Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer
, after adverting to his having been in Germany, and to the deep interest which he felt in that country, said that he would just slightly touch on a few points of history, which would elucidate the subject of the Motion he meant to submit to the House. Every one knew that not only was the constitution of the German empire of a liberal and Representative description up to the first French Revolution, but that a free form of government, according to the genius of that time, existed in most of the independent federative states. After the battles of Austerlitz and Jena, these and the German empire itself were overthrown. The Golden Bull of Charles 4th was torn to pieces—the mitred sovereigns—the immediate princes—the little republics, which, under the name of free cities, offered an mage of the liberty of ancient Germany, were swept away. The confederation of the Rhine was formed on a system which had, unfortunately, still continued in practice, that of despoiling the weak to increase the power of the strong. But it was easier to say, that such should be the form of a government, and such the boundary of a state, than to extinguish the feelings of freedom and country in the minds of the German people. In consequence, a sullen indignation prevailed; and at the very moment when the princes of Germany were waiting in the anti-chambers of Bonaparte at Dresden, the people of Germany were forming plans, and entering into societies for the purpose of throwing off his yoke. These societies and plans were secretly encouraged and protected by those persons high in situation, who hoped, eventually, to profit by them. The defeat of Napoleon in Russia gave an opportunity for throwing off the mask. All must know the proclamation from the emperor of Russia and the king of Prussia, with which the German campaign commenced. They appealed to the ancient constitutions—to the ancient liberties of Germany, which they promised should be revived and extended. The people of the north of Germany answered that appeal en masse, with an enthusiasm it was impossible 1031 to resist; and that country, which, when it depended on an army, had been conquered in a single day, when that the national energies of its people were aroused, became invincible. The battle of Leipsig decided its fate. In confirmation of what had been promised then, and in consideration of what had taken place, the Treaty of Paris, to which Great Britain, of course, was one of the parties, in its 6th Article, declared that the states of Germany should be independent, and united in a federative bond. At the Congress of Vienna, the second of those articles, proposed by prince Metternich as the basis for a confederation, said, that the object of this confederation was the guarantee of the internal independence, and the external security of the different states, as well as that of the rights of each class of the nation—ainsi que celle de chaque classe de la nation. Disputes in the course of proceedings were more particularly on the part of Bavaria and Wirtemburg, and the king of Wirtemburg, at that time strongly attached to arbitrary power, objected to these very words—" Les droits de chaque classe de la nation." It was in opposition to the course pursued by Bavaria and Wir-temburg on this occasion, that the plenipotentiary of Hanover gave in a very important note, to which he begged most particularly to call the attention of the House. Its substance was to this effect:—" That his Royal Highness the Prince Regent of Great Britain could not admit that the changes which had taken place in Germany since the Revolution had given to the kings of Bavaria and Wirtemburg any right to absolute sovereignty over their subjects, nor that the overthrow of the German empire had for its legal consequence the overthrow of the peculiar constitution of the different states—that a representative system existed of right from time immemorial in the German empire—that the act of the Confederation of the Rhine itself—that concentration of despotism—did not accord to sovereigns a despotic power—and that, as to the title of sovereign itself, it was in no wise expressive of despotic power, inasmuch as that the King of Great Britain was as much a Sovereign as any prince in Europe, and that the liberties of his people, so far from menacing his Throne, were the best guarantee for its stability." This was the language of the hon. Member in 1815, who finished by demanding "that the ancient rights of the German people should be maintained "and that" even in case that Austria, Russia, and Bavaria, should desire, either on the 1032 ground of circumstances or past treaties, to be exempt from their maintenance, that still it should be proclaimed as law—that in all those countries where no assemblies of states had existed, but of which the princes were willing to submit to such measures as were necessary for the good of Germany—that the consent of the states should be necessary to all taxes, their concurrence to the making of all new laws—that they should participate in the inspection of the manner in which the taxes should be applied, in the event of any malversation, of which they were authorized to demand the punishment of the public functionaries." To this note, Austria, Prussia, and Bavaria agreed. Now here was evidence of the strongest and most important description—first, the note of Prince Metternich, declaring that the object of the confederation was to secure les droits de chaque classe de la nation; next, the statement of the Hanoverian minister, to which Austria, Prussia, and Bavaria adhered, which declared what those rights were, which demanded assemblies of state, and (what was of the utmost consequence) defined their duties—the first and principal of which was the grant and application of Supplies. At length the Act of the Confederation was agreed to. The second Article declared—" That its object was to maintain the internal and external security of Germany, the independence and inviolability of the confederated states." Article 13 declared—" That there should be assemblies of states in all the countries of the Confederation." The note of Hanover had already stated what their duties should be. Article 18, which had now become of much importance, began by stating, "That the princes and free cities of Germany are agreed to assure to their subjects of the confederated states the following rights." After mentioning various things that the Diet would do in the grant of particular rights and privileges, it went on to say: "That the Diet will occupy itself, at its first re-union, with a uniform law respecting the liberty of the press, and the measures to adopt for guaranteeing authors and editors against the piracy or counterfeiting of their works." In regard to this article there were two things to observe—first, that from its preamble, which stated that "the following rights are about to be assured to the people of the confederated states," it was clear that the uniform laws, respecting the liberty of the press, were to assure the right of the liberty of the press; secondly, that the latter passage, relating 1033 to authors and their works, being inserted in consequence of the prayer of the principal booksellers in Germany, who set forth as the ground of their petition, "that no state has a right to permit its subjects to do an injury to the subjects of a foreign state." It was evidently inserted as a boon and grace to the people of Germany, and a recognition of that separation and independence in respect to literary publications which the prayer of the booksellers set forth. The return of Bonaparte from Elba left the labours of the Congress imperfect and unfinished. He had little to say in favour of those labours, even of the Act of Confederation itself. They commenced by an assumption of authority on the part of five Powers to regulate the affairs of the whole of Germany. They destroyed, by the act of their own immediate authority, the power of many independent princes and free states—they erected a system with all the faults of the old empire—want of consolidation and concentration, without the advantages which the veneration due to antiquity inspires. Yet nobody could read that Act of Confederation, knowing the circumstances by which it was produced—the proceedings which attended its progress—without being convinced that its intention and declaration was, to give to all the people of Germany their ancient liberties; to keep each county independent of every other in internal regulations; to establish in every kingdom assemblies of states, which should have the power of imposing the taxes, and of regulating the application of the public money, and to confer, by a uniform law, the liberty of the Press. Most of the sovereigns shortly afterwards gave new constitutions, or restored, with extension, the ancient states. But it was remarkable, that Austria and Prussia, which had been the loudest in claiming the liberties of the people, became as conspicuous for infringing them, and evading the public demands. This, of course, produced great dissatisfaction and excitement; the unfortunate consequence of which were the murders committed by Logney and Sand, which gave an unhappy pretext for the Congress at Carlsbad. Did the sovereigns take that opportunity to satisfy their subjects by the fulfilment of their promises? Did they then publish that law in favour of the liberty of the Press which was to have been promulgated immediately. They did not attempt to put an end to discontent, but to suppress its language. They established a severe censorship on all periodical public- 1034 ations; they assumed the power of suppressing all books, and they formed a central Committee of Police throughout the German empire. The second Congress at Vienna immediately followed, which produced the final Act—an heterogeneous composition—the intention of which was to annul the spirit, and yet to keep as strictly as possible to the letter of the first Act of Federation. Not one of its articles in favour of the people had ever been enforced; while all those against the people had been always ostentatiously put forward, and were now marshalled forth anew in the protocol to which he begged to call the attention of the House. From this it was learnt that the Diet was offended with the journals and pamphlets which inundated the country with the abuse of speaking in the Chambers of the States. It invoked the article 18, which said, "that an uniform law in favour of the Press should be immediately granted;" and it said, that "until all the Governments shall concur in establishing a uniform law respecting the liberty of the Press, the Act of Carlsbad, which indefinitely put down the liberty of the Press, shall be in force." If, after this, the Diet should be enabled to maintain itself against the attacks of the Press, or of the Chambers, well and good. "But, if not, Austria and Prussia would, at the invitation of one or all of the Confederated States, employ every means at their disposal for the maintenance and execution of the Federal Constitution, its important objects, &c." Was there ever a more complete profanation of terms? The objects set forth in the Federal Act were, to preserve the inviolability and independence of the several States, not to make them the slaves of Prussia and Vienna. The objects set forth in the Federal Act were, to give constitutions, not to annihilate them—to assure the liberty of the Press, not to take it away. In the protocol which followed, the final Act of Vienna was made responsible for all these new enactments of the Diet. So confused and jumbling a piece of diplomatic machinery never yet came from the Cabinet of Vienna. To understand it was impossible, for each act contradicted the other. But the article first cited was unfortunate. It declared "that the Sovereign cannot be bound to admit the co-operation of the states, except in the exercise of rights especially determined." From this it followed, that the Sovereign was obliged to admit that cooperation where it was specially deter- 1035 mined. But, in many states, the cooperation of the Chambers in granting and applying the taxes was especially determined. What was said about this? Why, that the Chambers were not to attempt to refuse the taxes. Then, after declaring that in "all cases where one or more states shall invite them, Prussia and Austria are ready to march;" this document went on to say—" But if the Government is hindered from applying to the Confederation for assistance by circumstances, the Conference is then bound, though not applied to, to interfere;" so that, whenever a German sovereign did not apply to have a parcel of Croats quartered upon him, it would be said, he was prevented by circumstances. One was surprised after this, to read that the Diet wish to facilitate, in the several states, the maintenance of the constitutional relations between the government and their assemblies." But what was called in Austria facilitating constitutional relations? Why, that a committee should be appointed by the Diet, to watch over and report all proposals and resolutions in the chambers of the several states of what took place, from which it was seen that expression of opinion in debates was not to be allowed; this was the amicable way that Austria had of facilitating constitutional relations. The conclusion which the Diet came to, however, was to be praised—it rendered peace perfect, and settled at once all doubts that could arise in hon. Gentlemen's minds as to the nature and intention of this performance. It was, That the Diet alone is to be understood capable of understanding its own enactments." This was very original and very essential. Another manifesto had been published since this, which he would not go over; the House, doubtless, was well acquainted with it. It prohibited all associations—all public fetes—all political writings—all liberal professors. It engaged mutual military assistance, and ended by suppressing the newspaper of a neutral state, and passing sentence upon its editor without any trial or judgment. So, then, it appeared, that the sovereigns of Austria and Prussia were willing to give Germany just so much constitutional liberty as would not allow its writers to write—its professors to teach—its Chambers to vote taxes and to make speeches—or to propose resolutions—while every state should be so inviolate, so independent, that with or without the invitation of its sovereign, a deputation of Austrian or Prussian hussars might be sent to keep it in order. This 1036 was the present state of matters. There were two considerations then to be submitted to the House. First, whether it approved of the proceedings of the German Diet? Secondly, Whether it was good policy to interfere respecting them? Although he had referred to the two Acts of Vienna, the last of which he considered a violation of the first—partly as Great Britain was connected with those Acts—partly to show that Austria and Prussia had not even preserved a shameful consistency on this subject—he by no means intended to rest the liberties of the German people on these two documents. They depended on the promises that were made to them by their sovereigns as the reward of their exertions, and on the freedom they enjoyed under their ancient customs and constitutions. In regard to the promises they received, the proof was to be found in the manifestoes of the sovereigns in the years 1812 and 1813, and also in those opinions which they then industriously promulgated by pamphlets and from the pulpit. The very Gentleman by whom the present protocol was said to be drawn up, made one of the most spirited appeals at that time to the feelings of liberty alive in every German breast. The king of Prussia called on the north of Germany "in the name and for the cause of independence, liberty, and knowledge." Who could have believed that by independence was meant the intermeddling interference of other states—by liberty the establishment of police committees—by knowledge, the suppression of teaching, and the severest censorship of the Press? As to the ancient liberties of Germany, it must be remembered that its governments continued to possess the free form of a constitution, according to the opinions and practices of the time; and that that very liberty of opinion, if it ever existed anywhere, existed for centuries in Germany, in which it was now attempted to put it down. Every one knew that, in the sixteenth century, religion was the politics of the period. States and individuals were judged—alliances were formed—wars were carried on—every thing, in short, depended on religious tenets at that time, as much as on political ones at the present day. The relation of one state to another—the power of a sovereign over his subjects—more especially since many of the lay governors were Ecclesiastical Bishops—depended almost entirely on the decline or progress of Protestant opinions. The doctrines published as to one, might, and must, ma- 1037 terially affect the government and condition of the other. Did the separate states on this account strip themselves of their independence? did they resign the practice of their own faith? did they abstain from preaching their own opinions? Was such the purport of the Treaties of Augsburg and Westphalia? But taking the liberty of the Press, even in the modern acceptation of the term, it existed in Germany, by custom or privilege, prior to the French Revolution. Nor did one state restrain it at the imperious demand of another. The princes of Germany were not always afraid of the spirit of criticism and inquiry among their subjects, like the good emperor of Austria, who by the bye begged the professors at Laybach, not to teach his subjects too much. They knew the humane and enlarged notions of Joseph of Austria—every one was acquainted with the anecdote of Frederick the great of Prussia. What did he do when he found a placard on the wall abusing the acts of his government? Did he order out a troop of gens d'armes or Prussian grenadiers to pull down the obnoxious publication? Did he set the whole police of his kingdom on foot to discover the abominable traitor who stuck it up? Did he rush in despair to the shades of Potsdam, and call for a Congress at Carlsbad, and beg to establish a committee of spies throughout the German empire? What did Frederick the Great do? Why he ordered it to be placed a little lower, in order that the people might read it. This was the conduct of a great and wise prince, who had violated no promises to his people, and who, therefore, had no fears of them. And what was the case in Hanover? Every gentleman acquainted with the modern political works of Germany must know the Staats Anzeiger of Mr. Schlœzer. Mr. Schlœzer was a professor at Gottingen, and the professors at Got-tingen had the privilege of publishing their opinions without comment or censure. He published, then, this magazine or newspaper. M. Schull, a gentleman well known in the literary world of Germany, and the particular friend of M. Ancillon, the present Minister for Foreign Affairs in Prussia, gave this description of the tendency of Schlœzer's writings, and the manner in which they were dealt with. "He signalized," says Mr. Schull, "every species of abuse, whatever it be, with which he was made acquainted in any part of Germany. He brought before the tribunal of public opinion, all those whom he deemed 1038 worthy of animadversion, more particularly those little Princes and their little Ministers, with narrow-minded views, whom he considered us the scourge of monarchy and humanity. When he had denounced an abuse to the public, he never let it alone until justice had been done, and that abuse remedied. The Court of Hanover, to whom complaints were frequently made, refused to restrain this liberty, which made part of the privileges of the university." Those were happy days for Hanover, when, if any demand was made on the Sovereign to exercise an illegal and arbitrary power over his subjects, it was not met and welcomed as a proof of the dear friendship or the paternal care of the Imperial Power who made it. When he asked, then, whether the House approved of the conduct that had been pursued by the Diet, he laid before it no common case. The Holy Alliance had not now occupied itself with a subject like that which was before it at the Congresses of Laybach and Verona. Here was not a case in which a people had hastily, perchance prematurely, claimed a liberty which they never before enjoyed ; here was not a case in which no promises had been made, and no right therefore existed for expectation or disappointment; here was not a case in which the Sovereigns had done every thing for the maintenance of their thrones, and their subjects nothing; Here was not a case in which England and Europe must feel gratitude to the spirited princes who rushed from the alliances of Buonaparte, and treated his offers of friendship and family connexion with disdain. Nor was this the case of a people who followed the example of their Sovereigns in submitting to a foreign yoke. It was not in Italy, in Portugal, in Spain, that liberty was now to be crushed—it was in Germany, the fatherland of liberty—in Germany, to which the most magnificent promises were made—in Germany, to the people of which its Princes owed their thrones, Europe its peace, and England its dear-bought glory! But such being the sentiments of the House as to the proceedings of the German Diet, was it good policy to interfere respecting them? He could not consider England in the light of a state which had not interfered. She was placed by peculiar circumstances in such a situation, that if she did not interfere, by some expression of her opinion, at all events, in favour of the German people, she must be thought to have taken the part of the German sovereigns. It was known, that 1039 one of the misfortunes which accompanied the otherwise happy event of the accession of the present family to the British Throne, was that by which George the 1st remained Elector, as the present King now is King, of Hanover. It might be very well to say, that Hanover and England were two separate kingdoms—that the orte had nothing to do with the other. This might be the case theoretically; but it never had been, it could not be so, practically. It might be imagined, that this Government was about to adopt a new course; but, until it had done so, the world would judge of the future by the past. It would look back to the affection which the Kings of this country, of the present line, had ever shown to what they considered the interests of Hanover, with the conviction that they would not readily depart from those interests, whatever they might consider them to be. Besides, was it possible to contend that an individual could be so little identified with himself as to have his troops, as King of Hanover, fighting on one side of a question, and his troops, as King of England, on another? The policy pursued by the King of Hanover must, without strong proofs to the contrary, be considered as the probable policy of the King of England. So much, indeed, was this identity considered at the Treaty of Vienna, that the plenipotentiary of Hanover strongly insisted in urging the claims which that kingdom had to consideration, on the circumstance that it was closely connected with, and must in a great measure be supported by, the resources of Great Britain. Now, this being the case, the House must know that the King of Hanover, as was said, during those three days in which the King of England was supposed to have adopted anew course of policy, and a new Administration, signed and approved of the document which was the subject under consideration. The House could not, therefore, at this moment—matters remaining as they were—be considered indifferent to, or entitled to stand aloof from this question. All the moral influence resulting from the supposition, that the individual at the head of this. Government was favourable to the oppression of the Diet, was now in full operation against the resistance of the people. This consideration, if this consideration was the only one, would call upon the House for some expression, at all events, of its opinion. Now, a hasty, foolish desire to interfere and intermeddle with foreign states, was as far from his idea of the course of policy that 1040 this country ought to pursue, as anything he could conceive. Still he, for one, would not consent to England being a mere cipher, a nullity in the political combinations of Europe. He would not consent to the proposition, that she was to look with perfect indifference on the Continent, and think that no changes there could by possibility affect her. But if there was anything which more immediately affected the interests of England more than another, it was the fate of Germany. Unite that country under a good government, and it would be at once a check upon the aggrandizement of France, and upon the ambition of Russia. Leave it as it was, it would be a tool in the hands of one, or a prey to the other. The ancient empire was a grave and august body—always agitated, and never acting; it crumbled to pieces at the first shock. But why did it tumble to pieces? Because it had no united, national feeling; because it did not contain one nation, but two armies. This was the system which failed—this was the system which, since the Treaty of Vienna, Prussia and Austria had been labouring to re-establish. Was it possible to imagine that the events of the revolutionary war would not have furnished a better lesson? Was it the troops of Austria—was it the troops of Prussia which rolled back the tide of French invasion? He appealed to Jena and Austerlitz—he appealed to the column of La Place Vendome, and asked, what it was erected to commemorate? To whom belonged the cannon of which it was made? Not to the people, but to the armies of Germany—armies that were now called upon to quit that liberty they were unable to win or defend. The padded, well-stuffed soldiers, those who were marched, and encamped, and commanded according to the most approved principles, the best drilled, and best dressed soldiers of Europe could effect nothing good, because the army was unsupported by the people. They had bayonets but no energy to use them—discipline, but no zeal to make it efficacious. The sapient stratægy of Austria was not once successful—the chivalry of Prussia was crushed in a single day. But the armies of these states, though so easily subdued themselves, had been sufficient to cramp and crush the energies of others. When they were defeated, the whole of Germany was lost—the south—the north—and mark the hard fate of the minor powers—kept down by tyranny sufficient to oppress them, and unable to keep off their enemies—all became the prey of the 1041 conquerors. But when the armies of Germany were put down, then its people arose—then they began to commune and combine together—a real confederation was formed—then national plans were laid—opportunities were watched—and the occasion came. Who, when he saw the result of that confederation of the people of Germany in favour of their princes, would have anticipated this confederation of the princes of Germany against their people? Here, at all events, was the result of the two systems. What the armies of Germany could do, and what the people did was seen. The one was swept down in a single battle—the other was victorious in a hundred conflicts. If England wished Germany to be strong—and it was the strength of Germany which ensured the peace of Europe—was it not the wisdom of the House to address the Sovereign according to the terms of his Motion? Would it not be the wisdom of the Sovereign to listen to its counsel when it addressed him to exercise his influence with the Germanic Diet and princes of Germany, in disposing them not to forfeit those pledges England joined them in giving—not to rely upon the brute force of their armies against the moral force—stronger than armies in these days of public opinion—not to separate themselves from their people through any vain confidence in their present power—from the people, who clung to them and supported and re-established their thrones in the day of their past distress—not to lay their country again open to the force which any new revolution in France might pour into it? Surely there was no one who could dissent from the principle, from the policy, and from the prudence of such an Address. Government was anxious to avert war. Who was not so? And what was the war which they had to dread? It was the war which Mr. Canning predicted—the war of hostile principles now drawn up in array against each other. How should they avert that war? Not by allowing these principles, without an effort to prevent it, to be brought into collision—not by allowing the armies drawn up on one side to be brought into conflict with the constitutions opposed to them on the other. On the one hand, it was said, that the Prussian army was reinforcing itself on the Rhine from Silesia—the Austrian army was marching from Italy in the same direction. On the other, the people in the minor states were already holding meetings to consult on what was to 1042 be done. The Representative Chamber of Cassel was about to protest against the resolutions; the Hanoverian Chambers meant to make serious remonstrances; the Deputies of Brunswick could not concur in the protocol the smaller states were to be overrun with Austrian and Prussian soldiers; but the smaller states contained 12,000,000 of men. France, too, was augmenting her forces? Was not that a serious state of things? Was it not plain, that, if such a state were urged to repress war, ruin, either to liberty or to kingdoms, must inevitably ensue? Was not war certain if things proceeded in the direction given to them by the government of Germany? There had been pusillanimity and protocols long enough. Let the Government sec whether a bold and manly conduct might not be able to avert that war. It was not by cowering and truckling to an influence opposed to the best interests and best feelings of the nation that war was to be prevented. Never was there so absurd an idea, or one so fatal to every nation which adopted it. If the sovereigns of Germany were really just in their intentions, or not too strong to despise advice, then they would listen peaceably to remonstrances. If they were unjust, and as they imagined—all-powerful if their design be that which it appeared, not only to rule their own kingdoms arbitrarily, but to throw a general chain over the human mind wherever it expands, and they think they have the strength to effect this, then, indeed, they would not listen; then they were not only the enemies of Germany, but the enemies of England, and of all freemen. Their present attempt was a part of a universal plan which England was called upon at every hazard to resist, without losing a week, a day, a moment. Do not let it be said, that "they are so powerful, England must dread to offend them." If they were more to be dreaded now than when Poland was yet free, what would be the case when Germany was subdued." If England must one day resist, let her do it now; or should she wait till the freedom of France was, in its turn, attacked, and, perhaps, subdued? Would England be better off, or better able to fight for freedom then? France feels her own situation; she also pretends to feel for the calamity of other nations; but what did she say? When Poland might have been preserved, M. Thiers said, in the French Chambers, that England had refused to unite with France for that purpose. now, again, the official 1043 organ of the French Chambers declares, that it could not protest against the acts of the Diet, for England refused to join in such protestation. This was the language of France, who, if she were joined frankly and boldly by England now, might still be able to interpose in right of the treaties it sanctioned, and the constitutional liberty it was yet suffered to enjoy. He might quote, he hoped, in confirmation of his own views, the eloquent language once used in that House by a Gentleman now high in his Majesty's Councils. When speaking of the acts which the protocol of the Diet of Frankfort was intended to confirm. Mr. Brougham said, 'Where was the preponderating control of our influence now visible? We once, indeed, could boast of a proud pre-eminency; but I challenge any man to point out its existence now, in governing the destinies of states. Either we had the power, and refrained from using it, or we had suffered the beam, which upheld the liberty and the independence of nations, to be kicked by a herd of despots, and the balance to be overpowered; or we had suffered ourselves to be duped, and cajoled, and shut out from the European system. It might be said, that the dangers which were imputed to the system of the foreign despots, were fanciful, distant, and chimerical. I am prepared to maintain the Contrary, from the avowed principles of the conspirators commonly called the "Holy Alliance." What! is this designation of these sovereigns doubted? Why, it is not mine, but that which they have given themselves. There is but one view that can be taken of that league of conspirators, and of the motives of their alliance. I do not expect that any measure will proceed from these conspirators during the course of either the present year, or of the next year, or even of the year after that, expressly designed to wound the pride, or outrage the feelings of the people of this country; for though that people are prevented by many considerations from plunging hastily into the miseries of war, though they are bound over to keep the peace in recognizances of 800,000,000l. sterling; yet, as in the case of private individuals, there are insults which compel them to forfeit the recognizances, into which they have entered; so also, in the case of nations, there are circumstances so injurious to their honour, so galling to their pride, and even so alarming to their fears, as to induce them to forfeit the recog- 1044 nizances by which they are bound, and to say in language more warranted by high feeling than by sound discretion, "Let the debt go—let the storm come, we are prepared for the worst 5 and hap what may, we will submit no longer to the contumely and outrage of these oppressors of mankind." Therefore. it is, I conceive, that the imperial personages abroad will proceed slowly and gradually, but still silently and surely, in their infernal work that they will not assail us by any direct and immediate measures, but will accustom us, by degrees, to bear first, one thing, and then another, till at last, when they come to that point at which we necessarily must stop, we shall find that we have lost the golden opportunity of resisting them with success; and having lost with it that which, to individuals, is everything, and to nations almost everything, namely, our honour; we shall be driven at their good time, and not at our own, to wage a long. and sanguinary, and, perhaps, unsuccess-ful struggle, against those whom we could have resisted successfully, had we resisted them in the outset of their aggressions'. That was the language, more violent than any he had used, of a noble and learned Lord, who, with a spirit of eloquence amounting to prophecy, foresaw the state into which England was now fallen. From such a state it might yet rise, by the display of that boldness and firmness which he counselled, and which Mr. Canning subsequently adopted, and which was the only course England could now adopt. He advised such a course as the means to arrest war but if the battle for free opinions was to be waged, most grateful and rejoicing, indeed, would be be, that the battle should be fought on that soil where it was heretofore so gloriously decided—most grateful and rejoicing should he be, that it was to be fought by the men who, with conscience for their support, defeated Charles 5th, with Spain and the Indies at his back—that it was to be fought on the land of Luther, and by the sons of those to whom freedom of thought had ever been the rallying word of victory. With that land, and the people of that land, the people of this country must be ever connected. It was in the free forests of Germany that the infant genius of our liberty was nursed. It was from the free altars of Germany that the light of our purer religion first arose. It was from one of the minor states of Germany that our Constitutional Monarchs came. He 1045 appealed to all these recollections and sympathies—and, not only to these recollections and sympathies, but also to all those feelings which self-interest, policy, and prudence could suggest in support of the Motion he was then about to read to the House. He moved—" That an Address be presented to his Majesty, requesting him to exercise his influence with the Ger-mantic Diet in opposition to the course pursued by them, contrary to the liberty and independence of the German people."
§ Viscount Palmerston
I must, in the first instance, bear my testimony to the ability with which the hon. member for Coventry has performed his task; and to the luminous and perspicuous manner in which he has laid before the House the results of his historical researches into this question. It was not, however, necessary for the hon. Gentleman to make any apology to the House for bringing under its consideration a subject which has excited so deep and universal an interest in every country in Europe. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that events are pending which threaten the independence of the German States, it is to me no matter of surprise, that, as a Member of the British House of Commons, he should take an opportunity of drawing the attention of the Parliament to the subject for I am prepared to admit, that the independence of constitutional States, whether they are powerful, like France or the United States, or of less relative political importance, such as the minor States of Germany, never can be a matter of indifference to the British Parliament, or, I should hope, to the British public. Constitutional States I consider to be the natural Allies of this country and whoever may be in office conducting the affairs of Great Britain, I am persuaded that no English Ministry will perform its duty if it be inattentive to the interests of such States. But it is one thing to admit the importance of the question and the deep interest which this country ought to take in it, and another to argue, that the Government should adopt any particular course of proceeding which an hon. Member may advise; and I must confess that I am not prepared to accede to the proposal with which the hon. Gentleman has concluded his address, because I do not think the state of affairs in Europe and the complexion assumed by the transactions to which this Motion refers, are such as to call at present, for those steps which the hon. Gentleman recommends. 1046 I entirely agree in the hon. Gentleman's view of the object for which the German Confederacy was formed by the Treaty of Vienna: the main and principal object for which the Confederacy was established, was not only the internal and external safety of the States which compose it, but also the maintenance inviolate of their individual independence. It, therefore, cannot be denied, that anything which threatens to destroy or violate that independence, would be inconsistent with the principles on which the Confederacy was established, and would so far be a departure from the Treaty of Vienna, towhich all the great Powers of Europe were contracting parties. But what is the state of these transactions as far as they have gone? I am not standing here to express my approbation of those Resolutions of the Diet upon which the hon. Gentleman has founded his Motion: perhaps a Minister of this country is not called on to pronounce a judgment one way or the other on the acts of independent Governments, who must be considered prima facie the most competent judges of what is suited to their wants and existing situation. Whether these Resolutions, therefore, do, or do not, outstep the necessity of the case, I am, perhaps, as one of the Ministry, not called on to say; but, in my own private opinion, I cannot help entertaining an apprehension, that the governments who have entered into these Resolutions, have over-estimated the dangers against which they were endeavouring to guard, and not framed with the greatest possible degree of discretion that measure which they propose to apply as a remedy to the danger. But though I go thus far with the hon. Gentleman, prudence and discretion require that we should rather look dispassionately at what has occurred, than come to a hasty conclusion upon what may yet take place. Uncertain facts, and doubtful surmises, ought not to be the basis of any important proceedings. But all that we know at present is, that a certain number of independent Sovereigns, united in a Confederacy which is sanctioned by all the great Powers of Europe, have unanimously adopted some Resolutions applicable only to their own States, and not involving any point whatever which concerns their foreign relations with other independent Sovereigns. It, therefore, appears to me, that other States cannot found any just ground for interference with these Governments on the Resolutions which they themselves have voluntarily adopted. In our rela- 1047 tions with foreign States, we can only consider the acts of the governments of those States, because, looking externally at the States themselves, it is by the acts of their governments alone that foreign governments are able to judge of their intentions. The hon. Gentleman seems to apprehend that these Resolutions, if carried into effect to their fullest extent, may, in the first place create differences between the Sovereigns and their subjects, and subsequently give rise to serious misunderstandings among the members of the Confederacy themselves. But, in looking at these Resolutions, we must not shut our eyes entirely to the facts which have gradually led to the adoption of those Resolutions; and it is unquestionable that there were many appearances in Germany of a disposition to disturb the internal tranquillity of the Confederacy on grounds which would not justify that disturbance. I allude to several public meetings, and more particularly to the meeting which took place at Hambach, with all the symptoms of excitement which were there exhibited. I will not deny, that if the Resolutions of the Diet are acted on to their full extent, steps may be taken which will so trench on individual rights, and will cause such serious differences among the Germanic body, and the individual members of the Confederacy, as may render it impossible to hope that the peace of Europe can be preserved; and if the peace of Europe should be broken on such grounds as these, it would, perhaps, give rise to a war, not merely between the States of Germany, but a war of opinion, which would spread its influence beyond the country whence it had its source; in which case this country would not only be entitled, but called on, to take such steps as circumstances might require to preserve Europe against the consequences of such an injurious and extensive principle of warfare. But when the hon. Gentleman calls on the House to address his Majesty to use his influence with the Germanic Confederacy, I ought perhaps in the first place to ask, in what capacity he wishes his Majesty to interfere, whether he wishes him to interfere as king of Hanover or as King of England? Because if it is as king of Hanover, I should think that the hon. Gentleman will himself, on reflection, see that the British House of Commons has no claim to make such a request. But if the hon. Gentleman proposes this Address to the King as Sovereign of Great Britain and as a party to the Treaty of Vienna, which established and secured 1048 the independence of these States of Germany, I should then say, that the ground on which I resist the Motion is the ground of discretion. Not that I deny that the King of England has a right to express his opinion on this matter (for I agree with the hon. Gentleman that such a right most undoubtedly exists), but because I think that nothing has yet occurred which calls for such an interposition on his part, or on the part of this House, for such a premonition as is implied in the Motion. At the same time I can assure the hon. Gentleman, that the Government is not inattentive to those important events to which he has so ably drawn the attention of the House. I can also assure him, that even without such an Address as that which he has proposed, the advisers of his Majesty will deem it their duty to keep their attention fixed on those circumstances which are now taking place on the Continent of Europe, never, I trust, undervaluing their deep importance with reference to this country; because, let persons recommend as much as they will the propriety of England withdrawing itself from all political connection with the rest of the world, my opinion is, that as long as our commerce is of importance to us—as long as Continental armies are in existence—as long as it is possible that a power in one quarter may become dangerous to a power in another—so long must England look with interest on the transactions of the Continent, and so long is it proper for this country, in the maintenance of its own independence, not to shut its eyes to anything that threatens the independence of Germany. But I cannot bring myself to believe that the alarm of the hon. Gentleman is really well-founded; I cannot believe that any one administering the affairs of a great country can take so erroneous a view of its own interest, or of the interests of society, as to wish to deprive those independent States of those constitutional rights, which are such a blessing to themselves, and certainly are no injury to their neighbours. I cannot believe that such a wish exists where there is a power to carry that wish into effect; or even if such a wish does exist, I cannot believe that those who have the desire deem it possible for them in the present state of the world, to carry that wish into execution. I cannot believe that they can think it practicable, by mere military force, to deprive millions of men of those constitutional privileges which have been formally conceded to them; because that would be to impute to them a 1049 want of knowledge and judgment under which it is impossible to suppose persons to labour, whose extensive experience must have led them to a far different conclusion. I am, therefore, convinced that the intention of these Resolutions (however calculated they may be to excite alarm), was merely to guard against those local dangers, the existence of which it is impossible to deny, though I think their magnitude and importance have been greatly exaggerated. Under these circumstances, when the contemplated purpose of guarding against these local dangers is accomplished, I cannot but believe that those Governments, on whose decision may depend not only the fate of Germany, but the peace of Europe, will have sufficient wisdom to abstain from pursuing the matter to further extremities, and will foresee those perils which their moderation and forbearance may prevent. I cannot but believe, that while, on the one hand, the violent party, which is but small, will abstain from exciting further alarm, so, on the other hand, the Governments will see that there can be no advantage in trenching on the rights of the constitutional States, but that their own interests, as well as the interests of all Europe, will be most promoted by the preservation of peace. Under these circumstances, I feel it to be my duty to give a negative to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Courtenay
said, he did not rise either for the purpose of supporting the Motion then before the House, or of replying to the arguments of the noble Lord who had just sat down. With some few exceptions, he entirely concurred in all that was stated by the noble Lord as an answer to the Motion, for the whole tenor of his speech went to uphold the principle of non-interference—a principle which he (Mr. Courtenay) had uniformly maintained. With his noble friend he recognized the doctrine, that, though a case might arise in which it would be necessary for us to interfere, yet, above all things, we ought to take care not to hasten the occasion for our interference by our own rashness. But his principal reason for rising was, that he could not refrain from taking that opportunity of seeking for some explanations on foreign affairs, which must be deemed necessary under the present circumstances of Europe. He would admit that the present late period of the Session was not the most fit time for entering into general discussions of such important matters as our foreign relations, but still, late as it was, he thought they ought 1050 not to depart without having some more full information on some points connected with that important subject than had yet been laid before them. He had stated the other night, and he would repeat that statement, that, however the situation of their establishments might permit them to make a hostile demonstration, or even to go to war, such a step ought not to be taken, except in extreme cases, without coming down to that House for advice and assistance. It had been the custom of Ministers to make the House acquainted with their intention, when war was likely to break out on the Continent. Such was the course pursued by Mr. Canning, when he placed before the House the reasons why Ministers would not interfere between France and Spain, except the former actually invaded Portugal. No such principle appeared now to be acted on. Many circumstances had recently occurred in Europe, which, with reference to this point, required explanation. Some time ago, an Austrian force had entered the Legations, as they were denominated, which belonged to the Papal See—a circumstance that did not appear to him to be extraordinary, because Austria might be considered an Italian power under existing treaties. But, at a later period, France took possession of Ancona, a circumstance which was passed over unnoticed; and, with respect to what his Majesty's Ministers had done on that occasion, the House remained in nearly complete ignorance. There might, undoubtedly, be reasons for the non-interference of this Government on the occasion to which he alluded; but he called on Ministers to state on what ground they had not interfered. He was sure that his noble friend would not justify non-interference in this particular case, upon a general principle that England should not concern herself with the affairs of foreign countries. His noble friend could not say that the scene of action was too far off, for Greece, with which we had interfered, was still further, and not more useful or interesting to us than Italy. Perhaps his noble friend thought that the interference of Austria justified that of France, but his noble friend should recollect that Austria was invited while France was not. It might be—and this he believed was the true state of the case—that France took possession of Ancona with the concurrence of England and the other Powers. He thought the last was really the case, and would state his reasons for thinking so. He must, however, charge the noble Lord with 1051 some disingenuity in reference to this subject. In March last some questions were put to the noble Lord in regard to this expedition to Ancona. His answer upon that occasion was, that the naval commander had been recalled, that one of the principal officers of the land forces was also recalled, and his conduct disapproved of by the French government. He (Mr. Courtenay), at the same time, asked the noble Lord what part of his conduct had been disapproved of, and to this he received no answer. The disapprobation of the French government must have had reference to some matter of minor importance, because the French troops still kept possession of Ancona. When the noble Lord was asked the reason for this expedition, he referred to an explanation given a few days previously by M. Perier, the French minister and it was that explanation of M. Perier which made him believe that the French expedition had the concurrence of England. M. Perier said, Our expedition to Ancona, conceived in the interests of general peace, as well as in the political interests of France, has for its object the giving more activity to negotiations in which all the Powers have concurred, with a view of placing upon a firm basis, at once, the security of the pontifical government and the tranquillity of the population, by means both efficacious and durable." Now he wished to know what were the particular engagements with the Allied Powers from which the Papal government had departed, and the departure from which justified or called for this expedition. From a publication which appeared some time back in Paris, and from a recent publication in this country, it seemed to him that the interference in this case was upon a principle not heretofore recognized by England, and forming part of a system which would lead to interminable war. In this publication it was stated, that, on the 31st of May, a paper was presented from the Allied Powers to the Papal government. It was not signed by England, because it was supposed that the signature would not be consistent with the laws of this country, which prohibited, under the penalty of a prœmunire, the signature of any such document. It was, however, signed by the other powers. Now this note, addressed to the Papal governme, demanded the "establishment in the Papal territories of a central board, charged with the revision of all the branches of administration, to act as a Council of State, and consist of the most distinguished citizens. It required also that a provincial 1052 and communal council should be established upon the principle of popular representation that a new and improved system of civil and criminal law should be introduced, more simple, and in some conformity with the knowledge of the age lastly, the secularization of employments, in other words, that laymen should not be altogether excluded by law from all affairs of the least importance." It was impossible that any interference could be more arbitrary and more direct than this. It went beyond the Order in Council. It was, in fact, nothing more nor less than imposing a complete Reform Bill on a foreign state. He was not there to defend or to condemn the system of Papal government in the States of the Church. It might be good, or it might be bad; but good or bad, it was not the business of this country to interfere with it. This was a proceeding so strong, an interference so direct, and, as he thought, so unjustifiable, that it called for satisfactory and full explanation. If it was right to present the original note, there could be no doubt of the right to press the execution of it by force. But even admitting the right, why should the enforcement of it be intrusted solely to France? Perhaps Austria was a consenting party, having herself before occupied part of the Papal territories, though with a very different object: perhaps the other Powers were consenting parties, but, at all events, England should have taken part in directing the force necessary to accomplish the proposed object. Ministers took great credit to themselves for having preserved the peace of Europe, and the member for Devonshire [Lord Ebrington we believe], the other night, in recounting their merits and their claims to support, mentioned Reform, retrenchment, and the preservation of peace, as the great principles by which their public conduct was directed, and those on which they came into office. They had, it was true, carried their plan of Reform, but it remained yet to be proved whether it would be a source of good or evil, whether a curse or a blessing to the country. Retrenchment was the second claim to support put forward by Ministers on taking office, but he believed they already found so much had previously been done in the way of retrenchment that it was impossible for them to carry it So far as they expected. As regarded the preservation of peace, the present and the late Government acted in this respect on the same principle, however different might be the means by which they proposed to at- 1053 tain the object. There was nothing in the Administration of the Duke of Wellington inconsistent with a pacific policy, and he heard the noble Earl, at the head of the present Government, express his approbation of all that had been done under the late Government after the revolt of the Belgians. He would not, however, go into the case of Belgium, except to observe, that if any embarrassments had arisen in the progress of negotiations for arranging the differences between Belgium and Holland, they were not attributable to the Duke of Wellington's Administration. The great sources of difficulty seemed to be the settlement of the debt and the navigation of the rivers, and those had arisen since the present Ministers came into office. The Ministers themselves admitted that they were in a state of embarrassment with respect to Greece; but as the papers which had lately been laid before the House would require an ample discussion, he should, on the present occasion only say, that, at all events any conflict in the affairs of Greece could not be traced to the Duke of Wellington, as our first interference with that country originated with Mr. Canning, of whose Administration the present Foreign Secretary was a Member. With respect to Poland, the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised, that as soon as the documents connected with the subject should be received from the Russian Government, he would be ready to state what were the views of the present Ministers upon that important subject. He should not enter into the case of Portugal, but wished to ask one or two questions. He doubted, whether in the affair of Portugal, Ministers adhered to the principle of strict neutrality between the two contending parties. He confessed, so far as he understood this case, the instructions given to the British ships and the British force were such as the nature of the case warranted and called for. These instructions were, that they were to take no part in the business; that they were not to interfere unless Spain did. But he wished to ask whether the British ships on that station did not give some countenance to Don Pedro's squadron not quite consistent with the principle of strict neutrality, and whether there was not one of our ships of war present when Don Pedro was landing? If such was the fact it might be considered to be a breach of neutrality, as it implicated us in the captures that were made in our presence; and the same observation would 1054 apply to the force before Lisbon, which might be construed into forming part of the blockading force. He did not say that circumstances had actually occurred to implicate his Majesty's ships, but it was important that a satisfactory explanation should be given, to remove all doubts upon the subject. He should also like to know whether an English officer who accompanied Lord William Russell had proceeded to the quarters of Don Pedro, for that certainly did not bear the character of neutrality. It was important to ascertain with certainty the principles on which Government were now acting with respect to the question of interference, that the House might see how far they differed from, or were consistent with, the principle of our former policy. He had now before him the declaration made in the first case of interference, by Mr. Canning and Lord Castlereagh. In the year 1820, when the state of Spain was such as called for, whether justly or unjustly he did not pretend to say, the interference of France, the same language was held by England respecting the principle of non-intervention, and the case in which only a departure from that principle could be justified. The language of the document in which the sentiments of the Government of this country were recorded had, he knew, the full concurrence of Mr. Canning, who, he believed, had taken part in the preparation of the document. The principles then laid down were applicable to all circumstances. It stated: 'The presentstate of Spain, nodoubt, seriously extends the range of political agitation in Europe, but it must neverthe-less be admitted, that there is no portion of Europe of equal magnitude, in which such a revolution could have happened, less likely to menace other States with that direct and imminent danger, which has always been regarded, at least in this country, as alone constituting the case which wouldjustify external interference.'* Now he desired to know from the noble Lord whether the Papal States were in that condition which, menacing this country with direct and imminent danger, could alone justify interference. He knew that the interference with the internal affairs of Greece had been justified on the plea that it was the land of Homer. Perhaps a justification might be found for interfering with the internal affairs of Italy on the plea that it was the country of Virgil but he was* Hansard (new series) vol. viii. p. 1137.1055 John Bull enough to direct his solicitude in the first instance to taking care of the land of Milton. In the year 1821, when Lord Castlereagh was separated from Mr. Canning, the policy of England was explained in similar terms with reference to the invasion of Naples by the Austrians. It was then stated by Lord Castlereagh: "No Government can be more prepared than the British Government is, to uphold the right of any state or states to interfere where their own immediate security or essential interests are seriously endangered by the internal transactions of another state. But, as they regard the assumption of such right as only to be justified by the strongest necessity, and to be limited and regulated thereby, they cannot admit that this right can receive a general and indiscriminate application, to all revolutionary movements, without reference to their immediate bearing upon some particular state or states, or be made prospectively the basis of an alliance."* He could not but observe that it was rather a curious circumstance that Austria and Prussia, if he had been rightly informed, had concurred in recommending this parliamentary reform to the Pope which it was said the French troops went to enforce. This showed that these states were not actuated in the whole of their conduct by that abstract love of despotism which had been represented as their only moving principle, but that a rational regard for self-preservation and self-interest governed their conduct as it did the conduct of others. Why should not his Holiness the Pope have credit for the same feelings? In the Verona correspondence, again, the same principles would be found laid down very explicitly. Mr. Canning then said 'We disclaim for our-selves, and deny for other powers, the right of requiring any changes in the internal institutions of independent states with the menace of hostile attack in case of refusal.'† He should beglad to find that this country had not been a party to any such measure against the Papal States. The next authority he would take the liberty of quoting to the House was that of Earl Grey himself. The noble Earl had publicly delivered the following dictum upon the subject:—He knew of no principle more odious and unjust than that of dictating a change of constitution to a foreign state." He*Hansard (new series) vol viii. p. 285.†Hansard (new series) vol viii. p. 294.1056 forbore to inquire what that constitution was, by whom adopted, or by whom ac-knowledged. The noble Earl further said, that "it was enough for him to find a constitution established in any country to prevent his interfering with it "and that, Reformer as he was, he would not consent to a Reform dictated by a foreign power."* Upon another occasion Earl Grey had declared, that "Whenever the circumstances of a state, or any particular occurrences with regard to it, endangered the safety of a neighbouring power, that power was justified, upon the ground of self-preservation, in interfering. That was the only ground upon which any man having any pretensions to the name or character of a statesman would think of resting a justification of interference with the internal affairs of another state." He had now produced ample authorities in support of his doctrine, and he hoped the noble Lord opposite would be able to show that the principle established by these authorities had not been contemned and departed from in the foreign policy of this country within the last two years. If he adverted to the question of the Russian-Dutch Loan, he could assure the House it was not with the intention of dwelling upon it. He had but a single observation to make. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Stanley), had thrown out a bait to the Opposition side of the House, which would have been successful if offered at the proper time. He had appealed to them to say whether, as men of honour, they would have refused to pay the money in question to Russia. He had no hesitation in saying that he believed under similar circumstances he should concur in the payment of such money. But under what circumstances had they been called upon to vote the other night? 'It was a case requiring information. The fullest information ought to have been laid before the House, but his Majesty's Ministers refused to give them any. He therefore had felt himself justified in voting in the minority, although, he believed, that, had he been in his Majesty's Councils he should have taken the same course as his Majesty's present Ministers had done. It was only by an equitable interpretation of the treaty, combined with a conviction, that the late conduct of Russia with regard to Belgium was in the spirit of the treaty, that she could be entitled to receive the money. And the*Hansard (new series) vol viii. p. 1235.1057 equity of the treaty could only be ascertained by reference to all the circumstances which the papers moved for would have disclosed. He held himself, therefore, perfectly justified in his vote; and he hoped the day would arrive when the whole of the transaction with respect to Ministers would be satisfactorily explained to the House. When that period should arrive he hoped that it would be shown that our ancient ally, Holland, had not been ill used. They might justify the language of taunt and sneer in which Holland had been alluded to, but he could assure the right hon. Gentlemen opposite that such language had strengthened the belief out of doors in the unmerited ill-usage of that country. He could not but express his disapprobation of that part of the transaction which related to the guarantee of this country of the integrity and inviolability of Belgium. He protested against it in conformance with the pacific principle with which he set out. The late Sir James Mackintosh, in a speech which he delivered upon Portugal, went out of his way to condemn the practice of guarantees, whereby he observed a country often brought war upon itself a century after all interest in the transaction on the part of the guaranteeing power had ceased. What was proposed to be gained by such a guarantee? Was there any continental power not just as well disposed to respect Belgium without as with the guarantee? If Russia and France were to go to war, and either violate the territory of Belgium, would England, Prussia, and Austria, go to war, on that account? It was more probable that if Russia and France were to go to war, the other Powers of the Continent would join on one side or the other; and it was extremely improbable that, in that case all four Powers would respect the neutrality of Belgium to avoid the hostility of England. But it would be much better to stipulate for the neutrality of Belgium, when the occasion should arise, as had been done in the Polish war, just a century ago. They had been told that the policy of England was, to keep Belgium out of the hands of France, and that that policy had dictated the Treaty of Vienna. But was it not also a substantive object with the parties to that treaty to give Holland greater territory and power than she had before? If this were so, then had the late arrangements been decidedly against the settled policy of this country and of Europe. He had taken the liberty of putting these 1058 questions to the noble Secretary of State for the Foreign Department in the hope that he might be able to give satisfactory answers to them. He had been actuated less by a spirit of hostility than he should, perhaps, receive credit for. He could assure the noble Lord that the deep concern he felt for the honour of the country in the estimation of foreign states was much stronger than his feeling of hostility to the Government, although he should not be guilty of the affectation of saying that he felt no hostility towards the Ministers. He, therefore, assured the noble Lord that it would give him sincere pleasure if, in answering these questions, he should be able to satisfy the House and the country that he had pursued a pacific policy, and that he had not sanctioned or concurred in any interference with other states which the cases did not fully justify. The right hon. Member concluded by moving as an Amendment to Mr. Bulwer's Motion to leave out from the word "that" to the end of the question, in order to add the words he will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House Copies of any representation made under his Majesty's authority, or by other powers with his Majesty's concurrence, to the Papal Government, in the years 1831 or 1832, concerning the internal affairs of the Pope's dominions; and Copies or Extracts of such Communications as have taken place between his Majesty and the Austrian and French Governments relative to the occupation of a part of the Papal dominions by the troops of those Powers; also, the dates of the ratification of each Power respectively of the treaty between his Majesty, the emperors of Austria and Russia, the king of Prussia, and the king of the Belgians, concluded on the 15th of November, 1831," instead thereof.
was glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, had taken the affairs of Europe under his special patronage. The right hon. Gentleman maintained, that France had no right to send the expedition which had been sent to Ancona. Now, he (Colonel Evans) would maintain, on the other hand, that France was perfectly warranted in sending that expedition to Ancona. He hoped that the good of mankind, and of Europe would be promoted by that expedition, and he trusted that the French troops would not be withdrawn from the Papal dominions until the Austrian troops were also withdrawn, and until the great object 1059 of sending the French troops there, namely, the establishment of peace and good order in the Papal states, so as to preserve the tranquillity of Europe, had been finally accomplished. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to that now somewhat stale topic, the Russian-Dutch loan, and in doing so, he had candidly admitted, that if he stood in the shoes of his Majesty's Ministers, he should have felt himself bound to continue the payments of that loan. It would have been well if the candour of the right hon. Gentleman in that instance had been imitated by the other Members of that party with whom he acted, as the House and the country would, in that case, have been spared much useless discussion. The right hon. Gentleman next proceeded to Portugal, and he arraigned his Majesty's Government because one of our frigates had been present at the disembarkation of Don Pedro's forces at Oporto. Why, the same argument would apply with equal force to the presence at this moment of a British fleet in the Tagus. Was it possible that the right hon. Gentleman did not see that the object of the presence of a British fleet in the Tagus, and of a British frigate at Oporto, was one and the same, namely, the protection of British interests and British property, and the strict enforcement of neutrality with regard to both? The right hon. Gentleman had also condemned what he supposed would be the effect of the presence of an officer of ours connected with the mission to Lisbon having been sent to the head-quarters of Don Pedro. Now, if he (Colonel Evans) had any thing to charge against his Majesty's Government on this head, it was because it had refrained from making the same recognition of the rights of the Queen Donna Maria, and of that army which, under her standard at present, was in occupation of alarge portion of Portugal as it had done of the government of Don Miguel. If the rights of the two brothers, Don Pedro and Don Miguel, were equal, and if we had sent a diplomatic agent to the head-quarters of Don Miguel, it was obvious that we had an equal right to send a diplomatic agent to the head-quarters of Don Pedro. The principal object which he (Colonel Evans) had in rising on this occasion, was to refer to an article which had appeared in one of the papers of that morning. They had been informed by a despatch, published a few days ago, that a Colonel Hodges had distinguished himself in a most honourable and gallant manner in the service of Don Pedro, in a late action 1060 near Oporto; and, for his part, he thought that the French and English who had so gallantly embarked in such a cause, were entitled to the highest praise and honour. However, there were persons who might take a different view of the matter, and there were one or two journals in the metropolis, in the interest of Don Miguel, which of course did so. He did not quarrel with those papers in condemning, if they so thought proper, the conduct of those French and English who took part with Don Pedro, but he thought it was highly unjustifiable for them to resort to the publication of unfounded calumnies and insinuations against them. With regard to this gentleman of the name of Hodges, who had been thus attacked that morning in one of the journals in the interest of Don Miguel, he (Colonel Evans) begged to take that opportunity to say, that he knew the gentleman of that name, and that he was not acquainted with any individual of more gallant or unimpeachable conduct—of conduct more becoming the gentleman and the soldier. With regard to the motion of the hon. member for Coventry, he thought that it had been fully justified by that hon. Member—that he had satisfactorily established his case, and completely sustained the objects and grounds of his Motion. The question was, whether those princes, or their representatives, who had assembled at the Diet of Frankfort, had or had not violated the rights and privileges of those different states of Germany, to the preservation of which rights we, as a party to the Treaty of Vienna, were a guaranteeing power; and whether the preservation of the independence of those various states, situated as they were in the heart of Europe, was not absolutely necessary, not only for the honour of this country, but for the maintenance of the rights of Europe, and the preservation of the independence of mankind. His noble friend, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, it appeared to him, had not adduced any arguments to rebut the statement of his hon. friend, the member for Coventry, on that head. His noble friend admitted our right to interfere in this instance, but he denied the discretion of doing so. He believed, in fact, that his noble friend did not so much deny the discretion of our interference, as the discretion of interfering in the way proposed by the present vote. Indeed, he happened to know, from foreigners connected with the diplomatic missions in this country, that the noble Lord and his Majesty's Government, though they had not 1061 thought it prudent or expedient to say so in their places in Parliament, had already interfered in a manner that did them much honour, and which he hoped might eventually lead to results of the most gratifying description. The hon. Member concluded by expressing his determination to support the Motion, as he conceived, after what had been done by the king of Hanover, that this country was imperatively called upon to interfere in the way proposed.
said, that he had heard with great satisfaction, a considerable portion of the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Palmers-ton); but he regretted, at the same time, that the noble Lord had not directed himself more to the principal part of the speech of his hon. friend who had brought forward this Motion. The question was, whether the privileges of those smaller States of Germany which had been guaranteed by the Powers of Europe by the Treaty of 1815, and by Great Britain amongst the rest, were destroyed, or in danger of being destroyed? Now, if anything could be more inimical to the feelings, and injurious to the interests, of the people of England and Germany, it was, that the military despots of Russia, Prussia, and Austria, should be permitted to immerse Europe once more in the darkest ignorance, by putting down the Press, by extinguishing all means of instruction, and by crushing altogether the spirit of liberty and independence. The noble Lord admitted, that great alarm existed in this country on this subject, and there was no doubt that such was the case, for we stood in this peculiar situation. The present Government had declared its determination to adhere as far as possible to the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other countries; but as far as he had been able to give his attention to its proceedings, it appeared to him that there had been nothing of consistency in its conduct in that respect. In fact, it appeared to him that the present Government was ready to interfere whenever it suited its convenience to do so, and that, when, as on the present occasion, it did not suit its convenience to do so, it was always ready to come forward with some excuse for its conduct. He (Mr. Hume) had always said, that the policy of England was to avoid a meddling interference in the affairs of other states, and it appeared to him, that whenever we had interfered, we had done so mischievously. We had incurred great expense in that way—we had, during thirty years, been the constant dupes of promises, and 1062 our interference during that period in continental affairs, instead of having been productive of good, appeared to him to have been followed by great evil. He feared that even our interference in the case of Belgium would be productive of no benefit either to this country or to Belgium. But if we had thought fit to interfere as regarded Belgium, and as regarded the Pope, he thought that those who had done so could produce no argument to justify their non-interference in this case. It was plain that we in England were not compromised by what the king of Hanover might do, and it was equally plain that the King of England was not at all bound by what the king of Hanover had done. He was ready to admit with the noble Lord, that considering Hanover as separate and apart from this country, there was a great distinction to be drawn between the acts of the king of Hanover and the acts of the king of England, but the majority of persons would not be able to appreciate the justice of such a distinction, more especially when they found that the King of England as king of Hanover, on the 10th of May last, gave his assent to that infamous Protocol of the Diet of Frankfort, which aimed a deadly blow at the liberties of Europe—which at once put down the Press—which introduced military force to overawe the lesser states of Germany, and to crush their independence—and which effected a complete destruction of those rights and privileges which had been solemnly guaranteed to them by the Treaty of Vienna. True it was, that his Majesty's Ministers, as Ministers of the King of England, were not responsible for such conduct but it was equally true, that the noble Lord, as Minister for Foreign Affairs to this country, should have entered his protest in stronger language, and in a more forcible manner, than he had done that night, against the proceedings which had been adopted by the armed despots of the Continent for the purpose of crushing the independence of the smaller states of Germany. If we should ever admit the expediency of this country interfering in the affairs of Europe, it was when the liberties of Europe were about to be destroyed; and if ever our interposition was justifiable and imperative, it was when it was required for the preservation of the privileges and rights of the smaller states of Germany. He for one thought that it was calculated to throw doubt and suspicion on the head of the Government of this country, that when the 1063 liberties of Europe and the rights of mankind were menaced with destruction by a conspiracy of armed despots—when every sort of freedom and independence was put down in the lesser States of Germany—when their different assemblies were no longer to be allowed the expression of their opinions, and when those states were about being placed under complete subjection by the military forces of the despots of Austria and Prussia, this country did not at once come forward and raise its voice against such iniquitous proceedings. Did the noble Lord think that if those military despots should succeed in doing that which he had admitted they had no right to do—namely, in crushing the independence of the lesser states of Germany—did the noble Lord imagine, that if that should come to pass, the people of England would be content or satisfied at finding that the King of England, the Sovereign of a free country, was a participator in such a measure—a measure that would be sure to excite the execration of the civilized world? He had always regretted the connexion of England with Hanover, for that connexion had been an unceasing source of evils to this country. He was sorry to see the Government of England about to lose its reputation in Europe as a liberal Government, and as the protector of liberal institutions; and that, too, at a moment when the people of England had just secured for themselves the maintenance of their own rights and privileges. He was sorry to see our good name thus endangered by our unfortunate connexion with Hanover. It was impossible for any man to believe that the King of England could be sincere in maintaining the privileges of Europe, when they found him, as king of Hanover, giving his assent to a measure which went to put down liberty, not only in Hanover, but in all the minor States of Germany. If Germany should be thus overwhelmed and overrun by the armed forces of military despots, what security had they that France would not be made the next object of attack; and could they be quite certain that they had nothing to fear themselves? It was only requisite to devote an ordinary degree of attention to the conduct of those despots, to perceive that the measures which they had just commenced in France were finally intended to put down liberty in France, and if that was the case (and who could doubt it?) would it not be better for England that his Majesty's Ministers should at once express their abhorrence, in the 1064 strongest possible language, of such conduct, and at once exert the influence of this country (if we did not possess influence on the Continent, we had at all events paid for it) in putting a stop to such proceedings? He trusted that the spirit of Germany would itself be aroused, and that those military despots would be stopped in their atrocious efforts to crush the liberties of Europe. The measure with which they had commenced was a flagrant violation of the Treaty of Vienna. Let any man read the 18th Article of that Treaty, and he would find that by it the liberty of the Press was sanctioned in every State in Germany. How was that to be reconciled with the Protocol of the Diet of Frankfort, which utterly proscribed the liberty of the Press, and under which, as he had been informed, several ably-conducted journals had been already put down in different parts of Germany, contrary to all law, and without even the usual legal forms? Their sole crime was the expression of the public opinion. He knew it was unnecessary for him state, that Earl Grey and his associates had nothing to do with the proceedings of the king of Hanover; but it would be found difficult, in the opinion of the people, to separate the conduct of the king of Hanover from the conduct of the King of England. He wished, therefore, the noble Lord had been more explicit in declaring the opinions, not of the king of Hanover, but of the Government of England, and to adopt such measures as were calculated to rouse a people to overcome that oppression which threatened them. The noble Lord ought to do this, more particularly at a time when England was congratulating herself on the glorious privileges which she had recently attained; for when the people of England saw Poland sacrificed almost without a word of remonstrance—when they saw this succeeded by a new attempt to extend a sphere of tyranny, and to reduce under the dominion of despotism a country so worthy of freedom as Germany—would they not begin to consider these transactions as part of a systematic attack upon the liberties of all the free European states? Where, indeed, was this to stop? No man could tell; and unless the Government took every measure to express their strong disapprobation of this gross infraction of the treaty, they would be shrinking from their duty. The noble Lord said, he could not agree to the Address. He could not conceive what objection could be taken to it. Such 1065 objection was contrary to the general tenor of the noble Lord's speech if there existed matter requiring discretion not stated, that was no reason why the power of the Government to interfere discreetly and efficaciously should not be increased by un Address from that House. Such an Address would, in point of fact, materially strengthen the hands of his Majesty's Goyemraent, and give additional weight to their remonstrances. In conclusion, he begged leave to congratulate the hon. member for Totness on the candid avowal made by him, that if Ministers had been beaten on the question of the Russian-Dutch Loan, and the Tories had come into power, they would have felt themselves under the same obligation to pay the money. He did not know what the right hon. Gentleman's friends, the Tories, would say to him, but the right hon. Gentleman's statement completely proved that he had taken a right view of the question, and given a correct vote. Every post brought Tory papers from the country, in which Hume and extravagance were placed in conjunction; but he could see as far into a millstone as another, and he felt that he was acting for the advantage of the country in refusing to be made the tool of so obnoxious a stratagem. He gave his cordial support to the Motion.
§ Mr. Wyse
said, that Tory England had been constantly interfering in the affairs of the Continent, and opposing continental liberty, and he did not see why liberal England should not interfere to protect it. He thought this one of the strongest cases to justify an interference. In discussing this question, the House ought to consider whether it was possible for England to separate her interests from those of the Continent. Although her position was insular, there was not a movement that could take place amongst the nations of Europe, which must not have some tendency to affect our free institutions. It became that House of Parliament, therefore, to express its reprobation of the acts which had taken place lately in the Diet of Frankfort. The protocol of that Diet violated not only the indefeasible rights of man, but those rights as sanctioned and guaranteed by the Treaty of Vienna. The question was, whether despotism or liberty should prevail in the civilized world? That was no subject for indifference; and though there was danger in war, yet he thought war was not the only danger to be feared. The triumph of despotism was yet more dangerous. The 1066 House of Commons ought to come to the determination of deprecating such conduct in the first instance, so that if subsequent circumstances should bring us into the conflict, we might be able to say, that from the very first we took our stand against it. The peculiar situation of Germany made the preservation of its independence of the greatest importance to every free state in Europe. It formed a barrier between the barbarous power of Russia on the north and the free states of the south, whilst from its literature, its knowledge, and its civilization, it became a moral as well as a physical barrier—a guarantee for and a guard of the liberties of the southern states of Europe. On this ground, if there were no other, she ought to be properly and energetically supported. If we surrendered her up—if we did not interfere—he meant morally, for the moral power of England was great even with the despots—unless we expressed our sense of what was going forward, Russia would trample on Germany, and advance her legions to the frontiers of France. Nor did he see how France could resist Russia, combined as she would be with the powers of Austria and Prussia. In his opinion, these hostile demonstrations to France called for serious consideration. He thought that the people of this country should not have their name bandied about among the nations of the earth as the great possessors of free institutions, and the great protectors of those who aspired to possess them, while, at the same time, they set their face against the efforts of freemen throughout the Continent. The name of England had been stained in Italy, and stained in the north. They were taunted with the course they had pursued towards Portugal—taunted with the course they had pursued towards Belgium—and last, although not least, they were taunted with their conduct towards Poland, now, unhappily, almost erased from the list of states, and deprived of her nationality, and even of her language. These were some of the consequences of that policy, which he thought called loudly for a change, consistent with the character of the country and the wishes of the people.
§ Viscount Palmerston
felt desirous to make a few observations in reply to those which the hon member for Totness, and other hon. Members, had addressed to the House. He wished, in the first place, to advert to what had fallen from the hon. member for Middlesex. It was important that it should 1067 be well understood, that for what the king of Hanover had done, at the instance of his constitutional advisers as king of Hanover, the constitutional advisers of the King of England were no more answerable than were the advisers of the king of Hanover answerable for what was done by the king of England. But he (Lord Palmerston) would be wanting in the performance of his duty to the House, if he did not take that opportunity to assure it, that the king of Hanover was as much alive to the constitutional principles on which the throne of Hanover was founded, as ever the King had been to the principles on which his throne was founded since his accession to it; and if a proof were required of that statement, it was to be found in a fact which he had reason to know was well founded, though, of course, he had not had official knowledge of it—namely, that subsequently to the period when the king of Hanover had given his assent to the resolutions of the Diet of Frankfort, he had transmitted a communication to the states of Hanover, the object of which was to confirm and enlarge the privileges granted to his subjects there. So far, therefore, from the king of Hanover doing any thing to destroy constitutional principles in Hanover, it was plain from this fact, that he was anxious to maintain them there, as he was anxious to maintain them as king of England, in this country; and the communication to which he (Lord Palmerston) had just referred, was, he believed, at that moment under the consideration of the states of Hanover. He begged to remind the hon. member for Totness, that the pledges given by his Majesty's Ministers, on their accession to office, were Reform, Retrenchment, and Peace, and that there was nothing about non-interference. [Mr. Courtenay said "Non-intervention."] He should not talk of non-intervention, for it was not an English word. The principle of interference meant either interference by force of arms, or by friendly counsel and advice. Now, he thought, the principle for this Government to proceed upon, was that of non-interference by force of arms in the affairs of any other country but he did not think that we should be precluded, where it was expedient for us to do so, from interfering by friendly counsel and advice. When we talked of the principle of noninterference, it meant that it would not be expedient, on the part of this Government, to interfere by force of arms to dictate to any other state with respect to its internal 1068 affairs. That was the principle on which his Majesty's Government had acted in the cases referred to, though they had not abstained from proffering friendly counsel and advice. It was at the joint request of Austria and France, that his Majesty's Government had in that way interfered to restore tranquillity to the Papal states, but they never contemplated any recourse to arms on the rejection of any advice which they might give. They had merely interfered as a friendly power, and, as he had said, at the instance of Austria and France, who might be benefited by the mediation of a neutral and disinterested power. He was sure that the course which had been taken had contributed to the preservation of the peace of Europe. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the Government, not content with the Reform Bill at home, had tendered to the Pope a representative constitution, but he should recollect that the memorandum to which he thus alluded had been agreed to by Austria, Russia, and Prussia. It was, therefore, obvious that all the interference that had been experienced by the Italian and Papal states was founded upon the most friendly feelings, as well as upon the desire which was felt on the part of the British Government to preserve the peace of Europe. With respect to Belgium, it had always seemed to him that the most important consideration attached to the independence of that country was the maintenance of a strict neutrality on her part, and the prevention of her again becoming the theatre of war on which the great continental Powers might, as heretofore, fight out their national quarrels. It was of the greatest importance to the preservation of the general peace, that the Belgian territory should be rescued from the possibility of becoming again the scene of war; and it was of equal, if not greater, importance, that France should, as she now had done, assent to the necessity of, and become a party to, the maintenance of the neutrality of Belgium. As to Portugal, and to the encouragement, or rather the interference, which was imputed to the present Government in the present struggle in that kingdom, he had only to say that England had taken no part whatever in the affair, save only to prohibit, or rather to deter, the Spanish troops from interfering in the quarrel. It ought not to be forgotten, however, that there were British residents both at Lisbon and Oporto, whose commercial relations with Portugal compelled them to remain there. Those persons 1069 were entitled to the protection of Great Britain, and it was, therefore, the duty of the British commanders to afford them that protection. They had wished that the British force should come up into the harbour, but acting under the instructions of his (Lord Palmerston's) right hon. friend (Sir James Graham), the British Admiral did not conceive himself at liberty, even to this extent, to comply with the wishes of the British residents. The presence of our fleet in that quarter, he must beg to say, was the whole extent of the interference of the naval force at Oporto; and that force gave no protection, nor any assistance, towards the landing of Don Pedro's armament. Lord William Russell, so far from lending his countenance towards Don Pedro's enterprise, sent an officer to his head quarters with an exact detail of the orders which had been transmitted to him from his Government, which officer, after delivering his message, was despatched to the Spanish frontier, in order to watch the movements of the Spanish forces, and, so far from there being a feeling on the part of the Portuguese or Spanish Governments that Great Britain was affording any assistance to either of the contending parties, the very reverse was the fact; for there was so good an understanding between the several governments, that the officer charged with the duty to which he had referred, proceeded on his mission with the consent of both parties. In conclusion, he begged to say, that the present Government was quite as ready as the preceding, or any other Government, to afford information to the country on the subject of their foreign policy; but hon. Members must be aware, that the demand for information on this subject might be carried so far that, if complied with, the result might be injurious; as negotiations were often in the course of settlement which, if publicity were given to them, would be broken off, to the great detriment of the national business.
§ Mr. Courtenay
had, with respect to the Russian Loan given two votes. He concurred with the right hon. member for Tamworth in voting against further proceedings till more information was laid before the House. He should, if the circum. stances were repeated, act again in the same manner, and there was no difference of opinion between him and his friends, as the hon. member for Middlesex insinuated.
Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer
expressed the pleasure he felt at hearing the sentiments adopted by the noble Lord, which, he 1070 was sure were well worthy of him, both as the eloquent defender of Portuguese liberty, and as filling the high station which he held as the foreign Minister of this country. At the same time he could not quite concur in the opinions of the noble Lord. The noble Lord said, that interference was of two kinds—interference by force of arms, and by friendly advice. Having made that observation, he should have been glad to have heard something from him with reference to the advice which he gave, when the resolutions of the German Diet were known to the King of England. The noble Lord said, that it might be wise and politic to interfere, if, by so doing, we could preserve our own interests, and secure the provisions of a treaty; and that, under certain circumstances, we might be called upon to interfere if any other of the powers of Europe had acquired an overgrown share of power which might give cause for a just claim. The noble Lord also said in effect, that if the Treaty of Vienna had been violated, and if the preservation of peace could have been secured by our interference, we should have been justified in interfering. The noble Lord allowed that unnecessary interference on the part of other states, had taken place, but that there was not sufficient ground for us to come to any strong resolutions on account of the infractions of the Treaty of Vienna. Having admitted what the objects of the treaty were, and having admitted that they were interfered with, it appeared to him a fair question, whether his Majesty's Government were not called upon to accede to the Motion which had been made to-night? The noble Lord admitted that the present condition of the Continent was likely to lead to serious results. If so, might it not fairly be attributed to the course which had so been pursued? We had allowed the king of Holland to dictate to us; we had taken no strong measures against him; and Europe was in a state which daily appeared more likely to lead to a war. With regard to Spain, we had taken a decided part; we told her that she should not enter Portugal; she, for a long time, declared that she would; but in consequence of our adopting this course, Spain did not interfere. The case of Holland was different; we held strong language, but never followed it up: and the result was different. With reference to the policy pursued by Mr. Canning, he could assert, that Mr. Canning was generally spoken of abroad as the Great Radical 1071 of Europe. He took a firm and decided course, and separated this country from the Holy Alliance. The noble Lord admitted that other states had unnecessarily interfered with other powers, and interfered, because those states adhered to what were called liberal opinions." And we, therefore, who professed to entertain liberal opinions, should have interfered also. He apprehended that on the three grounds of the Treaty of Vienna, the preservation of peace, and the objects which seemed to guide the policy of the other states, no objection could fairly be made to his Motion. Under all these circumstances, although he was not inclined to divide the House, he must press the Motion.
§ Viscount Palmerston
had no objection to grant the papers giving the dates of the ratification of the Belgian Treaties, but he must object to the other portion of the Amendment of the Member for Totness.
Mr. Courtenay's Amendment, requiring Copies of the Representations made by his Majesty's Ministers on the disputes between the Papal Government and its subjects, and with respect to the internal affairs of those States negatived; as was also the original Motion.
Mr. Courtenay then moved for Copies of the Dates of the Signatures to the Ratification of the Treaty of the 15th of November, 1831 as they were given by the Allied Powers of France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia.—Ordered.