operations, conducted as they have been with such ability, energy, and skill by the two illustrious and noble Dukes, and the noble Earl below me.

Lastly, my Lords, there are some other topics referred to in the speech of the Lords Commissioners, on which, perhaps, it might not have been improper that I should have addressed your Lordships; but it is really impossible for me to presume any further on your indulgence. Moreover, I am in hopes that no paragraph in the Address which I now beg to move will be likely to give rise to any difference of opinion in your Lordships' House. Our difficulties with China seem to have been brought to a successful termination, and the friendly and honourable feeling exhibited by the Emperor's new Ministers will enable us to reduce our military expenditure in that quarter of the globe. It is true the anarchy which has prevailed so many years in Mexico, imperilling as it did the lives and properties of all European residents, has at last compelled us to join with France and Spain in the military occupation of that State; but it may be reasonably expected that the energetic measures thus inaugurated will enable us soon to withdraw from a position so little in accordance with our usual policy. In other respects we have no reason to be uneasy at the prospects before us, As long as this unfortunate civil war rages in America there must be a certain amount of distress in this country; but, as far as we are able to foresee, the industrial resources of our manufacturing districts will be quite equal to any emergency which may arise. In the mean time, we must be content to hope that before long the Transatlantic States will discover some means of terminating their unhappy differences, and thus release the world from the condition of painful suspense in which it has been kept during the past year. As for us, my Lords, our course is plain—patiently to continue tha policy of judicious and sober legislation which has already contributed so powerfully to the moral and material improvement of the country, and to endeavour by the unanimity of our counsels and our zeal for the public service to mitigate in some degree the effects of the irreparable loss which our Sovereign has sustained by the death of her illustrious Consort. My Lords, I will now conclude by moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:—


"WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble Thanks to Your Majesty for Your Majesty's most Gracious Speech from the Throne.

"WE take this first Opportunity of offering to Your Majesty our sincere Condolence in the afflicting Dispensation of Providence with which Your Majesty and this Nation have been visited in the Death of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort,

"WE assure Your Majesty of our heartfelt Participation in the universal Feeling of Sympathy with Your Majesty under this calamitous Bereavement, and in the deep Sense entertained by all Classes of Your Majesty's Subjects of the irreparable Loss which the Country has sustained in a Prince whose tender Attachment to Your Majesty, whose eminent Virtues, and whose high Attainments, unceasingly devoted to the Interests of this Country, won for him general Love and Admiration, and will cause his Name to be held in grateful and affectionate Remembrance.

"IT is our earnest Prayer that Your Majesty's Health, in which Your faithful People take so lively an Interest, will not be impaired by overwhelming Grief; and that this Kingdom will long continue to enjoy the Blessings of a Reign with which its Happiness and Welfare are so intimately associated.

"WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that Your Majesty's Relations with all the European Powers continue to be friendly and satisfactory; and we assure Your Majesty that we trust, with Your Majesty, that there is no Reason to apprehend any Disturbance of the Peace of Europe.

"WE humbly express to Your Majesty the deep Gratification with which we learn that a Question of great Importance, and which might have led to very serious Consequences, arising from the Seizure and forcible Removal of Four Passengers from on board a British Mail Packet by the Commander of a Ship of War of the United States has been satisfactorily settled by the Restoration of the Passengers to British Protection, and by the Disavowal by the United States Government of the Act of Violence committed by their Naval Officer; and that therefore the friendly Relations between Your Majesty and the President of the United States have remained unimpaired.

"WE assure Your Majesty that we have heard with much Satisfaction of the Loyalty and patriotic Spirit which have been manifested on this Occasion by Your Majesty's North American Subjects.

"WE humbly thank your Majesty for commanding that the Convention between Your Majesty, The Emperor of the French, and The Queen of Spain, for the Purpose of regulating a combined Operation on the Coast of Mexico, with a view to obtain that Redress, which has hitherto been withheld, for the Wrongs committed by various Parties and by successive Governments in Mexico upon Foreigners resident within the Mexican Territory, should be laid before us.

"WE beg humbly to express our Satisfaction that the Improvement which has taken place in the Relations between your Majesty's Government and that of The Emperor of China, and the good Faith with which the Chinese Government have continued to fulfil the Engagements of the Treaty of Tien-tsin, have enabled Your Majesty to withdraw Your Majesty's Troops from the City of Canton, and to reduce the Amount of Your Majesty's Force on the Coast and in the Seas of China.

"WE thank Your Majesty for informing us that a Convention has been concluded with The Sultan of Morocco, by means of which The Sultan has been enabled to raise the Amount necessary for the Fulfilment of certain Treaty Engagements which he had contracted towards Spain, and thus to avoid the Risk of a Renewal of Hostilities with that Power, and for desiring that that Convention and Papers connected with it should be laid be-fore us.

"WE assure your Majesty that we will give our most serious Attention to the Measures for the Improvement of the Law, especially as concerns the Title and Transfer of Land, as well as to the other Measures of Public Usefulness which may be submitted for our Consideration.

"WE convey to Your Majesty the Assurance that we participate in Your Majesty's Regret that in some Parts of the United Kingdom, and in certain Branches of Industry, temporary Causes should have produced considerable Pressure and Privation; but at the same Time we express to Your Majesty the Gratification with which we learn that Your Majesty has Reason to believe that the general Condition of the Country is sound and satisfactory.

"We humbly assure Your Majesty that, in common with Your Majesty, we fervently pray that the Blessing of Almighty God may guide our Deliberations to the Attainment of the Welfare and Happiness of Your People.


said, he trusted that in rising to second the Address which his noble Friend had just moved, their Lordships would permit him so far to tread in the footsteps of his noble Friend as to recur if but for a few moments to the melancholy subject to which his noble Friend had naturally given precedence in his able speech. He alluded, of course, to the deplorable affliction which had befallen Her Majesty and the country in the death of the Prince Consort. It was a loss the extent of which seemed, if possible, to be still more appreciated by the country as each succeeding day passed over. It would be vain for him to attempt to give additional weight to what had been already so eloquently said by his noble Friend in moving the Address, or which had been expressed elsewhere by noble Lords and other gentlemen, in language more eloquent than he could pretend to possess. He could not, however, reconcile it to himself to take any part in the proceedings of that day, when their Lordships were about to present an Address to Her Majesty, without asking to be allowed to pay his humble tribute—little as that might be worth—to the memory of that illustrious and lamented Prince. Consolation, my Lords, we cannot presume to offer; but he had always believed that if there was one thought upon which it might be expected that the mind of Her Majesty would, under her deep affliction, be able to dwell with anything like comfort, it would be this—that not in this island only, but far and wide, her loyal and devoted subjects had made her grief their own, and had proved in a manner never shown before to what an extent she reigned in all their hearts. In addition to the sympathy which the deplorable event of which he was speaking had evoked in the breasts of all her subjects, he thought there was another circumstance on which her Majesty could scarcely fail to dwell with pride and satisfaction, and that was the recollection that the illustrious Prince whose name would be for ever associated with her own in the annals of England's history had, perhaps, done more during his short but brilliant career to secure the foundations of constitutional government in this country, and to place its advantages prominently before the eyes of mankind in general, than had, perhaps, fallen to the lot of any other single individual, He had come among us a foreigner, and though a foreigner he under stood, adopted, and systematically maintained the constitutional usages of the country which had become his own in a, manner which had endeared him—and most justly—to its people, while he had, at the same time, shown the world how large was that sphere of utility which a Prince might occupy in an empire like ours, without at the same time trenching in the slightest degree on those prerogatives which Parliament and the country alike held dear; and, my Lords, Parliament and the country do and will offer all the acknowledgment it is in their power to give. There was not, he believed, throughout the length and breadth of the land, a man who was not prepared gratefully to admit the truth of the words spoken by the late Lord Aberdeen in that House, when he stated that his Royal Highness the Prince Consort had never breathed a syllable which did not tend to the honour, the interests, and the welfare of this empire. Having, then, however feebly, paid his humble tribute to the memory of that illustrious Prince, he would venture to address a few words to their Lordships on another topic of the Speech from the Throne—he alluded to the present crisis in America, which was one of the most important subjects which could at any time occupy the attention of Parliament and the country. The subject, indeed, was one which the past history of the two nations must of itself render interesting to us, but how much was not that interest increased by; the important issues which were at stake! The diplomatic correspondence which had lately taken place between the two countries had, he was happy to be able to say, disposed of the immediate difficulty which had recently arisen between them; but; those who were desirous that a state of permanent harmony should exist between the two countries could not be blind to the feeling which prevailed in some quarters towards England on the other side of the Atlantic. In making that remark, he did not deem it advisable to lay too much stress on those ebullitions of feeling—perhaps not unnatural—which marked the proceedings of a large portion of the population of the United States at a period when agitators were endeavouring to interpret an act of justice into an affront. Nor did he think that any importance should be attached to some speeches delivered in higher quarters—such, for instance, as one which perhaps their Lord- ships had read, and which was spoken by a Member of Congress, whose name betokened everything that was peaceable and convivial, while the sentiments to which he gave utterance were of a most sanguinary character. He regretted, however, to be obliged to say that there were citizens of the United States, whose names were well known and respected, not only in that country, but beyond it, who had expressed sentiments towards England which it must be a source of deep sorrow to us to find that they entertained, and which he was justified in saying were completely unfounded; for, whatever might be the political opinions of the Government holding the reins of power for the moment, he could appeal to their Lordships with confidence to bear him out in the statement that it was not our wish either to aggrandise, our own or to humiliate any other country; more than that, that it was our sincere desire to behold in the United States a great, powerful, and free nation. There was, moreover, at the same time a strong wish in England to see friendly relations with them established on a permanent footing, which would give us some security for the future, and which could not fail to be conducive to the best interests of two peoples so closely related by the ties of kindred. If that feeling could only be acted upon, peace would, he could not help thinking, be based on so durable a foundation that it would not hereafter be broken on light or insufficient grounds. Certainly nothing was more likely to conduce to such a friendly understanding than that either nation should abstain from arrogating exclusive rights to itself, and should each of them adhere strictly to the principles of the law of nations. With regard to what had passed out of doors on this side of the Atlantic, he cordially congratulated the Government, on the one hand, upon the confidence with which they had been enabled to inspire the people of this country in dealing with recent critical events; while he felt, upon the other hand, bound to congratulate the people themselves upon the good sense, moderation, and temper they had displayed in leaving the hands of the Government so completely unfettered; feeling that not the interests only, but the honour of the country were perfectly safe in their keeping. There was one short remark he could not help making with reference to the circumstances under which the recent negotiations had taken place; and the more especially since the nation was perfectly satisfied with the course which had been taken by our Government in either case. He regretted then, that the Government of the United States had not, in dealing with the transactions to which he was now referring, deemed it consistent with their duty to take a leaf out of the book of the mother country, which, in a case analogous with that of the Trent—that of the Chesapeake in 1807—had adopted a far nobler course. The details of these cases were somewhat different; but as the persons captured were in both instances untried, they are quite analogous as far as question or reparation goes. On that occasion, His Majesty King George III. took the earliest opportunity, in a Speech from the Throne, to express what he (the Earl of Shelburne) could not but consider a most noble apology; for His Majesty did not hesitate to inform Parliament that "for an unauthorized act of force committed against an American ship-of-war His Majesty did not hesitate to offer immediate and spontaneous reparation." Unfortunately, however, on the other hand, in the recent Speech of President Lincoln to Congress, no allusion whatever was made to topics the omission of which could scarcely have been matter of accident. If he (the Earl of Shelburne) had called attention to this circumstance, it was only for the purpose of expressing his regret that advantage had not been taken of that precedent. He had referred to the case of the Chesapeake because he had no doubt that on that occasion the manner in which reparation was offered must have been most grateful to the feelings of the American public, and because he felt assured similar conduct on the part of their Government in the case of the Trent could not have failed to have on the minds of the British public that effect which the immediate and spontaneous acknowledgment of error invariably produced. The people of this country would have been much more ready at the present moment to pass over any other little difficulty that might arise if they had seen the American nation more ready to meet them as frankly as we had met the United States on former occasions. The people of this country had been the more susceptible upon this point, on account of the tendency which there had been on the other side to denote them as an unfriendly power; but in truth both the Government and the people had observed strict neutrality, and had been ex- tremely temperate under circumstances of considerable pressure, which might almost have justified them in urging on the Government a different course from that adopted; and therefore nothing had occurred to give a ground to the American Secretary of State for implying any unfriendliness on the part of England. It was impossible not to recollect that if Her Majesty's Government had chosen to copy the example set by the Government of the United States, who in 1849 authorized their agents to express their readiness to acknowledge the independence of Hungary, such a course would have been quite as justifiable for them as for the Government of the United States. But Her Majesty's Government very wisely abstained from any act of the kind, and he only mentioned the circumstance to show how completely this country had abstained, and that the action of this country left no opening for any attack such as he had referred to. Before passing from this subject he must express his full concurrence in the desire that the events j now passing in America might find some speedy solution, which would terminate a war regarded by every man, not only in this country, but in the rest of Europe, as most deplorable. There was one other topic to which he must allude in connection with this subject, and on which we could reflect with the greatest satisfaction, and that was the conduct of His Majesty the Emperor of the French. His Majesty did not content himself with holding aloof from any expression of opinion in this matter as he undoubtedly might have done, and have thus given greater importance to his own position by watching the progress of events; but he hastened to declare his opinion to be in perfect harmony with that of Her Majesty's Government; and he had thus given her Majesty's Government that important moral support which the expression of such an opinion on the part of a great nation like France must always carry with it. There were several other topics in Her Majesty's Speech on which he would not dwell, as their Lordships would have an ample opportunity of discussing them hereafter, and with far greater knowledge of their detail than they could have at the present moment. He would, therefore, conclude by thanking them for the indulgent hearing which they had given his remarks, and by seconding the Address which had been moved by his noble Friend.


My Lords, the present is an occasion, when, if ever, it is most desirable that nothing should occur to mar the harmony or to interfere with the unanimity of our answer to the Speech from the Throne, which has just been moved and seconded, the main topic of which is the expression of our sympathy with Her Majesty in that deep affliction with which it has pleased Providence to visit Her Majesty, and, at the same time, our sense of the irreparable calamity which the same event has inflicted on the nation at large. Of an ordinary man it were much to say that, called suddenly and in early manhood to a station the most exalted and perilous, surrounded by every temptation, having at command every luxury and pleasure which the human heart could wish for, he yet knew how to resist them all, and that for a period of twenty - two years he discharged blamelessly and irreproachably every duty of a husband and a father; that he made his household a model of domestic order and family affection; and, that placed in a situation of extreme difficulty, he so conducted himself that even the breath of calumny never ventured to insinuate against him the slightest charge of having abused in any degree the influence which he possessed. But as applied to the illustrious Prince whose loss we all lament, and to whose merits and virtues justice has been done in such eloquent terms by the noble Lord who moved, and by the noble Earl who seconded the Address—as applied to him, who was no ordinary man, illustrious in the best and highest sense of the word—such language were but feeble, inadequate, almost negative commendation. He has passed from us in the prime of life and in the full vigour of bodily activity and intellectual power; but he has not passed away without leaving his mark upon the age in which he lived. Never condescending to flatter—on the contrary, on some occasions going to the very verge of indiscretion in combating what appeared to him to be our national prejudices, he pursued steadily, silently, and most unostentatiously that line which he had chalked out for himself, and succeeded in establishing an impress of himself, which will long survive him, on the habits, the tastes, the feelings, of the country of his adoption. Comparatively few have had the opportunity of knowing how wide was the range of his studies, how few and sparing were the hours he employed even in the most harmless and innocent recreations; how assiduously he exercised a mind of more than ordinary natural powers and of far more than ordinary cultivation; with how comprehensive a grasp he seized intuitively on the main and leading principles of every question submitted to his consideration, and with what untiring industry he worked every question out in its minutest details. This, however, is not the time nor is this the place for speaking of these things. Ample justice will yet be done elsewhere, and the country will have day by day more ample means of estimating the invaluable service which he has rendered to the cause of art and science. Nor is this the fitting place to speak of that encouragement and that stimulus which he gave by his personal attention and unremitting efforts to the promotion of everything that could tend to increase the domestic comforts of the humbler classes, to expand the mind, to extend the area of intellectual enjoyment, and to elevate the social and moral condition of every class of Her Majesty's subjects. The debt which is due from the country to him on these accounts can hardly be estimated at present, and, I fear, will only be estimated by the experience of the loss which we shall feel to have sustained by the loss of him. But this is the place in which one word, at least, should be said on a different portion of the Prince Consort's life—I mean on the part which the late illustrious Prince took, and greatly to the benefit of the country, in public affairs. I refer to this matter because, some years ago, I recollect it was a subject, with some persons of not unnatural constitutional jealousy, that any interference in the affairs of the country should take place on the part of one who was altogether in an irresponsible position. The persons who so argued, argued, I repeat, on a not unnatural feeling of constitutional jealousy; but they argued in forgetfulness of every dictate of human nature, and they demanded what was impossible by the very constitution of the human mind. What they required amounted to this—that two persons should be living in the closest and most intimate relation, in the most absolute confidence which could subsist between husband and wife, and yet that the mouth of one of them should be absolutely sealed, and his thoughts altogether forbidden to dwell, on those topics which, day by day and hour by hour, must to the other be the sub- ject of engrossing care and anxiety. The very statement of the fact shows the impossibility of carrying out the views of the persons who so argued. I should say, undoubtedly, that there would have been grounds for constitutional jealousy if, in his high position, the Prince Consort had ever stooped to make himself the tool of a party, or to subserve the intrigues and machinations of any of the different political parties. But all who had the opportunity of judging know that it was impossible for any one to be more absolutely and entirely free from such an imputation than the late Prince Consort, and know also that the whole, of his endeavours were directed, altogether irrespective of party, to give to his Sovereign and his wife that counsel which he thought most befitting the interest of the State and of the Throne. If, then, it was impossible that there should not have been that communication between the Prince Consort and the Queen on all questions connected with the public affairs, how much more desirable was it that his influence should be exercised with a full knowledge of all the circumstances attendant on every political question, of all the views, and their reasons, entertained by the Ministers of the day, and of all the discussions that had taken place, than that it should have been exercised in private and in secret, with only an imperfect knowledge of the grounds on which certain questions were submitted for Her Majesty's consideration? I feel confident, my Lords, that all those who have had the honour of being admitted to that personal and confidential communication with the Sovereign which is the highest privilege of a Minister of the Crown will acknowledge—and I appeal to all who have filled that position to say—whether from the presence of His Royal Highness at such communications, from his cool, calm, and impartial judgment, his great information on all topics, they did not derive most useful and valuable hints, and receive great assistance in the discharge of their own responsible duties? My Lords, in the Prince Consort the Queen has lost, not only the husband of her youth, not only the father of her children—him to whom her youthful affections were freely given, and for whom maturer years only augmented and intensified her conjugal love—but she has lost her familiar friend, her trusted counsellor, her unwearied and never-failing adviser—him to whom she could look up in every difficulty and in every emergency, and to whom she did look up with that proud humility that none but a woman's heart can know, glorying in the intellectual superiority to which her own will and her own judgment were freely put in subjection. I do not doubt that from the surviving members of her family Her Majesty has derived all the consolation that affection can give; but in the discharge of her public duties she must henceforth tread alone the high, but hard path of Sovereignty. The sustaining hand, the guiding judgment, the never-failing counsel are Hers no more. And who, my Lords, can hear without the deepest emotion, how, in the full consciousness of that utter desolation, that aggravated responsibility, in the very presence of death itself—in the first moments of that ago nizing bereavement, rising as it were from beneath the crushing weight of that overwhelming sorrow, the first brave outpouring of that noble heart was, "With God's blessing, I will yet do my duty!" And, my Lords, I am certain that of those who hear me there is not one who will not join in my fervent prayer (which will be echoed by millions), that she may be strengthened to carry out her brave resolve; and that He who has seen fit to inflict this heavy blow, and has thus deprived her of him who on earth was her comfort and support, will be Himself her comfort and support under this deep, deep affliction. My Lords, the words of our Ad-dress must necessarily be somewhat cold and formal, but the Sovereign may be assured that they convey unfeignedly—though still inadequately—not only an expression of your Lordships' feelings, but the unanimous expression of a nation's devoted loyalty, deep admiration, and loving sympathy. And in the presence of this sacred sorrow I am satisfied it will be the desire of your Lordships, the desire of all, on all sides of the House—not only of this, but of the other House of Parliament—to contribute all in their power to spare Her Majesty one additional care, or one additional embarrassment under the affliction that presses so heavily upon her. On my own part, and on the part of those with whom I have the honour of acting, such I am satisfied will be the spirit in which we shall enter on the business of this Session; and I earnestly trust—as from the tenour of the Royal Speech I am induced hopefully to believe—that Her Majesty's Ministers are dis- posed to meet us in the same spirit; that they are disposed rather to initiate those useful and practical measures in which all can alike join harmoniously and cordially for the advantage of our common country, and to abstain from bringing forward themselves, as well as to discourage others from broaching, those agitating topics and more violent controversies which by their possible result might add to the cares and anxieties of our Sovereign.

My Lords, I make this declaration with the more satisfaction, because on the next important topic adverted to in the Speech from the Throne I am able not only to abstain from any objection, but am prepared to give the Government the meed of my cordial approval—whatever that may be worth—of the course which has been pursued by Her Majesty's Government with regard to the affairs of the United States, I make that statement, not only in reference to the course the Government has pursued in respect to the events which have occurred recently, and from which it was at one time too probable we should be involved in a war with that country with which, of all others, it is most our interest and our wish to maintain the most friendly relations; but I extend my approval to that bonâ fide neutrality which Her Majesty's Government have pledged themselves, with the approbation of the entire country, to maintain, in the unhappy struggle between the Northern and Southern of the formerly United States. If, indeed, there has been any difference at all in the attitude of our Government towards the two parties, it has been in favour of the Northern States, with which alone we have any recognised diplomatic relations. We have at no time, except during the short period when there was an apprehension that war was imminent, prohibited the export of arms and munitions of war; and the absence of any such prohibition, under the circumstances, has practically operated materially in favour of the North. Again, we have given to the Federal Government a greater advantage than it has claimed for itself, because we have admitted what it has itself denied—that it is actually at war; and that as a belligerent it can exercise rights which except as a belligerent it could not claim. We have given the Federal Government far more than it required; and by an act of which it has grievously complained it is in a far better position than it has claimed for itself. We have also submitted, and sub- mitted without a murmur, to the interruption of our trade caused by this war. And this reflects the highest credit on the good sense and patriotism of the working men of the whole manufacturing population of this country. I do not speak so much of the master-manufacturers, because if there must be a scarcity of the raw material of their trade, it could have hardly happened at a more opportune moment than at the present, when every foreign market is overstocked, and when, therefore, a diminution of production must, under any circumstances, have been a necessity of the trade. But, with regard to the workmen, who by the suspension of trade incur the loss of their daily earnings, this lamentable interruption of their labour has produced very melancholy results; and, I think that the greatest possible credit is due to them for the manner in which they have submitted, without a murmur, to the effects of a blockade which the slightest interference on the part of this country would, in their judgment, put an end to, and so relieved them from the evils under which they labour. As I concur with the course Her Majesty's Government has pursued, I do not ask them to deviate from it; I think the time is not yet come when they can properly be called on to recognise the Government representing the successful revolt of the Southern States. For while it has always been the practice of the English Government to recognise a de facto Government, which has succeeded in establishing itself on the consent of a whole people, I do not think the resistance of the Southern States has been as yet so successful as to justify us in recognising them as a Power which has proved its ability to maintain its own independence. I do not, therefore, call on the Government to go further than to treat, as it hitherto has done, both parties impartially as belligerents; but I hope Her Majesty's Government will be able to satisfy the country on one point—a point of great importance, and one on which they alone have authentic and authoritative information. It is how far the blockade of the Southern Ports has been bonâ fide and effective. Mind, I do not wish to intimate that whether we recognise this blockade or not, any material effect will be produced upon the cotton supply of this country while the war lasts. Indeed, I am not sure whether, as good frequently arises out of evil, the continuance of this American difficulty may not ultimately place us in a much more advantageous position, by enabling us to obtain a more abundant and constant supply from other sources than we at present possess, and thus to render us less exclusively dependent on the cotton growing States. At the same time I do think it is important that the country should have, upon the authority of Her Majesty's Government, the information which they could furnish it from the reports of our Admiral on the station, and our consuls, as to how many vessels have been captured for attempting to break the blockade, and how many have succeeded in breaking it; so that the public might have the means of forming an opinion whether the blockade has been such a one as ought to be recognised and respected by the law of nations. My Lords, while I give Her Majesty's Government the fullest credit, not only for the course they have pursued, for the firm and temperate manner in which they made their demand, and sent out those reinforcements which were absolutely necessary to support the allegiance of our colonists, I rejoice to find that in the Speech justice has been done to the spirit and unanimity with which all classes of Her Majesty's subjects in the North American Provinces have come forward and shown their determination, at all hazards—and the hazard of war would in the first instance have fallen on themselves—to maintain their allegiance, and to support the honour and dignity of the British Crown. If there be one thing more than another that will tend to confirm the good understanding and peaceable relations that now exist between this country and the United States, it is the knowledge they must now have received of the utter delusion under which those persons within the States have laboured who imagined that Canada and the North American Provinces were eager for annexation with the States, and to sever their connection with Great Britain; and that, on the other hand, Great Britain would never venture upon a war with America, because she would always fear the willing annexation of Canada. That delusion is, I hope, now dissipated for ever, and its dissipation will form an important element in our future relations with America, and tend to secure us against the dangers of war with that country. My Lords, I cannot pass from this part of the subject without expressing my unaffected concurrence with the testimony borne by my noble Friend who seconded the Address to the honourable and loyal part which has been played upon this occasion by the French Government. I have not been slow upon other occasions, when I have thought that the conduct of that Government was not as straightforward and just towards us as we might have expected, to express my opinion to that effect; and I have the greater pleasure, therefore, in being able to state conviction that nothing could be more frank, more loyal, or more timely than the intervention which, at the instigation of the Emperor of the French, M. de Thouvenel undertook in the despatch which he addressed to the American Government. I cannot say what influence that despatch may have had upon the ultimate decision of the American Government, but this I will say, it is a matter of the highest satisfaction that that despatch, followed by similar despatches from other Courts of Europe, must have established to the satisfaction of the world at large that in making our demands we were only requiring that which, we could not have refrained from demanding without forfeiting our character as an independent Power and sacrificing the honour of the country. When the English people first received the news of the capture of the Trent, the first feeling was that of surprise, and no doubt a certain amount of indignation was displayed; but at the same time a calm and unanimous determination as of one man was taken by the nation to await the decision whether this capture was warranted and justified by international law; and I do not hesitate to say that if it had been found that that capture was borne out by international law, or even by precedents taken from our own history—though as Englishmen they would have had a keen sense of the injury and the insult inflicted upon us—they would have bowed to the majesty of the law, and would have submitted to the seizure as a legitimate exercise of belligerent rights. But from the moment when it was clearly ascertained that so far from international law sanctioning the act, no precedent even could be discovered to up hold or oven to palliate the conduct of the American commander—from that moment the country, equally as one man, determined that reparation and apology must be obtained. They adopted that determination not in passion, not in anger, not in fierce excitement, not rejoicing in the prospect of war—at which, indeed, they shuddered with abhorrence—but as in the performance of a grave, serious, imperative duty—a painful duty, but one from which, however painful, they could not shrink, because, great as might be the horrors of war, greater still would be the ignominy of forfeiting the national honour. My Lords, while I have thus feebly attempted to convey my view of the conduct pursued by this country, by the people of our North American provinces, and by His Majesty the Emperor of the French, I wish I could look with equal satisfaction upon the course taken by the Federal Government. I believe that the maxims which regulate private society are not inapplicable among nations; and speaking to an assembly of high-minded men, I am certain that there is not one of your Lordships who, if it were made clear to him that you had offended or injured any person with whom you had been on intimate relations, would not feel that the most honourable course was to anticipate any possible requirement from the other side, and to tender on the instant a frank and manly apology; and the more ample, the more, speedy, and the more frank was the apology the higher would he who made it stand in the estimation of all honourable men. Applying the principle to nations, I cannot but express my deep regret that when the American Secretary of State was convinced, as he and his Government were long before the termination of these negotiations, that the capture was illegal, and the persons captured were wrongfully detained—they should still have been detained for a considerable time in all the rigours of a not very merciful imprisonment. I regret that the Secretary of State should not only have hesitated to grant the reparation which he must have felt was due in justice and honour to this country, but that—I am speaking, of course, of the American Government in general—but that he and his Government should have sanctioned language which they knew was wholly unwarranted by facts, and permitted impressions to go abroad calculated to excite the most bitter animosity between the people of the United States and this country. Lastly, I think it greatly to be regretted that, having made up his mind that reparation and apology were necessary, the American Secretary of State should have waited until the formal demand was made, not privately, but officially and formally, thus waiting not to consider how much reparation he should give, but how small a measure of reparation would satisfy the imperative demands of Great Britain. I must say that by the course which they pursued, the Federal Government have placed themselves and their people in a position of unworthy and undignified humiliation—for they have shown that they have apologized not from a sense of justice, but on a demand backed by force, and that they only gave the reparation we demanded when they were convinced that this country would be satisfied with nothing less. My Lords, I am not about to enter upon any of those vexed questions of international law which not unnaturally have arisen in the case of the Trent. But I have seen some very wild opinions expressed with regard to the holding of a Congress of Nations for the purpose of establishing a new doctrine as to international law. I earnestly trust that Her Majesty's Government will be extremely cautious how they enter into such negotiations or conventions. We have had on the present occasion to sustain the rights of neutrals, and we have sustained them as it was due to the dignity of this country that we should. But we must not forget that we have a deep and preponderating interest in maintaining the rights—the legitimate rights—of belligerents also; and that this country, while disclaiming all undue exercise of such rights, is not one that can afford to sacrifice the legitimate exercise of belligerent rights which are justified and warranted by the law of nations. Now I confess that I regretted—and I expressed my regret at the time—the sacrifice which, as I thought, my noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon) made in 1856, when he consented, on the part of the Government of this country, to the principle that enemy's goods should be safe on board neutral vessels. I thought this a dangerous concession for a country situated as ours is, and I remonstrated against it. Undoubtedly, it is true that that agreement has not up to the present moment the binding force of a treaty, nor has it been ratified by the Sovereign. It is not of force to alter the real state of international law; but I hold that with regard to all the Powers whose representatives signed this paper, and whose acts have not since been disavowed by their Sovereigns, those Powers are morally bound by the liabilities and the obligations imposed upon them at the time. Now, if we had gone to war with the Federal States, I will ask in passing, what would have been the result of our adoption of the doctrines of the Congress? We had an agreement—I will not call it a convention—with France. We had no agreement with America. In the event of war with America, therefore, American merchandise on board a French vessel would, by our obligations with France, be safe against our cruisers. But America not having entered into any agreement, the goods of our merchants on board French vessels would not have been safe against American cruisers. Thus the arrangement would have been a very onesided operation—one party would have had all the benefit without having been a party to the agreement, and the other that was a party to it, being bound by it, would not have had the benefit of it. That is a position in which England ought not to stand towards any country whatever. I recollect asking at the time whether this would not have been the consequences of the agreement, but I did not succeed in extracting any satisfactory explanation on the subject. Then, I see various suggestions made that certain things were contrary to the doctrine of that morality by which wars were carried on in modern times, and calling upon us to give up certain privileges, declaring that it was unlawful even to exercise the right of search, and that all neutral vessels, wherever going and wherever bound, should be perfectly free to pass, and that their goods should pass without any right of search, and without any interference whatever. I can only say that I hope the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will never consent to abandon rights which I feel—and deeply feel—are most substantial and important rights to this country. My Lords, the other topics of the Speech are not such as to call for lengthened observations. I should hope the Government will be able to give the House before long explanations—which are certainly much required—not only of the convention itself, but also of the manner in which it is to be acted upon by the three Powers which are parties to an interference in the affairs of Mexico. I know well into what a state of anarchy and confusion for many years Mexico has fallen. I know well how many causes of complaint all European nations have to make against the successive Governments which have distracted rather than ruled in that country; and it was once my painful duty to advise the Crown to introduce into a Speech from the Throne a paragraph referring to the subject and announcing the enforcement of the just demands of this country. I think that matters of this kind are in general best settled by the individual action of each separate State; but I do not complain that in this instance there should have been a convention between three great Powers, each of whom has similar wrongs to complain of, and each of whom has agreed to a similar course to obtain reparation. But if I am to believe the statements in the public prints, I cannot help fearing and suspecting that one at least, if not both, of our allies are disposed to enter upon operations of a more extended character than are contemplated by the terms of the convention; and I shall be glad to hear from the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, or the President of the Council, that in all matters relating to Mexico there has been a thorough and entire agreement as to the course of proceeding to be adopted by the three Powers who are parties to the convention. Again, we have not before us the convention that has been entered into with the Emperor of Morocco. It is one, as far as I am aware, of a very unusual character, but, at the same time, one that I frankly admit may be justified by the peculiar nature of the case out of which it has arisen. I apprehend the object of the convention is to secure to the Government of Morocco a sum of money upon the security of the Customs' duties levied at the outports, and those duties are to be collected, as I understand, by British authorities, and the balance paid over to the Government of Morocco, after retaining sufficient to secure a sum to be advanced to liquidate the claims of Spain, and for which she still holds as guarantees Tetuan and other points on the coast of Morocco. This is a subject of great interest to this country, and the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary will remember that at the outset of the war Spain disclaimed any intention of permanent occupation of any part of the coast. It is a matter of the utmost importance to this country that no such occupation should be allowed, seeing how much our interests at Gibraltar may be dependent upon the Power which holds the opposite coast. Therefore, though this convention was of a most unusual character, I cannot help hoping that the circumstances will be found to justify the course which Her Majesty's Government have taken in agreeing to it. As to other measures, I rejoice to find, as far as we can judge from the announcement in the Speech, that they are likely to be confined to such measures as will probably not lead to any party conflicts—measures which we can discuss in a calm, impartial, and unprejudiced spirit. The particular measure of simplification of the transfer of land is one of great importance. The subject had attracted the notice of former Governments, and a Bill was introduced, when my hon. and learned Friend Sir Hugh Cairns filled the office of Solicitor General, which I hope will be closely followed in that which is to be submitted to us in a short time. It is a subject requiring close attention, and I am sure your Lordships will consider it calmly, and having regard to the interests of all concerned.

Before I sit down I may allude for a moment to one subject which is not referred to in the Queen's Speech, and upon which, although it is not a subject generally discussed in this House, I think we ought to have some information as to the intentions of the Government. I refer to the recent Minutes of the Committee of Council on Education. The subject has attracted great and general attention. I am no way disposed to blame the originators of those Minutes; but I find that some of the alterations will have effects which could not have been contemplated; some will involve breach of faith which the Government cannot intend; others, I think, are ill adapted for the objects they are designed to accomplish; and others will be found to be fraught with injustice and disadvantage. But the peculiarity of the question is this—that in consequence of the manner in which the sanction of Parliament is obtained to the scheme, this House—although many of us are deeply interested in the question—will have no legitimate mode of expressing an opinion upon the subject. The plan is submitted to the consideration of the House of Commons, not to be embodied in a Bill, but to receive its sanction in the shape of a pecuniary vote. I think it is important that we should have some opportunity of considering these proposed alterations, and I hope the noble Earl the President of the Council will state, not that the Government intends to adhere to every clause and provision of those Minutes—for if he does I shall be astonished and disappointed—but I hope he will state that in some way, and, if he can, in what manner, he will submit this question to the considera- tion of this House, and enable your Lordships to give an opinion upon the details, which no body of men are more capable of giving.

I need not now further trouble your Lordships with any observations upon the remaining topics in the Speech. I am happy to think that at present there seems no likelihood of any interruption to the unanimity with which we shall agree to the Address; and I say sincerely it will give me the greatest pleasure to find the proceedings of Parliament during the remainder of the Session as cordial and unanimous as they have been upon this its first evening.


—I thank the noble Earl for his candid and patriotic speech. No one could have expected otherwise from the warm and firm loyalty of the noble Earl, who expresses the real feeling of this country when he says, that whenever the national honour or the national interests are concerned party spirit will be immediately discarded. The noble Earl has referred to the excitement which prevails with regard to the Minute of Council respecting education. With regard to the Minute, it is, no doubt, desirable that the subject should be fully considered in Parliament, and it is the desire of the Government to give Parliament the earliest opportunity of discussing it. I think it would be convenient that I should state on Thursday next what we propose in respect to those Minutes, and what modifications we are prepared to make to meet some objections which appear to possess weight. I do not think I need go into the question of Mexico at present, as it would be better to defer discussion upon that subject until your Lordships have read the papers. With regard to the late events which excited so much interest in the public mind—the American question—I think the course of this evening's debate has been highly satisfactory. The noble Lord who moved the Address, in a speech which has been justly characterized as singularly eloquent, and which points him out as belonging to a family distinguished in the annals of this country, justified the conduct of the Government, as did also my noble Friend who spoke afterwards, in a tone of calm judgment, which gives promise that he will worthily follow in the steps of his noble father, who has been an ornament to the British Parliament during a space of fifty years. It must, I think, afford singular gratification to my noble Friend at the head of the Government and his colleagues to find that they have conducted this affair so much to the satisfaction of Parliament and the country. I am bound to say that the Government have had some advantages in dealing with this question with the United States. They never had the slightest doubt, that if they cared for the honour and interests of the country, they would have the confidence and support of the country; and if they had that confidence and support, they knew the strength, physical and moral, which it would give in urging our demands in a calm and moderate tone, such as has been admitted to have marked our proceedings. In common with the majority of this country they were determined to take no step until they were fully satisfied as to the illegality of the measure of which they complained. Her Majesty's Government relied not only on the result of their own researches into the legal bearings of the question, but they were backed by the public opinion of Europe. They were not unconscious of the peculiar evils that must attend a war with the United States. They regretted that any cause of quarrel with that country should arise, particularly at a moment when it was distracted by civil trouble; but they felt that the injury done to England was one for which it would have been most injudicious, impolitic, and, in fact, impossible—having regard even to our relations with the United States themselves—not to have taken the promptest and firmest measure to obtain the redress that has happily been obtained. The noble Earl opposite has given what appears to be a due meed of praise to the conduct of the French Government in this matter. My noble Friend behind me has also pointed out the singularly straightforward and friendly course pursued by the Emperor of the French towards this country; and I may add that it appears to me that that course was not only friendly to this country, but likewise friendly to the Government of the United States—giving them as it did a support under the difficulties with which we cannot conceal from ourselves they had to contend in dealing with a national question of this kind, one part of the Congress, the Representative Chamber, declaring the act done to have been a legal one, and some American authorities asserting that according to their notions of international law, no wrong whatever had been committed. That peace has been preserved is a source of unfeigned satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government. From the beginning we have endeavoured to maintain the strictest neutrality; and although circumstances may arise which may call for a different course, yet as long as circumstances remain in their present position I believe that the Government will be supported by the country and by Parliament in thinking that the only right, just, and prudent course to adopt is not to try to meddle with questions of infinite difficulty—complicated as they are with slavery and the constitutional rights of the individual States—but to hold a perfectly neutral attitude, leaving those States for themselves and by themselves to settle their differences whether by war or by peaceful means, our only hope being that that end may come speedily and in a manner most favourable to the interests of the States themselves and of the world at large. The loyal and admirable spirit shown by the people of Canada and by the whole of our North American colonies does them great credit, and has been most satisfactory to Her Majesty's Government to witness. The noble Earl criticised not. indeed, the present Government, but my noble Friend below the gangway (the Earl of Clarendon) upon the course he took with respect to neutral rights at the Conference of Paris in 1856, Now, I am bound to say that the Government of that day were in the fullest sense responsible for the conduct of my noble Friend on that occasion, because not only did they approve it, but it was after constant communication with him and the most careful consideration at home that they resolved—taking all the elements of that most important question into account—that it was for the benefit of this court try that the rules there agreed upon should be adopted. In respect to the point mentioned as to a treaty, I quite concur with the noble Earl that that makes no difference. It is very difficult to make inter national treaties bearing upon times of war, because by the very operation of war all treaties cease of themselves. No doubt, however, that act of the Paris Conference binds, as between themselves, all the countries who agreed to it—but not those who did not join the Conference—to the observance of these rules during future war. I think the noble Earl was not quite right in the illustration he gave of the effect of allowing neutral ships to carry the goods of belligerents. If, unfortunately the ea lamity of a war with the United States should befall us, I have no doubt that our first operation would be to blockade, and that in a very efficient manner, all the ports of that country, thereby putting a considerable and speedy check upon the American trade. And so far from its being a disadvantage that any commerce which she carried on should be carried on in neutral bottoms it would be quite the reverse.


begged to explain that he had supposed the case in which we should not enforce our rights, as against France, but in which America, having rights which she had not surrendered by treaty, would be entitled to enforce them.


I can assure the noble Earl that there is no present intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to enter into any negotiation on the subject of international law as bearing upon belligerents. I do not think it is desirable to do that, nor is this the fitting time for it. My Lords, I have only a few words to add to what has been so well said as to the irreparable loss we have sustained in the death of the Prince Consort. The noble Earl, having been twice Prime Minister, spoke with peculiar authority when he told us how much that illustrious Prince contributed to lighten the labours of the Sovereign and to assist her in the performance of her high functions as an eminently constitutional monarch. The noble Earl also stated the advantage it was to succeeding Governments themselves that one who lived so near the Throne should have been so wise, so sagacious, and so pre-eminently gifted, and I venture to say that just in proportion to their opportunities of holding communication with the Prince will be the appreciation by those who have filled the position of Ministers of the heavy loss which the country has now sustained. Having myself, both officially and unofficially, had frequent intercourse with His Royal Highness during later years, I must say that I remember no one person in any class of life who possessed a clearer understanding, no one whose intellectual faculties had been more highly cultivated; none from whom I personally derived so much instruction, or whose conversation led me to think with more benefit to myself on all educational and social subjects. It was a remarkable trait in the lamented Prince's character that not only were his intellectual faculties of the very highest order, not only was his power of grasping general. principles on any subject marvellous, but there was that in him which is by no means always combined with those qualities—namely, an unwearied industry and attention in applying great principles to the minutest details. I may also add, what I am sure the noble Earl opposite will concur in—namely, that His Royal Highness, although a man of strong will and strong character, was never exceeded by any person in any position, not only in his willingness, but in his anxiety to hear every possible objection that could be raised to his own views, in order that he might arrive at a really sound conclusion on the matter in hand. My noble Friend, who moved the Address, and the noble Earl who seconded it, have referred in eloquent terms to the many virtues of the late Prince Consort. My Lords, it has been well said that there is no more sublime spectacle than that of an honest man struggling with adversity. I conceive, my Lords, that there could be no nobler, no more touching sight than our bereaved Sovereign with her heart almost filled with despair, at present believing that she can enjoy no future earthly happiness, but inspired by her own sense of what is right, inspirited by the counsels of him who is gone, turning with a fortitude and a courage almost beyond a woman's strength to the performance of her duty to her children and her country. My Lords, it is, I believe, with feelings excited by such a spectacle that we shall all unanimously vote this Address, and individually and collectively give, as far as we can in our different spheres, every assistance and support to our beloved Queen.


said, it had been his wish to offer a few remarks on the revised Educational Code; but as he un-stood that that subject was to be discussed by their lordships on an early day, he would reserve his observations upon it till that opportunity.


My Lords, the noble Earl opposite has stated that every one who has held a high situation in Her Majesty's Government must be aware that the judicious advice tendered to the Queen by the illustrious Prince whom we all so deeply deplore was of the greatest advantage to the Crown and the country. Now, I wish from my own personal observation and experience to confirm that opinion. I am bound to state that the opinions the Prince gave, the temper with which he brought them to bear, and the impartiality with which he viewed every subject of State, were of great service to the Sovereign and to the Government. I will say one thing more—and I think that those who have watched the position of the Sovereign during the last twenty years will agree with me—that there has been a great change in this respect, a most beneficial change from what prevailed in former reigns. It often happened, when the Sovereign entertained political principles in opposition to those entertained by a portion of his subjects, that favour was given to one party, while another was decidedly proscribed; and the consequence of such distinctions—the effect of that favour shown to one party—whether it were the Whig party at the succession of the House of Hanover, or whether it was the opposite party in succeeding reigns—was to make one portion of the subjects of the Sovereign feel towards the other portion a degree of bitterness and animosity which would not, otherwise have existed. Now, I happen to know from the late Prince himself the view he took of the duty of the Sovereign in such a case. He stated to me, not many months ago, that it was a common opinion that there was only one occasion on which the Sovereign of this country could exercise a decided power, and that was in the choice of the First Minister of the Crown. The Prince went on to say that in his opinio that was not an occasion on which the Sovereign could exercise a control or pronounce a decision; that when a Minister had retired from being unable to carry on the Government, there was at all times some other party which was prepared to assume the responsibilities of office, and was most likely to obtain the confidence of the country. But, he said, a transfer having been made, whether the Minister was of one party or the other, he thought that the Sovereign ought to communicate with him in the most confidential and unreserved manner with respect to the various measures to be brought forward, the fortunes of the country, and the events that might happen—that whether he belonged to one party or another the utmost confidence should prevail between the Sovereign and the Minister who came forward in Parliament as the ostensible possessor of power. I do, my Lords, attribute in great measure to that opinion, which the Sovereign held in common with the Prince, the fact that there has been no feeling of bitterness among any party in this country arising from political exclusion, and that all parties during these twenty years have united in rendering that homage to the Sovereign which the conduct of Her Majesty has so well deserved; and the country still reaps the benefit of the good counsel which the Prince Consort gave to the Crown, My Lords, I will say but a few words with regard to some of the other questions touched by the noble Lords who have preceded me—namely, the temporary interruption of our amicable relations with America. On the subject of the blockade of the Southern American ports, I think it better to postpone discussion till your Lordships have seen the further papers which will be produced. Let me, however, say that the declaration of the Convention of Paris was in strict accordance with international law, which at all times has said that a blockade, in order to be legal, mast be effective. But that declaration went on to say that, to be effective, a blockade must be kept up by a force sufficient to prevent access to the ports blockaded. Now, generally speaking, with the exception of the first few weeks, there was a force sufficient to prevent access to the ports blockaded; but, it must be confessed, that although the force was perfectly sufficient, the blockade has not been regularly enforced, and there are instances of vessels having been able to evade it. For my own part, and on the part of the Government, it is our earnest wish to be enabled to preserve unimpaired that neutrality which we have hitherto maintained. I consider it of the greatest importance to do so. I cannot but think that before many months are over it will be ascertained whether the Northern States are able to accomplish that task they have set themselves of reconstructing the Union with the Southern States of America. If they are not able to accomplish that object, I am convinced it is far better that they themselves, their Government, their Congress and people, should be persuaded of the inutility of their efforts, and be ready to form a treaty by which the independence of the Southern States should be acknowledged—it is far better that this conviction should come to them from the failure of their own efforts than from the intervention of any foreign Power. If the fortune of war and the inutility of their efforts should induce them to acknowledge the Southern States as independent, I hope that not only the two might proceed in amity together, but we might expect that the United States would rest satisfied that the Powers of Europe had behaved fairly in this contest, that they had respected the mighty Union in which liberty had for eighty years been established, and that they had been content not to interfere prematurely with the conduct of that contest. But if they should be convinced that it was by foreign interference and force that the Southern States had established their independence, depend on it there would be a rankling feeling against that country that first interfered, an enmity and bitterness we might have to deplore for several generations. With respect to Mexico, the three Powers are bound by the convention; they have but one object, and no influence will be used to prevent the Mexicans from settling for themselves all questions relating to their own form of Government. I am certainly not so sanguine as some others that the Mexicans are ready to establish a constitutional Government; but whether they are ready immediately to do so or not, I think it absolutely incumbent on this country to endeavour to obtain some redress for the wrongs we have suffered, and the sole feeling with which we have been actuated in the course we have taken, has been the desire to obtain redress for the outrages that have been committed. With regard, again, to the United States, the Government are proud to reflect that the nation has left entirely in their hands the treatment of the difference which had arisen. Nothing could be more satisfactory to the Government than the approval with which their recent acts have been received by the country. And now that the question has been adjusted I must say I believe that although on other occasions, when questions of boundary had to be settled, the country was most willing to yield any reasonable advantage to the United States of America, yet when our honour and reputation were concerned it was impossible that any compromise should be permitted, and it was incumbent on us to seek reparation, and not, be satisfied till that reparation was obtained.


said, it would be recollected that Mr. Jefferson Davis, in his Message to the Congress of the Confederate States, stated that he had laid before the various Governments of Europe evidence to show that the blockade had been interrupted and broken on many occasions. It was very desirable that those communications, if they had been made to Her Majesty's Government, should be included in any papers which might be presented to their Lordships.


was understood to state that the communications referred to by the noble Earl would be included in the papers which would be laid on the Table.


said, there was one subject to which he wished to call the attention of their Lordships, and that was the mode in which the dispute with America bad been settled. He did not know whether the effect of the Address they were now asked to agree to, was to express an opinion that the settlement of the dispute had been satisfactory. If it were, upon the information of which the country was at present in possession, he felt it impossible to pronounce such an opinion. He thought it had been most unsatisfactory. He gave full credit to Her Majesty's Government for their proceedings—for the promptness with which they had demanded reparation, for the temper with which they had made the demand, and the vigour with which they prepared to enforce it. But what had been the conduct of the United States? A gross and scandalous insult had been publicly offered to the British Flag by an officer of the United States. It was said that this was done originally without the authority of his Government. The Government might have repudiated it; but they adopted it—they took possession of the captives and detained them in prison. It was true they at last surrendered them, but upon what terms? Without one word of apology, without the smallest expression of regret for what had happened, without one farthing of compensation to the victims of the outrage. The surrender was accompanied by a despatch making statements and laying down rules, in which if we had acquiesced he did not hesitate to say that Great Britain would have stood before Europe in a much worse situation than if she had taken no notice of the insult. The despatch justified the conduct of the officer, and maintained, in effect, that his only fault was in not carrying the outrage further; and it concluded with an insulting declaration that right or wrong the United States Government would have kept the prisoners if they had been of any value, and gave them up only because they were worthless. Was this the reparation which was sufficient to remove the stain upon the honour of our flag? He was not prepared to say that after the surrender had been made we ought to have gone to war in order to enforce an apology, but he could never think that a surrender made under such circumstances could be properly termed by their Lordships a satisfactory settlement of the dispute. He would not have intruded upon their Lordships' attention if he did not wish to give his adhesion to the principles laid down by the law officers of the Crown in the despatch sent in answer to that of Mr. Seward. The surrender might have been satisfactory if it had proceeded on the grounds laid down in that despatch; but the Government of America repudiated those grounds, and insisted upon totally different principles. He could not but congratulate the noble Earl and the country on possessing at so important a crisis the assistance of such a law officer as his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, who brought to every case to which he applied himself all the weight and authority that belonged to great ability, the most profound knowledge, and the very highest character, both public and private. In reference to the recent loss which the country sustained in the death of the Prince Consort, he would only say, having had the honour of being associated with His Royal Highness for nearly twenty years in the management of the Duchy of Cornwall, that His Royal Highness had uniformly displayed, in the conduct of those affairs, all those great qualities for which he had been distinguished in more conspicuous stations. His aptitude for business and patience and attention to it were quite extraordinary, and nobody ever conducted it with greater efficiency or in a manner more calculated to conciliate the respect, admiration, and affection of those who enjoyed the honour of being his colleagues.

Address agreed to, Nemine Dissentiente; and Ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.