§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
rose, pursuant to Notice, to call the attention of the House to the Changes which have taken place in the State of Foreign Affairs since Parliament met, and said, my Lords, I avail myself of this opportunity, which is almost the last which will be afforded before the prorogation of Parliament, to draw your Lordships' attention to the great change which has taken place in Foreign Affairs since we met in February—a change affecting not merely the integrity of the Danish dominions, which almost every State in Europe a few years ago thought of great importance to the balance of power and the interests of peace, but affecting also the sacredness of 2085 the obligations of treaties by which all the States of Europe are bound together—affecting the security of all the smaller and weaker States which may dread the aggression of neighbouring Powers, and, above all, affecting that steady progress of constitutional government on the Continent of Europe, which for several years we have witnessed with so much sympathy and satisfaction, I confess I rise to address your Lordships now with very different feelings from those by which I was animated when I addressed you on more than one previous occasion this Session on the subject of Foreign Affairs. I then had some hope of doing good. I have now no such hope, and I speak only because I think it right to endeavour to lay the actual state of affairs before this House and the country. I then appealed to the higher and nobler feelings of Parliament and the nation, believing as I did that a course which was dictated by generosity was also recommended by policy. Others, with more success, appealed to more common feelings—to love of case, to love of repose, to love of quiet, but, above all, to that love of money, which is now become the engrossing passion of the people of this country. My Lords, Her Majesty's Government declared that they would afford no assistance whatever to Denmark in her difficulties, after the Conference was at an end. At the commencement of the Session, Her Majesty's Opposition stated that it was not their business to find a Foreign policy, although they did not appear to disregard the obligations of finding a civil policy. Having declined, however, to find a Foreign policy, they saw fit to adopt the policy of the Government, and declared that they too were not prepared to give assistance to Denmark, while they condemned at the same time in the strongest terms the conduct of the Government throughout the course of the negotiations. I regret, my Lords, this decision of the two great parties which divide this House and the State, but I am convinced it would be idle to seek to force any opinion of mine on a reluctant House and a determined Ministry. I must, however, say that in looking back to the past, I do not think the policy now so generally adopted would have been adopted by any one of the great Ministers of former times whom history delights to honour; nor can I find in all our history more than one reign in which this policy would have been congenial to a Government, and that was the reign of King James I., when the noble Earl opposite might have 2086 carried out his policy of abstinence from war with the cordial favour of his Sovereign. There was, however, in those days a great man who thought differently. I recollect a passage in a work of one of the greatest of mankind—Bacon—who in his Moral and Political Essays, which contain perhaps more wisdom than any uninspired book, says, "Let no State expect to be great that is not awake upon any just occasion of arming." That he, great moralist as he was, believed to be the true principle of public conduct. But see in what a state Denmark is now. She lies prostrate at the feet of her unscrupulous enemies. She is without fortresses; she is weak and has no one to defend her, unless it be the Emperor of France, who perhaps at this moment may come forward on her behalf. At the commencement of the Session, Denmark stood in the position in which she was placed after the Congress of Vienna. She was shorn of the prestige and honour of her ancient glory—greatly through our means—by the destruction of one of her fleets, and the carrying away of another, and by the loss of Norway, which had been given to conciliate Sweden during the great war. But she was still in possession of the ancient provinces which she had held for 400 years, and which she would have continued to possess but for the intrigues of the Germans. Consider, my Lords, by what steps the enemies of Denmark proceeded. The German Confederation first decided on the Execution in Holstein, and based it mainly, if not entirely, latterly, upon certain Royal Letters Patent issued by the late King on the 30th of March last year. But before that Execution commenced, those Letters Patent had been withdrawn, so that the ground of their proceeding was entirely cut from under the feet of the Diet. Within less than three weeks after the Federal Execution commenced, Austria and Prussia appeared on the scene as substantive parties, not as members of the German Confederation, and proceeded to occupy Schleswig as a material guarantee for the execution of certain diplomatic arrangements made in 1852. Among those arrangements was this, that Denmark should do nothing that could even tend to the union of Schleswig with Denmark. The act of the 18th of November, which was especially complained of, made little or no change in the relations which had existed between Schleswig and Denmark from the year 1858. In that year, Holstein, which had before been re- 2087 presented in the Parliament of Denmark, was withdrawn from it in consequence of objections taken by the German Confederation. Schleswig, however, remained, without any objection on the part of Germany until this period of 1863, when it was first stated that this measure, which added little to the connection between Schleswig and Denmark, was contrary to the arrangements of 1852. During the whole time that that Act of November was discussed in the Parliament of Denmark, no objection was made by the German Powers until the last two or three days; indeed, it was supposed that the measure was in entire conformity with their desire. That measure of November IS contained one provision, however, which was undoubtedly a contravention of the arrangements of 1852. It contained a provision for extending the electoral law of Denmark to the province of Schleswig. The Germans, no doubt, had reason to expect that that would not be done; but they never openly objected to it. They did not wish to put forward their desire to prevent the progress of liberal and popular government as their reason for declaring war; but their reason it was. It was admitted by M. Bismark; and Austria and Prussia desired the King, on pain of instant war, of his own authority, after the dissolution of his Parliament, to annul that Act, which he could not constitutionally do; which he could not do without violating his oath. M. Bismark coolly suggested that if the King could not constitutionally repeal that Act he might declare a state of siege, and then he could do anything— anything, no doubt, in crime, but nothing in rectitude. If the King had acted on that suggestion he would undoubtedly have deserved dethronement, and he would have lost the character not only of an honest monarch, but of an honest man. War was declared, and the Germans entered Schleswig. That was the second passage of this war. They had not been there long before they took steps, under a mere pretext, to invade Jutland. Austria at first evidently had strong objections to the occupation of Jutland, but she was induced to accede to the desire of Prussia, and Jutland was soon occupied as well as Schleswig. Now, my Lords, what do these various successive steps prove? What I infer from them is, that this war between Denmark and Germany did not begin uno intuitu; that there was no original plan to do what they have done and what they are doing; but that, seeing 2088 the impunity which was granted to them, seeing that no opposition was made to their first, second, and third steps, they went on further in wrong and stand thus where they are now. The other day there was some conversation about a Holy Alliance, and it was said that there was no Holy Alliance, nor any probability of one. There may not be, I dare say, any Treaty of Holy Alliance, nor should I attach much importance to it if there were; for I consider that when the Powers of Europe tore to pieces the Treaty of 1852, they tore to pieces all treaties and destroyed all their authority. If the Powers had agreed to a Treaty of Holy Alliance, they would stand by it just as long as was convenient to them, and no longer. But, although I believe there is not a Treaty of Holy Alliance, there is an understanding—not a holy understanding—an understanding which seems to me to be worse than a Holy Alliance. The Holy Alliance was a combination of Princes who bearing in mind the French Revolution, then recently terminated, and all its disastrous consequences, saw danger in every movement of the people to force new Constitutions on their Sovereigns, and who, widely differing from us, who revere Magna Charta, and look back with pride on the events which led to King William coming to this country, determined to avert the dangers they apprehended by suppressing all the institutions which were thus forced on Sovereigns. But while they committed these acts of hostility to public liberty they had at least honour among themselves. They adhered to their words—they declared that they would not carry their intervention further than the necessity of the case, and that they would only occupy a country until things were put into their former position. They declared that they had no views of self-aggrandizement, no desire for the acquisition of territory, and that they would leave the dominions of the assisted King as soon as the necessity was passed; and so they did—nor did they exercise any undue rigour in enforcing the payment of their expenses. I believe the debt owing by France to Spain for the expenses of the Spanish expedition to be not yet paid, so that it does not appear that there has been any heavy financial pressure on Spain, nor was there on Naples. But these German princes, who have arrived at an understanding hostile to liberty, carry their principles much further. They prohibit the action of the King of Den- 2089 mark, in conjunction with his Parliament, to extend the electoral franchise to the people of Schleswig. They even propose to take altogether from the King of Denmark the province to which, in conceit with his Parliament, he desired to give a more popular constitution. That is going much further than was ever attempted by the Powers connected with the Holy Alliance. I am not surprised that these Sovereigns, proceeding in this manner, were disposed to think that they might go on with impunity. The noble Earl did not conceal that it was his opinion, and that of the Government, that no assistance should be afforded to Denmark. There were other things besides the declarations of Ministers upon the subject which instructed the German Powers yet more clearly and significantly as to the course we intended to pursue. Within a few days of the commencement of the Session the Naval and Military Estimates were laid on the table. They contained a reduction, not a large one, both in our naval and military strength. Economy was to be the order of the day; it was thought necessary to show a balance and to get that small balance our naval and military strength was reduced. But not merely was there this reduction, but the Estimates were ostentatiously declared to be Peace Estimates. There could be no mistake about it; it was quite clear from their conduct, ns well as their declarations, that Ministers intended to stand by without giving any assistance to Denmark. It would be most unreasonable if we were to demand that a British Minister should succeed in all he undertakes, or that he should always get what he asks for. But I think we are entitled to demand from a British Minister that he shall not adopt a course which renders success in his negotiations impossible. That, I think, is a just demand. But when the noble Earl, or any other negotiator, enters into negotiations by making it distinctly understood that, however much he may be defeated in his propositions, he will not lift his arm to enforce them, and that in no case will he resort to war, he at once loses all his strength. Diplomacy is armed reason. It is not pure reason; if it were, the Ministers of Portugal, of Greece, and of the Pope would have as much influence in a Conference as the Ministers of the great Powers of Europe. But the strength of Powers in a Conference is the strength they have behind them, and if they declare that they will never use that strength they 2090 might as well have none. They would be in the disagreeable position which would have been occupied by a gentleman in Dublin about the time of the Union, if he had made it publicly known that he intended never to fight, and had then gone about interfering in the business of everybody, and saying the most unpleasant things in the most disagreeable way. I leave to the judgment of the House what would have been the influence of that gentleman in society. No doubt he would have been continually insulted until he would have been compelled to violate his own resolution and fight at a time when, perhaps, he was least prepared. My Lords, I consider it of the deepest importance and the most dangerous import, that in the Conference the neutral Powers of Europe should have decided on not regarding the Treaty of 1852 as the basis of their proceedings. I can see nothing whatever—I can see no change of circumstances— which could have justified a departure from the obligations of that treaty; and the only excuse I can find for it is this—that it is now said to be established, that nations are to decide who shall be their governors. But, my Lords, the application of that rule to the present case of Schleswig-Holstein is a complete fallacy. When a great homogeneous people declare by a vast majority in favour of any particular form of government, no doubt it is just that their will should prevail. The Duke of Wellington, in recognizing that principle, rendered to this country and to Europe as great an act of civil service as he ever performed. When the French people put aside Charles X., the Duke of Wellington at once recognized the new Government; but no injury was done to Europe by acknowledging the change of rulers decided on by the French people. Depend upon it, whether a Bourbon, a Member of the House of Orleans, or a Bonaparte sits on the Throne of France, there will be little or no difference in the conduct of the French Government as regards Foreign policy. The French people will impress their character on the Government, and it matters little to the world at large who may be at the head of that nation; but it is a different thing when the people of Holstein say, "We desire to separate ourselves from the country with which we have been so long united." They may desire that; but they cannot give effect to their wish without 2091 disturbing the balance of power in every part of Europe, and, as they owe a duty to Europe, the substitution of one Sovereign for another in Schleswig-Holstein becomes a question for the European Powers. Again, ought we not to consider this matter with reference to the binding power of treaties generally? Because, if this new principle of dealing with treaties is sanctioned, the more ancient a treaty is, the longer it has been established among the laws of Europe, the less, in point of fact, maybe the justification for its continuance. I see in this very great danger; for what is a precedent to-day will be a rule tomorrow, and there will be no security left except in strength for the preservation of anything. But, my Lords, observe how dangerous it is to permit a small and weak State to be overcome, spoliated, and dismembered by the coalition of great and powerful States, no one assisting her or endeavouring to arrest the blow. There is not one of the weak States of Europe which may not feel her security greatly impaired by what has occurred in Denmark. If the two great German Powers, without being interfered with by the neutral Powers, may take possession of Schleswig and Holstein, and plunder Denmark as they will, what security is there that when they have obtained possession of Kiel for a naval station Prussia may not get up a quarrel with Holland about Limbourg and Luxembourg, for the purpose of obtaining the port of the Texel? The same consideration applies to a weaker State, Belgium. What is to prevent France from moving on Belgium and obtaining possession of the ports on the Scheldt? My Lords, this question of Denmark is the question of Sweden, of Holland, of Belgium. It is the question of all the smaller and weaker States of Europe; and the ruin which is now, without any attempt to prevent it, brought upon Denmark will terrify all the smaller States, and destroy altogether their feeling of independence. More than all, my Lords, I look on this movement of Prussia and Austria as more particularly a demonstration of the despotic Powers against the growing freedom of Germany and the spread of constitutional principles. We know the position of the King of Prussia and his Parliament before the commencement of hostilities in Don-mark. We know also how things went on in Austria, though there they were better and there was much more hope; but no one who reads the papers on the Danish 2092 Question — no one who has watched the progress of Affairs in Europe—can doubt that this was, I will not say a well laid, but a wickedly laid plan to destroy the liberties of the people of Denmark, and likewise to destroy the liberties of the people of Prussia and Austria. I dread this, not because it is a thing which will last—not because its authors will continue to enjoy an immunity from punishment—but because some few months ago I saw the steady and tranquil flow of a fertilizing stream which would have passed through the whole of those territories bringing peace and happiness to the people. Their rulers have thrown up a dam against it; for a time that dam will prevent its flow; but before very long it will burst over its bounds, and, sweeping onwards with the violence of an avalanche, it will destroy those who attempt to restrain it. It is because the things that are being done cannot be done without bringing after them a retribution—a terrible retribution —I now speak with so much alarm of the course which Prussia and Austria have been permitted to take. I think we cannot disguise from ourselves that there is in those transactions something behind more dangerous than that which we see. There is a mystery we cannot fathom. We cannot give any reasonable explanation of the conduct of Russia and France. What, then, must be our course? We must look to ourselves—we must consolidate our own strength—improving in every way our national defences not only in fortifications, but in our land forces, regular and irregular, and also in our navy. We must also endeavour to be, as we ought always to be, on the best understanding with France; but, at all events, I hope we shall yet revive the ancient spirit of this country, which did not consider lucre to be the only great good, but ever had regard to honour and the justice of the cause it espoused. Vice and crime seem now to stalk unchallenged from one end of Europe to the other. Does history record so cruel an edict as that which has driven the Circassians from their homes without any assistance on the part of the Government that has consigned them to banishment? Does history record an instance of a people so trodden under foot as the Poles have been in recent times? Women, children, and old men and young men, the hope and glory of their families, mercilessly exiled — apparently on the principle that the best man is the best exile —forced to travel on foot from Warsaw to Siberia, many dying on the road, and those 2093 who survive destined on their arrival to a life of slavery. When we see, besides, this act of wrong to Denmark—Prussia and Austria proceeding after their own requisitions have been complied with—marching from one excess to another, till they have appropriated to themselves a large portion of an ancient country—my Lords, when I see such flagrant offences against right and justice, such reckless provocations of Providence, I feel that they cannot go on without a decided chastisement and retribution; and I only pray that we who have not taken a part in this dreadful wrong—that those who have not participated in it—may, by the Divine mercy and permission, be exempted from the punishment and that, if it is to come, it may only be inflicted upon those who have designed, and those who have been employed in perpetrating the crime.
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, the noble Earl has spoken with his usual ability and eloquence on a very important subject; but he has admitted in the beginning of his speech that he does not agree with the Government nor with the Opposition; and he might have added that he does not agree with the country. I shall not pretend to enter at any length upon the subject, seeing that it has already been fully debated in both Houses of Parliament, and they have expressed their decisions with regard to it; but there are some of the statements of the noble Earl which appear to me to require so much correction in order to reduce them to the actual state of facts, that I cannot altogether avoid noticing them. The noble Earl throughout spoke of Denmark as if it was a country of a homogeneous population, which had been invaded by two great Powers for the purpose of wresting away from it some portion of its territory. Now, the difficulty of this question throughout has been that, while Denmark is a small country, it is inhabited by two different races, and the one possessing the capital and seat of power, and controlling the government of the whole country, is at issue with the other race which occupied certain of its provinces. But there was another difficulty still, and a complication beyond this—namely, that while the majority could exercise, unjustly and oppressively if they chose, their power over the minority, that minority had the opportunity of appealing to a nation on their frontier, containing more than 40,000,000 of inhabitants, whose feelings, passions, and sympathies were with the minority. 2094 In that situation of affairs the great Powers of Europe made a treaty, which I took the liberty on a former occasion of styling an artificial treaty. It was the best thing that could at that time be done; but it depended for its favourable operation on the temper, moderation, and good sense of those who had the rule in Denmark, as well as of the other parties. It must be remembered that at the beginning of the contest in 1848, when Prussia invaded the Danish provinces, and when Austria likewise appealed to arms, those Powers only retired from the territory of the King of Denmark after obtaining engagements by which they were justified in interfering in the internal government of Holstein and Schleswig. They were justified in interfering in regard to Holstein by the general law of the Germanic Confederation, and in Schleswig by those special engagements made in 1851. When, therefore, during eleven years there were disputes and discussions between Denmark and the Germanic Confederation, the other Powers, parties to the Treaty of 1852, who were bystanders in this disturbance, were obliged to ask themselves whether Denmark was entirely blameless in the matter, and whether she had fulfilled all the promises she had made. For my part, having thought it my duty to look into this subject, I could neither say that the Government of Denmark were blameless, nor that they had fulfilled all the promises by which they had bound themselves to the Germanic Confederation and to Austria and Prussia. Therefore the question came to this—that the other Powers would not have been justified in purely and simply defending Denmark; for while they held up the right hand to defend Denmark, it would have been necessary for them with the left to compel her to fulfil her promises, to govern according to her engagements, and treat her German subjects with the same fairness and justice as her Danish subjects were treated. Therefore, the question was in itself extremely complicated, and no one could say that in going to war for Denmark purely and simply and without demanding anything from Denmark, an entirely right course would be taken. This appears to me to be the difficulty of the question. It was not a question whether you should go to war or not. You could not draw the sword without being convinced that you were in the right. If you are to go to war and to ask the people of England to contribute large subsidies for carrying on the 2095 war, let the people at least be sure you are fighting in the right cause. When I say that Denmark did not stand perfectly upright in this matter, I by no means intend to take the part of the German Powers against any of the accusations made against them by the noble Earl. I think, and I have always said, that if they had been willing to submit this matter to the decision of those Powers of Europe not so immediately concerned as themselves—if the parties on both sides had listened to fair terms—this question might have been settled by negotiation. But, unfortunately, while Denmark had for eleven years continually and persistently put herself in the wrong, Germany at length determined to listen to no reason, to accept no promises of redress, and hastened on to war, resolved to settle the question by the arbitrament of arms. I thought that that conduct was not the result of the real judgment of Austria and Prussia, but that it was a means, perhaps, by which they sought, together or separately, to obtain the popular feeling in Germany in their favour; and it was rather to content that feeling, than because they thought their cause was right or their actions in accordance with their professions, that the war was precipitated on. Now, I do not mean to discuss the question which the noble Earl has raised, that though France and Russia refused to be our partners, we should ourselves have interposed, and by our own means have defended Denmark. That question has been discussed already in both Houses of Parliament, and I hold in my hand the Resolution arrived at in the House of Commons on the subject, and the Address which that House presented to Her Majesty, after a discussion, I think, of four nights. The other House, which is the only constitutional body to which, in case of war, an appeal could be made for the means of carrying on the war, after thanking Her Majesty for laying before them the papers on the question, and expressing regret that the Conference was brought to a close without accomplishing the important purposes for which it assembled, went on to express the satisfaction with which they learnt that at this conjuncture Her Majesty had been advised to abstain from interfering in the war between Denmark and Germany. It is, therefore, clear, that if the Government had called on the Commons for the means of carrying on war, in which, as I have said, France and Russia refused to take part, the House 2096 of Commons would not have supported the Government. The noble Earl supposes that in the course pursued the honour of England has been neglected. I ask in what respect has the honour of England been in any way involved in this contest? Is it the case that you had a treaty by which you were bound to assist Denmark? No such treaty exists, neither is there any obligation of honour which compels to involve ourselves in war for the sake of Denmark. I am fully convinced that if ever a case should arise in which the honour of this country requires war, you would have the House of Commons deciding, not by a small majority, but by overwhelming numbers, to support any obligations involving the honour of the country. My Lords, the noble Earl has spoken of the effect which the war in Schleswig and Holstein may have upon the liberties of Germany, and the constitutional question in Prussia. Well, it is quite true that there has been for a considerable time a contest going on between the Crown and the House of Commons in Prussia with regard to points which vitally concern the constitutional liberties of that country. It would almost seem that we might repeat now what Mr. Burke said in that most eloquent speech of his delivered ninety years ago on the pacification of America. Speaking at that time of the contest in America, he said, "Slavery is a weed that grows anywhere. They may have it in Spain, they may have it in Prussia." Now one would be loth to think that the people of Prussia in the course of those ninety years have not learned both to love and to value or to understand liberty. My belief is that neither on the part of the Crown, on the part of the House of Lords, or on the part of the House of Commons of Prussia, have they yet arrived at a complete understanding of that complex machine called a Constitutional Monarchy. I do believe, however, that the spirit of liberty exists in Prussia, that it exists throughout Germany, and that it requires no aid and no assistance from us. But after this question of Denmark has been decided, as it will be decided, without any interference on our part, I believe the best prospect of seeing liberty and constitutional monarchy established in Germany will be to leave that brave and intelligent people to settle for themselves the differences which may exist between them and their Sovereign, and there is no need that England should in any way interfere in the settlement of that dispute. 2097 I am far from thinking, if we compare the state of things now with what it was fifty years ago, at the time of the Treaty of 1815, or with what it was forty years ago in 1821 and 1823, at the time of the Holy Alliance, that the people of Europe have not made great progress in the study of political questions. I believe that that which was possible for the Sovereigns of Europe in 1823, that which was possible for the Sovereign of France at that time, when he put down the Cortes of Spain, and established absolute monarchy there, would not be possible now. I believe that no Sovereign who reads the signs of the times would attempt any such thing. On the contrary, I believe that the Sovereigns will find it to be their interest to make such an ageement with their subjects that constitutional monarchy will in time prevail in all the countries of Europe. That is my belief; and I am far from thinking that if we had rushed into war, and the States of Europe had been pitted against each other in a bloody contest, we should have promoted the cause of liberty any more than we should have promoted the cause of peace. I believe, on the contrary, that by leaving it to the people and the Sovereigns of Germany to settle their differences among themselves, we have done not only that which is good for the honour and interests of England, but that which is best for the interests of Europe at large.
§ VISCOUNT STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
My Lords, I cannot allow the speech of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary to pass without making a few observations. My noble Friend appears to me to have taken up a position somewhat unfortunate, for while he opened his speech by saying that he found no reasons which would have justified us in taking up arms on behalf of Denmark, he proceeded to condemn in the strongest terms the conduct of the Powers who were the other parties to that conflict. My noble Friend (Earl Russell) then asked where we can find anything to justify the observation that the honour of England has been sacrificed in these negotiations. I humbly conceive, my Lords, that the question is not a question of the honour of England, but of the management of affairs; and, I must say, with all deference to my noble Friend, and with all due consideration for the difficulties with which he has had to contend, and for the questions which he has justly described as of so delicate and complicated a nature, comparing the 2098 result with the objects to be obtained, the disappointment of the public has been fully justified. The great object which I understood the Government to have in view was to maintain peace in the North of Europe. Well, we had not peace, but war. We are told that the treaty which provided for the integrity and independence of Denmark was to be maintained. That treaty has been given up by the English Government itself. And so through every phase of the negotiations we find the same unfortunate contradictions between the objects sought and the results brought about. Hopes have been raised, and have been disappointed. We went into a Conference without a basis, and consequently without a chance of success. And what was the end? Total failure. Putting all these things together, it seems impossible not to perceive that there is too much justification for the impression that we have incurred a certain amount of discredit. And such, unfortunately, has been the case on several occasions within the last two years. It is not only with regard to Denmark that we have incurred discredit, but also in the negotiations with Russia last year on the affairs of Poland. I will not unnecessarily go over ground which has been so often trodden before—it will be sufficient if I ask your Lordships to call to mind the circumstances under which we entered into negotiations with respect to Poland, and to compare them with the circumstances under which we abandoned her. The Poles in the end were left in a situation far worse than they would have been in had they been left to their own independent efforts. We had then the advantage of the co-operation of Austria in conjunction with France, Austria has since taken a different course, and we have reason to apprehend that it is in consequence of the policy which we then adopted. Then with respect to that much-vexed question, the proposal of a Congress by France—what we have to regret is not that we declined the proposition, but the manner in which we declined it. I cannot conceal from myself that the tone which pervaded our answer went far to justify the very strong feeling of disappointment which prevailed in France. I, for one, never could perceive in the proposal for a Congress any just grounds for suspecting the motives of him who made it. He was placed in a very painful position by the result of the 2099 negotiations with Russia; it was natural for him to seek for some resource at a critical moment, and I should have thought that that was the very time when we should have taken the utmost pains to make a favourable impression upon the mind of our ally. All these circumstances when put together are quite sufficient to account for the general feeling of the country that we have incurred a certain amount of discredit. But when we hear from the echoes of another theatre of discussion that those mistakes are to carry with them the necessity of adopting a new code of foreign diplomacy, notwithstanding the very high authority by whom this proposition has been laid down, I must say I see no reason whatever for any such change. What I have always understood, and what I believe to be the constitutional view, is this—that questions of peace and war and foreign politics belong to the Crown of this country. The Ministers are the responsible advisers of the Sovereign. Parliament sits in judgment upon them when the conduct of any negotiations come before them. My noble Friend turns and appeals to the judgment of the other House; it is very natural that he should do so in his own vindication. But to say that the whole course of policy of our foreign affairs is to be altered is a proposition which I, for one, cannot accept. There is no question before us, and the subject has been so fully discussed already between my two noble Friends on opposite sides of the House, that I am unwilling to trespass further on the attention of your Lordships. At the same time, I cannot sit down without lamenting the course recently pursued by those great Powers who must exercise so vast an influence on the affairs of Europe. When we see Russia, notwithstanding the appeals made to her to reconsider her policy, adding cruelty to cruelty, not only in her treatment of her own subjects, but those over whom she had no right to tyrannise, and reducing her cruelty to a system that is calling down upon her the reprobation of all who are possessed with any feelings of humanity—when we consider how the hopes of those who thought that Austria was entering upon a course of constitutional Government have been disappointed—we can but feel the deepest regret that these great Powers should have entered upon a course so dangerous and so threatening to the peace of Europe. With regard to Prussia, no language can adequately express the degree of censure 2100 which is due to the Government of that country. The manner in which it has acted would justify the suspicion that there were political designs in the first instance in the course it pursued towards a weaker Power which has so many claims upon our interest. I am sorry to observe the manner in which blame has been thrown on the Danish Government, and the extreme severity with which some part of their conduct has been criticized. It is hardly fair to omit to mention the very difficult circumstances in which Denmark has been placed, and it is impossible not to admire the spirit and bravery shown by her people. Her resistance may seem to some to have been pushed to extremes; but we can hardly wonder that a country placed in a situation in which its dearest interests were attacked and its very existence called in question, should in defence of its liberties expose itself to a contest with Powers of overwhelming strength. Your Lordships must feel the deepest regret at the sad condition of an empire whose gallant struggles have everywhere called forth feelings of the strongest admiration; and we must, at the same time, regret that the circumstances of the country do not allow us to express our feelings of sympathy in another and more tangible manner.