THE EARL OF CHARLEMONT
My Lords, in rising to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne, I have to claim that indulgence which is always granted to those who address your Lordships for the first time— and in my case I may not unfairly add that, having but recently become a Member of this House of Parliament, I have had small opportunity of becoming acquainted with its forms or procedure: if, therefore, anything may fall from me not strictly in accordance with the rules or practice of your Lordships' House, I hope it may be attributed to my inexperience and want of confidence rather than to intention or neglect.
My Lords, the Speech that has just been read from the Woolsack, and upon which (in the unexpected but unavoidable absence of the noble Duke who was to have moved this Address—the Duke of Cleveland) it becomes my duty to remark, is singularly free from any topics or matters of importance further than that they are such as must be sources of congratulation and satisfaction. We are, happily, at peace with the civilized world, and there seems no reason to apprehend any rupture of our friendly relations with any other State. The conflict which last year almost threatened the existence of Denmark, and appeared likely to develop into a general European war, has fortunately been concluded by a treaty of peace. "No doubt the sympathies of the people of England were favourable to Denmark in her gallant but unavailing struggle with the overpowering forces of Austria and Prussia, and but little was required to have raised a popular cry for more active intervention in support of the weaker State; but the policy of strict neutrality decided upon by Her Majesty's Government, and assented to by Parliament, was carefully adhered to, and I cannot now think that a more decided or warlike attitude would have produced more favourable results, or would have expedited or improved the solution now arrived at. I regret, however, to observe, that though peace now prevails in Europe, the most gigantic and devastating 8 war of modern times continues to rage in America with unabated fury. There, too, in spite of occasional difficulties consequent on the interpretation of International Law, no deviation has been made in the rule of neutral policy determined upon by this country. Within the last few days intelligence certainly has reached us that affords some hopes of a cessation of hostilities. However that may be, the continuance of this fratricidal contest cannot but be a matter of the deepest regret and concern to this country. The friendship of a great people belonging to a stock and source common to ourselves must ever be of the greatest importance to us. The relations of trade are so enormous, and the requirements of supply and demand between the two countries so mutual, that the more the question is considered the more the termination of this war is to be desired. In India a necessary expedition has been undertaken to punish outrages committed on Her Majesty's subjects, and to protect the frontier and to assist our neighbouring allies. In Japan a successful operation has been performed by our naval force in those seas. A rebellious Prince has been reduced to submission to his Sovereign, and the native chiefs have been taught that they must observe the terms of treaties entered into between the Government of Japan and foreign nations. In this operation the ships of the other Powers, France, the Netherlands, and, I am glad to see, the United States of America, took part. The expedition sent to inflict chastisement on this rebellious Prince has been completely successful, and I do not doubt the result will be a great extension of our commerce with Japan. In New Zealand one of those "small wars" that so frequently necessitate the employment of our army in distant possessions has for some time continued. Although there is great difficulty in carrying on military operations at so great a distance from home, yet I am glad to learn that the result has been attained that a considerable number of the insurgents have submitted; and there is reason to expect that those still in arms against our authority are disposed to take advantage of the terms proposed on the part of the Crown, and return to peaceful allegiance. Without assenting to the doctrine that aboriginal races. are ordained to perish and disappear before the march of civilization, still it is manifest that unruly tribes existing along the frontiers of civil- 9 ized settlements cannot be permitted to prevent the advance of higher arts and attainments, and the spread of purer morals and a more enlightened faith.
My Lords, although these operations in India, New Zealand, and Japan are matters of greater or less interest and concern to the nation, and, as such, are fully deserving of notice, yet they are small in comparison to the importance of the probable change in the constitution of our North American Colonies. I entertain a confident hope that the measure for the Federal union of our North American Provinces will be carried into effect, and will prove successful. I suppose that since the Declaration of Independence by the colonies since known as the United States of America, so great a scheme of self-government, or one shadowing forth such large and general results to our Colonial Empire, has not occurred. If the delegates of these several colonies finally agree to the resolutions framed by their Conference, and if these resolutions be approved by the several Legislatures of the different colonies, I presume that the Imperial Parliament will be asked to consider and complete this federation of our North American possessions. While on this subject, I cannot refrain from calling attention to the judicious conduct of the present Governor General of Canada, and the Speech delivered by him on the part of the Crown in opening the present Session of the Canadian Legislature.
My Lords, among the many causes for thankfulness and congratulation referred to in the Speech, the generally satisfactory condition of the country as to Trade and Revenue is perhaps of first importance. I am afraid to state what I believe the progress and accumulation of wealth during the last twelve months has reached to; but I am sure, from the information afforded me from various quarters, that the returns will prove favourable beyond precedent. Never, in spite of great financial pressure and much undue speculation, has such an extent of trade met with a parallel. The exports from the United Kingdom and Ireland during the year 1864 amount to no less than £160,000,000, an amount which I believe has never been exceeded; and, in addition to this, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the distress in Lancashire has diminished, though I greatly fear that as long as the American war continues some considerable amount of distress must prevail. The reports favourable to peace 10 of to-day may to-morrow be contradicted, and it is impossible to foresee what a month hence the aspect of affairs may be; still there seems reason to hope that along with the abundant stock of cotton now in this country, or on its way to England, there will be employment for a considerable time for those dependent upon that industry. But so long as the price of cotton remains so uncertain there is always danger of the mills being closed, or only working at short time. There is no doubt that the civil war in America has stimulated the production of cotton in other parts of the world, and the cotton which has reached us from Egypt and Brazil and other foreign countries has been largely supplemented by importations from India and the East—even, I understand, from Japan—thus adding to the wealth of our Indian Empire, and ex-tending our trade relations with other countries.
My Lords, I now arrive at that portion of Her Majesty's Speech on which I am supposed to be able to afford peculiar information, and it is for this reason that I have now the honour of addressing your Lordships. I am aware that many words that I may use, and opinions that I may hold, will be dissented from by persons of various classes and parties in Ireland; but I am not here to propound the views of any party or any class, or to put forward any theory of my own. I present myself here to-day as an Irish gentleman, hearing a name long and, I trust, honourably known in that country, and having property and interests there sufficient to warrant the conclusion that I can have no motive which will induce me to make any statement or advance any opinion that I do not honestly and sincerely believe to be true and for the good of my country. My Lords, if your patience and my memory permit, I propose to set before you some few statistical details which I have collected from papers and Returns made in respect of Ireland, in proof of my reasons for cordially assenting to the paragraph in the Speech which congratulates Parliament and this country on the satisfactory condition' of Ireland. In former Sessions the Speech from the Throne has too frequently made reference to something unsatisfactory, requiring exceptional legislation for Ireland, either from the prevalence of serious crime or distress so great and so general as to deserve Imperial intervention. On this 11 occasion it may be safely affirmed that there is nothing of the kind—that the state of the country both in regard to the decrease of crime and the increase of wealth is satisfactory. The total number of persons committed or bailed for trial in 1851, when the numbers stood at their maximum, was 24,684; in 1860, 5,386; in 1861, 5,586; in 1862, 6,666; andinl863, 6,078; showing the effect produced by the unfavourable seasons of 1860, 1861, and 1862. The decrease during these years was constant until 1861, when the numbers increased, but subsequently they again decreased. A comparison of a proportionate population in England and Wales for the year 1863 showed 7,274 indictable offences not disposed of summarily in Ireland, inclusive of the Dublin police district, as against 13,387 in England and Wales, and 6,382 persons apprehended in Ireland as against 7,797 apprehended in England and. Wales. An unfavourable feature appears in the cases determined summarily; but these are in excess mainly in the more trivial cases classed under the head of "drunkenness." I now come to agriculture. In the districts mainly dependent on agriculture there is a slow but most undoubted recovery from the pressure of four very unfavourable seasons, and in those districts where the growth of flax has been extended and the linen trade prevails, and also in those towns where efforts have been successfully made for the revival of manufactures, there are symptoms of satisfactory progress. The fact of the depression consequent on the very unfavourable seasons of 1860, 1861, and 1862 is shown in all the Returns; but Dr. Hancock has come to the conclusion that no progressive decline has taken place, but, on the contrary, that there has been a rapid progressive increase since the famine, the above-named years —1860, 1861, and 1862 —alone showing any pause in the progressive increase of produce and wealth. This recovery, which commenced in 1863, has continued in 1864, the amount of land under crop being largely on the increase— in flax alone amounting to 87,761 acres, besides 47,486 in meadow and clover. The amount of stock has increased by 113,078 head of cattle, and 54,854 sheep. The acreage under flax was in 1858, 91,646; in 1860, 128,595; in 1862, 150,070; and in 1864, 301,860. This increase extended throughout all the four Provinces, and amounted to 131,783 acres 12 in Ulster alone, between 1862 and 1864. In alluding to manufactures, one branch is intimately connected with the agricultural interests—namely, the growth of flax, which I have just detailed; but the flax finds its way from the farm to the mill, and here is the report of that industry. The manufacture of yarn and linen has progressed with the growth of flax. The export of thread increased from 1,128,9601b. in 1862 to 1,153,516 lb. in 1863. The linen yarn exported was in 1862, 15,685,600 lb., and in 1863 20,672,800 lb., while the manufactured linen exported from Belfast was 65,086,000 yards in 1862, and 78,475,000 yards in 1863. This increase has been continued in 1864. There are now more than 10,000 power-looms at work in Ulster. The extraordinary increase of English commerce has a tendency to make us under-estimate the progress of Ireland. Take, however, the coasting trade of Dublin for the past year. The ships entered inwards were in 1864, 7,428, with 1,040,514 tons; and in 1863, 7,375, with 970,066 tons. The ships entered outwards were 3,928, with 773,646 tons in 1864, and 3,925 ships, with 766,503 tons in 1863. In the twenty principal ports the increase has been from 1847, 37,404 ships, with 4,853,870 tons; 1862, 43,755 ships, with 7,056,984 tons. Six ports show a decrease of trade, and of these five are on the Atlantic, showing that land traffic by railways is preferred to the risks of the sea on the west coast. It is a remarkable fact, that the bulk of the shipping engaged in traffic between England and Ireland be longs to Irish owners. These returns are amply sufficient to warrant the paragraph in the Royal Speech, and they are also such as to bear me out in my views concerning the condition of Ireland. If we recall the state of Ireland thirty years ago, and compare it with the present state of that country as just described, and contemplate the further advance and progress we have a right to expect, what just grounds can exist for the cry that Ireland retrogrades? Should we not rather justly calculate that the path of progress she has but recently entered will be profitably pursued, and that she is destined to become as prosperous, peaceful, and contented as any part of Her Majesty's dominions? It is often said that capital is required, that emigration is going too far, and that both capital and labour are leaving our shores. I deny that capital is leaving 13 our shores. There can be no doubt that capital is always required wherever great improvements and new enterprises have to be established; and I maintain not only that capital does come into Ireland in increasing amount year by year, but that the accumulation of money in Ireland is very considerable. I was last year informed that the sum held by the banks of Ireland on deposit receipts amounted to £16,000,000, and that the banks of one northern town held upwards of £400,000, in sums averaging £30 for each depositor, showing that even the small farmers had their investments. I believe these amounts to have increased in 1864. Then as to emigration, although I am not prepared to say, as I have frequently heard it said in Ireland, that the emigration of another million of souls is required to bring the population to a fair balance of demand and supply of labour and a reasonable rate of wages, yet I am satisfied that a very large number of the present population might still improve their condition by emigration, without detriment to the country. Emigration in search of a higher rate of wages has always taken place in countries where certain industries have become no longer remunerative, or the system of agriculture has changed. As long as Ireland is not a manufacturing country, emigration must continue until the rate of wages becomes sufficient to enable the labourer to maintain and bring up his family at home.
In conclusion, I should like to contradict the imputation of disaffection to the Crown and Government of this country on the part of the population of Ireland. I do not believe that the people of Ireland collectively is cither disaffected or disloyal. There are in every country and at all times the unsuccessful, the disappointed, and the idle and worthless, who vent their discontent and their sorrows in finding fault with all around them. This, too, often takes the form of hostility to the powers of Government, and even to public order. This is the case in Ireland to a certain extent, and is in some degree to be attributed to the undoubted distress which followed for several years the great famine in that country, and to the legislative mistakes committed in former times by the Imperial Parliament. There exists, unquestionably, much discontent in Ireland, but I do not think it can be said that that discontent takes the form of disloyalty to the Crown. I believe, on 14 the contrary, that the people of Ireland generally are loyal to the Crown, and without disaffection or hostility towards England. The great bane and difficulty of the thriving and prosperous northern Province of Ulster, with its many advantages, is the prevalence and bitterness of party spirit. The riots of last year at Belfast, when the town was for three days in possession of the mob uncontrolled by the public authorities, were an instance of the extent to which this spirit of religious war may be carried; and I take this occasion to press most earnestly on Her Majesty's Government the necessity and the urgency of enactment or precaution to prevent the scenes of bloodshed and disorder which will otherwise be repeated next July. The Report, however, of the Commission sent to inquire into the causes and details of these riots has not yet appeared; I therefore reserve my observations for a future occasion. Neither will I venture to deal with other questions, however important to Ireland. I am anxious to confine myself to the state of the condition of the country as a subject of congratulation. The various questions of land tenure, of education, and of religious endowments are not now before us, nor is the present an occasion befitting their introduction. I am happy to bear testimony to the great anxiety the present Lord Lieutenant has shown to make himself acquainted with the wants of the country, and I am sure he will spare no effort for the effectual performance of the duties he has undertaken. I am aware that my observations on this part of the Speech have extended beyond customary length, and for this reason, indeed, it was that I passed more rapidly over other matters, being confident they would receive from my noble Friend juster and more extended criticism than I could offer to your Lordships.
It only remains for mo to thank your Lordships very gratefully for the patience and forbearance which you have been pleased to accord to me, and to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty-, as follows:—MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our bumble Thanks to your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which your Majesty has commanded to be made to both Houses of Parliament.15WE humbly thank your Majesty for informing us that the Negotiations in which the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia were engaged with the King of Denmark were brought to a Conclusion by a Treaty of Peace; and we humbly express the Gratification with which we learn that the Communications which Your Majesty receives from Foreign Powers lead Your Majesty to entertain a well-founded Hope that no renewed Disturbance of the Peace of Europe is to be apprehended.WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that You remain steadfastly neutral between the contending Parties in the Civil War which still unhappily continues in North America; and we humbly assure Your Majesty that with Your Majesty we should rejoice at a friendly Reconciliation between them.WE humbly convey our Thanks to Your Majesty for informing us that a Japanese Daimio, in Rebellion against his Sovereign, having infringed the Rights accorded by Treaty to Great Britain and to certain other Powers, and that the Japanese Government having failed to compel him to desist from his lawless Proceedings, the Diplomatic Agents and the Naval Commanders of Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States of North, America undertook a combined Operation for the Purpose of asserting the Rights which their respective Governments had obtained by Treaty. And we humbly express our hope that this Operation, which has been attended with complete Success, may by its Result afford Security for Foreign Commerce and additional Strength to the Government of Japan, with which the Relations of Your Majesty are friendly.WE humbly thank Your Majesty for commanding Papers on this Subject to be laid before us.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that we learn with Regret that the Conflict with some of the Native Tribes in New Zealand has not yet been brought to a Close; and we humbly convey out Thanks to Your Majesty for informing us that the successful Efforts of Your Majesty's Regular Forces supported by those raised in the Colony, have led to the Submission of some of the Insurgents; and that those who are still in Arms have been acquainted with the equitable Conditions on which their Submission would be accepted.WE humbly express to Your Majesty our Gratification at learning that under Your Majesty's Sanction and at the Invitation of Your Majesty's Governor General, a Conference of Delegates from Your Majesty's several North American Provinces had assembled at Quebec; that those Delegates had adopted Resolutions having for their Object 16 a closer Union of those Provinces under a Central Government; and that if those Resolutions shall be approved by the Provincial Legislatures Your Majesty will cause a Bill to be laid before us for carrying this important Measure into effect.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that with Your Majesty we rejoice at the general Tranquillity of your Majesty's Indian Dominion; and we humbly thank Your Majesty for infoming us that long-continued Outrages on the Persons and Property of Subjects of Your Majesty having occurred for which no Redress could be had, it became necessary to employ a Force to obtain Satisfaction for the past and Security for the future.WE humbly express to Your Majesty our regret at the Calamity which has recently occasioned great Loss of Life and Property at Calcutta and at other places in India; and we humbly trust that the prompt Assistance rendered by the Officers of the Government and the generous contributions which have been made in various parts of India may have relieved the Sufferings which have thus been occasioned.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that we learn with Gratification that the general Condition of the Country is satisfactory; that the Revenue realizes its estimated Amount; that the Distress which prevailed in some of the Manufacturing Districts has greatly abated, while the Act passed for the encouragement of Public Works in those Districts has been attended with useful Results; and that Ireland during the past Year has had its Share in the Advantage of a good Harvest, with a gradual Extension of Trade and Manufactures.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.WE humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Bills will be laid before us for the Concentration of all the Courts of Law and Equity, with their attendant Offices, on a convenient Site; for the Completion of the Revision of the Statute Law; for the Amendment of the Law relating to Patents for Inventions; and for conferring on the County Courts an equitable Jurisdiction in Causes of small Amount.WE humbly assure Your Majesty that our serious attention shall be given to the Measures which may be proposed for carrying into effect certain Recommendations made to the House of Commons, after Inquiry directed by that House, into the Operation of the Laws regulating the Relief to the Poor; and to the Bill which will be laid before us founded on the Report of the Commission for 17 inquiring into Public Schools. And we humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us that Your Majesty has directed that a Commission shall be issued to inquire into Endowed and other Schools in England, which have not been included in the recent Inquiries relating to popular Education. And we humbly assure Your Majesty that with Your Majesty we fervently pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend our Councils, and guide our Deliberations to the Advancement of the Welfare and Happiness of Your People.
My Lords, the course of events in this country and in Europe since we last met warrants me in congratulating myself and you that in seconding the Address in reply to Her Majesty's gracious Speech, I am called upon to make only a few current observations. From the time of the abortive Conference in London on Danish affairs, and the consequent abrogation of the Treaty of 1852, the Danish question, so far as this country is concerned, has fallen into the general politics of Europe. I think your Lordships will acknowledge the wisdom of the guarded language which Her Majesty has used on the subject; but I may be permitted, as an individual Member of the House, to remark that the issues which we were formerly told were so clear, [the propositions which were represented as so self-evident, have not quite stood the test of time and experience. Those clamorous nationalities of which we heard so! much still remain unsatisfied—those rights which were declared to he indefeasible are yet unrecognised—and those ambitions to I which it was then considered almost calumnious to allude are now recognised openly as facts in history. If, my Lords, from the force of circumstances, concessions are made in the matter of the late Danish Duchies to popular feeling, or if assumed rights are recognised, they will be granted without grace and accepted without gratitude. If, on the other hand, those ambitious projects are fully realized, it is possible that that system of territorial compensations which seems popular at the present moment with Continental statesmen may come into play; and thus this question on which Her Majesty is now able to congratulate your Lordships as pacifically arranged, may end in serious complications to Europe. Her Majesty, my Lords, would have been very happy if she could have announced to you that peace was also established on the other side of the Atlantic. That deplorable contest between 18 large populations of men descended from our own common ancestry still continues. But if that contest continues, the neutrality of Her Majesty's Government continues also. I believe that that neutrality is recognised by all parties in this country as being both wise and just; and when we consider that in a Cabinet somewhat large there must be many men who entertain strong opinions on matters of such pressing interest upon one side or the other, it is, I think, eminently creditable that no one public act can be pointed out which in any way discovered their inclinations. It is not true, my Lords, as has been said elsewhere, that the civil war in America has been "prompted" or "promoted by England." It is not true that the English Government have in any one case departed from that absolute neutrality which they professed. My Lords, following the example of my noble Friend, I will not venture any opinion as to the merits of either side in this great quarrel. I will merely direct your Lordships' attention to one satisfactory result in the midst of so much disaster—namely, the continuous and certain decline of that unhappy institution of slavery which is so repugnant to the feelings of the English people, and of which I may say, without fanaticism, that it is opposed to all sound principles of social and political economy. But if this spirit of disruption has been evinced in America, a higher and I think wiser spirit has manifested itself in other portions of the globe. That impulse which inclines small States to band themselves together for the purpose of mutual protection, and for the dignity of empire, has shown itself in two remarkable examples, of which I may be permitted to say a few words. In Europe it has manifested itself in the case of Italy, which is not, indeed, alluded to in any part of Her Majesty's Speech, because it is an accomplished fact of European history. A convention has lately taken place between the Emperor of the French and the King of Italy, in which England can take no other interest than to hope that it may redound to the prosperity of the one and to the honour of the other. At any rate, one great advantage has been accomplished. With his capital in the centre of Italy, it is no longer possible to talk of Victor Emmanuel as King of Piedmont. He is King of Italy, or nothing. On the other side of the Atlantic the same impulse to union has manifested itself in the proposed 19 amalgamation of the British Provinces of North America. I heartily concur with all that has been said by my noble Friend the Mover of this Address in his laudation of that project. It is, my Lords, a most interesting subject of contemplation that that project has arisen and has been approved by Her Majesty's Government. It is certainly contrary to what might be considered the old maxims of government in connection with the colonies, that we should here express—and that the Crown itself should express—satisfaction at a measure which tends to bind together in almost independent power our colonies in North America. We do still believe that though thus banded together they will recognise the value of British connection, and that while they will be safer in this amalgamation we shall be as safe in their fealty. The task which the statesmen of Canada have undertaken is a very difficult one—it will require much prudent consideration and great attention to provincial susceptibilities. It will have to deal not only with several British Provinces, but with a race almost foreign in their habits and origin. I do hope it will ultimately succeed, and that the French Canadians forming part of this great integral North British American Empire will have as much security and happiness as they now possess. I rejoice in this movement for this further reason, that I believe the future of the world will rest, not with isolated municipalities, but in great empires. On the other parts of Her Majesty's Speech, referring to foreign affairs, I will merely remark that wherever war exists England is not on the aggressive. Wherever England is in arms, she is so on the defensive. It is solely to defend her own commerce, to protect her own subjects, that England is anywhere hostile. There is nothing aggressive in Her Majesty's Speech.
I will now, my Lords, say a few words on home affairs. It appears that the legislation which will be presented to your Lordships this Session will be of the same nature as that for which the other Sessions of this Parliament have been conspicuous—that is to say, it will be exclusively of a practical character. For my own part, my Lords, I should have been glad if we had contrived somehow or other during this long Parliament to have broadened the ancient ways of the British Constitution; but it seems that task is to be reserved for some period of keener political competition—it may be, for some future 20 generation of more ardent, more hopeful, and more youthful statesmen. I trust, therefore, you will not lose the excellent opportunity you now have of devoting this Session to practical reforms. And with respect to the reforms in the law, I think I may congratulate your Lordships on being in a most fortunate position; because it is not now the victims that are crying for mercy, but it is the High Priest himself that is indignant at the sacrifice; and, looking to his powerful initiative of measures of law reform, and the energy with which your Lordships will support him, I do hope this Session will produce some remarkable results. I trust we shall make some way in a digest of the laws of this country. I am glad Her Majesty's Government use especially that phrase of the "digest of the law," because I do not think that phrase implies that we should absolutely confine ourselves to codification to the exclusion of the development of principles or the variation of practice. What I think we want is that a digest of the laws of England, such as they are, should be made and presented to us — a result which I cannot but believe to be of the greatest public utility. Another point to which your Lordships' attention will necessarily be directed is the revision of the Poor Law. The Act by which the present Poor Law Board is constituted expires this year. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for your Lordships to re-enact some measure for the continuation of that Board. You may do so by simply continuing it as it is, or you may accompany its continuance by the adoption of some of the recommendations of the Select Committee of the Commons which sat upon the Poor Law Board. Having myself been a member of that Committee, I must say that the evidence there produced was most honourable and satisfactory as regards the present constitution of that Board; and I think your Lordships would do well to insert the recommendations of the Select Committee in the measure. It is, I think, a graver question, and one that will demand all your Lord-ships' attention, whether it would be wise at this moment to accompany that change with an alteration of the law of removal and settlement. We have hardly yet had time to see the effect of the Bill passed very recently with regard to the irremovable poor; and, moreover, I believe it is doubtful whether it would be advisable to enter fully into that question during the 21 continuance of that great exception to the general prosperity of the country—the distress in the cotton districts of Lancashire. My Lords, Her Majesty congratulates you upon the abatement of that distress. True it is that that abatement is very great; but still much distress exists. How great it has been can be appreciated only by those who have had some personal experience of that part of the kingdom—for we scarcely realize from statistics what it is for the pauperism of a certain district to rise from the usual rate of 50,000 to the extraordinary rate of 435,400 persons. That rate of pauperism has now diminished to something like 120,000; but still I must say there is no hope of its entire extinction. The American war has caused so great a disturbance of trade, and brought on so much unhealthy speculation, that it is impossible to say when things will be thoroughly right again. With such a condition of affairs as you have at this moment, when the very rumour of negotiation—the idea that peace is looming in the distance— is sufficient to cast a gloom over the whole Exchange of Liverpool, and when you know that although cotton may arrive in considerable quantities there will be large capitalists who will hold back till the time when it may become still cheaper, you will feel that the Lancashire distress is yet a reality, and that further demands may be made even upon the good counsel and energy of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), to whom Lancashire and England already owe so much. There are other topics referred to in the Speech which will form the subject of future discussion. I have, therefore, nothing left me but to thank your Lordships most cordially for the kind attention with which you have listened to me, and to express to Her Majesty our gratitude for Her Gracious Speech, and to assure Her Majesty, under all circumstances, of our unabated affection and undiminished sympathy. And if the gentle influences of time and the faithful discharge of high duties should bring with them those consolations which a gracious Providence rarely refuses to the deepest sorrow, I need not say how grateful that event would be to Her Parliament and Her people. My Lords, I beg to second the Motion for an Address to Her Majesty in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech. [See Page 14.]
§ THE EARL, OF DERBY
My Lords, it would be an act of disrespect to Her Majesty and of discourtesy to the noble Lords 22 if the Address moved and seconded by them were allowed to pass without any observation from this side of the House; otherwise I should not have thought it necessary to trouble your Lordships with a single remark on a Speech so entirely innocuous as that to which we have to-day No given such placid attention. That Speech, indeed, is one of just such a character as might naturally have been expected to be addressed by an aged Minister to a moribund Parliament. The days of the Parliament are numbered. No medical skill or science can prolong its existence beyond a period of a very few weeks. Its condition, as far as the protraction of its life is concerned, is absolutely hopeless. All that the most eminent physicians can do for it is to take care that its dying moments are disturbed by no unnecessary excitement, that no distracting influences may disquiet its last hours, or interfere with the peace of its fleeting moments, and that it may be supplied with just so much gentle occupation as may tranquilly engage its thoughts. The physicians, of course, will continue to the last to hold their formal consultations on the state of the patient, receive their accustomed fees, and waft it serenely towards its final rest. It is true we have heard it said that there are some ardent and enthusiastic spirits, attendants on the patient, who are desirous of trying a more vigorous mode of treatment; and I am not quite sure that I did not hear from the noble Lord who seconded the Address an expression of regret that some more active treatment was not adopted than the homoeopathic one prescribed for the departing patient by Her Majesty's Ministers. I believe that some of those ardent spirits advise a recourse to galvanic action, in order that, if possible, by an electric shock those energies may be roused which have for some considerable time been dormant. But the more experienced physicians, looking to the peculiar condition of the patient, and remembering the effect of former expedients, are of opinion that such a shock might be too much for its feeble constitution, and that it is not unlikely the attempt to infuse fresh vigour into the system would precipitate the crisis they undoubtedly would fain defer as long as possible. Another reason for caution on the part of those who prescribe for the patient is that his estate is not entailed, and that he has no power to name his successors, and it is exceedingly probable 23 that when the inevitable dissolution takes place there may be a disputed succession, which may not only give ample employment to the gentlemen of the long robe, but lead to awkward results to those now in close attendance at the sick-bed. I therefore, my Lords, congratulate Her Majesty's Government on putting into the mouth of the Royal Commissioners a Speech so admirably adapted to their own position and to that of the Parliament to which it is addressed. I am sure there is nothing that threatens the feeble constitution of the patient, nothing that can occasion it any unnecessary excitement, and nothing —as far as the Speech is concerned— which should tend to accelerate the inevitable stroke that awaits the Parliament in a very brief period. I do not, however, wish to say by any means that there are not touched in the course of this Speech some subjects of considerable importance, both as regards foreign and domestic policy, and also as regards the past, the present, and the future. But those subjects, of no small interest though they be, as far as respects the past and the present, are so dealt with as not to call for any expression of opinion or any judgment on their merits from your Lordships. And, looking to the legislation shadowed forth, it is certainly not of such a character as to provoke any violent or party controversy, or raise any great or animated political contest.
In looking to the Speech I confess, my Lords, I would desire to pass over rapidly and lightly the first paragraph relating to Denmark. It alludes to a state of things to which I think no Englishman can look back without considerable regret or without some feeling of humiliation. I will not follow the noble Lord who seconded the Address (Lord Houghton) by entering into any speculations as to the possible complications which may ensue from that state of things. I do not quarrel with that part of the Address. I would rather imitate what I consider the prudent forbearance of Her Majesty's Ministers, and characterise by no epithet of mine either that peace which has been the result of these negotiations, or the conduct of the united Powers by which its conditions were dictated. It is satisfactory, my Lords, to know, from the assurances received by the Government, that among the complications which may arise in connection with the ultimate disposal of the subjugated provinces there is no ground for apprehending that great 24 calamity, a renewed disturbance of the peace of Europe. My Lords, the Roynl Speech appears to me to be more than usually reticent upon the subject of our foreign relations. Usually a considerable portion of Speeches from the Throne is taken up in describing the relations of foreign States with this country, and there are one or two points particularly connected with foreign affairs on which I could have desired to have heard some explanation. I should have been glad, for example, if we had been furnished with some information as to the state of our relations with the Emperor of Brazil. It is true that Brazil is not a first-rate Power, nor one from which we can apprehend any serious opposition; but, at the same time, it is not a matter of absolute indifference to us that we should continue in a state of protracted alienation from a country which had always hitherto been on friendly terms with us, with which we have very large commercial relations, and with which it is our interest in every respect to have a good and friendly understanding. And I am compelled to say, that for the original differences which have existed between us and that State the main portion of the blame rests upon the conduct of the British Government, and I should be exceedingly glad if the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, by mediation or otherwise, has taken steps for putting an end to this unfortunate estrangement. I am anxious, therefore, to hear some account from him of the present state of our relations with Brazil, and of what may have been done towards restoring that good understanding which is so desirable for the interest of both countries. My Lords, I pass over the three little wars in which this country has been or is engaged. I pass by that most unfortunate civil war in New Zealand—for such it amounts to —without expressing any opinion on the merits or demerits of that question. It is, at all events, a war of the most lamentable character, to which every one must feel it desirable that an end should be put as soon as possible. Nor will I refer to the little engagement with the Daimio in Japan, who, in opposition it appears to the Government of his country, had ventured to provoke the hostility of all the navies of Europe, and which ended in the only way one would naturally expect. Neither do I wish to dwell on another little civil war, with respect to which Her 25 Majesty's Government have not furnished information as to whom the parties are. We learn from Her Majesty's Message that the condition of India is generally satisfactory, but, nevertheless, we are informed that—Long continued outrages on the persons and property of subjects of Her Majesty, and for which no redress could be had, have rendered it necessary to employ a force to obtain satisfaction for the past and security for the future.Who the party is against whom these steps have been taken, from whom redress is to be obtained, who have taken steps to punish him, who could obtain no redress, who is to have satisfaction, and what injury has been sustained, we may conjecture and collect from the examination of other documents; but, as far as the Queen's Message is concerned, the country is left in the dark as to the party with whom we are at war in India. It is unfortunate to find that the civil war still continues in America; and I join in the expression of a hope, which I am sure every person in this country would rejoice to see realized, that there might be an early cessation of that deplorable contest. It is now nearly three years since the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, following in the wake of Mr. Seward, announced that he had every reason to suppose that another month would see the conclusion of the hostilities in America. Three years have gone, and yet those hostilities are carried on with more than usual, I might almost say, savagery, spreading desolation over large tracts of country, destroying the lives and property of peaceable inhabitants, and tending to embitter and envenom the ineradicable hatred between the people of the two sections of America to such an extent as, in my opinion, will render future reconcilement impossible; so that the only practicable result would be the separation of the two portions of the country, or the entire subjugation of the one by the other. It is impossible that every one must not earnestly desire any step to be taken that may lead to a possibility of reconciliation or to a termination of the war. In the interests of every humane and generous feeling, great credit would be due to those who could in any way bring about the cessation of this cruel contest. At the same time, I am not one in the least disposed to move from the position of neutrality professed, and, I hope, maintained by Her Majesty's Government; but I confess I look with great anxiety and 26 no little apprehension to some symptoms which appear to me to show that that neutrality has not been received by the party to whom unquestionably it has been most favourable with that good will and gratitude to which I think it was fairly entitled. I do not now refer to expressions published in Federal newspapers, or made use of by individuals in the Congress or upon platforms, or to language in despatches or official documents addressed to authorities in America with respect to this country, which, under ordinary circumstances, could hardly be regarded as otherwise than provocative of hostility; but I do look with the deepest concern upon two measures which have received the sanction of the Senate of the United States—one for giving notice of the termination of the Treaty of Reciprocity with Canada, and the other for giving the still more important notice for the termination of that treaty by which the naval force on the lakes is restrained and limited. Of these two measures, it is impossible not to say that they are both adopted in a spirit of hostility towards this country. The first of them throws open questions of the most delicate and difficult character. The American people have derived, as they do not deny, great commercial advantages from the Reciprocity Treaty, and its termination is advocated only on the avowed ground that Canada derives still greater advantages. One effect of the termination of that treaty would be, if I am not mistaken, that the whole of the complicated question of the fisheries, from the settlement of which the United States have derived incalculable advantage, would at once be thrown open. My Lords, I am old enough to remember what serious complications and difficulties questions connected with the fisheries occasioned, and how near to the point of war they led this country and the United States; and now all these questions are gratuitously, and apparently without the slightest reason, thrown open, at the risk and danger of war—than which nothing could be more deplorable—between this country and the United States. It is not a little significant, too, that at the same time when the abrogation of this commercial treaty lays open all these points of danger and difficulty there is another step taken to abrogate another treaty. For a long period the lakes have had on both their shores an industrious people peaceful and prosperous, and have served as the means 27 of peaceful and profitable commerce between the two countries lying on either side of them and opposite each other; but I can recollect a period in the late American war when there was a race of shipbuilding on the two sides of the lakes, and when the party obtaining the supremacy in that matter gained the control of the lakes and the mastery of both shores. That state of things was put an end to by the treaty; but now America is the party who, without the slightest provocation or ground, so far as warlike operations went, and without the slightest pretext of injury, breaks through that treaty and declares an intention of increasing its force on the lakes, thus rendering it necessary on the part of this country to take corresponding measures. I do not ask the Government what steps they have taken, but I do say this, that they will be deeply responsible if they are not awake to the peril in which the country is placed by these two acts of the American Government, followed up by an intention to employ a preponderating force on the lakes. That force can only be for aggression; for to speak of an attack by Canada upon the United States is to speak of a physical impossibility. Canada has a long frontier, peculiarly open to aggression, being accessible by water as by land, and unless you have a preponderating power on the lakes, but, above all, if you allow the neighbouring Power to have a preponderating force there, you place Canada at the disposal of the United States. Under these circumstances, I see with additional satisfaction that which is probably the most important part of the Royal Speech—I mean the announcement that Her Majesty has given her sanction to the proposed federation of the British North American Provinces. I hope I may regard that federation as a measure tending to constitute a Power strong enough, with the aid of this country, which I trust may never be withdrawn from those provinces, to defend themselves against any aggression, and to acquire an importance which separately they could not obtain, but which combined would raise them to a Power of no inconsiderable dimensions. If I saw in this proposed federation a desire to separate from this country, I should think it a matter of much more doubtful policy and advantage; but I perceive, with satisfaction, that no such wish is entertained. Perhaps it is premature to discuss at pre- 28 sent resolutions not yet submitted to the different provincial Legislatures, but I hope I see in the terms of that proposed federation an earnest desire on the part of the Provinces to maintain for themselves the blessing of the connection with this country, a determined and deliberate preference for monarchical over republican institutions, and a desire to maintain as long as it can be done peaceably and amicably the union that exists between this country and those Provinces. Adverting to the state of affairs at home, it is gratifying to be assured by Her Majesty's Government that the general condition of the country is satisfactory. Her Majesty's Speech then goes on to speak of the distress prevailing in the manufacturing districts. Unfortunately, the state of my health has not enabled me to give to the matter the attention I could have desired, but from the reports I have received from time to time there appears no question that the distress has generally abated. We have seen the worst of the crisis, and we may now look forward to a return of prosperity, with some fluctuations no doubt, in those districts. Her Majesty's Speech refers to the useful results derived from the Act for the encouragement of public works in those districts. I am not about to deny that many useful results have proceeded from that Act, that many works were undertaken and much more employment afforded under it than would otherwise have been possible; but I regret to say that the persons deriving the greatest advantage from the application of the Act did not belong to the class it was intended to benefit. The advantage derived by the cotton operatives was infinitesimally small, though, no doubt, they gained an advantage from the general benefit given to trade. With every desire to carry on works which would be of benefit to the community, I think the Poor Law Board were hasty in accepting proposals—at least, I am acquainted with some singular instances of the kind—for works which required a large amount of skilled labour and an infinitesimally small portion of that unskilled labour which it was the principal object to employ.
My Lords, I confess that I was not able to follow the details brought forward by the noble Mover of the Address (the Earl of Charlemont), and the statistics by which he proved to his own satisfaction, and no doubt to the satisfaction of those who heard him, the increasing prosperity of 29 Ireland. The patriotism of the noble Earl undoubtedly led him to give to the subject a larger amount of attention than is consistent with the space assigned to it in the Queen-s Speech, a space hardly in proportion to what the importance of the subject deserves; and I am sure your Lordships will be gratified to hear, from his own personal experience, a confirmation of the statement that Ireland is really becoming more prosperous. My Lords, I will not comment upon the domestic legislation which we are promised in the course of the present Session. It may be of a very useful, it certainly is not of a very exciting character; and with regard to any measures of the kind which may be proposed, I am sure that your Lordships, without distinction of party, will endeavour to remedy existing evils. There is one subject as to which I regret that legislation is intended — I mean the Report of the Commissioners of Public Schools. That Report was a very valuable one, and contained an immense mass of useful information, with some practical suggestions. Perhaps in the presence of my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Clarendon), who was a distinguished Member of the Commission, I should not say—Sunt bona, sunt queadam mediocria, sunt mala pluraQUSE legis.This I will say, that those suggestions in the Report require earnest and careful attention; but I think it would have been very desirable that another year should be given to enable the governing bodies of the public schools concerned to take into consideration the recommendations of the Commissioners, and see what portion of them they could, with advantage to the institutions over which they preside, of their own accord introduce. I am sure that voluntary amendments on the part of the authorities would be likely to prove more satisfactory in their working than those forced upon them by Parliamentary legislation. My own opinion is, that while aiming at theoretical excellence and proposing schemes which look extremely well upon paper, the result may be to introduce in practice a state of things which will not work so satisfactorily and will not on the whole be so productive of good results as even the existing state of public schools, with all their faults, much less the state of those schools if reforms were intro- 30 duced by the voluntary action of the authorities. My Lords, I need not say that I have no intention of offering any opposition to the Address, which, like the Speech, offending no prejudices, pressing for no criticism, calling for no declaration of opinion, and being perfectly innocuous as the Speech itself, will command, if not the hearty, at least the unanimous assent of your Lordships.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I am happy to find that the speech of my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) answers so well to his description of the Address—that it is extremely innocuous, and renders my task in following him comparatively an easy one. I feared at the beginning of the evening lest there should be some weak point in our Address. My noble Friend is not one to let an opportunity pass; and we may safely assume, therefore, that if he attacked nothing, there was nothing he could attack with justice, and that though so cunning of fence, he could discover no weak joint in our harness. The noble Earl has displayed throughout a good-humour and a kindness which I cannot but appreciate; and I am sure that your Lordships will rejoice that he is here among us in recovered health, and apparently so strong and well. It occurred to me that that recovery might be one reason for my noble Friend's good humour, and that a second may be the great literary success he has lately achieved—as to which I am sure there is not one of your Lordships who does not feel pride and satisfaction at the additional lustre which has been given to this House by one who is certainly among its brightest ornaments. It turns out, however, that these were not the reasons why my noble Friend was so goodhumoured; neither was it that that was a round Speech adapted to a round hole—but his satisfaction arose from the fact that he hopes to lie quiet for a few months, tranquilly expecting that the next Parliament will see him wafted into office and enjoying the sweets which come with office. The noble Earl, in short, is ready just now to forgive us all our faults, because, to quote the very terse words of his own translation of Homer, he looksTo fill his coffers with the spoils of war.The noble Earl's speech really requires very little answer. He touched lightly upon that part of the speech which refers to the termination of a war which, while it continued, was very painfully felt in this country; and with regard to certain "little 31 wars" of our own, I am glad that he finds no fault with the eminently successful expedition in Japan, which will, I hope, insure for us very considerable advantages in that country. The noble Earl also abstained from any criticism with regard to the war in New Zealand. Now, I am sure that Her Majesty's Government feel as deeply as any persons their responsibility as to that war. We believe that the war has now arrived very nearly at a conclusion, and the only object of the Government has been to bring it to such an end as to show the Natives the superior power of this country, and to insure a peace which will give safety to the colonists, while affording to the Natives guarantees for all their just rights. By an omission in the Speech the locality of the war in Bhootan has certainly not been very accurately defined; but it is impossible to deny that it is a just and a necessary war.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
There are certain districts called the Dooars, which belong partly to the Natives and partly to Her Majesty's Government. For many years it has been the constant practice of the mountain tribes to pour down from their fastnesses and carry off into slavery men and women the subjects of Her Majesty. Mission after mission has been sent with a view to put an end to this state of things, but in vain, and Mr. Eden not only entirely failed in obtaining reparation, but suffered injury in health, and hardly escaped with life. An expedition was therefore sent; two forts were evacuated, and one was taken with hardly any loss beyond that inflicted by an accidental explosion in our own lines. We now hold those forts, and intend so to hold them, taking precautions, at the same time, against similar aggression. Among the other subjects on which the noble Earl dilated was that of the severance of diplomatic relations with Brazil; and I am sure he will be glad to learn that negotiations are going on for the amicable settlement of that question. With regard to our relations with the United States, I think it is desirable that now, or at some future time, your Lordships should hear some statement from my noble Friend (Earl Russell). Meanwhile it should be remembered, that if in the instances alluded to by the noble Earl the people of the United States have shown some irritation, there is no doubt they have had some cause for irritation, arising 32 out of the Confederate raids across the frontier. Ample time, however, remains for friendly negotiation between the two Governments. As to the operation of the Public Works Act, I am glad to find that my noble Friend concurs in the main with the manner in which that Act has been administered in Lancashire. The reports of the works carried on there leads me to think that great good cannot but result from them. My noble Friend must remember that it is almost impossible but that a certain portion of the funds expended under that Act should go to others than the cotton operatives. It is indispensable to call in a certain proportion of skilled workmen to aid the labours of the unskilled operatives. With regard to the state of Ireland, I am sure that your Lordships must have listened with satisfaction to the most interesting account given by the noble Earl (the Earl of Charlemont) who moved the Address, and who has good right from the name he bears to be held in the highest estimation, of the growing prosperity of that part of the United Kingdom. No doubt there is still distress in certain counties, but the statistics given prove conclusively that on the whole the trade and manufactures of Ireland have greatly increased, and show great promise for the future in the only way which will permanently benefit that country. I must say I do not agree with the noble Earl in his estimate of the value of the Public Schools Report. In so long a Report it is not likely that every sentiment should stand the test of minute investigation and sifting. I believe that Report has been of great advantage, and when my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Clarendon) introduces a Bill, which I hope he will do shortly, to carry out its recommendations, the noble Earl will find that we do not intend to deal with the subject in that rapid decisive way he supposes, without giving time for consideration to the parties most interested and most competent to deal with it. My Lords, I think it is a very gratifying thing for the country to see both parties, at the opening of what the noble Earl justly calls a moribund Parliament, agreeing as to the really satisfactory state of affairs; and when we consider all the advantages we enjoy—that we have a peace which is not likely to be broken—the satisfactory condition of our commerce and of our revenue, and the loyalty which is felt in every part of the country, we must feel that we have every reason to be grateful. And 33 what ought to make us still more proud of the good government which must undoubtedly have prevailed among us, is to find that our North American Colonies, in expressing their wish to continue their connection with this country, and in adopting the new institutions they have been considering with such calm and prudent statesmanship, have thought it desirable to keep as close as possible to the constitution and institutions under which we so happily live.
THE EARL OF LEITRIM
was understood to deny that Ireland is in a satisfactory or improving condition. He would, however, congratulate the Government on the choice they had made of the new Lord Lieutenant, and he entirely approved the manner in which the noble Lord (Lord Wode-house) had managed affairs since his arrival in Ireland. In his opinion, Ireland would never attain prosperity until she was restored to her constitutional rights and privileges, and the present military style of government got rid of.
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, it must be a great satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government that the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), who on former occasions has thought that he had ground for finding fault with the conduct of foreign affairs, should on this occasion have so little fault to find. At the same time there are two subjects on which the noble Earl wished for information, part of which I am able to give him. The noble Earl spoke of the Brazilian question, and said he thought the interruption of diplomatic relations with that country was matter of blame against Her Majesty's Government. Now, the case was this—that an English merchant ship having been wrecked, it was pillaged, and ten persons, who formed the crew and passengers, were missing, there being no account given of their bodies, or how they had come by their deaths. Does the noble Earl mean that the British Government was to be wholly indifferent to the subject—that the property and lives of Her Majesty's subjects were not to be matter of inquiry on the part of Her Majesty's authorities in that country? And yet that was all that was done. We asked for inquiry. That inquiry was not given. We then asked what we had a right by International Law to ask—we asked for an indemnity for the pillage and probable murder. [Lord CHELMSFORD: Possible murder.] No; the word was "probable" murder; and 34 after the report of Admiral Warren I cannot have the smallest doubt that some at least, but I think the majority, were murdered by the lawless people who inhabit that region. Well, we asked for an indemnity. That indemnity was not given. Her Majesty's Government then ordered reprisals. Those reprisals were carried into effect, and a certain sum was paid by the Brazilian Government for that for which we claimed an indemnity. That sum was regularly paid. The Brazilian Government did not ask for anything on the ground of the reprisals, and that was almost a confession that they had been wrong in not ordering an inquiry into the subject. I certainly, for my part, can never be ashamed of having shown some anxiety about the fate of these subjects of Her Majesty. But the Brazilian Government said, although they made no claim on the score of the reprisals, that they did think that the manner in which those reprisals were carried into effect showed a disposition, as they maintained, to offer an affront and indignity to the Empire of Brazil. I maintain that is untrue. We entirely deny that accusation. Afterwards the King of Portugal offered his mediation, and we willingly accepted it. The King of Portugal then proposed terms which we did not think such as it was possible for Her Majesty's Government to accede to without giving up the rights which belonged to Her Majesty and all maritime Powers. There was a counter proposition sent to Brazil, but it was not accepted by Brazil, and three or four days ago I received an official notification of its non-acceptance. The desire of Her Majesty's Government was to restore the relations with Brazil— not pacific relations, for there had never been any interruption of peace, but diplomatic relations—and we have made a proposition which we hope the King of Portugal will convey to the Emperor of Brazil, and we trust that it will be accepted, and that diplomatic relations will be resumed. It is not a state of things of a very melancholy nature, but it amounts to an interruption of diplomatic relations. If we had intended any affront to the Emperor of Brazil in the manner in which these reprisals were executed, we should, no doubt, have been highly to blame; but no affront was ever intended — we only executed reprisals as other Powers have executed them. The Emperor of Brazil himself has had 35 complaints against the Republic of Uruguay, and he has not only acted as we have done, but he has occupied a great portion of the territory of that Republic. The Emperor of Brazil has thought himself justified by the grievances which his subjects have suffered from the Republic of Uruguay to execute reprisals; and we can never admit that the power given by the Law of Nations, which the Emperor of Brazil has exercised, Her Majesty, as the Sovereign of a great maritime Power, should not also possess. The other subject to which the noble Earl referred is a very difficult one. It is one which is the subject of constant—almost daily—disputes and contests, and which I should scarcely notice were it not that the noble Earl has hardly done justice to the two parties to the dispute, and has not sufficiently allowed for the irritation which prevails in the United States. Now, what I think is unjust on the part of the Government and of the Congress of the United States with regard to ourselves is this—that they seem to expect not only that we should do everything which the Law of Nations demands, and which the municipal laws of this country enable us to do; but they seem to expect that we should altogether be able to prevent any aid being given to their enemies—to the Confederates. Now, Her Majesty's Government have used every means from time to time to prevent war being carried on from this country as a basis against the United States of America, which are in peaceful relations with Her Majesty; but, at the same time, it has been impossible to prevent acts which have caused, and I think naturally caused, great irritation in America. We have had ships fitted out here which have afterwards been sent great distances, and there received their armaments and provisions, and then been employed to prey upon the commerce of the United States. We had correspondence in our hands which showed that Confederate agents were continually employed either in building ships in this country, or in buying merchant ships which might afterwards be sent to Prance, and thence to other stations, where they might be fitted out as cruisers against the commerce of the United States. Now, I do say that, in fairness, when the authorities of the United States see a number of ships that come in some way or other from English ports and English rivers, and that these ships are afterwards fitted 36 out as men-of-war, and that their commerce suffers very grievously from it—I do say it is natural that they should feel irritation. But they ought at the same time certainly to ask this question—whether Her Majesty's Government have done everything which the Law of Nations authorises, and the municipal law of this country permits, to prevent this country being made the basis of warlike operations, so as to involve us in a war against the United States. I do not feel at all surprised that the Government of the United States should be annoyed and feel deeply that those who are the friends of those States should have their territories made the basis of these operations. So again with regard to Canada. The noble Earl seems to imagine that the United States, without any reason whatever, but from mere hostility, as he called it, against this country, had denounced that useful convention with regard to the lakes. But the case was this:—The Confederate Government, apparently determined, if possible, to involve this country in war, finding their own resources not sufficient to carry on a successful war, sent persons into the lakes, which are not in the Confederate territory, which are no part of our own territory, but which belong either to the United States or to the United Kingdom of Great Britain—they sent agents into those territories to seize ships that were navigating the lakes, with a view to take possession by force of men-of-war and other ships belonging to the United States, and to set free prisoners of war in those States. I say again it is not wonderful that the United States, considering the Canadian lakes the possession of a Sovereign friendly to them, should be indignant when they found that operations of war were carried on in those lakes. Well, they adopted a mode which again I think was not unnatural. They say that if they remain in those lakes without any armaments — with nothing but unarmed ships—the Confederates will seize those ships, and make war upon the Canadian lakes. It is a very painful thing, and a matter which may become dangerous to the United States and Great Britain, if they are obliged to put an end to or to suspend that Convention which has been so useful in contributing to the peace of the two countries; but, at the same time, I cannot expect that the United States should ever permit that war should be made against them on the lakes, and that they 37 should have no means of defence. For my own part, I think that the Confederate States—it may be natural on their part, but I think that the attempt to make the Canadian soil the basis of operations, some of them perhaps of a character that may be belligerent, but others more resembling the robbery and murder which take place in social life—that in that attempt they do what is most unjust, and I trust that Her Majesty's Government will be able, as they have proposed to the Canadian Parliament, to preserve the neutrality of Her Majesty as it has been hitherto preserved. At the same time, in the irritation that has been aroused, there has been a disposition with respect to two questions to make, I think, most unfounded accusations against the Government of this country. They have complained that we have allowed a belligerent character to the Confederate States. My Lords, looking at the character of the contest, looking at the immense territory possessed by the Confederates, and looking at the great operations of war which they have carried on, what could Her Majesty's Government do but allow them the character of belligerents? I know of no instance where there has been so mighty an enterprize as that civil war now carried on by the Confederates in which the belligerent character has not been allowed by the neutral States. There is another matter with regard to which there is a great deal of popular agitation, and every now and then there is a sort of threat that the day will come when the United States Government will make demands on Her Majesty's Government. Your Lordships heard last year, and the year before I think, that demands would be made by the United States of America for the capture and destruction of merchant ships by the Alabama and other vessels, which having some of their original build in England were afterwards conveyed to distant ports, and there received armaments which enabled them to cruise against the commerce of the United States. I must say, looking to the reason of the thing, looking at all the precedents, looking at International Law, looking at the declarations that were made while the United States Government themselves, in the case of the Spanish and Portuguese war, when there were ships of war directly fitted out from the United States ports during the South American contest which preyed on the commerce of Spain and Portugal—I must say that such a claim 38 on the part of the United States Government upon this country would be entirely unjust. Therefore, my Lords, while I say that we are bound to make every allowance for irritation that may arise in the United States in the course of the war that has come upon them most unexpectedly, and has caused to both sides great loss— we think unnecessarily—while we make every allowance for that irritation, while we are most strict and most scrupulous in performing all the duties of neutrality, we must not allow any of those unfounded claims to be pressed as founded in justice. There is one thing I cannot avoid saying before I sit down, on a subject affecting the welfare of mankind. When I see in this American contest an attempt to put an end to that horrible, that abominable crime of keeping men in slavery, of putting an end for ever to involuntary servitude in the constitution of the United States, I do rejoice that a great blot is about to be removed from the character of a civilized nation. I do rejoice that mankind may be led to hope that with regard to all civilized nations the crime of slavery may be blotted out for ever, and that freedom may be the rule of the world.
§ Address agreed to; and Ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.