§ THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS' Speech having been reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR,
§ THE EARL OF DUDLEY
said: My Lords, I rise to move an Address to Her Majesty in answer to Her gracious Speech. In doing so I am relieved from much of that anxiety which has frequently attached to persons who have undertaken the same duty, by the knowledge that many of the propositions contained in the Address will meet with your Lordships' unanimous approval. Upon this occasion, my Lords, I cannot but express my regret that the Speech to which we are about to reply has been delivered, necessarily, through Commissioners, and not by her Majesty in Person; for it has thereby lost the great charm which your Lordships have so often experienced when the Speech has been delivered from the Throne by Her Majesty personally, and which I trust your Lordships will again experience in many future years.
My Lords, the first point in Her Majesty's Speech to which I will refer is one possessing the greatest possible interest for Her Majesty herself, for the Prince of Wales, and for the nation at large. It is of the deepest interest to our Sovereign, because across that cloud which has overshadowed the Royal circle it will throw some rays of light, which I trust will diffuse themselves around until they have dissipated the gloom in that chamber of sorrow, leaving but one dark corner withdrawn from public gaze in which one name, one idea, must ever remain, veiled. I turn from this grave subject, my Lords, to say that there can be no more pleasing duty to your Lordships than to receive among you the future Sovereign of these realms, and to welcome that illustrious Prince to his seat among the Peers of England, and the more especially so as the Sovereign has just made 9 known to us that an act the most important to his future life has been determined on; and we are therefore enabled to ex-press publicly our warmest hopes for his future happiness in an event which has hitherto been only the subject of rumour. Your Lordships, I am sure, all trust that many years will elapse before the Prince of Wales shall be called upon to take the highest position in the State; but we may hope that his Royal Highness, in the step he is taking, is about to enter upon a course of domestic happiness, of far more real importance to his future welfare. And if for the attainment of that happiness the most careful training, received with filial obedience, of intelligence and mental power, whereby such training could be fully developed, can prepare a Prince for such a future as seems to be before His Royal Highness, and for so fair a Crown as awaits him, then can no one be more justly envied in every respect, both public and private, than the Prince of Wales, whom I have the honour of addressing. I may even go a step further, and touching upon more personal and delicate ground, I may express a hope that His Royal Highness in his married life may enjoy all the advantages which those less gifted in respect of position or power derive in the struggles and trials of life from a perfect understanding between man and wife. To the advantages already enjoyed by him the Prince has been able to superadd another, that among the limited number of Princesses with whom it was possible for him to form an alliance, he has found one in whom not only beauty, elegance, accomplishments, and high training are united, but who possesses that necessary element of union and happiness in domestic life, the same feeling in regard to religion. I may indeed say, that if there be any ground for the common belief that marriages are not designed upon earth, it may be fairly inferred that the marriage about to be contracted by our future Sovereign is of Diviner origin.
From that subject I will pass to another, with which the country at large is more particularly interested, although the interest of the Sovereign is a direct and personal one in it, for it cannot be otherwise than a source of gratification to our Queen in her retirement to find that the training which her children have received has been such that a foreign nation seeking for a Sovereign was prepared to accept for their King one of her sons, a 10 Prince only just verging into manhood, and consequently quite inexperienced, but who by faith in his education and training was deemed qualified to occupy the important position that has been offered to him. That it should not have been possible to accept the offer of the Kingdom of Greece, in consequence of existing diplomatic engagements, is only saying that England, however flattering an offer might be, would not hesitate to decline it when contrary to the faith of treaties. Had it been otherwise, and had it been possible to comply with the wish of the Greek nation, it might have been a great advantage to Greece; but as opposed to diplomatic engagements, it has necessarily been declined. The mention of Greece naturally leads me to refer to the proposition which, however startling it may at first sight appear, has actually been made—namely, that the Ionian Islands shall be ceded to the future Constitutional Sovereign of Greece, whoever he may happen to be. I have no doubt, when that proposal was heard for the first time, it may have been regarded as a proposal to hand over some portion of Her Majesty's dominions to another Power. But that is not so. I need scarcely state, in your Lordships' House, that it is only as Protectors under special treaties that we stand in any relation to those Islands; and if with due regard to their future these Islands can be given up, it will speak highly for the days in which we live, that without detriment to England from the transference, they can be safely handed over to the new Sovereign of Greece. It is, I must say, a matter of almost painful curiosity to know how the problem of who shall fill the throne of Greece is to be solved; but I cannot help thinking, that if Greece were true to herself, there must within her own realm be found one capable of taking charge of her national interests; and if the natural jealousies which attend the setting up a Royal House were once over, one holding the same religion and speaking the same language as the Greeks themselves would have a far better chance of ruling with power and dignity than any foreign Prince, come from what quarter he may. My Lords, the Royal Speech informs us on this occasion, as we have happily been informed on many previous occasions, that "Her Majesty's relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly and satisfactory." 11 Our earnest desire must be that they shall so continue. It is of the greatest consequence to the country that it should be so, for it is to that friendship more than to our armies and navies that we look for the peace of the world. In one quarter that peace, unfortunately, has been broken, and Her Majesty declares that she "has abstained from taking any steps with a view to induce a cessation of the conflict between the contending parties in the North American States, because it has not yet seemed to Her Majesty that any such overtures could be attended with a probability of success." In my opinion, the proposal which was made to Her Majesty's Government to intervene in order to bring to an end the civil conflict in America has been most rightly rejected, inasmuch as any proposition of that sort must have fallen uselessly to the ground from the temper which at that time prevailed on both sides in America; and I cannot say that even since that offer was rejected any great change towards a better state of sentiment and feeling has occurred, so as to afford any likelihood of bringing the two parties together. It must not, however, for a single moment be supposed that it is not for the interest of this country that that war should cease. Putting humanity out of the question altogether, and speaking of the interests of this country merely commercially, we cannot look to the distress existing in these realms, and know how to a great extent the cessation of that war would cause that suffering to cease, without an earnest desire that the present unfortunate contest in America should be brought to a close. But I do think—especially looking to the feelings which were created by our declaration that we would adhere to a course of strict neutrality between the parties—that anything we can do is more likely to embitter than allay the bitter animosity which at present seems to exist towards this country. Why such a hostile feeling should exist I do not know, for in all truth and honesty our neutrality has been a real one. It may perhaps be natural that both sides should be disappointed by the course we have determined to pursue; for both sides— both the North and South—have made efforts to induce us to a breach of our declared neutrality, and to giving to the world some outward and visible sign of that breach. But I do say, neither here in the House of Lords, nor in the 12 other House of Parliament, nor in the country at large, certainly by none who have the honour and dignity of this country at heart, has there been any other sentiment felt or expressed than that this war should cease. Our desire for the future of America herself, for her people, for her power, leads us to hope; for the termination of this unnatural contest. If, despite all we have said and done, there still exists on the other side of the Atlantic such bitter animosity against this country, we must bear with it—we must be prepared to receive, as arising from the excitement of war and the general disturbance of the public mind, imputations and expressions not founded in truth or justice, feeling that the uprightness and dignity of this country can afford to pass them by in silence. My Lords, Her Majesty refers "with heartfelt grief to the severe distress which that war has inflicted upon a large class of Her Majesty's subjects, but which have been borne by them with noble fortitude and resignation." No such blow has, indeed, before fallen upon England; and it has been met in the most noble spirit of munificent charity; but we cannot look forward to a chronic state of things such as that described in Her Majesty's Speech, in which a large portion of the most industrious of our population are maintained merely by the outstretched hand of charity, without feelings of apprehension. There must be an end to such a state of things, and that end is to be found by bringing about a peaceful solution of the difficulty on the other side of the Atlantic. But whatever is done by England to that end must be done only in a manner consistent with our honour, and only attempted when the proper moment shall seem to have arrived. I must say— though that is but small consolation— that the result of the distress in the cotton districts has shown that in the days in which we live more confidence is to be placed in the people at large, in their good sense, courage, and forbearance, than in times gone by could have been expected. It was scarcely possible that a greater trial could have visited a very large body of the people than that which has now fallen on Lancashire; yet it has been borne without an outrage or crime, so that their conduct has excited the admiration of the world at large. It has been said over and over again, but still I must repeat it here—for what 13 comes from your Lordships on so important an occasion as on the night of your first meeting, must come with great weight—it would have been impossible for the country at large to have escaped that disturbance and violence which has prevailed during periods of distress in times past, but for the good sense and patience which have characterized the suffering classes. Speaking of the re-relief of so great a distress as this, I should be wanting both in memory and gratitude, if I did not say that not England only in its length and breadth has nobly done her duty, but that England's sons all over the world, especially in her colonies, have been among the most ready to send contributions home to relieve it. I may go one step further, and say, that if there has been one bright spot upon the troubled surface of America itself, it is that her citizens, in the midst of all their troubles, have not forgotten that the claims of charity are paramount. What has been done, and, I fear, what remains to be done, has thrown on many an amount of work, of anxiety, and of organization, which there are men, and women too, I must add, in this country always prepared to exhibit, but which have been better shown in this emergency than perhaps on any former occasion. While the magnitude of the distress was scarcely yet known, there was a cry of distress; but before that cry met with a wide and general response, a distinct determination was expressed throughout the country at large that all parties, as far as they could be reached, should be called on to bear their part, and that the funds should be administered as purely and as satisfactorily as possible; and, from all I can learn, but one sentiment is to be heard, of deep thankfulness to those who have come forward to contribute and to administer those funds. My Lords, Her Majesty informs us that She has concluded a Treaty of Commerce with the King of the Belgians, and without doubt such treaties, when they come into operation, will contribute, as other commercial treaties have already done, to the prosperity of this country. But, independent of treaties, there are other relations with foreign countries, and which Her Majesty refers to in the Speech, on which this country has set its heart. I trust that England adheres to the principle of non-interference, and that other countries will be induced to adopt the same. There is 14 one country which will never be itself till foreign intervention is removed. I am sure that I speak the sentiments of the great majority of the English people when I say that they desire to see Italy left to its own course, that it may once more take its place among the nations of Europe; and that as it is now, from its climate and natural beauty, a very Paradise of the earth, it may become equally distinguished for the freedom and prosperity of its people. This, I venture to say, is the sincere desire of your Lordships, as it is of the nation at large. That this will be so I have no doubt, though when it will be must depend upon those who can move only as the affairs of the world move, neither hastening nor retarding them, but accepting events as they arise.
My Lords, having now touched on some of the principle paragraphs of Her Majesty's Speech, I must, before I sit down, turn to a matter more personal to your Lordships, and lament that one has passed away from this (the Ministerial) side of the House, who has long enjoyed the deep respect of all who have been either politically associated with or opposed to him, for in private life there was not one of your Lordships who had the honour of knowing him who has not been his sincere friend. The Marquess of Lansdowne stood in your Lordships' House rich in all the experience of years, and invested, as they rolled on, with an authority which could be derived only from length of years and vast experience. It will be remembered that not many years ago he took formal leave of official life, and intimated that it was not his intention again, except very occasionally, to take a part in the debates of this House. His voice is now closed in death, and that calm judgement and mild wisdom which lent so much force and weight to the counsels he gave are lost for ever.
For myself, my Lords, I must be allowed to add that whatever claim the importance of my subject may have on your Lordships' attention, I am indebted solely to your kind indulgence for so patient a hearing of these very imperfect remarks.
The noble Earl concluded by moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows: —MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble 15 Thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has commanded to be made to both Houses of Parliament.WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty has declared Your Consent to a Marriage between His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness The Princess Alexandra, Daughter of Prince Christian of Denmark, and for commanding that the Treaty which has been concluded thereupon with The King of Denmark should be laid before us.WE humbly express to Your Majesty our full Participation in Your Majesty's Sentiments on an Event so interesting to Your Majesty, and which, with the Blessing of God, will, we trust, prove so conducive to the Happiness of Your Majesty's Family and the Welfare of Your People; and assure Your Majesty that we will make Provision for such an Establishment as may be thought suitable to the Rank and Dignity of the Heir Apparent to the Crown of these Realms.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that we cannot fail to be highly gratified and deeply to feel the unsolicited and spontaneous Manifestation of Goodwill towards Your Majesty and Your Family, and of a due Appreciation of the Benefits conferred by the Principles and Practice of the British Constitution, which has led the Greek Nation to express so strong a Desire that Your Majesty's Son, Prince Alfred, should accept the Greek Crown.WE thank Your Majesty for informing us that the Diplomatic Engagements of Your Majesty's Crown, together with other weighty Considerations, have prevented Your Majesty from yielding to this general Wish of the Greek Nation.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that with Your Majesty we trust that the same Principles of Choice which led the Greek Nation to direct their Thoughts, in the first instance, towards His Royal Highness Prince Alfred, may guide them to the Selection of a Sovereign under whose Sway the Kingdom of Greece may enjoy the Blessings of internal Prosperity and of peaceful Relations with other States; and express our Thanks to Your Majesty for informing us, that if in such a State of Things the Republic of the Seven Islands should declare a deliberate Wish to be united to the Kingdom of Greece, Your Majesty would be prepared to take such Steps as may be necessary for a Revision of the Treaty of November 1815, by which that Republic was reconstituted, and was placed under the Protection of the British Crown.WE humbly express the Gratification with which we learn that Your Majesty's Relations with Foreign Powers continue to be friendly and satisfactory.16WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty has abstained from taking any Step with a view to induce a Cessation of the Conflict between the contending Parties in the North American States, because it has not seemed to Your Majesty that any such Overtures could be attended with a Probability of Success.WE assure Your Majesty that we share in the Concern with which Your Majesty has viewed the desolating Warfare which still rages in those Regions, and in the heartfelt Grief with which Your Majesty has witnessed the severe Distress and Suffering which that War has inflicted upon a large Class of Your Majesty's Subjects, but which have been borne by them with noble Fortitude and with exemplary Resignation; and we trust with Your Majesty that this Suffering and this Distress are rather diminishing than increasing, and that some Revival of Employment is beginning to take place in the manufacturing Districts.WE humbly express to Your Majesty our deep Gratification at the abundant Generosity with which all Classes of Your Majesty's Subjects in all Parts of Your Empire have contributed to relieve the Wants of their suffering Fellow Countrymen; and at the Liberality with which Your Majesty's Colonial Subjects have on this Occasion given their Aid; proving that although their Dwelling Places are far away, their Hearts are still warm with unabated Affection for the Land of their Fathers; and we humbly convey to Your Majesty our Sense of the Value of the constant and laborious Attention with which the Relief Committees have superintended the Distribution of the Funds intrusted to their Charge.WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty has concluded with the King of the Belgians a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, and a Convention respecting Joint Stock Companies, and for directing that Treaty and Convention to be laid before us, together with Papers relating to the Affairs of Italy, of Greece, and of Denmark, and to Occurrences which have lately taken place in Japan.WE humbly express to Your Majesty our Satisfaction at learning that, notwithstanding the Continuance of the Civil War in North America, the general Commerce of the Country during the past Year has not sensibly diminished; that the Treaty of Commerce which Your Majesty concluded with The Emperor of the French has already been productive of Results highly advantageous to both the Nations to which it applies; and that the general State of the Revenue, notwithstanding many unfavourable Circumstances, has not been unsatisfactory.17THAT with Your Majesty we trust that those Results may be taken as Proofs that the productive Resources of the Country are unimpaired.WE humbly convey to Your Majesty the Expression of our deep Gratification at the Spirit of Order which happily prevails throughout Your Majesty's Dominions, and which is so essential an Element in the Well-being and Prosperity of Nations.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that we will give our most serious Attention to the various Measures of public Usefulness and Improvement which may be submitted for our Consideration; and that with Your Majesty we fervently pray that the Blessing of Almighty God may attend our Deliberations, and guide them to the Promotion of the Welfare and Happiness of Your Majesty's People.
§ THE EARL OF GRANARD
My Lords, it is with, considerable diffidence that I rise to second the Address, so ably moved by the noble Earl beside me, for it may be truly said that that noble Earl has so fully exhausted the subject that there is little left for me to comment upon. I trust, however, that in the few observations which I shall make I shall receive your Lordships' usual indulgence.
My Lords, most naturally does the Royal Speech allude to the topic now foremost in the minds of Her Majesty's subjects—the marriage of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales;—and I am sure it is unnecessary for me to ask your Lordships whether you participate in the language of the Speech in regard to an event so interesting to Her Majesty, and which, with the blessing of God, She trusts will prove so conducive to the happiness of Her family and the welfare of Her people. My Lords, as the nation sympathized with Her Majesty in Her bereavement and sorrow, and would gladly give her every consolation in its power; so it also sympathizes in the joy She must feel at seeing the Heir Apparent about to enter into those engagements which, from the character of the high contracting parties, promise to bring about a renewal of that spectacle of unalloyed happiness and uninterrupted good example which so eminently distinguished the married life of his Royal parents. And, though it is awkward to speak on such a subject in His Royal Highness's presence, I venture to Say, without any fear of contradiction, that no British Prince has ever had the same advantages in beginning life as, un- 18 der the prudent guidance of Her Majesty and Her illustrious Consort, His Royal Highness has enjoyed, in being able to make himself acquainted with those subjects which would fit him at some future—it is to be hoped distant—time, to assume the Crown of these realms. He has, after careful study, been enabled to read in that best of books, the world, under different aspects and in different climes. He has visited regions that would have been deemed inaccessible by many private gentlemen in the last century, and he has had an opportunity of judging by personal observation of many of the Governments and nations of the Old World and the New. In the one hemisphere he has wandered among the relics of a bygone civilization, while in the other he has seen—what in all human probability none of us will ever see again—the great Republic of the western world in its pristine entirety; and no doubt His Royal Highness has, in his own mind, contrasted these things with those home institutions which have now stood for centuries, vigorous and unimpaired, that greatest test, the decaying hand of Time.
My Lords, your Lordships will next, no doubt, recognise with satisfaction the compliment paid to Her Majesty and to this country by the spontaneous offer made of the crown of Greece for Prince Alfred; and you will also see with satisfaction in that offer an additional proof that the present aspirations of the nationalities of Europe tend more to the principles of sound constitutional government than to those principles of anarchy and disorder which produced such disastrous results in the years 1848 and 1849. Still, your Lordships will, I think, agree in the wisdom which dictated the refusal of the vacant throne of Greece, however tempting the offer. It was not for Her Majesty's Government to disregard the engagements from time to time entered into by wise Administrations relative to the affairs of Greece. But, even taking it upon lower ground, it would scarcely have been advisable to place a British Prince in a position which, from its peculiar nature, might have brought the policy of this country into closer contact with the entanglements of that Eastern question, the solution of which is so fraught with danger to the peace of Europe. We can, therefore, in the language of the Speech, only continue to show our goodwill towards 19 the Greeks, and trust that the moderation which has hitherto prevailed in their councils may lead them to choose such a Prince as will not only give them the happiness they deserve, but will also develop the neglected resources of their country. Should that happen, I trust that your Lordships will agree in the prudence of the proposal that Her Majesty should negotiate with the other Powers to permit the Ionian Republic to be added to Greece, thereby correcting the mistake made by former treaties in restricting too much the territory of that kingdom, proving also our appreciation of the goodwill manifested towards us by the spontaneous election of Prince Alfred, and proclaiming our interest in the welfare and prosperity of Greece.
My Lords, your Lordships have no doubt heard with satisfaction that Her Majesty's friendly relations with Foreign Powers have suffered no diminution.
My Lords, I come now to a topic of the Royal Speech to which renewed prominence has been given by a late French despatch—I mean the question of mediation in the civil war now raging in America. However much your Lordships deplore the continuance of a war so materially affecting ourselves, and however much we hope for its speedy termination, yet I think your Lordships will approve the prudence which dictated a policy of non-intervention to Her Majesty's Government, and will agree that our interference in American affairs would only have produced intense irritation among the American people. It might have given rise to unpleasant complications, revived ancient jealousies, and certainly would have had no effect in putting an end to the strife. It was, therefore, much better to leave to the Emperor of the French the task which he had imposed on himself, with the hope that his generous intentions and good counsels might be accepted by the contending parties.
My Lords, the natural sequence to the paragraph on the American war is an allusion to the sad and unmerited affliction which has fallen upon our operatives in Lancashire. And here I cannot refrain from paying my humble meed of admiration to the noble manner in which those sufferings have been borne. Formerly the news of distress in the manufacturing districts filled the public mind with serious apprehension; but nothing could have more 20 strongly proved the gradual improvement which has taken place among the operative classes during the last twenty years, than the way in which they have endured their present affliction. There are many noble Lords present who may remember past distress in the manufacturing districts, the bitter array of class against class, the infuriate complaint, and the armed repression of the sufferers. Wow, the only struggle is a most noble one—it is only who shall be most forward in alleviating the distress, and, among the labourers, who shall show the best example of patience, fortitude, and manly resignation. You have seen Her Majesty's name foremost in the list of subscribers, and all your Lordships must have noticed the princely donation of the noble Earl opposite, whose historic name is so intimately connected with Lancashire, and to whom that county is oven more deeply indebted than for his generosity for the able management he has brought to bear upon the distribution of the relief fund. It must be a matter of satisfaction to your Lordships to reflect, that if the cry of distress has gone far and wide, the response has reached the length and breadth of the land likewise, and it has come not only from this country but from the uttermost parts of our vast colonial empire, proving, in the words of the Royal Speech, "that although their dwelling-place is far away, their hearts are still warm with unabated affection for the land of their fathers." As an Irishman I am proud that Ireland has responded to the prompting of gratitude; that she has not forgotten the helping hand that was stretched forth to her when the dark cloud of adversity swept over the land. If I may be permitted to say so, the contributions from Ireland are the more creditable he-cause at the present moment considerable distress exists in that country. There have been three successive bad harvests, the trade of the country has proportionately declined, and I am afraid that many of the farmers will be without the means to crop the land this season. I therefore venture to express a hope that Parliament will during the present Session give its sanction to measures authorizing works of arterial drainage, and to some such useful measures as will enable them not only to develop the resources of the country, but to alleviate the existing distress. Your Lordships will have learned 21 with satisfaction that Her Majesty has concluded a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the King of the Belgians. Tour Lordships are also told that various measures of public usefulness and improvement will be submitted for your consideration; and no doubt one among them will probably be a measure embodying the recommendation of the Royal Commission now inquiring into the subject of convict management. I trust your Lordships will bear with me if I state that I think an erroneous impression is now abroad respecting the relative merits of the English and Irish systems of convict management. I do not wish to cast any reflections on any particular person or measure; but although, in common with most people, I give the preference to the Irish system of gaol and convict management, yet I think that the difference between the classes of criminals with which the two systems have to deal has not been sufficiently taken into account. In Ireland most of the crimes are committed from passion or impulse. Hence there are fewer relapses into crime than in England; and to that circumstance, and also to the fact that ticket-of-leave men are kept under police surveillance, I ascribe the more satisfactory results of the Irish convict system.
My Lords, Her Majesty ends Her most gracious Speech by praying that the blessing of Almighty God may guide our counsels to the promotion of the welfare and happiness of Her people. May I now also fitly conclude by a prayer, in which I am sure your Lordships will join with me?—that Almighty God will continue His blessing on Her Majesty and Her Royal House, and on him whom for the first time we have the pleasure of seeing among us this evening! My Lords, it only remains to me to second the Address which has been moved by my noble Friend. [See Page 14.]
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
—My Lords, there is one topic touched upon in the Speech delivered from the Throne with respect to which there will be, most decidedly, no difference of opinion among your Lordships, and with regard to which we may freely express our feelings without any mental reservation, any arrière pensée, or any protest with a view to future proceedings. This time last year it was our melancholy duty to present to the widowed Sovereign of this country a tribute of respect, condolence, sympathy, 22 and affection, as deep and genuine as was ever offered by a great nation to the possessor of its Throne. This year a different and a more pleasing duty devolves upon us. In place of the language of condolence upon the direst calamity which could afflict our Sovereign's heart—a calamity which still bows her down in sorrow—a sorrow that will never cease—we have to substitute the language of congratulation upon an event which in every point of view must be a source of consolation, of comfort, and even of rejoicing to Her Majesty, as it must be to Parliament and the country at large. We have now to congratulate Her Majesty and the country upon the approaching marriage of the heir to the Throne, of that illustrious Prince whom we have had the honour and the happiness of receiving within our walls this day; we have to congratulate Her Majesty and him upon an event which, as far as human foresight can tell, promises to His Royal Highness the greatest amount of happiness which can be enjoyed in this life. It is not to him alone as heir to the Throne, however, that we tender our respectful congratulation. We congratulate one who has already by the courtesy of his demeanour and the amiability of his manners won the regard and affection of those who have been privileged to approach him; one who at a very early age, when placed in circumstances of no inconsiderable difficulty, has displayed a tact, a judgment, a discretion which promise well for the results of his future career. My Lords, we congratulate Her Majesty and His Royal Highness upon his approaching union with a Princess of whom all who have the happiness of knowing her personally speak in terms implying their conviction that, endowed with every gift of person and of mind, she is fully qualified to take upon herself that high lot which destiny has assigned to her, and to become the partner of the Sovereign of the greatest empire in the world. We rejoice also in reflecting that Her Royal Highness comes from a country between the inhabitants of which and our own there are many points of similarity of character, many natural and national ties, and much community of interests; a country enjoying a constitutional monarchy, and that constitutional monarchy one the integrity and independence of which, I may venture to say, is a matter which, never can be regarded with indifference by the Parliament, the people, or, I hope, 23 the Government of England. I can express upon this subject no better wish for His Royal Highness than that in the approaching most important event of his life he and the Princess whom he has chosen to share his high position may enjoy happiness as unalloyed—God grant that it may be far more lasting!—as that which fell to the lot of his illustrious parents.
My Lords, turning from this to a certain degree personal, but yet most deeply interesting and important topic, I am happy to be able to say, touching a subject which engages the attention of all men in all parts of the world, that I have no fault to find with, no objection to raise to, the course which Her Majesty's Government have pursued with respect to what is justly called the "desolating warfare" now raging in the hitherto United States of America. I may regret, indeed, that Her Majesty's Government did not feel themselves justified in joining in the attempt, however hopeless that attempt might appear, to which they were invited by the Sovereign of France; not, as the noble Earl who has just spoken, by a slip of the tongue, said, for the purpose of putting an end to the war, but with the view of endeavouring by good offices to obtain such an armistice or cessation of hostilities as might lead the two parties themselves to reflect upon the miseries and hopelessness of the war in which they are at present engaged. I think it is matter of regret that Her Majesty's Government did not feel themselves justified in acceding to the wish of the Emperor of the French; but before I censure the course pursued by them, it is only fair I should say that they were in possession of much better means of information than any I can pretend to as to whether such an interference as the one contemplated, intended to put an end to the war, might not rather have aggravated the bitterness of the strife by the irritation arising from any foreign intervention. Upon that point, which doubtless they considered in all its bearings, they were probably enlightened by the despatches of our Minister at Washington. I therefore take no objection to the course pursued, although I regret that no attempt was made to promote the restoration of peace. "Mediation" would, perhaps, not be a correct or legitimte expression to apply to that proposed species of intervention. I presume that, previous to attempting mediation, the two parties 24 should be agreed upon the terms, or at all events the principles, upon which it ought to be conducted; but, if I know anything of the state of feeling in the Northern and Southern States, the question at issue between them is not a question of degree, but a question of fundamental principle, as to which there can be no mediation, because it is a question on one side of the continuance of the Union, and on the other of separation. And so much being decided, it is necessary to determine on what principle the negotiations should proceed—whether on the principle of maintaining the Union in its integrity, or of acquiescing in the separation of the two bodies. I feel that that difficulty meets us at the outset; and I greatly fear from the language of the respective parties that at present the consent of both could not be obtained to either principle. It has been said by personal and political friends of my own—men for whose opinions I entertain the highest respect—that the time has arrived when it is desirable that we should recognise the Southern Republic. Upon that subject, regretting as I do to differ from any of my friends, I confess I cannot bring myself to the conclusion that the time has arrived at which it is either wise, politic, or even legitimate, to recognise the South. I do not think the circumstances have yet occurred under which a revolting State is entitled to recognition from neutral Powers. The first of those circumstances is where, although the State from which a secession has taken place has not acquiesced in it as a fait accompli, yet the war is, in point of fact, at an end, and no struggle is going on for the restoration of the original dominion. That was the case when the States of South America revolted from Spain. For a long period before those States were recognised by the Powers, Spain had ceased to take any active steps to keep them under her rule. Although, therefore, Spain did not recognise their independence, we did recognise it, because the struggle was in fact at an end. Another set of circumstances under which recognition is legitimate is where other nations, having in the interests of humanity determined that a desolating warfare shall no longer be continued, in order to put an end to it agree to recognise the revolting party. But in that case recognition is always followed by something further, for it means nothing unless the Powers who join in it are ready to 25 support by force of arms the claims of the State which they recognise. That was the case with regard to Belgium in its separation from Holland; such was the case with regard to Greece in its separation from Turkey. No doubt there are occasions when the horrors of war and the danger to the public interests of the world from the prolongation of a contest, are so great that it is essential it should be terminated by other nations intervening to recognise the Secessionists; but when such a case does occur, they must be prepared to go a step further, and to maintain by force the independence which they have acknowledged. I cannot but think that this consideration has not been sufficiently weighed by those who are anxious for the recognition of the South. My conviction, which has been strengthened by everything which has occurred from the first outbreak of the civil war, is that the restoration of the Union as it formerly existed is the one conclusion which is absolutely impossible. I believe that at first the feelings of this country were strongly in favour of the North, and that it was not generally supposed that the North would have any great difficulty in overrunning and subduing the South. But even at that early period it was perceived, that if the North were to succeed in subjugating the South, its difficulties would only commence; because it was out of the question that where such mutual animosity existed, and such injuries had been inflicted on one side and on the other, any cordial reconcilement or union could take place between them. If it was so a year or two ago, how much stronger must this conviction have grown when day by day the struggle becomes more desperate, when it is more apparent that neither party can obtain a signal and decisive advantage over the other, the one on the defensive being always the one which has practically the best of it; and when it is obvious that the continuance of the war is the continuance of the most dreadful slaughter and the most harrowing carnage, accompanied by increasing bitterness of feeling, and accompanied, if we may believe reports, by aggravating atrocities on both sides, which add unusual horrors to those by which war, and especially a civil war, is attended? Under these circumstances, I declare my firm conviction that there is no possibility of re-establishing the Union between the North and the South. At the same time, recollect, the struggle is still going 26 on. The whole sea-board of the South is in the possession of the North, and large Federal armies are in Southern territory, where they obtain occasional advantages. That being the case, it is impossible to say that the struggle has practically ceased, so as to admit of our recognition, even if we did not mean to go further; and I do not believe that those who are the most anxious for recognition under existing circumstances are prepared for an interference by force of arms, and insisting on laying down the terms on which a separation is to take place. Therefore, I own I approve, on the whole, of the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government on this subject, and of that entire neutrality which, I believe, they have practically carried out to the utmost of their power, in accordance with their professions. There is another point. No man with ordinary sentiments of humanity can fail earnestly to desire that the desolating warfare in America should be brought to a close, and I am quite certain that the present Government or any other which might be in power in this country, would eagerly embrace the first opportunity that had a fair prospect of success of tendering such good offices as might lead to a cessation of hostilities. At the present moment I do not, I am sorry to say, see any prospect of such a result, and I fear that the war must go on until both of the combatants simultaneously see the necessity of coming to some settlement.
My Lords, there is another aspect in which this war has serious bearings— on the industry, happiness, and prosperity of England. The cessation of the cotton supply could not happen without causing much distress; but I need not say that both parties in America, and more particularly the South—and, indeed, some parties in this country—have exaggerated the importance of the suspension of the cotton trade to this country; and it is not undesirable that this exaggerated impression should be corrected, for it goes to the extent that it is an absolute necessity for us to submit to any terms rather than that our great industry should be interfered with. There is no doubt that the distress in the cotton districts, if not altogether caused by, has been greatly aggravated by the war in the United States. The sudden cutting-off of the raw material of a manufacture which had risen to such an unparalleled height must produce great 27 distress and disastrous consequences to those who are engaged in that particular manufacture. But I regret to say I cannot see that the sudden cessation of the war in America would of itself restore the prosperity of this important industry, or even replace on a satisfactory footing a great portion of the population whose sufferings have excited so much sympathy and compassion. And, in speaking of this subject, I cannot but express my thanks to the noble Earl who seconded the Address (the Earl of Granard) for the manner in which he has spoken of the very small service which it was in my power personally to render towards the relief of destitution in the manufacturing districts. Connected as I am with that county and with that manufacturing district, it has fallen to my lot to take a considerable share in the distribution of those funds which have been so liberally contributed by all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. But there are many whose exertions in the same cause have been equal to and greater than mine. There are men who had far less time to spare, and yet who devoted a much larger share of attention to the relief of that distress than I have. Nothing can be more gratifying than the conduct of the immediate sufferers; nothing more gratifying to observe than the way in which men in business, engaged in transactions on which it was necessary for them to bestow constant attention, gave hours and days and weeks and months of their time gratuitously and without the slightest recompense, except the consciousness of the good they were doing, to the alleviation of the distress around them. I am convinced that the sufferings at present endured by the manufacturing population have led to another and most valuable result. It has brought forth a great amount of kindly feeling among different classes. It has enabled the rich and poor to understand each other better than before; and has taught them to remember their mutual dependence on one another. It has led the rich to think of the duties they owe to the poor, and it has shown to the poor that the rich are not unmindful of them. It is impossible to speak in terms of too high praise of the manner in which that large population has borne its suffering and distress. More than once— and it speaks well for the confidence and kindly feeling that prevail in that population—when complimented on their en- 28 durance and patience, they have answered simply, "We knew you would not let us starve." The liberality of the country has been unbounded, and it has proceeded from every class of the community. The feeling of national and kindly relationship has been warmly and cordially responded to from Her Majesty's widely extended colonial possessions, and I rejoiced to hear the noble Earl who seconded the Address take notice—a notice which I think might have been gracefully taken in Her Majesty's Speech—of the large and spontaneous contributions, which, in the midst of their own difficulties, have been offered to our manufacturing population by the inhabitants of the Northern States of America. Large, however, as has been the amount subscribed, anxious as have been the labours of the Relief Committee, careful as has been the distribution of the bounty, I fear that I cannot say there is at present any reason for the cessation of the public liberality. Large as the funds are, and no doubt they are sufficient to guard the population for some time to come against famine, and that disease which springs from destitution, I cannot look forward to the termination of the existing distress within a limited period. Indeed, for a considerable time it is impossible that the cotton manufacturing interest can fail to be in deep distress. I am far from desiring to utter a word which should in the slightest take away from the merit of the labouring classes on account of the manner in which they have borne the sufferings that have fallen on them; but, undoubtedly, one of the consequences of the abundant liberality of the public in relieving the distress has been that, not the industrious workman— not the highly-paid labourer — not the man who had enjoyed comparative prosperity—but that those who were on the verge of pauperism, or were paupers themselves, have been in receipt of fully as good or a better supply of the necessaries of life than they were accustomed to receive under ordinary circumstances. This is a point which will require the most ample consideration and careful watching, when the distress shall be mitigated, as it is calculated to raise questions of most serious embarrassment. I will not trouble your Lordships with them at present, but it will be satisfactory to your Lordships to know that they relate to the effects of a too liberal distribution of relief among the lowest classes. At the same time, 29 your Lordships will see that it was impossible to make a distinction in the distribution of relief between those who had been earning 30s., 35s., and 40s. a week as wages and those who had only earned 7s. or 8s.; and, consequently, by the higher class of workmen the distress will be felt the most severely, while by the lowest it will scarcely be felt at all. There is no danger of demoralizing or of destroying the self-dependence of the higher class of workmen, for the moderate contributions they receive for the support of life and health without work would be but a moderate substitute for the large amount of comfort and comparative affluence which they derive from honest industry; but the danger exists in reference to the lower class now receiving assistance from public funds when they come to fall back on the ordinary state of things and their ordinary resources. I say I think there is a certainty that the period of distress in the cotton districts has not nearly reached its close. It is undoubtedly satisfactory, as noticed in the Royal Speech, that there is a slight diminution in the number of those receiving relief, either from parochial funds or other sources; but I must express my fear that that diminution is but temporary and occasional, and that there must be for a considerable time a fluctuation in the amount of diminution. Let us now see what is the state of the markets. According to the present state of things, which no doubt may arise from the American war, the price of cotton goods at Manchester is not sufficient to pay for the labour of working up the raw cotton; and it follows that, notwithstanding the great diminution in our Indian and Chinese trade, cotton goods at the present moment in the markets of the East, in India and China, are selling at a rate 25 per cent lower than in Manchester. I was assured the other day by one of the most intelligent merchants that, according to present calculation, though it may be difficult to ascertain the stocks in the interior of China or India, there is reason to apprehend that not a single pound of cotton goods could be sent to India or China in the next year with a chance of obtaining a remunerating price. From a calculation of what cotton is likely to come in, it appeared that though it would be considerably less than had been imported in more favourable times, yet the probable amount would be sufficient to supply effec- 30 tively the demand of the whole world, with the exception of India and China; but it would not enable the workman to obtain more than three days' employment in the week, with a loss of wages for this year of £9,000,000, and for the next year of £6,000,000. I trust your Lordships will pardon me for going into these details, but I have taken anxious pains to ascertain the facts, and they are of importance. The state of the market at present is such that, according to the price of raw cotton at Liverpool, it will not pay the manufacturers at Manchester to work it up. The market is in a most sensitive condition. There is a vast amount of capital invested in machinery, and employers are waiting eagerly to seize the first opportunity of the turning of the scale, and making the slightest amount of profit. They are watching the Liverpool market with the deepest anxiety, and the moment there maybe a fall of a 1d. or 2d. per pound, there are, notwithstanding the glut in the markets, numbers of persons ready to rush in and make use of the opportunity of working up the cotton. The result is that there is an increase in the quantity of goods in the market, there is a constant alternation between the price at which a small profit may be realized and that on which there would be a loss; and the consequence is that the small capitalists must go to the ground; they could not support themselves or maintain their workmen by working three days in the week; and the large capitalists will absorb the remainder of the business, and at the least one-half of the cotton operatives will be out of work. In this state of things I wish I could say that in the next two or three years I see a prospect of the cotton manufacture coming up, I do not say to the point which it reached in 1860 and 1861 — for I do not know whether that would be desirable—but to an ordinary degree of prosperity. I am quite certain that for a considerable period there must be great depression in that branch of manufacture; and I hope the public will not be led away by the notion that any slight diminution of distress which may be felt at the present time can be relied on as being permanent, but that they will be prepared, if necessary, for continued exertions to carry this large and important population through the fearful crisis.
My Lords, I have perhaps spoken at greater length than is desirable on a sub- 31 ject connected with, one question of foreign policy. There are other topics of considerable importance adverted to in the Royal Speech. Papers relative to Italy, Greece, and Denmark are promised to be laid before the House. Unfortunately, we have already had a partial publication of papers on the subject of each of these three countries, and I confess that I am unable to offer my congratulations to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the brilliant success which has attended his diplomatic achievements, with respect to which he seems somewhat ambitious. There have been made known some despatches from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with respect to Denmark which I looked at with a little astonishment; because I recollected what were the principles and declarations on former occasions of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, and of the noble Viscount at the head of the Government; and I confess I was at a loss to reconcile those principles and declarations with the recommendations and advice contained in these despatches. I read the correspondence, I confess, with some feeling of humiliation, for I found among it four documents, and I entertained serious doubts which of the four reflected the greatest amount of ridicule on British diplomacy. The first despatch is one from the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, originating quite gratuitously a discussion and tendering advice which certainly was not asked for, and, equally certainly, was not taken. The next despatch is an able and statesman-like reply given by the Danish Minister to the proposition of the noble Earl. The third despatch—if, indeed, it be a genuine one— is addressed by the Swedish Government to the British Government, thanking the noble Earl for communicating information, which Sweden already knew, respecting the purport of the first; and the fourth, about the genuineness of which there is no doubt, is a despatch addressed by a certain Count Elsinore to a certain Count Russell. I must say, that if I had to determine which of these four despatches is most successful in casting ridicule upon our diplomacy, I should have to give the supremacy to the original despatch of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary. The noble Earl and myself once had the happiness to be colleagues of one of the most agreeable, most able, and shrewdest of men, the late Lord Melbourne, who also possessed a great deal of ordinary common sense. 32 There was one piece of advice which he was inculcating upon his colleagues; but by which I am afraid the noble Earl has not profited. When any matter arose which involved considerable difficulty and embarrassment, and which it was not known how to dispose of at the moment, Lord Melbourne's favourite receipt was, "Can't you let it alone?" I am sure the noble Earl must recollect as well as I do that saying of the noble Lord, "Can't you let it alone? It will do very well if you only let it alone." But that is the very thing which, with all his experience, and with the example of Lord Melbourne before him, the noble Earl cannot do. He cannot let it alone. We know that the courage and confidence of the noble Earl, in undertaking to surmount any possible difficulty, have been proverbial since the days of Sidney Smith. If there be any difficulty of any kind to be settled—if there is any Constitution to be reorganized at once—if there is any embarrassing question which has occupied the attention of statesmen for years, almost for centuries, the noble Earl is quite ready at a minute's notice. His language always is, "Come, I will settle it at once; I will tell you how to do it;" and then, without even the preliminary apology which used to be given by a celebrated character—" I hope I don't intrude"—he offers his advice and assistance to any nation that he may suppose to stand in need of them. That is the case with respect to Denmark; and I hope, my Lords, we shall see somewhat more successful results from the course taken by the noble Earl than those which the Correspondence already published leads me to anticipate. But let me say, apart from all questions as to whether the advice tendered by the noble Earl was good or bad—even supposing it was as good as I think, and as the Danish Government thought it was bad, for they thought it an interference with the prerogatives of the monarchy of Denmark—could not the noble Earl, if he thought it advisable to interfere in the question, have interfered by privately communicating with the Danish Minister, instead of adopting that broad line of interference which has materially aggravated the difficulty, and enabled Russia and Prussia to put a pressure on. Denmark, founded upon a principle first enunciated by the Foreign Secretary of this country?
Well, my Lords, if the intervention of 33 the noble Earl in the affairs of Denmark has not been very successful, let us turn to his intervention in Italy. I hope the Italian papers promised in the Speech from the Throne will give us a graphic account of his negotiations with the Pope. If the noble Earl thought that advice ought to be tendered to the Pope, did he think that he was the person from whom the Holy Father would most readily take it? Did he think that in a matter concerning the affairs of Italy he would overcome that reluctance which the Holy Father has shown to permit of interference from other Powers? And what was the moment chosen for this advice and interference? Mr. Odo Russell has an audience of the Pope, in which some general observation is made by His Holiness as to the possibility of his being obliged to ask the hospitality of England. Upon this Mr. Russell is instructed to make a formal offer of a ship, accompanied with an advice that the Pope should take an early opportunity of leaving Home and accepting an asylum in Malta. The time chosen by the noble Earl for giving this advice was that at which the Emperor Napoleon was telling the Pope, that if he remained at Rome, he would maintain him there with all the power of his potection. Thus while the noble Earl was intervening to induce the Pope to go away, the French Emperor was intervening to keep him where he was. Such is the French alliance, this is the cordiality, the unity, the harmony, with which France and England are acting in the affairs of Italy. But, my Lords, supposing that the advice of the noble Earl had been accepted, would it have been practicable that the Pope should have been maintained by a Protestant Government in a possession where the majority of the people are Roman Catholics? If the noble Earl had sought to find out a position presenting the greatest amount of embarrassment and complication, I cannot conceive one which would come up to such a standard so completely as that of the Pope at Malta under the protection of the British Government. [A laugh.] My Lords, there may be something amusing in the contemplation of such a state of things; but really it is one rather for grave consideration than for laughter.
My Lords, there is another question of very serious importance referred to in the Speech from the Throne. I mean that of the constitution of the new kingdom of Greece and the proposed 34 cession of the Ionian Islands. With respect to the first branch of this subject, I am at a loss to understand the course pursued by the noble Earl and Her Majesty's Government. When the revolution took place, it is only fair to the people of Greece to bear testimony to their good conduct and moderation. In all the proceedings consequent on that movement I do not believe there was a drop of blood shed. Nay more, I believe there was not any violence, or even an intemperate word. And nothing could have been more creditable to the people than the unanimity with which they expressed their wish to be governed by an illustrious Prince, a member of the Royal Family of this country. I think it was a well-earned compliment paid to the Sovereign of this great country, and to the constitutional principles on which her rule is conducted, that the Greeks should in the first instance have expressed a unanimous wish to be presided over by one of the family of that Sovereign. It is, however, stated in the Speech from the Throne that "the diplomatic engagements of Her Majesty's Crown together with other weighty considerations, have prevented Her Majesty from yielding to the general wish of the Greek nation." Those "other weighty considerations" seem to have had their effect with other Royal personages, besides Her Majesty and Her Majesty's Family; for it does not appear that up to this time any Sovereign has been found to accept the throne of Greece. Up to a recent period it had been hoped that arrangements might have been come to which would have given the Greeks a Sovereign; but the latest information on that subject leads us to the supposition that those negotiations have come to an end without the desired object having been effected. However, be that as it may, I want to know why, if those several reasons referred to in the Royal Speech for declining the throne for Prince Alfred existed from the first, a considerable time was allowed to elapse without any contradiction from this country that Prince Alfred was a candidate for their crown? Why was it that instructions were sent out to the British Minister at Athens not to interfere with the progress of events? Why was it that encouragement was given to the people of Greece to persevere in the expressal of their wish? Why was it that hopes were held out by the Greek Minister in this country, after a conference which he had with the noble Earl, that the wishes of 35 the people would be acceded to? Her Majesty's Government are in this dilemma —either they determined from the first that the offer should not be accepted, in which case they acted most ungenerously and unfairly towards a people struggling for freedom; or, at first, they intended that it should be accepted, but have been interfered with and driven back in a not very dignified manner by the strong language of Russia and France. On one horn or other of this dilemma I leave him.
My Lords, another most serious question is the proposed cession of the Ionian Islands. I must look at this question, not only as it affects the Ionian Islands themselves, not only as it affects Greece, but as it affects the interests of this country and the interests of Europe. I am not going to say that Her Majesty's Government could not constitutionally, even without the consent of Parliament, give up the protectorate of this country over those Islands. I do not speak of them as a part of Her Majesty's dominions, so that such a step should be regarded in the light of a dismemberment of the Empire; but I say that they were confided to Great Britain after a consideration of serious questions of European policy, and after grave deliberation on the part of this and other Powers. It had been a matter of much anxiety to Great Britain to obtain those Islands and to retain that possession, and a position such as they afford is not a matter of such indifference to the power of this country as some persons have represented it to be. Observe what was the position of the case previous to 1814. Previously to 1814 most of those Islands had been captured by Great Britain. Corfu had not been in our possession; but for two years before it had been blockaded by the fleets of Great Britain, though it was only after the fall of Napoleon that the French Government surrendered that island to us. So that it was not at that time lightly thought of. From that moment it has been held by Great Britain. At a time when this country was at war, military and naval officers all concurred in the opinion as to the importance of holding and maintaining the Ionian Islands for the purposes of England. One of the latter (Lord Collingwood) said he regarded the possession of Corfu as equal to the addition of two frigates to his fleet. Competent authorities on the subject have stated their 36 opinions as to the importance of our protectorate of those Islands in respect to our position in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, and on account of their geographical position in respect of the route to India viâ Egypt. It is not therefore a place to be regarded as worthy of little consideration. I do not mean to say that there may not be some consideration of expenditure connected with this Protectorate, and that it may not to some extent he an embarrassment to have to protect and watch over the most difficult set of men in the world to protect —Ionians travelling in foreign countries; but I do say that positions of such great importance ought not to be surrendered so lightly and so hastily as Her Majesty's Government seem to think they may be, and that considerations of inconvenience and expense ought not to interfere with the holding of positions of great importance to this country. I think I may appeal to the illustrious Duke on the cross benches (the Duke of Cambridge) to corroborate me when I say that during the Crimean war great advantage was felt from the facility those Islands afforded for supplying troops of the line, while we were enabled to garrison them with militia. They afford us a rendezvous for our fleets and give us one of the safest and best harbours in the Mediterranean, while they might prove a source of great embarrassment to us if they were in possession of a naval Power hostile to this country. I am not arguing that under no circumstances that could possibly occur would it be desirable to surrender the Ionian Islands, though I greatly doubt whether it will ever be for the interest of England to give up that nominal Protectorate, which constitutes the Ionian Islands in reality though not in form a British possession. But of this I am sure, that the utmost care and attention ought to be devoted to the subject before Her Majesty's Government come to any conclusion upon a matter of such grave importance. Last year I think the noble Earl, in the House of Commons, when speaking of the great interests which England had in the Adriatic, was interrupted by an hon. Member, who said, "What great interests?" To which the noble Earl replied, "I should have thought the harbour of Corfu afforded a sufficient answer to such a question." Again; it was only last year that the noble Duke the Secretary for the Colonies (the Duke of Newcastle) disclaimed in the 37 most emphatic manner any desire and any intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to surrender these Islands, contending that they were a solemn trust confided to us by Europe, and that we had not the slightest idea of parting with them. But to whom do you part with them? You propose quite gratuitously to cede these Islands to a Government which is not yet formed—to a State which is yet in the throes of revolution. You propose to give them to this State, unasked for, and, as I will presently show you, in, direct opposition, and contradiction to the principles which have been laid down by the noble Earl himself as those which should regulate the policy of this country. My Lords, in a correspondence which, somewhat gratuitously again, the noble Earl carried on in the course of last year with Prince Gortschakoff, he undertook to lay down certain principles which should regulate the policy of this country in the East, and concluded in terms to which Prince Gortschakoff cordially assented, expressing his great satisfaction at hearing such sentiments from the noble Earl. I have not the exact words by me, but the noble Earl insisted then that there should be a total abandonment by Greece of grandes idées, that the country should abstain from acts of aggression upon the territory of her neighbours, and should keep down the turbulent revolutionary spirit of insurrection which threatened alike all the thrones of Europe. The noble Earl went on to enlarge upon the necessity of preventing Greece from becoming a dangerous enemy of Turkey; and that was the guiding principle he laid down. Well, now, how does he propose to carry out that principle? He proposes to cede the Ionian Islands to Greece, but insists that the form of government there should be monarchical. I presume he means that there shall exist in that country a constitutional monarchy. I presume he means a monarchy in which Parliament shall exercise some control over foreign as well as over domestic policy. Admitting the necessity of procuring the sanction of the Great Powers, it is now proposed that when a monarchy is established in Greece, based on these principles—the abandonment of grandes idées, the non-extension of territory, and non-aggression as regards Turkey—the Great Powers shall be asked to sanction the surrender to that monarchy of the Ionian Islands. Now, that seems to me to be putting off the surrender, ad Graæcas 38 Kalendas. How soon is the noble Earl to be satisfied, not that a constitutional monarchy is established in Greece, but that the Government and Legislature there are sufficiently able, sufficiently willing, and sufficiently determined to discourage that dangerous spirit of aggression against which the noble Earl protests in such strong terms? Then, again, how does the noble Earl assist them to keep down this dangerous spirit? Why, by joining with them a number of Islands, at present under the English Protectorate, the inhabitants of which have been the firmest agitators of that very aggression upon Turkey which the noble Earl says will form an absolute and entire bar to our surrender of these Islands. In proof of this, it is not necessary that I should go further back than to the address of thanks presented by the inhabitants on the first intimation to them of Her Majesty's intention to cede the Islands to Greece. In this address, the people declare their peculiar gratitude, because in that cession they sse the future support of England during those struggles which must hereafter take place for the extension of Christianity and of Christian civilization —in other words, for their assaults upon the territories of Turkey. And so the noble Earl assists this constitutional Power to resist the spirit of aggression among its people by uniting with it, as an additional element, a nation which is as one man in favour of that very principle of aggression. The noble Earl will, perhaps, tell me "That is quite true; but our cession of the Ionian Islands is entirely conditional on our terms being complied with." Well, then, I say, could the noble Earl have devised a more ingenious method of rendering the government of that country difficult and impossible than by thus opposing the attainment of the very object upon which they are so obstinately bent? It appears to me that the conditional promise of ceding these Islands to a Government not yet formed, and of whose future policy it is impossible to pronounce any opinion—to a Power utterly incapable, moreover, of coping with the piracy which used to infest those seas, but which has been systematically and successfully kept down by Great Britain—I say the cession of so important a position to such a Government is one of the greatest mistakes which within my memory have been committed by an English Government. My Lords, I do not despair even 39 now that the country will refuse its assent to this most ill-judged proposition. Nay, from the terms used in the Address, in reply to the Speech from the Throne, I think there is some little hesitation on the part of the Government themselves—some little feeling that, after all, the arrangement may utterly fail, and that unexpected circumstances will concur with diplomatic liabilities in preventing the noble Earl from carrying out this measure in favour of the Islands, if it really be in their favour. The noble Duke opposite, in one of his speeches, expressed what I thought was a well-founded belief, that if the good sense and intelligence of the inhabitants could be fairly tested, especially at Corfu, it would be strongly pronounced against the proposed cession and against the popular clamour for that cession which undoubtedly exists. One word more upon this point before I sit down. Look at the position of Corfu, the most important from its harbour and fortifications—as to the efficiency of which, however, I do not say much, and which probably cost more than they ought to have cost. What is the position of Corfu with reference to any part of Greece? It lies eighty miles to the north of the nearest point of the boundary of Greece, but it is within one mile of the coast of Thessaly, a part of the Turkish dominions, which affords favourable opportunities for constant, I will not say invasions—-but for constant broils, which will infallibly lead to struggles, in which Greece may get the worst of it, and to some new arrangements, in which Corfu may possibly fall into the hands of some other Power, that Power being neither Greece nor Turkey. On all these grounds I implore the Government to consider the gravity and importance of the step they are about to take. I earnestly conjure Parliament and the country to interpose, by the pressure of public opinion, against an act which is one of the most suicidal and imprudent I ever recollect.
My Lords, upon some occasions we have undoubtedly had to complain that the Government have made great professions for the future, and great promises, which ultimately were not fulfilled. Certainly that is not a complaint which can be justly made at present. It is true that the Seconder of the Address undertook to assure us that one of the Bills which was about to be brought in, in pursuance of Her Majesty's recommendations, was to carry out the views of the Commission recently 40 appointed—and which I think up to this time has had one or two sittings—upon the subject of convict discipline. But I think the noble Earl in this was speaking a little out of the four corners of his brief. Of course, if the noble Earl has had confidential communications with the Government on this point, it is not for me to express doubts of his accuracy; but, subject to this assurance, the Government have not thrown great light upon the measures which they intend to propose during the present Session; so that we run no risk of disappointment, and no blame can hereafter be cast upon them for having fallen short of their professions. I suppose, from the absence of any such promises, we may conclude that Her Majesty's Ministers will be satisfied to be humbly useful; that they will bring forward no very ambitious measures, no very sweeping alterations of the Constitution; that they will not make, or even sanction, any violent attacks upon the Church of England; that they will go calmly and quietly along, improving turnpike-roads and amending the Bankruptcy Bill which they passed the year before last, and that we shall pass altogether a quiet, useful, humdrum Session.
Before sitting down, your Lordships will, I am sure, forgive me for referring to a topic which is not indeed mentioned in the Speech, but which was touched on by one of the noble Earls who have just addressed the House—I mean the public and personal loss which we have all sustained by the death of the venerable and respected Marquess. The noble Earl opposite was a colleague of mine in the Government of which the venerable Marquess was a Member; and I am sure he will feel deeply with me the uniform patience, forbearance, good judgment, and good temper of the venerable Marquess with respect to every question that came before us. Your Lordships had the opportunity of seeing the conduct of the venerable Marquess for several years as the leader of the Government in this House, and some years ago, upon his partial retirement from public life, a most unanimous testimony was afforded of the esteem, respect, love, and affection with which he was regarded both by the supporters of that Government and by the House at large. At a later period, when the venerable Marquess retired from taking any active part in public affairs, he has attended this House less frequently; but in 41 the more private life to which he has confined himself, I am sure that he has not in any degree forfeited the warm affection of his friends, and I am equally certain that he passes from this world honoured and respected, in a good old age, without leaving behind him a single enemy.
§ EARL RUSSELL
—My Lords, your Lordships will not have been surprised that the greater part of the noble Earl's speech has been taken up with foreign affairs; and especially with the affairs of Greece. For these I am responsible, and those parts of his speech I shall attempt to answer. But first I must touch upon those topics in the noble Earl's speech in respect of which I have the happiness to concur with the noble Earl. And there is no topic more grateful than the first, where we congratulate Her Majesty upon, the auspicious marriage that is about to take place. I think we must consider that in wishing happiness to the youthful and Royal pair, we are wishing for the advancement of our own interests, because their happiness may greatly tend to form the happiness of the country at large. Passing from that topic, I come to a question upon which the noble Earl spoke at considerable length; I mean the United States. Upon that topic, also, I am glad to agree, for the most part, in the observations of the noble Earl. I believe that Her Majesty's Government has exercised a wise discretion in not interfering, or rather—for it is not interfering — in not joining in giving advice, as the Emperor of the French proposed, to one of the two belligerents. I think we were right, for this reason—that there may come a time when the belligerents themselves, exhausted by the struggle, may wish to refer to some foreign Power to assist them in making that peace which it is so desirable to establish. As to the question of recognition, the noble Earl has rightly remarked, that there are two kinds of recognition. As examples of the first kind of intervention, we have in old times the cases of Holland and Portugal, and in modern times the cases of Belgium and Greece; but no one in this country, I believe, wishes for a forcible intervention on behalf of either of the parties in this case. The cases of Holland, Portugal, Belgium, and Greece were small matters compared with the vast and dreadful struggle in which we should have to interfere if we attempted to decide the claims of either party to the 42 conflict now raging in America. But there is another kind of recognition, and that is a recognition when it is obvious that one of the parties is exhausted by the war, when the attempt to make the other party submit to his authority has failed, and when therefore peace is anxiously wished. We are not arrived at that point yet, because the struggle now going on in different parts of the United States and of the Southern States is kept up, I will not say with undiminished, but with increased power and rancour, and upon a vaster scale. Therefore nothing could be more unwise at present than to have recourse to the power of recognition. There is one thing, however, which I think may be the result of the struggle, and which to my mind would be a great calamity—that is, the subjugation of the South by the North. If it were possible that the Union could be reformed, if the old feelings of affection and attachment towards it could be revived in the South, I for one would be glad to see the Union restored. If, on the other hand, the North were to feel that separation was finally decreed by the events of the war, I should be glad to see peace established upon those terms. But there may be, I say, one end of the war that would prove a calamity to the United States and to the world—and especially calamitous to the negro race in those countries —and that would be the subjugation of the South by the North. One of the first consequences of such a subjugation must be that the North must keep up a large army, must renounce all its former policy, and must put down by force free discussion and a free press in the South. That would be a dangerous thing. But beside this, would not anarchy prevail in the South? Would not the whole state of society and of labour in the South be disorganized, perhaps for a century to come? I hope, whatever may be the issue of this contest, that such may not be the results. I trust that we shall see at the close of this struggle either one great republic or two great republics in the full enjoyment of freedom and all the advantages of a great and independent Power. For my part, I own that before the contest began I rejoiced in seeing the progress of the United States, and was proud to witness the prosperity of a people descended from our own ancestors, and having the same laws and the same love of personal liberty as ourselves. It was, I think, a spectacle at which every Englishman must rejoice, and I should 43 certainly lament if the end of this struggle did not leave the people in those States in the full enjoyment of the benefits and privileges which dignify and adorn mankind.
The noble Earl next referred to a subject which is indeed a very painful one, and that is the distress in the north. Far be it from me to attempt to follow him into a subject with which he is so much better acquainted than I am; but there is one point upon which he naturally did not dwell in the manner which I think it deserved, and that is the personal contribution which he has himself made of time and labour, to say nothing of munificent contribution, to alleviate the distress in Lancashire. It may be said that others have bestowed more time and more continuous labour to that object; but, however that may be, there was one thing desired which the noble Earl has supplied. It was to be desired that, whatever differences may at other times, and within the last twenty years, have existed between the manufacturing body of Lancashire and the great landed interest of the country, those differences and divisions should be effaced by acts which would show the feelings of charity, of good feeling and goodwill, which the landed interest entertain towards those who were engaged in manufactures, and that the great landed proprietors should be bound together with the manufacturers and the great body of the working classes in one work of benevolence and charity. The example of no man could have contributed so powerfully to the removal of those distinctions as that given by the noble Earl himself, whose munificence to the great body of the working men and their families in the manufacturing districts has been unexampled, and certainly calls for a great tribute of gratitude on the part of the country.
Having now, I am afraid, exhausted all the topics upon which I am so happy as to agree with the noble Earl, I come to those upon which I differ from him, and in respect of which I must take exception to his remarks. He seems to think that I am disposed to meddle in everything. Now, oddly enough, it happens that, with regard to the United States, when we were asked to give advice in conjunction with the French Government, the Government refused to give any advice whatever. Then, as to Mexico, where our co-operation, in the shape of intervention, was desired and invited, we declined to con- 44 tinue that co-operation, and are entirely free from any charge of interference or intervention in that country. These certainly cannot be considered minor affairs. I may also say, although it is a minor subject, but still connected with the great questions of the East, that during the fights and contests that took place last summer in Montenegro—although advice was given by France, by Russia, by Austria, and by Prussia—almost the only Government in Europe that gave no advice was the Government of this country. But the noble Earl speaks of advice which we gave to Denmark and to the Pope of Borne. Of the nature of that advice I will speak presently; but, if I do not mistake, the noble Earl opposite once tendered advice that was not very fortunate to Denmark and Russia; and, if I am not misinformed, he gave some advice during the war in 1859 to Italy. Every one who knew anything of the Italians in 1859 knew well that they had made up their minds to this course of policy—that if it should happen that in the event of a war their Sovereigns should take the popular side and engage in the war against Austria, those princes should retain their thrones, but otherwise they were determined to get rid of their Sovereigns. It appears, however, that advice was given by the British Government to the Grand Duke of Tuscany to resist the popular power, and to the King of Naples to remain neutral. The consequence of following that advice was that both princes lost their thrones. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, instead of taking the popular side in the war between Austria and Sardinia, left his territories and went straight to the Austrian head-quarters. The King of Naples preserved neutrality, but he was driven from his country, and lost his throne. Now, it might not be intervention—it might not be interference—but certainly the advice of the noble Earl had in that instance an effect most unfortunate for those to whom it was tendered. The noble Earl seems to think the advice I gave to the King of Denmark was given without any provocation whatever. I must say the noble Earl in that part of his speech showed a total ignorance of what has been passing of late years. I do not blame him for being ignorant of the facts, but certainly he has made many assertions and assumptions on that ignorance which are not easily justifiable. It did so happen that in 1861 the German Powers 45 had almost determined on an "execution" in Holstein. I pointed out that an execution in Holstein would lead the Germans to the confines of Schleswig. The boundary had never been settled, and I thought the occupation by German troops of a boundary so unsettled, especially with the excitement which then prevailed on both sides, was likely to bring on war between Denmark and Germany, and that that war might extend to other Powers, and so perhaps bring on a European conflict. Now, it may be a great fault, I confess, in one holding the Foreign Office in troubled times, but I have felt exceedingly sensitive as to those circumstances that might bring about a rupture of the general peace; and when I have seen appearances of an approaching storm, I have endeavoured, it may be unsuccessfully—perhaps too frequently—to prevent any chance of war by friendly advice given to one party or the other. My belief is that the advice which Her Majesty's Government gave at that time was conducive to the peace of Europe, because it was settled at that time—in 1861— that, instead of an "execution," which, if persisted in, would have been the commencement of war, Germany and Denmark should negotiate together and endeavour to come to an agreement on points on which they differed. Towards the end of 1862, when these negotiations had gone on without conflict of arms, but with very bitter discussions on one side and the other, it appeared to me that there was no chance of an amicable termination of that correspondence, and I proposed what I thought perfectly compatible with the independence and integrity of Denmark. It so happened that they did not like the plan; they did not agree to it. My conviction is, if they had agreed to it, they would have been in a better and safer position than they are at present, keeping up so vexatious a quarrel, in which the feelings of Germans, though not at present very active, may at any time be roused, and an immense body of Germans may be directed to solve the question. Then the noble Earl finds great fault with the advice he seems to think was very gratuitously given to the Pope. It was not exactly what the noble Earl has read. What happened was this:—Mr. Russell, being in Home in the beginning of the summer, wished to return home before the unhealthy season. Just before he was coming away he received an intimation that 46 the Pope wished to see him the next day, appointing the hour. Upon the next day Mr. Russell had the honour of an audience with the Pope. The Pope spoke to him very much of Garibaldi being in Sicily; and appearing to have considerable apprehensions as to the state of Italy, he asked the question whether, if he sought an asylum in England, he might rely on our hospitality? To this Mr. Russell returned a general answer, saying that our hospitality was well known, and that we gave asylum to all who sought it. Before Mr. Russell left, the Pope again referred to the subject, adding, "Perhaps I may one day seek the hospitality of England." Now, the noble Earl seems very much surprised; but, for my part, I think nothing was so natural, because it was obvious that if the Pope went to France, Austria, Spain, or any other Catholic country, in the first place there would be great jealousies among other Catholic Powers, and in the next place there is no Catholic Power that would not demand from the Pope some privileges which would excite the jealousies of the rest; whereas if he went to any of Her Majesty's dominions, he might be quite sure that we would ask nothing of him from the beginning of the year to the, end of it; we should not interfere with his perfect freedom, and he would thereby be more secure, more at liberty, than in almost any Catholic country. Certain it is, that appeared to be the impression of the Pope. After that I certainly wrote a despatch recommending that course, because I thought it would relieve the Pope from the painful position in which he now stands—a position in which he, an Italian Prince, is opposed to the almost unanimous wish of the rest of Italy, and at the same time feels himself conscientiously bound to defend all the ancient powers and retain all the ancient territories belonging to the Holy See. I must say, however much I may wish the independence of Italy, I cannot help entertaining the greatest respect for the conscientious feelings of the Pope, and regret that he should be exposed to trials to which he cannot conscientiously yield, but which must be painful to sustain, since nearly all his countrymen desire a different course. Well, I wrote that despatch; it was taken in very good part at Rome; Cardinal Antonelli thanked the British Government for the offer, and the Pope afterwards personally thanked Mr. 47 Russell for the offer made on the part of the British Government; and the report made by Mr. Russell was, that it had produced the best feeling among those who surround the Pope, and who had hitherto considered us personally hostile to him.Non obtusa adeo gestamus pectora Pœni.While I could do so without sacrificing the opinions of the Government with respect to the independence of Italy, I was glad to have given to that venerable man the comfortable assurance that he might resort to the hospitality of England.
The noble Earl's next remarks had reference to the subject of Greece. The noble Earl appears to think that we have had to submit to very strong language from France and Russia, in order to give up the candidature, as it is called, of Prince Alfred. Nothing can be further from the truth. The fact is, that we were the first to propose a joint declaration that none of the Princes belonging to any of the protecting Powers should be capable of accepting or wearing the crown of Greece. It was naturally asked at the same time of the Russian Government whether the Duke of Leuchtenburg, who had been brought up at St. Petersburg as a Russian Prince, who appeared in their almanacks as part of the Imperial family, and was to all intents and purposes part of it, would be excluded by the Protocol of 1830. The answer was, that there were critical doubts about it. We then said—what I think was quite fair —that if we were to have a protocol of exclusion, it must not be merely operative against the Royal Family of England, but must also be operative against the Imperial Family of Russia. We were not prepared to sign anything which applied to Prince Alfred that did not apply to Prince Leuchtenberg. Whereupon that negotiation ceased—at least, for some time. It appeared to me that the proper course was to leave the Greeks entirely free to take their own course in the first instance, and reserve our objections. The consequence of that policy was, that after a time the Russian Ambassador at Her Majesty's Court informed me that he was ready to sign a note excluding Prince Leuchtenburg on the one side, provided Her Majesty would exclude Prince Alfred on the other. It appeared to me that to have left matters depending upon an uncertain and unintelligible protocol would have enabled the Russian Government to propose the Duke of Leuchtenberg, and 48 we might have had complications; but, by the understanding come to, the Princes of all the three families were excluded.
Then the noble Earl came to the subject of the Ionian Islands, on which I confess that I differ from him in toto, both as to his history, his facts, and his principles. The noble Earl admitted, in the first instance, that the Ionian Islands were not a part of the dominions of Her Majesty; but he entirely forgot that fact in all the rest of his observations. Now, what is the history of this Protectorate given to Great Britain? I have heard it orally from a lamented friend of mine, the late Lord Beauvale, who knew all that happened at the Congress of Vienna, and I have found all that he said confirmed in the protocols and treaties of that Congress. As the noble Earl has said, at the end of the war six of these islands were in the possession of Great Britain, having been acquired by her own arms, and the other was temporarily held by another Power. The Austrian Government offered, as they were in a position affecting the tranquillity of Venetia, Dalmatia, and the Adriatic coast, to undertake the government of these islands, securing to the islanders the enjoyment of their own privileges. But it happened that at that time the voice of Russia was very powerful. The results of the campaign had given the Emperor Alexander very great influence with the Congress, and Count Capo d'Istrias, a Minister high in that Emperor's confidence, who had a patriotic feeling in favour of the nationality of the Greeks, suggested when Austria made her proposal, that the Ionian Islands should be maintained in all their privileges as a free State under the protection of Great Britain. He said that the institutions of Austria did not give any promise of freedom to the Ionian Islands, but he admired British institutions, and wished the Ionians to have the benefit of them. The consequence of that declaration and that interference of Russia was a treaty in which was it said—that Great Britain should have the fortress of Corfu, to give her power in the Mediterranean? Nothing of the kind—it said that the Ionian Islands, naming each island, should form one single, free, and independent State, under the name of the Republic of the Ionian Islands. So that they are by no means a possession of Great Britain or any part of the Queen's dominions; but are, by that Treaty of 1815, 49 a free and independent State. Well, what becomes of all the argument, if I may call it so, about the importance of the fortress and the position, seeing that these Islands are only under the Protectorate of Great Britain? My opinion is, that having adopted a trust, having made yourselves the protectors of this free and independent State, you are bound to look to the welfare of the Ionians. Above all that you are bound to discharge your duty faithfully and conscientiously towards that free and independent Republic. I believe the importance of Corfu is very much exaggerated. But if you were to say, "We care nothing about the wishes of the Ionian Islands, but what we do care about is a fortress for ourselves, what we do care about is a harbour for Great Britain," I believe that all Europe would cry out upon you for that declaration, and those who gave you that trust would say, "You have perverted the solemn trust confided to you, and that which ought to have been treated according to the original terms of the stipulation for the benefit of the Ionians you have considered only as a part of the strength of your dominions." Because that was the whole gist of the noble Earl's remarks. He never spoke for a moment about the Ionians or their wishes.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I beg pardon, I quoted the noble Duke opposite, that the Ionians should be consulted on the cession.
§ EARL RUSSELL
—That is exactly what we are going to do. We mean to consult them. Moreover, this is a matter which also requires consideration from the other Powers. We shall say first to the Ionians "If you, on the meeting of your Parliament, to be convened for the purpose, shall declare (as once or twice they have irregularly done), that Greece being now an independent kingdom, we wish to belong to Greece;" then we shall consult the other Powers of Europe who were parties to the original treaty, as to what should be done, and whether, it being the wish of the Ionian Islands to be joined to Greece, they ought not to be so joined. If it is clearly the desire of the Islands, as it is very possible it may be, notwithstanding the symptoms that have from time to time been exhibited—if it is their desire to enjoy the benefits of the protection of Great Britain, which, I think, are very great, and which have much tended to their civilization; then one consequence of this will be, that we shall be free 50 from the reproach which is cast upon us from every side—that while in every corner of Europe we profess such liberal principles, while we profess that Italy ought to be independent and free to control its own concerns, we coerce and oppress the Ionian Islanders, who wish to be released from our rule. These Islands being no dependency of the British Crown and no part of the British dominions, if they fairly and deliberately declare their desire for union with Greece, I maintain that be the advantages of our having a fortress in the Mediterranean what they may, it does not belong to the character of this great country to say that it will keep them in subjection, although they wish to be free and are entitled to be so. The noble Earl may laugh at this whole question if he likes; but I confess that to see two countries, to which such great recollections belong as Greece and Italy, rising again into freedom, independence, and happiness, is a great pleasure to me; and it would, I think, be a great glory to the Government of Great Britain to have contributed to such a result. This is not a new policy, but one that has been pursued by the statesmen of this country for generations. Our conduct in regard to Holland, Portugal, Greece and Belgium in past times bears evidence to the exertions of Great Britain towards the establishment of free and independent communities. That is our true policy; and the extension of our empire is not so valuable to us as this extension of free and independent nations, which, having the support of Great Britain, there is no chance of that single despotic dominion by which Europe has more than once been oppressed. Your Lordships will be better able to judge of these matters when you have read the papers which will be laid before you.
My Lords, if the noble Earl opposite and my noble friend behind me have been unable to go through this debate without paying some tribute to the memory of the late Marquess of Lansdowne, I feel that it is impossible for me, who had been so long connected with him in friendship and by political ties, to omit the mention of his name. The recollection of his life is one of no ordinary character. It is the recollection of a life pure, honoured, and respected—known to this House by combined wisdom, moderation, dignity, and courtesy—known to the public at large by the many services which he contributed to the legislation and the institutions of 51 his country. My Lords, I hope that a spirit like his may preside over your Lordships' deliberations. His spirit was this, that while he dearly loved the Constitution, he was a friend to every improvement, every well-considered advance that could be made in our institutions. So that as a steadfast friend of the Constitution, that Constitution would never suffer in his hand, nor the cause of sound progress be impeded. When your Lordships consider the great measures that were passed in his time and by his assistance—measures which included every kind of religious or political question—questions affecting the rights of Protestant Dissenters, questions affecting the disabilities of the Roman Catholics or the emancipation of the Jews— when you look at the measures for free trade in corn, so deeply affecting the material interests of the community—when you look at the Reform Act, affecting the political power of the people in the country, I think you will find that the spirit which animated Lord Lansdowne is the spirit which ought to animate all who take part in political affairs. It has been a great mercy to England and the world that extreme changes have been made here in peace and tranquillity which in other countries would in all probability not have been effected without revolution. I think you will find that that is partly owing to the prevalence of the feelings and views entertained by the deceased statesman—feelings and views which were alike favourable to liberty and order, and which deserve the attention of mankind.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
— My Lords, I need not say that I agree with the concluding words of the noble Earl with respect to the lamented nobleman who has been taken from us. I can only add my honest wish that when hereafter any noble Lord shall assume the leadership of this House he will remember the conduct of the Marquess of Lansdowne, and endeavour to imitate it as closely as possible. I will not trespass on your time, for it would be superfluous to say how sincerely I participate in the feelings of those who have already spoken with regard to the auspicious event which has been announced to us in the first part of the Speech from the Throne. Indeed, I should not have thought it necessary to address your Lordships at all but for some observations of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Russell) in answer to my noble Friend behind me. Before replying to 52 those observations, allow me to express my approbation of the policy pursued by the noble Earl with reference to the affairs of America. I agree that we could not have recognised the Southern States without going further—bare recognition would have been utterly barren; it would not have been of the smallest use unless followed up by forcible intervention, and unless we had insisted upon the blockade being raised. But although I entirely agree in that part of the noble Earl's policy, I cannot go farther and agree with the noble Earl, or even with my noble Friend behind me, in thinking that the noble Earl pursued a right course with respect to the French proposal for mediation. I think it was our duty, as a Christian people, being of the same religion and the same blood, and speaking the same language as the Americans, to do whatever we possibly could to stop the dreadful struggle now going on among them, provided always that we neither risked our neutrality nor incurred dishonour. It is impossible to conceive, if you recollect what the proposition of the French Government was, what harm could have occurred to our Government by joining in their proposition. If it had succeeded, the credit of this country would have been lasting—it would have been a most creditable page in the history of this country; whereas, if it had failed —if the Northern States rejected the proposition even with insult—the attempt could have brought no detriment upon us. Even if it had been received with insult, we need care for no insult which does not bring dishonour with it, and this could not have brought dishonour, but the contrary. I do not feel convinced that it would not have succeeded—it is possible that the proposition might have done so; for it seems almost against common sense and probability to believe that in that great country, inhabited by millions, so sorely tried for two years by every misfortune by which men can be cursed, there are not hundreds of thousands composing a peace party who would be glad to obtain peace if they could get it with honour, and who would be glad to avail themselves of any reasonable excuse which saved their pride. However that may be, the attempt should have been made, and I regret that the noble Earl did not join in the French proposition. The Emperor has kept steadily to his purpose. Alone of his 53 own accord, he has renewed his efforts to put a stop to the war. If he succeeds, he will have plucked from us one of the greatest opportunities we ever had for distinguishing the Government of this country. Before leaving the subject of America, I want to express my sincere hope, that although the noble Earl has been baffled, as I know he has, in treating with so extraordinary a body as the Government of the Northern States, he has endeavoured to stop, or at least mitigate, some of the horrors now going on in America. I have no doubt he has done so, and that the papers he is about to lay on the table will show that he has done so. But, without distressing your Lordships by any enumeration of the horrors of the war—horrors unparalleled even in the wars of barbarous nations—I should like to know whether the noble Earl has arrested one special kind of diabolical cruelty enacted by the Government of the United States. That Government has, contrary to all the common laws of war, contrary to all precedent, not excluding the most ignorant and barbarous ages, declared medicines and surgical instruments contraband of war, thereby, in plain English, enacting that nothing should be done to mitigate the sufferings or save the life of a wounded or dying enemy. So horrible a proceeding requires, I think, the publicly expressed condemnation of every civilized country in the world. I now come to that part of the noble Earl's speech in which he taunted my noble Friend behind me, who had, as I think very properly, reproved him for his officious advice given in all directions and on all occasion?, with having done exactly the panic thing himself. The noble Earl taunted my noble Friend with having been equally fidgety and fussy upon every occasion, and he quoted the advice given to the King of Naples and the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1859, which advice, the noble Earl said, amounted to this:—The King and the Grand Duke were counselled not to involve themselves in the disputes between Piedmont, Austria, and France, but to remain quiet at home, governing their own subjects and not meddling with those of others. I do not recollect any such advice having been given to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, but I do recollect it having been given to the King of Naples; and if I were in the same position again, I should repeat that advice. It is sound advice to anybody to tell him to take care of his own 54 business, and not meddle with that of others, especially when war is in question. But there is a very great difference between the advice recently given to the King of Denmark and the Pope by the noble Earl and that formerly given by the Government of which I was a member to the King of Naples. The difference is this:—The King of Naples asked for our advice; but I am not aware that either the King of Denmark or the Pope paid the same compliment to the noble Earl. We gave our advice, moreover, in the hope of forming a congress; and I hold it is not officious to attempt to constitute a European conference for the amelioration of Governments, as we did for Italy. There is then a great difference between the advice given by the noble Earl to the King of Denmark and the advice given by us to the King of Naples. But the advice given by the noble Earl to the King of Denmark was not only not asked for, but it was of a very surprising character, for it was the exact contrary of the advice he had given to the King of Denmark before. In 1860 and 1861 the noble Earl, in his despatches, pronounced Schleswig to be a Danish duchy; he stated that the German Confederation had no right to interfere in its administration; but in his recent despatch he recommended alterations which, in fact, would Germanize Denmark and establish the Government of the country at Frankfort instead of at Copenhagen. The noble Earl's scheme would have given an inadequate representation to Denmark proper. [Earl RUSSELL: I never advised anything of the sort.] Not in so many words; but the noble Earl sided with the Germans, who wished to abrogate the old charter, and to enforce a policy the result of which would be, by giving the same number of members to the German provinces, which contain 80,000 inhabitants, as to Denmark proper, which contains 1,600,000, to place the Government of Denmark at Frankfort. However, I do not wish to weary your Lordships with this bête noire the Danish Question, the terror of which, as you may be aware, has already sufficed more than once to disperse the other House. I will only say, that even if I agreed to every statement in the noble Earl's despatch, I should object to the style of it. Denmark is an ancient State, more ancient than our own, for its kings have sat on our throne of England. It is an honourable one, too, 55 for it has maintained its independence for centuries. Such a kingdom, small as it is, ought to be treated with deference, and I say that is what the noble Earl has failed to do. The noble Earl's intentions may be good, but his pen sometimes gets the better of his judgment, and I think it did so when he wrote his despatch on this question. He appears not to possess that sort of moral thermometer by which he is able to ascertain the temperament at which a despatch of advice or remonstrance can be written without offence. He addresses Denmark just as if it were a vassal of England instead of an independent State. Surely, too, the noble Earl forgot himself in his recent communications with the Pope. It may be quite true that His Holiness is unpopular at Home. But suppose this case:—The noble Duke, for example, who is at the head of the Admiralty, possessess, as one of the emoluments of his office, a handsome house at Whitehall—God forbid that I should compare its architecture to that of the Vatican, any more than that I should say he was as unpopular in the navy as the Pope is in Italy—but assuming he were so, and any kind friend were to say to the noble Duke, "Leave the Admiralty, and I will find you a spare room where you will be free from the cares of office, and I will send my carriage to fetch you," would not the noble Duke answer just as the Pope did, "I don't know what trials Providence has in store for me, but for the present I have no apprehensions, and prefer to stay where I am"? As to the Greek question, I have been very much astonished at the course which the Government has taken. My noble Friend near me (the Earl of Derby) has, I think, placed the Government on the horns of a very awkward dilemma. If the diplomatic contract which existed prevented the acceptance of the throne of Greece by Prince Alfred, the Government should immediately have made it known that such was the case. Having looked at the protocol, I maintain that it is as good now as ever, and I cannot conceive how Russia could dispute it.
§ EARL RUSSELL
Russia disputed not the binding nature of the protocol, but its application to the Duke of Leuchtenburg.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
We heard a good deal not long since about bubble bets. It seems to me that in Greece there was a "bubble" election, because Her Majesty's Government never 56 intended that Prince Alfred should accept the crown. I think such a proceeding was most disrespectful to the Prince and the Royal Family, and it was undoubtedly cruel to the Greek people. Every day of delay in forming a solid and permanent Government in that country is an additional day of anarchy. Up to this time the people have behaved very well, and have obeyed their provisional Government; but I have received reliable information that disorder is beginning to appear, and that brigandage is gaining ground; so that if this question be not very quickly settled, it is impossible to say what may be the result. By their finessing Her Majesty's Government have postponed the settlement of Greece, and will therefore be responsible for any misfortune which may ensue. I am also very much surprised at the cession of the Ionian Islands. The noble Earl tells us he is giving them up because, as I did not know before, we have been taunted with holding the Protectorate for selfish ends. If the noble Earl is so susceptible, there is no saying where he will stop. He may shortly find that similar taunts are applied to our occupation of Gibraltar or Malta, and may find it necessary to vindicate the purity of our character in the same way. There are some persons who insist that Corfu is of no use to us. I say that is a mistake— it is an important harbour and fortress, and the key of the Adriatic. But Corfu cannot be defended by the Greeks—the whole Greek army would be insufficient to hold the fortifications of that port; and even if they could, I doubt whether in the event of a European war they would defend it. The result would be, that when hostilities broke out, it would be seized by France or Russia. I trust that the Government will inquire as to the value of Corfu of some of the veterans who took part in the naval operations in the Adriatic, under Sir W. Hoste. Some of his captains are still living. I am certain they would support the view I take, and that they would strongly deprecate our giving it up. And I see no reason why, because the noble Earl and his predecessors have mismanaged the Ionian Islands, they should now be abandoned.
§ EARL GREY
said, there were two points in the speech of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury) on which he so entirely differed from him that he desired to address a few observations to those sub- 57 jects. The noble Earl had expressed regret that Her Majesty's Ministers had not concurred with France in offering their good offices to America for the purpose of terminating the existing war in that country. He could not share in that regret; he felt as strongly as any noble Lord in that House a desire for the cessation of that horrible warfare; but he asked, did any one believe that the tender of the good offices of France and England at that time would have contributed to bring the war to a close? It had been well observed by the noble Earl who followed the Proposer and Seconder of the Address, that before an accommodation could be recommended, the principle on which it was to be proposed must be determined upon. The South insisted on independence, and the North on the re-establishment of the Union; and he thought that their Lordships would feel that some months ago, when the proposal from France was received, it would have been worse than useless to advise the contending parties to agree to either principle. If an accommodation had been proposed on the assumption that the re-establishment of the Union was impossible, the Government of the Northern States might well have complained of the exertion, on the part of this country, of a moral power against them; and if, on the other hand, mediation had been offered on the basis of the re-establishment of the Union, then they would have proposed what he concurred with every noble Lord who had spoken in thinking was absolutely impracticable. There could, he thought, exist little doubt, that if we had so interfered, we should, instead of doing good, only have further irritated those already too much irritated against this country. The other question on which he desired to express an opinion was with reference to the Ionian Islands. It was a question of very great importance; and, much to his surprise, it had been implied by a noble Earl opposite that there was some foundation in the objection popularly taken to the course pursued by the Government, on the ground that the Government had not waited for the concurrence of Parliament before it had proposed the transfer of those Islands to Greece. The Ionian Islands were neither in fact nor technically part of the British dominions; but could there be any doubt, even supposing that the Islands really formed part of the foreign dominions of the Crown, that the Crown possessed the constitutional power 58 of ceding them to a foreign nation? He said nothing as to the advisability of such a course. All negotiations and conclusions of treaties rested with the Crown; if the Crown abused its authority, the advisers of the Crown were responsible, and were liable to the censure of Parliament, and even to impeachment, if they advised the Crown to adopt measures injurious to the empire. There were precedents of cessions made by treaty. The magnificent island of Java was thus ceded, and injudiciously in his opinion, but he believed that in respect to that transaction it never was asserted that the authority of the Crown was overstepped. There was, therefore, nothing unconstitutional or irregular in the course pursued with respect to the Ionian Islands. And he would go further, and say that, in his opinion, the measure was not only right in form but right in substance, and, instead of deserving censure for the proposed arrangement, the Government were entitled to praise. It had been said that the Ionian Islands were extremely valuable, especially in time of war. He certainly did not know how they could be valuable to this country in time of peace, for England drew no tribute from them, but, on the contrary, expended a considerable sum of money on them. The trade with them was not very large, but that would go on just as well if the Ionian Islands were given up to-morrow. With regard to the importance of the Islands in time of war, much stress had been laid upon the experience of the last great war with France, and in the opinion said to have been expressed by Sir William Hoste, that the possession of Corfu would have been then of more value to him than the best frigate in his squadron. He could perfectly well understand that this might have been a sound opinion with reference to the circumstances of those times; but their Lordships must remember that this was before the invention of steam, and Italy was then occupied by a French army, to which the population was generally hostile, and against which we were carrying on operations by harassing attacks upon the coast. With reference to these attacks, and when, from not being in possession of steam-power, it was important to be able to obtain supplies for our ships from various quarters, the possession of Corfu would obviously have been of great value; but circumstances were now entirely changed. He hoped and believed that Italy was 59 now about to become a great and powerful nation, and was not likely to be again occupied by French armies in the same manner as it had before been, nor was there a prospect of gigantic hostilities like those carried on during the great Revolutionary War. One station in the Mediterranean was quite sufficient for our purposes; and looking at all the circumstances, he thought it obvious that Malta should be that one. Instead of being an advantage to this country during war, he was persuaded that the possession of the Ionian Islands would be a source of difficulty and danger. In the first place, they would require a garrison of certainly not less than 10,000 men; and with our army, which always had been and always must be numerically small as compared to those of the great military Powers of the Continent, to have 10,000 men taken away to garrison a port like this would be a great inconvenience. But even 10,000 men, if we were at war with these great Powers, would not be safe without the constant support of a naval force; without this they would be liable at any moment to be attacked by a superior force, which it would be impossible for them to resist, especially if the population were unfriendly. To guard against our suffering so heavy a blow, we should therefore be compelled always to keep our fleet within reach of these islands for their protection if required, and the necessity of affording this protection would obviously cripple and hamper the movements of our Mediterranean fleet in other operations that might be wanted. There was another view of this question in which he concurred with his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary. He agreed with the noble Earl that the Ionian Islands had been given to us for their benefit, and not for ours; and it would do much damage to the reputation of this country if we allowed it to be supposed that we insisted on retaining the Protectorate, not for their advantage but for our own selfish objects. Again, he concurred with the Government in thinking the moment most happily chosen for offering a surrender of that Protectorate. He did not think it would have been consistent with our obligations to surrender it during the existence of the late Government in Greece, which had failed in fulfilling the objects for which it had been called into existence; but when a fitting opportunity presented itself, he believed we were doing what was right in offering no obstacle to 60 another arrangement. We accepted the Protectorate under a treaty by which we were bound to give the Ionian Islands a constitutional Government; but such a Government could not work in any country without the consent of the people, and in spite of all our endeavours to conciliate the people of the Ionian Islands—and he did not know what more we could have done for them—such was their attitude towards the protecting Power, that though a constitution existed in the country, it was set aside year after year. Session after session Parliament met in those Islands, but did nothing. It met and declared its intention to have the Islands annexed to Greece. It was then prorogued, and the Government was carried on by provisional acts of the Senate; that is, virtually by the arbitrary authority of the Lord High Commissioner. This for several years had been the regular march of events. He believed that of late the Ionian Parliament had sat somewhat longer and done somewhat more than a few years ago, but it still refused fairly to co-operate with the British authorities, and, substantially, we had failed in our endeavours to give the people the benefits of constitutional government. The most necessary functions of government were thus in abeyance; and though the Ionian Islands were under a system of law which was positively preposterous, and which the British Government was most anxious to amend, in consequence of the deadlock between the protecting Power and the representatives of the country, none of those reforms or improvements which were necessary for the development of the natural resources of the country could be accomplished. The continuance of such a state of things was not creditable to this country; and when there was an opportunity of withdrawing from a position of such embarrassment, in his opinion Her Majesty's Government had judged wisely in resolving to avail themselves of the occasion.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
said, that the noble Earl who had just sat down (Earl Grey) had taken exception to the speech of his noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury) on two points. One of these points was the expression of regret that Her Majesty's Government had not joined the Emperor of the French in offering mediation between the contending parties in the United States. This, however, was a past transaction which might be made 61 subject of discussion, but which no criticism now offered could alter or modify. The second point to which the noble Earl took exception was in a different position —the cession of the Ionian Islands to Greece. As these Islands had not yet wholly passed out of our possession, and as it might be possible to bring Her Majesty's Government to review the circumstances under which they had made the offer to cede our Protectorate, he should say a few words in answer to some of the observations of the noble Earl. He was not one of those who at all times and under all circumstances would object to any modification of our position in respect of these Islands, or even to a surrender of the Protectorate; but he contended that either a modification or a cession ought to be considered in connection with the time and circumstances under which it was proposed. That point, however, was one which had been entirely overlooked by the noble Lord opposite who had spoken on the subject. For his own part he had failed to ascertain from the speech of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Russell) what were the precise grounds upon which this cession was justified. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) justified it upon military grounds, upon the temper of the islanders, and upon political considerations. As to the former of these, though it might be said on the one side that steam communication had altered the conditions which made the possession of these Islands desirable, it might also be alleged on the other side that this very steam communication, rendering a greater number of coal depôts necessary than heretofore, added to the importance of these Islands to this country. As to financial considerations, he should be the last to object to any sound and effective economy; but the cession of dependencies of the British Crown was a very rough-and-ready mode of practising economy. Where was such a principle to stop? Malta, Gibraltar, and India cost money. Was economy to be carried out by the cession of these dependencies? Moreover, the Government were bound to show why they gave this priority to the Ionian Islands over half-a-dozen other places, where we were possibly spending quite as much money and getting less in return. Then there were the political considerations which had been spoken of. He observed that this step was called a "gift." But the Ionian Islands were not ours to 62 "give," for we had neither conquered them nor inherited them, and he doubted whether it was competent for us to "give" away that which had been well defined by his noble Friend as a territory confided as a trust to our guardianship. No doubt a trust might be resigned, but it must be resigned into the hands from which we had received it; and, if alienated, it must be alienated with the consent of our co-trustees. The Treaty of Paris stipulated that they should remain a single, free, and independent Kingdom. If they were ceded to Greece, they might be free, but they would certainly not be independent. Then as to the time at which this "gift" had been proposed. At this moment Greece was neither a monarchy nor a republic, but a vague, indefinite phantom, which had no existence in the councils of Europe. He admitted that by their recent moderation and good order the Greeks gave hopeful promise for the future; but he confessed that he could not understand the precipitancy of the Government in what they admitted to be so weighty and important a matter. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) said that the consent of Parliament to the cession was not necessary, and perhaps technically this was so. But of all men he should have thought that the noble Earl would have been the last to dispute the right of Parliament to consider this question or the propriety of such a course. He asked, what was the real value of this gift to the Greeks themselves? If, indeed, we could give to Greece, along with the Ionian Islands, Epirus, Thessaly, Albania, Candia, and other territory adjacent, the gift would be one worth having. But four years ago, when this question was mooted, the most moderate politicians of Athens were far from desiring the annexation of the Ionian Islands, seeing in it the annexation of Greece to the Islands rather than that of the Islands to Greece; for the islanders had held out threats, that if the annexation took place, they would revolutionize the dynasty and the constitution. Then was this measure palatable even to the inhabitants themselves? Mr. Gladstone formed the opinion that the wealthy and respectable islanders were afraid of annexation to Greece. Turkey, also, would not view with complacency the aggrandisement of this aggressive neighbour. She could hardly desire to see the Greek power extending itself on her western flank and threatening Albania. The fact was, that 63 in making this proposal the Government were dealing with a mere fragment of the Eastern question, and, instead of advancing the solution of that question, were laying the foundation of still further complications. He could not separate this question from the question of the election to the Crown of Greece. It was clear that the noble Earl had given a certain sanction to the candidature of Prince Alfred, when he knew that by treaties which were still in existence, and binding upon us, any such candidature was forbidden. Was it right for the British Government to bring forward an English Prince in such a manner as to make their support or withdrawal of him a matter dependent upon circumstances? The people most, entitled to complain of the conduct of the Government was the Greek people, who were at first led to believe that an English Prince was a possible Sovereign for them, and a month was allowed to elapse and an election to take place before any doubt was thrown upon such a possibility. When Prince Alfred was withdrawn, the British Government recommended the King of Portugal, but took no previous steps to ascertain whether the King would accept the dignity if offered to him. Again were the Greeks disappointed; and now a third time, when it appeared that the Duke of Saxe-Coburg was disinclined to mount the vacant Throne. He could not help thinking that by the course they had pursued the Government had been trifling with a grave question, and had given the Greek people great reason for complaint.
said, he did not think the noble Earl who had just sat down had dealt quite fairly with the arguments of his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who had contended, that inasmuch as this country held the Ionian. Islands as a trust, we ought not to continue to hold them when we could no longer discharge that trust for the benefit of the inhabitants of those Islands. There was a great difference between our tenure of those Islands and that by which our other possessions abroad were held. The Ionian Islands were, in fact, a free State under the protection of Great Britain, and therefore it was competent and right for the Government to take steps to get relieved from their trust when they could no longer execute it satisfactorily. The noble Earl had objected to the time at which the cession was proposed, but that 64 really was a point upon which the Government were entitled to credit. For himself, he thought that so far from the time chosen for making the offer being inopportune, it had been very wisely and appropriately chosen. While the Government of Greece was unsatisfactory, the transfer could not be made, but when a change took place, and a Government was formed that was likely to be more stable, the British Government wisely lost no time in making it known, that when the new Sovereign should be elected, they would give up the Ionian Islands to Greece. The consent of the other Powers who were parties to the Treaty of 1815 must be obtained; but he understood his noble Friend the Secretary of State to say that that assent was reserved, and that all arrangements must be subject to its being obtained. He therefore saw no ground for impugning the conduct of the Government in respect to Greece. But there was one question upon which he did not quite agree with the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He regretted that his noble Friend should have used such strong language respecting the relations between Schleswig and Denmark, as that contained in the despatch which had been referred to that evening. So strong a statement could not fail to increase the difficulties—already very severe—of the Danish Government in dealing with that complicated question. Of course, there could be no objection to proposing friendly arrangement for the solution of these difficulties, if any such had appeared feasible; but the noble Earl should have remembered that Schleswig was in a different position as regarded Germany from Holstein and Lauenberg, and should have been careful not to give a colour to the suggestion that, in the opinion of the British Government, Germany was entitled to the possession of Schleswig. The only other point to which he need refer was that of the United States, and he should do so simply to express his opinion that the Government were well advised in not interfering in the contest now raging in that country.
Address agreed to, Nemine Dissentiente; and Ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.