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Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy 1738-1914

Part 3 out of 8

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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 Charge
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
L33,000,000. 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 L800,000 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

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