THE EARL OF CARNARVON
My Lords, when I placed on the Paper the Resolution I am about to move we were in ignorance of the great events which 704 were about to burst upon us. Had I known what was coming I might, perhaps, have refrained from giving that Notice; but, under all the circumstances of the case, I do not regret having done so, because it will tend, I think, to show to your Lordships the necessity of being prepared to meet contingencies which we cannot at present foresee. We are at the commencement of a great European war. We trust we may not be involved in it; but the extent to which it may develop itself no man can possibly foretell; and it is, therefore, I conceive, but common prudence that at such a crisis we should endeavour to set our House in order, and prepare ourselves for whatever eventualities the future may have in store. It is in the recollection of every one how five or six years ago Fenianism came into existence. After having struggled in vain for some time in Leland to give effect to the spirit of disloyalty and disaffection, baffled and crippled, it took refuge on the other side of the Atlantic, and in 1866 an invasion of considerable magnitude broke on the Canadian frontier. The circumstances and results are too well known to make it necessary that I should recapitulate them. Fortunately there was a large number of British troops there, and the spirit of the Canadian Volunteers was excellent. The invasion was immediately repelled, and the schemes of the Fenians were baffled. In the following year assassination was substituted for open attack, and there occurred the murder of Mr. Darcy M'Gee, one of the most eminent Canadian statesmen, under the instigation of Fenian conspirators. Since then there have been repeated warnings from time to time along the Canadian frontier, and within the last few months once more an attempt at Fenian invasion was made. On the 22nd of Hay a concentration of Fenian levies commenced, arms and ammunition were served out, and a so-called General assumed the command. On the 25th an attack was made, but it was happily baffled without loss of life to any of our own troops or to the Canadians engaged. On the following day the attack was renewed, when it was again repulsed. The United States Government issued a proclamation during the course of these proceedings, warning their people against allowing themselves to be mixed up in these movements; and after the first de- 705 feat they arrested the Fenian general. They also sent troops to the frontier on the occasion of the second attack. I think that, looking to these facts, we must be sensible of the intentions of the United States' Government. We may regret that it was beyond their power to send troops to the frontier in sufficient time to stop the attack altogether, but their good intentions were marked, and anyone conversant with American affairs knows the political difficulties by which the United States Government are surrounded in such a case. If, however, there is any room for regret on the ground of delay in respect of the conduct of that Government, there can happily be none as to the conduct of the Canadian Volunteers. Some of them, at a few days' notice, called away from their various occupations, men whose time was money, and who freely ventured their fortunes and their lives on the issue without a moment's hesitation—without the default, I believe of a single individual—one and all repaired to the post of duty. They acted, as they were sure to do, with the utmost spirit and gallantly. And happily they did not stand alone; for on that occasion a young Prince, the son of our Sovereign, influenced by that spirit of courage which has never been wanting to his race, marched with the English troops fortunately not yet withdrawn from Canada, and added fresh confidence to the ranks of the Canadian Volunteers. On that day the Empire and the Crown were both represented, and Canada felt that she was an integral part of the Empire. I have, therefore, with little fear of a refusal, to ask your Lordships to agree to this Resolution—That this House has learnt with satisfaction that Her Majesty's regular troops were united with the Canadian volunteer militia in their prompt and vigorous efforts in defence of the Canadian frontier of the Empire from the recent so-called Fenian invasion.But it has been hinted to me that Her Majesty's Government find some difficulty in assenting to this Resolution. I shall deeply regret should this be the case. I have endeavoured so to frame it as to avoid any possible cause of offence, and to render it easy for them to accept it. I shall deeply regret if this Resolution is opposed by Her Majesty's Government, both for the effect it may have in this country and still more in 706 Canada. I am indeed totally at a loss to understand on what ground the Government can find fault with such a Resolution, which expresses an almost universal opinion, and which contains not a single word that is not an admitted fact. Until, then, I hear from the lips of my noble Friend the grounds of his objection, I shall not take up the time of the House upon this point. My first object in bringing forward this Motion is to render the acknowledgments which are due not only to the troops, but to the Canadian Volunteers for their gallantry; but my second object, which I approach with much greater difficulty, is to indicate to the House and the Government what I believe to be the feeling at this moment of the people of Canada. Now, everyone who knows anything of Canadian matters, knows that if there is a people with whom loyalty is not a more profession it is the Canadians. They have grown up in feelings of loyalty to such an extent that it has become a ruling and an almost passionate sentiment. My knowledge of Canada runs back now for many years, and I can testify that the Canadians, in point of loyalty and devotion to the Crown, are absolutely more English than the English themselves. But with this feeling that ever animates them there is mingled at this moment another feeling—a feeling of great soreness and irritation. Now, what is the cause of that? I believe the cause to be a belief—though I trust that it is totally unfounded—that it is the settled policy of the Government of this country to abandon, as far as possible, their connection with Canada. That belief rests not so much upon words spoken as upon acts which are supposed to indicate the policy of the Government—it is supposed to be corroborated by the withdrawal of our ships from the neighbouring waters—a step which I regret, because if there is one question of Imperial rather than of colonial policy, it is the presence of English ships at the fisheries—and by the withdrawal of our troops from Canada. I wish I could think that I was labouring under a mistake in respect to this feeling on the part of the Canadians; but I found my conviction on this subject not only on letters which I have received from men whose honour and knowledge is undoubted—not only on the statement 707 of friends of long standing who have communicated with, me—not only upon the representations of newspapers of every shade of political opinion — but also upon the meetings which have been held and the addresses to the Crown which have been adopted. One and all believe—I trust wrongly—that there has been more or less an intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government to depart from the connection with Canada, and throughout the length and breadth of Canada there is a feeling of deep and intense soreness. At the commencement of the Session I ventured to warn the noble Earl, who was then Secretary for the Colonies, that Fenian attacks on Canada were not impossible this year, but he ridiculed the notion.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. He alluded to attempts which were being made, and I said I had not heard of them.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I think that, if the noble Earl looks back to the records of the time to which I advert, he will find that he threw the utmost discredit on the possibility of an attack on Canada by Fenians.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
Well, I am bound by the noble Earl's disclaimer; but, at all events, I was alive at that moment to the serious risk of a Fenian invasion, and I at the same time pointed out the feeling of soreness which I believed to exist in the minds of the Canadians at the supposed policy of Her Majesty's Government. That feeling, I grieve to say, has since increased in intensity; and I must own that there are reasons why it should exist. Every Spring, since 1866, there has been the threat, at least, of Fenian attacks. Every year, more or less, Canada has been placed in great difficulties and exposed to great expense. So long as she knows that she has the entire sympathy and support of this country those difficulties will be cheerfully borne; but if doubts are allowed to arise on this vital point, then it is natural enough that her feeling should be one of anxiety and dissatisfaction. If every year French troops or Volunteers were drilling at Havre with the avowed object of invading this country, we should have reason to expect the deepest soreness in England; yet that has been precisely the case with Canada for the last four or five 708 years. Moreover, it must be remembered that, whatever may be the cause of Fenianism, Canada suffers from it entirely through her connection with us. No reasonable man can doubt that if Canada were not attached to the British Empire Fenianism would leave Canada alone. And I fear that unless this feeling is cheeked it may grow. I know that there are some persons in this country — a very small section — who believe that the connection with Canada is one of trifling importance to us. But your Lordships will not be misled for a moment by such an idea. It is sometimes argued as if it were a question of the independence of Canada; but it is and must be a question of annexation to the United States. And what does annexation mean? It means to this country the loss of the fisheries, the loss of the great commercial marine of Canada, numbering nearly 40,000 sailors, the loss of every port on that Continent, the loss of trade, which may be ten-fold that which exists at the present moment, the loss of staunch allies, the loss of a great Empire. Moreover, it is not only a positive but a relative loss, for it means the addition to the United States of all these elements of power, and the departure of Canada with feelings of irritation and ill will towards us. God forbid that that should ever happen! Some, no doubt, may say that such things should not even be hinted at; but there are times when it is right the truth should be told, that men may see the drift of circumstances, and not disregard the warning of facts. Supposing such a catastrophe to occur, what would History say of us? It would proclaim that we were more stupid, more infatuated than the men who 100 years ago threw away the United States. It would say, and say justly, that we sinned with our eyes open—that we had had every warning which reasonable men could, look for, and that we had entirely disregarded them. And what would Canada say? She would say that we had encouraged her in confederating the British North American Provinces, and that when we had induced her to adopt that great measure of policy in an unworthy and pitiful manner, we washed our hands of the responsibility. And lastly, what would this country say? She would say that while she had placed in power the strongest Government that 709 had existed for years, that Government deliberately allowed to be alienated hearts than whom there were none more loyal throughout the Empire; and that Parliament, while discussing details of legislation like a parochial vestry, had lost or destroyed the greatest Empire the world had ever seen. I venture to say that a Government of which that could be said would not be worth six weeks' purchase. I do not, however, wish to wrong Her Majesty's Government, and I hope that false intentions have been attributed to them; but I say that if there ever has been the slightest intention on their part to abandon Canada they do not represent the feeling of England, which is just as English in this matter as it has ever been. As long as Canada clings to England, loves the English connection, and is prepared to submit to sacrifice and danger—greater indeed than we are likely to be called upon to submit to—England will never allow one inch of Canadian soil to be surrendered or sacrificed. This leads me on to the question of the withdrawal of the Imperial troops. In the early part of the Session I pressed the noble Earl, who was then at the Colonial Office, to state the views of the Government on that subject, and I heard with grief that, in their opinion, the time had come for the entire withdrawal of the troops from Canada. On asking him again later in the Session, when this Fenian invasion had occurred, nearly the same question, the noble Earl stated that Her Majesty's Government had consented, at all events, to suspend the order for the recall of the troops. I rejoiced at that announcement; and my earnest hope is that the Government may carry that intention a little further, and delay for a still longer time a withdrawal which I am convinced will be fraught with deep mischief—a withdrawal which is not only unnecessary to any part of their colonial policy, but to which they are pledged by no conceivable reason—not even by the Report of the House of Commons' Committee, which sat six or seven years ago on Colonial Administration. I object to the withdrawal of the troops as unjust to Canada and highly inexpedient to the interests of the Empire. I say unjust to Canada, because you have encouraged her to enter into this great Confederation; and I venture to say that if, when that measure was before Parliament, it had been 710 announced that its immediate result would be the withdrawal of every British regiment from Canada except a garrison at Halifax, it would not have been sanctioned by Parliament, and certainly would not have been accepted by Canada. You have induced her, moreover, on the faith of her connection with England, to lay out the Intercolonial Railway on military principles, to devote upwards of a million for fortifications, and to incur a great annual expense in training her Militia. You have from the same point of view imposed, directly and indirectly, many burdens on Canada, and Canada has made no mean return. She has freely accepted each burden and responsibility. She has no desire that all her charges should be paid for her. On the contrary, in this Red River Expedition she has cheerfully consented to supply three-fourths of the men and three-fourths of the money. She has consented to station ships at the fisheries in lieu of those you have taken off. She has embodied for permanent service for the next two years two entire regiments, which at the end of that time will be as completely organized and as effective as any Imperial troops. She has declined no military charge or expense. She has formed schools of practical instruction for her officers, and at this moment, at considerable cost, is prepared to form great military camps. It may, but I trust it will not, be said that because Canada has done so much, therefore we may do very little or nothing. That would be an argument unworthy of this country and this House. I know, indeed, it is said that you expect Canada to provide for her internal defence. She is prepared to do so, and has never dreamt of anything else. But I maintain that Fenianism, proceeding from the American border, cannot be classed under the head of internal defence and order. In the interests of the Empire, I assume that you wish to retain Canada as an integral part of the Empire; but every military man knows well that it is not safe to trust entirely to any Volunteer or Militia force, however gallant it may be. You must have regular troops, it may be in very small proportions, a mere handful—and I would gladly leave the Government to decide the proportion—but you ought to have a certain proportion of regular troops, in order to give moral support and confi- 711 dence to the Volunteers and to form a nucleus round which they may rally at any time. This is the view of every officer of eminence, and of some of the highest authorities in this country. Before the House of Commons' Committee to which I have referred the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Herbert laid down that principle. They never contemplated the entire withdrawal of Imperial troops, but they thought that two or three regiments should remain as a nucleus round which Volunteers would be collected. You say you intend to retain Halifax as an Imperial fort; but does anybody believe that to maintain Halifax will be sufficient? It would be exactly like a man locking his front door and leaving every window and back door open for persons to walk in at. It is true troops might, under favourable conditions, be sent from Halifax to Quebec or any threatened point; but we are in the habit of forgetting how great the distances are in Canada. Under very favourable circumstances, it took the Imperial authorities five or six days at the time of the Trent affair to convey troops by land from Halifax to Quebec. It is true that the Intercolonial Railway will facilitate the movements of troops; but till its completion you must send them by road and along the frontier:—and I would therefore urge the importance of maintaining a certain proportion of regular troops, let it be ever so small, till the completion of that railway. Retain, if you please, but one regiment at Montreal, and under any circumstances a regiment of infantry and one battery of artillery at Quebec. In two or two and a-half years the railway will be completed, and you may then reconsider the whole question. And I urge this the more strongly as this country has already expended, I think, £250,000 on the fortifications of Quebec, and the Canadian Parliament have already voted a very large sum to add to those fortifications. That regiment of infantry and battery of artillery would form a practical school of instruction for all the troops which may be raised in Canada. Remember, also, that Quebec with these fortifications has become a place of no mean strength. He who holds Quebec probably holds Canada; and to any objection that the troops might be cut off or jeopardized my answer is first, that the force I ask is really insignificant, and next 712 that anyone who has studied the question knows that Montreal is supported by Quebec, Quebec by Halifax, and Halifax—the base of our operations—by the naval supremacy of England—so that there is a complete chain from one to the other, which ought to insure the safety of the troops. Discussion on this subject may be very disagreeable to Her Majesty's Government, but I am convinced that within the whole wide range of English politics there is no question which possesses greater importance. It is really the question of the Empire which is at stake—an Empire greater than any ever conceived by the mind of man—greater perhaps than the strength or wisdom of man has ever before formed. Our possessions in the Western Hemisphere alone amount to an Empire. You have a boundless tract of territory which is open to every English subject—a territory where every Englishman can go freely and settle, buy land, and attain every step in civil life as freely as he can in England—a land where emigration is welcomed, where pauperism is almost unkown, where the English language is spoken, and where English institutions flourish; nay, more, a land where the practical difficulties of maintaining the connection with this country are day by day diminishing, and which steam and electricity and all the appliances of modern science are bringing into closer relations with us. On the other hand, our relations to Canada have been and are political rather than colonial. It is the only one of our Colonies whose border is conterminous with a great foreign Power. Those relations must, therefore, be political, and on the horizon of Canada clouds moist from time to time appear. Hence it is incumbent on the British Government to devote more than usual care and trouble to Canada—a task worthy of English statesmen and the English Parliament. But what is really required is very little—only a few words and a few slight acts. Let Her Majesty's Government so speak that Canada may feel that she is an integral part of the British Empire, and that as long as she clings to the connection and is prepared to endure sacrifice and peril for it she is as much a portion of the Empire as any English county; and let the Government by their Acts, however slight, show every foreign nation, in the words of Mr. Canning, that 713 where the flag of England flies there foreign domination shall never come.Moved to resolve, That this House has learnt with satisfaction that Her Majesty's regular troops were united with the Canadian volunteer militia in their prompt and vigorous efforts in defence of the Canadian frontier of the Empire from the recent so-called Fenian invasion.—(The Earl of Carnarvon.)
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, in all that my noble Friend said at the commencement of his speech, as to the conduct of the Canadian Volunteers, I need hardly say I most cordially agree. Nothing could exceed the efficiency, the promptitude, the energy and discipline which they displayed in repelling the most unjustifiable and wanton agression to which they were subjected by the Fenians. My noble Friend (Earl Granville), while holding the Office which I have now the honour to fill, more than once expressed his sense of their conduct; and I will take this opportunity of reading and laying on the Table the despatch in which my noble Friend recorded the opinion of Her Majesty's Government on their services. It is dated the 5th of July, and is addressed to Sir John Young. It runs thus—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch, No. 132, of the 9th ult., with its enclosures relating to the recent Fenian raid. I have read with sustained interest the graphic accounts given by Colonel Smith and Colonel Bagot, of the two affairs which resulted in the repulse and rout of the Fenians on the Missisquoi and Huntingdon frontiers. I have sincere pleasure in acknowledging the conduct of the officers, the courage, alacrity, and discipline of the Volunteers and Militia, and the zeal and helpful enthusiasm of the farmers and country people on both the points of attack. The discredit and ridicule attaching to these marauders on account of their signal overthrow when they had scarcely crossed the frontier must cripple, if not utterly destroy the means of re-organizing expeditions as wicked and unjustifiable in their conception as they have proved to be feeble and unsuccessful in their execution. The genuine admiration of the spirit and behaviour of the Canadian levies which pervades the reports of Colonel Smith and Colonel Bagot is the best evidence that their easy success is not so much due to the character of their opponents as to the intrinsic qualities of the Canadians—the promptitude, courage, and intelligence which makes individuals distinguished and a nation great.I should, indeed, regret it if the Government had been grudging in their expressions of admiration at the conduct of the Volunteers. The Resolution of my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) 714 couples with the Volunteers the regular troops, who had on that occasion very little opportunity of displaying the gallantry which always characterizes them. They undoubtedly did their duty and gave their support to the Volunteers; but the whole part they took consisted in one company being engaged in a very slight skirmish. My noble Friend has rightly anticipated that I should not be able to assent to his Resolution. The grounds on which I ask the House not to assent to it are very simple. In the first place, it appears rather singular that my noble Friend, with his genuine admiration for the conduct of the Volunteers, should by a side wind rather imply that had the regular troops not been present they would have been unable to repel the attack. [The Earl of CARNARVON said, he certainly had no such meaning.] The words of the Resolution are certainty open to that interpretation. My second objection is that, however stronger our feelings may be of the services performed by the Volunteers, we must measure the occasion by what actually occurred; and considering that this was a raid of certain marauders in time of peace, who were driven back, after they had advanced only a few hundred yards over the frontier, in a way as discreditable to them as it was creditable to the Volunteers, it would be very unusual and quite contrary to precedent that this House should by solemn declaration record its sense of the services of the troops and Volunteers for such an action. If, therefore, my noble Friend perseveres with his Resolution, I shall be obliged to move the Previous Question. As to the general topics on which my noble Friend adverted at great length, it is very difficult to satisfy him on these questions of colonial policy. He has more than once asked what policy the Government intended to pursue as regards the withdrawal of troops from the Colonies, and declarations from this side are of exceedingly little use to him, for he invariably returns to the charge by saying that not much weight can be attached to them. When he insists so strongly on the impolicy of withdrawing troops from the Colonies as dangerous to the integrity of the Empire, I am bound to remind him that when he himself, as Colonial Secretary, recommended the withdrawal of the troops, he did not consider it as an abandonment of 715 the Colonies, though now when Her Majesty's Government recommend the same course, he holds that it means the reverse. I only ask that the same measure should be applied to us as to him. My noble Friend insisted in the strongest terms on the withdrawal of the troops from New Zealand.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I do not wish to raise a New Zealand debate. No doubt that was so; but my noble Friend consented that they should remain on certain conditions, which not being complied with, he said that it would then be necessary to pursue that policy of withdrawing the troops which he now declares to be so fatal to the best interests of the Empire. So with regard to the Cape Colony. My noble Friend said the number of troops must be gradually reduced to a certain point, and that if the Colony, which was in considerable commercial difficulties, would not consent to pay for the remaining regiments they must all be withdrawn. Now, I must ask whether that line of argument and action is consistent with the present argument for the preservation of the Empire, regardless of the interests of this country? I am far from saying that the principles which he laid down at the close of his speech should be disregarded. My noble Friend says that considerable soreness and dissatisfaction exists in Canada on this subject, because the Dominion is exposed to Fenian attacks. I was curious to see how this dissatisfaction was connected with Her Majesty's Government. My noble Friend did not connect it; but it is only natural that the Canadians should feel dissatisfaction and soreness at these unprovoked incursions—a feeling, indeed, which is shared by Her Majesty's Government and by this country. My noble Friend then next referred to the apprehensions which existed that the Government were about to abandon that great Colony, and to sever her connection with the mother country. Now, I am very well aware that I cannot hope to persuade my noble Friend to the contrary, because all the repeated declarations which have been made that the Government have no such intention have failed to satisfy him. I really am not aware that any English statesman has 716 ever entertained such an intention, and it would exceedingly surprise me if any ever should, or should pretend that we could absolve ourselves of our obligation to defend Canada in case she should be in danger of a foreign war. That obligation rests upon us in connection with the whole Empire, and I am quite certain that it would be discharged by whatever Government might hold Office. In the minor arrangements, however, which we might think it our duty to make in time of peace, we must be allowed a certain discretion, and it has been thought by military authorities here that a greater concentration of troops would be advantageous not to this country alone, but to the defence of the whole Empire; and I have yet to hear that when the defence of a great Empire has to be undertaken, a concentration of troops can be called a measure of abandonment. In the other measures which we have taken nothing has indicated a want of respect to that great Colony or a disregard for its interests. I will not repeat the recent statements of my noble Friend (Lord Northbrook), as to the supply of arms and guns without cost, but I may mention that, in the faithful discharge of our obligations, we are about to guarntee a loan to Canada for the purpose of certain fortifications which she proposes to erect, for which purpose a Bill has been introduced into the other House. We have undertaken a guarantee in connection with the Intercolonial Railway, and according to the best information it will be finished in two years, which is very satisfactory. In the matter of the fisheries, in which both we and Canada are deeply interested, my noble Friend seems to think that no British ships are stationed there.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I stated that a considerable portion of the ships had been withdrawn, and that the prevalent belief was that they would all be withdrawn.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My noble Friend appears to share many prevalent beliefs which are unfounded. As a matter of fact, I may say that we are in constant correspondence with the Admiral on that station, and that such a force will be maintained as, in conjunction with the Canadian force, may be necessary. That question undoubtedly is one of great importance, as well as of considerable difficulty; but I hope the House will accept the assurance that 717 we are disposed to take care that the fisheries are properly protected. Nor is it true, as a matter of fact, that Canada has altogether been denuded of troops. My noble Friend (Lord Northbrook) only a few nights ago gave a full and frank explanation of the course the Government intend to pursue. Two battalions are now there, and it is the intention of the Government not to withdraw the whole of the troops from Quebec until next year. But the Government is most anxious that it should always be borne in mind that whatever aid may be given to Canada by the mother country in the event of a serious conflict, the defence of the Colony must to a very large extent be left in her own hands and to her own exertions, and there is nothing in that point of view more admirable or satisfactory than the evoking of the military spirit of the Canadians. Nothing will increase the security of Canada so much as the growth of a military spirit and the efforts made by Canada to place her people in such a position that, if the time comes when we shall have to take part in its defence, there may be such a powerful force and such a military spirit as may enable us to undertake it with some prospect of success. The Government have at least a right to say that their policy has not diminished the spirit of the Canadians, for that spirit was never higher than it is at present. While deeming it unnecessary that the House should pass a special Resolution in reference to this miserable raid, I think the matter is of very great importance as an augury of the spirit with which the Canadians would loyally and enegetically repel any attack on their frontier, and of the support which the whole Empire might expect to receive from them in any emergency.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
My Lords, I hope I may be permitted to say a few words on this occasion. I do not intend to make any observations on the political or military question, but simply to express my sense of the loyalty and devotion with which the Canadians, as a people, have behaved on this as on every other occasion. Whatever difference of opinion there may be as to keeping a garrison at Quebec, there cannot be among Englishmen any two opinions on this point—that the Canadians have taken a pride in showing their loyalty, their attachment to the Throne, their 718 affection for the old country, and their strong desire that the bonds which have so long united them to us may be strengthened rather than severed. The Fenian raid—this "miserable raid," as my noble Friend has well termed it—has been the happy means of bringing out the military character of the Canadians greatly to their credit. The more that spirit of self-reliance which they have so eminently displayed is evoked—and not only among the Canadians, but among all other classes in all parts of Her Majesty's dominions—the better it will be for the Empire at large, and the more it will be to the advantage and benefit of the Colony itself. That spirit of self-reliance and those loyal principles ought to be, and I am sure will be, encouraged by this House and by the country. I have great satisfaction in being able to express my appreciation of the loyalty displayed by the Canadians on this occasion, and my high sense of the Militia and Volunteers—not those of Canada only, but of this country also, who I am sure would distinguish themselves by equal zeal and gallantry, should any call unfortunately be made upon them as has been made on the Militia and Volunteer Forces of Canada. Without the slightest desire to express an opinion on a political or military question—for it will be my duty to carry out the instructions of Her Majesty's Government, whatever they may be—I hope to be permitted to say the Volunteers, the Militia, and the regular troops must have been gratified at having been associated on this occasion. I am sure the loyalty and good feeling which were exhibited by the Volunteers and the troops on that occasion were such as will always continue to exist among them when placed in a similar position, and the result, I hope, will be to knit more closely still those ties which bind the people of Canada to the mother country, and that friendship which they entertain towards the forces of the Imperial Government.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, that if the speech of his noble Friend who brought the question forward (the Earl of Carnarvon) had no other result, his Motion would not have been made in vain if it should have no other consequences than to have brought forth the expression of opinion which had just fallen from the illustrious Duke, whose words he was sure when they were read 719 by the Canadian people would prove to them that their conduct and courage were duly appreciated not only by his Royal Highness, who was conversant with military matters, and who being a near relative of Her Majesty had doubtless in what he said spoken the sentiments entertained by the Sovereign herself, but by the country at large. In reference to the Motion itself, he must say that the opposition offered to it by the Government astonished him greatly—indeed, it seemed to him to convey a compliment to Her Majesty's Ministers. But he was particularly surprised at the reasons which had been advanced by his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies for opposing the Motion. The noble Earl objected to the wording of the Resolution, and argued that it was capable of being so interpreted as to imply a sort of slur on the Canadian Volunteers, and as conveying the idea that their success was due to the fact that some of Her Majesty's regular troops were present. Now, on critically examining the terms of the Motion, he was rather disposed, taking it literally, to put upon it a somewhat opposite interpretation — namely, that Her Majesty's troops would not have succeeded had they not been associated with the Volunteers. That was, however, a very puerile way of regarding the matter. The real question was, was that House or was it not prepared to pay a compliment to the Canadian Volunteers and the regular troops who were united with them for their gallant conduct? If their Lordships were of opinion—as they could hardly fail to be—that such a compliment would be highly appreciated in the Colony, why, he would ask, should they refuse to pay it? It might be true, as had been said, that the attempt made by the Fenians was not a very serious affair; but it might have been so, and the Canadian Volunteers could not possibly have known whether it would have been so or not beforehand — the Canadian Volunteers went to the front prepared to resist any hostile force however strong it might be; and had the invaders been 10 times more numerous they would have encountered the same gallantry. Why, then, for some indirect reasons urged by the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, should the House grudge them a compliment which, by their behaviour, they had merited? His noble Friend 720 had made some remarks about the dissatisfaction which was said to exist in Canada with regard to the withdrawal of the troops, and the noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) said he was not aware of any dissatisfaction on that score. He (the Earl of Malmesbury) must suppose that, in the exercise of his official functions, his noble Friend sometimes thought it desirable to read the Canadian newspapers. If so, he could send the noble Earl some documents which would show him that the dissatisfaction prevailing in Canada on the subject was strong and deep. The noble Earl went on to speak of the concentration of troops being a great advantage to the Empire. He (the Earl of Malmesbury) should not certainly, in the presence of the illustrious Duke and other noble Lords experienced in military matters, venture to give an opinion upon the military bearings of the question; but, speaking as a civilian of the policy of concentration, which he supposed meant the concentration of the Imperial troops in England itself for the purpose of maintaining a larger Army at home — he would observe that the "concentration" of force within our own boundaries would not be long without attracting the attention of that party in the House of Commons, of whom it was not unfair to say that they objected to a standing Army altogether, and who would soon proclaim that our military force was unreasonably large and ought to be diminished. It would be well to bear this in mind when the question of "concentration" was under discussion.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
said, that the Resolution, according to the ordinary rules of construction, was only capable of the meaning that their Lordships thought it very lucky that there were Queen's troops present to assist the Canadian Volunteers on the occasion in question—a Resolution which could scarcely be called very complimentary to the Volunteers. He was well aware, he might add, of the courage and energy of our troops; but he would have been pleased if the Canadian forces had been left to cope alone with the incursion of a number of intoxicated Irish emigrants—for to call that miserable raid an invasion would be ludicrous. But he was of opinion that the Resolution was a reprehensible novelty, and while it did not in reality convey a compliment to the 721 Canadian forces, it was of so unusual a character to place on the records of the House that it ought to be withdrawn. The only real compliment was the speech of the illustrious Duke. If it were thought necessary to do anything more, it ought to be done in the usual form of a Vote of Thanks. As to the more general question which had been raised, he could only say that he did not believe any statesman worthy of the name had any idea of abandoning Canada. There was no pretext for the imputation merely because on such a point of detail as the disposition of our regular forces Her Majesty's Government had come to a decision unpalatable to the Canadians. The noble Earl, even, who brought forward the Motion (the Earl of Carnarvon) did not go the whole length of the views which he had expressed, for if he wished to provide any really effective defence for Canada we must keep up there some 10,000 or 20,000 men; whereas he asked for only one or two regiments, which could be of no great use, except in the way of example and advice in military matters. The maintaining of a large force in Canada was, indeed, now deprecated on all sides, for it was quite clear that if attacked at all she would be attacked simply as forming part of the British Empire. As to the soreness which the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) had spoken of as existing in the Colony, he could only say that he had not heard anything of it; while the Government were, he believed, perfectly satisfied that the loyalty of the Canadian people had undergone no diminution because of our recent policy. He thought the speech of the noble Earl was ill-timed and injudicious, because it conveyed the impression that there existed a bad feeling between the Colonies and the mother country; and he trusted that, for the reasons given by his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies, their Lordships would reject the proposal which the noble Earl had made.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
My Lords, I rise principally for the purpose of protesting against the remarks made by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Lyveden). He says it may be gathered from my noble Friend's speech that there is a bad feeling between the Colonies and the mother country. Now, I 722 venture to challenge the noble Lord to point to any part of that speech which will bear such an interpretation. I shall not follow the noble Lord into the reasons he adduced to show that it would be more conducive to the safety of Canada and to the protection of her interests if there were no Imperial troops in the Colony; but he also found fault with my noble Friend's Resolution on the ground that it was deficient both in grammar and reason; and he repeated the remark made by the Secretary for the Colonies that the Resolution was a slur upon the Canadian people, as the inference to be drawn from it was that the conduct of the Canadian Volunteer Militia would not have been satisfactory if they had not been allied with the Imperial troops. I venture to think, however, that there is no foundation whatever for such an assertion. The Resolution says—That this House has learnt with satisfaction that Her Majesty's regular troops were united with the Canadian volunteer militia in their prompt and vigorous efforts in defence of the Canadian frontier of the Empire from the recent so-called Fenian invasion.Surely the "prompt and vigorous efforts" did not relate to the Imperial troops alone, but to the combination of forces in the Colony. In fact, there is nothing in the Resolution, from beginning to end, which casts a slur upon the Volunteers. The noble Lord also says that the Resolution is of a novel character, and that your Lordships ought to move a Vote of Thanks if it be necessary to do anything at all. I cannot, however, think that the Resolution is a "reprehensible novelty," as the noble Lord terms it. I think we cannot too highly praise the conduct of the Canadians on the occasion referred to, and I believe they would join our troops in repelling an invasion with the greatest satisfaction and pleasure, because they would feel that, by being associated with the Imperial troops, they were to that extent associated with the mother country, between which and the Colony there always had been, and I hope there always will be, the greatest cordiality of sentiment. Before I sit down, I wish to make a very few remarks on some of the statements made by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. In the commencement of his speech he told us that he cordially concurred in everything my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) 723 said respecting the conduct of the Canadians. He said they had done all they were called upon to do; and I expected he would have gone on to say he saw no objection to the opinion stated in the Resolution. Instead of doing so, however, he announced his intention of moving the Previous Question—which means that he declines the responsibility of giving any opinion on the subject. It is impossible that there can be a more illogical conclusion to the remarks with which he started. I was very much struck by the line of argument taken by the noble Earl in order to show that all our troops ought to be withdrawn from Canada. He led us to believe that this was a great military movement, and that by way of assisting the Colonies we were about to concentrate all our forces in this country. But by this minor arrangement you will, in my judgment, so reduce the Army that there will be some difficulty in bringing it back to that condition of efficiency which is so desirable in the present state of public affairs. For those reasons I cordially support the noble Earl's Motion—for I must say that although I listened with great attention to all the remarks which fell from my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, he has altogether failed to convince me that there is any justice or wisdom in moving the Previous Question on the present occasion.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, the noble Earl who brought forward this Motion (the Earl of Carnarvon) stated that it was most desirable to have discussions in this House on colonial matters. I cannot say, however, that I quite agree with him on that point. I think discussions on colonial questions are of great importance, and when properly conducted, they may be of great use; still, I certainty do think it is not desirable that a noble Earl speaking with great authority in this House, having formerly been Secretary for the Colonies, should come forward day after day and charge the Government—or rather insinuate that the Government—have other objects than those which they declare they have. I do not care for this as far as your Lordships are concerned; but in the Colonies it has great influence, and is a chief means of producing what the noble Earl calls soreness on the part of the Canadians. As a marked accusation has been brought 724 against me, and as it is entirely unfounded, I will repeat what I said at an early period of this year, when this question was very fully discussed. First of all I made a declaration that if any one of our Colonies were attacked by a foreign enemy the whole force of the Empire would, be exerted for its protection; but I added that against Fenian raids and filibustering expeditions a Colony like Canada could defend itself. My noble Friend argues, however, that when our troops are withdrawn from the Colony the Fenians will take courage and attack the Canadians. Why, instead of that being the case, they selected a time before the troops began to move in order to make that attack, which was so miserably attempted and so admirably repelled. I have twice this Session explained the general principle of concentrating troops not in this country exclusively, but also in certain Imperial stations and fortresses where they may be of great use. Into that question, therefore, I will not enter at the present time. And as to the Motion under discussion, I do trust it will be generally admitted that my noble Friend was right in moving the Previous Question. Some objection may certainty be raised against the grammar of the Motion; for while two noble Earls think it conveys an opinion that the Colonial troops could not have succeeded without the aid of the Imperial troops, the noble Lord on the other side took an opposite view, and said he thought it meant that the Imperial troops could not have succeeded without the aid of the Colonial troops. Six years ago the noble Earl opposite was reported to have said—The feeling of the country has been unmistakably manifested against the Bill"—
§ EARL GRANVILLE
The Bill I see was introduced in 1864, and I was not referring to the noble Earl who just spoke, but to the noble Earl sitting beside him (the Earl of Malmesbury), who said—The feeling of the country had been unmistakably manifested against the principle of the 725 Bill, and there was now firmly established in the public mind a complete conviction that a Colony when once it had arrived at a certain point of power and prosperity ought to defend itself against its natural enemies, and ought not to call on the mother country for the aid of Imperial troops."—[3 Hansard, clxxvi. 1989.]So it must be in a non-natural sense that the noble Earl introduced this Resolution. But the objection raised to it by my noble Friend is a very just one—that the occasion was not sufficiently important for a formal Motion in this House. And I cannot help thinking that one point has entirely escaped the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond). On a recent occasion Lord Ellenborough moved an Address that the Abyssinian Army should be received with honour on their return to this country; and on that occasion, if I am not mistaken, the noble Earl pointed out, in the strongest manner, that honours of this sort ought not to be bestowed upon the Motion of an individual Member of this House, however distinguished he might be, but that it was a great constitutional principle that honours of this sort should come spontaneously from the Crown; and this principle is so sound that I feel sure that it cannot have been taken into consideration by some of the noble Lords opposite, or they would not have supported the Motion of the noble Earl.
§ LORD CAIRNS
The answer to the last remark which has fallen from the noble Earl (Earl Granville) is this—It is for the Crown alone to offer rewards to those who distinguish themselves in fighting the battles of the country; but the proposal that Lord Ellenborough made was not that this House express any opinion upon the conduct of the troops, but that they should be received with honours upon their arrival. In reply to that it was said that the bestowal of honours upon the troops should come from the Crown through its responsible Ministers. But it is not proposed that any honours, rewards, or particular marks of distinction should be bestowed upon the troops which have been serving in Canada—it is simply an expression of opinion on the part of Parliament—and I have yet to learn that the voice of Parliament is prevented in any way from expressing an opinion upon the manner in which the local or Imperial troops have behaved on any particular occasion. The noble Earl has referred to a passage in which my 726 noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Malmesbury) said some time ago that he thought when the Colonies arrived at a particular point of prosperity, it ought to be inculcated as a principle that they should be charged with their own defence against their natural enemies.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
Permit me to continue the quotation. The noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) added—With respect to Canada, we could not too soon persuade the people of that country that it was impossible for them to obtain Imperial assistance in the way of English troops."—[Ibid.]
§ LORD CAIRNS
That does not set aside the remark I was about to make. Whatever may be the duty of Canada with regard to those who may be termed her natural enemies—if she has any—what we ought to remember is that these Fenian raids into Canada were made not because the Fenians are the enemies of Canada, but because they hoped, through Canada, to strike a blow at the mother country, and cause her, if possible, humiliation and distress. We should remember that although Canada appeared to be fighting her own battle, she was really fighting ours, and therefore we should look upon these efforts which Canada has so successfully made as having been made really in defence of the mother country.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
My Lords, I confess that when I saw this Motion first, I did not for a moment expect the noble Earl intended to divide upon it. I interpreted it as a desire on his part to evoke a personal expression of opinion upon the part of your Lordships, and that object having been attained I supposed he would withdraw it. I certainly never thought he intended to commit the House of Lords to an untenable position. Look at the Motion. It is neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. It is perfectly legitimate for noble Lords opposite to condemn the policy of the Government with regard to the diminution of the number of troops in Canada; but if that be their opinion let them express it openly in a manly and straightforward way, not covertly insinuate it. Let it be distinctly stated that the policy of the noble Lords on the Front Benches opposite is in favour of a large Imperial Army in Canada, then Her Majesty's Government will know how to meet them. The Motion cannot be said to be a Vote of Thanks to the 727 Canadian Volunteers; and it is certainly not a Vote of Thanks to the Queen's troops, for it seemed to hint that the Canadian Volunteers did all the fighting, and that the Queen's troops did nothing at all. The Motion, indeed, is capable of several different interpretations, and yet it does not express the policy which my noble Friend advocates. I therefore trust he will not endeavour to place the House in so foolish a position as to divide upon it.
§ VISCOUNT STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
I rise only for a moment to support the proposal just made that the noble Earl should withdraw his Motion. The noble Earl has gone into the whole question as to whether we are to keep any considerable number of troops in Canada; he has discussed the propriety of our continuing to defend our Colonies and the expediency of releasing ourselves from that obligation. The noble Lord has indeed succeeded in raising an ample discussion upon these important topics, and he has also drawn from all sides of the House a very decided expression of opinion as to the manner in which the Canadians defended—and it is certain that they did most bravely defend — their frontier; but as considerable doubt has been expressed on both sides of the House with respect to the meaning of the Resolution, it would be a mistake, I think, to carry it to a Division. I trust, therefore, that my noble Friend will withdraw his Motion, and be content with having obtained an expression of the feeling entertained by your Lordships upon the subject.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
avowed that his original intention was to vote in favour of the Motion. He saw in it no insinuation nor any grammatical defect. It indicated the wholesome policy that the mother country should continue in close relationship with the Colonies, to which he could never refuse his assent.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am afraid that the criticism to which this Motion has given rise will entirely destroy the gracious act it was intended to represent. If the Government press their opposition to a Division, it is probable they will find themselves in a minority; but the compliment it was intended to convey to the Canadian Volunteers and regular troops by the Resolution would cease, under the circumstances, to be a compliment. The Mem- 728 bers of Her Majesty's Government have carped at and criticized the terms of the Motion, they have put upon it all manner of unnatural and impossible constructions, and with so much pertinacity that I am afraid, if we did record this Resolution on the Journals of the House, it would not have the effect we intended. Under these circumstances, although it is with regret, I counsel the noble Earl to withdraw his Motion. In their agony to avoid this Resolution the Government has been induced to give far more distinct pledges than they have ever given before as to the duty and necessity of defending Canada to the utmost of their power when attacked by a foreign foe. It was especially necessary that such an expression of opinion on the part of both sides of the House should be given, because this is a case in which the whole danger Canada incurred was incurred on account of the mother country.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I will not, after this evening's debate, make more than one or two observations; but, in self defence, I am bound to say that when the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Kimberley) drew an analogy between the policy I pursued and that pursued by the Government in the present instance he argued upon a false assumption. There is no ground for drawing such an analogy, the conditions in every case in which I acted having been entirely different from those of the present instance; and the act itself, both in its practical consequences and in its general policy, being essentially different. In the next place, I rejoice—and I am certain your Lordships will rejoice—at hearing the speech of the illustrious Duke on the Cross Benches (the Duke of Cambridge), which I am satisfied will produce an excellent effect. Lastly, I am glad to hear the despatch read by the noble Lord the Secretary of the Colonies, and I can only wish that it bore an earlier date. But as far as the Motion itself is concerned, I feel that the purpose which I had in raising this discussion has been answered in a great measure, and that by pressing it further there would be a risk of undoing that which has been accomplished. Therefore, although I think that Her Majesty's Government have undertaken a certain responsibility, and have placed themselves in an unfavourable position by rejecting my proposal on the grounds 729 they have chosen, I shall feel it my duty to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.