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Title: Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy 1738-1914
Author: Edgar Jones, - To be updated
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy 1738-1914" ***

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FOREIGN POLICY 1738-1914***



This volume of 'Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy' was
first published in 'The World's Classics' in 1914


A selection of speeches made for the purpose of illustrating the best
rhetorical form of British Oratory has already been published in 'The
World's Classics'. The governing principle of this volume is not
rhetorical quality, but historical interest. Speeches have been
selected from the earliest days of reporting downwards, dealing with
such phases of foreign policy as are of exceptional interest
at present. They have been chosen so as to cover a variety of
international crises affecting various states.

In such a selection some very interesting speeches have had to be set
aside, because they represented temporary or individual and sectional
views rather than permanent national and official views, and in order
to avoid disproportionate reference to the same situation or country.

It is to be hoped that the selection, such as it is, may, through the
words of the statesmen of the past, help to prepare our minds for
the sound and worthy consideration of the problems of European
re-settlement which will arise at the termination of the War.



      The Convention with Spain (House of Lords,
          March 8, 1738)
      The Defence of Weaker States (House of Lords,
          January 22, 1770)

      The Partition of Poland (House of Commons,
          April 25, 1793)
      The Prussian Subsidy (House of Commons,
          February 5, 1795)
      Grant to the Emperor of Germany (House of Commons,
          February 17, 1800)

  WILLIAM PITT (1769-1806)
      Overtures of Peace with France (House of Commons,
          February 3, 1800)

  GEORGE CANNING (1770-1827)
      Negotiations Relative to Spain (House of Commons,
          April 30, 1823)

  SIR ROBERT PEEL (1788-1850)
      Portugal--Don Miguel (House of Commons,
          June 1, 1828)
      Belgium (House of Commons, July 16, 1832)
      Russian Dutch Loan (House of Commons,
          July 20, 1832)

  LORD JOHN RUSSELL, afterwards EARL RUSSELL (1792-1878)
      The Annexation of Cracow (House of Commons,
          March 4, 1847)

      The Polish Question (House of Commons,
          March 1, 1848)

  HENRY, LORD BROUGHAM (1778-1868)
      Italian Affairs (House of Lords, July 20, 1849)

  EARL RUSSELL, previously LORD JOHN RUSSELL (1792-1878)
      Denmark and Germany (House of Lords,
          June 27, 1864)

  LORD STANLEY, afterwards EARL OF DERBY (1826-93)
      Austria and Prussia (House of Commons,
          July 20, 1866)

  JOHN BRIGHT (1811-89)
      Principles of Foreign Policy (Birmingham,
          October 29, 1858)

      The Neutrality of Belgium (House of Commons,
          August 8 and 10, 1870)
      [By kind permission of Mr. H.N. Gladstone and
                    Messrs. Wyman & Sons, Ltd.]
      Right Principles of Foreign Policy (West Calder,
          Midlothian, November 27, 1879)
      The Aggrandizement of Russia (West Calder,
          Midlothian, April 2, 1880)
      [By kind permission of Mr. H.N. Gladstone.]

      Denmark and Germany (House of Commons,
          July 4, 1864)

      Treaty of Berlin (House of Lords, July 18, 1878)
      [By kind permission of Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co.]

  SIR EDWARD GREY (1862- )
      Negotiations (House of Commons, August 3, 1914)
      [By kind permission of Sir Edward Grey and Messrs.
                 Wyman & Sons, Ltd.]

      Infamous Proposals (House of Commons,
          August 6, 1914)
      [By kind permission of Mr. Asquith and Messrs.
                 Wyman & Sons, Ltd.]

      International Honour (Queen's Hall, London,
          September 19, 1914)
      [By kind permission of Mr. Lloyd George and Messrs.
              Methuen & Co., Ltd.]


MARCH 8, 1738


You have been moved to vote an humble address of thanks to His
Majesty, for a measure which (I will appeal to gentlemen's
conversation in the world) is odious throughout the kingdom. Such
thanks are only due to the fatal influence that framed it, as are due
for that low, unallied condition abroad, which is now made a plea
for this convention. To what are gentlemen reduced in support of it?
First, try a little to defend it upon its own merits; if that is
not tenable, throw out general terrors--the House of Bourbon is
united--who knows the consequence of a war? Sir, Spain knows the
consequence of a war in America; whoever gains, it must prove fatal to
her; she knows it, and must therefore avoid it; but she knows England
does not dare to make it; and what is a delay, which is all this
magnified convention is sometimes called, to produce? Can it produce
such conjunctures as those you lost, while you were giving kingdoms
to Spain, and all to bring her back again to that great branch of the
House of Bourbon which is now thrown out to you with so much terror?
If this union be formidable, are we to delay only till it becomes more
formidable, by being carried farther into execution, and more strongly
cemented? But be it what it will, is this any longer a nation, or what
is an English Parliament, if, with more ships in your harbours than in
all the navies of Europe, with above two millions of people in
your American colonies, you will bear to hear of the expediency of
receiving from Spain an insecure, unsatisfactory, dishonourable
convention? Sir, I call it no more than it has been proved in this
debate; it carries fallacy, or downright subjection, in almost every
line. It has been laid open and exposed in so many strong and glaring
lights, that I can pretend to add nothing to the conviction and
indignation it has raised.

Sir, as to the great national objection--the searching your
ships--that favourite word, as it was called, is not omitted, indeed,
in the preamble to the convention, but it stands there as the
reproach, of the whole--as the strongest evidence of the fatal
submission that follows. On the part of Spain, an usurpation, an
inhuman tyranny, claimed and exercised over the American seas; on the
part of England, an undoubted right, by treaties, and from God and
nature, declared and asserted in the resolutions of Parliament, are
referred to the discussion of plenipotentiaries, upon one and the same
equal foot. Sir, I say this undoubted right is to be discussed and
to be regulated. And if to regulate be to prescribe rules (as in all
construction it is), this right is, by the express words of this
convention, to be given up and sacrificed; for it must cease to be
anything from the moment it is submitted to limits.

The Court of Spain has plainly told you (as appears by papers upon the
table) you shall steer a due course; you shall navigate by a line to
and from your plantations in America; if you draw near to her coasts
(though from the circumstances of that navigation you are under
an unavoidable necessity of doing it) you shall be seized and
confiscated. If, then, upon these terms only she has consented to
refer, what becomes at once of all the security we are flattered with
in consequence of this reference? Plenipotentiaries are to regulate
finally the respective pretensions of the two crowns with regard to
trade and navigation in America; but does a man in Spain reason that
these pretensions must be regulated to the satisfaction and honour of
England? No, Sir, they conclude, and with reason, from the high spirit
of their administration, from the superiority with which they have so
long treated you, that this reference must end, as it has begun, to
their honour and advantage.

But gentlemen say, the treaties subsisting are to be the measure of
this regulation. Sir, as to treaties, I will take part of the words of
Sir William Temple, quoted by the honourable gentleman near me; 'It
is vain to negotiate and make treaties, if there is not dignity
and vigour to enforce the observance of them'; for under the
misconstruction and misrepresentation of these very treaties
subsisting, this intolerable grievance has arisen; it has been growing
upon you, treaty after treaty, through twenty years of negotiation,
and even under the discussion of commissaries, to whom it was
referred. You have heard from Captain Vaughan, at your bar,[1] at
what time these injuries and indignities were continued. As a kind of
explanatory comment upon the convention Spain has thought fit to grant
you, as another insolent protest, under the validity and force of
which she has suffered this convention to be proceeded upon, 'We'll
treat with you, but we'll search and take your ships; we'll sign a
convention, but we'll keep your subjects prisoners, prisoners in Old
Spain; the West Indies are remote; Europe shall be witness how we use

Sir, as to the inference of an admission of our right not to be
searched, drawn from a reparation made for ships unduly seized and
confiscated, I think that argument is very inconclusive. The right
claimed by Spain to search our ships is one thing, and the excesses
admitted to have been committed in consequence of this pretended
right, is another; but surely, Sir, reasoning from inferences and
implication only, is below the dignity of your proceedings, upon a
right of this vast importance. What this reparation is, what sort of
composition for your losses, forced upon you by Spain, in an instance
that has come to light, where your own commissaries could not in
conscience decide against your claim, has fully appeared upon
examination; and, as for the payment of the sum stipulated (all
but seven and twenty thousand pounds, and that, too, subject to a
drawback), it is evidently a fallacious nominal payment only. I will
not attempt to enter into the detail of a dark, confused, and scarcely
intelligible account; I will only beg leave to conclude with one word
upon it, in the light of a submission, as well as of an adequate
reparation. Spain stipulates to pay to the Crown of England
ninety-five thousand pounds; by a preliminary protest of the King of
Spain, the South Sea Company is at once to pay sixty-eight thousand of
it: if they refuse, Spain, I admit, is still to pay the ninety-five
thousand pounds--but how does it stand then? The Assiento contract
is to be suspended; you are to purchase this sum at the price of an
exclusive trade, pursuant to a national treaty, and of an immense debt
of God knows how many hundred thousand pounds due from Spain to the
South Sea Company. Here, Sir, is the submission of Spain, by the
payment of a stipulated sum; a tax laid upon subjects of England,
under the severest penalties, with the reciprocal accord of an English
minister, as a preliminary that the convention may be signed; a
condition imposed by Spain in the most absolute, imperious manner, and
received by the Ministers of England in the most tame and abject. Can
any verbal distinctions, any evasions whatever, possibly explain away
this public infamy? To whom would we disguise it? To ourselves and to
the nation. I wish we could hide it from the eyes of every court in
Europe. They see Spain has talked to you like your master; they
see this arbitrary fundamental condition, and it must stand with
distinction, with a pre-eminence of shame, as a part even of this

This convention, Sir, I think from my soul, is nothing but a
stipulation for national ignominy; an illusory expedient, to baffle
the resentment of the nation; a truce without the suspension of
hostilities on the part of Spain; on the part of England a suspension,
as to Georgia, of the first law of nature, self-preservation and
self-defence--surrender of the rights and trade of England to the
mercy of plenipotentiaries, and in this infinitely highest and sacred
point, future security, not only inadequate, but directly repugnant
to the resolutions of Parliament, and the gracious promise from the
Throne. The complaints of your despairing merchants, the voice of
England, has condemned it. Be the guilt of it upon the head of the
adviser. God forbid that this committee should share the guilt by
approving it!

[Footnote 1: The House of Commons, in a grand committee, in 1737, had
heard counsel for the merchants, and received evidence at the bar, on
the subject of the Spanish depredations.]


My Lords, I cannot agree with the noble duke, that nothing less than
an immediate attack upon the honour or interest of this nation can
authorize us to interpose in defence of weaker states, and in stopping
the enterprises of an ambitious neighbour. Whenever that narrow,
selfish policy has prevailed in our councils, we have constantly
experienced the fatal effects of it. By suffering our natural enemies
to oppress the Powers less able than we are to make a resistance, we
have permitted them to increase their strength; we have lost the most
favourable opportunities of opposing them with success; and found
ourselves at last obliged to run every hazard, in making that cause
our own, in which we were not wise enough to take part while the
expense and danger might have been supported by others. With respect
to Corsica I shall only say, that France has obtained a more useful
and important acquisition in one _pacific_ campaign, than in any of
her _belligerent_ campaigns;[1] at least while I had the honour of
administering the war against her. The word may, perhaps, be thought
singular: I mean only while I was the minister chiefly entrusted with
the conduct of the war. I remember, my Lords, the time when Lorraine
was united to the Crown of France;[2] that too was, in some measure, a
pacific conquest; and there were, people who talked of it as the noble
duke[3] now speaks of Corsica, France was permitted to take and keep
possession of a noble province; and, according to his Grace's ideas,
we did right in not opposing it. The effect of these acquisitions
is, I confess, not immediate; but they unite with the main body by
degrees, and, in time, make a part of the national strength. I fear,
my Lords, it is too much the temper of this country to be insensible
of the approach of danger, until it comes with accumulated terror upon

My Lords, the condition of His Majesty's affairs in Ireland, and the
state of that kingdom within itself, will undoubtedly make a very
material part of your Lordships' inquiry. I am not sufficiently
informed to enter into the subject so fully as I could wish; but by
what appears to the public, and from my own observation, I confess I
cannot give the Ministry much credit for the spirit or prudence of
their conduct. I see that, even where their measures are well chosen,
they are incapable of carrying them through without some unhappy
mixture of weakness or imprudence. They are incapable of doing
entirely right. My Lords, I do, from my conscience, and from the best
weighed principles of my understanding, applaud the augmentation
of the army. As a military plan, I believe it has been judiciously
arranged. In a political view, I am convinced it was for the welfare,
for the safety, of the whole empire. But, my Lords, with all these
advantages, with all these recommendations, if I had the honour of
advising His Majesty, I would never have consented to his accepting
the augmentation with that absurd, dishonourable condition which the
Ministry have submitted to annex to it.[4] My Lords, I revere the just
prerogative of the Crown, and would contend for it as warmly as for
the rights of the people. They are linked together, and naturally
support each other. I would not touch a feather of the prerogative.
The expression, perhaps, is too light; but, since I have made use of
it, let me add, that the entire command and power of directing the
local disposition of the army is the royal prerogative, as the
master-feather in the eagle's wing; and if I were permitted to carry
the allusion a little farther, I would say, they have disarmed the
imperial bird, the '_Ministrum fulminis alitem_'. The army is the
thunder of the Crown. The Ministry have tied up the hand which should
direct the bolt.

My Lords, I remember that Minorca was lost for want of four
battalions. They could not be spared from hence; and there was a
delicacy about taking them from Ireland. I was one of those who
promoted an inquiry into that matter in the other House; and I was
convinced that we had not regular troops sufficient for the necessary
service of the nation. Since the moment the plan of augmentation was
first talked of, I have constantly and warmly supported it among my
friends: I have recommended it to several members of the Irish House
of Commons, and exhorted them to support it with their utmost interest
in Parliament. I did not foresee, nor could I conceive it possible,
the Ministry would accept of it, with a condition that makes the plan
itself ineffectual, and, as far as it operates, defeats every useful
purpose of maintaining a standing military force. His Majesty is now
so confined, by his promise, that he must leave twelve thousand men
locked up in Ireland, let the situation of his affairs abroad, or the
approach of danger to this country, be ever so alarming, unless there
be an actual rebellion, or invasion, in Great Britain. Even in the two
cases excepted by the King's promise, the mischief must have already
begun to operate, must have already taken effect, before His Majesty
can be authorized to send for the assistance of his Irish army. He has
not left himself the power of taking any preventive measures, let his
intelligence be ever so certain, let his apprehensions of invasion or
rebellion be ever so well founded; unless the traitor be actually in
arms--unless the enemy be in the heart of your country, he cannot move
a single man from Ireland.

[Footnote 1: Louis XV, in consequence, as was pretended, of the
Jesuits being allowed to take refuge in Corsica in 1767, purchased the
island from the Genoese, and after two years' contest, succeeded
in subduing it. The French minister, Choiseul, induced the British
Government to render no opposition.]

[Footnote 2: In the year 1735, by an arrangement between the Emperor
of Austria and the French.]

[Footnote 3: The Duke of Grafton.]

[Footnote 4: King George III had, by a message through the
Lord-Lieutenant, recommended the Irish House of Commons to augment the
Irish army, and assured them expressly that on the augmentation being
made, not less than 12,000 men should at all times, 'except in cases
of invasion or rebellion in Great Britain,' be stationed in Ireland.]



The people of England ought to know what were the views of the
Minister upon this war, and to what extent it was to be carried, that
they might not be proceeding under a delusion. Supposing we had gained
our original purpose, he wanted to know how peace was to be obtained,
without negotiation with those who have the exercise of government. If
we countenanced the memorial of Lord Auckland, we should say, that the
whole National Convention--all the members of the districts--in short,
about eight or nine millions of people, must be put to death, before
we can negotiate for peace. Supposing that we were to join the
conspiracy to dictate a form of government to France, he then should
wish to know what sort of government it was that we were to insist on.
Were we to take the form of it from that exercised by the Emperor, or
that of the King of Prussia? or was it to be formed by the lady who so
mildly conducted the affairs of Russia? or were they all to lay their
heads together, and by the assistance of the Pope, dictate a form of
government to France? Were the French to have a constitution, such
as the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Burke) was likely to applaud?
Indeed, he feared that this was not yet settled; and there were
various specimens of what had been already thought of by different
Powers. There were two manifestoes of the Prince of Coburg; the one
promised the form of government chosen by themselves, in which they
agreed to have a monarchy, and afterwards, in the course of four
days, this promise was retracted in consequence of the accession
of Dumourier to the confederacy. What would the right honourable
gentleman (Mr. Burke) say if they should not give the French the
form of the constitution of Poland, or would he content himself with
saying, they ought not to have such a constitution? He believed that
neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer, nor any of his supporters,
would say anything at present upon that subject. It appeared, however,
somewhat mysterious, perhaps, that after the Congress at Antwerp, in
which Great Britain was not unrepresented, that the intention of the
combined Powers had altered, and that a much more sanguinary mode
was to be pursued against France than had been before intended; and
perhaps the time might come when the parties might follow the example
set by the manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick, and affirm that these
were threats which were not intended to be carried into execution. But
this was not the way to amuse us. The people of England would not long
be content to remain in the dark as to the object of the war. Again he
must ask, what was the object of the war? Again he must ask, what was
the object of our pursuit in conjunction with the other Powers against
France? Was it to restore the ancient tyranny and despotism of
that nation? This would please some people, he knew, particularly
emigrants; but nothing would be so hateful to the people of this
country, or any other where there existed the least love of freedom,
nor could anything be more destructive to the tranquillity and
happiness of Europe. Were we to join Dumourier in a declaration not
to rest until we had put to death those detestable regicides, calling
themselves philosophers, and all the miscreants who had destroyed all
lawful authority in France? If we were, he would venture to say, this
would be a war for a purpose entirely new in the history of mankind;
and as it was called a war of vengeance, he must say, that we
arrogated to ourselves a right which belonged to the Divinity, to whom
alone vengeance ought to be left. If the Minister said that on our
part there was no intention to interfere in the internal government of
France, he must then ask what were the views of the other Powers,
with whom we now acted in concert against France. Was it to make a
partition of France, as they did of Poland? Or should he be told, that
as far as regarded the affairs of France under the present Power, he
was talking of none who ought to be mentioned as a people; that the
_sans culottes_ were too contemptible a race to be mentioned; he would
say, he meant to ask what was to become of the whole nation of France?
If he was told that it was impossible for the crowned heads, acting in
concert upon this great occasion, to have any but just and honourable
views, he would answer that the subject was of too much magnitude to
be allowed to pass in such a manner; and in his suspicions he was
justified by the example, and fortified by the observation of an
honourable gentleman (Mr. Jenkinson) with respect to the father of the
present Emperor, that no man ought to take his word for one hour. No
material alteration, he believed, had taken place in the views of that
Court since the death of that prince, nor of others in the present
confederacy. Were we to forget that the King of Prussia encouraged the
Brabanters to revolt, and then left them to their fate? Were we to
forget the recent conduct with respect to Poland? Were we to forget
the taking of Dantzic and Thorn? Indeed he thought that those who
every day told us, in pompous language, of the necessity there was
for kings, and of the service they did to the cause of humanity, they
should at least have spared the public the pain of thinking of
these subjects, by not entering into the views of that unnatural
confederacy. Indeed it was impossible for him to dismiss the
consideration of Poland, without adverting to an eloquent passage in
the work of a right honourable gentleman, who was an enthusiastic
admirer of the late revolution there. Here Mr. Sheridan quoted the
following passage of Mr. Burke's Appeal from the Old to the New Whigs:

  The state of Poland was such, that there could scarcely
  exist two opinions, but that a reformation of its constitution,
  even at some expense of blood, might be seen without
  much disapprobation. No confusion could be feared in such
  an enterprise; because the establishment to be reformed was
  itself a state of confusion. A King without authority,
  nobles without union or subordination, a people without
  arts, industry, commerce, or liberty; no order within, no
  defence without; no effective public force, but a foreign
  force, which entered a naked country at will, and disposed
  of everything at pleasure. Here was a state of things
  which seemed to invite, and might, perhaps, justify bold
  enterprise and desperate experiment. But in what manner
  was this chaos brought into order? The means were as
  striking to the imagination, as satisfactory to the reason,
  and soothing to the moral sentiments. In contemplating
  that change, humanity has everything to rejoice and to
  glory in, nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to suffer. So
  far as it has gone, it probably is the most pure and defecated
  public good which ever has been conferred on mankind.
  We have seen anarchy and servitude at once removed,
  a throne strengthened for the protection of the people,
  without trenching on their liberties, all foreign cabal
  banished, by changing the crown from elective to hereditary;
  and what was a matter of pleasing wonder, we have
  seen a reigning King, from an heroic love to his country,
  exerting himself with all the toil, the dexterity, the management,
  the intrigue, in favour of a family of strangers, with
  which ambitious men labour for the aggrandizement of
  their own. Ten millions of men in a way of being freed
  gradually, and therefore safely to themselves and the State,
  not from civil or political chains, which, bad as they are,
  only fetter the mind, but from substantial personal bondage.
  Inhabitants of cities, before without privileges,
  placed in the consideration which belongs to that improved
  and connecting situation of social life. One of the most
  proud, numerous, and fierce bodies of nobility and gentry
  ever known in the world, arranged only in the foremost
  rank of free and generous citizens. Not one man incurred
  loss, or suffered degradation. All, from the King to the
  day-labourer, were improved in their condition. Everything
  was kept in its place and order, but in that place and
  order everything was bettered. To add to this happy
  wonder (this unheard-of conjunction of wisdom and fortune)
  not one drop of blood was spilled; no treachery;
  no outrage; no system of slander more cruel than the
  sword; no studied insults on religion, morals, or manners;
  no spoil; no confiscation; no citizen beggared; none imprisoned;
  none exiled: the whole was effected with a
  policy, a discretion, an unanimity and secrecy, such as have
  never been before known on any occasion; but such
  wonderful conduct was reserved for this glorious conspiracy
  in favour of the true and genuine rights and interests
  of men. Happy people, if they know how to proceed
  as they have begun! Happy prince, worthy to begin
  with splendour, or to close with glory, a race of patriots and
  of kings: and to leave

  A name, which ev'ry wind to heav'n would bear,
  Which men to speak, and angels joy to hear.
To finish all. This great good, as in the instant it is, contains in
it the seeds of all further improvement, and may be considered as in a
regular progress, because founded on similar principles, towards the
stable excellence of a British constitution.

  Here was a matter for congratulation and for festive
  remembrance through ages. Here moralists and divines
  might indeed relax in their temperance, to exhilarate their

Such, Mr. Sheridan said, was the description which the right
honourable gentleman gave to that revolution. Was it to be supposed
that he would afterwards say, that this ought to have been trampled
upon and destroyed, or should suffer such an event to happen, and
never utter a word upon the subject? He did not think that monarchs of
the present day had fulfilled the promises that some persons had made,
and which had been expected from them, so that their names might
be handed down to posterity as a glorious example of integrity and
justice. With respect to the future views of the different Powers,
they might best be conjectured by what had already happened. The
Empress of Russia, upon the sincerity of whose motives, and integrity
of whose actions, there could be no doubt, previous to the attack on
Poland, among other things in her manifesto, said by her Minister:

  From these considerations, Her Imperial Majesty, my
  most gracious mistress, as well to indemnify herself for her
  many losses, as for the future safety of her Empire and the
  Polish dominions, and for the cutting off at once, for ever,
  all future disturbances and frequent changes of government,
  has been pleased now to take under her sway, and to
  unite for ever to her Empire, the following tracts of land,
  with all their inhabitants.

This was the language for which the confederates were to justify
perhaps the future taking under their sway, and uniting for ever to
their Empire, part of the dominions of France. We had heard much of
the abominable system of affiliation adopted by the French; but this
was a Russian impartial affiliation, and no doubt the confederate
Powers approved of it. In like manner will they affiliate all France,
if they can. So will they England, when they have it in their
power; and he was sorry to say, that if we joined in that infamous
confederacy, and the people agreed to it, England would deserve to be
so treated. The Empress then proceeded to state what she expected for
the favour she had conferred:

  Her Imperial Majesty expects from the gratitude of her
  new subjects, that they, being placed by her bounty on an
  equality with Russians, shall, in return, transfer their love
  of their former country to the new one, and live in future
  attached to so great and generous an Empress.

On an equality with Russians! This was a glorious equality,--liable to
be sent to Siberia with other Russian slaves. For this mighty favour
they were to transfer, as naturally might be expected, the whole love
they had for their native country, to Russia, their new and happy
land; for the same Minister of this equitable and generous Empress
proceeded to say:

  I, therefore, inform every person, from the highest to the
  lowest, that within one month, they must take the oath
  of allegiance before the witnesses whom I shall appoint;
  and if any gentlemen, or other ranks possessing real or
  immovable property, regardless of their own interest,
  should refuse to take the oath prescribed, three months are
  allowed for the sale of their immovables, and their free
  departure over the borders, after the expiration of which
  term, all their remaining property shall be confiscated to
  the Crown.

Really after such specimens, one would have supposed, but for the
well-known character of the council of these confederate Powers, they
were actuated under the influence of madness, or they would not thus
think of insulting the feelings of human nature. But this was not
enough: an oath, it seemed, must be taken, for:

  The clergy, both high and low, as pastors of their flocks,
  are expected to set the example in taking the oath; and
  in the daily service in their churches, they must pray for
  Her Imperial Majesty, for her successor, Great Duke Paul
  Petrovitz, and for all the Imperial Family, according to the
  formula which shall be given them.

Here again there was evidence of a great and good mind, for this pious
Empress was determined that perjury should be very general in her
dominions, and that the example should be set by the clergy! Mr.
Sheridan then proceeded to take notice of the great and good King of
Prussia with respect to Dantzic, as specified in what he called his
reason for taking possession of part of Poland with his military

It would certainly militate against the first rules of a sound
policy, as well as the duties incumbent on us for the preservation
of tranquillity in our State, if in such a state of things in a
neighbouring great kingdom, we remained inactive spectators, and
should wait for the period when the faction feel themselves strong
enough to appear in public; by which our own neighbouring provinces
would be exposed to several dangers, by the consequences of the
anarchy on our frontiers.

We have, therefore, in conjunction with Her Majesty the Empress
of Russia, and with the assent of His Majesty the Roman Emperor,
acknowledged that the safety of our States did require, to set to the
Republic of Poland such boundaries which are more compatible with her
interior strength and situation; and to facilitate her the means of
procuring without prejudice of her liberty, a well-ordained and
active form of government, of maintaining herself in the undisturbed
enjoyment of the same, and preventing, by these means, the
disturbances which have so often shaken her own tranquillity, and
endangered the safety of her neighbours.

In order to attain this end, and to preserve the Republic of Poland
from the dreadful consequences which must be the result of her
internal division, and to rescue her from her utter ruin, but chiefly
to withdraw her inhabitants from the horrors of the destructive
doctrine which they are but too prone to follow, there is, according
to our thorough persuasion, to which also Her Majesty the Empress
of all the Russias accedes in the most perfect congruity with our
intentions and principles, no other means, except to incorporate her
frontier provinces into our States, and for this purpose immediately
to take possession of the same, and to prevent, in time, all
misfortunes which might arise from the continuance of the reciprocal

Wherefore, we have resolved, with the assent of Her Russian Majesty,
to take possession of the above-mentioned districts of Poland, and
also of the cities of Dantzic and Thorn, to the end of incorporating
them to our State.

We herewith publicly announce our firm and unshaken resolution, and
expect that the Polish nation will very soon assemble in the Diet,
and adopt the necessary measures, to the end of settling things in an
amicable manner, and of obtaining the salutary result of securing
to the republic of Poland an undisturbed peace, and preserving her
inhabitants from the terrible consequences of anarchy. At the time we
exhort the states and inhabitants of the districts and towns which we
have taken possession of, as already mentioned, both in a gracious and
serious manner, not to oppose our commanders and troops, ordered for
that purpose, but rather tractably to submit to our government,
and acknowledge us from this day forward, as their lawful King and
Sovereign, to behave like loyal and obedient subjects, and to renounce
all connexion with the Crown of Poland.

Now, after this, Mr. Sheridan said, he wished to know whether any
robbery that had been committed by the most desperate of the French,
or whether any of their acts, were more infamous than this? Of what
consequence was it to any man, whether he was plundered by a man with
a white feather in his hat, or by one with a nightcap on his head? If
there could be any difference, the solemnity with which the thing was
done was an aggravation of the insult. The poorer sort of the French
could plead distress, and could also say that they had endured the
hardships, the toils, and the perils of a winter campaign. But here
was nothing but a naked robbery, without any part taken in the
calamity which gave birth to it. He had alluded to these things merely
for the purpose of giving the Minister an opportunity of disapproving
of them: he hoped he should not hear the principle avowed. Crowned
heads, he thought, were at present led by some fatal infatuation to
degrade themselves and injure mankind. But some, it seems, regard
any atrocity in monarchs as if it had lost its nature by not being
committed by low and vulgar agents. A head with a crown, and a head
with a nightcap, totally altered the moral quality of actions--robbery
was no longer robbery--and death, inflicted by a hand wielding a pike,
or swaying a sceptre, was branded as murder, or regarded as innocent.
This was a fatal principle to mankind, and monstrous in the extreme.
He had lamented early the change of political sentiments in this
country which indisposed Englishmen to the cause of liberty. The worst
part of the revolution in France is, that they have disgraced the
cause they pretended to support. However, none, he was persuaded,
would deny that it was highly expedient to know the extent of our
alliance with Powers who had acted so recently in the manner he
had represented, and to have the object of our pursuit in this war
distinctly known. The Minister may perhaps in future come down to the
House, and say he is sorry, but it has become highly necessary to
interfere with the power of Britain farther, as the crowned ladies and
gentlemen of Europe cannot agree about the partition of France, or
that such a disposition is about to take place, that we shall be worse
off than if we had let France remain as it was. Those who feared the
attachment of men to French principles, argued wrong. From the effect
of the experiment they would never be popular: nothing but crimes and
misery swelled all the accounts from that country. If the peasant
had been represented happy and contented, dancing in his vineyard,
surrounded with a prosperous and innocent family, if such accounts had
come, the tidings would have been gladly received. At present we
hear of nothing but want and carnage--very unattracting indeed. More
danger, he thought, arose from a blind attachment to power, which
gains security from the many evils abounding in France. On the same
principle that Prussia divided Poland, he contended, they might act
here. They declared a prevalence of French principles existed in
Poland: His Majesty's proclamation asserts the same here, and is
therefore, in this sense, an invitation to come and take care of us.
Could such despots love the free constitution of this country? On the
contrary, he was persuaded that, upon the very same principle that
Poland was divided, and Dantzic and Thorn subjugated, England itself
might be made an object for the same fate as soon as it became
convenient to the confederates to make the experiment. He would defy
any man to show the principle upon which a difference could exist with
regard to us and the other sacrificed countries, in the wishes and the
desires of the combined Powers. But supposing this to be out of all
question, and that this country had nothing to dread in that respect,
and that all Europe had nothing to look to but the extermination of
French principles, how would the present prospect of our success then
appear? Could we entertain so vain a hope (indeed he was astonished
to hear it even hinted) that the French, who had all the winter been
lying in the snow at some periods, and wading up to their necks in
water at others, in an enemy's country, fighting for their rights,
will, in their own, submit to give them up in a mild season? The
thought was too absurd, and the expectation too extravagant, to be
harboured by a man possessed of a spark of rationality.


FEBRUARY 5, 1795


Mr. Sheridan said, that upon a former occasion he and another
honourable gentleman had endeavoured to get some information of the
services performed by the King of Prussia during the last campaign,
in consequence of his engagements with this country. Some returns had
lately been laid on the table on that subject, but these contained no
information. It appeared that the King of Prussia had received from
this country the enormous sum of twelve hundred thousand pounds,
without having rendered it even the smallest service. He thought it
therefore necessary, previous to the discussion of the imperial loan,
to come to some resolution with respect to this conduct on the part of
His Prussian Majesty. It was certainly no argument against granting a
loan to the Emperor, that the King of Prussia had violated his faith.
But this circumstance ought certainly to enforce on the House the
necessity of caution, and induce them to take some step in the present
instance that might operate as a warning, with respect to future
transactions of the same sort. His Majesty had stated in his message
that he had received from the Emperor the strongest assurances of a
disposition to make the greatest exertions, provided he should be
assisted by a loan of four millions from this country. He understood,
if he could rely upon the credit of public statements, that in another
country the Parliament had been told of the absolute determination
of His Majesty to guarantee this loan. This was a language which he
considered as very unbecoming, when addressed to the representatives
of the nation, and as highly improper in Ministers, who were of course
responsible for whatever proceeded from the Throne. Before such a
determination had been expressed, he should have wished to have had
something also like a positive determination from His Imperial Majesty
to make the exertions which were to be the conditions of the loan. He
should more particularly have wished for such a declaration from
the Imperial Court, which had, at all times, been proverbially
distinguished by ill-faith. He recollected on this subject a strong
expression of a right honourable gentleman (we suppose Mr. Windham),
who said, that since the capture of Richard I, the conduct of the
Court of Vienna had been marked by an uniform series of treachery
towards this country. To guard against this treachery, he thought
that nothing would be better than for the House of Commons to show
themselves alive to their duty on the present occasion. There were
some men who, though insensible to the calls of honour, were yet not
callous to the sense of shame. Some men of that description might
be found among the ministers of Austria. It might, therefore, be of
importance, by way of warning to them, to come to some resolution,
expressive of indignation and contempt, with respect to the violation
of faith on the part of His Prussian Majesty. Mr. Sheridan here
referred to that article of the treaty in which it was stipulated that
sixty thousand Prussians should co-operate with the British troops,
and that a commissioner should be appointed for the purpose of
watching over the observance of this article. From the scraps of
letters laid upon the table, it appeared that no commissioner had been
appointed for this purpose. This, he contended, would not have been
the case, except Ministers had been aware that the King of Prussia,
from the very first, was indisposed to perform his duty. He referred
also to the memorial of the Emperor, which stated that the effective
co-operation of the Prussians might have been the means of saving
Brabant, and, in consequence, of preserving Holland. Such were the
effects stated by His Imperial Majesty to have resulted from the
breach of faith in His Prussian Majesty. In his answer to this
memorial, addressed to the circles of the Empire, that monarch shows a
degree of apprehension, that he should have even been supposed to have
had the smallest disposition to keep faith towards this country after
he had once received its money. He should therefore conclude with
moving this resolution--'That it appears to this House, that the King
of Prussia received from the treasury of Great Britain the sum of
£1,200,000 in consequence of the stipulations of the treaty concluded
at the Hague, on the 10th of April, 1794; and that it does not appear
to this House, that the King of Prussia performed the stipulation of
that treaty.'


FEBRUARY 17, 1800


The honourable gentleman [Mr. Wilberforce] who has just sat down, and
said he rose only to save himself from misinterpretation, has declared
that he has no objection to peace. Now I should expect a warmer
declaration from that honourable gentleman, when I recollect his
conduct on a former occasion. I recollect a time when he came to
rebuke the violence of the Minister. [Mr. Sheridan read a motion, made
by Mr. Wilberforce, for an address to His Majesty, praying that the
Government of France might not be made an obstacle to peace, when
an opportunity should arrive.] Now, as the honourable gentleman is
anxious to escape from the charge of inconsistency, I should expect he
would state the reason for this difference in his conduct now. Then
the Government was a provisional government; a government from its
nature not intended to stand; a government of furious Jacobins; and
yet the honourable gentleman implored to supplicate His Majesty that
it might not be suffered to stand in the way of peace; but now, when
it is of a less objectionable description, he justifies his friend
from an arrogant, violent, inconsiderate, and I hope he will not find
an unfortunate note, refusing to accept peace from such a government.
An honourable gentleman who has spoken in the debate put a very just
question, whether the country will endure to be governed by words, and
not by facts? I admit it right that it should not be so governed, but
I unfortunately have the authority of the present Government that it
is. The honourable gentleman spoke with great eloquence, I may say
irritation; but never did I see eloquence so misapplied. He has shown
his dexterity in driving the subject from its proper basis; he guides,
urges, and inflames the passions of his hearers on Jacobinical
principles, but he does not show how they bear on the present
question. He has not dared to say, that so far as respects the
restoration of the House of Bourbon, we have suffered by the defection
of Russia. What that Power may still do with regard to La Vendée, or
reconciling the people of Ireland to the Union, I do not inquire;
but with regard to the great object, the restoration of monarchy
in France, we are _minus_ the Emperor of Russia: that Power may be
considered as extinct. Is it, then, to be endured, that the Minister
shall come down and ask for a subsidy under such circumstances? Is it
to be endured, that we shall be told we are at war for the restoration
of monarchy in France, that Russia is pledged to the accomplishment
of that purpose, that Russia is the rock on which we stand, that the
magnanimous Emperor of Russia, the gallantry of whose troops, and the
skill of whose great generals, place them above all the troops and
generals in Europe, is all we have to rest on? Is it to be endured, I
say, that this rock should prove as brittle as sand, and that those
who held this language should come down in a week after, and say, give
us two millions and a half to subsidize Germany, and then we shall
have a better army than we had with Russia? After such unqualified
praise upon Russia, and after her defection, is not such language,
I ask, inconsistent, absurd, and preposterous? If Germany possessed
these wonderful forces before, why were they not called into action;
and if not, why are we to subsidize the _posse comitatus_, the rabble
of Germany? But who is the person that applies for this subsidy? As
to the Elector of Bavaria, I leave him out of the question. It is the
Emperor of Germany. Is there anything in his conduct and character to
incline us to listen to him? I think not, and for these two reasons.
First, he applied once on a false pretence, and secondly, he failed in
performing his stipulated engagement. What was his false pretence? He
said he could not open the campaign without the pecuniary assistance
of this country; and yet he did do so, and displayed more vigour,
energy, and resources than ever. Now, if to this we add experience,
and the evidence of facts, when he dared, though bound to this
country, to break faith with her, and make a separate peace, does it
not furnish a reasonable cause for declining to grant a subsidy to
such a Power? The honourable gentleman is offended at our connecting
the situation of the country, and the present scarcity, with the
question of war. I do not know to what extent this principle is to
be carried. I see no more objection to state the pressure in this
particular from the continuance of the war, than there would be
to advance the increase of the public debt, the situation of the
finances, or any other of those reasons so often repeated without its
having been ever objected that they were of an improper kind. Sir, I
say, there is no more impropriety in urging this argument, than in
urging Ministers not to press the people too far, but to apportion the
burden to their strength to bear it. What has my honourable friend
said? We see an opulent commercial prosperity; but look over the
country, and we behold barracks and broth-houses, the cause and the
effect, the poverty and distress of the country; for surely it will
not be contended, but that among the calamities of war are to be
reckoned families left without support, and thrown upon charity
for subsistence. That the war is unnecessary, as being useless, is
self-evident, and nobody can deny it. But, say they, Buonaparte has
taken us at an unguarded moment: we do not object to peace, but we
have a fear and jealousy of concluding one, except with the House of
Bourbon: in a peace concluded with it we should have confidence, but
we can have none in the present Government of France. I say, were that
event arrived, and the House of Bourbon seated on the throne, the
Minister should be impeached who would disband a single soldier; and
that it would be equally criminal to make peace under a new King as
under a republican government, unless her heart and mind were friendly
to it. France, as a republic, maybe a bad neighbour; but than
monarchical France a more foul and treacherous neighbour never was. Is
it, then, sufficient to say, let monarchy be restored, and let peace
be given to all Europe? I come now, Sir, to the object of the war as
expressed in the note. It is there stated, that the restoration of
monarchy is the _sine qua non_ of present negotiation; and then it
proceeds to say, that it is possible we may hereafter treat with some
other form of government, after it shall be tried by experience and
the evidence of facts. What length of time this trial may require is
impossible to ascertain; yet we have, I acknowledge, some thing of
experience here by which we may form a kind of conjecture.

At the time of the negotiation at Lisle, the then republican
Government had stood two years and a half. Previous to that time, it
had been declared improper to enter into negotiation with it; but,
from experience and the evidence of facts, Ministers discovered that
it was then become good and proper to treat with; and yet so it
happened that, immediately after this judgement in its favour, it
crumbled to pieces. Here, then, we have a tolerable rule to judge by,
and may presume, on the authority of this case, that something more
than two years and a half must expire before any new government will
be pronounced stable. The note, Sir, then proceeds to pay an handsome
compliment to the line of princes who maintained peace at home, and
to round the period handsomely, it should have added, tranquillity
abroad; but instead of this are substituted respect and consideration,
by which we are to understand exactly what is meant by the
consideration with which the note is subscribed, being equivalent to
'I am, Sir, with the highest respect and sincerest enmity, yours',
for, Sir, this consideration which the line of princes maintained,
consisted in involving all the Powers within their reach and influence
in war and contentions. The note then proceeds to state, that this
restoration of monarchy would secure to France the uninterrupted
possession of her ancient territory, by which we are to understand,
I suppose, we would renounce our Quiberon expeditions. In this note,
Sir, the gentlemen seem to have clubbed their talents, one found
grammar, another logic, and a third some other ingredient; but is it
not strange that they should all forget that the House of Bourbon,
instead of maintaining peace and tranquillity in Europe, was always
the disturber of both? In the very last transaction of monarchical
France, I mean her conduct in the American war. His Majesty's speech
begins thus: 'France, the disturber of the tranquillity of Europe.'
But were a person to judge hereafter, from the history of the present
time, of the war we carried on, and the millions we expended for
the monarchy of France, he would be led to conclude that it was our
nearest and dearest friend. Is there anything, then, in the knowledge
of human nature, from which we can infer, that with the restoration
of monarchy in France, a total change in the principles of the people
would take place? or that Ministers of the new King would renounce
them? What security have we, that a change of principles will take
place in the restored monarch, and that he will not act upon the
principles cherished by his ancestors? But if this security is
effected by maiming France, does the right honourable gentleman think
that the people of France would submit to it? Does he not know that
even the emigrants have that partiality for the grandeur of their
country, that even they cannot restrain their joy at republican
victories? But with regard to the practicability of the course to be
pursued, the right honourable gentleman says, he is looking forward
to a time when there shall be no dread of Jacobin principles. I ask
whether he does not think, from the fraud, oppression, tyranny, and
cruelty with which the conduct of France has marked them, that they
are not now nearly dead, extinct, and detested? But who are the
Jacobins? Is there a man in this country who has at any time opposed
Ministers, who has resisted the waste of public money and the
prostitution of honours, that has not been branded with the name? The
Whig Club are Jacobins. Of this there can be no doubt, for a right
honourable gentleman [Mr. Windham] on that account struck his name
off the list. The Friends of the People are Jacobins. I am one of the
Friends of the People, and consequently am a Jacobin. The honourable
gentleman pledged himself never to treat with Jacobin France until we

  Toto certatum est corpore regni.

Now he did treat with France at Lisle and Paris, but perhaps there
were not Jacobins in France at either of these times. You, then, the
Friends of the People, are the Jacobins. I do think, Sir, Jacobin
principles never existed much in this country; and even admitting they
had, I say they have been found so hostile to true liberty, that in
proportion as we love it, and whatever may be said, I must still
consider liberty an inestimable blessing, we must hate and detest
these principles. But more, I do not think they even exist in France;
they have there died the best of deaths, a death I am more pleased to
see than if it had been effected by a foreign force; they have stung
themselves to death, and died by their own poison. But the honourable
gentleman, arguing from experience of human nature, tells us that
Jacobin principles are such, that the mind that is once infected with
them, no quarantine, no cure can cleanse. Now if this be the case, and
that there are, according to Mr. Burke's statement, eighty thousand
incorrigible Jacobins in England, we are in a melancholy situation.
The right honourable gentleman must continue the war while one of the
present generation remains, and consequently we cannot for that period
expect those rights to be restored to us, to the suspension and
restrictions of which the honourable gentleman attributes the
suppression of these principles. A pretty consolation this, truly!
Now I contend that they do not exist in France to the same extent as
before, or nearly. If this, then, be the case, what danger can be
apprehended? But if this, then, be true, and that Buonaparte, the
child and champion of Jacobin principles, as he is called, be resolved
to uphold them, upon what ground does the honourable gentleman presume
to hope for the restoration of the House of Bourbon? So far I have
argued on the probability of the object, but the honourable gentleman
goes on, and says, there is no wish to restore the monarchy without
the consent of the people. Now if this be the case, is it not better
to leave the people to themselves, for if armies are to interfere, how
can we ascertain that it is a legitimate government established with
the pure consent of the people? As to Buonaparte, whose character has
been represented as marked with fraud and insincerity, has he not made
treaties with the Emperor and observed them? Is it not his interest to
make peace with us? Do you not think he feels it? And can you suppose,
that if peace were made, he has not power to make it be observed by
the people of France? And do not you think that the people of France
are aware that an infraction of that peace would bring with it a new
order of things, and a renewal of those calamities from which they are
now desirous to escape? But, Sir, on the character of Buonaparte I
have better evidence than the intercepted letters, I appeal to Carnot,
whether the instructions given with respect to the conduct to be
observed to the Emperor, were not moderate, open, and magnanimous?
[Here Mr. Sheridan read an extract from Carnot's pamphlet, in support
of his assertion.] With regard to the late note, in answer to his
proposal to negotiate, it is foolish, insulting, and undignified. It
is evidence to me, that the honourable gentlemen themselves do not
believe his character to be such as they describe it; for, if they
did, they must know their language would irritate such a mind; the
passions will mix themselves with reason in the conduct of men, and
they cannot say that they will not yet be obliged to treat with
Buonaparte. I am warranted in saying this, for I do not believe in
my heart, that since the defection of Russia, Ministers have been
repenting of their answer. I say so because I do not consider them so
obstinate and headstrong as to persevere with as much ardour for the
restoration of monarchy as when they were pledged with Russia. There
was not a nation in Europe which Ministers did not endeavour to draw
into the war. On what was such conduct founded, but on Jacobinical
principles? Indeed Ministers, by negotiating at one time with a
Jacobinical government in France, plainly proved they were not so
hostile to its principles as they would now wish to appear. Prussia
and Austria, as well as this country, have acted also on Jacobinical
principles. The conduct of this country towards Ireland has been
perfectly Jacobinical. How, then, can we define these principles,
when persons who would now disavow them fall by some fatality into an
unavoidable acknowledgement of them? The objections that have been
raised to peace have been entirely Jacobinical. If we seek for peace,
it must be done in the spirit of peace. We are not to make it a
question who was the first aggressor, or endeavour to throw the blame
that may attach to us on our enemy. Such circumstances should be
consigned to oblivion, as tending to no one useful purpose. France, in
the beginning of the Revolution, had conceived many romantic notions.
She was to put an end to war, and produce, by a pure form of
government, a perfectibility of mind which before had never been
realized. The monarchs of Europe, seeing the prevalence of these new
principles, trembled for their thrones. France, also, perceiving
the hostility of kings to her projects, supposed she could not be a
republic without the overthrow of thrones. Such has been the regular
progress of cause and effect; but who was the first aggressor, with
whom the jealousy first arose, need not now be a matter of discussion.
Both the republic, and the monarchs who opposed her, acted on the same
principles: the latter said they must exterminate Jacobins, and the
former that they must destroy monarchs. From this source have all
the calamities of Europe flowed; and it is now a waste of time and
argument to inquire farther into the subject. Now, Sir, let us come to
matter of fact. Has not France renounced and reprobated those Jacobin
principles, which created her so many enemies? Are not all her violent
invectives against regular governments come into disesteem? Has
not the Abbé Sièyes, who wrote in favour of monarchy--has not
Buonaparte--condemned the Jacobinical excesses of the Revolution in
the most pointed manner, the very men who have had so large a share
in the formation of the present Government? But I maintain that
Buonaparte himself is also a friend to peace. There is in his
correspondence with the Ministers of this country a total renunciation
of Jacobinical principles. In the dread, therefore, of these, I can
see no argument for the continuance of war. A man who is surprised at
the revolution of sentiment in individuals or nations shows but little
experience. Such instances occur every day. Neither would a wise man
always attach to principles the most serious consequences. Left to
themselves, the absurd and dangerous would soon disappear, and wisdom
establish herself only the more secure on their ruins. I am a friend
to peace at this time, because I think Buonaparte would be as good a
friend and neighbour to this country as ever were any of the Bourbons.
I think also that there can be no time when we can hope to have better
terms. If the King of Prussia should join France, such an alliance
would greatly change the state of things; and from her long and
honourable neutrality, in spite of the remonstrance and entreaties of
this country, an event of that kind is by no means unlikely to happen.
It must be considered also that the First Consul of France must feel
no little portion of resentment towards this country, arising from the
indignity with which his overtures of negotiation have been treated.
It is not improbable that, to satisfy his revenge, he would make
large sacrifices to the House of Austria, that he might contend more
successfully against this country. Such are my fears and opinions; but
I am unhappily in the habit of being numbered with the minority, and
therefore their consequences are considerably diminished. But there
have been occasions when the sentiments of the minority of this House
have been those of the people at large: one, for instance, when a war
was prevented with Russia concerning Oczakow. The minority told the
Minister that the sentiments of the country were contrary to those
of the majority: and the fact justified them in the assertion; the
dispute was abandoned. In the year 1797, the opinions of the minority
on peace were those of the people, and I believe the same coincidence
exists now upon the same subject.

[Footnote 1: Not the King of Prussia; but Francis II of


FEBRUARY 3, 1800


Sir, I am induced at this period of the debate to offer my sentiments
to the House, both from an apprehension that, at a later hour, the
attention of the House must necessarily be exhausted, and because the
sentiment with which the learned gentleman[1] began his speech, and
with which he has thought proper to conclude it, places the question
precisely on that ground on which I am most desirous of discussing
it. The learned gentleman seems to assume, as the foundation of his
reasoning, and as the great argument for immediate treaty, that
every effort to overturn the system of the French revolution must
be unavailing; and that it would be not only imprudent, but almost
impious, to struggle longer against that order of things, which, on I
know not what principle of predestination, he appears to consider as
immortal. Little as I am inclined to accede to this opinion, I am not
sorry that the honourable gentleman has contemplated the subject in
this serious view. I do, indeed, consider the French revolution as
the severest trial which the visitation of Providence has ever yet
inflicted upon the nations of the earth; but I cannot help reflecting,
with satisfaction, that this country, even under such a trial, has not
only been exempted from those calamities which have covered almost
every other part of Europe, but appears to have been reserved as a
refuge and asylum to those who fled from its persecution, as a barrier
to oppose its progress, and, perhaps, ultimately as an instrument to
deliver the world from the crimes and miseries which have attended
it. Under this impression, I trust the House will forgive me if I
endeavour, as far as I am able, to take a large and comprehensive view
of this important question. In doing so, I agree with my honourable
friend, that it would, in any case, be impossible to separate the
present discussion from the former crimes and atrocities of the French
revolution; because both the papers now on the table, and the whole
of the learned gentleman's argument, force upon our consideration the
origin of the war, and all the material facts which have occurred
during its continuance. The learned gentleman has revived and retailed
all those arguments from his own pamphlet, which had before passed
through thirty-seven or thirty-eight editions in print; and now gives
them to the House embellished by the graces of his personal delivery.
The First Consul has also thought fit to revive and retail the chief
arguments used by all the Opposition speakers, and all the Opposition
publishers, in this country during the last seven years. And (what is
still more material) the question itself, which is now immediately at
issue--the question, whether, under the present circumstances, there
is such a prospect of security from any treaty with France as ought
to induce us to negotiate, cannot be properly decided upon without
retracing, both from our own experience and from that of other
nations, the nature, the causes, and the magnitude of the danger
against which we have to guard, in order to judge of the security
which we ought to accept.

I say, then, that before any man can concur in opinion with that
learned gentleman--before any man can think that the substance of His
Majesty's answer is any other than the safety of the country required;
before any man can be of opinion, that to the overtures made by the
enemy, at such a time, and under such circumstances, it would have
been safe to have returned an answer concurring in the negotiation--he
must come within one of the three following descriptions: he must
either believe that the French revolution neither does now exhibit,
nor has at any time exhibited, such circumstances of danger, arising
out of the very nature of the system and the internal state and
condition of France, as to leave to foreign Powers no adequate ground
of security in negotiation; or, secondly, he must be of opinion, that
the change which has recently taken place has given that security,
which, in the former stages of the revolution, was wanting; or,
thirdly, he must be one who, believing that the danger existed, not
undervaluing its extent, nor mistaking its nature, nevertheless
thinks, from his view of the present pressure on the country, from his
view of its situation and its prospects, compared with the situation
and prospects of its enemies, that we are, with our eyes open, bound
to accept of inadequate security for everything that is valuable and
sacred, rather than endure the pressure, or incur the risk, which
would result from a farther prolongation of the contest.

In discussing the last of these questions, we shall be led to consider
what inference is to be drawn from the circumstances and the result of
our own negotiations in former periods of the war;--whether, in the
comparative state of this country and France, we now see the same
reason for repeating our then unsuccessful experiments;--or whether
we have not thence derived the lessons of experience, added to the
deductions of reason, marking the inefficacy and danger of the very
measures which are quoted to us as precedents for our adoption.
Unwilling, Sir, as I am to go into much detail on ground which has
been so often trodden before, yet, when I find the learned gentleman,
after all the information which he must have received, if he has read
any of the answers to his work (however ignorant he might be when
he wrote it), still giving the sanction of his authority to the
supposition that the order to M. Chauvelin to depart from this kingdom
was the cause of the war between this country and France, I do feel it
necessary to say a few words on that part of the subject.

Inaccuracy in dates seems to be a sort of fatality common to all who
have written on that side of the question; for even the writer of the
note to His Majesty is not more correct, in this respect, than if
he had taken his information only from the pamphlet of the learned
gentleman. The House will recollect the first professions of the
French Republic, which are enumerated, and enumerated truly, in that
note--they are tests of everything which would best recommend a
Government to the esteem and confidence of foreign Powers, and the
reverse of everything which has been the system and practice of
France now for near ten years. It is there stated, that their first
principles were love of peace, aversion to conquest, and respect for
the independence of other countries. In the same note, it seems,
indeed, admitted, that they since have violated all those principles;
but it is alleged that they have done so only in consequence of the
provocation of other Powers. One of the first of those provocations
is stated to have consisted in the various outrages offered to their
Ministers, of which the example is said to have been set by the King
of Great Britain in his conduct to M. Chauvelin. In answer to this
supposition, it is only necessary to remark that, before the example
was given, before Austria and Prussia are supposed to have been thus
encouraged to combine in a plan for the partition of France, that
plan, if it ever existed at all, had existed and been acted upon for
above eight months: France and Prussia had been at war eight months
before the dismissal of M. Chauvelin. So much for the accuracy of the

[Mr. Erskine here observed that this was not the statement of his

I have been hitherto commenting on the arguments contained in the
notes: I come now to those of the learned gentleman. I understand him
to say that the dismissal of M. Chauvelin was the real cause, I do not
say of the general war, but of the rupture between France and England;
and the learned gentleman states, particularly, that this dismissal
rendered all discussion of the points in dispute impossible. Now I
desire to meet distinctly every part of this assertion: I maintain,
on the contrary, that an opportunity was given for discussing every
matter in dispute between France and Great Britain, as fully as if a
regular and accredited French Minister had been resident here;--that
the causes of war which existed at the beginning, or arose during the
course of this discussion, were such as would have justified, twenty
times over, a declaration of war on the part of this country;--that
all the explanations on the part of France were evidently
unsatisfactory and inadmissible; and that M. Chauvelin had given in a
peremptory ultimatum, declaring that, if these explanations were not
received as sufficient, and if we did not immediately disarm, our
refusal would be considered as a declaration of war. After this
followed that scene which no man can even now speak of without horror,
or think of without indignation; that murder and regicide from which
I was sorry to hear the learned gentleman date the beginning of the
legal government of France. Having thus given in their ultimatum, they
added, as a further demand (while we were smarting under accumulated
injuries, for which all satisfaction was denied), that we should
instantly receive M. Chauvelin as their ambassador, with new
credentials, representing them in the character which they had just
derived from the murder of their sovereign. We replied, 'He came here
as a representative of a sovereign whom you have put to a cruel and
illegal death; we have no satisfaction for the injuries we have
received, no security from the danger with which we are threatened.
Under these circumstances we will not receive your new credentials;
the former credentials you have yourselves recalled by the sacrifice
of your King.'

What from that moment was the situation of M. Chauvelin? He was
reduced to the situation of a private individual, and was required to
quit the kingdom, under the provisions of the Alien Act, which, for
the purpose of securing domestic tranquillity, had recently invested
His Majesty with the power of removing out of this kingdom all
foreigners suspected of revolutionary principles. Is it contended that
he was, then, less liable to the provisions of that Act than any other
individual foreigner, whose conduct afforded to Government just ground
of objection or suspicion? Did his conduct and connexions here afford
no such ground? or will it be pretended that the bare act of refusing
to receive fresh credentials from an infant republic, not then
acknowledged by any one Power of Europe, and in the very act of
heaping upon us injuries and insults, was of itself the cause of war?
So far from it, that even the very nations of Europe, whose wisdom and
moderation have been repeatedly extolled for maintaining neutrality,
and preserving friendship, with the French Republic, remained for
years subsequent to this period without receiving from it any
accredited Minister, or doing any one act to acknowledge its political
existence. In answer to a representation from the belligerent Powers,
in December, 1793, Count Bernstorff, the Minister of Denmark,
officially declared that 'It was well known that the National
Convention had appointed M. Grouville Minister-Plenipotentiary at
Denmark, but that it was also well known that he had neither been
received nor acknowledged in that quality'. And as late as February,
1796, when the same Minister was at length, for the first time,
received in his official capacity, Count Bernstorff, in a public note,
assigned this reason for that change of conduct--'So long as no other
than a revolutionary Government existed in France, His Majesty could
not acknowledge the Minister of that Government; but now that the
French Constitution is completely organized, and a regular Government
established in France, His Majesty's obligation ceases in that
respect, and M. Grouville will therefore be acknowledged in the usual
form.' How far the Court of Denmark was justified in the opinion that
a revolutionary Government then no longer existed in France, it is not
now necessary to inquire; but whatever may have been the fact, in that
respect, the principle on which they acted is clear and intelligible,
and is a decisive instance in favour of the proposition which I have

Is it then necessary to examine what were the terms of that ultimatum,
with which we refused to comply? Acts of hostility had been openly
threatened against our allies, an hostility founded upon the
assumption of a right which would at once supersede the whole law
of nations: a demand was made by France upon Holland to open the
navigation of the Scheldt, on the ground of a general and national
right, in violation of positive treaty; this claim we discussed, at
the time, not so much on account of its immediate importance (though
it was important both in a maritime and commercial view), as on
account of the general principle on which it was founded. On the same
arbitrary notion they soon afterwards discovered that sacred law of
nature, which made the Rhine and the Alps the legitimate boundaries
of France, and assumed the power which they have affected to exercise
through the whole of the revolution, of superseding, by a new code of
their own, all the recognized principles of the law of nations. They
were actually advancing towards the republic of Holland, by rapid
strides, after the victory of Jemappe, and they had ordered their
generals to pursue the Austrian troops into any neutral country:
thereby explicitly avowing an intention of invading Holland. They
had already shown their moderation and self-denial, by incorporating
Belgium, with the French Republic. These lovers of peace, who set out
with a sworn aversion to conquest, and professions of respect for the
independence of other nations; who pretend that they departed from
this system only in consequence of your aggression, themselves in
time of peace while you were still confessedly neutral, without the
pretence or shadow of provocation, wrested Savoy from the King of
Sardinia, and had proceeded to incorporate it likewise with France.
These were their aggressions at this period; and more than these. They
had issued an universal declaration of war against all the thrones of
Europe; and they had, by their conduct, applied it particularly and
specifically to you: they had passed the decree of November 19, 1792,
proclaiming the promise of French succour to all nations who should
manifest a wish to become free: they had, by all their language, as
well as their example, shown what they understood to be freedom: they
had sealed their principles by the deposition of their sovereign: they
had applied them to England, by inviting and encouraging the addresses
of those seditious and traitorous societies who, from the beginning,
favoured their views, and who, encouraged by your forbearance, were
even then publicly avowing French doctrines, and anticipating their
success in this country; who were hailing the progress of those
proceedings in France which led to the murder of its king: they were
even then looking to the day when they should behold a national
convention in England, formed upon similar principles.

And what were the explanations they offered on these different grounds
of offence? As to Holland, they contented themselves with telling us
that the Scheldt was too insignificant for us to trouble ourselves
about, and therefore it was to be decided as they chose, in breach of
a positive treaty, which they had themselves guaranteed, and which we,
by our alliance, were bound to support. If, however, after the war was
over, Belgium should have consolidated its liberty (a term of which
we now know the meaning, from the fate of every nation into which the
arms of France have penetrated), then Belgium and Holland might,
if they pleased, settle the question of the Scheldt by separate
negotiation between themselves. With respect to aggrandizement, they
assured us that they would retain possession of Belgium by arms no
longer than they should find it necessary for the purpose already
stated, of consolidating its liberty. And with respect to the decree
of November 19, applied as it was pointedly to you, by all the
intercourse I have stated with all the seditious and traitorous part
of this country, and particularly by the speeches of every leading
man among them, they contented themselves with asserting that the
declaration conveyed no such meaning as was imputed to it, and that,
so far from encouraging sedition, it could apply only to countries
where a great majority of the people should have already declared
itself in favour of a revolution--a supposition which, as they
asserted, necessarily implied a total absence of all sedition.

What would have been the effect of admitting this explanation?--to
suffer a nation, and an armed nation, to preach to the inhabitants of
all the countries in the world, that themselves were slaves, and their
rulers tyrants: to encourage and invite them to revolution, by a
previous promise of French support, to whatever might call itself a
majority, or to whatever France might declare to be so. This was their
explanation: and this, they told you, was their ultimatum. But was
this all? Even at that very moment, when they were endeavouring to
induce you to admit these explanations, to be contented with the
avowal that France offered herself as a general guarantee for every
successful revolution, and would interfere only to sanction and
confirm whatever the free and uninfluenced choice of the people might
have decided, what were their orders to their generals on the same
subject? In the midst of these amicable explanations with you, came
forth a decree which I really believe must be effaced from the minds
of gentlemen opposite to me, if they can prevail upon themselves for a
moment to hint even a doubt upon the origin of this quarrel, not only
as to this country, but as to all the nations of Europe with whom
France has been subsequently engaged in hostility. I speak of the
decree of December 15. This decree, more even than all the previous
transactions, amounted to an universal declaration of war against all
thrones, and against all civilized governments. It said, wherever the
armies of France shall come (whether within countries then at war or
at peace is not distinguished), in all those countries it shall be
the first care of their generals to introduce the principles and the
practice of the French revolution; to demolish all privileged orders,
and everything which obstructs the establishment of their new system.

If any doubt is entertained whither the armies of France were intended
to come, if it is contended that they referred only to those nations
with whom they were then at war, or with whom, in the course of this
contest, they might be driven into war, let it be remembered that, at
this very moment, they had actually given orders to their generals to
pursue the Austrian army from the Netherlands into Holland, with
whom they were at that time in peace. Or, even if the construction
contended for is admitted, let us see what would have been its
application; let us look at the list of their aggressions, which was
read by my right honourable friend[2] near me. With whom have they
been at war since the period of this declaration? With all the nations
of Europe save two,[3] and if not with those two, it is only because,
with every provocation that could justify defensive war, those
countries have hitherto acquiesced in repeated violations of their
rights, rather than recur to war for their vindication. Wherever
their arms have been carried, it will be a matter of short subsequent
inquiry to trace whether they have faithfully applied these
principles. If in terms this decree is a denunciation of war against
all governments; if in practice it has been applied against every one
with which France has come into contact; what is it but the deliberate
code of the French revolution, from the birth of the Republic, which
has never once been departed from, which has been enforced with
unremitted rigour against all the nations that have come into their

If there could otherwise be any doubt whether the application of
this decree was intended to be universal, whether it applied to all
nations, and to England particularly, there is one circumstance
which alone would be decisive--that nearly at the same period it was
proposed, in the National Convention (on a motion of M. Baraillon), to
declare expressly that the decree of November 19 was confined to
the nations with whom they were then at war; and that proposal was
rejected by a great majority of that very Convention from whom we were
desired to receive these explanations as satisfactory.

Such, Sir, was the nature of the system. Let us examine a little
farther, whether it was from the beginning intended to be acted upon,
in the extent which I have stated. At the very moment when their
threats appeared to many little else than the ravings of madmen, they
were digesting and methodizing the means of execution, as accurately
as if they had actually foreseen the extent to which they have since
been able to realize their criminal projects; they sat down coolly to
devise the most regular and effectual mode of making the application
of this system the current business of the day, and incorporating it
with the general orders of their army; for (will the House believe
it?) this confirmation of the decree of November 19 was accompanied by
an exposition and commentary addressed to the general of every army of
France, containing a schedule as coolly conceived, and as methodically
reduced, as any by which the most quiet business of a justice of
peace, or the most regular routine of any department of state in this
country could be conducted. Each commander was furnished with one
general blank formula of a letter for all the nations of the world!
The people of France to the people of ... greeting: 'We are come to
expel your tyrants.' Even this was not all; one of the articles of
the decree of December 15 was expressly, 'that those who should show
themselves so brutish and so enamoured of their chains as to refuse
the restoration of their rights, to renounce liberty and equality, or.
to preserve, recall, or treat with their Prince or privileged orders,
were not entitled to the distinction which France, in other cases,
had justly established between Government and people; and that such
a people ought to be treated according to the rigour of war, and of
conquest.'[4] Here is their love of peace; here is their aversion to
conquest; here is their respect for the independence of other nations!
It was then, after receiving such explanations as these, after
receiving the ultimatum of France, and after M. Chauvelin's
credentials had ceased, that he was required to depart. Even after
that period, I am almost ashamed to record it, we did not on our
part shut the door against other attempts to negotiate; but this
transaction was immediately followed by the declaration of war,
proceeding not from England in vindication of its rights, but from
France as the completion of the injuries and insults they had offered.
And on a war thus originating, can it be doubted, by an English House
of Commons, whether the aggression was on the part of this country or
of France? or whether the manifest aggression on the part of France
was the result of anything but the principles which characterize the
French revolution?

What, then, are the resources and subterfuges by which those who agree
with the learned gentleman are prevented from sinking under the force
of this simple statement of facts? None but what are found in the
insinuation contained in the note from France, that this country had,
previous to the transactions to which I have referred, encouraged and
supported the combination of other Powers directed against them.
Upon this part of the subject, the proofs which contradict such an
insinuation are innumerable. In the first place, the evidence of
dates; in the second place, the admission of all the different parties
in France; of the friends of Brissot charging on Robespierre the war
with this country, and of the friends of Robespierre charging it on
Brissot; but both acquitting England; the testimonies of the French
Government during the whole interval, since the declaration of
Pilnitz, and the date assigned to the pretended treaty of Pavia;
the first of which had not the slightest relation to any project of
partition or dismemberment; the second of which I firmly believe to be
an absolute fabrication and forgery; and in neither of which, even as
they are represented, any reason has been assigned for believing that
this country had any share. Even M. Talleyrand himself was sent by the
constitutional King of the French, after the period when that concert,
which is now charged, must have existed, if it existed at all, with a
letter from the King of France, expressly thanking His Majesty for the
neutrality which he had uniformly observed. The same fact is confirmed
by the recurring evidence of every person who knew anything of the
plans of the King of Sweden in 1791; the only sovereign who, I
believe, at that time meditated any hostile measures against France,
and whose utmost hopes were expressly stated to be, that England would
not oppose his intended expedition; by all those, also, who knew
anything of the conduct of the Emperor, or the King of Prussia; by
the clear and decisive testimony of M. Chauvelin himself, in his
dispatches from hence to the French Government, since published by
their authority; by everything which has occurred since the war; by
the publications of Dumourier; by the publications of Brissot; by the
facts that have since come to light in America, with respect to the
mission of M. Ganet; which show that hostility against this country
was decided on the part of France long before the period when M.
Chauvelin was sent from hence. Besides this, the reduction of our
peace establishment in the year 1791, and continued to the subsequent
year, is a fact from which the inference is indisputable: a fact
which, I am afraid, shows, not only that we were not waiting for the
occasion of war, but that, in our partiality for a pacific system, we
had indulged ourselves in a fond and credulous security, which wisdom
and discretion would not have dictated. In addition to every other
proof, it is singular enough, that in a decree, on the eve of the
declaration of war on the part of France, it is expressly stated, as
for the first time, that England was then departing from that system
of neutrality which she had hitherto observed.

But, Sir, I will not rest merely on these testimonies or arguments,
however strong and decisive. I assert, distinctly and positively, and
I have the documents in my hand to prove it, that from the middle
of the year 1791, upon the first rumour of any measure taken by the
Emperor of Germany, and till late in the year 1792, we not only were
no parties to any of the projects imputed to the Emperor, but, from
the political circumstances in which we then stood with relation to
that Court, we wholly declined all communications with him on the
subject of France. To Prussia, with whom we were in connexion, and
still more decisively to Holland, with whom we were in close and
intimate correspondence, we uniformly stated our unalterable
resolution to maintain neutrality, and avoid interference in the
internal affairs of France, as long as France should refrain from
hostile measures against us and our allies. No Minister of England had
any authority to treat with foreign states, even provisionally, for
any warlike concert, till after the battle of Jemappe; till a period
subsequent to the repeated provocations which had been offered to us,
and subsequent particularly to the decree of fraternity of November
19; even then, to what object was it that the concert which we wish
to establish was to be directed? If we had then rightly cast the true
character of the French revolution, I cannot now deny that we should
have been better justified in a very different conduct. But it is
material to the present argument to declare what that conduct actually
was, because it is of itself sufficient to confute all the pretexts
by which the advocates of France have so long laboured to perplex the
question of aggression.

At that period, Russia had at length conceived, as well as ourselves,
a natural and just alarm for the balance of Europe, and applied to
us to learn our sentiments on the subject. In our answer to this
application, we imparted to Russia the principles upon which we then
acted, and we communicated this answer to Prussia, with whom we were
connected in defensive alliance. I will state shortly the leading part
of those principles. A dispatch was sent from Lord Grenville to His
Majesty's Minister in Russia, dated December 29, 1792, stating a
desire to have an explanation set on foot on the subject of the war
with France. I will read the material parts of it.

'The two leading points on which such explanation will naturally turn,
are the line of conduct to be followed previous to the commencement
of hostilities, and with a view, if possible, to avert them; and the
nature and amount of the forces which the. Powers engaged in
this concert might be enabled to use, supposing such extremities

'With respect to the first, it appears on the whole, subject, however,
to future consideration; and discussion with the other Powers,
that the most advisable step to be taken would be, that sufficient
explanation should be had with the Powers at war with France, in order
to enable those not hitherto engaged in the war, to propose to that
country terms of peace. That these terms should be, the withdrawing
their arms within the limits of the French territory; the abandoning
their conquests; the rescinding any acts injurious to the sovereignty
or rights of any other nations, and the giving, in some public and
unequivocal manner, a pledge of their intention no longer to foment
troubles, or to excite disturbances against other governments. In
return for these stipulations, the different Powers of Europe, who
should be parties to this measure, might engage to abandon all
measures or views of hostility against France, or interference
in their internal affairs, and to maintain a correspondence and
intercourse of amity with the existing powers in that country, with
whom such a treaty may be concluded. If, on the result of this
proposal so made by the Powers acting in concert, these terms
should not be accepted by France, or being accepted, should not be
satisfactorily performed, the different Powers might then engage
themselves to each other to enter into active measures for the purpose
of obtaining the ends in view; and it may be to be considered,
whether, in such case, they might not reasonably look to some
indemnity for the expenses and hazards to which they would necessarily
be exposed. The dispatch then proceeded to the second point, that of
the forces to be employed, on which it is unnecessary now to speak.

Now, Sir, I would really ask any person who has been, from the
beginning, the most desirous of avoiding hostilities, whether it is
possible to conceive any measure to be adopted in the situation in
which we then stood, which could more evidently demonstrate our
desire, after repeated provocations, to preserve peace, on any terms
consistent with our safety; or whether any sentiment could now be
suggested which would have more plainly marked our moderation,
forbearance, and sincerity?

In saying this, I am not challenging the applause and approbation
of my country, because I must now confess that we were too slow
in anticipating that danger of which we had, perhaps, even then
sufficient experience, though far short, indeed, of that which we now
possess, and that we might even then have seen, what facts have since
but too incontestably proved, that nothing but vigorous and open
hostility can afford complete and adequate security against
revolutionary principles, while they retain a proportion of power
sufficient to furnish the means of war.

I will enlarge no farther on the origin of the war. I have read and
detailed to you a system which was in itself a declaration of war
against all nations, which was so intended, and which has been so
applied, which has been exemplified in the extreme peril and hazard of
almost all who for a moment have trusted to treaty, and which has not
at this hour overwhelmed Europe in one indiscriminate mass of ruin,
only because we have not indulged, to a fatal extremity, that
disposition, which we have, however, indulged too far; because we have
not consented to trust to profession and compromise, rather than to
our own valour and exertion, for security against a system from which
we never shall be delivered till either the principle is extinguished
or till its strength is exhausted. I might, Sir, if I found it
necessary, enter into much detail upon this part of the subject; but
at present I only beg leave to express my readiness at any time to
enter upon it, when either my own strength, or the patience of the
House will admit of it; but I say, without distinction, against every
nation in Europe, and against some out of Europe, the principle has
been faithfully applied. You cannot look at the map of Europe and
lay your hand upon that country against which France has not either
declared an open and aggressive war, or violated some positive treaty,
or broken some recognized principle of the law of nations.

This subject may be divided into various periods. There were some acts
of hostility committed previous to the war with this country, and very
little indeed subsequent to that declaration, which abjured the love
of conquest. The attack upon the Papal State, by the seizure of
Avignon, in 1791, was accompanied by a series of the most atrocious
crimes and outrages that ever disgraced a revolution. Avignon was
separated from its lawful sovereign, with whom not even the pretence
of quarrel existed, and forcibly incorporated in the tyranny of one
and indivisible France. The same system led, in the same year, to
an aggression against the whole German Empire, by the seizure of
Porentrui, part of the dominions of the Bishop of Basle. Afterwards,
in 1792, unpreceded by any declaration of war, or any cause of
hostility, and in direct violation of the solemn pledge to abstain
from conquest, an attack was made upon the King of Sardinia, by the
seizure of Savoy, for the purpose of incorporating it, in like manner,
with France. In the same year, they had proceeded to the declaration
of war against Austria, against Prussia, and against the German
Empire, in which they have been justified only on a ground of rooted
hostility, combination, and league of sovereigns for the dismemberment
of France. I say that some of the documents brought to support this
pretence are spurious and false; I say that even in those that are not
so there is not one word to prove the charge principally relied upon,
that of an intention to effect the dismemberment of France, or to
impose upon it by force any particular constitution. I say that,
as far as we have been able to trace what passed at Pilnitz, the
declaration there signed referred to the imprisonment of Louis XVI;
its immediate view was to effect his deliverance, if a concert
sufficiently extensive could be formed with other sovereigns for that
purpose. It left the internal state of France to be decided by the
King restored to his liberty, with the free consent of the states
of his kingdom, and it did not contain one word relative to the
dismemberment of France.

In the subsequent discussions, which took place in 1792, and which
embraced at the same time all the other points of jealousy which had
arisen between the two countries, the declaration of Pilnitz was
referred to, and explained on the part of Austria in a manner
precisely conformable to what I have now stated; and the amicable
explanations which took place, both on this subject and on all the
matters in dispute, will be found in the official correspondence
between the two Courts, which has been made public; and it will
be found, also, that, as long as the negotiation continued to be
conducted through M. Delessart, the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
there was a great prospect that those discussions would be amicably
terminated; but it is notorious, and has since been clearly proved,
on the authority of Brissot himself, that the violent party in France
considered such an issue of the negotiation as likely to be fatal
to their projects, and thought, to use his own words, that 'war was
necessary to consolidate the revolution'. For the express purpose
of producing the war, they excited a popular tumult in Paris; they
insisted upon and obtained the dismissal of M. Delessart. A new
Minister was appointed in his room, the tone of the negotiation was
immediately changed, and an ultimatum was sent to the Emperor, similar
to that which was afterwards sent to this country, affording him no
satisfaction on his just grounds of complaint, and requiring him,
under those circumstances, to disarm. The first events of the contest
proved how much more France was prepared for war than Austria, and
afford a strong confirmation of the proposition which I maintain--that
no offensive intention was entertained on the part of the latter

War was then declared against Austria; a war which I state to be a war
of aggression on the part of France. The King of Prussia had declared
that he should consider war against the Emperor or Empire, as war
against himself. He had declared that, as a co-estate of the Empire,
he was determined to defend their rights; that, as an ally of the
Emperor, he would support him to the utmost against any attack; and
that, for the sake of his own dominions, he felt himself called upon
to resist the progress of French principles, and to maintain the
balance of power in Europe. With this notice before them, France
declared war upon the Emperor, and the war with Prussia was the
necessary consequence of this aggression, both against the Emperor and
the Empire. The war against the King of Sardinia follows next. The
declaration of that war was the seizure of Savoy, by an invading army;
and on what ground? On that which has been stated already. They had
found out, by some light of nature, that the Rhine and the Alps were
the natural limits of France. Upon that ground Savoy was seized; and
Savoy was also incorporated with France.

Here finishes the history of the wars in which France was engaged,
antecedent to the war with Great Britain, with Holland, and with
Spain. With respect to Spain, we have seen nothing in any part of its
conduct which leads us to suspect that either attachment to religion,
or the ties of consanguinity, or regard to the ancient system of
Europe, was likely to induce that Court to connect itself in offensive
war against France. The war was evidently and incontestably begun by
France against Spain. The case of Holland is so fresh in every man's
recollection, and so connected with the immediate causes of the war
with this country, that it cannot require one word of observation.
What shall I say, then, on the case of Portugal? I cannot indeed say
that France ever declared war against that country; I can hardly say
even that she ever made war, but she required them to make a treaty of
peace, as if they had been at war; she obliged them to purchase
that treaty; she broke it as soon as it was purchased, and she had
originally no other ground of complaint than this: that Portugal
had performed, though inadequately, the engagements of its ancient
defensive alliance with this country, in the character of an
auxiliary--a conduct which cannot of itself make any Power a principal
in a war.

I have now enumerated all the nations at war at that period, with the
exception only of Naples. It can hardly be necessary to call to the
recollection of the House the characteristic feature of revolutionary
principles which was shown, even at this early period, in the personal
insult offered to the King of Naples by the commander of a French
squadron, riding uncontrolled in the Mediterranean, and (while our
fleets were yet unarmed) threatening destruction to all the coast of

It was not till a considerably later period that almost all the
other nations of Europe found themselves equally involved in actual
hostility: but it is not a little material to the whole of my
argument, compared with the statement of the learned gentleman, and
with that contained in the French note, to examine at what period this
hostility extended itself. It extended itself, in the course of 1796,
to the states of Italy which had hitherto been exempted from it. In
1797 it had ended in the destruction of most of them; it had ended in
the virtual deposition of the King of Sardinia, it had ended in the
conversion of Genoa and Tuscany into democratic republics; it had
ended in the revolution of Venice, in the violation of treaties with
the new Venetian republic; and finally, in transferring that very
republic, the creature and vassal of France, to the dominion of

I observe from the gestures of some honourable gentlemen that they
think we are precluded from the use of any argument founded on this
last transaction. I already hear them saying, that it was as criminal
in Austria to receive, as it was in France to give. I am far from
defending or palliating the conduct of Austria upon this occasion: but
because Austria, unable at last to contend with the arms of France,
was forced to accept an unjust and insufficient indemnification from
the conquests France had made from it, are we to be debarred from
stating what, on the part of France, was not merely an unjust
acquisition, but an act of the grossest and most aggravated perfidy
and cruelty, and one of the most striking specimens of that system
which has been uniformly and indiscriminately applied to all the
countries which France has had within its grasp? This can only be
said in vindication of France (and it is still more a vindication of
Austria), that, practically speaking, if there is any part of this
transaction for which Venice itself has reason to be grateful, it
can only be for the permission to exchange the embraces of French
fraternity for what is called the despotism of Vienna.

Let these facts, and these dates, be compared with what we have heard.
The honourable gentleman has told us, and the author of the note from
France has told us also, that all the French conquests were produced
by the operations of the allies. It was when they were pressed on
all sides, when their own territory was in danger, when their own
independence was in question, when the confederacy appeared too
strong; it was then they used the means with which their power and
their courage furnished them; and, 'attacked upon all sides, they
carried everywhere their defensive arms' (vide M. Talleyrand's note).
I do not wish to misrepresent the learned gentleman, but I understood
him to speak of this sentiment with approbation: the sentiment itself
is this, that if a nation is unjustly attacked in any one quarter by
others, she cannot stop to consider by whom, but must find means of
strength in other quarters, no matter where; and is justified in
attacking, in her turn, those with whom she is at peace, and from whom
she has received no species of provocation.

Sir, I hope I have already proved, in a great measure, that no such
attack was made upon France; but, if it was made, I maintain, that the
whole ground on which that argument is founded cannot be tolerated. In
the name of the laws of nature and nations, in the name of everything
that is sacred and honourable, I demur to that plea, and I tell that
honourable and learned gentleman that he would do well to look again
into the law of nations, before he ventures to come to this House,
to give the sanction of his authority to so dreadful and execrable a

[Mr. Erskine here said across the House, that he had never maintained
such a proposition.]

I certainly understood this to be distinctly the tenor of the learned
gentleman's argument; but as he tells me he did not use it, I take it
for granted he did not intend to use it: I rejoice that he did
not: but, at least, then I have a right to expect that the learned
gentleman should now transfer to the French note some of the
indignation which he has hitherto lavished upon the declarations of
this country. This principle, which the learned gentleman disclaims,
the French note avows: and I contend, without the fear of
contradiction, it is the principle upon which France has uniformly
acted. But while the learned gentleman disclaims this proposition, he
certainly will admit, that he himself asserted, and maintained in the
whole course of his argument, that the pressure of the war upon France
imposed upon her the necessity of those exertions which produced
most of the enormities of the revolution, and most of the enormities
practised against the other countries of Europe. The House will
recollect, that, in the year 1796, when all these horrors in Italy
were beginning, which are the strongest illustrations of the general
character of the French revolution, we had begun that negotiation
to which the learned gentleman has referred. England then possessed
numerous conquests; England, though not having at that time had the
advantage of three of her most splendid victories, England, even
then, appeared undisputed mistress of the sea; England, having then
engrossed the whole wealth of the colonial world; England, having
lost nothing of its original possessions; England then comes forward,
proposing general peace, and offering--what? offering the surrender
of all that it had acquired, in order to obtain--what? not the
dismemberment, not the partition of ancient France, but the return of
a part of those conquests, no one of which could be retained but in
direct contradiction to that original and solemn pledge which is now
referred to as the proof of the just and moderate disposition of the
French Republic. Yet even this offer was not sufficient to procure
peace, or to arrest the progress of France in her defensive operations
against other offending countries. From the pages, however, of the
learned gentleman's pamphlet (which, after all its editions, is now
fresher in his memory than in that of any other person in this House,
or in the country), he is furnished with an argument on the result
of the negotiation, on which he appears confidently to rely. He
maintains, that the single point on which the negotiation was broken
off, was the question of the possession of the Austrian Netherlands;
and that it is, therefore, on that ground only, that the war has,
since that time, been continued. When this subject was before under
discussion, I stated, and I shall state again (notwithstanding the
learned gentleman's accusation of my having endeavoured to shift the
question from its true point), that the question then at issue was not
whether the Netherlands should, in fact, be restored, though even on
that question I am not, like the learned gentleman, unprepared to give
any opinion; I am ready to say, that to leave that territory in the
possession of France, would be obviously dangerous to the interests
of this country, and is inconsistent with the policy which it has
uniformly pursued at every period in which it has concerned itself in
the general system of the Continent; but it was not on the decision
of this question of expediency and policy that the issue of the
negotiation then turned; what was required of us by France was, not
merely that we should acquiesce in her retaining the Netherlands, but
that, as a preliminary to all treaty, and before entering upon the
discussion of terms, we should recognize the principle, that whatever
France, in time of war, had annexed to the Republic must remain
inseparable for ever, and could not become the subject of negotiation.
I say that, in refusing such a preliminary, we were only resisting the
claim of France to arrogate to itself the power of controlling, by its
own separate and municipal acts, the rights and interests of other
countries, and moulding, at its discretion, a new and general code of
the law of nations.

In reviewing the issue of this negotiation, it is important to observe
that France, who began by abjuring a love of conquest, was desired
to give up nothing of her own, not even to give up all that she had
conquered; that it was offered to her to receive back all that had
been conquered from her; and when she rejected the negotiation for
peace upon these grounds, are we then to be told of the unrelenting
hostility of the combined Powers, for which France was to revenge
itself upon other countries, and which is to justify the subversion
of every established government, and the destruction of property,
religion, and domestic comfort, from one end of Italy to the other?
Such was the effect of the war against Modena, against Genoa, against
Tuscany, against Venice, against Rome, and against Naples; all of
which she engaged in, or prosecuted, subsequent to this very period.

After this, in the year 1797, Austria had made peace, England and its
ally, Portugal (from whom we could expect little active assistance,
but whom we felt it our duty to defend), alone remained in the war.
In that situation, under the pressure of necessity, which I shall not
disguise, we made another attempt to negotiate. In 1797, Prussia,
Spain, Austria, and Naples having successively made peace, the princes
of Italy having been destroyed, France having surrounded itself, in
almost every part in which it is not surrounded by the sea, with
revolutionary republics, England made another offer of a different
nature. It was not now a demand that France should restore anything.
Austria having made a peace upon her own terms, England had nothing
to require with regard to her allies; she asked no restitution of the
dominions added to France in Europe. So far from retaining anything
French out of Europe, we freely offered them all, demanding only, as
a poor compensation, to retain a part of what we had acquired by arms
from Holland, then identified with France, and that part useless to
Holland and necessary for the security of our Indian possessions. This
proposal also, Sir, was proudly refused, in a way which the learned
gentleman himself has not attempted to justify, indeed of which he has
spoken with detestation. I wish, since he has not finally abjured his
duty in this House, that that detestation had been stated earlier,
that he had mixed his own voice with the general voice of his country
on the result of that negotiation.

Let us look at the conduct of France immediately subsequent to this
period. She had spurned at the offers of Great Britain; she had
reduced her Continental enemies to the necessity of accepting a
precarious peace: she had (in spite of those pledges repeatedly made
and uniformly violated) surrounded herself by new conquests, on every
part of her frontier but one; that one was Switzerland. The first
effect of being relieved from the war with Austria, of being secured
against all fears of Continental invasion on the ancient territory
of France, was their unprovoked attack against this unoffending and
devoted country. This was one of the scenes which satisfied even those
who were the most incredulous, that France had thrown off the mask,
'_if indeed she had ever worn it_.'[5] It collected, in one view, many
of the characteristic features of that revolutionary system which I
have endeavoured to trace. The perfidy which alone rendered their arms
successful, the pretext of which they availed themselves to produce
division and prepare the entrance of Jacobinism in that country, the
proposal of armistice, one of the known and regular engines of the
revolution, which was, as usual, the immediate prelude to military
execution, attended with cruelty and barbarity, of which there are few
examples: all these are known to the world. The country they attacked
was one which had long been the faithful ally of France, which,
instead of giving cause of jealousy to any other Power, had been, for
ages, proverbial for the simplicity and innocence of its manners, and
which had acquired and preserved the esteem of all the nations of
Europe; which had almost, by the common consent of mankind, been
exempted from the sound of war, and marked out as a land of Goshen,
safe and untouched in the midst of surrounding calamities.

Look, then, at the fate of Switzerland, at the circumstances which led
to its destruction, add this instance to the catalogue of aggression
against all Europe, and then tell me whether the system I have
described has not been prosecuted with an unrelenting spirit,
which cannot be subdued in adversity, which cannot be appeased in
prosperity, which neither solemn professions, nor the general law
of nations, nor the obligation of treaties (whether previous to the
revolution or subsequent to it), could restrain from the subversion
of every state into which, either by force or fraud, their arms could
penetrate. Then tell me whether the disasters of Europe are to be
charged upon the provocation of this country and its allies, or on
the inherent principle of the French revolution, of which the natural
result produced so much misery and carnage in France, and carried
desolation and terror over so large a portion of the world.

Sir, much as I have now stated, I have not finished the catalogue.
America, almost as much as Switzerland, perhaps, contributed to
that change, which has taken place in the minds of those who were
originally partial to the principles of the French Government. The
hostility against America followed a long course of neutrality
adhered to, under the strongest provocations, or rather of
repeated compliances to France, with which we might well have been
dissatisfied. It was, on the face of it, unjust and wanton; and it was
accompanied by those instances of sordid corruption which shocked and
disgusted even the enthusiastic admirers of revolutionary purity, and
threw a new light on the genius of revolutionary government.

After this, it remains only shortly to remind gentlemen of the
aggression against Egypt, not omitting, however, to notice the capture
of Malta, in the way to Egypt. Inconsiderable as that island may
be thought, compared with the scenes we have witnessed, let it be
remembered, that it is an island of which the Government had long been
recognized by every state of Europe, against which France pretended
no cause of war, and whose independence was as dear to itself and
as sacred as that of any country in Europe. It was, in fact, not
unimportant from its local situation to the other Powers of Europe,
but in proportion as any man may diminish its importance the instance
will only serve the more to illustrate and confirm the proposition
which I have maintained. The all-searching eye of the French
revolution looks to every part of Europe, and every quarter of the
world, in which can be found an object either of acquisition or
plunder. Nothing is too great for the temerity of its ambition,
nothing too small or insignificant for the grasp of its rapacity. From
hence Buonaparte and his army proceeded to Egypt. The attack was made,
pretences were held out to the natives of that country in the name of
the French King, whom they had murdered; they pretended to have
the approbation of the grand seignior, whose territories they were
violating; their project was carried on under the profession of a zeal
for Mahometanism; it was carried on by proclaiming that France
had been reconciled to the Mussulman faith, had abjured that of
Christianity, or, as he in his impious language termed it, of '_the
sect of the Messiah_.'

The only plea which they have since held out to colour this atrocious
invasion of a neutral and friendly territory, is, that it was the road
to attack the English power in India. It is most unquestionably true,
that this was one and a principal cause of this unparalleled outrage;
but another, and an equally substantial cause (as appears by their own
statements), was the division and partition of the territories of what
they thought a falling Power. It is impossible to dismiss this subject
without observing that this attack against Egypt was accompanied by
an attack upon the British possessions in India, made on true
revolutionary principles. In Europe, the propagation of the principles
of France had uniformly prepared the way for the progress of its arms.
To India, the lovers of peace had sent the messengers of Jacobinism,
for the purpose of inculcating war in those distant regions, on
Jacobin principles, and of forming Jacobin clubs, which they actually
succeeded in establishing, and which in most respects resembled the
European model, but which were distinguished by this peculiarity, that
they were required to swear in one breath, _hatred to tyranny,
the love of liberty, and the destruction of all kings and
sovereigns--except the good and faithful ally of the French Republic_,

What, then, was the nature of this system? Was it anything but what
I have stated it to be--an insatiable love of aggrandizement, an
implacable spirit of destruction directed against all the civil and
religious institutions of every country? This is the first moving
and acting spirit of the French revolution; this is the spirit which
animated it at its birth, and this is the spirit which will not desert
it till the moment of its dissolution, 'which grew with its growth,
which strengthened with its strength,' but which has not abated under
its misfortunes nor declined in its decay; it has been invariably the
same in every period, operating more or less, according as accident
or circumstances might assist it; but it has been inherent in the
revolution in all its stages, it has equally belonged to Brissot, to
Robespierre, to Tallien, to Reubel, to Barras, and to every one of the
leaders of the Directory, but to none more than to Buonaparte, in whom
now all their powers are united. What are its characters? Can it be
accident that produced them? No, it is only from the alliance of the
most horrid principles with the most horrid means, that such miseries
could have been brought upon Europe. It is this paradox, which we must
always keep in mind when we are discussing any question relative to
the effects of the French revolution. Groaning under every degree of
misery, the victim of its own crimes, and, as I once before expressed
it in this House, asking pardon of God and of man for the miseries
which it has brought upon itself and others, France still retains
(while it has neither left means of comfort nor almost of subsistence
to its own inhabitants) new and unexampled means of annoyance and
destruction against all the other Powers of Europe.

Its first fundamental principle was to bribe the poor against the
rich, by proposing to transfer into new hands, on the delusive notion
of equality, and in breach of every principle of justice, the whole
property of the country; the practical application of this principle
was to devote the whole of that property to indiscriminate plunder,
and to make it the foundation of a revolutionary system of finance,
productive in proportion to the misery and desolation which
it created. It has been accompanied by an unwearied spirit of
proselytism, diffusing itself over all the nations of the earth; a
spirit which can apply itself to all circumstances and all situations,
which can furnish a list of grievances, and hold out a promise of
redress equally to all nations, which inspired the teachers of French
liberty with the hope of alike recommending themselves to those who
live under the feudal code of the German Empire; to the various
states of Italy, under all their different institutions; to the old
republicans of Holland, and to the new republicans of America; to
the Catholic of Ireland, whom it was to deliver from Protestant
usurpation; to the Protestant of Switzerland, whom it was to deliver
from popish superstition; and to the Mussulman of Egypt, whom it was
to deliver from Christian persecution; to the remote Indian, blindly
bigoted to his ancient institutions; and to the natives of Great
Britain, enjoying the perfection of practical freedom, and justly
attached to their constitution, from the joint result of habit, of
reason, and of experience. The last and distinguishing feature is a
perfidy which nothing can bind, which no tie of treaty, no sense of
the principles generally received among nations, no obligation, human
or divine, can restrain. Thus qualified, thus armed for destruction,
the genius of the French revolution marched forth, the terror and
dismay of the world. Every nation has in its turn been the witness,
many have been the victims, of its principles, and it is left for us
to decide whether we will compromise with such a danger, while we have
yet resources to supply the sinews of war, while the heart and spirit
of the country is yet unbroken, and while we have the means of calling
forth and supporting a powerful co-operation in Europe.

Much more might be said on this part of the subject; but if what I
have said already is a faithful, though only an imperfect, sketch of
those excesses and outrages, which even history itself will hereafter
be unable fully to record, and a just representation of the principle
and source from which they originated, will any man say that we ought
to accept a precarious security against so tremendous a danger? Much
more will he pretend, after the experience of all that has passed, in
the different stages of the French revolution, that we ought to be
deterred from probing this great question to the bottom, and from
examining, without ceremony or disguise, whether the change which has
recently taken place in France is sufficient now to give security, not
against a common danger, but against such a danger as that which I
have described?

In examining this part of the subject, let it be remembered that there
is one other characteristic of the French revolution, as striking as
its dreadful and destructive principles; I mean the instability of
its Government, which has been of itself sufficient to destroy all
reliance, if any such reliance could, at any time, have been placed
on the good faith of any of its rulers. Such has been the incredible
rapidity with which the revolutions in France have succeeded each
other, that I believe the names of those who have successively
exercised absolute power, under the pretence of liberty, are to
be numbered by the years of the revolution; and each of the new
constitutions, which, under the same pretence, has, in its turn, been
imposed by force on France, every one of which alike was founded upon
principles which professed to be universal, and was intended to be
established and perpetuated among all the nations of the earth--each
of these will be found, upon an average, to have had about two years
as the period of its duration.

Under this revolutionary system, accompanied with this perpetual
fluctuation and change, both in the form of the Government and in
the persons of the rulers, what is the security which has hitherto
existed, and what new security is now offered? Before an answer
is given to this question, let me sum up the history of all the
revolutionary Governments of France, and of their characters in
relation to other Powers, in words more emphatical than any which I
could use--the memorable words pronounced, on the eve of this last
constitution, by the orator[6] who was selected to report to an
assembly, surrounded by a file of grenadiers, the new form of
liberty which it was destined to enjoy under the auspices of General
Buonaparte. From this reporter, the mouth and organ of the new
Government, we learn this important lesson: 'It is easy to conceive
why peace was not concluded before the establishment of the
constitutional Government. The only Government which then existed
described itself as revolutionary; it was, in fact, only the tyranny
of a few men who were soon overthrown by others, and it consequently
presented no stability of principles or of views, no security either
with respect to men, or with respect to things. It should seem that
that stability and that security ought to have existed from the
establishment, and as the effect, of the constitutional system; and
yet they did not exist more, perhaps even less, than they had done
before. In truth, we did make some partial treaties, we signed a
continental peace, and a general congress was held to confirm it; but
these treaties, these diplomatic conferences, appear to have been the
source of a new war, more inveterate and more bloody then before.
Before the 18th Fructidor (September 4) of the 5th year, the French
Government exhibited to foreign nations so uncertain an existence that
they refused to treat with it. After this great event the whole power
was absorbed in the Directory; the legislative body can hardly be
said to have existed; treaties of peace were broken, and war carried
everywhere, without that body having any share in those measures. The
same Directory, after having intimidated all Europe, and destroyed, at
its pleasure, several Governments, neither knowing how to make peace
or war, or how even to establish itself, was overturned by a
breath, on the 13th Prairial (June 18), to make room for other men,
influenced, perhaps, by different views, or who might be governed by
different principles. Judging, then, only from notorious facts, the
French Government must be considered as exhibiting nothing fixed,
neither in respect to men or to things.'

Here, then, is the picture, down to the period of the last revolution,
of the state of France under all its successive Governments!

Having taken a view of what it was, let us now examine what it is. In
the first place, we see, as has been truly stated, a change in the
description and form of the sovereign authority; a supreme power is
placed at the head of this nominal republic, with a more open avowal
of military despotism than at any former period; with a more open and
undisguised abandonment of the names and pretences under which
that despotism long attempted to conceal itself. The different
institutions, republican in their form and appearance, which were
before the instruments of that despotism, are now annihilated; they
have given way to the absolute power of one man, concentrating in
himself all the authority of the State, and differing from other
monarchs only in this, that, as my honourable friend[7] truly stated
it, he wields a sword instead of a sceptre. What, then, is the
confidence we are to derive either from the frame of the Government
or from the character and past conduct of the person who is now
the absolute ruler of France? Had we seen a man, of whom we had no
previous knowledge, suddenly invested with the sovereign authority of
the country; invested with the power of taxation, with the power
of the sword, the power of war and peace, the unlimited power of
commanding the resources, of disposing of the lives and fortunes of
every man in France; if we had seen, at the same moment, all the
inferior machinery of the revolution, which, under the variety of
successive shocks, had kept the system in motion, still remaining
entire, all that, by requisition and plunder, had given activity to
the revolutionary system of finance, and had furnished the means of
creating an army, by converting every man, who was of age to bear
arms, into a soldier, not for the defence of his own country, but for
the sake of carrying unprovoked war into surrounding countries; if we
had seen all the subordinate instruments of Jacobin power subsisting
in their full force, and retaining (to use the French phrase) all
their original organization; and had then observed this single change
in the conduct of their affairs, that there was now one man, with no
rival to thwart his measures, no colleague to divide his powers, no
council to control his operations, no liberty of speaking or writing,
no expression of public opinion to check or influence his conduct;
under such circumstances, should we be wrong to pause, or wait for the
evidence of facts and experience, before we consented to trust our
safety to the forbearance of a single man, in such a situation, and to
relinquish those means of defence which have hitherto carried us safe
through all the storms of the revolution? if we were to ask what are
the principles and character of this stranger, to whom Fortune has
suddenly committed the concerns of a great and powerful nation?

But is this the actual state of the present question? Are we talking
of a stranger of whom we have heard nothing? No, Sir; we have heard
of him; we, and Europe, and the world, have heard both of him and the
satellites by whom he is surrounded; and it is impossible to discuss
fairly the propriety of any answer which could be returned to his
overtures of negotiation, without taking into consideration the
inferences to be drawn from his personal character and conduct. I know
it is the fashion with some gentlemen to represent any reference to
topics of this nature as invidious and irritating; but the truth is,
that they rise unavoidably out of the very nature of the question.
Would it have been possible for Ministers to discharge their duty,
in offering their advice to their Sovereign, either for accepting or
declining negotiation, without taking into their account the reliance
to be placed on the disposition and the principles of the person on
whose disposition and principles the security to be obtained by treaty
must, in the present circumstances, principally depend? or would they
act honestly or candidly towards Parliament and towards the country,
if, having been guided by these considerations, they forbore to state
publicly and distinctly the real grounds which have influenced their
decision; and if, from a false delicacy and groundless timidity, they
purposely declined an examination of a point, the most essential
towards enabling Parliament to form a just determination on so
important a subject?

What opinion, then, are we led to form of the pretensions of the
Consul to those particular qualities which, in the official note, are
represented as affording us, from his personal character, the surest
pledge of peace? We are told this is his _second attempt_ at general
pacification. Let us see, for a moment, how this _second attempt_ has
been conducted. There is, indeed, as the learned gentleman has said, a
word in the first declaration which refers to general peace, and which
states this to be the second time in which the Consul has endeavoured
to accomplish that object. We thought fit, for the reasons which have
been assigned, to decline altogether the proposal of treating, under
the present circumstances; but we, at the same time, expressly stated
that, whenever the moment for treaty should arrive, we would in no
case treat but in conjunction with our allies. Our general refusal
to negotiate at the present moment did not prevent the Consul from
renewing his overtures; but were they renewed for the purpose of
general pacification? Though he had hinted at general peace in the
terms of his first note; though we had shown, by our answer, that
we deemed negotiation, even for general peace, at this moment,
inadmissible; though we added that, even at any future period, we
would treat only in conjunction with our allies; what was the proposal
contained in his last note?--To treat, not for _general peace_, but
for a _separate peace_ between Great Britain and France.

Such was the second attempt to effect _general_ _pacification_: a
proposal for a _separate_ treaty with Great Britain. What had been the
first?--The conclusion of a _separate_ treaty with Austria: and, in
addition to this fact, there are two anecdotes connected with the
conclusion of this treaty which are sufficient to illustrate the
disposition of this pacificator of Europe. This very treaty of Campo
Formio was ostentatiously professed to be concluded with the Emperor,
for the purpose of enabling Buonaparte to take the command of the army
of England, and to dictate a separate peace with this country on
the banks of the Thames. But there is this additional circumstance,
singular beyond all conception, considering that we are now referred
to the Treaty of Campo Formio as a proof of the personal disposition
of the Consul to general peace; he sent his two confidential and
chosen friends, _Berthier_ and _Monge_, charged to communicate to the
Directory this Treaty of Campo Formio; to announce to them that one
enemy was humbled, that the war with Austria was terminated, and,
therefore, that now was the moment to prosecute their operations
against this country; they used, on this occasion, the memorable
words, '_the Kingdom of Great Britain and the French Republic cannot
exist together_.' This, I say, was the solemn declaration of the
deputies and ambassadors of Buonaparte himself, offering to the
Directory the first-fruits of this first attempt at general

So much for his disposition towards general pacification: let us look
next at the part he has taken in the different stages of the French
revolution, and let us then judge whether we are to look to him as
the security against revolutionary principles; let us determine what
reliance we can place on his engagements with other countries, when
we see how he has served his engagements to his own. When the
constitution of the third year was established under Barras, that
constitution was imposed by the arms of Buonaparte, then commanding
the army of the Triumvirate in Paris. To that constitution he then
swore fidelity. How often he has repeated the same oath I know not;
but twice, at least, we know that he has not only repeated it himself,
but tendered it to others, under circumstances too striking not to be

Sir, the House cannot have forgotten the revolution of September 4,
which produced the dismissal of Lord Malmesbury from Lisle. How was
that revolution procured? It was procured chiefly by the promise
of Buonaparte (in the name of his army) decidedly to support the
Directory in those measures which led to the infringement and
violation of everything that the authors of the constitution of 1795,
or its adherents, could consider as fundamental, and which established
a system of despotism inferior only to that now realized in his own
person. Immediately before this event, in the midst of the desolation
and bloodshed of Italy, he had received the sacred present of new
banners from the Directory; he delivered them to his army with this
exhortation: 'Let us swear, fellow soldiers, by the manes of the
patriots who have died by our side, eternal hatred to the enemies of
the constitution of the third year'--that very constitution which he
soon after enabled the Directory to violate, and which, at the head of
his grenadiers, he has now finally destroyed. Sir, that oath was
again renewed, in the midst of that very scene to which I have last
referred; the oath of fidelity to the constitution of the third year
was administered to all the members of the assembly then sitting
(under the terror of the bayonet), as the solemn preparation for the
business of the day; and the morning was ushered in with swearing
attachment to the constitution, that the evening might close with its

If we carry our views out of France, and look at the dreadful
catalogue of all the breaches of treaty, all the acts of perfidy at
which I have only glanced, and which are precisely commensurate with
the number of treaties which the Republic have made (for I have sought
in vain for any one which it has made and which it has not broken); if
we trace the history of them all from the beginning of the revolution
to the present time, or if we select those which have been accompanied
by the most atrocious cruelty, and marked the most strongly with the
characteristic features of the revolution, the name of Buonaparte will
be found allied to more of them than that of any other that can be
handed down in the history of the crimes and miseries of the last ten
years. His name will be recorded with the horrors committed in Italy,
in the memorable campaign of 1796 and 1797, in the Milanese, in Genoa,
in Modena, in Tuscany, in Rome, and in Venice.

His entrance into Lombardy was announced by a solemn proclamation,
issued on April 27, 1796, which terminated with these words: 'Nations
of Italy! the French army is come to break your chains; the French
are the friends of the people in every country; your religion, your
property, your customs, shall be respected.' This was followed by
a second proclamation, dated from Milan, May 20, and signed
'Buonaparte', in these terms: 'Respect for property and personal
security, respect for the religion of countries: these are the
sentiments of the Government of the French Republic, and of the army
of Italy. The French, victorious, consider the nations of Lombardy as
their brothers.' In testimony of this fraternity, and to fulfil the
solemn pledge of respecting property, this very proclamation imposed
on the Milanese a provisional contribution to the amount of twenty
millions of livres, or near one million sterling; and successive
exactions were afterwards levied on that single state to the amount,
in the whole, of near six millions sterling. The regard to religion
and to the customs of the country was manifested with the same
scrupulous fidelity. The churches were given up to indiscriminate
plunder. Every religious and charitable fund, every public treasure,
was confiscated. The country was made the scene of every species of
disorder and rapine. The priests, the established form of worship, all
the objects of religious reverence, were openly insulted by the French
troops; at Pavia, particularly, the tomb of St. Augustine, which the
inhabitants were accustomed to view with peculiar veneration, was
mutilated and defaced. This last provocation having roused the
resentment of the people, they flew to arms, surrounded the French
garrison, and took them prisoners, but carefully abstained from
offering any violence to a single soldier. In revenge for this
conduct, Buonaparte, then on his march to the Mincio, suddenly
returned, collected his troops, and carried the extremity of military
execution over the country: he burnt the town of Benasco, and
massacred eight hundred of its inhabitants; he marched to Pavia, took
it by storm, and delivered it over to general plunder, and published,
at the same moment, a proclamation, of May 26, ordering his troops to
shoot all those who had not laid down their arms and taken an oath
of obedience, and to burn every village where the _tocsin_ should be
sounded, and to put its inhabitants to death.

The transactions with Modena were on a smaller scale, but in the same
character. Buonaparte began by signing a treaty, by which the Duke
of Modena was to pay twelve millions of livres, and neutrality was
promised him in return; this was soon followed by the personal arrest
of the Duke, and by a fresh extortion of two hundred thousand sequins;
after this he was permitted, on the payment of a further sum, to sign
another treaty, called a _Convention de Sûereté_, which of course was
only the prelude to the repetition of similar exactions. Nearly at
the same period, in violation of the rights of neutrality, and of the
treaty which had been concluded between the French Republic and the
Grand Duke of Tuscany in the preceding year, and in breach of a
positive promise given only a few days before, the French army
forcibly took possession of Leghorn, for the purpose of seizing the
British property which was deposited there, and confiscating it as
prize; and shortly after, when Buonaparte agreed to evacuate Leghorn
in return for the evacuation of the island of Elba, which was in the
possession of the British troops, he insisted upon a separate
article, by which, in addition to the plunder before obtained, by the
infraction of the law of nations, it was stipulated that the Grand
Duke should pay to the French the expense which they had incurred by
this invasion of his territory.

In the proceedings towards Genoa we shall find not only a continuation
of the same system of extortion and plunder (in violation of the
solemn pledge contained in the proclamations already referred to),
but a striking instance of the revolutionary means employed for the
destruction of independent governments. A French Minister was at that
time resident at Genoa, which was acknowledged by France to be in a
state of neutrality and friendship: in breach of this neutrality,
Buonaparte began, in the year 1796, with the demand of a loan; he
afterwards, from the month of September, required and enforced the
payment of a monthly subsidy, to the amount which he thought proper to
stipulate: these exactions were accompanied by repeated assurances and
protestations of friendship; they were followed, in May, 1797, by a
conspiracy against the Government, fomented by the emissaries of the
French Embassy, and conducted by the partisans of France, encouraged
and afterwards protected by the French Minister. The conspirators
failed in their first attempt; overpowered by the courage and
voluntary exertions of the inhabitants, their force was dispersed, and
many of their number were arrested. Buonaparte instantly considered
the defeat of the conspirators as an act of aggression against the
French Republic; he dispatched an aide-de-camp with an order to the
Senate of this independent state; first, to release all the French
who were detained; secondly, to punish those who had arrested them;
thirdly, to declare that they had had no share in the insurrection;
and fourthly, to disarm the people. Several French prisoners were
immediately released, and a proclamation was preparing to disarm the
inhabitants, when, by a second note, Buonaparte required the arrest
of the three Inquisitors of State, and immediate alterations in the
constitution; he accompanied this with an order to the French Minister
to quit Genoa if his commands were not immediately carried into
execution; at the same moment his troops entered the territory of the
republic, and shortly after the councils, intimidated and overpowered,
abdicated their functions. Three deputies were then sent to Buonaparte
to receive from him a new constitution; on June 6, after the
conferences at Montebello, he signed a convention, or rather issued a
decree, by which he fixed the new form of their Government; he himself
named provisionally all the members who were to compose it, and he
required the payment of seven millions of livres, as the price of
the subversion of their constitution and their independence. These
transactions require but one short comment; it is to be found in the
official account given of them at Paris, which is in these memorable
words: 'General Buonaparte has pursued the only line of conduct which
could be allowed in the representative of a nation which has supported
the war only to procure the solemn acknowledgement of the right of
nations to change the form of their Government. He contributed nothing
towards the revolution of Genoa, but he seized the first moment to
acknowledge the new Government, as soon as he saw that it was the
result of the wishes of the people.'[8]

It is unnecessary to dwell on the wanton attacks against Rome, under
the direction of Buonaparte himself, in the year 1796, and in the
beginning of 1797, which led first to the Treaty of Tolentino,
concluded by Buonaparte, in which, by enormous sacrifices, the Pope
was allowed to purchase the acknowledgement of his authority as a
sovereign prince; and secondly, to the violation of that very treaty,
and to the subversion of the papal authority by Joseph Buonaparte, the
brother and the agent of the general, and the Minister of the French
Republic to the Holy See: a transaction accompanied by outrages and
insults towards the pious and venerable Pontiff (in spite of the
sanctity of his age and the unsullied purity of his character), which
even to a Protestant seemed hardly short of the guilt of sacrilege.

But of all the disgusting and tragical scenes which took place in
Italy, in the course of the period I am describing, those which passed
at Venice are perhaps the most striking and the most characteristic:
in May, 1796, the French army, under Buonaparte, in the full tide of
its success against the Austrians, first approached the territories of
this Republic, which, from the commencement of the war, had observed
a rigid neutrality. Their entrance on these territories was as usual
accompanied by a solemn proclamation in the name of their general.
'Buonaparte to the Republic of Venice.' 'It is to deliver the finest
country in Europe from the iron yoke of the proud House of Austria
that the French army has braved obstacles the most difficult to
surmount. Victory in union with justice has crowned its efforts. The
wreck of the enemy's army has retired behind the Mincio. The
French army, in order to follow them, passes over the territory
of the Republic of Venice; but it will never forget, that ancient
friendship unites the two republics. Religion, government, customs,
and property, shall be respected. That the people may be without
apprehension, the most severe discipline shall be maintained. All that
may be provided for the army shall be faithfully paid for in money.
The general-in-chief engages the officers of the Republic of Venice,
the magistrates, and the priests, to make known these sentiments to
the people, in order that confidence may cement that friendship which
has so long united the two nations, faithful in the path of honour, as
in that of victory. The French soldier is terrible only to the enemies
of his liberty and his Government. Buonaparte.'

This proclamation was followed by exactions similar to those which
were practised against Genoa, by the renewal of similar professions of
friendship, and the use of similar means to excite insurrection. At
length, in the spring of 1797, occasion was taken from disturbances
thus excited, to forge, in the name of the Venetian Government, a
proclamation[9], hostile to France; and this proceeding was made the
ground for military execution against the country, and for
effecting by force the subversion of its ancient government and the
establishment of the democratic forms of the French revolution. This
revolution was sealed by a treaty, signed in May, 1797, between
Buonaparte and commissioners appointed on the part of the new and
revolutionary Government of Venice. By the second and third secret
articles of this treaty, Venice agreed to give as a ransom, to secure
itself against all farther exactions or demands, the sum of three
millions of livres in money, the value of three millions more in
articles of naval supply, and three ships of the line; and it received
in return the assurances of the friendship and support of the French
Republic. Immediately after the signature of this treaty, the arsenal,
the library, and the palace of St. Marc were ransacked and plundered,
and heavy additional contributions were imposed upon its inhabitants:
and, in not more than four months afterwards, this very Republic of
Venice, united by alliance to France, the creature of Buonaparte
himself, from whom it had received the present of French liberty, was
by the same Buonaparte transferred under the Treaty of Campo Formio,
to 'that iron yoke of the proud House of Austria', to deliver it from
which he had represented in his first proclamation to be the great
object of all his operations.

Sir, all this is followed by the memorable expedition into Egypt,
which I mention, not merely because it forms a principal article
in the catalogue of those acts of violence and perfidy in which
Buonaparte has been engaged; not merely because it was an enterprise
peculiarly his own, of which he was himself the planner, the executor,
and the betrayer; but chiefly because, when from thence he retires to
a different scene to take possession of a new throne, from which he is
to speak upon an equality with the kings and governors of Europe, he
leaves behind him, at the moment of his departure, a specimen, which
cannot be mistaken, of his principles of negotiation. The intercepted
correspondence, which has been alluded to in this debate, seems to
afford the strongest ground to believe that his offers to the Turkish
Government to evacuate Egypt were made solely with a view '_to gain
time_';[10] that the ratification of any treaty on this subject was to
be delayed with the view of finally eluding its performance, if any
change of circumstances favourable to the French should occur in the
interval. But whatever gentlemen may think of the intention with
which these offers were made, there will at least be no question with
respect to the credit due to those professions by which he endeavoured
to prove, in Egypt, his pacific dispositions. He expressly enjoins his
successor strongly and steadily to insist, in all his intercourse with
the Turks, that he came to Egypt with no hostile design, and that he
never meant to keep possession of the country; while, on the opposite
page of the same instructions, he states in the most unequivocal
manner his regret at the discomfiture of his favourite project of
colonizing Egypt, and of maintaining it as a territorial acquisition.
Now, Sir, if in any note addressed to the Grand Vizier, or the Sultan,
Buonaparte had claimed credit for the sincerity of his professions,
that he forcibly invaded Egypt with no view hostile to Turkey, and
solely for the purpose of molesting the British interests, is there
any one argument now used to induce us to believe his present
professions to us which might not have been equally urged on that
occasion to the Turkish Government? Would not those professions have
been equally supported by solemn asseverations, by the same reference
which is now made to personal character, with this single difference,
that they would then have been accompanied with one instance less
of that perfidy which we have had occasion to trace in this very

It is unnecessary to say more with respect to the credit due to his
professions, or the reliance to be placed on his general character:
but it will, perhaps, be argued that, whatever may be his character,
or whatever has been his past conduct, he has now an interest in
making and observing peace. That he has an interest in making peace
is at best but a doubtful proposition, and that he has an interest
in preserving it is still more uncertain. That it is his interest
to negotiate, I do not indeed deny; it is his interest above all to
engage this country in separate negotiation, in order to loosen and
dissolve the whole system of the confederacy on the Continent, to
palsy, at once, the arms of Russia or of Austria, or of any other
country that might look to you for support; and then either to break
off his separate treaty, or if he should have concluded it, to apply
the lesson which is taught in his school of policy in Egypt; and to
revive, at his pleasure, those claims of indemnification which _may
have been reserved to some happier period_.[11]

This is precisely the interest which he has in negotiation; but
on what grounds are we to be convinced that he has an interest in
concluding and observing a solid and permanent pacification? Under all
the circumstances of his personal character, and his newly acquired
power, what other security has he for retaining that power, but the
sword? His hold upon France is the sword, and he has no other. Is he
connected with the soil, or with the habits, the affections, or the
prejudices of the country? He is a stranger, a foreigner, and an
usurper; he unites in his own person everything that a pure Republican
must detest; everything that an enraged Jacobin has abjured;
everything that a sincere and faithful Royalist must feel as an
insult. If he is opposed at any time in his career, what is his
appeal? _He appeals to his fortune;_ in other words, to his army and
his sword. Placing, then, his whole reliance upon military support,
can he afford to let his military renown pass away, to let his laurels
wither, to let the memory of his achievements sink in obscurity? Is
it certain that, with his army confined within France, and restrained
from inroads upon her neighbours, he can maintain at his devotion a
force sufficiently numerous to support his power? Having no object but
the possession of absolute dominion, no passion but military glory,
is it certain that he can feel such an interest in permanent peace as
would justify us in laying down our arms, reducing our expense, and
relinquishing our means of security, on the faith of his engagements?
Do we believe that, after the conclusion of peace, he would not
still sigh over the lost trophies of Egypt, wrested from him by the
celebrated victory of Aboukir and the brilliant exertions of that
heroic band of British seamen whose influence and example rendered the
Turkish troops invincible at Acre? Can he forget that the effect of
these exploits enabled Austria and Russia, in one campaign, to recover
from France all which she had acquired by his victories, to dissolve
the charm which, for a time, fascinated Europe, and to show that their
generals, contending in a just cause, could efface, even by their
success and their military glory, the most dazzling triumphs of his
victories and desolating ambition?

Can we believe, with these impressions on his mind, that if, after a
year, eighteen months, or two years, of peace had elapsed, he should
be tempted by the appearance of a fresh insurrection in Ireland,
encouraged by renewed and unrestrained communication with France, and
fomented by the fresh infusion of Jacobin principles, if we were at
such a moment without a fleet to watch the ports of France, or to
guard the coasts of Ireland, without a disposable army, or an embodied
militia, capable of supplying a speedy and adequate reinforcement,
and that he had suddenly the means of transporting thither a body of
twenty or thirty thousand French troops: can we believe, that at such
a moment his ambition and vindictive spirit would be restrained by the
recollection of engagements, or the obligation of treaty? Or, if in
some new crisis of difficulty and danger to the Ottoman Empire, with
no British navy in the Mediterranean, no confederacy formed, no force
collected to support it, an opportunity should present itself for
resuming the abandoned expedition to Egypt, for renewing the avowed
and favourite project of conquering and colonizing that rich and
fertile country, and of opening the way to wound some of the vital
interests of England, and to plunder the treasures of the East, in
order to fill the bankrupt coffers of France, would it be the interest
of Buonaparte, under such circumstances, or his principles, his
moderation, his love of peace, his aversion to conquest, and his
regard for the independence of other nations--would it be all or any
of these that would secure us against an attempt, which would leave us
only the option of submitting, without a struggle, to certain loss
and disgrace, or of renewing the contest which we had prematurely
terminated, and renewing it without allies, without preparation, with
diminished means, and with increased difficulty and hazard?

Hitherto I have spoken only of the reliance which we can place on
the professions, the character, and the conduct of the present First
Consul; but it remains to consider the stability of his power. The
revolution has been marked throughout by a rapid succession of new
depositaries of public authority, each supplanting his predecessor;
what grounds have we as yet to believe that this new usurpation, more
odious and more undisguised than all that preceded it, will be more
durable? Is it that we rely on the particular provisions contained
in the code of the pretended constitution, which was proclaimed as
accepted by the French people, as soon as the garrison of Paris
declared their determination to exterminate all its enemies, and
before any of its articles could even be known to half the country,
whose consent was required for its establishment?

I will not pretend to inquire deeply into the nature and effects of
a constitution which can hardly be regarded but as a farce and a
mockery. If, however, it could be supposed that its provisions were
to have any effect, it seems equally adapted to two purposes; that
of giving to its founder for a time an absolute and uncontrolled
authority, and that of laying the certain foundation of future
disunion and discord, which, if they once prevail, must render the
exercise of all the authority under the constitution impossible, and
leave no appeal but to the sword.

Is, then, military despotism that which we are accustomed to consider
as a stable form of government? In all ages of the world it has been
attended with the least stability to the persons who exercised it,
and with the most rapid succession of changes and revolutions. The
advocates of the French revolution boasted in its outset, that by
their new system they had furnished a security for ever, not to France
only but to all countries in the world, against military despotism;
that the force of standing armies was vain and delusive; that no
artificial power could resist public opinion; and that it was upon the
foundation of public opinion alone that any government could stand. I
believe that in this instance, as in every other, the progress of the
French revolution has belied its professions; but so far from its
being a proof of the prevalence of public opinion against military
force, it is, instead of the proof, the strongest exception from that
doctrine which appears in the history of the world. Through all the
stages of the revolution military force has governed; public opinion
has scarcely been heard. But still I consider this as only an
exception from a general truth; I still believe that in every
civilized country (not enslaved by a Jacobin faction) public opinion
is the only sure support of any government: I believe this with the
more satisfaction, from a conviction that, if this contest is happily
terminated, the established Governments of Europe will stand upon
that rock firmer than ever; and whatever may be the defects of any
particular constitution, those who live under it will prefer its
continuance to the experiment of changes which may plunge them in the
unfathomable abyss of revolution, or extricate them from it only to
expose them to the terrors of military despotism. And to apply this to
France, I see no reason to believe that the present usurpation will
be more permanent than any other military despotism which has been
established by the same means, and with the same defiance of public

What, then, is the inference I draw from all that I have now stated?
Is it that we will in no case treat with Buonaparte? I say no such
thing. But I say, as has been said in the answer returned to the
French note, that we ought to wait for _experience, and the evidence
of facts_, before we are convinced that such a treaty is admissible.
The circumstances I have stated would well justify us if we should
be slow in being convinced; but on a question of peace and war,
everything depends upon degree, and upon comparison. If, on the one
hand, there should be an appearance that the policy of France is at
length guided by different maxims from those which have hitherto
prevailed; if we should hereafter see signs of stability in the
Government, which are not now to be traced; if the progress of the
allied army should not call forth such a spirit in France as to make
it probable that the act of the country itself will destroy the system
now prevailing; if the danger, the difficulty, the risk of continuing
the contest, should increase, while the hope of complete ultimate
success should be diminished; all these, in their due place, are
considerations which, with myself and (I can answer for it) with every
one of my colleagues, will have their just weight. But at present
these considerations all operate one way; at present there is nothing
from which we can presage a favourable disposition to change in the
French councils. There is the greatest reason to rely on powerful
co-operation from our allies; there are the strongest marks of a
disposition in the interior of France to active resistance against
this new tyranny; and there is every ground to believe, on reviewing
our situation, and that of the enemy, that if we are ultimately
disappointed of that complete success which we are at present entitled
to hope, the continuance of the contest, instead of making our
situation comparatively worse, will have made it comparatively better.

If, then, I am asked how long are we to persevere in the war, I can
only say, that no period can be accurately assigned beforehand.
Considering the importance of obtaining complete security for the
objects for which we contend, we ought not to be discouraged too soon:
but on the other hand, considering the importance of not impairing
and exhausting the radical strength of the country, there are limits
beyond which we ought not to persist, and which we can determine only
by estimating and comparing fairly, from time to time, the degree of
security to be obtained by treaty, and the risk and disadvantage of
continuing the contest.

But, Sir, there are some gentlemen in the House who seem to consider
it already certain that the ultimate success to which I am looking is
unattainable: they suppose us contending only for the restoration of
the French monarchy, which they believe to be impracticable, and deny
to be desirable for this country. We have been asked in the course of
this debate, do you think you can impose monarchy upon France, against
the will of the nation? I never thought it, I never hoped it, I never
wished it: I have thought, I have hoped, I have wished, that the time
might come when the effect of the arms of the allies might so far
overpower the military force which keeps France in bondage as to give
vent and scope to the thoughts and actions of its inhabitants. We
have, indeed, already seen abundant proof of what is the disposition
of a large part of the country; we have seen almost through the whole
of the revolution the western provinces of France deluged with the
blood of its inhabitants, obstinately contending for their ancient
laws and religion. We have recently seen, in the revival of that war,
a fresh instance of the zeal which still animates those countries in
the same cause. These efforts (I state it distinctly, and there are
those near me who can bear witness to the truth of the assertion) were
not produced by any instigation from hence; they were the effects of a
rooted sentiment prevailing through all those provinces, forced into
action by the _Law of the Hostages_ and the other tyrannical measures
of the Directory, at the moment when we were endeavouring to
discourage so hazardous an enterprise. If, under such circumstances,
we find them giving proofs of their unalterable perseverance in
their principles; if there is every reason to believe that the same
disposition prevails in many other extensive provinces of France; if
every party appears at length equally wearied and disappointed with
all the successive changes which the revolution has produced; if the
question is no longer between monarchy, and even the pretence and name
of liberty, but between the ancient line of hereditary princes on the
one hand, and a military tyrant, a foreign usurper, on the other; if
the armies of that usurper are likely to find sufficient occupation on
the frontiers, and to be forced at length to leave the interior of the
country at liberty to manifest its real feeling and disposition; what
reason have we to anticipate that the restoration of monarchy, under
such circumstances, is impracticable?

The learned gentleman has, indeed, told us that almost every man now
possessed of property in France must necessarily be interested in
resisting such a change, and that therefore it never can be effected.
If that single consideration were conclusive against the possibility
of a change, for the same reason the revolution itself, by which the
whole property of the country was taken from its ancient possessors,
could never have taken place. But though I deny it to be an
insuperable obstacle, I admit it to be a point of considerable
delicacy and difficulty. It is not, indeed, for us to discuss minutely
what arrangement might be formed on this point to conciliate and unite
opposite interests; but whoever considers the precarious tenure and
depreciated value of lands held under the revolutionary title, and the
low price for which they have generally been obtained, will think it,
perhaps, not impossible that an ample compensation might be made to
the bulk of the present possessors, both for the purchase-money they
have paid and for the actual value of what they now enjoy; and that
the ancient proprietors might be reinstated in the possession of their
former rights, with only such a temporary sacrifice as reasonable men
would willingly make to obtain so essential an object.

The honourable and learned gentleman, however, has supported his
reasoning on this part of the subject by an argument which he
undoubtedly considers as unanswerable--a reference to what would be
his own conduct in similar circumstances; and he tells us that every
landed proprietor in France must support the present order of things
in that country from the same motive that he and every proprietor of
three per cent stock would join in the defence of the constitution of
Great Britain. I must do the learned gentleman the justice to believe
that the habits of his profession must supply him with better and
nobler motives for defending a constitution which he has had so much
occasion to study and examine, than any which he can derive from the
value of his proportion (however large) of three per cents, even
supposing them to continue to increase in price as rapidly as they
have done during the last three years, in which the security and
prosperity of the country has been established by following a system
directly opposed to the counsels of the learned gentleman and his

The learned gentleman's illustration, however, though it fails with
respect to himself, is happily and aptly applied to the state of
France; and let us see what inference it furnishes with respect to
the probable attachment of moneyed men to the continuance of the
revolutionary system, as well as with respect to the general state
of public credit in that country. I do not, indeed, know that there
exists precisely any fund of three per cents in France, to furnish
a test for the patriotism and public spirit of the lovers of French
liberty. But there is another fund which may equally answer our
purpose--the capital of three per cent stock which formerly existed
in France has undergone a whimsical operation, similar to many
other expedients of finance which we have seen in the course of the
revolution--this was performed by a decree which, as they termed it,
_republicanized_ their debt; that is, in other words, struck off, at
once, two-thirds of the capital, and left the proprietors to take
their chance for the payment of interest on the remainder. This
remnant was afterwards converted into the present five per cent stock.
I had the curiosity very lately to inquire what price it bore in
the market, and I was told that the price had somewhat risen from
confidence in the new Government, and was actually as high as
_seventeen_. I really at first supposed that my informer meant
seventeen years' purchase for every pound of interest, and I began to
be almost jealous of revolutionary credit; but I soon found that he
literally meant seventeen pounds for every hundred pounds capital
stock of five per cent, that is, a little more than three and a half
years' purchase. So much for the value of revolutionary property, and
for the attachment with which it must inspire its possessors towards
the system of government to which that value is to be ascribed!

On the question, Sir, how far the restoration of the French monarchy,
if practicable, is desirable, I shall not think it necessary to say
much. Can it be supposed to be indifferent to us or to the world,
whether the throne of France is to be filled by a prince of the House
of Bourbon, or by him whose principles and conduct I have endeavoured
to develop? Is it nothing, with a view to influence and example,
whether the fortune of this last adventurer in the lottery of
revolutions shall appear to be permanent? Is it nothing whether a
system shall be sanctioned which confirms by one of its fundamental
articles that general transfer of property from its ancient and lawful
possessors, which holds out one of the most terrible examples of
national injustice, and which has furnished the great source of
revolutionary finance and revolutionary strength against all the
Powers of Europe?

In the exhausted and impoverished state of France, it seems for a
time impossible that any system but that of robbery and confiscation,
anything but the continued torture, which can be applied only by the
engines of the revolution, can extort from its ruined inhabitants more
than the means of supporting, in peace, the yearly expenditure of its
Government. Suppose, then, the heir of the House of Bourbon reinstated
on the throne; he will have sufficient occupation in endeavouring, if
possible, to heal the wounds, and gradually to repair the losses, of
ten years of civil convulsion; to reanimate the drooping commerce,
to rekindle the industry, to replace the capital, and to revive the
manufactures of the country. Under such circumstances, there must
probably be a considerable interval before such a monarch, whatever
may be his views, can possess the power which can make him formidable
to Europe; but while the system of the revolution continues, the case
is quite different. It is true, indeed, that even the gigantic and
unnatural means by which that revolution has been supported are so far
impaired; the influence of its principles and the terror of its arms
so far weakened; and its power of action so much contracted and
circumscribed, that against the embodied force of Europe, prosecuting
a vigorous war, we may justly hope that the remnant and wreck of this
system cannot long oppose an effectual resistance. But, supposing the
confederacy of Europe prematurely dissolved: supposing our armies
disbanded, our fleets laid up in our harbours, our exertions relaxed,
and our means of precaution and defence relinquished; do we believe
that the revolutionary power, with this rest and breathing-time
given it to recover from the pressure under which it is now sinking,
possessing still the means of calling suddenly and violently into
action whatever is the remaining physical force of France, under the
guidance of military despotism; do we believe that this power, the
terror of which is now beginning to vanish, will not again prove
formidable to Europe? Can we forget that, in the ten years in which
that power has subsisted, it has brought more misery on surrounding
nations, and produced more acts of aggression, cruelty, perfidy, and
enormous ambition, than can be traced in the history of France for the
centuries which have elapsed since the foundation of its monarchy,
including all the wars which, in the course of that period, have been
waged by any of those sovereigns whose projects of aggrandizement,
and violations of treaty, afford a constant theme of general
reproach against the ancient government of France? And with these
considerations before us, can we hesitate whether we have the best
prospect of permanent peace, the best security for the independence
and safety of Europe, from the restoration of the lawful government,
or from the continuance of revolutionary power in the hands of

In compromise and treaty with such a power, placed in such hands as
now exercise it, and retaining the same means of annoyance which it
now possesses, I see little hope of permanent security. I see no
possibility at this moment of concluding such a peace as would justify
that liberal intercourse which is the essence of real amity; no chance
of terminating the expenses or the anxieties of war, or of restoring
to us any of the advantages of established tranquillity; and as
a sincere lover of peace, I cannot be content with its nominal
attainment; I must be desirous of pursuing that system which promises
to attain, in the end, the permanent enjoyment of its solid and
substantial blessings for this country, and for Europe. As a sincere
lover of peace, I will not sacrifice it by grasping at the shadow,
when the reality is not substantially within my reach--_Cur igitur
pacem nolo? Quid infida est, quia periculosa, quia esse non potest_.

If, Sir, in all that I have now offered to the House, I have succeeded
in establishing the proposition that the system of the French
revolution has been such as to afford to foreign Powers no adequate
ground for security in negotiation, and that the change which has
recently taken place has not yet afforded that security; if I have
laid before you a just statement of the nature and extent of the
danger with which we have been threatened; it would remain only
shortly to consider, whether there is anything in the circumstances
of the present moment to induce us to accept a security confessedly
inadequate against a danger of such a description.

It will be necessary here to say a few words on the subject on
which gentlemen have been so fond of dwelling; I mean our former
negotiations, and particularly that at Lisle in 1797. I am desirous of
stating frankly and openly the true motives which induced me to concur
in then recommending negotiation; and I will leave it to the House,
and to the country, to judge whether our conduct at that time was
inconsistent with the principles by which we are guided at present.
That revolutionary policy which I have endeavoured to describe, that
gigantic system of prodigality and bloodshed by which the efforts of
France were supported, and which counts for nothing the lives and the
property of a nation, had at that period driven us to exertions which
had, in a great measure, exhausted the ordinary means of defraying
our immense expenditure, and had led many of those who were the most
convinced of the original justice and necessity of the war, and of the
danger of Jacobin principles, to doubt the possibility of persisting
in it till complete and adequate security could be obtained. There
seemed, too, much reason to believe that, without some new measure to
check the rapid accumulation of debt, we could no longer trust to the
stability of that funding system by which the nation had been enabled
to support the expense of all the different wars in which we have
engaged in the course of the present century. In order to continue our
exertions with vigour, it became necessary that a new and solid system
of finance should be established, such as could not be rendered
effectual but by the general and decided concurrence of public
opinion. Such a concurrence in the strong and vigorous measures
necessary for the purpose could not then be expected but from
satisfying the country, by the strongest and most decided proofs, that
peace on terms in any degree admissible was unattainable.

Under this impression we thought it our duty to attempt negotiation,
not from the sanguine hope, even at that time, that its result could
afford us complete security, but from the persuasion that the danger
arising from peace under such circumstances was less than that of
continuing the war with precarious and inadequate means. The result
of those negotiations proved that the enemy would be satisfied with
nothing less than the sacrifice of the honour and independence of the
country. From this conviction a spirit and enthusiasm was excited in
the nation, which produced the efforts to which we are indebted for
the subsequent change in our situation. Having witnessed that happy
change, having observed the increasing prosperity and security of
the country from that period, seeing how much more satisfactory our
prospects now are than any which we could then have derived from the
successful result of negotiation, I have not scrupled to declare, that
I consider the rupture of the negotiation, on the part of the enemy,
as a fortunate circumstance for the country. But because these are my
sentiments at this time, after reviewing what has since passed, does
it follow that we were, at that time, insincere in endeavouring to
obtain peace? The learned gentleman, indeed, assumes that we were;
and he even makes a concession, of which I desire not to claim the
benefit; he is willing to admit that, on our principles, and our view
of the subject, insincerity would have been justifiable. I know, Sir,
no plea that would justify those who are entrusted with the conduct
of public affairs, in holding out to Parliament and to the nation one
object while they were, in fact, pursuing another. I did, in fact,
believe, at the moment, the conclusion of peace (if it could have been
obtained) to be preferable to the continuance of the war under its
increasing risks and difficulties. I therefore wished for peace; I
sincerely laboured for peace. Our endeavours were frustrated by the
act of the enemy. If, then, the circumstances are since changed, if
what passed at that period has afforded a proof that the object we
aimed at was unattainable, and if all that has passed since has proved
that, if peace had been then made, it could not have been durable, are
we bound to repeat the same experiment, when every reason against it
is strengthened by subsequent experience, and when the inducements,
which led to it at that time, have ceased to exist?

When we consider the resources and the spirit of the country, can
any man doubt that if adequate security is not now to be obtained by
treaty, we have the means of prosecuting the contest without material
difficulty or danger, and with a reasonable prospect of completely
attaining our object? I will not dwell on the improved state of
public credit, on the continually increasing amount (in spite of
extraordinary temporary burdens) of our permanent revenue, on the
yearly accession of wealth to a degree unprecedented even in the most
flourishing times of peace, which we are deriving, in the midst of
war, from our extended and flourishing commerce; on the progressive
improvement and growth of our manufactures; on the proofs which we see
on all sides of the uninterrupted accumulation of productive capital;
and on the active exertion of every branch of national industry, which
can tend to support and augment the population, the riches, and the
power of the country.

As little need I recall the attention of the House to the additional
means of action which we have derived from the great augmentation of
our disposable military force, the continued triumphs of our powerful
and victorious navy, and the events which, in the course of the last
two years, have raised the military ardour and military glory of the
country to a height unexampled in any period of our history.

In addition to these grounds of reliance on our own strength and
exertions, we have seen the consummate skill and valour of the arms
of our allies proved by that series of unexampled success which
distinguished the last campaign, and we have every reason to expect a
co-operation on the Continent, even to a greater extent, in the course
of the present year. If we compare this view of our own situation with
everything we can observe of the state and condition of our enemy; if
we can trace him labouring under equal difficulty in finding men to
recruit his army, or money to pay it; if we know that in the course of
the last year the most rigorous efforts of military conscription were
scarcely sufficient to replace to the French armies, at the end of the
campaign, the numbers which they had lost in the course of it; if
we have seen that the force of the enemy, then in possession of
advantages which it has since lost, was unable to contend with the
efforts of the combined armies; if we know that, even while supported
by the plunder of all the countries which they had overrun, the French
armies were reduced, by the confession of their commanders, to the
extremity of distress, and destitute not only of the principal
articles of military supply, but almost of the necessaries of life: if
we see them now driven back within their own frontiers, and confined
within a country whose own resources have long since been proclaimed
by their successive governments to be unequal either to paying or
maintaining them; if we observe that, since the last revolution, no
one substantial or effectual measure has been adopted to remedy the
intolerable disorder of their finances, and to supply the deficiency
of their credit and resources; if we see, through large and populous
districts of France, either open war levied against the present
usurpation, or evident marks of disunion and distraction, which the
first occasion may call forth into a flame; if, I say, Sir, this
comparison be just, I feel myself authorized to conclude from it,
not that we are entitled to consider ourselves certain of ultimate
success, not that we are to suppose ourselves exempted from the
unforeseen vicissitudes of war; but that, considering the value of
the object for which we are contending, the means for supporting
the contest, and the probable course of human events, we should be
inexcusable if at this moment we were to relinquish the struggle on
any grounds short of entire and complete security against the greatest
danger which has ever yet threatened the world; that from perseverance
in our efforts under such circumstances we have the fairest reason to
expect the full attainment of that object; but that at all events,
even if we are disappointed in our more sanguine hopes, we are more
likely to gain than to lose by the continuation of the contest; that
every month to which it is continued, even if it should not in its
effects lead to the final destruction of the Jacobin system, must
tend so far to weaken and exhaust it as to give us at least a greater
comparative security in any other termination of the war; that on all
these grounds this is not the moment at which it is consistent with
our interest or our duty to listen to any proposals of negotiation
with the present ruler of France; but that we are not therefore
pledged to any unalterable determination as to our future conduct;
that in this we must be regulated by the course of events; and that it
will be the duty of His Majesty's Ministers from time to time to adapt
their measures to any variation of circumstances, to consider how
far the effects of the military operations of the allies, or of
the internal disposition of France, correspond with our present
expectations; and, on a view of the whole, to compare the difficulties
or risks which may arise in the prosecution of the contest, with the
prospect of ultimate success, or of the degree of advantage which may
be derived from its farther continuance, and to be governed by the
result of all these considerations in the opinion and advice which
they may offer to their Sovereign.

[Footnote 1: Mr. Erskine.]

[Footnote 2: Mr. Dundas.]

[Footnote 3: Sweden and Denmark.]

[Footnote 4: Vide Decree of December 15, 1792.]

[Footnote 5: Vide Speeches at the Whig Club.]

[Footnote 6: Vide Speech of Boulay de la Meurthe, in the Council of
Five Hundred, at St. Cloud, 18th Brumaire (9th November), 1799.]

[Footnote 7: Mr. Canning.]

[Footnote 8: Rédacteur Officiel, June 30, 1797.]

[Footnote 9: Vide account of this transaction in the Proclamation of
the Senate of Venice, April 12, 1798.]

[Footnote 10: Vide 'Intercepted Letters from Egypt'.]

[Footnote 11: Vide 'Intercepted Letters from Egypt'.]


APRIL 30, 1823


I am exceedingly sorry, Mr. Speaker, to stand in the way of any
honourable gentleman who wishes to address the House on this important
occasion. But, considering the length of time which the debate has
already occupied, considering the late hour to which we have now
arrived on the third night of discussion, I fear that my own strength,
as well as that of the House, would be exhausted, if I were longer to
delay the explanations which it is my duty to offer, of the conduct
which His Majesty's Government have pursued, and of the principles by
which they have been guided, through a course of negotiations as
full of difficulty as any that have ever occupied the attention of a
Ministry, or the consideration of Parliament.

If gratitude be the proper description of that sentiment which one
feels towards the unconscious bestower of an unintended benefit, I
acknowledge myself sincerely grateful to the honourable gentleman
(Mr. Macdonald) who has introduced the present motion. Although I
was previously aware that the conduct of the Government in the late
negotiations had met with the individual concurrence of many, perhaps
of a great majority, of the members of this House; although I had
received intimations not to be mistaken, of the general satisfaction
of the country; still, as from the manner in which the papers
have been laid before Parliament, it was not the intention of the
Government to call for any opinion upon them, I feel grateful to the
honourable gentleman who has, in so candid and manly a manner, brought
them under distinct discussion; and who, I hope, will become, however
unwillingly, the instrument of embodying the sentiments of individuals
and of the country into a vote of parliamentary approbation.

The Government stands in a singular situation with respect to these
negotiations. They have maintained peace: they have avoided war. Peace
or war--the one or the other--is usually the result of negotiations
between independent States. But all the gentlemen on the other side,
with one or two exceptions (exceptions which I mention with honour),
have set out with declaring, that whatever the question before the
House may be, it is _not_ a question of peace or war. Now this does
appear to me to be a most whimsical declaration; especially when I
recollect, that before this debate commenced, it was known--it was
not disguised, it was vaunted without scruple or reserve--that the
dispositions of those opposed to Ministers were most heroically
warlike. It was not denied that they considered hostilities with
France to be desirable as well as necessary. The cry 'to arms' was
raised, and caps were thrown up for war, from a crowd which, if not
numerous, was yet loud in their exclamations. But now, when we come
to inquire whence these manifestations of feeling proceeded, two
individuals only have acknowledged that they had joined in the cry;
and for the caps which have been picked up it is difficult to find a

But, Sir, whatever may be contended to be the question now before the
House, the question which the Government had to consider, and on which
they had to decide, was--peace or war? Disguise or overshadow it how
you will, that question was at the bottom of all our deliberations;
and I have a right to require that the negotiations should be
considered with reference to that question; and to the decision,
which, be it right or wrong, we early adopted upon that question--the
decision that war was to be avoided, and peace, if possible,

How can we discuss with fairness, I might say with common sense, any
transactions, unless in reference to the object which was in the view
of those who carried them on? I repeat it, whether gentlemen in this
House do or do not consider the question to be one of peace or war,
the Ministers could not take a single step in the late negotiations,
till they had well weighed that question; till they had determined
what direction ought to be given to those negotiations, so far as that
question was concerned. We determined that it was our duty, in the
first instance, to endeavour to preserve peace if possible for all the
world: next, to endeavour to preserve peace between the nations whose
pacific relations appeared most particularly exposed to hazard; and
failing in this, to preserve at all events peace for this country; but
a peace consistent with the good faith, the interests, and the honour
of the nation.

I am far from intending to assert that our decision in this respect
is not a fit subject of examination. Undoubtedly the conduct of the
Government is liable to a twofold trial. First, was the object of
Ministers a right object? Secondly, did they pursue it in a right way?
The first of these questions, whether Ministers did right in aiming
at the preservation of peace, I postpone. I will return to the
consideration of it hereafter. My first inquiry is as to the merits
or demerits of the negotiations: and, in order to enter into that
inquiry, I must set out with assuming, for the time, that peace is the
object which we ought to have pursued.

With this assumption, I proceed to examine, whether the papers on the
table show that the best means were employed for attaining the given
object? If the object was unfit, there is an end of any discussion
as to the negotiations;--they must necessarily be wrong from the
beginning to the end; it is only in reference to their fitness for
the end proposed, that the papers themselves can be matter worthy of

In reviewing, then, the course of these negotiations, as directed to
maintain, first, the peace of Europe; secondly, the peace between
France and Spain; and lastly, peace for this country, they divide
themselves naturally into three heads:--first, the negotiations at
Verona; secondly, those with France; and thirdly, those with Spain. Of
each of these in their order.

I say, emphatically, in their order; because there can be no greater
fallacy than that which has pervaded the arguments of many honourable
gentlemen, who have taken up expressions used in one stage of these
negotiations, and applied them to another. An honourable baronet
(Sir F. Burdett), for instance, who addressed the House last night,
employed--or, I should rather say, adopted--a fallacy of this sort,
with respect to an expression of mine in the extract of a dispatch to
the Duke of Wellington, which stands second in the first series of
papers. It is but just to the honourable baronet to admit that his
observation was adopted, not original; because, in a speech eminent
for its ability and for its fairness of reasoning (however I may
disagree both with its principles and its conclusions), this, which
he condescended to borrow, was in truth the only very weak and
ill-reasoned part. By my dispatch of the 27th of September the Duke
of Wellington was instructed to declare, that 'to any interference by
force or menace on the part of the allies against Spain, _come what
may_, His Majesty will not be party'. Upon this the honourable
baronet, borrowing, as I have said, the remark itself, and borrowing
also the air of astonishment, which, as I am informed, was assumed by
the noble proprietor of the remark, in another place, exclaimed '"Come
what may"! What is the meaning of this ambiguous menace, this mighty
phrase, "that thunders in the index"?--"Come what may!" Surely a
denunciation of war is to follow. But no--no such thing. Only--come
what may--"His Majesty will be no party to such proceedings." Was ever
such a _bathos_! Such a specimen of sinking in policy? "_Quid dignum
tanto feret hic promissor hiatu?_"'

Undoubtedly, Sir, if the honourable baronet could show that this
declaration was applicable to the whole course of the negotiations,
or to a more advanced stage of them, there would be something in the
remark, and in the inference which he wished to be drawn from it.
But, before the declaration is condemned as utterly feeble and
inconclusive, let us consider what was the question to which it was
intended as an answer. That question, Sir, was not as to what England
would do in a war between France and Spain, but as to what part she
would take if, in the Congress at Verona, a determination should be
avowed by _the allies_ to interfere forcibly in the affairs of Spain.
What then was the meaning of the answer to that proposition,--that,
'_come what might_, His Majesty would be no party to such a
project'? Why, plainly that His Majesty would not concur in such a
determination, even though a difference with his allies, even though
the dissolution of the alliance, should be the consequence of his
refusal. The answer, therefore, was exactly adapted to the question.
This specimen of the _bathos_, this instance of perfection in the art
of sinking, as it has been described to be, had its effect; and
the Congress separated without determining in favour of any joint
operation of a hostile character against Spain.

Sir, it is as true in politics as in mechanics, that the test of skill
and of success is to achieve the greatest purpose with the least
power. If, then, it be found that, by this little intimation, we
gained the object that we sought for, where was the necessity for
greater flourish or greater pomp of words? An idle waste of effort
would only have risked the loss of the object which by temperance we

But where is the testimony in favour of the effect which this
intimation produced? I have it, both written and oral. My first
witness is the Duke Mathieu de Montmorency, who states, in his
official note of the 26th of December, that the measures conceived and
proposed at Verona '_would, have been_ completely successful, _if_
England had thought herself at liberty to concur in them'. Such was
the opinion entertained, by the Plenipotentiary of France of the
failure at Verona, and of the cause of that failure. What was the
opinion of Spain? My voucher for that opinion is the dispatch from
Sir W. A'Court, of the 7th of January; in which he describes the
comfort and relief that were felt by the Spanish Government, when they
learnt that the Congress at Verona had broken up with no other result
than the _bruta fulmina_ of the three dispatches from the courts in
alliance with France. The third witness whom I produce, and not the
least important, because an unwilling and most unexpected, and in this
case surely a most unsuspected witness, is the honourable member for
Westminster (Mr. Hobhouse), who seems to have had particular sources
of information as to what was passing at the Congress. According to
the antechamber reports which were furnished to the honourable member
(and which, though not always the most authentic, were in this
instance tolerably correct), it appears that there was to be _no
joint_ declaration against Spain; and it was, it seems, generally
understood at Verona, that the instructions given to His Majesty's
Plenipotentiary, by the Liberal--I beg pardon, to be quite accurate I
am afraid I must say, the Radical--Foreign Minister of England, were
the cause. Now the essence of those instructions was comprised in that
little sentence, which has been so much criticized for meagreness and

In this case, then, the English Government is impeached, not for
failure, but for success; and the honourable baronet, with taste not
his own, has expressed himself dissatisfied with that success, only
because the machinery employed to produce it did not make noise enough
in its operation.

I contend, Sir, that whatever might grow out of a separate conflict
between Spain and France (though matter for grave consideration) was
less to be dreaded, than that all the Great Powers of the Continent
should have been arrayed together against Spain; and that although the
first object, in point of importance, indeed, was to keep the peace
altogether--to prevent _any_ war against Spain--the first, in point of
time, was to prevent a _general_ war; to change the question from a
question between the allies on one side and Spain on the other, to a
question between nation and nation. This, whatever the result might
be, would reduce the quarrel to the size of ordinary events, and bring
it within the scope of ordinary diplomacy. The immediate object of
England, therefore, was to hinder the impress of a joint character
from being affixed to the war--if war there must be--with Spain; to
take care that the war should not grow out of an assumed jurisdiction
of the Congress; to keep within reasonable bounds that predominating
_areopagitical_ spirit, which the memorandum of the British Cabinet of
May, 1820, describes as 'beyond the sphere of the original conception,
and understood principles of the alliance',--'an alliance never
intended as a union for the government of the world, or for the
superintendence of the internal affairs of other States.' And this, I
say, was accomplished.

With respect to Verona, then, what remains of accusation against the
Government? It has been charged, not so much that the object of the
Government was amiss, as that the negotiations were conducted in too
low a tone. But the case was obviously one in which a high tone might
have frustrated the object. I beg, then, of the House, before they
proceed to adopt an Address which exhibits more of the ingenuity of
philologists than of the policy of statesmen--before they found
a censure of the Government for its conduct in negotiations of
transcendent practical importance, upon refinements of grammatical
nicety--I beg that they will at least except from the proposed
censure, the transactions at Verona, where I think I have shown that a
tone of reproach and invective was unnecessary, and, therefore, would
have been misplaced.

Among those who have made unjust and unreasonable objections to the
tone of our representations at Verona, I should be grieved to include
the honourable member for Bramber (Mr. Wilberforce), with whose
mode of thinking I am too well acquainted not to be aware that his
observations are founded on other and higher motives than those of
political controversy. My honourable friend, through a long and
amiable life, has mixed in the business of the world without being
stained by its contaminations: and he, in consequence, is apt to
place--I will not say too high, but higher, I am afraid, than the ways
of the world will admit, the standard of political morality. I fear
my honourable friend is not aware how difficult it is to apply to
politics those pure, abstract principles which are indispensable to
the excellence of private ethics. Had we employed in the negotiations
that serious moral strain which he might have been more inclined to
approve, many of the gentlemen opposed to me would, I doubt not,
have complained, that we had taken a leaf from the book of the Holy
Alliance itself; that we had framed in their own language a canting
protest against their purposes, not in the spirit of sincere dissent,
but the better to cover our connivance. My honourable friend, I admit,
would not have been of the number of those who would so have accused
us: but he may be assured that he would have been wholly disappointed
in the practical result of our didactic reprehensions. In truth,
the principle of _non-interference_ is one on which we were already
irrecoverably at variance in opinion with the allies; it was no longer
debatable ground. On the one hand, the alliance upholds the doctrine
of an European police; this country, on the other hand, as appears
from the memorandum already quoted, protests against that doctrine.
The question is, in fact, settled, as many questions are, by each
party retaining its own opinions; and the points reserved for debate
are points only of practical application. To such a point it was that
we directed our efforts at Verona.

There are those, however, who think that with a view of conciliating
the Continental Powers, and of winning them away the more readily
from their purposes, we should have addressed them as tyrants and
despots--tramplers on the rights and liberties of mankind. This
experiment would, to say the least of it, be a very singular one in
diplomacy. It may be possible, though I think not very probable, that
the allies would have borne such an address with patience; that they
would have retorted only with the 'whispering humbleness' of Shylock
in the play, and said,--

  Fair Sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
  You spurn'd me such a day; another time
  You called me--dog; and, for these courtesies,

'we are ready to comply with whatever you desire.' This, I say, may be
possible. But I confess I would rather make such an experiment, when
the issue of it was matter of more indifference. Till then, I shall
be loath to employ towards our allies a language, to which if they
yielded, we should ourselves despise them. I doubt whether it is wise,
even in this House, to indulge in such a strain of rhetoric; to call
'wretches' and 'barbarians', and a hundred other hard names, Powers
with whom, after all, if the map of Europe cannot be altogether
cancelled, we must, even according to the admission of the most
anti-continental politicians, maintain _some_ international
intercourse. I doubt whether these sallies of raillery--these flowers
of Billingsgate--are calculated to soothe, any more than to adorn;
whether, on some occasion or other, we may not find that those on whom
they are lavished have not been utterly unsusceptible of feelings of
irritation and resentment:

  Medio de fonte leporum
  Surget amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat.

But be the language of good sense or good taste in this House what it
may, clear I am that, in diplomatic correspondence, no Minister would
be justified in risking the friendship of foreign countries, and the
peace of his own, by coarse reproach and galling invective; and that
even while we are pleading for the independence of nations, it is
expedient to respect the independence of those with whom we plead. We
differ widely from our Continental allies on one great principle, it
is true: nor do we, nor ought we to disguise that difference; nor to
omit any occasion of practically upholding our own opinion. But every
consideration, whether of policy or of justice, combines with the
recollection of the counsels which we have shared, and of the deeds
which we have achieved in concert and companionship, to induce us to
argue our differences of opinion, however freely, with temper; and to
enforce them, however firmly, without insult.

Before I quit Verona, there are other detached objections which have
been urged against our connexion with the Congress, of which it may be
proper to take notice. It has been asked why we sent a Plenipotentiary
to the Congress at all. It may, perhaps, be right here to
observe, that it was not originally intended to send the British
Plenipotentiary to _Verona_. The Congress at Verona was originally
convened solely for the consideration of the affairs of Italy, with
which, the House is aware, England had declined to interfere two
years before. England was, therefore, not to participate in those
proceedings; and all that required her participation was to be
arranged in a previous Congress at _Vienna_. But circumstances had
delayed the Duke of Wellington's departure from England, so that he
did not reach Vienna till many weeks after the time appointed. The
Sovereigns had waited to the last hour consistent with their Italian
arrangements. The option was given to our Plenipotentiary to meet them
on their return to Vienna; but it was thought, upon the whole,
more convenient to avoid further delay; and the Duke of Wellington
therefore proceeded to Verona.

Foremost among the objects intended to be discussed at Vienna was the
impending danger of hostilities between Russia and the Porte. I have
no hesitation in saying that, when I accepted the seals of office,
_that_ was the object to which the anxiety of the British Government
was principally directed. The negotiations at Constantinople had been
carried on through the British Ambassador. So completely had this
business been placed in the hands of Lord Strangford, that it was
thought necessary to summon him to Vienna. Undoubtedly it might be
presumed, from facts which were of public notoriety, that the affairs
of Spain could not altogether escape the notice of the assembled
Sovereigns and Ministers; but the bulk of the instructions which had
been prepared for the Duke of Wellington related to the disputes
between Russia and the Porte: and how little the British Government
expected that so prominent a station would be assigned to the affairs
of Spain, may be inferred from the Duke of Wellington's finding it
necessary to write from Paris for specific instructions on that

But it is said that Spain ought to have been invited to send a
Plenipotentiary to the Congress.

So far as Great Britain is concerned, I answer--in the first place, as
we did not wish the affairs of Spain to be brought into discussion at
all, we could not take or suggest a preliminary step which would have
seemed to recognize the necessity of such a discussion. In the next
place, if Spain had been invited, the answer to that invitation might
have produced a contrary effect to that which we aimed at producing.
Spain must either have sent a Plenipotentiary, or have refused to do
so. The refusal would not have failed to be taken by the allies as a
proof of the _duresse_ of the King of Spain. The sending one, if sent
(as he must have been) jointly by the King of Spain and the Cortes,
would at once have raised the whole question of the _legitimacy_ of
the existing Government of Spain, and would, almost to a certainty,
have led to a joint declaration from the alliance, such as it was our
special object to avoid.

But was there anything in the general conduct of Great Britain at
Verona, which lowered, as has been asserted, the character of England?
Nothing like it. Our Ambassador at Constantinople returned from Verona
to his post, with full powers from Russia to treat on her behalf with
the Turkish Government; from which Government, on the other hand, he
enjoys as full confidence as perhaps any Power ever gave to one of
its own Ambassadors. Such is the manifest decay of our authority, so
fallen in the eyes of all mankind is the character of this country,
that two of the greatest States of the world are content to arrange
their differences through a British Minister, from reliance on British
influence, and from confidence in British equity and British wisdom!

Such then was the issue of the Congress, as to the question between
Russia and the Porte; the question (I beg it to be remembered) upon
which we expected to be principally if not entirely engaged at that
Congress, if it had been held (as was intended when the Duke of
Wellington left London) at Vienna.

As to Italy, I have already said, it was distinctly understood that
we had resolved to take no share in the discussions. But it is almost
needless to add that the evacuation of Naples and of Piedmont was a
measure with respect to which, though the Plenipotentiary of Great
Britain was not entitled to give or to withhold the concurrence of his
Government, he could not but signify its cordial approbation.

The result of the Congress as to Spain was simply the discontinuance
of diplomatic intercourse with that Power, on the part of Austria,
Russia, and Prussia; a step neither necessarily nor probably leading
to war; perhaps (in some views) rather diminishing the risk of it; a
step which had been taken by the same monarchies towards Portugal
two years before, without leading to any ulterior consequences. The
concluding expression of the Duke of Wellington's last note at Verona,
in which he states that all that Great Britain could do was to
'endeavour to allay irritation at Madrid', describes all that in
effect was necessary to be done there, after the Ministers of the
allied Powers should be withdrawn: and the House have seen in Sir W.
A'Court's dispatches how scrupulously the Duke of Wellington's promise
was fulfilled by the representations of our Minister at Madrid. They
have seen, too, how insignificant the result of the Congress of
Verona was considered at Madrid, in comparison with what had been

The result of the Congress as to France was a promise of countenance
and support from the allies in three specified hypothetical
cases:--(1) of an attack made by Spain on France; (2) of any outrage
on the person of the King or Royal Family of Spain; (3) of any attempt
to change the dynasty of that kingdom. Any unforeseen case, if any
such should arise, was to be the subject of new deliberation, either
between Court and Court, or in the conferences of their Ministers at

It is unnecessary now to argue, whether the cases specified are cases
which would justify interference. It is sufficient for the present
argument, that no one of these cases has occurred. France is therefore
not at war on a case foreseen and provided for at Verona: and so far
as I know, there has not occurred, since the Congress of Verona any
new case to which the assistance of the allies can be considered as
pledged; or which has, in fact, been made the subject of deliberation
among the Ministers of the several Courts who were members of the

We quitted Verona, therefore, with the satisfaction of having
prevented any _corporate_ act of force or menace, on the part of _the
alliance_, against Spain; with the knowledge of the three cases on
which alone France would be entitled to claim the support of her
Continental allies, in a conflict with Spain; and with the certainty
that in any other case we should have to deal with France alone,
in any interposition which we might offer for averting, or for
terminating, hostilities.

From Verona we now come, with our Plenipotentiary, to Paris.

I have admitted on a former occasion, and I am perfectly prepared to
repeat the admission, that, after the dissolution of the Congress
of Verona, we might, if we had so pleased, have withdrawn ourselves
altogether from any communication with France upon the subject of
her Spanish quarrel; that, having succeeded in preventing a joint
operation against Spain, we might have rested satisfied with that
success, and trusted, for the rest, to the reflections of France
herself on the hazards of the project in her contemplation. Nay, I
will own that we did hesitate, whether we should not adopt this more
selfish and cautious policy. But there were circumstances attending
the return of the Duke of Wellington to Paris, which directed our
decision another way. In the first place, we found, on the Duke of
Wellington's arrival in that capital, that M. de Vilèlle had sent back
to Verona the drafts of the dispatches of the three Continental allies
to their Ministers at Madrid, which M. de Montmorency had brought
with him from the Congress;--had sent them back for reconsideration;
--whether with a view to obtain a change in their context, or to
prevent their being forwarded to their destination at all, did not
appear: but, be that as it might, the reference itself was a proof
of vacillation, if not of change, in the French counsels.

In the second place, it was notorious that a change was likely to take
place in the Cabinet of the Tuileries, which did in fact take place
shortly afterwards, by the retirement of M. de Montmorency: and M. de
Montmorency was as notoriously the adviser of war against Spain.

In the third place, it was precisely at the time of the Duke of
Wellington's return to Paris, that we received a direct and pressing
overture from the Spanish Government, which placed us in the
alternative of either affording our good offices to Spain, or of
refusing them.

This last consideration would perhaps alone have been decisive; but
when it was coupled with the others which I have stated, and with the
hopes of doing good which they inspired, I think it will be conceded
to me that we should have incurred a fearful responsibility, if we
had not consented to make the effort, which we did make, to effect an
adjustment between France and Spain, through our mediation.

Add to this, that the question which we had now to discuss with France
was a totally new question. It was no longer a question as to
that general right of interference, which we had disclaimed and
denied--disclaimed for ourselves, and denied for others,--in the
conferences at Verona. France knew that upon that question our opinion
was formed, and was unalterable. Our mediation therefore, if accepted
by France, set out with the plain and admitted implication, that the
discussion must turn, not on the general principle, but upon a case
of exception to be made out by France, showing, to our satisfaction,
wherein Spain had offended and aggrieved her.

It has been observed, as if it were an inconsistency, that at Verona a
discouraging answer had been given, by our Plenipotentiary to a hint
that it might, perhaps, be advisable for us to offer our mediation
with Spain; but that no sooner had the Duke of Wellington arrived at
Paris, than he was instructed to offer that mediation. Undoubtedly
this is true: and the difference is one which flows out of, and
verifies, the entire course of our policy at Verona. We declined
mediating between Spain and an alliance assuming to itself that
character of general superintendence of the concerns of nations. But
a negotiation between kingdom and kingdom, in the old, intelligible,
accustomed, European form, was precisely the issue to which we were
desirous of bringing the dispute between France and Spain. We eagerly
grasped at this chance of preserving peace; and the more eagerly
because, as I have before said, we received, at that precise moment,
the application from Spain for our good offices.

But France refused our offered mediation: and it has been represented
by some gentlemen, that the refusal of our mediation by France was an
affront which we ought to have resented. Sir, speaking not of this
particular instance only, but generally of the policy of nations,
I contend, without fear of contradiction, that the refusal of a
mediation is no affront; and that, after the refusal of mediation, to
accept or to tender good offices is no humiliation. I beg leave
to cite an authority on such points, which, I think, will not be
disputed. Martens, in the dissertation which is prefixed to his
collection of treaties, distinguishing between mediation and good
offices, lays it down expressly, that a nation may accept the good
offices of another after rejecting her mediation. The following is the
passage to which I refer:

'Amicable negotiations may take place, either between the Powers
themselves between whom a dispute has arisen, or jointly with a third
Power. The part to be taken by the latter, for the purpose of ending
the dispute, differs essentially according to one or other of two
cases; whether the Power, in the first place, merely interposes its
good offices to bring about an agreement; or, secondly, is chosen by
the two parties, to act as a mediator between them.' And he adds:
'mediation differs essentially from good offices; a State may accept
the latter, at the same time that it rejects mediation.'

If there were any affront indeed in this case, it was an affront
received equally from both parties; for Spain also declined our
mediation, after having solicited our good offices, and solicited
again our good offices, after declining our mediation. Nor is the
distinction, however apparently technical, so void of reason as it may
at first sight appear. There did not exist between France and Spain
that corporeal, that material, that _external_ ground of dispute, on
which a mediation could operate. The offence, on the side of each
party, was an offence rankling in the minds of each, from a long
course of irritating discussions; it was to be allayed rather by
appeal to the good sense of the parties, than by reference to any
tangible object. To illustrate this: suppose, for example, that France
had in time of peace possessed herself, by a _coup de main_, of
Minorca; or suppose any unsettled pecuniary claims, on one side or the
other, or any litigation with respect to territory; a mediator might
be called in. In the first case to recommend restitution, in the
others to estimate the amount of claim, or to adjust the terms of
compromise. There would, in either of these cases, be a tangible
object for mediation. But where the difference was not external; where
it arose from irritated feelings, from vague and perhaps exaggerated
apprehensions, from charges not proved, nor perhaps capable of proof,
on either side, in such cases each party felt that there was nothing
definite and precise which either could submit to the decision of a
judge, or to the discretion of an arbitrator; though each might at the
same time feel that the good offices of a third party, friendly to
both, would be well employed to soothe exasperation, to suggest
concession, and, without probing too deeply the merits of the dispute,
to exhort to mutual forbearance and oblivion. The difference
is perfectly intelligible; and, in fact, on the want of a due
appreciation of the nature of that difference, turns much of the
objection which has been raised against our having suggested
concession to Spain.

Our mediation then, as I have said, was refused by Spain as well as by
France; but before it was offered to France, our good offices had been
asked by Spain. They were asked in the dispatch of M. San Miguel,
which has been quoted with so much praise, a praise in which I have
no indisposition to concur. I agree in admiring that paper for its
candour, manliness, and simplicity. But the honourable member for
Westminster has misunderstood the early part of it. He has quoted
it, as if it complained of some want of kindness on the part of the
British Government towards Spain. The complaint was quite of another
sort. It complained of want of communication from this Government, of
what was passing at Verona. The substance of this complaint was true;
but in that want of communication there was no want of kindness. The
date of M. San Miguel's dispatch is the 15th of November; the Congress
did not close till the 29th. It is true that I declined making any
communication to Spain, of the transactions which were passing at
Verona, whilst the Congress was still sitting. I appeal to any man of
honour, whether it would not have been ungenerous to our allies to
make such a communication, so long as we entertained the smallest hope
that the result of the Congress might not be hostile to Spain; and
whether, considering the peculiar situation in which we were placed at
that time, by the negotiation which we were carrying on at Madrid
for the adjustment of our claims upon the Spanish Government, such a
communication would not have been liable to the suspicion that we were
courting favour with Spain, at the expense of our allies, for our
own separate objects? We might, to be sure, have said to her, 'You
complain of our reserve, but you don't know how stoutly we are
righting your battles at Verona.' But, Sir, I did hope that she never
would have occasion to know that such battles had been fought for her.
She never should have known it, if the negotiations had turned out
favourably. When the result proved unfavourable, I immediately made a
full disclosure of what had passed; and with that disclosure, it is
unnecessary to say, the Spanish Government were, so far as Great
Britain was concerned, entirely satisfied. The expressions of that
satisfaction are scattered through Sir W. A'Court's reports of M. San
Miguel's subsequent conversations; and are to be found particularly in
M. San Miguel's note to Sir William A'Court of the 12th of January.

In the subsequent part of the dispatch of M. San Miguel, of the 15th
of November (which we are now considering), that Minister defines the
course which he wishes Great Britain to pursue; and I desire to be
judged and justified in the eyes of the warmest advocate for Spain, by
no other rules than those laid down in that dispatch.

'The acts to winch I allude', says M. San Miguel, 'would in no wise
compromise the most strictly conceived system of neutrality. _Good
offices,_ counsels, the reflections of one friend in favour of
another, do not place a nation in concert of attack or defence with
another, do not expose it to the enmity of the opposite party,
even if they do not deserve its gratitude; they are not (in a word)
effective aid, troops, arms, subsidies, which augment the force of
one of the contending parties. It is of _reason_ only that we are
speaking; and it is with the _pen of conciliation_ that a Power,
situated like Great Britain, might support Spain, _without exposing
herself to take part in a war,_ which she may perhaps prevent, with
general utility.' Again: 'England might act in this manner: being
able, ought she so to act? and if she ought, has she acted so? In the
wise, just, and generous views of the Government of St. James's, no
other answer can exist than the affirmative. Why then does she not
notify to Spain what has been done, and what it is proposed to do _in
that mediatory sense (en aquel sentido_ _mediador_)? Are there weighty
inconveniences which enjoin discretion, which show the necessity of
secrecy? They do not appear to an ordinary penetration.'

I have already told the House why I had not made such a notification;
I have told them also that as soon as the restraint of honour was
removed, I did make it; and that the Spanish Government was perfectly
satisfied with it. And with respect to the part which I have just
quoted of the dispatch of M. San Miguel, that in which he solicits our
good offices, and points out the mode in which they are to be applied,
I am sure the House will see that we scrupulously followed _his_

Most true it is, and lamentable as true, that our representations to
France were not successful. The honourable member for Westminster
attributes our failure to the intrigues of Russia; and has told us of
a bet made by the Russian Ambassador in a coffee-house at Paris, that
he would force France into a war with Spain.

[Mr. Hobhouse disclaimed this version of his words. He had put it as a

I assure the honourable gentleman that I understood him to state it
as a fact: but if it was only conjecture, it is of a piece with, the
whole of the Address which he supports; every paragraph of which teems
with guesses and suppositions, equally groundless.

The honourable member for Bridgenorth (Mr. Whitmore) has given a more
correct opinion of the cause of the war. I believe, with him, that the
war was forced on the French Government by the violence of a political
party in France.

I believe that at one time the French Government hoped to avert it;
and that, up to the latest period, some members of that Cabinet would
gladly have availed themselves of the smallest loophole through which
the Spanish Government would have enabled them to find their retreat.
But we, forsooth, are condemned as dupes, because our opponents
gratuitously ascribe to France one settled, systematic, and invariable
line of policy; because it is assumed that, from the beginning, France
had but one purpose in view; and that she merely amused the British
Cabinet from time to time with pretences, which we ought to have had
the sagacity to detect. If so, the French Government made singular
sacrifices to appearance. M. de Montmorency was sent to Verona; he
negotiated with the allies; he brought home a result so satisfactory
to France, that he was made a duke for his services. He had enjoyed
his new title but a few days when he quitted his office. On this
occasion I admit that I was a dupe--I believe all the world were dupes
with me, for all understood this change of Ministers to be indicative
of a change in the counsels of the French Cabinet, a change from
war to peace. For eight-and-forty hours I certainly was under that
delusion; but I soon found that it was only a change, not of the
question of war, but of the character of that question; a change--as
it was somewhat quaintly termed--from _European_ to _French_. The Duke
M. de Montmorency. finding himself unable to carry into effect the
system of policy which he had engaged, at the Congress, to support
in the Cabinet at Paris, in order to testify the sincerity of his
engagement, promptly and most honourably resigned. But this event,
honourable as it is to the Duke M. de Montmorency, completely
disproves the charge of dupery brought against us. That man is not a
dupe, who, not foreseeing the vacillations of others, is not prepared
to meet them; but he who is misled by false pretences, put forward for
the purpose of misleading him. Before a man can be said to be duped,
there must have been some settled purpose concealed from him, and
not discovered by him; but here there was a variation of purpose; a
variation, too, which, so far from considering it then, or now, as an
evil, we then hailed and still consider as a good. It was no dupery on
our part to acquiesce in a change of counsel on the part of the French
Cabinet, which proved the result of the Congress at Verona to be
such as I have described it, by giving to the quarrel with Spain the
character of a _French_ quarrel.

If gentlemen will read over the correspondence about our offer of
mediation, with this key, they will understand exactly the meaning of
the difference of tone between the Duke M. de Montmorency and M. de
Chateaubriand: they will observe that when I first described the
question respecting Spain as a _French_ question, the Duke de
Montmorency loudly maintained it to be a question _toute européenne_;
but that M. de Chateaubriand, upon my repeating the same description
in the sequel of that correspondence, admitted it to be a question
at once and equally _toute française, et toute européenne_: an
explanation the exact meaning of which I acknowledge I do not
precisely understand; but which, if it does not distinctly admit the
definition of a, question _française_, seems at least to negative M.
de Montmorency's definition of a question TOUTE _européenne_.

In thus unavoidably introducing the names of the French Ministers, I
beg I may be understood to speak of them with respect and esteem.
Of M. de Montmorency I have already said that, in voluntarily
relinquishing his office, he made an honourable sacrifice to the
sincerity of his opinions, and to the force of obligations which he
had undertaken but could not fulfil. As to M. de Chateaubriand, with
whom I have the honour of a personal acquaintance, I admire, his
talents and his genius; I believe him to be a man of an upright mind,
of untainted honour, and most capable of discharging adequately the
high functions of the station which he fills. Whatever I may think of
the political conduct of the French Government in the present war, I
think this tribute justly due to the individual character of M. de
Chateaubriand. I think it further due to him in fairness to correct a
misrepresentation to which I have, however innocently, exposed him.
From a dispatch of Sir W. A'Court, which has been laid upon the table
of the House, it appears as if M. de Chateaubriand had spoken of the
failure of the mission of Lord F. Somerset as of an event which had
actually happened, at a time when that nobleman had not even reached
Madrid. I have recently received a corrected copy of that dispatch, in
which the tense employed in speaking of Lord F. Somerset's mission
is not _past_ but _future_; and the failure of that mission is only
anticipated, not announced as having occurred.

The dispatch was sent _in cipher_ to M. Lagarde (from whom Sir W.
A'Court received his copy of it), and nothing is more natural in such
cases than a mistake in the inflection of a verb.

It is also just to the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, to allude
(although it is rather out of place in this argument) to another
circumstance, of which I yesterday received an explanation. A strong
feeling has been excited in this country by the reported capture of a
rich Spanish prize in the West Indies by a French ship of war. If
the French captain had acted under orders, most unquestionably those
orders must have been given at a time when the French Government was
most warm in its professions of a desire to maintain peace. If this
had been the case, it might still perhaps be doubtful whether this
country ought to be the first to complain. Formal declarations of war,
anterior to warlike acts, have been for some time growing into disuse
in Europe. The war of 1756, and the Spanish war in 1804, both, it
must be admitted, commenced with premature capture and anticipated
hostilities on the part of Great Britain. But--be that as it may--I
wrote to Sir C. Stuart, as soon as the intelligence reached this
country, desiring him to require an explanation of the affair;
the reply, as I have said, arrived yesterday by a telegraphic
communication from Paris. It runs thus:--'Paris, April 28, 1823. We
have not received anything official as to the prize made by the _Jean
Bart_. This vessel had no instructions to make any such capture.
If this capture has really been made, there must have been some
particular circumstances which were the cause of it. In any case, the
French Government will see justice done.' I have thought it right to
clear up this transaction, and to show the promptitude of the French
Government in giving the required explanation, I now return to the
more immediate subject of discussion, and pass from France to Spain.

It has been maintained that it was an insult to the Spanish Government
to ask them, as we did, for assurances of the safety of the Royal
Family of Spain. Have I not already accounted for that suggestion? I
have shown that one of the causes of war, prospectively agreed upon at
Verona, was any act of personal violence to the King of Spain or his
family. I endeavoured, therefore, to obtain such assurances from Spain
as should remove the apprehension of any such outrage; not because the
British Cabinet thought those assurances necessary, but because it
might be of the greatest advantage to the cause of Spain, that we
should be able to proclaim _our_ conviction, that upon this point
there was nothing to apprehend; that we should thus possess the
means of proving to France that she had no case, arising out of the
conferences of Verona, to justify a war. Such assurances Spain might
have refused--she would have refused them--to France. To us she might,
she did give them, without lowering her dignity.

And here I cannot help referring, with some pain, to a speech
delivered by an honourable and learned friend of mine (Sir J.
Mackintosh), last night, in which he dwelt upon this subject in a
manner totally unlike himself. He pronounced a high-flown eulogy upon
M. Arguelles; he envied him, he said, for many things, but he envied
him most for the magnanimity which he had shown in sparing his

[Sir J. Mackintosh said that he had only used the word 'sparing', as
sparing the _delicacy_, not the _life_ of the King.]

I am glad to have occasioned this explanation. I have no doubt that
my honourable and learned friend must have intended so to express
himself, for I am sure that he must agree with me in thinking that
nothing could be more pernicious than to familiarize the world
with the contemplation of events so calamitous. I am sure that my
honourable and learned friend would not be forward to anticipate for
the people of Spain an outrage so alien to their character.

Great Britain asked these assurances, then, without offence; forasmuch
as she asked them--not for herself--not because she entertained the
slightest suspicion of the supposed danger, but because that danger
constituted one of those hypothetical cases on which alone France
could claim eventual support from the allies; and because she wished
to be able to satisfy France that she was not likely to have such a

In the same spirit, and with the like purpose, the British Cabinet
proposed to Spain to do that, without which not only the disposition
but perhaps the power was wanting on the part of the French
Government, to recede from the menacing position which it had somewhat
precipitately occupied.

And this brings me to the point on which the longest and fiercest
battle has been fought against us--the suggestion to Spain of the
expediency of modifying her Constitution. As to this point, I should
be perfectly contented, Sir, to rest the justification of Ministers
upon the argument stated the night before last by a noble young friend
of mine (Lord Francis Leveson Gower), in a speech which, both from
what it promised and what it performed, was heard with delight by the
House. 'If Ministers', my noble friend observed, 'had refused to offer
such suggestions, and if, being called to account for that refusal,
they had rested their defence on the ground of delicacy to Spain,
would they not have been taunted with something like these
observations? "What! had you not among you a member of your
Government, sitting at the same council board, a man whom you ought to
have considered as an instrument furnished by Providence, at once to
give efficacy to your advice, and to spare the delicacy of the Spanish
nation? Why did you not employ the Duke of Wellington for this
purpose? Did you forget the services which he had rendered to Spain,
or did you imagine that Spain had forgotten them? Might not any
advice, however unpalatable, have been offered by such a benefactor,
without liability to offence or misconstruction? Why did you neglect
so happy an opportunity, and leave unemployed so fit an agent? Oh!
blind to the interests of the Spanish people! Oh! insensible to
the feelings of human nature!"' Such an argument would have been
unanswerable; and, however the intervention of Great Britain has
failed, I would much rather have to defend myself against the charge
of having tendered advice officiously, than against that of having
stupidly neglected to employ the means which the possession of such a
man as the Duke of Wellington put into the hands of the Government,
for the salvation of a nation which he had already once rescued from

With respect to the memorandum of the noble duke, which has been
so much the subject of cavil, it is the offspring of a manly mind,
pouring out its honest opinions with an earnestness characteristic of
sincerity, and with a zeal too warm to stand upon nice and scrupulous
expression. I am sure that it contains nothing but what the noble duke
really thought. I am sure that what he thought at the time of writing
it, he would still maintain; and what he thinks and maintains
regarding Spain, must, I should imagine, be received with respect and
confidence by all who do not believe themselves to be better qualified
to judge of Spain than he is. Whatever may be thought of the Duke of
Wellington's suggestions here, confident I am that there is not an
individual in Spain, to whom this paper was communicated, who took it
as an offence, or who did not do full justice to the motives of the
adviser, whatever they might think of the immediate practicability
of his advice. Would to God that some part of it, at least, had been
accepted! I admit the point of honour, I respect those who have acted
upon it, I do not blame the Spaniards that they refused to make any
sacrifice to temporary necessity; but still--still I lament the result
of that refusal. Of this I am quite sure, that even if the Spaniards
were justified in objecting to concede, it would have been a most
romantic point of honour which should have induced Great Britain to
abstain from recommending concession.

It is said that everything was required of Spain. and nothing of
France. I utterly deny it. I have already described the relative
situation of the two countries. I will repeat, though the term
has been so much criticized, that they had no _external_ point of
difference. France said to Spain, 'Your revolution disquiets me:' and
Spain replied to France, 'Your army of observation disquiets
me.' There were but two remedies to this state of things--war or
concession: and why was England fastidiously, and (as I think) most
mistakenly, to say, 'Our notions of non-interference are so strict
that we cannot advise you even for your safety: though whatever
concession you may make may probably be met by corresponding
concession on the part of France'? Undoubtedly the withdrawing of the
army of observation would have been, if not purely, yet in a great
degree, an _internal_ measure on the part of France; and one which,
though I will not assert it to be precisely equivalent with the
alteration by Spain of any fault in her Constitution; yet, considering
its immediate practical advantage to Spain, would not, I think, have
been too dearly purchased by such an alteration. That France was
called upon to make the corresponding concession, appears as well from
the memorandum of the Duke of Wellington, as from the dispatches of
Sir Charles Stuart, and from mine; and this concession was admitted by
M. San Miguel to be the object which Spain most desired. England saw
that war must be the inevitable consequence of the existing state of
things between the two kingdoms; and, if something were yielded on the
one side, it would undoubtedly have been for England to insist upon a
countervailing sacrifice on the other.

The propriety of maintaining the army of observation depended wholly
upon the truth of the allegations on which France justified its
continuance. I do not at all mean to say that the truth of those
allegations was to be taken for granted. But what I do mean to say is,
that it was not the business of the British Government to go into
a trial and examine evidence, to ascertain the foundation of the
conflicting allegations on either side. It was clear that nothing but
some modification of the Spanish Constitution could avert the calamity
of war; and in applying the means in our hands to that object (an
object interesting not to Spain only, but to England, and to Europe),
it was not our business to take up the cause of either party, and to
state it with the zeal and with the aggravations of an advocate; but
rather to endeavour to reduce the demands of each within such limits
as might afford a reasonable hope of mutual conciliation.

Grant, even, that the justice was wholly on the side of Spain; still,
in entreating the Spanish Ministers, with a view to peace, to abate a
little of their just pretensions, the British Government did not go
beyond the duty which the law of nations prescribes. No, Sir, it was
our duty to induce Spain to relax something of her positive right, for
a purpose so essential to her own interests and to those of the world.
Upon this point let me fortify myself once more, by reference to the
acknowledged law of nations. 'The duty of a mediator', says Vattel,
'is to favour well-founded claims, and to effect the restoration to
each party of what belongs to him; but he ought not scrupulously
to insist on rigid justice. He is a conciliator, not a judge: his
business is to procure peace: and he ought to induce him who has right
on his side, to relax something of his pretensions, if necessary, with
a view to so great a blessing.'

The conduct of the British Government is thus fortified by an
authority, not interested, not partial, not special in its
application, but universal, untinctured by favour, uninfluenced by the
circumstances of any particular case, and applicable to the general
concerns and dealings of mankind. Is it not plain, then, that we have
been guilty of no violation of duty towards the weaker party? Our
duty, Sir, was discharged not only without any unfriendly bias against
Spain, but with tenderness, with preference, with partiality in her
favour; and, while I respect (as I have already said) the honourable
obstinacy of the Spanish character, so deeply am I impressed with the
desirableness of peace for Spain, that, should the opportunity
recur, I would again, without scruple, tender the same advice to her
Government. The point of honour was in truth rather individual than
national; but the safety put to hazard was assuredly that of the whole
nation. Look at the state of Spain, and consider whether the filling
up a blank in the scheme of her representative Constitution with an
amount, more or less high, of qualification for the members of
the Cortes--whether the promising to consider hereafter of some
modifications in other questionable points--was too much to be
conceded, if by such a sacrifice peace could have been preserved! If
we had declined to interfere on such grounds of _punctilio_, would
not the very passage which I have now read from Vattel, as our
vindication, have been brought against us with justice as a charge?

I regret, deeply regret, for the sake of Spain, that our efforts
failed. I must fairly add, that I regret it for the sake of France
also. Convinced as I may be of the injustice of the course pursued by
the French Government, I cannot shut my eyes to its impolicy. I cannot
lose sight of the gallant character and mighty resources of the French
nation, of the central situation of France, and of the weight which
she ought to preserve in the scale of Europe; I cannot be insensible
to the dangers to which she is exposing herself; nor omit to reflect
what the consequences may be to that country--what the consequences to
Europe--of the hazardous enterprise in which she is now engaged;
and which, for aught that human prudence can foresee, may end in
a dreadful revulsion. As mere matter of abstract right, morality,
perhaps, ought to be contented when injury recoils upon an aggressor.
But such a revulsion as I am speaking of would not affect France
alone: it would touch the Continental States at many points; it would
touch even Great Britain. France could not be convulsed without
communicating danger to the very extremities of Europe. With this
conviction, I confess I thought any sacrifice, short of national
honour or national independence, cheap, to prevent the first breach in
that pacific settlement, by which the miseries and agitations of the
world have been so recently composed.

I apologize, Sir, for the length of time which I have consumed upon
these points. The case is complicated: the transactions have been
much misunderstood, and the opinions regarding them are various and
discordant. The true understanding of the case, however, and the
vindication of the conduct of Government, would be matters of
comparatively light importance, if censure or approbation for the past
were the only result in contemplation. But, considering that we are
now only at the threshold, as it were, of the war, and that great
events are pending, in which England may hereafter be called upon to
take her part, it is of the utmost importance that no doubt should
rest, upon the conduct and policy of this country.

One thing more there is, which I must not forget to notice with regard
to the advice given to Spain. I have already mentioned the Duke of
Wellington as the chosen instrument of that counsel: a Spaniard by
adoption, by title, and by property, he had a right to offer the
suggestions which he thought fit, to the Government of the country
which had adopted him. But it has been complained that the British
Government would have induced the Spaniards to break an oath: that,
according to the oath taken by the Cortes, the Spanish institutions
could be revised only at the expiration of eight years; and that, by
calling upon the Cortes to revise them before that period was expired,
we urged them to incur the guilt of perjury. Sir, this supposed
restriction is assumed gratuitously.

There are two opinions upon it in Spain. One party calculates
the eight years from the time which has elapsed since the first
establishment of the Constitution; the other reckons only the time
during which it has been in operation. The latter insist that the
period has yet at least two years to run, because the Constitution has
been in force only from 1812 to 1814, and from 1820 to the present
time: those who calculate from the original establishment of it in
1812, argue of course that more than the eight years are already
expired, and that the period of revision is fully come. I do not
pretend to decide between these two constructions; but I assert that
they are both Spanish constructions. A Spaniard, of no mean name and
reputation,--one eminently friendly to the Constitution of 1812,--by
whose advice Ministers were in this respect guided, gave it as his
opinion, that not only consistently with their oath, but in exact
fulfilment of it, the Spaniards might now reconsider and modify their
Constitution--that they might have done so nearly three years ago.
'Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?' say the Cortes. The answer is,

'No; we do not ask you to lay perjury upon your souls; for as good a
Spanish soul as is possessed by any of you declares, that you may now,
in due conformity to your oaths, reconsider, and, where advisable,
reform your Constitution.' Do we not know what constructions have been
put in this country, on the coronation oath, as to its operation on
what is called the Catholic Question? Will any man say that it has
been my intention, or the intention of my honourable friend, the
member for Bramber, every time that we have supported a motion for
communicating to our Roman Catholic fellow subjects the full benefit
of the Constitution, to lay perjury on the soul of the Sovereign?

Sir, I do not pretend to decide whether the number of legislative
chambers in Spain should be one, or two, or three. In God's name, let
them try what experiment in political science they will, provided we
are not affected by the trial. All that Great Britain has done on this
occasion has been, not to disturb the course of political experiment,
but to endeavour to avert the calamity of war. Good God! when it is
remembered how many evils are compressed into that little word 'war',
is it possible for any man to hesitate in urging every expedient that
could avert it, without sacrificing the honour of the party to which
his advice was tendered? Most earnestly do I wish that the Duke of
Wellington had succeeded: but great is the consolation that,
according to the best accounts from Spain, his counsels have not been
misunderstood there, however they have been misrepresented here. I
believe that I might with truth go further, and say, that there are
those in Spain who now repent the rigid course pursued, and who are
beginning to ask each other why they held out so pertinaciously
against suggestions at once so harmless and so reasonable. My wish
was, that Spain should be saved; that she should be saved before the
extremity of evil had come upon her, even by the making of those
concessions which, in the heat of national pride, she refused. Under
any circumstances, however, I have still another consolation--the
consolation of knowing, that never, from the commencement of these
negotiations, has Spain been allowed by the British Government to lie
under the delusion that her refusal of all modifications would induce
England to join her in the war.

The very earliest communication made to Spain forbade her to entertain
any such reliance. She was told at the beginning, as she was told in
the end, that neutrality was our determined policy. From the first
to the last, there was never the slightest variation in this
language--never a pause during which she could be for one moment in
doubt as to the settled purpose of England.

France, on the contrary, was never assured of the neutrality of
England, till my dispatch of the 31st of March (the last of the first
series of printed papers) was communicated to the French Ministry
at Paris. The speech of the King of France, on the opening of the
Chambers (I have no difficulty in saying), excited not only strong
feelings of disapprobation, by the principles which it avowed, but
serious apprehensions for the future, from the designs which it
appeared to disclose. I have no difficulty in saying that the speech
delivered from the British throne at the commencement of the present
session did, as originally drawn, contain an avowal of our intention
to preserve neutrality; but, upon the arrival of the King of France's
speech, the paragraph containing that avowal was withdrawn. Nay, I
have no difficulty in adding that I plainly told the French Chargé
d'Affaires that such an intimation had been intended, but that it was
withdrawn in consequence of the speech of the King, his master. Was
this truckling to France?

It was not, however, on account of Spain that the pledge of neutrality
was withdrawn: it was withdrawn upon principles of general policy on
the part of this country. It was withdrawn, because there was that in
the King of France's speech which appeared to carry the two countries
(France and England) back to their position in older times, when
France, as regarded the affairs of Spain, had been the successful
rival of England. Under such, circumstances, it behoved the English
Ministers to be upon their guard. We _were_ upon our guard. Could we
prove our caution more than by withholding that assurance, which would
at once have set France at ease? We _did_ withhold that assurance.
But it was one thing to withhold the declaration of neutrality, and
another to vary the purpose.

Spain, then, I repeat, has never been misled by the British
Government. But I fear, nevertheless, that a notion was in some way or
other created at Madrid, that if Spain would but hold out resolutely,
the Government of England would be forced, by the popular voice in
this country, to take part in her favour. I infer no blame against
any one; but I do firmly believe that such a notion was propagated in
Spain, and that it had great share in producing the peremptory refusal
of any modification of the Constitution of 1812. Regretting, as I do,
the failure of our endeavours to adjust those disputes, which now
threaten so much evil to the world, I am free at least from the
self-reproach of having contributed to that delusion in the mind of
the Spanish Government or nation, as to the eventual decision of
England, which, if it existed in such a degree as to produce reliance
upon our co-operation, must have added to the other calamities of
her present situation, the bitterness of disappointment. This
disappointment, Sir, was from the beginning, certain, inevitable: for
the mistake of those who excited the hopes of Spain was not only as to
the conduct of the British Government, but as to the sentiments of the
British nation. No man, whatever his personal opinion or feeling may
be, will pretend that the opinion of the country is not decidedly
against war. No man will deny that, if Ministers had plunged the
country into a war for the sake of Spain, they would have come before
Parliament with a heavier weight of responsibility than had ever lain
upon the shoulders of any Government. I impute not to those who
may thus have misled the Spanish Ministry, the intention either
of thwarting (though such was the effect) the policy of their own
Government, or of aggravating (though such must be the consequence)
the difficulties of Spain. But for myself I declare, that even the
responsibility of plunging this country into an unnecessary war, would
have weighed less heavily upon my conscience, than that, which I thank
God I have not incurred, of instigating Spain to the war, by exciting
hopes of assistance which I had not the means of realizing.

I have thus far, Sir, taken the liberty of assuming that the late
negotiations were properly directed to the preservation of peace; and
have argued the merits of the negotiations, on that assumption. I am
aware, that it is still to be established, that peace, under all the
circumstances of the times, _was_ the proper course for this country.

I address myself now to that branch of the subject.

I believe I may venture to take it as universally admitted, that any
question of war involves not only a question of right, not only a
question of justice, but also a question of expediency. I take it to
be admitted on all hands, that before any Government determines to go
to war, it ought to be convinced not only that it has just cause of
war, but that there is something which renders war its duty: a duty
compounded of two considerations--the first, what the country may owe
to others; the second, what she owes to herself. I do not know whether
any gentleman on the other side of the House has thought it worth
while to examine and weigh these considerations, but Ministers had to
weigh them well before they took their resolution. Ministers did
weigh them well; wisely, I hope; I am sure, conscientiously and
deliberately: and, if they came to the decision that peace was the
policy prescribed to them, that decision was founded on a reference,
first, to the situation of Spain; secondly, to the situation of
France; thirdly, to the situation of Portugal; fourthly, to the
situation of the Alliance; fifthly, to the peculiar situation of
England: and lastly, to the general state of the world. And first,
Sir, as to Spain.

The only gentleman by whom (as it seems to me) this part of the
question has been fairly and boldly met, is the honourable member for
Westminster (Mr. Hobhouse), who, in his speech of yesterday evening
(a speech which, however extravagant, as I may perhaps think, in
its tone, was perfectly intelligible and straightforward), not only
declared himself openly for war, but, aware that one of the chief
sinews of war is money, did no less than offer a subsidy to assist
in carrying it on. He declared that his constituents were ready to
contribute all their means to invigorate the hands of Government in
the war; but he annexed, to be sure, the trifling condition, that the
war was to be a war of people against kings. Now this, which, it must
be owned, was no unimportant qualification of the honourable member's
offer of assistance, is also one to which, I confess, I am not quite
prepared to accede. I do not immediately remember any case in which
such a principle of war has been professed by any Government, except
in the decree of the National Convention of the year 1793, which laid
the foundation of the war between this country and France--the decree
which offered assistance to all nations who would shake off the
tyranny of their rulers.

Even the honourable member for Westminster, therefore, is after all
but conditionally in favour of war: and, even in that conditional
pledge, he has been supported by so few members that I cannot
help suspecting that if I were to proceed on the faith of his
encouragement, I should find myself left with the honourable
gentleman, pretty nearly in the situation of King James with his
bishops. King James, we all remember, asked Bishop Neale if he might
not take his subjects' money without the authority of Parliament? To
which Bishop Neale replied, 'God forbid, Sire, but you should; you are
the breath of our nostrils.' The King then turned to Bishop Andrews,
and repeated the same question; when Bishop Andrews answered, 'Sire, I
think it is lawful for your Majesty to take my brother Neale's money,
for he offers it,' Now, if I were to appeal to the House, on the hint
of the honourable gentleman, I should, indeed, on his own terms, have
an undoubted right to the money of the honourable gentleman; but if
the question were put, for instance, to the honourable member for
Surrey (Mr. Holme Sumner), _his_ answer would probably be, 'You may
take my brother of Westminster's money, as he says his constituents
have authorized him to offer it; but _my_ constituents have certainly
given me no such authority.'

But however single, or however conditional,--the voice of the
honourable member for Westminster is still for war; and he does me
the honour to tempt me to take the same course, by reminding me of
a passage in my political life to which I shall ever look back with
pride and satisfaction. I allude to that period when the bold spirit
of Spain burst forth indignant against the oppression of Buonaparte.
Then unworthily filling the same office which I have the honour to
hold at the present moment, I discharged the glorious duty (if a
portion of glory may attach to the humble instrument of a glorious
cause) of recognizing without delay the rights of the Spanish nation,
and of at once adopting that gallant people into the closest amity
with England. It was indeed a stirring, a kindling occasion: and no
man who has a heart in his bosom can think even now of the noble
enthusiasm, the animated exertions, the undaunted courage, the
unconquerable perseverance of the Spanish nation, in a cause
apparently so desperate, finally so triumphant, without feeling
his blood glow and his pulses quicken with tumultuous throbs of
admiration. But I must remind the honourable gentleman of three
circumstances, calculated to qualify a little the feelings of
enthusiasm, and to suggest lessons of caution: I must remind him first
of the state of this country--secondly, of that of Spain--at that
period, as compared with the present; and thirdly, of the manner in
which the enterprise in behalf of Spain was viewed by certain parties
in this country. We are now at peace. In 1808, we were already at
war--we were at war with Buonaparte, the invader of Spain. In 1808 we
were, as now, the allies of Portugal, bound by treaty to defend her
from aggression; but Portugal was at that time not only menaced by
the power of France, but overrun by it; her Royal Family was actually
driven into exile, and their kingdom occupied by the French. Bound
by treaty to protect Portugal, how natural was it, under such
circumstances, to extend our assistance to Spain! Again: Spain was at
that time, comparatively speaking, an united nation. I do not mean to
say that there were no differences of opinion; I do not mean to deny
that some few among the higher classes had been corrupted by the gold
of France: but still the great bulk of the people were united in one
cause; their loyalty to their Sovereign had survived his abdication;
and though absent and a prisoner, the name of Ferdinand VII was the
rallying-point of the nation. But let the House look at the situation
in which England would be placed should she, at the present moment,
march her armies to the aid of Spain. As against France alone, her
task might not be more difficult than before; but is it only with
France that she would now have to contend? England could not strike in
the cause of Spain against the invading foe alone. Fighting in Spanish
ranks, should we not have to point our bayonets against Spanish
bosoms? But this is not the whole of the difference between the
present moment and the year 1808. In 1808 we had a large army prepared
for foreign service a whole war establishment ready appointed: and
the simple question was, in what quarter we could best apply its
force against the common enemy of England, of Spain, of Portugal,--of
Europe. This country had no hopes of peace: our abstinence from the
Spanish war could in no way have accelerated the return of that
blessing; and the Peninsula presented, plainly and obviously, the
theatre of exertion in which we could contend with most advantage.
Compare, then, I say, that period with the present; in which, none of
the inducements, or incitements, which I have described as belonging
to the opportunity of 1808, can be found.

But is the absence of inducement and incitement all? Is there no
positive discouragement in the recollections of that time, to check
too hasty a concurrence in the warlike views of the honourable member
for Westminster? When England, in 1808, under all the circumstances
which I have enumerated, did not hesitate to throw upon the banks of
the Tagus, and to plunge into all the difficulties of the Peninsular
War, an army destined to emerge in triumph through the Pyrenees, was
that course hailed with sympathy and exultation by all parties in the
State? Were there no warnings against danger? no chastisements for
extravagance? no doubts--no complaints--no charges of rashness and
impolicy? I have heard of persons, Sir,--persons of high authority
too--who, in the very midst of the general exaltation of spirit
throughout this country, declared that, 'in order to warrant England
in embarking in a military co-operation with Spain, something more was
necessary than to show that the Spanish cause was just.' 'It was not
enough,' said these enlightened monitors, 'it was not enough that the
attack of France upon the Spanish nation was unprincipled, perfidious,
and cruel--that the resistance of Spain was dictated by every
principle, and sanctioned by every motive, honourable to human
nature--that it made every English heart burn with a holy zeal to lend
its assistance against the oppressor: there were other considerations
of a less brilliant and enthusiastic, but not less necessary and
commanding nature, which should have preceded the determination of
putting to hazard the most valuable interests of the country. It is
not with nations as with individuals. Those heroic virtues which shed
a lustre upon individual man must, in their application to the conduct
of nations, be chastened by reflections of a more cautious and
calculating cast. That generous magnanimity and high-minded
disinterestedness, proud distinctions of national virtue (and happy
were the people whom they characterize), which, when exercised at the
risk of every personal interest, in the prospect of every danger, and
at the sacrifice even of life itself, justly immortalize the hero,
cannot and ought not to be considered justifiable motives of political
action, because nations cannot afford to be chivalrous and romantic.'
History is philosophy teaching by example; and the words of the wise
are treasured for ages that are to come. 'The age of chivalry', said
Mr. Burke, 'is gone; and an age of economists and calculators has
succeeded.' That an age of economists and calculators is come, we have
indeed every night's experience. But what would be the surprise, and
at the same time the gratification, of the mighty spirit of Burke, at
finding his splendid lamentation so happily disproved!--at seeing that
chivalrous spirit, the total extinction of which he deplored, revive,
_qua minime veris_, on the very benches of the economists and
calculators themselves! But in truth, Sir, it revives at a most
inconvenient opportunity. It would be as ill-advised to follow a
chivalrous impulse now, as it would in 1808 have been inexcusable to
disobey it. Under the circumstances of 1808, I would again act as I
then acted. But though inapplicable to the period to which it was
applied, I confess I think the caution which I have just quoted does
apply, with considerable force, to the present moment.

Having shown, then, that in reference to the state of Spain, war was
not the course prescribed by any rational policy to England, let us
next try the question in reference to France.

I do not stop here to refute and disclaim again the unworthy notion,
which was early put forward, but has been since silently retracted and
disowned, that it might have been advisable to try the chance of what
might be effected by a _menace_ of war, unsupported by any serious
design of carrying that menace into execution. Those by whom this
manoeuvre was originally supposed to be recommended are, I understand,
anxious to clear themselves from the suspicion of having intended to
countenance it, and profess indeed to wonder by whom such an idea
can have been entertained. Be it so: I will not press the point
invidiously--it is not necessary for my argument. I have a right then
to take it as admitted, that we could not have threatened war without
being thoroughly prepared for it; and that, in determining to
threaten, we must virtually have determined (whatever the chances of
escaping that ultimate result) to go to war--that the determinations
were in fact identical.

Neither will I discuss over again that other proposition, already
sufficiently exhausted in former debates, of the applicability of a
purely maritime war to a struggle in aid of Spain, in the campaign by
which her fate is to be decided. I will not pause to consider what
consolation it would have been to the Spanish nation--what source of
animation, and what encouragement to perseverance in resisting their
invader--to learn that, though we could not, as in the last war, march
to their aid, and mingle our banners with theirs in battle, we were,
nevertheless, scouring their coasts for prizes, and securing to
ourselves an indemnification for our own expenses in the capture of

To go to war therefore directly, unsparingly, vigorously against
France, in behalf of Spain, in the way in which alone Spain could
derive any essential benefit from our co-operation--to join her with
heart and hand, or to wrap ourselves up in a real and bona fide
neutrality--that was the true alternative.

Some gentlemen have blamed me for a want of enthusiasm upon this
occasion--some, too, who formerly blamed me for an excess of that
quality; but though I am charged with not being now sufficiently
enthusiastic, I assure them that I do not contemplate the present
contest with indifference. Far otherwise. I contemplate, I confess,
with fearful anxiety, the peculiar character of the war in which
France and Spain are engaged and the peculiar direction which that
character may possibly give, to it. I was--I still am--an enthusiast
for national independence; but I am not--I hope I never shall be--an
enthusiast in favour of revolution. And yet how fearfully are, those
two considerations intermingled, in the present contest between France
and Spain! This is no war for territory or for commercial advantages.
It is unhappily a war of principle. France has invaded Spain from
enmity to her new institutions. Supposing the enterprise of France not
to succeed, what is there to prevent Spain from invading France, in
return, from hatred of the principle upon which her invasion has been
justified? Looking upon both sides with an impartial eye, I may avow
that I know no equity which should bar the Spaniards from taking such
a revenge. But it becomes quite another question whether I should
choose to place myself under the necessity of actively contributing to
successes which might inflict on France so terrible a retribution.
If I admit that such a retribution by the party first attacked could
scarcely be censured as unjust, still the punishment retorted upon the
aggressor would be so dreadful, that nothing short of having received
direct injury could justify any third Power in taking part in it.

War between France and Spain (as the Duke of Wellington has said) must
always, to a certain degree, partake of the character of a civil war;
a character which palliates, if it does not justify, many acts that do
not belong to a regular contest between two nations. But why should
England voluntarily enter into a co-operation in which she must either
take part in such acts, or be constantly rebuking and coercing her
allies? If we were at war with France upon any question such as I must
again take the liberty of describing by the term 'external' question,
we should not think ourselves (I trust no government of this country
would think itself) justified in employing against France the arms of
internal revolution. But what, I again ask, is there to restrain Spain
from such means of defensive retaliation, in a struggle begun by
France avowedly from enmity to the internal institutions of Spain? And
is it in such a quarrel that we would mix ourselves? If one of two
contending parties poisons the well-springs of national liberty,
and the other employs against its adversary the venomed weapons of
political fanaticism, shall we voluntarily and unnecessarily associate
ourselves with either, and become responsible for the infliction upon
either of such unusual calamities? While I reject, therefore, with
disdain, a suggestion which I have somewhere heard, of the possibility
of our engaging against the Spanish cause, still I do not feel myself
called upon to join with Spain in hostilities of such peculiar
character as those which she may possibly retaliate upon France. Not
being bound to do so by any obligation, expressed or implied, I cannot
consent to be a party to a war in which, if Spain should chance to be
successful, the result to France, and, through France, to all
Europe, might, in the case supposed, be such as no thinking man can
contemplate without dismay; and such as I (for my own part) would not
assist in producing, for all the advantages which England could reap
from the most successful warfare.

I now come to the third consideration which we had to weigh--the
situation of Portugal. It is perfectly true, as was stated by the
honourable gentleman (Mr. Macdonald) who opened this debate, that we
are bound by treaty to assist Portugal in case of her being attacked.
It is perfectly true that this is an ancient and reciprocal
obligation. It is perfectly true that Portugal has often been in
jeopardy; and equally true that England has never failed to fly to her
assistance. But much misconception has been exhibited during the last
two nights, with respect to the real nature of the engagements between
Portugal and this country: a misconception which has undoubtedly been,
in part, created by the publication of some detached portions of
diplomatic correspondence at Lisbon. The truth is, that some time ago
an application was made to this Government by Portugal to 'guarantee
the new political institutions' of that kingdom. I do not know that
it has been the practice of this country to guarantee the political
institutions of another. Perhaps something of the sort may be found in
the history of our connexion with the united provinces of Holland, in
virtue of which we interfered, in 1786, in the internal disputes of
the authorities in that State. But that case was a special exception:
the general rule is undoubtedly the other way. I declined, therefore,
on the part of Great Britain, to accede to this strange application;
and I endeavoured to reconcile the Portuguese Government to our
refusal, by showing that the demand was one which went directly to
the infraction of that principle of non-interference in the internal
affairs of other States, which we professed for ourselves, and which
it was obviously the interest of Portugal to see respected and
maintained. Our obligations had been contracted with the old
Portuguese monarchy. Our treaty bound us to consult the external
safety of Portugal; and not to examine, to challenge, or to champion
its internal institutions. If _we_ examined their new institutions
for the sake of deriving from them new motives for fulfilling our old
engagements, with what propriety could we prohibit _other_ Powers from
examining them for the purpose of drawing any other conclusion? It
was enough to say that such internal changes no way affected our
engagements with Portugal; that we felt ourselves as much bound to
defend her, under her altered constitution, as under the ancient
monarchy, with which our alliance had been contracted. More than
this we could not say; and more than this it was not her interest to

And what is the obligation of this alliance? To defend Portugal--to
assist her, if necessary, with all our forces, in case of an
unprovoked attack upon her territory. This, however, does not give to
Portugal any right to call on us, if she were attacked in consequence
of her _voluntarily_ declaring war against another Power. By engaging
in the cause of Spain, without any direct provocation from France, she
would unquestionably lose all claim upon our assistance. The rendering
that assistance would then become a question of policy, not of duty.
Surely my honourable and learned friend (Sir James Mackintosh), who
has declaimed so loudly on this subject, knows as well as any man,
that the course which we are bound to follow, in any case affecting
Portugal, is marked out in our treaties with that Crown, with singular
accuracy and circumspection. In case of the suspicion of any design
being entertained against Portugal by another Power, our first duty is
to call on such Power for explanation: in case of such interposition
failing, we are to support Portugal by arms; first with a limited
force, and afterwards with all our might. This treaty we have
fulfilled to the letter, in the present instance. We long ago reminded
France, of our engagements with Portugal; and we have received
repeated assurances that it is the determination of France rigidly to
respect the independence of that kingdom. Portugal certainly did show
some jealousy (as has been asserted) with respect to the Congress of
Verona; and she applied to this Government to know whether her affairs
had been brought before the Congress. I was half afraid of giving
offence when I said 'the name of Portugal was never mentioned'. 'What,
not mentioned? not a word about the new institutions?' 'No, not one.
If mentioned at all, it was only with reference to the slave trade.'
In truth, from the beginning to the close of the proceedings of the
Congress, not the most distant intimation was given of any unfriendly
design against Portugal.

Now, before I quit the Peninsula, a single word more to the honourable
member for Westminster and his constituents. Have they estimated the
burdens of a Peninsular War? God forbid that, if honour, or good
faith, or national interest required it, we should decline the path
of duty because it is encompassed with difficulties; but at least we
ought to keep some consideration of these difficulties in our minds.
We have experience to teach us, with something like accuracy, what are
the pecuniary demands of the contest for which we must be prepared,
if we enter into a war in the Peninsula. To take only two years and a
half of the last Peninsular War of which I happen to have the accounts
at hand, from the beginning of 1812 to the glorious conclusion of the
campaign of 1814, the expense incurred in Spain and Portugal was about
£33,000,000. Is that an expense to be incurred again, without some
peremptory and unavoidable call of duty, of honour, or of interest?

Such a call we are at all times ready to answer, _come_ (to use the
expression so much decried), _come what may_. But there is surely
sufficient ground for pausing, before we acquiesce in the short and
flippant deduction of a rash consequence from false premises, which
has been so glibly echoed from one quarter to another, during the last
four months. 'Oh! we must go to war with France, for we are bound to
go to war in defence of Portugal. Portugal will certainly join Spain
against France; France will then attack Portugal; and then our
defensive obligation comes into play.' Sir, it does no such thing.
If Portugal is attacked by France, or by any other Power, without
provocation, Great Britain _is_ indeed bound to defend her: but if
Portugal wilfully seeks the hostility of France, by joining against
France in a foreign quarrel, there is no such obligation on Great
Britain. The letter of treaties is as clear as the law of nations is
precise upon this point: and as I believe no British statesman ever
lived, so I hope none ever will live, unwise enough to bind his
country by so preposterous an obligation, as that she should go to
war, not merely in defence of an ally, but at the will and beck of
that ally, whenever ambition, or false policy, or a predominant
faction, may plunge that ally into wars of her own seeking and

On the other hand, would it have been advisable for us to precipitate
Portugal into the war? Undoubtedly we might have done so. For by
declaring war against France, on behalf of Spain, we should have
invited France (and there was perhaps a party in Portugal ready enough
to second the invitation) to extend her hostilities to the whole of
the Peninsula. But was it an object of sound policy to bring a war
upon our hands, of which it was clear that we must bear all the
burden? And was not the situation of Portugal, then, so far from being
a reason for war, that it added the third motive, and one of the
greatest weight, to our preference for a pacific policy?

Fourthly.--As to our Continental allies. There was surely nothing in
their situation to induce Great Britain to take a part in the war.
Their Ministers have indeed been withdrawn from Madrid; but no alarm
has been excited, by that act, in Spain. No case has occurred which
gives to France a right to call for the assistance of the allies. But
had the British Government taken a decided part in support of the
Spaniards, a material change might have been produced in the aspect
of affairs. Spain, who has now to contend with France alone, might in
that case have had to contend with other and more overwhelming forces.
Without pushing these considerations farther, enough surely has been
said to indicate the expediency of adhering to that line of policy
which we successfully pursued at Verona; and of endeavouring, by our
example as well as by our influence, to prevent the complication and
circumscribe the range of hostilities. Let it be considered how much
the duration and the disasters of a war may depend upon the multitude
or the fewness of its elements; and how much the accession of any
new party, or parties, to a war must add to the difficulties of

I come next to consider the situation of this country. And first, as
to our ability for the undertaking of a war. I have already said, that
the country is yet rich enough in resources, in means, in strength,
to engage in any contest to which national honour may call her; but I
must at the same time be allowed to say, that her strength has very
recently been strained to the utmost; that her means are at that
precise stage of recovery which makes it most desirable that the
progress of that recovery should not be interrupted; that her
resources, now in a course of rapid reproduction, would, by any sudden
check, be thrown into a disorder more deep and difficult of cure. It
is in reference to this particular condition of the country, that I
said on a former evening, what the honourable member for Surrey (Mr.
Holme Sumner) has since done me the honour to repeat, 'If we are to be
driven into war, sooner or later, let it be later': let it be after we
have had time to turn, as it were, the corner of our difficulties--
after we shall have retrieved a little more, effectively our exhausted
resources, and have assured ourselves of means and strength, not only
to begin, but to keep up the conflict, if necessary, for an indefinite
period of time.

For let no man flatter himself that a war now entered upon would be a
short one. Have we so soon forgotten the course and progress of the
last war? For my part, I remember well the anticipations with which
it began. I remember hearing a man, who will be allowed to have been
distinguished by as great sagacity as ever belonged to the most
consummate statesman--I remember hearing Mr. Pitt, not, in his place
in Parliament (where it might have been his object and his duty
to animate zeal and to encourage hope), but in the privacy of his
domestic circle, among the friends in whom he confided--I remember
well hearing him say, in 1793, that he expected that war to be of very
short duration. That duration ran out to a period beyond the life
of him who made the prediction. It outlived his successor, and
the successors of that successor, and at length came suddenly and
unexpectedly to an end, through a combination of miraculous events,
such as the most sanguine imagination could not have anticipated.
With that example full in my recollection, I could not act upon the
presumption that a new war, once begun, would be speedily ended. Let
no such expectation induce us to enter a path, which, however plain
and clear it may appear at the outset of the journey, we should
presently see branching into intricacies, and becoming encumbered with
obstructions, until we were involved in a labyrinth from which not we
ourselves only, but the generation to come, might in vain endeavour to
find the means of extrication.

For the confirmation of these observations I appeal to that which I
have stated as the last of the considerations in reference to which
the policy of the British Government was calculated--mean, to the
present state of the world. No man can witness with more delight than
I do the widening diffusion of political liberty. Acknowledging all
the blessings which we have long derived from liberty ourselves, I do
not grudge to others a participation in them. I would not prohibit
other nations from kindling their torches at the flame of British
freedom. But let us not deceive ourselves. The general acquisition of
free institutions is not necessarily a security for general peace. I
am obliged to confess that its immediate tendency is the other way.
Take an example from France herself. The Representative Chamber of
France has undoubtedly been the source of those hostilities, which
I should not have despaired of seeing averted through the pacific
disposition of the French King. Look at the democracies of the ancient
world. Their existence, I may say, was in war. Look at the petty
republics of Italy in more modern times. In truth, long intervals of
profound peace are much more readily to be found under settlements of
a monarchical form. Did the Republic of Rome, in the whole career of
her existence, enjoy an interval of peace of as long duration as that
which this country enjoyed under the administration of Sir Robert
Walpole?--and that interval, be it remembered, was broken short
through the instigation of popular feeling. I am not saying that this
is right or wrong--but that it is so. It is in the very nature of free
governments--and more especially, perhaps, of governments newly free.
The principle which for centuries has given ascendancy to Great
Britain is that she was the single, free State in Europe. The spread
of the representative system destroys that singularity, and must
(however little we may like it) proportionally enfeeble our
preponderating influence--unless we measure our steps cautiously and
accommodate our conduct to the times. Let it not be supposed that I
would disparage the progress of freedom, that I wish checks to be
applied to it, or that I am pleased at the sight of obstacles thrown
in its way. Far, very far from it. I am only desiring it to be
observed, that we cannot expect to enjoy at the same time incompatible
advantages. Freedom must ever be the greatest of blessings; but it
ceases to be a distinction, in proportion as other nations become

But, Sir, this is only a partial view of the subject; and one to which
I have been led by the unreasonable expectations of those who, while
they make loud complaints of the diplomacy of England, as less
commanding than heretofore, unconsciously specify the very causes
which necessarily diminish and counteract its efficacy.

There are, however, other considerations to which I beg leave to turn
the attention of the House.

It is perfectly true, as has been argued by more than one honourable
member in this debate, that there is a contest going on in the world,
between the spirit of unlimited monarchy, and the spirit of unlimited
democracy. Between these two spirits, it may be said that strife is
either openly in action or covertly at work, throughout the greater
portion of Europe. It is true, as has also been argued, that in no
former period in history is there so close a resemblance to the
present, as in that of the Reformation. So far my honourable and
learned friend (Sir J. Mackintosh) and the honourable baronet (Sir F.
Burdett) were justified in holding up Queen Elizabeth's reign as an
example for our study. The honourable member for Westminster, too, has
observed that, in imitation of Queen Elizabeth's policy, the proper
place for this country, in the present state of the world, is at
the head of free nations struggling against arbitrary power. Sir,
undoubtedly there is, as I have admitted, a general resemblance
between the two periods; forasmuch as in both we see a conflict of
opinions, and in both a bond of union growing out of those opinions,
which establishes, between parts and classes of different nations,
a stricter communion than belongs to community of country. It is
true--it is, I own I think, a formidable truth--that in this respect
the two periods do resemble each other. But though there is
this general similarity, there is one circumstance which mainly
distinguishes the present time from the reign of Elizabeth; and which,
though by no means unimportant in itself, has been overlooked by all
those to whose arguments I am now referring. Elizabeth was herself
amongst the revolters against the authority of the Church of Rome; but
we are not amongst those who are engaged in a struggle against the
spirit of unlimited monarchy. We have fought that fight. We have taken
our station. We have long ago assumed a character differing altogether
from that of those around us. It may have been the duty and the
interest of Queen Elizabeth to make common cause with--to put herself
at the head of--those who supported the Reformation: but can it be
either our interest or our duty to ally ourselves with revolution? Let
us be ready to afford refuge to the sufferers of either extreme party:
but it is not surely our policy to become the associate of either. Our
situation now is rather what that of Elizabeth _would have been,_
if the Church of England had been, in her time, already completely
established, in uncontested supremacy; acknowledged as a legitimate
settlement, unassailed and unassailable by papal power. Does my
honourable and learned friend believe that the policy of Elizabeth
would in that case have been the same?

Now, our complex constitution is established with so happy a mixture
of its elements--its tempered monarchy and its regulated freedom--that
we have nothing to fear from foreign despotism, nothing at home but
from capricious change. We have nothing to fear, unless, distasteful
of the blessings which we have earned, and of the calm which we enjoy,
we let loose again, with rash hand, the elements of our constitution,
and set them once more to fight against each other. In this enviable
situation, what have we in common with the struggles which are going
on in other countries, for the attainment of objects of which we have
been long in undisputed possession? We look down upon those struggles
from the point to which we have happily attained, not with the
cruel delight which is described by the poet, as arising from the
contemplation of agitations in which the spectator is not exposed
to share; but with an anxious desire to mitigate, to enlighten, to
reconcile, to save--by our example in all cases, by our exertions
where we can usefully interpose.

Our station, then, is essentially neutral: neutral not only between
contending nations, but between conflicting principles. The object of
the Government has been to preserve that station; and for the purpose
of preserving it, to maintain peace. By remaining at peace ourselves,
we best secure Portugal; by remaining at peace, we take the best
chance of circumscribing the range and shortening the duration of the
war, which we could not prevent from breaking out between France and
Spain. By remaining at peace, we shall best enable ourselves to take
an effectual and decisive part in any contest into which we may be
hereafter forced against our will.

The papers on the table, the last paper at least (I mean the dispatch
of the 31st of March, in which is stated what we expect from France),
ought, I think, to have satisfied the honourable baronet, who said
that, provided the Government was firm in purpose, he should not be
disposed to find fault with their having acted _suaviter in modo _.
In that dispatch our neutrality is qualified with certain specified
conditions. To those conditions France has given her consent. When we
say in that dispatch, we are 'satisfied' that those conditions will be
observed, is it not obvious that we use a language of courtesy, which
is always most becomingly employed between independent Powers? Who
does not know that, in diplomatic correspondence, under that suavity
of expression is implied an 'or', which imports another alternative?

So far, then, as the interests and honour of Great Britain are
concerned, those interests and that honour have, been scrupulously
maintained. Great Britain has come out of the, negotiations, claiming
all the respect that is due to her; and, in a tone not to be mistaken,
enforcing all her rights. It is true that her policy has not been
violent or precipitate. She has not sprung forth armed, from the
impulse of a sudden indignation; she has looked before and after; she
has reflected on all the circumstances which beset, and on all the
consequences which may follow, so awful a decision as war; and instead
of descending into the arena, as party in a quarrel not her own, she
has assumed the attitude and the attributes of justice, holding high
the balance, and grasping but not unsheathing the sword.

Sir, I will now trouble the House no further than to call its
attention to the precise nature of the motion which it has to dispose
of this night. Sir, the result of the negotiations, as I have before
stated, rendered it unnecessary and irregular for the Government to
call for the expression of a parliamentary opinion upon them. It was,
however, competent for any honourable member to suggest to the House
the expression of such opinion; which, if expressed at all, it will
readily be admitted ought to be expressed intelligibly. Now, what is
the Address which, after a fortnight's notice, and after the menaces
with which it has been announced and ushered in, the House has been
desired to adopt? The honourable gentleman's Address first proposes to
'represent to His Majesty, that the disappointment of His Majesty's
benevolent solicitude to preserve general peace appears to this House
to have, in a great measure, arisen from the failure of his Ministers
to make the most earnest, vigorous, and solemn protest against the
pretended right of the Sovereigns assembled _at Verona_, to make
war on Spain in order to compel alterations in her political
institutions'. I must take the liberty to say that this is not a true
description. The war I have shown to be a _French_ war, not arising
from anything done, or omitted to be done, _at Verona_. But to finish
the sentence:--'as well as against the subsequent pretension of the
French Government, that nations cannot lawfully enjoy any civil
privileges but from the spontaneous grant of their kings.' I must
here again take the liberty to say that the averment is not correct.
Whatever the misconduct of Government in these negotiations may have
been, it is plain matter-of-fact, that they protested in the strongest
manner against the pretension put forward in the speech of the King
of France, that the liberties and franchises of a nation should be
derived exclusively from the throne. It is on record, in this very
Address, that the honourable gentlemen themselves could not have
protested more strongly than the Government; since, in the next
sentence to that which I have just read, in order to deliver
themselves with the utmost force, they have condescended to borrow my
words. For the Address goes on: '... principles destructive of the
rights of all independent States, which _strike at the root of the
British Constitution_, and are subversive of His Majesty's legitimate
title to the throne.' Now by far the strongest expression in this
sentence--the metaphor (such as it is) about 'striking at the root
of the British Constitution '--is mine. It is in my dispatch to Sir
Charles Stuart of the 4th of February, I claim it with the pride and
fondness of an author: when I see it plagiarized by those who condemn
_me_ for not using sufficiently forcible language, and who yet, in the
very breath, in which they pronounce that condemnation, are driven to
borrow my very words to exemplify the omission which they impute.

So much for the justice of the Address: now for its usefulness and

What is the full and sufficient declaration of the sense of the House
on this most-momentous crisis, which is contained in this monitory
expostulation to the throne? It proceeds: 'Further to declare to His
Majesty the surprise and sorrow with which this House has observed
that His Majesty's Ministers should have advised the Spanish
Government, while _so_ unwarrantably menaced'--(this 'so' must refer
to something out of doors, for there is not a word in the previous
part of this precious composition to which it can be grammatically
applied)--'to alter their constitution, in the hope of averting
invasion; a concession which alone would have involved the total
sacrifice of national independence, and which was not even palliated
by an assurance from France, that on receiving so dishonourable a
submission, she would desist from her unprovoked aggression.' (I deny
this statement, by the way; it is a complete misrepresentation.)
'Finally to represent to His Majesty that, in the judgement of this
House, a tone of more dignified remonstrance _would have been_ better
calculated to preserve the peace of the Continent, and thereby to
secure this nation more effectually from the hazard of being involved
in the calamities of war.' And there it ends!--with a mere conjecture
of what '_would have been_'!

Is this an Address for a British Parliament, carrying up a complaint
that the nation is on the eve of war, but conveying not a word of
advice as to the course to be followed at such a moment? I, for my own
part, beg the House not to agree to such an Address--for this reason,
amongst others, that as it will be my duty to tender my humble advice
to His Majesty as to the answer to be given to it, I am sure I shall
not know what to advise His Majesty to say: the only answer which
occurs to me as suitable to the occasion is, 'Indeed! I am very sorry
for it.'

This, then, is the upshot of a motion which was to show that the
present Ministers are unfit to carry on war or to maintain peace; and,
by implication, that there are those who know better how such matters
should be managed. This is the upshot of the motion, which was
to dislodge us from our seats, and to supply our places with the
honourable gentlemen opposite. It is affirmed that we are now on the
eve of war, the peace which we have maintained being insecure. If
we _are_ on the eve of war, will not this be the first time that a
British House of Parliament has approached the throne, on such an
occasion, without even a conditional pledge of support? If war is a
matter even of possible contemplation, it surely becomes this House
either to concur in an Address for the removal of the Ministers, who
have needlessly incurred that danger; or, as the amendment moved by
the honourable member for Yorkshire proposes, to tender to His Majesty
a cordial assurance that this House will stand by His Majesty in
sustaining the dignity of his crown, and the rights and interests
of his people. I trust, therefore, Sir, that by rejecting this most
incorrect and inadequate Address--as unworthy of the House as it is
of the occasion; an Address contradictory in some parts to itself:
in more, to the established facts of the case; and in all to the
ascertained sense of the country; and by adopting, in its room, the
amendment moved by the honourable member for Yorkshire, and seconded
by the member for London, the House will stamp the policy which the
King's Ministers have pursued--feebly perhaps, perhaps erroneously,
but at all events from pure motives, in the sincerity of their hearts,
and as conducive, in their judgement, to the tranquillity, welfare,
and happiness, not of this country only, but of the world--with that
highest of all sanctions, the deliberate approbation of the House of


On the motion of Sir J. Mackintosh, the passages in His Majesty's
speech at the commencement and termination of the last and at the
commencement of the present session were read. Sir J. Mackintosh then
delivered a long and powerful speech, relating to the affairs of
Portugal, concluding, amidst loud cheers, with moving for copies and
extracts of communications concerning the relations between this
country and the Queen of Portugal, illustrative of the several topics
alluded to in his speech.

Mr. Secretary Peel said, that the right hon. gentleman who had just
made an able and eloquent speech to the House had reserved for the
closing part an affecting address to their feelings. The right hon.
gentleman had detailed the extreme severities alleged to have been
committed upon certain residents in the city of Oporto. He was
confident, however, that no sympathy towards the sufferings of
individuals, and no indignation against injustice, would withdraw
the House from the calm and dispassionate consideration of those
principles on which the public policy of this country had been founded
with regard to the kingdom of Portugal. He could not but express
his cordial concurrence in the hope that this country, through the
forbearance, wisdom, and virtue of its constitutional counsellors,
would continue to enjoy the tranquillity and harmony which, for the
last fifteen years, it had happily experienced. He trusted that
efforts would be made to advance general instruction and civilization,
and increased commercial intercourse between the nations, until the
character of merely military conquerors was reduced to its proper
dimensions, and until society was impressed with just notions of moral
obligations and the blessings of peace. He hoped he should not be
misconstrued, as a Minister of this country, in using this language.
It proceeded from no unwillingness to enter upon war, if the cause
were just and necessary--from no diffidence in the resources of the
country--from no fear of the, ability of bringing such a contest to a,
successful issue; but no man interested in the general improvement
and happiness of mankind, and charged with the superintendence of the
concerns of a great nation, could be accounted as acting an unworthy
part in wishing for the continuance of peace. He indulged the hope of
being able to satisfy the House that the course pursued with respect
to Portugal had not only been in conformity to the strict principle of
engagements--not only in conformity to the moral responsibility which
England had incurred--but that it was better calculated to provide
for the continuance of tranquillity than that which, judging by his
arguments and observations, the right hon. gentleman would have been
disposed to recommend with regard to the kingdom of Portugal. He
admitted with the right hon. gentleman the antiquity of the relations
subsisting between this country and Portugal. He admitted that they
had continued almost without interruption for four hundred and fifty
years; and although the right hon. gentleman said, that on three
occasions Portugal was subjected to invasion in consequence of its
adherence to England, yet he begged to remind the House that England
had not been backward in advancing to the succour of Portugal; and
that the history of no country exhibited more proofs of the part
taken by a powerful state to protect any kingdom in its interests and
independence. The Portuguese were well entitled to the name of ancient
allies: the inhabitants of the respective countries had united their
arms in many fields, and almost always in fields of victory. The
question now to be considered was, whether treaties existed imposing
on Great Britain any obligation which of late had not been fulfilled;
or whether any obligation imposed on her a duty to be fulfilled when
called on by an appeal for further interference.

If the House would permit him, he would notice in detail the several
observations of the right hon. gentleman; and, in the first place,
those made rather with a view of provoking explanation than of
criminating or accusing the advisers of the Crown. The right hon.
gentleman had stated that, by a series of treaties, England was
bound to protect the integrity and independence of the Portuguese
territories. That statement was correct; but he denied that, either in
the letter or in the spirit of those treaties, or in any engagement
or obligation entered into by Great Britain, there was conveyed
a guarantee of the succession of any particular individual, or a
guarantee of the existence of any political institution in Portugal.
No request for such a guarantee had ever been preferred before the
year 1820. In consequence of the unfortunate dissensions since that
time, frequent applications had been made to England by different
parties, either for the guarantee of certain institutions, or the
security of existing forms of government; but the uniform answer was,
that the guarantee to Portugal was against foreign invasion, and not
on behalf of particular institutions, and that the general rule
of England was not to interfere in the internal affairs of other
countries. In 1822, his right hon. friend, Mr. Canning, being
reappointed to the office of Secretary for Foreign Affairs, was
appealed to by the democratic Government of Portugal for a guarantee
of its political institutions. His right hon. friend referred the
deputation to the declaration made by Lord Castlereagh at the Congress
of Laybach, as the Minister of England, that her rule was not to
interfere in the affairs of other countries, and distinctly notified
to the Secretary of State of Portugal that the general principles
of Lord Castlereagh's declaration applied to the institutions of
Portugal. He held in his hand an extract from the note written by Mr.
Ward under the direction of Mr. Canning. It stated that, in reply to
the doubts of Mr. Oliveira, he referred to the declaration of 1821,
laying it down as His Britannic Majesty's principles, with respect
to foreign states, to abstain from interference in their domestic
affairs; a principle which applied to all independent states, and was
the more binding as depending on the law of nations. He referred, he
said, to this note to show that the present policy was not a line of
conduct adopted for one occasion, but a principle expressly laid down
both by Lord Castlereagh and Mr. Canning, and which, notwithstanding
our peculiar relations with Portugal, in consequence of treaties
existing for four hundred years, was yet not considered applicable
to Portugal more than to any other state. In 1822, when Brazil and
England were engaged in negotiations consequent upon the declaration
of the independence of the Crown of Portugal, the principle was
also considered applicable, and was observed throughout; and, in
acknowledging the independence of Brazil, it was understood that it
should not preclude an amicable arrangement between the two countries.
The course adopted by Mr. Canning not only was sanctioned by sound
policy and justice, but was the principle that had always guided
England when called on to interfere in the civil concerns of Portugal.
It was quite true that, in 1826, England sent an army to Portugal, and
he thought then, and thought now, that in doing so she not only acted
in conformity with the spirit of ancient treaties, but of wisdom and
sound policy. Nothing could be more express than the disclaimer by Mr.
Canning, that the army was not sent out for the purpose of supporting
political institutions, but at the express instance of the _de facto_
Government of Portugal, craving the assistance of England as a
protection from foreign invasion. The principle of non-interference
was distinctly recognized in sending out that army, and every
instruction to the officer in command was to forbear mingling in civil
dissensions, but to protect the kingdom from foreign invasion.

He brought forward these statements to show that England had
throughout declined giving a guarantee for any political institutions,
or interfering in civil dissensions. That being the general rule,
was there any peculiarity in the usurpation of Don Miguel, or in
the claims of Donna Maria, to impose upon England the necessity of
departing from her usual course? He was prepared to contend, in
opposition to the inferences that might be drawn from the arguments of
the right hon. gentleman, that there was no special case calling for a
departure from our general system of policy. The first proof given by
the right hon. gentleman of the duty of a qualified interference was
drawn from the fact, that Don Miguel's accession or usurpation was in
1825, at the time when the treaty of separation between Brazil and
Portugal had been entered into, and when the constitution had been
sent from Brazil, through the agency of Sir Charles Stuart, a British
subject. The right hon. gentleman had stated that this circumstance
must have led the people of Portugal to believe that England was a
party to the grant of the constitution, and as such bound to aid and
support it. The answer to that point was quite conclusive. The
affairs of Portugal would be so familiar to the House that they would
recollect that Don John, its late monarch, died in 1826, and that Don
Pedro, his son, having effected the separation of Brazil and Portugal
by treaty, was styled Emperor of Brazil. Don John died, and the treaty
was ratified; but no provision had been made for the succession to the
crown of Portugal. Don Pedro claimed the crown as king by succession,
and determined on transferring it to his daughter, with the grant of
a constitution. Now the fact was that England was not in any way
responsible for that constitution. Don John died in 1826, and Sir
Charles Stuart brought the constitution to Portugal on May 11 in
the same year; and, by the dates of the different events, it was
physically impossible that England should have organized the charter.
Sir Charles Stuart was not only the plenipotentiary of England to
Brazil, but was also employed in a similar capacity in adjusting
certain differences between Brazil and Portugal; and, having
discharged his duties as a British subject, he had remained at Rio de
Janeiro in the latter character. Sir Charles did not act by the advice
of the British Government, but was the mere bearer of the charter;
and Mr. Canning, fearing that his residence at Lisbon might create an
impression that this country was responsible for the charter, sent
a circular to every court in Europe, disclaiming on the part of
the British Government, any part in, or even knowledge of, the
transaction; and he moreover ordered Sir Charles Stuart forthwith
to leave Lisbon, lest his presence should be misconstrued into a
countenancing of Don Pedro's constitution. The right hon. gentleman
had inferred that England had contracted to support the constitutional
charter. Now it so happened that all delusion upon that point had been
effectually prevented by the language of the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, who declared in Parliament that he had declined advising the
King to interfere in the affairs of Portugal. Nothing could be more
explicit than the declaration of Mr. Canning. As the subject was
important, he trusted the House would allow him to refer to the words
of Mr. Canning. On December 12, 1826, in the celebrated speech which
he delivered on bringing down the King's message respecting the
affairs of Portugal, Mr. Canning expressed himself as follows: 'It has
been surmised that this measure (the grant of a constitutional charter
to Portugal), as well as the abdication with which it was accompanied,
was the offspring of our advice. No such thing. Great Britain did not
suggest this measure. It is not her duty, nor her practice, to offer
suggestions for the internal regulation of foreign states. She neither
approved nor disapproved of the grant of a constitutional charter to
Portugal; her opinion upon that grant was never required. True it
is that the instrument of the constitutional charter was brought to
Europe by a gentleman of high trust in the service of the British
Government. Sir Charles Stuart had gone to Brazil to negotiate the
separation between that country and Portugal. In addition to his
character of plenipotentiary of Great Britain as the mediating Power,
he had also been invested by the King of Portugal with the character
of His Most Faithful Majesty's plenipotentiary for the negotiation
with Brazil. That negotiation had been brought to a happy conclusion;
and therewith the British part of Sir C. Stuart's commission had
terminated. But Sir C. Stuart was still resident at Rio de Janeiro
as the plenipotentiary of the King of Portugal, for negotiating
commercial arrangements between Portugal and Brazil. In this latter
character it was that Sir C. Stuart, on his return to Europe, was
requested by the Emperor of Brazil to be the bearer to Portugal of the
new constitutional charter. His Majesty's Government found no
fault with Sir C. Stuart for executing this commission; but it was
immediately felt that, if Sir C. Stuart were allowed to remain at
Lisbon, it might appear in the eyes of Europe that England was the
contriver and imposer of the Portuguese constitution. Sir C. Stuart
was therefore directed to return home forthwith, in order that the
constitution, if carried into effect there, might plainly appear to
be adopted by the Portuguese nation itself--not forced upon them by
English interference.' On the part of the Government of England, it
was evident, therefore, that no advice had been given on the subject
of this charter, and that England was in no way responsible for it.
Mr. Canning publicly avowed this fact; therefore there could have been
no deception practised upon Portugal, nor could she have placed any
reliance upon the participation of England in the transaction.

The right hon. gentleman, in the second part of his speech, had
adverted to the discussions at London and Vienna, respecting the
acceptance of the regency by Don Miguel, as involving a necessity to
support the claims of the young queen. But surely it was too much
to contend that, if England and Austria had taken certain measures
respecting the appointment of Don Miguel to the regency, with the
sanction of Don Pedro, they thereby became the guarantees of the
Queen's rights. It was true that the King of Great Britain and the
Emperor of Austria took certain measures to induce Don Miguel to
comply with the engagements; and it was true that the engagements he
contracted with Don Pedro were not fulfilled. That circumstance might
impair the individual character and conduct of Don Miguel, in any
discussion regarding his private crimes and vices; but he would
remind the right hon. gentleman that the vices and the crimes of
this individual were matter of consideration for the inhabitants of
Portugal; and if ever we undertook to govern our public policy by
considerations arising from the private acts of individuals, he feared
that that influence, which he rejoiced to hear we were admitted to
possess, would not long continue. These were considerations which
ought not to influence the public policy of other nations. Then the
question came to this--Was England to undertake the conquest of
Portugal for Donna Maria or not? That was the whole question. The
right hon. gentleman said that England and Austria ought to have
compelled Don Miguel to have executed his office of Regent of
Portugal. By what means? There was only one of two courses of
action--either complete neutrality, or the conquest of Portugal for
the Queen. To give advice to Don Miguel, without intending to follow
up that advice by force, if necessary, would be very likely to
disappoint its effect: to threaten, without executing the threat,
would be very inconsistent with the dignity of the Crown of England.
To enter into any alliance with Brazil, with regard to the succession
of the young Queen, would for various reasons, besides our proximity
to Portugal, make England the principal in the war, and Brazil an
inadequate sharer. It would be difficult to contend that there was
anything in ancient treaties, or any part of our stipulations, which
strengthened the claim on England to advance the interests of Donna
Maria by arms, or to force upon a reluctant people a Sovereign they
were not willing to accept. The right hon. gentleman had said that at
Vienna it had been intimated to Don Miguel, by the Courts of Austria
and England, that if he did not accept the regency on the conditions
upon which it was offered to him, he should be detained at Vienna
until instructions could be received from Don Pedro. He (Mr. Peel)
did not recollect that any such intimation had been conveyed to
Don Miguel. He had no recollection as to any intention of forcibly
detaining him; and he could assert that England was no party to any
such forcible detention. England was merely present by her ambassador.
It was, no doubt, an indignity to England that Don Miguel did not
fulfil his stipulations, which had been entered into in the presence
of her ambassador. But the question was, whether it was just or
politic to make this a ground of war? He deplored, as much as
the right hon. gentleman, Don Miguel's non-observance of those
stipulations, and his want of faith; but he only contended that there
was no ground for the interference of England by force, still less
for adopting a principle of interference which might lead to serious

Another subject to which the right hon. gentleman had referred was the
blockade of Terceira; and, without entering into all the particulars
of that blockade, he should be able to justify the course pursued by
Government. The right hon. gentleman had lamented that England had
respected a blockade established by a _de facto_ Government. He would
merely adduce--as a proof that there was no partiality to Portugal in
recognizing the blockade--the fact that when Don Pedro disunited the
Portuguese Empire, and declared Brazil independent, in defiance of
his father, he established a blockade. England, upon that occasion,
pursued the same course as she had now done. Without pronouncing upon
the legality of the Government, she respected this act. So, in the
present case, without pronouncing on the legality of Don Miguel's
government, finding a blockade established, we had respected it, as
we had done in Greece and in South America when a blockade was
established by a competent force. Then the right hon. gentleman had
contended that there was a want of courtesy in not admitting the
claims of the respective Ministers of Portugal and Brazil. Now, there
were three individuals in this country who had taken part in some
diplomatic relations--the Marquis Palmella, the Marquis Barbacena,
and Count Itabayana. But when the Marquis Palmella was applied to
respecting the affairs of Portugal, he declared his functions to be at
an end. Surely England could not be expected to recognize a Minister
who, when he was addressed upon public matters, declared that his
functions as a Minister were at an end! With regard to the Marquis
Barbacena, he arrived here in charge of the Queen of Portugal, quite
unexpectedly. The Queen had been sent from the Brazils to Vienna,
in order to be placed under her relation the Emperor of Austria. No
notification had been transmitted to this country of his intention to
send her here. Letters were actually received from Mr. Gordon, our
Minister at the Brazils, dated three weeks after the Queen of Portugal
had sailed, which mentioned no intention of the Queen coming to
England. It was not until the arrival of the Marquis Barbacena at
Gibraltar, that he determined to convey her hither; and it was not too
much for the Government to ask the marquis, 'In what character do you
appear?' Still it was intimated to him that, notwithstanding the want
of courtesy displayed in not notifying the intention of Her Majesty,
this would not affect the conduct of the Government, or cause the
disrespectful reception of the Queen. But this showed the absolute
necessity of ascertaining the character and powers of the marquis.
Therefore, he could not think that his noble friend at the head of the
Foreign Department, having to do with three Ministers of one state,
was in fault if he desired to know their powers before he treated with

He would again remind the hon. gentleman that, if Don Miguel did sway
the destinies of Portugal, this was not owing to foreign influence; it
was owing to the Portuguese themselves. He had been proclaimed King by
the Cortes of the kingdom. An insurrection had indeed sprung up, but
it had failed. The right hon. gentleman said that it failed through
some mistake, and that if the insurgents had pressed forward to
Lisbon, Don Miguel and his mother would have been forced to emigrate.
But he (Mr. Peel) held it to be quite unnecessary to discuss these
points, or to inquire into the popularity of the King, or the
consequences which might have happened if the insurgent general had
advanced. Don Miguel was the person administering, _de facto_, the
government of Portugal, and he could not think it prudent on the
part of England to undertake to displace him, and to dictate to the
Portuguese who should be their ruler.

The only other transaction to which the right hon. gentleman had
referred in the second part of his speech was that of Terceira. He
would attempt to explain, with as much clearness as possible, the
course which the Government had pursued in this affair. It was the
determination of the English Government to maintain a strict and
undeviating neutrality in regard to the dissensions of Portugal; and
they resolved not to be induced, by any appeal to their feelings, to
depart from it. They considered that there had been no sufficient
case made out for forcible interference, and they resolved not to
interfere. When the insurgents in the north of Portugal were driven to
take refuge in Spain, Spain objected to receive them, and England
did interfere to procure them a milder treatment. They, however,
determined to repair to England, and applied for leave, which was
granted: and a body of from three thousand to four thousand men were
received at Plymouth, and continued there for a considerable time. The
right hon. gentleman said that a notification was conveyed to them in
November that the officers were to be separated from the men; that, in
consequence, the Marquis Palmella informed the Duke of Wellington of
their wish to retire to Brazil, and that on December 23 they applied
to go to Terceira. The right hon. gentleman's version of this
transaction was somewhat different from his. On December 23, an
intimation had been given to Marquis Palmella that England would
not permit them to go on a hostile expedition to any part of the
Portuguese dominions. But the right hon. gentleman had not stated
that, on October 15, two months before the period before mentioned,
the Marquis Barbacena had written to the Duke of Wellington to inform
him that the Government of the Azores had made preparations for the
reception of the Portuguese refugees, and that the marquis applied
for a conveyance of the troops to Terceira, the largest island of the
Azores. The other islands had acknowledged Don Miguel; in Terceira the
garrison was in favour of Don Miguel, but there was a strong party
in the island in favour of the Queen. The answer of the Duke of
Wellington, on October 18, was that England was determined to maintain
a neutrality in the civil dissensions of Portugal, and that the King,
with that determination, could not permit the ports and arsenals of
England to be made places of equipment for hostile armaments. It was
intimated to the Marquis Palmella that, although the Government were
willing to give shelter to the troops, it was improper that they
should continue to occupy Plymouth as a military body, and that they
should distribute themselves in the adjoining villages. The answer to
this intimation was that their separation as a military body would
relieve the Portuguese Government of its apprehensions. Was it to be
tolerated that a Power not at war with us should see a force collected
in England sufficient to excite apprehensions? The Marquis Palmella
was told that the troops must give up their military character and
become individuals. The answer was that, rather than separate, and
destroy their military character, they would prefer going to Brazil.
The reply to this was, that we did not wish them to go to Brazil,
but we would not obstruct them; and in order to protect them from
Portuguese cruisers, a British convoy was offered and declined. The
right hon. gentleman said that application was made for permission for
a body of unarmed men to go to Terceira. But it was necessary that the
House should know certain facts relating to the export of arms in that
island which, if permitted, every object they had in view would have
been attained. He was sorry to be obliged to state these facts; but it
was necessary to the vindication of the Government, and those who were
implicated in those transactions must suffer. At an earlier period
than that mentioned by the right hon. gentleman--namely, August 15,
1828--Count Itabayana had applied to Lord Aberdeen for permission to
export one hundred and fifty barrels of gunpowder and a quantity of
muskets to Brazil. Lord Aberdeen replied that he would grant that
permission provided the arms and powder were not intended to be
employed in the civil dissensions of Portugal; that if the Emperor of
Brazil had determined to attempt to conquer Portugal, England would
not interfere; and he therefore required a bona fide declaration as
to the manner in which the arms and powder were to be employed. Count
Itabayana's answer was, that he did not hesitate to give a clear and
precise reply, and that there was no intention of so employing them.
In consequence of this answer, Lord Aberdeen gave the permission
desired: but the arms and powder were, notwithstanding this
declaration, instantly transported to Terceira. Therefore when
application was made to the Government for permission for the troops
to leave this country for Terceira, they said, 'We have been already
deceived; you profess to sail as unarmed men, but you will find arms
on your arrival at Terceira.' They did, however, sail, and the right
hon. gentleman had asked what right we had to stop them on the high
seas? He would tell the House that they sailed with false clearances,
which were obtained at the Custom-house as for Gibraltar, for
Virginia, and other places; but the vessels really went to Terceira.
Now, he begged the House to consider, and to decide on this statement
of the case, and he would ask, whether it were consistent with the
character of England to permit a military body thus to wage war from
our ports with a Power with which we were not at war? We did not
recognize Don Miguel, it was true; but we were not at war with
Portugal. We still maintained commercial relations with that country,
and had a consul there. It was too much for Brazil to desire to place
us in a different situation with Portugal from that in which she was
herself placed with that country; for she also had a consul there. We
had no reason to believe that Don Pedro meditated a conquest of any
part of the Portuguese dominions, and the question was, whether
private individuals were to be permitted to carry on hostilities
with Portugal from Plymouth. The duty of neutrality was as strong
in respect to a _de facto_ government as to one _de jure_. It was
inconsistent with neutrality to permit an armed force to remain in
this country. In addition to the Portuguese troops at Plymouth, three
hundred Germans were enlisted in the north of Europe to reinforce
them. Was this to be tolerated? When the Portuguese refugees went to
Spain, we required that the officers should be separated from the men,
and because Spain refused we prepared to go to war, and actually sent
five thousand men to enforce our demand. Was it the policy of England
to prevent the dismemberment of the Portuguese Empire? In 1825 we
stipulated that Portugal should be separated from Brazil; so that
motives of policy as well as neutrality called upon us to discourage
these attempts, and above all to prevent this country from being made
the arena for the designs of other Powers. What was to prevent Russia
and France from making a similar use of our ports?

He would now leave the House to decide whether the Government of
England was not right in preventing its manifest intention being
defeated by false clearances and false assurances. These were the
facts of the case, and he was satisfied that the character of England
had been vindicated by not allowing its ports to be made subservient
to such designs. These were the principles upon which the Government
had acted. The officer who had been entrusted with the naval
expedition to Terceira, had acted with the utmost forbearance. He gave
ample warning; and it was not until a passage was attempted to be
forced that he reluctantly fired a shot, which killed one man and
wounded another. Having now given the explanations which the right
hon. gentleman required, he came to his motion. It was impossible
not to acknowledge the forbearance of the House with regard to the
discussion of foreign affairs--a forbearance dictated by a sense of
the delicacy of interfering with pending negotiations, and pre-judging
measures; yet he had no hesitation in saying, that he was perfectly
prepared to acquiesce in the motion of the right hon. gentleman, and
probably the right hon. gentleman, instead of confining it to a call
for certain papers, would allow his motion to stand as it appeared in
the notice paper--'for copies or extracts of communications concerning
the relations between this country and Her Most Faithful Majesty the
Queen of Portugal'; and he assured him that every paper connected
with the Queen of Portugal, which it was consistent with the duty of
Ministers to produce, should be most readily given.

At a subsequent period of the debate, Mr. Peel said that the British
Government had not recently made any proposition for the completion of
the marriage between Don Miguel and Donna Maria, nor had it ever made
any such proposition at any time except with the cordial concurrence
of the Emperor of Brazil. The moment the Emperor intimated an
objection to the marriage, all communication on the subject on the
part of the British Government ceased. No proposition for the renewal
of the proceedings would be made unless with the entire concurrence of
the Emperor of Brazil.


The noble lord said that the payment to Russia was made for services
done and performed by Russia, which were notorious, and which required
no explanation. But did the House remember the pathetic appeal of the
Solicitor-General? 'Oh!' said the Solicitor-General, 'if you had seen
what I have seen, if you had had access to the pile of documents I
have waded through, you would have no hesitation in granting the
money.' When the House asked for a sight of these convincing
documents, the noble lord got up and quoted to them _Hansard's
Parliamentary Debates_ and the Reports of Lord Castlereagh's and Lord
Liverpool's speeches. He never could believe that the documents so
pathetically alluded to by the Solicitor-General were two speeches of
Lord Liverpool and Lord Londonderry to which every human being had
access in that most excellent work. If the noble lords wished to
convince the House that they had acted correctly in this transaction,
let them produce the official document on which their judgement
professed to be founded. It was vain for them to rely upon a majority
of forty-six, vain for them to call a motion for information factious.
The only sufficient answer would be the production of the documents.
But the noble lord said it was extremely clear that the money was to
be paid to Russia for past services performed; why, then, did the
noble lord require a new convention? The preamble of the second
convention certainly referred to the first, and it expressly recited
it, but nothing whatever could be found in it about the past services
of Russia. It stated the consideration to be the adhesion of Russia to
the general arrangements of the Congress of Vienna. If it were true
that the original payment to Russia was made on account of services
rendered to the general cause of Europe and sacrifices made by Russia,
why did the second convention allege that the equivalent which England
was to receive from Russia in return for the continued payments was
this, that Russia would not contract any new engagement respecting
Belgium, without a previous agreement with His Britannic Majesty, and
his formal assent? Where, then, was the justification of the assertion
that the two treaties were founded upon the same consideration?
The Government gave to the House conflicting documents. The one
corresponded not with the other. The noble lord contended that the
money was due to Russia for old services. Then why the new condition
in the second convention? The preamble bound Russia, in consideration
of the continuance of the payment, to identify her policy with that of
England with respect to Holland. That, he contended, was entirely a
new condition, and how could it be maintained that, if the money was
fairly due to Russia for former services performed, it was now just to
impose upon Russia, as a condition of payment, that she should change
her policy with regard to Holland so often as the policy of this
country was changed? The question has been repeatedly asked, was this
money to be ultimately paid or not? He would say this: unquestionably
it was to be paid, if the country was bound to its payment by good
faith. He would not tarnish the fair fame of the country for any sum
whatever, upon any occasion, but more especially upon an occasion on
which England had received a valuable consideration. When we incurred
this responsibility on the behalf of Holland, we received from that
country the colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Demerara, Essequibo,
and Berbice; we still retained those colonies, they were valuable
possessions, and therefore we were the more strictly bound not to
shrink from any equitable obligation we had incurred. He agreed with
his hon. friends that the money might be due from England; but to
whom ought it to be paid? He could by no means admit that the first
convention justified the second as a matter of course; but still there
might be circumstances, not at present known to the House, which would
still call for the continued payment to Russia, and authorize the new
convention: but what those circumstances were, the House had a right
to know before it was called upon to ratify the convention. The noble
lord said, this country was bound to continue the payment to Russia
by the good faith that Power had evinced. It appeared that, when the
separation was about to take place between Holland and Belgium, Russia
said, 'I am ready to fulfil the treaty; my troops shall march upon
Belgium, to continue the incorporation.' 'Oh! no,' said England, 'our
policy is altered; we wish the separation to take place.' 'Very well,'
was the reply of Russia, 'continue to me the payment, and I am ready
to subscribe to your policy with respect to Holland and Belgium.' Such
might be the fact; but, if it were, it ought to be established. The
documents proving that to be the case ought to be in the possession
of the House before it was called upon to ratify the treaty. The King
might make a new treaty under a new system of policy, but it was
for the House to say, in a case in which the payment of money was
concerned, whether it would enable the King to execute such a treaty.
If it were proved that this country had induced Russia, by a promise
of the continuance of the payment, to act in the manner she had done,
that gave rise to a new case, and a new convention was necessary, the
policy of which depended upon many mixed considerations. He had said,
he was not free from doubts as to whom the money ought to be paid. An
hon. member (Mr. Gisborne), who had argued the question ably, had said
that Holland was badly used; but the same hon. member contended that
England was exonerated from making the payment to Holland on account
of the unjust and impolitic conduct of that country to Belgium. That
argument appeared to him most unsatisfactory. The hon. member admitted
that Holland had a right to refuse to pay her part of the loan to
Russia. Let him suppose that the whole of the loan had been payable by
Holland, and that that country had retained possession of the colonies
she had given up to this country; how then would the case stand? If
Holland was justified in refusing to pay a portion of the loan, surely
she would, in the case he was supposing, be equally justified in
refusing to pay the whole; and, therefore, if this country had not
been put in possession of the Dutch colonies, Holland would have
retained her colonies and would have no debt to pay. But England had
the colonies, and to what Power then, according to the reasoning of
the hon. member, ought England to make the payment of her portion of
the loan? Surely to Holland. It might be very convenient, for ensuring
Russian acquiescence, to make the payment to Russia, but certainly,
according to the reasoning of the hon. member (Mr. Gisborne), it was
anything but just. But he never would admit that Holland had behaved
with harshness or injustice to Belgium, or that the revolt was
justifiable by the conduct of Holland. The revolution in Belgium
followed as a consequence from the revolution in France. If the French
Revolution had not occurred, they would have heard nothing of the
separation of Belgium from Holland; and we had no pretext in the
misconduct of Holland for exonerating ourselves from our pecuniary
obligations to that country. He wished not to enter upon the question
of the policy pursued by His Majesty's Government with respect to
Belgium; but he could not help smiling when he heard an hon. member
contend that to place Prince Leopold on the throne of Belgium was a
matter of great advantage to this country; because, forsooth, that
prince had formerly been allied to a daughter of the King of England.
What did the hon. member think of the alliance which the King of
Belgium was now about to form? If a matrimonial alliance, that had now
ceased fifteen years, was to have so powerful an influence over King
Leopold's politics, what did the hon. member think would be the effect
of a marriage with one of the daughters of the King of the French? If
the former connexion had made Leopold an English prince, would not
the new connexion make him a French prince, and would not all the
advantages of placing him on the throne, which were expected to belong
to England, in reality belong to France? He implored the Government
not to drive the House to a premature discussion of those matters. The
payment could not rest upon the old convention, but must depend upon
the new, mixed up with considerations arising out of the old. The
Government had been rescued from a vote of censure, and might,
therefore, without difficulty, consent to a postponement of the
question. He asked not for an indefinite postponement, but as long
a one as the duration of the session would authorize. A premature
discussion on Belgian affairs was open to great objection. It was true
that the five Powers had agreed to the separation, and had recognized
King Leopold, but it was also true that none of the necessary
arrangements were yet completed. The last article of the convention
clearly proved that the period for decision on the merits of that
convention had not yet arrived. It assigned, as the reason of the
convention, the preservation of the peace of Europe. How did they know
the peace of Europe would be preserved? He hoped to God it might, but,
under the present circumstances, it was utterly impossible to affirm
that it would. He wished not to enter upon that question; he wished
not to say a word upon the conduct of this country with respect to
Belgium. On the contrary, he, and those who acted with him, had
carefully, upon all occasions, abstained from provoking debate on the
question of Belgium. He had strong feelings upon the subject, but
he had been unwilling to enter into a premature discussion. These
negotiations were drawing to their close, and whether they would end
for good or evil the march of time would soon disclose. Holland had
been told that by July 20 she must concur in the treaty, or force
would be employed to compel her assent; and with such a declaration
was it decent or wise to call upon the Parliament to ratify the
convention now before the House? He had no doubt as to what the
conduct of Russia would be; he had no doubt that she would keep her
engagements to England respecting Belgium: but why should they be
called upon to sanction the new convention until the negotiations now
pending, as to the future relations between Holland and Belgium, were
brought to a close. There were rumours that a French and English fleet
were to be united for the purpose of constraining Holland to submit to
the treaty. He trusted such was not the case; but, if it were, it was
most unfair, in such a state of affairs, to compel a decision by the
House of Commons as to the policy of a new pecuniary engagement to
Russia. With respect to the alleged conduct of Russia to Poland, he
was glad to find that all agreed in thinking that that subject had no
connexion with the present. He had heard some statements in the House
respecting the conduct of Russia to the Poles, and he believed many
of them to be unfounded in fact. It had been stated that thousands of
children had been torn from their parents, and banished into Siberia;
he had expressed his disbelief of that assertion, and he had
since been informed, on good authority, that those children were
orphans--made orphans, he regretted to say, by the calamities of
war--and that they had been placed in Russian schools, not for the
purpose of separating them from their parents, for they had none,
but for the purpose of providing for them in their helplessness, and
giving them education. So viewed, that which, under another aspect,
appeared an act of gross cruelty, might be a humane proceeding. He was
thankful to the House for the attention with which it had heard him,
at so late an hour, and concluded by entreating the Government not to
drive the House to a division. If it obtained another small majority,
that majority would not convince the country that the conduct of
Ministers had been justifiable.


The right hon. gentleman stated that the present Government had
found themselves bound hand and foot by the engagements of their
predecessors, who consented to guarantee a loan of £800,000 in aid of
Prince Leopold, on his election to the throne of Greece. The right
hon. gentleman had no right to say that the hands of himself and
coadjutors were tied by the last Ministers. They were no parties to
the original Treaty of 1827; but when they came into office they
found themselves compelled to fulfil the treaties made by their
predecessors. The Duke of Wellington, in 1830, three years after the
treaty had been made, and not very long after he came into power, was
engaged in the consideration of the Greek question. Prince Otho of
Bavaria was then proposed as the Sovereign of Greece, and the Duke of
Wellington objected to the appointment of that prince on account of
his youth, he being then not more than fourteen. After considerable
discussion, the Powers parties to the treaty agreed to the nomination
of Prince Leopold, and the question of pecuniary aid was proposed.
The Duke of Wellington said the Government of England had never
given pecuniary aid in such a case, and refused to accede to the
proposition. Prince Leopold then applied to the three sovereigns and
declared he would not accept the throne of Greece unless the money
were advanced. The Government of the Duke of Wellington, being anxious
to establish a sovereign on the throne of Greece, did, at last,
reluctantly concur with Russia and France, rather than, by withholding
their consent from the proposed arrangement, deprive Greece of the
services of Prince Leopold and separate the policy of this country
from that of France and Russia. The right hon. Secretary might have
contended that the present Government found themselves bound to
guarantee a loan to Prince Leopold; but he was not warranted in saying
that they were pledged by the acts of a former Government to guarantee
a loan to any other prince. To come to the question immediately before
the committee, he admitted that it was a case involved in considerable
difficulty. He could conceive that circumstances might be established
which would compel him to acquiesce in the payment of the money to
Russia. He had some doubts as to whom the money was payable, and as to
the justice of the arrangements into which this country was about to
enter. These doubts might, however, be removed by explanation; and
he must say, that while England retained possession of the colonies
wrested from Holland she ought not to be very astute in finding
reasons for excepting herself from the terms of her contract. With the
information at present before the House, he was not prepared to state
whether the payments were due to Holland or to Russia, but to one or
other they were, in his opinion, due. If his vote were to imply a
decided opinion that the money was not due to Russia, he would not
give it. The right hon. gentleman assented--and it was an important
admission--to the opinion he had formerly expressed, that the
obligation of this country arose out of mixed considerations. His
impression was, that there was a doubtful claim on this country,
arising out of the convention of 1815; but he had admitted that there
might be other considerations, independently of the convention, which
would justify Ministers in promising to pay the money to Russia; that
if they could show him that the payment of this money would enable
them to maintain the peace of Europe, and to bring the pending
negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion, he was prepared to give
them his support. But why did the Ministers press a vote, when they
were unable to give the House satisfaction upon these points? It was
clear, from the right hon. gentleman's admission, that this question
depended on mixed considerations; but he objected to being called upon
to confirm the arrangement until he was satisfied, by the production
of documents, of the extent of each of these mixed considerations.
The negotiations were not complete, and they were, perhaps, the most
important for the honour of England, for the independence of small
states, and for the general tranquillity of Europe, in which this
country was ever engaged. The right hon. gentleman said that the
Government which preceded the present determined on the separation
of Belgium from Holland. Here again he was incorrect. The former
Ministers were called upon to interfere as mediators. In compliance
with the Treaty of 1815, the King of Holland applied to the great
Powers for counsel. England at once told him that she was not prepared
to assist him in re-establishing by force his authority over Belgium;
but when the late Ministers left office it had never been decided that
Belgium must, of necessity, be transferred from the dominion of the
House of Nassau. He had even some recollection that the present Prime
Minister had been taunted in the Belgic Chamber of Deputies for having
expressed a hope which pervaded almost every British mind, that
Belgium might be established as a separate kingdom under the authority
of a prince of that illustrious family. That alone was sufficient to
prove that the complete independence of Belgium of the House of Orange
was not decided upon when the present Ministers entered office. But
further, at the very time when he and his colleagues resigned office,
an hon. gentleman (Sir J. C. Hobhouse) had a notice of a motion in
the book, the object of which was to compel the Government to explain
their supposed conduct in favouring, not the separation of Belgium
from Holland, but the King of Holland against his revolted subjects.
But to return to the ground on which he objected to being pledged to
the arrangement now proposed--namely, that he was in possession of no
information respecting the negotiations which were now being carried
on. What course had the Government pursued with respect to Greece? The
loan to Prince Otho had been guaranteed for a considerable time, and
yet the House had not been called upon to ratify the treaty; and the
reason assigned by the noble lord for this delay was, that Government
wished first to lay upon the table of the House every protocol
connected with the negotiations. If Ministers pursued this conduct
with respect to the Greek loan, why did they call upon the House to
sanction the proposed arrangement with respect to Russia, without
information? It might be said that the money was now due, but it had
been due in July, and was not then paid. No further payment would
be due until January, by which time, in all probability, pending
negotiations would be brought to a close. Why, then, force the House
now to express an opinion? He could not conceive what answer could be
made to this question, in a parliamentary point of view. Was there
ever an instance in which Parliament had been called upon to vote
public money, arising out of negotiations, whilst they were yet
pending? During the time these negotiations had been carried on, he
and his friends had abstained from expressing any opinion concerning
them, and had brought forward no motion calculated to embarrass the
Government. And yet, before the negotiations were concluded, the
Government called upon the House to vote the money. He made no
objection to the amount. He did not deny that his impression was that
there might be good and sufficient reason for the payment of this
money, although it was not to be found on the face of the treaty; but
he contended that it was contrary to all parliamentary custom to call
upon the House to pronounce an opinion on the subject before it was
put into possession of any information. The object of the arrangement
professedly was, to induce Russia to unite her policy with ours,
to preserve the balance of power and the peace of Europe. He asked
whether the measures which Ministers were pursuing were likely to
preserve the peace of Europe? In the second article of the treaty, now
upon the table, Russia engaged, if the arrangements at present agreed
upon should be endangered, not to enter into other arrangements
without the concurrence of England. The arrangements were in danger at
the present moment. Negotiations, it might be said, were yet pending;
but, if that were a complete answer against the giving of information,
it was also complete against calling upon the House to vote the money.
Had the ratifications of the treaties of 1831 been accompanied by any
reserve? If so, ought this important point to be concealed? In the
whole of Europe the English House of Commons was the only place where
no information was to be obtained on these points. Communications
had been made to the Chambers of Holland and Belgium; every foreign
newspaper had contained authentic copies of documents which were most
important in explaining the policy pursued at different periods of the
negotiations; the House of Commons, however, possessed not a tittle of
information on the subject. This course was according to precedent,
because the negotiations were pending; but it was equally in
conformity with precedent that, under these circumstances, the House
ought not to be called upon to pledge itself to the payment of the
money. It had been stated in an official newspaper, published in
Holland, that Russia accompanied the ratification with an important
reserve. The treaty before the House contained twenty-four articles,
the execution of which was guaranteed by the contracting parties; but
those articles, as far as the distribution of territory was concerned,
could not be acted upon until Holland and Belgium should sign and
ratify another treaty. The first question, then, was, Had Belgium and
Holland signed the treaty on which the execution of the other depends?
The answer was, No; they had not. Under these circumstances it was
practising a delusion on Parliament to talk of the treaty being
ratified. It was well known that Holland insisted on the modification
of three articles contained in this treaty. She insisted on not being
compelled to abandon Luxembourg--on not being compelled to permit the
free access of Belgic navigation to artificial canals--and on not
being compelled to permit the Belgians to make the military roads
through the new territories assigned to them. It was premature
to enter into the question whether Holland was right or wrong in
insisting on these points; but it was a notorious fact that Russia had
accompanied her ratification of the treaty with this reserve--that
Holland shall not be compelled to consent to the articles which she
objected to. This, he might remark, was a proof that the policy of
Russia was not concurrent with ours. It was evident that, if this
reservation of Russia were insisted upon, it would be fatal to the
treaty, and therefore it was not treating the House fairly to make the
dry statement that Russia had ratified the treaty, without informing
it whether her ratification was accompanied with such a reservation.
The House ought, also, to be made acquainted with the reasons why the
treaty was not ratified at the appointed time. It was stipulated that
the ratifications should be exchanged within six weeks after the
signing of the convention. The signatures were affixed to the
convention on November 16; but, from a paper signed by Mr. Pemberton,
by order of the Lords of the Treasury, it appeared that the
ratifications were not received on June 4. That was an additional
proof that the policy of Russia was not concurrent with our own. Was
it so, when Russia ratified with a reservation? Did that reservation
still exist? If so, was it consistent with our policy? It was a mere
mockery of the functions of the House of Commons to require it to
fulfil the conditions of this convention whilst Ministers were unable
to explain the state in which the negotiations stood at the present
moment. It had been justly observed by his hon. friend the member for
the University of Oxford, that it was a critical day. July 20 was the
day by which it had been intimated to Holland by France and England
that the treaty must be signed. This, at least, was understood to be
the case. Documents had been published which contained a threat that
force would be applied to compel Holland to give her consent to the
treaty. Holland said that she would ratify the treaty provided the
articles to which she objected were altered. The conference replied,
'You shall ratify first, and try to get the articles altered
afterwards.' Holland very naturally objected to this arrangement,
because she thought that, when she applied to Belgium to alter the
objectionable articles, Belgium would reply that the treaty had been
ratified, and Holland must be bound by it. This was the state of the
case; and the House of Commons ought to have been consulted before
any naval armament was undertaken, or any demonstration of a warlike
nature made. The House of Commons had a right to know the causes of
war, if war were intended: and he considered a hostile attack upon
Holland, by whatever name qualified, substantially the same as war.
The right hon. Secretary for Ireland had taken a rather sanguine
view of our domestic affairs, and plumed himself particularly on the
improved conditions of Ireland at present, as compared with that of
1830. He should not envy him the merit of any success which might have
attended his efforts to ameliorate the condition of that country, if
he could bring himself to believe that it had taken place; but, from
all the information which he had the means of procuring with regard to
the state of Ireland, he was induced to think, that that country was
never in a situation calculated to excite greater alarm than at the
present moment. But with respect to foreign affairs, with respect to
those countries which were the immediate subject of consideration, we
could not long be kept in suspense. Peace or war had arrived, which
must, within a very short time, terminate either in peace or in an
interruption of peace. Again, then, he said, let them consider well
the ground of war; if war they were about to have with Holland--war to
compel her, against her will, to do something inconsistent with her
honour, or with her independence. Beware of that; England had before
been in alliance with France against Holland. Remember the relation in
which she had stood towards that country--remember the period--that
disgraceful period--in the reign of Charles II, from the year 1670 to
the Peace of Nimeguen in 1678; look to the alliance between England
and France at that disgraceful period, remember the terms of that
alliance, and the relations in which we had stood towards France, and
towards the House of Nassau. He remembered the indignant terms in
which Mr. Fox spoke of the disgraceful and unnatural alliances which
this country entered into with France at that period. He said that his
blood boiled at the contemplation of the disgraceful policy which was
pursued by this country. He conjured the Ministers to satisfy the
House, if they were about to enter into alliance with any Power to
coerce a third, of the justice of that alliance. Let them bear in mind
what could be done by a gallant people attached to freedom, who now
seemed to rally round their Sovereign with the unanimous determination
to encounter every extremity rather than submit to injustice or
disgrace. Remember the siege of Haarlem--remember the exploits that
had been achieved on that and numberless other occasions by the same
gallant nation. Before Ministers asked the House to sanction a new
crusade against Holland, implying approbation of their policy, let
them accede at least to this reasonable request, that they would
either afford the House information respecting the nature of our
foreign relations, or postpone this vote. These were the grounds upon
which he protested against being made a judge in the question at
present before the House. He had not the necessary information to
enable him to give a vote upon it. The present agony and crisis of
Holland was not the time for calling upon the House for a ratification
of this treaty. Let it be remembered, that this vote was for the
postponement of the question, and not for its rejection. The course
which he, for one, should pursue, should the House determine to ratify
this treaty, would be to vote a negative, and leave the responsibility
of the transaction upon those who proposed it; but with a solemn
protest, on his part, against the unfairness and injustice of the


The hon. member for Montrose (Mr. Joseph Hume) having made his motion,
I shall, without entering on the general argument which has been
stated by him and by my noble friend opposite, shortly state to the
House the view which I take of the motion which he has made. With
respect to the argument which has been stated, that the three
Powers were not justified by the Treaty of Vienna in concluding for
themselves the consideration, whether the free state of Cracow should
be maintained or extinguished--with respect to that argument I cannot
but concur with my hon. friend who made the motion, and my noble
friend who seconded it. I think it is clear from the words of the
Treaty of Vienna, and from the prominence which the arrangement
respecting Poland took, both in the conferences which preceded that
treaty and in the articles of the treaty itself, that these articles
were not immaterial parts of the treaty, but did form one of the
principal stipulations upon which the great Powers of Europe agreed at
the termination of a bloody and destructive war. Nor can I think that,
while the arrangement which placed the Duchy of Warsaw under the
dominion of the Emperor of Russia formed the subject of many
discussions and a long correspondence, not only between the Ministers
of the different Courts, but also of a singular correspondence between
the Minister for Foreign Affairs in this country and the Emperor of
Russia himself--I say I cannot think that, while that arrangement
formed a principal part of the treaty, the arrangement which left one
small portion, 'a mere atom,' as the allied Powers called it, free and
independent, was an immaterial, or an insignificant part of it. It
cannot but appear, I think, however small the territory--however
small the population of that state--that yet the treaty formed, first
between the three Powers and then by all the Powers who were the
concurring parties in the Treaty of Vienna, meant that freedom and
independence should leave to Poland--should leave to some part of
the Polish nation--a separate existence; and that, giving up much,
admitting much, to the Emperor of Russia, it was still consecrated,
as a principle, that some part of the Polish nation should retain an
independent and separate existence. For this reason, therefore, I
consider the existence of Cracow as a state, having been thus secured
by general treaty--whatever the complaints the three Powers had
made that Cracow was the focus of disturbances; that revolutionary
intrigues there found a centre and a means of organization; that there
arose from that small state insurrection against the three surrounding
Powers; that it was impossible to preserve those Powers from this
insurrection: that if these reasons were good and valid--if they were
felt to be strong--they should have been stated to England and
to France; that England and France should have been invited to a
congress, or some species of conference, in which their consent should
have been asked to put an end to a state of things which those Powers
declared to be intolerable, and which they could no longer permit with
safety to themselves. So much, I think, is clear from the papers which
record the general transaction of the Treaty of Vienna; and so much
also, I think, is clear from the passage which my noble friend
opposite (Lord Sandon) has read from the statement of the Prussian
Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which he, in words, admits that if the
arrangement of the Treaty of Vienna were to be altered and set aside,
agreement and concurrence with England and France would previously
have been necessary. In the next place, with regard to the reasons
which are given by the three Great Powers, and which are stated more
especially by Prince Metternich, on the part of the Court of Austria,
those reasons appear to me insufficient for the violent proceeding
which has taken place. I cannot myself imagine that there could not
have been precautions taken, which, however they limited the action
of the free and independent state of Cracow, would yet have been
a security that its name and its independence would have been
maintained; while all danger from refugees, from its being made a
place where strangers from all parts of the Continent came and planned
conspiracy, might have been encountered and prevented. It does seem to
me most extraordinary that, with this little state--this mere atom,
surrounded by Russia, by Austria, and by Prussia--these three great
and mighty monarchies, with such vast military forces, with such
unbounded means, having command of all the roads which lead to Cracow,
having the power of marching their troops at any moment into the city
of Cracow, having certain rights which were constituted and assigned
to them in the Treaty of Vienna--should have found themselves so
powerless as to be unable to prevent Cracow becoming dangerous to
their peace and welfare. I cannot, indeed, but suspect, especially
looking at the latter part of this transaction, when government was
dissolved in Cracow--when disorganization took place--that it was not
unwelcome, or altogether unpalatable to those three Powers, to be
enabled to say, 'All means of government are gone; Cracow is a scene
of anarchy and disorder, and no remedy remains but the total abolition
of the existence of that republic.' Therefore, Sir, both on the
grounds of the Treaty of Vienna, the distinctness of the stipulations
referring to Cracow, and with regard to the reasons which were urged
for its extinction, I think, in the first place, there was a manifest
violation of the Treaty of Vienna; and I believe, in the second, that,
if the question had been discussed in a congress or conference among
the Powers, there is no sufficient proof, so far as we have hitherto
seen, that the three Powers would have been in a position to show good
cause for the course they have adopted. Neither, Sir, am I convinced
by the instances that are furnished by the Minister of Austria, as to
various stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, which have been altered
by uncontested agreement between Powers who were concerned, and whose
territories were affected, such as small parts of principalities given
by the Duke of Coburg, or others, transferred in consideration of some
equivalents to other princes, for the mutual convenience of their
respective territories, for the purpose of giving a fair equivalent to
each, and of sometimes making a more satisfactory arrangement for
all. These are, naturally and obviously, alterations of the Treaty of
Vienna, which might take place without any general appeal to all the
Powers who have signed that treaty. Such alterations bear, in my mind,
no resemblance to an infraction of one of those great and leading
and master stipulations in which all the Powers of Europe are deeply
interested. Supposing that some arrangement were made between Austria
and Prussia for the extinction of Saxony, and that the Great Powers
were to ask how they, only two of the parties to the Treaty of Vienna,
could agree to extinguish Saxony, what answer would it be--that some
little bit of territory had before been exchanged between some of the
minor princes, and that then we made no protest? And, as I consider
it, the extinction of this free state is an alteration of one of the
main and leading provisions of the treaty. But my hon. friend, Sir,
not satisfied with the protest which my noble friend the Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs has directed to be delivered at the Courts
of the three Powers principally concerned, wishes this House to
agree to certain resolutions. With respect to the first of these
resolutions, my noble friend opposite (Lord Sandon), who seconds the
motion, is in complete accordance. With regard to the last he is not
so far agreed, and he doubts whether the House ought to affirm it. As
to the first of these resolutions, 'That this House views with alarm
and indignation the incorporation of the free state of Cracow into
the dominions of the Emperor of Austria, in manifest violation of the
Treaty of Vienna,' I should beg the House to consider that there is
a very great difference between that which has been done by my noble
friend (Lord Palmerston) in obedience to Her Majesty's commands, and
that which it is proposed to this House to do. It is the prerogative
of the Crown to make treaties, to carry on the correspondence and
relations of this country with foreign Powers. Every public and every
personal communication is agreed on in the name of the Sovereign,
and by the command of the Sovereign. If a treaty has been signed and
ratified, as this Treaty of Vienna was signed and ratified, by the
Minister of England in the name of George III, and of the Prince
Regent of England; and if any violation or contravention of that
treaty takes place, the person to whom it devolves to make
any representation, is obviously, again, the Minister of the
Sovereign--the Minister of the Sovereign of England, who has made the
original treaty. But with regard to the functions of this House, they
are of a very different nature. When there is a treaty made, or a
correspondence takes place, upon which it is thought necessary that
the opinion and concurrence of this House should be taken, it is
usual then for the Ministers of the Crown to ask for that general
concurrence. If a treaty of commerce or a treaty of subsidy is signed,
that requires the intervention of Parliament, it is usual for the
Minister of the Crown to ask for the sanction or concurrence of
Parliament to that treaty. But to affirm a resolution which is not
thus brought by necessity before the House of Commons--to affirm a
resolution merely declaratory of an opinion, that is not the correct
nor the regular course of proceeding in this House. For my own part it
appears to me, that while it is obviously incumbent on the Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs, and on the advisers of Her Majesty, to
declare their sense of any violation of treaty, or of any matter which
concerns the foreign relations of this country with other countries,
it is not advisable that the House of Commons should affirm
resolutions with respect to the conduct of those foreign Powers,
unless it be intended to follow up those resolutions by some measures
or actions on the part of the Executive Government. For my part I have
never admired--and I have always declared in this House that I never
admired in this respect--the conduct of the French Chambers with
regard to Poland. It has been the custom of the Chamber of Deputies in
France annually to protest at the commencement of the Session against
the acts of the Emperor Nicholas, and to make a declaration in favour
of the nationality of Poland. I think that such annual declarations
are illusive; for while they have been made in this manner, they have
been followed up by no measures; they are made by a representative
assembly, without any action following on that declaration. Be it
observed how great is the difference between that and a protest on the
part of a Sovereign. The Sovereign, by prerogative, entrusted with
this power of making treaties, is forced of necessity to some opinion
or other--of tacit acquiescence, of favourable and applauding
concurrence, or one involving remonstrance and reproach--some course
or other is forced upon the Executive Government of the country. But
with regard to the House of Commons, it is not necessary, in the
ordinary course of foreign affairs, that this House should at all
interfere or declare its opinion on these subjects. I can see no
advantage in altering that usual course. I do not think there would
be any advantage in bringing these subjects frequently or constantly
before the House, with a view to a declaration of opinion--I think the
House would gain no respect by a deviation from its usual custom. That
is my reason, therefore, while I could have no objections to urge in
opinion against this resolution--for I have already declared what
is my opinion with regard to the extinction of the free state of
Cracow--why I object to its being made a resolution of the House of
Commons; and on that point I should be disposed to move the previous
question. With regard to the other resolution, I should act in like
manner. That resolution says that--

  'Russia, having withdrawn that adhesion (to the Treaty
  of Vienna), and those arrangements being through her act
  no longer in force, the payments from this country on
  account of the loan should be henceforth suspended.'

Now, that is entirely a different question. The arrangements at
the time of the Treaty of Vienna involved an union of Belgium with
Holland; and there being a debt in Holland which was payable, and
the interest of which was payable by Russia, Great Britain took upon
herself the payment of the interest of that debt, in consideration of
Russia being a party to that arrangement. When, after that, these two
countries were separated, Russia no longer attempted to maintain that
arrangement; and, therefore, by the letter of the treaty, England
might then have said, 'You no longer maintain the union of Belgium
with Holland; and therefore as you do not comply with the letter of
that treaty, we are free from the discharge of the interest of that
debt.' But although this would have been in perfect and entire
conformity with the letter of the treaty, it would have been most
inconsistent with the justice of the case; because the Power that had
favoured the separation, and which, from the moment the insurrection
in Belgium was successful, favoured, recognized, and aided that
separation, was especially England; and for England to come forward
and say, 'You did not maintain the union between Holland and Belgium,
an union which we did not wish, which we wanted to see dissolved, we
declare ourselves free from the payment of that debt'--to have said
so would have been such an evasion of an engagement, that I certainly
could not have taken any part in adopting it. But it was not evaded.
England being free from the letter of the engagement, made a new
engagement with Russia; and in that engagement she agreed to continue
the payment of the interest of that debt. The actual ground for
continuing the payment of that interest was, that Russia did abide by
the general arrangement of the Treaty of Vienna; and that it was
only in consequence of the acts of England herself that she did not
maintain the union between Holland and Belgium. But undoubtedly the
words were introduced into that convention which were a security to
Russia for payment of

  'her old Dutch debt, in consideration of the general arrangements
  of the Congress of Vienna, to which she had given her adhesion
  --arrangements which remain in full force.'

Now, these words were certainly used. They were introduced at the
request of the representatives of Russia in this country. They were
put in, in order to show that, whilst Russia had departed in one
principal respect from this arrangement, yet she was not to be accused
of any violation of the general treaty, of any bad faith in the
matter, because she had only done so at the request of England. But
still, as I think, the original arrangement and the general reason
of the arrangement remain in full force; and what was that original
arrangement? It was, that Russia had agreed with England with respect
to the territorial disposition of Holland and Belgium. There was no
question at that time of any other arrangement, or of the Treaty of
Vienna being violated or disturbed. Russia desired these words to be
inserted in the treaty. So far as England was concerned, she did not
wish those words to be inserted. It was not the expression of any
desire of hers that they were so; but it seemed to be a matter of
good faith, that as Russia still maintained the original arrangement,
therefore it was right to continue to pay the interest of the debt.
Now, I say with respect to the spirit of the agreement, that I do not
think it would be just to take advantage of the insertion of these
words, and that Russia having, so far as Belgium and Holland are
concerned, faithfully preserved those stipulations, having never
attempted either to disturb this arrangement, and still less refused
her aid to England with regard to any question respecting them, I
do not think, in point of fair dealing, we should be justified in
refusing to pay the interest of the debt. I do think, however, that
according to these words, we might now, as we formerly might have
done, refuse to pay this interest. We might say to Russia: 'You have
permitted these words to be inserted--they were inserted with your
sanction; and, as they were inserted with your sanction, we will take
advantage of these words, and we will refuse any longer to pay the
sum.' That would be conformable to one interpretation of the treaty.
Those whom we consulted, who were the highest authorities that we
could consult with regard to the interpretation of Acts of Parliament
bearing upon treaties--the legal authorities who are usually consulted
on those subjects--have told us, that they think, according to the
spirit of the arrangement, according to the spirit of the convention,
the money ought still to be paid. It is at most, state it as
favourably as you can for the hon. gentleman's motion, a doubtful
point, upon which, if you wish to take advantage, you might claim
that advantage from words inserted in the convention. According to my
opinion, you would be acting against the spirit of the treaty in order
to take advantage of a plea which, I think, in a court of law, might
perhaps be urged in order to get rid of a contract, but which as
between nations, ought not to be used. I think, in so considering this
question, we should lower our position. I think we should deprive
ourselves of that advantage which we now have if we were to reduce
this to a transaction of pounds, shillings, and pence. I consider that
in late transactions in Europe, although, on more than one occasion,
and by different Powers, our wishes have not been complied with,
our desires have not been listened to, our protests may have been
disregarded, yet there does remain with us a moral strength nothing
can take away. There is no treaty the stipulations of which it can be
imputed to England that she has violated, evaded, or set at naught. We
are ready, in the face of Europe, however inconvenient some of those
stipulations may be, to hold ourselves bound, by all our engagements,
to keep the fame, and the name, and the honour of the Crown of England
unsullied, and to guard that unsullied honour as a jewel which we will
not have tarnished. With that sentiment, Sir, if I should ask my noble
friend to go to the Court of Russia, and say, 'To be sure you have
violated a treaty--to be sure you have extinguished an independent
state. We have allowed this to be done. You shall hear no threat of
war. We will not arm for the purpose. We will admit that the state of
Cracow is extinguished. We will admit that her inhabitants are reduced
to subjection. The names of freedom and of independence to them are
lost for ever. But this we will do. There is a claim of some thousand
pounds which we can make against you, which we now pay, and which we
will now throw upon your shoulders; and in that way we will revenge
ourselves for your violation of treaties'--we should be taking a part,
we should be using language which is not becoming the position England
has hitherto held; which is not becoming the position I wish her in
future to hold against the world. Having thus stated as shortly as I
could the views I entertain upon the subject, I ask you not to come
in this House of Commons, which does not usually interfere with the
foreign relations of this country, to any idle resolution upon which
you don't intend to act; and I ask you, in the next place, not to
lower this question to a mere question of money value, not to go and
demand how much this Russian-Dutch stock may be worth in the market,
but to preserve that which, as I think, is of inestimable value; I
wish you to allow, as this House has hitherto allowed, by its silent
acquiescence, the protest which the Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs has delivered, to remain in full force, as a declaration upon
our part--a declaration which will have its value, depend upon it,
in regard to future transactions--that we do not abstain from the
observance of treaties which we believe to have been violated; and let
us be able to say that we have sought no interest of England in this
matter. We have not looked to any interest, either large or petty, in
regard to ourselves; we have regarded the great interests of Europe;
we have desired that the settlement which put an end to a century of
bloodshed should remain in full force and vigour. We have declared
that sentiment to the world, and we trust that the reprobation with
which this transaction has been met, will, in future, lead all Powers,
whoever they may be, who may be induced to violate treaties, to
consider that they will meet with the disinterested protest of
England, so that her character shall stand before the world
untarnished by any act of her own.


Let us take the whole Polish question at once, for that is really what
the hon. member means by this part of the motion. I am not aware of
any commercial rights enjoyed by Great Britain which have been much
affected in Poland by any changes that have taken place. Nor do I
recollect any commercial rights which have been affected, except those
of individuals, which might in some degree have been so by changes in
the tariff. The charge made by the hon. member is in effect this--that
when the Polish revolution broke out in 1835, England, in conjunction
with France, should have taken up arms in favour of the Poles, but
she did not do so; that she abandoned France in her attempt, and thus
deprived the Poles of their independence; and finally--and here the
hon. member made an assertion I was astonished to hear--that we
prevented Austria uniting with France and England for the same object.
[Mr. Anstey: I said, Austria was ready to have joined with us if we
had acted differently.] Well, then, the hon. member says we balked the
readiness of Austria to interpose in favour of the Poles, when we had
many reasons to adopt a different course. This question has been so
often discussed that I can only repeat what I have said in former
Parliaments. It is well known that when we came into office in 1830,
Europe was in a state which, in the opinion of any impartial man, and
of the best political judges, threatened to break out into a general
war. I remember being told by a right hon. gentleman, in the course of
a private conversation in the House, that 'if an angel came down from
heaven to write my dispatches, I could not prevent Europe from a war
in six months'. Well, Sir, not months, but years, rolled by, and no
war took place. It was the anxious desire of the Government of Earl
Grey to prevent war; and the maintenance of peace was one of the
objects at which they expressly aimed, and succeeded. What were the
dangers which threatened the peace of Europe? There had just been a
great revolution in France, there had been another in Belgium, and
these had been followed by a great rising of the Poles against the
sway of Russia. In these struggles there was a conflict of principle
as well as one of political relations. There was the popular
principle in France, in Belgium, and in Poland, to be resisted by
the monarchical principle of Austria, of Russia, and of Prussia. The
danger apprehended in 1831 was, that these three Powers should attempt
by a hostile attack to control France in the exercise of her judgement
with respect to who should be her sovereign, or what should be her
constitution. The British Government, under the Duke of Wellington,
with the most laudable regard for the public interests, not only of
England but of Europe, hastened to acknowledge the new Sovereign
of France, and to withdraw their country from the ranks of any
confederacy against her; and this conduct laid the foundation of that
peace which it was our duty to maintain and cultivate. The great
anxiety of England was that peace should be maintained. There was no
doubt great sympathy with the Poles in their contest against Russia;
and it was thought there was a chance of their succeeding in their
attempt. The result, however, was different; but then it was said by
the hon. member, 'Oh, it is the fault of England that she did not
establish the independence of Poland. If she had joined with France
and Austria (which now for the first time I am told was anxious
to favour the cause of Poland), the Poles would have been in full
enjoyment of their constitutional freedom.' The hon. gentleman
actually said that Austria, in 1831, was in favour of the Poles, who
were closely pressed by the Russians and Prussians, who had already
got possession of Militsch, and felt, if the kingdom of Poland were
independent, the chances were that she (Militsch) would rise also to
assert her liberties. This statement is excessively extraordinary. I
am quite surprised even that the hon. member for Youghal should have
made it. I will tell him what was passing in his mind when, he said
so, and what led him to make this statement; for I am at least
desirous of giving a rational solution to it as far as I can, under
his correction. The fact of which he was probably thinking was this:
In 1814, when the issue of the war between Napoleon and the other
Powers of Europe was doubtful, a treaty, of which part has been
made public, was signed at Reichenbach between Austria, Russia, and
Prussia, for the entire partition of Poland between them, in the event
of their success against France. The effect of this treaty would have
been to extinguish the name of Poland as a separate and independent
element of European geography. In 1813, after Napoleon had been
repulsed from Russia, and the war had retired to the westward of
Germany and of Europe, where shortly after it was brought to a close,
discussions took place at Vienna as to what should be done with
Poland. Austria called for the execution of the compact, and, with
England, demanded that either the Treaty of Reichenbach should be
completely carried out, and Poland divided equally into three
parts for each of the contracting parties, or that she should be
reconstructed and made anew into a substantive state between the three
Powers. Russia was of a different opinion, and contended not for the
execution of the Treaty of Reichenbach, but for the arrangement which
was subsequently carried into effect, namely, that the greater part
of Poland was to be made into a kingdom and annexed to her Crown,
and that the remaining parts should be divided between the two other
states. After a great deal of discussion the Treaty of Reichenbach was
set aside, and the arrangements of the Treaty of Vienna were made. I
suppose this is what led the hon. member to his statement that
Austria would join with us, because in 1814 she was favourable to the
re-establishment of Poland as a separate kingdom, as one alternative
in contradiction to her partition; for any other ground than this I
cannot conceive for his assertion. If Austria were favourable to the
Polish insurrection subsequently, I can only say that it is a fact as
unknown to me as was the existence of the four days of danger, and
I am inclined to place both assertions on the same foundation. The
interest of Austria was in fact quite different; and it was owing to
her feeling respecting Poland, that the Russians ultimately succeeded
in crushing the insurrection. But then, says the hon. and learned
member, you should have accepted the offers of France. I have often
argued the question before, and what, I said before I say again. If
France had gone to the extent, of proposing to England to join, with
her against Russia, this would have been nothing more nor less than
the offer of a war in Europe, which, as our great object was to keep
down such a war, we should never have thought of accepting. It would
have been a war without the chance of anything but a war, for let us
look to the position of the kingdom of Poland--let us consider that it
was surrounded by Austria, by Russia, and by Prussia, that there was a
large Russian army actually in Poland, and that there was a Prussian
army on her frontiers--and we shall at once see that at the very first
intimation that England was about to take up arms with France for the
independence of Poland, the three armies would have fallen on the
Poles, the insurrection would have been crushed, the spark of Polish
independence extinguished; and all this having been done, the three
Powers would have marched their armies to the Rhine, and said: 'We
shall now make France and England answer for their conduct.' This
course would have been sure to involve the country in a Continental
war, for a purpose which would be defeated before the war could be
terminated. But, says the hon. member, you have very powerful allies,
who would have assisted you. France is a large military power, capable
of great efforts. Then you have Sweden, too, burning with desire to
break a lance with Russia, on the question of Polish independence.
What man in his sober senses, even if Sweden made such a proposition,
and were ready to join us against Russia, would not have said, 'For
God's sake, remain quiet and do nothing?' [Mr. Anstey: I said,
that Sweden was arming her fleet, with the intention of making a
demonstration against the Russian provinces in the Baltic; but the
noble Lord remonstrated with Sweden for doing so, and induced her to
disarm.] Well, there is not much difference between us. I do not think
a demonstration by a Swedish fleet on the shores of the Baltic would
have been long maintained without a corresponding demonstration of the
Russian fleet in Cronstadt, and it is pretty clear which of them would
go to the wall; and then we should have had to defend Sweden against
Russian attack; and unless we had been prepared to send a large army
to her aid, we should have sacrificed her to no purpose. I say, Sir,
the man with the interests of Russia most dearly at his heart, could
have done nothing better for Russia than stimulate Sweden into a
dispute with Russia, by inducing her to make an armed demonstration
on her shores, and thus to draw down upon her the vengeance and
overwhelming power of that empire. If Sweden had been ready to make
such a demonstration with her gunboats on the coast of Russia, and had
asked us for our advice, the best thing we could have said would have
been, 'Don't do anything half so foolish; we are not prepared to send
an army and a fleet to defend you, and don't give Russia a cause to
attack you.' But there was another empire burning with desire to
join us against Russia. Turkey, we were told by the hon. and learned
member, with 200,000 cavalry, was ready to carry demonstration to the
very walls of St. Petersburg--perhaps to carry off the Emperor himself
from his throne. What was the state of Turkey then? In 1831 she had
engaged in a war with Russia, in which, after two campaigns, her arms
were repulsed and driven back into their own empire, so that she was
compelled at Adrianople to accept conditions of peace, hard in
their nature, and demanding a sacrifice of an important part of her
territory, but to which she was advised in friendly counsel by the
British Ambassador to submit, for fear of having to endure still
worse. We are told that, two or three years after this great disaster,
Turkey was of such amazing enterprise and courage, and was furnished
with such a wonderful quantity of cavalry, that she was prepared to
send 200,000 horse (which she never had in all her life) over the
frontiers of Russia, and sweep her territory. Now this is, of all
the wild dreams that ever crossed the mind of man, one of the most
unlikely and extraordinary. But supposing all this had been true,
and that Turkey really was prepared to do all the hon. and learned
gentleman said she was, I should have given her just the same advice
that I should have offered Sweden under the same circumstances, and
should have said, 'Have you not been beaten enough? Are you mad? Do
you want the Russians to get Constantinople instead of Adrianople?
Will nothing satisfy you? We cannot come and defend you against your
powerful neighbour. She is on your frontiers, and do not give her any
just cause for attacking you.' Then the hon. and learned gentleman
told us of the Shah of Persia, how the gunboats of Sweden, the troops
of Austria, the fine cavalry of Turkey, the magnificent legions of
Persia, were ready all to pour in upon Russia in revenge for the
injuries which the inhabitants of the Baltic coasts inflicted upon
Europe in former centuries, and would have stripped Russia of her
finest provinces. Now, what had happened to Persia? In 1827, she
had very foolishly and thoughtlessly, against advice, rushed into a
conflict with Russia, and had seen herself reduced to make a treaty,
not only surrendering important provinces, but giving Russia the
advantage of hoisting her flag in the Caspian. She had gone to
war with a powerful antagonist, and been compelled to submit to
humiliating concessions. Can you suppose that Persia, in that state of
things, would have been ready to march against Russia for the sake of
assisting Poland? In the disastrous struggle which ensued, Poland
was overthrown; the suspension of its constitution followed, and the
substitution of what was called the 'organic statute'. The Russian
Government pronounced that civil war had abrogated it, and they
re-entered Poland as conquerors. I am not asserting the justice of
that, but the contrary; we always maintained a different view. I need
not remind the House how deep a sympathy the sufferings of Poland
excited in this country. Many things have passed in Poland since that
time which the British Government greatly regrets, and in respect to
which the rights laid down by treaty have been violated. But when we
are asked why the British Government have not enforced treaty rights
in every case, my answer is, that the only method of enforcing them
would have been by methods of hostility; and that I do not think those
questions were questions of sufficient magnitude in their bearing on
the interests of England, to justify any Government in calling on the
people of this country to encounter the burdens and hazards of war for
the purpose of maintaining those opinions. Then comes the question of
Cracow. I deny the justice of the reproach which the hon. member
has directed against me on that head, of an infraction of the just
requirements of good faith. It is perfectly true, that in a discussion
in this House we stated our intention of sending a Consul to Cracow;
but we were not at that time aware of all the objections entertained
to that step by other Powers who had an interest in the question,
and who possessed great influence in Cracow. Communications and
correspondence took place, not only with them, but with the Cracovian
authorities, and we were plainly told, that if our Consul went to
Cracow he would not be received. What were we to do under those
circumstances? The Government of Cracow, though nominally independent,
was practically under the control and protection of the three
protecting Powers; and whatever they ordered that Government to do,
it was plain they would do. It therefore became the Government to
consider whether there really was any cause for the presence of a
British Consul at Cracow, which was of sufficient importance to make
it worth while to insist on his presence, at the risk of not obtaining
the end. We should then have been exposed to an affront from the
miserable little Government at Cracow, not acting on its own
responsibility, towards whom nothing could have been directed in
vindication of the honour of the British Crown; and our only course
would have been a rupture with the three Powers, after we had been
warned of the rejection of our Consul. Well, then, considering the
importance attached in this country, not merely to peace, but to a
really good understanding with foreign Powers, wherever there are
great interests and powerful motives to amity which would be violated
by hostilities, I thought the best course would be to abandon the
intention we had entertained, and which we had announced in the
discussion in this House. It does not follow, when a Minister
announces in Parliament an intention to perform a public act, that it
is to be considered like a promise made to an individual, or by one
private man to another, and that it is to be made a reproach to him
if the intention be not carried out. We are here responsible to the
country for the advice we give the Crown. We are responsible for all
the consequences which that advice may bring on the country. We are
not dealing with our own affairs; it is not a question of what we may
do with our private property; but when a Minister finds he cannot do a
particular act without compromising the interests of the country, and
that these will suffer from his executing his intention, it is his
duty to give up that intention, and to consult the interests of the
country in preference to every other consideration. That is the
history of the Consul who was to have been at Cracow. We have been
asked to produce the correspondence relating to the transaction; and I
do not know that there would be any particular objection to doing so.
It consists of angry notes on one side and the other, and I cannot
think we should be promoting a good understanding with, the three
Powers by producing it; but as far as concerns its being a record of
anything I have done, or have not done, I have no objection. The hon.
member asks for all the correspondence which may have passed from the
year 1835 downwards on the subject of the Russian fleet in commission
in the Baltic. I do not recollect that any particular communications
took place on this subject between the British Government on the one
hand, and those of Russia or France on the other. Of course, it is
utterly impossible for a Power which, like England, depends mainly for
its security on its naval defence, not to watch with attentive anxiety
the armaments or the state of naval preparation which from time to
time may exist in other great countries. Therefore our attention may,
no doubt, have been more or less directed, especially when questions
of great difficulty and delicacy have been pending between Russia
and England, and a state of mutual distrust to some extent existed,
towards the naval footing of Russia both in the Baltic and Black
Sea. Of course, also, though I do not particularly recollect the
circumstance as having happened in 1835 or 1836, the immense amount
of naval preparation in France must always form an element in the
consideration of the Government of this country, in taking into
account the means which England must possess to maintain its station
amongst the empires of the world. I have now gone through, as far as
memory and time permitted, the principal topics on which he touched.
It was only last night I was able to put together the observations I
have ventured to offer to the House. I have taken them in the order he
stated them in the motion of which he gave notice. Upon the general
character of my public conduct I can only repeat what I said when last
I had the honour to address this House. I can only say, if any one in
this House should think fit to make an inquiry into the whole of my
political conduct, both as recorded in official documents, or in
private letters and correspondence, there is nothing which I would not
most willingly submit to the inspection of any reasonable man in this
House. I will add, that I am conscious of some of those offences which
have been charged against me by the hon. and learned member. I am
conscious that, during the time for which I have had the honour to
direct the foreign relations of this country I have devoted to them
all the energies which I possess. Other men might have acted, no
doubt, with more ability--none could have acted with a more entire
devotion both of their time and faculties. The principle on which I
have thought the foreign affairs of this country ought to be conducted
is, the principle of maintaining peace and friendly understanding with
all nations, so long as it was possible to do so consistently with
a due regard to the interests, the honour, and the dignity of
this country. My endeavours have been to preserve peace. All the
Governments of which I have had the honour to be a member have
succeeded in accomplishing that object. The main charges brought
against me are, that I did not involve this country in perpetual
quarrels from one end of the globe to the other. There is no country
that has been named, from the United States to the empire of China,
with respect to which part of the hon. member's charge has not been,
that we have refrained from taking steps that might have plunged us
into conflict with one or more of these Powers. On these occasions we
have been supported by the opinion and approbation of Parliament and
the public. We have endeavoured to extend the commercial relations of
the country, or to place them where extension was not required, on a
firmer basis, and upon a footing of greater security. Surely in that
respect we have not judged amiss, nor deserved the censure of the
country; on the contrary, I think we have done good service. I hold
with respect to alliances, that England is a Power sufficiently
strong, sufficiently powerful, to steer her own course, and not to
tie herself as an unnecessary appendage to the policy of any other
Government. I hold that the real policy of England--apart from
questions which involve her own particular interests, political or
commercial--is to be the champion of justice and right; pursuing that
course with moderation and prudence, not becoming the Quixote of
the world, but giving the weight of her moral sanction and support
wherever she thinks that justice is, and wherever she thinks that
wrong has been done. Sir, in pursuing that course, and in pursuing the
more limited direction of our own particular interests, my conviction
is, that as long as England keeps herself in the right, as long as she
wishes to permit no injustice, as long as she wishes to countenance no
wrong, as long as she labours at legislative interests of her own, and
as long as she sympathizes with right and justice, she never will find
herself altogether alone. She is sure to find some other state, of
sufficient power, influence, and weight, to support and aid her in
the course she may think fit to pursue. Therefore I say that it is a
narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked
out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no
eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are
eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.
When we find other countries marching in the same course, and pursuing
the same objects as ourselves, we consider them as our friends, and we
think for the moment that we are on the most cordial footing; when we
find other countries that take a different view, and thwart us in the
object we pursue, it is our duty to make allowance for the different
manner in which they may follow out the same objects. It is our duty
not to pass too harsh a judgement upon others, because they do not
exactly see things in the same light as we see; and it is our duty not
lightly to engage this country in the frightful responsibilities
of war, because from time to time we may find this or that Power
disinclined to concur with us in matters where their opinion and ours
may fairly differ. That has been, so far as my faculties have allowed
me to act upon it, the guiding principle of my conduct. And if I might
be allowed to express in one sentence the principle which I think
ought to guide an English Minister, I would adopt the expression of
Canning, and say that with every British Minister the interests of
England ought to be the shibboleth of his policy.


JULY 20, 1849


Whoever, my Lords, would undertake the discussion of any difficult and
delicate question touching the foreign policy of the country, ought,
above all things, to free himself from every feeling of hatred or of
anger, and from all personal and from all national prejudices, which
might tend to disturb the equanimity of his judgement. For, when the
mind labours under any such feelings, expressions are apt to be used
which, whether they are well understood or ill understood, give
umbrage elsewhere, and endanger the peace as well as the policy, in a
word, all the highest interests of the country. I present myself to
your Lordships to handle the important subject of which I have given
notice, under the deep impression of sentiments such as these; and it
will be no fault of mine if I am betrayed into any discussion, or even
into any passing remark, which shall give offence in any quarter, at
home or abroad, and shall thus endanger what is most essential to the
interests of the country, a good understanding with, and a friendly
feeling towards, foreign nations. It gives me great satisfaction,
seeing that I have to express a difference of opinion from my
noble friends opposite, and to blame the measures which they have
adopted,--it gives me great satisfaction, I say, to commence what I am
about to state, by declaring my entire approval of such sentiments as
I am about to cite, in language far better than my own, used by them
when they instructed our envoy at the Court of the Two Sicilies to
give the 'strongest assurance of the earnest desire of the British
Government to draw, if possible, still closer the bonds of friendship
which had so long united the crowns of Great Britain and the Two
Sicilies'. It is therefore grateful, most grateful to me--whilst I
join in their sentiments, which are better expressed than I could
have expressed them, but not more warmly expressed than I would have
expressed them--that, in the remarks which I am about to make, and
which are wrung from me by the accusations brought against the
Ministers, the authorities, and the troops of Naples, I shall, in the
true sense of the passage I have just quoted, have to defend those
Ministers, those authorities, and those troops from attacks which
have been made upon them by the authors of that passage injuriously,
inconsiderately, and unjustly.

The dispatch to which I have just alluded, is dated December 16, 1847.
But, somehow or other, events happened soon after which make it hardly
possible to suppose that the same hand which wrote that dispatch,
could have written the subsequent instructions, or that the same
agents who had to obey the former instructions, and to represent the
feelings of old attachment, of which it was impossible to draw the
bonds closer, could have been instructed so soon afterwards as January
18, 1848, to take a course entirely and diametrically opposite.

It would give me great satisfaction if, having thus accidentally
touched upon the transactions of Southern Italy, I could proceed at
once thither in the progress on which I am now asking your Lordships
to accompany me. But I find, my Lords, from what has been taking place
within the last few weeks, how reluctant so ever I may be to discuss
the events of the northern divisions of Italy, and recur to questions
often agitated here, and by none of your Lordships more ably than by
the noble Earl near me (Lord Aberdeen), that I must allude to the
conduct of his late Sardinian Majesty, to the still unfinished
negotiations between Sardinia and Austria, to the still unremoved
fleets of Sardinia in the Adriatic, to the beleaguering of Austria in
her Venetian dominions, and to the prevention of her employing her
undivided resources in crushing the rebellion in the eastern parts of
her empire; and that I cannot examine the whole foreign policy of
this country without adverting to the events which have happened in
Northern Italy. It was at the beginning of the present session of
Parliament that I had occasion to foretell before your Lordships the
speedy discomfiture of the then monarch of Sardinia by the victorious
troops of Marshal Radetzky. After a temporary success the year before,
his Sardinian Majesty had been repulsed, had been compelled to repass
the Ticino, had been driven to seek protection within the walls of his
own capital, and had only not been pursued within those walls because
his opponents had mercifully abstained from urging their victory
to the utmost, and had preferred the redemption of their pledge of
maintaining the Treaties of Vienna and the settlement of territory
made under them, to the enlargement of their dominions and to the
exaction of security against any repetition of the offence which
they had so signally chastised. The firmest friend of Sardinia,--the
stoutest champion of that distribution of territory to which I have
referred,--my noble friend himself near the wool-sack (the Duke of
Wellington), who completed by his skill in negotiation the still more
glorious triumph of his arms in the field, not one of these parties
could have objected to the Austrians crossing the Ticino, exacting
vengeance from Sardinia, and taking from its monarch, according to
all the laws of war, according to the strict law of nations, ample
security against the repetition of a similar transgression. Marshal
Radetzky, however, acted a merciful part, and was wiser in so doing
than if he had justifiably acted with greater severity. He and his
imperial master showed that they were above all sordid, all selfish
feeling. I only lament that the marshal stopped so short of that
which he had a right to do. An acre of land I would not have taken to
increase the dominions of one sovereign, or to diminish the territory
of the other; but I would have shown the monarch of Sardinia, I would
have shown the world, that it was not from fear, but from magnanimity,
that I had resolved to stop short of the full rights of victory. Then
it was said, 'Oh, but now we shall have peace.' Mediation was talked
of, and mediation was offered--the mediation of Great Britain, of the
success of which I never entertained any hopes. That any great benefit
would arise from such a proceeding, I thought just as unlikely as that
in private life, when two individuals have quarrelled about a disputed
right, had gone to law to ascertain which had the better title, and
one of them had gained a verdict and had entered up judgement, this
winning party would accept an offer to refer all the matters in
dispute to arbitration, just before execution issued. In such a case
the matter in dispute is at an end, and though the party who has lost
the cause may have no objection to such a reference, it will never be
so with the party who has gained it. I therefore told my friend, Sir
H. Ellis, who was appointed to superintend the proceedings of our
mediation, that as the matter in dispute between Austria and Sardinia
was at an end, I did not anticipate that with all his skill he would
have any success as a negotiator in this strange arbitration. 'Oh,'
I was told, 'Austria will abide by it.' Yes, I know that Austria
certainly would, if she submitted to the mediation and perhaps
Sardinia also; but little did I know Sardinian counsels when I said

I stated, however, that very same night, to your Lordships in this
House, that it was my deliberate belief, that before the end of a
few weeks there would be an end of the Sardinian monarchy. On that
occasion I was, indeed, a true prophet. Almost while I was speaking,
the King of Sardinia broke the armistice, again attacked the
Austrians, was again defeated, and then abdicated his crown. That
monarch was much to be blamed for the former part of his conduct, but
was much to be pitied for its close; he was driven on by the fear of a
mob--the most paltry and the most perilous of all fears. He was urged
on to his ruin by the worst of all advisers, those fears. He threw
himself into the hands of the Red Republican party of Paris and of
Turin, and, worse than all, of Genoa; and he has paid, in consequence,
the penalty of giving ear to evil counsellors. Then there was more
of negotiation, although one would have thought that, when Radetzky
stopped in the full career of victory, there would have been an end
of all resistance on the part of Sardinia. The negotiation which then
began has been continued from day to day up to the present hour,
and, if common fame can be trusted, there is less chance now of that
negotiation leading to the pacification of Northern Italy than there
was three or four months ago. I deeply lament this, my Lords. Every
friend of the true policy of England, and every friend of the peace of
Europe, must lament it. I hear it said, our Foreign Office lends its
aid to the delay of peaceful measures in Turin; and I hear it with
wonder, considering what has passed within the last two years. But I
am afraid that there are some natures far too sanguine--some whom no
failure can cure of the most extravagant hopes--who, while they
are sinking, cling to the feeblest straw, and derive hope from the
slightest change, and who, because things are not just as they were
twenty-four hours before, expect that better times are coming, and
hope even against hope itself. I think that what has recently taken
place in Hungary, in Croatia, and in Transylvania, has been the
foundation of the hopes recently entertained by the friends of
Sardinia, and that some parties in England, but still more in Turin,
have conceived expectations that Austria, if these negotiations are
allowed to drag their slow length along, will be frustrated in her
designs of--what? Aggrandizement? Oh, no. If that were all, the
difficulty might easily be removed. For look, my Lords, how the matter
stands. Here is craving ambition on the one side, against a steady
adherence to a pacific policy on the other; here is a desire to
enlarge dominion against the solemn faith of treaties on the one part,
and a resolution not to swerve a hair's breadth from that faith on the
other, even when tempted by aggression the most unjust, and crowned
by success the most absolute and complete. Here is good faith
unsurpassed, almost unexampled moderation in victory, met by incurable
thirst of aggrandizement, and reckless love of change under the most
grievous disaster.

Thus stand the rival powers of Sardinia and Austria opposed to each
other. I hope that I view these matters more gloomily than the real
state of things warrants; but I certainly feel not a little uneasy
when I reflect on the great length to which these negotiations have
been sedulously spun out. And here, my Lords, I must observe, that
this brings me, among many of the views which I now, anticipating
somewhat, have taken of the present state of the Powers, to the
conviction that the various matters now in dispute can only be
settled by some general congress. This would at once close the Turin
Conference. I have before mentioned to your Lordships that the favour
which the Government of England has shown to Sardinia, and the
prejudice against Austria, has exhibited itself--indeed, I may
say, has broken out very conspicuously, in two portions of these
transactions. First, it was displayed in the general difference of the
language used to Austria and to Sardinia. To Austria we have held out
everything short of threat--we have addressed her in language gentle
indeed in outward appearance, but amounting in substance to downright
menace. 'You had better not go', we said, 'into Italy--you had better
not invade any ally of ours--you had better not think of going to
Turin or to Rome, for if you do, we shall consider it a matter
deserving of grave consideration.' That was not the language in which
we addressed the other party. To Austria we were _suaviter in modo,
fortiter in re_. But Sardinia was gently and amicably told, 'If you do
so act, it will be very much against your true interests. It will be
wiser not to do anything of the kind. Pray don't for your own sake.'
But no threat, nor anything like a threat. Sardinia was not told, as
Austria was, that it would be matter of great importance if she budged
a foot out of her own dominions. And all this diversity of treatment,
all this reprimand of Austria, was designed to be made known, and to
gain credit and popularity with the republican rabble. For then came
that proceeding--so ludicrous at once, and so mean, that I have never
read anything like it in the whole course of history. While we were
anxiously advertising to all Europe, and more especially to the rebels
at Milan, and to the red republicans in Paris, that we had held out to
Austria this menace, we had at the very time in our pockets an answer
from Prince Metternich to our menacing dispatch, saying, 'What is the
matter with you? It is not yet the month of November, when the malady
of your gloomy climate prevails, but it is the cheerful month of
September. What ails you? Are you distracted in your brain to talk
of our going to Turin? We have no more thought of going to Turin or
Naples than we have of going to the moon. On the contrary, if any one
presumes to disturb the security of any country, above all to threaten
Sardinia, we will stand by you to defend Sardinia, and to maintain
inviolate with all our forces and all our resources all the
arrangements of the Treaties of Vienna.' Not one word of this answer
from Austria did we suffer to be known while bragging of our threats
to her, threats which assumed her having the design of attacking
Sardinia. Then, when the impropriety of keeping such a document in
your pockets was mooted in this House, my noble friend opposite (Lord
Lansdowne) said, 'Oh, we were ready to give you that dispatch as soon
as you asked for it.' Yes, when I did ask for it I got it; for, on the
18th of last September, my noble friend (Lord Aberdeen) was not at
that time in the House, but in Scotland. I said, 'I have that dispatch
in my hand, and I will read it, every word, if you do not consent to
give it to the public.' _Non constat_ that it would have been given
if I had omitted to give that direct challenge to Her Majesty's
Government. I don't blame my noble friend opposite for all this; he,
good easy man, knew nothing at all about it; he was not instructed;
the Foreign Office let him remain innocent and ignorant; but the sum
and substance of all this is, that every indulgence was extended to
Sardinia, whilst threats, downright threats, were held out to Austria.
Now, for one moment stop to recollect the language which we used
in the dispatch addressed to the Court of Austria on the 11th of
September, 1847. It was as follows:

  Any aggression on the rights of independent States will
  not be viewed with indifference by Great Britain. The
  independence of the Roman States is an essential element
  in the political independence of Italy; and no invasion of
  that territory can be attempted without leading to consequences
  of great gravity and importance.

The answer which we received to that note from Austria was, 'We never
dreamt of any such thing, but are ready at all times to stand by the
integrity of all Italy.' That declaration brings me, my Lords, from
considering the affairs of Northern Italy to the subject of Central
Italy, and more particularly of Rome itself; and I naturally ask, in
the words of my first resolution, whether that full and satisfactory
explanation which we have a right to receive has been given of 'those
recent movements in the Italian States which tend to unsettle the
existing distribution of territory, and to endanger the general peace
of Europe'? First there is the occupation of Ancona by an Austrian
army, then there is the occupation of Bologna by the main force of
another Austrian army. I say nothing of the occupation of Tuscany. I
put Tuscany out of the question, as it is a sort of family estate of
the House of Austria, in which she has a right by treaty to interfere.
But that is not all. There is also in the heart of Italy, in its very
centre, in its capital, an army, not Roman, not Austrian, not Italian,
not composed of its native soldiery, but a French army, consisting
of 40,000 or 50,000 men, and with a park of artillery consisting of
120,000 guns. I crave your pardon, 120 guns. [_Laughter attended this
mistake_.] This army did not fall from the clouds. The troops advanced
on the surface of the earth. The Eternal City was invaded with all the
usual pomp and circumstance of war. Some thousand men with a few guns
were in the first instance sent from Marseilles to Civita Vecchia,
and some explanation was given why they were sent, more or less
satisfactory. But if any man has seen that explanation, stating that a
force of 16,000 men and a strong fleet had been sent to Civita Vecchia
by France, and has been told that the army was to stop there and to
do nothing further, and that their sole object was to rearrange the
balance of power--such was the Government explanation--to adjust
the balance of Europe at that port; if any man, having seen that
explanation, can take it as satisfactory, all I have to say is, that
he is a man very easily satisfied. It does not satisfy me--indeed it
seems very like treating us with contempt to give such explanations.
Be that, however, as it may, the other events which followed, plainly
demanded full explanation. That army, sent in the first instance to
Civita Vecchia, afterwards marched onwards, and in three days arrived
at Rome. What was it doing there? To an unskilled observer, to a
non-military man like myself, who could not tell the difference
between 120,000 and 120 guns, it did look as if it were going to make
an attack upon the Eternal City.

Well, then, there is another question, still more apposite, and in
answer to which I think that we should have had some explanation, and
it is, 'What shall be done, supposing that this army should attack
Rome, and, as is most probable, carry it?' Up to this hour I, for my
part, do not know whether such a question has been put, or, if put,
whether it has received an answer. 'What are the French doing before
Rome, and what will they be doing after they have gained possession of
it?' is the question that should have been put.

To say that they are there for the cause of humanity, or for the sake
of maintaining the balance of power, these are words of which I cannot
understand the connexion with the undenied facts, and with the
march of 40,000 or 50,000 troops with 120 guns, which does require
satisfactory explanation, because such proceedings are not an
adjustment, but a subversion, a destruction of the European balance. I
must forget all that I have ever read of the rights of nations before
I consent to admit that circumstances like these can be allowed to
pass over unnoticed. Here, my Lords, I should be doing injustice to my
own feelings if I did not express my entire admiration of the conduct
of the French army before the walls of Rome. What the French army had
to do there--whether the French Government were entitled to send
it thither--is another matter, and on this men may have different
opinions. Whether or not it was in perfect consistency with the
professions of the new half-fledged French Republic to send an army to
put down another nascent, a newly-hatched republic, whether that step
was in harmony with the views of the statesmen who had ruled France
ever since the unhappy 24th of February--a day which I must ever
consider deplorable for the peace of Europe, for the institutions and
thrones of Europe, and, above all, most unhappy for the improvement
and tranquillity of France itself--whether that step was in strict
keeping with all the professions of all the parties who had been in
power since that event had changed the face of France, and arrested
the progress, the rapid, the uninterrupted progress, to comfort and
happiness which France was making under the constitutional monarchy,
by the development of her prodigious resources--whether it was in
harmony with their professions of peace to send an army to overthrow
the infant Republic of Rome--I will not stop now to inquire. Suffice
it to say, that the assistance of France was invited by the Pope,
as he says in his allocution from Gaeta, but not severally or
distinctly--it was invited in conjunction with that of Austria, Spain,
and Naples; and it is one of the very few criticisms which I am
disposed to make upon the French Government, that the second
difficulty in this question is the manner in which the French army
went alone to Rome when the Pope asked them to come conjointly with
the forces of the other Powers; for it, seemed as if they meant to
anticipate others, and to gain a footing in Rome before the Austrians
could take the field.

But all my unfavourable remarks touching France are now at an end, for
no Government, no army, could have acted more blamelessly--I should
rather say, more admirably--than that French army and its commanders.
In the first place, can any man doubt that they could have taken Rome
long ago if they had not been averse to the effusion of blood? Little
do they know the gallantry of French troops who entertain a contrary
notion. Then they were strongly impressed with the idea that it was
not right the innocent should suffer with the guilty. Again, they felt
that they were not going against the Romans, but against those who had
usurped and exercised an intolerable tyranny over the Romans, properly
so called. They were marching against Mazzini and Garibaldi, that
Garibaldi for whom a noble friend of mine (Lord Howden), whose eulogy
is really praise, bespoke your sympathy so strongly a few evenings
ago. But my noble friend, perhaps, is not aware that this person--a
clever man, undoubtedly, of great military talents--was, like Mazzini,
a professional conspirator; that the object of his first plot was,
like that of a great conspirator in our own country (Guy Fawkes), who
was not, however, quite so popular, to blow up the Royal Family of
Sardinia in the theatre of Genoa; and that the discovery of that
gunpowder plot drove him out in exile, first to Brazil, and afterwards
to the Rio Plata, where he began to act as a partisan, and afterwards
acquired considerable influence. On the breaking out of the last
revolution in France he returned to Europe, and shortly afterwards
agitated the provinces of Italy, repeating in their northern
districts, and in Rome itself, those valorous feats of arms which
gained him reputation in the New World. Mazzini is a man of less
courage, though of great ability, for few men are so bold as
Garibaldi; but Mazzini, in conjunction with Garibaldi, got possession
of Rome, the one eminent for his civil, the other from his military
qualifications. There they established a dictatorship under the name
of a Triumvirate, and disciplined several thousand soldiers, of whom
scarcely one was a native Roman. Among them were Frenchmen, Monte
Videans, Poles, Italians of the north, but Romans few or none.
Therefore it was, I said, that General Oudinot was cautious how he
bombarded Rome, as he could not direct his hostility against one class
of men, and yet entirely spare all. Lastly, my Lords, I cannot shut my
eyes to the merits of the French army, of which all ages must testify
their sense as long as any regard remains among men for the precious
remains of antiquity and for those more inestimable treasures of
modern art which form the pride and glory of the Eternal City. General
Oudinot had carried on the siege of Rome as if he would avoid the
effusion of a single drop of human blood, and as if he were anxious
not to expose the great monuments of art to the injuries of shot and
shell. In this state of things, the delay of the capture took place,
while many at Paris were impatient at the suspension of their triumph,
but whilst many more were anxious that in future ages the French
should not be ranked with the Goths and Vandals of past times; and I
feel that the greatest gratitude is due to the French general and to
the French army for the humane and generous spirit that tempered the
valour which they displayed before Rome. What they are to do now there
is a very different question. I believe that their difficulties are
not yet over. I believe they are only now begun, and that is one
reason why I urge to my noble friend opposite, the propriety of
calling a general congress for the settlement of the disturbed
affairs of Europe. The difficulties of the French army and the French
Government at Rome are so great that an acute people, like that of
France, cannot shut its eyes to them. They must see how little they
have gained even of that for which the Red Republicans of France are
so eager--military glory. If that was the aim of the Paris multitude,
which I more than suspect, of their rulers it could not be the
purpose, unless they yielded up their better judgement to the
influence of the rabble, for assuredly, while exposing them to every
embarrassment in their foreign relations, and augmenting their
financial difficulties, they must have seen that it was an enterprise
in which success could give their country little glory, while failure
must cover it with disgrace. But what signifies to France the loss of
such renown as victory bestows? What to her is the forgoing of one
sprig of laurel more in addition to the accumulated honours of her
victorious career? The multitude of Paris rather than France, the
statesmen of the club and coffee-house, the politicians of the salons,
the reasoners of the Boulevards, may retain their thirst for such
additions, such superfluous additions, to the national fame. The
sounder reasoners, the true statesmen, have, I trust, learnt a better
lesson, and will teach her gallant people to prefer the more virtuous
and more lasting glories of peace.

But whatever the Paris mob, in the drawing-rooms or in the streets,
may have desired, I am confident the Government, if left to itself,
had one object only in view, the rescue of Rome from the usurpation of
a foreign rabble, and restoring the authority of the Pope, whom that
rabble's violence had driven from his States. And here let me say a
word which may not be popular in some quarters, and among some of
my noble friends, upon the separation of the temporal and spiritual
authority of the Pope. My opinion is that it will not do to say the
Pope is all very well as a spiritual prince, but we ought not to
restore his temporal power. That is a short-sighted and I think a
somewhat superficial view of the case. I do not believe it possible
that the Pope could exercise beneficially his spiritual functions if
he had no temporal power. For what would be the consequence? He
would be stripped of all his authority. We are not now in the eighth
century, when the Pope contrived to exist without much secular
authority, or when as Bishop of Rome he exercised very extensive
spiritual authority without corresponding temporal power. The progress
of the one, however, went along with that of the other; and just as
the Pope had extended his temporal dominions by encroachments of his
own, and by gifts like those of Pepin and Charlemagne, the Exarchate
and Pentapolis, uniting the patrimony of St. Peter, and adding to it
little by little until he got a good large slice in Italy, just in
proportion as his temporal authority increased did he attain so
overwhelming influence over the councils of Europe. His temporal
force increased his spiritual authority, because it made him more
independent. Stript of that secular dominion, he would become the
slave now of one Power--then of another--one day the slave of Spain,
another of Austria, another of France, or, worst of all, as the Pope
has recently been, the slave of his own factious and rebellious
subjects. His temporal power is an European question, not a local or a
religious one; and the Pope's authority should be maintained for the
sake of the peace and the interests of Europe. We ourselves have
7,000,000 of Roman Catholic subjects, Austria has 30,000,000, Prussia
has 7,000,000 or 8,000,000. France is a Catholic country, so is
Belgium, so are the peninsulas of Italy and Spain; and how is it
possible to suppose that, unless the Pope has enough temporal
authority to keep him independent of the other European Courts,
jealousies and intrigues will not arise which must reduce him to
a state of dependency, and so enable any one country wielding the
enormous influence of his spiritual authority to foster intrigues,
faction, even rebellion, in the dominions of her rivals? Probably, as
General Oudinot has sent the keys of Rome to the Pope at Gaeta, it is
his intention to restore the temporal authority of the Pope. There are
difficulties in the way of the French General remaining at Rome, the
inhabitants of which naturally do not like to see an army of some
thousands encamped in their town, and there are difficulties in the
way of his leaving Rome; but there is no way so easy of overcoming
those difficulties as a general congress to settle the affairs of
Europe; and I do not consider that a clearer course can lie before
France than to propose it, or that she can find a safer and a more
creditable way out of her present embarrassments in Italy.

I now come to a part of the subject which I have only originally
glanced at, the state of our relations with the southern part of the
Italian peninsula. On the 16th of December, 1847, the noble Lord at
the head of Foreign Affairs (Lord Palmerston) wrote to Lord Minto,
directing him to request an audience

  for the purpose of conveying to his Sicilian Majesty the
  strongest assurances of the earnest desire of Her Majesty's
  Government to maintain, and if possible draw still closer,
  the bonds of friendship which have so long united the
  Crowns of Great Britain and of the Two Sicilies.

Here, then, the Government were vowing eternal friendship with the
Neapolitan. But, on the 10th of January, there broke out a rebellion
in Sicily, and then 'a change came over the spirit of their dream',
for there appeared no longer the same ardent desire for amity with
Naples, or lamentations that it was not possible to 'draw still closer
the bonds of friendship between the two Governments'. Now came a scene
which I have read in the mass of papers before me with feelings of
very sincere regret. I cannot easily imagine a more imbecile judgement
than presides, or a more mischievous spirit than pervades, the whole
of the diplomatic correspondence, the whole correspondence, not only
of our professional politicians, our Ministers, our Secretaries, our
Consuls, our Deputy-Consuls, but also a new class of political agents,
who appear on the scene, the vice-admirals and captains of ships of
the line, who all seem, in the waters of Sicily, to have been suddenly
transformed, as if by the potent spells of the ancient enchantress
who once presided over that coast, stripped of their natural military
form, if not into the same sort of creatures, whose form she made
men assume, yet into monsters, hideous to behold, mongrel animals,
political sailors, diplomatic vice-admirals, speculative captains of
ships, nautical statesmen, observers, not of the winds and the stars,
but of revolts: leaning towards rebels, instead of hugging the shore;
instead of buffeting the gale, scudding away before the popular
tempest; nay, suggesters of expeditions against the established
Governments of the Allies, with whom their Government lamented it
could not draw the bonds of friendship more closely--a new species,
half naval and half political, whose nature is portentous, in whose
existence I could never have believed. Mr. Temple, a prudent and
experienced Minister, is absent, unfortunately, from his post, and his
place is filled by Lord Napier, a worthy man, and an active, above
all, an active penman, a glib writer if not a great; writing,
not quite, but very nearly as well as the captains and admirals
themselves. We find this gentleman, like them, ardently hoping that
revolt may prosper, and doing his endeavour to realize his desire;
dealing out every sort of suggestion and recommendation, lecturing as
if he sat in the Foreign Office, administering rebukes like a Foreign
Secretary, telling the Neapolitan Government they had better do so and
so; if they did not, it would be the worse for them, and it would be
viewed with 'great gravity'; and yet supposing that no one but himself
was sensitive, for he takes care not to show respect by salutes, and
addresses, and those matters about which monarchs are supposed to
care a great deal; making very free in his, I will not say rude and
unmannerly, but certainly his rough treatment of others, yet all the
while excessively annoyed at the 'tone', as he calls it, of some of
the communications addressed to him. But after carefully studying the
papers, to catch what this offensive tone of the Neapolitan Minister
was, I have found it so evanescent that I really cannot discern it,
and suppose there must be something in the manner, or in Lord Napier's
state of mind at the time, which overset him.

On the 18th of January, 1848, Sir W. Parker, than whom a more able
and gallant officer could not adorn the service, but who cannot be
everything--for there are very few who, like my illustrious friend at
the table (the Duke of Wellington), or my renowned master, under whom
I first served in a diplomatic situation, the late Earl St. Vincent,
are equally great as captains and statesmen--Sir W. Parker wrote to
say that, the rebellion having broke out again, he had given general
orders to the captains of British vessels to afford protection to
individuals of either side who were flying for their political
conduct. It is easily to be seen which of the two sides these
instructions are intended to protect. Sir W. Parker concludes by
saying, 'I shall await with anxiety the result of the outbreak in
Sicily, and the effect it may produce at Naples.' Why, what had Sir
W. Parker to do with that? The truth is, he was in the hope and the
expectation that the rebellion in Sicily would extend across the Faro,
and lead to a rising of the Calabrese upon the neighbouring continent.
In page 352 we have Captain Codrington, a most able officer, no
doubt, giving a long political disquisition, and many speculations,
respecting the rebellion and its effects elsewhere, in which he
predicts a rising in Calabria, and foresees the danger which would
subsequently accrue to the Neapolitan Government. The gallant captain
writes as if he were a soothsayer, sent out to foretell the effect
of the Sicilian force landing in Calabria, in shaking the Neapolitan
throne. Nay, not content with being Minister and Ambassador, as
well as naval officer, the gallant captain must needs act, at least
speculate, as a Secretary of the Treasury, or whipper-in for the
Sicilian Commons; so he proceeds to discuss the returns for the new

  'Should the small Sicilian force', says he, 'recently
  landed in Calabria--probably under 1,000 men--succeed
  in raising the inhabitants of that part of the country
  against the present Government, they may be able to
  beat the 12,000 Neapolitan troops at present in Calabria,
  and then by getting possession of Scylla and Reggio, the
  Sicilians will gain the control of the Straits, and ultimately
  so distress the citadel of Messina, by cutting off its communication,
  as well as by other military operations, as to
  bring on its surrender. In the meantime, the character
  of the return of members to serve in the coming Parliament,
  to meet in the early part of the next month, is adverse to
  the present Ministry. In some places, the electors on
  meeting have merely made a _procès-verbal_ affirming the
  validity of their previous election, and reasserting the
  candidates then chosen as their actual representatives; in
  others they have proceeded to a new election; but in almost
  every case the very same individuals as before have been
  returned as members for the Parliament. This gives a
  considerable check to the Government, and shows the state
  of public opinion in the provinces. If on the meeting of
  Parliament the discussions are free, we may expect strong
  differences, if not collisions, between the King's Government
  and the Parliament, from recent events, from present
  difficulties, and above all from the want of experience
  of all parties in carrying on public business. If the
  Government control the discussions by force or prevent
  the meeting of Parliament, or suddenly get rid of it, and
  govern the country by means of the army, the provinces
  will then be almost sure of rising generally, particularly
  Calabria, excited by the Sicilian landing, and then not only
  will Messina be gone, but Naples and the throne of Ferdinand
  will be in the greatest danger. But if the King's
  Government were at present to act with great prudence
  and moderation, and if they believe them sincere in it,
  there would be no such general rising in the provinces as to
  render the Sicilian landing of importance, and then that
  small body of men would be crushed by the large Neapolitan
  force at present in Calabria. This would put the
  King's Government in a far more commanding position
  for terms in any future negotiations with Sicily, and probably
  put off a final settlement by inducing claims too
  exorbitant to be agreed to by Sicily.'

What had Captain Codrington to do with the going out or coming in of
the Ministry? What, in the name of Neptune and Mars, and all deities
having charge of ships of war, had a naval officer to do with the
returns to Parliament, the results of votes in that foreign House of
Commons? Observe, my Lords, the papers are selected out of the mass
of documents at the Foreign Office, and I will venture to assert very
confidently that, besides those which have been produced, there are
half a dozen times as many which the Foreign Office has not produced;
so that if we find anything in these papers showing faults to have
been committed by those who produced them or by their agents, we may
assume that, if the whole of the papers were given, not a few more
faults of the same kind would be found to have been committed.

The noble Lord opposite (Lord Minto) went from Rome to Naples, and if
he had been alone there I should have had greater confidence in the
proceedings of the Government, for I have had long experience of his
good sense, and sound judgement. But the noble Earl had a very active
and zealous man under him; and while wading through this volume I
have often had occasion to reflect upon the wise opinion of Prince
Talleyrand, who used to reckon in diplomacy that zeal in young men is
the next thing to treachery, and that sometimes it is just as bad as
treachery, for the zealous are clothed with the garb of merit, and you
have little hold over them. Well, the zeal, the honest zeal, no doubt,
of Lord Napier, moved my noble kinsman from Rome to Naples. The noble
Earl (Earl Minto) on the 2nd of February, 1848, wrote to the Foreign
Office, that he had been so urged by Lord Napier to go to Naples that
he had resolved to set off. But Lord Napier also tells us that on the
3rd of February he had an interview with the King of the Two Sicilies,
and that he got the King, out of his zeal and his address working with
it, to ask Lord Minto to go to Naples. Well, my noble friend and Lord
Napier, representing the British Government, were decidedly for the
Sicilians and against the Neapolitans. There was no attempt to hold
the balance even between the two parties, but every expression was
used, every proposal made, every captious objection taken in favour
of the Sicilians under pretence of holding even the balance. In that
country my noble kinsman and Lord Napier are what we term in the
language of this country 'Repealers'. They are all for what they call
a native and independent parliament in Sicily, just as the Repealers
are for a native and independent Parliament in College Green. The
noble Lord (Lord Minto) says, in a very vehement manner, that the
sufferings of the people of Sicily under their thirty years' tyranny
were so intolerable that the Sicilians had a much better ground for
their rebellion than we had against James II in 1688. A consul,
writing on the 24th of April, having given most flourishing accounts
of the universal insurrection of the Sicilians (accounts which differ
entirely from those I received from travellers in that country, as
well as from public functionaries), informed Lord Napier that the
Sicilians were going to choose the Grand Duke of Genoa as King of
Sicily. This intelligence was received in London about the 4th or
5th of May. There was not a moment's delay in acting upon the
notification, though it was only a prediction. If we were so very fond
of our Neapolitan allies, if we lamented that we could not draw more
closely the bonds of friendship between the two countries, protesting
all the while our desire to keep the two crowns on the head of
Ferdinand, it is very odd that our Minister should, on the very
instant it was known that the Grand Duke of Genoa was likely to be
chosen, and that the Sicilians intended to dethrone King Ferdinand
namely, on the 8th of May, proceed to give these instructions to my
friend, Mr. Abercrombie:

  'Her Majesty's Consul at Palermo having reported that
  it is understood that the crown of Sicily is to be offered to
  the Duke of Genoa, I have to instruct you that if it should
  come to your knowledge that such an offer has been made,
  you will state to the Sardinian Government that it is of
  course for the Duke of Genoa to determine whether it will
  or will not suit him to accept this flattering offer, but that
  it might be satisfactory to him to know that if he should
  do so he would at the proper time, and when he was in
  possession of the Sicilian throne, be acknowledged by Her

Let it be known, said the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs,
that if the Duke of Genoa accepts the offer of the Sicilians, we shall
lose no time in recognizing him, the Grand Duke of Genoa, under
the Treaty of Vienna, as the King of Sicily, and in accepting the
dethronement of our own ancient ally with whom we lament there is no
possibility of 'drawing closer the bonds of our ancient friendship'.
Oh, how easily snapped are the bonds that knit prince to prince, and
State to State! Oh, how feeble the most ancient ties of the firmest
political friendship! When the ink was hardly dry with which the
profession was made of this earnest desire to draw more closely, if it
were but possible, the bonds which united us to the King of the Two
Sicilies, that Her Majesty's Government should, behind his back, and
without a word of notice, avow their intention deliberately, but
instantly, to acknowledge the usurper upon whose head his insurgent
subjects were about to place the crown they had wrested from the brow
of their lawful King! But my noble friend (Lord Minto) is strongly
impressed with the advantages of a free constitution--not, however,
more strongly than I am. Above all the free constitutions of the
world, it is natural that the Sicilians should admire that admirable
form of the purest of all governments, which, uniting the stability
of order with the freedom of a popular constitution, which we happily
enjoy, and upon the possession of which we have reason to pride
ourselves beyond all the other bounties which a gracious Providence
has showered down upon this favoured isle. No wonder the Sicilians
should be prepared to admire and regard with reverence a constitution
which unites in itself the advantages of all other forms of
government, the freedom of democracy, the vigour of monarchy, and the
stability with the peacefulness of aristocracy. If I were to say
that I am niggardly enough to keep this blessing at all hazards to
ourselves, not to desire the extension to others of this happy form of
government, I should do injustice to my own feelings; but if I were to
say I am slow to believe that the British Constitution is of a nature
to be easily exported, and transplanted in other countries, I should
only give vent to the opinions which the wisest have held, and which
every day's experience of foreign affairs tends more deeply to root in
all reflecting minds. The British Constitution is the work of ages,
the slow growth of many centuries, and if it could be transplanted to
countries so totally unprepared for its reception, and there made to
take root, it would be as great a miracle as if we were to take a
mature plant and set it to grow on a stone pavement, or a great wooden
stick, and plant it in a fertile soil, there to bear fruit. The plant
and the soil must be of congenial natures; the constitution must fit
the nation it is to govern. The people must be prepared by their
previous experience, their habits, their second nature, their
political nature, to receive such institutions. I know not that I can
ever sufficiently express the affection I bore to my late noble friend
(Lord W. Bentinck) who, in 1812, instituted in Sicily the experiment
of transplanting thither the British Constitution. But your Lordships
now know from his experience what was the consequence of attempting
to establish our own constitution in another country. A traveller
happened to be in Sicily at the time, and I will read the account he
gave of the solemnity which he witnessed. He is speaking of the most
important of all proceedings under that transplanted system; he is
describing the conduct of the people's chosen representatives; he is
painting the scene of their legislative labours, in the temple of
freedom; he is admitting us to the grand, the noble spectacle of the
most dignified of human assemblies, the popular body making laws for
the nation in the sanctuary of its rights. See, then, this august
picture of a transplanted Parliament. Mr. Hughes says:

  'As soon as the President had proposed the subject for
  debate, and restored some degree of order from that confusion
  of tongues which followed the announcement of the
  question, a system of crimination and recrimination was
  invariably commenced by the several speakers, accompanied
  with such hideous contortions, such bitter taunts,
  and such personal invectives, that blows generally followed,
  until the Assembly was in an uproar. The President's
  voice was unheeded and unheard; the whole House arose;
  patriots and antagonists mingled in the fray, and the
  ground was covered with the combatants, kicking, biting,
  striking, and scratching each other in a true Pancratic

It is to restore this grand political blessing of the 1812 Parliament
that all our late efforts have been pointed. The great object of
our negotiations has been the establishment of such a precious
representative assembly; but the result is, that those efforts have
been all thrown away. The King of Naples was said at that time to have
agreed to certain concessions; he offered the people such terms as our
negotiators thought they ought to have accepted; and, up to that time,
indeed up to this hour, Ferdinand has behaved most fairly. He did not
scruple to make such proposals for conciliation as our own negotiators
thought the insurgents ought to have accepted. But all ended in their
refusal. War broke out. Neapolitan troops were sent over. Messina was
attacked, bombarded, and, after some four or five days, was taken.

Now, to show your Lordships the tendency there was in these
negotiations to take advantage of every circumstance, accidental or
otherwise, for the purpose of blackening the conduct of the Neapolitan
Court, I will only state one particular, and that is with respect to
the continuance of the bombardment. A most indignant denial has been
given to this charge by the general officers and others engaged; and
it turned out that our consuls and vice-consuls, all animated by
the same spirit, all in favour of rebellion and against the lawful
sovereignty, all agreed in one fact as the ground of the charge,--they
all said that eight hours after the resistance had ceased the
bombardment was continued. It might naturally be supposed that, with
this continued bombardment, much blood would be spilt; and when all
our agents are dwelling on this continuance as a cruelty, every reader
must conclude that needless carnage was perpetrated, and much blood
shed. But no such thing; not one drop could be spilt, and why? Because
every creature had left the town before the eight hours had commenced
to run! But the bombardment was continued for two reasons. In the
first place, every house, as in Paris, was a fort; and, secondly,
the Neapolitan commander could not possibly trust the white flag
immediately after he had lost a whole battalion by a false flag being
hoisted to decoy them into ambush, where the ground was mined. But no
single fact of needless cruelty has been proved against the King of
Naples, though I know, from a person attached to our Navy, and in
those seas at that time, whose account I have read, as also from that
of a traveller accidentally on board of one of the Queen's ships
at the time, that there were cruelties of the most disgusting and
revolting description committed by the Sicilians, and not one word of
reference to which can be found in all the curiously selected papers
that load your table. In the mass things are to be found, indeed,
much against the wishes of the selectors, and also of their agents in
Sicily and Naples. This is owing to their clumsy design of telling
what they think will exalt the rebel and damage the loyal party,
without always perceiving that these statements cut more ways
than one. Thus, a number of consuls sign a statement that all
the inhabitants had left Messina. This is contrived to show that
resistance had ceased; but it also proves that no cruelty could be
committed by the bombardment. Again, we are told that 1,500, by one
zealous agent's account, had been slain of the King's troops: but Lord
Napier's hotter zeal is not satisfied with this number, and he makes
it 3,000. The object of putting forward this statement is to exalt the
rebel valour, and give a more formidable aspect to the revolt. But the
zeal in one direction forgets that the same parade of numbers also
shows how necessary severe measures had become on the King's part,
and how little blame could attach to the gallant troops who, thus
assailed, had imposed on them, by the duty of self-defence, the
necessity of quelling so bloody an insurrection.

I have given one sample of the not very even-handed justice which
pervaded the correspondence. But I will proceed further. After the
battle of Messina 700 or 800 rebels escaped towards the Ionian
Islands. They were taken, and it was said by a stratagem: that by
hoisting the English flag a Neapolitan cruiser was enabled to
near them and take them. It was further alleged--and much of the
correspondence is addressed to this point--that they were taken,
contrary to the law of nations, within three miles or cannon-shot of
the Ionian Islands, and therefore within the British waters. Very
elaborate arguments are given in the correspondence to prove
that position, and a great deal of indignation is expressed; and
satisfaction was also demanded on account of the abuse of the English
flag. An elaborate argument is prepared and sent by the Foreign
Secretary to show that because the ships were first seen twenty miles
off, and in half an hour more they were more clearly perceived,
therefore at some unknown and unspecified time after the half hour,
they must have been close in with the shore. I suppose on the
principle that a sailing vessel going without steam, moves at the rate
of twenty or thirty miles in the hour. However, such is this zealous
argument to prove the favourite point that the rebels are always right
and the Government always wrong. Alas! that so much good information
and subtlety of argument should be thrown away. This able and
argumentative paper crossed on its way out another from our own
Admiral on its way homeward, in which he said he had inquired from the
Governor of the Ionian Islands, and had ascertained that the ship
was at least eight miles from the shore--so there was an end of the
argument upon distance; and that of the insult to our flag was as
shortly disposed of by a letter from our own Admiralty, stating that
it was only a stratagem which our own Navy constantly employed, freely
using the flags of other nations for its own purposes.

I rejoice to say, and your Lordships must he rejoiced to hear it, that
I am approaching the end of this subject, but I cannot abstain from
observing, to show how completely we took part with the one side
against the other, that we treated the Sicilian prisoners as if they
had been our allies, our own subjects. They were taken in rebellion,
with arms in their hands, against their lawful Sovereign. But Lord
Napier complains to Prince Cariati of his treatment of the prisoners,
and says it would be observed upon in England, would raise a strong
feeling on its exposure and publication, and that the feeling would be
such that Her Majesty's Government could scarcely fail to take notice
of it. But how? For those prisoners were guilty of municipal offence
against the municipal law of their own country. Suppose, contrary to
all probability and possibility, hostilities had ensued upon the late
attempt at rebellion in Ireland, and some of the prisoners having been
taken and sent to Bermuda or Australia, that the Ministers of France,
Holland, Belgium, or any other country had taken it into their heads
to object to our treatment of those prisoners and to say, 'Don't
treat them in that way. Give them their native Parliament on College
Green--you are acting cruelly in sending them to Bermuda or Australia.
I shall write home to France, I shall write home to Holland, I shall
write home to Belgium; and depend upon it your conduct will raise such
a ferment of execration and hatred against you, that the President of
the Republic, the King of Holland, and the King of Belgium will be
absolutely obliged to take notice of it.' How should we have received
that intimation? I think with a horse-laugh, and there was no reason
why the Neapolitan King should not receive that dispatch of Lord
Napier's in the same way, except that he, no doubt, gave it
good-naturedly a more polite and courteous reception. Now we thus
presume to interfere with the domestic affairs of Naples as neither
France nor Holland would dare interfere with ours, and as we never
durst interfere with theirs. True, we never should dream of urging the
great Republic to treat its rebellious subjects, when charged with
treason, otherwise than as its Government pleased! True, Naples is
a feebler Power than France! But is that all the ground for the
proceeding? Is that all the warrant for reading lectures such as those
we have read, for doing the things we have done, threatening the
things we have threatened, claiming the right we have asserted of
protecting criminals imprisoned for rebellion from the justice of
their lawful Sovereign? I say that to a generous nation, to a manly
feeling heart, to a person of true British honour and true British
gallantry, it is the very reverse of a reason, and makes our conduct
the less excusable as it ought to be the more hateful.

But far from words being all we used, far from interfering by
requisition and remonstrance being all we did, the British diplomacy
and the British Navy were actually compelled to force an armistice
upon the Neapolitan Government on behalf of its revolted subjects,
and when their revolt was nearly quelled! After Messina had been
completely subdued, its forces routed, its walls crumbled, its
strongest place captured, our Admiral, having a fleet in those waters,
was resolved it should not be there for nothing. Hitherto he and his
captains had only expressed sympathy with the insurgents, and hatred
or contempt of their lawful Sovereign. Now that the rebellion was on
the point of being put down, by the capture of Catania and Palermo,
which, but for us, must both have immediately fallen, now that the
last hope of subverting the Throne of Sicily and installing a usurper
on its ruins was about to vanish from the eyes of the British seamen,
our Admiral, acting in concert no doubt with the British envoy, and
inspired with the feelings of our Foreign Office, required a respite
to be allowed the insurgents, and determined to back his requisition
with his ships. But he was not, we must admit, the principal in this
offence against the rights of an independent and friendly State. He
has not the blame to bear, or, if you will, he has not the praise to
receive, of having decided upon this intervention between the King and
his insurgent subjects. The French Admiral was the contriver of the
scheme. Admiral Baudin formed his own determination, doubtless in
order to gratify the mob of Paris, as well as the rebels of Palermo;
and our commander, afraid of being outstripped in his favourite
course, at once yielded to the Frenchman's request, the one looking to
the Boulevards of Paris for approval, the other to the Foreign Office
of London. Orders were issued to all our fleet, that they should use
every means to prevent the Neapolitans from following up their
victory at Messina; and sealed instructions were sent to direct their
proceedings should these peaceable efforts fail. Why not make the
instructions public? Why not give notice openly of our intentions? It
might have prevented the necessity of using force. However, the orders
were sealed, and they directed that first the guns should be fired
without shot; next, that they should be shotted, but not fired so
as to injure the crews of our ally's ships; and, finally, that they
should be used as hostilely and destructively as was necessary to
accomplish the purpose of forcing Naples to let the Sicilian rebels
alone. But then it is said, and it is the pitiful pretext of equal
treatment to both parties, that the orders were alike to prevent
action of the King's troops and the revolters. Was ever there a more
wretched shift, a more hollow pretence, than this? Keep the Sicilians
from breaking an armistice enforced to save them from utter and final
destruction! Keep the beaten Sicilian rebel from overpowering his
victorious masters! Keep the felon convicted from rushing to the
gallows in spite of the respite granted him! Can human wit imagine a
more ridiculous pretext than this, of affecting to hold the balance
even, when you are preventing the conqueror from improving his
victory, and only preventing the vanquished from attempting what
without a miracle he cannot do, cannot, even with all your assistance,
venture to try? But such was our just conduct in an interference which
we had not the shadow of a right to take upon ourselves. We showed our
friendly feelings towards an ancient ally by forcibly screening his
revolted subjects, and compelling him to delay for nearly seven months
the total defeat of those rebels and the complete restoration of
tranquillity. From the 10th of September, when Messina fell, to the
30th of March, when we were kindly pleased to let the armistice
expire, the English fleet persevered in reducing the King to inaction,
and saving his rebellious subjects from the operation of his armies.
But for our own fleet, there is not a doubt that Catania and Palermo
must have fallen in a fortnight, but we nursed, and fostered, and
prolonged the insurrection for above half a year. Talk of your
humanity! Boast of your Admiral and his French associate interposing
to save bloodshed! Whose fault was it that Catania, having profited by
the respite you forced the King to grant, still held out, instead of
opening her gates as soon as Messina had fallen, when the insurrection
must have been crushed in its cradle? Who but your commanders and
envoys are to blame for the necessity under which they placed
the King's troops of fighting a battle on the 6th of April? That
engagement no doubt put down the insurrection; but many lives were
lost in it. Five-and-twenty officers were killed and wounded on the
King's side, and some hundreds of men must likewise have expiated
their loyalty with their lives, to say nothing of the insurgent loss.
Palermo fell without a struggle, after all the boastings of your
envoys and captains, and consuls and vice-consuls. Would she have
resisted more fiercely in September? The insurgent chiefs fled, and
got on board the _Vectis_, one of the two vessels of war which you
suffered the Sicilian rebels to fit out in your ports, when you
refused all help to your ancient friend's ambassador in checking this
outrage on the law of nations, and when by a celebrated 'inadvertence'
you suffered those rebels to obtain from the Tower a supply of arms,
wherewith to fight your ally's armies.

My Lords, I cannot trust myself with the expression of the feelings
which are roused by the whole of the papers, to which I have only
referred occasionally; they are the feelings with which all men of
sound principles and calm judgement will read them all over Europe. I
will refer to them no further than to read the indignant denial which
the veteran General Filangieri, Prince of Satriano, gives to the
charge of cruelty brought against his gallant and loyal army by our
envoys and our consuls, and, I grieve to add, our naval commanders.
(Lord Brougham here read the vehement, and even impassioned, terms
in which the General refutes these foul calumnies, charging him, an
officer of above half a century's service, with suffering his troops
to commit enormities which no military man, of however little
experience in his profession, could have permitted.)

Rely upon it, my Lords, that if anything can make more offensive the
conduct of our agents in fostering revolt, and injuring the lawful
government of our allies, it is the adding foul slander to gross
indiscretion, revenging themselves on those whose valour and conduct
has frustrated their designs, by blackening their characters, and
committing that last act of cruel injustice, calumniating those you
have injured, through your hatred of those to whom you have given good
cause to hate you.

There is, my Lords, but one course for this country to pursue in its
dealings with other States; she must abstain from all interference,
all mischievous meddling with their domestic concerns, and leave them
to support, or to destroy, or to amend their own institutions in
their own way. Let us cherish our own Government, keeping our own
institutions for our own use, but never attempt to force them upon the
rest of the world. We have no such vocation, we have no such duty,
no such right. Above all, we have no right to interfere between
sovereigns and subjects, encouraging them to revolt, and urging
them to revolution, in the vain hope that we may thus better their
condition. Then, in negotiation, let us avoid the same meddling
policy--shall I falsely call it?--the same restless disposition to
serve one State at another's expense; showing favour and dislike
capriciously and alternately, guided by mere individual and personal
feelings, whether towards States or statesmen, displaying groundless
likings for some and groundless hatred for others; one day supporting
this Power in its aggression upon that, and when defeated, justly and
signally defeated, like Sardinia, clinging to the wish that it should
obtain from the victorious party an indemnity for its own foul but
failing aggression. Most of all let us abide by the established policy
of the country towards our old and faithful friends, not Naples
merely, but Austria, whose friendship has been, in all the best times
of our most eminent statesmen, deemed the very corner-stone of our
foreign policy, ever since the era of 1688; above all, since King
William and the Ministers and Government of his successor laid the
foundations of that system. But now I can see in every act done,
almost in every little matter, a rooted prejudice against Austria,
and the interspersing of a few set phrases does little to prevent
any reader from arriving at the same conclusion. 'Our feelings are
friendly towards Austria,' and 'God forbid they should be otherwise!'
I say Amen to that prayer, but when I read the dispatches with the
light shed on them by the acts of our Government, and of all their
agents and Ministers, when by these acts I interpret the fair words
used, I perceive the latter to mean exactly nothing, and that those
expressions which perpetually recur of an opposite kind speak the
true sense of our rulers. But this policy is opposed to the uniform
authority of our greatest statesmen. Even Mr. Fox, who was sometimes
believed to have a leaning towards Russia, from the accidental
transactions of 1791, when charged with undervaluing the Austrian
alliance in comparison, took immediate opportunity earnestly to
disavow any such opinion, and declared that our friendship with
Austria was the grand element of our European system.

My Lords, I have detained you longer than I could have desired; but I
felt it absolutely necessary to give your Lordships an opportunity of
fully considering this momentous subject. That such things as have
been done by the Government in Italy and elsewhere during the last
twelve months, should pass without awakening your attention, and that
your examination of the details should not call down a censure, if
for no other purpose than to warn the Ministers against persisting in
fatal errors, appears to me hardly within the bounds of possibility.
I have, therefore, deemed it my duty to give you an opportunity of
expressing the opinion which I believe a majority of this House holds,
and which I know is that of all well-informed and impartial persons in
every part of the world.


My Lords, I have to lay upon your table, by command of Her Majesty,
the Protocols of the proceedings of the Conference upon the affairs of
Denmark and Germany, which has just been brought to a close. In laying
these papers upon your Lordships' table I propose to follow the course
which was pursued by the Earl of Liverpool in 1823, and I am confident
that in following that example I am pursuing a course which is
perfectly fair to this House and to the country. In that case the
English Government had been carrying on negotiations first at Verona,
the Conference at which place was attended by the Duke of Wellington,
and afterwards at Paris, on the subject of the invasion of Spain.
The Government of that day declared that the invasion of Spain was
contrary to all the principles of English policy, and that it was an
interference which was entirely opposed not only to the sentiments of
this country, but to the settlement of Europe which had been come to
some years before. They, therefore, protested against it, while at the
same time they thought it advisable to preserve peace and declare a
neutrality between this country and France. Upon the present occasion
I have to discuss a question which is of a very intricate nature, and
which for a long time was considered to be one that might go on for
many many years without raising any exciting interest, and which was
almost too complicated and too wearisome to engage much of the public
attention. For the last, year, however, that question has been in a
very different condition.

My Lords, before I refer to the proceedings of the Conference it is
necessary to take some notice of those engagements which have been the
origin of these disputes, though they were intended to put an end to
all differences between Germany and Denmark. Your Lordships are well
aware that in these times it is necessary that a treaty should
not only have the signatures of envoys and the ratifications of
Sovereigns, but that in its working it should be made to accord with
the sentiments and wishes of the people who are to be governed under
it. A remarkable instance of difference in this respect has occurred
with regard to the operation of the Treaty of Vienna of 1815 with
respect to Lombardy, and the operation of the same treaty with
reference to Genoa. Your Lordships are aware that for many years
great discontent prevailed in Lombardy, which was only removed by the
separation of that province from Austria. On the other hand, in Genoa,
by the wise and patriotic conduct of the Kings of Sardinia, all the
objections, all the repugnance, which originally existed in Genoa
against their rule have been finally overcome and removed, and
Piedmont and Genoa are now in perfect harmony. Unfortunately the
Treaty of 1852 in regard to Denmark, and the engagements which
were entered into in the previous year, 1851, with respect to an
arrangement between Germany and Denmark, were in their operation
exceedingly unsatisfactory. It was declared, and has lately been
repeated in the Conference, that an attempt was made by the King of
Denmark, contrary to the engagements of 1852, and contrary also to all
sound policy, to make the people of Schleswig change their national
character, and so to interfere with their churches and schools as to
keep up a perpetual irritation, thereby violating the spirit of the
engagements between Denmark and Germany. How far those accusations
were true as regards the exact letter of those engagements I will not
stop to inquire; but it is quite certain that there was prevailing in
Schleswig great dissatisfaction at the manner in which the Duchies of
Schleswig and Holstein were governed, and that great complaints were
made on that account against the Danish Government. It was for a long
time the public opinion in this country that Germany had no reason
to complain of Denmark as violating her engagements; but I am afraid
that, by an impolitic course at all events, the Danish Government
produced the feeling in Germany that the subjects of the King of
Denmark of the German race were not fairly governed. Oppression there
could not be said to be. The Government was a free Government, and,
generally speaking, the people living under it were prosperous; but
there was in the two Duchies much of that irritation which prevailed
in Belgium previous to its separation from Holland. On the other side,
it must be said that the German Governments, instead of asking that
which might fairly have been demanded--instead of asking that the
engagements should be kept in their spirit, and that arrangements
should be made (which could easily have been devised) to give
satisfaction to the people of the Duchies--made proposals
inconsistent, as it appeared to me, with their engagements, pushing
beyond their legitimate sense the words of those engagements, and
suggested arrangements which, if they had come into operation,
would have made Denmark completely subject to Germany. Among other
proposals--indeed, one of the chief--was that the 900,000 people who
were said to be of German race, and even the 50,000 of the Duchy of
Lauenburg, should have a representation equal to that of the 1,600,000
inhabitants of the kingdom of Denmark. This was evidently so unfair
and calculated to be so destructive of Danish independence and
nationality, that Denmark refused to accede to it. It was, in fact
such a proposal as if Scotland and Ireland were to demand each
an equal number of representatives with England in the Imperial
Parliament. The consequence of these disputes, unfortunately, was,
that instead of the treaty taking root and fully satisfying the wishes
of the people of the Duchies, there was a kind of never-ceasing
irritation which burst forth as occasion arose; and, as Germany was
greatly more powerful than Denmark, it was but too probable that the
latter would have to suffer one day on account of the complaints which
were made by the Germans. It was impossible not to foresee that such
would probably be the consequence, and that the irritation to which I
allude would not go on for ever without exciting great dissension and
perhaps war. Therefore, in September, 1862, when I was at Brussels in
attendance on Her Majesty, I explained to Sir Augustus Paget, who was
shortly about to return to Denmark, a plan of pacification which it
appeared to me would keep the Duchies under the rule of the King of
Denmark; which would be satisfactory to themselves; which would
give them a Minister for Schleswig and a body of representatives; a
Minister for Holstein and a body of representatives, and would thus
put an end for ever to the demand that at Copenhagen there should
sit a majority of representatives for the Duchies. The Danish
Government--as I think unfortunately--utterly rejected that proposal,
and matters went on in the same unsatisfactory state. The diplomatic
correspondence which the British Government proposed should take place
did take place between Germany and Denmark, but it only produced
increased bitterness and further irritation. At length in October,
1863, the German Governments at Frankfort declared that they must
proceed to Federal Execution. If, my Lords, that Federal Execution had
been founded on any infringement of the rights of Holstein--if it had
been founded solely upon the misgovernment of Holstein, or on any
violation of the rights of the Confederation, no Power would, I think,
be entitled to complain of it. It embraced, however, a point which had
nothing to do with Federal rule--the point of an equal representation
at Copenhagen. It was then that the British Government declared that
that could not be a matter of indifference, because it aimed, in fact,
not only at the integrity, but at the independence, of Denmark. Things
remained in this state until the death of the King of Denmark, which
produced an entire alteration in the state of affairs. It was then
contended on behalf of Germany that, after looking closely into some
very intricate questions of representative and hereditary succession,
they were bound to declare that the King of Denmark had no right to
succeed to the Duchies, but that by the law of the Confederation
the Prince of Augustenburg was the proper heir to the throne. This
declaration, adopted almost throughout the whole of Germany,
was received with applause not only by the popular, but by the
Conservative party: by persons of the highest rank as well as by the
general mass of the community; and every Government that pretended to
adhere to the Treaty of 1852 was denounced as recreant to the cause of
Germany. In this state of affairs the Governments of Austria and of
Prussia took a somewhat singular and not very defensible course. In
the beginning they declared in the Diet that, having a majority
in favour of this declaration, they would proceed to Federal
Execution--thereby, to all appearance, making the present King of
Denmark responsible for that which was done by the late King, and
to all intents and purposes, as it would seem, acknowledging his
sovereignty over Holstein. They, at the same time, however, somewhat
privately and without the general knowledge of Europe, declared that
they reserved the question of the succession. It did not appear to the
Danish Government, nor did it appear to Her Majesty's Government,
that Federal Execution could be resisted without increasing the
complications of the position. But, immediately after that took place,
Austria and Prussia declared that they must occupy the Duchy of
Schleswig in order to obtain the fulfilment of the engagements
of 1852. Your Lordships are well aware that shortly before that
declaration the Government of Denmark announced that they were ready
to repeal the Constitution of November, 1863, which was the apparent
ground of the proposed Federal Execution. Unfortunately, they had not
acceded to that proposal when Lord Wodehouse went to Copenhagen, and
when the concession might have been effectual. The German Governments,
in their hurry to go to war, and being evidently determined on going
to war--in the first place in order to gratify the German sentiment
on the subject--took no heed of the proposal which was made by the
British Government, and which was supported by France and Russia, that
a protocol should be signed by the different Governments, binding
Denmark to a repeal of the Constitution of November, and the German
troops of Austria and Prussia entered Schleswig. I think it was
impossible for the British Government to give any advice on this
occasion. It was evidently the invasion of a territory which did not
in any way belong to Germany, and a territory to which according to
our view the King of Denmark had the fullest right. It was said that
it was to be occupied as 'a material guarantee'; but no country is, I
conceive, obliged to submit to an occupation of its territory which
it believes it has the power and right to resist. Your Lordships are
fully aware of the events of the war which subsequently took place. It
resulted, as must naturally be expected, in the defeat of the Danes
and the occupation of the Duchies by an overwhelming force of Austrian
and Prussian troops. That being so, and the Austrian Government having
always said that they were ready to agree to a Conference, and Prussia
assenting to that proposal, Her Majesty's Government proposed that a
Conference should be held. The Danish Government refused an armistice,
but declared themselves ready to enter into a Conference. The Austrian
and Prussian as well as the French Government expressed a wish that it
should be attended by a Plenipotentiary of the German Confederation,
and after some delay one was sent. The Conference was not assembled
regularly until the 25th of April, and some delay then took place with
a view of obtaining, if not an armistice, at least a suspension of
arms for a considerable period. The Danish Government would not agree
to an armistice; but a suspension of arms they did agree to, which was
only to last for the period of four weeks. My Lords, it was difficult
in matters so intricate, and on which passions had been so much
roused, to come to any agreement beforehand; but Her Majesty's
Government thought it their duty to proceed to the Conference, in the
interests of peace, even without any such agreement. On the 12th of
May, after the suspension of arms had been agreed to, I asked the
Austrian and Prussian Governments to declare what it was they asked
for in the interests of peace. Now, be it observed that although
the Prussian Government, and the Austrian Government likewise, had
continually declared that they had certain engagements to insist upon
which had not been fulfilled, they never yet had agreed to specify
what these engagements were which would secure peace, and by which
they would be bound. When Lord Wodehouse went to Berlin on his way
to Copenhagen he endeavoured, according to the instructions he had
received, to obtain some explanations from the Prussian Government
on this point. The Prussian Government replied, 'Let the Danish
Government first repeal the Constitution of November, and we will
afterwards see what arrangement they propose to put in the place of
that; we will judge of that proposal and give our opinion upon it.'
Nothing, I must say, could be less explicit, or a less justification
for the course they were pursuing; because at the same time they were
ready to carry on war to the extremity, to use all their means to
invade Schleswig with all the dreadful consequences, without making a
distinct declaration of their terms. When, however, the Powers were
assembled in Conference, and the Plenipotentiaries of Austria and
Prussia were obliged to meet the Plenipotentiaries of Russia, France,
and Sweden as well as of Great Britain, they found themselves
compelled to make some statement of the terms which they would
require. Be it observed that throughout--even up to the 31st of
January--the two German Governments had declared that they adhered to
the Treaty of London, and the execution and occupation were proofs
that they still adhered to the integrity of the Danish Monarchy. Her
Majesty's Government, therefore, had no reason to suppose that their
proposal would be of a different character. We were told, however,
upon authority so high as to be almost official, that there was an
intention on their part to propose what was called a personal union;
and that personal union was to be of this nature--that the whole Duchy
of Holstein and the whole Duchy of Schleswig were to be united; they
were to have a separate army and navy from those of Denmark; that they
were to have complete self-government; and, in fact, that the King of
Denmark was to have scarcely any influence over the two Duchies. In
one of the last meetings of the Conference, M. Quaade, one of the
Danish Plenipotentiaries, declared that if that personal union had
ever been proposed, it would have been impossible for the Danes to
agree to it. Indeed, it was likely that, with the disposition
which prevailed in Germany, German agitation would have produced a
declaration of separation on the part of the two Duchies, and
German arms would then have supported the Duchies in that wish for
separation. Therefore, though nominally maintaining the integrity of
Denmark, and though nominally adhering to the Treaty of 1852, the
proposition of a personal union would have been, in fact, a separation
of the Duchies from Denmark under a very thin transparent
disguise. That, however, was not the exact proposal of the German
Plenipotentiaries. In the meeting of the 17th of May the first
Plenipotentiary of Prussia declared that--

  What the Austrian   and Prussian Governments wished
  was a pacification which would assure to the Duchies
  absolute guarantees against the recurrence of any foreign
  oppression, and which, by thus excluding for the future
  any subject of dispute, of revolution, and of war, would
  guarantee to Germany that security in the North which
  she requires in order not to fall again periodically into the
  state of affairs which brought on the present war. These
  guarantees can only be found in the complete political
  independence of the Duchies and their close connexion by
  means of common institutions.--_Protocol_, No. 5.

Now, this declaration on the part of the two Powers is not a little
remarkable. Your Lordships will observe the phrase, 'guarantee against
foreign oppression.' That oppression meant the oppression of the
Government of the King of Denmark. But he was Duke of Holstein _de
facto_ and _de jure_, his title had never been disputed, and his
government, if it was oppressive, could only be a domestic oppression.
The two Powers, therefore, of Austria and Prussia, to whom Europe had
a right to look for respect for the faith of treaties, declared at
once that the government of the Danish Duchies was of the nature of a
foreign oppression. At the same time, the declaration 'for a security
against any subject of dispute, war, and revolution', was so ambiguous
that none of the Plenipotentiaries could tell what its meaning was.
The Russian Plenipotentiary said he was quite at a loss to know what
it meant. The French Plenipotentiary followed in the same tone; and
for a long period we were quite unable in the Conference to say what
was really the intention of the two Powers. We asked who was to be the
Sovereign of these two Duchies which were to be thus governed? The
answer of the German Plenipotentiary was that that was a question
to be decided by the Diet. Austria and Prussia, but more especially
Austria, had declared hitherto that the Treaty of 1852 was a question
that was decided--that the late King of Denmark had a right to settle
the succession, and that his decision in favour of Prince Christian,
the present King of Denmark, would be respected by those Powers.
It was equally notorious that the Diet, if it met, would, by a
considerable majority, declare against the title of the King of
Denmark. Count Bernstorff did not deny that, and the Plenipotentiary
of the German Diet declared at once that the majority of the Diet
would never consent to an arrangement which even in an eventual or
conditional form, would sanction a union between the Duchies and
Denmark. Thus, while the two Powers, Austria and Prussia, were in
appearance consenting to the maintenance of the Treaty of 1852,
telling us that the Diet might ultimately decide in favour of the King
of Denmark as the legitimate heir, the German Plenipotentiary, who, in
fact, had greater power than either the Plenipotentiaries of Austria
or Prussia, because they never at any time ventured to oppose that
which he declared to be the will of Germany, declared that Germany
would never consent to the restoration of the Duchies to Denmark.

My Lords, at the next meeting of the Conference, which took place on
the 17th of May, there was a more positive declaration. Austria and
Prussia then declared that they could no longer acknowledge the King
of Denmark as Sovereign of the Duchies; that the whole of the two
Duchies ought to be separated from Denmark and placed under the
sovereignty of the Prince of Augustenburg; that he should be declared
the rightful possessor of the throne of these Duchies, and that that
was a declaration which would be hailed throughout Germany and would
meet the wishes of the German people. Before this declaration was
made, in preparation for such an event, the Plenipotentiaries of the
neutral Powers had met to consider the situation. The Government of
France had had some communication with the Government of this country.
The French Government had declared that they thought the personal
union could not be the foundation of a lasting peace, and that the
only mode of obtaining such a peace would be to separate the Danish
nationalities in the Duchies from the German nationalities. After
these communications I consulted the other neutral Plenipotentiaries,
who met at my private house for the purpose of considering the matter.
We came to the conclusion that it was useless to propose that the two
Duchies should remain under the King of Denmark. It was quite obvious
that unless we had been prepared--I should say all of us prepared--to
carry on a great war for the purpose, after the hostilities which had
taken place, after the declarations which had been made by the German
Powers, if anything like a personal union had been established there
would at once have been a declaration on the part of the Duchies and
on the part of the German Confederation, supported by Austria and
Prussia, that the Prince of Augustenburg was entitled to hold the
Duchies, and that he was the rightful Sovereign; and that if the
Danish troops entered to dispute possession of the Duchies, they would
be opposed by Austria, Prussia, and the whole Confederation. We had
therefore to consider what we could propose which would be most
favourable to Denmark under the circumstances which I have stated
to your Lordships. Of course we could only propose something of
a diplomatic nature, which we thought likely to be accepted. We
accordingly prepared a proposition, which I as President of the
Conference was to submit, and which I was assured would be supported
by the Plenipotentiaries of France and Sweden, and as far as possible
by the Russian Plenipotentiary, though he had not then received
definite instructions. What we proposed was that the King of Denmark
should yield to Germany the Duchy of Holstein and the Southern portion
of the Duchy of Schleswig--that the boundary should be drawn as far as
the Schlei, and should go along by the Dannewerke: that there should
be no menacing fortresses on the boundary; that the German Powers
should not interfere any further or any more in the internal affairs
of Denmark; and that a general guarantee should be given by the
European Powers for the rest of the Danish possessions. With regard to
this proposal, the Danish Plenipotentiaries made a declaration which I
think did that Government the highest honour. They declared that the
King of Denmark had accepted the Crown of that country according to
the Treaty of 1852, thinking that his doing so would tend to the peace
of Europe and to preserve the balance of power; but, as the surrender
of a great part of his territory was now demanded, he was ready
to make that concession, provided that entire independence and
self-government were left to the remainder of his dominions. The King
of Denmark declared he was ready to accept the line of the Schlei as
proposed: and without defining it he declared it was necessary there
should be a military and commercial line drawn for the sake of the
independence of Denmark; and he declared moreover that there should
be an European guarantee for the possession of the remainder of his
territory. The German Governments, while they accepted the proposal
for the partition of Schleswig--while they no longer demanded the
whole of that Duchy--declared that, according to their views, the line
of demarcation must go much further north. They said that the line
must be from Apenrade to Tondern; and that they could not assent to
the line proposed on the part of the neutral Plenipotentiaries. They
declared, at the same time, they were perfectly ready to agree that,
with regard to the territory to be left to the King of Denmark, there
should be no right of interference and no interference whatever with
the independence of Denmark. I confess, my Lords, it appeared to me
that the proposal we submitted was the best arrangement that could be
made. It was not to be expected that those Duchies could be retained
under the nominal sovereignty of the King of Denmark without giving
rise to fresh disputes and fresh complications. It was obvious, also,
that if that sovereignty had been admitted to be vested in the King of
Denmark, there would be constant interference on the part of Germany,
and that interference, which has gone on for the last twelve years,
giving rise to continual disputes, would cause constant contentions in
future. It would be far better that Denmark should have a restricted
territory, with the understanding that in her restricted territory her
own Government should have absolute control, than that she should
be subject to perpetual interference and control on the part of the
German Powers. The French Government more especially took that view.
The French Plenipotentiary declared it had always been the opinion of
his Government that the division of the nationalities was the cause of
all the complications which had taken place, and that nothing could
be settled satisfactorily until there had been a separation of the
nationalities; but he declared in the name of the Emperor, at the same
time, that it was necessary great forbearance should be shown towards
Denmark as the weaker Power; that the part evidently and confessedly
German should be given to the Duchy of Holstein; and with regard to
the mixed districts, as well as the Danish part, they should be left
to Denmark as a means of preserving her independence, and giving her a
mercantile and military line. Unhappily, my Lords, upon this occasion,
as throughout those questions, the German Powers, instead of taking
those views of generosity and forbearance which were urged so well by
the Emperor of the French, determined to insist on what, undoubtedly,
was their right if the right of conquest was the only one to be
considered. They stood on the right of conquest: they stood on the
victory they had gained on the disputed territory; but with respect
to generosity and forbearance towards a Power so disproportionate to
themselves--with respect to a due consideration for the peace of
Europe--with respect to the absence of a desire to rush again into
war in order to retain that which by right of conquest they might
say they had acquired--I should not be treating your Lordships
with sincerity if I said there was any such forbearance, any such
generosity, any such regard for the peace of Europe, manifested on the
part of Austria, Prussia, and the German Confederation. I must say
likewise, my Lords, that there was an assumption which was not
justifiable on the part of Denmark, and in reference to which my
noble friend Lord Clarendon made a clear and pointed statement at a
subsequent meeting of the Conference. The Danish Government considered
that the line which we had proposed in the name of the neutral Powers,
and after consulting the neutral Powers, as a basis of pacification,
was an English proposal--an English proposal by which England was
bound to abide, and which she was bound to maintain at all hazards.
Nothing of the kind, however, was ever stated by the British
Plenipotentiaries; nothing of the kind had Denmark a right to expect.
I did inform the Danish Plenipotentiary, when there was a question of
continuing the Armistice, that I should not propose nor support any
division but the line of the Schlei without the consent of Denmark;
but I never gave him to understand that England would support that
line otherwise than by urging its adoption in conjunction with the
other neutral Powers at the meetings of the Conference. The last
suspension of arms was only for a fortnight, and it remained for us to
consider what should be done--the two parties being obstinately bent
on the maintenance of their different rights--the Germans insisting on
the line from Apenrade to Tondern, and the Danes insisting first
upon a line extending more to the south than that which the British
Plenipotentiary had proposed in the Conference, and afterwards
agreeing to that line, but declaring that they would make no
further concessions. What could be done to bring about an amicable
understanding? In this situation of affairs, knowing that Denmark
would not consent to any other line--indeed, not knowing whether
the German Powers would concede any other line--the Prussian
Plenipotentiary said that he was ready to recommend to his Government
a line which should proceed from the north of Flensburg to Tondern,
but that he was not authorized to propose that line in the name of his
Government. The Austrian Plenipotentiary did not accede at first, but
afterwards said that he would recommend it to the consideration of his
Government. But the Danes at once refused it, and the proposal fell
to the ground. It then remained to be considered whether, without
proposing any other line, some means could not be found by which peace
might still be preserved. We considered that question very anxiously,
and it came to be a subject of reflection whether we could not, even
at the last moment, propose something which might bring the two Powers
to an agreement. It was obvious that many and great difficulties had
to be removed. The King of Denmark was ready to yield a part of
his dominions of which he had been deprived by war. The German
Plenipotentiaries were ready to say that a part of the Duchy of
Schleswig should remain under the rule of the King of Denmark. Both
Powers were ready to accept the proposal that there should be no
interference in future in the internal government of Denmark; and
all the Powers, I think, would have been ready, if there had been
an agreement on other points, to give a guarantee--a European
guarantee--to Denmark, which would have left that Power, indeed,
without any sovereignty over the German population, but still
possessed of an independent territory, and still possessed of a free
and happy Government, not subject to foreign interference. Well, the
question was, whether, there remaining only this line of frontier to
be decided, it could not be arranged in some way to which both Powers
would agree. We thought it possible that in that case the spirit of
the Protocol of Paris might be adopted. The Protocol of Paris said,
that when serious differences arose between any Powers, and there was
danger of those differences being carried to hostilities, the good
offices of a friendly Power might be resorted to, and it appeared
to us that if this principle could be brought into action, the
continuance of the war might be obviated. It was stated at the same
time by the French Plenipotentiary at Paris, and by others, that
where the honour or the essential interests of a country were mainly
concerned, it could not be expected that such differences should be
submitted to a friendly Power. But, in our opinion, this was not such
a case. It appeared to us that sooner than rush into war--sooner,
above all, than expose Denmark again to such an unequal contest--it
was possible to propose the good offices of a friendly Power, with
this condition--that both Powers should submit to the decision
respecting the line of frontier offered by the arbitrator to whom the
matter might be referred. In fact it was to be an arbitration rather
than good offices. Now, I cannot but believe that any impartial
arbitrator would have fixed upon a line far more favourable to Denmark
than that which the German Powers had proposed. A Power which was
impartial and without passion would probably have given, not the
line as far as the north of Flensburg, but a line to the south of
Flensburg, whereby that important town might have been preserved to
Denmark, and that Power would have had a port in the Northern Sea by
which her independence might have been maintained. It was, however,
entirely a question for the two Powers to accept or to refuse that
arbitration. I may say further that my noble friend (the Earl of
Clarendon) and myself, who were the British Plenipotentiaries at the
Conference, thought that after the fairness and the impartiality which
the Emperor of the French had shown throughout this question, his
friendliness, and at the same time his wish for the maintenance of
peace, the two Powers might well have accepted his good offices. The
opinion was, however, expressed by one of the Plenipotentiaries--an
opinion afterwards confirmed by an official declaration--that no Power
represented at the Conference, and therefore committed to a certain
degree as to the questions before the Conference, could properly be
accepted as the arbitrating Power. It then appeared to us, and we so
informed the Plenipotentiaries, that in our opinion the King of the
Belgians, whose impartiality is likewise well known, and whose long
experience of European affairs makes him most desirous to preserve the
peace of Europe, might perform these functions to the satisfaction of
the Powers concerned. But the question of who should be the arbitrator
never arose, Austria and Prussia said that they could accept the good
offices of a friendly Power in accordance with the Treaty of Paris,
but that they could not accept the decision of that friendly Power as
final; and in the meantime they asked for a long armistice. Now, my
Lords, it appeared to us that if that proposal were accepted, then,
after a period of two or three months of armistice, during which the
naval operations of Denmark would be suspended, a decision would
have been announced which, if it in any way displeased the
German Powers--if it did not go to the full extent of all their
demands--would have been refused by them. The Plenipotentiary of the
German Confederation completely confirmed our view of this question
by declaring that in his opinion this territory of Schleswig belonged
altogether to the Prince of Augustenburg, or rather belonged to the
competency of the German Confederation; that they could therefore
accept no arbitration, and could not be bound by anything that
was decided. They evidently meant that every foot of territory in
Schleswig might, if they chose it, be demanded at the end of the good
offices by the German Confederation. Thus, according to what I am
sorry to say has been the usual manner of the German Powers, their
refusal was not a direct and straightforward one. It is somewhat like
their declaration at the beginning, that they went into Holstein for
the purpose of Federal Execution, that they went into Schleswig for
the purpose of material occupation, and that they wished the question
of the sovereignty of Holstein and Schleswig to be decided in the
German Confederation, knowing perfectly well how that decision would
be made; and then, lastly, they wished to have the appearance of
accepting the good offices of an arbitrator without really intending
to accept them. The Danish Plenipotentiaries, most unfortunately in my
opinion--most imprudently in my opinion--gave a decided refusal to the
proposal. Of course, it was for them to judge as to the security of
their own country and the prospects of war; but I certainly regret
deeply that they should have rejected the arbitration. The proposal
that I made certainly did not exactly agree with the line of the
Schlei, but it was a proposal which we, the British Plenipotentiaries,
thought was for the benefit of Denmark, and was most likely to obtain
for the Danes a peace which would have been satisfactory to them. And
now, my Lords, all other means having failed, one other proposal was
made on the part of France by the French Plenipotentiary, who was
directed to make this proposal--that, leaving the Danish part of
Schleswig to the Danes, and the German part to the Germans, the line
to be drawn in the disputed district should be decided by a vote of
the population, to be taken in some fair manner, the details of which
might be considered afterwards. [The Earl of Clarendon: The votes were
to be taken in each commune.] Yes, and these votes were to decide the
line to be drawn and the district which was to belong to Germany and
to Denmark respectively.

The Earl of Derby: May I ask the noble Earl if that decision was to be
taken during the occupation of the province by the German troops?

Earl Russell: No; the French proposition was clearly that the Prussian
troops should evacuate the district before the vote was taken by
means of Commissioners. At the same time, it was the opinion of the
Danes--and I believe that opinion to have been well founded--that
although the people of Schleswig generally were perfectly satisfied to
remain united to Denmark, such had been the effects of the occupation,
such had been the agitation on the part of Germany, the political
societies in Germany having sent persons to agitate all over the
country, that the decisions would through that influence have become
corrupted, and the plan of the Emperor, which otherwise might have
been successful, would have been rendered unjust. The proposition
was accordingly refused. My Lords, it was with great regret that the
Plenipotentiaries of the neutral Powers received this decision.

My Lords, I must say that my noble friend (the Earl of Clarendon) and
I have received from France and from the other neutral Powers the
firmest support during the continuance of the Conference. We held
frequent private meetings with the neutral Powers, in which we
discussed the proposals to be made. There was nothing exhibited in
those meetings but the most earnest desire to provide for the safety
and independence of Denmark, and I must say that the utmost harmony
prevailed on all sides; and the French, Russian, and Swedish
Plenipotentiaries alike did all in their power to contribute towards
the success of the proposals we made. We shall, therefore, leave the
Conference with a strong sense of our obligations for the support
which we received from them. After this decision there remained
nothing more for the Conference but to accept the declaration which
was made at the last meeting--and which has been repeated to me to-day
by the Austrian Ambassador--it is simply that the two Powers, Austria
and Prussia, have no intention of carrying on hostilities with the
view of obtaining possession of any territory beyond the Duchies of
Schleswig and Holstein, and that they have no intention of making any
conquest of any portion of the Danish territory on the continent or of
the Danish islands. That declaration is purely voluntary, and is not
in any way extorted as to the manner in which these Powers propose
to act. At the same time it comes rather late--though they make the
declaration I suppose they cannot intend us to accept it--and we
certainly cannot accept it as one upon which we can implicitly rely.
After that which has happened with respect to the Treaty of 1852, and
after that which has happened with respect to the treatment of the
Danes after the pledges given, but more as I am afraid owing to German
popular opinion, which Austria is desirous to conciliate, which
Prussia is desirous to conciliate, which the German Confederation,
above all, is anxious to conciliate, I am sorry to say that, greatly
as I have respected Austria, greatly as I have respected Prussia, we
can no longer rely, as we have done, upon their declarations.

Well, my Lords, but the question comes as to what, at the end of the
Conference, is our position, and what will be our course? And without
intending, or being able to pledge, the Government in case of
contingencies which have not arisen, I think it is due to Parliament
and to the country--especially at this period of the Session--to
declare what is the view which the Government take of the position,
the duty, the interests, and the future policy of England. My Lords,
with regard to our honour, I conceive that in honour we are in no way
engaged to take part in the present war. Although it has been stated
to the contrary on the part of Denmark more than once, there has
been at no time any pledge given on the part of this country or Her
Majesty's Government promising material assistance to Denmark in this
contest. Three times Her Majesty's Government during the period I
have held the seals of the Foreign Office have endeavoured to induce
Denmark to accept propositions which we regarded as favourable to her
interests. In 1862 I made propositions to her, but those propositions
were rejected. When Lord Wodehouse went to Denmark, he and the Russian
Plenipotentiary proposed that Denmark should repeal the Constitution
which she had concurred in but a few days before; but she would not at
that time receive the proposal. We believe that, if she had consented
to the arbitration which we proposed in the Conference, the result
would have been as favourable to her as, under the circumstances in
which she was placed, she could have expected. My Lords, I do not
blame Denmark for the course she has thought fit to pursue. She has
a right--I should be sorry to reproach her in any way in her
present state of weakness--she has an undoubted right to refuse our
propositions, but we on our side have also a right to take into
consideration the duty, honour, and interests of this country, and not
to make that duty, that honour, and those interests subordinate to
the interests of any foreign Power whatever. My Lords, our honour not
being engaged, we have to consider what we might be led to do for the
interests of other Powers, and for the sake of that balance of power
which in 1852 was declared by general consent to be connected with the
integrity of Denmark. My Lords, I cannot but believe that the Treaty
of 1852 having been entered into, if there had been at an early
period--say in December or January last--if France, Great Britain, and
Russia, supported by the assistance which they might have counted upon
receiving from Sweden, had declared for the maintenance of the Treaty
of 1852--the succession of the King of Denmark might have been
established without difficulty, and might have been peaceably
maintained, and that the King and his Government would have remedied
all the grievances of which his German subjects complained. I believe
the King of Denmark would have found it to his advantage to grant
to his German subjects that freedom, those privileges, and that
self-government in their internal and domestic matters which they had
demanded, and that they would thus have become quite contented as
subjects to the King of Denmark. That desirable result, however, could
not be brought about. In reference to the Treaty of 1852, I have to
repeat what I stated on a previous occasion--that it was not a treaty
of guarantee, that the Governments of France and Russia were competent
to acknowledge the treaty, but that they had not pledged themselves
to maintain the connexion of Schleswig and Denmark, that not being a
question of the general balance of power in Europe. Well, the French
Government have frequently declared and have repeated to us only
within the last twenty-four hours, that the Emperor does not consider
it essential to the interest of France to support the line of the
Schlei. He declares he does not think that France would be inclined to
go to war for such an object. He urges that a war with Germany would
be a most serious thing to France, that our armies would not be
marshalled to oppose the invasion of Denmark, and that such a war
would consequently be attended with great cost and great risk. I
think that if that war were successful, France would expect some
compensation on account of her participation, and that compensation
could hardly be granted without exciting general jealousy among the
other nations of Europe, and thus disturbing the balance of power
which now exists. I cannot deny that if the Emperor of the French puts
forward these considerations--if he declares that for these reasons,
though he would give us moral support, he would afford us no material
assistance in such war--I must say I think he is justified in that
refusal, and in adopting such a line of conduct. I cannot but admit
that if a great war with Germany arose, whatever might be the issue,
it might reproduce those great contests which took place in 1814, and
which led to such unsatisfactory results. The Emperor of the French is
a Sovereign singularly wise and sagacious, and I will say valuing,
as he has proved that he values, the peace of Europe, I am not in a
position to find fault, nor can Her Majesty's Government find any
fault with the decision to which the Emperor has come. But the Emperor
of the French having thus declared his policy, and the Emperor of
Russia having constantly refused to join with us in affording
material support to Denmark, our position, of course, must be greatly
influenced by those decisions. In the first place, is it the duty of
this country--if we are to undertake the preservation of the balance
of power in Europe as it was recognized in 1852--is it a duty
incumbent on us alone? The French Government sees very clearly the
dangers to which France might be exposed by interfering, but it says
at the same time that it would be an easy operation for England;
that England, with her naval power, might add most materially to the
strength of Denmark and assist in bringing the war to a conclusion.
My Lords, I must say there are many considerations which induce me to
arrive at a different conclusion. I cannot but think, in the first
place, that we should suffer perhaps considerably if our commercial
marine was exposed to depredations such as might take place in the
event of our being at war with Germany. That is one consideration
which ought not to be overlooked. But there are other considerations
of still greater moment. One is--Would our interference bring this
war to a conclusion? Without giving military aid could you recover
Schleswig and Holstein, and even Jutland from the Austrian and
Prussian forces? Well, my Lords, we have for a long time in our
conduct of foreign affairs shown great forbearance and patience. I
think we were right in being forbearing, and think we were justified
in being patient. But if our honour or our interests or the great
interests of Europe should call upon us to interfere, I think such
interference ought to be clearly effectual, as nothing would more tend
to diminish the influence of this country than a course of action
which would show that while we were predominant at sea, and that no
Austrian or Prussian ships of war could venture to leave port, yet at
the same time our interference could not ensure, as we hoped it would,
the safety of Denmark, nor lead to a speedy termination of the war.
But, my Lords, the whole position and influence of this country with
regard to foreign countries ought to be fully considered by Parliament
and by the country; for we have great interests with multiplied
complications arising from various connexions and various treaties
with every part of the world. It is no longer a question with
reference to the balance of power in Europe. There are other parts of
the world in which our interests may be as deeply involved, and in
which we may some day or other find it necessary to maintain the
honour and interests of this country. The civil war now raging in
America, ending how it may--whether by the establishment of
an independent republic in the South, or whether it ends most
unexpectedly, as it would be to me, I confess, by restoring the
Union--still the United States of America or the Northern States,
or whatever they may be called, will then be in a totally different
position to that which they were in a few years ago. A great army will
then be maintained by the United States. A formidable navy will also
be kept up. Our relations with that Power are liable at any moment
to interruption. I hope and trust that our friendly relations may
continue uninterrupted; still, those relations must be considered and
kept in view as well as our interest in the maintenance of the balance
of power in Europe. My Lords, let us look at other parts of the world.
Look at the great commerce which has grown up in China, where it is
necessary for us always to maintain a considerable naval force to
protect it. Look at our immense possessions in India and see how
necessary it is that they should be considered at all times. In any
question, therefore, of peace or war--while it is very probable that
this country with allies could carry on a war successfully--yet when
it comes to be a war to be carried on by England alone, there are
other contingencies to be looked at, and the position of this country
is to be considered with reference not to Europe alone, but with
reference to our interests in every quarter of the world. My Lords,
these are considerations to be borne in mind with respect to this
question of Denmark. It may be said that other combinations might be
made--that although we could not ourselves attack the German Powers
with any great amount of success, yet there are vulnerable points upon
which they, and especially Austria, may be open to attack; that those
doctrines and theories which Austria and Prussia have put forward,
with regard to foreign nationalities, may be retorted upon them, and
especially upon Austria with effect--they may be applied to other
parts of Europe than Schleswig and Holstein; that the German
nationality is not the only nationality in Europe; that the Italian
nationality has as much right to be considered as the Germans; and
that if we were to enter upon a course of supporting nationalities, we
should be perfectly justified by the doctrines and conduct of Austria.
This, no doubt, would be sufficient if the object were merely to show
to Austria and Prussia that they are vulnerable on their own ground.
But, my Lords, I think it is the duty of England to show a greater
attachment to peace than Austria and Prussia have shown, and not, if
possible, to light a flame which might extend to every part of Europe,
but rather to endeavour to confine the war within the narrowest limits
possible. Therefore, my Lords, with regard to this question, it is
the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that we should maintain the
position which we have occupied, and that we should be neutral in this
war. I do not mean to say that contingencies may not arise in which
our position might become different, and in which our conduct might be
altered. It may be said, 'Will you allow these German Powers to act
as they please? If, contrary to their professions and promises, they
should decide upon sending a combined Austrian and Prussian force to
Copenhagen with the declared object of making Denmark assent to terms
which would be destructive of her independence--will you then remain
entirely indifferent to such proceedings?' My Lords, I can only say in
answer to such a question, that every Government in this country
must retain to itself a certain liberty--as long as it possesses the
confidence of Parliament--a certain liberty of decision upon such
points. All I can now say is, that if the Government should think it
necessary to come to any fresh decision--if the war should assume a
new character--if circumstances should arise which might require us
to make another decision, it would be our duty, if Parliament were
sitting, immediately to apply to Parliament upon the subject; and if
Parliament should not be sitting, then at once to call Parliament
together in order that it may judge the conduct which Her Majesty's
Government should pursue.

In the meantime, my Lords, I have given you an outline of the course
of these negotiations. I have given you an account of the efforts
we have made for peace, which, like the efforts made in 1823 by the
Governments of Lord Liverpool and Mr. Canning, have been unfortunately
unsuccessful. I say that our policy at the present time is to
maintain peace. If there is any party in Parliament--if there is any
individual in Parliament--who thinks as Lord Grey thought in 1823
that we ought to go to war, it will be competent for them to ask Her
Majesty to interfere materially in the contest. If they think that in
any respect we have failed in our duty, it is competent for them to
take any line of conduct they may think proper. But, for ourselves, I
say with confidence that we have maintained the honour of the country,
that we have done everything in our power to preserve the peace of
Europe, and that, those efforts having failed, we can rest satisfied
that nothing has been wanting on our parts which was needed by the
honour or the interests of this country--that nothing has been left
undone which it was our duty to do.


Sir, this debate has lasted for some time, and, as was to be expected,
many and various opinions have been expressed by those hon. gentlemen
who have taken part in it. I hope it will not be supposed that, on the
one hand, I necessarily agree or acquiesce in those opinions which I
do not expressly mention for the purpose of saying I differ from them,
or, on the other hand, that I differ from those opinions in which I do
not go out of my way to express agreement. I think that in the actual
state of Europe the House will hold me justified if I do not think it
expedient to go into a general detailed discussion of the political
situation, and the more so as that situation is changing not merely
from week to week, but from day to day, and I may say, from the
telegrams received, almost from hour to hour. I shall confine myself,
therefore, as closely as I can, to the questions which have been
put to me in the course of this discussion. First of all comes the
question of the hon. member for Wick (Mr. Laing). He wants some
guarantee that no intervention is contemplated on our part. He wants
some assurance that this country will not be dragged into a war as it
was in the Crimean case. He admits the policy of the Government is
intended to be that of non-intervention; but he fears that it may be
possible to drift into a quarrel without intending it. But I suppose
when the hon. member speaks of intervention he means either armed
intervention or intervention of such a nature as, though not
immediately, yet in ultimate result might lead to an appeal to
physical force. If that is what he refers to, all I can say is that
if the speech which Lord Derby about a week ago delivered in another
place--if the opinions which I myself have invariably expressed on
that subject, not merely when occupying the position I now hold, but
for many years past when these questions were under discussion--if,
what is infinitely more important, the unanimous feeling (for I
believe it to amount to unanimity both of Parliament and the people
out of doors)--the feeling that we ought not to be dragged into
these Continental wars--if all these things, taken together, do not
constitute a guarantee that ours will be a pacific policy, a policy of
observation rather than of action--then I am unable to understand in
what language a stronger guarantee can be given. But if what is meant
is intervention of a different character--intervention in the shape of
friendly advice tendered by a neutral Power, then I think the question
whether intervention of that kind is under particular circumstances
desirable or not is a question which must necessarily be left to the
discretion of the executive Government. I am not personally very fond
of the system of giving advice to foreign countries. I entirely agree
with what has been said by the right hon. gentleman opposite upon the
subject, when he said that you are never more likely to lessen the
influence of England than when you are constantly endeavouring to
increase it by giving advice. I think that the right of giving advice
has of late years been largely used; and that it has sometimes been
not only used, but abused. Still, there is truth in the proverb which
says that lookers-on see more of the game than the players; and cases
do occur when warning given by a friendly and neutral Power--by a
Power which is well known to have no interest of its own to serve, by
a Power desiring nothing more than the restoration of peace, and
that that peace shall be permanent--may do something to shorten the
duration and limit the extent of a war that might otherwise spread
over the greater part of Europe. As to the state of affairs at the
present moment--for that, I apprehend, is the practical question on
which the House wishes an answer from me, I wish distinctly to assure
hon. gentlemen and the country that the British Government stand, as
regards the European controversy, free, unpledged, and uncommitted
to any policy whatever. The sole diplomatic act which the present
Government have taken--and it was almost the first act of any kind
they had to perform--was that of supporting in general terms at
Florence and Berlin the proposition made by the French Government for
a temporary cessation of hostilities. It seemed to us that to support
that proposition was on our part simply an act of humanity and common
sense. The House will recollect what were the circumstances of the
case. Venice had been ceded, not indeed to Italy, but ceded by
Austria. A great battle had been fought, a decisive victory had been
gained, Austria had invoked the mediation of France. France had
accepted the post of mediator. She asked us to support, not the terms
of peace--that would have been premature--but merely the general
proposition for an armistice in order that the belligerent parties
might have time to consider whether, under the totally altered state
of circumstances, it would not be possible to substitute negotiations
for further bloodshed, and to obtain the results of the war without
continuing the war itself. We did not feel it in our power to refuse
our assent to that principle. But, while in general terms we have
supported the proposition of an armistice, we have pledged ourselves
to no terms or conditions of peace whatever. We have pledged ourselves
to nothing beyond the general advice that an armistice should take
place. The circumstances under which that advice was given have
passed. Our mediation and our advice have not been officially asked
by the combatants, and we have abstained from giving it. That is the
present state of the matter. The right hon. gentleman the member for
Stroud (Mr. Horsman) has asked me whether there is any expectation of
an armed mediation on the part of the French Government. Well, it is
not my duty, nor is it in my power, to answer for other Governments,
but only for our own. All I can say is, I have not the slightest
reason to believe that any step of that kind is in contemplation, and
I have strong reasons to believe that no such step is contemplated.
[Mr. Horsman: I did not ask that question. It was another hon.
member.] Then the question was asked by the hon. member for Wick (Mr.
Laing). Then these two questions were put to me--first, whether the
British Government has been invited by that of France to address joint
communications to all or any of the belligerent Powers? The French
Government have taken up the matter, and it now rests with that
Government. The French Government may or may not ask us to join in
that work of mediation; but, should they do so, I do not think it
would be the duty of the British Government to join in any such
mediation, unless we have a distinct understanding as to the terms the
French Government will propose. The second question of the right
hon. gentleman is, whether the British Government has expressed its
readiness to concur with the Government of France in recommending
Austria to terminate the war, by accepting the two conditions proposed
by Prussia and Italy as to her surrender of Venetia, and ceasing to be
a member of the German Confederation? Now, Sir, as to that, Venetia
has been, I understand, ceded by Austria, and whether or not any
questions will arise as to that settlement being absolute or
conditional, I do not know; still I apprehend that none of us can
entertain a doubt that the final result will be that Venetia must pass
from Austria. Venetia has been, in effect, conquered not by Italy but
for Italy; Venetia has been conquered in Germany. Whatever the manner
of the transfer may be--whatever may be the precise nature of the
measures adopted by France--I do not think any reasonable man can
entertain a doubt that Venetia, at no distant period, will belong
to Italy. Then, with regard to the question as to whether we have
recommended Austria to terminate the war by assenting to the proposal
of ceasing to be a member of the German Confederation, I must remind
the right hon. gentleman that that proposal has never been made, so
far as I am aware, as the sole condition of peace, that Austria should
cease to be a member of the German Confederation. No doubt various
preliminaries have been discussed between the two Governments. If the
question were narrowed to the issue whether Austria would conclude
peace by ceding Venetia and by consenting to quit the Confederation,
that, no doubt, would be a question upon which we should be in a
position to give an opinion; but since we have no reason to think that
the acceding to those two conditions by Austria would terminate the
war, and since we do not know accurately and precisely what are the
terms which would be likely to be accepted by one or other of the
belligerent parties, it would be clearly premature on our part to
express an opinion on the abstract question as to what conditions
might or might not be accepted. With regard to the general policy of
the Government I have only one remark to make. I think there never was
a great European war in which the direct national interests of England
were less concerned. We all, I suppose, have our individual sympathies
in the matter. The Italian question I look upon as not being very
distant from a fair settlement; and with regard to the other possible
results of the war, and especially as to the establishment of a strong
North German Power--of a strong, compact empire, extending over North
Germany--I cannot see that, if the war ends, as it very possibly
may, in the establishment of such an empire--I cannot see that the
existence of such a Power would be to us any injury, any menace, or
any detriment. It might be conceivable enough that the growth of such
a Power might indeed awaken the jealousy of other Continental States,
who may fear a rival in such a Power. That is a natural feeling in
their position. That position, however, is not ours, and if North
Germany is to become a single great Power, I do not see that any
English interest is in the least degree affected. I think, Sir, I have
now answered as explicitly as I can the various questions which have
been put to me. I think, in the first place, I may assure the hon.
member for Wick that there is no danger, as far as human foresight
can go, of Continental complications involving this country in war. I
think, in the next place, that if we do not intend to take an active
part in the quarrel, we ought to be exceedingly cautious how we
use menacing language or hold out illusory hopes. If our advice is
solicited, and if there is any likelihood that that advice will be of
practical use, I do not think we ought to hesitate to give the best
advice in our power; but while giving it under a deep sense of moral
responsibility, as being in our judgement the best, we ought carefully
to avoid involving ourselves or the country in any responsibility for
the results of following that advice in a matter where no English
interest is concerned. I do not think we ought to put ourselves in
such a position that any Power could say to us, 'We have acted upon
your advice, and we have suffered for it. You have brought us into
this difficulty, and therefore you are bound to get us out of it.' We
ought not, I say, to place ourselves in a position of that kind. And
now, Sir, I have stated all, I think, that it is possible for me
to state at this time, and it remains for me only to assure the
House--knowing, as I do, how utterly impossible it is for any member
of the Executive to carry on his work effectively without the support
of public opinion--it only remains for me to say that, as far as the
nature of the case allows, I shall always be anxious that the House
shall be conversant with everything that is done.


The frequent and far too complimentary manner in which my name has
been mentioned to-night, and the most kind way in which you have
received me, have placed me in a position somewhat humiliating, and
really painful; for to receive laudation which one feels one cannot
possibly have merited, is much more painful than to be passed by in
a distribution of commendation to which possibly one might lay some
claim. If one twentieth part of what has been said is true, if I am
entitled to any measure of your approbation, I may begin to think
that my public career and my opinions are not so un-English and so
anti-national as some of those who profess to be the best of our
public instructors have sometimes assumed. How, indeed, can I, any
more than any of you, be un-English and anti-national? Was I not born
upon the same soil? Do I not come of the same English stock? Are not
my family committed irrevocably to the fortunes of this country?
Is not whatever property I may have depending as much as yours is
depending upon the good government of our common fatherland? Then how
shall any man dare to say to any one of his countrymen, because he
happen to hold a different opinion on questions of great public
policy, that therefore he is un-English, and is to be condemned as
anti-national? There are those who would assume that between my
countrymen and me, and between my constituents and me, there has been,
and there is now, a great gulf fixed, and that if I cannot pass over
to them and to you, they and you can by no possibility pass over to

Now I take the liberty here, in the presence of an audience as
intelligent as can be collected within the limits of this island,
and of those who have the strongest claim to know what opinions I do
entertain relative to certain great questions of public policy, to
assert that I hold no views, that I have never promulgated any views
on those controverted questions with respect to which I cannot bring
as witnesses in my favour, and as fellow believers with myself,
some of the best and most revered names in the history of English
statesmanship. About 120 years ago, the Government of this country
was directed by Sir Robert Walpole, a great Minister, who for a long
period preserved the country in peace, and whose pride it was that
during those years he had done so. Unfortunately, towards the close of
his career, he was driven by faction into a policy which was the ruin
of his political position. Sir Robert Walpole declared, when speaking
of the question of war as affecting this country, that nothing could
be so foolish, nothing so mad as a policy of war for a trading nation.
And he went so far as to say, that any peace was better than the most
successful war. I do not give you the precise language made use of by
the Minister, for I speak only from memory; but I am satisfied I am
not misrepresenting him in what I have now stated.

Come down fifty years nearer to our own time, and you find a
statesman, not long in office, but still strong in the affections of
all persons of Liberal principles in this country, and in his time
representing fully the sentiments of the Liberal party--Charles James
Fox. Mr. Fox, referring to the policy of the Government of his time,
which was one of constant interference in the affairs of Europe, and
by which the country was continually involved in the calamities of
war, said that although he would not assert or maintain the principle,
that under no circumstances could England have any cause of
interference with the affairs of the continent of Europe, yet he
would prefer the policy of positive non-interference and of perfect
isolation rather than the constant intermeddling to which our recent
policy had subjected us, and which brought so much trouble and
suffering upon the country. In this case also I am not prepared to
give you his exact words, but I am sure that I fairly describe the
sentiments which he expressed.

Come down fifty years later, and to a time within the recollection of
most of us, and you find another statesman, once the most popular
man in England, and still remembered in this town and elsewhere with
respect and affection. I allude to Earl Grey. When Earl Grey came
into office for the purpose of carrying the question of Parliamentary
Reform, he unfurled the banner of 'Peace, retrenchment, and reform',
and that sentiment was received in every part of the United Kingdom,
by every man who was or had been in favour of Liberal principles, as
predicting the advent of a new era which should save his country from
many of the calamities of the past.

Come down still nearer, and to a time that seems but the other day,
and you find another Minister, second to none of those whom I have
mentioned--the late Sir Robert Peel. I had the opportunity of
observing the conduct of Sir Robert Peel from the time when he took
office in 1841. I watched his proceedings particularly from the year
1843, when I entered Parliament, up to the time of his lamented death;
and during the whole of that period, I venture to say, his principles,
if they were to be discovered from his conduct and his speeches, were
precisely those which I have held, and which I have always endeavoured
to press upon the attention of my countrymen. If you have any doubt
upon that point I would refer you to that last, that beautiful, that
most solemn speech which he delivered with an earnestness and a sense
of responsibility as if he had known he was leaving a legacy to his
country. If you refer to that speech, delivered on the morning of the
very day on which occurred the accident which terminated his life, you
will find that its whole tenor is in conformity with all the doctrines
that I have urged upon my countrymen for years past with respect to
our policy in foreign affairs. When Sir Robert Peel went home, just
before the dawn of day, upon the last occasion that he passed from the
House of Commons, the scene of so many of his triumphs, I have heard,
from what I think a good authority, that after he entered his own
house, he expressed the exceeding relief which he experienced at
having delivered himself of a speech which he had been reluctantly
obliged to make against a Ministry which he was anxious to support,
and he added, if I am not mistaken, 'I have made a speech of peace.'

Well, if this be so, if I can give you four names like these--if there
were time I could make a longer list of still eminent if inferior
men--I should like to know why I, as one of a small party, am to be
set down as teaching some new doctrine which it is not fit for my
countrymen to hear, and why I am to be assailed in every form of
language, as if there was one great department of governmental affairs
in which I was incompetent to offer any opinion to my countrymen. But
leaving the opinions of individuals, I appeal to this audience, to
every man who knows anything of the views and policy of the Liberal
party in past years, whether it is not the fact that up to 1832 and
indeed to a much later period, probably to the year 1850, those
sentiments of Sir Robert Walpole, of Mr. Fox, of Earl Grey, and of Sir
Robert Peel, the sentiments which I in humbler mode have propounded,
were not received unanimously by the Liberal party as their fixed and
unchangeable creed? And why should they not? Are they not founded upon
reason? Do not all statesmen know, as you know, that upon peace, and
peace alone, can be based the successful industry of a nation, and
that by successful industry alone can be created that wealth
which, permeating all classes of the people, not confined to great
proprietors, great merchants, and great speculators, not running in
a stream merely down your principal streets, but turning fertilizing
rivulets into every by-lane and every alley, tends so powerfully to
promote the comfort, happiness, and contentment of a nation? Do
you not know that all progress comes from successful and peaceful
industry, and that upon it is based your superstructure of education,
of morals, of self-respect among your people, as well as every measure
for extending and consolidating freedom in your public institutions?
I am not afraid to acknowledge that I do oppose--that I do utterly
condemn and denounce--a great part of the foreign policy which is
practised and adhered to by the Government of this country.

You know, of course, that about 170 years ago there happened in this
country what we have always been accustomed to call 'a glorious
revolution', a revolution which had this effect: that it put a bit
into the mouth of the monarch so that he was not able of his own
free-will to do, and he dared no longer attempt to do, the things
which his predecessors had done without fear. But if at the Revolution
the monarchy of England was bridled and bitted, at the same time the
great territorial families of England were enthroned; and from that
period, until the year 1831 or 1832--until the time when Birmingham
politically became famous--those territorial families reigned with
an almost undisputed sway over the destinies and the industry of the
people of these Kingdoms. If you turn to the history of England, from
the period of the Revolution to the present, you will find that an
entirely new policy was adopted, and that while we had endeavoured in
former times to keep ourselves free from European complications, we
now began to act upon a system of constant entanglement in the affairs
of foreign countries, as if there were neither property nor honours,
not anything worth striving for, to be acquired in any other field.
The language coined and used then, has continued to our day. Lord
Somers, in writing for William III, speaks of the endless and
sanguinary wars of that period as wars 'to maintain the liberties of
Europe'. There were wars to 'support the Protestant interest', and
there were many wars to preserve our old friend 'the balance of

We have been at war since that time, I believe, with, for, and against
every considerable nation in Europe. We fought to put down a pretended
French supremacy under Louis XIV. We fought to prevent France and
Spain coming under the sceptre of one monarch, although, if we had not
fought, it would have been impossible in the course of things that
they should have become so united. We fought to maintain the Italian
provinces in connexion with the House of Austria. We fought to put
down the supremacy of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Minister who was
employed by this country at Vienna, after the Great War, when it was
determined that no Bonaparte should ever again sit on the throne of
France, was the very man to make an alliance with another Bonaparte
for the purpose of carrying on a war to prevent the supremacy of the
late Emperor of Russia. So that we have been all round Europe and
across it over and over again, and after a policy so distinguished, so
pre-eminent, so long-continued, and so costly, I think we have a fair
right--I have, at least--to ask those who are in favour of it to show
us its visible result. Europe is not at this moment, so far as I know,
speaking of it broadly, and making allowance for certain improvements
in its general civilization, more free politically than it was before.
The balance of power is like perpetual motion, or any of those
impossible things which some men are always racking their brains and
spending their time and money to accomplish.

We all know and deplore that at the present moment a larger number
of the grown men of Europe are employed, and a larger portion of the
industry of Europe is absorbed, to provide for, and maintain, the
enormous armaments which are now on foot in every considerable
Continental State. Assuming, then, that Europe is not much better in
consequence of the sacrifices we have made, let us inquire what has
been the result in England, because, after all, that is the question
which becomes us most to consider. I believe that I understate the sum
when I say that, in pursuit of this will-of-the-wisp (the liberties of
Europe and the balance of power), there has been extracted from the
industry of the people of this small island no less an amount than
£2,000,000,000 sterling. I cannot imagine how much £2,000,000,000 is,
and therefore I shall not attempt to make you comprehend it. I presume
it is something like those vast and incomprehensible astronomical
distances with which we have been lately made familiar, but, however
familiar, we feel that we do not know one bit more about them than we
did before. When I try to think of that sum of £2,000,000,000 there
is a sort of vision passes before my mind's eye. I see your peasant
labourer delve and plough, sow and reap, sweat beneath the summer's
sun, or grow prematurely old before the winter's blast. I see your
noble mechanic, with his manly countenance and his matchless skill,
toiling at his bench or his forge. I see one of the workers in our
factories in the north, a woman--a girl it may be--gentle and good, as
many of them are, as your sisters and daughters are--I see her intent
upon the spindle, whose revolutions are so rapid that the eye fails
altogether to detect them, or watching the alternating flight of the
unresting shuttle. I turn again to another portion of your population,
which, 'plunged in mines, forgets a sun was made', and I see the man
who brings up from the secret chambers of the earth the elements of
the riches and greatness of his country. When I see all this I have
before me a mass of produce and of wealth which I am no more able to
comprehend than I am that £2,000,000,000 of which I have spoken, but I
behold in its full proportion the hideous error of your Governments,
whose fatal policy consumes in some cases a half, never less than a
third, of all the results of that industry which God intended should
fertilize and bless every home in England, but the fruits of which
are squandered in every part of the surface of the globe, without
producing the smallest good to the people of England.

We have, it is true, some visible results that are of a more positive
character. We have that which some people call a great advantage--the
National Debt--a debt which is now so large that the most prudent, the
most economical, and the most honest have given up all hope, not of
its being paid off, but of its being diminished in amount. We have,
too, taxes which have been during many years so onerous that there
have been times when the patient beast of burden threatened to revolt,
so onerous that it has been utterly impossible to levy them with any
kind of honest equality, according to the means of the people to
pay them. We have that, moreover, which is a standing wonder to
all foreigners who consider our condition, an amount of apparently
immovable pauperism, which to strangers is wholly irreconcilable with
the fact that we, as a nation, produce more of what should make us all
comfortable than is produced by any other nation of similar numbers on
the face of the globe. Let us likewise remember that during the period
of those great and so-called glorious contests on the continent of
Europe, every description of home reform was not only delayed, but
actually crushed out of the minds of the great bulk of the people.
There can be no doubt whatever that in 1793 England was about to
realize political changes and reforms, such as did not appear again
until 1830; and during the period of that war, which now almost all
men agree to have been wholly unnecessary, we were passing through a
period which may be described as the dark age of English politics;
when there was no more freedom to write or speak or politically to
act, than there is now in the most despotic country of Europe.

But it may be asked, did nobody gain? If Europe is no better, and the
people of England have been so much worse, who has benefited by the
new system of foreign policy? What has been the fate of those who were
enthroned at the Revolution, and whose supremacy has been for so
long a period undisputed among us? Mr. Kinglake, the author of an
interesting book on Eastern Travel, describing the habits of some
acquaintances that he made in the Sahara deserts, says, that the
jackals of the desert follow their prey in families like the
place-hunters of Europe. I will reverse, if you like, the comparison,
and say that the great territorial families of England, which were
enthroned at the Revolution, have followed their prey like the jackals
of the desert. Do you not observe, at a glance, that, from the time of
William III, by reason of the foreign policy which I denounce, wars
have been multiplied, taxes increased, loans made, and the sums of
money which every year the Government has to expend augmented, and
that so the patronage at the disposal of Ministers must have increased
also, and the families who were enthroned and made powerful in the
legislation and administration of the country must have had the first
pull at, and the largest profit out of, that patronage? There is no
actuary in existence who can calculate how much of the wealth, of the
Strength, of the supremacy of the territorial families of England
has been derived from an unholy participation in the fruits of the
industry of the people, which have been wrested from them by every
device of taxation, and squandered in every conceivable crime of which
a Government could possibly be guilty.

The more you examine this matter the more you will come to the
conclusion which I have arrived at, that this foreign policy, this
regard for 'the liberties of Europe', this care at one time for 'the
Protestant interests', this excessive love for 'the balance of power',
is neither more nor less than a gigantic system of out-door relief for
the aristocracy of Great Britain. (Great laughter.) I observe that
you receive that declaration as if it were some new and important
discovery. In 1815, when the great war with France was ended, every
Liberal in England whose politics, whose hopes, and whose faith had
not been crushed out of him by the tyranny of the time of that war,
was fully aware of this, and openly admitted it, and up to 1832, and
for some years afterwards, it was the fixed and undoubted creed of the
great Liberal party. But somehow all is changed. We who stand upon the
old landmarks, who walk in the old paths, who would conserve what is
wise and prudent, are hustled and shoved about as if we were come to
turn the world upside down. The change which has taken place seems
to confirm the opinion of a lamented friend of mine, who, not having
succeeded in all his hopes, thought that men made no progress
whatever, but went round and round like, a squirrel in a cage. The
idea is now so general that it is our duty to meddle everywhere,
that it really seems as if we had pushed the Tories from the field,
expelling them by our competition.

I should like to lay before you a list of the treaties which we have
made, and of the responsibilities under which we have laid ourselves
with respect to the various countries of Europe. I do not know where
such an enumeration is to be found, but I suppose it would be possible
for antiquaries and men of investigating minds to dig them out from
the recesses of the Foreign Office, and perhaps to make some of them
intelligible to the country. I believe, however, that if we go to the
Baltic we shall find that we have a treaty to defend Sweden, and the
only thing which Sweden agrees to do in return is not to give up any
portion of her territories to Russia. Coming down a little south, we
have a treaty which invites us, enables us, and perhaps, if we acted
fully up to our duty with regard to it, would compel us to interfere
in the question between Denmark and the Duchies. If I mistake not, we
have a treaty which binds us down to the maintenance of the little
kingdom of Belgium, as established after its separation from Holland.
We have numerous treaties with France. We are understood to be bound
by treaty to maintain constitutional government in Spain and Portugal.
If we go round into the Mediterranean, we find the little kingdom of
Sardinia, to which we have lent some millions of money, and with which
we have entered into important treaties for preserving the balance of
power in Europe. If we go beyond the kingdoms of Italy and cross the
Adriatic, we come to the small kingdom of Greece, against which
we have a nice account that will never be settled, while we have
engagements to maintain that respectable but diminutive country under
its present constitutional government. Then, leaving the kingdom of
Greece, we pass up the eastern end of the Mediterranean, and from
Greece to the Red Sea, where-ever the authority of the Sultan is more
or less admitted, the blood and the industry of England are pledged to
the permanent sustentation of the 'independence and integrity' of the
Ottoman Empire.

I confess that, as a citizen of this country, wishing to live
peaceably among my fellow countrymen, and wishing to see my countrymen
free, and able to enjoy the fruits of their labour, I protest against
a system which binds us in all these net-works and complications, from
which it is impossible that we can gain one single atom of advantage
for this country. It is not all glory, after all. Glory may be worth
something, but it is not always glory. We have had within the last few
years dispatches from Vienna and from St. Petersburg which, if we had
not deserved them, would have been very offensive and not a little
insolent. We have had the Ambassador of the Queen expelled summarily
from Madrid, and we have had an Ambassador driven almost with ignominy
from Washington. We have blockaded Athens for a claim which was known
to be false. We have quarrelled with Naples, for we chose to give
advice to Naples, which was not received in the submissive spirit
expected from her, and our Minister was therefore withdrawn. Not three
years ago, too, we seized a considerable kingdom in India, with which
our Government had but recently entered into the most solemn treaty,
which every lawyer in England and in Europe, I believe, would consider
binding before God and the world. We deposed its monarch, we committed
a great immorality and a great crime, and we have reaped an almost
instantaneous retribution in the most gigantic and sanguinary revolt
which probably any nation ever made against its conquerors. Within the
last few years we have had two wars with a great Empire, which we are
told contains at least one-third of the whole human race. The first
war was called, and appropriately called, the Opium War. No man, I
believe, with a spark of morality in his composition, no man who
cares anything for the opinion of his fellow countrymen, has dared to
justify that war. The war which has just been concluded, if it has
been concluded, had its origin in the first war; for the enormities
committed in the first war are the foundation of the implacable
hostility which it is said the inhabitants of Canton bear to all
persons connected with the English name. Yet though we have these
troubles in India--a vast country which we do not know how to
govern--and a war with China--a country with which, though everybody
else can remain at peace, we cannot--such is the inveterate habit of
conquest, such is the insatiable lust of territory, such is, in my
view, the depraved, unhappy state of opinion of the country on this
subject, that there are not a few persons, Chambers of Commerce to
wit, in different parts of the kingdom (though I am glad to say it has
not been so with the Chamber of Commerce at Birmingham), who have been
urging our Government to take possession of a province of the
greatest island in the Eastern Seas, a possession which must at once
necessitate increased estimates and increased taxation, and which
would probably lead us into merciless and disgraceful wars with the
half-savage tribes who inhabit that island.

I will not dwell upon that question. The gentleman who is principally
concerned in it is at this moment, as you know, stricken down with
affliction, and I am unwilling to enter here into any considerable
discussion of the case which he is urging upon the public; but I say
that we have territory enough in India, and if we have not troubles
enough there, if we have not difficulties enough in China, if we have
not taxation enough, by all means gratify your wishes for more; but
I hope that whatever may be the shortcomings of the Government with
regard to any other questions in which we are all interested--and may
they be few!--they will shut their eyes, they will turn their backs
obstinately from adding in this mode, or in any mode, to the English
possessions in the East. I suppose that if any ingenious person were
to prepare a large map of the world, as far as it is known, and
were to mark upon it, in any colour that he liked, the spots where
Englishmen have fought, and English blood has been poured forth, and
the treasure of England squandered, scarcely a country, scarcely a
province of the vast expanse of the habitable globe would be thus

Perhaps there are in this room, I am sure there are in the country,
many persons who hold a superstitious traditionary belief that,
somehow or other, our vast trade is to be attributed to what we have
done in this way, that it is thus we have opened markets and advanced
commerce, that English greatness depends upon the extent of English
conquests and English military renown. But I am inclined to think
that, with the exception of Australia, there is not a single
dependency of the Crown which, if we come to reckon what it has cost
in war and protection, would not be found to be a positive loss to the
people of this country. Take the United States, with which we have
such an enormous and constantly increasing trade. The wise statesmen
of the last generation, men whom your school histories tell you were
statesmen, serving under a monarch who they tell you was a patriotic
monarch, spent £130,000,000 of the fruits of the industry of the
people in a vain--happily a vain--endeavour to retain the colonies of
the United States in subjection to the Monarchy of England. Add up the
interest of that £130,000,000 for all this time, and how long do you
think it will be before there will be a profit on the trade with the
United States which will repay the enormous sum we invested in a war
to retain those States as colonies of this Empire? It never will
be paid off. Wherever you turn, you will find that the opening of
markets, developing of new countries, introducing cotton cloth with
cannon balls, are vain, foolish, and wretched excuses for wars, and
ought not to be listened to for a moment by any man who understands
the multiplication table or who can do the simplest sum in arithmetic.

Since the 'Glorious Revolution', since the enthronization of the great
Norman territorial families, they have spent in wars, and we have
worked for, about £2,000,000,000. The interest on that is £100,000,000
per annum, which alone, to say nothing of the principal sum, is three
or four times as much as the whole amount of your annual export trade
from that time to this. Therefore, if war has provided you with a
trade, it has been at an enormous cost; but I think it is by no means
doubtful that your trade would have been no less in amount and no less
profitable had peace and justice been inscribed on your flag instead
of conquest and the love of military renown. But even in this year,
1858--we have got a long way into the century--we find that within the
last seven years our public debt has greatly increased. Whatever be
the increase of our population, of our machinery, of our industry, of
our wealth, still our national debt goes on increasing. Although we
have not a foot more territory to conserve, or an enemy in the world
who dreams of attacking us, we find that our annual military
expenses during the last twenty years have risen from £12,000,000 to

Some people think that it is a good thing to pay a great revenue to
the State. Even so eminent a man as Lord John Russell is not without
a delusion of this sort. Lord John Russell, as you have heard,
while speaking of me in flattering and friendly terms, says he is
unfortunately obliged to differ from me frequently; therefore, I
suppose, there is no particular harm in my saying that I am sometimes
obliged to differ from him. Some time ago he was a great star in the
northern hemisphere, shining, not with unaccustomed, but with his
usual brilliancy at Liverpool. He made a speech in which there was a
great deal to be admired, to a meeting composed, it was said, to a
great extent of working-men; and in it he stimulated them to a feeling
of pride in the greatness of their country and in being citizens of a
State which enjoyed a revenue of £100,000,000 a year, which included
the revenues of the United Kingdom and of British India. But I
think it would have been far more to the purpose if he could have
congratulated the working-men of Liverpool on this vast Empire being
conducted in an orderly manner, on its laws being well administered
and well obeyed, its shores sufficiently defended, its people
prosperous and happy, on a revenue of £20,000,000. The State,
indeed, of which Lord John Russell is a part, may enjoy a revenue of
£100,000,000, but I am afraid the working-men can only be said
to enjoy it in the sense in which men not very choice in their
expressions say that for a long time they have enjoyed 'very bad

I am prepared to admit that it is a subject of congratulation that
there is a people so great, so free, and so industrious, that it can
produce a sufficient income out of which £100,000,000 a year, if need
absolutely were, could be spared for some great and noble object; but
it is not a thing to be proud of that our Government should require
us to pay that enormous sum for the simple purposes of government and
defence. Nothing can by any possibility tend more to the corruption of
a Government than enormous revenues. We have heard lately of instances
of certain joint-stock institutions with very great capital collapsing
suddenly, bringing disgrace upon their managers and ruin upon hundreds
of families. A great deal of that has arisen, not so much from
intentional fraud, as from the fact that weak and incapable men have
found themselves tumbling about in an ocean of bank-notes and gold,
and they appear to have lost all sight of where it came from, to whom
it belonged, and whether it was possible by any maladministration
ever to come to an end of it. That is absolutely what is done by
Governments. You have read in the papers lately some accounts of the
proceedings before a Commission appointed to inquire into alleged
maladministration with reference to the supply of clothing to the
army, but if anybody had said anything in the time of the late
Government about any such maladministration, there is not one of those
great statesmen, of whom we are told we ought always to speak with so
much reverence, who would not have got up and declared that nothing
could be more admirable than the system of book-keeping at Weedon,
nothing more economical than the manner in which the War Department
spent the money provided by public taxation. But we know that it is
not so. I have heard a gentleman--one who is as competent as any man
in England to give an opinion about it--a man of business, and not
surpassed by any one as a man of business, declare, after a long
examination of the details of the question, that he would undertake to
do everything that is done not only for the defence of the country,
but for many other things which are done by your navy, and which are
not necessary for that purpose, for half the annual cost that is voted
in the estimates!

I think the expenditure of these vast sums, and especially of those
which we spend for military purposes, leads us to adopt a defiant and
insolent tone towards foreign countries. We have the freest press in
Europe, and the freest platform in Europe, but every man who writes an
article in a newspaper, and every man who stands on a platform, ought
to do it under a solemn sense of responsibility. Every word he writes,
every word I utter, passes with a rapidity, of which our forefathers
were utterly ignorant, to the very ends of the earth; the words become
things and acts, and they produce on the minds of other nations
effects which a man may never have intended. Take a recent case; take
the case of France. I am not expected to defend, and I shall certainly
not attack, the present Government of France. The instant that it
appeared in its present shape, the Minister of England conducting
your foreign affairs, speaking ostensibly for the Cabinet, for his
Sovereign, and for the English nation, offered his congratulations,
and the support of England was at once accorded to the re-created
French Empire. Soon after this an intimate alliance was entered into
between the Queen of England, through her Ministers, and the Emperor
of the French. I am not about to defend the policy which flowed from
that alliance, nor shall I take up your time by making any attack upon
it. An alliance was entered into, and a war was entered into. English
and French soldiers fought on the same field, and they suffered, I
fear, from the same neglect. They now lie buried on the bleak heights
of the Crimea, and except by their mothers, who do not soon forget
their children, I suppose they are mostly forgotten. I have never
heard it suggested that the French Government did not behave with the
most perfect honour to this Government and this country all through
these grave transactions; but I have heard it stated by those who must
know, that nothing could be more honourable, nothing more just, than
the conduct of the French Emperor to this Government throughout the
whole of that struggle. More recently, when the war in China was begun
by a Government which I have condemned and denounced in the House
of Commons, the Emperor of the French sent his ships and troops to
co-operate with us, but I have never heard that anything was done
there to create a suspicion of a feeling of hostility on his part
towards us. The Emperor of the French came to London, and some of
those powerful organs of the press, who have since taken the line of
which I am complaining, did all but invite the people of London to
prostrate themselves under the wheels of the chariot which conveyed
along our streets the revived Monarchy of France. The Queen of England
went to Paris, and was she not received there with as much affection
and as much respect as her high position and her honourable character
entitle her to?

What has occurred since? If there was a momentary unpleasantness, I
am quite sure that every impartial man will agree that, under the
peculiarly irritating circumstances of the time, there was at least
as much forbearance shown on one side of the Channel as on the other.
Then, we have had much said lately about a naval fortification
recently completed in France, which has been more than one hundred
years in progress, which was not devised by the present Emperor of the
French. For one hundred years great sums have been spent on it, and
at last, like every other great work, it was brought to an end. The
English Queen and others were invited over, and many went who were not
invited. And yet in all this we are told that there is something to
create extreme alarm and suspicion; we, who have never fortified any
places; we, who have not a greater than Sebastopol at Gibraltar; we,
who have not an impregnable fortress at Malta, who have not spent the
fortune of a nation almost in the Ionian Islands; we, who are doing
nothing at Alderney; we are to take offence at the fortifications of
Cherbourg! There are few persons who at some time or other have not
been brought into contact with a poor unhappy fellow creature who has
some peculiar delusion or suspicion pressing on his mind. I recollect
a friend of mine going down from Derby to Leeds in the train with a
very quiet and respectable-looking gentleman sitting opposite to
him. They had both been staying at the Midland Hotel, and they began
talking about it. All at once the gentleman said, 'Did you notice
anything particular about the bread at breakfast?' 'No,' said my
friend, 'I did not.' 'Oh! but I did,' said the poor gentleman, 'and I
am convinced there was an attempt made to poison me, and it is a very
curious thing that I never go to an hotel without I discover some
attempt to do me mischief.' The unfortunate man was labouring under
one of the greatest calamities which can befall a human creature.

But what are we to say of a nation which lives under a perpetual
delusion that it is about to be attacked, a nation which is the most
combined on the face of the earth, with little less than 30,000,000 of
people all united under a Government which, though we intend to reform
it, we do not the less respect, and which has mechanical power and
wealth to which no other country offers any parallel? There is no
causeway to Britain; the free waves of the sea flow day and night for
ever round her shores, and yet there are people going about with whom
this hallucination is so strong that they do not merely discover it
quietly to their friends, but they write it down in double-leaded
columns, in leading articles. Nay, some of them actually get up on
platforms and proclaim it to hundreds and thousands of their fellow
countrymen. I should like to ask you whether these delusions are to
last for ever, whether this policy is to be the perpetual policy of
England, whether these results are to go on gathering and gathering
until there come, as come there must inevitably, some dreadful
catastrophe on our country?

I should like to-night, if I could, to inaugurate one of the best and
holiest revolutions that ever took place in this country. We have had
a dozen revolutions since some of us were children. We have had one
revolution in which you had a great share, a great revolution of
opinion on the question of the suffrage. Does it not read like madness
that men, thirty years ago, were frantic at the idea of the people of
Birmingham having a £10 franchise? Does it not seem something like
idiotcy to be told that a banker in Leeds, when it was proposed to
transfer the seats of one rotten borough to the town of Leeds, should
say (and it was repeated in the House of Commons on his authority)
that if the people of Leeds had the franchise conferred upon them it
would not be possible to keep the bank doors open with safety, and
that he should remove his business to some quiet place out of danger
from the savage race that peopled that town? But now all confess that
the people are perfectly competent to have votes, and nobody dreams of
arguing that the privilege will make them less orderly.

Take the question of colonial government. Twenty years ago the
government of our colonies was a huge job. A small family party in
each, in connexion with the Colonial Office, ruled our colonies.
We had then discontent, and, now and then, a little wholesome
insurrection, especially in Canada. The result was that we have given
up the colonial policy which had hitherto been held sacred, and since
that time not only have our colonies greatly advanced in wealth and
material resources, but no parts of the Empire are more tranquil and

Take also the question of Protection. Not thirty years ago, but twelve
years ago, there was a great party in Parliament, led by a duke in
one House and by the son and brother of a duke in the other, which
declared that utter ruin must come, not only on the agricultural
interest, but upon the manufactures and commerce of England, if we
departed from our old theories upon this subject of Protection. They
told us that the labourer--the unhappy labourer--of whom it may be
said in this country,

  Here landless labourers hopeless toil and strive,
  But taste no portion of the sweets they hive,--

that the labourer was to be ruined; that is, that the paupers were to
be pauperized. These gentlemen were overthrown. The plain, honest,
common sense of the country swept away their cobweb theories, and they
are gone. What is the result? From 1846 to 1857 we have received into
this country of grain of all kinds, including flour, maize, or India
corn--all objects heretofore not of absolute prohibition, but which
were intended to be prohibited until it was not safe for people to
be starved any more--not less than an amount equal in value to
£224,000,000. That is equal to £18,700,000 per annum on the average
of twelve years. During that period, too, your home growth has been
stimulated to an enormous extent. You have imported annually 200,000
tons of guano, and the result has been a proportionate increase in the
productions of the soil, for 200,000 tons of guano will grow an equal
weight and value of wheat. With all this, agriculture was never more
prosperous, while manufactures were never, at the same time, more
extensively exported; and with all this the labourers, for whom the
tears of the Protectionist were shed, have, according to the admission
of the most violent of the class, never been in a better state since
the beginning of the great French war.

One other revolution of opinion has been in regard to our criminal
law. I have lately been reading a book which I would advise every
man to read--the _Life of Sir Samuel Romilly_. He tells us in simple
language of the almost insuperable difficulties he had to contend with
to persuade the Legislature of this country to abolish the punishment
of death for stealing from a dwelling-house to the value of 5_s_., an
offence which now is punished by a few weeks' imprisonment. Lords,
bishops, and statesmen opposed these efforts year after year, and
there have been some thousands of persons put to death publicly for
offences which are not now punishable with death. Now, every man and
woman in the kingdom would feel a thrill of horror if told that a
fellow creature was to be put to death for such a cause. These are
revolutions in opinion, and let me tell you that when you accomplish,
a revolution in opinion upon a great question, when you alter it from
bad to good, it is not like charitably giving a beggar 6_d_., and
seeing him no more, but it is a great beneficent act, which affects
not merely the rich and the powerful, but penetrates every lane,
every cottage in the land, and wherever it goes brings blessings and
happiness. It is not from statesmen that these things come. It is not
from them that have proceeded these great revolutions of opinion on
the questions of Reform, Protection, Colonial Government, and Criminal
Law, it was from public meetings such as this, from the intelligence
and conscience of the great body of the people who have no interest
in wrong, and who never go from the right but by temporary error and
under momentary passion.

It is for you to decide whether our greatness shall be only temporary
or whether it shall be enduring. When I am told that the greatness of
our country is shown by the £100,000,000 of revenue produced, may I
not also ask how it is that we have 1,100,000 paupers in this kingdom,
and why it is that £7,000,000 should be taken from the industry,
chiefly of the labouring classes, to support a small nation, as it
were, of paupers? Since your legislation upon the Corn Laws, you have
not only had nearly £20,000,000 of food brought into the country
annually, but such an extraordinary increase of trade that your
exports are about doubled, and yet I understand that in the year 1856,
for I have no later return, there were no less than 1,100,000 paupers
in the United Kingdom, and the sum raised in poor-rates was not less
than £7,200,000. And that cost of pauperism is not the full amount,
for there is a vast amount of temporary, casual, and vagrant pauperism
that does not come in to swell that sum.

Then do not you well know--I know it, because I live among the
population of Lancashire, and I doubt not the same may be said of the
population of this city and county--that just above the level of the
1,100,000 there is at least an equal number who are ever oscillating
between independence and pauperism, who, with a heroism which is not
the less heroic because it is secret and unrecorded, are doing their
very utmost to maintain an honourable and independent position before
their fellow men? While Irish labour, notwithstanding the improvement
which has taken place in Ireland, is only paid at the rate of about
1_s_. a day, while in the straths and glens of Scotland there are
hundreds of shepherd families whose whole food almost consists of
oatmeal porridge from day to day, and from week to week; while these
things continue, I say that we have no reason to be self-satisfied and
contented with our position; but that we who are in Parliament and
are more directly responsible for affairs, and you who are also
responsible though in a lower degree, are bound by the sacred duty
which we owe our country to examine why it is that with all this
trade, all this industry, and all this personal freedom, there is
still so much that is unsound at the base of our social fabric?

Let me direct your attention now to another point which I never think
of without feelings which words would altogether fail to express.
You hear constantly that woman, the helpmate of man, who adorns,
dignifies, and blesses our lives, that woman in this country is cheap;
that vast numbers whose names ought to be synonyms for purity and
virtue are plunged into profligacy and infamy. But do you not know
that you sent 40,000 men to perish on the bleak heights of the Crimea,
and that the revolt in India, caused, in part at least, by the
grievous iniquity of the seizure of Oude, may tax your country to the
extent of 100,000 lives before it is extinguished; and do you know
that for the 140,000 men thus drafted off and consigned to premature
graves, nature provided in your country 140,000 women? If you have
taken the men who should have been the husbands of these women, and
if you have sacrificed £100,000,000, which as capital reserved in the
country would have been an ample fund for their employment and for the
sustentation of their families, are you not guilty of a great sin
in involving yourselves in such a loss of life and of money in war,
except on grounds and under circumstances which, according to the
opinion of every man in the country, should leave no kind of option
whatever for your choice?

I know perfectly well the kind of observations which a certain class
of critics will make upon this speech. I have been already told by a
very eminent newspaper publisher in Calcutta, who, commenting on
a speech I made at the close of the session, with regard to the
condition of India and our future policy in that country, said, that
the policy I recommended was intended to strike at the root of the
advancement of the British Empire, and that its advancement did not
necessarily involve the calamities which I pointed out as likely to
occur. My Calcutta critic assured me that Rome pursued a similar
policy for a period of eight centuries, and for those eight centuries
she remained great. Now, I do not think that examples taken from
pagan, sanguinary Rome are proper models for the imitation of a
Christian country, nor would I limit my hopes of the greatness of
England even to the long duration of 800 years. But what is Rome now?
The great city is dead. A poet has described her as 'the lone mother
of dead empires'. Her language even is dead. Her very tombs are empty;
the ashes of her most illustrious citizens are dispersed--

  The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now.

Yet I am asked, I, who am one of the legislators of a Christian
country, to measure my policy by the policy of ancient and pagan Rome!

I believe there is no permanent greatness to a nation except it be
based upon morality. I do not care for military greatness or military
renown. I care for the condition of the people among whom I live.
There is no man in England who is less likely to speak irreverently
of the Crown and Monarchy of England than I am; but crowns, coronets,
mitres, military display, the pomp of war, wide colonies, and a huge
empire, are, in my view, all trifles light as air, and not worth
considering, unless with them you can have a fair share of comfort,
contentment, and happiness among the great body of the people.
Palaces, baronial castles, great halls, stately mansions, do not make
a nation. The nation in every country dwells in the cottage; and
unless the light of your constitution can shine there, unless the
beauty of your legislation and the excellence of your statesmanship
are impressed there on the feelings and condition of the people, rely
upon it you have yet to learn the duties of government.

I have not, as you have observed, pleaded that this country should
remain without adequate and scientific means of defence. I acknowledge
it to be the duty of your statesmen, acting upon the known opinions
and principles of ninety-nine out of every hundred persons in the
country, at all times, with all possible moderation, but with all
possible efficiency, to take steps which shall preserve order within
and on the confines of your kingdom. But I shall repudiate and
denounce the expenditure of every shilling, the engagement of
every man, the employment of every ship which has no object but
intermeddling in the affairs of other countries, and endeavouring to
extend the boundaries of an empire which is already large enough to
satisfy the greatest ambition, and I fear is much too large for the
highest statesmanship to which any man has yet attained.

The most ancient of profane historians has told us that the Scythians
of his time were a very warlike people, and that they elevated an old
scimitar upon a platform as a symbol of Mars, for to Mars alone, I
believe, they built altars and offered sacrifices. To this scimitar
they offered sacrifices of horses and cattle, the main wealth of the
country, and more costly sacrifices than to all the rest of their
gods. I often ask myself whether we are at all advanced in one respect
beyond those Scythians. What are our contributions to charity,
to education, to morality, to religion, to justice, and to civil
government, when compared with the wealth we expend in sacrifices
to the old scimitar? Two nights ago I addressed in this hall a vast
assembly composed to a great extent of your countrymen who have no
political power, who are at work from the dawn of the day to the
evening, and who have therefore limited means of informing themselves
on these great subjects. Now I am privileged to speak to a somewhat
different audience. You represent those of your great community who
have a more complete education, who have on some points greater
intelligence, and in whose hands reside the power and influence of the
district. I am speaking, too, within the hearing of those whose gentle
nature, whose finer instincts, whose purer minds, have not suffered as
some of us have suffered in the turmoil and strife of life. You can
mould opinion, you can create political power. You cannot think a good
thought on this subject and communicate it to your neighbours, you
cannot make these points topics of discussion in your social circles
and more general meetings, without affecting sensibly and speedily the
course which the Government of your country will pursue. May I ask
you, then, to believe, as I do most devoutly believe, that the moral
law was not written for men alone in their individual character, but
that it was written as well for nations, and for nations great as this
of which we are citizens. If nations reject and deride that moral law,
there is a penalty which will inevitably follow. It may not come at
once, it may not come in our lifetime; but, rely upon it, the great
Italian is not a poet only, but a prophet, when he says:

  The sword of heaven is not in haste to smite,
  Nor yet doth linger.

We have experience, we have beacons, we have landmarks enough. We
know what the past has cost us, we know how much and how far we have
wandered, but we are not left without a guide. It is true we have not,
as an ancient people had, Urim and Thummim--those oraculous gems
on Aaron's breast--from which to take counsel, but we have the
unchangeable and eternal principles of the moral law to guide us, and
only so far as we walk by that guidance can we be permanently a great
nation, or our people a happy people.


AUGUST 8 AND 10, 1870


Sir, in view of the approaching prorogation of Parliament, I am
anxious to state at as early a period as possible that Her Majesty's
Government are not in a position to lay further papers upon the table
relating to the subject alluded to in the Question of the hon. member
for Wakefield (Mr. Somerset Beaumont). Knowing well the anxiety which
the House must feel with reference to the course which the Government
intend to follow, I will, in a few sentences, explain to them exactly
what we have done and what we have endeavoured to do. In so doing I
shall confine myself strictly to statements of fact, not mixing up
with them anything in the nature of explanation or defence, if,
indeed, defence be requisite, but will allow such explanation or
defence to stand over until the proper opportunity for making it shall
arrive. On Saturday, the 30th of July, the Government made a proposal
to France and Prussia severally in identical terms, and that proposal
was that an agreement should be contracted by this country with
each of them, whether under the name of a treaty or whatever other
designation might be given to the agreement, to this effect: that if
the armies of either one of the belligerents should, in the course
of the operations of the war, violate the neutrality of Belgium,
as secured by the terms of the Treaty of 1839, this country should
co-operate with the other belligerent in defence of that neutrality
by arms. It was signified in the document so transmitted that
Great Britain would not by that engagement, or by acting upon that
engagement in case of need, be bound to take part in the general
operations of the war. And, of course, the other contracting party was
to enter into a similar undertaking to use force for the preservation
of the neutrality of Belgium against the offending Power. We proposed
that the treaty or engagement--for it has now taken the form of a
treaty--should hold good for twelve months after the ratification of a
treaty of peace between the two belligerent Powers, after which period
it is stipulated that the respective parties, being parties to the
Treaty of 1839, shall fall back upon the obligations they took upon
themselves under that treaty. Briefly stated and divested of all
technical language, that, I think, is the whole of the contents of the
proposed treaty. On the same day--last Saturday week--and two days
before the discussion which occurred in this House in connexion with
foreign affairs, the whole proposal was made known by the British
Government to the Austrian and Russian Governments, and confidence was
expressed that, under the extreme pressure that existed as to time,
those Powers would not hesitate to adopt a similar measure. That is
the course Her Majesty's Government have followed in the matter. Now
as to the reception of this proposal by the other Powers. As far as we
have been informed, the Governments of both Austria and Russia take a
favourable view of the proposal. I will not say that the negotiation
has proceeded so far as to entitle us to regard them as held bound to
a particular course, but, in the main, I may say that the reception
of our proposal has been favourable by both of those Powers. And now,
with regard to the two belligerent Powers. The proposal, having been
sent to Lord Augustus Loftus on the 30th ult., on Friday, the 5th
inst., Count Bernstorff informed Earl Granville that Count Bismarck
had left Berlin for head-quarters, and that, consequently the
communication with him through Lord Augustus Loftus had been delayed.
The terms of the proposed treaty, however, having been communicated on
the same day--Saturday week--to the respective Ambassadors in London,
Count Bernstorff had telegraphed their substance to Count Bismarck,
who had informed him that he had not then received any proposal from
Lord Augustus Loftus, that he was ready to agree to any engagement
that would tend to the maintenance of the neutrality of Belgium; but
that, as the intended instrument was not before him, he could only
give a general assent to its purport, and must not be regarded as
bound to any particular mode of proceeding intended to secure that
neutrality. Count Bernstorff subsequently informed Earl Granville
on the same day, on the 5th of August, that he had received a later
telegram from Count Bismarck to the effect that he had then received a
summary of the draft treaty from him, that he had submitted it to the
King of Prussia, and that he was authorized to state that His Majesty
had agreed to the plan. Later still on the same day Count Bernstorff
informed Earl Granville that Count Bismarck again telegraphed to him
stating that he had seen the actual document, and authorizing him to
sign the treaty. Count Bernstorff has not yet--at least, had not when
I came down to the House--received his full powers in the technical
sense, but he expects to receive them in the course of the day,
and therefore I think that the engagement may be regarded as being
completed on the part of Prussia. Now as regards France. That country
has accepted the principle of the treaty, but the French Government
were desirous to introduce some modifications into the terms of the
instrument that were not of a nature, as we thought, in any degree to
interfere with the substance of the clauses. The House will perceive
that as we had made an identical proposal to the two Powers, it was
impossible for us to undertake to alter the body of the instrument,
for fear the whole arrangements might come to nothing, although
the sole object of the modifications so proposed was to prevent
misunderstanding. We had no difficulty in giving such an explanation
as we thought amounted to no more than a simple and clear
interpretation of the document. That explanation was sent to Paris
on Saturday evening. Perhaps the pressure of affairs in Paris may
naturally account for the fact that an answer did not arrive by return
of post in a regular manner this morning; but we have reason to
believe that this explanation will remove all difficulty on the part
of the French Government and will lead to the signing of the treaty.
Possibly, therefore, even before the termination of the present
sitting it will be in our power to make a further communication to the
House. In the meantime I shall be glad to answer any question, if my
statement has not been sufficiently clear; but, as I said before, I
should wish to refrain from saying more than is absolutely necessary
on the present occasion, and I hope the House will not enter into any
general discussion upon the subject.

As far as I understand, my hon. and gallant friend the member for
Waterford (Mr. Osborne) has complained that we have destroyed the
Treaty of 1839 by this instrument. As I pay so much attention to
everything that falls from him, I thought that by some mistake I must
have read the instrument inaccurately; but I have read it again, and I
find that by one of the articles contained in it the Treaty of 1839 is
expressly recognized. But there is one omission I made in the matter
which I will take the present opportunity to supply. The House, I
think, have clearly understood that this instrument expresses an
arrangement between this country and France, but an instrument has
been signed between this country and the North German Confederation
precisely the same in its terms, except that where the name of the
Emperor of the French is read in one instrument, the name of the
German Confederation is read in the other, and vice versa. I have
listened with much interest to the conversation which has occurred,
and I think we have no reason to be dissatisfied at the manner in
which, speaking generally, this treaty has been received. My hon.
friend the member for Brighton (Mr. White) speaking, as he says, from
below the gangway, is quite right in thinking that his approval of the
course the Government have taken is gratifying to us, on account of
the evidently independent course of action which he always pursues
in this House. The hon. and gallant gentleman opposite (Colonel
Barttelot) has expressed a different opinion from ours on the great
question of policy, and he asks whether we should not have done well
to limit ourselves to the Treaty of 1839. We differ entirely on that
subject from the hon. and gallant gentleman; but we cannot complain of
the manner in which he has expressed his opinion and recognized the
intentions of the Government. From gentlemen who sit behind me we have
had more positive and unequivocal expressions of approval than fell
from the hon. and gallant gentleman. The only person who strongly
objects to the course taken by the Government is my hon. and gallant
friend the member for Waterford; and I do not in the least object to
his frank method of stating whatever he feels in opposition to our
proceedings in a matter of so much consequence, though I do not think
it necessary to notice some of his objections. In the first place,
he denounces this treaty as an example of the mischiefs of secret
diplomacy. He thinks that if the treaty had been submitted to the
House it would not have been agreed to. My hon. and gallant friend is
a man much enamoured of public diplomacy. He remembers, no doubt, that
three weeks ago the Duc de Gramont went to the Legislative body of
France and made an announcement as to the policy which the French
Government would pursue with respect to Prussia. The result of that
example of public diplomacy no doubt greatly encouraged my hon. and
gallant friend. Then we have a specimen in the speech of my hon. and
gallant friend of the kind of public diplomacy which we should have
in this case if his hopes and desires were realized. He says that if
Belgium were in the hands of a hostile Power the liberties of this
country would not be worth twenty-four hours' purchase. I protest
against that statement. With all my heart and soul I protest against
it. A statement more exaggerated, a statement more extravagant, I
never heard fall from the lips of any member in this House. (Mr.
Osborne: Napoleon said it.) Whatever my hon. and gallant friend's
accurate acquaintance with the correspondence of Napoleon may induce
him to say, I may be permitted to observe that I am not prepared to
take my impression of the character, of the strength, of the
dignity, of the duty, or of the danger of this country, from that
correspondence. I will avail myself of this opportunity of expressing
my opinion, if I may presume to give it, that too much has been said
by my hon. and gallant friend and others of the specially distinct,
separate, and exclusive interest which this country has in the
maintenance of the neutrality of Belgium. What is our interest in
maintaining the neutrality of Belgium? It is the same as that of every
great Power in Europe. It is contrary to the interest of Europe that
there should be unmeasured aggrandizement. Our interest is no more
involved in the aggrandizement supposed in this particular case
than is the interest of other Powers. That it is a real interest, a
substantial interest, I do not deny; but I protest against the attempt
to attach to it the exclusive character which I never knew carried
into the region of caricature to such a degree as it has been by my
hon. and gallant friend. What is the immediate moral effect of those
exaggerated statements of the separate interest of England? The
immediate moral effect of them is this, that every effort we make on
behalf of Belgium on other grounds than those of interest, as well
as on grounds of interest, goes forth to the world as a separate and
selfish scheme of ours; and that which we believe to be entitled to
the dignity and credit of an effort on behalf of the general peace,
stability, and interest of Europe actually contracts a taint of
selfishness in the eyes of other nations because of the manner in
which the subject of Belgian neutrality is too frequently treated in
this House. If I may be allowed to speak of the motives which have
actuated Her Majesty's Government in the matter, I would say that
while we have recognized the interest of England, we have never
looked upon it as the sole motive, or even as the greatest of those
considerations which have urged us forward. There is, I admit, the
obligation of the treaty. It is not necessary, nor would time permit
me, to enter into the complicated question of the nature of the
obligations of that treaty; but I am not able to subscribe to the
doctrine of those who have held in this House what plainly amounts to
an assertion, that the simple fact of the existence of a guarantee
is binding on every party to it irrespectively altogether of the
particular position in which it may find itself at the time when the
occasion for acting on the guarantee arises. The great authorities
upon foreign policy to whom I have been accustomed to listen--such as
Lord Aberdeen and Lord Palmerston--never, to my knowledge, took that
rigid and, if I may venture to say so, that impracticable view of
a guarantee. The circumstance that there is already an existing
guarantee in force is of necessity an important fact, and a weighty
element in the case, to which we are bound to give full and ample
consideration. There is also this further consideration, the force of
which we must all feel most deeply, and that is the common interest
against the unmeasured aggrandizement of any Power whatever. But there
is one other motive, which I shall place at the head of all, that
attaches peculiarly to the preservation of the independence of
Belgium. What is that country? It is a country containing 4,000,000 or
5,000,000 of people, with much of an historic past, and imbued with a
sentiment of nationality and a spirit of independence as warm and as
genuine as that which beats in the hearts of the proudest and most
powerful nations. By the regulations of its internal concerns, amid
the shocks of revolution, Belgium through all the crises of the
age, has set to Europe an example of a good and stable government,
gracefully associated with the widest possible extension of the
liberty of the people. Looking at a country such as that, is there
any man who hears me who does not feel that if, in order to satisfy a
greedy appetite for aggrandizement, coming whence it may, Belgium were
absorbed, the day that witnessed the absorption would hear the knell
of public right and public law in Europe? But we have an interest in
the independence of Belgium, which is wider than that--which is wider
than that which we may have in the literal operation of the guarantee.
It is found in the answer to the question whether, under the
circumstances of the case, this country, endowed as it is with
influence and power, would quietly stand by and witness the
perpetration of the direst crime that ever stained the pages of
history, and thus become participators in the sin? And now let me deal
with the observation of the hon. member for Waterford. The hon. member
asks: What if both these Powers with whom we are making this treaty
should combine against the independence of Belgium? Well, all I can
say is that we rely on the faith of these parties. But if there
be danger of their combining against that independence now,
unquestionably there was much more danger in the position of affairs
that was revealed to our astonished eyes a fortnight ago, and before
these later engagements were contracted. I do not undertake to define
the character of that position which, as I have said, was more
dangerous a fortnight ago. I feel confident that it would be hasty to
suppose that these great States would, under any circumstances, have
become parties to the actual contemplation and execution of a proposal
such as that which was made the subject of a communication between
persons of great importance on behalf of their respective States.
That was the state of facts with which we had to deal. It was the
combination, and not the opposition, of the two Powers which we had to
fear, and I contend--and we shall be ready on every proper occasion to
argue--that there is no measure so well adapted to meet the peculiar
character of such an occasion as that which we have proposed. It is
said that the Treaty of 1839 would have sufficed, and that we ought
to have announced our determination to abide by it. But if we were
disposed at once to act upon the guarantee contained in that treaty,
what state of circumstances does it contemplate? It contemplates
the invasion of the frontiers of Belgium and the violation of the
neutrality of that country by some other Power. That is the only case
in which we could have been called upon to act under the Treaty of
1839, and that is the only case in which we can be called upon to act
under the treaty now before the House. But in what, then, lies
the difference between the two treaties? It is in this: that, in
accordance with our obligations, we should have had to act under the
Treaty of 1839 without any stipulated assurance of being supported
from any quarter whatever against any combination, however formidable;
whereas by the treaty now formally before Parliament, under the
conditions laid down in it, we secure powerful support in the event
of our having to act--a support with respect to which we may well say
that it brings the object in view within the sphere of the practicable
and attainable, instead of leaving it within the sphere of what might
have been desirable, but which might have been most difficult, under
all the circumstances, to have realized. The hon. member says that by
entering into this engagement we have destroyed the Treaty of 1839.
But if he will carefully consider the terms of this instrument he
will see that there is nothing in them calculated to bear out that
statement. It is perfectly true that this is a cumulative treaty,
added to the Treaty of 1839, as the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr.
Disraeli), with perfect precision, described it. Upon that ground I
very much agree with the general opinion he expressed; but, at the
same time, peculiar circumstances call for a departure from general
rules, and the circumstances are most peculiar under which we have
thought it right to adopt the method of proceeding which we have
actually done. The Treaty of 1839 loses nothing of its force even
during, the existence of this present treaty. There is no derogation
from it whatever. The Treaty of 1839 includes terms which are
expressly included in the present instrument, lest by any chance
it should be said that, in consequence of the existence of this
instrument, the Treaty of 1839 had been injured or impaired. That
would have been a mere opinion; but it is an opinion which we thought
lit to provide against. The hon. member has said that this is a most
peculiar method of bringing a treaty before the House. I admit it.
There is no doubt at all that it is so. But it is not easy to say what
circumstances there are that will justify the breaking up of general
rules in a matter so delicate and important as the making of
communications to Parliament upon political negotiations of great
interest. The rule which has been uniformly followed in this country
is this: that no treaty is communicated to Parliament unless it
becomes binding; and it does not become absolutely binding upon the
signatories until it has been ratified; and, by the law and usage of
all civilized countries, ratification requires certain forms to be
gone through which cannot be concluded in a moment. Under these
circumstances, we had only this choice--whether we should be
contented to present a treaty to Parliament without the usual forms
having been gone through, or whether we should break down the rule
which we think it is, on the whole, most desirable to observe, and we
thought it best to adopt the course we have followed in the matter.
The hon. member for Wakefield (Mr. Somerset Beaumont) has asked
whether this treaty has been concluded with the sanction of Belgium.
My answer is that I do not doubt the relevancy of that inquiry, but
that the treaty has not been concluded with the sanction of Belgium,
for we have advisedly refrained from any attempt to make Belgium a
party to the engagement. In the first place, Belgium was not a party
to the Treaty of 1839. But that is a matter of secondary importance.
What we had to consider was, what was the most prudent, the best,
and the safest course for us to pursue in the interest of Belgium.
Independently of Belgium, we had no right to assume that either of the
parties would agree to it, and we had also to contemplate the case in
which one party might agree to it and the other might not. If we had
attempted to make Belgium a party we should have run the risk of
putting her in a very false position in the event of one of the
parties not agreeing to the proposal. It was, therefore, from no
want of respect or friendly feeling towards Belgium, but simply from
prudential considerations, that we abstained from bringing that
country within the circle of these negotiations. The hon. member has
also asked whether Austria and Russia have been consulted upon the
subject of the treaty, but upon that point I have nothing to add to
what I communicated to the House the other day. Both these parties
have been invited--as Her Majesty has been advised to announce from
the Throne--to accede to the treaty, and I said on Monday that the
reception of the treaty, as far as those Powers were concerned, had
been generally favourable. I have no reason to alter that statement;
but, on the part of Russia, a question has arisen with regard to which
I cannot quite say how it may eventually close, especially from the
circumstance that the Emperor and his chief advisers upon foreign
affairs do not happen to be in the same place. That question, so
raised, is whether it might be wise to give a wider scope to any
engagements of this kind; but if there is any hesitation on this
point, it is not of a kind which indicates an objection of principle,
but, on the contrary, one which shows a disposition to make every
possible effort in favour of the treaty. We are in full communication
with friendly and neutral Powers on the subject of maintaining
neutrality, and upon every side the very best dispositions prevail.
There is the greatest inclination to abstain from all officious
intermeddling between two Powers who, from their vast means and
resources, are perfectly competent for the conduct of their own
affairs; and there is not a less strong and decided desire on the
part of every Power to take every step at the present moment that can
contribute to restrict and circumscribe the area of the war, and to
be ready without having lost or forfeited the confidence of either
belligerent to avail itself of the first opportunity that may present
itself to contribute towards establishing a peace which shall be
honourable, and which shall present the promise of being permanent.
That is the general state of the case, with regard to which I do not,
in the least degree, question the right of the hon. member behind me
to form his own judgement. I cannot help expressing the opinion that,
allowing for all the difficulties of the case, and the rapidity with
which it was necessary to conduct these operations, we have done all
that appeared to be essential in the matter; and the country may feel
assured that the conduct which we have pursued in relation to this
matter has not been unworthy of the high responsibility with which we
are entrusted.


NOVEMBER 27, 1879


Gentlemen, I ask you again to go with me beyond the seas. And as I
wish to do full justice, I will tell you what I think to be the right
principles of foreign policy; and then, as far as your patience and my
strength will permit, I will, at any rate for a short time, illustrate
those right principles by some of the departures from them that have
taken place of late years. I first give you, gentlemen, what I think
the right principles of foreign policy. The first thing is to foster
the strength of the Empire by just legislation and economy at home,
thereby producing two of the great elements of national power--namely,
wealth, which is a physical element, and union and contentment, which
are moral elements--and to reserve the strength of the Empire, to
reserve the expenditure of that strength, for great and worthy
occasions abroad. Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good
government at home. My second principle of foreign policy is this:
that its aim ought to be to preserve to the nations of the world--and
especially, were it but for shame, when we recollect the sacred name
we bear as Christians, especially to the Christian nations of the
world--the blessings of peace. That is my second principle.

My third principle is this. Even, gentlemen, when you do a good
thing, you may do it in so bad a way that you may entirely spoil the
beneficial effect; and if we were to make ourselves the apostles of
peace in the sense of conveying to the minds of other nations that we
thought ourselves more entitled to an opinion on that subject than
they are, or to deny their rights--well, very likely we should destroy
the whole value of our doctrines. In my opinion the third sound
principle is this: to strive to cultivate and maintain, ay, to the
very uttermost, what is called the concert of Europe; to keep the
Powers of Europe in union together. And why? Because by keeping all in
union together you neutralize and fetter and bind up the selfish aims
of each. I am not here to flatter either England or any of them. They
have selfish aims, as, unfortunately, we in late years have too sadly
shown that we too have had selfish aims; but then, common action is
fatal to selfish aims. Common action means common objects; and the
only objects for which you can unite together the Powers of Europe are
objects connected with the common good of them all. That, gentlemen,
is my third principle of foreign policy.

My fourth principle is--that you should avoid needless and entangling
engagements. You may boast about them; you may brag about them. You
may say you are procuring consideration for the country. You may say
that an Englishman can now hold up his head among the nations. You may
say that he is now not in the hands of a Liberal Ministry, who thought
of nothing but pounds, shillings, and pence. But what does all this
come to, gentlemen? It comes to this, that you are increasing your
engagements without increasing your strength; and if you increase
engagements without increasing strength, you diminish strength, you
abolish strength; you really reduce the Empire and do not increase it.
You render it less capable of performing its duties; you render it an
inheritance less precious to hand on to future generations.

My fifth principle is this, gentlemen, to acknowledge the equal rights
of all nations. You may sympathize with one nation more than another.
Nay, you must sympathize in certain circumstances with one nation more
than another. You sympathize most with those nations, as a rule, with
which you have the closest connexion in language, in blood, and
in religion, or whose circumstances at the time seem to give the
strongest claim to sympathy. But in point of right all are equal, and
you have no right to set up a system under which one of them is to be
placed under moral suspicion or espionage, or to be made the constant
subject of invective. If you do that, but especially if you claim for
yourself a superiority, a pharisaical superiority over the whole of
them, then I say you may talk about your patriotism if you please, but
you are a misjudging friend of your country, and in undermining the
basis of the esteem and respect of other people for your country you
are in reality inflicting the severest injury upon it. I have now
given you, gentlemen, five principles of foreign policy. Let me give
you a sixth, and then I have done.

And that sixth is, that in my opinion foreign policy, subject to all
the limitations that I have described, the foreign policy of England
should always be inspired by the love of freedom. There should be a
sympathy with freedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon
visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations
within the shores of this happy isle, that in freedom you lay the
firmest foundations both of loyalty and order; the firmest foundations
for the development of individual character, and the best provision
for the happiness of the nation at large. In the foreign policy of
this country the name of Canning ever will be honoured. The name of
Russell ever will be honoured. The name of Palmerston ever will
be honoured by those who recollect the erection of the kingdom of
Belgium, and the union of the disjoined provinces of Italy. It is that
sympathy, not a sympathy with disorder, but, on the contrary, founded
upon the deepest and most profound love of order--it is that sympathy
which, in my opinion, ought to be the very atmosphere in which a
Foreign Secretary of England ought to live and to move.

Gentlemen, it is impossible for me to do more to-day than to attempt
very slight illustrations of those principles. But in uttering those
principles, I have put myself in a position in which no one is
entitled to tell me--you will bear me out in what I say--that I simply
object to the acts of others, and lay down no rules of action myself.
I am not only prepared to show what are the rules of action which in
my judgement are the right rules, but I am prepared to apply them, nor
will I shrink from their application. I will take, gentlemen, the name
which, most of all others, is associated with suspicion, and with
alarm, and with hatred in the minds of many Englishmen--I will take
the name of Russia, and at once I will tell you what I think about
Russia, and how I am prepared as a member of Parliament to proceed in
anything that respects Russia. You have heard me, gentlemen, denounced
sometimes, I believe, as a Russian spy, sometimes as a Russian agent,
sometimes as perhaps a Russian fool, which is not so bad, but still
not very desirable. But, gentlemen, when you come to evidence, the
worst thing that I have ever seen quoted out of any speech or writing
of mine about Russia is that I did one day say, or, I believe, I
wrote, these terrible words: I recommended Englishmen to imitate
Russia in her good deeds. Was not that a terrible proposition? I
cannot recede from it. I think we ought to imitate Russia in her good
deeds, and if the good deeds be few, I am sorry for it, but I am not
the less disposed on that account to imitate them when they come. I
will now tell you what I think just about Russia.

I make it one of my charges against the foreign policy of Her
Majesty's Government, that, while they have completely estranged from
this country--let us not conceal the fact--the feelings of a nation
of eighty millions, for that is the number of the subjects of the
Russian Empire--while they have contrived completely to estrange the
feelings of that nation, they have aggrandized the power of Russia.
They have aggrandized the power of Russia in two ways, which I will
state with perfect distinctness. They have augmented her territory.
Before the European Powers met at Berlin, Lord Salisbury met with
Count Schouvaloff, and Lord Salisbury agreed that, unless he could
convince Russia by his arguments in the open Congress of Berlin, he
would support the restoration to the despotic power of Russia of that
country north of the Danube which at the moment constituted a portion
of the free State of Roumania. Why, gentlemen, what had been done
by the Liberal Government, which, forsooth, attended to nothing but
pounds, shillings, and pence? The Liberal Government had driven Russia
back from the Danube. Russia, which was a Danubian Power before the
Crimean War, lost this position on the Danube by the Crimean War;
and the Tory Government, which has been incensing and inflaming you
against Russia, yet nevertheless, by binding itself beforehand to
support, when the judgement was taken, the restoration of that country
to Russia, has aggrandized the power of Russia.

It further aggrandized the power of Russia in Armenia; but I would not
dwell upon that matter if it were not for a very strange circumstance.
You know that an Armenian province was given to Russia after the
war, but about that I own to you I have very much less feeling of
objection. I have objected from the first, vehemently, and in every
form, to the granting of territory on the Danube to Russia, and
carrying back the population of a certain country from a free State to
a despotic State; but with regard to the transfer of a certain portion
of the Armenian people from the government of Turkey to the government
of Russia, I must own that I contemplate that transfer with much
greater equanimity. I have no fear myself of the territorial
extensions of Russia in Asia, no fear of them whatever. I think the
fears are no better than old women's fears. And I don't wish to
encourage her aggressive tendencies in Asia, or anywhere else. But I
admit it may be, and probably is, the case that there is some benefit
attending the transfer of a portion of Armenia from Turkey to Russia.

But here is a very strange fact. You know that that portion of Armenia
includes the port of Batoum. Lord Salisbury has lately stated to the
country, that, by the Treaty of Berlin, the port of Batoum is to be
only a commercial port. If the Treaty of Berlin stated that it was
to be only a commercial port, which, of course, could not be made an
arsenal, that fact would be very important. But happily, gentlemen,
although treaties are concealed from us nowadays as long as and as
often as is possible, the Treaty of Berlin is an open instrument.
We can consult it for ourselves; and when we consult the Treaty
of Berlin, we find it states that Batoum shall be essentially a
commercial port, but not that it shall be only a commercial port.
Why, gentlemen, Leith is essentially a commercial port, but there is
nothing to prevent the people of this country, if in their wisdom or
their folly they should think fit, from constituting Leith as a great
naval arsenal or fortification; and there is nothing to prevent the
Emperor of Russia, while leaving to Batoum a character that shall be
essentially commercial, from joining with that another character that
is not in the slightest degree excluded by the treaty, and making
it as much as he pleases a port of military defence. Therefore I
challenge the assertion of Lord Salisbury; and as Lord Salisbury is
fond of writing letters to _The Times_ to bring the Duke of Argyll to
book, he perhaps will be kind enough to write another letter to _The
Times_, and tell in what clause of the Treaty of Berlin he finds it
written that the port of Batoum shall be only a commercial port. For
the present, I simply leave it on record that he has misrepresented
the Treaty of Berlin.

With respect to Russia,--I take two views of the position of Russia.
The position of Russia in Central Asia I believe to be one that has
in the main been forced upon her against her will. She has been
compelled--and this is the impartial opinion of the world--she has
been compelled to extend her frontier southward in Central Asia by
causes in some degree analogous to, but certainly more stringent and
imperative than, the causes which have commonly led us to extend, in
a far more important manner, our frontier in India; and I think it,
gentlemen, much to the credit of the late Government, much to the
honour of Lord Clarendon and Lord Granville, that, when we were in
office, we made a covenant with Russia, in which Russia bound herself
to exercise no influence or interference whatever in Afghanistan; we,
on the other hand, making known our desire that Afghanistan should
continue free and independent. Both the Powers acted with uniform
strictness and fidelity upon this engagement until the day when
we were removed from office. But Russia, gentlemen, has another
position--her position in respect to Turkey; and here it is that
I have complained of the Government for aggrandizing the power of
Russia; it is on this point that I most complain.

The policy of Her Majesty's Government was a policy of repelling and
repudiating the Slavonic populations of Turkey in Europe, and of
declining to make England the advocate for their interests. Nay, more,
she became in their view the advocate of the interests opposed to
theirs. Indeed, she was rather the decided advocate of Turkey; and now
Turkey is full of loud complaints--and complaints, I must say, not
unjust--that we allured her on to her ruin; that we gave the Turks a
right to believe that we should support them; that our ambassadors,
Sir Henry Elliot and Sir Austin Layard, both of them said we had most
vital interests in maintaining Turkey as it was, and consequently the
Turks thought if we had vital interests, we should certainly defend
them; and they were thereby lured on into that ruinous, cruel, and
destructive war with Russia. But by our conduct to the Slavonic
populations we alienated those populations from us. We made our name
odious among them. They had every disposition to sympathize with us,
every disposition to confide in us. They are, as a people, desirous of
freedom, desirous of self-government, with no aggressive views, but
hating the idea of being absorbed in a huge despotic empire like
Russia. But when they found that we, and the other Powers of Europe
under our unfortunate guidance, declined to become in any manner their
champions in defence of the rights of life, of property, and of female
honour--when they found that there was no call which could find its
way to the heart of England through its Government, or to the hearts
of the other Powers, and that Russia alone was disposed to fight for
them, why, naturally they said, Russia is our friend. We have done
everything, gentlemen, in our power to drive these populations into
the arms of Russia. If Russia has aggressive dispositions in the
direction of Turkey--and I think it probable that she may have
them--it is we who have laid the ground upon which Russia may make her
march to the south--we who have taught the Bulgarians, the Servians,
the Roumanians, the Montenegrins, that there is one Power in Europe,
and only one, which is ready to support in act and by the sword her
professions of sympathy with the oppressed populations of Turkey.
That power is Russia; and how can you blame these people, if in such
circumstances, they are disposed to say, Russia is our friend? But
why did we make them say it? Simply because of the policy of the
Government, not because of the wishes of the people of this country.
Gentlemen, this is the most dangerous form of aggrandizing Russia. If
Russia is aggressive anywhere, if Russia is formidable anywhere, it is
by movements towards the south, it is by schemes for acquiring command
of the Straits or of Constantinople; and there is no way by which you
can possibly so much assist her in giving reality to these designs, as
by inducing and disposing the populations of these provinces, who
are now in virtual possession of them, to look upon Russia as their
champion and their friend, to look upon England as their disguised,
perhaps, but yet real and effective enemy.

Why, now, gentlemen, I have said that I think it not unreasonable
either to believe, or at any rate to admit it to be possible, that
Russia has aggressive designs in the east of Europe. I do not mean
immediate aggressive designs. I do not believe that the Emperor of
Russia is a man of aggressive schemes or policy. It is that, looking
to that question in the long run, looking at what has happened, and
what may happen in ten or twenty years, in one generation, in two
generations, it is highly probable that in some circumstances Russia
may develop aggressive tendencies towards the south. Perhaps you will
say I am here guilty of the same injustice to Russia that I have been
deprecating, because I say that we ought not to adopt the method
of condemning anybody without cause, and setting up exceptional
principles in proscription of a particular nation. Gentlemen, I will
explain to you in a moment the principle upon which I act, and the
grounds upon which I form my judgement. They are simply these grounds:
I look at the position of Russia, the geographical position of Russia
relatively to Turkey. I look at the comparative strength of the two
Empires; I look at the importance of the Dardanelles and the Bosphoros
as an exit and a channel for the military and commercial marine of
Russia to the Mediterranean; and what I say to myself is this. If the
United Kingdom were in the same position relatively to Turkey which
Russia holds upon the map of the globe, I feel quite sure that we
should be very apt indeed both to entertain and to execute aggressive
designs upon Turkey. Gentlemen, I will go farther and will frankly
own to you that I believe if we, instead of happily inhabiting this
island, had been in the possession of the Russian territory, and in
the circumstances of the Russian people, we should most likely have
eaten up Turkey long ago. And consequently, in saying that Russia
ought to be vigilantly watched in that quarter, I am only applying to
her the rule which in parallel circumstances I feel convinced ought to
be applied, and would be justly applied, to judgements upon our own

Gentlemen, there is only one other point on which I must still say a
few words to you, although there are a great many upon which I have a
great many words yet to say somewhere or other. Of all the principles,
gentlemen, of foreign policy which I have enumerated, that to which I
attach the greatest value is the principle of the equality of nations;
because, without recognizing that principle, there is no such thing
as public right, and without public international right there is no
instrument available for settling the transactions of mankind except
material force. Consequently the principle of equality among nations
lies, in my opinion, at the very basis and root of a Christian
civilization, and when that principle is compromised or abandoned,
with it must depart our hopes of tranquillity and of progress for

I am sorry to say, gentlemen, that I feel it my absolute duty to make
this charge against the foreign policy under which we have lived for
the last two years, since the resignation of Lord Derby. It has been
a foreign policy, in my opinion, wholly, or to a perilous extent,
unregardful of public right, and it has been founded upon the basis of
a false, I think an arrogant, and a dangerous assumption,--although
I do not question its being made conscientiously and for what was
believed the advantage of the country,--an untrue, arrogant, and
dangerous assumption that we were entitled to assume for ourselves
some dignity, which we should also be entitled to withhold from
others, and to claim on our own part authority to do things which we
would not permit to be done by others. For example, when Russia was
going to the Congress at Berlin, we said: 'Your Treaty of San Stefano
is of no value. It is an act between you and Turkey; but the concerns
of Turkey by the Treaty of Paris are the concerns of Europe at large.
We insist upon it that the whole of your Treaty of San Stefano shall
be submitted to the Congress at Berlin, that they may judge how far to
open it in each and every one of its points, because the concerns
of Turkey are the common concerns of the Powers of Europe acting in

Having asserted that principle to the world, what did we do? These
two things, gentlemen: secretly, without the knowledge of Parliament,
without even the forms of official procedure, Lord Salisbury met Count
Schouvaloff in London, and agreed with him upon the terms on which the
two Powers together should be bound in honour to one another to act
upon all the most important points when they came before the Congress
at Berlin. Having alleged against Russia that she should not be
allowed to settle Turkish affairs with Turkey, because they were but
two Powers, and these affairs were the common affairs of Europe, and
of European interest, we then got Count Schouvaloff into a private
room, and on the part of England and Russia, they being but two
Powers, we settled a large number of the most important of these
affairs, in utter contempt and derogation of the very principle for
which the Government had been contending for months before; for which
they had asked Parliament to grant a sum of £6,000,000; for which they
had spent that £6,000,000 in needless and mischievous armaments. That
which we would not allow Russia to do with Turkey, because we pleaded
the rights of Europe, we ourselves did with Russia, in contempt of the
rights of Europe. Nor was that all, gentlemen.

That act was done, I think, on one of the last days of May in the year
1878, and the document was published, made known to the world, made
known to the Congress at Berlin, to its infinite astonishment, unless
I am very greatly misinformed,--to its infinite astonishment.

But that was not all. Nearly at the same time we performed the same
operation in another quarter. We objected to a treaty between Russia
and Turkey as having no authority, though that treaty was made in the
light of day--namely, to the Treaty of San Stefano; and what did
we do? We went not in the light of day, but in the darkness of the
night--not in the knowledge and cognizance of other Powers, all of
whom would have had the faculty and means of watching all along, and
of preparing and taking their own objections and shaping their own
policy--not in the light of day, but in the darkness of the night, we
sent the Ambassador of England in Constantinople to the Minister of
Turkey, and there he framed, even while the Congress of Berlin was
sitting to determine these matters of common interest, he framed that
which is too famous, shall I say, or rather too notorious as the
Anglo-Turkish Convention. Gentlemen, it is said, and said truly, that
truth beats fiction; that what happens in fact from time to time is
of a character so daring, so strange, that if the novelist were to
imagine it and to put it upon his pages, the whole world would reject
it from its improbability. And that is the case of the Anglo-Turkish
Convention. For who would have believed it possible that we should
assert before the world the principle that Europe only could deal with
the affairs of the Turkish Empire, and should ask Parliament for
six millions to support us in asserting that principle, should send
Ministers to Berlin who declared that unless that principle was acted
upon they would go to war with the material that Parliament had placed
in their hands, and should at the same time be concluding a separate
agreement with Turkey, under which those matters of European
jurisdiction were coolly transferred to English jurisdiction; and the
whole matter was sealed with the worthless bribe of the possession
and administration of the island of Cyprus! I said, gentlemen, the
worthless bribe of the island of Cyprus, and that is the truth. It is
worthless for our purposes, worse than worthless for our purposes--not
worthless in itself; an island of resources, an island of natural
capabilities, provided they are allowed to develop themselves in the
course of circumstances, without violent and unprincipled methods
of action. But Cyprus was not thought to be worthless by those who
accepted it as a bribe. On the contrary, you were told that it was to
secure the road to India; you were told that it was to be the site of
an arsenal very cheaply made, and more valuable than Malta; you were
told that it was to revive trade. And a multitude of companies were
formed, and sent agents and capital to Cyprus, and some of them, I
fear, grievously burned their fingers there, I am not going to dwell
upon that now. What I have in view is not the particular merits of
Cyprus, but the illustration that I have given you in the case of the
agreement of Lord Salisbury with Count Schouvaloff, and in the case of
the Anglo-Turkish Convention, of the manner in which we have asserted
for ourselves a principle that we had denied to others--namely, the
principle of over-riding the European authority of the Treaty of
Paris, and taking the matters which that treaty gave to Europe into
our own separate jurisdiction. Now, gentlemen, I am sorry to find that
that which I call the pharisaical assertion of our own superiority has
found its way alike into the practice and seemingly into the theories
of the Government. I am not going to assert anything which is not
known, but the Prime Minister has said that there is one day in the
year--namely, the 9th of November, Lord Mayor's Day--on which the
language of sense and truth is to be heard amidst the surrounding din
of idle rumours generated and fledged in the brains of irresponsible
scribes. I do not agree, gentlemen, in that panegyric upon the 9th of
November. I am much more apt to compare the 9th of November--certainly
a well-known day in the year--but as to some of the speeches that have
lately been made upon it, I am very much disposed to compare it with
another day in the year, well known to British tradition; and that
other day in the year is the 1st of April. But, gentlemen, on that day
the Prime Minister, speaking out,--I do not question for a moment his
own sincere opinion,--made what I think one of the most unhappy and
ominous allusions ever made by a Minister of this country. He quoted
certain words, easily rendered as 'Empire and Liberty'--words (he
said) of a Roman statesman, words descriptive of the State of
Rome--and he quoted them as words which were capable of legitimate
application to the position and circumstance of England. I join issue
with the Prime Minister upon that subject, and I affirm that nothing
can be more fundamentally unsound, more practically ruinous, than the
establishment of Roman analogies for the guidance of British policy.
What, gentlemen, was Rome? Rome was indeed an Imperial State, you may
tell me--I know not, I cannot read the counsels of Providence--a State
having a mission to subdue the world; but a State whose very basis it
was to deny the equal rights, to proscribe the independent existence,
of other nations. That, gentlemen, was the Roman idea. It has been
partially and not ill described in three lines of a translation from
Virgil by our great poet Dryden, which run as follows:

  O Rome! 'tis thine alone with awful sway
  To rule mankind, and make the world obey,
  Disposing peace and war thine own majestic way.

We are told to fall back upon this example. No doubt the word 'Empire'
was qualified with the word 'Liberty'. But what did the two words
'Liberty' and 'Empire' mean in a Roman mouth? They meant simply
this--'Liberty for ourselves, Empire over the rest of mankind'.

I do not think, gentlemen, that this Ministry, or any other Ministry,
is going to place us in the position of Rome. What I object to is the
revival of the idea--I care not how feebly, I care not even how, from
a philosophic or historic point of view, how ridiculous the attempt
at this revival may be. I say it indicates an intention--I say it
indicates a frame of mind, and that frame of mind, unfortunately, I
find, has been consistent with the policy of which I have given you
some illustrations--the policy of denying to others the rights that
we claim ourselves. No doubt, gentlemen, Rome may have had its work to
do, and Rome did its work. But modern times have brought a different
state of things. Modern times have established a sisterhood of
nations, equal, independent; each of them built up under that
legitimate defence which public law affords to every nation, living
within its own borders, and seeking to perform its own affairs; but if
one thing more than another has been detestable to Europe, it has been
the appearance upon the stage from time to time of men who, even in
the times of the Christian civilization, have been thought to aim at
universal dominion. It was this aggressive disposition on the part
of Louis XIV, King of France, that led your forefathers, gentlemen,
freely to spend their blood and treasure in a cause not immediately
their own, and to struggle against the method of policy which, having
Paris for its centre, seemed to aim at a universal monarchy. It was
the very same thing, a century and a half later, which was the charge
launched, and justly launched, against Napoleon, that under his
dominion France was not content even with her extended limits, but
Germany, and Italy, and Spain, apparently without any limit to this
pestilent and pernicious process, were to be brought under the
dominion or influence of France, and national equality was to be
trampled under foot, and national rights denied. For that reason,
England in the struggle almost exhausted herself, greatly impoverished
her people, brought upon herself, and Scotland too, the consequences
of a debt that nearly crushed their energies, and poured forth their
best blood without limit, in order to resist and put down these
intolerable pretensions.

Gentlemen, it is but in a pale and weak and almost despicable
miniature that such ideas are now set up, but you will observe
that the poison lies--that the poison and the mischief lie--in the
principle and not the scale. It is the opposite principle which, I
say, has been compromised by the action of the Ministry, and which I
call upon you, and upon any who choose to hear my views, to vindicate
when the day of our election comes; I mean the sound and the sacred
principle that Christendom is formed of a band of nations who are
united to one another in the bonds of right; that they are without
distinction of great and small; there is an absolute equality between
them,--the same sacredness defends the narrow limits of Belgium, as
attaches to the extended frontiers of Russia, or Germany, or France.
I hold that he who by act or word brings that principle into peril or
disparagement, however honest his intentions may be, places himself in
the position of one inflicting--I won't say intending to inflict--I
ascribe nothing of the sort--but inflicting injury upon his own
country, and endangering the peace and all the most fundamental
interests of Christian society.


APRIL 2, 1880


Now, I have charged at various times what I think an essential
count in this indictment--that intelligence had been kept back from
Parliament. Intelligence necessary to full understanding and to
competent discussion has been withheld from Parliament at the very
time of that discussion. I have shown various instances; I might show
more. But I will name now only very briefly that remarkable case of
the Afghan War. We were carried into that war, gentlemen, as you will
recollect, without any previous notice or preparation. No papers had
been laid upon the table to enable us to judge of the state of our
relations with Afghanistan. Some suspicion had arisen, and a question
had been put in the House of Lords; and the answer had been that there
was no change of policy, or no sensible and serious change of policy
towards Afghanistan intended. At that moment there were in possession
of the Government--and for twelve months after--papers of the
most vital consequence--what are called the conferences at
Peshawur--opening up the whole case in every one of its aspects; and
the Government, with these papers in their hands, kept them back for
eighteen months, until they had hurried us into this deplorable, and,
I must say, into this guilty war. The island of Cyprus was
taken; responsibility of governing Asia Minor was assumed; a
_quasi_-territorial supremacy was asserted over Syria in common with
the rest of Asia Minor, which was a matter with respect to which we
knew very well that the jealousies of France were sure to be aroused;
but we were called upon and compelled, gentlemen, to discuss that
matter, I think, in the end of July, 1878, at the celebrated epoch of
'peace with honour'--we were called upon to discuss that matter
in total ignorance that France had remonstrated, that France had
complained; and the Government never let drop in the debate the
slightest intimation or inkling that such was the case. We had to
debate, we had to divide, we had to take the judgement of Parliament,
in utter ignorance of the vital fact that great offence had been given
to a faithful and a powerful ally by the steps taken by the Ministry;
and it was only when the papers were laid, two or three months after,
by the French Government, before the French Chamber, that we became
aware of the fact that these papers were presented to us. How is it
possible for any House of Commons to perform its duty if it consents
to be treated in such a way,--if it consents not only to exercise
every patience and forbearance, which must often be the case before
intelligence can be produced, but if it consents to be dragged through
the mire by being set to pronounce formal judgement upon national
emergencies of the highest import, and to do that without the
information necessary for a judgement; and when it is believed that
information has been withheld, no notice whatever is taken of the
fact, and perfect satisfaction is felt by the members of that majority
whom you are now called upon to try?

Well, that is the withholding of information, gentlemen; but there has
been even worse than that--worse, I am grieved to say it. I cannot
help saying it without being in a condition to trace home the charge
if this was thought needful, and I am very unwilling to fasten it upon
any one without that full and demonstrative evidence which the
case hardly admits of; but I will say this, that news--that
intelligence--has been falsified to bewilder and mislead to their
own peril and detriment the people of this country. You remember,
gentlemen, what happened at the outbreak of the great war between
France and Germany in 1870. At that time there existed for a few
days a condition of things which produced in that case excitement of
expectation as to the points upon which the quarrel turned; and you
remember that a telegram was sent from Berlin to Paris, and was
published in Paris, or rather, if I recollect aright, it was announced
by a Minister in the Chamber, stating that the King of Prussia, as he
was then, had insulted the ambassador of France by turning his back
upon him in a garden, where they had met, and refusing to communicate
with him. The consequence was an immense exasperation in France; and
the telegram, which afterwards proved to be totally and absolutely
false, was a necessary instrument for working up the minds of the
French people to a state in which some of them desired, and the rest
were willing to tolerate, what proved to be a most disastrous war.
That war never was desired by the French nation at large, but by false
intelligence heat was thrown into the atmosphere, party feeling and
national feeling to a certain extent were excited, and it became
practicable to drag the whole nation into the responsibility of the
war. I remember well at that time what passed through my mind. I
thought how thankful we ought to be that the use of methods so
perilous, and so abominable--for the word is not too strong--never
could be known in our happy country. Yes, gentlemen; but since that
time it has been known in our happy country. Since that time false
telegrams about the entry of the Russian army into Constantinople have
been sent home to disturb, and paralyse, and reverse the deliberations
of Parliament, and have actually stopped these deliberations, and
led experienced statesmen to withhold their action because of this
intelligence, which was afterwards, and shortly afterwards, shown to
be wholly without ground. Who invented that false intelligence I
do not know, and I do not say. All I say is, that it was sent from
Constantinople. It was telegraphed in the usual manner; it was
published in the usual manner; it was available for a certain purpose.
I can no more say who invented it than I can say who invented the
telegram that came to Paris about the King of Prussia and the French
ambassador; but the intelligence came, and it was false intelligence.

That was not the only, nor was it the most important case. You
remember--I am now carrying your recollections back to the time of
the outbreak of the war with Afghanistan, and if you recollect the
circumstances of that outbreak, at the most critical moment we were
told that the Ameer of Afghanistan had refused to receive a British
Mission with insult and with outrage, and that insult and outrage were
represented as at once enlisting our honour and reputation in the
case, as making it necessary to administer immediate chastisement. I
do not hesitate to express my full belief that without that statement
the war with Afghanistan would not have been made, would not have
been tolerated, by the country; but it was difficult, considering the
nature of our Indian Empire, considering how it is dependent upon
opinion in Asia, and upon the repute of strength, it was difficult to
interfere strongly--indeed. Parliament was not sitting--but it was
difficult even by opinion out of doors strongly to protest against
military measures taken in a case where the authority of the Crown
had been insulted, and outrage committed upon it by the Ameer of
Afghanistan. That intelligence was sent. We were never undeceived
about it until we were completely committed to the war, and until our
troops were in the country. The Parliament met; after long and most
unjustifiable delays the papers were produced, and when the papers
were produced and carefully examined, we found that there was not a
shred of foundation for that outrageous statement, and that the temper
and pride of the people of this country had been wrought up, and the
spirit of wrath fomented and kindled in their bosoms, by intelligence
that was false intelligence, and that somebody or other--somebody or
other having access to high quarters, if not dwelling in them--had
invented, had fabricated for the evil purpose of carrying us into
bloody strife.

All these are among the acts which I am sorry to say it is my business
to charge upon the majority of the late Parliament, and upon every
member of that majority; and all these are the acts which those
who are invited to vote or who intend to vote for my noble
opponent--whatever may be his personal claims, all these are the
acts, the responsibility of which they are now invited to take upon
themselves, and the repetition of which, by giving that vote, they
will directly encourage.

The next charge is the charge of broken laws. We have contended--it is
impossible to trouble you with argument--but we have contended, and I
think we have demonstrated, in the House of Commons, sustained by a
great array of legal strength and bearing, that in making that war in
Afghanistan, the Government of this country absolutely broke the laws
which regulate the Government of India. I do not say they admit it;
on the contrary, they deny it. But we have argued it; we believe, we
think we have shown it. It is a very grave and serious question; but
this much, I think, is plain, that unless our construction of that
Indian Government Act, which limits the power of the Crown as to the
employment of the Indian forces at the cost of the Indian revenue
without the consent of Parliament--unless our construction of that Act
be true, the restraining clauses of that Act are absolutely worthless,
and the people who passed those restraining clauses, and who most
carefully considered them at the time, must have been people entirely
unequal to their business; although two persons--I won't speak of
myself, who had much to do with them, but two persons who next to
myself were most concerned, were the present and the late Lord Derby,
neither of them persons very likely to go to work upon a subject
of that kind without taking care that what their hand did was done

Now besides the honour, if it be an honour, of broken laws, the
Government has the honour of broken treaties. When I discussed the
case of broken laws, I told you fairly that the Government denied the
breaking of the laws, and make their own argument to show--I suppose
they think they show--that they did not break the laws. But when I
pass to the next head, of the broken treaties, the case is different,
especially in one of the most material points, which I will state in a
few words, but clearly. The first case which we consider to be that of
a distinctly broken treaty is that of sending the warships of England
through the Dardanelles without the consent of the Sultan of Turkey.
We believe that to be a clear breach of the Treaty of Paris. But that
also, if I remember aright, was argued on both sides, and, therefore,
I pass on from it, and I charge another breach of the Treaty of
Paris. That famous Anglo-Turkish Convention, which gave to you the
inestimable privilege of being responsible for the government of the
island of Cyprus without deriving from it any possible advantage; that
famous Anglo-Turkish Convention, which invested us with the right of
interference, and caused us to interfere both as to the integrity
and as to the independence of the Sultan by our own sole act; that
Anglo-Turkish Convention was a direct and an absolute breach of the
Treaty of Paris, which, bearing as it did the signature of England, as
well as the rest of the Powers, declared that no one of these Powers
should of themselves interfere in any matter of the integrity or
independence of Turkey without the consent of the rest. And here I
must tell you that I never heard from the Government, or any friend
of the Government, the slightest attempt to defend that gross act of
lawlessness, that unpardonable breach of international law, which is
the highest sanction of the rights of nations and of the peace of

It is not, however, in matters of law only. We have been busy in
alienating the sympathies of free peoples. The free Slavonic peoples
of the East of Europe--the people of Roumania, the people of
Montenegro, the people of Servia, the people of Bulgaria--each and all
of these have been painfully taught in these last few years to look
upon the free institutions of this country as being for them a dream,
as being, perhaps, for the enjoyment of this country, but not as
availing to animate a nation with a generous desire to extend to
others the blessings they enjoyed themselves. In other times--it
was so when Mr. Canning was the Minister of this country, when Lord
Palmerston was the Minister of this country, when Lord Clarendon was
the Minister of this country at the Foreign Office--it was well known
that England, while regardful of her own just interests, and while
measuring on every occasion her strength and her responsibility,
yet was willing to use and willing to find opportunities for giving
cordial aid and sympathy to freedom; and by aid and sympathy many a
nation has been raised to its present position of free independence,
which, without that sympathy, would probably never have attained to
such a height in the order of civilization. The sympathies of free
people ought to be a dear and precious object of our ambition.
Ambition may be a questionable quality: if you give a certain meaning
to the phrase, it ill comports with the Christian law. But there
is one sense in which ambition will never mislead men; that is the
ambition to be good, and the ambition to do good in relieving from
evil those who are grievously suffering, and who have not deserved the
evils they endure: that is the ambition which every British statesman
ought to cherish. But, as I have said, for the last two years
especially--and even for more than two years--more or less, I
think, during the whole active period of the foreign policy of the
Beaconsfield Administration--the sympathies of these now free peoples
of the East have been constantly more and more alienated; and except,
perhaps, in a single case which I am glad to cling to--the single
and isolated case of Eastern Roumania--except this case, the whole
strength of England, as far as they have been conversant with it, has
been exercised for the purpose of opposing their best interests.

Well, gentlemen, while free peoples have been alienated, a despotic
Power has been aggrandized through our direct agency. We have
more than any other Power of Europe contributed to the direct
aggrandizement of Russia and to its territorial extension. And how?
Not by following the counsels of the Liberal party. The counsels
of the Liberal party were the concert of Europe--the authoritative
declaration of the will of Europe to Turkey. Had that authoritative
declaration been made, we believe that it would have been enforced
without the shedding of a drop of blood. But even suppose there had
been bloodshed--I am not now speaking of that, I deem it too absurd
a supposition; but suppose that force had required to be used, that
force would not have given to Russia, or to any other Power, a
claim to territorial extension. We chose to cast upon her the
responsibility; and she, making great exertions and great sacrifices
of blood and treasure, advanced this claim to territory, the
consequence of which is that she has received by that a great access
of military reputation, and likewise an enlargement of her borders,
which we have been the main agents in bringing about.

Now I think I anticipate your feelings when I say that although we,
and all of us, say that the rights of a Power, the rights of a nation,
ought not to be invaded because it happens to have the misfortune of
a despotic Government, yet none of us would wish that the agency of
England should be gratuitously and wantonly employed in extending the
limits of that despotism, and causing it to exercise its power where
that power had not before prevailed. In truth, as you know, the case
is even more gross than I have supposed it, because the most important
case of this extension was that in which a portion of Bessarabia was
handed back to Russia. That portion of Bessarabia had been under free
institutions--perfectly free representative institutions. It was
handed back to Russia, and placed under despotic institutions, and it
was so handed back under an arrangement made between Lord Salisbury,
the Minister of England, and Count Schouvaloff, the Minister of
Russia. They agreed beforehand that this should be done at the
Congress at Berlin, with this reservation--Lord Salisbury said,
'Unless I convince you by my argument that you ought not to do it.'
You may attach what value you please to the reservation, but I think I
can illustrate without much difficulty the effect of that promise made
beforehand. You remember, perhaps, that in the year 1871 the Russians
demanded that the Treaty of Paris should be altered, and that the
restriction should be removed upon their right to build ships in the
Black Sea. The whole of the Powers of Europe met in London by their
representatives, and they agreed to that change, and the charge,
gentlemen, has been laid upon the British Government of having made
that change; and not only so, but I read in one of the blue placards
this morning that Mr. Gladstone removed the restriction from the
Emperor of Russia. Now I repel that charge. What we did was--we
considered the matter with the other Powers of Europe; we required
Russia to admit that she had no power to make the change except with
the consent of the other Powers. The other Powers could not deny that
the change was in itself not unreasonable, and so the change was made.
But I want to know what people would have said, supposing, in
the middle of these deliberations, somebody had produced a
Salisbury-Schouvaloff agreement. Supposing he had produced a
memorandum signed by Lord Granville, the Foreign Secretary of England,
and Count Brunow, the ambassador of Russia, and supposing in that
memorandum Lord Granville had, before the meeting of Europe in
congress, pledged himself to give this concession to Russia unless he
could convince the Russians by his argument, I want to know what then
would have been our responsibility? Gentlemen, I would not have been
the man, under circumstances like those, to deny for one moment that
virtually and practically the whole responsibility of the treaty
rested upon our shoulders; and so I say now the responsibility for
handing back free Bessarabia to despotic Russia rests upon the Cabinet
that is now in power, and on the majority that is now soliciting your
suffrages for re-election.

I cannot go through the whole of the matter; yet, at the same time, it
is desirable that you should have it in your minds. But while we thus
handed over a free representative country to despotism, we likewise
handed over a liberated country to servitude. We recollect the vote
for six millions was taken in order to act upon the Congress at
Berlin. It was taken in order to show, as was so much boasted of
at the time--to show that we were ready to support in arms what we
recommended at the Congress at Berlin. And what did we recommend, and
what was the great change made at the Congress of Berlin, in deference
to our representations--that is to say, what was the great change
purchased by your six millions? I will tell you what it was.
The Treaty of San Stefano had relieved from the yoke of Turkish
administration four and a half millions of people, and made them into
a Bulgarian province. With regard to one and a quarter millions of
those people who inhabited a country called Macedonia, we at the
Treaty of Berlin, by virtue of your six millions--see how it was used
to obtain 'peace with honour'!--we threw back that Macedonia from the
free precinct into which it was to be introduced for self-government
along with the rest of Bulgaria, and we put it back into the hands of
the Sultan of Turkey, to remain in exactly the same condition in which
it had been before the war.

Well, gentlemen, I won't speak of India. I have spoken of India
elsewhere. I won't speak of various things that I might enter upon,
but one thing I must mention which I have never taken the opportunity
of mentioning in Scotland, and that was the manner in which, those
proceedings are justified. I am going now to refer to a speech of the
present Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Lord Salisbury. He was meeting
an allegation some opponent had made, that it was wrong to take the
island of Cyprus; and he justified himself by an appeal to history for
once, which is, however, a rare thing with him. But he made out his
case in this way: 'Take the island of Cyprus? Of course we took the
island of Cyprus. Wherever there is a great European controversy
localized in some portion of the great European region, we always step
in and appropriate some territory in the very heart of the place where
that controversy raged.' 'Why, dear me,' he said, 'in the time of the
Revolutionary War, when the Revolutionary War turned very much upon
events in Italy, we appropriated Malta. At a previous time when the
interests of Europe had been concentrated a great deal upon Spain, at
the time of the latter part of the reign of Louis XIV, we stepped in
and appropriated Gibraltar.' And this is positively advanced as a
doctrine by the Secretary of State, that wherever there is a serious
conflict among the European Powers or the European peoples, we are
to step in, not as mediators, not as umpires, not as friends, not to
perform the Christian and the truly British art of binding together in
alliance those who have been foes, but to appropriate something for
ourselves. This is what Ministers have done, and this is what the
majority have approved. Aye, and if, instead of appropriating Cyprus
only, they had appropriated a great deal more--if they had taken
Candia too, if they had taken whatever they could lay their hands
upon--that majority, equally patient, and equally docile, and not only
patient and docile, but exulting in the discreditable obedience with
which it obeyed all the behests of the Administration--that majority
never would have shrunk, but would have walked into the lobby as
cheerfully as it did upon the occasions of which you have heard so
much, and would have chuckled the next day over the glorious triumph
they had obtained over factious Liberalism. I have done with these
details, and I will approach my winding up, for I have kept you a long
time. I have shown you--and I have shown you in a manner that our
opponents will find it very difficult to grapple with, though I have
stated it briefly--I have shown you what your six millions were used
for; and I say without hesitation that the main purpose for which your
six millions were used--the main change which was effected--was to
throw a million or a million and a quarter of people inhabiting
Macedonia, who were destined by the Treaty of San Stefano for freedom
and self-government, back under the lawless government of Turkey.

All these things have been going on. I have touched some of them in
detail. What has been the general result, what is the grand total,
what is the profit, what is the upshot, what is the balance at the
end? Worse than ever. When Her Majesty's Government came into office
their Foreign Secretary declared that the state of our foreign
relations all over the world was thoroughly and absolutely
satisfactory; and what is the declaration of the Prime Minister now?
He says this is one of the most formidable crises ever known, and that
unless you keep the present Government in power he cannot answer for
the peace of Europe or the destinies of the country.

That is the report solemnly made by the head of the Government upon
the state of things, which is as different from the state of things
he found when he came into office as is the deficiency of eight and a
quarter millions that he hands over to the new Parliament, from the
surplus of six millions which the former Parliament handed over to
him. I cannot, I think, state the matter more fairly than that. You
are--deluded I was going to say, but I could not make a greater
blunder, for deluded you are not; and deluded the people of England
are not, and the people of Scotland will not be, but you are flattered
and inveigled by compliments paid to the existing Administration in
various newspapers abroad. Is not that a fine thing? Never mind your
finances; never mind your legislation, or your interests, your
characters, or anything else. You have only to look into some paper
ardently devoted to the Government and you will see that a paper in
Vienna, a paper in Berlin, or even sometimes a paper in Paris has been
saying what very fine fellows these present Ministers are, how well
they understand the interests of the country, and what a pity it would
be if they were to be displaced. I will give you a sound practical
rule upon this subject. It is totally untrue and absurd to suppose
that there is a general approval by the foreign press. I see that Lord
Dalkeith is reported to have said the other day that everywhere except
in Russia the press was in favour of the present Government.

Well, I think I know a good deal of the foreign press, and I will give
Lord Dalkeith this challenge--defy him to produce Italian newspapers,
that have any circulation or influence in Italy, in favour of the
policy of the present Government. I defy him to produce a newspaper in
the Greek tongue, representing the Greek people, either in free
Greece or beyond it, that is in favour of the policy of the present
Government. I defy him to produce a paper in the Slavonic language
that is in favour of the policy of the present Government. Oh! you
say, the Slavonic language--that means Russia. It does not mean
Russia. It means in part Russia; but there are twenty, aye, and nearer
thirty millions of Slavonic people outside of Russia in the east
of Europe; and I doubt if you could produce a single paper in the
Slavonic language in favour of the policy of the present Government.
I say to him, go to the small States of Europe--go to Belgium, go to
Holland, go to Denmark, go to Portugal--see what their press says.
Gentlemen, I mistrust the press, and especially the official press,
of foreign capitals, whether it be St. Petersburg, Vienna, or Berlin.
When I see those articles I think that a large experience enables me
tolerably well to understand their purpose. If they are vehemently
praising the British Ministry--mind, not praising the British nation,
not praising British institutions, but praising a particular British
Ministry as opposed to some other possible Ministry--I know the
meaning of that to be that they regard that Ministry as admirable
instruments for the forwarding of their own purposes, and making the
British nation, through their medium, both dupes and victims.

Now, gentlemen, I go back to the foreign policy of the Liberal party,
and I ask, what has that done? I do not think that any party is
perfect in its foreign or any other policy; but I prefer the policy
of the Government of Mr. Canning, and the policy of the Government of
Lord Grey, and the greater part of what was done by Lord Palmerston in
foreign affairs, and by Lord Russell in foreign affairs, to that which
is now recommended to you. But they did not earn any praise at the
hands of the press at Vienna or Berlin. There was no man more odious,
no man more detested by the Continental press of those capitals than
Mr. Canning, unless, possibly, it may have been Lord Palmerston. He
did not seek honour in these quarters; and seeking honour there is not
a very good sign. But the praises of the Liberal party, if they are
to be sung, are sung elsewhere; they are sung in Italy, which had its
hearty sympathy, and its efficient though, always its moral aid.
They were sung in Spain, when Mr. Canning, though he was too wise to
undertake the task of going single-handed to war for the purpose--when
Mr. Canning firmly and resolutely protested against the French
invasion of that country under the Bourbon restoration. They were sung
in Greece, when he constituted himself the first champion of the Greek
regeneration, which has now taken effect in the establishment of a
free and a progressive country, with, I hope, a bright future before
it. They were sung in Portugal, when Mr. Canning sent the troops of
England to defend it against Spain. Nay, even poor Denmark, unhappy as
has been its lot, does not owe the unhappiness of that lot to England,
for the British Government of Lord Palmerston, in which I was
Chancellor of the Exchequer, did make a formal offer to France that
we should join together in forbidding the German Power to lay
violent hands upon Denmark, and in leaving the question of Denmark's
territorial rights to be settled by a process of law. We made that
proposal to France, and the reason that it was not acted upon was
that, most unfortunately, and, I think, most blindly, the Emperor of
the French refused it.

These are the acts of the Liberal party. The Liberal party has
believed that while it was the duty of England above all things to
eschew an ostentatious policy, it was also the duty of England to have
a tender and kindly feeling for the smaller States of Europe,
because it is in the smaller States of Europe that liberty has most
flourished; and it is in the smaller States of Europe that liberty
is most liable to be invaded by lawless aggression. What we want
in foreign policy is the substitution of what is true for what is
imposing and pretentious, but unreal. We live in the age of sham. We
live in the age of sham diamonds, and sham silver, and sham flour,
and sham sugar, and sham butter, for even sham butter they have now
invented, and dignified by the name of 'Oleo-Margarine'. But these are
not the only shams to which we have been treated. We have had a great
deal of sham glory, and sham courage, and sham strength. I say, let
us get rid of all these shams, and fall back upon realities, the
character of which is to be guided by unostentatiousness, to pretend
nothing, not to thrust claims and unconstitutional claims for
ascendancy and otherwise in the teeth of your neighbour, but to
maintain your right and to respect the rights of others as much as
your own. So much, then, for the great issue that is still before us,
though I rejoice to think how many of our fellow subjects in England
have acquitted themselves well and honourably of their part in
the fray; and I rejoice--I will not say much more because here my
expectations were so high--but I rejoice not less when I think how
extraordinary has been the manifestation thus far of Scottish feeling
in the only three contests that have taken place--in the city of
Perth, in the city of Aberdeen, and in the city of Edinburgh, where we
certainly owe some gratitude to the opponent for consenting to place
himself in a position so ludicrous as that which he has occupied.
But at the same time we are compelled to say, on general grounds of
prudence and of justice, that it is a monstrous thing that communities
should be disturbed with contests so absurd as these, which deserve
to be censured in the old Parliamentary language as frivolous and

One word upon your past. I have no doubt the great bulk of you
are Liberals, but yet I shall be very glad if some of you are
Conservatives. Are Conservatives seriously considering with the
gravity which becomes the people of this country--the responsible
people of this country--what course they shall take upon the coming
occasion? Great things have been done in the last three days, and
these things are not done in a corner. The intelligence, limited, but,
I think, intelligible, has been flashed over sea and land, and has
reached, long before I address you, the remotest corners of the earth.
I can well conceive that it has been received in different countries
with different feelings. I can believe that there are one or two
Ministers of State in the world, and possibly even here and there a
sovereign, who would have eaten this morning a heartier breakfast if
the tidings conveyed by the telegraph had been reversed, and if
the issue of the elections had been as triumphant for the existing
Administration as it has been menacing, if not fatal, to their
prospects. But this I know, among other places to which it has gone,
it has passed to India--it has before this time reached the mind and
the heart of many millions of your Indian fellow subjects--and I will
venture to say that it has gladdened every heart among them. They have
known this Government principally in connexion with the aggravation of
their burdens and the limitation of their privileges. And, gentlemen,
I will tell you more, that if there be in Europe any State or country
which is crouching in fear at the feet of powerful neighbours with
gigantic armaments, which loves, enjoys, and cherishes liberty, but
which at the same time fears lest that inestimable jewel should be
wrenched out of its hands by overweening force--if there be such a
State, and there may be such a State in the East and in the West--then
I will venture to say that in that State, from the highest to the
lowest, from sovereign to subject, joy and satisfaction will have been
diffused by the intelligence of these memorable days.


JULY 4, 1864


Mr. Speaker,--Some of the longest and most disastrous wars of modern
Europe have been wars of succession. The Thirty Years' War was a war
of succession. It arose from a dispute respecting the inheritance of
a duchy in the north of Europe, not very distant from that Duchy of
Holstein which now engages general attention. Sir, there are two
causes why wars originating in disputed succession become usually of a
prolonged and obstinate character. The first is internal discord, and
the second foreign ambition. Sometimes a domestic party, under such
circumstances, has an understanding with a foreign potentate, and,
again, the ambition of that foreign potentate excites the distrust,
perhaps the envy, of other Powers; and the consequence is, generally
speaking, that the dissensions thus created lead to prolonged and
complicated struggles. Sir, I apprehend--indeed I entertain no
doubt--that it was in contemplation of such circumstances possibly
occurring in our time, that the statesmen of Europe, some thirteen
years ago, knowing that it was probable that the royal line of Denmark
would cease, and that upon the death of the then king, his dominions
would be divided, and in all probability disputed, gave their best
consideration to obviate the recurrence of such calamities to Europe.
Sir, in these days, fortunately, it is not possible for the Powers
of Europe to act under such circumstances as they would have done
a hundred years ago. Then they would probably have met in secret
conclave and have decided the arrangement of the internal government
of an independent kingdom. In our time they said to the King of
Denmark, 'If you and your people among yourselves can make an
arrangement in the case of the contingency of your death without
issue, which may put an end to all internal discord, we at least will
do this for you and Denmark--we will in your lifetime recognize the
settlement thus made, and, so far as the influence of the Great Powers
can be exercised, we will at least relieve you from the other great
cause which, in the case of disputed successions, leads to prolonged
wars. We will save you from foreign interference, foreign ambition,
and foreign aggression.' That, Sir, I believe, is an accurate account
and true description of that celebrated treaty of May, 1852, of which
we have heard so much, and of which some characters are given which in
my opinion are unauthorized and unfounded.

There can be no doubt that the purpose of that treaty was one which
entitled it to the respect of the communities of Europe. Its language
is simple and expresses its purpose. The Powers who concluded that
treaty announced that they concluded it, not from their own will or
arbitrary impulse, but at the invitation of the Danish Government,
in order to give to the arrangements relative to the succession an
additional pledge of stability by an act of European recognition. If
honourable gentlemen look to that treaty--and I doubt not that they
are familiar with it--they will find the first article entirely
occupied with the recitals of the efforts of the King of Denmark--and,
in his mind, successful efforts--to make the necessary arrangements
with the principal estates and personages of his kingdom, in order to
effect the requisite alterations in the _lex regia_ regulating the
order of succession; and the article concludes by an invitation and
appeal to the Powers of Europe, by a recognition of that settlement,
to preserve his kingdom from the risk of external danger.

Sir, under that treaty England incurred no legal responsibility which
was not equally entered into by France and by Russia. If, indeed,
I were to dwell on moral obligations--which I think constitute too
dangerous a theme to introduce into a debate of this kind--but if I
were to dwell upon that topic, I might say that the moral obligations
which France, for example, had incurred to Denmark, were of no
ordinary character. Denmark had been the ally of France in that severe
struggle which forms the most considerable portion of modern history,
and had proved a most faithful ally. Even at St. Helena, when
contemplating his marvellous career and moralizing over the past, the
first emperor of the dynasty which now governs France rendered justice
to the complete devotion of the Kings of Denmark and Saxony, the only
sovereigns, he said, who were faithful under all proof and the extreme
of adversity. On the other hand, if we look to our relations with
Denmark, in her we found a persevering though a gallant foe.
Therefore, so far as moral obligations are concerned, while there
are none which should influence England, there is a great sense of
gratitude which might have influenced the councils of France. But,
looking to the treaty, there is no legal obligation incurred by
England towards Denmark which is not equally shared by Russia and by

Now, the question which I would first ask the House is this: How is it
that, under these circumstances, the position of France relative
to Denmark is one so free from embarrassment--I might say, so
dignified--that she recently received a tribute to her demeanour and
unimpeachable conduct in this respect from Her Majesty's Secretary
of State; while the position of England, under the same obligation,
contained in the same treaty, with relation to Denmark, is one, all
will admit, of infinite perplexity, and, I am afraid I must add,
terrible mortification? That, Sir, is the first question which I will
put to the House, and which, I think, ought to receive a satisfactory
answer, among other questions, to-night. And I think that the answer
that must first occur to every one--the logical inference--is that
the affairs of this country with respect to our obligations under the
treaty of 1852 must have been very much mismanaged to have produced
consequences so contrary to the position occupied by another Power
equally bound with ourselves by that treaty.

Sir, this is not the first time, as the House is aware, that the
dominions of the King of Denmark have been occupied by Austrian and
Prussian armies. In the year 1848, when a great European insurrection
occurred--I call it insurrection to distinguish it from revolution,
for, though its action was very violent, the ultimate effect was
almost nothing--but when the great European insurrection took place,
there was no portion of Europe more influenced by it than Germany.
There is scarcely a political constitution in Germany that was not
changed at that period, and scarcely a throne that was not subverted.
The King of Denmark, in his character of a sovereign prince of
Germany, was affected by that great movement. The population of
Germany, under the influence of peculiar excitement at that time, were
impelled to redress the grievances, as they alleged them to be, of
their fellow countrymen in the dominions of the King of Denmark who
were his subjects. The Duchy of Holstein and the Duchy of Schleswig
were invaded, a civil war was excited by ambitious princes, and that
territory was ultimately subjected to a decree of that Diet with which
now we have become familiar.

The office was delegated to the Austrian and Prussian armies to
execute that decree, and they occupied, I believe, at one time
the whole Continental possessions of the King of Denmark. In 1851
tranquillity had been restored to Europe, and especially to Germany,
and the troops of Austria and Prussia ultimately quitted the dominions
of the King of Denmark. That they quitted them in consequence of
the military prowess of the Danes, though that was far from
inconsiderable, I do not pretend to say. They quitted the territory, I
believe the truth to be, in consequence of the influence of Russia, at
that time irresistible in Germany, and deservedly so, because she had
interfered and established tranquillity, and Russia had expressed her
opinion that the German forces should quit the dominions of the
King of Denmark. They quitted the country, however, under certain
conditions. A diplomatic correspondence had taken place between the
King of Denmark and the Courts of Berlin and Vienna, and the King of
Denmark in that correspondence entered into certain engagements, and
those engagements undoubtedly were recommended to a certain degree by
the wish, if possible, to remedy the abuses complained of, and also by
the desire to find an honourable excuse for the relinquishment of his
provinces by the German forces. The King of Denmark never fulfilled
the engagements into which he then entered, partly, I have no doubt,
from negligence. We know that it is not the habit of mankind to
perform disagreeable duties when pressure is withdrawn, but I have no
doubt, and I believe the candid statement to be, that it arose in a
great degree from the impracticable character of the engagements into
which he had entered. That was in the year 1851.

In 1852, tranquillity being then entirely restored, the treaty of
May, which regulated the succession, was negotiated. And I may remind
honourable members that in that treaty there is not the slightest
reference to these engagements which the King of Denmark had entered
into with the Diet of Germany, or with German Powers who were members
of the Diet. Nevertheless, the consequence of that state of affairs
was this, that though there was no international question respecting
Denmark, and although the possible difficulties which might occur of
an international character had been anticipated by the treaty of 1852,
still in respect to the King of Denmark's capacity as Duke of Holstein
and a sovereign German prince, a controversy arose between him and
the Diet of Germany in consequence of these engagements, expressed
in hitherto private and secret diplomatic correspondence carried on
between him and certain German Courts. The House will understand that
this was not an international question; it did not affect the public
law of Europe; but it was a municipal, local, or, as we now call it, a
federal question. Notwithstanding that in reality it related only to
the King of Denmark and the Diet of Germany, in time it attracted the
attention of the Government of England and of the ministers of the
Great Powers, signatories of the treaty of 1852. For some period after
the treaty of 1852, very little was heard of the federal question and
the controversy between the Diet and the King of Denmark. After the
exertions and exhaustions of the revolutionary years, the question
slept, but it did not die. Occasionally it gave signs of vitality;
and as time proceeded, shortly--at least, not very long--after the
accession of the present Government to office, the controversy between
the Diet and the King of Denmark assumed an appearance of very great
life and acrimony.

Now, Her Majesty's Ministers thought it their duty to interfere in
that controversy between the German Diet and the King of Denmark--a
controversy strictly federal and not international. Whether they were
wise in taking that course appears very doubtful. My own impression
is, and always has been, that it would have been much better to have
left the federal question between the Diet and the King to work itself
out. Her Majesty's Ministers, however, were of opinion--and no doubt
there is something to be said in favour of that opinion--that as the
question, although federal, was one which would probably lead to
events which would make it international, it was wiser and better
to interfere by anticipation, and prevent, if possible, the federal
execution ever taking place. The consequence of that extreme activity
on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers is a mass of correspondence
which has been placed on the table, and with which, I doubt not, many
gentlemen have some acquaintance, though they may have been
more attracted and absorbed by the interest of the more modern
correspondence which has, within the year, been presented to the
House. Sir, I should not be doing justice to the Secretary of State
if I did not bear testimony to the perseverance and extreme ingenuity
with which he conducted that correspondence. The noble lord the
Secretary of State found in that business, no doubt, a subject genial
to his nature--namely, drawing up constitutions for the government of
communities. The noble lord, we know, is almost as celebrated as a
statesman who flourished at the end of the last century for this
peculiar talent. I will not criticize any of the lucubrations of the
noble lord at that time. I think his labours are well described in
a passage in one of the dispatches of a distinguished Swedish
statesman--the present Prime Minister, if I am not mistaken--who, when
he was called upon to consider a scheme of the English Government for
the administration of Schleswig, which entered into minute details
with a power and prolixity which could have been acquired only by a
constitutional Minister who had long served an apprenticeship in the
House of Commons, said:

  Generally speaking, the monarchs of Europe have found
  it difficult to manage one Parliament, but I observe, to my
  surprise, that Lord Russell is of opinion that the King of
  Denmark will be able to manage four.

The only remark I shall make on this folio volume of between 300 and
400 pages relating to the affairs of Schleswig and Holstein is this--I
observe that the other Powers of Europe, who were equally interested
in the matter, and equally bound to interfere--if being signatories to
the treaty of 1852 justified interference--did not interpose as the
English Government did. That they disapproved the course taken by us
I by no means assert. When we make a suggestion on the subject, they
receive it with cold politeness; they have no objection to the course
we announce we are going to follow, but confine themselves, with
scarcely an exception, to this conduct on their part. The noble lord
acted differently. But it is really unnecessary for me to dwell on
this part of the question--we may dismiss it from our minds, and I
have touched on it only to complete the picture which I am bound to
place before the House--in consequence of events which very speedily

All this elaborate and, I may venture to say--not using the word
offensively, but accurately--pragmatical correspondence of the noble
lord on the affairs of Schleswig and Holstein was carried on in
perfect ignorance on the part of the people of this country, who found
very little interest in the subject; and even in Europe, where affairs
of diplomacy always attract more attention, little notice was taken of
it. This correspondence, however, culminated in a celebrated dispatch
which appeared in the autumn of 1862, and then, for the first time,
a very great effect was produced in Europe generally--certainly in
Germany and France--and some interest began to be excited in England.
Sir, the effect of the Secretary of State's management of these
transactions had been this, that he had encouraged--I will not now
stop to inquire whether intentionally or not, but it is a fact that he
had encouraged--the views of what is called the German party in this
controversy. That had been the effect of the noble lord's general
interference, but especially it was the result of the dispatch which
appeared in the autumn of 1862. But, Sir, something shortly and in
consequence occurred which removed that impression. Germany being
agitated on the subject, England at last, in 1863, having had her
attention called to the case, which began to produce some disquietude,
and gentlemen in this House beginning to direct their attention to it,
shortly before the prorogation of Parliament, the state of affairs
caused such a degree of public anxiety, that it was deemed necessary
that an inquiry should be addressed to Her Majesty's Government on the
subject, and that some means should be taken to settle the uneasiness
which prevailed, by obtaining from Ministers a declaration of their
policy generally with regard to Denmark.

Sir, that appeal was not made, as I need hardly assure or even remind
the House--for many were witnesses to it--in any party spirit, or in
any way animated. I will say, by that disciplined arrangement with
which public questions are by both sides of the House in general very
properly brought before us. It was at the end of the session, when few
were left, and when the answer of Her Majesty's Ministers could not at
all affect the position of parties, though it might be of inestimable
interest and importance in its effect on the opinion of Europe and
on the course of events. That question was brought forward by an
honourable friend of mine (Mr. Seymour Fitz-Gerald) who always speaks
on these subjects with the authority of one who knows what he is
talking about. Well, Sir, a communication was made to the noble lord
the First Minister on the subject, and it was understood on this side
of the House, from the previous declarations of the noble lord, and
our experience of his career generally, that it was not an appeal
which would be disagreeable to him, or one which he would have any
desire to avoid. The noble lord was not taken by surprise. He was
communicated with privately, and he himself fixed the day--it was a
morning sitting--when he would come down and explain the views of the
Government in regard to our relations with Denmark.

I am bound to say that the noble lord spoke with all that perspicuity
and complete detail with which he always treats diplomatic subjects,
and in which we acknowledge him to be a master. The noble lord entered
into particulars and gave to the House--who, with few exceptions, knew
little about the matter--not only a popular, but generally an accurate
account of the whole question. He described the constitution of the
Diet itself. He explained, for the first time in Parliament, what
federal execution meant. The noble lord was a little unhappy in
his prophecy as to what was going to happen with regard to federal
execution; but we are all liable to error when we prophesy, and it was
the only mistake he made. The noble lord said he did not think there
would be a federal execution, and that if there were we might be
perfectly easy in our minds, for it would not lead to any disturbance
in Europe. The noble lord also described the position of Holstein as
a German duchy, in which the King of Denmark was a sovereign German
prince, and in that capacity a member of the Diet, and subject to the
laws of the Diet. The duchy of Schleswig, the noble lord said, was not
a German duchy, and the moment it was interfered with, international
considerations would arise. But the noble lord informed us in the most
reassuring spirit that his views on our relations with Denmark were
such as they had always been. I will quote the exact passage from
the noble lord's speech, not because it will not be familiar to the
majority of those whom I am addressing, but because on an occasion
like the present, one should refer to documents, so that it may not be
said afterwards that statements have been garbled or misrepresented.
The noble lord concluded his general observations in this manner:

  We are asked what is the policy and the course of Her
  Majesty's Government respecting that dispute. We concur
  entirely with the honourable gentleman (the member
  for Horsham), and, I am satisfied, with all reasonable men
  in Europe, including those in France and Russia, in desiring
  that the independence, the integrity, and the rights of
  Denmark may be maintained. We are convinced--I am
  convinced at least--that if any violent attempt were made
  to overthrow those rights, and interfere with that independence,
  those who made the attempt would find in the
  result that it would not be Denmark alone with which they
  would have to contend.

I say that is a clear, statesmanlike, and manly declaration of policy.
It was not a hurried or hasty expression of opinion, because on a
subject of that importance and that character, the noble lord never
makes a hasty expression of opinion. He was master of the subject,
and could not be taken by surprise. But on that occasion there was no
chance of his being taken by surprise. The occasion was arranged. The
noble lord was perfectly informed of what our object on this side was.
The noble lord sympathized with it. He wanted the disquietude of the
public mind in England, and on the Continent especially, to be
soothed and satisfied, and he knew that he could not arrive at such
a desirable result more happily and more completely than by a frank
expression of the policy of the Government.

Sir, it is my business to-night to vindicate the noble lord from those
who have treated this declaration of policy as one used only to amuse
the House. I am here to prove the sincerity of that declaration. It is
long since the speech of the noble lord was delivered, and we have
now upon our table the diplomatic correspondence which was then being
carried on by Her Majesty's Government on the subject. It was then
secret--it is now known to us all; and I will show you what at that
very time was the tone of the Secretary of State in addressing the
Courts of Germany mainly interested in the question. I will show how
entirely and how heartily the secret efforts of the Government were
exercised in order to carry into effect the policy which was publicly
in the House of Commons announced by the noble lord. I think it must
have been very late in July that the noble lord spoke--upon the 23rd,
I believe--and I have here the dispatches which, nearly at the same
period, were being sent by the Secretary of State to the German
Courts. For example, hear how, on July 31, the Secretary of State
writes to Lord Bloomfield at Vienna:

  You will tell Count Rechberg that if Germany persists
  in confounding Schleswig with Holstein, other Powers of
  Europe may confound Holstein with Schleswig, and deny
  the right of Germany to interfere with the one any more
  than she has with the other, except as a European Power.
  Such a pretension might be as dangerous to the independence
  and integrity of Germany, as the invasion of Schleswig
  might be to the independence and integrity of Denmark.
  (_Denmark and Germany_, No. 2, 115.)

And what is the answer of Lord Bloomfield? On August 6, after having
communicated with Count Rechberg, he writes:

  Before leaving his Excellency I informed him that the
  Swedish Government would not remain indifferent to a
  federal execution in Holstein, and that this measure of the
  Diet, if persisted in, might have serious consequences in
  Europe. (P. 117.)

I am showing how sincere the policy of the noble lord was, and that
the speech which we have been told was mainly for the House of
Commons, was really the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Well, that
was to Austria. Let us now see what was the dispatch to Prussia. In
the next month Earl Russell writes to our Minister at the Prussian

  I have caused the Prussian chargé d'affaires to be informed
  that if Austria and Prussia persist in advising the
  Confederation to make a federal execution now, they will
  do so against the advice already given by Her Majesty's
  Government, and must be responsible for the consequences,
  whatever they may be. The Diet should bear in mind that
  there is a material difference between the political bearing
  of a military occupation of a territory which is purely and
  solely a portion of the Confederation, and the invasion of
  a territory which, although a part of the German Confederation,
  is also a portion of the territory of an independent
  Sovereign, whose dominions are counted as an element in
  the balance of power in Europe.

I have now shown the House what was the real policy of the Government
with respect to our relations with Denmark when Parliament was
prorogued, and I have also shown that the speech of the noble lord the
First Minister of the Crown was echoed by the Secretary of State to
Austria and Prussia. I have shown, therefore, that it was a sincere
policy, as announced by the noble lord. I will now show that it was a
wise and a judicious policy.

Sir, the noble lord having made this statement to the House of
Commons, the House was disbanded, the members went into the country
with perfect tranquillity of mind respecting these affairs of Denmark
and Germany. The speech of the noble lord reassured the country, and
gave them confidence that the noble lord knew what he was about. And
the noble lord knew that we had a right to be confident in the policy
he had announced, because at that period the noble lord was aware that
France was perfectly ready to co-operate with Her Majesty's Government
in any measure which they thought proper to adopt with respect to the
vexed transactions between Denmark and Germany. Nay, France was not
only ready to co-operate, but she spontaneously offered to act with us
in any way we desired. The noble lord made his speech at the end of
July--I think July 23--and it is very important to know what at that
moment were our relations with France in reference to this subject. I
find in the correspondence on the table a dispatch from Lord Cowley,
dated July 31. The speech of the noble lord having been made on the
23rd, this is a dispatch written upon the same subject on the 31st.
Speaking of the affairs of Germany and Denmark, Lord Cowley writes:

  M. Drouyn de Lhuys expressed himself as desirous of
  acting in concert with Her Majesty's Government in this

I have now placed before the House the real policy of the Government
at the time Parliament was prorogued last year. I have shown you that
it was a sincere policy when expressed by the noble lord. I have
shown that it was a sound and judicious policy, because Her Majesty's
Government was then conscious that France was ready to co-operate with
this country, France having expressed its desire to aid us in the
settlement of this question. Well, Sir, at the end of the summer of
last year, and at the commencement of the autumn, after the speeches
and dispatches of the First Minister and the Secretary of State, and
after, at the end of July, that reassuring announcement from the
French Government, there was great excitement in Germany. The German
people have been for some time painfully conscious that they do not
exercise that influence in Europe which they believe is due to the
merits, moral, intellectual, and physical, of forty millions of
population, homogeneous and speaking the same language. During the
summer of last year this feeling was displayed in a remarkable manner,
and it led to the meeting at Frankfort, which has not been hitherto
mentioned in reference to these negotiations, but which was in reality
a very significant affair.

The German people at that moment found the old question of
Denmark--the relations between Denmark and the Diet--to be the only
practical question upon which they could exhibit their love of a
united fatherland, and their sympathy with a kindred race who
were subjects of a foreign prince. Therefore there was very great
excitement in Germany on the subject; and to those who are not
completely acquainted with the German character, and who take for
granted that the theories they put forth are all to be carried into
action, there were no doubt many symptoms which were calculated to
alarm the Cabinet. Her Majesty's Government, firm in their policy,
firm in their ally, knowing that the moderate counsels urged by France
and England in a spirit which was sincere and which could not be
mistaken, must ultimately lead to some conciliatory arrangements
between the King of Denmark and the Diet, I suppose did not much
disquiet themselves respecting the agitation in Germany. But towards
the end of the summer and the commencement of the autumn--in the
month of September--after the meeting at Frankfort and after other
circumstances, the noble lord the Secretary of State, as a prudent
man--a wise, cautious, and prudent Minister--thought it would be just
as well to take time by the forelock, to prepare for emergencies, and
to remind his allies of Paris of the kind and spontaneous expression
on their part of their desire to co-operate with him in arranging
this business. I think it was on September 16, that Lord Russell,
the Secretary of State, applied in this language to our Minister at
Paris--our ambassador (Lord Cowley) being at that time absent:

  As it might produce some danger to the balance of power,
  especially if the integrity and independence of Denmark
  were in any way impaired by the demands of Germany,
  and the measures consequent thereupon, if the Government
  of the Emperor of the French are of opinion that any
  benefit would be likely to follow from an offer of good services
  on the part of Great Britain and France, Her Majesty's
  Government would be ready to take that course. If, however,
  the Government of France would consider such a step
  as likely to be unavailing, the two Powers might remind
  Austria, Prussia, and the Diet, that any act on their part
  tending to weaken the integrity and independence of
  Denmark would be at variance with the treaty of May 8,
  1852. (No. 2, 130.)

Sir, I think that was a very prudent step on the part of the Secretary
of State. It was virtually a reminder of the offer which France had
made some months before. Yet, to the surprise, and entirely to the
discomfiture of Her Majesty's Government, this application was
received at first with coldness, and afterwards with absolute refusal.

Well, Sir, I pause now to inquire what had occasioned this change in
the relations between the two Courts. Why was France, which at the
end of the session of Parliament was so heartily with England, and so
approving the policy of the noble lord with respect to Denmark and
Germany that she voluntarily offered to act with us in endeavouring to
settle the question--why was France two or three months afterwards so
entirely changed? Why was she so cold, and ultimately in the painful
position of declining to act with us? I stop for a moment my
examination of this correspondence to look for the causes of this
change of feeling, and I believe they may be easily discerned.

Sir, at the commencement of last year an insurrection broke out in
Poland. Unhappily, insurrection in Poland is not an unprecedented
event. This insurrection was extensive and menacing; but there had
been insurrections in Poland before quite as extensive and far more
menacing--the insurrection of 1831, for example, for at that time
Poland possessed a national army second to none for valour and
discipline. Well, Sir, the question of the Polish insurrection in 1831
was a subject of deep consideration with the English Government
of that day. They went thoroughly into the matter; they took the
soundings of that question; it was investigated maturely, and the
Government of King William IV arrived at these two conclusions--first,
that it was not expedient for England to go to war for the restoration
of Poland; and, second, that if England was not prepared to go to war.
any interference of another kind on her part would only aggravate the
calamities of that fated people. These were the conclusions at which
the Government of Lord Grey arrived, and they were announced to

This is a question which the English Government has had more than one
opportunity of considering, and in every instance they considered
it fully and completely. It recurred again in the year 1855, when a
Conference was sitting at Vienna in the midst of the Russian War, and
again the English Government--the Government of the Queen--had to deal
with the subject of Poland. It was considered by them under the most
favourable circumstances for Poland, for we were at war then, and at
war with Russia. But after performing all the duties of a responsible
Ministry on that occasion, Her Majesty's Government arrived at these
conclusions--first, that it was not only not expedient for England to
go to war to restore Poland, but that it was not expedient even to
prolong a war for that object; and, in the next place, that any
interference with a view to provoke a war in Poland, without action on
our part, was not just to the Poles, and must only tend to bring upon
them increased disasters. I say, therefore, that this question of
Poland in the present century, and within the last thirty-four years,
has been twice considered by different Governments; and when I remind
the House that on its consideration by the Cabinet of Lord Grey in
1831, the individual who filled the office of Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, and who, of course, greatly guided the opinion of his
colleagues on such a question, was the noble lord the present First
Minister of the Crown; and when I also remind the House that the
British plenipotentiary at the Conference of Vienna in 1855, on whose
responsibility in a great degree the decision then come to was arrived
at, is the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I think
that England, when the great difficulties of last year with respect
to Poland occurred, had a right to congratulate herself that, in a
situation of such gravity, and at an emergency when a mistake might
produce incalculable evils, her fortunes were regulated not only by
two statesmen of such great ability and experience, but by statesmen
who, on this subject, possessed peculiar advantages, who had
thoroughly entered into the question, who knew all its issues, all the
contingencies that might possibly arise in its management, and who
on the two previous occasions on which it had been submitted to the
consideration of England, had been the guiding Ministers to determine
her to a wise course of action.

Now, I must observe that what is called the Polish question occupies a
different position in France from that which it occupies in England. I
will not admit that, in deep sympathy with the Poles, the French are
superior to the English people. I believe I am only stating accurately
the feelings of this country when I say, that among men of all classes
there is no modern event which is looked back to with more regret than
the partition of Poland. It is universally acknowledged by them to be
one of the darkest pages of the history of the eighteenth century. But
in France the Polish question is not a question which merely interests
the sentiments of the millions. It is a political question, and a
political question of the very highest importance--a question which
interests Ministers, and Cabinets, and princes. Well, the ruler of
France, a sagacious prince and a lover of peace, as the Secretary of
State has just informed us, was of course perfectly alive to the grave
issues involved in what is called the Polish question. But the Emperor
knew perfectly well that England had already had opportunities of
considering it in the completest manner, and had arrived at a settled
conclusion with regard to it. Therefore, with characteristic caution,
he exercised great reserve, and held out little encouragement to the
representatives of the Polish people. He knew well that in 1855 he
himself, our ally--and with us a conquering ally--had urged this
question on the English Government, and that, under the most
favourable circumstances for the restoration of Poland, we had adhered
to our traditional policy, neither to go to war nor to interfere.
Therefore, the French Government exhibited a wise reserve on the

But after a short time, what must have been the astonishment of the
Emperor of the French when he found the English Government embracing
the cause of Poland with extraordinary ardour! The noble lord the
Secretary of State and the noble lord the First Minister, but
especially the former, announced the policy as if it were a policy
new to the consideration of statesmen, and likely to lead to immense
results. He absolutely served a notice to quit on the Emperor of
Russia. He sent a copy of this dispatch to all the Courts of Europe
which were signatories to the Treaty of Vienna, and invited them to
follow his example. From the King of Portugal down to the King of
Sweden there was not a signatory of that treaty who was not, as it
were, clattering at the palace gates of St. Petersburg, and calling
the Czar to account respecting the affairs of Poland. For three months
Europe generally believed that there was to be a war on a great scale,
of which the restoration of Poland was to be one of the main objects.
Is it at all remarkable that the French Government and the French
people, cautious as they were before, should have responded to such
invitations and such stimulating proposals? We know how the noble lord
fooled them, to the top of their bent. The House recollects the six
propositions to which the attention of the Emperor of Russia was
called in the most peremptory manner. The House recollects the closing
scene, when it was arranged that the ambassadors of France, Austria,
and England, should on the very same day appear at the hotel of the
Minister of Russia, and present notes ending with three identical
paragraphs, to show the agreement of the Powers. An impression
pervaded Europe that there was to be a general war, and that England,
France, and Austria were united to restore Poland.

The House remembers the end of all this--it remembers the reply of
the Russian Minister, couched in a tone of haughty sarcasm and of
indignation that deigned to be ironical. There was then but one step
to take, according to the views of the French Government, and that
was action. They appealed to that England which had itself thus set
the example of agitation on the subject; and England, wisely as I
think, recurred to her traditionary policy, the Government confessing
that it was a momentary indiscretion which had animated her councils
for three or four months; that they never meant anything more than
words; and a month afterwards, I believe, they sent to St. Petersburg
an obscure dispatch, which may be described as an apology. But this
did not alter the position of the French Government and the French
Emperor. The Emperor had been induced by us to hold out promises
which he could not fulfil. He was placed in a false position both to
the people of Poland and the people of France; and therefore,
Sir, I am not surprised that when the noble lord the Secretary of
State, a little alarmed by the progress of affairs in Germany, thought
it discreet to reconnoitre his position on September 17, he should
have been received at Paris with coldness, and, ultimately, that his
dispatch should have been answered in this manner.

I fear that I may weary the House with my narrative, but I will not
abuse the privilege of reading extracts, which is generally very
foreign to my desire. Yet, on a question of this kind it is better
to have the documents, and not lay oneself open to the charge of
garbling. Mr. Grey, writing to Lord Russell on September 18, 1863,

  The second mode of proceeding suggested by your lordship,
  namely, 'to remind Austria, Russia, and the German
  Diet, that any acts on their part tending to weaken the
  integrity and independence of Denmark would be at
  variance with the treaty of May 8, 1852,' would be in a
  great measure analogous to the course pursued by Great
  Britain and France in the Polish question. He had no
  inclination (and he frankly avowed that he should so speak
  to the Emperor) to place France in the same position with
  reference to Germany as she had been placed in with regard
  to Russia. The formal notes addressed by the three Powers
  to Russia had received an answer which literally meant
  nothing, and the position in which those three great
  Powers were now placed was anything but dignified; and
  if England and France were to address such a reminder a
  that proposed to Austria, Prussia, and the German Confederation,
  they must be prepared to go further, and to
  adopt their course of action more in accordance with the
  dignity of two great Powers than they were now doing in
  the Polish question.... Unless Her Majesty's Government
  was prepared to go further, if necessary, than the mere
  presentation of a note, and the receipt of an evasive reply,
  he was sure the Emperor would not consent to adopt your
  lordship's suggestion. (No, 2, 131.)

Well, Sir, that was an intimation to the noble lord with respect
to the change in the relations between England and France that was
significant; I think it was one that the noble lord should have duly
weighed--and when he remembered the position which this country
occupied with regard to Denmark--that it was a position under
the treaty which did not bind us to interfere more than France,
itself--conscious, at the same time, that any co-operation from Russia
in the same cause could hardly be counted upon--I should have said
that a prudent Government would have well considered that position,
and that they would not have taken any course which committed them too
strongly to any decided line of action. But so far as I can judge
from the correspondence before us, that was not the tone taken by
Her Majesty's Government; because here we have extracts from the
correspondence of the Secretary of State to the Swedish Minister,
to the Diet at Frankfort, and a most important dispatch to Lord
Bloomfield: all in the fortnight that elapsed after the receipt of the
dispatch of Mr. Grey that notified the change in the feeling of the
French Government. It is highly instructive that we should know
what effect that produced in the system and policy of Her Majesty's
Government. Immediately--almost the day after the receipt of that
dispatch--the Secretary of State wrote to the Swedish Minister:

  Her Majesty's Government set the highest value on the
  independence and integrity of Denmark.... Her Majesty's
  Government will be ready to remind Austria and Prussia
  of their treaty obligations to respect the integrity and
  independence of Denmark. (No. 2, 137-8.)

Then on September 29--that is, only nine or ten days after the receipt
of the French dispatch--we have this most important dispatch, which
I shall read at some little length. It is at p. 136, and is really
addressed to the Diet. The Secretary of State says:

  Her Majesty's Government, by the Treaty of London of
  May 8, 1852, is bound to respect the integrity and independence
  of Denmark. The Emperor of Austria and the
  King of Prussia have taken the same engagement. Her
  Majesty could not see with indifference a military occupation
  of Holstein, which is only to cease on terms injuriously
  affecting the constitution of the whole Danish monarchy.
  Her Majesty's Government could not recognize this military
  occupation as a legitimate exercise of the powers of the
  Confederation, or admit that it could properly be called
  a federal execution. Her Majesty's Government could
  not be indifferent to the bearing of such an act upon
  Denmark and European interest. Her Majesty's Government
  therefore earnestly entreats the German Diet to
  pause and to submit the questions in dispute between
  Germany and Denmark to the mediation of other Powers
  unconcerned in the controversy, but deeply concerned in
  the maintenance of the peace of Europe and the independence
  of Denmark. (No. 2, 145.)

My object in reading this dispatch is to show that, after the
indication of the change of feeling on the part of France, the
policy--the sincere policy--of the Government was not modified. The
Secretary of State writes thus on September 30, to Lord Bloomfield at

  Her Majesty's Government trusts that no act of federal
  execution to which Austria may be a party, and no act of
  war against Denmark on the ground of the affairs of
  Schleswig, will be allowed to clash with this primary and
  essential treaty obligation. Her Majesty's Government,
  indeed, entertain a full confidence that the Government of
  Austria is as deeply impressed as Her Majesty's Government
  with the conviction that the independence and integrity
  of Denmark form an essential element in the
  balance of power in Europe. (No. 3, 147.)

Now, this takes us to the end of September; and I think the House
up to this time tolerably clearly understands the course of the
correspondence. Nothing of any importance happened in October that
requires me to pause and consider it. We arrive, then, at the month of
November, and now approach very important and critical affairs. The
month of November was remarkable for the occurrence of two great
events which completely changed the character and immensely affected
the aspect of the whole relations between Denmark and Germany; and
which produced consequences which none of us may see the end of. Early
in November the Emperor of the French proposed a European Congress.
His position was such--as he himself has described it, there can be no
indelicacy in saying so--his position had become painful from various
causes, but mainly from the manner in which he had misapprehended the
conduct of the English Government with regard to Poland. He saw great
troubles about to occur in Europe; he wished to anticipate their
settlement; he felt himself in a false position with respect to
his own subjects, because he had experienced a great diplomatic
discomfiture; but he was desirous--and there is no doubt of the
sincerity of the declaration--he was desirous of still taking a course
which should restore and retain the cordial understanding with this
country. He proposed, then, a general Congress.

Well, when Parliament met on February 4, I had to make certain
observations on the general condition of affairs, and I gave my
opinion as to the propriety of Her Majesty's Government refusing to be
a party to that Congress. Generally speaking, I think that a Congress
should not precede action. If you wish any happy and permanent result
from a Congress, it should rather follow the great efforts of nations;
and when they are somewhat exhausted, give them the opportunity of an
honourable settlement. Sir, I did not think it my duty to conceal my
opinion, Her Majesty's Government having admitted that they had felt
it their duty to refuse a proposition of that character. I should
have felt that I was wanting in that ingenuousness and fair play in
politics which I hope, whoever sits on that bench or this, we shall
always pursue, if, when the true interests of the country are
concerned, agreeing as I did with the Government, I did not express
frankly that opinion. But, Sir, I am bound to say that had I been
aware of what has been communicated to us by the papers on the
table--had I been aware, when I spoke on February 4, that only a week
before Parliament met, that only a week before we were assured by a
Speech from the Throne that Her Majesty was continuing to carry on
negotiations in the interest of peace--that Her Majesty's Government
had made a proposition to France which must inevitably have produced,
if accepted, a great European war, I should have given my approbation
in terms much more qualified.

But, Sir, whatever difference of opinion there might be as to the
propriety or impropriety of Her Majesty's Government acceding to
the Congress, I think there were not then--I am sure there are not
now--two opinions as to the mode and manner in which that refusal was
conveyed. Sir, when the noble lord vindicated that curt and, as I
conceive, most offensive reply, he dilated the other night on the
straightforwardness of British Ministers, and said that, by whatever
else their language might be characterized, it was distinguished by
candour and clearness, and that even where it might be charged with
being coarse, it at least conveyed a determinate meaning. Well, Sir, I
wish that if our diplomatic language is characterized by clearness
and straightforwardness, some of that spirit had distinguished the
dispatches and declarations addressed by the noble lord to the Court
of Denmark. It is a great pity that we did not have a little of that
rude frankness when the fortunes of that ancient kingdom were at

But, Sir, another event of which I must now remind the House happened
about that time. In November the King of Denmark died. The death of
the King of Denmark entirely changed the character of the question
between Germany and Denmark. The question was a federal question
before, as the noble lord, from the dispatches I have read, was
perfectly aware; but by the death of the King of Denmark it became an
international question, because the controversy of the King of Denmark
was with the Diet of Germany, which had not recognized the change
in the _lex regia_, or the changes in the succession to the various
dominions of the King. It was, therefore, an international question of
magnitude and of a menacing character. Under these circumstances, when
the question became European, when the difficulties were immensely
magnified and multiplied--the offer of a Congress having been made on
November 5, and not refused until the 27th, the King of Denmark having
died on the 16th--it was, I say, with the complete knowledge of the
increased risk and of the increased dimensions of the interests at
stake, that the noble lord sent that answer to the invitation of the
Emperor of the French. I say, Sir, that at this moment it became the
Government of England seriously to consider their position. With the
offer of the Congress and with the death of the King of Denmark--with
these two remarkable events before the noble lord's eyes, it is my
duty to remind the House of the manner in which the noble lord the
Secretary of State addressed the European Powers. Neither of these
great events seems to have induced the noble lord to modify his tone.
On November 19, the King having just died, the Secretary of State
writes to Sir Alexander Malet, our Minister to the Diet, to remind him
that all the Powers of Europe had agreed to the treaty of 1852. On the
20th he writes a letter of menace to the German Powers, saying that
Her Majesty's Government expect, as a matter of course, that all the
Powers will recognize the succession of the King of Denmark as heir of
all the states which, according to the Treaty of London, were united
under the sceptre of the late King. And on the 23rd, four days
before he refused the invitation to the Congress, he writes to Lord

  Her Majesty's Government would have no right to interfere
  on behalf of Denmark if the troops of the Confederation
  should enter Holstein on federal grounds. But if execution
  were enforced on international grounds, the Powers who
  signed the treaty of 1852 would have a right to interfere.
  (No. 3, 230.)

To Sir Augustus Paget, our Minister at Copenhagen, on November 30--the
House will recollect that this was after he had refused the Congress,
after the King had died, and after the question had become an
international one--he writes announcing his refusal of the Congress
and proposing the sole mediation of England. Then he writes to Sir
Alexander Malet in the same month, that Her Majesty's Government can
only leave to Germany the sole responsibility of raising a war in
Europe, which the Diet seemed bent on making.

This is the tone which the Government adopted, after the
consideration, as we are bound to believe, which the question
demanded, after having incurred the responsibility of refusing the
Congress offered by the Emperor of the French, after the death of the
King of Denmark, after the question had been changed from a federal to
an international one--such, I repeat, is the tone they took up, and in
which they sent their menacing messages to every Court in Germany. I
say that at the death of the King of Denmark it behooved Her Majesty's
Ministers, instead of adopting such a course, maturely to consider
their position in relation to the events which had occurred. There
were two courses open to Her Majesty's Government, both intelligible,
both honourable. It was open to them, after the death of the King
of Denmark, to have acted as France had resolved under the same
circumstances to act--France, who occupies, we are told, a position in
reference to these matters so dignified and satisfactory that it has
received the compliments even of a baffled Minister. That course was
frankly announced shortly afterwards to the English Minister by the
Minister of France in Denmark. On November 19 General Fleury said to
Lord Wodehouse at Copenhagen:

  That his own instructions from the Emperor were, not
  to take part in any negotiations here, but to tell the
  Danish Government explicitly that if Denmark became
  involved in a war with Germany, France would not come
  to her assistance.

If England had adopted that course it would have been intelligible
and honourable. We were not bound by the treaty of 1852 to go to the
assistance of Denmark if she became involved in a war with Germany. No
one pretends that we were. As a matter of high policy, much as we may
regret any disturbance in the territorial limits of Europe, being a
country the policy of which is a policy of tranquillity and peace,
there were no adequate considerations which could have justified
England in entering into an extensive European war, without allies,
to prevent a war between Denmark and Germany. That was, I say, an
honourable and intelligible course.

There was another course equally intelligible and equally honourable.
Though I am bound to say that the course which I should have
recommended the country to take would have been to adopt the same
position as that of France, yet, if the Government really entertained
the views with respect to the balance of power which have been
expressed occasionally in the House by the noble lord, and in a
literary form by the Secretary of State--from which I may say I
disagree, because they appear to me to be founded on the obsolete
tradition of an antiquated system, and because I think that the
elements from which we ought to form an opinion as to the distribution
of the power of the world must be collected from a much more extensive
area, and must be formed of larger and more varied elements: but let
that pass: yet, I say, if Her Majesty's Government were of opinion
that the balance of power were endangered by a quarrel between Germany
and Denmark, they were justified in giving their advice to Denmark,
in threatening Germany, and in taking the general management of the
affairs of Denmark; but they were bound, if a war did take place
between Germany and Denmark, to support Denmark. Instead of that, they
invented a process of conduct which I hope is not easily exampled in
the history of this country, and which I can only describe in one
sentence--it consisted of menaces never accomplished and promises
never fulfilled.

With all these difficulties they never hesitate in their tone. At
least, let us do them this justice--there never were, in semblance,
more determined Ministers. They seemed at least to rejoice in the
phantom of a proud courage. But what do they do? They send a special
envoy to Denmark, who was to enforce their policy and arrange
everything. Formally the special envoy was sent to congratulate the
King on his accession to the throne of Denmark, and all the other
Powers did the same; but in reality the mission of Lord Wodehouse was
for greater objects than that, and his instructions are before us
in full. Without wearying the House by reading the whole of those
instructions, I will read one paragraph, which is the last, and which
is, as it were, a summary of the whole. They were written at the end
of December. Recollect, this is the policy of the Government after
refusing the Congress, and after the death of the King of Denmark,
which had therefore incurred a still deeper responsibility, and which,
we must suppose, had deeply considered all the issues involved. This
is the cream of the instructions given by the Government to Lord

  The result to be arrived at is the fulfilment of the treaty
  of May 8, 1852, and of the engagements entered into by
  Prussia and Austria and Denmark in 1851-2. (No. 3, 353.)

Lord Wodehouse could not possibly be at fault as to what he was to do
when he arrived at his destination. His was, no doubt, a significant
appointment. He was a statesman of some experience; he had held a
subordinate but important position in the administration of our
foreign affairs; he had been a Minister at a northern Court; he had
recently distinguished himself in Parliament by a speech on the
question of Germany and Denmark, in which he took a decidedly
dangerous view. Lord Wodehouse received clear instructions as to what
he was to do. But, at the same time, what was the conduct of the
Secretary of State? While Lord Wodehouse was repairing to his post,
did the Secretary of State in the least falter in his tone? It was
about this time that the great diplomatic reprimand was sent to Sir
Alexander Malet for having talked of the 'protocol' of 1852 instead of
the 'treaty'. This was the time that instructions were sent out that
if anybody had the hardihood to mention the 'protocol' of 1852 he was
immediately to be stopped. However elevated his position might be,
even if it were M. Bismarck himself, he was to be pulled up directly,
in the full flow of his eloquence; note was to be taken of this great
diplomatic _lapsus_, and the Minister was to telegraph instantly home
to his Government how he had carried out his instructions in this
respect. On December 17, the noble lord wrote to Sir Andrew Buchanan,
our ambassador at Berlin:

  Let it suffice at present for Her Majesty's Government
  to declare that they would consider any departure from
  the treaty of succession of 1852, by Powers who signed or
  acceded to that treaty, as entirely inconsistent with good
  faith. (No. 3, 383.)

Similar dispatches were sent to Wurtemberg, Hanover, and Saxony. On
December 23 the noble earl wrote to Sir Andrew Buchanan:

  If the overthrow of the dynasty now reigning in Denmark
  is sought by Germany, the most serious consequences
  may ensue. (No. 3, 411.)

I want to know what honourable members mean by cheering the words I
have just quoted. If you wish to convey even to a little Power that if
it does a certain thing you will go to war with it, you take care not
to announce your intention in an offensive manner; because, were you
to do so, probably, even the smallest Power in Europe would not yield.
And certainly if you wish to tell a great Power in Europe what may be
eventually the consequences if it should adopt a different line from
that which you desire, you would not abruptly declare that if it
declined to accede to your wish you would declare war. Why, there
are no dispatches on record in the world--there is no record in
any Foreign Office of language of this kind. The question is, what
interpretation can be put on these threats. The Secretary of State
writes again on December 25 to Sir Andrew Buchanan, stating that:

  Any precipitate action on the part of the German Confederation
  may lead to consequences fatal to the peace of
  Europe, and may involve Germany, in particular, in difficulties
  of the most serious nature. (No. 4, 414.)

On December 26 the Secretary of State writes to Sir Alexander Malet,
and sends him a copy of the treaty of 1852, in order that he might
communicate it to the Diet. Now, that is the state of affairs after
the King of Denmark's death; after he had been perfectly acquainted
with the policy of France; after he had been frankly told that the
French Emperor had explicitly informed Denmark that if she got
involved in war with Germany, France would not come to her assistance.
Now the words 'if she went to war' might have been interpreted in two
ways; because she might get into war without any fault of her own,
and Germany might be the aggressor: but there could be no mistake in
regard to the words 'if she became involved in war'. Neither Denmark
nor England could make any mistake in regard to the policy of France,
which the Secretary of State now says was a magnanimous policy.

Notwithstanding these threats, notwithstanding these repeated menaces,
and notwithstanding every effort made by Her Majesty's Government to
prevent it, federal execution took place, as it was intended to take
place. One day after the most menacing epistle which I have ever
read--the day after the copy of the treaty of 1852 had been solemnly
placed before the Diet by Sir Alexander Malet--on December 27,
federal execution took place. At any rate, I do not think that is
evidence of the just influence of England in the councils of Germany.

What was the course of Her Majesty's Government at this critical
conjuncture? Why, Sir, they went again to France. After all that had
happened their only expedient was to go and supplicate France. I will
read the letter. [Mr. Layard: Hear, hear!] The honourable gentleman
seems to triumph in the recollection of mistakes and disappointments.
I will give him the date, but I should think it must really be seared
upon his conscience. December 27 is the date of federal execution: and
Her Majesty's Government must have been in a state of complete panic,
because on the 28th they made application to France, which is answered
in a few hours by Lord Cowley: 'I said Her Majesty's Government were
most sincerely anxious to----' (laughter). I wish really to be candid,
not to misrepresent anything, and to put the case before the House
without garbling any of the dispatches.--'I said that Her Majesty's
Government were most sincerely anxious to act with the Imperial
Government in this question.' No doubt they were. I am vindicating
your conduct. I believe in your sincerity throughout. It is only your
intense incapacity that I denounce. The passage in the dispatch is
Shakespearian; it is one of those dramatic descriptions which only a
masterly pen could accomplish. Lord Cowley went on:

  Her Majesty's Government felt that if the two Powers
  could agree, war might be avoided; otherwise the danger
  of war was imminent. M. Drouyn de Lhuys said he partook
  this opinion; but as his Excellency made no further
  observation, I remarked it would be a grievous thing if the
  difference of opinion which had arisen upon the merits of
  a general Congress were to produce an estrangement which
  would leave each Government to pursue its own course.
  I hoped that this would not be the case. Her Majesty's
  Government would do all in their power to avoid it. I
  presumed I might give them the assurance that the Imperial
  Government were not decided to reject the notion of
  a Conference. (No. 4, 444.)

Well, Sir, this received a curt and unsatisfactory reply. Nothing
could be obtained from the plaintive appeal of Lord Cowley. Well, what
did Her Majesty's Government do? Having received information that the
threat of federal execution had been fulfilled, having appealed to
France, and been treated in the manner I have described, what did the
Government do? Why, the Secretary of State, within twenty-four hours
afterwards, penned the fiercest dispatch he had ever yet written.
It is dated December 31, 1863, and it is addressed to Sir Andrew

  Her Majesty's Government do not hold that war would
  relieve Prussia from the obligations of the treaty of 1852.
  The King of Denmark would by that treaty be entitled
  still to be acknowledged as the sovereign of all the dominions
  of the late King of Denmark. He has been so
  entitled from the time of the death of the late King. A
  war of conquest undertaken by Germany avowedly for the
  purpose of adding some parts of the Danish dominions to
  the territory of the German Confederation might, if successful,
  alter the state of succession contemplated by the
  Treaty of London, and give to Germany a title by conquest
  to parts of the dominions of the King of Denmark. The
  prospect of such an accession may no doubt be a temptation
  to those who think it can be accomplished; but Her
  Majesty's Government cannot believe that Prussia will
  depart from the straight line of good faith in order to assist
  in carrying such a project into effect. (No. 4, 445.)

You cheer as if it were a surprising thing that the Secretary of State
should have written a single sentence of common sense. These are
important state documents, and I hope Her Majesty's Government are not
so fallen that there is not a Minister among them who is able to write
a dispatch--I do not say a bad dispatch, but a very important one. I
wish to call attention to its importance:

If German nationality in Holstein, and particularly in Schleswig, were
made the ground of the dismemberment of Denmark, Polish nationality
in the Duchy of Posen would be a ground equally strong for the
dismemberment of Prussia. It appears to Her Majesty's Government that
the safest course for Prussia to pursue is to act with good faith and
honour and to stand by and fulfil her treaty engagements. By such a
course she will command the sympathy of Europe; by a contrary course
she will draw down upon herself the universal condemnation of all
disinterested men. By this course alone war in Europe can be with
certainty prevented. (No. 4, 445.)

Well, Sir, that I think was a bold dispatch to write after the
rejection, for the second or third time, of our overtures to France.
That brings us up to the last day of the year.

But before I proceed to more recent transactions, it is necessary to
call the attention of the House to the remarkable contrast between the
menaces lavished on Germany and the expectations--to use the mildest
term--that were held out to Denmark. The great object of Her Majesty's
Government when the difficulties began to be very serious, was to
induce Denmark to revoke the patent of Holstein--that is, to terminate
the constitution. The constitution of Holstein had been granted very
recently before the death of the King, with a violent desire on
the part of the monarch to fulfil his promises. It was a wise and
excellent constitution by which Holstein became virtually independent.
It enjoyed the fullness of self-government, and was held only by
sovereign ties to Denmark, as Norway is held to Sweden. The Danish
Government were not at all willing to revoke the constitution in
Holstein. It was one that did them credit, and was naturally popular
in Holstein. Still, the Diet was very anxious that the patent should
be revoked, because if Holstein continued satisfied it was impossible
to trade on the intimate connexion between Schleswig and Holstein, the
lever by which the kingdom of Denmark was to be destroyed. The Diet,
therefore, insisted that the patent should be revoked. Her Majesty's
Government, I believe, approved the patent of Holstein as the Danish
Government had done, but, as a means of obtaining peace and saving
Denmark, they made use of all the means in their power to induce
Denmark to revoke that constitution. Sir Augustus Paget, writing to
the Foreign Secretary on October 14, and describing an interview with
M. Hall, the Prime Minister of Denmark, says:

After much further conversation, in which I made use of every argument
to induce his Excellency to adopt a conciliatory course, and in which
I warned him of the danger of rejecting the friendly counsels now
offered by Her Majesty's Government--(No. 3, 162)--

M. Hall promises to withdraw the patent. What interpretation could M.
Hall place on that interview? He was called upon to do what he knew
to be distasteful, and believed to be impolitic. He is warned of the
danger of rejecting those friendly counsels, and in consequence of
that warning he gives way and surrenders his opinion. I would candidly
ask what is the interpretation which in private life would be put on
such language as I have quoted, and which had been acted upon by those
to whom it was addressed?

Well, we now come to the federal execution in Holstein. Speaking
literally, the federal execution was a legal act, and Denmark could
not resist it. But from the manner in which it was about to be carried
into effect, and in consequence of the pretensions connected with it,
the Danes were of opinion that it would have been better at once to
resist the execution, which aimed a fatal blow at the independence of
Schleswig, and upon this point they felt strongly. Well, Her Majesty's
Government--and I give them full credit for being actuated by the best
motives--thought otherwise, and wished the Danish Government to submit
to this execution. And what was the sort of language used by them in
order to bring about that result? Sir Augustus Paget replied in this
way to the objections of the Danish Minister:

I replied that Denmark would at all events have a better chance of
securing the assistance of the Powers if the execution were not

I ask any candid man to put his own interpretation upon this language.
And on the 12th of the same month Lord Russell himself tells M. Bille,
the Danish Minister in London, that there is no connexion between the
engagements of Denmark to Germany, and the engagements of the German
Powers under the treaty of 1852. After such a declaration from the
English Minister in the metropolis, a declaration which must have
had the greatest effect upon the policy of the Danish Government--of
course they submitted to the execution. But having revoked the patent
and submitted to the execution, as neither the one nor the other was
the real object of the German Powers, a new demand was made which was
one of the greatest consequence.

Now, listen to this. The new demand was to repeal the old
constitution. I want to put clearly before the House the position
of the Danish Government with respect to this much-talked-of
constitution. There had been in the preceding year a Parliamentary
Reform Bill carried in Denmark. The King died before having given his
assent to it, though he was most willing to have done so. The instant
the new King succeeded, the Parliamentary Reform Bill was brought to
him. Of course great excitement prevailed in Denmark, just as it did
in England at the time of the Reform Bill under similar circumstances,
and the King was placed in a most difficult position. Now, observe
this: England, who was so obtrusive and pragmatical in the counsels
which she gave, who was always offering advice and suggestions, hung
back when the question arose whether the new King should give his
assent to the Reform Bill or not. England was selfishly silent, and
would incur no responsibility. The excitement in Copenhagen was great,
and the King gave his assent to the Bill. But mark! at that moment it
was not at all impossible that if Her Majesty's Government had written
a dispatch to Copenhagen asking the King not to give his assent to
the Bill for the space of six weeks in order to assist England in the
negotiations she was carrying on in behalf of Denmark; and if the King
had convened his council and laid before them the express wish of an
ally who was then looked upon by Denmark with confidence and hope,
especially from the time that France had declared she would not assist
her, I cannot doubt that the King would have complied with a request
that was so important to his fortunes. But the instant the King had
sanctioned the new constitution, the English Government began writing
dispatches calling upon him to revoke it. Aye, but what was his
position then? How could he revoke it? The King was a constitutional
king; he could have put an end to this constitution only by a _coup
d'état_; and he was not in a position, nor I believe if he were had
he the inclination, to do such an act. The only constitutional course
open to him was to call the new Parliament together with the view of
revoking the constitution.

But see what would have been the position of affairs then. In England
the Reform Act was passed in 1832, new elections took place under
it, and the House assembled under Lord Althorp, as the leader of the
Government. Now, suppose Lord Althorp had come down to that House with
a King's speech recommending them to revoke the Reform Act, and have
asked leave to introduce another Bill for the purpose of reforming the
constitution, would it not have been asking an utter impossibility?
But how did Her Majesty's Government act towards Denmark in similar
circumstances? First of all, the noble lord at the head of the Foreign
Office wrote to Lord Wodehouse on December 20, giving formal advice to
the Danish Government to repeal the constitution, and Lord Wodehouse,
who had been sent upon this painful and, I must say, impossible
office to the Danish Minister, thus speaks of the way in which he had
performed his task:

I pointed out to M. Hall also that if, on the one hand, Her Majesty's
Government would never counsel the Danish Government to yield anything
inconsistent with the honour and independence of the Danish Crown, and
the integrity of the King's dominions; so, on the other hand, we had
a right to expect that the Danish Government would not, by putting
forward extreme pretensions, drive matters to extremities.

And Sir Augustus Paget, who appears to have performed his duty with
great temper and talent, writing on December 22, says:

I asked M. Hall to reflect what would be the position of Denmark
if the advice of the Powers were refused, and what it would be if
accepted, and to draw his own conclusions. (No. 4, 420.)

Now, I ask, what are the conclusions which any gentleman--I do not
care on what side of the House he may sit--would have drawn from such
language as that? But before that, a special interview took place
between Lord Wodehouse and the Danish Minister, of which Lord
Wodehouse writes:

It was my duty to declare to M. Hall that if the Danish Government
rejected our advice, Her Majesty's Government must leave Denmark to
encounter Germany on her own responsibility.

Well, Sir, I ask again whether there are two interpretations to be put
upon such observations as these? And what happened? It was impossible
for M. Hall, who was the author of the constitution, to put an end
to it; so he resigned--a new Government is formed, and under the new
constitution Parliament is absolutely called together to pass an Act
to terminate its own existence. And in January Sir Augustus Paget
tells the Danish Government with some _naïveté_:

If they would summon the Rigsraad, and propose a repeal of the
constitution, they would act wisely, in accordance with the advice of
their friends, and the responsibility of the war would not be laid at
their door.

Well, then, these were three great subjects on which the
representation of England induced Denmark to adopt a course against
her will, and, as the Danes believed, against their policy. The plot
begins to thicken. Notwithstanding the revocation of the patent, the
federal execution, and the repeal of the constitution, one thing more
is wanted, and Schleswig is about to be invaded. Affairs now become
most critical. No sooner is this known than a very haughty menace is
sent to Austria. From a dispatch of Lord Bloomfield, dated December
31, it will be seen that Austria was threatened, if Schleswig was
invaded, that:

The consequences would be serious. The question would cease to be a
purely German one, and would become one of European importance.

On January 4, Earl Russell writes to Mr. Murray, at the Court of

The most serious consequences are to be apprehended if the Germans
invade Schleswig. (No. 4, 481.)

On the 9th, again, he writes to Dresden:

The line taken by Saxony destroys confidence in diplomatic relations
with that State. (No. 4, 502.)

On January 18 he writes to Lord Bloomfield:

You are instructed to represent in the strongest terms to Count
Rechberg, and, if you shall have an opportunity of doing so, to
the Emperor, the extreme injustice and danger of the principle and
practice of taking possession of the territory of a State as what
is called a material guarantee for the obtainment of certain
international demands, instead of pressing those demands by the
usual method of negotiation. Such a practice is fatal to peace, and
destructive of the independence of States. It is destructive of peace
because it is an act of war, and if resistance takes place it is the
beginning of war. But war so begun may not be confined within the
narrow limits of its early commencement, as was proved in 1853, when
the occupation of the Danubian Principalities by Russia as a material
guarantee proved the direct cause of the Crimean War. (No. 4, 564.)

It is only because I do not wish to weary the House that I do not read
it all, but it is extremely well written. ['Read.']

Well, then, the dispatch goes on to say:

Such a practice is most injurious to the independence and integrity of
the State to which it is applied, because a territory so occupied can
scarcely be left by the occupying force in the same state in which it
was when the occupation took place. But, moreover, such a practice may
recoil upon those who adopt it, and, in the ever-varying course of
events, it may be most inconveniently applied to those who, having set
the example, had flattered themselves it never could be applied to
them. (No. 4, 564.)

Well, the invasion of Schleswig is impending, and then an identic note
is sent to Vienna and Berlin in these terms:

Her Majesty's Government having been informed that the Governments of

Austria and Prussia have addressed a threatening summons to Denmark,
the undersigned has been instructed to ask for a formal declaration on
the part of these Governments that they adhere to the principle of the
integrity of the Danish monarchy. (No. 4, 565.)

And again, writing to Lord Bloomfield, the Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs speaks of the invasion as 'a breach of faith which may
entail upon Europe widespread calamities'. But all these remonstrances
were in vain. Notwithstanding these solemn warnings, notwithstanding
this evidence that in the German Courts the just influence of England
was lowered, the invasion of Schleswig takes place. And what is the
conduct of the Government? They hurry again to Paris. They propose a
joint declaration of the non-German Powers. Earl Russell writes to
Lord Cowley in the middle of January. An answer was sent, I believe,
the next day, the 14th, and this is Lord Cowley's statement in
reference to the opinion of the French Government:

As to the four Powers impressing upon the Diet the heavy
responsibility that it would incur if, by any precipitate measures, it
were to break the peace of Europe before the Conference which had
been proposed by the British Government for considering the means
of settling the question between Germany and Denmark, and thereby
maintaining that peace, can be assembled, M. Drouyn de Lhuys observed
that he had not forgotten that when Russia had been warned by France,
Great Britain, and Austria of the responsibility which she was
incurring by her conduct towards Poland, Prince Gortsehakoff had
replied, 'that Russia was ready to assume that responsibility before
God and man.' He, for one, did not wish to provoke another answer of
the same sort to be received with the same indifference. (No. 4, 536.)

The drama now becomes deeply interesting. The events are quick. That
is the answer of the French Government; and on the next day Lord
Russell writes to Lord Cowley to propose concert and co-operation with
France to maintain the treaty--that is, to prevent the occupation of
Schleswig. Lord Cowley writes the next day to Lord Russell that the
French Government want to know what 'concert and co-operation' mean.
Lord Russell at last, on January 24, writes to say that concert and
co-operation mean 'if necessary, material assistance to Denmark'. That
must have been about the same time when the Cabinet was sitting to
draw up Her Majesty's speech, assuring Parliament that negotiations
continued to be carried on in the interest of peace. Now, Sir, what
was the answer of the French Government when, at last, England invited
her to go to war to settle the question between Germany and Denmark? I
will read the reply:

M. Drouyn de Lhuys, after recapitulating the substance of my dispatch
of January 24 to your Excellency, explains very clearly the views of
the French Government upon the subject. The Emperor recognizes the
value of the London treaty as tending to preserve the balance of power
and maintain the peace of Europe. But the Government of France, while
paying a just tribute to the purport and objects of the treaty
of 1852, is ready to admit that circumstances may require its
modification. The Emperor has always been disposed to pay great regard
to the feelings and aspirations of nationalities. It is not to be
denied that the national feelings and aspirations of Germany tend to
a closer connexion with the Germans of Holstein and Schleswig. The
Emperor would feel repugnance to any course which should bind him to
oppose in arms the wishes of Germany. It may be comparatively easy
for England to carry on a war which can never go beyond the maritime
operations of blockade and capture of ships. Schleswig and England are
far apart from each other. But the soil of Germany touches the soil of
France, and a war between France and Germany would be one of the most
burdensome and one of the most hazardous which the French Empire could
engage. Besides these considerations, the Emperor cannot fail to
recollect that he has been made an object of mistrust and suspicion in
Europe on account of his supposed projects of aggrandizement on the
Rhine. A war commenced on the frontiers of Germany would not fail to
give strength to these unfounded and unwarrantable imputations. For
these reasons, the Government of the Emperor will not take at present
any engagement on the subject of Denmark. If, hereafter, the balance
of power should be seriously threatened, the Emperor may be inclined
to take new measures in the interest of France and of Europe. But for
the present the Emperor reserves to his Government entire liberty.
(No. 4, 620.)

Well, Sir, I should think that, after the reception of that dispatch,
though it might have been very hard to convince the Foreign Secretary
of the fact, any other person might easily have suspected that the
just influence of England was lowered in another quarter of Europe.

Sir, I have now brought events to the period when Parliament met,
trespassing, I fear, too much on the indulgence of the House; but
honourable members will remember that, in order to give this narrative
to-day, it was necessary for me to peruse 1,500 printed folio pages,
and I trust I have done no more than advert to those passages to which
it was requisite to direct attention in order that the House might
form a complete and candid opinion of the case. I will not dwell,
or only for the slightest possible time, on what occurred upon the
meeting of Parliament. Sir, when we met there were no papers; and I
remember that when I asked for papers there was not, I will frankly
say, on both sides of the House, a sufficient sense of the very great
importance of the occasion, and of the singular circumstance that the
papers were not presented to us. It turned out afterwards from what
fell from the Secretary of State in another place, that it was never
intended that the papers should be presented at the meeting of
Parliament. The noble lord at the head of the Government treated the
inquiry for papers in a jaunty way, and said, 'Oh! you shall have
papers, and I wish you joy of them.' That was the tone of the First
Minister in reference to the most important diplomatic correspondence
ever laid before Parliament since the rupture of the Treaty of Amiens:
but we are all now aware of the importance of these transactions. It
was weeks--months almost--before we became masters of the case, but
during the interval the most disastrous circumstances occurred,
showing the increased peril and danger of Denmark, and the successes
of the invaders of her territory. We all remember their entrance into
Jutland. We all remember the inquiries which were made on the subject,
and the assurances which were given. But it was impossible for the
House to pronounce any opinion, because the papers were not before it,
and the moment we had the papers, a Conference was announced.

One word with respect to the Conference. I never was of opinion that
the Conference would arrive at any advantageous result. I could not
persuade myself, after reading the papers, that, whatever might be the
cause, any one seriously wished for a settlement, except, of course,
Her Majesty's Ministers, and they had a reason for it. The Conference
lasted six weeks. It wasted six weeks. It lasted as long as a
carnival, and, like a carnival, it was an affair of masks and
mystification. Our Ministers went to it as men in distressed
circumstances go to a place of amusement--to while away the time, with
a consciousness of impending failure. However, the summary of
the Conference is this, that Her Majesty's Government made two
considerable proposals. They proposed, first, the dismemberment of
Denmark. So much for its integrity. They proposed, in the second
place, that the remainder of Denmark should be placed under the joint
guarantee of the Great Powers. They would have created another Turkey
in Europe, in the same geographical relation, the scene of the
same rival intrigues, and the same fertile source of constant
misconceptions and wars. So much for the independence of Denmark.
These two propositions having been made, the one disastrous to
the integrity and the other to the independence of Denmark, the
Conference, even with these sacrifices offered, was a barren failure.

And I now wish to ask--after having, I hope, with some clearness and
in a manner tolerably comprehensive, placed the case before honourable
members--what is their opinion of the management of these affairs by
Her Majesty's Government? I showed you that the beginning of this
interference was a treaty by which England entered into obligations as
regards Denmark not different from those of France. I have shown you,
on the evidence of the Secretary of State, that the present position
of France with respect to Denmark is one quite magnanimous, free from
all difficulties and disgrace. I have shown you, I think, what every
man indeed feels, that the position of England under this treaty, on
the contrary, is most embarrassing, surrounded with difficulties, and
full of humiliation. I have stated my opinion that the difference
between the position of England and that of France arose from the
mis-management of our affairs. That appeared to me to be the natural
inference and logical deduction. I have given you a narrative of the
manner in which our affairs have been conducted, and now I ask you
what is your opinion? Do you see in the management of those affairs
that capacity, and especially that kind of capacity that is adequate
to the occasion? Do you find in it that sagacity, prudence, that
dexterity, that quickness of perception, and those conciliatory moods
which we are always taught to believe necessary in the transaction
of our foreign affairs? Is there to be seen that knowledge of human
nature, and especially that peculiar kind of science, most necessary
in these affairs--an acquaintance with the character of foreign
countries and of the chief actors in the scene?

Sir, for my part I find all these qualities wanting; and in
consequence of the want of these qualities, I see that three results
have accrued. The first is that the avowed policy of Her Majesty's
Government has failed. The second is, that our just influence in the
councils of Europe has been lowered. Thirdly, in consequence of our
just influence in the councils of Europe being lowered, the securities
for peace are diminished. These are three results which have followed
in consequence of the want of the qualities to which I have alluded,
and in consequence of the management of these affairs by the
Government. Sir, I need not, I think, trouble the House with
demonstrating that the Government have failed in their avowed policy
of upholding the independence and integrity of Denmark. The first
result may be thrown aside. I come therefore to the second. By
the just influence of England in the councils of Europe I mean an
influence contra-distinguished from that which is obtained by
intrigue and secret understanding; I mean an influence that results
from the conviction of foreign Powers that our resources are great and
that our policy is moderate and steadfast. Since the settlement that
followed the great revolutionary war, England, who obtained at
that time--as she deserved to do, for she bore the brunt of the
struggle--who obtained at that time all the fair objects of her
ambition, has on the whole followed a Conservative foreign policy. I
do not mean by Conservative foreign policy a foreign policy that would
disapprove--still less oppose--the natural development of nations. I
mean a foreign policy interested in the tranquillity and prosperity of
the world, the normal condition of which is peace, and which does not
ally itself with the revolutionary party of Europe. Other countries
have their political systems and public objects, as England had,
though they may not have attained them. She is not to look upon them
with unreasonable jealousy. The position of England in the councils of
Europe is essentially that of a moderating and mediatorial Power.
Her interest and her policy are, when changes are inevitable and
necessary, to assist so that these changes, if possible, may be
accomplished without war, or, if war occurs, that its duration and
asperity may be lessened. This is what I mean by the just influence
of England in the councils of Europe. It appears to me that just
influence of England in the councils of Europe has been lowered.
Within twelve months we have been twice repulsed at St. Petersburg.

Twice have we supplicated in vain at Paris. We have menaced Austria,
and Austria has allowed our menaces to pass her like an idle wind. We
have threatened Prussia, and Prussia has defied us. Our objurgations
have rattled over the head of the German Diet, and the German Diet has
treated them with contempt.

Again, Sir, during the last few months there is scarcely a form of
diplomatic interference which has not been suggested or adopted by
the English Government--except a Congress. Conferences at Vienna,
at Paris, at London, all have been proposed; protocols, joint
declarations, sole mediation, joint mediation, identic notes, sole
notes, united notes--everything has been tried. Couriers from the
Queen have been scouring Europe with the exuberant fertility of
abortive projects. After the termination of the most important
Conference, held in the capital of the Queen, over which the chief
Minister of Her Majesty's foreign relations presided, and which was
attended with all the pomp and ceremony requisite for so great an
occasion, we find that its sittings have been perfectly barren; and
the chief Ministers of the Cabinet closed the proceedings by quitting
the scene of their exertions and appearing in the two Houses of
Parliament to tell the country that they have no allies, and that, as
they have no allies, they can do nothing. Pardon me, I must not omit
to do justice to the exulting boast of the Secretary of State, who, in
the midst of discomfiture, finds solace in the sympathy and politeness
of the neutral Powers. I do not grudge Lord Russell the sighs of
Russia or the smiles of France; but I regret that, with characteristic
discretion, he should have quitted the battle of the Conference only
to take his seat in the House of Lords to denounce the perfidy of
Prussia, and to mourn over Austrian fickleness. There wanted but one
touch to complete the picture, and it was supplied by the noble lord,
the First Minister.

Sir, I listened with astonishment--I listened with astonishment as the
noble lord condemned the vices of his victim, and inveighed at the
last moment against the obstinacy of unhappy Denmark. Denmark would
not submit to arbitration. But on what conditions did the German
Powers accept it? And what security had Denmark? That if in the
Conference she could not obtain an assurance that the neutral Powers
would support her by force on the line of the Schlei--what security, I
say, had she that any other line would be maintained--an unknown line
by an unknown arbiter? Sir, it does appear to me impossible to deny,
under these circumstances, that the just influence of England in
the councils of Europe is lowered. And now, I ask, what are the
consequences of the just influence of England in the councils of
Europe being lowered? The consequences are--to use a familiar phrase
in the dispatches--'most serious', because in exact proportion as that
influence is lowered the securities for peace are diminished. I lay
this down as a great principle, which cannot be controverted, in the
management of our foreign affairs. If England is resolved upon a
particular policy, war is not probable. If there is, under these
circumstances, a cordial alliance between England and France, war
is most difficult; but if there is a thorough understanding between
England, France, and Russia, war is impossible.

These were the happy conditions under which Her Majesty's Ministers
entered office, and which they enjoyed when they began to move in the
question of Denmark. Two years ago, and even less, there was a cordial
understanding between England, France, and Russia upon this question
or any question which might arise between Germany and Denmark. What
cards to play! What advantages in the management of affairs! It
seemed, indeed, that they might reasonably look forward to a future
which would justify the confidence of Parliament; when they might
point with pride to what they had accomplished, and appeal to public
opinion to support them. But what has happened? They have alienated
Russia, they have estranged France, and then they call Parliament
together to declare war against Germany. Why, such a thing never
happened before in the history of this country. Nay, more, I do not
think it can ever happen again. It is one of those portentous results
which occur now and then to humiliate and depress the pride of
nations, and to lower our confidence in human intellect. Well, Sir,
as the difficulties increase, as the obstacles are multiplied, as
the consequences of the perpetual errors and constant mistakes are
gradually becoming more apparent, you always find Her Majesty's
Government nearer war. As in private life we know it is the weak who
are always violent, so it is with Her Majesty's Ministers. As long
as they are confident in their allies, as long as they possess the
cordial sympathy of the Great Powers, they speak with moderation, they
counsel with dignity; but, like all incompetent men, when they are in
extreme difficulty, they can see but one resource, and that is force.
When affairs cannot be arranged in peace you see them turning first
to St. Petersburg--that was a bold dispatch which was sent to St.
Petersburg in January last, to ask Russia to declare war against
Germany--and twice to Paris, entreating that violence may be used to
extricate them from the consequences of their own mistakes. It is only
by giving Government credit, as I have been doing throughout, for
the complete sincerity of their expressions and conduct, that their
behaviour is explicable. Assume that their policy was a war policy,
and it is quite intelligible. Whenever difficulties arise, their
resolution is instantly to have recourse to violence. Every word they
utter, every dispatch they write, seems always to look to a scene of
collision. What is the state of Europe at this moment? What is the
state of Europe produced by this management of our affairs? I know not
what other honourable gentlemen may think, but it appears to me most
serious. I find the great German Powers openly avowing that it is not
in their capacity to fulfil their engagements. I find Europe impotent
to vindicate public law because all the great alliances are broken
down; and I find a proud and generous nation like England shrinking
with the reserve of magnanimity from the responsibility of commencing
war, yet sensitively smarting under the impression that her honour is
stained--stained by pledges which ought not to have been given, and
expectations which I maintain ought never to have been held out by
wise and competent statesmen.

Sir, this is anarchy. It therefore appears to me obvious that Her

Majesty's Government have failed in their avowed policy of maintaining
the independence and integrity of Denmark. It appears to me undeniable
that the just influence of England is lowered in the councils of
Europe. It appears to me too painfully clear that to lower our
influence is to diminish the securities of peace. And what defence
have we? If ever a criticism is made on his ambiguous conduct the
noble lord asks me, 'What is your policy?' My answer might be my
policy is the honour of England and the peace of Europe, and the
noble lord has betrayed both. I can understand a Minister coming
to Parliament when there is a question of domestic interest of the
highest character for consideration, such as the emancipation of
the Catholics, the principles on which our commercial code is to
be established, or our representative system founded. I can quite
understand--although I should deem it a very weak step--a Minister
saying, 'Such questions are open questions, and we leave it to
Parliament to decide what is to be our policy.' Parliament is in
possession of all the information on such subjects that is necessary
or can be obtained. Parliament is as competent to come to a judgement
upon the emancipation of any part of our subjects who are not
in possession of the privileges to which they are entitled; the
principles on which a commercial code is to be established or a
representative system founded are as well known to them as to any
body of men in the world; but it is quite a new doctrine to appeal to
Parliament to initiate a foreign policy. To initiate a foreign policy
is the prerogative of the Crown, exercised under the responsibility of
constitutional Ministers. It is devised, initiated, and carried out in
secrecy, and justly and wisely so. What do we know as to what may be
going on in Downing Street at this moment? We know not what dispatches
may have been written, or what proposals may have been made to any
foreign Power. For aught I know, the noble lord this morning may have
made another proposition which might light up a general European war.
It is for Parliament to inquire, to criticize, to support, or condemn
in questions of foreign policy; but it is not for Parliament to
initiate a foreign policy in absolute ignorance of the state of
affairs. That would be to ask a man to set his house on fire. I will
go further. He is not a wise, I am sure he is not a patriotic, man
who, at a crisis like the present, would accept office on conditions.
What conditions could be made when we are in ignorance of our real
state? Any conditions we could offer in a vote of the House of Commons
carried upon a particular point might be found extremely unwise when
we were placed in possession of the real position of the country. No,
Sir, we must not allow Her Majesty's Government to escape from their
responsibility. That is at the bottom of all their demands when they
ask, 'What is your policy?' The very first night we met--on February
4--we had the same question. Parliament was called together by a
Ministry in distress to give them a policy. But Parliament maintained
a dignified and discreet reserve: and you now find in what a position
the Ministry are placed to-night.

Sir, it is not for any man in this House, on whatever side he sits, to
indicate the policy of this country in our foreign relations--it is
the duty of no one but the responsible Ministers of the Crown. The
most we can do is to tell the noble lord what is not our policy. We
will not threaten and then refuse to act. We will not lure on our
allies with expectations we do not fulfil. And, Sir, if it ever be the
lot of myself or any public men with whom I have the honour to act
to carry on important negotiations on behalf of this country, as the
noble lord and his colleagues have done, I trust that we at least
shall not carry them on in such a manner that it will be our duty to
come to Parliament to announce to the country that we have no allies,
and then declare that England can never act alone. Sir, those are
words which ought never to have escaped the lips of a British
Minister. They are sentiments which ought never to have occurred even
to his heart. I repudiate, I reject them. I remember there was a time
when England, with not a tithe of her present resources, inspired by a
patriotic cause, triumphantly encountered a world in arms. And, Sir, I
believe now, if the occasion were fitting, if her independence or her
honour were assailed, or her empire in danger, I believe that England
would rise in the magnificence of her might, and struggle triumphantly
for those objects for which men live and nations flourish. But I, for
one, will never consent to go to war to extricate Ministers from the
consequences of their own mistakes. It is in this spirit that I have
drawn up this Address to the Crown. I have drawn it up in the spirit
in which the Royal Speech was delivered at the commencement of the
session. I am ready to vindicate the honour of the country whenever
it is necessary, but I have drawn up this Address in the interest of
peace. Sir, I beg leave to move the resolution of which I have given


My Lords, in laying on the Table of your Lordships' House, as I am
about to do, the Protocols of the Congress of Berlin, I have thought I
should only be doing my duty to your Lordships' House, to Parliament
generally, and to the country, if I made some remarks on the policy
which was supported by the Representatives of Her Majesty at the
Congress, and which is embodied in the Treaty of Berlin and in the
Convention which was placed on your Lordships' Table during my

My Lords, you are aware that the Treaty of San Stefano was looked on
with much distrust and alarm by Her Majesty's Government--that they
believed it was calculated to bring about a state of affairs dangerous
to European independence, and injurious to the interests of the
British Empire. Our impeachment of that policy is before your
Lordships and the country, and is contained in the Circular of my
noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in April last.
Our present contention is that we can show that, by the changes and
modifications which have been made in the Treaty of San Stefano by the
Congress of Berlin and by the Convention of Constantinople, the menace
to European independence has been removed, and the threatened injury
to the British Empire has been averted. Your Lordships will recollect
that by the Treaty of San Stefano about one-half of Turkey in Europe
was formed into a State called Bulgaria--a State consisting of upwards
of 50,000 geographical square miles, and containing a population of
4,000,000, with harbours on either sea--both on the shores of the
Euxine and of the Archipelago. That disposition of territory severed
Constantinople and the limited district which was still spared to the
possessors of that city--severed it from the Provinces of Macedonia
and Thrace by Bulgaria descending to the very shores of the Aegean;
and, altogether, a State was formed, which, both from its natural
resources and its peculiarly favourable geographical position, must
necessarily have exercised a predominant influence over the political
and commercial interests of that part of the world. The remaining
portion of Turkey in Europe was reduced also to a considerable degree
by affording what was called compensation to previous rebellious
tributary Principalities, which have now become independent States--so
that the general result of the Treaty of San Stefano was, that while
it spared the authority of the Sultan so far as his capital and its
immediate vicinity, it reduced him to a state of subjection to the
Great Power which had defeated his Armies, and which was present at
the gates of his capital. Accordingly, though it might be said that
he still seemed to be invested with one of the highest functions
of public duty--the protection and custody of the Straits--it was
apparent that his authority in that respect could be exercised by him
only in deference to the superior Power which had vanquished him, and
to whom the proposed arrangements would have kept him in subjection.
My Lords, in these matters the Congress of Berlin have made great
changes. They have restored to the Sultan two-thirds of the territory
which was to have formed the great Bulgarian State. They have restored
to him upwards of 30,000 geographical square miles, and 2,500,000 of
population--that territory being the richest in the Balkans, where
most of the land is rich, and the population one of the wealthiest,
most ingenious, and most loyal of his subjects. The frontiers of his
State have been pushed forward from the mere environs of Salonica and
Adrianople to the lines of the Balkans and Trajan's Pass; the new
Principality, which was to exercise such an influence, and produce a
revolution in the disposition of the territory and policy of that part
of the globe is now merely a State in the Valley of the Danube, and
both in its extent and its population is reduced to one-third of what
was contemplated by the Treaty of San Stefano. My Lords, it has been
said that while the Congress of Berlin decided upon a policy so bold
as that of declaring the range of the Balkans as the frontier of what
may now be called New Turkey, they have, in fact, furnished it with
a frontier which, instead of being impregnable, is in some parts
undefended, and is altogether one of an inadequate character. My
Lords, it is very difficult to decide, so far as nature is concerned,
whether any combination of circumstances can ever be brought about
which would furnish what is called an impregnable frontier. Whether it
be river, desert, or mountainous range, it will be found, in the long
run, that the impregnability of a frontier must be supplied by the
vital spirit of man; and that it is by the courage, discipline,
patriotism, and devotion of a population that impregnable frontiers
can alone be formed. And, my Lords, when I remember what race of men
it was that created and defended Plevna, I must confess my confidence
that, if the cause be a good one, they will not easily find that the
frontier of the Balkans is indefensible. But it is said that although
the Congress has furnished--and it pretended to furnish nothing
more--a competent military frontier to Turkey, the disposition was so
ill managed, that, at the same time, it failed to secure an effective
barrier--that in devising the frontier, it so arranged matters that
this very line of the Balkans may be turned. The Congress has been
charged with having committed one of the greatest blunders that could
possibly have been accomplished by leaving Sofia in the possession of
a Power really independent of Turkey; and one which, in the course
of time, might become hostile to Turkey. My Lords, this is, in my
opinion, an error on the part of those who furnish information of
an authentic character to the different populations of Europe, who
naturally desire to have correct information on such matters. It is
said that the position of Sofia is of a commanding character, and that
of its value the Congress were not aware, and that it was yielded to
an imperious demand on the part of one of the Powers represented at
the Congress. My Lords, I can assure your Lordships that there is
not a shadow of truth in the statement. I shall show that when the
Congress resolved to establish the line of the Balkans as the frontier
of Turkey, they felt that there would have been no difficulty, as a
matter of course, in Turkey retaining the possession of Sofia. What
happened was this. The highest military authority of the Turks--so
I think I may describe him--was one of the Plenipotentiaries at the
Congress of the Porte--I allude to Mehemet Ali Pasha. Well, the moment
the line of the Balkans was spoken of, he brought under the notice of
his Colleagues at the Conference--and especially, I may say, of the
Plenipotentiaries of England--his views on the subject; and, speaking
as he did not only with military authority, but also with consummate
acquaintance with all these localities, he said nothing could be more
erroneous than the idea that Sofia was a strong strategical position,
and that those who possessed it would immediately turn the Balkans and
march on Constantinople. He said that as a strategical position it
was worthless, but that there was a position in the Sandjak of Sofia
which, if properly defended, might be regarded as impregnable, and
that was the Pass of Ichtiman. He thought it of vital importance to
the Sultan that that position should be secured to Turkey, as then His
Majesty would have an efficient defence to his capital.

That position was secured. It is a pass which, if properly defended,
will prevent any host, however powerful, from taking Constantinople
by turning the Balkans. But, in consequence of that arrangement, it
became the duty of the Plenipotentiaries to see what would be the
best arrangement in regard of Sofia and its immediate districts.
The population of Sofia and its district are, I believe, without
exception, Bulgarian, and it was thought wise, they being Bulgarians,
that, if possible, it should be included in Bulgaria. That was
accomplished by exchanging it for a district in which the population,
if not exclusively, are numerically, Mohammedan, and which, so far as
the fertility of the land is concerned, is an exchange highly to the
advantage of the Porte. That, my Lords, is a short account of an
arrangement which I know has for a month past given rise in Europe,
and especially in this country, to a belief that it was in deference
to Russia that Sofia was not retained, and that by its not having been
retained Turkey had lost the means of defending herself, in the event
of her being again plunged into war.

My Lords, it has also been said, with regard to the line of the
Balkans, that it was not merely in respect of the possession of Sofia
that an error was committed, but that the Congress made a great
mistake in not retaining Varna. My Lords, I know that there are
in this Assembly many Members who have recollections--glorious
recollections--of that locality. They will know at once that if the
line of the Balkans were established as the frontier, it would be
impossible to include Varna, which is to the North of the Balkans.
Varna itself is not a place of importance, and only became so in
connexion with a system of fortifications which are now to be razed.
No doubt, in connexion with a line of strongholds, Varna formed a
part of a system of defence; but of itself Varna is not a place of
importance. Of itself it is only a roadstead, and those who dwell upon
the importance of Varna and consider that it was a great error on the
part of the Congress not to have secured it for Turkey, quite forget
that between the Bosphorus and Varna, upon the coast of the Black Sea,
the Congress has allotted to Turkey a much more important point on the
Black Sea--the harbour of Burgos. My Lords, I think I have shown that
the charges made against the Congress on these three grounds--the
frontiers of the Balkans, the non-retention of Sofia, and the giving
up of Varna--have no foundation whatever.

Well, my Lords, having established the Balkans as the frontier of
Turkey in Europe, the Congress resolved that South of the Balkans,
to a certain extent, the country should be formed into a Province to
which should be given the name of Eastern Roumelia. At one time it was
proposed by some to call it South Bulgaria; but it was manifest that
with such a name between it and North Bulgaria there would be constant
intriguing to bring about a union between the two Provinces. We,
therefore, thought that the Province of East Roumelia should be
formed, and that there should be established in it a Government
somewhat different from that of contiguous provinces where the
authority of the Sultan might be more unlimited. I am not myself
of opinion that, as a general rule, it is wise to interfere with a
military Power which you acknowledge: but, though it might have been
erroneous, as a political principle, to limit the military authority
of the Sultan, yet there are in this world other things besides
political principles--there are such things as historical facts,
and he would not be a prudent statesman who did not take into
consideration historical facts as well as political principles. The
province which we have formed into Eastern Roumelia had been the scene
of many excesses, by parties on both sides, to which human nature
looks with deep regret; and it was thought advisable, in making these
arrangements for the peace of Europe, that we should take steps to
prevent the probable recurrence of such events. Yet to do this, and
not give the Sultan a direct military authority in the province, would
have been, in our opinion, a grievous error. We have, therefore,
decided that the Sultan should have the power to defend the barrier of
the Balkans with all his available force. He has power to defend his
frontiers by land and by sea, both by the passes of the mountains and
the ports and strongholds of the Black Sea. No limit has been placed
on the amount of force he may bring to bear with that object. No one
can dictate to him what the amount of that force shall be; but, in
respect to the interior and the internal government of the province,
we thought the time had arrived when we should endeavour to carry
into effect some of those important proposals intended for the better
administration of the States of the Sultan, which were discussed and
projected at the Conference of Constantinople.

My Lords, I will not enter into any minute details on these questions.
They might weary you at this moment, and I have several other matters
on which I must yet touch; but, generally speaking, I imagine there
are three great points which we shall have before us in any attempt to
improve the administration of Turkish Dominion. First of all, it
is most important--and we have so established it in Eastern
Roumelia--that the office of Governor shall be for a specific period,
and that, as in India, it should not be for less than five years.
If that system generally obtained in the dominions of the Sultan, I
believe it would be of incalculable benefit. Secondly, we thought it
desirable that there should be instituted public assemblies, in which
the popular element should be adequately represented, and that the
business of those assemblies should be to levy and administer the
local finances of the province. And, thirdly, we thought it equally
important that order should be maintained in this province, either by
a _gendarmerie_ of adequate force or by a local militia, in both cases
the officers holding their commissions from the Sultan. But the whole
subject of the administration of Eastern Roumelia has been referred to
an Imperial Commission at Constantinople, and this Commission, after
making its investigations, will submit recommendations to the Sultan,
who will issue Firmans to carry those recommendations into effect. I
may mention here--as it may save time--that in all the arrangements
which have been made to improve the condition of the subject-races
of Turkey in Europe, inquiry by local commissions in all cases where
investigation may be necessary is contemplated. Those commissions are
to report their results to the Chief Commission; and, after the Firman
of the Sultan has been issued, the changes will take place. It is
supposed that in the course of three months from the time of the
ratification of the Treaty of Berlin, the principal arrangements may
be effected.

My Lords, I may now state what has been effected by the Congress in
respect of Bosnia--that being a point on which I think considerable
error prevails. One of the most difficult matters we had to encounter
in attempting what was the object of the Congress of Berlin--namely,
to re-establish the Sultan as a real and substantial authority--was
the condition of some of his distant provinces, and especially of
Bosnia. The state of Bosnia, and of those provinces and principalities
contiguous to it, was one of chronic anarchy. There is no language
which can describe adequately the condition of that large portion
of the Balkan peninsula occupied by Roumania, Servia, Bosnia,
Herzegovina, and other provinces. Political intrigues, constant
rivalries, a total absence of all public spirit, and of the pursuit of
objects which patriotic minds would wish to accomplish, the hatred of
races, the animosities of rival religions, and, above all, the absence
of any controlling power that could keep these large districts in
anything like order--such were the sad truths, which no one who has
investigated the subject could resist for a moment. Hitherto--at
least until within the last two years--Turkey had some semblance of
authority which, though it was rarely adequate, and when adequate, was
unwisely exercised, still was an authority to which the injured could
appeal, and which sometimes might control violence. But the Turkey of
the present time was in no condition to exercise that authority. I
inquired into the matter of those most competent to give an opinion,
and the result of my investigation was a conviction that nothing short
of an army of 50,000 men of the best troops of Turkey would produce
anything like order in those parts, and that, were the attempt to
be made, it would be contested and resisted, and might finally be
defeated. But what was to be said at a time when all the statesmen of
Europe were attempting to concentrate and condense the resources of
the Porte with the view of strengthening them--what would have been
the position of the Porte if it had to commence its new career--a
career, it is to be hoped, of amelioration and tranquillity--by
dispatching a large army to Bosnia to deal with those elements of
difficulty and danger? It is quite clear, my Lords, that such an
effort at this moment by Turkey might bring about its absolute ruin.
Then what was to be done? There have been before, in the history of
diplomacy, not unfrequent instances in which, even in civilized parts
of the globe, States having fallen into decrepitude, have afforded no
assistance to keep order and tranquillity, and have become, as these
districts have become, a source of danger to their neighbours. Under
such circumstances, the Powers of Europe have generally looked to
see whether there was any neighbouring Power of a character entirely
different from those disturbed and desolated regions, but deeply
interested in their welfare and prosperity, who would undertake the
task of attempting to restore their tranquillity and prosperity. In
the present case, you will see that the position of Austria is one
that clearly indicates her as fitted to undertake such an office.
It is not the first time that Austria has occupied provinces at the
request of Europe to ensure that order and tranquillity, which are
European interests, might prevail in them. Not once, twice, or thrice
has Austria undertaken such an office. There may be differences of
opinion as to the policy on which Austria has acted, or as to the
principles of government which she has maintained; but that has
nothing to do with the fact that, under circumstances similar to
those which I have described as existing in Bosnia and the provinces
contiguous to it, Austria has been invited and has interfered in the
manner I have described, and has brought about order and tranquillity.
Austria, in the present case, was deeply interested that some
arrangement should be made. Austria, for now nearly three years, has
had upwards of 150,000 refugees from Bosnia, which have been supported
by her resources, and whose demands notoriously have been of a
vexatious and exhausting character. It was, therefore, thought
expedient by the Congress that Austria should be invited to occupy
Bosnia, and not to leave it until she had deeply laid the foundations
of tranquillity and order. My Lords, I am the last man who would wish,
when objections are made to our proceedings, to veil them under
the decision of the Congress; it was a decision which the
Plenipotentiaries of England highly approved. It was a proposal which,
as your Lordships will see when you refer to the Protocols which I
shall lay on the table to-night, was made by my noble friend the
Secretary of State, that Austria should accept this trust and fulfil
this duty; and I earnestly supported him on that occasion. My Lords,
in consequence of that arrangement, cries have been raised against
our 'partition of Turkey'. My Lords, our object has been directly the
reverse--our object has been to prevent partition. The question of
partition is one upon which, it appears to me, very erroneous ideas
are in circulation. Some two years ago--before, I think, the war had
commenced, but when the disquietude and dangers of the situation were
very generally felt--there was a school of statesmen who were highly
in favour of what they believed to be the only remedy--what they
called the partition of Turkey. Those who did not agree with them were
those who thought we should, on the whole, attempt the restoration
of Turkey. Her Majesty's Government at all times have resisted the
partition of Turkey. They have done so, because, exclusive of the high
moral considerations that are mixed up with the subject, they believed
an attempt, on a great scale, to accomplish the partition of Turkey
would inevitably lead to a long, a sanguinary, and often recurring
struggle, and that Europe and Asia would both be involved in a series
of troubles and sources of disaster and danger of which no adequate
idea could be formed.

These professors of partition--quite secure, no doubt, in their own
views--have freely spoken to us on this subject. We have been taken up
to a high mountain and shown all the kingdoms of the earth, and they
have said--'All these shall be yours if you will worship Partition.'
But we have declined to do so for the reasons I have shortly given.
And it is a remarkable circumstance that after the great war, and
after the prolonged diplomatic negotiations, which lasted during
nearly a period of three years, on this matter, the whole Powers of
Europe, including Russia, have strictly, and as completely as ever,
come to the unanimous conclusion that the best chance for the
tranquillity and order of the world is to retain the Sultan as part of
the acknowledged political system of Europe. My Lords, unquestionably
after a great war--and I call the late war a great war, because the
greatness of a war now must not be calculated by its duration, but by
the amount of the forces brought into the field, and where a million
of men have struggled for supremacy, as has been the case recently, I
call that a great war--but, I say, after a great war like this, it is
utterly impossible that you can have a settlement of any permanent
character without a redistribution of territory and considerable
changes. But that is not partition. My Lords, a country may have lost
provinces, but that is not partition. We know that not very long ago
a great country--one of the foremost countries of the world--lost
provinces; yet, is not France one of the Great Powers of the world,
and with a future--a commanding future? Austria herself has lost
provinces--more provinces even than Turkey, perhaps; even England has
lost provinces--the most precious possessions--the loss of which
every Englishman must deplore to this moment. We lost them from bad
government. Had the principles which now obtain between the metropolis
and her dependencies prevailed then, we should not, perhaps, have
lost those provinces, and the power of this Empire would have been
proportionally increased. It is perfectly true that the Sultan of
Turkey has lost provinces; it is true that his armies have been
defeated; it is true that his enemy is even now at his gates; but all
that has happened to other Powers. But a sovereign who has not yet
forfeited his capital, whose capital has not been occupied by his
enemy--and that capital one of the strongest in the world--who has
armies and fleets at his disposal, and who still rules over 20,000,000
of inhabitants, cannot be described as a Power whose Dominions have
been partitioned. My Lords, it has been said that no limit has been
fixed to the occupation of Bosnia by Austria. Well, I think that was a
very wise step. The moment you limit an occupation you deprive it of
half its virtue. All those opposed to the principles which occupation
was devised to foster and strengthen feel that they have only to hold
their breath and wait a certain time, and the opportunity for their
interference would again present itself. Therefore, I cannot agree
with the objection which is made to the arrangement with regard to the
occupation of Bosnia by Austria on the question of its duration.

My Lords, there is a point on which I feel it now my duty to trouble
your Lordships, and that is the question of Greece. A severe charge
has been made against the Congress, and particularly against the
English Plenipotentiaries, for not having sufficiently attended to the
interests and claims of Greece. My Lords, I think you will find,
on reflection, that that charge is utterly unfounded. The English
Government were the first that expressed the desire that Greece should
be heard at the Congress. But, while they expressed that desire, they
communicated confidentially to Greece that it must on no account
associate that desire on the part of the Government with any
engagement for the redistribution of territory. That was repeated,
and not merely once repeated. The Greek inhabitants, apart from the
kingdom of Greece, are a considerable element in the Turkish Empire,
and it is of the greatest importance that their interests should be
sedulously attended to. One of the many evils of that large Slav
State--the Bulgaria of the San Stefano treaty--was, that it would have
absorbed, and made utterly to disappear from the earth, a considerable
Greek population. At the Congress the Greeks were heard, and they were
heard by representatives of considerable eloquence and ability; but it
was quite clear, the moment they put their case before the Congress,
that they had totally misapprehended the reason why the Congress had
met together, and what were its objects and character. The Greek
representatives, evidently, had not in any way relinquished what they
call their great idea--and your Lordships well know that it is one
that has no limit which does not reach as far as Constantinople. But
they did mention at the Congress, as a practical people, and feeling
that they had no chance of obtaining at that moment all they
desired--that they were willing to accept as an instalment the two
large provinces of Epirus and Thessaly, and the island of Crete. It
was quite evident to the Congress, that the representatives of Greece
utterly misunderstood the objects of our labours--that we were not
there to partition Turkey, and give them their share of Turkey, but
for a very contrary purpose--as far as we could to re-establish
the dominion of the Sultan on a rational basis, to condense and
concentrate his authority, and to take the opportunity--of which we
have largely availed ourselves--of improving the condition of his
subjects. I trust, therefore, when I have pointed out to your
Lordships this cardinal error in the views of Greece, that your
Lordships will feel that the charge made against the Congress has
no substantial foundation. But the interests of Greece were not
neglected, and least of all by Her Majesty's Government. Before the
Congress of Berlin, believing that there was an opportunity of which
considerable advantage might be made for Greece without deviating into
partition, we applied to the Porte to consider the long-vexed question
of the boundaries of the two States. The boundaries of Greece have
always been inadequate and inconvenient; they are so formed as to
offer a premium to brigandage--which is the curse of both countries,
and has led to misunderstanding and violent intercourse between
the inhabitants of both. Now, when some redistribution--and a
considerable redistribution--of territories was about to take
place--now, we thought, was the opportunity for Greece to urge her
claim; and that claim we were ready to support, and to reconcile the
Porte to viewing it in a large and liberal manner. And I am bound to
say that the manner in which our overtures were received by the Porte
was encouraging, and more than encouraging. For a long period Her
Majesty's Government have urged upon both countries, and especially
upon Greece, the advantage of a good understanding between them. We
urged that it was only by union between Turks and Greeks that any
reaction could be obtained against that overpowering Slav interest
which was then exercising such power in the Peninsula, and which had
led to this fatal and disastrous war. More than this, on more than
one occasion--I may say, on many occasions--we have been the means of
preventing serious misunderstandings between Turkey and Greece, and on
every occasion we have received from both States an acknowledgement of
our good offices. We were, therefore, in a position to assist Greece
in this matter. But, of course, to give satisfaction to a State which
coveted Constantinople for its capital, and which talked of accepting
large provinces and a powerful island as only an instalment of its
claims for the moment, was difficult. It was difficult to get the
views of that Government accepted by Turkey, however inclined it might
be to consider a reconstruction of frontiers on a large and liberal
scale. My noble friend the Secretary of State did use all his
influence, and the result was that, in my opinion, Greece has obtained
a considerable accession of resources and strength. But we did not
find, on the part of the representatives of Greece, that response
or that sympathy which we should have desired. Their minds were
in another quarter. But though the Congress could not meet such
extravagant and inconsistent views as those urged by Greece--views
which were not in any way within the scope of the Congress or the
area of its duty--we have still, as will be found in the Treaty,
or certainly in the Protocol, indicated what we believe to be a
rectification of frontier, which would add considerably to the
strength and resources of Greece. Therefore, I think, under all the
circumstances, it will be acknowledged that Greece has not been
neglected. Greece is a country so interesting that it enlists the
sympathies of all educated men. Greece has a future, and I would say,
if I might be permitted, to Greece, what I would say to an individual
who has a future--'Learn to be patient.'

Now, my Lords, I have touched upon most of the points connected with
Turkey in Europe. My summary is that at this moment--of course, no
longer counting Servia or Roumania, once tributary principalities, as
part of Turkey; not counting even the new Bulgaria, though it is a
tributary principality, as part of Turkey; and that I may not be
taunted with taking an element which I am hardly entitled to place in
the calculation, omitting even Bosnia--European Turkey still remains
a Dominion of 60,000 geographical square miles, with a population of
6,000,000, and that population in a very great degree concentrated and
condensed in the provinces contiguous to the capital. My Lords, it
was said, when the line of the Balkans was carried--and it was not
carried until after long and agitating discussions--it was said by
that illustrious statesman who presided over our labours, that 'Turkey
in Europe once more exists'. My Lords, I do not think that, so far as
European Turkey is concerned, this country has any right to complain
of the decisions of the Congress, or, I would hope, of the labours of
the Plenipotentiaries. You cannot look at the map of Turkey as it had
been left by the Treaty of San Stefano, and as it has been rearranged
by the Treaty of Berlin, without seeing that great results have
accrued. If these results had been the consequences of a long war--if
they had been the results of a struggle like that we underwent in the
Crimea--I do not think they would have been even then unsubstantial
or unsatisfactory. My Lords, I hope that you and the country will not
forget that these results have been obtained without shedding the
blood of a single Englishman; and if there has been some expenditure,
it has been an expenditure which, at least, has shown the resources
and determination of this country. Had you entered into that war--for
which you were prepared--and well prepared--probably in a month you
would have exceeded the whole expenditure you have now incurred.

My Lords, I now ask you for a short time to quit Europe and to visit
Asia, and consider the labours of the Congress in another quarter of
the world. My Lords, you well know that the Russian arms met with
great success in Asia, and that in the Treaty of San Stefano
considerable territories were yielded by Turkey to Russia. In point of
population, they may not appear to be of that importance that they are
generally considered; because it is a fact which should be borne
in mind that the population which was yielded to Russia by Turkey
amounted only to about 250,000 souls; and, therefore, if you look to
the question of population, and to the increase of strength to a
State which depends on population, you would hardly believe that the
acquisition of 250,000 new subjects is a sufficient return for the
terrible military losses which inevitably must accrue from campaigns
in that country. But although the amount of population was not
considerable, the strength which the Russians acquired was of very
different character. They obtained Kars by conquest--they obtained
Ardahan--another stronghold--they obtained Bayazid--and the Valley
of Alashkerd with the adjoining territory, which contain the great
commercial routes in that part of the world. They also obtained the
port of Batoum. Now, my Lords, the Congress of Berlin have so far
sanctioned the Treaty of San Stefano that, with the exception of
Bayazid and the valley which I have mentioned--no doubt very
important exceptions, and which were yielded by Russia to the views
of the Congress--they have consented to the yielding of the places I
have named to Russia. The Congress have so far approved the Treaty of
San Stefano that they have sanctioned the retention by Russia of Kars
and Batoum. Now the question arises--the Congress having come to that
determination--was it a wise step on the part of the Plenipotentiaries
of Her Majesty to agree to that decision? That is a question which may
legitimately be asked. We might have broken up the Congress, and said,
'We will not consent to the retention of these places by Russia, and
we will use our force to oblige her to yield them up.' Now, my Lords,
I wish fairly to consider what was our position in this state of
affairs. It is often argued as if Russia and England had been at war,
and peace was negotiating between the two Powers. That was not the
case. The rest of Europe were critics over a Treaty which was a real
treaty that existed between Russia and Turkey. Turkey had given up
Batoum, she had given up Kars and Ardahan, she had given up Bayazid.
In an examination of the question, then, we must remember that Russia
at this moment, so far as Europe is concerned, has acquired in Europe
nothing but a very small portion of territory, occupied by 130,000
inhabitants. Well, she naturally expected to find some reward in her
conquests in Armenia for the sacrifices which she had made. Well, my
Lords, consider what those conquests are. There was the strong fort of
Kars. We might have gone to war with Russia in order to prevent her
acquiring Kars and Batoum, and other places of less importance. The
war would not have been, probably, a very short war. It would have
been a very expensive war--and, like most wars, it would probably have
ended in some compromise, and we should have got only half what we had
struggled for. Let us look these two considerable points fairly in the
face. Let us first of all take the great stronghold of Kars. Three
times has Russia captured Kars. Three times, either by our influence
or by other influences, it has been restored to Turkey. Were we to go
to war for Kars and restore it to Turkey, and then to wait till the
next misunderstanding between Russia and Turkey, when Kars should have
been taken again? Was that an occasion of a _casus belli_? I do not
think your Lordships would ever sanction a war carried on for such an
object and under such circumstances.

Then, my Lords, look at the case of Batoum, of which your Lordships
have heard so much. I should have been very glad if Batoum had
remained in the possession of the Turks, on the general principle that
the less we had reduced its territory in that particular portion of
the globe, the better it would be as regards the prestige on which the
influence of the Ottoman Porte much depends there. But let us see what
is this Batoum of which you have heard so much? It is generally
spoken of in society and in the world as if it were a sort of
Portsmouth--whereas, in reality, it should rather be compared with
Cowes. It will hold three considerable ships, and if it were packed
like the London Docks, it might hold six; but in that case the danger,
if the wind blew from the north, would be immense. You cannot increase
the port seaward; for though the water touching the shore is not
absolutely fathomless, it is extremely deep, and you cannot make any
artificial harbour or breakwater. Unquestionably, in the interior the
port might be increased, but it can only be increased by first-rate
engineers, and by the expenditure of millions of capital; and if we
were to calculate the completion of the port by the precedents which
exist in many countries, and certainly in the Black Sea, it would not
be completed under half a century. Now is that a question for which
England would be justified in going to war with Russia? My Lords,
we have, therefore, thought it advisable not to grudge Russia those
conquests that have been made--especially after obtaining the
restoration of the town of Bayazid and its important district.

But it seemed to us the time had come when we ought to consider
whether certain efforts should not be made to put an end to these
perpetually recurring wars between the Porte and Russia, ending, it
may be, sometimes apparently in comparatively insignificant results;
but always terminating with one fatal consequence--namely, shaking to
the centre the influence and the prestige of the Porte in Asia and
diminishing its means of profitably and advantageously governing that
country. My Lords, it seemed to us that as we had now taken, and
as Europe generally had taken, so avowedly deep an interest in the
welfare of the subjects of the Porte in Europe, the time had come when
we ought to consider whether we could not do something which would
improve the general condition of the dominions of the Sultan in Asia;
and, instead of these most favoured portions of the globe every year
being in a more forlorn and disadvantageous position, whether it
would not be possible to take some steps which would secure at least
tranquillity and order; and, when tranquillity and order were secured,
whether some opportunity might not be given to Europe to develop the
resources of a country which Nature has made so rich and teeming. My
Lords, we occupy with respect to this part of the world a peculiar
position, which is shared by no other Power. Our Indian Empire is on
every occasion on which these discussions occur, or these troubles
occur, or these settlements occur--our Indian Empire is to England a
source of grave anxiety, and the time appeared to have arrived when,
if possible, we should terminate that anxiety. In all the questions
connected with European Turkey we had the assistance and sympathy
sometimes of all, and often of many, of the European Powers--because
they were interested in the question who should possess
Constantinople, and who should have the command of the Danube and
the freedom of the Mediterranean. But when we came to considerations
connected with our Oriental Empire itself, they naturally are not so
generally interested as they are in those which relate to the European
portion of the Dominions of the Porte, and we have to look to our own
resources alone. There has been no want, on our part, of invitations
to neutral Powers to join with us in preventing or in arresting war.
Besides the great Treaty of Paris, there was the Tripartite Treaty,
which, if acted upon, would have prevented war. But that treaty could
not be acted upon, from the unwillingness of the parties to it to
act; and therefore we must clearly perceive that if anything could be
effectually arranged, as far as our Oriental Empire is concerned, the
arrangements must be made by ourselves. Now, this was the origin of
that Convention at Constantinople which is on your Lordship's table,
and in that Convention our object was not merely a military or chiefly
a military object. Our object was to place this country certainly in a
position in which its advice and in which its conduct might at least
have the advantage of being connected with a military power and
with that force which it is necessary to possess often in great
transactions, though you may not fortunately feel that it is necessary
to have recourse to that force. Our object in entering into that
arrangement with Turkey was, as I said before, to produce tranquillity
and order. When tranquillity and order were produced, we believed that
the time would come when the energy and enterprise of Europe might be
invited to what really is another Continent, as far as the experience
of man is concerned, and that its development will add greatly not
merely to the wealth and the prosperity of the inhabitants, but to the
wealth and prosperity of Europe. My Lords, I am surprised to hear--for
though I have not heard it myself from any authority, it is so
generally in men's mouths that I am bound to notice it--that the step
we have taken should be represented as one that is calculated to
excite the suspicion or enmity of any of our Allies, or of any State.
My Lords, I am convinced that when a little time has elapsed, and
when people are better acquainted with this subject than they are at
present, no one will accuse England of having acted in this matter but
with frankness and consideration for other Powers. And if there be
a Power in existence to which we have endeavoured to show most
consideration from particular circumstances in this matter it is
France. There is no step of this kind that I would take without
considering the effect it might have upon the feelings of France--a
nation to whom we are bound by almost every tie that can unite a
people, and with whom our intimacy is daily increasing. If there could
be any step which of all others was least calculated to excite the
suspicion of France it would appear to be this--because we avoided
Egypt, knowing how susceptible France is with regard to Egypt; we
avoided Syria, knowing how susceptible France is on the subject of
Syria; and we avoided availing ourselves of any part of the _terra
firma_, because we would not hurt the feelings or excite the
suspicions of France. France knows that for the last two or three
years we have listened to no appeal which involved anything like an
acquisition of territory, because the territory which might have come
to us would have been territory which France would see in our hands
with suspicion and dislike. But I must make this observation to
your Lordships. We have a substantial interest in the East; it is a
commanding interest, and its behest must be obeyed. But the
interest of France in Egypt, and her interest in Syria are, as she
acknowledges, sentimental and traditionary interests; and, although I
respect them, I wish to see in the Lebanon and in Egypt the influence
of France fairly and justly maintained, and although her officers and
ours in that part of the world--and especially in Egypt--are acting
together with confidence and trust, we must remember that our
connexion with the East is not merely an affair of sentiment and
tradition, but that we have urgent and substantial and enormous
interests which we must guard and keep. Therefore, when we find that
the progress of Russia is a progress which, whatever may be the
intentions of Russia, necessarily in that part of the world produces
such a state of disorganization and want of confidence in the Porte,
it comes to this--that if we do not interfere in the vindication
of our own interests, that part of Asia must become the victim of
anarchy, and ultimately become part of the possessions of Russia.

Now, my Lords, I have ventured to review the chief points connected
with the subject on which I wished to address you--namely, what was
the policy pursued by us, both at the Congress of Berlin and in the
Convention of Constantinople. I am told, indeed, that we have incurred
an awful responsibility by the Convention into which we have entered.
My Lords, a prudent Minister certainly would not recklessly enter
into any responsibility; but a Minister who is afraid to enter into
responsibility is, to my mind, not a prudent Minister. We do not, my
Lords, wish to enter into any unnecessary responsibility; but there is
one responsibility from which we certainly shrink; we shrink from the
responsibility of handing to our successors a diminished or a weakened
Empire. Our opinion is that the course we have taken will arrest the
great evils which are destroying Asia Minor and the equally rich
countries beyond. We see in the present state of affairs the Porte
losing its influence over its subjects; we see a certainty, in our
opinion, of increasing anarchy, of the dissolution of all those ties
which, though feeble, yet still exist and which have kept society
together in those countries. We see the inevitable result of such a
state of things, and we cannot blame Russia for availing herself
of it. But, yielding to Russia what she has obtained, we say to
her--'Thus far, and no farther.' Asia is large enough for both of us.
There is no reason for these constant wars, or fears of wars, between
Russia and England. Before the circumstances which led to the recent
disastrous war, when none of those events which we have seen agitating
the world had occurred, and when we were speaking in 'another place'
of the conduct of Russia in Central Asia, I vindicated that conduct,
which I thought was unjustly attacked, and I said then, what I repeat
now--there is room enough for Russia and England in Asia. But the
room that we require we must secure. We have, therefore, entered into
an alliance--defensive alliance--with Turkey, to guard her against
any further attack from Russia. We believe that the result of this
Convention will be order and tranquillity. And then it will be
for Europe--for we ask no exclusive privileges or commercial
advantages--it will then be for Europe to assist England in availing
ourselves of the wealth which has been so long neglected and
undeveloped in regions once so fertile and so favoured. We are told,
as I have said before, that we are undertaking great responsibilities.
From those responsibilities we do not shrink. We think that, with
prudence and discretion, we shall bring about a state of affairs as
advantageous for Europe as for ourselves; and in that conviction
we cannot bring ourselves to believe that the act which we have
recommended is one that leads to trouble and to warfare. No, my Lords.
I am sure there will be no jealousy between England and France upon
this subject.

In taking Cyprus the movement is not Mediterranean; it is Indian. We
have taken a step there which we think necessary for the maintenance
of our Empire and for its preservation in peace. If that be our first
consideration, our next is the development of the country. And upon
that subject I am told that it was expected to-night that I should
in detail lay before the House the minute system by which all those
results, which years may bring about, are instantly to be acquired.
I, my Lords, am prepared to do nothing of the kind. We must act with
considerable caution. We are acting with a Power, let me remind the
House, which is an independent Power--the Sultan--and we can
decide nothing but with his consent and sanction. We have been in
communication with that prince--who, I may be allowed to remind the
House, has other things to think about, even than Asia Minor; for no
man was ever tried, from his accession to the throne till this moment,
so severely as the Sultan has been; but he has invariably during his
reign expressed his desire to act with England and to act with Europe,
and especially in the better administration and management of his
affairs. The time will come--and I hope it is not distant--when my
noble friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs may be able to
communicate to the House details of these matters, which will be most
interesting. But we must protest against being forced into statements
on matters of importance which are necessarily still immature. And we
must remember that, formally speaking, even the Treaty of Berlin has
not been ratified, and there are many things which cannot even be
commenced until the ratification of that treaty has occurred.

My Lords, I have now laid before you the general outline of the
policy that we have pursued, both in the Congress of Berlin and at
Constantinople. They are intimately connected with each other, and
they must be considered together. I only hope that the House will not
misunderstand--and I think the country will not misunderstand--our
motives in occupying Cyprus, and in encouraging those intimate
relations between ourselves and the Government and the population of
Turkey. They are not movements of war; they are operations of peace
and civilization. We have no reason to fear war. Her Majesty has
fleets and armies which are second to none. England must have seen
with pride the Mediterranean covered with her ships; she must have
seen with pride the discipline and devotion which have been shown to
her and her Government by all her troops, drawn from every part of her
Empire. I leave it to the illustrious duke, in whose presence I speak,
to bear witness to the spirit of Imperial patriotism which has been
exhibited by the troops from India, which he recently reviewed at
Malta. But it is not on our fleets and armies, however necessary they
may be for the maintenance of our Imperial strength, that I alone or
mainly depend in that enterprise on which this country is about to
enter. It is on what I most highly value--the consciousness that in
the Eastern nations there is confidence in this country, and that,
while they know we can enforce our policy, at the same time they know
that our Empire is an Empire of liberty, of truth, and of justice.


AUGUST 3, 1914


Last week I stated that we were working for peace not only for this
country, but to preserve the peace of Europe. To-day events move so
rapidly that it is exceedingly difficult to state with technical
accuracy the actual state of affairs, but it is clear that the peace
of Europe cannot be preserved. Russia and Germany, at any rate, have
declared war upon each other.

Before I proceed to state the position of His Majesty's Government, I
would like to clear the ground so that, before I come to state to the
House what our attitude is with regard to the present crisis, the
House may know exactly under what obligations the Government is, or
the House can be said to be, in coming to a decision on the matter.
First of all let me say, very shortly, that we have consistently
worked with a single mind, with all the earnestness in our power, to
preserve peace. The House may be satisfied on that point. We have
always done it. During these last years, as far as His Majesty's
Government are concerned, we would have no difficulty in proving that
we have done so. Throughout the Balkan crisis, by general admission,
we worked for peace. The co-operation of the Great Powers of Europe
was successful in working for peace in the Balkan crisis. It is true
that some of the Powers had great difficulty in adjusting their points
of view. It took much, time and labour and discussion before they
could settle their differences, but peace was secured, because peace
was their main object, and they were willing to give time and trouble
rather than accentuate differences rapidly.

In the present crisis, it has not been possible to secure the peace
of Europe; because there has been little time, and there has been
a disposition--at any rate in some quarters on which I will not
dwell--to force things rapidly to an issue, at any rate, to the great
risk of peace, and, as we now know, the result of that is that the
policy of peace, as far as the Great Powers generally are concerned,
is in danger. I do not want to dwell on that, and to comment on it,
and to say where the blame seems to us to lie, which Powers were most
in favour of peace, which were most disposed to risk or endanger
peace, because I would like the House to approach this crisis in which
we are now, from the point of view of British interests, British
honour, and British obligations, free from all passion as to why peace
has not been preserved.

We shall publish Papers as soon as we can regarding what took place
last week when we were working for peace; and when those Papers are
published, I have no doubt that to every human being they will make
it clear how strenuous and genuine and whole-hearted our efforts
for peace were, and that they will enable people to form their own
judgement as to what forces were at work which operated against peace.

I come first, now, to the question of British obligations. I have
assured the House--and the Prime Minister has assured the House more
than once--that, if any crisis such as this arose, we should come
before the House of Commons and be able to say to the House that it
was free to decide what the British attitude should be, that we would
have no secret engagement which we should spring upon the House, and
tell the House that, because we had entered into that engagement,
there was an obligation of honour upon the country. I will deal with
that point to clear the ground first.

There has been in Europe two diplomatic groups, the Triple Alliance
and what came to be called the 'Triple Entente', for some years past.
The Triple Entente was not an Alliance--it was a diplomatic group. The
House will remember that in 1908 there was a crisis, also a Balkan
crisis, originating in the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The
Russian Minister, M. Isvolsky, came to London, or happened to come to
London, because his visit was planned before the crisis broke out. I
told him definitely then, this being a Balkan crisis, a Balkan affair,
I did not consider that public opinion in this country would justify
us in promising to give anything more than diplomatic support. More
was never asked from us, more was never given, and more was never

In this present crisis, up till yesterday, we have also given no
promise of anything more than diplomatic support--up till yesterday no
promise of more than diplomatic support. Now I must make this question
of obligation clear to the House. I must go back to the first Moroccan
crisis of 1906. That was the time of the Algeciras Conference, and it
came at a time of very great difficulty to His Majesty's Government
when a General Election was in progress, and Ministers were scattered
over the country, and I--spending three days a week in my constituency
and three days at the Foreign Office--was asked the question whether
if that crisis developed into war between France and Germany we would
give armed support. I said then that I could promise nothing to any
foreign Power unless it was subsequently to receive the whole-hearted
support of public opinion here if the occasion arose. I said, in
my opinion, if war was forced upon France then on the question of
Morocco--a question which had just been the subject of agreement
between this country and France, an agreement exceedingly popular on
both sides--that if out of that agreement war was forced on France
at that time, in my view public opinion in this country would have
rallied to the material support of France.

I gave no promise, but I expressed that opinion during the crisis, as
far as I remember, almost in the same words, to the French Ambassador
and the German Ambassador at the time. I made no promise, and I used
no threats; but I expressed that opinion. That position was accepted
by the French Government, but they said to me at the time--and I think
very reasonably--'If you think it possible that the public opinion
of Great Britain might, should a sudden crisis arise, justify you
in giving to France the armed support which you cannot promise in
advance, you will not be able to give that support, even if you wish
to give it, when the time comes, unless some conversations have
already taken place between naval and military experts.' There was
force in that. I agreed to it, and authorized those conversations
to take place, but on the distinct understanding that nothing which
passed between military or naval experts should bind either Government
or restrict in any way their freedom to make a decision as to whether
or not they would give that support when the time arose.

As I have told the House, upon that occasion a General Election was in
prospect. I had to take the responsibility of doing that without
the Cabinet. It could not be summoned. An answer had to be given.
I consulted Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the Prime Minister; I
consulted, I remember, Lord Haldane, who was then Secretary of State
for War, and the present Prime Minister, who was then Chancellor of
the Exchequer. That was the most I could do, and they authorized that,
on the distinct understanding that it left the hands of the Government
free whenever the crisis arose. The fact that conversations between
military and naval experts took place was later on--I think much
later on, because that crisis passed, and the thing ceased to be of
importance--but later on it was brought to the knowledge of the

The Agadir crisis came--another Morocco crisis--and throughout that
I took precisely the same line that had been taken in 1906. But
subsequently, in 1912, after discussion and consideration in the
Cabinet it was decided that we ought to have a definite understanding
in writing, which was to be only in the form of an unofficial letter,
that these conversations which took place were not binding upon the
freedom of either Government; and on the 22nd of November, 1912, I
wrote to the French Ambassador the letter which I will now read to the
House, and I received from him a letter in similar terms in reply. The
letter which I have to read to the House is this, and it will be known
to the public now as the record that, whatever took place between
military and naval experts, they were not binding engagements upon the

  My dear Ambassador,--From time to time in recent years
  the French and British naval and military experts have consulted
  together. It has always been understood that such
  consultation does not restrict the freedom of either Government
  to decide at any future time whether or not to assist
  the other by armed force. We have agreed that consultation
  between experts is not, and ought not, to be regarded as
  an engagement that commits either Government to action in
  a contingency that has not yet arisen and may never arise.
  The disposition, for instance, of the French and British Fleets
  respectively at the present moment is not based upon an
  engagement to co-operate in war.

  You have, however, pointed out that, if either Government
  had grave reason to expect an unprovoked attack by
  a third Power, it might become essential to know whether
  it could in that event depend upon the armed assistance of
  the other.

  I agree that, if either Government had grave reason to
  expect an unprovoked attack by a third Power, or something
  that threatened the general peace, it should immediately
  discuss with the other whether both Governments
  should act together to prevent aggression and to
  preserve peace, and, if so, what measures they would be
  prepared to take in common.

Lord Charles Beresford: What is the date of that?

Sir E. Grey: The 22nd November, 1912. That is the starting-point for
the Government with regard to the present crisis. I think it makes it
clear that what the Prime Minister and I said to the House of Commons
was perfectly justified, and that, as regards our freedom to decide
in a crisis what our line should be, whether we should intervene or
whether we should abstain, the Government remained perfectly free,
and, _a fortiori_, the House of Commons remains perfectly free. That I
say to clear the ground from the point of view of obligation. I think
it was due, to prove our good faith to the House of Commons, that I
should give, that full information to the House now, and say what I
think is obvious from the letter I have just read, that we do not
construe anything which has previously taken place in our diplomatic
relations with other Powers in this matter as restricting the freedom
of the Government to decide what attitude they should take now, or
restrict the freedom of the House of Commons to decide what their
attitude should be.

Well, Sir, I will go further, and I will say this: The situation in
the present crisis is not precisely the same as it was in the Morocco
question. In the Morocco question it was primarily a dispute which
concerned France--a dispute which concerned France and France
primarily--a dispute, as it seemed to us, affecting France, out of an
agreement subsisting between us and France, and published to the whole
world, in which we engaged to give France diplomatic support. No doubt
we were pledged to give nothing but diplomatic support; we were, at
any rate, pledged by a definite public agreement to stand with France
diplomatically in that question.

The present crisis has originated differently. It has not originated
with regard to Morocco.

It has not originated as regards anything with which we had a special
agreement with France; it has not originated with anything which
primarily concerned France. It has originated in a dispute
between Austria and Servia. I can say this with the most absolute
confidence--no Government and no country has less desire to be
involved in war over a dispute with Austria and Servia than the
Government and the country of France. They are involved in it because
of their obligation of honour under a definite alliance with Russia.
Well, it is only fair to say to the House that that obligation of
honour cannot apply in the same way to us. We are not parties to
the Franco-Russian Alliance. We do not even know the terms of that
Alliance. So far I have, I think, faithfully and completely cleared
the ground with regard to the question of obligation.

I now come to what we think the situation requires of us. For many
years we have had a long-standing friendship with France. I remember
well the feeling in the House--and my own feeling--for I spoke on the
subject, I think, when the late Government made their agreement with
France--the warm and cordial feeling resulting from the fact that
these two nations, who had had perpetual differences in the past, had
cleared these differences away. I remember saying, I think, that it
seemed to me that some benign influence had been at work to produce
the cordial atmosphere that had made that possible. But how far that
friendship entails obligation--it has been a friendship between
the nations and ratified by the nations--how far that entails an
obligation, let every man look into his own heart, and his own
feelings, and construe the extent of the obligation for himself. I
construe it myself as I feel it, but I do not wish to urge upon any
one else more than their feelings dictate as to what they should feel
about the obligation. The House, individually and collectively, may
judge for itself. I speak my personal view, and I have given the House
my own feeling in the matter.

The French fleet is now in the Mediterranean, and the northern and
western coasts of France are absolutely undefended. The French fleet
being concentrated in the Mediterranean, the situation is very
different from what it used to be, because the friendship which has
grown up between the two countries has given them a sense of security
that there was nothing to be feared from us.

The French coasts are absolutely undefended. The French fleet is in
the Mediterranean, and has for some years been concentrated there
because of the feeling of confidence and friendship which has existed
between the two countries. My own feeling is that if a foreign fleet,
engaged in a war which France had not sought, and in which she had not
been the aggressor, came down the English Channel and bombarded and
battered the undefended coasts of France, we could not stand aside and
see this going on practically within sight of our eyes, with our arms
folded, looking on dispassionately, doing nothing! I believe that
would be the feeling of this country. There are times when one feels
that if these circumstances actually did arise, it would be a feeling
which would spread with irresistible force throughout the land.

But I also want to look at the matter without sentiment, and from the
point of view of British interests, and it is on that that I am going
to base and justify what I am presently going to say to the House. If
we say nothing at this moment, what is France to do with her fleet in
the Mediterranean? If she leaves it there, with no statement from us
as to what we will do, she leaves her northern and western coasts
absolutely undefended, at the mercy of a German fleet coming down the
Channel, to do as it pleases in a war which is a war of life and death
between them. If we say nothing, it may be that the French fleet is
withdrawn from the Mediterranean. We are in the presence of a European
conflagration; can anybody set limits to the consequences that may
arise out of it? Let us assume that to-day we stand aside in an
attitude of neutrality, saying, 'No, we cannot undertake and engage to
help either party in this conflict.' Let us suppose the French fleet
is withdrawn from the Mediterranean; and let us assume that the
consequences--which are already tremendous in what has happened in
Europe even to countries which are at peace, in fact, equally whether
countries are at peace or at war--let us assume that out of that come
consequences unforeseen, which make it necessary at a sudden moment
that, in defence of vital British interests, we should go to war: and
let us assume--which is quite possible--that Italy, who is now neutral
because, as I understand, she considers that this war is an aggressive
war, and the Triple Alliance being a defensive alliance her obligation
did not arise--let us assume that consequences which are not yet
foreseen--and which, perfectly legitimately consulting her own
interests, make Italy depart from her attitude of neutrality at a time
when we are forced in defence of vital British interests ourselves to
fight, what then will be the position in the Mediterranean? It might
be that at some critical moment those consequences would be forced
upon us because our trade-routes in the Mediterranean might be vital
to this country.

Nobody can say that in the course of the next few weeks there is any
particular trade-route the keeping open of which may not be vital to
this country. What will be our position then? We have not kept a
fleet in the Mediterranean which is equal to dealing alone with a
combination of other fleets in the Mediterranean. It would be the very
moment when we could not detach more ships to the Mediterranean, and
we might have exposed this country from our negative attitude at the
present moment to the most appalling risk. I say that from the point
of view of British interests. We feel strongly that France was
entitled to know, and to know at once, whether or not in the event
of attack upon her unprotected northern and western coasts she
could depend upon British support. In that emergency, and in these
compelling circumstances, yesterday afternoon I gave to the French
Ambassador the following statement:

  I am authorized to give an assurance that if the German
  fleet comes into the Channel or through the North Sea to
  undertake hostile operations against the French coasts or
  shipping, the British fleet will give all the protection in its
  power. This assurance is, of course, subject to the policy
  of His Majesty's Government receiving the support of
  Parliament, and must not be taken as binding His Majesty's

  Government to take any action until the above contingency
  of action by the German fleet takes place.

I read that to the House, not as a declaration of war on our part, not
as entailing immediate aggressive action on our part, but as binding
us to take aggressive action should that contingency arise. Things
move very hurriedly from hour to hour. Fresh news comes in, and I
cannot give this in any very formal way; but I understand that the
German Government would be prepared, if we would pledge ourselves to
neutrality, to agree that its fleet would not attack the northern
coast of France. I have only heard that shortly before I came to the
House, but it is far too narrow an engagement for us. And, Sir,
there is the more serious consideration--becoming more serious every
hour--there is the question of the neutrality of Belgium.

I shall have to put before the House at some length what is our
position in regard to Belgium. The governing factor is the Treaty
of 1839, but this is a treaty with a history--a history accumulated
since. In 1870, when there was war between France and Germany, the
question of the neutrality of Belgium arose, and various things were
said. Amongst other things, Prince Bismarck gave an assurance to
Belgium that, confirming his verbal assurance, he gave in writing a
declaration which he said was superfluous in reference to the treaty
in existence--that the German Confederation and its allies would
respect the neutrality of Belgium, it being always understood that
that neutrality would be respected by the other belligerent Powers.
That is valuable as a recognition in 1870 on the part of Germany of
the sacredness of these treaty rights.

What was our own attitude? The people who laid down the attitude of
the British Government were Lord Granville in the House of Lords, and
Mr. Gladstone in the House of Commons. Lord Granville, on the 8th of
August, 1870, used these words. He said:

  We might have explained to the country and to foreign
  nations that we did not think this country was bound
  either morally or internationally, or that its interests were
  concerned in the maintenance of the neutrality of Belgium.
  Though this course might have had some conveniences,
  though it might have been easy to adhere to it, though it
  might have saved us from some immediate danger, it is
  a course which Her Majesty's Government thought it impossible
  to adopt in the name of the country with any due
  regard to the country's honour or to the country's interests.

Mr. Gladstone spoke as follows two days later:

  There is, I admit, the obligation of the treaty. It is
  not necessary, nor would time permit me, to enter into the
  complicated question of the nature of the obligations of
  that treaty; but I am not able to subscribe to the doctrine
  of those who have held in this House what plainly amounts
  to an assertion, that the simple fact of the existence of
  a guarantee is binding on every party to it, irrespectively
  altogether of the particular position in which it may find
  itself at the time when the occasion for acting on the guarantee
  arises. The great authorities upon foreign policy to
  whom I have been accustomed to listen, such as Lord
  Aberdeen and Lord Palmerston, never to my knowledge
  took that rigid and, if I may venture to say so, that impracticable
  view of the guarantee. The circumstance that
  there is already an existing guarantee in force is of necessity
  an important fact, and a weighty element in the case to
  which we are bound to give full and ample consideration.
  There is also this further consideration, the force of which
  we must all feel most deeply, and that is, the common
  interests against the unmeasured aggrandizement of any
  Power whatever.

The treaty is an old treaty--1839--and that was the view taken of it
in 1870. It is one of those treaties which are founded, not only on
consideration for Belgium, which benefits under the treaty, but in the
interests of those who guarantee the neutrality of Belgium. The honour
and interests are, at least, as strong to-day as in 1870, and
we cannot take a more narrow view or a lass serious view of our
obligations, and of the importance of those obligations than was taken
by Mr. Gladstone's Government in 1870.

I will read to the House what took place last week on this subject.
When mobilization was beginning, I knew that this question must be a
most important element in our policy--a most important subject for the
House of Commons. I telegraphed at the same time in similar terms to
both Paris and Berlin to say that it was essential for us to know
whether the French and German Governments respectively were prepared
to undertake an engagement to respect the neutrality of Belgium. These
are the replies. I got from the French Government this reply:

  The French Government are resolved to respect the
  neutrality of Belgium, and it would only be in the event
  of some other Power violating that neutrality that France
  might find herself under the necessity, in order to assure
  the defence of her security, to act otherwise. This assurance
  has been given several times. The President of the
  Republic spoke of it to the King of the Belgians, and the
  French Minister at Brussels has spontaneously renewed the
  assurance to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs to-day.

From the German Government the reply was:

  The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs could not
  possibly give an answer before consulting the Emperor and
  the Imperial Chancellor.

Sir Edward Goschen, to whom I had said it was important to have an
answer soon, said he hoped the answer would not be too long delayed.
The German Minister for Foreign Affairs then gave Sir Edward Goschen
to understand that he rather doubted whether they could answer at all,
as any reply they might give could not fail, in the event of war, to
have the undesirable effect of disclosing, to a certain extent, part
of their plan of campaign. I telegraphed at the same time to Brussels
to the Belgian Government, and I got the following reply from Sir
Francis Villiers:

  The Minister for Foreign Affairs thanks me for the
  communication, and replies that Belgium will, to the
  utmost of her power, maintain neutrality, and expects and
  desires other Powers to observe and uphold it. He begged
  me to add that the relations between Belgium and the
  neighbouring Powers were excellent, and there was no
  reason to suspect their intentions, but that the Belgian
  Government believe, in the case of violation, they were in
  a position to defend the neutrality of their country.

It now appears from the news I have received to-day--which has come
quite recently, and I am not yet quite sure how far it has reached me
in an accurate form--that an ultimatum has been given to Belgium by
Germany, the object of which was to offer Belgium friendly relations
with Germany on condition that she would facilitate the passage of
German troops through Belgium. Well, Sir, until one has these things
absolutely definitely, up to the last moment, I do not wish to say all
that one would say if one were in a position to give the House full,
complete, and absolute information upon the point. We were sounded in
the course of last week as to whether, if a guarantee were given
that, after the war, Belgium integrity would be preserved, that
would content us. We replied that we could not bargain away whatever
interests or obligations we had in Belgian neutrality.

Shortly before I reached the House I was informed that the following
telegram had been received from the King of the Belgians by our
King--King George:

  Remembering the numerous proofs of your Majesty's
  friendship and that of your predecessors, and the friendly
  attitude of England in 1870, and the proof of friendship
  she has just given us again, I make a supreme appeal to
  the diplomatic intervention of your Majesty's Government
  to safeguard the integrity of Belgium.

Diplomatic intervention took place last week on our part. What can
diplomatic intervention do now? We have great and vital interests in
the independence--and integrity is the least part--of Belgium. If
Belgium is compelled to submit to allow her neutrality to be violated,
of course the situation is clear. Even if by agreement she admitted
the violation of her neutrality, it is clear she could only do so
under duress. The smaller States in that region of Europe ask but
one thing. Their one desire is that they should be left alone and
independent. The one thing they fear is, I think, not so much that
their integrity but that their independence should be interfered with.
If in this war which is before Europe the neutrality of one of those
countries is violated, if the troops of one of the combatants violate
its neutrality and no action be taken to resent it, at the end of the
war, whatever the integrity may be, the independence will be gone.

I have one further quotation from Mr. Gladstone as to what he thought
about the independence of Belgium. It will be found in _Hansard_,
volume 203, page 1787. I have not had time to read the whole speech
and verify the context, but the thing seems to me so clear that no
context could make any difference to the meaning of it. Mr. Gladstone

  We have an interest in the independence of Belgium
  which is wider than that which we may have in the literal
  operation of the guarantee. It is found in the answer to
  the question whether, under the circumstances of the case,
  this country, endowed as it is with influence and power,
  would quietly stand by and witness the perpetration of
  the direst crime that ever stained the pages of history, and
  thus become participators in the sin.

No, Sir, if it be the case that there has been anything in the nature
of an ultimatum to Belgium, asking her to compromise or violate her
neutrality, whatever may have been offered to her in return, her
independence is gone if that holds. If her independence goes, the
independence of Holland will follow. I ask the House from the point of
view of British interests, to consider what may be at stake. If France
is beaten in a struggle of life and death, beaten to her knees, loses
her position as a Great Power, becomes subordinate to the will and
power of one greater than herself--consequences which I do not
anticipate, because I am sure that France has the power to defend
herself with all the energy and ability and patriotism which she has
shown so often--still, if that were to happen, and if Belgium fell
under the same dominating influence, and then Holland, and then
Denmark, then would not Mr. Gladstone's words come true, that just
opposite to us there would be a common interest against the unmeasured
aggrandizement of any Power?

It may be said, I suppose, that we might stand aside, husband our
strength, and that, whatever happened in the course of this war, at
the end of it intervene with effect to put things right, and to adjust
them to our own point of view. If, in a crisis like this, we run away
from those obligations of honour and interest as regards the Belgian
Treaty, I doubt whether, whatever material force we might have at the
end, it would be of very much value in face of the respect that we
should have lost. And do not believe, whether a Great Power stands
outside this war or not, it is going to be in a position at the end
of it to exert its superior strength. For us, with a powerful fleet,
which we believe able to protect our commerce, to protect our shores,
and to protect our interests,--if we are engaged in war, we shall
suffer but little more than we shall suffer even if we stand aside.

We are going to suffer, I am afraid, terribly in this war whether we
are in it or whether we stand aside. Foreign trade is going to stop,
not because the trade-routes are closed, but because there is no
trade at the other end. Continental nations engaged in war--all their
populations, all their energies, all their wealth, engaged in a
desperate struggle--they cannot carry on the trade with us that they
are carrying on in times of peace, whether we are parties to the war
or whether we are not. I do not believe for a moment that at the end
of this war, even if we stood aside and remained aside, we should be
in a position, a material position, to use our force decisively to
undo what had happened in the course of the war, to prevent the whole
of the west of Europe opposite to us--if that had been the result of
the war--falling under the domination of a single Power, and I am
quite sure that our moral position would be such as to have lost us
all respect.

I can only say that I have put the question of Belgium somewhat
hypothetically, because I am not yet sure of all the facts, but, if
the facts turn out to be as they have reached us at present, it is
quite clear that there is an obligation on this country to do its
utmost to prevent the consequences to which those facts will lead if
they are undisputed.

I have read to the House the only engagements that we have yet taken
definitely with regard to the use of force. I think it is due to the
House to say that we have taken no engagement yet with regard to
sending an expeditionary armed force out of the country. Mobilization
of the Fleet has taken place; mobilization of the Army is taking
place; but we have as yet taken no engagement, because I do feel that
in the case of a European conflagration such as this, unprecedented,
with our enormous responsibilities in India and other parts of the
Empire, or in countries in British occupation, with all the unknown
factors, we must take very carefully into consideration the use which
we make of sending an expeditionary force out of the country until we
know how we stand. One thing I would say.

The one bright spot in the whole of this terrible situation is
Ireland. The general feeling throughout Ireland--and I would like this
to be clearly understood abroad--does not make the Irish question a
consideration which we feel we have now to take into account. I have
told the House how far we have at present gone in commitments and the
conditions which influence our policy, and I have put to the House,
and dwelt at length upon how vital is the condition of the neutrality
of Belgium.

What other policy is there before the House?

There is but one way in which the Government could make certain at the
present moment of keeping outside this war, and that would be that it
should immediately issue a proclamation of unconditional neutrality.
We cannot do that. We have made the commitment to France that I have
read to the House which prevents us from doing that. We have got the
consideration of Belgium which prevents us also from any unconditional
neutrality, and, without those conditions absolutely satisfied and
satisfactory, we are bound not to shrink from proceeding to the use of
all the forces in our power. If we did take that line by saying,
'We will have nothing whatever to do with this matter' under no
conditions--the Belgian Treaty obligations, the possible position in
the Mediterranean, with damage to British interests, and what may
happen to France from our failure to support France--if we were to say
that all those things mattered nothing, were as nothing, and to say
we would stand aside, we should, I believe, sacrifice our respect and
good name and reputation before the world, and should not escape the
most serious and grave economic consequences.

My object has been to explain the view of the Government, and to place
before the House the issue and the choice. I do not for a moment
conceal, after what I have said, and after the information, incomplete
as it is, that I have given to the House with regard to Belgium, that
we must be prepared, and we are prepared, for the consequences of
having to use all the strength we have at any moment--we know not how
soon--to defend ourselves and to take our part. We know, if the facts
all be as I have stated them, though I have announced no intending
aggressive action on our part, no final decision to resort to force at
a moment's notice, until we know the whole of the case, that the use
of it may be forced upon us. As far as the forces of the Crown are
concerned, we are ready. I believe the Prime Minister and my right
hon. friend the First Lord of the Admiralty have no doubt whatever
that the readiness and the efficiency of those forces were never at
a higher mark than they are to-day, and never was there a time when
confidence was more justified in the power of the Navy to protect our
commerce and to protect our shores. The thought is with us always of
the suffering and misery entailed, from which no country in Europe
will escape by abstention, and from which no neutrality will save us.
The amount of harm that can be done by an enemy ship to our trade is
infinitesimal, compared with the amount of harm that must be done by
the economic condition that is caused on the Continent.

The most awful responsibility is resting upon the Government in
deciding what to advise the House of Commons to do. We have disclosed
our mind to the House of Commons. We have disclosed the issue, the
information which we have, and made clear to the House, I trust, that
we are prepared to face that situation, and that should it develop, as
probably it may develop, we will face it. We worked for peace up
to the last moment, and beyond the last moment. How hard, how
persistently, and how earnestly we strove for peace last week, the
House will see from the Papers that will be before it.

But that is over, as far as the peace of Europe is concerned. We are
now face to face with a situation and all the consequences which it
may yet have to unfold. We believe we shall have the support of the
House at large in proceeding to whatever the consequences may be and
whatever measures may be forced upon us by the development of facts
or action taken by others. I believe the country, so quickly has the
situation been forced upon it, has not had time to realize the issue.
It perhaps is still thinking of the quarrel between Austria and
Servia, and not the complications of this matter which have grown out
of the quarrel between Austria and Servia. Russia and Germany we know
are at war. We do not yet know officially that Austria, the ally whom
Germany is to support, is yet at war with Russia. We know that a good
deal has been happening on the French frontier. We do not know that
the German Ambassador has left Paris. The situation has developed so
rapidly that technically, as regards the condition of the war, it is
most difficult to describe what has actually happened. I wanted to
bring out the underlying issues which would affect our own conduct,
and our own policy, and to put them clearly. I have put the vital
facts before the House, and if, as seems not improbable, we are
forced, and rapidly forced, to take our stand upon those issues, then
I believe, when the country realizes what is at stake, what the real
issues are, the magnitude of the impending dangers in the west of
Europe, which I have endeavoured to describe to the House, we shall
be supported throughout, not only by the House of Commons, but by the
determination, the resolution, the courage, and the endurance of the
whole country.


AUGUST 6, 1914


In asking the House to agree to the resolution which Mr. Speaker has
just read from the Chair, I do not propose, because I do not think
it is in any way necessary, to traverse the ground again which was
covered by my right hon. friend the Foreign Secretary two or three
nights ago. He stated--and I do not think any of the statements
he made are capable of answer and certainly have not yet been
answered--the grounds upon which with the utmost reluctance and with
infinite regret His Majesty's Government have been compelled to put
this country in a state of war with what, for many years and indeed
generations past, has been a friendly Power. But, Sir, the papers
which have since been presented to Parliament, and which are now in
the hands of hon. members, will, I think, show how strenuous, how
unremitting, how persistent, even when the last glimmer of hope seemed
to have faded away, were the efforts of my right hon. friend to secure
for Europe an honourable and a lasting peace. Every one knows in the
great crisis which occurred last year in the east of Europe, it was
largely, if not mainly, by the acknowledgement of all Europe, due to
the steps taken by my right hon. friend that the area of the conflict
was limited, and that, so far as the Great Powers are concerned, peace
was maintained. If his efforts upon this occasion have, unhappily,
been less successful, I am certain that this House and the country,
and I will add posterity and history, will accord to him what is,
after all, the best tribute that can be paid to any statesman: that,
never derogating for an instant or by an inch from the honour and
interests of his own country, he has striven, as few men have
striven, to maintain and preserve the greatest interest of all
countries--universal peace. These papers which are now in the hands of
hon. members show something more than that. They show what were the
terms which were offered to us in exchange for our neutrality. I trust
that not only the members of this House, but all our fellow subjects
everywhere will read the communications, will read, learn, and mark
the communications which passed only a week ago to-day between Berlin
and London in this matter. The terms by which it was sought to buy
our neutrality are contained in the communication made by the German
Chancellor to Sir Edward Goschen on the 29th July, No. 85 of the
published Paper. I think I must refer to them for a moment. After
referring to the state of things as between Austria and Russia, Sir
Edward Goschen goes on:

  He then proceeded to make the following strong bid
  for British neutrality. He said that it was clear, so far
  as he was able to judge the main principle which governed
  British policy, that Great Britain would never stand by
  and allow France to be crushed in any conflict there might
  be. That, however, was not the object at which Germany
  aimed. Provided that neutrality of Great Britain were
  certain, every assurance would be given to the British
  Government that the Imperial Government--

Let the House observe these words:
  aimed at no territorial acquisition at the expense of France
  should they prove victorious in any war that might ensue.

Sir Edward Goschen proceeded to put a very pertinent question:

  I questioned his Excellency about the French colonies--

What are the French colonies? They mean every part of the dominions
and possessions of France outside the geographical area of Europe--
  and he said that he was unable to give a similar undertaking
  in that respect.

Let me come to what, in my mind, personally, has always been the
crucial and almost the governing consideration, namely, the position
of the small States:

  As regards Holland, however, his Excellency said that
  so long as Germany's adversaries respected the integrity
  and neutrality of the Netherlands, Germany was ready to
  give His Majesty's Government an assurance that she
  would do likewise.

Then we come to Belgium:

  It depended upon the action of France what operations
  Germany might be forced to enter upon in Belgium, but,
  when the war was over, Belgian integrity would be respected
  if she had not sided against Germany.

Let the House observe the distinction between those two cases. In
regard to Holland it was not only independence and integrity but
also neutrality; but in regard to Belgium, there was no mention of
neutrality at all, nothing but an assurance that after the war came
to an end the integrity of Belgium would be respected. Then his
Excellency added:

  Ever since he had been Chancellor the object of his
  policy had been to bring about an understanding with
  England. He trusted that these assurances--the
  assurances I have read out to the House--
  might form the basis of that understanding which he so
  much desired.

What does that amount to? Let me just ask the House. I do so, not with
the object of inflaming passion, certainly not with the object of
exciting feeling against Germany, but I do so to vindicate and make
clear the position of the British Government in this matter. What
did that proposal amount to? In the first place, it meant this: That
behind the back of France--they were not made a party to these
communications--we should have given, if we had assented to that, a
free licence to Germany to annex, in the event of a successful war,
the whole of the extra-European dominions and possessions of France.
What did it mean as regards Belgium? When she addressed, as she has
addressed in these last few days, her moving appeal to us to fulfil
our solemn guarantee of her neutrality, what reply should we have
given? What reply should we have given to that Belgian appeal? We
should have been obliged to say that without her knowledge we had
bartered away to the Power threatening her our obligation to keep
our plighted word. The House has read, and the country has read, of
course, in the last few hours, the most pathetic appeal addressed
by the King of Belgium, and I do not envy the man who can read that
appeal with an unmoved heart. Belgians are fighting and losing their
lives. What would have been the position of Great Britain to-day
in the face of that spectacle if we had assented to this infamous
proposal? Yes, and what are we to get in return for the betrayal of
our friends and the dishonour of our obligations? What are we to get
in return? A promise--nothing more; a promise as to what Germany would
do in certain eventualities; a promise, be it observed--I am sorry to
have to say it, but it must be put upon record--given by a Power which
was at that very moment announcing its intention to violate its own
treaty and inviting us to do the same. I can only say, if we had
dallied or temporized, we, as a Government, should have covered
ourselves with dishonour, and we should have betrayed the interests of
this country, of which we are trustees. I am glad, and I think the,
country will be glad, to turn to the reply which my right hon. friend
made, and of which I will read to the House two of the more salient
passages. This document, No. 101 of my Paper, puts on record a week
ago the attitude of the British Government, and, as I believe, of the
British people. My right hon. friend says:

  His Majesty's Government cannot for a moment entertain
  the Chancellor's proposal that they should bind themselves
  to neutrality on such terms. What he asks us in
  effect is to engage to stand by while French colonies are
  taken if France is beaten, so long as Germany does not take
  French territory as distinct from the colonies. From the
  material point of view--

My right hon. friend, as he always does, used very temperate language:
  such a proposal is unacceptable, for France, without further
  territory in Europe being taken from her, could be so
  crushed as to lose her position as a Great Power, and
  become subordinate to German policy.

That is the material aspect. But he proceeded:

  Altogether, apart from that, it would be a disgrace for
  us to make this bargain with Germany at the expense of
  France, a disgrace from which the good name of this country
  would never recover. The Chancellor also in effect asks us
  to bargain away whatever obligation or interest we have as
  regards the neutrality of Belgium. We could not entertain
  that bargain either.

He then says:

  We must preserve our full freedom to act, as circumstances
  may seem to us to require.

And he added, I think, in sentences which the House will appreciate:

  You should ... add most earnestly that the one way of
  maintaining the good relations between England and
  Germany is that they should continue to work together to
  preserve the peace of Europe.... For that object this
  Government will work in that way with all sincerity and

  If the peace of Europe can be preserved and the present
  crisis safely passed, my own endeavour will be to promote
  some arrangement to which Germany could be a party, by
  which she could be assured that no aggressive or hostile
  policy would be pursued against her or her allies by France,
  Russia, and ourselves, jointly or separately. I have
  desired this and worked for it--

The statement was never more true--
  as far as I could, through the last Balkan crisis, and
  Germany having a corresponding object, our relations
  sensibly improved. The idea has hitherto been too Utopian
  to form the subject of definite proposals, but if this present
  crisis, so much more acute than any that Europe has gone
  through for generations, be safely passed, I am hopeful
  that the relief and reaction which will follow may make
  possible some more definite _rapprochement_ between the
  Powers than has been possible hitherto.

That document, in my opinion, states clearly, in temperate and
convincing language, the attitude of this Government. Can any one
who reads it fail to appreciate the tone of obvious sincerity and
earnestness which underlies it; can any one honestly doubt that the
Government of this country, in spite of great provocation--and I
regard the proposals made to us as proposals which we might have
thrown aside without consideration and almost without answer--can any
one doubt that in spite of great provocation the right hon. Gentleman,
who had already earned the title--and no one ever more deserved
it--of Peace Maker of Europe, persisted to the very last moment of the
last hour in that beneficent but unhappily frustrated purpose. I am
entitled to say, and I do so on behalf of this country--I speak not
for a party, I speak for the country as a whole--that we made every
effort any Government could possibly make for peace. But this war has
been forced upon us. What is it we are fighting for? Every one knows,
and no one knows better than the Government, the terrible incalculable
suffering, economic, social, personal and political, which war, and
especially a war between the Great Powers of the world, must entail.
There is no man amongst us sitting upon this bench in these trying
days--more trying perhaps than any body of statesmen for a hundred
years have had to pass through--there is not a man amongst us who has
not, during the whole of that time, had clearly before his vision the
almost unequalled suffering which war, even in a just cause, must
bring about, not only to the peoples who are for the moment living in
this country and in the other countries of the world, but to posterity
and to the whole prospects of European civilization. Every step we
took we took with that vision before our eyes, and with a sense of
responsibility which it is impossible to describe. Unhappily, if--in
spite of all our efforts to keep the peace, and with that full and
overpowering consciousness of the result, if the issue be decided in
favour of war,--we have, nevertheless, thought it to be the duty as
well as the interest of this country to go to war, the House may be
well assured it was because we believe, and I am certain the country
will believe, we are unsheathing our sword in a just cause.

If I am asked what we are fighting for, I reply in two sentences.
In the first place to fulfil a solemn international obligation, an
obligation which, if it had been entered into between private persons
in the ordinary concerns of life, would have been regarded as an
obligation not only of law but of honour, which no self-respecting man
could possibly have repudiated. I say, secondly, we are fighting to
vindicate the principle,--which in these days when force, material
force, sometimes seems to be the dominant influence and factor in the
development of mankind,--we are fighting to vindicate the principle
that small nationalities are not to be crushed, in defiance of
international good faith, by the arbitrary will of a strong and
overmastering Power. I do not believe any nation ever entered into a
great controversy--and this is one of the greatest history will ever
know--with a clearer conscience and stronger conviction that it is
fighting, not for aggression, not for the maintenance even of its own
selfish interest, but that it is fighting in defence of principles,
the maintenance of which is vital to the civilization of the world.
With a full conviction, not only of the wisdom and justice, but of the
obligations which lay upon us to challenge this great issue, we
are entering into the struggle. Let us now make sure that all the
resources, not only of this United Kingdom, but of the vast Empire of
which it is the centre, shall be thrown into the scale, and it is that
that object, may be adequately secured, that I am now about to ask
this Committee--to make the very unusual demand upon it--to give the
Government a Vote of Credit of £100,000,000. I am not going, and I am
sure the Committee do not wish it, into the technical distinctions
between Votes of Credit and Supplementary Estimates and all the
rarities and refinements which arise in that connexion. There is a
much higher point of view than that. If it were necessary, I could
justify, upon purely technical grounds, the course we propose to
adopt, but I am not going to do so, because I think it would be
foreign to the temper and disposition of the Committee. There is one
thing to which I do call attention, that is, the Title and Heading of
the Bill. As a rule, in the past Votes of this kind have been taken
simply for naval and military operations, but we have thought, it
right to ask the Committee to give us its confidence in the extension
of the traditional area of Votes of Credit so that this money which
we are asking them to allow us to expend may be applied not only
for strictly naval and military operations, but to assist the food
supplies, promote the continuance of trade, industry, business, and
communications,--whether by means of insurance or indemnity against
risk or otherwise,--for the relief of distress, and generally for all
expenses arising out of the existence of a state of war. I believe the
Committee will agree with us that it was wise to extend the area of
the Vote of Credit so as to include all these various matters. It
gives the Government a free hand. Of course, the Treasury will account
for it, and any expenditure that takes place will be subject to the
approval of the House. I think it would be a great pity--in fact, a
great disaster--if, in a crisis of this magnitude, we were not enabled
to make provision--provision far more needed now than it was under the
simpler conditions that prevailed in the old days--for all the various
ramifications and developments of expenditure which the existence of a
state of war between the Great Powers of Europe must entail on any one
of them.

I am asking also in my character of Secretary of State for War--a
position which I held until this morning--for a Supplementary Estimate
for men for the Army. Perhaps the Committee will allow me for a moment
just to say on that personal matter that I took upon myself the office
of Secretary of State for War under conditions, upon which I need not
go back but which are fresh in the minds of every one, in the hope and
with the object that the condition of things in the Army, which all
of us deplored, might speedily be brought to an end and complete
confidence re-established. I believe that is the case; in fact, I know
it to be. There is no more loyal and united body, no body in which the
spirit and habit of discipline are more deeply ingrained and cherished
than in the British Army. Glad as I should have been to continue the
work of that office, and I would have done so under normal conditions,
it would not be fair to the Army, it would not be just to the country,
that any Minister should divide his attention between that Department
and another, still less that the First Minister of the Crown, who has
to look into the affairs of all departments and who is ultimately
responsible for the whole policy of the Cabinet, should give, as he
could only give perfunctory attention to the affairs of our Army in a
great war. I am very glad to say that a very distinguished soldier and
administrator, in the person of Lord Kitchener, with that great public
spirit and patriotism that every one would expect from him, at my
request stepped into the breach. Lord Kitchener, as every one knows,
is not a politician. His association with the Government as a member
of the Cabinet for this purpose must not be taken as in any way
identifying him with any set of political opinions. He has, at a great
public emergency, responded to a great public call, and I am certain
he will have with him, in the discharge of one of the most arduous
tasks that has ever fallen upon a Minister, the complete confidence of
all parties and all opinions.

I am asking on his behalf for the Army, power to increase the number
of men of all ranks, in addition to the number already voted, by no
less than 500,000. I am certain the Committee will not refuse its
sanction, for we are encouraged to ask for it not only by our own
sense of the gravity and the necessities of the case, but by the
knowledge that India is prepared to send us certainly two Divisions,
and that every one of our self-governing Dominions, spontaneously
and unasked, has already tendered to the utmost limits of their
possibilities, both in men and in money, every help they can afford to
the Empire in a moment of need. Sir, the Mother Country must set the
example, while she responds with gratitude and affection to those
filial overtures from the outlying members of her family.

Sir, I will say no more. This is not an occasion for controversial
discussion. In all that I have said, I believe I have not gone, either
in the statement of our case or in my general description of the
provision we think it necessary to make, beyond the strict bounds of
truth. It is not my purpose--it is not the purpose of any patriotic
man--to inflame feeling, to indulge in rhetoric, to excite
international animosities. The occasion is far too grave for that. We
have a great duty to perform, we have a great trust to fulfil, and
confidently we believe that Parliament and the country will enable us
to do it.


SEPTEMBER 19, 1914


I have come here this afternoon to talk to my fellow countrymen about
this great war and the part we ought to take in it. I feel my task is
easier after we have been listening to the greatest battle-song in the

There is no man in this room who has always regarded the prospects
of engaging in a great war with greater reluctance, with greater
repugnance, than I have done throughout the whole of my political
life. There is no man, either inside or outside of this room,
more convinced that we could not have avoided it without national
dishonour. I am fully alive to the fact that whenever a nation has
been engaged in any war she has always invoked the sacred name of
honour. Many a crime has been committed in its name; there are some
crimes being committed now. But, all the same, national honour is a
reality, and any nation that disregards it is doomed.

Why is our honour as a country involved in this war? Because, in the
first place, we are bound in an honourable obligation to defend the
independence, the liberty, the integrity of a small neighbour that has
lived peaceably, but she could not have compelled us, because she was
weak. The man who declines to discharge his debt because his creditor
is too poor to enforce it is a blackguard. We entered into this
treaty, a solemn treaty, a full treaty, to defend Belgium and her
integrity. Our signatures are attached to the document. Our signatures
do not stand alone there. This was not the only country to defend the
integrity of Belgium. Russia, France, Austria, and Prussia--they are
all there. Why did they not perform the obligation? It is suggested
that if we quote this treaty it is purely an excuse on our part. It is
our low craft and cunning, just to cloak our jealousy of a superior
civilization we are attempting to destroy. Our answer is the action we
took in 1870. What was that? Mr. Gladstone was then Prime Minister.
Lord Granville, I think, was then Foreign Secretary. I have never
heard it laid to their charge that they were ever jingo.

What did they do in 1870? That Treaty Bond was this: We called upon
the belligerent Powers to respect that treaty. We called upon France;
we called upon Germany. At that time, bear in mind, the greatest
danger to Belgium came from France and not from Germany. We intervened
to protect Belgium against France exactly as we are doing now to
protect her against Germany. We are proceeding exactly in the same
way. We invited both the belligerent Powers to state that they had no
intention of violating Belgian territory. What was the answer given by
Bismarck? He said it was superfluous to ask Prussia such a question
in view of the treaties in force. France gave a similar answer. We
received the thanks at that time from the Belgian people for our
intervention in a very remarkable document. This is the document
addressed by the municipality of Brussels to Queen Victoria after that

  The great and noble people over whose destinies you preside
  have just given a further proof of its benevolent sentiments
  towards this country. The voice of the English
  nation has been heard above the din of arms. It has asserted
  the principles of justice and right. Next to the unalterable
  attachment of the Belgian people to their independence,
  the strongest sentiment which fills their hearts is that of
  an imperishable gratitude to the people of Great Britain.

That was in 1870. Mark what follows.

Three or four days after that document of thanks the French Army was
wedged up against the Belgian frontier. Every means of escape was
shut up by a ring of flame from Prussian cannon. There was one way of
escape. What was that? By violating the neutrality of Belgium. What
did they do? The French on that occasion preferred ruin, humiliation,
to the breaking of their bond. The French Emperor, French Marshals,
100,000 gallant Frenchmen in arms preferred to be carried captive to
the strange land of their enemy rather than dishonour the name of
their country. It was the last French Army defeat. Had they violated
Belgian neutrality the whole history of that war would have been
changed. And yet it was the interest of France to break the treaty.
She did not do it.

It is now the interest of Prussia to break the treaty, and she has
done it. Well, why? She avowed it with cynical contempt for every
principle of justice. She says treaties only bind you when it is
to your interest to keep them. 'What is a treaty?' says the German
Chancellor. 'A scrap of paper.' Have you any £5 notes about you? I am
not calling for them. Have you any of those neat little Treasury £1
notes? If you have, burn them; they are only 'scraps of paper'. What
are they made of? Rags. What are they worth? The whole credit of the
British Empire. 'Scraps of paper.' I have been dealing with scraps of
paper within the last month. It is suddenly found the commerce of the
world is coming to a standstill. The machine had stopped. Why? I will
tell you. We discovered, many of us for the first time--I do not
pretend to say that I do not know much more about the machinery of
commerce to-day than I did six weeks ago, and there are a good many
men like me--we discovered the machinery of commerce was moved by
bills of exchange. I have seen some of them--wretched, crinkled,
scrawled over, blotched, frowsy, and yet these wretched little scraps
of paper moved great ships, laden with thousands of tons of precious
cargo, from one end of the world to the other. What was the motive
power behind them? The honour of commercial men.

Treaties are the currency of international statesmanship. Let us be
fair. German merchants, German traders had the reputation of being as
upright and straightforward as any traders in the world. But if the
currency of German commerce is to be debased to the level of her
statesmanship, no trader from Shanghai to Valparaiso will ever look at
a German signature again. This doctrine of the scrap of paper, this
doctrine which is superscribed by Bernhardi, that treaties only bind
a nation as long as it is to its interest, goes to the root of public
law. It is the straight road to barbarism, just as if you removed the
magnetic pole whenever it was in the way of a German cruiser, the
whole navigation of the seas would become dangerous, difficult,
impossible, and the whole machinery of civilization will break down if
this doctrine wins in this war.

We are fighting against barbarism. But there is only one way of
putting it right. If there are nations that say they will only respect
treaties when it is to their interest to do so, we must make it to
their interest to do so for the future. What is their defence? Just
look at the interview which took place between our Ambassador and
great German officials when their attention was called to this treaty
to which they were partners. They said: 'We cannot, help that.'
Rapidity of action was the great German asset. There is a greater
asset for a nation than rapidity of action, and that is--honest

What are her excuses? She said Belgium was plotting against her, that
Belgium was engaged in a great conspiracy with Britain and with France
to attack her. Not merely is that not true, but Germany knows it is
not true. What is her other excuse? France meant to invade Germany
through Belgium. Absolutely untrue. France offered Belgium five army
corps to defend her if she was attacked. Belgium said: 'I don't
require them. I have got the word of the Kaiser. Shall Caesar send a
lie?' All these tales about conspiracy have been fanned up since. The
great nation ought to be ashamed, ought to be ashamed to behave like a
fraudulent bankrupt perjuring its way with its complications. She has
deliberately broken this treaty, and we were in honour bound to stand
by it.

Belgium has been treated brutally, how brutally we shall not yet know.
We know already too much. What has she done? Did she send an ultimatum
to Germany? Did she challenge Germany? Was she preparing to make war
on Germany? Had she ever inflicted any wrongs upon Germany which the
Kaiser was bound to redress? She was one of the most unoffending
little countries in Europe. She was peaceable, industrious, thrifty,
hard-working, giving offence to no one; and her cornfields have been
trampled down, her villages have been burned to the ground, her art
treasures have been destroyed, her men have been slaughtered, yea, and
her women and children, too. What had she done? Hundreds of thousands
of her people have had their quiet, comfortable little homes burned to
the dust, and are wandering homeless in their own land. What is their
crime? Their crime was that they trusted to the word of a Prussian
King. I don't know what the Kaiser hopes to achieve by this war. I
have a shrewd idea of what he will get, but one thing is made certain,
that no nation in future will ever commit that crime again.

I am not going to enter into these tales. Many of them are untrue; war
is a grim, ghastly business at best, and I am not going to say that
all that has been said in the way of tales of outrage is true. I will
go beyond that, and say that if you turn two millions of men forced,
conscripted, and compelled and driven into the field, you will
certainly get among them a certain number of men who will do things
that the nation itself will be ashamed of. I am not depending on them.
It is enough for me to have the story which the Germans themselves
avow, admit, defend, proclaim. The burning and massacring, the
shooting down of harmless people--why? Because, according to the
Germans, they fired on German soldiers. What business had German
soldiers there at all? Belgium was acting in pursuance of a most
sacred right, the right to defend your own home.

But they were not in uniform when they shot. If a burglar broke into
the Kaiser's Palace at Potsdam, destroyed his furniture, shot down his
servants, ruined his art treasures, especially those he made himself,
burned his precious manuscripts, do you think he would wait until he
got into uniform before he shot him down? They were dealing with those
who had broken into their households. But their perfidy has already
failed. They entered Belgium to save time. The time has gone. They
have not gained time, but they have lost their good name.

But Belgium was not the only little nation that has been attacked in
this war, and I make no excuse for referring to the case of the other
little nation--the case of Servia. The history of Servia is not
unblotted. What history in the category of nations is unblotted? The
first nation that is without sin, let her cast a stone at Servia. A
nation trained in a horrible school, but she won her freedom with her
tenacious valour, and she has maintained it by the same courage. If
any Servians were mixed up in the assassination of the Grand Duke they
ought to be punished. Servia admits that; the Servian Government had
nothing to do with it. Not even Austria claimed that. The Servian
Prime Minister is one of the most capable and honoured men in Europe.
Servia was willing to punish any one of her subjects who had been
proved to have any complicity in that assassination. What more could
you expect? What were the Austrian demands? Servia sympathized with
her fellow countrymen in Bosnia. That was one of her crimes. She must
do so no more. Her newspapers were saying nasty things about Austria.
They must do so no longer. That is the Austrian spirit. You had it in
Zabern. How dare you criticize a Customs official? And if you laugh
it is a capital offence. The colonel threatened to shoot them if they
repeated it.

Servian newspapers must not criticize Austria. I wonder what would
have happened had we taken the same line about German newspapers.
Servia said: 'Very well, we will give orders to the newspapers that
they must not criticize Austria in future, neither Austria, nor
Hungary, nor anything that is theirs.' Who can doubt the valour of
Servia, when she undertook to tackle her newspaper editors? She
promised not to sympathize with Bosnia, promised to write no critical
articles about Austria. She would have no public meetings at which
anything unkind was said about Austria.

That was not enough. She must dismiss from her Army officers whom
Austria should subsequently name. But these officers had just emerged
from a war where they were adding lustre to the Servian arms--gallant,
brave, efficient. I wonder whether it was their guilt or their
efficiency that prompted Austria's action. But, mark, the officers
were not named. Servia was to undertake in advance to dismiss them
from the Army; the names to be sent on subsequently. Can you name a
country in the world that would have stood that?

Supposing Austria or Germany had issued an ultimatum of that kind to
this country. 'You must dismiss from your Army and from your Navy all
those officers whom we shall subsequently name!' Well, I think I could
name them now. Lord Kitchener would go; Sir John French would be sent
about his business; General Smith-Dorrien would be no more; and I am
sure that Sir John Jellicoe would go. And there is another gallant old
warrior who would go--Lord Roberts.

It was a difficult situation. Here was a demand made upon her by a
great military Power who could put five or six men in the field for
every one she could; and that Power supported by the greatest military
Power in the world. How did Servia behave? It is not what happens to
you in life that matters; it is the way in which you face it. And
Servia faced the situation with dignity. She said to Austria. 'If any
officers of mine have been guilty and are proved to be guilty, I will
dismiss them.' Austria said, 'That is not good enough for me.' It was
not guilt she was after, but capacity.

Then came Russia's turn. Russia has a special regard for Servia. She
has a special interest in Servia. Russians have shed their blood for
Servian independence many a time. Servia is a member of her family,
and she cannot see Servia maltreated. Austria knew that. Germany knew
that, and Germany turned round to Russia and said: 'Here, I insist
that you shall stand by with your arms folded whilst Austria is
strangling to death your little brother.' What answer did the Russian
Slav give? He gave the only answer that becomes a man. He turned to
Austria and said: 'You lay hands on that little fellow and I will tear
your ramshackle empire limb from limb.' And he is doing it.

That is the story of the little nations. The world owes much to little
nations--and to little men. This theory of bigness--you must have a
big empire and a big nation, and a big man--well, long legs have their
advantage in a retreat. Frederick the Great chose his warriors for
their height, and that tradition has become a policy in Germany.
Germany applies that ideal to nations; she will only allow
six-feet-two nations to stand in the ranks. But all the world owes
much to the little five feet high nations. The greatest art of the
world was the work of little nations. The most enduring literature of
the world came from little nations. The greatest literature of England
came from her when she was a nation of the size of Belgium fighting
a great Empire. The heroic deeds that thrill humanity through
generations were the deeds of little nations fighting for their
freedom. Ah, yes, and the salvation of mankind came through a little
nation. God has chosen little nations as the vessels by which He
carries the choicest wines to the lips of humanity, to rejoice their
hearts, to exalt their vision, to stimulate and to strengthen their
faith; and if we had stood by when two little nations were being
crushed and broken by the brutal hands of barbarism our shame would
have rung down the everlasting ages.

But Germany insists that this is an attack by a low civilization upon
a higher. Well, as a matter of fact, the attack was begun by the
civilization which calls itself the higher one. Now, I am no apologist
for Russia. She has perpetrated deeds of which I have no doubt her
best sons are ashamed.

But what Empire has not? And Germany is the last Empire to point the
finger of reproach at Russia. But Russia has made sacrifices for
freedom--great sacrifices. You remember the cry of Bulgaria when she
was torn by the most insensate tyranny that Europe has ever seen. Who
listened to the cry? The only answer of the higher civilization was
that the liberty of Bulgarian peasants was not worth the life of a
single Pomeranian soldier. But the rude barbarians of the North--they
sent their sons by the thousands to die for Bulgarian freedom.

What about England? You go to Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany,
and France, and all these lands, gentlemen, could point out to you
places where the sons of Britain have died for the freedom of these
countries. France has made sacrifices for the freedom of other lands
than her own. Can you name a single country in the world for the
freedom of which the modern Prussian has ever sacrificed a single
life? The test of our faith, the highest standard of civilization is
the readiness to sacrifice for others.

I would not say a word about the German people to disparage them. They
are a great people; they have great qualities of head, of hand, and of
heart. I believe, in spite of recent events, there is as great a store
of kindness in the German peasant as in any peasant in the world. But
he has been drilled into a false idea of civilization,--efficiency,
capability. It is a hard civilization; it is a selfish civilization;
it is a material civilization. They could not comprehend the action of
Britain at the present moment. They say so. 'France', they say,
'we can understand. She is out for vengeance, she is out for
territory--Alsace Lorraine. Russia, she is fighting for mastery, she
wants Galicia.' They can understand vengeance, they can understand you
fighting for mastery, they can understand you fighting for greed
of territory; they cannot understand a great Empire pledging its
resources, pledging its might, pledging the lives of its children,
pledging its very existence, to protect a little nation that seeks for
its defence. God made man in His own image--high of purpose, in the
region of the spirit. German civilization would re-create him in the
image of a Diesler machine--precise, accurate, powerful, with no room
for the soul to operate. That is the 'higher' civilization.

What is their demand? Have you read the Kaiser's speeches? If you have
not a copy, I advise you to buy it; they will soon be out of print,
and you won't have any more of the same sort again. They are full of
the clatter and bluster of German militarists--the mailed fist, the
shining armour. Poor old mailed fist--its knuckles are getting a
little bruised. Poor shining armour--the shine is being knocked out
of it. But there is the same swagger and boastfulness running through
the whole of the speeches. You saw that remarkable speech which
appeared in the _British Weekly_ this week. It is a very remarkable
product, as an illustration of the spirit we have got to fight. It is
his speech to his soldiers on the way to the front:--

  Remember that the German people are the chosen of
  God. On me, on me as German Emperor, the Spirit of
  God has descended. I am His weapon, His sword, and His
  vizard! Woe to the disobedient! Death to cowards and

There has been nothing like it since the days of Mahomet.

Lunacy is always distressing, but sometimes it is dangerous, and when
you get it manifested in the head of the State, and it has become
the policy of a great Empire, it is about time when that should be
ruthlessly put away. I do not believe he meant all these speeches. It
was simply the martial straddle which he had acquired; but there were
men around him who meant every word of it. This was their religion.
Treaties? They tangled the feet of Germany in her advance. Cut them
with the sword. Little nations? They hinder the advance of Germany.
Trample them in the mire under the German heel. The Russian Slav? He
challenges the supremacy of Germany and Europe. Hurl your legions
at him and massacre him. Britain? She is a constant menace to the
predominancy of Germany in the world. Wrest the trident out of her
hands. Ah! more than that. The new philosophy of Germany is to destroy
Christianity. Sickly sentimentalism about sacrifice for others--poor
pap for German digestion. We will have a new diet. We will force it on
the world. It will be made in Germany. A diet of blood and iron. What
remains? Treaties have gone; the honour of nations gone; liberty gone.
What is left? Germany--Germany is left--_Deutschland über Alles_.
That is all that is left.

That is what we are fighting, that claim to predominancy of a
civilization, a material one, a hard one, a civilization which if once
it rules and sways the world, liberty goes, democracy vanishes, and
unless Britain comes to the rescue, and her sons, it will be a dark
day for humanity. We are not fighting the German people. The German
people are just as much under the heel of this Prussian military
caste, and more so, thank God, than any other nation in Europe. It
will be a day of rejoicing for the German peasant and artisan and
trader when the military caste is broken. You know his pretensions.
He gives himself the airs of a demi-god. Walking the pavements
--civilians and their wives swept into the gutter; they have no right
to stand in the way of the great Prussian junker. Men, women, nations
--they have all got to go. He thinks all he has got to say is, 'We
are in a hurry.' That is the answer he gave to Belgium. 'Rapidity of
action is Germany's greatest asset,' which means 'I am in a hurry.
Clear out of my way'.

You know the type of motorist, the terror of the roads, with a 60-h.p.
car. He thinks the roads are made for him, and anybody who impedes
the action of his car by a single mile is knocked down. The Prussian
junker is the road-hog of Europe. Small nationalities in his way
hurled to the roadside, bleeding and broken; women and children
crushed under the wheels of his cruel car. Britain ordered out of his
road. All I can say is this: if the old British spirit is alive in
British hearts, that bully will be torn from his seat. Were he to win
it would be the greatest catastrophe that has befallen democracy since
the days of the Holy Alliance and its ascendancy. They think we cannot
beat them. It will not be easy. It will be a long job. It will be a
terrible war. But in the end we shall march through terror to triumph.
We shall need all our qualities, every quality that Britain and its
people possess. Prudence in council, daring in action, tenacity in
purpose, courage in defeat, moderation in victory, in all things
faith, and we shall win.

It has pleased them to believe and to preach the belief that we are
a decadent nation. They proclaim it to the world, through their
professors, that we are an unheroic nation skulking behind our
mahogany counters, whilst we are egging on more gallant races to
their destruction. This is a description given to us in Germany--'a
timorous, craven nation, trusting to its fleet.' I think they are
beginning to find their mistake out already. And there are half a
million of young men of Britain who have already registered their
vow to their King that they will cross the seas and hurl that insult
against British courage against its perpetrators on the battlefields
of France and of Germany. And we want half a million more. And we
shall get them.

But Wales must continue doing her duty. That was a great telegram that
you, my Lord (the Chairman), read from Glamorgan.[2] I should like to
see a Welsh army in the field. I should like to see the race who faced
the Normans for hundreds of years in their struggle for freedom, the
race that helped to win the battle of Crécy, the race that fought
for a generation under Glendower, against the greatest captain in
Europe--I should like to see that race give a good taste of its
quality in this struggle in Europe; and they are going to do it.

I envy you young people your youth. They have put up the age limit
for the Army, but I march, I am sorry to say, a good many years even
beyond that. But still our turn will come. It is a great opportunity.
It only comes once in many centuries to the children of men. For most
generations sacrifice comes in drab weariness of spirit to men. It has
come to-day to you; it has come to-day to us all, in the form of the
glory and thrill of a great movement for liberty, that impels
millions throughout Europe to the same end. It is a great war for the
emancipation of Europe from the thraldom of a military caste, which
has cast its shadow upon two generations of men, and which has now
plunged the world into a welter of bloodshed. Some have already given
their lives. There are some who have given more than their own lives.
They have given the lives of those who are dear to them. I honour
their courage, and may God be their comfort and their strength.

But their reward is at hand. Those who have fallen have consecrated
deaths. They have taken their part in the making of a new Europe,
a new world. I can see signs of its coming in the glare of the
battlefield. The people will gain more by this struggle in all lands
than they comprehend at the present moment. It is true they will be
rid of the menace to their freedom. But that is not all. There is
something infinitely greater and more enduring which is emerging
already out of this great conflict; a new patriotism, richer, nobler,
more exalted than the old. I see a new recognition amongst all
classes, high and low, shedding themselves of selfishness; a new
recognition that the honour of a country does not depend merely on the
maintenance of its glory in the stricken field, but in protecting its
homes from distress as well. It is a new patriotism, it is bringing
a new outlook for all classes. A great flood of luxury and of sloth
which had submerged the land is receding, and a new Britain is
appearing. We can see for the first time the fundamental things that
matter in life and that have been obscured from our vision by the
tropical growth of prosperity.

May I tell you, in a simple parable, what I think this war is doing
for us? I know a valley in North Wales, between the mountains and
the sea--a beautiful valley, snug, comfortable, sheltered by the
mountains from all the bitter blasts. It was very enervating, and I
remember how the boys were in the habit of climbing the hills above
the village to have a glimpse of the great mountains in the distance,
and to be stimulated and freshened by the breezes which, came from the
hill-tops, and by the great spectacle of that great valley.

We have been living in a sheltered valley for generations. We have
been too comfortable, too indulgent, many, perhaps, too selfish. And
the stern hand of fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can
see the great everlasting things that matter for a nation; the
great peaks of honour we had forgotten--duty and patriotism clad in
glittering white: the great pinnacle of sacrifice pointing like a
rugged finger to Heaven. We shall descend into the valleys again, but
as long as the men and women of this generation last they will carry
in their hearts the image of these great mountain peaks, whose
foundations are unshaken though Europe rock and sway in the
convulsions of a great war.

[Footnote 1: 'The Men of Harlech.']

[Footnote 2: 'Glamorgan has raised 20,000 men.']

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy 1738-1914" ***

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