§ MR. BICKHAM ESCOTT
wished to ask the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a question. The House was aware that the payment of the money on what was commonly called the Russian-Dutch Loan depended upon the provisions of an Act of Parliament; and he would ask whether, since there had been a manifest violation of the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, it was the intention of the noble Lord to introduce a Bill to enforce the future payments of this money?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that the House was aware, that the payment of the interest on this loan was authorized by the Act of Parliament, to carry into effect the Convention of 1815; in consequence of the events of 1830 and 1831, it became necessary to enter into a new convention, and a new Act of Parliament was necessary, to authorize the Exchequer to act upon that convention. No new convention was now required, and he apprehended that no new Act of Parliament was necessary.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said: Mr. Speaker, although the hon. Member for Montrose and his Friends naturally desired this debate to have been continued on Friday last; and although I believe the Government would, on the whole, have lost little time by acceding to his request—yet I cannot altogether regret the delay, which may have given to many Members opportunity for reflection, and enabled us to resume the discussion without any predominant excitement. For while the speech of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, on Thursday last, was not one which the House should speedily forget; yet it is well that the first strong impression of its eloquence should have subsided into calm consideration, and that hon. Members should learn by reflection, that this question does not wholly and necessarily rest on the high, but easy, ground of national honour. The noble Lord, indeed, in one part of his speech, attempted to preclude the House from even entertaining the subject before us. He drew a distinction between the prerogative of the Crown and the privileges of Parliament, which, at least, tended to the conclusion that it was an act of complete supererogation, if not of presumption, for this House to express any spontaneous opinion on the foreign relations of this country. I am, Sir, perfectly aware 1158 that the consideration of these subjects does not form a part of our ordinary duty. I am not prepared to deny the fitness or the good practical effect of the constitutional doctrine which commits to the Crown the regulation of our interests with foreign States and Powers; but I must remember, that those affairs are entrusted to one Minister, who thus holds in his hands the chief destinies of our nation—in whose breast the foreign policy of Great Britain, for the time being, resides—who can lay upon the Table of this House just as much as he pleases of information and of evidence on matters of foreign interest—and who therefore should not be too jealous of the occasional desire of Members of the House to pay some attention to an important question of foreign politics, and one in which the general interests of Europe are involved. I think it, therefore, rather hard, that we should have to meet such preliminary objections as those of the noble Lord, especially when we have no intention of advising the Crown to adopt any new course of policy, but confine ourselves to expressions declaration and confirmatory of opinions and sentiments solemnly and formally enunciated in the Speech to Parliament, and to a suggestion that this "manifest violation" of a treaty does not permit us to maintain a convention entered into, "in consideration of the general arrangements" of that compact. The noble Lord and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs have both expressed their disapprobation of the repeated protests of the French Government in favour of the nationality of Poland: we may therefore infer that they would not have in any degree followed that example but from a most earnest conviction of its justice and its necessity. Yet the suppression of the State of Cracow was not the only subject of continental interest alluded to in the Speech from the Throne. It was also mentioned that a correspondence had taken place between this Government and those of France and of Spain on the marriage of the Infanta of Spain to the Duke of Montpensier; and we learn by papers laid before Parliament that here too a protest had been issued by the Government, and had led to much diplomatic discussion. Yet this latter protest did not appear in the Speech from the Throne, nor has it become the subject of a debate in either House of Parliament. And I rejoice that it is so. I trust that all considerations of this question will be reserved for the occasion, if, unhappily, it should ever ar- 1159 rive, when this country may be called upon to act upon the basis which the Secretary for Foreign Affairs has laid down for our own security and the independence of Europe, and that nothing may occur to prevent the resumption of that good understanding between the Governments of France and England which, so much to the satisfaction of the English people, obtained during the late Administration, and on the continuance and endurance of which, I believe, depends so much of the future welfare and progress of the civilized world. But with respect to the absorption of Cracow, no reticence was necessary, and there has been none. Her Majesty told us she held it to be a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna, and we propose to answer that we regard that violation "with indignation and alarm." There is customarily some formality to be observed in the debate on the Address; it is not thought advisable that the apparent unanimity of the Address should be disturbed by differences on single points, when the main principles of the Address are agreed to. It was, therefore, understood that some noble and hon. Members of this House, who demurred to the fact of this "manifest violation" of treaty-right (and, improbable as it may appear, there were some) should not think themselves bound and impledged by that vote, but regard it as only thanking Her Majesty for the information she had communicated on the subject. The principle therefore passed, not, indeed, unanimously, but "sub silentio." We now desire that that silence may be broken—that this House may distinctly affirm its opinion on this subject—that we may declare that we do, heartily and loyally, assent to that special passage in the Speech from the Throne. And I cannot conceal from myself the apprehension that if, instead of rejoicing in this accession of opinion, instead of welcoming the full adhesion of the English Parliament and people to the sentiments of the Crown, the noble Lord at the head of the Government should persist in moving the previous question, an impression, perhaps unjust, but not the less injurious, will go abroad, that Her Majesty's Ministers shrink from the consequences of their own assertions, and that thus their protest will lose a considerable portion of its efficacy and meaning in the eyes of Europe. I conceive, that the first of the resolutions of the hon. Member for Montrose, expresses the general opinion of the people of this country. Our public sympathy with the interests of foreign na- 1160 tions is never of a very vivid character; and the feeling respecting Poland has not been of that passionate nature which prevails in France. There this question has occupied at least as much space in the public mind as that of negro slavery has done in England. But, nevertheless, a strong sense of sympathy has been manifested here; not because the Poles were emigrants—not because they were exiles—not because their ancestors had liberated Europe from the invasion of barbarians—not even because they had given lessons of freedom to surrounding despotisms and appreciated the principles of self-government, even before the world had learnt to adapt them to the mass of mankind; but simply because they have been the victims of intolerable wrong, and sufferers of the most shameless violence in modern history. With all their insular indifference, the people of England understand that three great Powers combined to crush an independent nation, and that, notwithstanding every variety of oppression and seduction, every vicissitude of time and circumstance, that nationality endures, uneffaced and ineffaceable. This, Sir, was the feeling exhibited the other day, when I had the gratification of seeing assembled on the same platform, Members of this and the other House of Parliament, of the most adverse political sentiments, of the most diverse modes of thought, met to protest against the destruction of the republic of Cracow. I there heard read the earnest assent to the object of that meeting of a nobleman whose character is of the highest and purest in the land, and to whose calm and solid judgment any statesman might be glad to have recourse; I mean the Duke of Bedford. I there listened to the denunciation of this act by a diplomatist, himself present at the Congress of Vienna, and intimately acquainted with the intentions and views of the personages there assembled, and now acting as Her Majesty's ambassador and representative to the Ottoman Porte—Sir Stratford Canning; and all that we now ask of this House, is to confirm the decision of such men as these. Sir, the truth of the violation of the Treaty of Vienna by the annexation of the republic of Cracow to the Austrian empire, appears so irrefragable to ordinary readers and observers, that I fear I may be regarded as fruitlessly taking up the time of the House in asserting and strengthening that position. The general Treaty of Vienna is in the hands of hon. Members: let them read it to refresh their historical 1161 recollections. Almost at the first page they will find that the town of Cracow, with its territory, is declared for ever free and independent; that it is to enjoy the privileges of commercial freedom; and that the town of Podgorze is also made a free commercial town for the good of Cracow. By the Ninth Article, they will see that the Courts of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, engage themselves to respect, and to cause to be always respected, the neutrality of the free town of Cracow and its territory; and they will find all the details, insuring to Cracow political freedom and commercial privileges, in a separate treaty, which by the 118th Article of the general Treaty is declared to be an integral part of the arrangements of the Congress, and to have, throughout, the same force and validity as if inserted, word for word, in the general Treaty. This is quite enough for ordinary minds; but the last ten pages of the papers laid before Parliament, are taken up by the argument of some anonymous Austrian publicist, of sufficient repute no doubt in his own country for Prince Metternich to adopt him as his official advocate. As this document concludes the series of papers, I may, perhaps, be permitted to lay before the House a short detail of facts which will, I think, sufficiently test the accuracy of this learned juris-consult, and, at the same time, be not uninteresting, as showing how exactly the spirit of the proceedings of the Congress of Vienna corresponds with the plain interpretation of the letter of the treaty as understood by the Government and people of England. The two positions of the Austrian publicist, to which I shall direct the attention of the House, and which are, in fact, the basis of his argument, are that "Cracow became a political body, by the sole and exclusive will of the Three Powers," and "that the Treaty of the 3rd of August, 1815, was concluded without any notice having been given to any other Court, without any demand for acquiescence having been made to any other Power, as likewise without having been objected to by any one." It is, Sir, also stated that Cracow was at that time invested with "an independence never at any former period enjoyed by it before."Obsecro, tuum est? vetus credideram:I believed that Cracow had been an ancient city of an independent State—independent at the time when all but the metropolis of Austria was in the hands of the 1162 Turks, and independent centuries before. It is well known to all persons interested in the history of great transactions, that the leading characteristic of the Congress of Vienna, was the unanimity of consent and assent that it obtained from all the Powers of Europe. In the Congresses of Munster and Osnabruck that preceded the Peace of Westphalia, in the Congress at Nimeguen, and in that of Ryswick, the differences were arranged by the mediation of third parties. In the conferences, again, that took place at Utrecht, at Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1747, and in later times at Amiens, although the representatives of other Powers were present, yet each of them resulted in separate treaties between France and England. But at Vienna, in 1814–15, the attempt was made, and was most successful, to bring into the terms of one large compact, the great and the small, the strong and the weak, the rights of prescription and the rights of conquest, the ancient order and the political accidents of the age. It was thus intended to establish a body of public right, of which all Europe should be members, giving to the feeble the defence of the powerful, and limiting the means of aggression possessed by the mighty. One of the most distinguished authorities and contributors to the arrangement has expressed this feeling in better words than I can find:—The final act of the Congress of Vienna is incontestably the fundamental law of the political system now established in Europe, because it has been sanctioned by the adhesion of all the States composing that system. And this is the reason wherefore the dispositions of territory and the principles of policy registered in that act, whether they regard directly or indirectly any European State, are become obligatory for all.In these words, Sir, Prince Metternich expressed his opinion of the mutual co-operation of all the States of Europe in preserving the dispositions of territory, one of which was the free State of Cracow, and the principles of policy, one of which was the government of the Poles by Polish institutions, established by the Congress of Vienna. They are contained in a letter addressed by the Prince to the Austrian Minister at Paris, on Feb. 9th, 1818, and have already been cited in the French Chamber of Peers, by the orator who has revived in that tribune the eloquence of Bossuet, the Comte de Montalembert. The chief object and difficulty of the Congress of Vienna was, without doubt, the distribution of the territories which France had conquered and lost. Out of these had 1163 sprung the kingdom of Saxony, and in these were included the dislocated members of Poland. By the Treaty of Reichenbach, in 1813, the partition of the Duchy of Warsaw between Austria, Russia and Prussia, without any intervention of France, had been agreed upon, and after the occupation of Paris, the Emperor Alexander maintained that this obligation still remained in force. But, by the secret articles of the Treaty of the 30th May, 1814, it had been agreed that the free disposition of these territories should be arranged in the Congress on the terms determined by the Allied Powers themselves—one of these Powers, of course, being England—and accordingly we find Austria, Russia, Prussia, and England determining by a secret Convention, dated Sept. 22nd, 1814, that these provinces shall be disposed of as they think fit, and that France and Spain should afterwards be admitted to advise or to object. In the interesting correspondence between the late Lord Castlereagh and the Emperor Alexander, which, at my request, the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs has laid on the Table, hon. Members will perceive how earnestly the Emperor Alexander attempts to set aside the right of England to interfere in this question, as soon as he discovers that the views of the English Minister are opposed to his own. But while the Emperor is making every effort to attach Poland as a province to Russia, and is sacrificing the fortune of the Polish nation to his scheme of national aggrandizement, it must not be forgotten that Lord Castlereagh urges, in the strongest manner, the policy of re-establishing the independent kingdom of Poland; and the Austrian Government at that time appeared entirely to coincide with this view, and expressed itself willing to make very great sacrifices for so desirable an object. So unsatisfactory, however, was the state of things at the end of the year 1815, that the still glowing embers of an European war seemed likely to be blown into a flame by the dissensions on the subject of the distribution of Poland; and the Duchy of Warsaw, then occupied by 200,000 Russian troops, was aroused by the proclamation of the Archduke Constantine—a name afterwards of fatal significance to Poland—calling on the Poles to arm for their national independence. At this juncture it was proposed and decided that the ultimate arrangement of these affairs should be entrusted to a 1164 Special Committee, from which there should be no appeal, and which should only report their determinations to the General Committee of Eight, which comprehended the Powers that had signed the Treaty of the 30th of May, and which in fact constituted the Congress. This Special Committee was denominated the "Committee of Saxony and Poland;" and of whom was it composed? Remember, it had the whole jurisdiction of this distribution, its decision was final, and all other authority on the matter was subordinate to this. Was it composed solely of Austria, Russia, and Prussia? Were there no other parties to the arrangement? Sir, from the first day to the last that that Committee sat, the English Plenipotentiary constituted part of it; and, very soon after its formation, at the request of England, the French Plenipotentiary was admitted and took his part in those deliberations and decisions. It was to this body that the Emperor Alexander submitted, on the 30th of December, 1815, his general project for the distribution of Poland and Saxony, and which included the independence and freedom of the cities of Cracow and of Thorn; many parts of this scheme were altered, and the proposals with regard to Saxony altogether refused; but from that time the independence of Cracow was a substantial part of every arrangement suggested and discussed; and, as it were to give every possible sanction to the authority of other Powers in these transactions, on the 10th of February, the Austrian Plenipotentiary, in presenting the first arrangements to the Committee, stated—That the Powers move intimately concerned, engaged themselves in a spirit of conciliation both in regard to the interests of Austria and those of the other States, that the execution of the partial arrangements should be bound up (liée) with the General Treaty.On the following day, the final settlement of the Duchy of Warsaw, including the independence of Cracow, took place; and solely on the authority of that settlement, and to carry out the objects of that settlement, and to confirm that settlement by an annex "of the same force and validity as if it were inserted word for word, in the general Treaty," was the Treaty of the 3rd of May signed by the Three Powers—that treaty which the Austrian publicist dares to say, "establishes the political existence of Cracow, by the sole and exclusive will of the Three Powers alone," and which he, in his grave apology for his Go- 1165 vernment's breach of public faith, can assert to have been concluded without the recognizance, acquiescence, or objection of any other Power! Sir, I have referred in this argument to facts that lie on the surface of diplomatic history; I have no pretensions to peculiar or recondite informamation; I have taken my facts from authorized and unquestioned sources, and I leave them and the case of the Austrian publicist to the judgment of the House. In the month of October of the same year as these transactions, the Emperor Alexander issued a proclamation to the Poles, which contained these words:—To smooth the difficulties which have been raised on the subject of the town of Cracow, we have caused to be adopted the proposition of making that town a free and neutral State.And he adds—It will remain a monument of a magnanimous policy, which has established liberty on the very spot where repose the ashes of the best of your kings, and with which are associated the most noble memories of Polish nationality. And, lastly, to crown a work which the misfortunes of the period have so long retarded, it has been unanimously agreed upon, that even in those portions of Poland submitted to the authority of Austria and Russia, the inhabitants should for the future be governed by their own magistrates, elected within the country.Sir, Europe has seen, how completely, with what perfect good faith, the Governments to which the provinces of Poland were assigned, have carried out this latter resolution; and it is for this House this night to record its appreciation of the "magnanimous policy" which has created and nurtured the free State of Cracow. In perusing the short and mournful history of that State, I cannot find that there was anything so inherently defective in its political constitution, as to have made its existence either difficult or dangerous. Nor indeed does it appear that the conterminous monarchies regarded its freedom with any especial jealousy, till the great Polish revolution of 1830. Prince Metternich, in the enclosure to his note of the 6th of November, expresses his censure and surprise at the popular sympathy which was manifested for the cause of Polish nationality; but which seems mainly to have been confined to religious celebrations, and the sale of arms and ammunition. The wonder is surely all on the other side. It is hardly intelligible, how in the moment of the agony of the Polish nation, in that wonderful struggle of the patriotic enthusiasm of a small body of gentlemen and soldiers, with the organized resources of 1166 the widest empire of the world, that Cracow did not throw herself at once and openly into the conflict, and share the destiny of her race. Had she done so, order would have been restored at Cracow, as it was at Warsaw; but she would have been saved seventeen years of humiliating persecution, crowned with an ignoble end. At the Convention of Münchengratz, which took place in 1834, and in which the Three Powers bound themselves to the mutual extradition of their subjects, there is strong ground for believing that the annihilation of Cracow was resolved on, and that all the subsequent occupations, violences, and treacheries, put in practice against this unhappy State, have been but steps to the predetermined object. In two interesting articles published in the British and Foreign Review, hon. Members may read the wretched series of persecutions inflicted on Cracow by its political protectors. With all their means of prevention, all their appliances of police, all their powers of despotic rules, these three great Powers represented themselves as the victims of the machinations of this poor town of Cracow. No doubt it had been sometimes a city of refuge to a tracked and hunted victim—no doubt it had been occasionally a land of Goshen in the midst of surrounding violence and wrong—but there is no proof whatever in the apologetic documents of the Austrian Government, that any conspiracy against the peace of the surrounding States was ever encouraged or connived at by the authorities of the place—that, even when free from the presence of foreign troops, the people had ever given either harbourage, or money, or arms, to any body of men interfering with the peace of those States, as soon as, after the fall of Warsaw, what was called peace was established. Of course the very presence of freedom was inconvenient to the Powers who desired to suppress its very name; of course the existence of any self-government was distasteful to those who systematically resisted all political development. I do not pretend that, when the natural feelings had once been aroused in Cracow by the Polish revolution, it was not troublesome to the neighbouring Governments; but I can find no such overt interference, no such fatal breach of international law, as can be fairly called a breach of the neutrality, which Cracow was supposed to observe. The State of Cracow did not, as it appears to me, do anything which would have justified a declaration of 1167 war against her by any of the Three Powers, had she been a fit subject to declare war against; and thus I cannot allow that there is any such breach of neutrality on the part of Cracow, as gives any colour of excuse, either to the repeated military occupations, or to the destruction of the State. The frequency of these illegal military occupations, while the Treaty of Vienna had declared that, "under no pretence whatever," should troops be introduced into the free town of Cracow, has more than once attracted the attention of the British Parliament. The first intimation of this question produced from the noble Lord opposite, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the notification that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to send a Consul to Cracow. It will be remembered with what gratification that announcement was received by the House and by the country, and how deep was the disappointment when it was discovered that, after much diplomatic correspondence, the design had been abandoned, and that Cracow was to be left to her fate. The noble Lord has been requested to produce that correspondence; but, I regret to say, has declined to do so. He has stated, that it was conducted with so much acrimony (that was the word) on the side of the Powers, that the production of it could now only produce an useless irritation. When a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna has been the result of the acts on which we then commented, and which we hoped to alter and arrest by the presence of an English representative, I do think it is only due to those who urged that step to be taken—it is only due to the character of the noble Lord himself, that he should produce that correspondence. When the first of the resolutions which I hold in my hand has been virtually assented to by every Member who has yet spoken, including the First Minister of the Crown, I do not know how that "alarm and indignation" is to be injuriously increased by the production of these papers: we have the facts before us, and we desire to know on what sufficient grounds the noble Lord, having informed the House that he was about to send an English representative to Cracow, abandoned that intention, and apparently at last yielded his own conviction of right to the objections of the Three Powers. I do not wish to prejudge the question—to assume any weakness or vacillation of purpose on the part of the noble Lord; but I do wish the conscience of this country to be quite clear 1168 of having, in any degree whatever, by feebleness, or imprudence or neglect, participated in the misfortunes of Cracow. In examining the varieties of unequal alliance, it is the opinion of Vattel—That a weak State, which, for its safety, is under the protection of another or others more powerful than itself, and engages itself, in return for that protection, to perform certain equivalent duties, without however despoiling itself of its right of self-government, does not, on that account, cease to take its place among the sovereign States, which acknowledge no other authority than the law of nations.It appears, therefore, indisputable, that both England and France were authorized to send representatives to watch over the interests and rights of the State of Cracow; and I cannot divest myself of the feeling, that had the project been realized, we should not have been this night discussing the erasure of Cracow from the map of Europe. In the debate of 1840, a friend of mine, who has left a good and respected memory behind him in this House, Mr. Gaily Knight, warned the noble Lord to delay his intervention no longer. "The victim," he said, "is nearly exhausted—a little longer, and it will be too late." You did delay, and the result is before us. I know, Sir, the noble Lord may with justice reply, that the same policy of neglect and disregard towards Cracow was pursued by his successor in office. Notwithstanding that, on a former occasion, Lord Lyndhurst had been an urgent defender of those rights, and had strongly represented to the House of Lords the importance of the commercial freedom of Cracow to our own manufacturing interests, and the value to England of having this depôt of her goods in the centre of Europe, I do not find that he succeeded in urging on Lord Aberdeen to take any steps to impede the still gathering doom that hung over that State. Nor indeed, am I aware, that that statesman has ever thought fit to express any reprobation of those fearful events which occurred in Gallicia in the early part of last year, and which have been made the immediate pretext for this violent consummation. Before the prorogation of the last Session, I had the opportunity of bringing before the House some inadequate details, some rude sketch, of the Gallician reign of terror—that Jacquerie of the 19th century—those September massacres under the paternal and orthodox rule of Austria. Sir, I should be sorry to be excited into any general diatribes against the Government which, with more or less 1169 success, still keeps together the heterogeneous provinces of the huge Austrian empire. I have lived for many years under its sway, and I am bound to say, that, in general, the material well-being of its subjects is diligently cared for, and justice between man and man fairly administered; although, except in Hungary, the despotism is complete, and the feelings of separate nationality are repressed or trampled down. Thus, I own, that I was at first incredulous of the horrors of Gallicia, and could not for some time persuade myself of the reality of those scenes. But, from residents on the spot, from subsequent travellers, from the impunity that has been universally given to the murderers, from the determined official secrecy which has been thrown over these events, and lastly, from the despatches of the Austrian Government itself, I am compelled to accept the conclusion, that the peasantry were excited and encouraged to the massacre of the landed proprietors of that district, great and small, by the local authorities—that the assassins received sums of money from those authorities, at so much a head, according as they brought in the corpses of their victims—that some of those executioners have since been publicly thanked and rewarded by the Central Government, while none have been judicially punished—and that the surviving members of families have been forbidden to mourn for their murdered relatives, and express indignation at their death. If only men in arms had fallen, there might have been some excuse, although the policy of arming one class of society against another is very questionable; but when, as I am too surely informed, bed-ridden and helpless and aged men and flying youths were cruelly destroyed, I do not know what can be the apology of a Government which has at its command so enormous an army to repress violence and vindicate the law. But what is the phrase of Prince Metternich himself, in his despatch of the 6th of November? He states that—There has resulted from these events a great accumulation of embarrassment for the Government and the country. It is not with impunity that one stratum of the social hierarchy of a political body (that is, the landowners) can disappear (that is, be massacred), and yet such is the effect which has resulted from four or five days in Gallicia, or, to be more historically accurate, of the 18th and 19th of February, in the Circle of Tarnow?I feel that I should weaken the effect of this sentence on the House by any com- 1170 ments; I would only ask it to consider to what portion of the Austrian monarchy it is that Cracow is now annexed—for what a social state it is that she is forced to exchange a political existence, where serfage had long been abolished, and where the relations between the upper and lower classes were of the most peaceful and friendly nature—and what a future is before this unhappy people, deprived at once of the great and invigorating principle of self-government, and of a commercial freedom which gave them the cheapest and readiest supply of the necessaries and comforts of life, and placed under the autocratic rule of a Government, which is remarkable for the stringency of its tariff, and unwilling, or, at the best, unable, to protect them from such abominations as the massacre of Gallicia! The pretence that the people of Cracow took an open part in the invasion of the Austrian territory is nowhere confirmed: the number of persons who appeared in arms on that occasion, was at the most two hundred men, ill armed and without discipline. The prefect of Tarnow, Brendl de Wallestern, was distinctly informed of the approaching outbreak, which was conducted with the most insane imprudence. And on the 30th of January, the Archduke Ferdinand d'Este informed the Central Government that the country was agitated, a movement in preparation, and the public mind disturbed:—Nevertheless, the Government may be tranquil; I do not require any reinforcements, for all measures are taken in case of insurrection for paralysing the movement without compromising the troops.The riot broke out on the 18th of February. The Austrian general in occupation of Cracow evacuated the town without resistance, and carried away with him all the authorities of the place, the foreign residents, and many persons who might arrest the confusion. The very night of this so-called insurrection, the carnage in Gallicia commenced; and the free State of Cracow, which gave the conspirators no encouragement, which is not even assumed to have assisted in the design, is now to be annihilated, because it was abandoned by those who had gratuitously assumed its government, and because, through the connivance of the local and the negligence of the central authorities, a province of the organized, orderly, Austrian empire, has been disgraced by deeds which only belong to scenes of the wildest and most embittered anarchy. During the time that in- 1171 tervened between these events and the final act of suppression, I find in the papers before the House instances of unfairness and equivocation, on the part of foreign Ministers, which I should have hoped were confined to another age of diplomacy. The only satisfaction is, that they show that the Powers themselves were ashamed of what they were doing, and could not trust themselves in the atmosphere of English honesty and justice. And yet I may presume to say, that even the inadequate and often delusive information supplied to Lord Aberdeen, by our representatives abroad, might have in some degree lessened the exalted confidence he seems to have placed in the fair intentions of those Powers, and induced him to take more active steps than he has done to prevent this last calamity. I conceive that no warning or even entreaty should have been spared to dissuade the three great Powers from giving this pretext to whatever nation may choose to avail itself of it, for dissolving the bonds of the great compact, and throwing the question of the distribution of Europe once more loose upon the world. For, if the cosignataries of the Treaty of Vienna had been formally consulted, and if, on grounds satisfactory to the Plenipotentiaries of England and France, some modification of the Protectorate of Cracow had been agreed upon; I do not pretend to say that even some restriction of the freedom promised to Cracow by the Congress might not have been preferable to the continual intervention of these nominal protectors, and at least the commercial privileges and municipal rights of the State might have been preserved, and its ample liberty might have been recovered at some happier period. Whatever had been thus arranged, might have been an object of criticism, blame, or regret; but, at any rate, we should have been spared the spectacle of an act of lawless revolution committed by the champion Powers of established order, and an event of such happy augury to Central Europe as the new Prussian constitution preceded by the consent of Prussia to the extinction of the political existence of a free people. Sir, the expression of my opinion respecting the latter resolutions of the hon. Member for Montrose, namely, those relating to the suspension of the payment of the Russian-Dutch loan, will necessarily be short, for it will consist in the assertion of my conviction of a fact. I do not see how we can go on legally paying this money. 1172 I will not resume the arguments of 1832, but merely say, that I agree with the view then taken by Sir Robert Peel and the present Lord Ashburton, respecting the convention then in force; and that I conceive that reasoning to be identical when applied to the present convention. Then, also, the Government took up the position of national honour, but were obliged to yield to the plain facts of the case, and bring in a new Act of Parliament. Let them do the same now. If they conceive that this money is paid as an equivalent for Demerara, the Cape of Good Hope, Essequibo, aad Berbice, I submit to their judgment, and am ready to move for a new Bill for that purpose. But, with this Act of Parliament in my hand—and this Act, not the Convention, is the authority for paying the money—containing the words, "in consideration of the general arrangements of the Treaty of Vienna," and, at the commencement of each clause, "in virtue of these considerations"—I, who believe those arrangements to have been violated, cannot understand how such payment is at present legal.Every article of a treaty," says Grotius, "carries with it a condition, by the non-performance of which the treaty is wholly cancelled.If it be certain and manifest," says Vattel, "that the consideration of the present state of things was one of the reasons which occasioned the promise, and that the promise was made in consideration or in consequence of that state of things, then the promise depends on the maintenance of things in that state.Surely, Sir, both these high authorities are applicable to this case. The consideration for the first convention was the union of Belgium and Holland; the consideration of the second is "the general arrangements of the Treaty of Vienna." These stipulations both mean that Russia does such and such things as value received for this payment; and I assert that the stipulations of the second convention are now at an end, just as the first were in 1832. The collateral circumstance, that Russia herself proposed the latter stipulation, no more affects the interpretation of this Act, than did the fact of England having mainly brought about the independence of Belgium did the interpretation of the former one. You believed there was an honourable obligation in the former case that superseded the legal exemption from the payment of this debt, and you made a new Convention and passed a new Act of Parliament: if you believe this now, I am ready to support you in a similar course; 1173 but, till you do so, this Act of Parliament is void, and the money is not yours to pay. And now, Sir, in conclusion, I would allude to a word in the first resolution to which objection may not improbably be taken: I mean, that we regard these proceedings with "alarm." I myself can only consent to this phrase by attaching to it its largest moral significance. England, in this case, has no fears for herself or her own interests; her alarm is for the peace of the world, and for the independence of the smaller States of Europe. If these things are permitted, where are they to end? What is the security for the commerce of Hamburgh, menaced by the Zollverein; or for the integrity of Saxony, whose territory lies inconveniently collocated with that of Prussia, and which was guaranteed by that very same "Committee of Poland and Saxony" which established the State of Cracow? Where is the defence, in case of assault, of the ancient freedom of Switzerland—where the protection of the reviving liberties of Italy? Vain are the most sacred prescriptive rights—vain the efforts of the wisest and justest of reformers—if such things are to be. Cracow is at Borne—Cracow is at Rome—Cracow is at Bucharest—Cracow is at Constantinople. If the law of the strongest is to prevail in this case with so poor an excuse, with so little reason for intervention, what must be the destiny of those feeble interests that stand face to face with the matured policies and great ambitions of mankind? I look not at the insignificance of the victim, but at the might of the executioners. I see Austria, Russia, and Prussia banded together to crush what they call a "geographical atom," and I ask myself whether the wheel of the revolution of the politics of Europe may not have been set in motion by the removal of this grain of sand? My only trust and consolation is in that eternal principle of right, before which power itself must bend at last, which works out its ends by processes inscrutable to our frail perceptions, and in reference to which the common feeling and experience of mankind have exclaimed—Dormit aliquando Jus, moritur nunquam.
§ LORD DALMENY
I am desirous of stating, in a very few words, my reasons for voting against the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose. I oppose it with great reluctance, because I acknowledge the force of some of his argu- 1174 ments; and in many of his sentiments I most heartily concur. I yield neither to him nor to any one in my abhorrence of the tyranny exercised by Russia towards Poland, her ancient spoliation of territory, her recent violation of rights, her contempt of international law. Her ambition spurns all sanctions whether human or divine. The solemn faith of treaties, the eternal rules of justice, she alike despises and derides. This last deed—this overthrow of the last refuge of Polish independence—is but the climax of a policy, which, born in poverty, cradled in wrong, and nursed by violence, has at length ripened, through successive stages, to the fulness of oppression. Such iniquities ought to be denounced by us, who are contemporaries, as they will be branded with ignominy by the avenging sentence of posterity. We owe it to ourselves to visit them with the sternest language of reprobation, lest our descendants should construe our silence into apathy, or into acquiescence, in these foul acts of spoliation and fraud. Amid this gloomy drama, which now extends over half a century, there is but one topic of consolation. The cause of freedom must gain by these outrages of arbitrary power. It is well when despotism tears the mask from its own visage, and lays bare its hideousness to the world. Its hypocrisy is more dangerous than its paroxysms of violence. Under the cloak of solemn plausibilities—under the semblance of a paternal Government, it may impose on the senses and delude the imaginations of men. The enforced submission of its slaves may be mistaken for spontaneous obedience. Its treacherous tranquillity may dupe the observer oat of his adverse prepossessions, or even cheat him into admiration. It is well, then, when it flings off all disguise—when it glares out in its native colours—when it casts off all restraint — when it startles mankind by its excesses, and shocks them by its crimes. If, then, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose had confined himself to his first resolution, expressing our strong sense of this recent violation of treaties, I would have cordially supported it, in order to mark my horror at this gross outrage on public law. But the hon. Gentleman has appended another resolution from which I totally dissent. He has degraded this great question of national laws and national rights, the faith of treaties, and the principles of justice, into a sordid consideration of pounds, shillings, and pence. It is the misfortune of the 1175 hon. Gentleman, that, although a man of a humane and liberal mind, with a zeal devoted to the interests, not only of his country, but mankind, he never can look at any question of state policy, except through an economical medium. In his view, every question of policy, whether foreign or domestic, resolves itself into a debtor and creditor account. I take leave to view the matter somewhat differently. In my opinion, the relations between mighty States ought to be conducted on a higher footing than the petty transactions between man and man. They ought to be inspired by a loftier principle, and maintained upon loftier grounds. It may be proper for a private individual to pry into contracts, to hit upon flaws, and, on their discovery, to hold himself released from his engagement. Such a course may not militate against his reputation, or his conscience; but States ought to be animated by a more elevated spirit, and guided by views more comprehensive and enlarged. If this great country is to be governed on the maxims of the pettifogger and the housewife—if it is to act on a mingled system of vulgar parsimony and chicane, its treasury may be enriched by a few handfuls of gold; but farewell its moral strength, its moral grandeur, its dignity, its renown. In opposing the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, it cannot be supposed that I contemplate these atrocities with indifference, or that I deem them susceptible of extenuation or defence. I trust that I shall not be held deficient in commiseration for those unfortunate men whose heroism in defending the liberties of their country is only to be paralleled by the fortitude with which they have borne their calamities. But here I find a treaty, by which, under certain conditions, we are bound to make an annual payment to Russia. Different opinions prevail as to the construction of this treaty, and as to whether its conditions have been broken or observed. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose says, that the stipulations having been violated by the one party, have ceased to be binding on the other. But, Sir, this position has been triumphantly refuted by the noble Lord at the head of the Treasury, who has proved that we are bound still to adhere to our engagement. The case, at best, is one of ambiguity and doubt. Now, I contend, that in all cases where a doubt arises in any pecuniary covenant with a foreign Power, we ought to give that Power the full benefit of the doubt. It does not comport with the 1176 dignity of this country to cling to the letter, in contravention to the spirit, of its treaties. We are in that proud position, that we can afford to be generous as well as just. But, if this rule be generally sound, there are circumstances which render it peculiarly applicable in the present instance. We have all joined with one voice, from the Queen to the peasant, in reprobation of the recent transactions at Cracow: Her Majesty, in measured terms; Her people, in less disciplined, but not more heartfelt expressions, have held up this flagrant crime to the execration of mankind. Let not this hallowed expression of the national indignation be profaned by the intrusion of any selfish considerations. Let our censure be purified from all taint of sordid motives. Let us not take advantage of the guilt of foreign nations to evade our pecuniary obligations. Let this generous movement have nothing economic in its character. Let us fulfil our high mission as the censors of nations, the rebukers of the oppressor, the vindicators of the oppressed. But let us not desecrate this sacred office by the base alliance of self-interest. What weight will that censure possess, which is connected with a scheme for effecting a saving in your Treasury? It was but last week that a great meeting was held in London for the purpose of expressing the national condemnation of the recent violation of treaties. At that meeting, all armed interference was expressly disclaimed. But it was asserted, that the public opinion of a great people, expressed in the heart of its own metropolis, would pierce to the darkest recesses of the palace of the oppressor. This was the language of that meeting—a language not devoid of either dignity or truth. Will that public opinion carry any authority, or excite any deference or respect, which is associated with a resolution to violate the spirit of a treaty, and withhold the payment of a debt? If this Motion be carried, there is not a foreigner but will affirm that your philanthropy is a mere pretence, got up for the purpose of eluding your pecuniary liabilities. In the eyes of the world, your censure will pass for arrant hypocrisy, or be debased to the level of a mere financial stratagem. Remember that our public credit, that fabric so vast and apparently so substantial, which has resisted, and can resist, external shocks and internal convulsion, would dissolve into air before the faintest breath of distrust. It can withstand the earthquake; it can defy the 1177 storm. Glance on it with suspicion, and it crumbles into dust. We are pre-eminent in this, that we alone of all nations, whether ancient or modern, have blended the vigour of commercial enterprise with the lofty virtues of chivalry. Other commercial States have trampled on the principles of public morality in their ardent pursuit of gain. We alone have combined, in an auspicious union, the energy of the merchant with the honour of the gentleman. For this we are indebted to that happy fusion, in our constitution, of aristocracy and democracy, by which the restless vigour of the one is ennobled by the exalted integrity of the other. Shall we then stoop from this proud pre-eminence, to sink ourselves to the level of States that are as bankrupt in honour as in purse? Foreign nations have sometimes disputed our justice—they never, as yet, have doubted our probity. Foreign nations have sometimes arraigned our ambition—they never have breathed a whisper against our honour. If we have sometimes been tyrannical—we never have been mean. If we have sometimes lifted the arm of the giant—we never, thank God, have plied the finger of the sharper. And shall we now, for the first time, especially at the present moment, when we are astonishing the world by the vastness of our resources, the vigour of our efforts, the solidity of our credit, the splendour of our charity, the magnificence of our sacrifices, shall we, for a paltry pittance, dim the lustre of our fame? Never never let us plunge into such an abyss of disgrace. I implore the hon. Member for Montrose not to divide the House upon his Motion. Never let it be said, that a British House of Commons divided upon the question whether it would violate or maintain the public faith it had pledged. If Russia has violated her faith, it is for us to teach her, by our example, that public virtue which she wants. It is for us to contrast the lofty bearing of our free government, with the fraudulent violences of her absolute monarchy. Let us, then, with a contemptuous probity, fling to her the gold, and on her rest undivided the infamy and the shame.
§ DR. BOWRING
said, that the noble Lord might vote for the first resolution, and refuse to support the remaining resolutions. By supporting the first, he did not, by any means, pledge himself to the others. He entreated the noble Lord and the House to remember, that the question before them was not merely a question 1178 about Cracow and the Cracovians, but respecting Poland and the Poles. He could not help admiring the great sagacity of the late Lord Castlereagh, who, in his despatches (recently published), pointed out to the Czar the necessity which even then existed for the re-establishment of Poland; and recent events had shown how just were the views of that eminent person. In Europe there were at present 20,000,000 of men animated by one spirit, professing a common religion, speaking a common language, and influenced by a common desire to achieve the re-establishment of their native country, as one of the States of Europe: who, then, believed that the peace of the world could be preserved under influences so adverse to tranquillity? It was impossible to look at the present state of Europe without anxiety and alarm: Courts denounced Courts for perfidy; friendly alliances were broken; the liberty of petty States, where it was not overturned, was menaced; the friendly feelings which previously prevailed between France and England had almost ceased to exist; but of the two, England had the most reason to complain. He honoured the King of the French in his domestic character; but he must say that in his recent policy that Monarch had been most grievously ill-advised. In whatever direction he looked, he saw cause for anxiety and alarm. In the south, Portugal was delivered over to anarchy; who ruled and who obeyed no one knew. In Spain they saw a Government utterly and totally regardless of Spanish opinions; and they might observe in that country the same elements of disturbance, which were associated with the war of independence; for Spain would never long submit to French domination. In Italy they saw the hopes of the people awakened, in consequence of the nomination of the new Sovereign of the Pontifical States; they saw that excellent man yearning to promote the prosperity and to establish the liberty of his native land, but his efforts were everywhere thwarted. He believed that his purposes were controlled and overruled by influences which would never have been exercised but for that general dislocation of confidence among Cabinets, of which they witnessed so many results. Switzerland, too, was in a state of confusion and disorganization. With regard to the north, he participated in the feeling of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes), when he stated that Prussia had fixed on a most unfortunate moment 1179 for loosing the hold she was gradually obtaining upon intellectual and civilized Europe, by associating herself with that recent deed of spoliation which had so deeply dishonoured her name. In the east he saw still further cause for anxiety. The promises made to the Danubian provinces had been violated. Russia had obtained, under pretence of caring for the public health, possession of the entrance to the Danube on the right bank. The pledges given to the Bulgarians were all violated when Bessarabia was ceded to Russia; and though the independence of Wallachia and the remaining part of Moldavia had been promised, it was an undoubted fact that the princes were seated on their thrones at the will of Russia, and that there was throughout those provinces a universal feeling of discontent. In all these circumstances, he thought there was great cause of alarm; and he saw that period approaching which Mr. Canning had predicted; he saw the advent of that fearful struggle, which he (Dr. Bowring) feared could not much longer be delayed, between the oppressed and the oppressors. He (Dr. Bowring) would venture to say, that it was not alone by the recognition of the Treaty of Vienna that they would got rid of the difficulties of their position. He contended that more regard must be paid to the welfare and the liberties of nations; for treaties not ratified by public opinion were of little value. Though he shared in all those feelings of disgust and indignation which had been expressed at the recklessness with which the great Powers had violated the engagements into which they had entered, he in many respects rejoiced that these great questions were now placed on a new basis; that the whole structure of European policy would have to be reconsidered; and that they would not be called upon to decide alone whether the protest of England should restore Cracow, or whether a small fragrant of Poland should be saved for Poles and for Polish nationality, but that the greater question of the regeneration of Poland itself, and of a recognition of its rights and liberties, which had been so recklessly trampled upon, would be brought before them for consideration and decision.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
There are two questions for the consideration of the House. The one, approbation or disapprobation of the conduct of the Three Powers—the other, payment or non-payment of the Russo-Dutch Loan. With 1180 regard to the first question, there seems to be no difference of opinion. I agree entirely with the opinions which have been expressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, and by the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, with regard to the manner in which the Sovereigns of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, have acted towards the city of Cracow. I concur in the first resolution which the hon. Gentleman has moved, and should be most willing to vote for it, if it stood alone; but I cannot consent to support the last resolution, in which it is proposed not to make any further payments on account of the Russo-Dutch loan. In order to determine whether we ought or not to continue those payments, I think we should not merely confine ourselves to the words of the Convention of the 16th of November, 1831, but should take into consideration what were the reasons which induced us to undertake those payments, and what were the advantages which we obtained by so doing. We engaged to pay the interest of a portion of the Russo-Dutch loan as a part of the purchase-money of the colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice; and it appears to me that if we refuse to continue those payments, we are bound in honour to restore those colonies. The papers which have been laid upon the Table of the House prove that we bought those colonies by consenting to make those payments. The House is aware that the colonies in question belonged originally to Holland, and that we took possession of them during the last war, not because we were at war with Holland, but to save them from France, when France took possession of Holland. In 1814, Holland was liberated from the dominion of France, and in consequence it was held that we were bound to restore to Holland her colonies. A. convention to that effect was signed in London, Aug. 13th, 1814. In the first article of that convention, we engaged to restore all the colonies possessed by Holland on the 1st of January, 1803, with the exception of the Cape of Good Hope, and the settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice. These we reserved to be disposed of by a supplementary convention, which was to be negotiated according to the interests of the two countries, and especially with reference to certain provisions contained in the Treaty of Paris. The supplementary convention was contained in the additional articles to the 1181 convention to which I have just referred. In the first additional article, the Prince Sovereign of the Netherlands agreed to cede to his Britannic Majesty the full sovereignty of the Cape of Good Hope, and the settlements of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, in consideration of certain payments to be made by England. Those payments were—first, the sum of one million to Sweden; second, the sum of two millions to improve the defences of the Low Countries; third, and to this I wish to direct especially the attention of the House, we agreed to bear, equally with Holland, certain other charges, to be agreed upon by the Allied Sovereigns, for the final and satisfactory settlement of the union of the Low Countries with Holland. Thus we agreed to purchase of Holland the colonies in question, for a sum of money which was not to exceed six millions of pounds sterling. A sum not exceeding three millions of this money was to be expended for the express purpose of securing the union of the Low Countries and Holland; and the manner in which it was to be expended was to be determined by a subsequent convention. For this purpose, a convention between Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Russia, was signed 19th May, 1815. In the preamble it was stated that the King of the Netherlands was desirous to make a suitable return to the Allied Powers for having delivered his territories from the French; that the Allied Powers had, in consequence of arrangements with each other, agreed to waive their pretensions in favour of Russia, and therefore the King of the Netherlands had resolved to execute with Russia a convention. And to this convention his Britannic Majesty agreed to be a party, in pursuance of the engagements formed by the Convention of 13th August, 1814. Those engagements were, as I have already said, that we should pay a sum not exceeding three millions of pounds sterling towards the settlement of the affairs of Holland. In consequence of these engagements, it was agreed, in the Second Article of the Convention, that we should pay, on behalf of the Netherlands, a certain sum to, or rather for Russia, namely, that we should take upon ourselves a portion of the debt due by Russia on account of a loan raised by the house of Hope and Company of Amsterdam. We agreed to pay the interest of a portion of that loan, together with an annual sum for its ultimate liquidation. And as we had engaged 1182 to make those payments in such a manner that the union of Holland and the Low Countries should be finally settled, it was expressly stipulated with Russia, on the 5th April, that the payments should cease if the union were broken prior to the liquidation of the debt. The following facts, therefore, seem to me sufficiently proved: 1. That we agreed to purchase from Holland certain colonies, for a sum not exceeding six millions of pounds sterling. 2. That the King of the Netherlands agreed to compensate Russia for a portion of the expense incurred by Russia in liberating his territories from the dominion of France. Instead, however, of our paying a certain sum of money to Holland, and Holland paying a portion of that sum over to Russia, it was agreed that we should pay Russia at once, or, what was the same in effect, that we should take upon ourselves a portion of a debt due by Russia. In fact, therefore, the Russo-Dutch loan became a debt due from England on account of the purchase of certain Dutch colonies. The question is—are we justified in repudiating that debt, and at the same time retaining possession of those colonies? I think not. I think the Convention of the 16th November, 1831, would not justify such a proceeding. That convention was executed in consequence of the separation of Holland and Belgium. That separation verbally released us from the obligation of paying the interest of the Russo-Dutch loan; for the express condition was, that those payments should cease in the event of the union of the two countries being broken. But that condition was made with the view of securing an agreement between the policy of Russia and that of England with regard to the Netherlands. It was made to prevent a separation between Holland and Belgium, because we believed that such a separation would be impolitic and injurious to our interests. In 1831 we changed our mind upon this subject. We approved of the separation which had taken place between the two countries—we wished Russia to consent to it; and therefore, in accordance with the spirit, though in direct opposition to the letter of the Convention of 1815, we continued our payments on account of the Russo-Dutch loan, and executed the Convention of 1831. In that convention certain words, which have been read to the House, were inserted in the preamble with reference to the arrangements made at the Congress of Vienna; and from those 1183 words it is inferred that any infringement of those arrangements would render the Convention of 1831 null and void. With regard to this point I must observe, that in the Convention of 1831 there is no express condition with respect to the arrangements of the Congress of Vienna similar to the condition which exists in the Convention of 1815, with regard to the union of Belgium and Holland. In the Convention of 1815, there is an article which expressly provides that if the union of Holland and Belgium shall cease, the payments on account of the Russo-Dutch loan shall cease likewise. In the Convention of 1831 there is no provision whatever that if the arrangements of the Congress of Vienna be infringed, the payments in question shall cease. If it were our intention in that convention to take security for the fulfilment of the arrangements of the Congress of Vienna, why did we not insert a proviso similar to that which we had inserted in the Convention of 1815, with regard to the union of Holland and Belgium? If we had acted in that manner, then there could have been no doubt upon the subject. At present I entertain strong doubts, though I will not absolutely deny that if the Convention of 1831 be construed in the strictest and most literal manner, it may not open a loophole by which we may escape the payments in question. But, Sir, when I consider that four great colonies have been ceded to us on condition of making certain payments, I think it would be unworthy of an empire like this to avail itself of a doubtful point in a treaty in order to repudiate a debt, and at the same time to retain possession of a property, for the purchase of which that debt was incurred. In condemning the conduct of the Three Powers in disregarding the obligations of treaties, let us not be supposed to be actuated by mercenary motives, and inclined to imitate their example.
§ VISCOUNT MAHON
observed, that so far as regarded the immediate question before the House—the resolutions proposed by the hon. Member for Montrose—he should be content to rest his vote on the very powerful and eloquent speech of the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell); but he was desirous to offer a few observations on the general question of the seizure and annexation of Cracow. He was not one of those who had thought it a duty to promote or support any steps for establishing what was termed the nationality of Poland. 1184 However much the partition of Poland was to be deplored, he had looked upon it as a fact fulfilled; and he had considered that the revocation of that act within his time was an event beyond all bounds of reasonable probability, while the attempt to obtain such a revocation would serve no other end than to aggravate the sufferings of the Poles themselves. On the other hand, he felt great esteem and high respect for that eminent statesman, who had for thirty-five years administered the affairs of Austria—Prince Metternich; and he had seen with pleasure the pacific disposition manifested by Austria in its foreign relations, as tending to maintain the balance of power in Europe. But, notwithstanding these prepossessions, he was bound to declare that he considered the seizure and annexation of Cracow altogether unjustifiable. He did not think that any valid defence of that act could be offered. He did not at all concur in the argument which they had heard on the first night of the Session from the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Disraeli); and which, though ingenious, did not appear to him by any means conclusive. He considered that they ought to look to the Treaty of Vienna as a whole; and that they had a right to protest against the conduct of any Three Powers, in taking any one article out of that treaty, or out of the annexes of that treaty, and dealing with it separately, without reference to the other great contracting Powers. He considered that the Treaty of Vienna, in the present century, stood nearly upon the same foundation as the Treaty of Westphalia in a preceding century; as a great European settlement; as a kind of charter or landmark among the nations; as the authority to which subsequent claims and pretensions might be in no small measure referred. It followed therefore, in his opinion, that the disturbance of the Treaty of Vienna by the act of three of the Powers, was, so far as that act was concerned, to disturb the balance of European politics. But the question might be considered in another point of view, in which it had been very ably put by the hon. Member for Southwark. In the Treaty of Vienna, each party gave way in some respects, in order to gain in other respects. France was interested in the maintenance of the nationality of Poland; England, as they knew from the despatches of Lord Castlereagh, lately laid upon the Table, was also interested in that question. France at that period had to make large territorial sacrifices; England also 1185 had to cede several colonies which were then in her hands. He would ask whether it might not be fairly presumed, therefore, that this establishment of the free State of Cracow was intended, among other objects, to afford some satisfaction to those two Powers which took an interest in Polish affairs? Had any sovereign a right to lay great stress and validity on those articles which provided for his own territorial aggrandizement, and at the same time to reject and repudiate those other stipulations in which the feelings, if not the interests, of the other parties to the treaty were concerned, and which might fairly be regarded as articles on the other side of the account? He did say, therefore—and in saying so he did not say more than had been admitted by the Prussian Minister, M. de Canitz, to our Envoy at Berlin—that this was a question which ought not to be decided by Three Powers, but by Five, and that two principal parties to the Treaty of Vienna had not been consulted. But now he was asked by the hon. Member for Montrose to express this sentiment in an abstract form; and the hon. Member proposed to add to a resolution containing such an expression other resolutions, imposing what he might term a pecuniary mulct upon Russia. He confessed that he had an objection to vote for the first resolution, unless he could also vote for the fourth. He regarded the first resolution as a mere abstract resolution—a mere telum imbelle sine ictu, such as that House should beware of passing, unless it was able to give it practical effect. With regard to the fourth resolution, they had been told by the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), that the opinions of the law advisers of the Crown had been taken on the subject, and that their opinion was adverse to the discontinuance of this payment. Would the nation, then, be justified in taking such a course with the opinion of the law advisers of the Crown even doubtful upon such a point? He entertained the strongest objection to its being supposed that this country even appeared to receive pecuniary compensation for the seizure of Cracow. He would not consent to measure such a transaction by the scale and standard of money. He thought it more conformable not only with the justice of the case, but with the dignity of our empire, that we should not gain any pecuniary advantage for ourselves from the loss of the independence of Cracow; and, therefore, with respect to the fourth resolution, he was prepared to take 1186 the course which had been recommended by the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell). He was therefore willing on the first as on the fourth resolution, to vote with Her Majesty's Government on this occasion. He did not wish to go more fully into the question, since, as it seemed to him, the main advantage of the present debate would arise not from any fulness of detail by any one Member; but rather that from a great number of Members, and from every shade and variety of opinion in the House, there might go forth one unanimous expression of regret and of blame at the course which Austria, Russia, and Prussia, had recently pursued. But without entering further into the argument on the question, he would express a hope that the words which had been spoken, and yet would be spoken, in reference to the annexation of Cracow, might reach beyond those walls, and convince the statesmen of the Three Powers that the line lately pursued by them would not tend to secure either the submission of Poland or the sympathy of Europe. Let them be persuaded that measures of rigour and severity were in their very nature precarious and short-lived, and that power was only to be consolidated by affording to all races and classes of subjects the same equal rights, and by setting them the first example of respect for plighted engagements.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
could not agree with his noble Friend, when he spoke of the extinction of the nationality of Poland. Though in three several instances Poland had been subjected to a fate to which no Christian nation had ever been subjected, still, at least up to last year, the nationality of Poland was secure, as far as treaties could secure it, and its literature, language and religion, were preserved. The case of Poland was not, therefore, as hopeless as the noble Lord assumed it to be. The noble Lord had asked, if the House were going to vote for an abstract resolution? But when the noble Lord joined the House in an Address to the Crown in answer to Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne, was he not in effect voting for that which the resolution before the House affirmed? What did Her Majesty state in Her Speech? That the extinction of the free State of Cracow has appeared to Her Majesty to be so manifest a violation of the Treaty of Vienna as to cause Her Majesty to enter her protest, and command that that protest be delivered at Vienna and St. Petersburgh. 1187 Now, the Address to the Crown contained a literal transcript of that passage in the Speech. The Address thanked the Queen for having stated to the House, that "the annexation of the independent State of Cracow to the empire of Austria appeared to Her Majesty to be a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna." The question which the House had to decide was not merely one of pounds, shillings, and pence; but whether the incorporation of the free State of Cracow were or were not a violation of the Treaty of Vienna. If the Motion could be resisted upon any feasible ground, it could only be this, that it was needless, inasmuch as the House had already admitted the annexation of Cracow to be a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna. [Lord G. BENTINCK: No, no!] He would be very glad to know how his noble Friend could explain away the terms of the Address in answer to the Speech from the Throne, in which Address the House recited, without contradicting, at all events, the declaration that the Treaty of Vienna was "manifestly violated." It might be now too late, perhaps, to consider whether, if a Minister—even one of the lowest rank—had been sent from the Crown of England (as had been almost promised to that House) to reside at Cracow, the event which they all deplored would have taken place. One thing, however, he was sure of, that the principle which justified the annexation of Cracow to Austria, would also justify the annexation of Frankfort, or Hamburgh, to any Power strong enough to seize either, or the extinction of any of the minor States of Germany. What was to hinder any other Power in Europe, having equal disregard to the faith of treaties, and finding a convenient opportunity, from annexing a smaller State to its own, if the principle pursued with respect to Cracow were once recognised? A treaty was the charter of nations, and should not be regarded—as an hon. and learned Member of that House at the time of the American war, he believed, had once described a charter to be, namely—as a piece of parchment with a piece of wax dangling at it; a treaty should be regarded by nations as charters were by municipal institutions. He contended that in the affair of Cracow, the great security of Europe with respect to its international relations, had been essentially violated by the conduct of the Three Powers referred to. Whenever he considered the fate of Poland and the con- 1188 duct of England with regard to that country, he had one consolation—namely, that whatever France had done, England at least had never encouraged Poland to expect armed assistance from her. It might be asked, "If we are not prepared to go to war for the sake of Cracow, why did we propose to enter on the Journals of the House the resolutions under debate?" He thought that good would be effected by the representative body of such a nation as England, putting upon solemn record a declaration, that a great moral and political crime had been perpetrated. Looking at war as the greatest of all calamities, he thought it ought not to be undertaken, unless in self-defence, or in the vindication of such principles and duties as ought to be paramount. He should not be prepared to go to war with any of those Three Powers on account of Cracow; but there was an intermediate line of conduct which it became the House to pursue. Her Majesty had entered her protest against the conduct of those Three Powers; and every hon. Gentleman who had addressed the House concurred in that protest; he therefore trusted that a unanimous vote would be given in support of the resolution. It was perfectly true that England and France did not sign the specific piece of parchment which granted to Cracow its independent existence; but could any one deny that the Five Great Powers signed that general treaty, in the recital of which the independence of Cracow was contained? If so, could it be contended that because the signatures of England and France were not put to a previous instrument, they had no right to complain of the annexation of Cracow? For these reasons he should give his cordial support to the proposition which in the first instance would come before the House. He did not mean to say that he should give the same to the remaining resolutions.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
said: Sir, the hon. Member for Montrose was, the other night, good enough to inform the House that he was perfectly ashamed of my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and myself for the course we had taken in reference to the Address to the Crown. I am sorry to say that I fear, by the course I am going to take to-night, that I am not likely to restore myself to the good opinion of the hon. Gentleman. For though I listened with great attention to his speech, during the whole course of it, there were but three sentiments in it in which I could 1189 concur. The one was, that nothing could make him forget pounds, shillings, and pence; the second, that he considered a general peace as the greatest blessing the country could possess; and the third was, that he trusted we should have the moral courage to act honestly. Now, Sir, with regard to the last, I think the hon. Gentleman took a strange course, in his endeavours to prove to the House that he had a great desire to act honestly when he proposed that, on such slight grounds as he set forward, we should cheat the Emperor of Russia of his money. But if I cannot hope to restore myself to the good opinion of the hon. Gentleman, still there will be this consolation for him, that he does not stand political godfather either for my hon. Friend or myself, and that, as he said the other night that he had but one sin, if indeed he had any sin at all, he will not have the sin upon his shoulders of having to answer for us. I must enter my protest against the doctrine laid down by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, when he declared that the House pledged itself in the Address to the Crown to a concurrence in the declaration of Her Majesty, that Austria, Russia, and Prussia had been guilty of a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna. My hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury, in a speech that, I think, was not answered during these discussions, entered a protest against being pledged to the sentiments contained in the Speech from the Throne. But that was not all. The mover of the Address to the Throne studiously avoided pledging the House to any such thing. The Answer of this House stated merely, that we humbly thanked Her Majesty for the information she had given, namely, that she had directed that a protest might be made to the Emperors of Austria and Russia, and the King of Prussia; and that Her Majesty was pleased to say that the annexation of Cracow appeared to her to be a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna. And Her Majesty, at the same time, informed the House that she would lay before the House the papers that would elucidate the matter. But we pledged ourselves neither in one way nor another to the declaration that the incorporation of Cracow was a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna; and upon reflection, and a close study of all those documents which have been laid before the House, I have come to a mature conviction that there has been no violation whatever of the 1190 Treaty of Vienna. But to treat of what I must call a minor question first—namely, the payment of the money—I may say that I so entirely concur in the statements so lately made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, that I shall detain the House but a very few minutes on that point. But I must take leave to observe that one point has not been touched upon by any speaker who has preceded me. It is this: it is admitted in the Convention of 1831, and it is also, if I mistake not, recited in the Act of Parliament, that it was in consideration of Russia having given in her adhesion to the general provisions of the Treaty of Vienna, which were still in full force, that the convention was signed, and the Act of Parliament passed. Now, Sir, it will be recollected that the Ninth Article of the Treaty of Vienna, which article relates to Cracow, recites that a complete neutrality is granted to Cracow, and that no military force, upon any pretence whatever, was to be permitted to enter the free State of Cracow. Now, if it be true that any infringement of the articles which relate to Cracow are a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna, it is perfectly clear that no less a violation of the Treaty of Vienna had been committed in November, 1831, than had been committed at the present day. For, at the very hour when the convention was signed, and at the very time that that Act of Parliament was passed, Russia was in military occupation of Cracow. Then, Sir, we have the assurance, not only of the convention that was signed in November, 1831, but we have the recital of your Act of Parliament, passed in July 1832, that in the opinion, not only of the parties to that convention, but in the opinion of both Houses of Parliament, the military occupation of Cracow, though it was in contradiction to some of the articles of the Treaty of Vienna, was no violation of the general Treaty of Vienna, which at that time continued in full force. But when Gentlemen talk of treaties, they seem to forget that there are two parties to a treaty, and that a treaty, like any other contract, must be kept on both sides. Now, though it be true that it is one of the conditions of the Treaty of Vienna, that there should be, on no pretence whatever, no military accupation of the free State of Cracow, and that it should remain a free city, it was a condition on the other side that Cracow should observe a strict neutrality; and it was expressly stipulated that she was to give no 1191 asylum and no protection to any refugees, or to any persons prosecuted by the law. Now, no State could by possibility be a greater delinquent in these respects than Cracow. If it were worth while for me to go back to the years 1831 and 1832, I could show you, by the correspondence, that there were found in those years no less than 2,000 refugees in the free State of Cracow. It was stated by the hon. Gentleman who opened the debate tonight, that there was no just pretence for the interference of Austria; and it was stated by the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown on a former night, that he suspected that the disturbances in the free State of Cracow were far from being unacceptable to the Government of Austria. I think there never was a charge made upon less foundation than that charge made by the noble Lord. If Mr. Magennis is to be trusted, it appears certain, beyond all doubt, that Austria did all that lay in her power to maintain the peace of Cracow, and that as soon as the Senate of Cracow called upon the Emperor of Austria to send her aid to keep the peace, Austria sent a force 800 strong for that purpose. And it was not till the Polish immigrants, as they are called, and not, as I believe, the loyal inhabitants of Cracow, appeared in a force of 5,000 strong, that the troops under General Collin thought it prudent to retreat. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his answer to Prince Metternich, held the same language as the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, and stated that it would have been perfectly competent to the Austrian troops to have held their ground. I was not so surprised to hear the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, to whom such great naval courage has been ascribed, state, that it was unbecoming in the Austrian troops, though only 800 strong, to retreat before an army of more than five times their number. On the contrary, I expected that argument from my noble Friend opposite. I think he might for a moment have fancied that he was not the Lord of a hundred nights, but the hero of a hundred fights, when he fancied that the legions of Austria might, under such circumstances, hold their ground. It appears by these papers, that on the 18th of February the Austrian troops advanced to Cracow, but that on the 22nd General Collin found it prudent to retire. On that same day (the 22nd of February) the manifesto of the Polish Government was put forth, in which 1192 they proclaimed, amongst other things, that they were 20,000,000; that their brethren were in arms at Posin, and prepared to revenge the wrongs of Poland; and they called upon the people of Poland to unite, and, as the symbol of their union, to take an oath. Accordingly an oath was prescribed, and they swore fidelity to their country, and implicit obedience to the Government of the revolution. Well, Sir, what are the articles of that revolutionary constitution? And here I trust that the Gentlemen who fancied that the spirit and the cause of freedom and of liberty were endangered in the case of Poland, will hearken for a moment to the terms of the constitution of Poland—the constitution of this revolutionary Government, with which the hon. Member for Montrose is so much in love. The first article of that constitution is, that the Government of Poland is absolute. Well, but what is the second article of this same constitution, of which the hon. Member for Finsbury seems also to entertain such admiration? Why, the second article of this free constitution is, that every person to whom the Government, or any authority under the command of the Government, shall propose any office of command, place, or post, and who shall not accept and fulfil such appointment, shall suffer the pains of death. The third article of this revolutionary constitution is, that every person capable of bearing arms, shall, within twenty-four hours after the publication of the manifesto of the national Government, put himself at the disposal of the authority of the place where he resides, and on his failing to do so, shall be tried as a deserter by a court-martial. The fourth article of this free constitution is, that every person who shall defraud the public moneys, or usurp public authority, shall be punished with death. The fifth article provides that every one forming part of any club, committee, or society, without the sanction and consent of the Government, shall be declared a traitor to his country, and as such shall suffer death. The sixth article is, that any person who shall be guilty of the destruction of any signal, or in impeding any person in making a signal, shall also be punished with death. Then, I ask, whether any man, who can lay his hand upon his heart and say that he is a lover of true liberty and of freedom, can agree in the admiration of this Polish republic? Sir, we heard something to-night from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract of 1193 the misconduct of the Austrian Government in giving encouragement to the Gallicians to murder the landed proprietors of that country. I am at a total loss to find in these papers any evidence of the kind: quite the contrary. It appears by the statement of Mr. Magennis that the first information received by the Austrian Government is as early as the 18th of February, which was derived from deputations arriving at the seat of the Austrian Government from no less than seventy villages in Gallicia, praying for assistance against this very Polish immigration; and it appears by these accounts, if they are to be trusted, that so far from the Austrians having excited them to revolt against their superiors, that it was not till those landowners and others who were parties to this insurrection had recourse to force, and as madmen, as they are described by Prince Metternich, shot down some of the peasantry who refused to join in their wicked insurrection, that the peasantry of Gallicia rose in self-defence upon their persecutors. Sir, it was well stated by Prince Metternich, in one of these public papers, that to call upon the peasantry of Gallicia to rise up and cry out for the restoration of the kingdom of Poland, was only to recommend them to call for that ancien régime, that harsh system under which they had suffered so much; it was to tell the peasantry of Poland that they were serfs under the ancien régime, and that they had become the proprietors of land under the rule of Austria. Why, then, is it to be wondered that the Gallician peasantry should rise as one man, as they did against this Polish invasion, against the renewal of the tyranny of which they still possessed a traditional recollection? And it seems, that though unarmed, they were able to rise against these persecutors, and to kill no less than six hundred. But, Sir, it is pretended that Austria, on this occasion, has no just ground for breaking the Treaty of Cracow. Why, either the Cracovians, or the Cracovians and Poles together, were the first to invade Austria; they crossed the Vistula 5,000 strong, and advanced to Podgorze and Wielicza, into the richest part of the territory of Austria, the country of the salt mines. Unless this Treaty of Cracow deprived Austria, and deprived Russia, and deprived Prussia, of the first law of nations, which consists in self-preservation, I cannot understand upon what principle or upon what argument it can be pretended that Austria had not a right to 1194 carry war into the heart of the city of Cracow; and, if she thought fit, to treat her as a conquered nation. But, Sir, with respect to the pretence that Austria and Russia and Prussia had no right to alter that part of the Treaty of Vienna, comprised in the articles entered into at Cracow, I can only repeat the argument which was so much more ably used by my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury on a former occasion, and remind the House that these articles entered into at Cracow were not articles of a treaty signed in chief, either by Great Britain, by France, by Sweden, by Spain, or by Portugal; and I repeat again, that I believe the law of nations to be that an annexed treaty stands on very different grounds from a treaty signed in chief. The House heard from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), on a former night of this debate, that England had never violated or evaded, broken or set at nought, any treaty to which she was a party; but how, then, was the House to reconcile the statement that here was a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna, with the circumstance that, in a like case, Great Britain—as the noble Lord confessed—favoured the separation of Belgium and Holland? The two cases stood on precisely the same ground; the same words applied to both. By the 73rd Article of the general Treaty of Vienna, it was stated—His Majesty the King of the Netherlands, having recognized and sanctioned, under date of the 21st of July, 1814, as the basis of the union of the Belgic Provinces with the United Provinces, the eight articles contained in the documents annexed to the present treaty, the said articles shall have the same force and validity as if they were inserted word for word in this present instrument.Now these are words stronger, if possible, than those in the articles entered into relative to Cracow. Well, but then what was the course taken when Belgium rose in revolt against Holland, and when France marched her troops across the frontier? Were any parties to the original treaty invited to a conference with respect to the annexation of Belgium with Holland? No; neither Sweden, nor Spain, nor Portugal, were invited by Great Britain to that congress. True it is that France, who had signed the treaty, was a party to that conference; but not in virtue of the Treaty of Vienna, but because her troops had crossed the Belgian frontier. Well then, Sir, the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his remonstrance to 1195 Prince Metternich, states that no treaty can be abrogated without the concurrence of all parties to it. Let me ask the noble Lord whether Russia concurred, or Austria concurred, or Prussia concurred, or the Netherlands concurred, or whether Sweden, Portugal, or Spain, concurred in that treaty for the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands, prior to the period when the noble Lord signed with the Minister of France the Convention for the separation of those countries? Why, Sir, Prussia, far from concurring—Prussia offered to send sixty thousand men to drive back the French from Belgium, and to put Belgium under the dominion of the King of the Netherlands. Therefore, if this be a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna, what was the condition of England in 1830, 1831, and 1832? Why, Sir, in this case you had Three Powers who were parties to the treaty in chief, who agreed to concur in a new arrangement with respect to Cracow; and in the case of Belgium and the Netherlands you had no one single Power in concurrence with you, out of the Eight Powers who signed the Treaty of Vienna, except France alone. True it is, that at a later period you obtained a ratification and concurrence in the treaty which you had signed; but that does not alter the position of England. If it be a violation of the Treaty of the Congress of Vienna, when Austria, Russia, and Prussia were alone signers in chief of the original annexed article, how much more was yours a violation of the Treaty of Vienna in 1831, when not only you did not seek the concurrence of all parties who signed the general treaty, but you did not wait even for the concurrence of three out of the four Powers who had signed the treaty for the settlement of the affairs of the Low Countries? Why, Sir, the laws of nations are like the written or common law of the land, and are to be learnt from the practice of great nations. And, unless you say that it is not the duty of a great nation to set an example in maintaining the faith of treaties, you have no earthly pretence whatever for saying that either the Emperor of Russia, or the Emperor of Austria, or the King of Prussia has violated the Treaty of Vienna, as regards the letter of it. But I now look at the spirit in which the Treaty of Vienna was drawn up. I will now examine the statement which has been made, that the object of the Treaty of Vienna was, as far as Cracow was concerned, to maintain inviolate the nationality of Poland, as far as 1196 that free State was concerned. Anything more contrary to the evidence that you have before you—anything more contrary to truth, never was propounded in this House. It may be well enough for those perpetual prattlers about freedom and nationality, to make such statements in the Freemasons' Tavern, and in places where no answer can be made to them; but to state that the spirit of the Treaty of Vienna, as far as the Cracow articles are concerned, was to maintain the nationality of Poland, is more directly adverse to facts than any statement that ever was made. You have here before you the correspondence of my Lord Castlereagh; and what was the object of that correspondence? Was it to secure the nationality of Poland? Far from it. It was to do that very thing which Prussia has now at length acceded to. The object of my Lord Castlereagh was to secure Cracow to the dominion of Austria; and so earnest was the Emperor Alexander on the one side to maintain this military key to the empire of Austria, and so earnest on the other hand were Great Britain and France that Russia should not be permitted to advance her military frontier from the Vistula, that England, and France, and Austria, absolutely signed secret articles of offence and defence on the 3rd of February, in order to defeat the ambitious designs of Russia. The object of Lord Castlereagh was to carry out the Treaty of Reichenbach of 13th of June, 1813, in which Austria, in consideration of her stipulation to join the allied forces, was guaranteed the restoration of her portion of the duchy of Warsaw, which had been wrested from her by Napoleon; whilst Prussia, on the other hand, refused to Russia the possession which she desired to have. But you say that we were parties to this Treaty of Cracow, and that Lord Castlereagh took this deep interest in the affairs of Austria, though he was not permitted officially to enter into the discussion with respect to the arrangements regarding the free State of Cracow. With respect to this nationality of Poland, what does the noble Lord say, treating of the Poles? The hon. Member for Montrose says, that though his Lordship was a cold-hearted man, he admired some of his letters. I admire them too, and the vigour with which he sought, not to restore the nationality of Poland, but to maintain for Austria her military frontier against Russia. Now, for those who argue that the spirit of the 1197 treaty was to maintain that nationality: In Lord Castlereagh's first communication to the Emperor of Russia, which was of an unofficial and private nature, he argues with him, and says, in a memorandum, that the advance of Russia—From the Niemen into the very heart of Germany, her possession of all the fortresses of the duchy, and thereby totally exposing to her attack the capitals of Austria and Prussia, without any line of defence or frontier; the invitation to the Poles to rally round the Emperor of Russia's standard for the renovation of their kingdom; the giving new hopes and animation, and the opening now scenes for the activity and cabals of that light and restless people; the prospect of renewing those tumultary contests, in which the Poles so long embroiled both themselves and their neighbours; the dread that this measure inspires of laying fresh materials for a new and early war; the extinction it produces of any reasonable hope of present tranquillity, confidence, and peace—all these, and many more considerations, present themselves to the general view, and justify the alarms that pervade Europe.Where is there to be found any sentiment in that passage which shows a desire to raise in Cracow a new nationality for Poland? So far from that, it was perfectly adverse to the wishes and desire of himself and of Great Britain; and, speaking of the Treaty of Reichenbach, he says—If the words of the treaty were as ambiguous as they are plain and conclusive, no person could possibly give such a construction to them as that these two Powers, who were then making engagements for the delivery of Europe, were induced to embrace that cause by covenanting their own military exposure to a powerful neighbour.What, was Austria to assist? The dissolution of the duchy of Warsaw, and the separation of the provinces which composed it between Austria, Prussia, and Russia, according to the arrangements to be made, without any intervention from Great Britain. Now, Cracow happened, from the year 1799 to 1809, to belong to Austria, and it was only in 1809 that Cracow was wrested from her by Napoleon, and constituted, at the desire of the Polish nobility, a portion of the grand duchy of Warsaw; and the object of the treaty, as well as of Lord Castlereagh, was to restore things to the state they were in before 1809. To show, in truth, how little, as far as Cracow was concerned, Russia, Austria, or Prussia admitted Great Britain and the other Powers to enter into their arrangements, it is only necessary to quote the letter from the Emperor Alexander, on the 1st of November, in which he cut Lord Castlereagh short, and giving him a rebuff on the subject in very laconic language, concludes by stating— 1198I trust, my Lord, that this communication will close this private correspondence, requesting you to transmit your official papers through the usual channel.From this time no other communication took place between them, at least so far as appears from the returns on the Table. If there are other papers, how comes it that the noble Lord the Secretary of State has kept them back? He ought to have given us all the documents which exist on the subject; but this is certainly the last which appears in the correspondence; and while Alexander writes this with his own hand, he encloses a memorandum written by Count Nesselrode, in which the Count concludes by stating—We will conclude by remarking that the intervention of a mediator in every discussion is doubtless desirable, and may be beneficial whenever it serves to bring opinions closer together. In the contrary case, it is preferable to leave to the interested parties the task of discussing their differences, and of entering into explanation between themselves, especially when a close connexion, and a reciprocal confidence constitutes the most active principle of their negotiations.So that while Alexander cut short Lord Castlereagh in very laconic language, his Minister also declines the mediation of England. This was so far back as November, 1814; and the Treaty of Cracow was not signed between the Three Powers till the 3rd of May in the following year, and engrafted into the General Treaty on the 9th of June. Therefore, it appears clear, that if those Three. Powers undid the treaty without the assistance of Great Britain or their allies, they are only untying the knot as they had tied it. But notice was given to the noble Lord the Secretary of State, so far back as the 14th August, by Sir R. Gordon, that the Three Powers would not admit any interference of any other Power in their consultations for the settlement of the affairs of Cracow. If the noble Lord received that communication from Sir R. Gordon on the 22nd August, how came it that he did not at once remonstrate and say, "You have no right to settle the affairs of Cracow, and to undo the treaty without our consent and without a conference with us." But no remonstrance, no protest was made by the noble Lord till the subsequent 6th of November, when he had learned it was un fait accompli, and that Russia and Prussia had decided Cracow should be absorbed into Austria. Having now shown, by the example of your own conduct in the case of the Netherlands and Belgium, that Austria, Russia, and Prussia have pro- 1199 ceeded in this instance according to the ordinary course of such matters, and that the treaty was undone in the same way as it was made; and having shown you that the present arrangement has been carried out in the spirit of the treaty as it was made by Great Britain, if her wishes had been consulted in this matter, let us consider how far the Cracovians themselves, in all other substantial interests, have been consulted. Originally Cracow was not admitted to any conference at all. I am now referring to the Treaty of 1815. You had forty-seven empires, kingdoms, cantons, republics, free States, and free towns represented at that conference; and you had about ninety corporate bodies and individuals also represented there. You had there the free towns of Hamburg and Bremen, Frankfort, and Lubeck. You had even the Jews of Bremen and of Lubeck represented there, as well as the Lady Abbess of Thorn, and even the pretenders to a small duchy; but Cracow was not represented at all; and the whole consideration with regard to it was how far its remaining strictly neutral, or its being annexed to Russia or to Austria, would add to the military power of either. The question was settled at last as it remained till last year, not because the contracting parties agreed to the wishes of Cracow, but because, happily for the peace of Europe, at the very moment when Russia had determined not to give way, nor resign the advancement of her military power, when she had quartered 280,000 men on Poland; and when Prussia, satisfied with Thorn being given up, had armed her contingent of 173,000 to side with Russia, while the Anglo-Belgic army only numbered 80,000 men: when France had been called upon to disarm 200,000 men, and Austria had put 200,000 on the footing of a militia, Napoleon mistook his time, and chose to descend upon the coast of France, when the fear of the common enemy and the influence of the common danger roused them to forego their differences; and the great Powers not being able to settle the great question, agreed to settle their differences at all events, and to leave Cracow neutral, to be governed week by week under the surveillance of one of the Three Powers, not as a free State, like Hamburgh, Bremen, or Lubeck, but as a State altogether under the protection of those Powers. Well, then, let us see how the interests of Cracow itself have been concerned. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose 1200 read an anonymous letter. He told us he could not give us the name, but he read us an anonymous declaration, which he said was the very contrary to the statement which he has ascribed to me of bonfires and music and dancing, which the hon. Member told us I had stated to the House had occurred at Cracow upon the proclamation on the part of the Austrian Government. Sir, I do not doubt the hon. Gentleman has himself received such a declaration as to bonfires and music and dancing; but I never made any such statement to the House. I made no such declaration at any time. [Mr. HUME: You said there were illuminations.] I stated there were illuminations—that the proclamation was received with acclamation by the people—and that there were illuminations at night. I will prove to you that that is the feeling of the Cracovians themselves. I will prove to you, though not upon anonymous authority—I will prove to you upon a statement of that kind which cannot be easily doubted, that the feelings of the Cracovians are very different from those which the hon. Gentleman has represented them to be. I have already stated to you what the feelings of the Gallicians were. We have here a despatch from Colonel Du Platt, our Consul-General in Warsaw; and what does he state? He states that after the reception of the proclamation, when the Russian army marched out of Cracow, they were accompanied for seven miles by thousands of the inhabitants of all classes, who repeatedly treated them with the most enthusiastic cheers, not only for themselves, but the Emperor Nicholas. Now, that is the feeling displayed towards the Emperor Nicholas, in contradistinction to the feelings which they entertained for the Polish immigrants. Now, Sir, with regard to Austria, I think I have shown you conclusively, first, that the people of Cracow had just reason to rejoice at the contrast which the Austrian Government afforded to this reign of terror, which was worthy of the days of Marat or of Robespierre, and which would have been aggravated and continued had the Poles succeeded. I will now show you what the conduct of Austria has really been, and prove to you that she has fulfilled her promises to Cracow; and that the Cracovians, so far from being afflicted, have good grounds for rejoicing at the change. The House has heard a great deal about the constitution, of revolution, and of the manifesto of the National Government of Poland. I will read for 1201 you the declaration of the Emperor of Austria:—We, Ferdinand I., by the Grace of God, Emperor of Austria, 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.[Mr. T. DUNCOMBE: Hear.] The hon. Gentleman cheers; but does the Emperor promise trial by court-martial, or summary prosecutions ending in the death of the accused? Does he declare all traitors if they venture without his authority or sanction to become members of clubs, committees, or of any society whatever? I wish those who admire that sort of "freedom" had been in Cracow at the revolution, so that they might get a taste of this "free" government. I wish that those who are anxious that the colonies and provinces of this empire should cast off the dominion of the mother country and become "free," would reflect upon Cracow in the days of her "freedom," and perhaps they would see that those advantages were not, after all, so enviable or so delightful. But, Sir, I am not indulging in any loose or general statements. Let us look to documents—authentic, not anonymous documents—let us inquire into the real facts. What says the Emperor of Austria further?—We promise them in return to maintain and to protect our holy religion; to administer justice impartially; to apportion according to the laws of equity the public burdens.The hon. Member for Montrose, who is so fond of pounds, shillings, and pence, will no doubt appreciate this article. [Mr. HUME: I do not.] The document goes on to say—Finally, to watch strictly over the maintenance of general security. All those who, by a prompt submission to the present measure, which has for its object their own well-being only, and by their fidelity and attachment to our House, shall render themselves worthy of our favour, shall always find in us a paternal Sovereign and a clement Emperor.["Hear!"] I quite understand the cheer; but let the facts speak for themselves:—And we shall exert ourselves to the utmost to cause them to participate in the benefits which the annexation to a great and powerful monarchy can procure for the inhabitants of Cracow.Is it not a pleasure to contrast the tone and diction of this document with the threatening of death and the arbitrary edicts of the "free" Government against all those who would dare to refuse to accept and fulfil the dangerous duties de- 1202 volved upon them? Is it not, I say, a pleasure to every man who admires well-regulated freedom; who loves order and hates anarchy, to compare the contents of this proclamation with the threats of the revolutionists against—"all who are capable of bearing arms, and who do not repair within twenty-four hours to the place of rendezvous, and put themselves at the disposal of the authorities of the place?And, if not—Such persons would be tried as traitors before a court-martial; and every free man who shall, without sanction of the revolutionary Government, be a member of a committee, or of any society whatever, shall be declared a traitor to his country.Now, Sir, I come to the evidence of how the promises of Austria were fulfilled. I quoted authorities, which were disputed the other night. I will now quote authorities which perhaps will be received with more confidence by the hon. Gentleman opposite: one is from a correspondent of the Times newspaper; and the other from a correspondent of a republican newspaper at Hamburgh, written from Cracow. The correspondent of the Times wrote from Vienna, and his letter was dated November the 14th. He speaks thus:—The astounding news of the incorporation of Cracow with our monarchy caused, at the first moment, an extraordinary sensation. While some call it a melancholy legacy of the revolution of the nobles, others rejoice at it for the interest of Cracow itself, which being henceforth united with so great a State, will consequently participate in all the blessings of commerce and manufacture which are now so rapidly advancing.I will now read the extract from the Hamburgh paper, a republican paper be it remembered. It is dated December 5, 1846:—We are informed from Cracow that the announcement of the annexation of Cracow with Austria, though it has created some unpleasant sensation amongst the lower classes here, who are generally prone to judge of things more by their name than the spirit, has nevertheless satisfied the higher and middle classes that the general welfare of the community will now be more promoted by the control of one Government than by that of three Governments, who have always governed the council of our chambers according to the peculiar views and interests of each of them separately. In fact, we had hitherto only the burdens of a republic without its advantages, and though we are no longer a nominal free State, the territory will no more be convulsed by foreign intrigues and agitations; while annexed to Austria we shall enjoy liberty, safety, and protection, and those benefits of commerce so peculiar to all the subjects of that vast and liberal empire.And the editor of the paper makes these remarks:— 1203We should certainly have felt ashamed at the little sense and value of liberty so displayed by our countrymen, had they previously actually enjoyed true republican liberty; but as that liberty was merely nominal, we cannot help agreeing with their sentiments, to our regret and sorrow.I will next, Sir, read a letter, dated the 15th of February, from a gentleman of high station in Cracow. He is a gentleman learned in the law, and was Counsel to the Senate of Cracow. His office is now gone, his occupation has ceased, and we may therefore consider him to be an impartial judge. It is a letter written in confidence to a brother collegian in this country, who placed it at my disposal, with permission to read it if I thought fit. It is, as I said before, written by a gentleman of name and title, whose statements may be relied upon:—
§ "Cracow, Feb. 15, 1847.
My dear Fellow-Student—The annexation of our pseudo republic with Austria has called forth diplomatic bickerings abroad, and more especially in France and your country; but these very quarrels only betray the total ignorance that prevails even in the better-informed circles as to the real advantages accruing to us from the change. Every one acquainted with the local history of Cracow well knows that from 1795 to 1809, when Cracow belonged to Austria, the prosperity of the district had increased at such a rate as to induce the Polish nobility to have it incorporated with Warsaw in 1809, or rather to wrench it from Austria. From 1815 until the present moment, Ave had an annual expenditure that had gradually increased from 100,000 to 300,000 dollars for the support of our institutions, besides the maintaining of the several divisions of the allied troops in and about the republic, who professed to watch for our safety. Considering, then, that the whole population of the republic amounted only to 130,000 inhabitants, it could not be wondered at that the district was fast sinking in material wealth, and that out of 275 wholesale merchants, not more than 87 remained by official returns in 1845. And not only had our expenditure increased beyond the means of the suffering inhabitants, but even the resources of our income had greatly decreased ever since 1815, because, being considered now as a State by itself, regular duties were now paid on all the goods coming from Austria; and as Cracow had nothing to offer in return, commerce only drained the little State of the little specie it possessed instead of adding to it. Neither were the numerous Polish refugees, in abject poverty, who daily nocked to Cracow, calculated to ease us of the heavy burdens under which we were already groaning. Cracow was also the high thoroughfare for all the salt, wine, and other articles that passed through it to Poland; but the frequent political agitations had so often closed the Russian boundary towards us, that the transit trade has, ever since 1836, taken a quite different route—through Limberg and Brody. The tangible advantages resulting from the present change are—1. The saving of taxation of 300,000 dollars for the annual requisite expenditure. 2. The abolition of import duties on Austrian goods. 3. The
ridding us of the foreign troops, whom we were obliged to maintain gratis, 4. The influx of a great number of Austrian mercantile families, who are daily now settling in Cracow, by which commerce and industry have, ever since the beginning of this year, received such an impulse of activity as to inspire all classes with the most sanguine hopes of a steady return to our old wealth and prosperity, which had given rise to the old Polish proverb, 'As rich as a Cracovian.' If you ask what we have lost? I answer a mere 'word,' meaning everything and nothing—
§ 'Verbaque dicuntur dictis contraria verbis.'
§ "Yours, &c., C. L. OFFENBACH, Counsel.
P.S. Nearly all the municipal landed property has been mortgaged ever since 1833, and there is not a single banker at Vienna or Berlin who does not hold some part or other of the immovable property, and more especially that situated in the suburb Chremnitz. All those debts, amounting to more than three millions of dollars, the Austrian Government has undertaken to pay, without charging our community to bear even a part of the interest due on them. What do we want more?
§ Now, Sir, there is the important opinion of a gentleman of high station, written in confidence to a friend in England. Therefore, I say that something more of reliance is to be placed upon such a document, than upon the anonymous correspondent of the hon. Member for Montrose. Under these circumstances, seeing that it is not easy for this country, without condemning herself, to make out any manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna—seeing that justice has been done to all parties—seeing that the interests of the general peace of Europe has been consulted—seeing that those objects which the British Government had in view in 1814 and 1815 have been carried out by the magnanimous concessions of the Emperor Nicholas, without any compensation whatever to him—seeing that Austria has only recovered back that which it had been so positively decided she should have in 1814—seeing that the true interests of Cracow, so far from being materially injured, have been greatly advanced, and that, so from tyranny and despotism having been established, true freedom and prosperity are likely to be the lot of Cracow—["Hear!"] Yes, I repeat, freedom, prosperity, commerce, wealth, and security, are likely to be the lot of Cracow, instead of her being subjected to such tyranny as that which had been practised in revolutionary times—seeing all these things, I am bound to vote against the Motion. ["Hear!"] Oh, yes! I know what the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duncombe) means by that cheer. There is nothing like the truth to be spoken 1205 here. He does not wish it to go forth to his constituents and to the country that the freedom he professes to admire, is in reality despotism of the worst description, and that such "freedom" is to be found much more on the side of republican than of monarchical governments; feeling all these things, I, for one, will not consent to brand the Emperor of Austria, or the Emperor of Russia, or the King of Prussia with the charge that they have been guilty of a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna. There is nothing which I have heard with deeper regret, with deeper pain, than that declaration from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, ascribing mean, paltry, and unworthy motives and feelings to the Emperors of Austria and of Russia, upon a mere suspicion. I think it is the first time that three crowned heads were charged with such unworthy, such very dishonourable motives by any Minister of England upon a ground so trifling as to amount only to a mere suspicion. Sir, for these reasons, far from condemning, I thank the mild, the clement, the paternal Sovereign of Austria. [Laughter.] Yes, I thank him; and I thank the mild and just King of Prussia, and I thank the Emperor of Russia. Let those who cheer ironically show me by arguments and by evidence, and not by mere declamation and invective, that they have truth and justice upon their side. I have quoted evidence—I have adduced facts—but the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Milnes) who treated the House with a two hours' speech did neither. He quoted a very novel sort of law, that if Austria had not inserted certain words in the convention, in all probability England would have inserted some other words. That certainly is a kind of law which I never heard quoted before. But I repeat I have proved my case, I have produced my evidence. It speaks for itself, and will bear inquiry. I have brought proofs which the hon. Member for Pontefract will not attempt to contradict; and in conclusion, I will observe, that so far from censuring those great Powers for acting as they have done, I am glad that a too lengthened forbearance has at length given way to the mercy of decision, and put down and smothered this den of revolutionists who promised to keep Europe in hot water, whilst they were ruining their own country, and disturbing their neighbours'; and with this feeling, Sir, I give my direct negative to these resolutions.1206
§ MR. T. S. DUNCOMBE
could not possibly say, and would not enter into the question, whether or not the feelings of the noble Lord were reciprocated in that House. He could not, indeed, help thinking, after the speech they had just heard, that Her Majesty's Ministers themselves would be but too happy to withdraw their opposition to the Motion of his hon. Friend. That Motion at present was simply that that House should express its alarm and indignation at the incorporation of the free State of Cracow into the territory and dominions of Austria by a treaty and convention entered into at Vienna last year, in manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna of 1815. The noble Lord had stated truly that on a former evening, when the Address was moved to Her Majesty's Speech, the House on that occasion was not pledged to any declaration of opinion with reference to the asserted violation of the Treaty of Vienna. They were not, said the noble Lord, and he believed they were not, committed to any such opinion. In fact, it was then stated, in answer to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, that the Address was only an echo of the Speech, and that the House did not then pledge itself to any declaration on the subject. But, if that were so, and the House was not committed, was it not time that it should be committed to the opinion that there had been a direct violation of the treaty? He was not sure if the protectionist party generally concurred in the views expressed by the noble Lord; but he was quite satisfied that not one man in a hundred in this country would agree in any such sentiments. The House of Commons was now called upon to give a direct vote, and one, too, in conformity with the resolutions moved by the hon. Member (Mr. Hume). The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had the other night made, to be sure, a most eloquent speech, and had then admitted all that they could expect. He had argued most ably that there had been a manifest violation of the Treaty of Vienna; and it would have been fortunate if the noble Lord had stopped there. He had, however, gone further than that; and though he proved this country had been grossly insulted by those three Northern Powers whom the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Bentinck) had taken under his protection, the noble Lord asked, what had the House of Commons to do with that? The noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office had protested properly; and so, though they had been insulted, they were 1207 told to pay the money, say no more, and think themselves uncommonly well off. The noble Lord opposite met all this with a direct negative. He called the Cracovians the most unreasonable people on the face of the earth; and he considered they ought to be grateful for all the favours Austria was about to bestow on them. He denied the facts and the inference. He had also seen a gentleman who was at Cracow at the time the independence of the State was annihilated, and who remained there three days after the event. He had asked this gentleman about the illuminations; and on this point from this authority the noble Lord could receive every information — information, too, not addressed from Vienna. He had himself seen people illuminate their houses at home, rather than have their windows broken; and he believed that the inhabitants of Cracow had preferred an illumination to having their throats cut—which would have been the extent of the tender mercies of the mild and clement Emperor of Austria. He had been told—and he saw no reason to doubt it—that when the imperial proclamation was published in Cracow, it was amid the thunder of the Austrian artillery, in the presence of the tears of the women and the murmurs of the men. During three days afterwards the Austrian authorities were occupied in dividing the city into sections, and making the inhabitants take the oath of allegiance to the Austrian Government. There could be no doubt that the Emperor of Austria was detested at Cracow; and, indeed, in every part of Europe where he was known. It might perhaps amuse the House if he were to give an instance of the sort of education which the Austrian Government gave to the youth of Austria, and which would, doubtless, be now extended to the rising generation at Cracow. The document which he was about to read to the House was a kind of catechism for the use of schools, and ran as follows:—Question.—How ought subjects to conduct themselves towards their Sovereign? Answer.—Subjects ought to behave towards their Sovereign like faithful slaves towards their master.Question.—Why ought they to behave like slaves? Answer.—Because the Sovereign is their master, and his power extends over their property, as over their persons.Question.—Is it a blessing that God bestows in giving us good and Christian kings and superiors? Answer.—Yes, it is one of the greatest blessings the Deity can bestow when he gives us good and Christian kings and superiors, such as those under whom we have the happiness to dwell. 1208 We ought to pray that God will grant a long life and a long reign to our beloved monarch.These sentiments coincided with the tone of the noble Lord's speech; but he (Mr. Duncombe) believed that no Austrian would allow his son to pledge himself to the opinions expressed in that catechism. The noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck), in contrasting the constitution of the revolution with the proclamation of the Emperor of Austria, read some articles of the former; but he omitted those parts which did not happen to serve his purpose. He might be permitted to observe, also, that those harsh provisions in the constitution upon which the noble Lord laid so much stress, were directed against foreigners — Austrians, Russians, and Prussians—who would not consent to the new order of things which it was desired to establish in Poland. In reading the first article of the constitution, the noble Lord stopped short, and omitted the words which declared that the Government of Poland was answerable to the nation. He should like to know whether any of the Three Governments which had suppressed the independence of Cracow were responsible to the nations over which they ruled? The manifesto of the Polish Government, issued on the 22nd of February, gave a different account of the results to be anticipated from the establishment of the constitution, than the noble Lord would have had the House believe from the extracts which he had read from the constitution itself. The manifesto contained the following passages:—We are 20,000,000; if we rise with one accord, no power will be able to subdue our force, and we shall obtain a state of freedom hitherto unknown in the world. Let us fight for this happy state, in which every one will be able to make use of the goods of the earth according to his abilities and deserts, and no privileges will belong to any rank of society; that state in which every Pole will find protection for himself, his wife, and children; in which he who is deficient in mind, or crippled in body, will receive the necessary support from the rest of the community, without incurring debasement; and in which the soil, now only conditionally occupied by the agriculturist, will become his own unconditional property; tithes, services, and obligations of every kind, now exacted by the landowners, will be done away with; and every one who, sword in hand, devotes himself to the national cause, will be rewarded from the national estates. Poles! henceforth we are all alike, we are brothers, sons of one mother, our country, and one father, God in Heaven; upon Him we call for help. He blesses our arms, and gives us the victory; but, in order that He may listen to our prayer, let us abstain from drunkenness and plunder, and let us not stain our arms by the murder of unarmed strangers, or per- 1209 sons differing from us in faith; for we fight not against the people, but against our oppressors.Would that not have been an improvement upon anything which Austria, Russia, and Prussia had ever done for them? Treated as the Poles had been by those Powers, they were perfectly right in guarding against their machinations by those articles of the constitution to which the noble Lord had referred. The noble Lord seemed disposed to aid the Three Powers in the attempt which they were evidently making to establish a system of oppression throughout Europe. That was an important part of the question. Two great principles were now at issue on the Continent—the principle of absolutism, and the principle of constitutional government; and every day the principle of absolutism was endeavouring to encroach upon the antagonist principle. It was perfectly true, as his hon. Friend below him had stated, that the liberties of Frankfort, Hamburgh, and Switzerland, would not be worth six months' purchase if the British House of Commons were to sanction, or even tolerate, the injustice which had been perpetrated with respect to Cracow. He was sure that the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord would not be responded to either by that House or the Government. The noble Lord who appeared to be in the secrets of the Three Powers, would, perhaps, be kind enough to inform the House why this act of paternal favour, as he deemed it, conferred upon the people of Cracow, had been effected in a manner insulting to England? No person could read the papers which had been laid upon the Table of the House with reference to this subject, without arriving at the conclusion that our Ambassadors had either been neglectful of their duty, or grossly imposed upon by the Three Sovereigns. If those three benefactors of mankind duped and deceived our Ambassadors, they had greatly aggravated their offence, and insulted the national honour of this country. Hear what the Earl of Westmorland, our Ambassador at Berlin, writes on the 23rd of February:—The occupation of Cracow is declared to be entirely of a temporary nature, and is only destined to last as long as the Senate and Government of the country may require it.Would the noble Lord, or some of his friends, have the goodness to explain that? Leaving the Court of Berlin, and going to that of St. Petersburgh, he found the Hon. J. Bloomfield writing to the Earl of Aber- 1210 deen, on the 17th of March, in the following terms:—I asked Count de Nesselrode whether there was any truth in the rumours which had reached me, of the intention of the Three Allies to endeavour to introduce into the government of Cracow some change affecting its independence? His Excellency replied, that the present condition of that State was one of inconvenience to its neighbours; that no modification of its institutions had yet been proposed; but that the question might be taken into consideration.He next turned to Vienna, and there he found Mr. Magennis writing to the Earl of Aberdeen, on the 1st of April, an account of a conversation which he had held with Prince Metternich:—Prince Metternich informed me, upon my alluding to Count Ficquelmont's departure, that he had advised his Imperial Majesty to send his Excellency to Berlin, to give explanations to the Prussian Cabinet upon Polish affairs (pour éclaircir notre position sur les affaires Polonaises'); but his Highness made no mention of the specific points upon which explanations were to be offered; and I can in consequence only form conjectures as to what they may be. It can hardly be doubted that the future position of the republic of Cracow will form one of the most important points of discussion between the Three Protecting Powers. I have no reason to believe that there exists any idea of permanent military occupation of that city upon the part of this Cabinet. The respect which Prince Metternich has for what is consecrated by solemn treaties forbids any such supposition; and his Highness further told me, that the explanations which the Austrian Ambassador in London had given respecting their intentions, had been received by your Lordship, as he (Prince Metternich) 'wished and expected.'After what had occurred, Mr. Magennis' allusion to Prince Metternich's respect for what is consecrated by solemn treaties, sounded like irony. Colonel Du Piatt, writing to Lord Palmerston from Warsaw, on the 23rd of July, said—I have heard that Austria has been allowed to retain sole possession of Cracow for the present, in virtue of arrangements made prior to the late disturbances, and that this concession or right will not expire until the end of two years from the date of the present sole occupation.It appeared that Colonel Du Piatt knew more of what was going on than anybody else. The noble Lord said, that the suppression of Cracow was the consequence of the disturbances which had taken place in Gallicia, and the issuing of the manifest of the Constitutional Government; but it was clear from Colonel Du Platt's despatch that, at the least, the occupation of Cracow for two years by Austria had been determined upon before the occurrence of either of those events. He suspected, and time would show whether his suspicions 1211 were well-founded, that the insurrections and murders which had taken place in Gallicia, had been incited by the noble Lord's friend, the Emperor of Austria. If it were not so, how did it happen that although 2,000 persons had been murdered during the insurrection, not a single individual had been arrested on the charge of being concerned in the commission of these crimes? For his part, he believed that the Allied Sovereigns were engaged in a plot which extended beyond Cracow, and had for its object the suppression of the liberties of Europe generally. It was just two years since Her Majesty informed them from the Throne, that the Emperor of Russia had done us the honour of paying a visit to this country; and Her Majesty then said, that—The journey of the Emperor of Russia, undertaken at a great sacrifice of private convenience, is a proof of the friendship of His Imperial Majesty most acceptable to my feelings.And Her Majesty further expressed the hope that this visit might—"still further improve those amicable relations which have long existed between Great Britain and Russia.Well, he hoped that for the sake of paying us a visit, His Imperial Majesty would not again put himself to the slightest "personal inconvenience," so long at least as the slavery of Cracow should remain. The noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) had thanked the Three Northern Powers for what they had done with reference to Cracow; but he, on the part of his constituents, thanked the hon. Member for Montrose for bringing forward this question. He also thanked the noble Lord for having so plainly stated his sentiments, in case he should ever become the Foreign Secretary of this country. It was not his object to discuss the whole of this question. He thought, however, the money part of it was the most unimportant of the whole. What he wanted was, the British House of Commons not to embarrass the Ministry, but to do that which would strengthen their hands if any struggle should ever ensue. Of this he was quite satisfied, that this atrocious infraction of a public treaty, this act of imperial spoliation, tyranny, and wrong, ought not to pass unanswered and uncondemned by the British House of Commons.
SIR E. PEEL
Sir, if the views of the hon. Gentleman who proposed these resolutions were just, I should at once admit the inference drawn in a series of consistent 1212 resolutions. If we are justified in relieving ourselves from the obligation which the Conventions of 1815 and 1831 imposed to take upon ourselves the payment of a portion of the debt contracted by Russia from subjects of Holland, the hon. Gentleman has pursued a Parliamentary and consistent course in prefacing his practical resolution by an enunciation of the motives on which that resolution is based. And if I agreed in the conclusion to which he comes in his fourth resolution, I should have no great difficulty in affirming the preceding propositions, if not in the identical terms he has made use of, at least in language corresponding with them in substance. But, Sir, I have great doubt as to the right of this country to relieve itself from the obligations contracted by the Conventions of 1815 and 1831; and if there be any question as to that right, I must pause before I constitute myself the sole judge, and decide in my own favour in respect of a pecuniary obligation.
The following are the grounds on which I differ from the hon. Gentleman, as to his practical conclusion. I find, that by the Treaty of 1815, we undertook the payment of part of the Russian debt to Holland on two grounds: first, on account of the exertions which were made by the Powers that were parties to the Treaty of Chaumont, in relieving Belgium from the power of France and annexing it to Holland; but, secondly, and more materially, as it affects the honour of England, because, on the conclusion of peace, we reserved to ourselves those valuable possessions which Holland had heretofore held, viz., the Cape of Good Hope, Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice. The letter of Lord Castlereagh, recently published, is almost decisive on this point. Lord Castlereagh, who was cognizant of all these transactions, distinctly says—It also appears to me impossible, after the principles laid down in our negotiations with Holland, and the Convention concluded in August last with the Prince of Orange, that Great Britain could retain Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, without incurring some such charge, either as an increased fund applicable to fortifications, or an arrangement in favour of the Powers who reconquered the Low Countries.We not only, therefore, contracted a pecuniary obligation—we not only transferred to Russia any right we might have of pecuniary indemnity from Holland for exertions in the common cause, but we received an equivalent for the payment we had agreed to make—we reserved to ourselves 1213 as possessions, to be held by us in perpetuity, expressly in consideration of our taking upon ourselves this payment, the Cape of Good Hope, Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. And what further does that treaty stipulate? There is an express stipulation in the convention recognised by Act of Parliament—(and I have not yet heard any reference in the course of the debate to this circumstance)—there is an express stipulation that the pecuniary obligation shall endure, that the payment by us of half the interest of the Russo-Dutch Loan shall continue, even in the event of a war between the two countries. Now, suppose the hon. Gentleman to be correct—suppose the violation of the Treaty of Vienna by Russia to be so flagrant that we thought fit to resent it by a declaration of war with Russia, I contend that, even after that declaration of war, we are bound by express stipulation to continue the payment. [MR. HUME: There was another condition, the annexation of Belgium with Holland.] That was, no doubt, one of the inducements to us to undertake the payment; but the severance of Belgium from Holland does not relieve us from the express stipulation, that even in the event of hostilities between Russia and England, and though Holland should take part in them, we were to continue the payment of that debt. I say, therefore, that if we chose to go to war with Russia now, the obligation to pay the debt would remain: and is it possible that it can be cancelled, and cancelled by us, if we prefer remaining at peace? It is, therefore, because I doubt the right of England to relieve herself from this obligation, that I cannot concur with the hon. Gentleman. It is possible, as the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) observed, that, considering this matter technically, a court of law might give a decision in our favour; but, considering it equitably, according to the intentions of the parties and the spirit of the convention, I deny that we are morally justified in refusing the payment we undertook to make to relieve ourselves. And if we are not, I must protest at any time, but particularly at the present, against our seeking a pecuniary advantage, and thus disentitling ourselves to hold the language we are entitled to hold. I am the more anxious that we should equitably and honourably fulfil our engagements, because I differ from the language which has been held by the Minister of France as to the effect of the recent transactions between 1214 the Three Great Powers. M. Guizot says, in enforcing his protest against the acts of the Three Powers—No Power can free itself from those treaties without at the same time freeing others. France has not given the example of such an attempt on the policy of conservatism and peace. France has not forgotten what painful sacrifices were imposed on her by the Treaties of 1815. She might rejoice at an act which would authorize her, by a just reciprocity, never henceforth to consult anything but a provident estimate of her own interests.Sir, I protest against the conduct of the Three Powers, and I protest also against the doctrines of the Minister of France. I cannot admit that either this country or France is entitled by a just reciprocity never henceforth to consult "anything but a provident estimate of her own interests." I totally deny that the misdeeds, if they be misdeeds, of other Powers parties to the Treaty of Vienna, justify us, either morally or legally, in violating that treaty; and it is because I believe that in the present state of Europe a strict and honourable adherence to treaties is the best foundation of peace, and the best hope of solving any difficulties that the present aspect of affairs may present—it is because I differ from the Minister of France as to the right of France, or England, or Sweden, or any Power a party to the Treaty of Vienna, to cancel its own obligations by following the example against which it protests—it is on these grounds I feel deeply anxious, that our own language should be unequivocal, and our own course clear, and that, if we stand alone, we shall set an honourable example in the face of Europe of a strict adherence to the obligations of treaty. It is upon these grounds—upon the ground of equity, upon the ground of high policy, upon grounds connected with the name and honour of England—that I cannot concur with the hon. Gentleman in taking the first step, or any step, towards relieving ourselves from this pecuniary obligation.
I find that there are Gentlemen who, concurring with me as to the continued obligations of the Conventions of 1815 and 1831, are still prepared, although dissenting from the hon. Gentleman's fourth resolution, to concur with him in those which precede it. Now, as I said before, I think the hon. Gentleman's resolutions are a consistent series, provided his practical conclusion is correct; but if it be not correct, the first resolution 1215 and the two which follow, stand without any support whatever. The first resolution invites us to declare, that we view the conduct of the Three Powers "with alarm and indignation." After we have made this declaration, what do hon. Gentlemen propose that we shall do? "With alarm and indignation!" I cannot say that, for a popular assembly like this, for the representative body of England, I cannot say that I think it a dignified course to place upon record a resolution of this nature without being prepared to follow it up by some practical step. The hon. Gentleman deprecates war—he states that he is not prepared for war. I consider that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) was justified in the distinction which he drew between the Executive Government—between the Crown (who, in the case of foreign Powers, is the organ and representative of the United Kingdom) and a popular assembly like the House of Commons. The Crown has entered its protest against the annihilation of Cracow as a free and independent State. It is the duty of the Crown, on the part of this great empire, to make representations of this nature to foreign Powers. The Crown is the legitimate channel through which the embodied opinion of this country may be expressed. But I greatly doubt the policy, if we are not prepared to take any practical step whatever, of coming to an angry and menacing resolution, even should that resolution appear to be in general harmony with the previous protest of the Executive Government. I prefer leaving the matter in the hands of the Crown—I prefer leaving it to the discretion and the responsibility of the Executive Government, to determine both on the character and tone of the protest, and the measures to be adopted with a view to give effect to it. I am, therefore, perfectly prepared to vote for the previous question.
These being my opinions upon this particular Motion—being unable to assent to the resolutions of the hon. Member for Montrose—I feel it to be my duty to avow my adherence to the opinion I expressed on the first day of the Session, that the act of the Three Powers in extinguishing the independence of Cracow—in annihilating its existence as a free State—is alike contrary to the stipulations of treaty, and to the dictates of prudence and sound policy. I make this declaration with great regret, because, I retain my opinion also that it is of the utmost importance that we 1216 should maintain friendly relations with these Three Great Powers. I, for one, viewed with the greatest satisfaction, the amicable understanding which for some years existed, until it was unfortunately interrupted by the transaction of the Spanish marriages, be-between this country and France. I thought it was of importance to the welfare of the two countries—to the cause of civilization—to the general tranquillity of the whole world. I have seen it interrupted with great pain. But while such was my opinion of the importance of friendly relations with France, I never wished to cultivate them in any manner or degree that should interfere with the maintenance of friendly relations with the other great Powers of Europe also. I never wish to see any secret intimate understanding between this country and France, which would justly cause suspicion or jealousy to the Three Great Powers with whom we had maintained for many years an alliance, honourable to those who were parties to it, most useful to the general interests of humanity, and conducive to the peace of the world. I must say, with respect to these Powers, that during the time I had official communication with them, the good understanding we maintained with Prussia, Russia, and Austria, was entirely justified by their conduct towards Great Britain. They always manifested confidence in the honourable intentions of this country, and justified a reciprocal confidence on our part in their declarations and conduct. But favourably disposed, as I am, towards those Three Powers, I cannot concur with the opinions of the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck), that they are not only free from blame, but actually entitled to a public acknowledgment from this country for the course they had taken with regard to Cracow. I cannot find, in the elaborate arguments of Prince Metternich, any justification of that course. I am told that the liberty given to Cracow was given by some separate and independent act to which England was not a party; that the Three Powers, agreeing among themselves, consented to give to Cracow an independence and state of freedom which Cracow had never previously enjoyed; that France and England stood by in the humble capacity of mere registers and witnesses of the magnanimous act of the Three Powers; that our participation in the Treaty of Vienna, so far as Cracow is concerned, is not only not such as to entitle us to intervention in behalf of Cracow, but that by undertaking to register 1217 the decisions of other Powers, we have admitted their absolute discretion, and have lost the right even to complain and remonstrate. But I find this stated in the preamble of the Treaty of Vienna:—The Powers who signed the Treaty concluded at Paris on the 30th May, 1814, having in pursuance of the 32nd Article of that Treaty, assembled at the Congress of Vienna, for the purpose of embracing in one common transaction the various results of their negotiation for the purpose of confirming them by their reciprocal ratifications, and of uniting into a general act the particular acts cited in the present treaty.I maintain that the separate acts form, if there be any truth in language, part of this treaty. What is the meaning of declaring that each separate treaty included in the appendix shall have precisely the same force as if it were inscribed in the general treaty, unless it have really and practically that force? Is it possible to maintain that Three Powers parties to a treaty having a bearing on the general interests of Europe—having confirmed by their separate ratifications certain stipulations and engagements incorporated in that treaty, which by express words are to have the same force with the main treaty—can at their own discretion cancel those stipulations and engagements? But is that the case with regard to the stipulations as to Cracow? Even supposing there were any force in the argument which I am combating—and the force of it I entirely deny—I find that the parties met at Vienna not only for the purpose of joining to this act, as an integral part of the arrangements of the Congress, "the treaties, conventions, declarations, regulations, and other particular acts, as cited in the present treaty," but also for the purpose of uniting in the general instrument "the regulations of superior and permanent interest." And with respect to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, and the union of a great part of Saxony to Prussia, as well as with respect to Cracow, the parties to the Treaty of Vienna did not content themselves with annexing to the treaty the particular conventions made by individual Powers; but the Sixth Article of the general Treaty of Vienna is this—"that the town of Cracow shall be for ever a free, independent, and strictly neutral city, under the protection of Russia, Austria, and Prussia." I have a right to contend that, from the place it occupies, that is one of the regulations of superior and permanent interest which were to be united in the general act. I find it so united, together with other matters of 1218 general and permanent interest which constitute the settlement of Europe; and attached to that general treaty is the name of the Minister of England at the time. How then is it possible to maintain that any three Powers have a right to abrogate that sixth article, and incorporate Cracow with Austria, without communication with us, who were consenting parties to the treaty? On that ground there has been, it must be admitted, a violation of the general treaty. Sir, I am no partisan of Cracow. I can well conceive that Cracow may have neglected the engagements which its authorities ought to have observed. Cracow has no right to disturb the peace of the Powers which are its neighbours. If Cracow be made the focus from which insurrections affecting the peace of Austria, Prussia, and Russia, are directed, I can well conceive that the state of these countries may become so intolerable as to justify them in taking some decisive step for the purpose of preventing those disturbances. There would have been in that case a previous violation by Cracow of the engagements into which it had entered; and we, in our insular position, cannot measure the interests and necessities of those countries by mere reference to our own. It is very possible that a very small territory situated in the immediate neighbourhood of those Three great Powers, may, unless due precautions are used, be made the means of disturbing the peace of the greater States by which it is surrounded. I, therefore, am not prepared to say that there may not have been a just ground on the part of the Three Powers to remonstrate; to enter into communication with other Powers parties to the treaty; and to require that, by common consent, some new arrangement be made calculated to redress their rightful complaints. But that course was not pursued. Without any communication either with England or France, the independence of this free State was sacrificed; and upon grounds and arguments which I think are even still more dangerous, from their tendency, than the act itself of sacrificing the independence of Cracow. First, there is put forward a claim of right to deal with separate conventions, annexed to the general treaty, without reference to the Powers who confirmed them by their assent to that general Treaty. I totally deny that claim; I think it dangerous to the peace of Europe—a doctrine of pernicious tendency, calculated to shake 1219 all confidence in the endurance of that peace which these great national engagements were intended to secure. Then, again, it is stated that Cracow is a geographical atom. On that very account there ought to have been peculiar caution and forbearance. It is no more an atom than Hamburg, Frankfort, Lubeck, or Bremen. The sacrifice of the independence of a country, on account of its weakness and limited territory, is calculated to shake all confidence in the maintenance of engagements between the powerful and the weak. In this country would there not be more danger in an attack on the liberty of a pauper, than on that of a Peer? The more humble the object, the more dangerous is the violation of right. There is little ground for apprehension that the liberties of Russia will be invaded by Austria; that Bavaria or Wurtemburg will attack Prussia; but there is ground for apprehension that the independence of small States may be endangered by powerful neighbours with physical force at their command. To tell us, therefore, that Cracow is on the map of Europe a geographical atom, so far from justifying the aggression, or diminishing the fear of the ultimate consequences, only justifies and demands a more earnest protest against the extinction of its independence. Looking back at the position which this country maintained from the commencement of the revolutionary war—reviewing the sacrifices which she made—remembering the noble part she acted in that long struggle—that, "like a great sea mark standing every flaw," she alone stood erect amid the general ruin, encouraging by her advice, her subsidies, and her example, these very Powers, less fortunate than herself in their resistance to Napoleon—reviewing all these things—we might justly have expected more consideration and confidence from the Powers that have been parties to this transaction. Even if the letter of treaty did not enjoin the obligation of frank communication with England, the relations in which we have stood towards those Powers for the last thirty years, should have ensured that communication. Such was the impression of the Prussian Minister at an early period of the correspondence relating to Cracow; his opinion is distinctly recorded that the Three Powers were not entitled to infringe the independence of Cracow without communication with their allies. What caused the departure from this intention I know 1220 not; but I believe it would have been better for the interests of Europe, had the first impression prevailed, and had nothing been done or attempted with respect to Cracow, without the fullest and frankest communication with the other great Powers who were parties to the Treaty of Vienna. Sir, it is with pain that I have given utterance to those sentiments, because it is my sincere desire to encourage the maintenance of the most friendly relations with the Three Powers, of whose conduct in this instance I complain; but the desire to maintain those relations would not justify me in withholding this frank declaration of opinion, when so great a question of principle is at issue.
So much with respect to the obligation of treaty, and to the conduct pursued towards this country. Sir, apart from these considerations, I think the policy of this act is most questionable. It is a shock to the public feeling of Europe. That public feeling is an intelligent and vigilant monitor. There is no desire to interfere with the independent action of other States. There is a feeling prevalent in this country, and in almost all others, that little is gained with respect to internal improvement, or external peace and security, by intermeddling with the free action of independent States. The French Rovolution has read to Europe many useful lessons. It has taught the policy of early reformation. It has taught the policy of relinquishing the unjust exemptions and special privileges enjoyed by particular classes. It has, on the other hand, calmed the wild aspirations after impossible perfection. It has taught men to beware of the wily arts of selfish demagogues, and to distrust the magnificent promises of the sincerer votaries of freedom. Europe has learned the double lesson—the policy of timely reform, and the danger of trusting too much to splendid visions of political freedom and happiness. There does at the same time pervade the intelligent and reflecting part of the community a sincere desire to witness the safe establishment of constitutional government, and to aid the progress of social improvement under the guarantee of free institutions. That sound and rational public feeling revolts against retrocession and reaction in favour of despotism. It has freely sympathized with the generous and liberal tendencies of that authority in which perhaps such tendencies were least expected; and ardently desires that He who presides over the spiritual concerns 1221 of so many millions of mankind, may be repaid by complete success in his noble efforts to advance the temporal interests and improve the political institutions of the people subject to his secular authority. With respect to Cracow, if the power of the Three States over it had been absolute and complete—if its rights had not been placed under the implied guarantee of all the Powers, parties to the Treaty of Vienna, there might been have regret at the conduct of the Three Powers; but no right on the part of Europe of protest and remonstrance. But the Treaty of Vienna has given that right to Europe, and has converted what might otherwise have been simply a harsh exercise of authority, into a public wrong. The noble Lord said that the nationality of Poland had never entered into the provisions of the Treaty of Vienna. But it will be seen in the correspondence of Lord Castlereagh, that it is distinctly suggested to the Emperor of Russia, that if his moral duties compelled him to ameliorate the condition of his Polish subjects, there was one mode by which he could readily effect this object, namely, by restoring her rights to Poland as an independent nation; and that Lord Castlereagh distinctly announced to the Emperor of Russia, on the part of Austria and Prussia, that those Powers would acquiesce in such an arrangement. The noble Lord will find that one of the most powerful reasons for constituting the kingdom of Poland under the rule of the Emperor of Russia, was to give to Poland something of a national character. The noble Lord will find in the Treaty of Vienna, not indeed positive stipulations as to the nationality of Poland, but distinct reference at least to the national character of Polish institutions. The words of the Treaty are—The Poles who are respective subjects of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, shall obtain representative and national institutions, regulated according to the degree of political consideration that each of the Governments to which they belong shall judge expedient and proper to grant them.Whether or not the conduct of Poland in 1831 justified the non-fulfilment of this engagement, is another matter. But this was the promise held out by the Treaty of Vienna—a promise not merely that Cracow should be an independent State, but that the other Poles, subjects of Russia, Austria, and Prussia, should enjoy that degree of national and separate existence which is implied by representative assemblies and national institutions. I approve 1222 of the protest entered against the proceedings with regard to Cracow by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I think, too, that the noble Lord acted wisely in determining, considering the relation in which he stood to France, to enter that protest separately and independently; and, concurring in the protest, and in the course taken by the noble Lord, I shall feel it to be my duty to give my support to the Government.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I cannot express too strongly my unwillingness to see the debate on this question again adjourned. I feel, after the broken debate which has taken place on it from Thursday last to this night, to have it again put off to Tuesday or Thursday next, would take away some of that influence which the debate is likely to have. This course would be extremely inconvenient to the House; but, on the other band, if the debate was adjourned to this day, it would be exceedingly injurious to the carrying on the business of the State. We have before us most important questions, deeply affecting the welfare and safety of one part of the empire, which it is most desirable to proceed with. I have felt repeatedly during some past Sessions, that the greatest inconvenience has arisen from Bills of importance being deferred to the end of the Session, when the number of Members attending the House of Commons is greatly diminished; but I also feel that the course is not just towards the other House of Parliament, and that when questions of great national importance are sent up to the other House, they should be sent up at a time when a sufficient number of Peers are present to attend to the proposed legislation before them. I, therefore, wish—and I do so on public grounds—that the order days should be reserved for the business of the Government, and that the Motions on the part of Members should not occupy those days. I think that these grounds are sufficient, and that we are bound to act on them. I, therefore, hope that the debate will be continued; and I see no reason why it should be postponed. I am sure that in former times a debate like this would be carried out until the House came to a division on it; therefore, feeling this, I must object to the adjournment.
MR. SMITH O'BRIEN
felt strongly 1223 that justice could not be done to the subject without the adjournment of the debate. He had seen the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, and several other Members, who were prepared to take part in the debate; and seeing that it was of great importance that the country should be instructed on all the bearings of this question, he was prepared to advise the hon. Gentleman to persist in his Motion of adjournment.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
was surprised at the suggestion just made coming from a Member from Ireland, when measures were before the House vitally affecting that country. At such a time the hon. Gentleman thought fit, no doubt in the discharge of his duty, to bring the most serious charges against the Government and Legislature of this country with regard to Ireland. He should have thought that, however important might be considered the discussion of the affairs of Poland, that the objection to proceed with the measures fixed for to-morrow should not come from an Irish Member. As he was the Minister of the Crown more immediately charged with the affairs of Ireland, he felt bound to state that it was most important, considering the state of Ireland, that the House should come to a decision on the important measures which the Government had thought fit, in the discharge of its duty, to submit to it. He felt bound to express his earnest opinion, that the House should not pursue any course which might interfere with the progress of the important measures before them. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would consider that they (the Government) were constantly attacked for their apathy towards Ireland. There were but two nights in the week on which they could proceed with these measures; and he, therefore, trusted that the hon. Gentleman would not persist in throwing any obstacle in their way.
MR. SMITH O'BRIEN
—[who rose amidst cries of "Spoke" and "Explain"]—said, that the right hon. Gentleman had brought charges against him which would justify him, if he were even not otherwise in order, in offering a few observations in justification; and the cheers with which those charges had been received showed that they were re-echoed by many in the House with thorough good will. But he begged to say, that he, for one, would not have supported the Motion for adjournment if it were proposed to adjourn merely to the next day. But he understood the hon. Gentleman near him to propose the adjourn- 1224 ment of the debate to Tuesday next, which would not interfere with any of the measures alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. MORGAN JOHN O'CONNELL
rose, because, as one who differed altogether with the hon. Gentleman opposite in his attack upon Her Majesty's Government, he felt it, nevertheless, necessary to say, that he had heard with regret the language used by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland towards the hon. Gentleman and the Irish Members; and he said so because he considered himself an impartial judge upon the question. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, considering that he had been an object of attack to his hon. Friend opposite, had wished to retaliate; but he had certainly understood the hon. Member for Limerick to wish the debate adjourned to next week. There were notice days next week which would be given up for the purpose; and after the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, he thought the people of this country should have further time to think upon the question. The noble Lord had given a new and startling view of it, and it would be well that there should be time given to weigh it. He did not wish to make any remark in what might be considered a spirit of asperity; but when the right hon. Gentleman spoke of an Irish Member taking an active interest in the question before the House, he should say, not in a spirit of the slightest asperity, that there was no subject on which Irish Members had more right to feel strongly, than upon the affairs of that country which was the Ireland of the east of Europe.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
did not deny that the hon. Gentleman had as good a right as any other Member of the House to have an opportunity of giving expression to his opinions upon the condition of Poland; but he said merely, that Irish Members should not take a course which was so likely to retard the progress of important questions relating to Ireland.
§ Debate adjourned to Tuesday.