§ MR. HUME
said, that in rising to call the attention of the House to the subject of which he had given notice, namely, the annexation of Cracow, he could not avoid expressing a hope, that the cause which he supported would not suffer in consequence of his inability to do that justice to it which the importance of the subject deserved. However feeble his efforts might be, he was unwilling to allow any longer time to elapse without bringing the matter under the notice of the House; and he therefore availed himself of this opportunity of doing so. It would be in the recollection of the House that towards the close of last Session he called its attention to the state of continental affairs, in consequence of the free State of Cracow being at that time occupied by Russian and Aus- 862 train troops, which troops he then thought were very likely to retain possession of Cracow. He urged upon our Government the propriety of giving attention to the condition of the free State of Cracow—an attention which was more especially required from them, inasmuch as we were parties to the Treaty of Vienna, and it was therefore to be expected that we would not allow the free State of Cracow to remain subjected to occupation by those soldiers, without any remark or remonstrance on our part. In 1831, there was a previous occupation and military possession; and in 1836 there was another military occupation—both directly contrary to the Treaty of Vienna. Those occupations he described last Session, and in addition he showed that he had reason to doubt the intention to cause the troops to retire from Cracow; but, on that occasion, the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department, whom he saw in his place, begged of the House not to give credence to the statements which he (Mr. Hume) then made, as the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) was in possession of better information, and he was convinced that the occupation of Cracow was only a temporary occupation; and a noble Duke in another place was equally confident that his old allies and friends would not require more than a temporary occupation of Cracow, and that, before long, the territory of Cracow would be free from the presence of those troops. He (Mr. Hume) stated on that occasion what he would now repeat, that this was not the first infraction of the Treaty of Vienna which he had remarked; and he expressed his regret that this country should have been a party to a treaty which she was not capable of enforcing. He found that we had kept faith and honour so far as our part was concerned; but he had not found that those Powers to which he had alluded had kept their faith and honour on any occasion where their own interests were concerned. He, on that occasion, and with those views, directed the attention of the House to the occupation of Cracow by foreign troops; but he would now call on hon. Members to take a view of Cracow under different circumstances from those in which she was placed when he last brought forward the subject. When he called attention to it towards the end of last Session, it was stated that there had been no infraction of the Treaty of Vienna; but since that occasion, namely, on the 19th of January, at the opening of 863 the Session of Parliament, it was alluded to in the Queen's Speech in the following terms:—The extinction of the free State of Cracow has appeared to me to be so manifest a violation of the Treaty of Vienna, that I have commanded that a protest against that Act should be delivered to the Courts of Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Berlin, which were parties to it. Copies of these papers will be laid before you.That was the statement in the Queen's Speech, showing that it was regarded as a direct violation of the Treaty of Vienna; and lest it might be supposed, as he believed it had been already stated, that the opinions of the House had been fully expressed on the subject in the Answer to the Address, he would beg to remind hon. Members of what was invariably the case, namely, that the Answer to the Queen's Speech did not prevent a full consideration of any subject mentioned in it at any later period of the Session; and he, therefore, hoped that the universal practice of the House would be a sufficient answer to any allegation to the effect that this subject had been finally disposed of in the Answer to the Address. He now held in his hand a paper laid on the Table of the House by command of her Majesty; it was a paper relative to the suppression of the free State of Cracow by Austria, Russia, and Prussia. He was not the only person, it would appear, who was alarmed at the occupation of Cracow by foreign troops; for that occupation had been made the subject of a correspondence so early as February last year, although it was then stated, as it had been since, that the occupation was to be but temporary. In one of the letters of Mr. Magennis, from Vienna, he stated to Lord Aberdeen that a messenger had been despatched to London, with a view to give a full explanation of the occupation of Cracow. He regretted that he did not find the papers containing those explanations in the correspondence presented to Parliament; but he presumed they satisfied the noble Lord then at the head of Foreign Affairs, that the assurances and statements he received from foreign Courts were to be credited. It was somewhat remarkable, that from January to August no definite answer appeared to have been made either by Lord Aberdeen or by the noble Lord now at the head of Foreign Affairs. It did not appear that they had issued any instructions respecting the occupation of Cracow, although, after the attention given to it in Parliament and in the country, the 864 House was entited to expect that some notice would have been taken of it. On the 25th of June, Lord Aberdeen wrote a letter, in which, with all the prudence and caution for which that noble Lord was noted, he said he would suspend his opinion at present respecting the occupation of Cracow, and would abstain from active interference on behalf of that republic. The noble Lord now at the head of Foreign Affairs said, in his letter of August 4th, that he hoped nothing would be done in regard to the State of Cracow which was at variance with the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna. That letter was written within a few days of his (Mr. Hume's) Motion respecting the occupation of Cracow; and he gave the noble Lord credit for believing that the Allied Powers would not be guilty of such a violation of the Treaty of Vienna as had since taken place. The papers laid on the Table of the House afforded full means of judging of the real nature of the transactions in connexion with the occupation of Cracow; and in alluding to them he would say of Prince Metternich's letter that it was one of the most discreditable documents which he could imagine, coming as it did from a man of the high character of Prince Metternich, who ought to maintain the honour of the nation he represented, and the character of a diplomatist. The document was, he repeated, discreditable to Prince Metternich; for although it might be the policy of a diplomatist, judging of public faith, to justify himself by the magnitude of smallness of the territory concerned, yet he (Mr. Hume) could not agree to that, and therefore when Prince Metternich satisfied himself that Cracow was only an atom—"a geographical atom"—he could not recognise that as an element which ought to affect faith in keeping a treaty; but when the independence of that State was guaranteed in four or five separate articles of the Treaty of Vienna, it showed great laxity of principle to put an end to the liberty of its inhabitants; and the word of honour of a statesman who could advise its annexation was not worth the paper on which it was written. He would say, too, that the word and honour of a man who, in violation of the Treaty of Vienna, advised the annexation of Cracow, was not worthy of consideration. It appeared that on the 11th of November, the Austrian Government published to the world, a declaration on the subject of Cracow, which contained the following passages:— 865The State of Cracow has of its own accord, and without being thereunto driven by any foreign material force, precipitated itself into the gulf of the vast conspiracy which, having for its object to re-establish the former revolutionary Government, was to have directed the measures by which this enterprise was to have been carried into effect.Now there was not one word of truth in that statement on the part of Austria, as Lord Palmerston completely demonstrated in his able answer. Indeed, after reading that answer of the noble Lord, no man within the walls of that House would believe that there was one word of truth in the paragraph which he had quoted. The next paragraph whieh he would quote from that declaration of Austria, was of a similar character; it was—In direct violation of treaties, those Poles, subjects of the Three Powers, who had been imprisoned in the revolution of the kingdom of Poland, and who wished to find an asylum in the territory of Cracow, were received, and their machinations protected and supported.Of that paragraph he might say, as he said of "the former, that it did not contain one word of truth. By the Treaty of Vienna, the State of Cracow was bound to deliver up on requisition all persons who engaged in political conspiracies against the States which were parties to the Treaty; but in the case of Cracow no requisition for the delivery of such conspirators was made, and no conspirators were delivered up, for there were none to deliver. These were the futile pretences on which the Governments engaged in the suppression of the free State of Cracow acted. The declaration went on to state, as would be seen at page 35, that—The Courts of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, having under these circumstances to deliberate as to the measures to be adopted by them in order to prevent the recurrence of events similar to those which have lately taken place, have been unanimously of opinion that the political body created in 1815, and destroyed by the revolution itself, has been productive of results too fatal to the maintenance of peace; that it has shown itself too incompatible with the condition of the internal tranquillity of their own States, and with the maintenance of the principles of general peace, to render it possible for them to reconstruct it.The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with his great talent, pointed out clearly how erroneous those grounds were, and truly said that if there were any danger to be apprehended from the State of Cracow, it was not for only three parties to the treaty to take upon themselves to annul that free State; that the other Powers parties to the 866 treaty ought to have been consulted; and that measures might then be taken to prevent the recurrence of a state of things in Cracow similar to that which had been complained of, if such a state of things existed. If residence had been afforded to conspirators in Cracow, the Allies would be warranted in preventing it; but it did not follow that three out of eight or nine parties to the Treaty of Vienna should destroy the independence of Cracow without the consent of the other parties, and without the sanction of any law or custom amongst civilized nations. The noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) said that the laws of Cracow and its police regulations might be modified, in order to prevent mischief arising from conspiracies, or the presence of strangers, if such mischiefs existed; but no modifications were proposed, and they were not proposed for the reasons which he (Mr. Hume) had already stated—namely, that there were no conspirators, and therefore, the annexation was founded on injustice. Lord Palmerston, in his answer to the declaration, also said—It is alleged that Cracow has long been, and if it remains independent will still continue to be, the centre of intrigues, having for their object the disturbance of the tranquillity of adjoining territories; and the question is in what degree the present political condition of Cracow affords facilities for the carrying on of such practices. Now such intrigues and plots must be carried on either by strangers coming to Craeow, or by the native inhabitants themselves. But no stranger can reach Cracow except by traversing a vast extent of territory belonging to one or other of the Three Powers; and it is difficult to imagine that any Polish exile, or any conspirator from any foreign country, could so far elude the vigilance of the police of the Power whose territory he would have to pass through, as to be able to penetrate to Cracow. The population of Cracow is not large in number; and not only would the arrival of a suspicious stranger amongst them be quickly known to the police, but it would be scarcely possible for such a stranger or for any resident inhabitant of the State, long to carry on a correspondence with the people of neighbouring districts for the purpose of exciting disturbances therein, without such correspondence coming to the knowledge of the Government, and through them to that of the three residents.And the noble Lord proceeded to say, that, if necessary for this purpose, the police regulations and the laws of Cracow might be made more stringent, without destroying the independence of the State; and then added—It is no doubt the duty of Cracow to give to those Powers such security; for freedom and independence were given to Cracow for the wellbeing and happiness of its own people, and not in order to enable that people to create disturbances 867 and confusion in adjoining countries. It appears, then, to Her Majesty's Government that no sufficient proof has yet been given to show that full security might not be afforded to the internal tranquillity of the territories of the Three Powers, without destroying the separate and independent existence of the State of Cracow. But Her Majesty's Government must, at all events, deny the competency of the Three Powers to decide upon, and to execute, such a measure of their own separate authority, and without the concurrence of the other Powers who were parties to the Treaty of Vienna, of June, 1815. There is no doubt that the erection of Cracow and its territory into a free and independent State, together with many of the details of its organization, are matters which were first recorded by the Treaty of the 3rd of May, 1815. But that Treaty merely recorded one part of the various arrangements made by the general Congress of Vienna; and it was by Article 118 of the general Treaty declared to be an integral part of the arrangements of the Congress of the European Powers, and to have everywhere the same force and value as if it had been inserted word for word in the general Treaty.But besides this, the leading stipulations about Cracow which are contained in the separate Treaty of the 3rd May, concluded between the Three Powers, are inserted, word for word, in the general Treaty to which all the Powers are parties, and those stipulations constituted the Articles 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, of that general Treaty … For these reasons, Her Majesty's Government are of opinion that the execution of the intentions which the Three Powers have announced, would be a measure justifiable by no adequate necessity, and would involve a violation of positive stipulations contained in the general Treaty of Vienna; and Her Majesty's Government, deeply impressed with the conviction that it is above all things important that the engagements of treaties should at all times be faithfully observed, most earnestly hope that means may be devised for guarding the territories of the Three Powers against the dangers adverted to in their identical communications without any breach of the Treaty of 1815.He (Mr. Hume) hoped, after reading these extracts, no difficulty would be found in showing that the annexation of Cracow was a direct violation of the Treaty of Vienna. One might have expected that a nation like Austria, who owed so much to the efforts of England—but for whose large expenditure of blood and money all the German States, with Austria, would have been slaves to the military government of Napoleon—would have behaved differently. In her last struggle, England had incurred no less than 600,000,000l. of debt, with a view to secure the liberties of the Continent of Europe; and there could be no doubt that the Continental States owed their independence to the exertions of England. It appeared to him, therefore, to be insulting beyond anything, that they should have acted in the manner which they had done. He would next notice the 868 declaration made by the Emperor Ferdinand of the 11th November last—We accordingly, by these presents, take possession of the city of Cracow and of its territory, such as it has existed up to the present time, unite it to our Crown, and declare it to form an integral portion of our empire, in which we incorporate it henceforth.He asked if that was not an infraction of the Treaty of Vienna, and if it did not set aside the whole of the Treaty? If that was not sufficient to induce Her Majesty's Government to take decided steps, he knew nothing that could make them. To show the House, however, what views he took on this question, he was disposed not to make a simple protest—for what did people who had violated such obligations care for protests? Nothing of that kind would do for them, and therefore he was disposed to deal with them in a stronger manner, and he trusted that the Commons of England would support him. They would be very much blamed if, when it was in their power to show their displeasure at the conduct of the Northern Powers, they did not manifest it in a manner not to be mistaken. He had been asked that morning, "Do you wish to go to war?" and his answer was, "No, I do not wish for war; I am a man of peace; but having it in our power, by a legislative enactment, to say whether we shall continue to pay a sum of money in pursuance of stipulations contained in the Treaty of Vienna, we ought not to allow one portion of the bargain to be broken, and keep the other." It appeared to him to be quite clear, that if Russia had not kept to the bargain made on her part, we were liberated from the payment of the money. With that view, therefore, he proposed to submit to the House four resolutions, the fourth being, in his view, the most important. The Speech from the Throne might satisfy any hon. Member that the violation of the Treaty of Vienna had been complete; but the House of Commons required that certain forms should be observed, and he had therefore prefaced the fourth resolution by three others. The whole Treaty of Vienna was framed and carried out with a view of maintaining the balance of power, in order that it might be the basis of a permanent peace; and no country, under any circumstances, at any time, ever made so many sacrifices for the great object then contemplated as Great Britain then did, giving up everything herself, and showing the greatest disinterestedness. 869 It was important, therefore, to look at the grounds on which this treaty was based, and to consider whether, if any of its stipulations were violated, the whole treaty did not fall to the ground. He admitted that he was one who had always objected to that treaty. He was anxious for peace, because, after twenty years of war, no one could fail to see the evils which must arise from its continuance; and on that account he was as anxious to see the treaty concluded as any man who was a party to it. But there were stipulations in the Treaty of Vienna to which he had always objected. Up to the day on which that treaty was concluded, England stood free from the disgrace to which all were subjected who had been parties to the partition of Poland. He would remind the House of what had taken place with respect to Poland in 1772, in 1793, and again in 1795. In 1772, Poland lost 3,600 square miles of territory, and 6,356,000 inhabitants; in 1793, 6,000 square miles of territory, and 7,100,000 persons; and again, in 1795, 4,593 square miles of territory, and 6,500,000 persons. Thus, on the whole, a population of 20,000,000 of persons, and 14,000 square miles, were divided among Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Up to the time of the Treaty of Vienna, England was innocent of the guilt of that partition; but she participated in it by the arrangements which were then made at Vienna by the assembled Powers. When the House considered the sacrifice of honour that England made by her concurrence in that partition and unholy robbery, it was not too much to say, that we were as bad as the robbers ourselves. It was on that ground he had always considered that if ever a treaty was carried out, it ought to be carried out by those for whom we had made such great sacrifices, and that they should make us some reparation. He could not look at Austria without considering that she was guilty of the grossest ingratitude. In the days of her greatest trouble, when Napoleon was at the gates of Vienna, and she had no means of raising money, this country came to her assistance, and accommodated her with two loans, which enabled her to make head against her enemies. The Emperor of Austria had a very short memory; but he ought to be reminded that in 1822 we had received, out of a debt owing us by Austria of 17,500,000l., but 2,500,000l.; and that in that year the country sanctioned a vote whitewashing 870 the Austrian Government. Shame ought to be on their foreheads in whatever place they went, when they paid no attention to the remonstrances of England after so much liberality. He was anxious, however, that it should not by any means be considered, from what he had stated, that no violation of the Treaty of Vienna had taken place before. He looked to the general Treaty of Congress, signed at Vienna on the 9th of June, 1815, and he saw there the signatures of Austria, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and Sweden—every great European State, in fact, except Spain, that omission arising from the circumstance of there being no representative from that country at the Court of Vienna at the time. He believed that we gave a million of money to Denmark, and sanctioned the robbery that was then committed by giving Norway to Sweden instead of Denmark, to which Norway belonged. He had read with very great pleasure a letter written by Lord Castlereagh, whom he had always previously considered a very cold-hearted man, in which he said that nothing had ever given him more pain than to take Norway from Denmark and give it to Sweden. We made ourselves a party to that crime. To return, however, to Cracow. Lest there should be any hon. Member who had the least doubt on the subject, he would allude only to two paragraphs of the additional Treaty relative to Cracow, between Austria, Prussia, and Russia, of the 21st of April, 1815, which, by the 118th Article of the Treaty of Vienna, was declared to have the same force and validity as if it had been inserted in the general treaty. This, therefore, formed part of the Treaty of Vienna, and the 6th Article of the additional Treaty ran thus:—The three Courts engage to respect, and to cause to be respected at all times, the neutrality of the free city of Cracow and its territory, and no armed force shall enter it under any pretence whatsoever. On the other hand, it is understood and expressly stipulated, that the free city and territory of Cracow shall not afford any asylum or protection to runaways, deserters, or persons under prosecution, belonging to the countries of either of the three contracting Powers, and that, on the demand of their surrender by the competent authorities, such individuals shall be arrested without delay, and delivered up, under a proper escort, to the guard appointed to receive them at the frontier.The noble Lord had very properly stated in his despatch that no such requisition was made; and it would not be until after the Senate of Cracow had refused to deliver 871 up such persons that Cracow could be in justice visited with the penalty which the Three Powers had inflicted upon that city. The occurrence to which he was now calling the attention of the House was not the first violation of the Treaty of Vienna that had been committed by the Three Powers. The First Article of the Treaty of Vienna provided, that Poland should be united to Russia "by its constitution;" and the Emperor Nicholas, on his accession to the throne in 1825, took the following oath:—I swear and promise before God, and upon the holy Evangelists, to maintain and execute to the utmost of my power the Constitutional Charter.Now, what had been the result? By that constitution, the liberty of the person was guaranteed; but Constantine, without even the form of a trial, condemned numerous inhabitants of Warsaw, and degraded many of the most eminent amongst them to clean away the dirt in the streets; and even members of the Diet were imprisoned for uttering opinions delivered by them in their official capacity. The liberty of the press was also guaranteed by the constitution; but the liberty of the press did not exist even for a single day. The moment Russia took possession of Cracow under the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, the liberty of the press was destroyed. He (Mr. Hume) must here observe that he thought the opinion expressed by the late Lord Castlereagh on this subject did him great credit. That noble Lord, in alluding to this provision of the treaty, said that he considered the liberty of the press essential to the protection of public liberty. He (Mr. Hume) was of opinion that we ought long ago to have protested against these breaches of the treaty; and it was alleged that protests were made, in 1830, by the late Earl Grey. He wished the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) would lay those protests on the Table of the House. He publicly asked for their production at the time, but he was unable to obtain them; and why, he would ask, were they not produced? Why was not the conduct of those wretched men—the tyrants of their people, and the violators of treaties—laid open to the public in all its deformity and wickedness? He thought, when they saw how utterly reckless the Emperor of Russia had been in his violations of the Treaty of Vienna, that they ought to learn wisdom by experience, and abandon all connexion with such faithless and unprincipled men. We ought to stand alone, and not participate in their wicked- 872 ness. The Emperor of Russia had violated all his promises with respect to Poland. The Poles had been promised the right of agreeing to a budget, and they had been promised that the Diet should be assembled at least once in four years. This had not been done. He wanted to show that a deliberate violation of the Treaty of Vienna was not confined to the case of Cracow. It had been stipulated by Russia that Russian troops should not be introduced into Poland, except upon particular occasions, and that then they should be supported at the expense of Russia. But the ink of the treaty was scarcely dry, before 10,000 Russians were marched into Poland, and permanently quartered at Warsaw. Those troops were maintained chiefly by the inhabitants; England stood by and allowed that outrage to be committed. In 1832, the constitution of Poland was formally abolished, and replaced by an organic statute. Since that time the Government of Russia had not ceased to oppress the people of Poland, by the confiscation of numerous estates; by transporting hundreds of wretched creatures, for political offences, to the deserts of Siberia; by carrying off great numbers of children into the interior of Russia, in order to bring them up as Russians; by the forcible transplantation of families to the military colonies; by excessive levies of recruits destined to perish in the Caucasus; by intolerable taxation; by the suppression of universities and spoliation of public and private libraries; and, above all, by the appropriation of the revenues of the national church to the purposes of another creed; and by an unrelenting system of persecution on account of religion. The Bishopric of Cracow, the maintenance of which had been guaranteed, had also been abolished; and he thought, under these circumstances, he might fairly claim the vote of the hon. Member for Oxford (Sir R. Inglis), who had evinced so much interest on behalf of ecclesiastical and academical institutions in this country. There had, however, been many other violations of the Treaty of Vienna. The first article of that treaty stipulated that the Poles who were respective subjects of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, should obtain a representation, and national institutions. Now we, who enjoyed all the advantages of a representative system, would have rejoiced at the extension to Poland of so valable an institution; and as we were parties to the treaty which held out hopes to the Polish people of such a boon, he 873 considered that we were bound to expose the injustice of its violation. Prussia had granted to her Polish subjects a national representation, although, perhaps, not a very effective one; Austria had granted that which could only be considered as the pretence or shadow of a representation; Russia, however, had not conceded to her Polish subjects (except to that small portion inhabiting what was called the kingdom of Poland) any representation whatever, or even the semblance of one. Nay, Russia had even forbidden them the use of their own language. He thought the atrocity of Russia was fully shown by these facts—that she had robbed the Poles of their public institutions, that she had forbidden them the use of their language, and had interfered with their religion. He begged to observe, that some of the statements with reference to the conduct of Russia contained in two of the letters of the late Lord Castlereagh, well deserved the attention of the House. Having noticed the advances which Russia had made towards Prussia, by Poland, and the encroachments she had made on the south-east, in Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bessarabia, the noble Lord cautioned the Emperor of Russia to be careful, lest, by proceeding too far, he might excite jealousy and alarm. Lord Castlereagh then referred to the various arrangements and allotments of territory which were made under the Treaty of Vienna. Why was all this done? In order, as was professed, that the balance of power in Europe might be preserved, and that permanent peace for the advantage of all Europe might be established. If they were to permit the stipulations of the treaty to be violated—to be torn away piecemeal—of what use was it to have the treaty at all? By these late proceedings, the legal sanction given by the Congress of Vienna to the settlement which it guaranteed, was gone. The partition of Poland was no longer legal. It was no longer legal, because the parties had violated the stipulations of the treaty under which it took place. All Europe was liberated from the yoke of the Treaty of Vienna. Every State, every country, was at liberty to assert its own independence. The recent proceeding had accomplished that. Poland had a full right to reassert her own freedom; and he knew no reason why the same rule should not prevail on the Rhine, the Po, and the Danube. He saw no reason why the States partitioned by the Treaty of Vienna should not be restored to 874 their old proprietors. When rogues quarrelled, honest men came by their own. In this case, the rogues had quarrelled; and, therefore, honest men might expect a restoration of what belonged to them. Could the people of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, have any confidence in their Governments? Was it not the duty of every individual to assert his rights, always supposing he had the power? He would not advise him to anything of the kind, if he had not. But he repeated, that by the violation of the Treaty of Vienna the people were absolved from their allegiance; and the day might come when the twenty-two or twenty-three millions of Poles would be roused either for or against us. What had occurred had taken from every small State its security. It rendered physical force the rule of the day; and if physical force were to be the rule of the day, he should be glad to know what was to be the consequence. Many might not think, but he thought—and hon. Members might differ from him—but he repeated, he did think that the suppression of the State of Cracow destroyed every pretext of European law. There was no international law which could now be maintained in Europe. The effect of treaties was gone; let every man who might answer him assert to the contrary. Those proceedings had destroyed the security of the peace of Europe. They formed the first step to still further changes. Let hon. Members read the correspondence which had taken place relative to Switzerland, between that Government and those of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. How they could dare to be so impudent—if he knew any stronger word he would use it—how they could dare to be so impudent he knew not, as to assert, as Austria, in a note agreed to by the other Powers, had asserted, that—The Austrian Court respects the authority which Article 10 of the Federal Compact has appointed to direct the affairs of the Confederation. The Austrian Court, faithful to its international obligations" (the annexation of Cracow, for instance), "as well as to its feelings of sincere friendship for Switzerland, will constantly endeavour to cultivate its relations with the Confederation through the medium of this authority, so long as the basis from which the power given to the Directory for the time being emanates, and by virtue of which that power is at present exercised by Berne, shall not be invaded in its essence or violated in its spirit.Now, this basis was no other than the federal compact of the 7th of August, 1845; and he thought that three Powers, less warranted in making such a declaration, had 875 never appeared before any criminal judge in the world. The proceedings in reference to Cracow were but the commencement of evil: they led to the most imminent risk of a breach of the general peace; and seeing the sacrifices made to obtain that peace, he did say that when such encroachments as these had taken place—encroachments so glaring that Her Majesty was compelled to take notice of them in her Address to the House—he did say that it was time that the Legislature should express, in language not to be mistaken, their detestation, their abhorrence of such practices, and their determination never to sanction or countenance them. They trampled upon all nationalities. They set all treaties at defiance. And he repeated, that at the least they ought to manifest their abhorrence, so far as they could, by stopping the payment of money only due under those treaties. Before proceeding, however, to this part of the subject, he might be allowed to say a few words on what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Bentinck) with reference to the act of the annexation of the city of Cracow. The noble Lord stated that the inhabitants, to mark their joy and satisfaction at the event, had indulged in all manner of festive proceedings—in music, dancing, bonfires, and so forth. Now, he could assert, on the authority of documents coming directly from Cracow, and for the authenticity of which he would pledge himself, that such was anything but a correct statement of what had occurred. The writers of the letters in question stated, that it was utterly false that Cracow had ever been a focus of revolution, and that arms or warlike ammunition had ever been collected there; and then they went on to state that the citizens were utterly unable to make the slightest resistance to the military force which had interfered with them, and consequently that the demonstrations alluded to were demonstrations of the parties who were the aggressors, not those who were aggrieved. To return to the main subject. In order to be able to ask the House to agree to his fourth resolution, he must show that the money we had so long paid to Russia we were not bound longer to pay. By the Fourth Article of the Treaty of Vienna, an agreement was entered into between England, Russia, and Holland, respecting the Russian-Dutch loan, borrowed by Holland from Russia, and payable upon two conditions. So long as Bel- 876 gium should continue to remain a portion of the Netherlands, we bound ourselves to pay in a certain proportion upon the capital of the loan, until the whole should have been cleared off. Upon the ratification of this treaty, Parliament passed an Act, the 55th of Geo. III., to enable the Government to carry its stipulations into effect, and the money was accordingly regularly paid until 1831. It was known to hon. Members, that, in 1830, the revolution in Belgium separated that country from Holland, and that that revolution was one which we supported and sanctioned. As he had stated, we continued to pay the money until 1831. He had then objected to the continuance of that payment. He then told them that they were paying money which they had no right to pay; and he said that he would show that by the original Treaty of 1815 they were absolved from continuing their payments. The Government of the day objected to his proposition, but they were ultimately obliged to bring in an Act to carry out the new convention which was then made. This convention was made betwixt Russia and England. Holland had nothing to do with it. She was out of the question. What then did that convention say? It stated that its object was to render the spirit of the Convention of 1815 more consonant than it had come to be to the then existing state of things, and went on to state that the object of the Convention of 1815 was—To afford to Great Britain a guarantee that Russia would, on all questions concerning Belgium, identify her policy with that which the Court of London had deemed the best adapted for the maintenance of a just balance of power in Europe; and, on the other hand, to secure to Russia the payment of a portion of her old Dutch debt, in consideration of the general arrangements of the Congress of Vienna to which she has given her adhesion—arrangements which remain in full force.Now, he asked the House—such being the case—the stipulations being just as distinct as those of the former treaty—he asked the House to set aside the second as they had set aside the first convention. Russia had violated her engagements. Ought she to be allowed to profit by her own faults? He did not bring forward these opinions on his own unsupported authority: a learned civilian had already stated his views upon the subject—had already declared that in his opinion we were absolved by international law from the necessity of continuing our payments. 877 There might be ground for the Government to say that there existed political reasons why we should continue to pay. But then we should need another Act of Parliament. It was impossible that we could continue our payments under the present law. He was indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Kinsale (Mr. Watson), who was prevented from being present, for some extracts bearing upon the subject from Vattel. The clear opinion of his hon. and learned Friend was, that no legal claim for a continuance of payment existed, and that no such continued payments ought to be made, unless indeed they were warranted by peculiar political reasons. The extracts from Vattel entrusted to him by his hon. and learned Friend, went to prove that articles of treaties should not be construed as so many distinct and separate treaties—that they were all linked together—and that an infraction of one, injured the validity of the whole. Vattel said—The party, therefore, who is offended or injured in those particulars which constitute the basis of the treaty, is at liberty to choose the alternative of either compelling a faithless ally to fulfil his agreements, or of declining the treaty dissolved by his violation of it …We cannot consider the several articles of the same treaty as so many distinct and independent treaties; for, though we do not see any immediate connexion between some of those articles, they are all connected by this common relation, namely, that the contracting Powers have agreed to some of them, in consideration of the others, and by way of compensation.No doubt, the Treaty of Vienna was framed expressly upon that principle. We disliked some of the articles of that treaty, but we accepted them because we obtained others which we approved of; and it was not impossible that each of the contracting parties was influenced by the same motives. If, therefore, the treaty was violated in one article, it became altogether null and void. Martin's Law of Nations contained a passage which was worthy of the attention of the House:—If of many treaties between two contracting Powers, one should happen to be violated, the others do not, on that account merely, cease to be obligatory; but since the perfect right of the injured party allows him to violate the perfect rights of the other party till he has obtained due satisfaction, a Power that justly complains of the violation of one treaty, may, by way of retaliation, successively transgress another treaty even so far as to declare forfeited the rights resulting to the other party from such treaty.It was on that principle that the Treaty of Vienna had been framed and agreed to. 878 There were portions of it to which we entertained objections; and were any stipulation broken, the whole treaty would be violated. The Russian-Dutch loan had been regularly paid from 1816 until 1846—during that period the sum total of our disbursements amounted to no less than 3,374,000l.—a pretty fair amount from a distressed country—intended, too, to be continued during the next financial year, when they had only an estimated surplus of 60,000l. to calculate upon; and, worse still, to be continued in the face of a flagrant violation of the treaty under which it was originally made payable. He had put his view of this part of the case in his third resolution, which was as follows:—That the Convention of the 16th day of November, 1831, between His Majesty the King of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Emperor of all the Russias, was made to explain the stipulations of the Treaty between Great Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands, signed at London on the 19th day of May, 1815, and included in the Treaty of Vienna; and, by that Convention, it was agreed by Great Britain 'to secure to Russia the payment of a portion of her old Dutch debt, in consideration of the general arrangements of the Congress of Vienna, to which she had given her adhesion; arrangements which remain in full force.'He had, he thought, step by step, shown what aggressions had been made, until we had arrived at our present situation. It had been his object—and he hoped he had succeeded in effecting it—to bring under the consideration of the House the present position of the question—to show the sacrifices which had been made by England up to 1815—to show that the object of the Treaty of Vienna was to establish the balance of power in Europe—to show that seventeen treaties were included in the Treaty of Vienna, by one of which it was stipulated that Cracow was to remain for ever a free city—to show that the act which Russia, Prussia, and Austria had perpetrated with respect to Cracow was a flagrant violation of that treaty. These were the objects which he had in view, and he hoped that he had succeeded in effecting them. He had referred the House to Lord Palmerston's opinion, on the Table, to the effect that the conduct pursued towards Cracow was a violation of the Treaty of Vienna, and an injury done to this country. Russia had withdrawn her adhesion from the treaty—then, let the British Government withdraw from the payment of the loan. Russia had broken all her engagements with us: why, then, should we continue to uphold ours with her? It 879 was the duty of that House to give weight to Her Majesty's protest, and to strengthen the hands of Ministers. Oh! he wished that Ministers had the moral courage not to be frightened by Russia; he wished they had the moral courage to act rightly, and to relieve the people of this country from the payment of any more money to Russia. By acting in that manner, they would relieve themselves from the degradation of remaining quiescent under an act of injustice, and would show the civilized world that, as far as lay in their power, they would not suffer the infraction of a treaty. The hon. Momber concluded by submitting the following resolutions:—
- "1. That this House, considering the faithful observance of the General Act of Congress, or Treaty of Vienna, of the 9th day of June, 1815, as the basis of the peace and welfare of Europe, views with alarm and indignation the incorporation of the free City of Cracow, and of its Territory, into the Empire of Austria, by virtue of a Convention entered into at Vienna, on the 6th day of November, 1846, by Russia, Prussia, and Austria, in manifest violation of the said Treaty.
- "2. That it appears, by Returns laid before Parliament, that there has already been paid from the British Treasury towards the principal and for the interest of the debt, called Russo-Dutch Loan, between the years 1816 and 1846, both inclusive, the sum of 40,493,750 florins, equal to 3,374,479l. sterling money; and that the liquidation of the principal and interest of the remaining part of the loan, as stipulated by the Act of 2 and 3 Will. IV, c. 81, will require further annual payments from the British Treasury until the year 1915, amounting to 47,006,250 florins, equal to 3,917,187l., sterling money, making then the aggregate payment 7,291,666l., and the average, for each of the hundred years, of 72,916l.
- "3. That the Convention of the 16th day of November, 1831, between His Majesty the King of Great Britain and Ireland and the Emperor of all the Russias, was made to explain the stipulations of the Treaty between Great Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands, signed at London on the 19th day of May, 1815, and included in the Treaty of Vienna; and, by that Convention, it was agreed by Great Britain 'to secure to Russia the payment of a portion of her old Dutch debt in consideration of the general arrangements of the Congress of Vienna, to which she had given her adhesion; arrangements which remain in full force.'
- "4. That this House is, therefore, of opinion, that Russia having withdrawn that adhesion, and those arrangements being, through her act, no longer in force, the payments from this country, on account of that debt, should be henceforth suspended."
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
was happy in being able to second the hon. Member's Motion, although he could not go the length of endorsing every expression which the hon. Member had used. Some of the expressions which the hon. Member had employed, with respect to Powers with whom 880 we were on terms of friendly alliance, were hardly consistent with the courtesy which was due to them under those circumstances. At the same time, he felt that the hon. Member was so far right, in the main object which he had in view, in bringing the question under the notice of the House, that he (Lord Sandon) felt himself fully warranted in rising to second the Motion. Perhaps the most remarkable feature in the whole transaction was the undisguised consciousness which the Three Powers betrayed that they were engaged in a proceeding which could not be justified in the face of the world. From the beginning they were anxious that their movements should be concealed from the observation of the European Powers, especially of France and England. There was a constant endeavour on the part of the Three Powers to keep the other Powers, with whom they were in alliance, in the dark as to the course which it was their intention to pursue towards Cracow. As soon as it became notorious that the Three Powers meditated something with respect to Cracow, the matter, of course, became the subject of communications to our Government from the British agents established at the various continental Courts; and in the earlier of those communications it was evident that the impression conveyed to the mind of those functionaries was, that the Three Powers had no intention of doing anything else than effecting such modifications in the political existence of Cracow as would suit the altered circumstances of the time. In proof of this, he begged to call the attention of the House to the following passage in a despatch from the Earl of Westmorland to the Earl of Aberdeen, dated Berlin, April 1, 1846:—The Chargéd' Affaires of France, M. Humann, has communicated to me a despatch which he has received from M. Guizot, and which he is directed to lay before Baron Canitz, in which he expresses his conviction that the Prussian Government will act with clemency towards the persons engaged in the late conspiracy in Poland, whenever the opportunity of so doing is afforded them; and that the independence of the State of Cracow, such as it was established by the Treaty of Vienna, will not be broken in upon. M. Guizot states that upon this latter point he has already received the assurances of the Governments both of Austria and Prussia.The next despatch, from the Earl of Westmorland to the Earl of Aberdeen, communicated the result of a communication which he had held with the Prussian Minister for Foreign Affairs. His Lordship said—The remark he stated to me that he made 881 upon it was, that he had not authorized any declaration to be made as to the future conduct of his Government with respect to the affairs of Cracow, either by the Marquis de Dalmatie or by the Prussian Chargé d'Affaires at Paris; there was, therefore, some misapprehension in that part of M. Guizot's letter which alluded to it; at the same time he was ready to admit that the present military occupation of the State of Cracow ought not to be continued beyond the time that it should be considered necessary for the maintenance of the peace and tranquillity of that State and of the countries around it. With respect to the future government to be established in Cracow, it was now quite impossible to form an opinion.That still left the matter in obscurity, and no distinct impression was conveyed to the mind of the British Minister as to the intention of the Allied Powers with respect to Cracow at that period. In the Earl of Westmorland's despatch on the 17th of April, something was more distinctly stated on the subject. His Lordship said—General Canitz has stated to me, that as soon as the proceedings against the prisoners in Cracow have been completed, the question of the establishment of the government of the State of Cracow will be entertained, and the proposals of the three protecting Powers upon that subject referred to the allied Governments of England and France; but that they will be such as are entirely in accordance with the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, to which Prussia will most rigidly adhere.There, at least, was no absurdity; nothing could be more positive than the assurance given by the Prussian Minister for Foreign Affairs to our Ambassador, that there should be no infraction of the Treaty of Vienna; and yet Prussia subsequently co-operated in suppressing the independence of Cracow! Another observation arose out of that passage: it was evident that the impression on the Prussian Minister's mind was, that everything which concerned Cracow was a matter of peculiar interest, not to the Three Powers alone, but to the whole of Europe. It was taken for granted that the question of the future government of Cracow must be referred to England and France. This showed that the pretence subsequently advanced as to the affairs of Cracow being properly a matter of private arrangement between the Three Powers, with which the rest of Europe had no concern, was resorted to in mere hopelessness of being able to satisfy England and France of the justice of the proceedings in which those Three Powers were engaged. The Earl of Aberdeen's despatch, of the 25th of June, to our Minister at Warsaw, showed the impression made upon his mind by the information which he had received:— 882In the present stage of the business, then, and until something positive shall have occurred which is calculated to throw a light on the future intentions of the Three Powers more immediately concerned in the affairs of Cracow, Her Majesty's Government will suspend their judgment, and abstain from active interference on behalf of that republic. Whenever the intended proceedings of the Three Powers shall be more certainly known, or may be more correctly conjectured, Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to act in such a manner as the circumstances of the case and the obligations of existing treaties may seem to require.It was quite clear, therefore, that the impression on Lord Aberdeen's mind at that time, drawn both from consideration of the treaty itself, and the communications from the representatives of England at those Courts, was that all the parties to the Treaty of Vienna should be consulted before the final decision as to the State of Cracow should be made. Indeed, the last communication from Sir R. Gordon, dated the 14th of August, was the most important as to the impression produced by what passed between the Ministers of the Three Powers:—Excepting this, I do not believe in the existence of any conferences. But if there exists, generally, on the part of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, a disinclination to confer freely with British and French authorities upon the question of Cracow, it proceeds not, in my opinion, from any intention in these Powers to violate the act of the Congress of Vienna which guaranteed the independence of that republic; but rather that they have not as yet themselves determined to what extent their interference may be required in preventing the State of Cracow from becoming again a focus of insurrection in respect of the adjoining provinces under their dominion.From that period an ominous silence prevailed, and doubts arose in the minds of the foreign representatives as to what the result of that silence would be. At last, after three months' suspense, a formidable despatch appeared, containing a laboured attempt on the part of Prince Metternich, by means of great detail, to establish two points—the first, that Cracow had forfeited all title to independence; the second, that none but the contiguous and protecting Powers had any right to be consulted in the decision. These points had been well reasoned by the Ministers of France and England in the papers he held in his hand; and it certainly was not unnatural that the House of Commons should have taken an early opportunity of expressing its acquiescence with the Government on this question. The pretence that it was a mere particular and special matter, a kind of domestic question, which the other 883 Powers of Europe had no right to consider, was the most extraordinary part of the whole transaction. It seemed strange that the protecting Powers should have thought Europe had forgotten all that passed with respect to the affairs of Poland in the great diplomatic discussions at the Congress of Vienna. The settlement of Poland was one of the most difficult and critical points in all the arrangements of the Congress. The question was not then considered a peculiar and separate affair, concerning only the three protecting Powers. So far from it, the arrangement claimed by Russia was on the point of setting all Europe in the flames of war in the months of December and January. The records of the negotiations proved that all the great Powers of Europe were called on to consult on these points. The proposal of Count Nesselrode, on the 31st of December, with regard to the duchy of Warsaw and the adjacent territory, proves the arrangement to have been one of common concern; it was not made to Austria and Prussia alone, but to Austria, Prussia, and Great Britain; the independence of Poland was one of the stipulations expressly submitted to England. After that, how was it possible the protecting Powers could consider it a mere matter of peculiar and separate arrangement, with which the rest of Europe had no concern? It was clear to any one who had read the interesting correspondence between Lord Castlereagh and the Emperor Alexander, that the arrangement was one of the deepest importance to the whole of Europe, and was never considered a matter of separate adjustment. And the Powers immediately affected had no right to pick out a petty corner of the transaction and say, "this is of no importance," without consulting the other parties, that they might at least express an opinion as to that importance. They were told that other changes had been made in the articles of the Treaty of Vienna; there certainly had been such changes, the most important of which was the separation of Belgium from Holland. But what was the course then pursued? The independent existence of Belgium was not considered a settled thing, till all the five Powers agreed to it; Belgium was not admitted to the great court of European nations, till the whole of the five Powers had been consulted upon it. As to the extent of Cracow as a State, the importance of the question was not to be measured by geographical surface, or the number of souls; its importance was 884 political, not material; it must be regarded as part of a great transaction which was intended to preserve the idea of Polish nationality, and prevent what had been called the "palpitating fragments" of the body of Poland merging their vitality into the great masses with which they had become connected, and by so much adding to the strength of those Powers, and increasing their ability to continue their aggressions on the rest of Europe. As to the right, then, of England and France to be parties to the consultation, it was unnecessary to press it further; it was evidently the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Prussia, till he was admitted into the plot; it was the natural impression of all the statesmen who had anything to do with the transaction. Whether Cracow had, or had not, forfeited her right to the modified independence she possessed, was a question rather difficult to discuss. The language of the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) was very strong on that point. It was impossible to conceive that in a population of 30,000 or 40,000 souls planted in the midst of such empires as Austria, Russia, and Prussia, measures of police would not have effectually prevented the evils those Powers said they experienced. If the sedition was not suppressed, it was impossible not to think it must have been allowed to grow to a head for the purpose of destroying the last remains of the independence of Poland. It was possible some inconveniences might have arisen; but it seemed to him those great Powers had been guilty of that with which the noble Lord was once reproached—neglecting the great policy for the small. To avoid some petty inconvenience of measures of police, to avoid the necessity of employing a few troops round the frontier, they had engaged themselves in a transaction which had shaken the general faith in the stability of treaties, and produced inconveniences far more serious than any they might have sustained from the former measures. It was impossible to deny the mischief of this transaction, without recurring to former discussions on the state of Poland; it was impossible to deny that the general stability of Europe was shaken by this transaction. On the public mind of Europe, it had the effect of the first great invasion of the Treaty of Vienna; whether they argued rightly or not, people had lost confidence in that arrangement by which, during the last thirty years, the general peace of Europe had been maintained. 885 The consequences of this step would inevitably be felt by all the smaller States of Europe. They were only protected by the general feeling of respect for engagements, for independence, and for public opinion: and the present transaction had shaken all that confidence, and made everybody feel that they had henceforth to trust in their own strength alone, and not in respect for treaties which could be thus lightly broken. The latter part of the resolution of the hon. Member for Montrose, was one respecting which he did not feel so confident; although he should be glad to hear the opinion of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, because the strength of the contract seemed to exist in the ambiguity of its terms. In 1831, when it was quite clear that the letter of the convention under which England engaged to pay Russia the old Dutch debt alluded to, had been broken, it was found necessary, as the House would remember, to negotiate a new convention, with the view of carrying out the spirit, rather than the letter, of the original convention, and to make a contract substantially equivalent to the one which a change of circumstances rendered no longer applicable. For the first time there was found the appearance of the words—To secure to Russia the payment of a portion of her old Dutch debt, in consideration of the general arrangements of the Congress of Vienna, to which she had given her adhesion—arrangements which still remain in full force.His first impression from these words, and they certainly seemed to justify that inference, was, that upon making a new arrangement upon the old basis, it had become necessary to introduce a consideration which should as effectively limit the payment of the debt as the original one; and as it was no longer possible to stipulate that the debt should be paid in consideration of the union between Holland and Belgium, a new consideration should be inserted, viz., that it should be paid—In consideration of the general arrangements of the Congress of Vienna, to which she had given her adhesion"—More especially as these arrangements "still remained in full force." As if it had been meant to say, that if these arrangements had not been in full force, the payment would not be continued. That was certainly his first impression on reading the new convention, that they were at liberty to withhold payment of the debt when the arrangements referred to ceased 886 to continue in full force; and, such being his impression, he thought the House was only doing its duty in expressing the mildest sense which every party in it entertained of the great mischief of the breach of treaty which had been committed by the Three Powers, and by Russia in particular, in abolishing the free State of Cracow. But upon this point, he felt that the lawyers in the House would be better able to express an opinion than he was; and perhaps the noble Lord who negotiated the new convention might also help to remove his doubts. With respect to the first resolution, the latter part of it was a mere echo of Her Majesty's Speech, and implied a hearty acquiescence in the views of Her Majesty's Government; and he hoped there would not be found within the walls of that House any difference of opinion upon it, viz., that all the three parties had been guilty of a gross violation of treaty, and that they had, for the sake of a minor policy, sacrificed the greater policy upon which the peace of Europe rested. He would also take the liberty of expressing a hope that the Emperor of Russia especially would recollect the sentiments of his distinguished brother, through whose hands the negotiation originally passed, as to the importance of adhering to the faith of treaties. He should wish him, if possible, to recall to his consideration some of those noble expressions which were reported by Lord Castlereagh to have been used by his predecessor; and that the Emperor would, like him, do all he could to maintain inviolate the peace of Europe; and that he would act in accordance with the spirit which his brother endeavoured to breathe into his subjects. He sincerely trusted that the Russian Emperor would see it to be his interest to extend instead of diminish the liberties of the people, and that he would take warning from the expressions which had been made use of by M. Guizot, the French Minister, on this subject.Nothing," said that statesman, "can more compromise a Government, than for it to declare that it is not in a condition, even slowly and by force of time, to fulfil its promises, and the hopes which it has itself raised. The destruction of the small State of Cracow may create for Polish conspiracy and insurrection some means of action; but it may also keep up and even irritate the feelings which these deplorable enterprises so obstinately excite and revive. In the meantime, it takes from the influence which might prevent them a great portion of its authority. It weakens throughout Europe on this painful question the principles of order and conservatism, to the 887 strengthening of blind passions and violent designs.With the expression of his hope that sentiments like these would penetrate the bosoms of those Powers, in whose hands the destinies of Poland were placed, he would sit down, by asking the hearty and unanimous consent of the House to at least the first resolution which lay upon the Table.
LORD J. RUSSELL
said: The hon. Member for Montrose having made his Motion, I shall, without entering on the general argument which has been stated by him, and by my noble Friend opposite, shortly state to the House the view which I take of the Motion which he has made. With respect to the argument which has been stated, that the Three Powers were not justified by the Treaty of Vienna in concluding for themselves the consideration, whether the free State of Cracow should be maintained or extinguished—with respect to that argument I cannot but concur with my hon. Friend who made the Motion, and my noble Friend who seconded it. I think it is clear from the words of the Treaty of Vienna, and from the prominence which the arrangement respecting Poland took, both in the conferences which preceded that treaty, and in the articles of the treaty itself, that these articles were not immaterial parts of the treaty, but did form one of the principal stipulations upon which the great Powers of Europe agreed at the termination of a bloody and destructive war. Nor can I think that while the arrangement which placed the Duchy of Warsaw under the dominion of the Emperor of Russia, formed the subject of many discussions and a long correspondence, not only between the Ministers of the different Courts, but also of a singular correspondence between the Minister for Foreign Affairs in this country and the Emperor of Russia himself—I say I cannot think, that while that arrangement formed a principal part of the treaty, the arrangement which left one small portion, "a mere atom," as the Allied Powers called it, free and independent, was an immaterial, or an insignificant part of it. It cannot but appear, I think, however small the territory—however small the population of that State—that yet the treaty formed, first between the Three Powers and then by all the Powers who were the concurring parties in the Treaty of Vienna, meant that freedom and independence should leave to Poland—should leave to some part of the 888 Polish nation—a separate existence; and that, giving up much, admitting much, to the Emperor of Russia, it was still consecrated, as a principle, that some part of the Polish nation should retain an independent and separate existence. For this reason, therefore, I consider the existence of Cracow as a State, having been thus secured by general treaty—whatever the complaints the Three Powers had made, that Cracow was the focus of disturbances; that revolutionary intrigues there found a centre and a means of organization; that there arose from that small State insurrection against the three surrounding Powers; that it was impossible to preserve those Powers from this insurrection: that if these reasons were good and valid—if they were felt to be strong—they should have been stated to England and to France; that England and France should have been invited to a congress, or some species of conference, in which their consent should have been asked to put an end to a state of things which those Three Powers declared to be intolerable, and which they could no longer permit with safety to themselves. So much, I think, is clear from the papers which record the general transaction of the Treaty of Vienna; and so much also, I think, is clear from the passage which my noble Friend opposite (Lord Sandon) has read from the statement of the Prussian Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which he, in words, admits that if the arrangement of the Treaty of Vienna were to be altered and set aside, agreement and concurrence with England and France would previously have been necessary. In the next place, with regard to the reasons which are given by the three great Powers, and which are stated more especially by Prince Metternich, on the part of the Court of Austria, those reasons appear to me insufficient for the violent proceeding which has taken place. I cannot myself imagine that there could not have been precautions taken, which, however they limited the action of the free and independent State of Cracow, would yet have been a security that its name and its independence would have been maintained; while all danger from refugees, from its being made a place where strangers from all parts of the Continent came and planned conspiracy, might have been encountered and prevented. It does seem to me most extraordinary that, with this little State—this mere atom, surrounded by Russia, by Austria, and by Prussia—these three great 889 and mighty monarchies, with such vast military forces, with such unbounded means, having command of all the roads which lead to Cracow, having the power of marching their troops at any moment into the city of Cracow, having certain rights which were constituted and assigned to them in the Treaty of Vienna—should have found themselves so powerless as to be unable to prevent Cracow becoming dangerous to their peace and welfare. I cannot, indeed, but suspect, especially looking at the latter part of this transaction, when government was dissolved in Cracow—when disorganization took place—that it was not unwelcome, or altogether unpalatable to those Three Powers, to be enabled to say, "All means of government are gone; Cracow is a scene of anarchy and disorder, and no remedy remains but the total abolition of the existence of that republic." Therefore, Sir, both on the grounds of the Treaty of Vienna, the distinctness of the stipulations referring to Cracow, and with regard to the reasons which were urged for its extinction, I think, in the first place, there was a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna; and I believe, in the second, that, if the question had been discussed in a congress or conference among the Powers, thare is no sufficient proof, so far as we have hitherto seen, that the Three Powers would have been in a position to show good cause for the course they have adopted. Neither, Sir, am I convinced by the instances that are furnished by the Minister of Austria, as to various stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, which have been altered by uncontested agreement between Powers who were concerned, and whose territories were affected, such as small parts of principalities given by the Duke of Coburg, or others, transferred in consideration of some equivalents to other princes, for the mutual convenience of their respective territories, for the purpose of giving a fair equivalent to each, and of sometimes making a more satisfactory arrangement for all. These are, naturally and obviously, alterations of the Treaty of Vienna, which might take place without any general appeal to all the Powers who have signed that treaty. Such alterations bear, in my mind, no resemblance to an infraction of one of those great and leading and master stipulations in which all the Powers of Europe are deeply interested. Supposing that some arrangement were made between Austria and Prussia for the extinction of Saxony, and that the great Powers were 890 to ask how they, only two of the parties to the Treaty of Vienna, could agree to extinguish Saxony, what answer would it be—that some little bit of territory had before been exchanged between some of the minor princes, and that then we made no protest? And, as I consider it, the extinction of this free State is an alteration of one of the main and leading provisions of the treaty. But my hon. Friend, Sir, not satisfied with the protest which my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has directed to be delivered at the Courts of the Three Powers principally concerned, wishes this House to agree to certain resolutions. With respect to the first of these resolutions, my noble Friend opposite (Lord Sandon), who seconds the Motion, is in complete accordance. With regard to the last he is not so far agreed, and he doubts whether the House ought to affirm it. As to the first of these resolutions, "That this House views with alarm and indignation the incorporation of the free State of Cracow into the dominions of the Emperor of Austria, in manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna," I should beg the House to consider that there is a very great difference between that which has been done by my noble Friend (Lord Palmerston) in obedience to Her Majesty's commands, and that which it is proposed to this House to do. It is the prerogative of the Crown to make treaties, to carry on the correspondence and relations of this country with foreign Powers. Every public and every personal communication is agreed on in the name of the Sovereign, and by the command of the Sovereign. If a treaty has been signed and ratified, as this Treaty of Vienna was signed and ratified, by the Minister of England in the name of George III., and of the Prince Regent of England; and if any violation or contravention of that treaty takes place, the person to whom it devolves to make any representation, is obviously again the Minister of the Sovereign—the Minister of the Sovereign of England, who has made the original treaty. But with regard to the functions of this House, they are of a very different nature. When there is a treaty made, or a correspondence takes place, upon which it is thought necessary that the opinion and concurrence of this House should be taken, it is usual then for the Ministers of the Crown to ask for that general concurrence. If a treaty of commerce or a treaty of subsidy is signed, that 891 requires the intervention of Parliament, it is usual for the Minister of the Crown to ask for the sanction or concurrence of Parliament to that treaty. But to affirm a resolution which is not thus brought by necessity before the House of Commons—to affirm a resolution merely declaratory of an opinion, that is not the correct nor the regular course of proceeding in this House. For my own part it appears to me, that while it is obviously incumbent on the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and on the advisers of Her Majesty to declare their sense of any violation of treaty, or of any matter which concerns the foreign relations of this country with other countries, it is not advisable that the House of Commons should affirm resolutions with respect to the conduct of those foreign Powers, unless it be intended to follow up those resolutions by some measures or actions on the part of the Executive Government. For my part I have never admired—and I have always declared in this House that I never admired in this respect—the conduct of the French Chambers with regard to Poland. It has been the custom of the Chamber of Deputies in France annually to protest at the commencement of the Session against the acts of the Emperor Nicholas, and to make a declaration in favour of the nationality of Poland. I think that such annual declarations are illusive; for while they have been made in this manner, they have been followed up by no measures; they are made by a representative assembly, without any action following on that declaration. Be it observed how great is the difference between that and a protest on the part of a Sovereign. The Sovereign, by prerogative, entrusted with this power of making treaties, is forced of necessity to some opinion or other—of tacit acquiescence, of favourable and applauding concurrence, or one involving remonstrance and reproach—some course or other is forced upon the Executive Government of the country. But with regard to the House of Commons, it is not necessary, in the ordinary course of foreign affairs, that this House should at all interfere or declare its opinion on these subjects. I can see no advantage in altering that usual course. I do not think there would be any advantage in bringing these subjects frequently or constantly before the House, with a view to a declaration of opinion—I think the House would gain no respect by a deviation from its usual custom. That is my reason, therefore, 892 while I could have no objections to urge in opinion against this resolution—for I have already declared what is my opinion with regard to the extinction of the free State of Cracow—why I object to its being made a resolution of the House of Commons; and on that point I should be disposed to move the previous question. With regard to the other resolution, I should act in like manner. That resolution says that—Russia, having withdrawn that adhesion (to the Treaty of Vienna), and those arrangements being through her act no longer in force, the payments from this country on account of the loan should be henceforth suspended.Now, that is entirely a different question. The arrangements at the time of the Treaty of Vienna involved a union of Belgium with Holland; and there being a debt in Holland which was payable, and the interest of which was payable by Russia, Great Britain took upon herself the payment of the interest of that debt, in consideration of Russia being a party to that arrangement. When, after that, these two countries were separated, Russia no longer attempted to maintain that arrangement; and, therefore, by the letter of the treaty, England might then have said, "You no longer maintain the union of Belgium with Holland; and therefore as you do not comply with the letter of that treaty, we are free from the discharge of the interest of that debt." But although this would have been in perfect and entire conformity with the letter of the treaty, it would have been most inconsistent with the justice of the case; because the Power that had favoured the separation, and which, from the moment the insurrection in Belgium was successful, favoured, recognised, and aided that separation, was especially England; and for England to come forward and say, "You did not maintain the union between Holland and Belgium, an union which we did not wish, which we wanted to see dissolved, but now that it is dissolved, we declare ourselves free from the payment of that debt"—to have said so would have been such an evasion of an engagement, that I certainly could not have taken any part in adopting it, But it was not evaded. England being free from the letter of the engagement, made a new engagement with Russia; and in that engagement she agreed to continue the payment of the interest of that debt. The actual ground for continuing the payment of that interest was, 893 that Russia did abide by the general arrangement of the Treaty of Vienna; and that it was only in consequence of the acts of England herself that she did not maintain the union between Holland and Belgium. But undoubtedly the words were introduced into that convention which were a security to Russia for payment of—"her old Dutch debt, in consideration of the general arrangements of the Congress of Vienna, to which she had given her adhesion—arrangements which remain in full force.Now, these words were certainly used. They were introduced at the request of the representatives of Russia in this country. They were put in in order to show that, whilst Russia had departed in one principal respect from this arrangement, yet she was not to be accused of any violation of the general treaty, of any bad faith in the matter, because she had only done so at the request of England. But still, as I think, the original arrangement and the general reason of the arrangement, remain in full force; and what was that original arrangement? It was, that Russia had agreed with England with respect to the territorial disposition of Holland and Belgium. There was no question at that time of any other arrangement, or of the Treaty of Vienna being violated or disturbed. Russia desired these words to be inserted in the treaty. So far as England was concerned, she did not wish those words to be inserted. It was not the expression of any desire of hers that they were so; but it seemed to be a matter of good faith, that as Russia still maintained the original arrangement, therefore it was right to continue to pay the interest of the debt. Now, I say with respect to the spirit of the agreement, that I do not think it would be just to take advantage of the insertion of these words, and that Russia having, so far as Belgium and Holland are concerned, faithfully preserved those stipulations, having never attempted either to disturb this arrangement, and still less refused her aid to England with regard to any question respecting them, I do not think, in point of fair dealing, we should be justified in refusing to pay the interest of the debt. I do think, however, that according to these words, we might now, as we formerly might have done, refuse to pay this interest. We might say to Russia,—"You have permitted these words to be inserted—they were inserted with your sanction; and, as they were inserted with your sanction, we will 894 take advantage of these words, and we will refuse any longer to pay the sum." That would be conformable to one interpretation of the treaty. Those whom we consulted, who were the highest authorities that we could consult with regard to the interpretation of Acts of Parliament bearing upon treaties—the legal authorities who are usually consulted on those subjects—have told us, that they think, according to the spirit of the arrangement, according to the spirit of the convention, the money ought still to be paid. It is at most, state it as favourably as you can for the hon. Gentleman's Motion, a doubtful point, upon which, if you wish to take advantage, you might claim that advantage from words inserted in the convention. According to my opinion, you would be acting against the spirit of the treaty in order to take advantage of a plea which, I think, in a court of law, might perhaps be urged in order to get rid of a contract, but which, as between nations, ought not to be used. I think, in so considering this question, we should lower our position. I think we should deprive ourselves of that advantage which we now have if we were to reduce this to a transaction of pounds, shillings, and pence. I consider that in late transactions in Europe, although, on more than one occasion, and by different Powers, our wishes have not been complied with, our desires have not been listened to, our protests may have been disregarded, yet there does remain with us a moral strength nothing can take away. There is no treaty the stipulations of which it can be imputed to England that she has violated, evaded, or set at nought. We are ready, in the face of Europe, however inconvenient some of those stipulations may be, to hold ourselves bound, by all our engagements, to keep the fame, and the name, and the honour of the Crown of England unsullied, and to guard that unsullied honour as a jewel which we will not have tarnished. With that sentiment, Sir, if I should ask my noble Friend to go to the Court of Russia, and say, "To be sure you have violated a treaty—to be sure you have extinguished an independent State. We have allowed this to be done. You shall hear no threat of war. We will not arm for the purpose. We will admit that the State of Cracow is extinguished. We will admit that her inhabitants are reduced to subjection, The names of freedom and of independence to them are lost for ever. But this we will do. There is a claim of some 895 thousand pounds which we can make against you, which we now pay, and which we will now throw upon your shoulders; and in that way we will revenge ourselves for your violation of treaties." We should be taking a part, we should be using language which is not becoming the position England has hitherto held; which is not becoming the position I wish her in future to hold against the world. Having thus stated as shortly as I could the views I entertain upon the subject, I ask you not to come in this House of Commons, which does not usually interfere with the foreign relations of this country, to any idle resolution upon which you don't intend to act; and I ask you, in the next place, not to lower this question to a mere question of money value, not to go and demand how much this Russian-Dutch stock may be worth in the market, but to preserve that which, as I think, is of inestimable value; I wish you to allow, as this House has hitherto allowed, by its silent acquiescence, the protest which the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has delivered, to remain in full force as a declaration upon our part—a declaration which will have its value, depend upon it, in regard to future transactions—that we do not abstain from the observance of treaties which we believe to have been violated; and let us be able to say that we have sought no interest of England in this matter. We have not looked to any interest, either large or petty, in regard to ourselves; we have regarded the great interests of Europe; we have desired that the settlement which put an end to a century of bloodshed should remain in full force and vigour. We have declared that sentiment to the world, and we trust that the reprobation with which this transaction has been met, will, in future, lead all Powers, whoever they may be, who may be induced to violate treaties, to consider that they will meet with the disinterested protest of England, so that her character shall stand before the world untarnished by any act of her own.
§ Debate adjourned, after some discussion as to the day, till the ensuing Thursday.
§ House adjourned.