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Speeches on Questions of Public Policy, Volume 1 by John Bright

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character and honour of Parliament. Nothing can sink Parliament to a
lower state of degradation and baseness than that it should permit
Ministers of the Crown to lay upon the table, upon questions involving
the sacrifice of 20,000,000_l_. of money and 20,000 lives,
documents which are not true--which slander our public servants, and
which slander them most basely when they are dead and are not here to
answer. I do not believe that the Gentlemen of England in this House--
upon that side of the House or upon this--will ever consent to sit down
with a case proved so clearly as this is without directing the
omnipotent power and eye of Parliament into the matter. I say, seeing
the charge, seeing that the noble Lord was at the head of the Foreign
Office at the time, that the policy of the Affghan war was always
considered to be his, that the responsibility of this act must rest
between him and Lord Broughton,--I should not like to hold the opinion,
and I do not hold the opinion, that the noble Lord will object to a
Committee to inquire into a matter in which he is himself so directly

* * * * *




_From Hansard_.
[Delivered during the debate on Colonel Jervois' Report on the Defences
of Canada.]

I am not sure that I should have addressed the House on this occasion
but for the observations which have been made by the noble Lord. I think
he has been perhaps a little more frank in his declarations on this
occasion, and in pointing out the real thing which I suspect is passing
in his mind, and in the minds of very many Members of the House who have
made no statement of their own opinions during this debate. I hope the
debate will be useful, although I am obliged to say, while I admit the
importance of the question that has been brought before us, that I think
it is one of some delicacy. That it is important is clear, because it
refers to the possibility of war between this country and the United
States, and its delicacy arises from this--that it is very difficult to
discuss this question without saying things which tend rather in the
direction of war than in the direction of peace.

The difficulty which is now before us is this--that there is an
extensive colony or dependency of this country lying adjacent to the
United States, and if there be a war party in the United States--a party
hostile to this country--that circumstance affords to it a very strong
temptation to enter without much hesitation into a war with England,
because it may feel that through Canada it can inflict a great
humiliation upon this country. And at the same time it is perfectly well
known to all intelligent men, especially to the statesmen and public men
of the United States--it is as well known to them as it is to us--that
there is no power whatever in this United Kingdom to defend successfully
the territory of Canada against the power of the United States. Now we
ought to know that, in order to put ourselves right upon this question,
and that we may not talk folly and be called upon hereafter to act
folly. The noble Lord at the head of the Government--or the Government,
at any rate is responsible for having compelled this discussion; because
if a Vote is to be asked for during this Session--and it is only the
beginning of other Votes--it is clearly the duty of the House to bring
the subject under discussion. I think the Vote now is particularly
inopportune for many reasons, but especially as we have heard from the
Governor-General of Canada that they are about, in the North-American
Provinces, to call into existence a new nationality; and I, for one,
shall certainly object to the taxes of this country being heedlessly
expended in behalf of any nationality but our own.

Now, what I should like to ask the House is this--first of all, will
Canada attack the States? Clearly not. Next, will the States attack
Canada--I am keeping out of view England altogether? Clearly not. There
is not a man in the United States, probably, whose voice or whose
opinion would have the smallest influence in that country, who would
recommend or desire that an attack should be made by the United States
upon Canada with a view to its forcible annexation to the Union. There
have been lately, as we know, dangers on the frontier. The Canadian
people have been no wiser than some Members of this House--or than a
great many men amongst the richer classes in this country. And when the
refugees from the South--I am not speaking now of respectable and
honourable men from the South, many of whom have left that country
during these troubles, and for whom I feel the greatest commiseration,
but I mean the ruffians from the South--who in large numbers have
entered Canada and have employed themselves there in a course of policy
likely to embroil us with the United States--I say that the people of
Canada have treated these men with far too much consideration. They
expressed very openly opinions hostile to the United States, whose power
lay close to them.

I will not go into a detail of that which we are all sufficiently well
acquainted with--the seizing of American ships on the Lakes, the raid
into the State of Vermont, the robbing of a bank, the killing of a man
in his own shop, the stealing of horses in open day, and another
transaction of which we have very strong proof, that men of this class
actually conspired to set fire to the largest cities of the Union. All
these things have taken place and the Canadian Government made scarcely
any sign. I believe that an application was made to the noble Lord at
the head of the Foreign Office nearly a year ago, that he should
stimulate the Canadian Government to some steps to avoid the dangers
that have since arisen; but with that sort of negligence which has been
so much seen here, nothing was done until the American Government and
people, aroused by the nature of these transactions, showed that they
were no longer about to put up with them. Then the Canadian Government
and people took a little notice. Now, Lord Monck, the Governor-General
of Canada--about whose appointment I have heard some people complain,
saying that he was a mere follower of the noble Lord at the head of the
Government, who lost his election and was therefore sent out to govern a
province--Lord Monck, I am bound to say, from all I have heard from
Canada, has conducted himself in a manner very serviceable to the
colony, and with the greatest possible propriety as representing the
Sovereign there. Lord Monck has been all along favourable to the United
States, and I believe his Cabinet has also. I know that at least the
most important newspaper there has always been favourable to the North.
Still nothing was done; but the moment these troubles arose then
everything was done. Volunteers have been sent to the frontier; the
trial of the raiders has been proceeded with, and possibly they will be
surrendered; and the Canadian Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed a
vote in their House of Parliament to restore to the persons at St.
Albans, who were robbed by the raiders, the 50,000 dollars that were
taken from them.

And what is the state of things now? There is the greatest possible calm
on the frontier. The United States have not a word to say against
Canada. The Canadian people have found that they were in the wrong and
have now returned to their right mind. There is not a man in Canada at
this moment, I believe, who has any idea that the United States
Government has the smallest notion of attacking them, now or at any
future time, on account of anything that has transpired between the
United States and Canada during these trials. But if there comes a war
in which Canada shall suffer and be made a victim, it will be a war got
up between the Government of Washington and the Government of London.
And it becomes us to inquire whether that is at all probable. Is there
anybody in this House in favour of such a war? I notice with general
delight--and I was not a false prophet when I said some time ago that
some day it would be so--I say I notice with delight the changed tone
manifested here with regard to these American questions. Even the noble
Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) can speak without
anger, and without any of that ill feeling which I am sorry to say on
past occasions he has manifested in discussing these questions.

Now, I believe there are no men out of Bedlam--or at least who ought to
be out of it--and I suspect there are very few men in Bedlam, who are in
favour of our going to war with the United States. And in taking this
view I am not arguing that it is because we see the vast naval and
military power and apparently inexhaustible resources of that country. I
will not assume that you or my countrymen have come to the conclusion
that it is better for us not to make war with America, because you and
they find her with a strength that you did not even suspect: I will say
that it is upon higher grounds that we are all against a war with the
United States. Our history for the last 200 years, and further back, is
a record of calamitous, and for the most part, unnecessary wars. We have
had enough of whatever a nation can gain by military successes and
military glory. I will not turn to the disasters that might follow to
our commerce nor to the wide-spread ruin that might be occasioned. I
will say that we are a wiser and a better people than we were in these
respects, and that we should regard a war with the United States as even
a greater crime, if needlessly entered into, than war with almost any
other country in the world.

Looking at our Government, we have preserved, with a good many blunders--
one or two of which I shall comment upon by-and-by--neutrality during
this great struggle. We have had it stated in this House, and we have
had a Motion in this House, that the blockade was ineffective and ought
to be broken. Men of various classes, some of them agents of the
Richmond conspiracy--persons, it is said, of influence from France--all
these are reported to have brought their influence to bear on the noble
Lord at the head of the Government and his colleagues, with a view of
inducing them to take part in this quarrel, and all this has failed to
break our neutrality. Therefore, I should say, we may clearly come to
the conclusion that England is not in favour of war; and if there should
be any act of war, or any aggression whatever, out of which Canada will
suffer, I believe honestly that it will not come from this country. That
is a matter which gives me great satisfaction, and I believe the House
will agree with me that I am not misstating the case.

Now let us ask, Is the United States for war? I know the noble Lord the
Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) has a lurking idea that there is
some danger from that quarter; I am not at all certain that it does not
prevail in other minds, and in many minds not so acute as that with
which the noble Lord is gifted. If we had at the Bar of the House, Lord
Russell as representing the English Government, and Mr. Adams as the
representative of the Government of President Lincoln, and if we were to
ask their opinion, they would tell us that which the Secretary for the
Colonies has this night told us--that the relations between the two
countries, so far as it is possible to discover them, are perfectly
amicable; and I know from the communications between the Minister of the
United States and our Minister for Foreign Affairs that they have been
growing more and more amicable for many months past. Now, I take the
liberty of expressing this opinion--that there has never been an
administration in the United States since the time of the Revolutionary
War, up to this hour, more entirely favourable to peace with all foreign
countries, and more especially favourable to peace with England, than
the Government of which President Lincoln is the head. I will undertake
to say that the most exact investigator of what has taken place will not
be able to point to a single word he--President Lincoln--has said, or a
single line he has written, or a single act he has done, since his first
accession to power, that betrays anger against this country, or any of
that vindictive feeling which some persons here may imagine to inflame
the breasts of the President and his Cabinet.

Then if Canada is not for war, if England is not for war, and if the
United States are not for war, whence is the war to come? That is what I
should like to ask. I wish the noble Lord the Member for Stamford had
been a little more frank. I should like to ask whence comes the anxiety,
which undoubtedly to some extent prevails? It may be assumed even that
the Government is not wholly free from it; for they have shown it in an
almost ludicrous manner by proposing a vote of 50,000_l_. It is
said the newspapers have got into a sort of panic. They can do that any
night between the hours of six and twelve o'clock, when they write their
articles. They are either very courageous or very panic-stricken.

It is said that 'the City' joins in this feeling. We know what 'the
City' means--the right hon. Gentleman alluded to it to-night. It means
that the people who deal in shares--though that does not describe the
whole of them--'the moneyed interest' of the City, are alarmed. Well, I
never knew the City to be right. Men who are deep in great monetary
transactions, and who are steeped to the lips sometimes in perilous
speculations, are not able to take broad and dispassionate views of
political questions of this nature.

As to the newspapers, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for
Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) when, referring to one of them in
particular, he intimated that he thought its course was indicated by a
wish to cover its own confusion. Surely, after four years' uninterrupted
publication of lies with regard to America, I should think it has done
pretty much to destroy its influence on foreign questions for ever.

But there is a much higher authority--that is the authority of the
Peers. I do not know why we should be so much restricted with regard to
the House of Lords in this House. I think I have observed that in their
place they are not so squeamish as to what they say about us. It
appeared to me that in this debate the right hon. Gentleman (Mr.
Disraeli) felt it necessary to get up and endeavour to defend his chief.
Now, if I were to give advice to the hon. Gentlemen opposite, it would
be this--for while stating that during the last four years many noble
Lords in the other House have said foolish things, I think I should be
uncandid if I did not say that you also have said foolish things--learn
from the example set you by the right hon. Gentleman. He, with a
thoughtfulness and statesmanship which you do not all acknowledge, he
did not say a word from that bench likely to create difficulty with the
United States. I think his chief and his followers might learn something
from his example.

But I have discovered one reason why in that other place mistakes of
this nature are so often made. Not long ago there was a great panic
raised, very much by what was said in another place about France. Now an
attempt is made there to create a panic upon this question. In the hall
of the Reform Club there is affixed to the wall a paper which gives a
telegraphic account of what is being done in this House every night, and
what is also being done in the other House, and I find almost every
night from the beginning of the Session that the only words that have
appeared on the side which is devoted to a record of the proceedings of
the House of Lords are these, 'Lords adjourned.' The noble Lord at the
head of the Government is responsible for much of this. He has brought
this House into nearly the same condition. We do very little, and they
do absolutely nothing. All of us in our younger days, I am quite sure,
were taught by those who had the care of us a verse which was intended
to inculcate the virtue of industry. One couplet was to this effect--

'Satan still some mischief finds
For idle hands to do.'

And I do not believe that men, however high in station, are exempt from
that unfortunate effect which arises to all of us from a course of
continued idleness. But I should like to ask this House in a most
serious mood, what is the reason that any man in this country has now
more anxiety with regard to the preservation of peace with the United
States than he had a few years ago? Is there not a consciousness in our
heart of hearts that we have not during the last five years behaved
generously to our neighbours? Do not we feel in some sort a pricking of
conscience, and are we not sensible that conscience tends to make us
cowards at this particular juncture?

I shall not review the past transactions with anger, but with feelings
of sorrow; for I maintain, and I think history will bear out what I say,
that there is no generous and high-minded Englishman who can look back
upon the transactions of the last four years without a feeling of sorrow
at the course we have pursued on some important occasions. As I am
wishful to speak with a view to a better state of feeling, both in this
country and in the United States, I shall take the liberty, if the House
will permit me for a few minutes, to refer to two or three of these
transactions, where, I think, though perhaps we were not in the main
greatly wrong, yet in some circumstances we were so far unfortunate as
to have created an irritation which at this moment we wish did not
exist. The hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald) referred to
the course taken by the Government with regard to the acknowledgment of
the belligerent rights of the South. Now I have never been one to
condemn the Government for acknowledging those belligerent rights,
except upon this ground--I think it might be logically contended that it
might possibly have become necessary to take that step--but I do think
the time and manner in which it was done were most unfortunate, and
could not but produce very evil effects.

Going back nearly four years, we recollect what occurred when the news
arrived of the first shot having been fired at Fort Sumter. That, I
think, was about the 12th of April. Immediately after that time it was
announced that a new Minister was coming to this country. Mr. Dallas had
intimated to the Government that as he did not represent the new
President he would rather not undertake anything of importance; but that
his successor was on his way and would arrive on such a day. When a man
leaves New York on a given day you can calculate to about twelve hours
when he will be in London. Mr. Adams, I think, arrived in London about
the 13th of May, and when he opened his newspaper next morning he found
the Proclamation of neutrality, acknowledging the belligerent rights of
the South. I say that the proper course to have taken would have been to
have waited till Mr. Adams arrived here, and to have discussed the
matter with him in a friendly manner, explaining the ground upon which
the English Government had felt themselves bound to issue that
Proclamation, and representing that it was not done in any manner as an
unfriendly act towards the United States Government. But no precaution
whatever was taken; it was done with unfriendly haste; and it had this
effect, that it gave comfort and courage to the conspiracy at Montgomery
and at Richmond, and caused great grief and irritation amongst that
portion of the people of America who were most strongly desirous of
maintaining friendly relations between their country and England.

To illustrate this point allow me to suppose a great revolt had taken
place in Ireland, and that we had sent over within a fortnight of the
occurrence of such an unfortunate event a new Minister to Washington,
and that on the morning after arriving there he had found, that without
consulting him, the Government had taken a hasty step by which the
belligerent rights of the insurgents had been acknowledged, and by which
comfort and support had been given them. I ask any man whether, under
such circumstances, the feeling throughout the whole of Great Britain,
and in the mind of every man anxious to preserve the unity of Great
Britain and Ireland, would not necessarily be one of irritation and
exasperation against the United States?

I will not argue this matter further--to do so would be simply to
depreciate the intellect of the hon. Gentlemen listening to me. Seven or
eight months afterwards there happened another transaction of a very
different but unfortunate nature--that is the transaction arising out of
the seizure of two Southern envoys on board an English ship--the
_Trent_. I recollect making a speech down at Rochdale about the
time of that occurrence. It was a speech entirely in favour of the
United States Government and people--but I did not then undertake, as I
do not undertake now, in the slightest degree to defend the seizure of
those two envoys. I said that although precedents for such an action
might possibly be found to have occurred in what I will call some of the
evil days in our history, at any rate it was opposed to the maxims and
principles of the United States Government, and was, as I thought, a bad
act--an act which should not have been done. Well, I do not complain of
the demand that those men should be given up; but I do complain of the
manner in which that demand was made, and the menaces by which it was
accompanied. I think it was wrong and unstatesman-like that at the
moment we heard of the seizure, when there was not the least foundation
for supposing that the United States Government were aware of the act,
or had in the slightest degree sanctioned it, as we since well know they
did not, that we should immediately get ships ready, and send off
troops, and incite the organs of the press--who are always too ready to
inflame the passions of the people to frenzy--to prepare their minds for

But that was not all; because before the United States had heard a word
of the matter from this country their Secretary of State had written to
Mr. Adams a despatch, which was communicated to our Government, and in
which it was stated that the transaction had not been done by any orders
of theirs, and that therefore, as far as they and we were concerned, it
was a pure accident, which they should consider with the most friendly
disposition towards this country. How came it that this despatch was
never published for the information of the people of this country? How
happened it that, during one whole month the flame of war was fanned by
the newspapers, particularly by those supposed to be devoted to the
Government, and that one of those newspapers, supposed to be peculiarly
devoted to the Prime Minister, had the audacity--I do not know whence it
obtained its instructions--to deny that any such despatch had been
received? Now, Sir, I am of opinion that it is not possible to maintain
amicable relations with any great country--I think it is not possible to
do so with any little one--unless Governments will manage these
transactions in what I will call a more courteous and more honourable
manner. I happen to know--for I received a letter from the United
States, from one of the most eminent men in that country, dated only two
days before those men were given up, in which the writer said--that the
real difficulty in the course of the President was that the menaces of
the English Government had made it almost impossible for them to
concede; and that the question they asked themselves was whether the
English Government was intending to seek a cause of quarrel or not. And
I am sure the noble Lord at the head of the Government, if such a demand
had been made upon him with courtesy and fairness, as should be between
friendly nations, would have been more disposed to concede, and would
have found it much more easy to concede, than if the demand had been
accompanied by menaces such as his Government offered to the Government
of the United States. Now the House will observe that I am not
condemning the Government of this country on the main point of what they
did. I am only condemning them because they did not do what they had to
do in that manner which would be most likely to remove difficulties and
preserve a friendly feeling between the two nations.

Then I come to the last thing I shall mention--to the question of the
ships which have been preying upon the commerce of the United States. I
shall confine myself to that one vessel, the _Alabama_. She was
built in this country; all her munitions of war were from this country;
almost every man on board her was a subject of Her Majesty. She sailed
from one of our chief ports. She is known to have been built by a firm
in which a Member of this House was, and I presume is, interested. Now,
Sir, I do not complain--I know that once, when I referred to this
question two years ago, when my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford
brought it forward in this House, the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr.
Laird) was excessively angry--I do not complain that the Member for
Birkenhead has struck up a friendship with Captain Semmes, who may
probably be described, as another sailor once was of similar pursuits,
as being 'the mildest mannered man that ever scuttled ship.' Therefore,
I do not complain of a man who has an acquaintance with that notorious
person, and I do not complain, and did not then, that the Member for
Birkenhead looks admiringly upon the greatest example which men have
ever seen of the greatest crime which men have ever committed. I do not
complain even that he should applaud that which is founded upon a
gigantic traffic in living flesh and blood--a traffic into which no
subject of this realm can enter without being deemed a felon in the eyes
of our law and punished as such. But what I do complain of is this, that
the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birkenhead, a magistrate of a county,
a deputy-lieutenant--whatever that may be--a representative of a
constituency, and having a seat in this ancient and honourable Assembly--
that he should, as I believe he did, if concerned in the building of
this ship, break the law of his country, by driving us into an
infraction of International Law, and treating with undeserved disrespect
the Proclamation of neutrality of the Queen.

I have another complaint to make, and in allusion to that hon. Member.
It is within your recollection that when on a former occasion he made
that speech and defended his course, he declared that he would rather be
the builder of a dozen _Alabamas_ than do something which nobody
has done. That language was received with repeated cheering from the
Opposition side of the House. Well, Sir, I undertake to say that that
was at least a most unfortunate circumstance, and I beg to tell the hon.
Gentleman that at the end of last Session, when the great debate took
place on the question of Denmark, there were many men on this side of
the House who had no objection whatever to see the present Government
turned out of office, for they had many grounds of complaint against
them, but they felt it impossible that they should take the
responsibility of bringing into office the right hon. Member for
Buckinghamshire or the party who could utter such cheers on such a
subject as that.

Turning from the Member for Birkenhead to the noble Lord at the head of
the Foreign Office, he, who in the case of the acknowledgment of
belligerent rights had proceeded with such remarkable celerity, such
undue and unfriendly haste, amply compensated for it when he came to the
question of the _Alabama_, by his slowness of procedure. And this
is a strange circumstance, which even the noble Lord's Colleagues have
never been able to explain, that although he sent orders to Cork to stop
the _Alabama_ if she arrived there, he allowed her afterwards, when
she had gone out of the jurisdiction of the Crown in these islands, to
go into a dozen or a score of ports belonging to this country in
different parts of the world. It seems to me that this is rather a
special instance of that feebleness of purpose and of action on the part
of the noble Lord which I regret to say has on many occasions done much
to mar what would otherwise be a great political career. I will not
detain the House on the question of the rams. The hon. Member for
Birkenhead, or the firm or the family, or whoever the people are at
Birkenhead who do these things, this firm at Birkenhead, after they had
seen the peril into which the country was drifting on account of the
_Alabama_, proceeded most audaciously to build those two rams; and
it was only at the very last moment, when on the eve of a war with the
United States on account of those rams, that the Government happily had
the courage to seize them, and thus the last danger was averted.

I suppose there are some shipowners here. I know there are many in
London--there are many in Liverpool--what would be the feeling in this
country if they suffered in this way from ships built in the United
States? There is a shipowner in New York, Mr. Lowe, a member of the
Chamber of Commerce of New York. He had three large ships destroyed by
the _Alabama_; and the _George Griswold_, which came to this
country freighted with a heavy cargo of provisions of various kinds for
the suffering people of Lancashire, was destroyed on her return passage,
and the ship that destroyed it may have been, and I believe was, built
by these patriotic shipbuilders of Birkenhead. These are things that
must rankle in the breast of a country which is subjected to such losses
and indignities. Even to-day I see in the newspapers that a vessel that
went out from this country has destroyed ten or eleven ships between the
Cape of Good Hope and Australia. I have thought it unnecessary to bring
continually American questions before the House, as some Gentlemen have
done during the last two or three Sessions. They should have asked a few
questions in regard to these ships; but no, they asked no question upon
these points. They asked questions upon every point on which they
thought they might embarrass the Government and make the great
difficulties of the Government greater in all their transactions with
the United States.

But the Members of the Government have not been wise. I hope it will not
be thought that I am unnecessarily critical if I say that Governments
are not generally very wise. Two years ago the noble Lord at the head of
the Government and the Attorney-General addressed the House. I asked the
noble Lord--I do not often ask him for anything--to speak, if only for
five minutes, words of generosity and sympathy to the Government and
people of the United States. He did not do it. Perhaps I was foolish to
expect it. The Attorney-General made a most able speech. It was the only
time that I have listened to him, ever since I have known him in this
House, with pain, for I thought his speech was full of bad morals and
bad law. I am quite certain that he even gave an account of the facts of
the case which was not as ingenuous and fair as the House had a right to
expect from him. Next Session the noble Lord and the Attorney-General
turned quite round. They had a different story about the same
transaction, and gradually, as the aspect of things was changed on the
other side of the Atlantic, there has been a gradual return to good
sense and fairness, not only on the part of Members upon the Treasury
Bench, but on that of other Members of the House.

Now, Sir, I would not willingly say a word that would wound either the
noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office or the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, because I do not know amongst the official statesmen of this
country two men for whom I have greater sympathy or more respect; but I
have to complain of them. I do not know why it is that they both go down
to Newcastle--a town in which I feel a great interest--and there give
forth words of offence and unwisdom. I know that what the noble Lord
said was all very smart, but really it was not true, and I have not much
respect for a thing that is merely smart and is not true. The Chancellor
of the Exchequer made a statement too. The papers made it appear that he
did it with exultation; but that is a mistake. But he made a statement,
and though I do not know what will be in his Budget, I know his wishes
in regard to that statement--namely, that he had never made it.

Those Gentlemen, bear in mind, sit, as it were, on a hill; they are not
obscure men, making speeches in a public-house or even at a respectable
mechanics' institution; they are men whose voice is heard wherever the
English language is known. And knowing that, and knowing what effect
their speeches will have, especially in Lancashire, where men are in
trade, and where profits and losses are affected by the words of
statesmen, they use the language of which I complain; and beyond this,
for I can conceive some idea of the irritation those statements must
have caused in the United States. I might refer to the indiscriminating
abuse of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield; and I
may add to that the unsleeping ill-will of the noble Lord the Member for
Stamford. I am not sure that these two Members of the House are in the
least degree converted yet. I think I heard the hon. Member for
Sheffield utter to-night some ejaculation that looked as if he retained
all his old sentiments. [Mr. Roebuck: 'Exactly.'] I am sorry it is so. I
did expect that these things would be regretted and repented of; and I
must express my hope that if any one of you who have been thus
ungenerous shall ever fall into trouble of any kind that you will find
your friends more kind and more just than you have been to your fellow-
countrymen--for I will still call them so--at the other side of the
Atlantic. And as to the press, Sir, I think it is unnecessary to say
much about that, because every night those unfortunate writers are now
endeavouring to back out of everything they have been saying; and I can
only hope that their power for evil in future will be greatly lessened
by the stupendous exhibition of ignorance and folly which they have made
to the world.

Now, Sir, having made this statement, I suppose the noble Lord the
Member for Stamford, if he were to get up after me, would say: 'Well, if
all this be true--if we have done all these injurious things, if we have
created all this irritation in the United States--will it not be likely
that this irritation will provoke a desire for vengeance, and that the
chances of war are greatly increased by it?' I do not know whether the
chances of war are increased, but I will say that not only is war not
certain, but it is to the last degree improbable.

But, Sir, there is another side to this question. All England is not
included in the rather general condemnation which I have thought it my
duty to express. There is another side. Looking to our own population,
what have the millions been saying and doing--the millions you are so
much afraid of?--especially the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, who
objects to the transference of power to those millions from those who
now hold it, and, from his position, naturally objects. I beg leave to
tell the House that, taking the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire--
your great counties of population--the millions of men there, whose
industry has not only created but sustains the fabric of your national
power, have had no kind of sympathy with the views which I have been
condemning. They have been more generous and more wise; they have shown
that magnanimity and love of freedom are not extinct. And, speaking of
the county from which I come--the county of many sorrows, whose griefs
have hung like a dark cloud over almost every heart during the last
three years--all the attempts which the agents of the Confederacy have
made there by money, by printing, by platform speeches, by agitation,
have utterly failed to get from that population one expression of
sympathy with the American insurrection. And, Sir, if the bond of union
and friendship between England and America shall remain unbroken, we
shall not have to thank the wealthy and the cultivated, but those
laborious millions whom statesmen and histories too frequently take
little account of. They know a little of the United States, which
Gentlemen opposite and some on this side the House do not appear to
know. They know that every man of them would be better off on the
American continent, if he chose to go there, and would be welcome to
every right and privilege that the people there are in possession of.
They know further that every man may have from the United States
Government a free gift of 160 acres of the most fertile land in the
world. [A laugh.] I do not understand that laugh, but the gift, under
the Homestead Act of America, of 160 acres of land is a great deal for a
man who has no land. I can tell you that the Homestead Act and the
liberality of the American Government have had a great effect upon the
population of the North of England, and I can tell you further--that the
labouring population of this country--the artisans and the mechanics--
will never join heartily in any policy which is intended to estrange the
people of the United States from the people of the United Kingdom.

But, Sir, we have other securities for peace which are not less than
these, and I find them in the character of the Government and people of
the American Union. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for
Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) referred to what must reasonably be
supposed to happen in case this rebellion should be put down--that when
a nation is exhausted it will not rush rashly into a new struggle. The
loss of life has been great, the loss of treasure enormous. Happily for
them, this life and this treasure have not been sacrificed to keep a
Bourbon on the throne of France, or to keep the Turks in Europe; the
sacrifice was for an object which every man could comprehend, which
every man could examine by the light of his own intelligence and his own
conscience; for if these men have given their lives and their
possessions, it was for the attainment of a great end, the maintenance
of the unity and integrity of a great country. History in future time
must be written in a different spirit from all history in the past, if
it should express any condemnation of that people. Mr. Lincoln, who is
now for the second time President of the United States, was elected
exclusively by what was termed the Republican party. He is now elected
by what may be called the Great Union party of the nation. But Mr.
Lincoln's party has always been for peace. That party in the North has
never carried on any war of aggression, and has never desired one. I
speak of the North only, the Free States. And let the House remember
that in that country landed property, property of all kind, is more
universally distributed than in any other nation, that instruction and
school education are also more widely diffused there than amongst any
other people. I say, they have never carried on hitherto a war for
aggrandizement or for vengeance, and I believe they will not begin one

Canada, I think the noble Lord will admit, is a very tempting bait, not
indeed for the purpose of annexation, but for the purpose of humiliating
this country. I agree with hon. Gentlemen who have said that it would be
discreditable to England, in the light of her past history, that she
should leave any portion of her Empire which she could defend,
undefended. But still it is admitted--and I think the speech of the
right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) produced a great
effect upon those who heard it--the House admitted that in case of war
with the United States, Canada could not be defended by any power on
land or at sea which this country could raise or spare for that purpose.
I am very sorry, not that we cannot defend Canada, but that any portion
of the dominions of the British Crown is in such circumstances as to
tempt evil-disposed people to attack it with the view of humiliating us,
because I believe that transactions which humiliate a Government and a
nation are not only disagreeable, but a great national harm.

But, now, is there a war party in the United States? I believe there is
such a party. It is that party which was a war party eighty years ago.
It is the party represented by hon. Gentlemen who sit on that bench--the
Irish party. They who are hostile to this country in the United States
are those who were recently malcontent subjects of the right hon.
Gentleman the Member for Tamworth. It is these, and such as these, to
whom the noble Lord at the head of the Government offers only such
consolation as that of telling them that 'the rights of the tenants are
the wrongs of the landlords,' who constitute the only war party in the
United States; and it was the war party there in the days of Lord North.
But the real power of the United States does not rest on that class.
American mobs--and, excepting some portion of the population of New
York, I would not apply the language even to them--for the sake of
forcing their Congress and their Executive to a particular course, are
altogether unknown. The real mob in your sense, is that party of
chivalrous gentlemen in the South, who have received, I am sorry to say,
so much sympathy from some persons in this country and in this House.
But the real power depends upon another class--the landowners throughout
the country, and there are millions of them. In this last election for
President of the United States, I was told by a citizen of New York, who
was most active in the election, that in the State of New York alone
100,000 Irish votes were given, as he expressed it, solidly--that is, in
one mass--for General M'Clellan, and that not more than 2,000 were given
for President Lincoln. You see the preponderance of that party in the
city of New York, and that is the feeling amongst them throughout the
State of New York; but, throughout the whole of the United States, it is
merely a small per-centage, which has no sensible effect upon the
constitution of Congress, or upon legislation or government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) referred to a
point which I suppose has really been the cause of this debate, and that
is the temper of the United States in making certain demands upon our
Government. I asked a question the other night after the noble Lord had
asked a question upon the subject--I asked whether we had not claims
against them. I understand that claims were made upon us by the United
States amounting to 300,000_l_. or 400,000_l_. I am afraid
that we have claims against them, amounting probably to as much as that.
If any man thinks he has a right to go to law with another, and that
other has an answer to his claim, the case must be heard. And so between
two great nations and two free Governments. If one has claims against
the other, and the other has counter claims, clearly nothing can be more
fair than that those claims should be courteously and honestly
considered. It is quite absurd to suppose that the English Government
and the Government at Washington can have a question about half a
million of money which they cannot amicably settle. The noble Lord, I
believe, thinks it is not a question for arbitration, but that it is a
question of principle. Well, all questions of property almost are
questions of law, and you go to a lawyer and settle them if you can. In
this case it would be surely as easy to have the matter settled by some
impartial person as it was to ask the Senate or other authority at
Hamburg to settle a question between this country and the Empire of
Brazil. Our most perfect security is, that as the war in America draws
to a close--if it should happily soon draw to a close--we shall become
more generous to them, and their Government and people will probably
become less irritated towards us. And when the passions have cooled
down, I am quite sure that Mr. Seward on that side and Earl Russell on
this, Mr. Adams here and Sir Frederick Bruce there, will be able,
without much difficulty, to settle this, which is, after all, an
unimportant matter, as a question of accounts between the two nations.

I have only one more observation to make, and it is this--I suspect the
root of all the unfortunate circumstances that have occurred is the
feeling of jealousy which we have cherished with regard to the American
nation. It was very much shown at the beginning of this war, when a
Member whom I will not name, for I am sure his wish is that his name
should not be mentioned in connection with it now, spoke of the bursting
of the bubble republic. I recollect that Lord John Russell, as he then
was speaking from that bench, turned round and rebuked him in language
which was worthy of his name, and character, and position. I beg to tell
that Gentleman, and anybody else who talks about a bubble republic, that
I have a strong suspicion he will see that a great many bubbles will
burst before that. Why should we fear a great nation on the American
continent? Some people fear that, should America become a great nation,
she will be arrogant and aggressive. It does not follow that it should
be so. The character of a nation does not depend altogether upon its
size, but upon the instruction, the civilization, and the morals of its
people. You fancy the supremacy of the sea will pass away from you; and
the noble Lord, who has had much experience, and is supposed to be wiser
on the subject than any other man in the House, will say that 'Rule
Britannia' may become obsolete. Well, inasmuch as the supremacy of the
seas means arrogance and the assumption of a dictatorial power on the
part of this country, the sooner that becomes obsolete the better. I do
not believe that it is for the advantage of this country, or of any
country in the world, that any one nation should pride itself upon what
is termed the supremacy of the sea; and I hope the time is coming--I
believe the hour is hastening--when we shall find that law and justice
will guide the councils and will direct the policy of the Christian
nations of the world. Nature will not be baffled because we are jealous
of the United States--the decrees of Providence will not be overthrown
by aught we can do.

The population of the United States is now not less than 35,000,000.
When the next Parliament of England has lived to the age which this has
lived to, that population will be 40,000,000, and you may calculate the
increase at the rate of rather more than 1,000,000 of persons per year.
Who is to gainsay it? Will constant snarling at a great republic alter
this state of things, or swell us up in these islands to 40,000,000 or
50,000,000, or bring them down to our 30,000,000? Hon. Members and the
country at large should consider these facts, and learn from them that
it is the interest of the nations to be at one--and for us to be in
perfect courtesy and amity with the great English nation on the other
side of the Atlantic. I am sure that the longer that nation exists the
less will our people be disposed to sustain you in any needless
hostility against them or jealousy of them. And I am the more convinced
of this from what I have seen of the conduct of the people in the north
of England during the last four years. I believe, on the other hand,
that the American people, when this excitement is over, will be willing,
so far as aggressive acts against us are concerned, to bury in oblivion
transactions which have given them much pain, and that they will make
the allowance which they may fairly make, that the people of this
country--even those high in rank and distinguished in culture--have had
a very inadequate knowledge of the real state of the events which have
taken place in that country since the beginning of the war.

It is on record that when the author of _The Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire_ was about to begin his great work, David Hurne wrote a
letter to him urging him not to employ the French but the English
tongue, 'because' he said, 'our establishments in America promise
superior stability and duration to the English language.' How far that
promise has been in part fulfilled we who are living now can see; but
how far it will be more largely and more completely fulfilled in after
times we must leave after times to tell. I believe that in the centuries
which are to come it will be the greatest pride and the highest renown
of England that from her loins have sprung a hundred millions--it may be
two hundred millions--of men who dwell and prosper on that continent
which the grand old Genoese gave to Europe. Sir, if the sentiments which
I have uttered shall become the sentiments of the Parliament and people
of the United Kingdom--if the moderation which I have described shall
mark the course of the Government and of the people of the United
States--then, notwithstanding some present irritation and some present
distrust--and I have faith both in us and in them--I believe that these
two great commonwealths will march abreast, the parents and the
guardians of freedom and justice, wheresoever their language shall be
spoken and their power shall extend.

* * * * *




I shall ask the attention of the House for only a few moments. If the
hon. Member (Mr. Bentinck) divides, I shall go into the same lobby with
him. I am afraid that, in making that announcement, I shall excite some
little alarm in the mind of the hon. Gentleman. I wish therefore to say,
that I shall not in going into the lobby agree with him in many of the
statements he has made. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) said,
that he approached the military question with great diffidence, and I
was very glad to see any signs of diffidence in that quarter. After that
explanation, he asked the House with a triumphant air whether there is
any difficulty in defending a frontier of one thousand or fifteen
hundred miles, and whether the practicability of doing so is a new
doctrine in warfare. But one thousand or fifteen hundred miles of
frontier to defend at the centre of your power, is one thing; but at
three thousand or four thousand miles from the centre, it is an entirely
different thing. I venture to say, that there is not a man in this
House, or a sensible man out of it, who, apart from the consideration of
this vote, or some special circumstances attending it, believes that the
people of this country could attempt a successful defence of the
frontier of Canada against the whole power of the United States. I said
the other night, that I hoped we should not now talk folly, and
hereafter, in the endeavour to be consistent, act folly. We all know
perfectly well that we are talking folly when we say that the Government
of this country would send either ships or men to make an effectual
defence of Canada against the power of the United States, supposing war
to break out. Understand, I am not in the least a believer in the
probability of war, but I will discuss the question for one moment as if
war were possible. I suppose some men in this House think it probable.
But if it be possible or probable, and if you have to look this
difficulty in the face, there is no extrication from it but in the
neutrality or independence of Canada.

I agree with those Members who say that it is the duty of a great empire
to defend every portion of it. I admit that as a general proposition,
though hon. Gentlemen opposite, and some on this side, do not apply that
rule to the United States. But, admitting that rule, and supposing that
we are at all points unprepared for such a catastrophe, may we not, as
reasonable men, look ahead, and try if it be not possible to escape from
it? [An hon. Member: 'Run away?'] No, not by running away, though there
are many circumstances in which brave men run away; and you may get into
difficulty on this Canadian question, which may make you look back and
wish that you had run away a good time ago. I object to this vote on a
ground which, I believe, has not been raised by any Member in the
present discussion. I am not going to say that the expenditure of fifty
thousand pounds is a matter of great consequence to this country, that
the expenditure of this money in the proposed way will be taken as a
menace by the United States. I do not think that this can be fairly
said; for whether building fortifications at Quebec be useless or not,
such a proceeding is not likely to enable the Canadians to overrun the
State of New York. The United States, I think, will have no right to
complain of this expenditure. The utmost it can do will be to show them
that some persons, and perhaps the Government of this country, have some
little distrust of them, and so far it may do injury. I complain of the
expenditure and the policy announced by the Colonial Secretary, on a
ground which I thought ought to have been urged by the noble Lord the
Member for Wick, who is a sort of half-Canadian. He made a speech which
I listened to with great pleasure, and told the House what some of us,
perhaps, did not know before; but if I had been connected, as he is,
with Canada, I would have addressed the House from a Canadian point of

What is it that the Member for Oxford says? He states, in reference to
the expenditure for the proposed fortifications, that, though a portion
of the expenditure is to be borne by us, the main portion is to be borne
by Canada; but I venture to tell him, that, if there shall be any
occasion to defend Canada at all, it will not arise from anything Canada
does, but from what England does; and therefore I protest against the
doctrine that the Cabinet in London may get into difficulties, and
ultimately into war, with the Cabinet at Washington; that because Canada
lies adjacent to the United States, and may consequently become a great
battle-field, this United Kingdom has a right to call on Canada for the
main portion of that expenditure. Who has asked you to spend fifty
thousand pounds, and the hundreds of thousands which may be supposed to
follow, but which perhaps Parliament may be indisposed hereafter to
grant? What is the proportion which Canada is to bear? If we are to
spend two hundred thousand pounds at Quebec, is Canada to spend four
hundred thousand pounds at Montreal? If Canada is to spend double
whatever we may spend, is it not obvious that every Canadian will ask
himself--what is the advantage of the connection between Canada and

Every Canadian knows perfectly well, and nobody better than the noble
Lord the Member for Wick, that there is no more prospect of a war
between Canada and the United States alone, than between the Empire of
France and the Isle of Man. If that is so, why should the Canadians be
taxed beyond all reason, as the Colonial Secretary proposes to tax them,
for a policy not Canadian, and for a calamity which, if ever it occurs,
must occur from some transactions between England and the United States?
There are Gentlemen here who know a good deal of Canada, and I see
behind me one who knows perfectly well what is the condition of the
Canadian finances. We complain that Canada levies higher duties on
British manufactures than the United States did before the present war,
and much higher than France does. But when we complain to Canada of
this, and say it is very unpleasant usage from a part of our empire, the
Canadians reply that their expenditure is so much, and their debt, with
the interest on it, so much, that they are obliged to levy these heavy
duties. If the Canadian finances are in the unfortunate position
described; if the credit of Canada is not very good in the market of
this country; if you see what are the difficulties of the Canadians
during a period of peace; consider what will be their difficulties if
the doctrine of the Colonial Secretary be carried out, which is that
whatever expenditure is necessary for the defence of Canada, though we
bear a portion, the main part must be borne by Canada.

We must then come to this inevitable conclusion. Every Canadian will
say, 'We are close alongside of a great nation; our parent state is
three thousand miles away; there are litigious, and there may be even
warlike, people in both nations, and they may occasion the calamity of a
great war; we are peaceable people, having no foreign politics, happily;
we may be involved in war, and while the cities of Great Britain are not
touched by a single shell, nor one of its fields ravaged, there is not a
city or a village in this Canada in which we live which will not be
liable to the ravages of war on the part of our powerful neighbour.'
Therefore the Canadians will say, unless they are unlike all other
Englishmen (who appear to have more sense the farther they go from their
own country), that it would be better for Canada to be disentangled from
the politics of England, and to assume the position of an independent

I suspect from what has been stated by official Gentlemen in the present
Government and in previous Governments, that there is no objection to
the independence of Canada whenever Canada may wish it. I have been glad
to hear those statements, because I think they mark an extraordinary
progress in sound opinions in this country. I recollect the noble Lord
at the head of the Foreign Office on one occasion being very angry with
me, he said I wished to make a great empire less; but a great empire,
territorially, may be lessened without its power and authority in the
world being diminished. I believe if Canada now, by a friendly
separation from this country, became an independent state, choosing its
own form of government--monarchical, if it liked a monarchy, or
republican, if it preferred a republic--it would not be less friendly to
England, and its tariff would not be more adverse to our manufactures
than it is now. In the case of a war with America, Canada would then be
a neutral country; and the population would be in a state of greater
security. Not that I think there is any fear of war, but the Government
admit that it may occur by their attempt to obtain money for these
fortifications. I object, therefore, to this vote, not on that account,
nor even because it causes some distrust, or may cause it, in the United
States; but I object to it mainly because I think we are commencing a
policy which we shall either have to abandon, because Canada will not
submit to it, or else which will bring upon Canada a burden in the shape
of fortification expenditure that will make her more and more
dissatisfied with this country, and that will lead rapidly to her
separation from us. I do not object to that separation in the least; I
believe it would be better for us and better for her. But I think that,
of all the misfortunes which could happen between us and Canada, this
would be the greatest, that her separation should take place after a
period of irritation and estrangement, and that we should have on that
continent to meet another element in some degree hostile to this

I am sorry, Sir, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and
his colleagues, have taken this course; but it appears to me to be
wonderfully like almost everything which the Government does. It is a
Government apparently of two parts, the one part pulling one way and the
other part pulling another, and the result generally is something which
does not please anybody, or produce any good effect in any direction.
They now propose a scheme which has just enough in it to create distrust
and irritation, enough to make it in some degree injurious, and they do
not do enough to accomplish any of the objects for which, according to
their statements, the proposition is made. Somebody asked the other
night whether the Administration was to rule, or the House of Commons.
Well, I suspect from the course of the debates, that on this occasion
the Administration will be allowed to rule. We are accustomed to say
that the Government suggests a thing on its own responsibility, and
therefore we will allow them to do it. But the fact is, that the
Government knows no more of this matter than any other dozen gentlemen
in this House. They are not a bit more competent to form an opinion upon
it. They throw it down on the table, and ask us to discuss and vote it.

I should be happy to find the House, disregarding all the intimations
that war is likely, anxious not to urge Canada into incurring an
expenditure which she will not bear, and which, if she will not bear,
must end in one of two things--either in throwing the whole burden upon
us, or in breaking up, perhaps suddenly and in anger, the connection
between us and that colony, and in making our future relations with her
most unsatisfactory. I do not place much reliance on the speech of the
right honourable Member for Buckinghamshire, not because he cannot judge
of the question just as well as I or any one of us can do, but because I
notice that in matters of this kind Gentlemen on that (the Opposition)
bench, whatever may have been their animosities towards the Gentlemen on
this (the Treasury) bench on other questions, shake hands. They may tell
you that they have no connection with the House over the way, but the
fact is, their connection is most intimate. And if the right honourable
Member for Buckinghamshire were now sitting on the Treasury bench, and
the noble Viscount were sitting opposite to him, the noble Viscount, I
have no doubt, would give him the very same support that he now receives
from the right hon. Gentleman.

This seems to me a question so plain, so much on the surface, appealing
so much to our common sense, having in it such great issues for the
future, that I am persuaded it is the duty of the House of Commons on
this occasion to take the matter out of the hands of the executive
Government, and to determine that, with regard to the future policy of
Canada, we will not ourselves expend the money of the English tax-
payers, and not force upon the tax-payers of Canada a burden which, I am
satisfied, they will not long continue to bear.

* * * * *




Although this measure has not excited much interest in the House or in
the country, yet it appears to me to be of such very great importance
that it should be treated rather differently, or that the House should
be treated rather differently in respect to it. I have never before
known of any great measure affecting any large portion of the empire or
its population which has been brought in and attempted to be hurried
through Parliament in the manner in which this bill is being dealt with.
Eat the importance of it is much greater to the inhabitants of those
provinces than it is to us. It is on that account alone that it might be
expected we should examine it closely, and see that we commit no error
in passing it.

The right hon. Gentleman has not offered us, on one point, an
explanation which I think he will be bound to make. This bill does not
include the whole of the British North American Provinces. I presume the
two left out have been left out because it is quite clear they did not
wish to come in. [Mr. Adderley: 'I am glad I can inform the hon.
Gentleman that they are, one of them at least, on the point of coming
in.'] Yes; the reason of their being left out is because they were not
willing to come in. They may hereafter become willing, and if so the
bill will admit them by a provision which appears reasonable. But the
province of Nova Scotia is also unwilling to come in, and it is assumed
that because some time ago the Legislature of that province voted a
resolution partly in favour of some such course, therefore the
population is in favour of it.

For my part, I do not believe in the propriety or wisdom of the
Legislature voting on a great question of this nature with reference to
the Legislature of Nova Scotia, if the people of Nova Scotia have never
had the question directly put to them. I have heard there is at present
in London a petition complaining of the hasty proceeding of Parliament,
and asking for delay, signed by 31,000 adult males of the province of
Nova Scotia, and that that petition is in reality signed by at least
half of all the male inhabitants of that province. So far as I know, the
petition does not protest absolutely against union, but against the
manner in which it is being carried out by this scheme and bill, and the
hasty measures of the Colonial Office. Now, whether the scheme be a good
or bad one, scarcely anything can be more foolish, looking to the
future, than that any of the provinces should be dragged into it, either
perforce, by the pressure of the Colonial Office, or by any hasty action
on the part of Parliament, in the hope of producing a result which
probably the populations of those provinces may not wish to see brought

I understand that the general election for the Legislature of Nova
Scotia, according to the constitution of that colony, will take place in
the month of May or June next; that this question has never been fairly
placed before the people of that province at an election, and that it
has never been discussed and decided by the people; and seeing that only
three months or not so much will elapse before there will be an
opportunity of ascertaining the opinions of the population of Nova
Scotia, I think it is at least a hazardous proceeding to pass this bill
through Parliament, binding Nova Scotia, until the clear opinion of that
province has been ascertained. If, at a time like this, when you are
proposing a union which we all hope is to last for ever, you create a
little sore, it will in all probability become a great sore in a short
time, and it may be that the intentions of Parliament will be almost
entirely frustrated by the haste with which this measure is being pushed

The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think, in
the early part of the evening, in answer to a question from this side,
spoke of this matter as one of extreme urgency. Well, I cannot discover
any urgency in the matter at all. What is urgent is this, that when done
it ought to be done wisely, and with the full and free consent of all
those populations who are to be bound by this Act and interested in its
results. Unless the good-will of those populations is secured, in all
probability the Act itself will be a misfortune rather than a blessing
to the provinces to which it refers.

The right hon. Gentleman amused me in one part of his speech. He spoke
of the filial piety--rather a curious term--of these provinces, and
their great anxiety to make everything suit the ideas of this country;
and this was said particularly with reference to the proposition for a
Senate selected, not elected, for life, by the Governor-General of
Canada. He said they were extremely anxious to follow as far as possible
the institutions of the mother country. I have not the smallest
objection to any people on the face of the earth following our
institutions if they like them. Institutions which suit one country, as
we all know, are not very likely to suit every other country. With
regard to this particular case, the right hon. Gentleman said it is to
be observed that Canada has had a nominated council, and has changed it
for an elected one, and that surely they had a right if they pleased to
go back from an elected council to a nominated council. Well, nobody
denies that, but nobody pretends that the people of Canada prefer a
nominated council to an elected council. And all the wisdom of the wise
men to whom the right hon. gentleman the member for Oxford has referred
in such glowing terms, unless the experience of present and past times
goes for nothing, is but folly if they have come to the conclusion that
a nominated council on that continent must be better than an elected
council. Still, if they wish it, I should not interfere and try to
prevent it. But I venture to say that the clause enabling the Governor-
General and his Cabinet to put seventy men in that council for life
inserts into the whole scheme the germ of a malady which will spread,
and which before very long will require an alteration of this Act and of
the constitution of this new Confederation.

But the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that with regard to the
representative assembly--which, I suppose, is to be called according to
his phrase the House of Commons--they have adopted a very different
plan. There they have not followed the course of this country. They have
established their House of Representatives directly upon the basis of
population. They have adopted the system which prevails in the United
States, which upon every ten years' summing up of the census in that
country the number of members may be changed, and is by law changed in
the different States and districts as the rate of population may have
changed. Therefore, in that respect his friends in Canada have not
adopted the principle which prevails in this country, but that which
prevails in the United States. I believe they have done that which is
right, and which they have a right to do, and which is inevitable there.
I regret very much that they have not adopted another system with regard
to their council or senate, because I am satisfied--I have not a
particle of doubt with regard to it that we run a great danger of making
this Act work ill almost from the beginning.

They have the example of thirty-six States in the United States, in
which the Senate is elected, and no man, however sanguine, can hope that
seventy-two stereotyped provincial peers in Canada will work
harmoniously with a body elected upon a system so wide and so general as
that which prevails in the States of the American Union. There is one
point about which the right hon. Gentleman said nothing, and which I
think is so very important that the Member for Oxford, his predecessor
in office, might have told us something about it. We know that Canada is
a great country, and we know that the population is, or very soon will
be, something like 4,000,000, and we may hope that, united under one
government, the province may be more capable of defence. But what is
intended with regard to the question of defence? Is everything to be
done for the province? Is it intended to garrison its fortresses by
English troops? At the present moment there are, I believe, in the
province 12,000 or 15,000 men.

There are persons in this country, and there are some also in the North
American provinces, who are ill-natured enough to say that not a little
of the loyalty that is said to prevail in Canada has its price. I think
it is natural and reasonable to hope that there is in that country a
very strong attachment to this country. But if they are to be constantly
applying to us for guarantees for railways, and for grants for
fortresses, and for works of defence, then I think it would be far
better for them and for us--cheaper for us and less demoralising for
them--that they should become an independent State, and maintain their
own fortresses, fight their own cause, and build up their own future
without relying upon us. And when we know, as everybody knows, that the
population of Canada is in a much better position as regards the
comforts of home, than is the great bulk of the population of this
country, I say the time has come when it ought to be clearly understood
that the taxes of England are no longer to go across the ocean to defray
expenses of any kind within the Confederation which is about to be

The right hon. Gentleman has never been an advocate for great
expenditure in the colonies by the mother country. On the contrary, he
has been one of the members of this House who have distinguished
themselves by what I will call an honest system for the mother country,
and what I believe is a wise system for the colonies. But I think that
when a measure of this kind is being passed, having such stupendous
results upon the condition and the future population of these great
colonies, we have a right to ask that there should be some consideration
for the revenue and for the taxpayers of this country. In discussing
this Bill with the delegates from the provinces, I think it was the duty
of the Colonial Secretary to have gone fairly into this question, and,
if possible, to have arranged it to the advantage of the colony and the
mother country.

I believe there is no delusion greater than this--that there is any
party in the United States that wishes to commit any aggression upon
Canada, or to annex Canada by force to the United States. There is not a
part of the world, in my opinion, that runs less risk of aggression than
Canada, except with regard to that foolish and impotent attempt of
certain discontented not-long-ago subjects of the Queen, who have left
this country. America has no idea of anything of the kind. No American
statesman, no American political party, dreams for a moment of an
aggression upon Canada, or of annexing Canada by force. And therefore,
every farthing that you spend on your fortresses, and all that you do
with the idea of shutting out American aggression, is money squandered
through an hallucination which we ought to get rid of. I have not risen
for the purpose of objecting to the second reading of this Bill. Under
the circumstances, I presume it is well that we should do no other than
read it a second time. But I think the Government ought to have given a
little more time. I think they have not treated the province of Nova
Scotia with that tenderness, that generosity, and that consideration
which is desirable when you are about to make so great a change in its
affairs and in its future. For my share, I want the population of these
provinces to do that which they believe to be best for their own
interests--to remain with this country if they like it, in the most
friendly manner, or to become independent States if they wish it. If
they should prefer to unite themselves with the United States, I should
not complain even of that. But whatever be their course, there is no man
in this House or in those provinces who has a more sincere wish for
their greatness and their welfare than I have who have taken the liberty
thus to criticise this Bill.

* * * * *





[During the excitement caused by the seizure of Messrs. Mason and
Slidell, the envoys of the Slaveholders' Confederation, on board the
_Trent_ steamer, Mr. Bright's townsmen invited him to a Public
Banquet, that they might have the opportunity of hearing his opinions on
the American Civil War, and on the duty of England in regard to it. This
speech was delivered on the occasion of that Banquet.]

When the Gentlemen who invited me to this dinner called upon me, I felt
their kindness very sensibly, and now I am deeply grateful to my friends
around me, and to you all, for the abundant manifestations of kindness
with which I have been received to-night. I am, as you all know,
surrounded at this moment by my neighbours and friends, and I may say
with the utmost truth, that I value the good opinions of those who now
hear my voice far beyond the opinions of any equal number of the
inhabitants of this country selected from any other portion of it. You
have, by this act of kindness that you have shown me, given proof that,
in the main, you do not disapprove of my course and labours, that at
least you are willing to express an opinion that the motives by which I
have been actuated have been honest and honourable to myself, and that
that course has not been entirely without service to my country. Coming
to this meeting, or to any similar meeting, I always find that the
subjects for discussion appear too many, and far more than it is
possible to treat at length. In these times in which we live, by the
influence of the telegraph, and the steamboat, and the railroad, and the
multiplication of newspapers, we seem continually to stand as on the top
of an exceeding high mountain, from which we behold all the kingdoms of
the earth and all the glory of them,--unhappily, also, not only their
glory, but their follies, and their crimes, and their calamities.

Seven years ago, our eyes were turned with anxious expectation to a
remote corner of Europe, where five nations were contending in bloody
strife for an object which possibly hardly one of them comprehended,
and, if they did comprehend it, which all sensible men amongst them must
have known to be absolutely impracticable. Four years ago, we were
looking still further to the East, where there was a gigantic revolt in
a great dependency of the British Crown, arising mainly from gross
neglect, and from the incapacity of England, up to that moment, to
govern the country which it had known how to conquer. Two years ago, we
looked South, to the plains of Lombardy, and saw a great strife there,
in which every man in England took a strong interest; and we have
welcomed, as the result of that strife, the addition of a great kingdom
to the list of European States. Now, our eyes are turned in a contrary
direction, and we look to the West. There we see a struggle in progress
of the very highest interest to England and to humanity at large. We see
there a nation which I shall call the Transatlantic English nation--the
inheritor and partaker of all the historic glories of this country. We
see it torn with intestine broils, and suffering from calamities from
which for more than a century past--in fact, for more than two centuries
past--this country has been exempt. That struggle is of especial
interest to us. We remember the description which one of our great poets
gives of Rome,--

'Lone mother of dead empires.'

But England is the living mother of great nations on the American and on
the Australian continents, which promise to endow the world with all her
knowledge and all her civilization, and with even something more than
the freedom she herself enjoys.

Eighty-five years ago, at the time when some of our oldest townsmen were
very little children, there were, on the North American continent,
Colonies, mainly of Englishmen, containing about three millions of
souls. These Colonies we have seen a year ago constituting the United
States of North America, and comprising a population of no less than
thirty millions of souls. We know that in agriculture and manufactures,
with the exception of this kingdom, there is no country in the world
which in these arts may be placed in advance of the United States. With
regard to inventions, I believe, within the last thirty years, we have
received more useful inventions from the United States than from all the
other countries of the earth. In that country there are probably ten
times as many miles of telegraph as there are in this country, and there
are at least five or six times as many miles of railway. The tonnage of
its shipping is at least equal to ours, if it does not exceed ours. The
prisons of that country--for, even in countries the most favoured,
prisons are needful--have been models for other nations of the earth;
and many European Governments have sent missions at different times to
inquire into the admirable system of education so universally adopted in
their free schools throughout the Northern States.

If I were to speak of that country in a religious aspect, I should say
that, considering the short space of time to which their history goes
back, there is nothing on the face of the earth besides, and never has
been, to equal the magnificent arrangement of churches and ministers,
and of all the appliances which are thought necessary for a nation to
teach Christianity and morality to its people. Besides all this, when I
state that for many years past the annual public expenditure of the
Government of that country has been somewhere between 10,000,000_l_. and
15,000,000_l_., I need not perhaps say further, that there has always
existed amongst all the population an amount of comfort and prosperity
and abounding plenty such as I believe no other country in the world, in
any age, has enjoyed.

This is a very fine, but a very true picture; yet it has another side to
which I must advert. There has been one great feature in that country,
one great contrast, which has been pointed to by all who have commented
upon the United States as a feature of danger, as a contrast calculated
to give pain. There has been in that country the utmost liberty to the
white man, and bondage and degradation to the black man. Now rely upon
it, that wherever Christianity lives and flourishes, there must grow up
from it, necessarily, a conscience hostile to any oppression and to any
wrong; and therefore, from the hour when the United States Constitution
was formed, so long as it left there this great evil--then comparatively
small, but now so great--it left there seeds of that which an American
statesman has so happily described, of that 'irrepressible conflict' of
which now the whole world is the witness. It has been a common thing for
men disposed to carp at the United States to point to this blot upon
their fair fame, and to compare it with the boasted declaration of
freedom in their Deed and Declaration of Independence. But we must
recollect who sowed this seed of trouble, and how and by whom it has
been cherished.

Without dwelling upon this stain any longer, I should like to read to
you a paragraph from the instructions understood to have been given to
the Virginian delegates to Congress, in the month of August, 1774., by
Mr. Jefferson, who was perhaps the ablest man the United States had
produced up to that time, and who was then actively engaged in its
affairs, and who afterwards for two periods filled the office of
President. He represented one of these very Slave States--the State of
Virginia--and he says:--

'For the most trifling reasons, and sometimes for no conceivable
reason at all, his Majesty has rejected laws of the most salutary
tendency. The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object
of desire in those Colonies where it was unhappily introduced in
their infant state. But previous to the enfranchisement of the
slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further
importations from Africa. Yet our repeated attempts to effect
this by prohibition, and by imposing duties which might amount to
prohibition, have hitherto been defeated by his Majesty's
negative,--thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few
British corsairs to the lasting interests of the American States,
and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this
infamous practice.'

I read this merely to show that, two years before the Declaration of
Independence was signed, Mr. Jefferson, acting on behalf of those he
represented in Virginia, wrote that protest against the course of the
English Government which prevented the Colonists from abolishing the
slave trade, preparatory to the abolition of slavery itself.

Well, the United States Constitution left the slave question for every
State to manage for itself. It was a question too difficult to settle
then, and apparently every man had the hope and belief that in a few
years slavery itself would become extinct. Then there happened a great
event in the annals of manufactures and commerce. It was discovered that
in those States that article which we in this country now so much depend
on, could be produced of the best quality necessary for manufacture, and
at a moderate price. From that day to this the growth of cotton has
increased there, and its consumption has increased here, and a value
which no man dreamed of when Jefferson wrote that paper has been given
to the slave and to slave industry. Thus it has grown up to that
gigantic institution which now threatens either its own overthrow or the
overthrow of that which is a million times more valuable--the United
States of America.

The crisis at which we have arrived--I say 'we,' for, after all, we are
nearly as much interested as if I was making this speech in the city of
Boston or the city of New York--the crisis, I say, which has now
arrived, was inevitable. I say that the conscience of the North, never
satisfied with the institution of slavery, was constantly urging some
men forward to take a more extreme view of the question; and there grew
up naturally a section--it may not have been a very numerous one--in
favour of the abolition of slavery. A great and powerful party resolved
at least upon a restraint and a control of slavery, so that it should
not extend beyond the States and the area which it now occupies. But, if
we look at the Government of the United States almost ever since the
formation of the Union, we shall find the Southern power has been mostly
dominant there. If we take thirty-six years after the formation of the
present Constitution--I think about 1787--we shall find that for thirty-
two of those years every President was a Southern man; and if we take
the period from 1828 until 1860, we shall find that, on every election
for President, the South voted in the majority.

We know what an election is in the United States for President of the
Republic. There is a most extensive suffrage, and there is the ballot-
box. The members of the House of Representatives are elected by the same
suffrage, and generally they are elected at the same time. It is thus
therefore almost inevitable that the House of Representatives is in
accord in public policy with the President for the time being. Every
four years there springs from the vote created by the whole people a
President over that great nation. I think the world offers no finer
spectacle than this; it offers no higher dignity; and there is no
greater object of ambition on the political stage on which men are
permitted to move. You may point, if you will, to hereditary rulers, to
crowns coming down through successive generations of the same family, to
thrones based on prescription or on conquest, to sceptres wielded over
veteran legions and subject realms,--but to my mind there is nothing so
worthy of reverence and obedience, and nothing more sacred, than the
authority of the freely chosen by the majority of a great and free
people; and if there be on earth and amongst men any right divine to
govern, surely it rests with a ruler so chosen and so appointed.

Last year the ceremony of this great election was gone through, and the
South, which had been so long successful, found itself defeated. That
defeat was followed instantly by secession, and insurrection, and war.
In the multitude of articles which have been before us in the newspapers
within the last few months, I have no doubt you have seen it stated, as
I have seen it, that this question was very much like that upon which
the Colonies originally revolted against the Crown of England. It is
amazing how little some newspaper writers know, or how little they think
you know. When the War of Independence was begun in America, ninety
years ago, there were no representatives there at all. The question then
was, whether a Ministry in Downing-street, and a corrupt and borough-
mongering Parliament, should continue to impose taxes upon three
millions of English subjects, who had left their native shores and
established themselves in North America. But now the question is not the
want of representation, because, as is perfectly notorious, the South is
not only represented, but is represented in excess; for, in distributing
the number of representatives, which is done every ten years, three out
of every five slaves are counted as freemen, and the number of
representatives from the Slave States is consequently so much greater
than if the freemen, the white men only, were counted. From this cause
the Southern States have twenty members more in the House of
Representatives than they would have if the members were apportioned on
the same principle as in the Northern Free States. Therefore you will
see at once that there is no comparison between the state of things when
the Colonies revolted, and the state of things now, when this wicked
insurrection has broken out.

There is another cause which is sometimes in England assigned for this
great misfortune, which is, the protective theories in operation in the
Union, and the maintenance of a high tariff. It happens with regard to
that, unfortunately, that no American, certainly no one I ever met with,
attributed the disasters of the Union to that cause. It is an argument
made use of by ignorant Englishmen, but never by informed Americans. I
have already shown you that the South, during almost the whole existence
of the Union, has been dominant at Washington; and during that period
the tariff has existed, and there has been no general dissatisfaction
with it. Occasionally, there can be no doubt, their tariff was higher
than was thought just, or reasonable, or necessary by some of the States
of the South. But the first Act of the United States which levied duties
upon imports, passed immediately after the Union was formed, recited
that 'It is necessary for the encouragement and protection of
manufactures to levy the duties which follow;' and during the war with
England from 1812 to 1815, the people of the United States had to pay
for all the articles they brought from Europe many times over the
natural cost of those articles, on account of the interruption to the
traffic by the English nation.

When the war was over, it was felt by everybody desirable that they
should encourage manufactures in their own country; and seeing that
England at that precise moment was passing a law to prevent any wheat
coming from America until wheat in England had risen to the price of
84_s_. per quarter, we may be quite satisfied that the doctrine of
protection originally entertained did not find less favour at the close
of the war in 1815.

There is one remarkable point with regard to this matter which should
not be forgotten. Twelve months ago, at the meeting of the Congress of
the United States, on the first Monday in December--when the Congress
met, you recollect that there were various propositions of compromise,
committee meetings of various kinds to try and devise some mode of
settling the question between the North and the South, so that disunion
might not go on--though I read carefully everything published in the
English papers from the United States on the subject, I do not recollect
that in a single instance the question of the tariff was referred to, or
any change proposed or suggested in the matter as likely to have any
effect whatever upon the question of Secession.

There is another point,--whatever might be the influence of the tariff
upon the United States, it is as pernicious to the West as it is to the
South; and further, that Louisiana, which is a Southern State and a
seceded State, has always voted along with Pennsylvania until last year
in favour of protection--protection for its sugar, whilst Pennsylvania
wished protection for its coal and iron. But if the tariff was onerous
and grievous, was that any reason for this great insurrection? Was there
ever a country that had a tariff, especially in the article of food,
more onerous and more cruel than that which we had in this country
twenty years ago? We did not secede. We did not rebel. What we did was
to raise money for the purpose of distributing among all the people
perfect information upon the question; and many men, as you know,
devoted all their labours, for several years, to teach the great and
wise doctrine of free trade to the people of England. The price of a
single gunboat, the equipment of a single regiment, the garrisoning of a
single fort, the cessation of their trade for a single day, cost more
than it would have cost to have spread among all the intelligent people
of the United States the most complete statement of the whole case; and
the West and South could easily have revised, or, if need had been, have
repealed the tariff altogether.

The question is a very different and a far more grave question. It is a
question of slavery, and for thirty years it has constantly been coming
to the surface, disturbing social life, and overthrowing almost all
political harmony in the working of the United States. In the North
there is no secession; there is no collision. These disturbances and
this insurrection are found wholly in the South and in the Slave States;
and therefore I think that the man who says otherwise, who contends that
it is the tariff, or anything whatsoever else than slavery, is either
himself deceived or endeavours to deceive others. The object of the
South is this, to escape from the majority who wish to limit the area of
slavery. They wish to found a Slave State freed from the influence and
opinions of freedom. The Free States in the North now stand before the
world as the advocates and defenders of freedom and civilization. The
Slave States offer themselves for the recognition of a Christian nation,
based upon the foundation, the unchangeable foundation in their eyes, of
slavery and barbarism.

I will not discuss the guilt of the men who, ministers of a great nation
only last year, conspired to overthrow it. I will not point out or
recapitulate the statements of the fraudulent manner in which they
disposed of the funds in the national exchequer. I will not point out by
name any of the men, in this conspiracy, whom history will designate by
titles they would not like to hear; but I say that slavery has sought to
break up the most free government in the world, and to found a new
State, in the nineteenth century, whose corner-stone is the perpetual
bondage of millions of men.

Having thus described what appears to me briefly the literal truth of
this matter, what is the course that England would be expected to
pursue? We should be neutral as far as regards mingling in the strife.
We were neutral in the strife in Italy; but we were not neutral in
opinion or sympathy; and we know perfectly well that throughout the
whole of Italy at this moment there is a feeling that, though no shot
was fired from an English ship, and though no English soldier trod their
soil, yet still the opinion of England was potent in Europe, and did
much for the creation of the Italian kingdom.

With regard to the United States, you know how much we hate slavery,--
that is, some years ago we thought we knew; that we have given twenty
millions sterling,--a million a year, or nearly so, of taxes for ever,--
to free eight hundred thousand slaves in the English colonies. We knew,
or thought we knew, how much we were in love with free government
everywhere, although it might not take precisely the same form as our
own government. We were for free government in Italy; we were for free
government in Switzerland; and we were for free government, even under a
republican form, in the United States of America; and with all this,
every man would have said that England would wish the American Union to
be prosperous and eternal.

Now, suppose we turn our eyes to the East, to the empire of Russia, for
a moment. In Russia, as you all know, there has been one of the most
important and magnificent changes of policy ever seen in any country.
Within the last year or two, the present Emperor of Russia, following
the wishes of his father, has insisted upon the abolition of serfdom in
that empire; and twenty-three millions of human beings, lately serfs,
little better than real slaves, have been raised to the ranks of
freedom. Now, suppose that the millions of the serfs of Russia had been
chiefly in the South of Russia. We hear of the nobles of Russia, to whom
those serfs belonged in a great measure, that they have been hostile to
this change; and there has been some danger that the peace of that
empire might be disturbed during the change. Suppose these nobles, for
the purpose of maintaining in perpetuity the serfdom of Russia, and
barring out twenty-three millions of your fellow-creatures from the
rights of freedom, had established a great and secret conspiracy, and
that they had risen in great and dangerous insurrection against the
Russian Government,--I say that you, the people of England, although
seven years ago you were in mortal combat with the Russians in the South
of Europe,--I believe at this moment you would have prayed Heaven in all
sincerity and fervour to give strength to the arm and success to the
great wishes of the Emperor, and that the vile and atrocious
insurrection might be suppressed.

Well, but let us look a little at what has been said and clone in this
country since the period when Parliament rose at the beginning of
August. There have been two speeches to which I wish to refer, and in
terms of approbation. The Duke of Argyll, a member of the present
Government,--and, though I have not the smallest personal acquaintance
with him, I am free to say that I believe him to be one of the most
intelligent and liberal of his order,--the Duke of Argyll made a speech
which was fair and friendly to the Government of the United States. Lord
Stanley, only a fortnight ago, I think, made a speech which it is
impossible to read without remarking the thought, the liberality, and
the wisdom by which it is distinguished. He doubted, it is true, whether
the Union could be restored. A man need not be hostile, and must not
necessarily be unfriendly, to doubt that or the contrary; but he spoke
with fairness and friendliness of the Government of the United States;
and he said that they were right and justifiable in the course they
took; and he gave us some advice,--which is now more important than at
the moment when it was given,--that amid the various incidents and
accidents of a struggle of this nature, it became a people like this to
be very moderate, very calm, and to avoid, as much as possible, any
feeling of irritation, which sometimes arises, and sometimes leads to

I mention these two speeches as from Englishmen of great distinction in
this country--speeches which I believe will have a beneficial effect on
the other side of the Atlantic. Lord John Russell, in the House of
Commons, during the last session, made a speech also, in which he
rebuked the impertinence of a young Member of the House who had spoken
about the bursting of the 'bubble republic.' It was a speech worthy of
the best days of Lord John Russell. But at a later period he spoke at
Newcastle on an occasion something like this, when the inhabitants, or
some portion of the inhabitants, of the town invited him to a public
dinner. He described the contest in words something like these--I speak
from memory only: 'The North is contending for empire, the South for
independence.' Did he mean contending for empire, as England contends
for it when making some fresh conquest in India? If he meant that, what
he said was not true. But I recollect Lord John Russell, some years ago,
in the House of Commons, on an occasion when I made some observation as
to the unreasonable expenditure of our colonies, and said that the
people of England should not be taxed to defray expenses which the
colonies themselves were well able to bear, turned to me with a
sharpness which was not necessary, and said, 'The honourable Member has
no objection to make a great empire into a little one; but I have.'
Perhaps if he had lived in the United States, if he was a member of the
Senate or the House of Representatives there, he would doubt whether it
was his duty to consent at once to the destruction of a great country by
separation, it may be into two hostile camps, or whether he would not
try all the means which were open to him, and would be open to the
Government, to avert so unlooked-for and so dire a calamity.

There are other speeches that have been made. I will not refer to them
by any quotation,--I will not, out of pity to some of the men who
uttered them. I will not bring their names even before you, to give
them an endurance which I hope they will not otherwise obtain. I leave
them in the obscurity which they so richly merit. But you know as well
as I do, that, of all the speeches made since the end of the last
session of Parliament by public men, by politicians, the majority of
them have either displayed a strange ignorance of American affairs, or a
stranger absence of that cordiality and friendship which, I maintain,
our American kinsmen have a right to look for at our hands.

And if we part from the speakers and turn to the writers, what do we
find there? We find that which is reputed abroad, and has hitherto been
believed in at home, as the most powerful representative of English
opinion--at least of the richer classes--we find in that particular
newspaper there has not been since Mr. Lincoln took office, in March
last, as President of the United States, one fair and honourable and
friendly article on American affairs. Some of you, I dare say, read it;
but, fortunately, every district is now so admirably supplied with local
newspapers, that I trust in all time to come the people of England will
drink of purer streams nearer home, and not of those streams which are
muddled by party feeling and political intrigue, and by many motives
that tend to anything rather than the enlightenment and advantage of the
people. It is said,--that very paper has said over and over again,--'Why
this war? Why not separate peaceably? Why this fratricidal strife ?' I
hope it is equally averse to fratricidal strife in other districts; for
if it be true that God made of one blood all the families of man to
dwell on the face of all the earth, it must be fratricidal strife
whether we are slaughtering Russians in the Crimea or bombarding towns
on the sea-coast of the United States.

Now no one will expect that I should stand forward as the advocate of
war, or as the defender of that great sum of all crimes which is
involved in war. But when we are discussing a question of this nature,
it is only fair that we should discuss it upon principles which are
acknowledged not only in the country where the strife is being carried
on, but are universally acknowledged in this country. When I discussed
the Russian war, seven or eight years ago, I always condemned it, on
principles which were accepted by the Government and people of England,
and I took my facts from the blue-books presented to Parliament. I take
the liberty, then, of doing that in this case; and I say that, looking
at the principles avowed in England, and at its policy, there is no man,
who is not absolutely a non-resistant in every sense, who can fairly
challenge the conduct of the American Government in this war. It would
be a curious thing to find that the party in this country which on every
public question affecting England is in favour of war at any cost, when
they come to speak of the duty of the Government of the United States,
is in favour 'of peace at any price.'

I want to know whether it has ever been admitted by politicians, or
statesmen, or people, that a great nation can be broken up at any time
by any particular section of any part of that nation. It has been tried
occasionally in Ireland, and if it had succeeded history would have said
that it was with very good cause. But if anybody tried now to get up a
secession or insurrection in Ireland,--and it would be infinitely less
disturbing to everything than the secession in the United States,
because there is a boundary which nobody can dispute--I am quite sure
the _Times_ would have its 'Special Correspondent,' and would
describe with all the glee and exultation in the world the manner in
which the Irish insurrectionists were cut down and made an end of.

Let any man try in this country to restore the heptarchy, do you think
that any portion of the people would think that the project could be
tolerated for a moment? But if you look at a map of the United States,
you will see that there is no country in the world, probably, at this
moment, where any plan of separation between the North and the South, as
far as the question of boundary is concerned, is so surrounded with
insurmountable difficulties. For example, Maryland is a Slave State; but
Maryland, by a large majority, voted for the Union. Kentucky is a Slave
State, one of the finest in the Union, and containing a fine people;
Kentucky has voted for the Union, but has been invaded from the South.
Missouri is a Slave State; but Missouri has not seceded, and has been
invaded by the South, and there is a secession party in that State.
There are parts of Virginia which have formed themselves into a new
State, resolved to adhere to the North; and there is no doubt a
considerable Northern and Union feeling in the State of Tennessee. I
have no doubt there is in every other State. In fact, I am not sure that
there is not now within the sound of my voice a citizen of the State of
Alabama, who could tell you that in his State the question of secession
has never been put to the vote; and that there are great numbers of men,
reasonable and thoughtful and just men, in that State, who entirely
deplore the condition of things there existing.

Then, what would you do with all those States, and with what we may call
the loyal portion of the people of those States? Would you allow them to
be dragooned into this insurrection, and into the formation or the
becoming parts of a new State, to which they themselves are hostile? And
what would you do with the City of Washington? Washington is in a Slave
State. Would anybody have advised that President Lincoln and his
Cabinet, with all the members of Congress, of the House of
Representatives and the Senate, from the North, with their wives and
children, and everybody else who was not positively in favour of the
South, should have set off on their melancholy pilgrimage northwards,
leaving that capital, hallowed to them by such associations,--having its
name even from the father of their country,--leaving Washington to the
South, because Washington is situated in a Slave State?

Again, what do you say to the Mississippi River, as you see it upon the
map, the 'father of waters,' rolling its gigantic stream to the ocean?
Do you think that the fifty millions which one day will occupy the banks
of that river northward, will ever consent that its great stream shall
roll through a foreign, and it may be a hostile State? And more, there
are four millions of negroes in subjection. For them the American Union
is directly responsible. They are not secessionists; they are now, as
they always were, not citizens nor subjects, but legally under the care
and power of the Government of the United States. Would you consent that
these should be delivered up to the tender mercies of their taskmasters,
the defenders of slavery as an everlasting institution?

But if all had been surrendered without a struggle, what then? What
would the writers in this newspaper and other newspapers have said? If a
bare rock in your empire, that would not keep a goat--a single goat--
alive, be touched by any foreign power, the whole empire is roused to
resistance; and if there be, from accident or passion, the smallest
insult to your flag, what do your newspaper writers say upon the
subject, and what is said in all your towns and upon all your Exchanges?
I will tell you what they would have said if the Government of the
Northern States had taken their insidious and dishonest advice. They
would have said the great Republic was a failure, that democracy had
murdered patriotism, that history afforded no example of such meanness
and of such cowardice; and they would have heaped unmeasured obloquy and
contempt upon the people and Government who had taken that course.

They tell you, these candid friends of the United States,--they tell you
that all freedom is gone; that the Habeas Corpus Act, if they ever had
one, is known no longer; and that any man may be arrested at the dictum
of the President or of the Secretary of State. Well, but in 1848 you
recollect, many of you, that there was a small insurrection in Ireland.
It was an absurd thing altogether; but what was done then? I saw, in one
night, in the House of Commons, a bill for the suspension of the Habeas
Corpus Act passed through all its stages. What more did I see? I saw a
bill brought in by the Whig Government of that day, Lord John Hussell
being the Premier, which made speaking against the Government and
against the Crown--which up to that time had been sedition--which
proposed to make it felony; and it was only by the greatest exertions of
a few of the Members that the Act, in that particular, was limited to a
period of two years. In the same session a bill was brought in called an
Alien Bill, which enabled the Home Secretary to take any foreigner
whatsoever, not being a naturalized Englishman, and in twenty-four hours
to send him out of the country. Although a man might have committed no
crime, this might be done to him, apparently only on suspicion.

But suppose that an insurgent army had been so near to London that you
could see its outposts from every suburb of your Capital, what then do
you think would have been the regard of the Government of Great Britain
for personal liberty, if it interfered with the necessities, and, as
they might think, the salvation of the State? I recollect, in 1848, when
the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in Ireland, that a number of persons
in Liverpool, men there of position and of wealth, presented a petition
to the House of Commons, praying--what? That the Habeas Corpus Act
should not be suspended? No. They were not content with its suspension
in Ireland; and they prayed the House of Commons to extend that
suspension to Liverpool. I recollect that at that time--and I am sure my
friend Mr. Wilson will bear me out in what I say--the Mayor of Liverpool
telegraphed to the Mayor of Manchester, and that messages were sent on
to London nearly every hour. The Mayor of Manchester heard from the
Mayor of Liverpool that certain Irishmen in Liverpool, conspirators, or
fellow-conspirators with those in Ireland, were going to burn the cotton
warehouses in Liverpool and the cotton mills of Lancashire. I read that
petition from Liverpool. I took it from the table of the House of
Commons, and read it, and I handed it over to a statesman of great
eminence, who has been but just removed from us--I refer to Sir James
Graham, a man not second to any in the House of Commons for his
knowledge of affairs and for his great capacity--I handed to him that
petition. He read it; and after he had read it, he rose from his seat,
and laid it upon the table with a gesture of abhorrence and disgust. Now
that was a petition from the town of Liverpool, in which some persons
have been making themselves very ridiculous of late by reason of their
conduct on this American question.

There is one more point. It has been said, 'How much better it would
be'--not for the United States, but--'for us, that these States should
be divided.' I recollect meeting a gentleman in Bond-street one day
before the session was over. He was a rich man, and one whose voice is
much heard in the House of Commons; but his voice is not heard when he
is on his legs, but when he is cheering other speakers; and he said to
me: 'After all, this is a sad business about the United States; but
still I think it very much better that they should be split up. In
twenty years,' or in fifty years, I forget which it was, 'they will be
so powerful that they will bully all Europe.' And a distinguished Member
of the House of Commons--distinguished there by his eloquence,
distinguished more by his many writings--I mean Sir Edward Bulwer
Lytton--he did not exactly express a hope, but he ventured on something
like a prediction, that the time would come when there would be, I do
not know how many, but about as many independent States on the American
Continent as you can count upon your fingers.

There cannot be a meaner motive than this I am speaking of, in forming a
judgment on this question,--that it is 'better for us'--for whom? the
people of England, or the Government of England?--that the United States
should be severed, and that the North American continent should be as
the continent of Europe is, in many States, and subject to all the
contentions and disasters which have accompanied the history of the
States of Europe. I should say that, if a man had a great heart within
him, he would rather look forward to the day when, from that point of
land which is habitable nearest to the Pole, to the shores of the Great
Gulf, the whole of that vast continent might become one great
confederation of States,--without a great army, and without a great
navy,--not mixing itself up with the entanglements of European
politics,--without a custom-house inside, through the whole length and
breadth of its territory,--and with freedom everywhere, equality
everywhere, law everywhere, peace everywhere,--such a confederation
would afford at least some hope that man is not forsaken of Heaven, and
that the future of our race may be better than the past.

It is a common observation, that our friends in America are very
irritable. And I think it is very likely, of a considerable number of
them, to be quite true. Our friends in America are involved in a great
struggle. There is nothing like it before in their or in any history. No
country in the world was ever more entitled, in my opinion, to the
sympathy and the forbearance of all friendly nations, than are the
United States at this moment. They have there some newspapers that are
no wiser than ours. They have there some papers, which, up to the
election of Mr. Lincoln, were his bitterest and most unrelenting foes,
who, when the war broke out, and it was not safe to take the line of
Southern support, were obliged to turn round and to appear to support
the prevalent opinion of the country. But they undertook to serve the
South in another way, and that was by exaggerating every difficulty and
misstating every fact, if so doing could serve their object of creating
distrust between the people of the Northern States and the people of
this United Kingdom. If the _Times_ in this country has done all
that it could do to poison the minds of the people of England, and to
irritate the minds of the people of America, the _New York Herald_,
I am sorry to say, has done, I think, all that it could, or all that it
dared to do, to provoke mischief between the Government in Washington
and the Government in London.

Now there is one thing which I must state that I think they have a solid
reason to complain of; and I am very sorry to have to mention it,
because it blames our present Foreign Minister, against whom I am not
anxious to say a word, and, recollecting his speech in the House of
Commons, I should be slow to conclude that he had any feeling hostile to
the United States Government. You recollect that during the session--it
was on the 14th of May--a Proclamation came out which acknowledged the
South as a belligerent power, and proclaimed the neutrality of England.
A little time before that, I forget how many days, Mr. Dallas, the late
Minister from the United States, had left London for Liverpool and
America. He did not wish to undertake any affairs for his Government, by
which he was not appointed,--I mean that of President Lincoln,--and he
left what had to be done to his successor, who was on his way, and whose
arrival was daily expected. Mr. Adams, the present Minister from the
United States, is a man whom, if he lived in England, you would speak of
as belonging to one of the noblest families of the country. His father
and his grandfather were Presidents of the United States. His
grandfather was one of the great men who achieved the independence of
the United States. There is no family in that country having more claims
upon what I should call the veneration and the affection of the people
than the family of Mr. Adams.

Mr. Adams came to this country. He arrived in London on the night of the
13th of May. On the 14th, that Proclamation was issued. It was known
that he was coming; but he was not consulted; the Proclamation was not
delayed for a day, although there was nothing pressing, no reason why
the Proclamation should not have been notified to him. If communications
of a friendly nature had taken place with him and with the American
Government, they could have found no fault with this step, because it
was perhaps inevitable, before the struggle had proceeded far, that this
Proclamation would be issued. But I have the best reasons for knowing
that there is no single thing that has happened during the course of
these events which has created more surprise, more irritation, and more
distrust in the United States, with respect to this country, than the
fact that that Proclamation was not delayed one single day, until the
Minister from America could come here, and until it could be done, if
not with his consent, or his concurrence, yet in that friendly manner
that would probably have avoided all the unpleasantness which has

Now I am obliged to say--and I say it with the utmost pain--that if we
have not done things that are plainly hostile to the North, and if we
have not expressed affection for slavery, and, outwardly and openly,
hatred for the Union,--I say that there has not been that friendly and
cordial neutrality which, if I had been a citizen of the United States,
I should have expected; and I say further, that, if there has existed
considerable irritation at that, it must be taken as a measure of the
high appreciation which the people of those States place upon the
opinion of the people of England. If I had been addressing this audience
ten days ago, so far as I know, I should have said just what I have said
now; and although, by an untoward event, circumstances are somewhat,
even considerably, altered, yet I have thought it desirable to make this
statement, with a view, so far as I am able to do it, to improve the
opinion of England, and to assuage feelings of irritation in America, if
there be any, so that no further difficulties may arise in the progress
of this unhappy strife.

But there has occurred an event which was announced to us only a week
ago, which is one of great importance, and it may be one of some peril.
It is asserted that what is called 'international law' has been broken
by the seizure of the Southern Commissioners on board an English trading
steamer by a steamer of war of the United States. Now, what is
international law? You have heard that the opinions of the law officers
of the Crown are in favour of this view of the case--that the law has
been broken. I am not at all going to say that it has not. It would be
imprudent in me to set my opinion on a legal question which I have only
partially examined, against their opinion on the same question, which I
presume they have carefully examined. But this I say, that international
law is not to be found in an Act of Parliament--it is not in so many
clauses. You know that it is difficult to find the law. I can ask the
Mayor, or any magistrate around me, whether it is not very difficult to
find the law, even when you have found the Act of Parliament, and found
the clause. But when you have no Act of Parliament, and no clause, you
may imagine that the case is still more difficult.

Now, maritime law, or international law, consists of opinions and
precedents for the most part, and it is very unsettled. The opinions are
the opinions of men of different countries, given at different times;
and the precedents are not always like each other. The law is very
unsettled, and, for the most part, I believe it to be exceedingly bad.
In past times, as you know from the histories you read, this country has
been a fighting country; we have been belligerents, and, as
belligerents, we have carried maritime law, by our own powerful hand, to
a pitch that has been very oppressive to foreign, and especially so to
neutral nations. Well, now, for the first time, unhappily,--almost for
the first time in our history for the last two hundred years,--we are
not belligerents, but neutrals; and we are disposed to take, perhaps,
rather a different view of maritime and international law.

Now, the act which has been committed by the American steamer, in my
opinion, whether it was legal or not, was both impolitic and bad. That
is my opinion. I think it may turn out, almost certainly, that, so far
as the taking of those men from that ship was concerned, it was an act
wholly unknown to, and unauthorized by, the American Government. And if
the American Government believe, on the opinion of their law officers,
that the act is illegal, I have no doubt they will make fitting
reparation; for there is no Government in the world that has so
strenuously insisted upon modifications of international law, and been
so anxious to be guided always by the most moderate and merciful
interpretation of that law.

Now, our great advisers of the _Times_ newspaper have been
persuading people that this is merely one of a series of acts which
denote the determination of the Washington Government to pick a quarrel
with the people of England. Did you ever know anybody who was not very
nearly dead drunk, who, having as much upon his hands as he could
manage, would offer to fight everybody about him? Do you believe that
the United States Government, presided over by President Lincoln, so
constitutional in all his acts, so moderate as he has been--representing
at this moment that great party in the United States, happily now in the
ascendancy, which has always been especially in favour of peace, and
especially friendly to England--do you believe that such a Government,
having now upon its hands an insurrection of the most formidable
character in the South, would invite the armies and the fleets of
England to combine with that insurrection, and, it might be, to render
it impossible that the Union should ever again be restored? I say, that
single statement, whether it came from a public writer or a public
speaker, is enough to stamp him for ever with the character of being an
insidious enemy of both countries.

Well, now, what have we seen during the last week? People have not been,
I am told--I have not seen much of it--quite as calm as sensible men
should be. Here is a question of law. I will undertake to say, that when
you have from the United States Government--if they think the act legal--
a statement of their view of the case, they will show you that, fifty
or sixty years ago, during the wars of that time, there were scores of
cases that were at least as bad as this, and some infinitely worse. And
if it were not so late to-night--and I am not anxious now to go into the
question further--I could easily place before you cases of extreme
outrage committed by us when we were at war, and for many of which, I am
afraid, little or no reparation was offered. But let us bear this in
mind, that during this struggle incidents and accidents will happen.
Bear in mind the advice of Lord Stanley, so opportune and so judicious.
Do not let your newspapers, or your public speakers, or any man, take
you off your guard, and bring you into that frame of mind under which
your Government, if it desires war, may be driven to engage in it; for
one may be almost as fatal and as evil as the other.

What can be more monstrous than that we, as we call ourselves, to some
extent, an educated, a moral, and a Christian nation--at a moment when
an accident of this kind occurs, before we have made a representation to
the American Government, before we have heard a word from it in reply--
should be all up in arms, every sword leaping from its scabbard, and
every man looking about for his pistols and his blunderbusses? I think
the conduct pursued--and I have no doubt just the same is pursued by a
certain class in America--is much more the conduct of savages than of
Christian and civilized men. No, let us be calm. You recollect how we
were dragged into the Russian war--how we 'drifted' into it. You know
that I, at least, have not upon my head any of the guilt of that fearful
war. You know that it cost one hundred millions of money to this
country; that it cost at least the lives of forty thousand Englishmen;
that it disturbed your trade; that it nearly doubled the armies of
Europe; that it placed the relations of Europe on a much less peaceful
footing than before; and that it did not effect one single thing of all
those that it was promised to effect.

I recollect speaking on this subject, within the last two years, to a
man whose name I have already mentioned, Sir James Graham, in the House
of Commons. He was a Minister at the time of that war. He was reminding
me of a severe onslaught which I had made upon him and Lord Palmerston
for attending a dinner at the Reform Club when Sir Charles Napier was
appointed to the command of the Baltic fleet; and he remarked, 'What a
severe thrashing' I had given them in the House of Commons! I said, 'Sir
James, tell me candidly, did you not deserve it?' He said, 'Well, you
were entirely right about that war; we were entirely wrong, and we never
should have gone into it.' And this is exactly what everybody will say,
if you go into a war about this business, when it is over. When your
sailors and soldiers, so many of them as may be slaughtered, are gone to
their last account; when your taxes are increased, your business
permanently--it may be--injured; and when embittered feelings for
generations have been created between America and England--then your
statesmen will tell you that f we ought not to have gone into the war.'

But they will very likely say, as many of them tell me, 'What could we
do in the frenzy of the public mind?' Let them not add to the frenzy,
and let us be careful that nobody drives us into that frenzy.
Remembering the past, remembering at this moment the perils of a
friendly people, and seeing the difficulties by which they are
surrounded, let us, I entreat of you, see if there be any real
moderation in the people of England, and if magnanimity, so often to be
found amongst individuals, is absolutely wanting in a great nation.

Now, Government may discuss this matter--they may arrange it--they may
arbitrate it. I have received here, since I came into the room, a
despatch from a friend of mine in London, referring to this matter. I
believe some portion of it is in the papers this evening, but I have not
seen them. He states that General Scott, whom you know by name, who has
come over from America to France, being in a bad state of health--the
General lately of the American army, and a man whose reputation in that
country is hardly second to that which the Duke of Wellington held
during his lifetime in this country--General Scott has written a letter

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