§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
, rose, pursuant to notice, to ask, Whether the Government are prepared to produce any further Correspondence upon the Questions 1739 of Holstein and Schleswig; and especially whether they can communicate any Representations which may have been made to the Danish Government by those of Austria and Prussia, relative to the Proclamation of the King of Denmark, dated the 31st of March 1863, and said: My Lords, it is now rather more than two years since I called your attention to the danger which then seemed to be imminent over the State of Denmark. At that time some concession was made by Denmark which was held to obviate the necessity for an immediate execution which had been ordered by the Germanic Confederation. I now desire to call your attention to a danger which is not, perhaps, so immediate, but which seems to be even greater than that which I brought under your notice two years ago. It is not so immediate; because the minds of men are so occupied by the state of affairs in Poland, and it is believed to be so necessary to hold the forces of some of the German Powers disposable for eventualties in that unhappy country, that I do not think an execution will he ordered against Denmark under existing circumstances. But it is nevertheless expedient that your Lordships should look at the dangers which are approaching, and should endeavour to avert them, rather than that you should leave them to a time at which it may be more difficult to deal with them. The period which has elapsed since February 1861 has been occupied in what is termed international negotiation, which, I regret to say, has produced nothing in the way of an approximation between the parties, but, on the contrary, increased exasperation. But to us the most remarkable circumstance connected with that negotiation is, that in September last the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office made a proposal with respect to the future relations of Schleswig with Denmark, which was diametrically opposed to one which, after consultation with his Colleagues, he had made in April 1861. That change of opinion on the part of the noble Lord produced a profound impression throughout the whole of Denmark. It struck the people with the greatest surprise and disappointment. I will not say it filled them with dismay, for they are a bold people, determined to look their difficulties in the face, and to stand by their rights; but they were deeply disappointed and discouraged. They had looked upon the noble Earl and Lord Palmerston as among the very best friends of Denmark. They had received great services from them 1740 both, and they were, I believe, deeply grateful. To the noble Earl and his Colleague was mainly due the acknowledgment on the part of Europe of the present succession to the Danish Crown. It was also mainly owing to them that the great Powers, and many of the smaller Powers, of Europe had joined in declaring that the integrity of the Danish States was an object of European concern—a declaration which bus been held by Prince Gortschakoff as tantamount to a guarantee of the whole of the Danish dominions. During the war which took place between Denmark on one hand and Prussia and other German States on the other, many very considerable services were, no doubt, performed by the Government of this country to Denmark, in obtaining the two armistices, and ultimately in bringing about the peace; and therefore it was with great pain, as well as great disappointment, that the Danes heard of the change which had occurred in the opinion of the noble Earl. Under these circumstances, deserted as they appeared to be by the noble Earl and his Colleagues, the Danes took their own course. They did that which they thought at once right and expedient. They conceded to Germany, as I understand it, all that the noble Earl had asked, and they retained that possession, of Schleswig, in connection with the kingdom of Denmark, which the noble Earl had proposed they should retain in April 1861. The noble Earl, therefore, if he adheres to his own better-considered opinions, shared by his Colleagues, ought to rejoice at the step which Denmark has now taken, for it is in accordance with what he lately desired, and it is in accordance likewise with what he proposed in 1861. For my own part, my Lords, I have always felt a great sympathy for the Danish people. I am, unfortunately, old enough to recollect the attack upon Copenhagen, in 1807, when the Government of this country, driven to that measure, perhaps, by the extreme necessities and difficulties of their position, in a time of peace with Denmark, sent an army and a fleet against the Danish capital. I recollect also the dissolution of the union which had existed for so many years between Denmark and Norway, when Norway was taken from Denmark, to be used as a bribe for Bernadotte, to induce him to join the allies against Napoleon. Those were hard measures. They may have been required by necessity, but they were harsh and well 1741 calculated to inflict a deep wound upon the feelings of the Danish people. Yet we have not found that they have, in any degree, lessened the goodwill of the Danes to this country. On the last occasion on which we sent a fleet to the Baltic, nothing could have exceeded the kindness with which it was received by the Danish people. I confess, too, that my feelings in favour of Denmark are not weakened when I regard her as a free State, rejoicing in her new freedom, and improving her constitutional management every year. Our place is with the free. I am convinced that is the policy which we should at all times follow. My Lords, I ought shortly to place before your Lordships some little information relative to the peculiar position in which Denmark now stands. Your Lordships are aware that Denmark has not the advantage of being a country like this, where all the people speak the same language, and are subject to the same Government; but it is a country in which the Danes form only a part of the population, the rest being Germans. It consists of four States:—The Kingdom of Denmark, the Duchy of Schleswig, the Duchy of Holstein, and the Duchy of Lauenberg. Schleswig is a part of Denmark. It has been so for four hundred years; they have always considered it part of Denmark; it was originally called South Jutland, and it is only in recent times that there has been an irruption of German settlers, who have, to a considerable degree, altered the character of the southern portions of the country. In saying that the Duchy of Schleswig does not belong to Germany, I do not advance a new doctrine, or one which has not powerful supporters. I can cite the King of Prussia in its favour. In 1823 the Prussian Plenipotentiary to the Diet, with reference to a claim Holstein had preferred to a right of union with Schleswig, distinctly declared that—Upon the maintenance of the union between Holstein and Schleswig (apart from all other scruples which might suggest themselves against it), the Federal Diet cannot exercise any imaginable influence, for this reason—that the Duchy of Schleswig does not belong to the German Federal Territories, and consequently lies altogether beyond the influence of the Confederation.That was the law; that is the law; but it is not now the practice of Germany. Your Lordships will recollect the species of insanity which pervaded almost every part of Europe, and no part more than Germany, after the breaking- 1742 out of the French Revolution in 1848. Within one month after that event, an insurrection commenced in Schleswig. That insurrection, however, had been long prepared. It was prepared by the Duke of Augustenberg, with the cognizance and complicity of the King of Prussia. It broke out on the 24th of March, 1848, and on that very day the King of Prussia wrote a letter to the Duke of Augustenberg, giving his approval of its object, in direct contradiction to the declaration of the Prussian Plenipotentiary in 1823, that with Schleswig Germany had nothing whatever to do. Immediately Prussian troops were marched into Schleswig and Holstein; and some years afterwards the Prussian Minister, Baron Arnim, said that the main reason for despatching those troops was to afford them an opportunity of setting up the character of the Prussian army, which had been very much shaken by their being beaten in the streets of Berlin by the mob. Thus, the Prussian Government became conspirators against the peace of Denmark. The war had not lasted more than a few days when the noble Earl opposite offered the mediation of England. Germany was obliged to accept that offer, because not only England, but Sweden, and as soon as she could extricate herself from her troubles, France, and, above all, Russia, spoke in the strongest terms of reprobation of the conduct of Federal Germany. The insurrection broke out on the 24th of March, and the offer of mediation was made on the 16th of April. The Federal Diet of Germany, having on the 4th of April acknowledged the services of Prussia and encouraged her to proceed, on the 12th of that month acted in direct contradiction to the law of the Confederation. Actuated only by ambition, and reckless of consequences, the Diet issued a declaration to the effect, that unless Schleswig were evacuated, the Danes were to be driven out by force; and in vindication of the right of Holstein to a union with Schleswig they went further, and said that they were convinced that as the safest guarantee for that union would be attained by the accession of Schleswig to the German Confederation Prussia should be requested to keep that object in view as much as possible in the course of mediation We know well enough what was the reason which induced the Diet to act in that way. They were animated purely by ambition. They desired to get possession of Schleswig, because they entertained the notion that it was ne- 1743 cessary for Germany to have a navy. Optat ephippia bos. It would be difficult to menion any State to which a navy could be of less use. Germany exists as a great Power in consequence of the strength of her army. She has no superfluity of means. It is just as much as she can do to maintain her soldiers; and if, in addition, she were to burden herself with a navy, the army would go to ruin, and her influence in Europe would be greatly diminished. There is no advantage in having a small naval force. It would be blockaded and destroyed at the commencement of a war. Germany has no need of a navy. She has very little commerce to protect; and even if she had a fleet, it would be of no benefit to her. For the sake of this cherished object, however, Germany did not scruple to violate the rights of Denmark and the laws of the Confederacy. The armistice took place on the 26th of August, 1848; hostilities were resumed in 1849 There was a second armistice on the 10th of July of that year, and the peace of Berlin was concluded on the 2nd of July, 1850. In the course of these transactions the Prussian troops did not find an opportunity of regaining that character which their Government thought they had forfeited. In the peace of Berlin not one word was said about Schleswig. That was thrown over altogether. The compact merely said that the parties were to reserve their rights—an operation which was extremely easy on the part of one of them, as it never had any at all. In point of fact, the peace was an indefinite suspension of arms. It was said that Denmark might ask the Confederation to occupy Holstein and interfere for the purpose of restoring her authority there. Denmark, unfortunately, did request the assistance of the troops of the Confederation for that object. The troops came in due course, but Denmark had the greatest imaginable difficulty in getting rid of them again. It was not till the beginning of 1852 that they were at last removed, and that was done only in consequence of certain diplomatic arrangements which had taken place. Those arrangements were to the effect that Schleswig should not be incorporated with the kingdom of Denmark proper; that equal rights and effective protection should be given to both nationalities; that there should be separate administrative and political institutions for the separate parts of the kingdom; that a common Constitution should be formed, with the acquiescence of the Diets; 1744 and that equal rights should be allowed to all the composing parts of Denmark. In a proclamation, issued about the same time, the King of Denmark announced that the fundamental law of Denmark was to be retained, and that the consultative powers of the several States should be made deliberative. There has been a good deal of discussion as to the degree of validity which should be given to these diplomatic arrangements. I should be exceedingly sorry to say a word which could, in any way, diminish the sacredness and authority of any diplomatic engagement, because I know that upon their sacredness depend, in a great measure, the peace and security of Europe. But I must say, that if the same rule were applied in our judgment of diplomatic compacts which is applied in regard to compacts between individuals, it would be a matter of great doubt bow far the diplomatic arrangements in this instance are binding. The highest obligation possible for a man to incur is that which takes the form of an oath. Moralists, however, hold, that if a man take an oath to do what is wrong, the oath will not bind him, because he had a prior obligation to the contrary. In the same way, when the King of Denmark agreed to sanction these diplomatic transactions, he had a prior obligation to the contrary. He violated his first duty to his people, which was to exclude from all interference in his domestic Government the influence of foreigners. I think the several Powers who imposed these conditions on the King of Denmark are equally to be blamed. They, too, had a prior obligation to perform. It is contrary to international policy that any State should have the power of interfering in the domestic arrangements of another; and I hope that ultimately, when these differences are at last settled, one of the alterations insisted on will be that the diplomatic engagements of 1851 and 1852 shall cease to have validity as far as they have regard to Schleswig, and that Denmark shall reassume her position as a really independent State. To the other provisions contained in these diplomatic arrangements I know of no very weighty objections, except that, in point of fact, Denmark was directed to create a constitution in an impossible way. There were, however, some points in those diplomatic directions which were strictly in consonance with the policy which any country desirous of the good of its people ought to have pursued of its own accord. Denmark made a common constitution, but 1745 not in the way prescribed. She did not procure the acquiescence of the several Diets, because, if she had sought that, she would never have framed a constitution at all. This constitution was established in 1855, and in 1858 Denmark was compelled by the Diet to rescind everything that related to Holstein and Lauenburg, which they held to be a part of the German Confederation. Thus Schleswig alone remained with a representation in the Parliament of Denmark. To give your Lordships an idea of the sort of difficulties that would have been experienced had the Danish Government really attempted to obtain the acquiescence of the separate Diets, I will read the declaration of the Holstein Estates in 1853—That a beneficial co-existence of all parts of the State could not be obtained, except by the re-establishment of an absolute Government with only consultative assemblies in all parts of the monarchy.It is, undoubtedly, matter of great regret that a portion of the period which has elapsed since the diplomatic arrangements was not spent by Denmark in improving the condition of the people in the Duchy of Schleswig. I think that in that respect the Government of Denmark made a very great mistake; and that they would have put themselves in a much better position if they had at once, through the Diet, proposed all the alterations which were absolutely necessary to place the people of Schleswig on a level with the people of Denmark. Let me say one word with respect to the subject of the alteration proposed by the noble Earl—namely, the union of Schleswig with Denmark, and the admission of deputies from Schleswig to the Parliament of Denmark. I inquired whether, by the admission of these deputies from Schleswig, anything was taken from the power of the Diet and the people of Schleswig, and I found that nothing was taken. On making further inquiry I found that which I expected, that the admission of the representatives of Schleswig to the Parliament of Denmark is a mere act of grace and concession on the part of the Crown, which had called upon them to participate in the exercise of parts of the prerogative and Royal power, which before were exercised by the King himself, or by the King in conjunction with the Rigsraad, which he had created. Now, I apprehend, that what a Sovereign grants of his own authority to the people be cannot withdraw without their consent. But there is no- 1746 thing unlawful in the concessions made by a Sovereign to his people, and the people of Schleswig were only too happy to get this concession. They had the good sense to send their deputies to the Parliament of Denmark. I need not trouble your Lordships with reading what the noble Earl recommended in 1861. Holstein was to have advantages equivalent to all those which the Federal States of Germany required. The noble Earl required also that Schleswig should continue to send deputies to the Parliament of Denmark, and that her Diet should continue to be held according to the existing law. I think the noble Earl made a mistake in this respect, for the existing law as regards the constituency of the Diet of Schleswig is to the last degree objectionable. It has all the defects of the worst parts of our constituencies before the Reform Act. It never can have been intended to perpetuate a law which gives all power to knights and nobles. Generally, to what the noble Earl proposed the Danes no longer could have any objection, if they had at any time, because they now offered to the noble Earl the very same thing; and I must say, that tin looking at the correspondence, the noble Earl and the Government appear to have abandoned their propositions in 1861 on very light grounds. They involved, no doubt, one provision, that of a special guarantee by the four intervening Powers of the Duchy of Schleswig to Denmark, to which Prince Gortschakoff stated unanswerable objections, holding that that special restricted guarantee of Schleswig would weaken the effect of the acknowledgement of the great Powers and many of the smaller Powers of Europe in 1852—That the maintenance of the integrity of the States of Denmark, as connected with the general interests of the balance of power in Europe, was of high importance to the preservation of pence.All acknowledgment, he considered, equivalent to a general guarantee by all those Powers of all the dominions of Denmark. It is my impression, that to the other provisions contained in the noble Earl's proposition in 1861, there would not have been found, on the part of the intervening Powers, any serious objection—none certainly was stated—and the noble Lord should have gone forward, and in the state of things there was every reasonable prospect of his proposal having been accepted by the Powers and Den- 1747 mark. What the Danes contended for was, that Schleswig should remain connected with Denmark, for they thought they saw in the separation which the noble Earl now proposes not only the destruction of the honour of Denmark, but the ruin of her strength. The noble Earl at the time he made his proposal admitted that the most important point which was nettled by diplomatic transactions was no longer to be looked for—namely, the common constitution. That was entirely given up, because it was thought impracticable; but, after all, it was the most important of the diplomatic arrangements. I must express my hope that it will not ultimately be found impracticable. I confess I see the pressure now placed on Denmark, and the necessity of making this concession with respect to the position of Holstein, yet I perceive in the separation of Holstein from Denmark a great diminution in the reputation and strength of Denmark. I look forward to the time when, under happier circumstances, it may be possible, free from all embarrassments on account of these diplomatic transactions, for Denmark to have a common constitution, I will not read to your Lordships the notes of Austria and Prussia; but the result of them is, that neither of these two States would be satisfied, unless in the making of the common constitution the Germans, who are in a minority of one to two, should have a veto or a majority. The Danes will not take a constitution from the hands of the King of Prussia. They know him as a conspiritor against them for the last fifteen years; and if they adopted that which he recommends, they would only adopt with their eyes open that which would be the destruction of their monarchy. The noble Earl, in addition to proposing that Schleswig should be separated from Denmark, also proposed that what he called a normal or ordinary budget should be voted separately by Denmark, Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg, and that all extraordinary expenses should be sailed in the same way. The noble Earl has had a long experience of popular assemblies and in the management of the House of Commons, and he may think that nothing could be easier than to manage not only one House of Parliament, but to manage four popular assemblies at the same time, and for the same purpose of obtaining money votes. But there is a material difference between those assemblies and the House of Com- 1748 mons. The latter is an old and practised constitutional body, and loyal; but these representatives of the people of Holstein and Schleswig, as I understand the case, are not merely in a state of general opposition, but in a state which could hardly be otherwise described than as a state of general rebellion to the Government; and it is not to be expected that there could be obtained from them first a normal and then an extraordinary budget. They would not spare money in matters which concern themselves, but would refuse giving anything towards the general defence of the country. In fact, Denmark is very much in the position with respect to her duchies in which England is in respect to her colonies—all the expenses of defence fall on ourselves, and all the revenues arising in the colonies are expended for their own proper benefit. The state of things which has grown out of the several transactions I have brought before your Lordships is of a very serious character. Desirous as we are of maintaining peace in Europe, and having a deep interest in the integrity of the Danish dominions, I think, if I may venture to form a decided opinion, that Her Majesty's Ministers, in conjunction with the Government of France, should distintly declare that these differences between Denmark and Germany, having once been brought within the domain of international diplomacy, should there remain, and that they will not permit Germany to attempt to execute an act of invasion against Denmark. Let this be distinctly understood, and all difficulties will vanish. It is the hope of success through the threat of this invasion which keeps alive the ambition of Germany. It is the fear of this invasion which produces general uneasiness in Denmark, and impedes its progress to prosperity. I believe the noble Earl does not regard a Conference or a Congress otherwise than as the last measure to which we may be compelled to have recourse; but if ordinary international diplomacy should fail in producing a settlement, then, I must confess, I do look to a conference of all the States of Europe which were represented at Vienna, with the addition of Italy, as the only way of solving this question. I hope that the noble Earl, after further communication with his Colleagues, will consent to return to the more prudent opinion which he formed in the year 1861; and that if he should appear in any Congress which may meet to consider this 1749 subject, it may be in a position which must be more congenial to his feelings than that which he has recently occupied, because it would be the position of one who came to protect the weak against the strong. And I trust, that going there with that intention and that spirit, the noble Earl will he at last triumphant over the machinations of those who for fifteen years have been conspiring against the independence and the integrity of the Danish Throne I wish, in conclusion, to ask, Whether the Government are prepared to produce any further correspondence upon the questions of Holstein and Schleswig; and especially whether they can communicate any representations which may have been made to the Danish Government by those of Austria mid Prussia relative to the proclamation of the King of Denmark, dated the 31st of March, 1863?
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, before I answer the noble Earl's question, I must offer some observations on the very singular speech which he has delivered, and the very extraordinary doctrines he has laid down for the guidance of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Earl has treated the questions at issue between Denmark and Germany. With regard to many parts of his statement—as to the proceedings between 1807 and 1813—it is surely quite unnecessary that I should trouble your Lordships with any remark. But with regard to what has occurred of late years between Germany and Denmark, and in which transactions I have had some part, I will give explanations which will correct some of the statements of the noble Earl. So long as I have looked at this question, it has appeared to me that both Germany and Denmark—both the Germans and the Danes—having recollections of former political complications, collisions and the employment of force, have fallen into errors of conduct—that they have in some cases made demands which ought not to have been made, and in others required the performance of acts which ought not to have been performed. Now, I confess that it has always appeared to me that Germany—that the Diet of Germany and the Governments of Austria and Prussia, and more especially Prussia—in asking a common constitution for Denmark, and requiring that that constitution should have certain conditions involved it it, asked for that which was an interference in Danish affairs and which it would be dangerous for Denmark to allow; and, on the 1750 other hand, it has seemed to me that Denmark, having made certain promises, and entered into certain engagements, the King and Government of Denmark were bound to fulfil those promises and comply with those engagements. Therefore, while I have thought that Germany was quite wrong in her demands, I have thought that Denmark was also wrong in not fulfilling the promises which she had solemnly made. Well, then, the noble Earl laid down a startling doctrine on this subject, such as I have seldom or never heard in either House of Parliament. The noble Earl referred to those diplomatic engagements taken by Denmark—especially to those engagements, as he truly recited them, by which Schlegwig was not to be incorporated with Denmark, that the German subjects of the Sovereign of Denmark should have the enjoyment of the same rights as his Danish subjects. The noble Earl says he disapproves of those arrangements; and because he disapproves of them, although they were solemnly agreed to, and although the Emperor of Austria now says (and I believe truly says) that the Austrian troops and the other German troops were withdrawn from Holstein and the Danish territory on the ground of those engagements, the noble Earl says they ought not to be fulfilled. [The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH dissented.] I understood the noble Earl to say so.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
No. What I said was, that there were rules which applied to transactions between individuals, but which would not apply to diplomatic transactions.
§ EARL RUSSELL
The noble Earl certainly said that he trusted, that if ever new arrangements were made, no diplomatic engagements would be altered or repealed, but be made subject to the decision of a Congress. But, at the present time, having to deal with the subject, and looking at it in a very simple manner, with the ordinary light of ordinary men, I have thought that promises ought to be fulfilled and engagements ought to be observed. I did not think that the noble Earl had greater or more sublime views; but such being the state of things, and such being the engagements of the King of Denmark, I think I was right in saying that the King of Denmark was bound; to fulfil them. Then, with regard to any advice I had to give, it could only he, under the circumstances I have described, in the nature of a compromise. It was 1751 quite clear, in the first place, that the engagements with regard to the constitution were of an extremely complicated nature, and it was obvious that both parties were inflamed against each other. Well, what I looked to was the possibility of finding some practical solution. The noble Earl says truly that in 1861 I proposed that Schleswig should send its representatives to the Diet at Copenhagen. I did not propose, as the noble Earl says, that the constitution of Schleswig and the Diet of Schleswig should be kept perpetually in the same state; what I maintained was, that the King of Denmark had no right to alter the constitution of that Assembly without the consent of the Assembly itself. I looked to the time when passion would be cooled down, and when there might be an agreement that the constitution should be reformed; but I certainly maintained that there was no power in the Crown to alter rights established by law. That proposal met the reception which the noble Earl bus mentioned; it met with the assent of Russia; but it did not meet with the assent of France. I believe that the French Government, having found that neither Austria, Prussia, nor any of the German States would agree to that arrangement, thought it was useless to pursue it any farther. I certainly thought that the chances of success were very small. I thought, that there being so little agreement on the part of the non-German Powers of Europe, and so great a disagreement on the part of the German Powers, the plan had little chance of success. Well. I proposed another arrangement in 1862. I proposed it as a plan which I then thought and still think would maintain the integrity and independence of Denmark, and reconcile Denmark to Germany. That it would have reconciled Denmark to Germany there can he, I think, no doubt; because, although it did not give that common constitution by which Germany and the German inhabitants living under Denmark would have more of the influence of Denmark in their favour than was their just proportion, yet the Governments of Austria and Prussia, and many other Powers with whom I conferred, were willing to consent to that arrangement merit. With regard to the altered proposal, it did not seem to me that it contained any provision which would have trenched upon the independence of Denmark. With regard to Holstein and Lauenburg, the Danish Government themselves 1752 were ready to admit that these duchies were part of the German Confederation, and, that being so, had a right to separate Diets. There remained, therefore, only the question of Schleswig. What I proposed with regard to Schleswig was, not that it should be united to Holstein, which has been repeatedly asked, and is asked even at this time, by some parts of Germany, but that it should be entirely separate—that its Diet should be separate, and its Legislation and Votes of money separate. Now, the noble Earl says, it would be impossible to manage these four Assemblies, and to get the Votes required. But the noble Earl has entirely omitted to notice that what I proposed was, that there should be a budget—a general, ordinary budget, as we say—to be voted for ten years. The Assemblies having been brought together, and Germany having agreed, the probability is, that they would have voted a budget for ten years, and that for those ten years there would have been peace. I think that the necessary amount of money required for the Danish monarchy would have been voted by each of the four Diets. On the other band, it was for Denmark to consider, whether she would reject or support the proposition. If she thought it dangerous to the independence of Denmark, she was quite right to reject it; but at the same time it might have been foreseen, and no doubt they can now foresee, that great troubles will probably follow from the continuance of such a system. We must consider Germany as entirely united upon this subject. Whenever we look at the debates—in the Prussian Assembly, in the Austrian Assembly, or in that of Saxony, or indeed in any other popular Assembly—they say with one voice that the German subjects of the King of Denmark are persuaded that they are suffering under a deprivation of privileges that they ought not to endure. I am not saying that it is wise for a country to give any other country power to interfere in its internal concerns, but with that question we have now nothing whatever to do. If the King of Denmark in 1850 had chosen to refuse any power of interference in his internal affairs, he would have had just as much right to do so as had the Emperor of Russia in 1814, with regard to Poland. If he had said, "I will have no interference with respect to my German subjects," it was perfectly competent for him to say so; but he made the engagement, and having made it, his Government ought to keep it. 1753 This is the utmost extent to which I go. Now, with regard to the German subjects of the King in Schleswig, they make various complaints. They complain, for instance, in one village that they had no church in which they could listen to a sermon in their own language, and to which they could send their children to be taught according to their own ideas; and, under these circumstances, it was not strange that they should desire to send a petition to the Sovereign to ask for redress. But, according to the law that prevails there, not more than three persons can venture to sign a petition, and therefore it is impossible that they can ever take that mode of asking their Sovereign for redress. They also complain, that while the press is free, they are not allowed to have their own newspapers. Of course, there are Danes, who are very much attached to their own nationality; but I confess that it has always appeared to me that it is for the interest of the Danish Government, and of the King of Denmark, that both Germans and Danes should be treated alike, and that they should both have the same rights and privileges, and be covered by the protection of equal laws. This is the utmost that the Germans have a right to do. They have asked a great deal more; they have asked what I consider amounts to an interference with the internal Government of Denmark; but, I repeat, that what they have a right to ask is that the German subjects of the King of Denmark should be treated with equal laws and privileges as his Danish subjects Then we come to that great question which the noble Earl has approached with such extraordinary boldness, namely, whether the Germans, finding that their rights with respect to Holstein are not, in their opinion, regarded by the Danish Government, and proposing to proceed to an "execution," the German Diet should be told that they have no right to proceed to an execution in Holstein, according to what they declare to be the law of the German Confederation. In fact, I understood the noble Earl to say, that this country and France should not permit an "act of execution"—an act of invasion he calls it—by the German Diet. A more serious question than that cannot be raised. With regard to Schleswig, that is an international question. Austria and Prussia and the German Diet say, "We have made certain treaties and diplomatic arrangements with regard to Schleswig." That, therefore, is a question between na- 1754 tion and nation;—whether they did so or not, and whether this arrangement can be modified in such a manner as to preserve the peace of Europe, are international questions upon which the influence of this country, and of France, of Russia, and of Sweden, may be usefully exerted. But with regard to the rights of Holstein, should the whole of Germany declare—as perhaps it may declare within six weeks from this time—that according to the law of the Confederation there is a cause and a necessity for an act of execution in Holstein; and if England should say, "We will not permit it; we will overthrow the act of the German Confederation; we will take upon ourselves to set at defiance that solemn act for which the German States are bound together, and we will declare that it had no power in reference to Holstein and Lauenberg,"—that, it seems to me, would be the most arbitrary act of international violence that I ever heard of. That is what the noble Earl invites us to do. He invites us to interfere between Germany and Denmark in this question by force of arms, and to go to war for the purpose of preventing Germany carrying into effect laws which every State of Germany declares it to be the undoubted right of the Confederation to enforce. There are two things I have always said with regard to this question, and which I say: now: one is, that with regard to the laws; of the German Confederation, the German Confederation is itself the true judge; and as regards the engagements between Germany and Denmark, whatever they may be, the King of Denmark is bound in honour to fulfil them. It appears to me that these two maxims ought to be our guide in this matter. Germany does not possess the smallest claim over Schleswig; but with regard to the engagements between Germany and Denmark, I think they might be easily performed by Denmark. I am sorry to hear that the noble Earl gives some countenance to a notion which has prevailed in some of the States of Germany, but happily not in the most; important ones—namely, that the arrangements, engagements, protocols, and treaties of 1850, 1851, 1852, should be set aside, and that the law of succession to the Crown of Denmark should be held to be invalid, and that we should revert to the state of things that existed in 1846. I know that the noble Earl does not look at the subject in that view. He looks at it with the view of getting rid of the treaty of 1852, made 1755 under the Administration of the noble Earl opposite. [The Earl of DERBY: Not made—signed.] Exactly; signed under the Administration of the noble Earl, but prepared and arranged by my noble Friend Lord Palmerston, when Foreign Secretary. The noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough) wishes to get rid of that treaty, in order to make a better position fur Denmark. But Lauenberg, and some of the German States also, look to get rid of the treaty, their object being to make a better position for Germany. I am for maintaining the treaty. I do not wish it to be got rid of, either for the sake of Germany or Denmark, I am sure that the best position for the English Government to bold is to maintain and adhere to treaties that have been made, and not to advance on this dangerous and questionable path of denying to Germany those rights which fairly belong to her. Our best position is, with any difficulty that may arise, to look rather to peace and conciliation than to the extreme issue of war.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
—My Lords, before I make any observations—and they shall not be many—on what has just fallen from the noble Earl opposite, I think it only due to him to take the earliest opportunity of withdrawing an imputation which it may be thought that I had thrown un him when, on the first day of the Session. I imputed to him that I thought he had interfered gratuitously, and without sufficient cause, for the settlement of this question of Schleswig and Holstein. I had at that time no means of information beyond what was furnished by the public journals, and I certainly was not aware of the length and elaboration of the diplomatic correspondence which had taken place, and I was not aware how entirely the noble Earl's interference was justified by the consent of the different Powers. But having said that, I must confess that I listened with considerable anxiety to hear what answer the noble Earl would make to the very clear, temperate, and judicious statement of my noble Friend. I cannot but concur with my noble Friend that the noble Earl's original conception of what was the duty of this country, of what was just between the two parties, and of what was required by policy as well as justice, was much more accurate than that which, apparently under the pressure of circumstances, he has since adopted. I concur also in thinking that the proposition which the noble Earl offered in 1861 was such, as either 1756 party might, without any sacrifice of honour, principle, or policy, have very well accepted; for, with the exception of the guarantee to which Russia took objection, the reasonableness of which the noble Earl has admitted, it had the concurrence of that Power which, with the exception of France, had the least direct and personal concern in the matter. The noble Earl says that he had not the sanction of France. I am not aware that there is anything in the papers which have been laid before Parliament that would indicate that there was any objection on the part of France to the proposition of the noble Earl, other than the same objection which was made by Russia to the item of the guarantee. Let me say at once that there is one point on which I entirely agree with the noble Earl. I entirely concur with the noble Earl that we have no right to interfere with the exercise, within its own bounds, of the power of the German Confederation. I agree also that the King of Denmark is bound, not by treaty, but by honour, and is required by a sense of justice and policy, to carry into effect the engagements he entered into in 1851–2 with regard to the German portion of his dominions. Whether it was politic or not to admit the interference of any other country with regard to any portion of his territory, or the interference of the Germanic Confederation with that portion of his dominions which he holds as a member of that Federation—I do not pretend to discuss. It may have been impolitic; but the promise having been given, I do say that the King of Denmark is bound in honour and fairness to fulfil it. But the matter we have to consider is what charge the noble Earl can bring against the King of having failed or having shown any intention to fail in carrying out his promise. Let me say that I am much mistaken if there is not an important distinction with regard to these engagements which the noble Earl has not drawn. With regard to Holstein, with respect to which the King of Denmark exercises his rights subject to a certain supervision and jurisdiction on the part of the Federal Diet, the Federal Diet has a perfect right to interpose, and if their rights are interfered with, to carry into effect what is called a Federal execution. But, if I rightly understood the noble Earl, the engagements to which he referred are engagements entered into, not with the Federal Diet, but made severally with the sovereigns of Austria and Prussia: the German Federal Diet is no party to these 1757 engagements, and consequently has no right to enforce them. I am not contending that Austria and Prussia have no right to; insist on those engagements, but what I do contend is that the Federal Diet has no right to enforce them. This is a distinction which is not immaterial when we come to consider that portion of my noble Friend's speech which has been greatly misrepresented—of course, through being misunderstood—by the noble Earl opposite. He represented my noble Friend as saying, that if the Federal Diet attempted to put in force by an execution any portion of the rights of the infringement of which they now complain, that it would be the duty of this country not to permit such execution, but to prohibit it by the extremest measures, even, if necessary, by war itself. I did not understand my noble Friend to hold any such language. What I understood him to say was, that if, in consequence of the difficulties now arising, Russia and France and ourselves were agreed with regard to what was right and just under the treaty, we ought not to permit the German Diet, who had nothing to do with it, and we ought not to permit Austria and Prussia, against law and right and against the opinion of the other Powers, to interfere to oppress Denmark in violation of her rights; and my noble Friend argued. I think quite correctly, that such a state of things this country could not regard with indifference. I will not go through the various phases which this question has passed through, or the various negotiations to which it has led. But what have been the real difficulties in the way of any settlement since 1851? I say the main difficulty has been the obstinate refusal of Holstein, backed up by a secret understanding with the German Powers, not to allow of any possible arrangement within the terms of the treaty. Conciliatory propositions have been made by Denmark, but they have not been discussed or entertained by Holstein—they have always been met by a fixed determination doggedly to lay down principles from which they would not depart, and which rendered any arrangement between the parties absolutely impossible. The very first suggestion was an attempt to frame a constitution common to both countries, a common representation, and a deliberative Assembly common to the whole Danish kingdom. That was absolutely refused by Holstein; and the State of Holstein informed the world that the summoning of a united Parliament was a 1758 proposal to which, under no circumstances, they would consent—not even under the monstrous proposition put forward by Germany, that each duchy of Holstein, Schleswig, and Lauenburg, being in the aggregate considerably less in population than the single division of Denmark Proper, should each of them have an equal numerical share in the representation of the country, and thus should not only be able to control their own affairs absolutely, but actually to exercise an administrative and controlling power over the affairs of the Kingdom of Denmark Proper. What was the next declaration of Holstein—one made only the other day? It was that the States had come to a determination that no arrangement could be accepted by Holstein which did not recognise the ancient and indissoluble union between Holstein and Schleswig. That ancient and indissoluble union, however, had been practically abolished for a very considerable period, and the fact had been recognised in diplomatic negotiations that the union did not subsist, and that it should not be sought to be re-established. That was one of the points of negotiation in 1851, and it has been since affirmed by all the Powers; and now it has been laid down by the States of Holstein that it was a condition without which it was impossible to come to any amicable arrangement with Denmark, under any circumstances whatever. The question, however, is not with reference to Holstein, but only with reference to Schleswig. For the King of Denmark, having found out that it was impossible, either by means of a united Parliament or by separate legislation, to come to any terms with the Assembly of Holstein, made up his mind to a great sacrifice on the part of Denmark; although he did not admit the extent to which the Federal Diet pressed their claims over the administration of Holstein, yet he consented, for the purpose of leaving them no loop-hole for any pretence of interference with the rest of his dominions, to give to Holstein all, and more than all, she had herself asked, except the union with Schleswig, and more than the German Powers, on the part of Holstein, had ever required. He gave to Holstein a complete autonomy; he gave her the administration of her own finances; he gave her exclusive legislation within her own territories; the control over her own Budget and her own laws; and though by doing so he materially weakened Denmark, yet he consented to all this, and 1759 went even beyond the demands which they had any right to make for the protection of Holstein. In doing so, however, he was careful to protest against the doctrine, that beyond the duchy of Holstein the Federal Diet had any more right to interfere with the affairs of Denmark than they had with those of any other Power in Europe. It is as Duke of Holstein that the King of Denmark is subject to the control of the Federal Diet, and, as regards Schleswig and Denmark Proper, he is as independent a Sovereign as the Sovereign who sits on the throne of these realms. As far as the Federal Diet is concerned, it clearly has no locus standi; and when all the claims of Holstein are satisfied, for the Federal Diet to interfere with the other portions of the Kingdom of Denmark, would be a piece of gratuitous impertinence. Austria and Prussia, I admit, are right in saying—You entered into certain arrangements in 1851, and those arrangements you are bound to execute. I agree with the noble Earl in what he said with respect to Denmark. I do not say that Denmark was wrong in refusing to combine—in the settlement of their affairs and dealing with different Powers—this question of Holstein with the question of the management of other portions of the kingdom; but I do regret that of his own motion and spontaneously the King of Denmark did not take upon himself to remove, by the power he possesses, any just and reasonable cause of complaint which the inhabitants of Schleswig may have against the administration and the mode of Government. But the question is, to what extent do these grievances exist—what is it which has been complained of?—in what respect has the King of Denmark violated any engagements into which he may have entered? The main engagements were two—first of all, that Schleswig should not be incorporated into the Kingdom of Denmark; and secondly, that the Danish and German subjects should be treated on an equal footing. Now, my Lords, it is not to be denied that Schleswig has been made a stalking horse for the ambition of Germany. It is not to be denied that a considerable immigration of Germans has taken place into Schleswig. There is no pretence for calling it German territory, but it is a territory in which a large number of Germans have settled. Nearly half the population of 400,000 are Germans who have settled there, and they demand equal laws and equal justice. The 1760 points in dispute concern comparatively trifling matters—though I do not by any means imply that they are unimportant—but trifling comparatively speaking, when you look at the enormous and important consequences which would result from a serious misunderstanding; but they really amount to this—that there is a very large number of Danes in some of the villages, whereas in others there is a very large number of Germans; and there is a good deal of difficulty in dealing with a mixed population, when the German and Danish elements are mixed up together. There is a difficulty in respect to the language used in the schools and in churches, especially where the two elements are mixed up in equal proportions. That difficulty the King of Denmark has not hitherto been able satisfactorily to solve. Is it then a ground of charge against the King of Denmark (there being no other charge against him) that he has not been able to solve that difficulty, and having expressed his readiness to do what he could to solve it in future years? Are you to compel him to enter into an engagement which, in the opinion not only of the King, but of every subject he has, amounts to a violation of the integrity of his kingdom, and a dissolution of the monarchy? The noble Earl's original proposition was a fair, just, and reasonable one. He repudiated the union between Schleswig and Holstein—he repudiated the extravagant claims for equal representation of small minorities—he repudiated any right of interference with regard to Schleswig except in so far as the engagements which the King of Denmark entered into in 1851 were concerned; and in regard to every point there stated, I entirely concur in the policy of the noble Earl. But where is it laid down in the engagement of 1851, or where is it contemplated (although it might be contemplated), that Schleswig should not be incorporated with Denmark? Where is it contemplated, or the expectation held out—on the contrary, was not that expectation most carefully and sedulously negatived?—that Schleswig should ever be separated from the Kingdom of Denmark? Holstein, according to the arrangement now proposed, is as completely separated from Denmark as Hanover at any time was separated from this country. They are bound together by no other tie than the personal tie to the Sovereign; and it is that separation probably which the noble Earl contemplated between Schleswig and 1761 Denmark Proper—namely, that Schleswig shall be as independent of Denmark and as unconnected with it as Holstein claims to be. Have not the King of Denmark and the people a right to say, "We consent, for the purpose of obviating the chance of embarrassment from claims which are very inconvenient, but which we cannot resist—when you assert certain claims of the Federal Diet over Holstein, we agree it is separate almost altogether from Denmark, connected only with the personal tie of the Sovereign; but when you ask us, for no reason on earth, but because there are certain colonies of Germans who have taken possession of a large portion of this territory in Schleswig, which is a duchy that has been connected with Denmark for four hundred years, and intended by all parties studiously to be kept in connection with the Crown—when you call on us, without any ground shown or any good reason alleged—such as exists in the case of Holstein—still further to weaken the monarchy by the complete separation of Schleswig, you call on us to do that which you have no right to ask us to do." If it would be, as I believe, an act destructive of the integrity of the monarchy of Denmark, it would also be an act no less of signal injustice and signal impolicy. The integrity of the monarchy of Denmark is of vital importance to this country. She is a small country, but with a most resolute, determined, honest, and honourable population. She is a country in which there is a large—probably the largest—amount of personal and political freedom of any country in Europe next to our own; and she is a country, moreover, which is well disposed to England. Whatever interruption of friendship there may have been from time to time, she is a country which—apart altogether from that recent tie which I hope will connect us closer still—has interests and feelings and affections in common with this country. Small as she is, yet the character of her people, her naval power in comparison to her population, and her geographical position on the map of Europe, are such as to render her, in the event of a European war, no contemptible ally even to a Power so great as England. I say it is policy, as well as justice, to support against any claims which ambitious nations may urge against Denmark her fair and equitable rights. It is our duty, as it is our policy, to protect her against aggression. And although God forbid that the last extremity should be forced upon 1762 us! yet, I say, that if a question arose as to whether the Danish monarchy should be dissolved, or should lose its integrity and be frittered away—(still more that it should be placed by collateral means through indirect influences in the position of a dependency of the Gorman Confederation)—I say there is no alternative which would not be preferable, on the part of England, than that a policy should be adopted which would lead to consequences so disastrous as the dissolution of the Danish monarchy, or its transformation into a dependency of the German Confederation. On these grounds, I deeply lament that the noble Earl has departed from his original proposition. I think he has acted without sufficient ground. I feel certain that a firm attitude held by us, in concurrence with Russia, and I believe also with France, while we have already shown the German Powers that we were not disposed to withhold from them any of their just rights, would, on this occasion, have shown them that we will not be content to allow with impunity any uncalled-for aggression on the rights of Denmark.
entirely agreed with what had been so well said by the noble Earl. He fully agreed with the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office, that engagements, however inconvenient, ought not to be departed from; but if Denmark was bound in honour to fulfil her engagements, Germany was equally hound in honour not to put insurmountable obstacles in the way of their fulfilment. But this, he maintained, Germany had deliberately done. Those engagements, as had been fully explained to the House, were simply three:—Denmark engaged to give a common constitution to the whole of her dominions; she engaged that she would not incorporate Schleswig with the monarchy; and that she would give equal rights and protection to the German inhabitants of Schleswig. He agreed with his noble Friend that Denmark was clearly bound by these engagements. And how had the Danish Government endeavoured to fulfil them? They gave to the whole of their dominions a common constitution; but, as the noble Earl had pointed out, the State of Holstein never allowed that constitution to be carried out. They made another declaration—they said that they would never consent to any arrangement which did not restore the ancient connection between Schleswig and Holstein. That was a direct repudiation of the engage- 1763 ment of 1851. He agreed with the noble Earl opposite in thinking that in this dispute Holstein had been backed up underhand by the German Powers. The German Powers said that the question as to Holstein was a domestic question, with which the rest of Europe had nothing to do. That might be so; but then they made Holstein the pretext for interfering with Schleswig. He next came to the subject of the incorporation of Schleswig with the Danish Kingdom. The intention, no doubt, had been that there should be a common constitution for all the different States of Denmark; but that common constitution could not be carried as regarded Holstein and Lauenburg. Denmark, however, maintained a common Parliament for Schleswig and Denmark, which sat at Copenhagen; and in that the Danes insisted that they had not violated their engagements with Germany. Denmark did not interfere with the Diet of Schleswig for the separate management of local affairs. He must say, that placed as they had been in this matter, they had not acted unreasonably in adhering to the ancient connection between Schleswig and Denmark. With regard to the engagement of Denmark to grant equal rights and privileges to the German inhabitants of Schleswig, he entirely concurred in the opinion that the Danish Government had been ill-advised in not carrying out that portion of their engagements. The Danish Government had constantly said, that if they made these concessions to the German population of Schleswig, they would be used as a handle against Denmark, and that they must therefore postpone making them until the agitation on the subject was over. That, he thought, was an unwise policy. Why should the inhabitants of Schleswig be prevented from petitioning, or denied the use of the German language in their churches and schools? These were petty grievances for the Danish Government to keep up, but real and irritating grievances for the German population to suffer; and he trusted, therefore, that the Danish Government would lose no time in extending to the people of Schleswig, whether Germans or Danes, all the privileges which the people of Denmark enjoyed. With respect to the proposals made by his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, he must say he looked upon the proposal of September 1862 as being very much worse than the one made in May 1861. The proposal of May 1861 was wise, safe, and well-considered. True, it did not meet with 1764 the success it deserved; but that did not render it necessary to make another proposal, which, if more acceptable to Germany than the last, was far less acceptable to Denmark. That was, in fact, only shifting the difficulty from the one side to the other. The lust proposal had this great objection—that it was an encouragement to Germany in her extravagant pretensions, while it aggravated the difficulty of settling a question already sufficiently complicated. In defending that proposal the noble Earl said, he believed that the normal budget would have been voted by the Estates. He was surprised, after the temper exhibited by those bodies, that his noble Friend should have imagined there was the slightest chance of such a budget being agreed to. But, even assuming that a minimum or peace budget would be voted, what was likely to happen in the event of a war? Was it likely, that animated with a strong German feeling, and not well affected towards Denmark, these bodies would then readily vote the required supplies? Prussia and Austria hail intimated, that if their demands were not conceded by Denmark, they might recede from the solemn treaty engagement into which they had entered in 1852, relative to the Danish monarchy. But the instrument settling the succession to the Crown of Denmark had no reference to the engagements which Denmark entered into with the German Powers in 1850 and 1851. The treaty stated that it was important for the preservation of the peace of Europe that the independence and integrity of the Danish monarchy should be maintained. When, therefore, the German Powers declared, that if their demands were not complied with, they would not be bound by a treaty into which they had entered not only with Denmark, but with England, France, and Russia, he must say, they cast an imputation on their own good faith, which he hoped was entirely undeserved. [Earl RUSSELL: They do not say so.] He admitted his noble Friend's superior means of information, but he must venture to repeat his own opinion. In the published despatches of the Prussian and Austrian Ministers, there were, if his memory did not deceive him, passages in which they suggested, that if their demands were not conceded by the King of Denmark, they would be obliged to regard the Treaty of 1852 as void. There had been great violence both on the part of the Danes and the Germans on this question, and it was exceedingly 1765 difficult to observe a strict impartiality in regard to it; but he could have wished that his noble Friend had said something in the way of encouragement to the Danish Government—something which would have led the House to hope that that Government would, in this dangerous crisis of its affairs, receive, as far as justice would permit, the support of Her Majesty's Government. It was highly important for this country to maintain the independence and integrity of the Danish monarchy; but it would be extremely difficult to do so if we gave any countenance, either by words or acts, to pretensions put forward by Germany, which would make the integrity and independence of the Danish monarchy a mere shadow.
§ EARL RUSSELL
was understood to say, that at the present it would not be convenient to produce the despatches for which the noble Earl had asked; but they would be laid on the table at a later date.