HL Deb 06 February 1872 vol 209 cc7-40



My Lords—In the first paragraph of the Speech which your Lordships have just heard read, and of the Address which I shall have the honour of moving in answer to it, there is one topic which, in its allusion to an event which has moved the whole nation with gratitude and joy, may fairly be said, by reason of its transcendent importance, to throw into the background every other one. The recovery of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has been hailed with manifestations of delight by all parties, all sects, and all creeds, throughout the widespread dominions of the British Crown, affording the strongest testimony that can be borne to the strength of that bond of loyalty which unites us all. Whatever cloud may overcast the brightness of our future, and amid all the differences of opinion and diversities of interest which exist among us at present, it may be asserted that the nation clearly discerns its star of safety—its anchor of hope—in the glorious Constitutional Monarchy under which we have the happiness to live, in the reigning Sovereign, in the Heir Apparent, and in the Illustrious Family which surrounds the Throne.

My Lords, the second paragraph in the Speech from the Throne announces the approaching celebration of a Thanksgiving for the restoration of the health of His Royal Highness—a celebration the most touching in which a Sovereign and a mother can take part; because in it Her Majesty will acknowledge her gratitude to Almighty God for the blessing vouchsafed to her. My Lords, that Thanksgiving will find a responsive echo in every English heart, because it will be one more solemn recognition of the great and eternal truth, that an overruling Providence guides, directs, and controls all human affairs.

My Lords, the Session which has its commencement to-day finds the country in the enjoyment of well-being and prosperity, which, as described in Her Majesty's Speech, is marked by a considerable diminution in pauperism and crime. The Revenue is flourishing, trade is active, and our foreign commerce has attained such colossal proportions that it may truly challenge the wonder and admiration of the world. My Lords, there is a paragraph in the Speech from the Throne which congratulates Parliament on this happy state of things, and in the Address Her Majesty is thanked for this congratulation; but we have not yet attained the ideal position to which an anxiety for human progress and human happiness must lead us to aspire. A fact of which evidence is afforded by that portion of Her Majesty's Speech in which numerous remedial measures are announced as about to be proposed to the Legislature—so true is it that a great nation cannot rest or pause in that onward career of improvement which the interests and well-being of its citizens impel it to pursue.

My Lords, passing now from these general matters, and coming to the special topics dealt with in detail in the Speech from the Throne, your Lordships will be glad to hear that Her Majesty continues to receive assurances of friendship from all foreign Powers; and your Lordships will join in the general gratification that there is no immediate prospect of the disturbance of the public peace. The recent gigantic conflicts which convulsed Europe, while they have overthrown the old balance of power, will, perhaps, place the condition of the great communities whose destinies are more immediately affected thereby on a basis more in harmony with their feelings, wants, and aspirations. That such may be the final result of those hostilities must be the ardent desire of your Lordships. I am sure your Lordships cannot fail to look with admiration and sympathy on the heroic efforts our loyal neighbour and ally, Prance, is making to re-construct the fabric of that greatness which was once her heritage and birthright, and which, sooner or later, she must inevitably regain. That any difference should have arisen with respect to the Commercial Treaty, and that divergent and adverse views should be entertained of its policy by the present Government of Prance from those held by our Government, must be a cause of deep concern to the British nation; but these differences, turning as they do on points of commercial policy, can never disturb those deeper relations of political amity and goodwill which have so long subsisted between the two nations. The denunciation of the Treaty will, it is to be feared, be soon followed by its final rupture. The Correspondence on the subject will shortly be laid before your Lordships' House and the other House of Parliament, and your Lordships will then be able to weigh more carefully the causes which seem likely to lead to this unfortunate result. That the blessings which have followed from the free interchange of commodities between the two peoples should be interrupted, or rather snatched from the outstretched hands waiting to receive them, is much to be deplored, because in the extension of international commerce lies one of the best hopes of promoting the welfare of mankind. But one must not despair. There may be a reaction on the other side, and the banner of Free Trade may still be carried aloft, and the two countries may march together beneath it to reap those triumphs which industry set free, and commerce unrestricted, are sure to bring. My Lords, looking to Italy, I think I shall have the concurrence of your Lordships when I say that the advance which the Italian Kingdom is making must be cheering to all lovers of constitutional freedom, and to all believers in the capability of self-government possessed by the great Italian race.

My Lords, I now approach a subject by which the public mind has been deeply occupied and disturbed during the last few days. I am not in possession of the views of Her Majesty's Government, or of the course they intend to take in the matter of "the Alabama Claims;" but, speaking for myself, and looking to the extraordinary nature of the claims which have been put forward by those who have stated the Case of the United States, I think I shall not be misinterpreting the undivided sentiment of the country when I say that those claims are utterly inadmissible, and cannot be for one moment entertained. Your Lordships will be glad to see that the Emperor of Germany has undertaken to arbitrate on the matter of the San Juan water boundary. By consenting to give his good offices with a view of a settlement of this question, His Majesty has given a proof of that good feeling which should actuate such nations as those of Germany and England for the promotion of international amity and goodwill. But, my Lords, before passing from the foreign topics to the more domestic subjects of Her Majesty's Speech, I must briefly allude to the paragraph which denounces the complicity of some British subjects in the nefarious practices committed in the South Sea Islands, from whence the Natives are carried off under pretext of transporting them to localities where the demand for labour is great—practices described in the Speech from the Throne as scarcely to be distinguished from slave trading. The atrocities committed by the crews of vessels engaged in these practices have engendered in the minds of the Natives of the islands feelings of intense hostility and revenge, which have rendered unsafe the lives of missionaries and others who visit those shores—and, as is stated in Her Majesty's Speech, the murder of an exemplary Prelate has been one of the results. A system for the employment of free emigrant labour might be allowed under certain restrictions and fenced round with certain safeguards; but the kidnapping of the people of a country is a thing which cannot be sanctioned by England. Slavery, which we have vigorously and effectively put down in one quarter, we never can suffer to take root and spring up in another where we have any control.

My Lords, among domestic questions which are announced in the Speech from the Throne as being subjects for legislation during the present Session, your Lordships would have been greatly surprised if that of the Ballot had not found a prominent place. I am not going to travel over ground every inch of which has been examined by those who have spoken on the question in your Lordships' House, and the other House of Parliament. The principle of the measure to be introduced this year will probably be identical with that of the Bill last year; but the machinery by which it is to be worked will probably be amended in its details when the attention of Parliament is again invited to it. But, looking at the Bill, and looking at the relations existing between the different classes of the community, I cannot but come to the conclusion that there is a desire of power and influence on the one side—that of the employers of labour—and, on the other side, an anxiety on the part of the labouring and lower trading classes for increased independence in the exercise of that privilege of voting which the Imperial Parliament has conferred upon them. I believe that the majority of these classes desire the protection of the Ballot, and I believe that if Parliament should make them this concession, it will strengthen and improve an important part of the machinery of constitutional government; but any such measure will be incomplete unless there be a sincere and determined intention on the part of those who pass it to prevent personation and all other such immoral practices to which every election, whether the system of voting be open or secret, inevitably gives rise. Your Lordships will, therefore, learn with satisfaction that the Government are about to bring in a Bill relating to corrupt practices at Parliamentary Elections, and so deal effectually with a state of things which debases and demoralizes large sections of our population whenever they are called upon to exercise their political privileges. It will be a triumph of legislation if the Representatives of the people could be returned by constituencies taught to exercise the trusts reposed in them with conscientiousness and integrity. There are numerous other topics of legislation included in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, on which I will venture to offer a few remarks—for time will not permit me to deal with them all. The question of Scotch Education will be again taken up this Session, and, notwithstanding the collapse which occurred two years ago, I have no doubt that the Legislature will arrive at such a conclusion as will satisfy the legitimate wishes of the Scotch people. The Bill for the regulation of Mines will demand the earliest and most unremitting attention of Parliament. It provisions will have to be weighed with the greatest care; for, while on the one hand there ought to be a fixed determination to afford by stringent inspection and other means greater security for the hardworking and industrious classes occupied in mines; on the other, it is most essential to avoid any course which would necessarily increase the price of an article so important to consumers as coal: but if calculations of cost are to be weighed against considerations of humanity, the nation will not hesitate which of the two alternatives to choose. Again, the Licensing question is one of equal if not of still greater difficulty; but its solution may, perhaps, be found in a well-devised measure for more stringent police regulations than those now in force. The adulteration of liquors is carried on to a most pernicious and scandalous extent throughout all parts of the country. The intemperance and drunkenness so justly complained of are not caused so much by the quantity of liquor which the poor man drinks—a glass or two of which, if pure and sound, would do him good—as by the vile quality of the liquor sold by the low public-houses, of which there are such a number competing against each other, and which can live only by the adulteration of the drinks they sell. Your Lordships will learn with satisfaction that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a Bill to amend, consolidate, and facilitate the working of the numerous Acts already passed, but which have hitherto failed to promote the sanitary well-being of the populations scattered throughout the villages or congregated in the towns of this kingdom. Experience has shown that Local Boards are incapable of carrying out the necessary measures of sanitary reform, and permissive legislation in such matters means stagnation and delay. I believe there ought to be a central authority with full power to stimulate, direct, and guide the somewhat languid operations of Local Boards. Her Majesty's Government also announce their intention to introduce measures for effecting administrative improvement in Ireland. I will not dilate on the condition of that country, but will leave that to my noble Friend who will follow me, because the noble Viscount (Viscount Powerscourt) has much greater local experience; but I cannot omit to remark on the cheering and encouraging announcement in that part of the Speech from the Throne which announces— That, with very few exeeptions, Ireland has been free from serious crime. Trade in that part of the United Kingdom is active, and the advance of agricultural industry is remarkable. It is not to be supposed that the evils which have been engendered in that country during a long course of years can have been removed in the short term of two years. Disregarding, therefore, some noise and clamour, it may be assumed that Ireland has fairly started on a career of progress, in the midst of which, and within a very few years, every trace of hostility to England may be expected to disappear. The measures of sound policy and justice which have been passed for the improvement of that country are beginning slowly, but steadily and surely, to tell.

My Lords, I cannot conclude my observations without congratulating Her Majesty's Government, under whose auspices the system was first introduced, on the success which attended the autumnal manœuvres of last year. I believe the course adopted to be most valuable. If periodically and frequently renewed, such manœuvres are eminently calculated to satisfy a desire long felt in the higher military circles, for more practical and systematic instruction in the combined and more extended operations of the three arms in the field. Military men derived many lessons last year which will teach them to correct deficiencies and defects in future years. They have learned that great changes in our tactics and formations for fighting must, sooner or later, inevitably be made, in order to meet the new conditions of warfare and the vastly improved weapons with which troops are now armed. The thanks of Parliament and the country are due to the Government for having afforded an opportunity to the higher authorities of considering the effect of these changes, and to the service at large an occasion of practically testing them. My Lords, the present Session is starting laden with promises, anticipations, and hope. Your Lordships must feel that there is an anxious desire on all hands that it should not be brought to an end without the enactment of measures largely conducive to the public welfare, and affording in the most direct manner increased protection for the lives of the mining and other industrious classes of this realm. My Lords, to enable Her Majesty's Government to achieve that great object one thing is necessary—the firm co-operation, union, and support of the great Liberal party in Parliament and throughout the country at large. The noble Earl concluded by moving the following humble Address to Her Majesty thanking Her Majesty for Her most gracious Speech from the Throne:—


"WE, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for Your Majesty's most gracious Speech delivered by Your Majesty's command to both Houses of Parliament.

"We humbly assure Your Majesty that we heartily concur in Your Majesty's expressions of thankfulness to the Almighty for the deliverance of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales from the most imminent danger, and that we share Your Majesty's grateful recollections of the profound and universal sympathy shown by Your Majesty's loyal people during the period of anxiety and trial.

"We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that Your Majesty purposes that on Tuesday the 27th instant, conformably to the good and becoming usage of former days, the blessing thus received shall be acknowledged on behalf of the nation by a Thanksgiving in the Metropolitan Cathedral; and we rejoice to learn that it is Your Majesty's desire and hope to be present at this celebration. We humbly thank Your Majesty for having caused directions to be given for the necessary accommodation for the Members of the two Houses of Parliament.

"We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that the assurances of friendship which Your Majesty receives from Foreign Powers continue to be in all respects satisfactory. We are confident that Your Majesty's endeavours will at all times be steadily directed to the maintenance of these friendly relations.

"We deplore the continuance of Slave Trading, and of practices akin to it, in different quarters of the world; and we assure Your Majesty that our serious consideration shall be given to the proposals of Your Majesty's Government with reference to offences of this class in Australasia.

"We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us, that various communications have passed between Your Majesty's Government and the Government of France on the subject of the Commercial Treaty concluded in 1860; and that from a divergence in the views respectively entertained in relation to the value of Protective Laws, this correspondence has not brought about any agreement to modify that important Convention; but that on both sides there has been uniformly declared an earnest desire that nothing shall occur to impair the cordiality which has long prevailed between the two nations.

"We humbly thank Your Majesty for informing us of the steps which have been taken in pursuance of the Treaty of Washington, and of the friendly communication which Your Majesty has caused to be made to the Government of the United States with regard to Your Majesty's understanding that certain claims, which have been included in the Case submitted on behalf of the United States, are not within the province of the Arbitrators.

"We rejoice to learn that, with very few exceptions, Ireland has been free from serious crime; and that in that part of the United Kingdom trade is active, and the advance of agricultural industry remarkable.

"We also share Your Majesty's satisfaction at the decrease in the number both of the graver crimes, and of habitual criminals, in Great Britain.

"We assure Your Majesty that we will give our earnest consideration to the measures of public usefulness which may be presented to us.

"We humbly assure Your Majesty, that we will devote our best energies to the work of legislation; and we trust that, by the favour of Divine Providence, our endeavours, in unison with the loyalty of Your Majesty's people, may sustain the constant efforts of the Crown to discharge the duties, to uphold the rights, and to defend the honour of the Empire.


, in seconding the Address, said: My Lords, the first topic in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech which will commend itself to your Lordships' attention is that in which Her Majesty alludes to the recovery of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales from what has been well-nigh a mortal sickness. The anxiety displayed by the nation during the dangerous time of that illness, and the sympathy with the Queen and the Royal Family manifested by all classes of Her subjects were so sincere that your Lordships may well address Her Majesty in words of congratulation on a subject which naturally forms the first subject in the Speech addressed by Her Majesty to Her Parliament. Your Lordships may now trust and hope that His Royal Highness will be spared for many years to fulfil the duties of his station. I think there never was a time since the commencement of Her Majesty's reign when an appeal could have been better made to the sympathy and loyalty of the people—the entire nation is now coming forward with a desire to welcome Her Majesty back from her retirement. Your Lordships must all regret that Her Majesty has not been able to be present today to open Parliament in person; but you may hope that on the occasion of the national Thanksgiving at St. Paul's the Queen may be able to repair to the Cathedral, with all the proper attributes of Royalty, to lead her people in the national outpouring of gratitude for her son's happy recovery. My Lords, I cannot but regret that any differences should arise between the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race. I trust, however, that the so-called Alabama Claims will soon be settled, and that a friendly understanding may be arrived at. We all know the immense interests that would be at issue in case of a disagreement between us and our brethren at the other side of the Atlantic; and I am sure that the English nation will go to the Arbitration with a sincere desire of conciliation, and an anxiety to cement the union which ought always to exist between this country and the United States. Much might be said on the subject; but I think your Lordships will agree with me that it will be better not to enter on it at any length. I feel the more reluctant to do so because I have not that experience in diplomacy which has been enjoyed by so many of your Lordships. I regret that the Government of the neighbouring great Republic of France should have taken a retrograde view of the commercial relations between itself and this country, and that at its sittings the Assembly should have been employed in undoing what had been done under the Second Empire with the view of strengthening the commercial relations between the two countries. My Lords, I hope that the measure of the Ballot for the protection of electors may become law, and put an end to the interminable discussions on the subject. It is very desirable, especially in Ireland, that persons should have an opportunity of recording their votes without being subjected to outrages such as voters are now exposed to in that country. I hope that after the Ballot Bill shall have been disposed of, the question of Education in Scotland, and other domestic subjects, will receive due attention—especially those which have reference to the better protection of the lives of persons engaged in mining and other industries. As regards my own country, Ireland, I must express my opinion that the present agitation for a Parliament in Dublin is most mischievous, and that such a measure, if successful, would be fatal to the best interests of that country. Many persons have expressed an opinion that the two great measures which have been passed for Ireland since the accession of the present Ministry to office have had no good effect. These persons say that there is no sign as yet of "the lion lying down with the lamb;" but I would remind them that sores which have been rankling for centuries cannot be expected to close the moment a remedy is applied. I think Ireland has never been in so prosperous a state as she is at present. There is a very large amount of Irish capital lying in the savings banks and in other securities—and that is capital belonging not to landlords, but to the tenantry of the country. When there appears to be a good investment for it the people buy it out. That has been shown at the recent sale of the Waterford estates. The shorthorn, and other stock of Ireland, are admitted to be as good, or nearly as good, as anything to be found in England. The animal which took the gold medal at the last exhibition of the Royal Agricultural Society was bred and fed in the county of Cork. If there were general contentment in Ireland, English capital in abundance would find its way there. Improvements in the communications and other measures are required; but "Home Rule" is nonsense. It is advocated by persons who call themselves patriots; but, in my opinion, they are not serving their country. My Lords, in the Royal Speech there is no mention made of an Education Bill for Ireland. Now, as there is at present such a division of opinion on that subject, I think the Government has done wisely in deferring legislation on that subject for Ireland; but, whatever may be said to the contrary, I hold that Ireland is progressing in every way; and, as I said before, I believe that English capital is only awaiting the result of the movement to which I have alluded to seek largo and remunerative employment in Ireland. The noble Viscount concluded by seconding the Address.

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My Lords, I am happy to be able to congratulate both the noble Earl who moved the Address and the noble Viscount who seconded it, on the very able and conciliatory manner in which they addressed themselves to their subject. There is nothing in the speech of either of the noble Lords which could have induced me to take a hostile course on this occasion, had I been so minded; but, if the noble Earl who moved the Address will allow me, I must take exception to his concluding remarks, in which he wished and hoped that the Session might be marked by the enactment of measures which might largely conduce to the increased improvement in the condition of the mining and working classes of this country, and in which my noble Friend expressed his opinion that the only real thing required to bring about such a happy condition of affairs was that the Liberal party should be united. The noble Earl entirely ignored the existence of the party of which I am a humble member; but certainly I should have thought that the Conservative party might be supposed to take some considerable part in the discussions and in the legislation of this House; and I say, with all respect for the noble Earl, that the Conservative party will yield to no other in this country in an anxious desire for the welfare of all classes. Thus much, my Lords, for the remarks made by the noble Lords the Mover and the Seconder of the Address. Now, my Lords, I think it is at all times—except under very extraordinary circumstances—undesirable to move an Amendment to the Address in reply to the Speech from the Crown; but I think it would be especially so on the present occasion, when the first paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech alludes to a subject which has such a deep and lively interest for every Member of your Lordships' House.

My Lords, when I think of the wonderful preservation of the life of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to his country, I am certain that no person in this House can rejoice more than I do at such an event of his illness. My Lords, I need not remind your Lordships of the circumstances connected with the illness—the almost death illness—of His Royal Highness; I need not remind you of the intense anxiety manifested throughout the length and breadth of the land—I need not remind you that there was not a family in the country which did not fuel as if some great, some dire calamity was impending over its own circle—a sympathy which was owing, doubtless, in part to a feeling of loyal attachment to the Prince himself, and in part to a feeling of attachment to the Sovereign personally; but the interest manifested was owing also to a conviction on the part of the country that if the life of the Prince were spared we should be preserved from one of the greatest calamities that could befall the nation. The country felt that living under a Constitution which has lasted so many ages, and has been productive of such vast national benefits, we should sustain a great misfortune if that Constitution were placed in any danger. And, my Lords, it was a remarkable circumstance that at the time when His Royal Highness fell ill, mischievous agitators had been parading the country from one end of it to the other, endeavouring to persuade the people that they could never be happy or prosperous unless under a Republic—in other words, unless the country underwent all the horrors of revolution. Therefore, my Lords, I think the consciousness of this country that we are living under institutions as free as any in the world, had not a little to do in bringing forth those manifestations of loyal attachment to the Throne with which we were all so much delighted. I feel, my Lords, that I need not further dwell on the happy event of the recovery of the Prince of Wales, and that I may proceed to other, though less gratifying topics.

I feel it to be my duty to make some remarks on several points referred to in the Speech from the Throne, and also to a few that do not appear in it; but before doing so, I would express my extreme regret at seeing my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs suffering from illness, and offer him my sincere sympathy. In the first place, then, my Lords, I must say that the Speech is characterized by as much bad grammar as usually falls to the lot of such documents. In this respect it does not fall short of any of its predecessors. The third paragraph, which I have no doubt has been heard with great gratification by your Lordships, informs us, in respect of the Thanksgiving at St. Paul's, that— Directions have been given to provide the necessary accommodation for the Members of the two Houses of Parliament. Well, for my own part, I should have taken it for granted that on such an occasion accommodation would be duly provided for the Members of the Legislature, therefore that it was totally unnecessary to make that statement occupy so prominent a part in the Speech from the Throne. Next follows the stereotyped paragraph, which announces that Her Majesty receives assurances of friendship from Foreign Powers which continue to be in all respects satisfactory. Well, no one rejoices at that more than we do on this side of the House. Next we have the paragraph about the Slave Trade and practices scarcely to be distinguished from Slave Trading. No one can abhor such practices more than I do; but I should hardly have thought it was necessary to put in so prominent a part of the Speech the announcement that a Bill will be presented for the purpose of facilitating the trial of offences of this class in Australasia. Neither do I think it was necessary to comment in such very grandiloquent language on the fact that France declares her adherence to Protection, while this country is for Free Trade. This is the passage— Various communications have passed between my Government and the Government of France on the subject of the Commercial Treaty concluded in 1860. From a divergence in the views respectively entertained in relation to the value of Protective Laws, this correspondence has not brought about any agreement to modify that important Convention. I should hardly have thought it necessary to use grandiloquent language to announce that France adheres to Protection; but I was under the impression that no question of modification need arise, seeing that the Treaty itself is almost at an end.

My Lords, the next paragraph to which I shall direct your Lordships' attention refers to a subject of the very greatest importance, and I hope that in anything I may say on the present occasion I shall say nothing detrimental to the public service or make use of any language which can by any possibility be misconstrued or misunderstood. I read with great regret that— In the Case submitted on behalf of the United States large claims have been included which are understood on my part not to be within the province of the Arbitrators; and I regret Her Majesty's Government had not taken more distinct care that such a state of things could not by any possibility arise. I, however, rejoice to hear that a communication has been made on this subject by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of the United States—I hope in friendly terms, but in terms of the greatest precision, so that there may be no mistake whatever as to the views of Her Majesty's Government. I should be glad to know, if it be consistent with the duty of my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to inform us when this communication was made, and whether it was made immediately on Her Majesty's Ministers ascertaining the views of the Government of the United States. Having said so much I do not think it necessary to go further, because I think it would be inconvenient on a Motion for Address to go more fully into a subject which must come to be thoroughly discussed, when, no doubt, we shall have an opportunity afforded us of considering the merits or demerits of the Government in their action in the matter, and on the negotiations which preceded and on the Treaty itself. This will be after we shall have had all the Papers before us. I do not propose, therefore, to raise anything like a debate on the present occasion, and I trust that I have not said anything calculated to raise one. I shall pass from the subject only repeating the hope that Her Majesty's Government have taken steps which cannot be misunderstood. I shall not go into the San Juan Water Boundary question, because it is part of a subject which ought to be discussed as a whole.

I now come to that portion of Her Majesty's Speech which says that— Turning to domestic affairs, I have to apprise you that, with very few exceptions, Ireland has been free from serious crime. The noble Earl who moved the Address (Earl De La Warr) referred to "noisy clamour." I do not know whether he was aware that in consequence of what he described as "noisy clamour" one election in Ireland has had to be brought to a premature end. I am told that Captain Trench had to retire from the contest in Galway in consequence of the intimidation rendering it unsafe for him to proceed; but whether this is so or not, I am afraid that the paragraph of the Speech from which I have just quoted represents a state of things which does not exist in Ireland, if the capital of that country is to be regarded as a portion of it; for how was that capital described by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald in a charge delivered by him to the grand jury of the city of Dublin in the month of November last? He observed that when he was appointed to the Bench some years ago, the Judges were in the habit of congratulating the grand jury of Dublin on the peaceful condition of that city, the orderly disposition of the people, and on the fact that the laws were well administered; but in a short time the whole scene had changed—then—in the month of November last—property was not safe, life was not secure, and there was as much well-developed ruffianism in Dublin as disgraced any other city in Europe. I should have said, therefore, that the state of that city must have escaped the notice of the noble Earl when he advised Her Majesty's Government to inform us of the condition of crime in Ireland.

And now, my Lords, passing by the Estimates and the state of the Revenue, and coming to the paragraphs of the Speech referring to "measures of acknowledged national interest," I find among the measures which Her Majesty's Government propose for consideration a Bill for the improvement of Public Education in Scotland. My Lords, I am not here to deny that in some portion of that country, at all events, there may be a want of increased facilities for education. In some of the larger towns, and in some of the mining districts, where great populations have of late sprung up, there is no doubt a necessity for increased means of education; but I do not think that throughout the length and breadth of the land there is any lack of education for the people. At the same time, I am not prepared to say that I will not give to a measure for the extension of public education in Scotland every attention in my power. It is a subject in which I naturally take a very great interest, and considering the expressions used by the Lord Advocate at various times to the effect that he considered no education was valuable unless religion were mixed with it, I trust that the Bill which is to be sent up to your Lordships' House may be such a one as may be passed during the present Session of Parliament. Of course, it must be to a great extent a question of detail, and details in such a matter are of the greatest importance, and therefore, without pledging myself to the support of a measure not now before us, I will promise to give it my careful attention in order to pass this Session, if possible, a useful and proper measure for that country.

With respect to the mention in the Speech of the Licensing System, I trust Her Majesty's Government, in their anxiety to put down intoxication in this country, will not lose sight of the fact that there are very large classes in the country whose interests such a measure must affect.

The Speech from the Throne goes on to announce that "several measures of administrative improvement for Ireland will be laid before Parliament;" but as no mention is made as to what they are, it is impossible to form any idea of the tenour of these Bills.

And now, my Lords, we come to a paragraph relating to a measure which excited considerable interest last Session. It says— In particular, a Bill, having for its main object the establishment of Secret Voting, together with a measure relating to corrupt practices at Parliamentary Elections, will be immediately presented to you. I am not now going into the question of the merits of vote by Ballot, for I think it would be imprudent to discuss, on the present occasion, its merits and its details; but I am happy to think that the conduct of your Lordships during the last Session of Parliament, in declining to proceed with the measure then before you, has been amply justified by the speech of one of Her Majesty's Ministers—namely, the Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. I find the Marquess of Hartington stating, in a speech delivered to the electors of Radnorshire, that the time which had elapsed since the measure was rejected by the House of Lords had not been lost; that the Government had profited by the criticisms on the Bill; and that they would introduce to Parliament, during the present Session, a simple and still more effective measure than that of last year. Now, I maintain that that is a complete justification of the course your Lordships took; because if we had agreed to the Bill of last Session we should have passed a measure which, apparently, was neither simple nor thoroughly effective. If the Bill now proposed is more effective than that of last year, it is obvious that the country will be very much the gainer.

My Lords, I think I have now exhausted all the topics mentioned in the Speech from the Throne; but there are omitted from it some topics on which I will venture to say a few words—they are of far too great importance to be omitted from mention altogether. In the first place, I see no reference whatever in Her Majesty's Speech to either of the two branches of service upon which the safety and the welfare of this country depend. Surely it is a most extraordinary fact that in a Speech from the Throne in the year 1872 no mention is made either of the Navy or of the Army. Now, with regard to the Navy, what is the fact? I am not going to anticipate the result of the Royal Commission which is now sitting on the Megœra; but one thing is clear to all who have read the evidence—namely, that the Megœra went to sea with her bottom not very much thicker than a sheet of The Times newspaper. She was sent in this condition to the Antipodes with I do not know how many souls on board; your Lordships know the result of that voyage:—and as far as the evidence goes which has been given before the Commission, there is not a single man in this country who is responsible. What is there to prevent a similar thing from occurring to-morrow? We do not know how many vessels may be in the same plight. Nobody, it appears, is responsible for the state of the ships which may leave this country in the condition the Megœra was. Then there is another point connected with the administrative department of the Navy—namely, the Board of Admiralty, to which I would draw your Lordships' attention. There was a most remarkable statement made before that Commission. The Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty, Mr. Vernon Lushington, being invited to give his views, says—"Chaos reigns supreme." He is asked whether there is a Board? and he replies that there is only a "phantom Board." First he rather thinks there is a Board, and then he thinks there is not; and he says the condition of things in the administration of the Admiralty is such that nothing short of a revolution—not of the country, but of the department—can put it straight. Mr. Childers, it appears, had pulled down everything, but had built nothing up. Consequently, everything is destroyed and nothing renewed. Now I say that these facts having been made known to the Government, some prospect ought to have been held out in the Queen's Speech that the present unsatisfactory state of our naval administration should be reformed, and the Department restored to something like its former condition.

Having said thus much about the Navy, I have only one more subject to touch upon, and that is the Army. Now, I do think it is very remarkable that a branch of the service which certainly occupied the attention of both Houses of Parliament during the whole of last Session has not been alluded to in Her Majesty's Speech. Last year we were told the time had arrived when we wore to have a great re-organization scheme for the Army, and when all the branches of the service were to be fused together in one great mass. We were told that in order to do this the great bugbear, Purchase, must be got rid of. Accordingly, it was got rid of, and in a manner which I trust I shall never see repeated. It is now some six months since Parliament last sat; but since then I have looked in vain for anything connected with the grand scheme for the re-organization of the Army, and we are not one whit more enlightened on this point than we were when I addressed your Lordships in the month of August last. It is true that during the Recess there was issued one of the largest Gazettes I recollect seeing; but all that Gazette did was to convert the cornets and ensigns of the Army into lieutenants. We were told that the officers of the Army were badly educated. What, then, has the Government done with regard to any educational institutions connected with the Army? There is in this metropolis one connected with both branches of the Service—the United Service Institution, an institution of the very highest value, admirably managed, and, I believe, supported and maintained by the officers of the Army themselves. Well, what has been the conduct of the Government which told us that the officers must be better taught? The only thing we know of is that they have given the United Service Institution notice to quit the premises they now occupy, and that a great Institution, which has been got together and maintained with so much zeal, with so much trouble and expense, must quit the building it now occupies, and go to South Kensington, or somewhere else. That, I maintain, is not a proper way of dealing with the officers of the Army. Now, I want to know whether the condition of the Army is really such as was described by Her Majesty's Ministers last Session? The noble Earl who moved the Address (Earl De La Warr) talked about the difference of the present mode of warfare from that practised years ago, and remarked that it was necessary to elevate the educational tone of the Army. I look in vain to see if any light is thrown by the Speech on the manner in which Government is dealing with the Army. I read with attention and some interest the various speeches which have been delivered by Ministers throughout the country during the Recess, and doubtless none of your Lordships failed to read and digest that able address made by the Prime Minister to his constituents at Greenwich. The right hon. Gentleman touched upon every point connected with the measures of last Session, and then adverted to military matters. Now, it appears to me that after the close of the Session he had cooled down in his views and got calmer on the subject—he certainly did not take that view of the condition of the Army and of the officers which was taken by his Colleagues at all events, if not by himself, in the Session of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman told his constituents that the Autumn Manœuvres were a great success. No doubt they were, and I am glad to find they were. The right hon. Gentleman also told his constituents that the foreign officers who witnessed those manœuvres criticized them in the most friendly manner, and although there were some details that might be amended, yet, on the whole, their observations and criticisms were of a complimentary character. This, it must be observed, was in reference to an Army that existed under the old system, and which had been in existence for 200 years. But what does the Prime Minister say? And I now come to what must be considered the cardinal point which I want to put before your Lordships. Amongst his audience were many persons who felt much alarm at the present state of things, as detailed in speeches delivered in Parliament. They were told that under the existing state of the art of war they must reform the Army, and that it was idle to talk of such antiquated heroes as Wellington and of wars like the Crimean—they were of the past—and that the present system of warfare was such that there must be a complete change of things. No doubt some of those Gentlemen, as I have already said, became alarmed; especially when they saw a ship sent to sea which went down no one knows how. The right hon. Gentleman said he knew there were alarmists on this subject; but he had the satisfaction of being able to say that the country was never able to entrust its defence to troops and officers more worthy of the country, or more certain to make that defence effectual, than our present Army. Now, what do we want more? And yet this is the Army which the Government told us last year it was necessary to revolutionize by abolishing purchase, for which fancy they saddled the country with something like twelve millions of money. I say that if the condition of the Army is such as was described by the Prime Minister he ought not to have brought forward the measure of last Session. In conclusion, my Lords, I would express a most fervent hope that we may be spared, during the present Session, all sensational and revolutionary legislation, and that Her Majesty's Government will condescend to bring in measures which will have for their object the welfare, the safety, and the comfort of the people.


My Lords, I am bound to say that the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Address were marked by great ability; and both the tone and substance of the speech of the noble Duke—though I must take exception to certain parts of it—are such as to render it unnecessary for me to make more than a few observations. This is a matter of much convenience to myself, because I have had considerable difficulty for some months past of standing on my legs, and do not wish to remain standing on the present occasion for a longer time than is absolutely necessary.


I am sure I only express the feeling of all your Lordships when I suggest that the noble Earl shall address you sitting. ["Hear, hear!"]


I am extremely obliged to your Lordships; but we are such creatures of habit that I fear if I were to sit down I should not be able to speak. The noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) has taken exception to certain things which are in the Speech and to other things which are not. With regard to the former, he criticised the courteous paragraph which refers to the accommodation which is to be provided for the Members of both Houses of Parliament at the Thanksgiving Service in St. Paul's Cathedral. This may be a trivial matter, but is not open to the noble Duke's remarks, for it happens that the insertion of this paragraph is in strict accordance with precedence in all Royal Speeches in which similar ceremonials have been announced. The noble Duke has further objected to the paragraph which refers to the communications which have passed between this country and Prance on the subject of the Commercial Treaty; but this is a subject in which the people, and especially the commercial classes of this country, have a very great interest. I think also that the noble Duke has rather miscalculated the importance which Parliament and the country attach to the diminution of crime in this country, for I venture to state, despite my noble Friend's criticism, that subject is one in which the feelings and interest of the country are very deeply concerned. Then as to the subjects to which no reference is made in the Speech from the Throne. The noble Duke objects that the two services—the Navy and the Army—are altogether omitted from mention. With regard to the Navy, the noble Duke did not state the grounds of his objection, nor did he state what legislative measures he desired, or what course he recommended; but he drew your Lordships' attention to the evidence given before the Commission, over which my Friend the noble Lord on the cross benches (Lord Lawrence) presides. In fact, the noble Duke actually complains that Her Majesty's Government have not advised the Queen to state what they will do before they receive the Report of the Commission. With regard to the Army, we have no legislative measure in contemplation as far as I am aware. The noble Duke said he did not know what had occurred during the Recess beyond the fact that a Gazette has been issued by which all cornets and ensigns have been converted into lieutenants. The fact, however, is, that since the Prorogation of Parliament a Warrant has been issued, which has been subjected to criticism out of doors, and will no doubt be discussed in both Houses of Parliament, providing for the improvement of officers of all ranks, and an Order in Council has also been issued for the transfer of the appointment of Militia officers from Lords Lieutenant to the Army Department; but the reason why many of these improvements have not taken place is that they require money Votes from the House of Commons, and until they give the money we are without the means of carrying them out. In dealing with that part of the Royal Speech which refers to the almost mortal malady of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, it is impossible to speak with more truth or feeling of that long and alarming malady than were exhibited in the language of the Mover and Seconder of the Address and of the noble Duke. I feel for myself that it is impossible to add anything to what has been written and said—and felt also—with regard to this great crisis in the health of His Royal Highness. During the whole of the autumn there has been a sort of undercurrent of anxiety on two subjects. One, the health of Her most gracious Majesty the Queen. I believe the malady from which Her Majesty was suffering was not of a dangerous character, but it was for a long time most painful and harassing; and She was unable, from the daily requirements of State, to have recourse to those means usually resorted to for a renewal of health and strength, and which were afterwards aggravated by the anxiety which She, in common with her subjects, felt during the whole time of the Prince of Wales's illness. Another source of anxiety to which some allusion has been made was a sort of smoke and smother of disloyalty, which led many persons to believe that there was some latent fire the import of which we had not discovered; but the manifestations of the public feeling when the Prince's malady became critical dispersed to the winds any notion of foundation of such an opinion; and whilst it gave us the greatest possible gratification to see that recognition of the genial and warmhearted character of His Royal Highness, it at the same time struck foreign nations with surprise and admiration; for that feeling they did not consider merely personal, but also an indication of the strength of our institutions and the harmony of all classes of the people. With regard to the Thanksgiving celebration—although my noble Friend objected that mere details should be mentioned—I cannot help adverting to the intention and hope of Her Majesty to be present in St. Paul's. Her Majesty has graciously stated that She is anxious on this, as on all occasions, to perform every duty compatible with her health and strength, but not to go farther, so as to destroy her health and strength, which are so necessary for the discharge of the important duties which devolve upon her in the daily business of her life. I will here mention, parenthetically, that on Thursday next I shall, according to precedent, move for the appointment of a Committee to consider the arrangements to be made for the attendance of your Lordships at St. Paul's. Then with regard to the Slave Trade. I think the noble Duke somewhat undervalues the importance of the paragraph which refers to the possible renewal of that infamous traffic, and the excitement that has been occasioned by its revival, to some extent, and under a different but scarcely distinguishable form, in the Islands of the South Seas, in which I am concerned to say some of our own fellow-subjects are disgracefully implicated. No doubt the difficulties of dealing with this question are immensely great, because it involves the carrying on of operations at the other side of the globe; but still Her Majesty's Government hope that, through the adoption of legislative and other means, which will enable them to deal as far as they can with this evil, it will eventually be put an end to. I must be allowed to say one word with regard to the Commercial Treaty with France, and our correspondence with the President of the Republic on that subject. The President of that Republic has rendered he greatest services to his country. He has concluded peace, has re-established order, and has commenced the re-organization of society. Since peace and order have been secured that country has exhibited a wonderful elasticity of material resources. We make no pretence whatever to teach the Government of that country what it is their duty to do with regard to fiscal measures; we do not presume to say whether they shall be in accordance with the views which we in this country hold now, and which are very firmly clung to by almost the entire nation, or whether they shall be in accordance with those which many years ago were entertained by very many eminent persons in this country. But we have felt that, while we are anxious to meet every just requirement—while anxious to go even beyond what our own principles would lay down for us—it would not do for us to recommend to Parliament any retrograde motion with regard to Free Trade. Should the Treaty be abrogated, it will be for us to let France follow her own course; but I am sure it is better for the principles we advocate, and better for the promulgation of them in France that we should have taken the course we have done, than that we should have taken one which might have appeared more courteous, but which would have led afterwards to serious embarrassments between the two countries. With regard to our political relations with France, their peaceful character is undisturbed, and when slight differences of opinion have arisen between us, they have been satisfactorily settled. My Lords, I now come to a subject which has been touched upon, with great discretion, by those who have preceded me, and one with which the public mind of this country has been very deeply moved—I mean the Treaty of Washington. I refer especially to the large claims made by the Government of the United States in the Case they have submitted to the Arbitrators under the Treaty. The noble Duke asked whether Her Majesty's Government have sent an immediate reply to that Case. I am happy to say we did no such thing—because, upon questions which may possibly lead to differences between the two countries, we consider it advisable to proceed calmly and deliberately, and not to throw away the slightest chance of coming to an agreement, if it is possible to do so. There are different ways in which, and times at which, we could begin these communications: we considered them all; each had its advantages and each its disadvantages; and, on the whole, we thought it would be more satisfactory to the public opinion of this country—it would tend more to obviate irritation, to prevent the envenoment of discussion, and to strengthen our position, and that it would be more straightforward and fair to the United States, if we at once made to their Government a communication of the general character indicated by Her Majesty's Speech. Many references have recently been made by the public Press to a statement which your Lordships will recollect I made in this House last year respecting the interpretation which Her Majesty's Government put upon the Treaty of Washington. I recited the direct claims which Mr. Fish had put forward in the very beginning of the Protocols, and made the remark that many of those claims to which we were liable under the Stanley-Johnson Convention had entirely disappeared, and were closed by the limits of the reference. I made that statement before your Lordships, and also before a gallery of experienced reporters; I made it in the presence of the representatives of different Foreign nations, and those who were most likely to take an interest in the controversy; and that statement was corroborated both by my noble Friend the Lord President and by the noble Duke the Secretary of State for India. That statement so corroborated was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government then, and it is the opinion of Her Majesty's Government now. In support of that view I will cite now only a passage from a speech made in "another place," on the 4th of August last, by Sir Stafford Northcote, who had supported the action of the Government, and who, in a public-spirited manner, had given assistance to the Government by going out as a High Commissioner to discharge one of the most difficult tasks a Commission ever had to perform. That right hon. Gentleman said— The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), in his observations as to the advantages which the Treaty possessed over the Conventions which had been previously negotiated, remarked that the Convention which had been negotiated, but not adopted, had allowed the introduction of a number of claims which could never have been admitted. In fact, they were so vague that it would have been possible for the Americans to have raised a number of questions which the Commissioners were unwilling to submit to arbitration. They might have raised the question with regard to the recognition of belligerency; with regard to constructive damages arising out of this recognition of belligerency, and a number of other matters which this country could not admit. But if hon. Gentlemen would look to the terms of the Treaty actually contracted, they would see that the Commissioners followed the subjects very closely by making a reference only to a list growing out of the acts of particular vessels, and in so doing shut out a large class of claims which the Americans had previously insisted upon, but which the Commissioners had prevented from being raised before the Arbitrators."—[3 Hansard, ccviii. 900.] I am not quite sure where the quotation of Sir Roundell Palmer is supposed to end; but I think the whole passage establishes without the slightest doubt what was the intention of Her Majesty's Government and of Her Majesty's Commissioners in negotiating the Treaty. However, I agree entirely with the noble Viscount (Viscount Powerscourt) who said, with so much discretion, that this is not the proper time to go further into the matter. When the proper time comes—and I regret that it is necessary it should be delayed—I trust I shall be able to show to your Lordships, to the public here, and to the American Government, by reference to the particular words of the Protocols and Treaty, to the statements of the Commissioners, and to former Correspondence on the subject, not only what was our intention, but also what we had reason to suppose was the intention of the United States Government, and, lastly, that the claims objected to are excluded by the words of the Treaty. Assured as I am of the common sense which is so peculiarly characteristic of the people of the United States, I trust and believe that when they put themselves in our position, and see the impossibility of referring to any tribunal, however high, claims so large and so indefinite that the very estimates made of their amounts in this case appear ridiculous, and which yet might, without exaggeration, be trebled or quadrupled, they will understand the position in which we are placed. Your Lordships may depend upon it that, on the one hand, the Government will not sacrifice the rights of this country, and, on the other, that nothing will be wanting on our part to bring about a satisfactory and amicable solution of this most important question. I wished to say something more, on the subject of Ireland; but my strength will not permit me to address your Lordships further at the present time.


My Lords, the noble Earl need not have offered to your Lordships any apology, for every one of your Lordships here present must feel the deepest sympathy for his illness, and there cannot be the slightest desire to put upon him the least unnecessary pressure of business. My Lords, although the Speech from the Throne touches on many subjects, yet as the noble Earl truly says, there is only one subject which at present occupies the public mind, and to that the few remarks I have to make to your Lordships shall be almost entirely confined. I am willing to give credit where credit is due, and admit that it is a sign of wisdom on the part of the Government that, after a period of political excitement which has been considerably protracted, we are at last promised some respite from great constitutional changes, and that the measures which are to be brought forward this Session are to be measures of a useful, and practical rather than of a political and exciting character. On social and sanitary questions, on subjects such as that of sanitary reform and that of the better regulation of mines, there are no distinctions of party, and I am convinced that both this and the other House will readily concur in measures of that description, assuming always that they are conceived in a fair spirit and with a duo regard to the various interests concerned. This may, perhaps, seem a superfluous declaration, because the Mover of the Address assumes that, in order to carry such measures triumphantly through Parliament, nothing more is required than the entire union and cordial co-operation of the Liberal party. Well, my Lords, it may be presumptuous to offer assistance which is not needed; but if one may judge from some recent indications, we may assume that that union is at present not very entire and the cooperation not very cordial; and it may, therefore, perhaps, be permitted to those who do not belong to the Liberal party to say that in all matters of this kind Her Majesty's Ministers may rely on receiving as warm a support from us as is honestly possible, and that they will not be exposed to criticisms conceived in a harsh or hostile spirit. Whether the Government will succeed in dealing with the infinitely more difficult question of the licensing laws is a matter which may be more doubtful. If I may venture to offer a suggestion on the subject it would be that the Government should not aim at too much, and that they should remember the strength not only of the interests with which they have to deal, but also of those social habits and feelings of the people with which they interfere, and content themselves with removing what the great majority of persons conceive to be obvious and glaring abuses, instead of attempting to pass a comprehensive measure such as shall settle the question for many years to come. My Lords, there is one omission from the Speech I cannot help alluding to. There is a paragraph in the Speech relating to Ireland, in which it is evident that a very rose-coloured view has been taken of the condition of that country. I will not go into that question, especially after the judicial expression of opinion which we have just heard quoted by my noble Friend who seconded the Address. I will, however, make one remark. Serious crimes in Ireland are mainly connected with attempts at intimidation, and crimes of intimidation may be diminished in number by two causes—they may either be vigorously and effectually put down by the arm of the law, or they may have so completely answered their purpose, and intimidation may have been so thoroughly successful in compelling obedience to those who resort to it, that the actual commission of crimes may have been rendered unnecessary. If the number of crimes of that class has been diminished, I will leave your Lordships to form your own opinion as to the cause of that diminution. I have mine. Although Ireland is mentioned in this connection, it is somewhat curious, after all we have heard during the last two or three years on the subject of Irish education, and especially Irish education in the higher branches, that this subject has not been thought worthy even of a passing allusion in the Speech from the Throne. I suppose we may infer from this silence that no steps with regard to Irish education are to be taken this Session. Of course, it is for people to put their own construction upon that. Whether it be that in the Cabinet itself there is more than one opinion on the subject—whether it be that having alienated the bulk of the Protestants of Ireland, the Government are afraid to alienate the bulk of the Catholics also, with whose demands it is impossible to comply—whether the object is simply to defer for a year or two the inevitable disruption between the English Liberals and their Irish Ultramontane supporters—whether any of these solutions, or all of them, jointly, account for the omission, I do not judge; but this I do say—that to ignore or postpone a difficulty of this kind is not to settle it. You will not find it easier to deal with in 1873 than in 1872. Some policy must be adopted on this question, and I do not see much advantage in leaving it in suspense—unless there be, which I do not believe, an arrière pensée in the matter, and unless you are going to leave the decision of the question to an Irish Parliament sitting in College Green. There is one passage in the Speech, my Lords, which I read with unmixed satisfaction, and that is the announcement of a measure to constitute a new tribunal of appellate jurisdiction. No reform of an administrative character is, I believe, more required, and there is none which will be more valued. In a matter of this kind I venture to say that no consideration of expense, no jealousy any of us may entertain as to the judicial rights and privileges of this House, ought to stand in the way of that measure being made as effective as Parliament can make it. I presume that the Bill on this subject will be introduced first in this House. I do not ask for an answer on that point now; but I offer the suggestion that, if it be possible, measures of a non-political character—such as those on sanitary reform and the regulation of mines—should, some of them at least, be introduced here. I think such an arrangement would be convenient in itself, and would very materially diminish the evil we complain of year after year—that we have nothing to do during one-half of the Session, and during the other half are overwhelmed with business. But, my Lords, as I said at the outset, all these domestic questions—all these petty internal differences—sink into insignificance in comparison with that international complication which has occupied the attention of everyone during the last few weeks. I cannot, of course, refuse to listen to the appeal of the noble Earl (Earl Granville) who deprecated premature discussion. I hope I shall not say a word which will embarrass him or his Colleagues in the communications which are now proceeding; but there are two questions which everybody is asking, and a fair and temperate discussion of which is useful and almost necessary to the formation of public opinion. The first is, how did we get into this trouble? and the next is, what steps are we to take in order to get out of it? I venture to think that the origin of the mischief was the step taken by the Government at this time last year in sending out Special Commissioners at all. The noble Earl opposite, remembering communications which passed at the time between him and myself, will do me the justice to bear witness that I am not now stating an opinion formed after the result; the objection to the principle and policy of that proceeding was one which I entertained and expressed at that time. Look how we stood when the negotiation was entered into—we were in a position which was absolutely unassailable. We had repaired what, I venture to think, was our original error in the matter—an error natural and excusable under the circumstances, but still an error—that of refusing arbitration altogether; we had offered a reference on fair and equal terms, and that reference the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States, after some delay, decided upon declining. Why they took that step was a question for them; what is of importance is, that having made an offer which was rejected, we had put ourselves altogether in the right. As I conceive, it was clearly our duty to remain in that position, only telling the Americans—what, in justice and fairness, we were bound to tell them—that the offer which they rejected was still open for their acceptance if they thought better of their refusal. All precedent was in favour of that course, as well as the reason of the case. There is a dispute between two parties; one offers terms that are refused;—what is more fair, natural, and obvious than for that party to say—"Very well—you reject our proposition—we will not make another—it is your turn now; let us hear what you have to propose, and we will consider whether it can be accepted." But what did we do? We sent a Special Commission to Washington—a proceeding intended to demonstrate to the United States the extreme importance we attached to obtaining a settlement of the question. The natural result was, that we thereby gave what was felt to be a strong hint to the American people and Government that they might safely raise their terms, without much fear of the negotiation being broken off—a hint which they were not likely to be slow in adopting. My Lords, I will not go into details—I am not going to renew the discussion of last summer—but everyone must admit that the apology we voluntarily offered, and the admission of retrospective rules of international law by which we consented to bind ourselves were new concessions of a very serious and substantial kind. When the American negotiators found that up to that time the more they asked the more they got—for such had been their uniform experience—I am not surprised that they were led to continue the game they had played with so much skill and so much success. My Lords, I say the root of the evil was the sending out of a Special Commission, avowedly intended by its constitution to show the extreme importance which we attached to getting a settlement, and all that has followed has been the natural consequence of that error. The noble Earl opposite may say, as it has been said out-of-doors—"You have no right to criticize or find fault with our conduct, because your draft Treaty concluded with Mr. Reverdy Johnson is open to the same objection as ours, in that it admits claims for indirect injuries caused by the Alabama and other vessels." Well, if the fact be so, I do not think it would be any answer. Two wrongs do not make one right, and recrimination is no defence. But the circumstances of the two cases are wholly different. It is quite true that the Treaty of 1868, and that concluded by Lord Clarendon in 1869, did not specially bar out these new and enormous claims for indirect injuries; but they were not excluded for this simple and plain reason—that at that time they had not been seriously advanced in any form. The House will probably recollect that the very first intimation the English public received on that subject was contained in that remarkable speech delivered by Mr. Sumner, which was subsequent to all the negotiations I have referred to. My Lords, these are demands so extraordinary, so unexpected, that it is no imputation on anyone's sagacity that he did not foresee or guard against them; but when those demands had been publicly advanced by a large party in one of the two countries between whom the negotiations were carried on, then I say the case is altered, and it required only a very ordinary effort of caution to take steps which should prevent their being brought forward again. How do matters stand at the present moment? We cannot deny that there has been a certain amount of carelessness on one side, and I suppose everyone will agree that there has been a good degree of acuteness—I will not call it by any harsher name—shown on the other. But, whatever was said on the part of our Government which had better have been left unsaid, or whatever was overlooked which they might have foreseen, I am fully satisfied, for my own part, judging merely by the Papers that are public property, that they are perfectly justified in contending that the new claims are not and never were meant to be included in the Treaty. No doubt, if you read the Treaty by itself, the language is ambiguous. It will bear the American construction and it will bear our construction. That must be admitted. But read it with the Protocols, especially with the reference to that Protocol which speaks of an amicable settlement, and which is familiar to all of us—although I do not say even then the ambiguity is wholly removed, or that the language is as clear and precise as it might have been made—still, without going outside the document itself, it bears out our construction quite as well as it bears the opposite construction of the American Government. But I do not think there is any occasion to split hairs in the matter, or go into verbal discussions as to the precise meaning of the expressions which have been used in the Treaty. It is quite enough, as I conceive, that we know what we intended to offer and what we believed we were offering. To that offer be it wise or unwise, we are bound in honour and good faith, but we are bound to nothing more. And if it turns out—as it is quite possible—that the Americans have been putting one construction upon an international agreement, while we put on it an altogether different construction—if, in fact, we have been, on both sides, unintentionally misleading one another—then I apprehend that the essential element of a contract is wanting, the agreement is no contract at all, and the negotiation, as far as that is concerned, is at an end. That is, I understand, the contention of the Government, and in that contention I hold they are fully justified. I hope and believe they will firmly adhere to it. If they do firmly adhere to it, whatever difficulties or troubles may be in store for them, they will have what, during the last 11 years, no Government ever yet had in dealing with American negotiations—the undivided support of the whole people of this country. My Lords, I have only one other remark to make. Strong language is generally the mark of a weak cause, and I would say, not to Her Majesty's Government—there can be no need of such advice to them—but to those who are not so responsible, that the more unyielding we are in the matters in dispute, the more strictly we are bound to observe those international courtesies of language and demeanour which smooth many difficulties, and never weaken an argument.


said, he wished to call the attention of Her Majesty's Government to a point connected with railway amalgamation. He thought it quite necessary that there should be some control over railway companies seeking amalgamation, of which many schemes had been promoted which were likely to come before Parliament. He hoped the Government would give their attention to the subject, and introduce some general measure which would give satisfaction to the public in this matter. It would be very difficult, if the Amalgamation Bills were once passed, to make the influence of Parliament in favour of the public felt by the railway companies, and if the present opportunity were lost legislation on the subject would become almost impracticable.

Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.