§ The LORDS COMMISSIONERS' Speech having been reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR—
THE MARQUESS OF SLIGO
My Lords, I rise to propose an humble Address to the Queen in reply to Her Majesty's Speech which has just been read over to us by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. I should have done so with greater pleasure if Her Majesty had, on this occasion, gladdened us by her presence. We know how heavily her great grief still weighs upon her; we do not expect nor hope that she will forget the happiness of her married life, nor the affliction of later years; but we may hope that the many blessings which Providence has lavished on her family—more especially the two happy events of the last twelve months—may comfort and strengthen her: so that when next some other noble Lord shall perform the duty which I have this day undertaken, it may be in answer to a Speech from Her Majesty in person. I have been for many years a Member of your Lordships' House, and I know of no one who during that time has more rarely intruded himself upon you—not from any indolence on my part—not certainly from any want of interest in the many important matters which have been debated in my presence, but solely from a want of confidence in my powers—and if now, my Lords, I say a few words, it is not from any alteration in my estimate of myself, nor with any intention of hereafter habitually occupying your time, but in accordance with the custom which leaves the honour of moving the Address to the Queen to those Members of the House who are not habitual speakers in it. The Address to the Queen is, I believe, generally agreed to with unanimity 8 —it gives rise to discussion, but not to division. I hope it may be so this evening. I hope so the more confidently as one of the first paragraphs in Her Majesty's Speech, and consequently one of the first in the Address, relates to the birth of a son and heir to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. I will not dwell on our deep devotion to our Queen—we all know how truly and earnestly she is beloved by all her subjects—how honoured and admired not only in all Europe, but in all the civilized world. We believe that the virtues of Her Majesty, and of her illustrious and gifted husband, live again in their children, and we confidently hope that this infant Prince, born under such auspices, and educated under such influences, will at some distant day reign over future generations with the same brilliant qualities that so adorn Her Majesty. No human institution seems more firmly and more safely established than the Throne of this kingdom; yet we greet with welcome every new security for it, and I know that your Lordships will cordially join in the few words with which I acknowledge Her Majesty's gracious announcement, and offer our humble congratulations on the happy event. Her Majesty has told us that the state of Europe causes her the greatest anxiety. I can readily believe it. It is long since Parliament has been called together at a time or in presence of circumstances which lead to more serious apprehensions. We cannot disguise from ourselves the gravity of the crisis occasioned by the death of the King of Denmark at a moment when peculiar circumstances rendered the prolongation of his life more than usually important to the European community. The dangers likely to arise from that lamentable event were, of course, long ago foreseen. We hoped, however, that the arrangement of 1852 had obviated them, and that we should escape the embarrassment in which we find ourselves. I approach the subject with great diffidence. I have heard that it requires a long course of study to understand and appreciate the merits and details of the history of the Danish Duchies. I have not been able to give that long study to it, and I would not lightly nor flippantly speak of a dispute which may have such fearful consequences, but from my moderate study of the subject it seems to mo that for all purposes of present discussion it is quite useless to go any further back than the Treaty of 1852. I believe that the safety of Europe at this 9 moment depends on the strictest adherence to that treaty. Abrogate it, and you find yourself in presence of a political chaos, from which, perhaps, you may not emerge without the ordeal of an European war. My Lords, I know of no treaty which embodies more personal sacrifices than that of which we are speaking—sacrifices not made under any coercion or pressure, but apparently from impulses of patriotism and benevolence. There must have been, twelve years ago, a very strong feeling as to the value to Europe of the Danish Monarchy. That the sacrifices of which I speak may have been due to dynastic ambition or to dynastic affection is not only possible but probable, but that will not account for the signatures afterwards appended to the treaty, nor was it under the influence of such causes that the great Powers originated it. They must have acted under a strong common conviction that the peculiar geographical position of Denmark rendered the maintenance of the integrity and independence of the monarchy of great importance to European arrangements. They must also, I apprehend, have been strongly impressed with the necessity of providing against the European war which would have been the natural consequence of the death of the King of Denmark without such provision. I am told that the treaty is not one of guarantee, but of recognition;—if I rightly understand the meaning of such, a treaty, it is enough for all the purposes intended. I believe that it means that the signers promise they will acknowledge as valid the successions so laid down, that they will never aid in any attempt to molest or disturb it, but that they hold themselves quite free from any pledge to take up arms in any case for its defence. The history of this treaty also shows that it was intended not so much to secure any special dynasty, though that is an incidental effect of it, as to maintain the integrity of the kingdom. I know of no treaty which offers to those who signed it less plausible excuses for a subsequent violation of it. It was not signed at any hurried moment, nor under the pressure of any immediate exigency; the negotiators were conversant with the antecedent history of the Duchies, they knew of all possible claimants. It was framed to meet this present emergency, and no new interests have since arisen to complicate the action of it. It unites all the conditions necessary to insure the respect and adhesion of all who had ever 10 intended to be bound by it. Unfortunately, that is not the opinion of all the signataries. The King of Saxony was one of the last to sign it. He did so with special deliberation, and he was also one of the first to repudiate it. His Majesty seems to glory in the sacrifice of his kingly faith and royal promise to the shouts of his German followers. Unfortunately, he does not stand alone in his repudiation. This cannot be said of the Sovereigns of Austria and Prussia. Every word they say, every step they take at this moment is of the greatest importance in the history of Europe. I therefore truly rejoice to hear that they declare their continued adherence to the London Treaty, and their determination to respect and to uphold the integrity of Denmark. I rejoice most truly to hear it, because without that assurance I confess I should have arrived at a different conclusion. Until very lately I believed that their Majesties were determined to disregard the clamour of the German mob, and even the legitimately expressed remonstrances of their own subjects, when that clamour and remonstrance tended to a breach of public faith—and I was the more shocked and grieved when I heard of their determination to invade the Duchy of Schleswig— I say "determination," my Lords, because the only alternative offered to the King of Denmark was one of which he could not by any possibility avail himself—and the allied Sovereigns must have known of that impossibility when they made the proposal. His Majesty's reply was almost submission. He declared his own inability to make such concession, but offered immediately to call together those who could— his readiness to urge it on them—and only asked for delay enough to carry out his proposal. I cannot doubt that this moderate proposal was strongly supported by the representatives of England, France, and Russia. If so, their remonstrances had little weight. The only answer was a warning of immediate invasion, and orders to the Austrian and Prussian troops to take possession of the Duchy. The consequence is well known. The result is recorded in the telegraphic news of the last three days —that is the present result—the ultimate result is, indeed, yet unknown. If this local war shall expand into an European conflict, the responsibility of the Emperor of Austria and of the King of Prussia is indeed great. We know not as yet what may be their explanations nor their declared intentions. We do not know of the 11 negotiations which probably are at this moment going on between Her Majesty's Government and the belligerents, or with the other parties to the treaty, and ignorant of all this we cannot form any opinion as to the duty of this country in the emergency—the responsibility must be left to Her Majesty's advisers, and I, for one, believe that the honour and the interests of the kingdom are quite safe in their hands.
Her Majesty has called our attention to Japan, and given us a concise account of transactions there, beginning with the outrages on her subjects, and ending with the reparation exacted. We are indeed in an anomalous position there, my Lords. We feel the full inconvenience of dealing with a people who do not understand, nor profess to respect, that international law to which we can appeal elsewhere. They ignore the only rule by which we profess to be guided. Their Daimios acknowledge the supreme Government of the Tycoon, but neither obey his laws nor respect his treaties. When it suits their interest or convenience they act with the independence of petty Sovereigns. Thus Prince Satsuma did not even wait until we entered his possessions to exercise his authority over us. Even in the territory of the Tycoon he claimed and practised the right of slaughtering British subjects for some imaginary offence on the high road. It was, of course, impossible to overlook such an outrage. In any other country a simple demand to the supreme Government would have been enough, and the Tycoon at once made all the reparation in his power. But it was necessary for ourselves to exact redress also from the offending Daimio, Prince Satsuma. A naval expedition was necessary, and Her Majesty has told us that reparation has been fully exacted. She has also told us of the unfortunate event at Kagosima; but I think that no slur was cast on our humanity. I believe it happened thus:—Our officers were carrying on the requisite operations with the greatest care not to molest the peaceable natives, when a severe fire was opened upon our ships from forts in the centre of Kagosima. It was of course necessary on every account to silence these forts, and it was not possible to do so without inflicting much damage on the peaceable inhabitants of the city; and thus, my Lords, as is often the case in war, the innocent suffered with the guilty, but by no fault of ours. I see no cause to blame 12 any of our officers nor to impeach our humanity.
Her Majesty has directed our attention to New Zealand, where she informs us that an insurrection exists against her authority. We have, indeed, all seen in the daily papers that there is there raging a war between the natives and the Europeans—a war in which one class of Her Majesty's subjects is necessarily employed in the destruction of the other. We must hope with Her Majesty that it may be of short duration. We have not many troops there, but the few we have have distinguished themselves by acts of individual gallantry, which, in a more conspicuous field, would have earned higher appreciation. No war could be more trying to the qualities of a soldier, or to the discipline of an army, than such a one as is now going on in New Zealand. It is in such wars that soldiers forget the control of their officers, and at times give way to acts of revenge or retaliation, which disgrace them as English or as Christian soldiers; but I am happy to hear that no such acts are chronicled in the present war. No doubt that is due to the discipline and influence of General Cameron, one of our most promising officers, who will, I am sure, justify the expectations formed of him by all who have had the opportunity of watching his career, and bring to a speedy termination this unhappy revolt.
Her Majesty informs us that she has concluded a treaty with several of the great Powers, and is about to conclude one with the King of the Hellenes to arrange some necessary details for the cession of the Ionian Islands. Your Lordships are aware that the Protectorate of those Islands was conferred on us, I may almost say forced on us, by a treaty to which many other Powers were parties. Of course, Her Majesty could not divest herself of that Protectorate without their consent; and, unfortunately, the consent of some was clogged by a condition most unpalatable to the Greeks, and even more so to the inhabitants of Corfu—it was the destruction of the fortifications at Vido and Corfu. I believe it to have been most unnecessary; for, no doubt, after they had passed into the hands of the Greeks they would before long have become dilapidated and useless; but, of course, it was absolutely compulsory on us that the condition should be complied with, and the destruction of these fortifications is rapidly pro- 13 greasing. Very soon we may hope to see the arrangements finally carried out. I believe that neither the dignity of the Crown nor the interests of the nation will suffer by it. We shall be relieved of a considerable expenditure every year, and in war we shall be able to concentrate our garrisons in the far more important fortresses of Malta and Gibraltar, and be spared the necessity of detaching considerable forces to defend these outlying Islands.
My Lords, there are many other topics which during the recess have caused much interest; and, though Her Majesty has not spoken of them, it may not be out of place to say a few words about them. There has been great excitement as to the Polish war. It is impossible not to admire the courage of that unfortunate and persecuted people; it is impossible not to admire the determination with which they fight a losing fight in defence of their liberty and their faith; but they must have long known that they could expect no armed interference in their behalf from us. They must have known that we could only aid them by mediation and by friendly remonstrance. All that could be done by mediation has been done. The noble Earl, in concert with other Powers, did all he could to induce the Emperor of Russia to view the history of Poland as it is viewed by other nations, but, I fear, in vain. I do not see that the effort is to be the less commended; I believe no Minister of State would, in such a case, have done less, and I am quite sure that no possible Minister of this country would have dared to do more. It is most important both for us and for the Poles, that they should feel that neither in this nor in any future war must they look for any material assistance from us.
Your lordships have of course heard that, not long ago, Her Majesty felt herself compelled to decline an invitation from the Emperor of the French to assist by her representative at a European Congress. No one can doubt the pacific intentions in which that proposal originated, nor that the great influence of the Emperor would have been exerted to invest the Congress with the prestige of success; yet I am convinced that the great majority of Her Majesty's subjects cordially approved of the advice given to Her Majesty on that occasion. Few people in this country looked for any practically beneficial result from it. I believe that the great Powers, who, 14 if the Congress had met, would have been there, would have been quite ready to enter into discussion on the affairs of others, but each quite determined to allow no question as to their own rights. I believe the smaller Powers would have looked on it as a signal, if not as an invitation, to resuscitate old claims and to discover or even to invent new ones; and that it would have laid the foundation for many disputes and differences, without much hope of putting an end to those already existing. I rejoice that her Majesty was so advised, but I can imagine the answer to have been given most reluctantly. I have heard that no one in France understands the English character so well as the Emperor —that no one in his dominions so highly values the English alliance. I trust that His Majesty equally well knows how highly we also value the alliance, how important we deem it to the interest of ourselves and of Europe. I trust that he is aware of the respect and attention with which every suggestion of his is received in this country, and with what regret we may find ourselves sometimes compelled, either by circumstances or by our convictions, to refuse co-operation in his projects.
Her Majesty did not allude to the war in America, but we have all of us watched closely the accounts of each successive mail, without, I fear, being able to discern any sign of approaching peace; indeed, we see little change except in the increased bitterness of feeling. From the first our policy has been entire neutrality, and so it must be to the end; conscious of our strength and of the rectitude of our intentions, we must submit patiently to the abuse poured on us by the partizans of either side, or regard it as evidence of our real impartiality. Of late it seems to me that increased vigilance has been required to preserve that strict neutrality. I trust that that vigilance will not be relaxed; and that, if Her Majesty's Government find it necessary, they will not scruple to apply to Parliament for fresh power to control those of Her Majesty's subjects who, for the sake of gain, or from political motives, may seek to go beyond the proper limits of a neutral trade.
I think, looking at the state of affairs in Mexico, that we must all of us rejoice that we did not advance further than we originally intended. That the French could overrun and subjugate the country was not a matter of uncertainty; their difficulties were sure to begin when virtual resistance ceased. 15 We hear that the Archduke Emperor is about to proceed to take possession of the throne to which he has been elected, but I much fear that his tenure of it will be short indeed if deprived of the support of the French army. The Mexicans are still quite unfit for self-government, and the removal of European troops would almost certainly be the signal for the re-commencement of that anarchy and misrule which was the established government of the country prior to the French invasion. The Emperor of the French could render no greater service to the world than by retaining yet, for some time, the government in his own hands. We, at any rate, may rejoice that we do not share the responsibility which the French have incurred by their brilliant conquest of Mexico.
Your Lordships will hardly expect me to sit down without saying a few words about Her Majesty's Empire of India. The war, which three months ago threatened to occasion so prolonged and so great a waste of blood and treasure, has ended, as wars generally end in India, in the triumph of our arms; but it would have been still-more agreeable to have chronicled a year without the necessity of such triumphs. We must hope it may not be renewed next year; but we have now, on the North-West frontier, come into contact with a number of warlike tribes who look on war as the natural state of man, who do not yet know how valuable we are as friends and how dangerous as enemies, and, for a few years yet, they may not allow us that repose we have so long wished for in India. If ever another great war should there arise, it will be found that railways have doubled our power; but I hope the days of great military operations there are over, and that the railways will be left to the more congenial and more salutary work of developing the trade and commerce of the empire, and of assisting forward that which already has somewhat advanced, the moral and physical improvement of the people. There is indeed much at which to rejoice in the state of India, but we have also much to deplore in the news of the last year. Since your Lordships separated in July last, another Governor General has been added to the list of those whose lives have been sacrificed to the climate of India, and the toils and responsibilities of their high office. Thus, in a few years, have been taken from us three of the most distinguished Members of your Lord- 16 ships' House; three men who from their age might still have done the State good service, and who, from their intellect and experience, might have guided your Lordships and poured a flood of information upon your deliberations. The present Governor General is at any rate well acclimatized, and in possession of those details which must have cost his predecessors so much labour; and we may hope that to him the duties may prove lighter and more harmless. From the rest of Her Majesty's Colonies there is little or no news of importance. No news is said to be good news; so let it be with them. They have now been many years in enjoyment of the rights and advantages of self-government, and I hope they have advanced as much in happiness and civilization as they certainly have in contentment and in loyalty. I know of no more pleasing contrast than that loyalty and contentment now with the state of feeling which I remember five and twenty years ago, when the mother country was always spoken of as an unjust and wicked stepmother. The debt of gratitude is great, indeed, which this country owes to the noble Earl who first introduced the system which has been attended by such happy effects.
Her Majesty has informed us of the continued prosperity of her dominions at home, the increase of the revenue, and the diminished suffering of her subjects in the cotton manufacturing districts. We may, indeed, be thankful that we can hear such words, after the trials through which we have passed. Not long ago, I remember hearing it said that the grandeur of this country was so connected with the importation of American cotton, that any failure in the supply, or even any great derangement of it, would cause an amount of confusion and distress which would extend to every part of the kingdom, and affect every financial or commercial transaction. The blow has fallen on us, and now, after two years' experience, we can say with gratitude and with confidence that the worst is passed, and that that worst has not been any diminution in the actual prosperity of the kingdom so much as a check, it may be only a temporary check, to that increase of our wealth and commerce which we have been accustomed to see chronicled in the Returns of each succeeding year. But, my Lords, if there has been no great decrease in our national power and wealth, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there has 17 been, and that there still is, great local and individual suffering. Thousands of strong men found their strength suddenly rendered valueless. Thousands of industrious women found themselves suddenly deprived of the opportunity of all exercise of their industry—thousands of families, hitherto thriving and self-supporting, were reduced to helplessness and a dependence on the bounty of others. There was nothing degrading in that dependence—they bore their sorrows nobly—they knew that they were not caused by any faults of their rulers, but solely by the folly and madness of those over whom no one in the realm had either control or influence; hut if they bore their sufferings without impatience, my Lords, not the less must we rejoice to hear that their numbers are diminished. I believe that they are not now much more than half of the number of one period of last winter. Time also, and the ordinary work of trade, is creating a remedy. As Her Majesty graciously informs us, districts before unknown for the production of cotton are now sending no inconsiderable amount of it. Of course, our supply is not equal either in quantity or in quality to that of old; but it is rapidly improving in both, and it may be that before very long we may be in the enjoyment of a supply as good as that of old, and without that precarious dependence on one locality. But I regret to say, that during the last year there has been suffering in other parts of Her Majesty's kingdom, besides in the cotton districts. Your Lordships are well aware that in most parts of Ireland there is no industry but that of agriculture, and consequently a bad harvest is far more disastrous than it can be here. We have in Ireland been suffering from three very bad harvests in succession. The seasons of 1860, 1861, and 1862 were very unfavourable, and consequently, in the summer of 1863, not only was the capital applied to agriculture (always deficient) very much reduced, but there was a great amount of very severe suffering among all classes dependent on cultivation—classes far more numerous in proportion to the entire population than in England. They, too, my Lords, bore their sufferings with, patience, and without any increase of crime. Thank God, the harvest of 1863 was a better one—not so good as that on this side of the Channel, but better than the preceding years; and though it will be some time before the agriculturists are quite restored to their former position, there need, I hope, be no 18 apprehension of distress in Ireland this year. In all other parts of the kingdom trade not only flourishes, but is rapidly expanding. I hear it is on a footing unusually sound, and that bankruptcies have been less numerous and less important than usual.
Her Majesty has informed us that many measures for the improvement of law and administration will be brought before the House during the Session, when I am sure they will meet with that attention and careful discussion which they will deserve.
My Lords, I regret that my incapacity and my want of practice in speaking has prevented me from doing more justice to the subject; and thanking your Lordships for the patience with which you have indulged me, I beg leave to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:—Most GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,WE, Your Majesty's moat dutiful and loyal Subjects the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble Thanks to Tour Majesty for the Gracious Speech which your Majesty has commanded to be made to both Houses of Parliament.WE assure your Majesty that we heartily join in the Expression of Gratitude to Almighty God on account of The Princess of Wales having given Birth to a Son; and we offer to Your Majesty our cordial Congratulations upon an Event in which we, in common with all Your Majesty's faithful People, take the deepest Interest, and which we hail with Feelings of devoted Loyalty and Attachment to Your Majesty's Person and Family.WE assure your Majesty that we fully participate in the Anxiety caused to Your Majesty by the State of Affairs on the Continent of Europe.WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that the Death of the late King of Denmark brought into immediate Application the Stipulations of the Treaty of May, 1852, concluded by Your Majesty, The Emperor of Austria, The Emperor of the French, The King of Prussia, The Emperor of Russia, The King of Sweden, The King of Denmark, and afterwards acceded to by The King of Hanover, The King of Saxony, The King of Wurtemburg, The King of the Belgians, The King of the Netherlands, The Queen of Spain, The King of Portugal, and the King of Italy.WHICH Treaty declared that it is conducive to the Preservation of the Balance of Power, and of 19 the Peace of Europe, that the Integrity of the Danish Monarchy should be maintained, and that the several Territories which have hitherto been under the Sway of The King of Denmark should continue so to remain; and that for this Purpose it was agreed that in the event of the Death of the late King and of His Uncle Prince Frederick without Issue, His present Majesty King Christian IX. should be acknowledged as succeeding to all the Dominions then united under the Sceptre of His Majesty The King of Denmark,WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that Tour Majesty, actuated by the same Desire to preserve the Peace of Europe which was One of the declared Objects of all the Powers Parties to that Treaty, has been unremitting in Tour Majesty's Endeavours to bring about a peaceful Settlement of the Differences which on this Matter have arisen between Germany and Denmark, and to ward off the Dangers which may follow from a Beginning of Warfare in the North of Europe; and we humbly express the Satisfaction with which we learn that Your Majesty will continue Tour Efforts in the Interest of Peace.WE humbly convey our Thanks to Your Majesty for informing us, that in consequence of the barbarous Murders and cruel Assaults committed in Japan upon Tour Subjects, Your Majesty considered it necessary that Demands should be made upon the Japanese Government, and upon the Daimio by whose Retainers some of those Outrages were committed; that the Government of the Tycoon having complied with the Demands made upon them by Your Majesty's Government, and full Satisfaction having been made, the friendly Relations between the Two Governments have continued unbroken; but that the Daimio Prince of Satzuma having refused to comply with the Demands which were made upon him, and which Tour Majesty considers to have been just and moderate, his Refusal rendered Measures of Coercion necessary.WE humbly express to Your Majesty that we share in Your Majesty's Regret that while those Measures have brought this Daimio to an Agreement for Compliance, they led incidentally to the Destruction of a considerable Portion of the Town of Kagosima; and we thank Your Majesty for commanding that Papers upon this Subject shall be laid before us.WE humbly express to Your Majesty our Gratification at learning that there is Reason to hope that the Insurrection which broke out last Year among some Portion of the Native Inhabitants of New Zealand, and which still unfortunately continues, will before long be put down.20WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty has concluded a Treaty with The Emperor of Austria, The Emperor of the French, The King of Prussia, and The Emperor of Russia, by which Your Majesty consents to give up the Protectorate of the Ionian Islands, and also agrees to the Annexation of those Islands to the Kingdom of Greece; and for directing that this Treaty shall be laid before us.WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty is negotiating a Treaty with The King of the Hellenes for regulating the Arrangements connected with the Union of the Ionian Islands with the Kindgom of Greece.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that we learn with Gratification that the Condition of the Country is, on the whole, satisfactory; that the Revenue has fully realised its expected Amount; that the Commerce of the United Kingdom is increasing; and that while the Distress in the Manufacturing Districts has been in some Degree lessened, there is Reason to look forward to an increased Supply of Cotton from various Countries which have hitherto but scantily furnished our Manufacturers with this Material for their Industry,WE thank Your Majesty for having commanded to be laid before us a Copy of the Commission which Your Majesty has directed shall be issued, for the Purpose of revising the various Forms of Subscription and Declaration required to be made by the Clergy of the Established Church.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that we will give our earnest Attention to the Measures of public Usefulness which may be submitted for our Consideration; and that in common with Your Majesty we trust that the Blessing of Almighty God may attend our Deliberations and prosper our Councils for the Advancement of the Welfare and Happiness of Your loyal and faithful People.
§ LORD ABERCROMBY
My Lords, I have much satisfaction in rising to second the Address which has been so ably moved by the noble Lord; and I am glad to think that he has relieved me of the task of entering into details. My Lords, I am confident that one universal feeling of joy pervades your Lordships' House, as well as all classes of the British Empire, that we are enabled to congratulate Her Gracious Majesty on that most auspicious event which has so lately occurred, and which is so well calculated to dissipate those sorrows which Her Majesty has suffered, and to add strength and stability to the Crown and its present line. My Lords, Her Majesty has met Parliament to-day 21 not without clouds, which, in various quarters of the world, overshadow the political horizon. But it must be a source of sincere congratulation to your Lordships to know that, dark as those clouds are as regards other lands, Providence continues to shed a bright sunshine over Her Majesty's dominions, with one or two comparatively trifling exceptions. My Lords, I now approach the subject of great difficulty, which might have been placed in more able hands than one who is addressing your Lordships' House for the first time. My Lords, I refer to the complications now going on in the north of Europe, and which your Lordships must have witnessed with the deepest regret. The armies of the small German States occupying the Holstein portion of the ducal dominions of his Danish Majesty, and now we find Austria and Prussia hurriedly pushing forward their combined forces to invade the Schleswig territory of His Majesty. My Lords, I am sure it will be found that England has done her utmost firmly to adhere and uphold her treaties inviolate; and, at the same time, using her influence to make the other great Powers who signed the Treaty of 1852 follow her example. My Lords, I am confident that your Lordships will join with me in the same hope, that circumstances may speedily arise which may lead to the satisfactory settlement of the difficulties now existing, and that peace may again be proclaimed throughout Europe. But, my Lords, with what feelings of anguish and remorse must this state of affairs have occasioned Her Gracious Majesty, when she finds those who are nearest and dearest to Her, I may almost say, in hostile array. If ever there was an occasion, my Lords, that the power of England was required for the peace of Europe, this, my Lords, must be the occasion. My Lords, it is a matter of congratulation that, notwithstanding the trials that our commerce has had to endure, although for a while hundreds of thousands of our industrious operatives were thrown out of employment, these trials have, in a great measure, been surmounted, and the most abundant evidence is afforded of the highly flourishing and healthy condition of our commercial interests. My Lords, I deem it unnecessary to trespass longer on your Lordships' patience, and I venture to hope that your Lordships will unanimously agree to the Address, which I now have the honour to second. [See Page 18.]
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I should certainly have preferred it if some other noble Lord had offered himself to the notice of the House before I proceeded to make the observations that have been suggested to me by hearing the gracious Speech which we have heard read to us. But as no noble Lord appears inclined to rise, it is impossible for me to pass over in silence a Speech which touches upon topics of the utmost importance and the deepest interest to the present condition of the country at large, and which it is impossible to regard otherwise than with considerable anxiety. In the first place, I must begin by apologizing to the noble Marquess who moved the Address, if, from my imperfection of hearing, I was unable to follow him through a considerable portion of what seemed to me, if he will forgive me for saying it, his somewhat discursive speech. But certainly, from those of his remarks which did reach me, I could not help entertaining the suspicion that he must have seen an earlier and fuller copy of her Majesty's most gracious Speech than the one before us, and that he had not seen the altered and revised version, from which are omitted so many of the topics to which he has just adverted. My Lords, it is a satisfaction at the commencement of another Session of Parliament again to be enabled to address the Crown in the language of congratulation on a subject deeply interesting to the nation at large, and which serves, perhaps, better than any other to cast a ray of happiness on the sorrow and suffering which Her Majesty has endured. At this time last year we offered our humble congratulations to Her Majesty on the auspicious marriage of the heir to the Throne with a Princess every way qualified, from her high position, to share the high destiny reserved for him, and whose personal beauty and attractions, and the natural and unaffected charm of whose manner, secured for her, from the first moment of her entrance into this kingdom, the admiration and, I may say, the affection of her adopted country. On this occasion we have to congratulate Her Majesty and the nation on the happy issue of that marriage in the birth of a son and heir to the Throne in the second generation; and although, my Lords, happily for this country, monarchical institutions are so firmly established in the hearts and affections of the people, and their attachment to them has been so strengthened by the private virtues and personal qualities of 23 the illustrious lady who occupies the Throne, that it is not with us, as it might be with other countries, a subject of additional congratulation that we thereby obtain greater stability for the Throne or greater security for the dynasty, yet we may be permitted to rejoice at the prospect we have before us of a direct line of succession from the present illustrious wearer of the Crown and her immediate descendants—from a Sovereign who has done so much to cast a lustre upon that Crown, and also to strengthen the hold which monarchical institutions have upon this nation. My Lords, it appears to me that as we advance in life we look with a warmer and kindlier sympathy towards the opening prospects of those who are entering upon that career towards the close of which many of us are verging, and I am sure there is not one of your Lordships who does not view with the deepest interest the happy career before that youthful pair upon the birth of whose heir we are now congratulating the Sovereign. I am sure there is not one of your Lordships who does not offer up a fervent prayer to the Throne of Grace that these bright prospects may remain unclouded, and that, long long after the youngest of your Lordships has passed away from this scene, the Throne of these realms may be occupied by the descendants of the illustrious Prince, and of his new-born heir—Et nati natorurn, et qui nasoentur ab illis.Turning now, my Lords, to the other portions of the Speech, I must say I rejoice that I can cordially concur in the congratulations offered to Her Majesty on the generally prosperous condition of the country. It is most satisfactory that, notwithstanding heavy trials, our commerce is increasing, and our revenue amply sufficient to meet the demands upon it; indeed, I may say more than sufficient to meet those demands, because I trust that, if no casualty occurs to check the course of prosperity the country may look for a further alleviation of those burdens which weigh so heavily on its resources. It is true, my Lords, that there is an exception to the general prosperity in the state of those districts which are suffering from the effects of that unhappy and desolating war which distracts the whole or the greater part of the Continent of North America. But even there I concur in the language of the Speech, that this distress has to a considerable extent been mitigated; for although it is still severe and entails great pressure 24 on the population—who have borne it with an amount of courage and patience which has called forth the universal approbation of the country—yet I do venture to entertain the hope that the worst and heaviest of that pressure is at an end, and that from a very few months hence we may date the prospect of a very considerable increase in the industry of the cotton districts. I may be permitted to say that the anticipations formed last year of the probably extended supply of cotton for our consumption in the present year have been realized almost to the letter; and we may therefore look with greater confidence to the anticipations based on fact, which promise us from the end of next April or the beginning of May, a sufficient supply of the raw material to employ the whole of the mills for five days in the week throughout the manufacturing districts. It is satisfactory, moreover, to see from how many different countries we may expect to derive a supply; and even if the war between the Federal and the Confederate States should be brought to an earlier conclusion than I fear it will be, yet I hope that the growth and production of cotton has been so firmly established in other quarters of the world, that we shall never again be placed in the painful position of depending almost entirely upon a single source of supply. I must not, however, lead your Lordships to believe that there may not he serious fluctuations, and even an occasional increase in the present distress, as it is not so much the high price of cotton as the uncertainty in the price which is paralyzing the operations of the manufacturers. High as the price is at present, it is an important fact that the diminution in the consumption of cotton goods has by no means kept pace with the increased price of the article produced, and more especially it is to be remarked that those countries which are the producers of the raw material have been so enriched by the large prices they have obtained for their produce, that the falling off in their consumption of the manufactured article has not been proportionate to the increase of price. But as long as it is uncertain how prices will rule, as long as there is rapid fluctuation from high to low and from low to high prices, so long the manufacturers, for their own self-protection, will abstain from doing more than manufacture to meet the demands of the market, so long they will not venture to lay in stock upon which they may suffer 25 a heavy loss, and so long, consequently, there will be great variation in the amount of distress among the operative classes. Still I may venture to say this in proof of the hopeful spirit which pervades the people in the manufacturing districts, that to my knowledge there are at present either in course of erection or already erected no fewer than 110 new cotton mills which are preparing to start with the first revival of the trade, and that some of them are built upon a scale hitherto unknown, one establishment alone making provision for the enormous number of 5,000 looms. My Lords, there is one other point connected with the internal condition of the country which was adverted to with great propriety by the noble Marquess— namely, the distress which has fallen upon certain districts in Ireland. I must say that distress demands the consideration of your Lordships' House, not that it is possible for your Lordships to apply as remedy, but because it is right that you, who have so liberally, so generously, recognized the patience with which the manufacturing districts of the north of England have borne their sufferings, should pay the same tribute to the patience and good order with which in the south and west of Ireland most grievous privations have been borne. Ireland has had to lament three bad harvests, and there can be no doubt that in many districts the small farmers especially are in a state of the greatest possible difficulty. The depression of the country cannot be better proved than by recent statistics, which show that although an increase has taken place in the quantity of land devoted to pasturage, yet in the course of the last few years there has been not a considerable increase but a considerable diminution in the amount of stock maintained in the agricultural districts. The cause of that diminution I take to be this:—The necessities of the small farmers have been so great that they have been compelled to sell off their stock at an earlier age than usual, and the stock has consequently been reduced, the farmers not retaining a sufficient breed to keep up the quantity. But, my Lords, there is another circumstance connected with Irish distress which must not be overlooked on the present occasion, namely, that enormous and unparalleled emigration which has recently taken place from Ireland—an emigration so extensive that nothing has ever approached it—an emigration, too, the more to be regretted because I am afraid a 26 large proportion of those who emigrate will really serve to feed the unhappy and desolating war in North America. I am afraid also that many who are going away in the hope of finding peaceful employment will find those hopes disappointed, and will entail upon themselves and their families great misery, while they are entering into an atmosphere which is not at all likely to improve their love and affection for the land of their birth. With respect, my Lords, to the prospects of legislation for the present Session, I cannot say that the Speech is very encouraing. We are told that various measures will be submitted for our consideration. That is all, and therefore I think I may say that in this case the performances of Her Majesty's Government cannot possibly fall short of their promises. The only action which the Government announce themselves to have taken is the appointment of Commissioners to inquire into the various forms of subscription and declaration required to be made by the clerical members of the Church regarding the Articles of Faith. A copy of the Commission is to be laid before us, and therefore I shall not now presume to comment upon what its scope and object may be; but from what I have heard, I am afraid that the object of it is so extremely minute, as compared with the magnitude of the machinery put in operation, that it will do but little to settle any of those questions to -which public attention has recently been attracted. I am sure it is not sufficient to satisfy my noble Friend who has so frequently brought the subject of subscription under our notice; while, on the other hand I am afraid it may lead to the renewal of a critical agitation without producing any but the most trifling results. So much, my Lords, for the prospects of domestic legislation, and for the present internal condition of the country. I will now proceed to the consideration of a much more serious and much more anxious question—namely, the position in which we stand with regard to foreign countries, and the perilous position in which the peace of Europe is at this moment placed. My Lords, foreign policy has been for the last two or three years that upon which Her Majesty's Government have mainly rested their claims to public confidence. As soon as that very ingenious, if I cannot say very ingenuous, stratagem by which the noble Earl (Earl Russell) obtained office had served its purpose—as soon as he had 27 obtained office by the declaration that Parliament was dissatisfied with the modicum of Parliamentary Reform offered by his predecessors, and that the country could never be satisfied, and ought never to be satisfied, until a much more extensive measure were carried by the Government— from the moment at which that pretext had served its purpose, I need not remind your Lordships how feebly, how faintly, the noble Earl and his Colleagues attempted to realize their programme. Nor need I remind your Lordships that the great expectations held out by the noble Earl were defeated, not by the opposition of the noble Earl's predecessors, but by the voluntary abandonment of that measure by himself and his supporters in the House of Commons; and that a very short time ago, when the noble Earl, after retiring from his labours in the Lower House to the serener atmosphere of your Lordships' Benches, pronounced the funeral oration of his defeated Bill, he sang its requiescat in pace, and while congratulating himself on having attained the summit of his wishes, declared that he was now disposed and advised his friends to "rest and be thankful." From that time, my Lords, foreign policy has been the main groundwork of the confidence which the country was called on to place in Her Majesty's Government. I trust that in the position in which we stand it will not be thought that I am wandering from the subject if, in order to enable your Lordships to judge of the full gravity of that position, I examine somewhat at length what has been the course of policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government, and what is the degree of consideration which they have obtained for us in foreign countries. My Lords, I think that at the commencement the foreign policy of the noble Earl opposite might be summed up in the affirmation of the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, the extension of Liberal principles by the exercise of our moral interference, and, above all, the maintenance of uninterrupted and cordial relations with the Emperor of the French. We were told more than once that the present Government was the only one to maintain a good understanding with the Emperor of the French, or, at least, that its predecessor could not possibly have done so; and that if the country desired to preserve cordial relations between itself and France, Her Majesty's present advisers, and especially 28 the noble Earl opposite, were the only persons qualified to secure that most desirable object. Now, my Lords, as to nonintervention in the internal affairs of other countries, when I look around me I fail to see what country there is in the internal affairs of which the noble Earl and Her Majesty's Government have not interfered. Nihil intactum reliquit, nihil tetigit quod— I cannot say non ornavit, but non conturbavit. Or the foreign policy of the noble Earl, as far as the principle of non-intervention is concerned, may be summed up in two short homely but expressive words —"meddle and muddle." During the whole course of the noble Earl's diplomatic correspondence, wherever he has interfered —and he has interfered everywhere—he has been lecturing, scolding, blustering, and retreating. In fact, I cannot think of the foreign policy pursued by the noble Earl and his Colleagues without being reminded of another very distinguished body of actors commemorated, as your Lordships will recollect, in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Of that celebrated troupe the two chief ornaments were Bottom, the weaver, and Snug, the joiner. Now, it appears to me that the noble Earl opposite combines the qualities which are attributed to both those distinguished personages. Like Bottom, the weaver, he is ready to play every part, not even excepting that in which he most excels—namely, "Moonshine." But his favourite part is the part of the lion. "Oh," says the noble Earl, "let me play the lion. I will roar so that it will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar so that I will make the Duke say, 'Let him roar again; let him roar again.'" The noble Earl, too, knows as well as anyone, how, like Bottom, to "aggravate his voice," so that he will "roar you as gently as any sucking dove;" and, moreover, he has had recourse more than once to the ingenious and somewhat original device of letting half his face be seen through the lion's neck, as if to say, "For all my roaring I am no lion at all, but only Snug the joiner." There is, however, one point of difference which I would have you observe, because it is rather important. Bottom, the weaver, and Snug, the joiner, were possessed by an earnest desire not to alarm the ladies too much, and consequently they gave due warning at the outset of their intentions that the audience might not be alarmed. On the other hand, the noble Earl's disclosure that though 29 the roar was like that of a lion, the face was only that of the noble Lord himself, was not made betimes in order that the audience might not be frightened, but only because he found that all the roaring in the world would not frighten them. Seriously, my Lords, for though, there may he something ludicrous about it, the matter is of too great importance to be treated only in a light and jocular manner —seriously, then, I cannot but feel as an Englishman that I am lowered and humiliated in my own estimation and in that of other nations by the result of the noble Earl's administration of foreign affairs. Thanks to the noble Earl and the present Government, we have at this moment not one single friend in Europe, but that this great England—this great country whose failing, if it was a failing, was that it went too direct and straightforward at what it aimed, which never gave a promise without the intention of performing, which never threatened without a full determination of striking, which never made a demand without being prepared to enforce it—this country is now in such a position that its menaces are disregarded, its magniloquent language is ridiculed, and its remonstrances are treated with contemptuous indifference by the small as well as by the great Powers of the Continent. We have heard a great deal, my Lords, of harmony and good understanding with France. If we really are on a footing of cordial understanding with France, all I can say is that the Emperor must be the most forgiving and forbearing of all earthly potentates; because there is scarcely a question of recent times on which we have not, I will not say purposely, but at least uniformly, opposed his policy and placed him in a situation which must have been painful to his feelings and very humiliating to his pride. I find no fault with the noble Earl for withdrawing from co-operation with the Emperor of the French, in regard to the affairs of Mexico as soon as a considerable change was apparent in the project. At the same time, when this question first came under discussion I took the liberty of expressing regret that we should have exposed ourselves to possible inconvenience and embarrassments by the course we took, and that we did not on our own part make demands and enforce the claims which we had made with respect to Mexico. And, although I do not blame the noble Earl for withdrawing from the enterprise when it 30 was found to be of a more extensive character than it had been at first contemplated, still that was an act which exposed our conduct to unfavourable consideration on the part, at all events, of the people of France, and added to the difficulties of the Emperor of the French in carrying out that scheme. Then, my Lords, it is notorious that the Emperor was very desirous of taking steps, at any rate, towards the recognition of the Confederate States. Rightly or wrongly, the noble Earl opposed that idea, and the Emperor, with an earnest wish to co-operate as far as possible with this country, shaped his policy in accordance with ours, and accommodated his views to it. I must now, my Lords, call your attention to a matter which has had some grave consequences. What was the next question into which we were brought into intimate combination with the Emperor of the French? It was the painful, embarrassing, and difficult question of last year—the condition of Poland, and the representations to be made on the subject to Russia. There is no doubt that in this country and in France also there was a very serious and cordial sympathy with Poland. There was a very earnest respect for the gallantry, bravery, and patience with which the Poles had fought the battles of their country, and there was a general conviction that they were suffering from an amount of oppression that was sufficient to rouse the feelings and excite the indignation of Europe. It was determined that the Emperor of the French, the Emperor of Austria, and Her Majesty should engage in a joint representation to the Emperor of Russia in favour of Poland. The terms of that representation were not identical; and I cannot but think, as I ventured to say last year, that the noble Earl considerably increased the differences and embarrassments of the situation by founding the demands of England on a right which we derived from a treaty, the non-fulfilment of which must place us in an awkward relation to Russia. The representations of France and Austria were made in a very different sense, hut with the same object and intention as ours. I ventured also to ask the noble Earl at the time whether France, Austria, and England were entirely in accord as to the steps which should be taken, in the event of the joint representations to the Emperor of Russia being disregarded; and I pointed out the extreme inconvenience which must result from such a combination if the parties were not agreed 31 as to the manner in which they would give effect to their recommendations. Well, to add to the difficulties of the case, at the very moment when we were waiting with anxiety for the account of the Emperor of Russia's receipt of our representations, couched in that persuasive style, and containing those conciliatory arguments to which I have adverted, the noble Earl took the opportunity of stating in this House that deeply as he sympathized with Poland, and although he had demanded from Russia concessions under a treaty which we had a right to enforce, yet, whatever might be the reply of Russia, he would not go to war with her on account of Poland, and the Poles must not expect any armed assistance from us under any circumstances. This conduct, on the part of the noble Earl, was ruin to Poland — more than that, it was an aggravation of her injuries. The noble Earl must have known that when we said we would not lend a helping hand, France and Austria would equally refrain, and that, as far as their means went, the Poles were absolutely powerless to make an effectual resistance. At the same time, however, the noble Lord gave the Poles an amount of encouragement which protracted the struggle, aggravated their sufferings, and brought on that unhappy country even greater calamities than it was then enduring. But what, my Lords, was the result to England? The demands of England, calling for the fulfilment of a treaty, were met by a rejoinder in that tone of stinging courtesy for which Russian diplomacy is so eminently celebrated. The noble Earl received a decided rebuff. He was told that England had better mind its own business, that the Emperor of Russia knew best how to deal with his own subjects, and that he would not submit to any foreign interference in that respect. And then, forgetting all his magniloquent threats, and not carrying his high words into action, the noble Earl told this House that the Emperor of Russia was influenced by beneficent intentions towards the Poles. But the noble Earl's pacific declaration was not made until France and Austria had been committed to participation in that policy, and they were consequently placed in the painful situation of having to follow our steps, and to share the humiliation which attended them. That is the third instance in which we have assumed an attitude not calculated to add to the cordiality of our relations with 32 France. At the same time, I doubt whether these circumstances would be likely to put you on much better terms with the Power to whom you addressed such an insulting demand. Very recently, in the presence of increasing differences and embarrassments occurring in so many parts of Europe, the Emperor of the French made a proposition for a general Congress, in which these various questions might be considered, and an attempt made to bring about a common understanding in regard to them. I concur with the noble Earl in thinking that there would have been great difficulty in accomplishing that project. The objections which would be raised had not, perhaps, been sufficiently contemplated by the Emperor of the French when he first made the proposal. If, however, there was a country in all Europe which had less reason than another for giving a positive refusal to have anything to do with the Congress it was England, because there was no question which could by any possibility be decided by it which directly affected our interests. The course which should have been pursued by the Government was to recognise the laudable and beneficent intention of the Emperor of the French in making such a proposal; to point out that England had no interest to serve by opposing it, if there was any prospect of success; to declare that we should be only too happy to co-operate in so excellent and well-meaning a design as the settlement by arbitration of the difficulties which disturbed Europe, if the other countries whose affairs would be brought before the Congress would submit to its authority and abide by its decision. If after that the scheme of a Congress had failed, it could not have been attributed to the hostility of England, but to the inherent difficulties of the case. But as it was, in the face of Europe, when every other Power expressed more or less a readiness to concur in carrying out the objects in view, the noble Earl opposite met the proposition by a blank refusal to have anything to do with it, and by pointing out in the strongest possible terms all the objections that could possibly be entertained to the meeting of such a Congress. Moreover, to add to the discourtesy—I say nothing now of the impolicy—to add to the painful feelings with which the Emperor of the French and the French people were likely to be impressed by the course pursued by the noble Earl in giving an absolute refusal, the first intimation—and 33 I am sure that I shall not be contradicted by the noble Earl when I make this statement—the first intimation which the Emperor of the French received of the decision of the English Cabinet was by reading the despatch in The Times newspaper. Now, if you treat great Powers with this utter disregard of their feelings and wishes, if you bluntly refuse to lend them a helping hand in order that they may at any rate tide over possible difficulties, supposing that there was no other intention in the Congress but that, how can you expect when you are in a position of difficulty and when you call on them that they will give you mutual assistance and advice in cases not affecting their personal or national interests? But there is another great and grave reason why the noble Earl should have considered deeply before refusing to entertain the proposition of a Congress. He must have known that there was one question impending of the greatest gravity and the most urgent interest. He must have known that a question long at issue between the Danish monarch and the people of Germany was coming to a point of the greatest, most critical, and deepest interest; and if the Congress, or the proposition to hold a Congress, had only postponed for three or four months the active struggle which has since taken place, there would in that case have been a better prospect than I fear there now is of preserving, or, I should rather say, of restoring—for it is too late to speak of preserving—the peace which is already broken. With respect to this grave question, which is the subject of all-engrossing interest at the present moment, I do not think that anyone reading the Speech from the Throne, and who is not very familiar with the case beforehand, would have been able to collect from the terms of the Speech what really is the question of pressing difficulty at the existing moment, and threatening the interruption of friendly relations. Her Majesty's Speech, recites, with very great and very unusual minuteness, the names of all those who were parties to the Treaty of 1852 for securing the succession to the Throne of Denmark. The recital is somewhat unusual; but I do not complain of that. I presume that the object was to show how many parties have pledged themselves to the arranged succession to the Throne of Denmark. I would, however, in passing, make one observation in reference to the statement that the treaty was acceded to by the King of Saxony. Though I do not 34 lay much stress on the argument, yet it is stated on the part of that Sovereign that he never acceded to the treaty, but gave his assent to it. But that very fact made it the more binding than accession to the treaty with reservations, for the assent was pur et simple, recognizing the wisdom of the treaty, and makes no reservation, at the same time, with respect to some possible contingent claim on the part of the King of Saxony's own House to a portion of the small Duchy of Lauenburg. It could not be said that when the assent was given that any possible reservation was made; and the King of Saxony, therefore, precluded himself from using that argument in the subsequent discussion with respect to Holstein. I cannot help thinking, in so solemn a document as the Speech from the Throne, which recites the object of the treaty, and also with so much minuteness the names of the parties to it, that it would have been as well if the very words of the treaty had been given, and the more especially because the omission of the words had afforded the opportunity of inserting in one of the paragraphs such English as does not often appear even in a Speech from the Throne. The Queen's Speech states—That Treaty declared that it is conducive to the preservation of the balance of power and of the peace of Europe that the integrity of the Danish Monarchy should be maintained, and that the several territories which have hitherto been under the sway of the King of Denmark should continue so to remain.That is the substance of the treaty certainly, but it would have been better to quote the precise words. The treaty declared that the contracting parties—Taking into consideration that the maintenance of the integrity of the Danish Monarchy, as connected with the general interests of the balance of power in Europe, is of high importance to the preservation of peace; and that an arrangement by which the succession to the whole of the dominions now united under the sceptre of His Majesty the King of Denmark should devolve upon the male line to the exclusion of females, would be the best means of securing the integrity of that Monarchy.The object was to secure the integrity of the Danish monarchy, and the making a change in the course of succession was supposed to be the best means of carrying out that intention. I certainly think that, instead of using that elegant phrase in the Queen's Speech, that "the several territories which have hitherto been under the sway of the King of Denmark should continue to remain so." it 35 would have been much better to have given the terms of the treaty, though I do not question that the actual meaning is expressed, and make no quibble on that point. The Queen's Speech goes on to say, that—Her Majesty, actuated by the same desire to preserve the peace of Europe, which was one of the declared objects of all the Powers who were parties to that treaty, has been unremitting in her endeavours to bring about a peaceful settlement of the differences which, on this matter, have arisen between Germany and Denmark.Now, the difficulties which have arisen between Germany and Denmark have nothing to do with this treaty. They have nothing to do with the succession, but with a cause totally and entirely different; and it was not until the death of the late King of Denmark, that the question of the succession was introduced to complicate the original grounds of the discussion. It is very important to draw a distinction between these two questions, which are entirely different. The question so long at issue was the fulfilment or non-fulfilment by Denmark of engagements entered into in 1851, to which the Treaty of 1852 made no reference. I do not deny that so far as Austria and Prussia are concerned, those engagements were inducements to lead them to concur in the treaty; but, at the same time, the treaty is not conditional on those arrangements. Her Majesty's Speech is, therefore, I am sorry to say, made to state on this point that which is not the fact. Now, this is a matter of very considerable importance, because the case is considerably complicated by the different positions which, since the death of the late King of Denmark, have been taken up by the greater Powers and the smaller Powers in Germany. At the present moment there are two interventions, if I may call them so, in Denmark, and these two interventions are being carried on by different parties, and for evidently different objects. I will not trouble you with all the phases through which the negotiations passed, or the attempts that were made to fix upon some middle course which would satisfy both parties. The engagements had reference to rights claimed on behalf of the Duchies of Holstein and Schleswig, and the question remains, how far has Denmark contravened the engagements as to the rights, liberties, and privileges she was to give to those Duchies, and under no circumstances to incorporate Schleswig with the Danish 36 monarchy, or to take any step tending to that result? These were the whole of the questions which, up to the present year, were in dispute between the Powers of Germany and Denmark. But the position, since the death of the late King, has become materially altered, and has resulted in the Federal occupation of Holstein. The Federal occupation is admitted to be legal, for the purpose of enforcing the Treaty of 1851 to secure the rights of the Duchy. What was the object of the Federal execution, and against whom was is directed? Before the Federal execution could be carried out, the Sovereign against whom this execution was directed must have been recognised as the Sovereign who is held responsible for non-performance of the engagements; but the minor German Powers commenced the execution, and at the same time refused to recognise King Christian IX. as Sovereign, while they permitted the pretences of one of whom I will say nothing more than that his claim has been absolutely rejected, and never brought forward since the Treaty of 1852. But there is something more than this in the absurdity of the whole question. The Federal execution was for the purpose of maintaining and securing equal rights in the united monarchy; but those who contended for this equality of rights, have striven to disunite the monarchy, and contend for equal rights under two separate Sovereigns. These things, on both sides, present such a multitude of complications, that I hardly know how to deal with them. Austria and Prussia are by no means disposed to rest their claims on the repudiation of the treaty and the conditional acceptance of the claims of the Danes; they proceed to take the matter into their own hands, but professing their profoundest respect for the judgment of the Diet, and acting as their mandatory, and at the same time acting without the consent of the Diet. Then we have the King of Prussia taking up arms for the vigorous prosecution and strenuous defence of constitutional rights, and the Emperor of Austria joining him in a crusade for the defence of oppressed nationalities; and these two great Powers, recognising the treaty that the minor Powers desire to set aside, undertake, as the mandatory of the minor Powers, to carry on war against Denmark for objects totally different from those contemplated by the Diet. This is the state of the question at the present moment; but I cannot avoid thinking that with a 37 little good judgment, a little good management, and a little good temper, it ought to have been settled without a frightful appeal to arms. Surely it could have been no difficult fact to ascertain—if the parties were willing to listen to reason—as the case was one in which the intervention of a friendly Power might be applied—whether a certain engagement entered into by Denmark had or had not been fulfilled, or whether one of the parties was not demanding more than it was entitled to. I do not question the right of Prussia to ask for a fulfilment of those engagements to the utmost; I do not question the duty of Denmark to fulfil them as far as actually possible—to fulfil them as far as that is not rendered impossible by one of the parties opposed to Denmark; but I say that if when this question arose this country had occupied the position she ought, she would have been in a position to play the part of mediator, and that the circumstances might have been adjusted by a little good management on the part of the Foreign Office of England. But how could you have expected that Germany would yield to your interference in this case? In this quarrel there is a people who believe they are struggling for their liberty and independence. That fact will gain them great sympathy in Europe, more especially because they are carrying on the struggle with a force disproportionate to the necessities of the case; but how could you have expected that your interference would be effectual when you had alienated Prance, offended Russia, and more or less quarrelled with every Power in Europe?—when you had not a Power you could call your friend, and, moreover, when the danger which threatened you in this complication was a dangerous and destructive war between England and all the united Powers of Germany? What could be more threatening to the peace of Europe than England being committed to a sanguinary quarrel with the whole of Germany in a case in which, whether rightly or wrongly, the feelings of the people of Germany are enlisted on one side, and are excited as those of one man. For my part, I certainly should shrink from such a war as one of the greatest disasters that could happen to this country. I do hope that the noble Earl, who must this night give us a clear indication of the course which Her Majesty's Government propose to take in respect of their foreign policy, more especially on this question—will be able to 38 assure us that we are not committed by the Government, on the one hand, to a disastrous quarrel with Germany, or on the other, to a betrayal and abandonment of an ally who has trusted to our support and protection. I have not seen it argued, and indeed I think it could hardly be alleged, that Parliament should indicate the policy which the Government should adopt. There is a sound and constitutional doctrine that it is for the Government—for the responsible Ministers of the Crown—to take a decided course, and then to announce that course and submit it for the consideration of Parliament for their approval or condemnation. I do not pretend to know the position of affairs we stand in; but, as far as I can see, we are between the horns of a dilemma of a most formidable character— namely, the sacrifice of the honour of the country on the one side, and engagement in a most perilous and sanguinary war on the other. My Lords, while I regard this as a subject of the most painful interest to England, I would implore Germany to consider what consequences such a war must entail on her, not only in breaking up of old relations, the severing of friendships—the severing of ties between countries in which there exist almost ties of consanguinity—but also in giving an opportunity to all those opposed to the stability of her institutions—all those who are desirous to profit by anything that may tend to disorder and confusion—to all who envy that growing prosperity of Austria which is owing to the constitutional course that she has so wisely entered upon. A war with England would stop Austria in that course, and England would be in the unhappy position of being an unwilling and unconscious participator in pouring forth that torrent of evil which certainly would be set flowing. And without casting the slightest imputation upon the present intentions or possible designs of France, Germany must see that a war with England would leave her in such a position as that France would be master of the situation. If France does entertain ambitious designs, the moment would be one to Germany of the greatest peril, and to France of the greatest temptation. My Lords, I brought this subject forward with all the grave, earnest, and deep importance that attaches to it. I will not comment on other portions of the Speech. There will be other opportunities for discussing the subjects to which they relate. I will not allude to what has taken place in China, nor to 39 what has taken place in Japan, further than to say, with regard to the former empire, that I think this country was saved by an act of the Emperor of China from a very serious embarrassment. I rejoice that His Imperial Majesty refused to accept the assistance of a British squadron under such circumstances as only it could have been given to him. I do not blame Captain Sherard Osborne; on the contrary; I commend him for the judgment and prudence which he exhibited in refusing to place himself under the orders of a mandarin, and becoming responsible for the acts of such an official; but it seems incredible to me how the idea could ever have entered the minds of politicians that the Emperor of an independent country would accept the offer of a force on the understanding that his orders to that force were only to be obeyed when forwarded through a Civil Commissioner, who was to have the power of sending or withholding them. That would be a question entirely incompatible with that of a free Sovereign; and if such an arrangement were carried out it would create difficulty. I am only afraid, from accounts which have been received within the last few days, that assistance given by this country in the civil war in China has placed us in an unpleasant and a painful position. I will not comment on that extraordinary piece of diplomacy—namely, the surrender of the Ionian Islands to the kingdom of Greece. I say nothing as to the surrender itself, but only as to the mode in which it has taken place. The whole proceeding seems to have been involved in inextricable confusion. The promises which the noble Earl made and the expectations which he held out have been set at nought; and an agreement has been come to with the other Powers to hand over the islands without any condition whatever to the kingdom of Greece, that kingdom being in a state of anarchy, and in a state which renders it quite incapable of conducting its own affairs without assistance, and being under the government of an illustrious Prince, a young man who, I am afraid, on the advice of the noble Earl, with more courage than discretion, undertook a task which, I think, he will find extremely difficult. We find, too, that in this particular case, as well as in every other case in which the noble Earl has meddled, he has offended not only one side, but both sides. Again, it would appear, that notwithstanding the concessions 40 which the noble Earl has made to the Federal States of America in carrying out what he calls neutrality, but what I am afraid I must call one-sided neutrality, he has received from these States not thanks, because I believe that papers which have been laid before the Senate of the United States show that we were met by demands and menaces, which I should be much astonished if any one calling himself a British Minister must not have felt a difficulty in receiving when the despatches containing them were placed in his hands. Since then we are not only told that the American Government will hold us responsible for any damage which their commerce may have sustained by the acts of the Alabama; but if I have not misread the papers laid before Congress they state, that if we do not put a stop to the sale of vessels of this kind in this country, the result must be that the Federal Government will take the law into their own hands, that their cruisers will follow these vessels into British ports, and will, in British waters, maintain their own interests. My Lords, I hope the noble Earl will be able to show that he has answered that despatch in a manner which will put an end to such monstrous demands for the future. But, if I am not mistaken, the last despatch from Washington was written about August and was received here towards the latter end of August, and early in September the noble Earl took the strong step of seizing the so-called Confederate rams in the Mersey upon that very suspicion as to which, a year before, the Attorney General informed Parliament that the Government would not be warranted in interfering. Well, then, my Lords, if you have not satisfied the Federals, neither have you satisfied the Confederate States by the way in which the noble Earl has carried out his principle of neutrality. You have not satisfied the Poles and you have offended Russia. You have not very well pleased Denmark, and you have quarrelled with Prussia and Austria. You have not satisfied the Ionian Islands or Greece, although you have given to both of them all and more than they have asked; but you have contrived to couple it with conditions very proper in themselves, but which are mutually unpalatable, and which, up to a very late moment, led to the refusal by the Greek Government, such as it is, to accept your gift of the Ionian Islands burdened with those conditions. I cannot 41 say that in looking back at the general line of policy adopted by the noble Earl, and the degree of success which has attended his efforts as the head of the Foreign Office, such a retrospect is calculated to diminish my apprehensions of the present, or to inspire much confidence for the future. I earnestly hope and pray that the Government may be able to satisfy this House and the country that they have neither taken any course likely to involve us in a war, the issue of which no man can foresee; nor, on the other hand, have led on and then deserted a weak Power, which, confiding in our protection, and acting upon our advice, now finds itself abandoned in the hour of its utmost need. This is my earnest hope; yet I cannot but see that the vessel of our State is in a most perilous position, that it is surrounded by breakers and dangers on every side; and, for my own part, I have not—I wish I had—the consolation of being able to repose any confidence in the competence of the hands in which its navigation is now placed.
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, there is one part, and only one part, of the noble Earl's speech with which I completely agree. I concur entirely in the congratulations which it is proposed that we should offer to Her Majesty upon the birth of a son to the Prince of Wales — congratulations which I am sure will not only be concurred in by your Lordships, but which reflect the feelings of the whole nation. But I will now proceed to the comments which the noble Earl has made upon my conduct. He began with a good deal of wit and with a good many facts. But while his wit was excellent in itself—indeed, there could be none better, seeing that it was all Shakespeare's—the facts of the noble Earl, which were entirely his own, had no more foundation than the story of Bottom the Weaver himself. The taunt which Sheridan applied to one of his opponents might, indeed, be applied to the noble Earl—that he has gone to his memory for his wit and to his imagination for his facts. As to the expressions which the noble Earl put into my mouth, they were never uttered, and therefore have no need to be retracted. The noble Earl says that we have lost the confidence and friendship of certain Powers; but, my Lords, the fact is there are many of those Powers whose friendship we retain, and with whom communications are carried on most amicably, thus 42 showing the confidence of those Powers in this country. The noble Earl says that our policy consists in non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, and in maintaining an alliance with the Emperor of the French. Now, I confess I feel that in almost all cases—with very rare exceptions—intervention in the internal affairs of foreign countries is not only unjustifiable in itself, but almost always fails in its object and aggravates the evils which it is intended to remedy. The experience we have had of late has but confirmed me in that view. But then the noble Earl goes on to say that our principle being not to interfere in the internal affairs of foreign countries, we have differed from France upon certain questions. Now, if the noble Earl means to adopt the policy attributed to a very eminent man, who was a Colleague of his when in office, and who leads the party in the House of Commons, our policy ought, in his opinion, to be that of immediately accepting whatever France proposes, of immediately joining whatever expedition she suggests; that we should have no opinion, no will of our own, but that the will and the policy of France should govern all our feelings and interests—my Lords, I cannot, as a British Minister, accept the policy which has been thus suggested by the leader of the opposition in the House of Commons. With regard to Mexico, we stated over and over again, in entering into the Convention, that we did not go there to interfere in the internal affairs of the country, and did not mean to impose upon the Mexicans a Government of which they did not approve. The French Government said that they could not treat with the existing Government of Mexico. We said, however, that the question of the Government was not that which we had come to Mexico to deal with; and Sir Charles Wyke, therefore, very properly, and with the full approval of Her Majesty's Government, declared that we must separate ourselves from the French. The Spanish Minister held the same language. We went to Mexico to obtain redress for our own grievances, and reparation for the injuries we had suffered; we did not go to set up an Emperor or any other form of Government; and yet part of the blame cast upon us by the noble Earl is for separating ourselves from France in this matter.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. I said distinctly that when 43 the objects of the expedition were expended, I did not blame Her Majesty's Government for withdrawing from that expedition.
§ EARL RUSSELL
Well, but what, then, was the noble Earl's reason for dwelling on that topic? If to differ from France be an offence, how could we help offending her on that question? My opinion on these matters is very different from that of the noble Earl. I think that, though on some questions which arise the Emperor of the French may pursue a different policy from that which we follow, he gives full weight to the consideration that the policy which may suit the French nation may not be the policy which the British nation prefers. I believe that the Emperor is too just to attribute such a difference of opinion to anything but a regard for the policy which we think right, and which we think the interests of this country call upon us to pursue. Then, the noble Earl says that we differed from France about the recognition of the Southern States of America. Now, no such proposal was ever made to us. There was a proposal that we should offer our good offices in order to reconcile the North and the South; but it was tolerably obvious that if the proposal was made by two such Powers as England and France and rejected, the proposal for a recognition of the South must soon follow. We felt that the proposal would irritate the Northern States, would fail of effect, and that there was much better chance of a reconciliation between the North and South by our abstaining from such a proposal. I believe that even the noble Earl approved of that decision. I certainly am convinced that the whole country concurred in the policy which we then pursued.
The noble Earl next turned to a very painful subject—that of Poland—and he has accused the Government of acting upon their own views in this matter, of disappointing Austria and France, and of declaring that we did not mean to go to war, thereby aggravating the sufferings of Poland. Now, in the first place, among the many inaccurate statements of facts which the noble Earl has made, it is not a fact that we acted entirely by ourselves and differed from Austria upon this subject. On the contrary, we had constant communication both at Vienna and in London with the Austrian Government, and had ascertained that upon considerations of Austrian interests, taking into account the finances 44 of the empire and the 4,000,000 of Polish subjects of Austria—they would be most unwilling to push their differences with Russia to the brink of war. I had to look at what was for the interest of England, and to consider the general aspect of the question. My belief is, that we should have had not to recognize Poland, not to fight for Poland, but to make a Poland; and to make a Poland such as the people of that country desired, we must have established not only the ancient kingdom, but also included what are called the western provinces of Russia, which were formerly a part of Poland. A question so enormous, involving the dismemberment of the Russian empire, was not to be undertaken without the clearest view that the objects sought would be attained, and that Her Majesty's Government held strong, if not confident, hopes that the good to be obtained would be equivalent to the great sacrifices required. It was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that it was not advisable to enter upon such a war, and therefore I confess that, in concert with Austria, we declined to take any step which might involve us in the further step of hostilities against Russia. When it was proposed to us to write an identical Note to Russia, which might be regarded as a menace, we declined. When it was proposed to us to consider what further measures should be adopted in case Russia should refuse our proposals, Her Majesty's Government, in concert with Austria, declined to go into that consideration. Were we wrong in that, not intending to fight for Poland? Were we wrong in confining ourselves to expressions of sympathy for a brave people, and refusing to commit ourselves to hostilities against Russia? I believe the opinion of this country was at that time, and is still more strongly now, against going to war for Poland. But have we thereby aggravated the evils of Poland, as the noble Earl tells us? I thought differently. I thought on the contrary, that telling the Poles we were not going to war was not a way to give them false hopes or to lead them to expect that our arms would be used in their favour; for I believe it would be the most cruel thing in the world to induce a people to take up arms and to fight in expectation of our support, which support, in the end, we did not intend to give. Entertaining these views, I declared plainly in this House that we did not intend to go to war for Poland. The decision may have disappointed the Government of 45 France at that moment, but I believe the Government of France is now persuaded that the people of France were not willing to enter upon such a war, and that the inclination of the French people—and I am happy to see that such is the case—the inclination of the French people is in favour of peace with foreign nations, and therefore the nation would probably not have approved their Government entering upon a costly and burdensome war to establish the independence of Poland. But then we are told we have not agreed with the Emperor of the French upon the subject of a Congress. I confess I considered that that proposal was made to us as an invitation. I did not consider that there was an obligation upon us to accept it, but that it was free to us to accept or to decline. If that be the case, as I believe the Emperor of the French, intended it to be, we had to consider what it was intended to do at that Congress. We therefore asked, in the first place, what were the topics to be brought forward, and how any difficulties arising upon them were to be got over. When we got an answer to that inquiry we considered the matter again—we considered it most carefully and most seriously, and we came to the conclusion that the solution was not likely to be pacific, but that if it was pacific it would be a great disappointment to the Powers of Europe to find that the work of the Congress would be null and void. That was our decision, and were we wrong in that? The two main topics to be brought forward were Poland and Venetia. As to Poland, it would have had reference to the course pursued by Russia. I communicated with the Russian Ambassador, and asked him what he supposed would be the course of Russia at the Congress? and the answer was that the Emperor's Government would only maintain that which he had already maintained in the correspondence with France, Great Britain, and Austria. I asked the Austrian Ambassador what would be the course of his Government in regard to Venetia. He said that the Austrian Government was determined not to listen to any proposal for the cession or exchange of Venetia. What, then, would have been the result of submitting those two great topics to a Congress? If a proposal had been made to Russia on the subject of Poland, the answer would have been a refusal. If Austria had been asked about Venetia her answer would have been a refusal. And, then, what was to be the end of the 46 Congress? Were we to be brought into war on account of those refusals, or were we to be satisfied with nothing being done? Those were our reflections, our honest opinions. The noble Earl seems to think our reply was rather rude and curt; but we expressed our views in two rather long despatches. We stated in one despatch that we gave the Emperor of the French full credit for the motives which had induced him to make the proposition, and to seek to place the general peace of Europe upon more solid bases; and in another despatch we stated that we regarded the proposal as a proof of the interest felt by the Emperor for the welfare of Europe. Therefore, as to motives, we gave the Emperor of the French, every credit for the excellence of the motives which influenced him. But as to his reasoning, were not the British Government entitled to form their own opinion, to use their own arguments, concerning a great step proposed to them—a step published to Europe without any notice or previous concert with us? Were not Her Majesty's Government entitled to consider for themselves whether that step was likely to promote the peace of Europe, or whether it was likely to have a contrary effect? Upon this subject also, as upon the subjects of Mexico and the "United States of America, I claim that which is not a great deal to claim for a Power like England — that the Government should have the right of framing its own policy and of being governed by its own views of the interests of England and of Europe, and not be compelled to follow in the wake of any other Power however great. The noble Earl has made many comments, not altogether correct as to facts, with respect to that grave question upon which every one must be anxious—the question of the differences between Germany and Denmark. Upon that subject I can only give your Lordships a very bare outline of the course that has been taken, of the views held by the German Powers, and of those which are entertained by Her Majesty's Government. I must remark, in the first place^ that during the reign of the late King of Denmark the Federal Diet at Frankfort came to the resolution to have Federal execution in Holstein. But before going further, I must state that there are two points which are, in fact, two separate questions, although much mixed up together in various ways. In the year 1850, in July, there 47 was a meeting at the Foreign Office at which the Powers of France, Great Britain, Austria, and Russia assisted, and at which it was agreed by Great Britain, France, and Russia that the maintenance of the integrity of the Danish monarchy was an object connected with the balance of power, and was conducive to the maintenance of peace and the welfare of Europe. Upon the 2nd of August in the same year these propositions were reduced into a protocol with several articles, one of which recited that it was desirable to maintain the integrity of the Danish monarchy, and another commended the wisdom of the King of Denmark in endeavouring to arrange for such a succession to the Crown of Denmark as might enable his successor to fulfil his Federal obligations as Duke of Holstein. Upon the 23rd of August, Austria acceded to that Note. These negotiations took place after the war had been carried on in Holstein, and ultimately resulted in the treaty signed in May, 1852, by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury), which proceeded upon the statements made in 1850, and which recognized the succession to the Crown of Denmark, and of all the territories then under the sceptre of the King of Denmark, in Prince Christian, now King Christian IX., of Denmark. To that treaty, as stated in Her Majesty's Speech, several Powers acceded. It is true that the Government of Saxony did not use the term "accede," but they used the term "assent," and also applied such terms of eulogy to the framers of the treaty as would have induced any Government of England—as would have induced the noble Earl opposite, had he held the office I now hold—to expect from Saxony that she would have been one of the first Powers to recognize and to maintain the benefits of the treaty of 1852. On December9,1852, the Saxon Minister says—His Majesty having taken cognizance of these arrangements, as well as of the stipulations intended to guarantee their stability, is happy to recognize the wisdom of the views and the solicitude for the great political interests of Europe of which the high contracting parties have, in this proceeding, given a new and striking proof. Animated with these sentiments, His Majesty is willing to lend himself to the desire manifested by the high Allies, and to believe that the well-founded interests of his Royal house place no obstacle in its way.After explaining that these interests have reference principally to the eventual rights of the Albertine branch of the House of Saxe upon the Duchy of Lauenburg, which 48 could not be altered by the treaty, the Note continues—It is in this supposition, and under this reserve of the same eventual rights, that the Government of the King, without, however, pretending to anticipate the resolutions which the Germanic Confederation, by the organ of the Diet, may be led to take upon this question, do not hesitate to declare their assent to the treaty signed at London on the 8th of May last, and thus to associate themselves to a combination serving to maintain the integrity of the Danish monarchy, and to assure at the same time the preservation of the general peace. "BEUST.Well, then, these being the words of the reservation as to the rights of the Confederation, the least any Government of Europe might have expected would be, that if the Diet should hereafter come to consider the obligations of the Treaty of 1852, one of those parties having acknowledged the wisdom of the Sovereigns and States who were parties to it, and considering its tendency to preserve the peace, would recommend the Diet not to contravene its stipulations. It might have been expected that this course would have been taken by the Minister of Saxony. And yet not only Hanover and Wurtemburg, who acceded to that treaty, have shown a disposition to pass from its provisions, but one of the great agitators against that treaty has been this very Saxon Minister, who signed the letter I have read. I quote this, my Lords, as an instance of the difficulty which any Government in Europe and the Government of this country, having obtained a treaty which was signed with the general concurrence of and acknowledged by the States of Europe, must find in maintaining that treaty, when the very persons acceding to it, who acknowledged its wisdom and obligations, were the first to disturb its provisions and denounce its maintenance. There were other engagements then entered into with which Her Majesty's Government had, I may say, nothing to do. Those engagements were the consequence of the war which had been carried on in Holstein and Schleswig. Engagements were taken by the King of Denmark with regard to certain portions of these Duchies. He engaged with regard to Holstein to discharge all his Federal obligations; he engaged with regard to Schleswig not to incorporate that duchy with Denmark; and Austria and Prussia engaged on their part to respect the decision of the King of Denmark that Holstein and Schleswig should be entirely separate, and not united. I quite agree with the 49 noble Earl in regretting that these engagements were not embodied in any regular convention or treaty; they were contained only in notes of the Austrian and Prussian Ministers on the one side, and of the Danish Minister on the other, and they were followed by a proclamation of the King of Denmark; and ever since January, 1852, the date of that proclamation, there has been a constant controversy, and very often a bitter controversy, going on between Denmark and Germany—Germany reproaching the Danish Crown with not fulfilling its obligations, not governing Holstein according to German views, and tending constantly to incorporation. The Danes, on the other hand, said the demands made by Germany, and the interpretation given to their engagements, were such as to make it impossible for Denmark to comply with. them. I believe there is a great deal of truth in both these statements. My noble Friend (Lord Wodehouse), who spoke last year on this subject, said the King of Denmark was bound in honour to fulfil his obligations, but that Germany was also bound not to render their fulfilment impossible. Such being the nature of the case, with this constant and bitter controversy going on, the German Diet came to the conclusion, as I before stated, on the 1st of October, to order a Federal execution in Schleswig-Holstein; but they did not observe the rule they ought to have observed, that the only territory in which they had Federal jurisdiction was the territory of Holstein, and that they had no right to go beyond its limits. They, on the contrary, put into their decree various other decrees, which, since 1852, had been passed by the Diet, one of which was that there should be a common constitution in which each of the four parts of the Danish dominion should have a separate government and constitution, independent of the rest—an arrangement which, by the interpretation of the Germans, amounted to this—that the Danes being the majority and the Germans being the minority, in the proportion of sixteen to ten, the latter should have the power in the General Parliament in Copenhagen of becoming the majority and governing the whole kingdom. Her Majesty's Government represented to the Diet that such a course would be destructive of all the efforts that had been made, and that it was impossible that that part of the decree could stand. The proposition was consequently abandoned, and is no longer, as I 50 understand, insisted on. That decree was in the course of execution when, on the 15th of November, the King of Denmark died. From that moment there has been increased agitation in Germany, and the subject of that agitation has been not the Federal rights which from 1851 had been matter of dispute, not the fulfilment of the engagements of Denmark with respect to Schleswig and Holstein, but the question of the succession to the Crown, which most people hoped was happily and wisely settled by the Treaty of 1852. Now, the German Diet has taken a most extraordinary course on that subject; and when I say a most extraordinary course I do not except the great Powers of Austria and Prussia, because I really think their course has been rather less intelligible than that of what is said to be the majority, who wish to put up the Prince of Augustenburg. But it is obvious there were two very clear lines to take, either of which might have been taken by those who interfered in this dispute. The German Powers might have said, if they chose, "We entirely repudiate the Treaty of 1852; though we have signed it we entirely disown it; we acknowledge the Prince of Augustenburg as Duke of Holstein, and we will send our armies to insure him the possession of the Duchy of Schleswig, which he claims as well." That would have been a course inconsistent with the treaty which they had signed—that would have been a course which would have involved the destruction of Denmark as a kingdom—it would have destroyed the integrity of the Danish monarchy—it would have been, I may say, a realization of the long entertained ambition on the part of many of the States of Germany; but, at the same time, it would have been a clear and decided course. There was another course which everybody expected that, at least, Austria and Prussia would have taken—that was to say, "No, we have already decided to recognize Prince Christian as heir and successor to the Danish crown, and we do not see why we should depart from our engagements on that score; we know perfectly well the rights of the Diet when we signed that treaty; we did not regard them as controlling our Powers or diminishing our obligations? we hold to that succession while we agree to Federal obligations, and we cannot for a moment listen to the opposite pretensions put forward." They did not take that course, but they proposed 51 that the question, of succession should be suspended or held in abeyance. What, then, became of the character of the Federal execution? On the one side it was a Federal execution against the reigning King of Denmark, thereby implying that he was the rightful King, and the rightful Duke of Holstein; and it was justly said, that as he inherited the rights so he also inherited the wrongs of his predecessor— that if the late King of Denmark had not governed in Holstein according to Federal rights and obligations, it was perfectly legitimate to go in and enforce that execution in order to oblige him to do it. But then, unhappily, Saxony and Hanover, who were parties to the execution, did not recognize Prince Christian. Austria and Prussia themselves did not receive the envoys of the new King of Denmark, notifying his accession, at Vienna and Berlin; and when the agents of the execution arrived in Holstein the arms and insignia of the King of Denmark were pulled down, and every encouragement was given to the Duke of Augustenburg to pursue his canvass throughout the Duchy. Nothing could be more inconsistent than this double course on the part of these Powers. Austria and Prussia were opposed to the majority of the Diet, but on the 14th of January, I think, they made another proposition—that they should proceed into Schleswig and hold that Duchy as a material pledge or guarantee, in order to enable the German Diet to enforce the fulfilment of the engagements of 1851. The other Powers, who turned out to be the majority in the Diet, said, "That that would be inconsistent with our opinion that the Prince of Augustenburg is the Duke of Schleswig; because if you go you acknowledge Prince Christian to be Duke of Schleswig." But Austria and Prussia have nevertheless gone into Schleswig to obtain this material guarantee; and there is obviously there also the same disposition to canvass for and proclaim the Duke of Augustenburg. On the 1st of October we had pointed out in what way we felt that the Federal execution went beyond the powers of the Diet. We afterwards proposed that there should be a Conference on this matter of all the Powers who signed the Treaty of London, and also a representative of the Diet; and on the 31st of December a despatch was communicated to the Diet, in which we earnestly pressed the Diet to submit the question to a Conference rather than risk a war of which 52 no man could foresee the possible consequences. That proposition was referred to a Committee of the Diet, which I believe has never reported. Several of the German States have told us that it is quite impossible for them to appoint a representative to any Conference of the States of Europe, because they differ so much among themselves that no one person could properly represent the Diet. That may be a practical reason why a representative should not appear. The interference of Austria and Prussia went on. I cannot wonder that Austria and Prussia should take the matter into their own hands, and refuse to bow to the decision of the Diet; because when you remember what those two Powers are, what is the extent of their territory, of their army, or their resources, it is really too much to expect them to submit their will to the Duke of Coburg and the other small Princes. But the conduct of Austria and Prussia is almost as unintelligible and I may almost say as unfriendly as that of the minor States; because, having determined upon going into Holstein, they sent to Denmark a requisition to revoke the Constitution of November last in forty-eight hours. Well, this Constitution, as we thought, was inconsistent with the engagements into which Denmark had entered in 1851. In the month of November or December the Government of Russia communicated to us that she was about to take the course of sending an envoy to congratulate the King of Denmark on his accession to the throne, and at the same time to advise the revocation of the Constitution of November, 1863, as inconsistent with Denmark's engagements; and the Russian Government invited us to take the same course. Well, we did so, and my noble Friend, Lord Wodehouse, proceeded to Copenhagen, and, in conjunction with the Russian envoy, advised the revocation of that Constitution. At the same time the French and Swedish Envoys at the Danish Court, without making a particular request with respect to that Constitution, urged the Danish Government to do everything to conciliate the German Governments, and fulfil all its obligations. That mission was not at first successful. Most unfortunately the Minister who then had for some time ruled in Denmark under the late King, although no doubt very patriotic in his sentiments, had most violent and extreme views in favour of the Danish people— views hardly consistent with justice to the 53 German subjects of his Sovereign—and he persisted in advising the King to refuse those propositions and to dissolve the Danish Parliament. Shortly afterwards the King of Denmark changed his Ministry, and intrusted the functions of Minister to M. Monrad, who has found a colleague in one of the ablest, and, at the same time, most moderate statesmen, formerly the Envoy of Denmark at the Court of Berlin. From that time the whole tone of Danish policy was altered, and the Danish Government showed a readiness to make every concession compatible with the independence and integrity of their country. Unhappily, that was not to be done very quickly. The King of Denmark, as a constitutional Sovereign, was bound to take no measure inconsistent with the law and Constitution of his kingdom, and therefore he could ask for the revocation of the November Constitution only in a constitutional manner, by causing elections to be made to the Rigsraad, thereby postponing, for some weeks at least, the revocation required of him. At the same time the new Minister frankly told the Diet of Copenhagen, that if they expected treaties in their favour to be observed, and the integrity of Denmark to be respected, they must fulfil all the obligations into which the late King had entered. That was a fair and honest declaration, and I respect the Danish Minister for making it. But the more disposed Denmark became to make concessions, unhappily the less disposed were Austria and Prussia to give time for those concessions. And I am sorry to say that when we proposed that six weeks' delay should be granted to see what the Danish Government could and would do, that proposal was peremptorily refused at Berlin and Vienna. Well, we then framed that proposition in a different manner, and suggested that in order to give security to Austria and Prussia there should be a protocol recording, in the names of Prance, Great Britain, Russia, and Sweden, the intention of the Danish Government to propose the revocation of the November Constitution, thereby giving an assurance to Austria and Prussia that if that Constitution was not immediately revoked, Denmark should no longer have the smallest ground for reliance on those Powers of Europe who wish to defend her. Both of those steps, I may say, had the concurrence of France, Russia, and Sweden, with the exception, perhaps, that while the proposed delay had the consent 54 of them all, Sweden did not agree as to the revocation—she desired only that time should be granted to Denmark for the consideration of the subject, and that she should not be absolutely required to revoke the constitution. England and Russia supported the request made by Denmark for time; but each and all were met with a peremptory refusal by Prussia and Austria. Now I must say that, considering what were the States that made these propositions, considering especially how Austria has hitherto valued the peace of Europe—considering how much she is, as it were, a Conservative Power in the centre of Europe, this haste on her part to reject the propositions made by such Powers as France, Russia, and England, and to rush into war, is to me something as inexplicable as it is melancholy. The Governments of Austria and Prussia have made official communications which I have listened to on this subject. They have spoken as to the necessity of not keeping their armies on the Eider in inaction, as to its being too late to maintain the peace of Europe—too late not to break the peace of Europe—and other excuses of that kind, which I confess I heard with pain and astonishment. But in their papers and despatches, mingled with all this, are repeated allusions to their position in Europe. They represent that if, after having prepared to enter Schleswig, they had stopped in their course, there would have been such a commotion in Germany, there would have been such an agitation against them, there would have been such a marching of volunteer armies to Holstein, that they would themselves have been exposed to the risk of revolution. Now, one cannot but think how hard it is upon Denmark that her fair and conciliatory propositions should be rejected —not because they are not fair and conciliatory in themselves—not because Denmark is not fully awake to her responsibilities and the promises she has made—not that there is any reason to suppose that if six weeks, or two months, or three months were conceded, there would not be a satisfaction to all German demands as they have hitherto been urged, and an arrangement happy for Germany, happy for Denmark, and happy for Europe—but simply because there is a great German dispute and German dissatisfaction, and Denmark must be made the scapegoat. What is the statement that has been repeatedly made on the part of the Germans? Those Ger- 55 mans who wish for the unity of Germany, who declare that Germany ought to be one great empire, with a chief at the head of it who would have great weight in Europe, backed by a great popular assembly with immense resources, when they are asked, if that is the wish of 40,000,000 of their people, why in God's name they do not make an effort to achieve their object, and when they are told that if they are unanimous themselves they have nothing to fear from others—these persons tell us that it is impossible for them to attain their wish except by attacking Denmark and getting possession of Schleswig. Really I must say that the fate of Denmark, situated as she is, is a most unhappy one. She is between two parties, one of which says, "We wish to have one great united Germany, and therefore let us go and attack Denmark;" while the other says, "We wish to stop democratic agitation in Germany and keep things in their present state, and therefore let us go and attack Denmark." It thus appears that whether the case is one of Liberalism and the unity of Germany, or whether it is a question of Conservative policy and keeping up all the minor Princes and States of Germany, the German mind is bent upon the destruction of Denmark, whatever other object may be accomplished. I certainly cannot admire those feelings, and when it was proposed that there should be an invasion of Schleswig, I thought it was necessary to ask whether Austria and Prussia acknowledged the obligatory character of the Treaty of London of 1852, or whether they were about to march into Schleswig for other purposes? Your Lordships will observe that I had a fair right to ask this question; because, while on the one side those two great Powers had in no way repudiated the Treaty of London, yet on the other they had gone the length of proposing in the Diet that the question of the succession in Denmark should be kept in abeyance, and for themselves they had not recognized the succession. I received the other day an answer to our question, and I shall take the liberty of reading to your Lordships both the question we have asked in the terms in which it was put by Sir Andrew Buchanan, our Ambassador at Berlin, and a translation of the answer we have received, leaving it to your Lordships, and, I am afraid, leaving it to future events to decipher and interpret the true meaning of that answer. What Sir Andrew 56 Buchanan demanded on our part was this—The undersigned Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Her Britannic Majesty has the honour to acquaint his Excellency M. de Bismark-Schönhausen, the Minister President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of His Majesty the King of Prussia, that the Government of the Queen his august Sovereign having been informed that the Governments of Austria and Prussia have addressed a threatening summons to Denmark, he has been instructed to ask for a formal declaration on the part of the Prussian Government that it adheres to the principle of the integrity of the Danish monarchy.(Signed) A. BUCHANAN.Berlin, Jan. 20, 1864.The answer is to be found in a despatch of the 31st of January, addressed by Herr von Bismark to Count Bernstorff, the Prussian Ambassador in this country—The Government of the King, by basing on the stipulations of 1851–2 the rights which, in concert with Austria, it is proceeding to enforce upon Denmark, has by this very act recognized the principle of the integrity of the Danish monarchy as established by the transactions of 1851–2. The Government of the King, in proceeding to the occupation of Schleswig, docs not intend to depart from this principle. If, however, in consequence of complications which may be brought about by the persistence of the Danish Government in its refusal to accomplish its promises of 1852, or of the armed intervention of other Powers in the Dano-German conflict, the King's Government were to find itself compelled to renounce combinations which would no longer offer a result proportionate to the sacrifices which events might impose upon the German Powers, no definitive arrangements could be made without the concurrence of the Powers who signed the Treaty of London. The British Government would then find the King's Government ready to come to an agreement with them as to the definitive arrangement of the Dano-German question. Your Excellency is requested to read and give a copy of this despatch to Earl Russell.I have now put your Lordships in possession of the case. It remains, as I have said, for future events to give a clue to the correct interpretation of the answer of the Prussian Minister. It may be that having occupied Schleswig, or, what I should like much better, having occupied only a part of Schleswig, the Austrian and Prussian Governments may be ready to consider with other Powers what may fairly be demanded from Denmark consistently with the integrity of the Danish monarchy. If they be moderate in their proposals—if the Powers of Europe, anxious for peace, as I believe them to be, should be enabled by timely advice, by the consideration of propositions fit to be embodied in a treaty, to arrive at a clear, satisfactory, and permanent arrangement of these difficult af- 57 fairs—Her Majesty's Government would heartily rejoice in such an issue. We have made many—some might say too many—efforts for the preservation of peace in advising the different States who are engaged in the quarrel to make concessions which we thought reasonable; but we have advised nothing which we thought did not put Denmark, on one side, and Germany, on the other, in a better position, thinking that he is twice armed whose cause is just and right. We have advised nothing to Denmark which it was not, in our opinion, for her advantage, which it was not right for her to yield. We have given at no time any assurance or even hope of material assistance to Denmark. The 'Danish Minister at Her Majesty's Court has repeatedly said to me, "We expect no material assistance from England, but we do expect sympathy." That is the extent of our engagements as regards Denmark. What the future may bring forth it would be rash for me to say. I should be rash if I were to pretend even to attempt to draw an outline or sketch of what may happen. In the present uncertainty, with this aggravation of the state of Europe, of troops actually fighting, I do ask, having stated as clearly as I could what has taken place, and intending as soon as possible to lay the despatches on the table, as far as it is possible to do so—I do ask your Lordships that we may be permitted to decide upon events as they arise, and to take such measures as we may think best for the peace of Europe, for the welfare of Denmark as a separate and independent nation, and for the real good of the Germans themselves as a great Power, and as constituting a large portion of the population of Europe.
With the permission of your Lordships, I would say what I think is the great danger for Germany and for Europe in the present transactions which are taking place in different countries of Europe. It is obvious that for some years past, perhaps nearly thirty or forty years, the nations of Europe have not chosen to sit down contented with despotisms and have no wish to adopt republican forms of government. They have, therefore, resorted to that mode of government which, if wisely framed and conducted with moderation, is, I believe, the best for the happiness of the governed and most consistent with true liberty and the best interests of mankind—the form of constitutional monarchy. 58 But that may he a most dangerous form of government, and if not used in moderation is apt to produce revolts—violent acts of authority on one side and violent acts of rebellion on the other. It has been the happiness of this country, which has enjoyed this kind of government for now nearly two centuries, that moderation has been the distinguishing characteristic of all our conflicts, and has assured to them, however hot they may have been, a peaceable and constitutional solution. It is not so in other countries. To take a case to which I did not expect to have to refer to-night—in Greece the people thought it necessary to change their monarch because they were not satisfied that he was acting in a constitutional manner. In Spain, too, the friends of liberty have taken a course which they no doubt deem very favourable to their cause, but which is quite inconsistent with constitutional ideas, of presenting a budget to the Cortez. Then, again, in Prussia a contest has been going on for some time which shows the greatest confusion of ideas on the subject. One party which holds with the prerogative of the Crown maintains that the consent of the King and House of Lords is sufficient to pass a budget. That is an idea quite opposed to our notion of the constitutional powers of a House of Commons. The Lower House have, however, fallen into exaggerations on their side, because, it being obviously a principle of constitutional monarchy that the King should make treaties, acting on behalf of the nation, the Prussian House of Commons have thought they were at liberty to throw aside and annul treaties made by the Sovereign, thus rendering the Monarchy a name of contempt and depriving the King of a constitutional prerogative. That shows the confusion which prevails as to this mode of government. Such is the question now pending in Germany, and which before long will lead to a happy solution or to a long and desperate conflict. In the course of last year the Emperor of Austria declared that it was absolutely necessary, in order to prevent revolution, that there should be a German Parliament, and proposed a scheme with that object. The King of Prussia also declared that Germany must have a Parliament, and proposed another scheme. Now, depend upon it, these propositions made by such Sovereigns as the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia, will not fall to the ground. There may, perhaps, before long 59 arise an earnest demand for this German Parliament, and it will then be seen whether this important question can be settled in peace, reason, and moderation, or whether Germany is to continue a great plague to itself, a great terror to other countries. These are questions which really affect the future of Europe. The Emperor of the French, with, I believe, great sagacity and wisdom, has given certain powers to his people. Fontenelle, the French philosopher, used to say that if he had a closed handful of truth he would open only one finger at a time. The Emperor of the French treats his people in regard to freedom much in the same way. He opens one finger at a time. It is, however, for the benefit of the French to have a firm Government, and I trust the Emperor's authority will be maintained. With his sagacity and skill it is possible that in time, without any convulsion, the French people may have every liberty which they can properly enjoy, or any constitutional country possess. At the same time, I confess these are great and difficult problems. We are ourselves secured from them, having long ago settled our constitution; but I do believe that they will be a prolific source of future disturbance in Europe. I am happy to say that there is in France, Russia, and in this country the strongest desire to maintain peace. If three such Powers are disposed to preserve peace, I cannot believe that any long war is likely to occur in Europe. It will be the object of Her Majesty's Government not rashly to commit themselves to any policy that might entail evils upon the country; but I fully accept the statement of the noble Earl opposite, that a Government ought not to look to Parliament for guidance— that it is not their duty to seek for suggestions or for a policy from Parliament—it is the duty of the Government to consider seriously and amply the situation of the country, to avail themselves of all lights which they can obtain; and then having made up their minds they ought to communicate to Parliament what their policy is, and stand or fall by it. Such is our duty, and we shall endeavour to fulfil it.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, we cannot, I think, but feel great uneasiness and anxiety as to the present position of affairs, after having listened to the speech of my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. We cannot disguise from ourselves that a question of awful importance presses for the decision of Her Majesty's Government 60 and Parliament. They have to decide whether they will protect Denmark or whether they will not. Sooner or later we must come to a determination on that question, which is as difficult as it is momentous. On the one hand, I entirely concur in what was said by the noble Earl opposite as to the magnitude of the calamities to the world which would be caused by a war between this country and two great Powers of the Continent. On the other hand, however, we have this to consider—is a great act of injustice to be perpetrated without our interference to check it? Are we to sit still and see one of the smaller States of Europe oppressed without colour of right by the superior strength of two great nations? As to whether or not Denmark is in the right, whatever I may think, I will not venture to express an opinion—it is a question so difficult and complicated that I feel it would be presumption in me to offer any views on it. I must own, however, that after hearing the speech of my noble Friend, in which he denounced so eloquently the proceedings of the two great Powers, and pointed out the hardships inflicted on Denmark in order that the Germans might settle German questions at her expense, I cannot help entertaining some suspicion that it may be the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that in this matter Denmark is oppressed. Well, then, what follows? If we are satisfied that Denmark is in the right, it is a most serious determination on the part of this country to say that we will look on in tranquillity and apparent indifference while that monstrous act of injustice is being perpetrated. I must question the principle on which, if they think the Danes to be in the right, Her Majesty's Government would seem to have acted, that we are not to use our power except when our own interests are directly and immediately attacked. No one of your Lordships is more anxious than myself to avoid all unnecessary interference in the quarrels of foreign Powers; no one feels more strongly the impolicy of meddling in affairs which do not concern us; but, on the other hand, I have always felt, and I trust all your Lordships agree with me in feeling, that the civilized nations of the world have a strong and clear interest in preventing injustice being inflicted on any one of their number, and that the best security for the peace of Europe and the 61 world is a general persuasion among the great Powers of the world, that if any one of them openly and notoriously violates the principles of justice, and is guilty of oppression towards its weaker neighbours, other nations will stand forward to defend those neighbours, and that among the nations ever ready to come forward in a case of justice and reason England will not be the last. I say, then, that there is this great question, which must sooner or later be decided—are we prepared to protect Denmark or not? And I cannot help fearing that, in their anxiety to defer the responsibility of deciding on this momentous question, the Government may have made the mistake—though I hope that it will turn out otherwise—of deferring too long arriving at a clear conclusion on the point. I cannot help fearing that they have done too much or too little. The tendency of what they have already done—namely, the mission of my noble Friend near me (Lord Wodehouse), and the pressing advice given to Denmark according to the statement of the noble Earl who has just sat down (Earl Russell), as to the course she ought to pursue—must, I fear, have tended, though no specific promises may have been given, to create an impression that when the time came our aid would not be wanting to Denmark if Denmark were attacked. We now know that the attack has been made, and no assistance has been given by us. This may be right, but I confess that it appears to me that if we were to withhold our assistance, it ought at once to have been made clear to Denmark from an early time that she must not look for our aid, nor be induced by an expectation of it to pursue a course of policy she would not otherwise have adopted. I also cannot help thinking, that if it should ultimately appear that we ought to protect Denmark, we have, perhaps, allowed the time to go by in which we might have interfered with the greatest advantage, and with the greatest probability of avoiding war. I cannot but believe that in these cases the boldest policy is sometimes the best; and, assuming that ultimately we may he bound to interfere, I firmly believe that in that case it would have been far better that we should much earlier than this have told the German Powers in plain language what would be the consequence of their persistence in the course they were pursuing: had we done so, I firmly believe that the German Powers would have paused in their course. I hope and trust 62 that the Government are not making the fatal mistake of deciding on each successive step they are to take according to what may seem to be the exigencies of the moment, without having, at least in their own minds, some clear and definite line of policy, to which they mean steadily to adhere, and which should guide their various measures. If they have omitted thus to determine upon some distinct line of policy, they have committed a most serious error. If they intend ultimately to come forward in defence of Denmark, it is my belief that the right course for them to have taken would have been to have called Parliament together at an earlier date, for the purpose of formally communicating to both Houses on the part of the Crown, that the course of events had made it necessary to take steps which might ultimately lead to war, and for which they had to ask the concurrence and support of Parliament. While a communication to this effect was made to Parliament, measures might have been taken for sending a British force to Schleswig; and, looking to the geographical position of Denmark, the great exertions which the Danes seem inclined to make in their defence, and the great support our naval power can give in a defensive war to a military force, I am convinced that such a force as this country ought to be able to send with great expedition and ease to Schleswig would have an important effect on the contest. Considering the enormous sums voted for the army and navy during the last ten years, I cannot but believe that we are now in a position to send, if it were necessary to make the exertion, such a force to Schleswig as would form a most valuable support to the Danish force. I am further convinced that if we had taken such a decided course as this, Austria and Prussia would have hesitated before they made an advance which would have involved an attack by them on the British army. Considering the state of Venice and of Hungary, and the condition of the Austrian finances, I cannot help thinking that Austria would have thought twice before attacking an English army in an intrenched position. I do not say that this is the course which ought to have been adopted, because we do not yet know enough of what has taken place to be able to form a clear judgment, whether the case is one which will call for our active interference in the end. But I do say that if Her Majesty's Government are of opinion 63 that a wrong has been done to Denmark which we cannot allow to remain unredressed, this more decided and earlier interposition would have been more likely to avert war than what we have done. As it is we have great reason for anxiety and for fearing that the Government in this matter has done, as I have already said, too much or too little. I must add that I feel greatly mortified to find that the remonstrances, which it appears from the statement of my noble Friend he has made to the German Powers, have had so little effect. I am sorry to say that I cannot but concur with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) in believing that the inefficiency of our remonstrances is to be ascribed to the position in which we unfortunately find ourselves placed. It is true, as the noble Earl opposite has said, that we have, whether by our fault or misfortune, raised against ourselves all through the world a strong feeling of alienation if not of positive hostility; and I believe with the noble Earl opposite that this state of things is not entirely owing to our misfortune. With respect to America, I am happy entirely to acquit Her Majesty's Government of any blame whatever. As far as I can judge, they have from the first fairly and firmly pursued the line of strict neutrality, which almost every person in this country thought was the right course for us to follow. But with respect to other countries I fear there is cause to justify a very different opinion. I cannot help thinking that our interference with respect to Poland last year was most ill-advised, and most mischievous. I ventured last year to bring that subject under your Lordships' consideration, and to impress on the Government the danger and inconvenience and evils of all kinds which must result from our meddling, if we were not prepared to say that we would interfere to a greater extent. I thought the reasons urged by the Foreign Secretary against engaging in war on behalf of Poland perfectly sound, but if so, I was unable to see that any possible advantages would arise from making remonstrances to Russia with respect to Poland. The noble Earl the Foreign Secretary said that he thought it fair to Poland at once to declare that we did not mean to go to war on account of that country. I think so, too, but I regret that the noble Earl neutralized the effect of that wise declaration by making remonstrances and pressing advice on Russia—a course which could not fail to have 64 a bad effect, giving a certain amount of encouragement to the Poles, who, on their hopes being disappointed, naturally turned their animosity against us. I think that the remonstrances which have been addressed by Her Majesty's Government have neither been calculated to conciliate the Powers to whom they have been directed, nor to benefit those for whose sake they were made. Then, again, with regard to France, the most serious case of all, I must say that I do feel that the conduct of Her Majesty's Government has been calculated to cool the cordiality of the friendship of the French Government towards this country. My noble Friend, the Foreign Secretary, says that nobody disputes the propriety of his having withdrawn from Mexico when he heard that the operations there were to be much larger than had been originally contemplated. My Lords, that is perfectly true; but what I complain of is not that my noble Friend withdrew from those operations after they went a certain length, but that he ever went into them; because I think a very moderate amount of foresight might have shown him that, whatever might be the understanding as to the limits which should be put to our measures, when we got to Mexico it would very soon turn out either that our proceedings would be nugatory and expose us to ridicule, or that we must adopt measures far stronger and more decisive than those which had been originally resolved upon. Such proved to be the case. We wisely, as I think, withdrew; the French took the stronger measures, and seemed to think we had left them in the lurch. Then, as regards the proposed Congress, I concur both with Her Majesty's Government and with the noble Earl opposite, in thinking that it could have led to no useful result, and that it would not, therefore, have been expedient to go into it; but I still hold that the mode in which it was rejected by this country was needlessly offensive to France. I think it impossible to read the noble Earl's despatch without coming to that conclusion; and I think the publication of that despatch—the departure from the old custom of this country with regard to its publication—was calculated to make it still more offensive than it otherwise would have been. Despatches of this kind used not formerly to be made public by our Government before they were laid on the tables of both Houses of Parliament. It was invariably the practice, except in some rare cases 65 in which early publicity was of importance—the practice of this Government as distinguished from that of other Governments—not to publish important State papers of this kind till they had been laid before Parliament. I think that was a useful and advantageous practice. When a person engaged in a contest writes a smart letter, it sometimes happens that he is very proud of it and is anxious to at once fire it off in the newspapers; but we can understand how much that is calculated to embitter feelings on both sides, and how little to tend to conciliation. On the other hand, if the letter had been kept back in this case—and I know of no reason for haste in publishing it—till the correspondence had been brought to a close, and had been laid formally, by order of the Queen, before both Houses, the despatch might have had a very different effect on those to whom it was addressed than it had when read for the first time in the columns of a newspaper. It is a matter of very serious importance that our relations with foreign countries should be conducted in such a conciliatory manner as that we may maintain the interests and honour of the country, and still avoid, as far as possible, giving offence to the sensitive feelings of other nations. I do not think that is the spirit in which matters have been conducted by my noble Friend; and with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), I cannot help attributing to that circumstance, in no small degree, the unfortunate position of isolation in which this country is placed.
There is another topic to which I must call your Lordships' attention for a moment. When we can scarcely in any part of the world find cordial friendship and support, and when, at the same time, the whole of Europe is in so excited and threatening a state that no man can say when a European war may not break out, it is to be regretted that very heavy demands upon our resources are likely to be made upon us from the other side of the globe. Her Majesty's Government have called your attention to the war going on in New Zealand. I am aware that it may now be impossible to put a stop to this war, which will probably end in the entire destruction of the Maori race; but I think it greatly to be deplored that our policy should have been such as to produce a state of things that may leave us no alternative' but to destroy a noble race of savages, who, under a more judicious policy, 66 would have become loyal and valuable subjects of the Crown. I fear too that our operations in New Zealand will occasion not only great bloodshed but great expense, if the accounts which I have seen be true, as to the amount of force and of supplies that it has been necessary to send there. The newspapers tell us that Her Majesty's Government have been obliged even to send compressed hay for the use of the artillery horses. The cost of such operations must have been enormous, and is the more mortifying because, among the causes which have led to it perhaps not the least powerful was our declining to keep a proper garrison in the Colony, in consequence of a dispute about some £20,000 or £30,000.
Her Majesty's Government also inform us that there have been military operations in Japan; and here I have a right to complain of the terms in which the Queen's Speech has been drawn up. The usual practice in dealing with matters of this kind, on which there are notorious differences of opinion, is to frame the Royal Speech in such terms as to involve the expression of no opinion contrary to that entertained by any of the Members of either House of Parliament; but that rule has not been adopted in the case of Japan, for while we are told that papers are to be laid before us, the Speech expresses a decided opinion that the Japanese had been to blame. Now, when the proper time comes I am prepared to give reasons why we should look with horror on the burning of the peaceful town of Kagosima by an English fleet. We have seen denunciations of the Federals for having attempted to burn Charleston before giving notice to the peaceful and unarmed inhabitants to withdraw. I think there was much justice in those denunciations; but the proceedings at Charleston were absolutely merciful as compared with those at Kagosima, where measures were taken which ended in the burning of an enormous town inhabited by a great population wholly innocent of and unconcerned in the affair which caused us to inflict on them the greatest amount of suffering. But we have to lament not merely this great catastrophe, but that it has arisen out of a policy which we are still pursuing, and which, if we persevere in it, can hardly fail to produce fresh calamities. Do not suppose because the war had ceased for the moment that we can depend upon its being over. We are told in the Speech that the 67 Daimio has been brought to "an agreement for compliance." That is rather remarkable English; but I must give Her Majesty's Government credit for it, because it conveys exactly what we have got. We have not procured compliance, but only "an agreement for compliance;" and whether we shall ever get more, whether the terms which we have exacted are ever really fulfilled, will depend upon whether the Japanese Prince thinks he may venture to break them; but be this as it may, I am convinced that unless we change our policy a most costly and bloody war between this country and Japan will sooner or later again commence, in which we shall be called upon to inflict great suffering on many innocent people, and shall ourselves incur enormous expenses, with the loss of the lives of many of our soldiers and sailors. "With regard to China, as a noble Earl has already remarked, it is entirely owing to the Chinese Government having had a little more foresight than ourselves, that we have not been involved in difficulties and responsibilities in China to which there would have been no end. I wish your Lordships and the country to consider whether it is wise that, in the present threatening state of affairs throughout Europe, we should involve ourselves in so many difficulties in different parts of the world, all more or less creating demands upon our military, our naval, and our pecuniary resources. I know what I may be told. It may be said, "This is not our fault; we could not help it; it was the fault of the savages in New Zealand, and of the Japanese that we became involved in war there; it is the fault of the Chinese that the coast of China is in a state of anarchy and confusion, and that we are half at war and half at peace there." This may be said; but do not let us so deceive ourselves. It is true that these barbarous or semi-barbarous people have acted as such people always do act. Their conduct has been precisely what any man of ordinary foresight and experience would have predicted. But we have voluntarily placed ourselves in such a situation as provoked them to conduct which we could not tolerate, and then came these unhappy little wars, with the bloodshed and the expenditure which attended them. I say that all this has taken place because no foresight has been exercised in these matters. The Government were told beforehand that they were pursuing a course which would lead precisely 68 to what has followed; but, in spite of warning, they have taken up a position in which they have found themselves dragged on from one thing to another, until results have ensued which we all deplore. So it will be in the future, unless, instead of merely contenting yourselves with considering the next move to be taken, you will have the forecast to consider deliberately the objects which you really propose to yourselves, and then take such a course as will prevent you from being further entangled. I do trust that the people of England will learn that, if they look for a reduction of our enormous naval and military expenditure and for a diminution of our public burdens, they must take care that in dealing with these distant countries our Government acts with greater foresight and upon a policy which has been more carefully considered. I have thought it necessary to make these observations; though I shall move no Amendment, because I know that your Lordships are always averse to such a Motion on the first day of the Session, I cannot, for one, concur in the terms of the Address, so far as it relates to Japan.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I do not intend to prolong a debate, the tone of which, on the whole, has been satisfactory to the Government. I say it has been satisfactory to them, because, although some difference of opinion has been expressed, and some personal attacks have been made upon my noble Friend (Earl Russell), as far as I could gather from the able and the something more than promising speech of the noble Marquess who moved the Address (the Marquess of Sligo) and from other quarters, there was a general approval of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I wish to say a few words with reference to what has fallen from my noble Friend (Earl Grey), who, enjoining upon us a policy of firmness and strength mixed with conciliation, finds fault with every act of the Government, and can see nothing to approve in anything they have done. Now, there were one or two principles which the noble Earl laid down to which I cannot give my assent. My noble Friend always expresses an intense love of peace, and this is a feeling in him which I have always admired, though I think my noble Friend has sometimes carried it to injudicious lengths, even when we have been engaged in a war with a very powerful enemy—but I do protest against the doctrine that because we happen to have 69 large armaments we are therefore bound to redress every injustice that takes place, without regard to our own interest or to treaty obligations. [Earl GREY expressed dissent.] Well, I must say that I think the whole tenour of the noble Earl's observations tended to prove that my interpretation of the doctrine which he laid down was correct. In Japan and in New Zealand I believe that hostilities were absolutely necessary for the protection of our commerce and of the lives and property of our fellow-subjects; and there the noble Earl strongly censures us for the course we have taken. But as to the disputes now going on between Denmark and Germany he says, that if my noble Friend gave a correct account of the conduct of Germany towards Denmark we ought to have assembled Parliament before Christmas, to have held strong language, and told Parliament what we meant to do. Now, one principle was laid down by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) with which I entirely agree, though I dispute the justice of its application. I believe there is no line of conduct which a great and powerful nation like our own should more carefully avoid than that, in a given contingency, of making threats which it is not prepared to carry out. If we had threatened Germany in December, three months must have elapsed before we could have been of the slightest use to Denmark. From the geographical position of Denmark this must have been the case. Would it have been prudent, then, for this country to have pledged itself to a given course which could only be carried out at a distant period, without knowing what might at the time be the state of things between the belligerents, and without the slightest knowledge of the disposition of the great Powers of Europe respecting a war which, even if found necessary, must lead to the most fatal complications? I say that we ought not, then, to have used threats. On the other hand, I deny the justice of the principle that we are not to give advice unless we are prepared afterwards to support our advice by the ultima ratio of war. For my part, I think what has been laid down by my noble Friend (Earl Russell) is the just line that we ought to follow—namely, to hold out no hope whatever which we cannot fulfil, and at the same time to avoid using any language which may encourage those from whom we differ to believe that they can go on in a course of aggression and injustice with perfect impunity. We 70 did give the advice which we believed to be most in the interest of the parties themselves, but we reserved to ourselves full liberty of action and full power to do exactly that which the circumstances of the case might thereafter demand. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) complains of the want of courtesy shown by Her Majesty's Government towards the Emperor of the French. Now, I think that want of courtesy towards the Emperor of the French, who has always shown the most kindly feelings towards this country, would not only be much to be deprecated in itself, but would be, besides, an act of great impolicy. But I have read more than once the two despatches written by my noble Friend (Earl Russell) in answer to the invitation to take part in the Congress, and I confess it may have been very stupid in me, or perhaps I am less conciliatory than my noble Friend, that I cannot see in those despatches anything that can with reason be objected to as unconciliatory and discourteous. My noble Friend opposite (Earl Grey) justly says that it is to be regretted that the answer of the English Government on the subject of the Congress was published in the English newspapers before it was received by the Emperor of the French, and my noble Friend near me (Earl Russell) omitted to explain how that occurred. The House must remember that these communications were not of a private or confidential character, and that no previous communication whatever had taken place between the French and English Governments on the subject of a Congress. The publication of the circular addressed to the Courts of Europe had already made it a public transaction. At the same time, it would never have entered into my noble Friend's mind to be guilty of such discourtesy as to publish a letter before it could be received. But my noble Friend, considering that the French papers had stated that England had consented to enter into the Congress, and that other nations were most anxious to learn what the decision of this country was, felt it to be desirable that that decision should be known at the earliest possible moment. What happened was this:—My noble Friend (Earl Russell) sent this despatch to Paris.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Owing to some misunderstanding between Lord Cowley and M. Drouyn de Lhuys as to the time 71 of presentation two days elapsed before that presentation took place, and in this interval the despatch was printed here. No want of courtesy was intended. But as the French papers were stating at the time that the other' Powers were most anxious to know our decision, it was desirable that the despatch should be published at as early a period as possible. As I said, there was no intentional discourtesy, and my noble Friend took the earliest opportunity of explaining the matter, and of making some apology to the French Government for an act which was purely unintentional. My Lords, I will not go into the questions raised by my noble Friend (Earl Grey) with regard to Japan and New Zealand, especially as we shall have another opportunity of discussing these matters. But, whenever the discussion takes place, I think that my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty will be able to show successfully that what has taken place there was perfectly inevitable. In any case I hope it will be understood that the Government take upon themselves the full responsibility of the affairs now in hand; and what they request from the House is, if the House has not confidence in them, to say so and dismiss them; not to bind their hands, but to leave them to act with perfect freedom as regards the future.
§ EARL GREY
explained that the noble Earl (Earl Granville) had misunderstood him upon one point of so much importance, that it was necessary he should set himself right. He had never asserted that this country was bound to undertake the redress of all wrongs, and resist by arms every act of injustice any nation may commit. But, on the other hand, he had denied that we ought to remain indifferent to whatever aggressions other Powers may be guilty of against their weaker neighbours, merely because our own interests may not be directly affected. And with respect to this case of Denmark, without pretending to decide whether it was or was not one in which we were called upon to take part, what he had endeavoured to impress upon the House and upon the Government was this, that if we were ultimately to interfere actively in the dispute between Denmark and Germany, the sooner we declared that intention the better. If that intention was at once made known, it was likely that the necessity for our interference would never arise; whereas if we vacillated and tem- 72 porised we might drift into war from the force of circumstances, and our interference would do little good. It often happened, he believed, when we hesitated to come to a decision, that by keeping our intentions too long in the dark we led other Powers into pledging themselves to an extent which otherwise they would not have done.
§ Address agreed to; and Ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.