§ On the Motion that the Speaker do leave the chair, for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of Supply,
§ MR. BANKES
rose to propose the following Resolution, of which he had given notice:—That this House learns with deep regret, from a Correspondence between the British Government and the Government of Spain, now upon the Table of this House, that a proposed interference with the internal concerns of the Spanish Government, as conducted under the authority and with the entire approval of Her Majesty's Ministers, has placed the British Government and our Representative at the Court of Madrid, in a position humiliating in its character, and which is calculated to affect the friendly relations heretofore existing between the Courts of Great Britain and of Spain.Among all the singular events which had distinguished the past year, it had not been the least singular one, that a British Minister had been for the first time expelled from a friendly foreign country, and had been ordered to quit the Court to which he had been accredited by the British Government within a very limited time. It did not diminish the singularity of this event, when he observed the manner in which the news of it had been received by Her Majesty's Government—the complaisant and quiet tranquillity with which they regarded an event of so extraordinary a character. The proceeding was totally unexpected by them; for a day or two before it occurred, upon a question being put to them from that side of the House, they said, that notwithstanding any transactions which had taken place, the foreign relations between the two Courts were in no degree disturbed. But for a question put in that House to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, it appeared as if the Government would not have thought it necessary to make any communication to the House upon the subject; and they would probably have heard of it for the first time, as they had recently learned many things concerning foreign diplomacy, by reading 348 a relation of the transactions in some foreign newspaper. It was very surprising that Her Majesty's Ministers should receive information of such a transaction with such complaisance and tranquillity; and it was really astonishing to him, that up to that time no Member of Her Majesty's Government had thought fit to give any explanation upon the matter to those anxious for the maintenance of the honour and character of the country; and that it should be left to an individual Member unconnected with the Government, and sitting upon the Opposition benches, to call upon Her Majesty's Government for some explanation of these extraordinary events. There was reason to suppose, however, that some explanation might have taken place elsewhere. He was aware it was contrary to the order of that House to allude to the business transacted elsewhere; but he had seen in the columns of some foreign newspapers, allusions and references made to debates said to have occurred in another place; and with reference to the explanation then given, it was alleged the Spanish Government had complained of their unfairness. The Spanish Minister was greatly mistaken if he supposed that an outrage on the person of our Ambassador, or an injury of this description, would be regarded as of a trifling character by the people of this country; but it would appear as if an injury of this character was disregarded by the Ministers of the Crown, who allowed the proceeding to pass over with silence in that House until information respecting it was obtained by means of a casual answer to a question, which question was only incidentally put. Was an explanation of this grave transaction thus to be conveyed? He should have thought that the noble Lord would have supposed that a debate upon a business of this kind had been too long delayed, and would have declared that the matter was of so serious a nature that it could not be brought forward at too early a period. He therefore could not complain that it was now brought forward by him, as well for the character of the empire which he represented, as for the purpose of setting right the Spanish Court in the extraordinary proceedings they had adopted. He might then tell the Spanish Government that the House and the country were prepared to go with him in the vindication of the honour of the country; but to do so they must receive full explanation upon the subject. In demanding such satisfaction 349 from the Spanish Government, however, they would he better qualified to do so if they admitted that errors had been committed upon their own side; and the mode in which they had been committed had probably led to the subsequent transactions. The question was, whether the grounds assumed in these papers were well founded, and whether we were justified in urging them. It was essential that we should know this; and he could conceive no ground for concealment with reference to this matter. It was impossible the noble Lord could be ignorant of these transactions: for, on the one hand, the Ambassador himself was in this town in communication with the noble Lord; and, upon the other hand, a special envoy from the Court of Spain had arrived here, with whom, however, the noble Lord declined to communicate, but from whom he might, if he thought fit, receive communications through the Spanish Ambassador. This was another unfortunate piece of diplomacy on the part of the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs; for by the steps he had taken he had brought about that unhappy state of things which no man in that House could justify. He might lament, and he did lament, the instructions given to our Ambassador, which, when carried into effect, might lead to events so humiliating to us as those which had occurred in the Court to which this Ambassador had been accredited. The noble Lord had justified the Ambassador for having done what he did. He had gone to an extent which was very far indeed; but the Spanish Government went one step further, and resorted to a measure which he most deeply regretted, in ordering our Ambassador to leave their Court within eight-and-forty hours. When this matter first received the attention of the House, the question was confined to the instructions issued by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and that was considered a matter of great weight and grave concern; above all, when the reply of the Duke de Sotomayor had been received. When he read the letter of the noble Lord—and he knew great numbers entertained the same opinion as himself—he had no doubt as to its impropriety. The only opinion he could form of it was, that it was a proposed interference with the internal concerns of a foreign allied nation, which no nation could hear without resentment. He had anticipated many evil consequences which would arise from such 350 interference with nations in friendly relations with us. That nation had long been attached to us by friendly relations of an historical character, and which they, as well as ourselves, must always regard with feelings of pride and honour. It might be true that Spain owed us a debt of gratitude for the aid we lent her during her war of liberation, in which we so heartily engaged; yet he could not but feel that if Spain derived benefit from our assistance in her war of independence, we also had derived our share of advantage. It must not he forgotten that it was on the plains of Spain that our gallant Army was formed, and was so often led to victory by the illustrious Officer at the head of it. He could not help feeling that the two countries had derived mutual advantages from the part we then took in that war; and he believed that Spain could never forget what had then taken place if she had not been tauntingly reminded of them, when, under such circumstances, feelings of gratitude were so apt to give way to those of another character. It was notorious in private life, when a man was constantly reminded of a debt of gratitude, that such a proceeding was not apt to excite feelings of a kindly nature. He therefore must deeply regret the unhappy interference on the part of the noble Lord. He had assumed that these instructions were the sole and ultimate cause of the expulsion of our Ambassador from Madrid. He said so, because he was in possession of no information which would justify him in coming to any other conclusion. He had alluded to the papers laid on the table prior to the expulsion of our Ambassador; they appeared to him, as well as to other Members of that House, to call for discussion, and for some expressions of opinion with regard to this subject; for they must recollect that there were circumstances connected with the matter which they could not get rid of, for the documents stood on the records of that House. Let them also recollect how these papers had been laid before the House. It was not in consequence of any Motion brought forward by a Member who wished to embarrass the Government, but in consequence of the publication in certain foreign newspapers of a portion of these documents, a Member of that House was induced to ask whether it was possible that such circumstances as had been described could be true? When this appeared to be the case, it became necessary that the papers should be laid on the table. It 351 might, perhaps, have been better that these transactions had continued diplomatic secrets between England and Spain; but as the papers were there, and on the records of the House, it was to be considered whether they should be allowed to remain unaccompanied with observations, so that they hereafter might be allowed to refer to those proceedings as precedents to justify similar acts. If such were the case, it would be only necessary for a Foreign Minister interfering with the internal affairs of a foreign Government, to say, "Look at the case of Spain, in 1848, when interference took place without any notice:" it therefore was inexpedient that it should be recorded in history that these papers were laid before Parliament unaccompanied by observations in explanation. They had been told by the noble Lord that further communications were still going on, and perhaps he might lay them on the table; but they had no reason to know whether he would or would not do so. If they might judge of the importance of such further papers by those recently laid before Parliament, it might reasonably be assumed that they were of no great consequence. If they looked at the papers produced, it would appear that they were mere extracts, and the communications were not from a foreign Government, but were letters from our own Ambassador—or rather extracts, and apparently very partial extracts. These all referred to the proceedings connected with the instructions of the 16th of March. He would refer to one of them as a specimen of the whole. It was dated Madrid, March 4th, 1848, and was from Mr. Bulwer to Viscount Palmerston. It commenced—"I have just had an interview with the Duke of Sotomayor, who had requested to see me, when, he stated—" Here was a blank, and this was all that was given. The Duke then spoke. Yes, "the Duke stated;" but what he stated they were left in the dark about. But after telling them that "the Duke stated," the document proceeded:—"The Duke then spoke." So that after he had stated, it appeared he spoke. What he spoke was quite different from the statement.The Duke then spoke of the interior policy of the Spanish Administration, saying, that though it had demanded the new law, which might be considered one ad terrorem, it had no intention to use this law, unless under very critical circumstances; and that whilst it should resist any insurrection that broke out, with all the force in its power, it would do all it could to avoid provoking insurrection.352 Now in the paper numbered five, the only important fact he could find was that this decree of the Cortes, which, so far as he (Mr. Bankes) could understand, seemed to have given great offence to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who, in the great vigilance which he thought fit to exercise over the affairs of Spain, was highly displeased that the Government should obtain a power to resist insurrection which was not to be used unless critical circumstances should arise. This decree was passed, and he really could not understand why the noble Lord should have felt displeased at the Government obtaining powers which were given to them by a majority of the Cortes of 148 votes to 45. It seemed to be a tolerably popular manifestation of the wishes and determination of the Legislature. And the Bill passed the other House by a majority of 83 votes to 13. Yet the noble Lord was displeased with the Cortes for having passed a law of this description. Now these were all the preliminary points which were given to the House upon which to form a judgment. He found nothing in them which would give rise to the opinion that they explained the entire circumstances of the transaction. And he believed he should find as he went through the remainder of the papers, that there was no other very valuable addition, except one. And here he would beg leave to call the attention of the noble Lord to the fact that he could not have read those letters immediately on their coming over. Because, when the first papers were presented to the House, he (Mr. Bankes) asked the noble Lord whether there were any other papers which would throw light upon the subject; and the noble Lord replied that there were none further, except one or two, which were considered in the nature of private and confidential communications, and referring solely to the observations which appeared in reference to the articles in the Clamor Publico, and to the accusation brought against Mr. Bulwer, on account of the appearance of those articles. But it now appeared that there were other observations in these letters, which, so far from referring merely to those accusations, were, after one or two preliminary paragraphs in allusion to them, a complete explanation of the views of the Spanish Minister with regard to the whole of the transaction. And he should say that the paper to which he was alluding was one undoubtedly drawn up with very 353 great spirit, and, he should add, with very great ability. It was one in which the Spanish Minister stated, with the feelings of a statesman and a gentleman, how much wounded he had been by the tone adopted towards himself and his Court. He (Mr. Bankes) should take occasion by and by to refer more particularly to that portion of it. The letter to which he was alluding was the one dated the 15th of April. And certainly if the noble Lord had it in his possession when the papers were first called for and given to the House, it was a singular omission on his part to have left it out of the selection. He assumed that the noble Lord had it not in his possession at the time. But from the date it was evident he must have received it shortly afterwards, as he certainly could not have described it as merely referring to the articles in the newspapers. [Viscount PALMERSTON: I did not say so.] He understood the noble Lord to have said that the letters he had not presented referred only to the accusations against Mr. Bulwer, having reference to a publication in the Clamor Publico. However, with regard to the remainder of the public papers, the greater portion was made up of extracts from newspapers. He (Mr. Bankes) did not mean to undervalue the authority of newspapers. He had no doubt that in Spain as well as in England the newspapers were conducted by persons of the highest talents and character, and by persons to whose opinion considerable weight might be attached; but then in Spain as well as in England they were conducted by persons who Wrote in them anonymously on questions of state and policy. And here he begged to be allowed to direct the attention of the House to a passage which had been only put into the hands of Members two hours before. They had only received it when they came into the House. And in that, the last publication, there was one of those extracts from newspapers, in regard to which he could not but tell Her Majesty's Government they had exhibited a very singular degree of want of discretion in putting it into the hands of Members. They were stamping with a certain degree of authenticity those extracts, by giving them in the form of papers printed under the authority of that House. This last paper referred to the fears which were entertained by some Spaniards as to the anger which might be excited in Great Britain, in consequence of the expulsion of the British Minister from Madrid; and, in 354 order to allay those fears, the editor of the Heraldo proceeded to quiet the minds of his fellow-countrymen thus:—A single reflection suffices to dissipate those disquietudes, viz., the impossibility in which the English Cabinet is at this time to place itself in a hostile attitude with respect to the Continent; sapped by the Irish insurrection, which exhausts its resources, and requires the presence of a considerable part of its army; by the increasing deficit of its treasury; by the general discredit brought upon its policy by the manœuvres made use of in the affairs of Italy; by the suspicions which its friendly relations with the Court of Vienna infuse into all Europe; and, finally, by the Chartist party, which, although frustrated in its efforts up to this time, counts upon the indirect co-operation of the new Parliamentary faction led by Hume and Cobden, and which, without the least doubt, would avail itself of the difficulties which a foreign war would bring upon the Cabinet, to light up the flames of civil war in all parts of the United Kingdom.He would now beg the attention of the House to that letter of the noble Lord which stood first upon the list, at least which originally stood first upon the list, and which he considered as first, certainly, in importance:—Foreign Office, March 16, 1848.Sir—I have to instruct you to recommend earnestly to the Sanish Government and to the Queen Mother, if you have an opportunity of doing so, the adoption of a legal and constitutional course of government in Spain.It should be observed that the Cortes were then sitting, carrying those measures by those large majorities that were about three to one in one Chamber of their Legislature, and four to one in the other. That was the time at which the British Minister recommended the adoption of a constitutional course of government in Spain. The letter went on:—The recent fall of the King of the French and of his whole family, and the expulsion of his Ministers, ought to teach the Spanish Court and Government how great is the danger of an attempt to govern a country in a manner at variance with the feelings and opinions of the nation; and the catastrophe which has happened in France must serve to show that even a large and well-disciplined army becomes an ineffectual defence for the Crown when the course pursued by the Crown is at variance with the general sentiments of the country. It would then be wise for the Queen of Spain, in the present critical state of affairs, to strengthen the Executive Government by enlarging the basis upon which the administration is founded, and by calling to her councils some of those men who possess the confidence of the Liberal party.—I am, &c.(Signed) "PALMERSTON.Now, it might have been very well for the noble Lord to wish that there might have been a good Government, both for Spain and for the interests of this country; and it might 355 have been well that such a course as he counselled should have been pursued. But if the noble Lord had wished to defeat any such measure, he surely could not have adopted a better course for such a purpose than to have made such an insulting proposition. For how did the Duke de Sotomayor know but that the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary for England might have had some communication with these liberal persons whom he wished so strongly to thrust upon Spain? How could he endure that his Ministry should be forced out by the interference of a foreign Power? And, so far as could be judged from some of the letters, it became impossible to avoid the inference that such a result was what was desired. He might agree with the noble Lord, that a better Government for Spain might be formed. He might agree with him that a Ministry more favourable to the interests of this country, and to the promotion of commercial relations between this country and Spain, might be found and formed than that which now existed in Spain. But in order to compass such a desirable end, a very different course should have been pursued, and a surer mode of producing a contrary result could not have been taken than the course which the noble Lord had adopted. He admitted that the present Government in Spain was not one very favourably disposed to forward the commercial relations with England. He admitted that with regard to those free-trade speculations which we were led to adopt, there had been in Spain no corresponding disposition manifested. Considerable disappointment had been excited by the manner in which Spain had acted; for whilst England was removing those restrictions and making those concessions, she had been met in Spain with fresh restrictions. He found, by papers that were presented to the House in November last, that decrees had been passed by which additional duties had been imposed upon woollen goods the produce of this country. He found that similar decrees had been passed in regard to cotton goods, and to goods that were mixtures of wool and cotton; and Mr. Bulwer, he should do him the justice to say, seemed to have interfered and acted most promptly in order to obtain, if possible, the removal of such restrictions. On the 23rd of November he wrote from Madrid expostulating upon the subject. On the 24th of December Mr. Bulwer again wrote, requesting a reconsideration of the tariff, 356 and that at least the time of thirty days, which was given as the limit, should be lengthened. To these communications the Duke of Sotomayor gave no answer until after a considerable lapse of time. On the 28th December he wrote to Mr. Bulwer, defending the Spanish tariff on the ground that the decrees were not directed particularly against British manufactured goods, but were equally adverse to French and others, and that England had, therefore, no right to complain, she being placed on a complete equality with other nations. The pith of that letter was, that the ordonnances did not apply more to Great Britain than to France or other countries, because the English were put in no worse condition than the French. But if ever there was an occasion upon which it might have been fair to remind Spain of the debt of gratitude she owed to England, it was such as then presented itself. If ever it might have been well to remind Spain of the blood we had shed, and of the treasure we had expended in her cause, it was then. Not that she should have been reminded of those facts in an offensive tone, but there might have been a reference gently and inoffensively made to the contrast which existed between England and France in that respect. It might have been suggested that France too had indeed spent a great deal of her blood and of her treasure in Spain, but it was in invading and subjugating her, and that putting us on the same footing with France was not a fair or just return; but still, no more than a friendly remonstrance on the subject of a friendly commercial relation should have been urged. He could conceive no better way in which our diplomatists, our foreign Ministers, and our ambassadors, could be employed than in watching over the commercial relations of the country. But he denied the expediency of any interference with the domestic affairs of other countries, and, most of all, any interference with the suggestion of who should be the Ministers of those countries—who were to be the rulers in them. Let them see how the affair would touch themselves. Let them consider what they would say if a Minister of Spain should dare to direct the Spanish Ambassador to place in the hands of the noble Lord the Chief Minister a communication of the nature which the Foreign Secretary of this country addressed to the First Minister of Spain. What would they think if the Spanish Minister, directing the noble Lord's attention to the clubs, 357 to the Chartists, and the other matters alluded to as difficulties of this country, should recommend him to widen the basis of his Government, and ask him—had he not better at once take into his councils those Gentlemen to whom allusion had been already made as forming the new party? adding, that if he did not agree to do these things, they (the Spanish Government) would at least have the satisfaction of having warned them of the likely consequence. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs might possibly say that this interference was one which, in all circumstances, ought not to be resorted to; but then Spain was in a peculiar situation. The noble Lord, indeed, both by himself and the Ambassador, insisted upon the peculiar link which existed between the countries, because of the benefits received by Spain; and that was one of the matters which had mainly tended to produce the unhappy result. But the noble Lord should have remembered that we were dealing with a friendly Government, which was under great obligations to us, both for blood and money expended in their cause, and which was now agitated by contending parties, of which we were unable to see who would ultimately be likely to rise to the head of affairs. The noble Lord might tell him, perhaps, that he considered it an excepted case, and that he had, therefore, thrust upon Spain an interference which he would not have thought justified in regard to any other nation. But had there been similar cases where remonstrance had been urged by our diplomatists in earlier times—by diplomatists as experienced and as able as the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston), and with whom the noble Lord need feel no shame at being compared? He was sure the noble Lord would not feel offended with any of the comparisons he (Mr. Bankes) was about to institute. He was about to refer to former occurrences in Holland and in Spain; and, firstly, to a period not the most flourishing in the history of Holland—a period when she was distracted by factions which caused the greatest uncertainty and danger to the State, and when she was under obligations to England for her liberty, and for the means of carrying on that commerce which led to her greatness. Writing to Lord Arlington, Sir William Temple thus expressed himself:—TO MT LORD ARLINGTON.The Hague, June 17, 1670.Monsieur de Witt returned yesterday. There is a violent humour run against him. But I sup- 358 pose the bottom of this is the same with all popular humours, that is, a design in the leaders to change the scene, that so those who have been long employed may make room for those who have been long out. I am not of opinion they will succeed to prejudice him suddenly, both because his chief enemies acknowledge his great abilities and usefulness to the State, and because he will always have it in his power to fall in very considerably with the Prince's interest, which the other party pretends to promote. I thought fit to say thus much at once to your Lordship, that so you may the better know what to make of twenty reports that may arrive upon this occasion; though it will, I think, after all, be our parts, both in England and here, to seem the least we can concerned in them, further than our wishes to the perfect union of a State we are so nearly allied to.He (Mr. Bankes) wished the noble Lord had followed the example set him by Sir William Temple. In 1678, we had an Ambassador at Madrid, Sir William Godolphin. That gentleman had to present a remonstrance of a very serious nature to the Minister, and he addressed the following letter to Don John of Austria:—TO DOS JOHN OF AUSTRIA.Feb. 12–22, 1677–8.The King my master hath often commanded me to complaine of the ill conduct of the Spanish Ministers in England (particularly of Salinas and Fonseca), which I am sorry to say hath not been amended by the Marquess of Bourgomaine. It is manifest that the interests of Spain in England have been very much prejudiced and retarded by their actions, and will be more so if there be not a speedy remedy. Above all, it will be requisite to avoid a course too often practised by them, namely, to discourse and reveal their private conferences had with the King and his Ministers to others who are not of his council, His Majesty having resolved never to treat or confer with any Minister of what Prince so ever that shall be detected in so doing; how much less will he suffer any to abide in his Court who shall so far presume to violate the laws of hospitality as to mislead and stir up the minds of people inexpert in public affairs, not only by revealing to them under false colours what sometimes passeth, but by re-porting for truth his own fictions and the pure inventions of malice, under the specious name of negotiation and discourses with the King and his Ministers—a seditious practice, which the impunity of some hath made an evil example, but will always prove destructive to the negotiations of such who use the same.In this case, Sir W. Godolphin received a reply on the 22nd March: and by date March 12–22, 1677–8, Sir William writes to Mr. Secretary Coventry:—Order will go by this post to the Count of Egmont for his immediate passage into England in quality of Embassadour Extraordinary, without waiting for equipage which should follow him; Don John telling me that this expedient had been taken in complaisance to the King my master on the representation I had made against Bourgomaine.(Signed) "WM. GODOLPHIN,359 And thus it would be seen that such of our Ambassadors as made these remonstrances met with the most immediate attention. And although Spain at the present moment might not be in the state of palmy greatness which once belonged to her, England had no reason to think that her spirit was abashed, that her pride was lowered, or that her heart was broken. The last thing she would lose would be the sense of respect which belonged to her, and she would rise as one man to resent any indignity that should be offered to her. He had given the House an instance of the readiness with which she had attended to the complaints which bad been formerly made to her upon the subject of diplomatic secrets being made public, and the private conversation of Ministers repeated. Surely she had a right to expect the same courtesy when remonstrances were made upon the subject of her mode of government, and affecting her dignity. But if the letter of the 16th March had stood alone, and if that letter had remained alone, it would have been strong enough as a ground of complaint—it would indeed have been a subject for regret; but it might have been explained. But when it was followed up by the letter of the noble Lord, dated 20th April, it showed the spirit in which the remonstrance had been made. The noble Lord wrote—Sir—I have received your despatch of the 11th instant with its inclosures, and I have to instruct you to state to the Duke of Sotomayor, that Her Majesty's Government entirely approve the step which you took in making your communication of the 7th instant, and likewise of your note of the 12th. That Her Majesty's Government, however, are not at all offended, either by the sending back of your communication of the 7th of April, or by the angry tone and language of the Duke of Sotomayor's note of the 10th, however they may regret the existence of those feelings in the minds of the Spanish Government, of which the language of his Excellency's note and the return of yours were proofs. Her Majesty's Government, in making to the Government of Spain the representations, and in giving the advice, which your communication conveyed, were inspired by no sentiment but that of sincere friendship for Spain, and of deep interest in the welfare of Queen Isabella. They felt that in making that communication, they were performing a duty, and not taking any undue liberty; and therefore, at all events, it is a satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government to reflect, that although their counsel has been rejected, and their communication has been returned, the note has nevertheless been read, and the counsel has been tendered; and that whatever calamity may happen in Spain, Her Majesty's Government stand acquitted of not having done what they could to prevent it.Now, there was something very strange in 360 the expression, to say that that note had not offended, which contained angry language and was written in an angry tone, and which accompanied a returned communication. It was a satisfaction to the writer of the angry note at all events to know that it had been read; that the person whom it was intended for bad been obliged to read it; and a note too that was very little short of an insult. In private life, indeed, it would be nothing short of it. The despatch went on:—With regard to the contents of the Duke of Sotomayor's note, Her Majesty's Government have only to observe, that if the right of Her Britannic Majesty to the Throne of the United Kingdom had been disputed by a pretending rival; if civil war had arisen out of such a conflict of claims; if the British Government had only a few years ago sent a special envoy to Madrid to solicit the assistance of Spain in order to place Her Majesty on Her Throne; if that assistance had been given, both morally by treaty engagements, and physically by military and naval forces; if the aid thus afforded by Spain had contributed in so essential a degree to secure the Crown to Her Majesty that it might with truth be said that, without such aid, Her Majesty would not now have been Queen of England—Was it not very strange to tell the Minister of the Crown of Spain that this country had been the means of placing the Crown on the head of the Queen of Spain? This had not been hitherto the opinion of the people of England. They had not considered that they were embarking in the doubtful chances of a civil war, but that they were asked merely to strengthen the Throne of the legitimate Sovereign. They believed that the Sovereign whom they had so assisted had a right to the Throne; but never until now had he heard that they bad the arrogance to assert that it was they who had placed the Crown upon that Sovereign's head; and yet the despatch went the length of saying so. It then continued—If, moreover, there still remained a pretender who asserted his right, and whose pretensions were backed by a large party in the United Kingdom; and if upon every symptom of danger from that pretender, and that party, the British Government was in the habit of reminding Spain of the treaty of engagements which she had entered into; was also in the habit of asserting that those engagements were still in force, and was continually claiming the benefit of the alleged existence of those arrangements; if all those things existed, and if the Government of Spain had, in a moment of general disturbance in Europe, warned the British Government of dangers by which, in their opinion, the security of Her Majesty's Throne was menaced—I think I may confidently affirm that under such circumstances any statesmen who might be Ministers of the British Crown, instead of sending back the note in which such represen- 361 tations were conveyed, and instead of replying to it in discourteous terms, would have accepted the communication in the same spirit of friendship in which it was made; and whether they adopted or not the advice which it contained, would at least have considered it as a proof of the continued existence of that friendship on the part of Spain to which, in such case, would have been owing the circumstance that those British Ministers had the honour of being advisers of the Crown, instead of being proscribed exiles in a foreign land.That was a strong passage, no doubt, to address to a foreign Minister. To a proud man, whether he were Minister or no, it was strong language to make use of; but to a man holding the position of first Minister of a proud empire, it was indeed strong. Lest, however, there should be any doubt as to the intention of using this language to the Spanish Minister, the despatch concludes with the words, "You will transmit to the Duke of Sotomayor a copy of this despatch." There was a positive order to send the despatch to the very man who was told that it was to the British Government he owed the fortune of not being an exile at this moment in a foreign land. When he coupled that letter with the letter of the 16th April, he could not help repeating what he had already said, that while he was ready to vindicate the honour of this country, still he could not adopt that course without admitting that the noble Lord had placed them originally in the wrong. And he did not think that it would be an honest course for this country to pursue if they were now to rise up with vehement denunciations against the Court of Spain, in accordance with what was no doubt the general feeling of this country, namely, the determination to vindicate its honour, unless they at the same time declared that, so far as they had been in error, they were ready to offer amends. If he understood the feelings of the English people—which he believed did not greatly differ from those to which he now gave expression—they went to the extent of entertaining regret that England should have wounded the honest and honourable pride of a great nation in the vain attempt to accomplish an injudicious, ill-timed, and unnecessary interference. He could not help at this moment recollecting that the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs, as well as the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, had belonged to the Government of the late Lord Grey, who came into power under the triple declaration as to the course which he would pursue in the Government of the country, these professions 362 being economy, reform, and non-interference with foreign States. ["No! Economy, reform, and peace."] He had thought that non-intervention was the term that had been made use of; but both had the same signification. Peace was non-intervention, and non-intervention was peace. If they went on in this way, meddling with the affairs of other countries, they never could have peace. He cared little, therefore, about the variation of the phrase, for he thought that the sentiment was the same. But he was very much mistaken if, when Lord Grey made that declaration, he had not done so from the recollection of interference in the affairs of foreign nations at other periods, and those, too, periods when the noble Lord opposite formed a portion of another Ministry, and which Lord Grey thought had carried the spirit of intervention to an unwise extent. Among the papers that had been delivered to Members that day, was a letter from Sir H. Bulwer himself. Now, for his part, it had always appeared to him that Sir H. Bulwer required no vindication at all. He could not find that at any period Sir H. Bulwer had exceeded, or had departed from, his instructions. He had acted strictly up to them, and receiving as he did that second indication of approval from the noble Lord, in his letter of the 20th of April, he must have remained perfectly satisfied in his own mind that he had not in any way exceeded the instructions or views of the noble Lord. He had already briefly referred to the allegation that had been made, that the Minister of Spain entertained the impression (derived, it would seem, from the report of the debates in the other House of Parliament that had appeared in foreign journals), that the noble Lord had been mistaken, when he said, in his letter of the 20th of April, that the British Ambassador at Madrid had the full approbation of all the Members of Her Majesty's Cabinet in what he had done. In the letter of Sir H. Bulwer, given into the hands of Members that day, the words of the Duke of Sotomayor on this subject were quoted; and he believed that the noble Lord would not regret the opportunity which was now afforded to him of stating publicly, in the presence of the First Minister of the Crown, and in a manner which—as they had reason to suppose the Spanish Minister vigilantly regarded their proceedings in that House—would produce the desired effect in the minds of 363 the Spanish Government, whether it was, or was not, the fact, that the whole conduct of the British Minister at Madrid had received the full and entire sanction of the whole of Her Majesty's Cabinet. One good result would thus follow from this discussion, that if this were an erroneous impression on the mind of the Duke of Sotomayor, it would be cleared up by the statement which would be made by the noble Lord that night. There were one or two other points, also, with regard to parts of this transaction, on which it would be desirable if the noble Lord would favour the House with some distinct information. He wished to know, firstly, whether any other cause or causes had been assigned by the Government of Spain for the dismissal of Sir Henry Bulwer, beyond those which were contained in the papers now before the House; secondly, as he had already intimated, he thought the noble Lord would be happy to have the opportunity of explaining whether Sir Henry Bulwer's conduct had met with the complete approbation of the whole of the British Cabinet. He should be also happy if the noble Lord would take that opportunity of explaining what was the extent of interference which he claimed over the Spanish Government, referred to as it was again and again in the course of these papers, and which his Ambassador, acting under his instructions, had also been disposed to claim as binding Spain in a state of subjection to this country in return for benefits which she had received. Also, whether it was the real assumption of the noble Lord that England had placed the Queen of Spain on the throne, not from any claim of right on her part, or not mainly from that claim, but because of peculiar principles which she and those who adhered to her professed, and on account of which England selected her in preference to the other pretender to the Spanish throne. There was one other question which he wished to ask the noble Lord. It appeared singular that in these papers there were no instructions to be found from the noble Lord of any date subsequent to the 20th of April, with the exception of a short immaterial paragraph. He was aware that he was not entitled to call for any instructions that the noble Lord might have given; but he thought it was not irrelevant to ask whether or not any such instructions, in point of fact, had been given. It would happen, probably, and it might be at no distant period, 364 though no one could tell how long, that when this matter had been concluded, he hoped amicably, between the two countries, the noble Lord might make a statement to the House upon it, and might think it necessary to call upon the House for an opinion in favour of his policy. He had no desire to prevent such a course from being taken. He had not brought forward this discussion without knowing from the noble Lord that it would not have any injurious tendency, because the noble Lord had stated, in answer to an hon. Member of his own party, that the provoking of this discussion would in no degree embarrass the settlement of the dispute. The noble Lord had so expressed himself, as he (Mr. Bankes) understood, in answer to a question from the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster. If the noble Lord's answer on that occasion had been different, he (Mr. Bankes) would not have brought forward this discussion; but when he heard that the debate would occasion no embarrassment between the two Governments—when he had heard from the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that they had no wish to avoid the discussion, he thought it better to follow the inclination of his own mind in expressing his deep regret at the wounds that had been given to the feelings of a sensitive nation. He had offered to put his Motion in another shape; but when he found the noble Lord would not accede to the proposition of allowing him a day for bringing forward a distinct Motion on the subject, he felt obliged to bring the question before the House as an Amendment on a vote on the Order of the Day. He felt that in adopting this course he was placed under a disadvantage; but still, when he considered that he was affording the noble Lord an opportunity of clearing up the history of this transaction, he thought that some advantage must be derived from the discussion. He was also encouraged to take the course he had pursued from knowing that he would not embarrass in any way the affairs of the country. He had no object in view, except, as far as his humble powers would allow, to aid in removing, certainly not in aggravating, any unpleasant feelings that might have arisen between the two countries. With these views, and seeing that the Government, though they had the opportunity, had no intention whatever of giving any information to the 365 House as to the position in which they were placed by this singular transaction, he thought it right to bring it under the notice of the House; and in doing so he was certainly influenced by no undue spirit of opposition to Her Majesty's Ministers. His wish was, that the two countries might soon return to those friendly relations that had so long existed, and that had been so honourable both to that country and to this, and that he hoped would long continue to prevail with honour to both nations; and he believed that it was in the power of the noble Lord, by the declaration which he might make on this question, to soothe the wounded feelings of Spain, and to promote that adjustment of the dispute which they all so much desired.
§ MR. SHEIL
In the first notice which was given by the hon. and learned Member for Dorsetshire, he made a sentence in one of the letters of Sir H. Bulwer, the subject of inculpation. He has since changed his ground, and directed against the noble Lord his exclusive censure. In doing so, he has, I think, taken a just and creditable course, because my noble Friend does not shrink from responsibility; and for having introduced this subject into discussion, the noble Lord feels, I am convinced, thankful to the hon. and learned Member. The question—you perceive, Sir, that I am avoiding all prefatory prolixity—the true question is, whether Lord Palmerston was justified in interfering in the internal concerns of Spain, by the peculiar relation in which he stood towards that country. In order to appreciate it, a retrospect—and it shall be rapid—will be required. In the year 1834, the Spanish Government solicited the assistance of this country. The Marquess of Miraflores was sent as a special envoy here. That nobleman has written an account of his mission. He says, that Lord Palmerston had great difficulties to contend with: his earnestness in the cause of Spain, overcome them all. The preliminary articles in the Treaty of Quadruple Alliance were signed in the month of April, 1834, when Lord Stanley was in the Cabinet. The Marquess of Miraflores states, that their effect was signal and immediate. Don Carlos fled from Portugal. Lord Palmerston was not slow in availing himself of the right of interference given him by the treaty to obtain a mitigation of the horrors of civil war. It was hoped that the pacification of Spain had been accomplished: that hope was a delusive one. Don Carlos landed in 366 Biscay, where he was joined by almost the entire of the population; the Spanish Government was filled with dismay. The Marquess of Miraflores renewed his supplications to Lord Palmerston, and, to use his own phrase, addressed to him the most ardent unremitting entreaties. Lord Palmerston and the Cabinet yielded to these adjurations. England gave naval, military, and moral help, for which gratitude was expressed in the noblest phrases which the most sonorous Castilian could supply. There can be no doubt that, but for the interposition of this country, I may add, but for Lord Palmerston, Don Carlos would have been King of Spain. The Basque, the Church, the Monastic Orders, almost all the aristocracy, and the still nobler peasantry of Spain, were on his side. The Duke de Sotomayor is, indeed, pleased to say, that England interfered from selfish motives. By what selfish motives England could be influenced, I am at a loss to conjecture. The people of this country have, indeed, always been, and will always continue to be, in sympathy with men struggling for liberty; but, as Sir H. Bulwer justly observes, the people and Government of England had nothing to gain, beyond the lofty consciousness of assisting a righteous cause, and contributing to the establishment of constitutional institutions. Those institutions were established, and fell with Espartero. The late Prime Minister, I remember, expressed his sorrow for Espartero's fall. Nothing can be further from my intention than to express any censure upon the policy pursued by the late Government and Lord Aberdeen in reference to Spain. It was that noble Lord, by whom Sir H. Bulwer was appointed, not because he was bound to his Government by any ligature of party, but because he had the highest opinion of his talents. Sir H. Bulwer had distinguished himself at Constantinople, where the Commercial Treaty with Turkey had been negotiated through his means: he had displayed great abilities when connected with our embassy in Paris; and Lord Aberdeen, confiding in his discretion and in his talents, selected him in preference to his own more immediate friends, for the important, the delicate, and difficult office of Minister at Madrid. It would be a great mistake to imagine that Lord Aberdeen did not interfere in the internal concerns of Spain. He stated, indeed, that the marriage of the Queen of Spain was mat- 367 ter for exclusively Spanish determination; but Sir H. Bulwer having written to him, that he had heard from good authority that there existed an intention to plight the Queen of Spain in private, and to announce the fact to the Cortes, when it was beyond their power of revocation—this was obviously a strictly Spanish question, yet—what did Lord Aberdeen do? He directed Sir H. Bulwer to go to General Narvaez, and to tell him that he was instructed to state, that Lord Aberdeen did not credit the report; but that if any such purpose was entertained and should be carried into execution, the British Government would protest against it, as an infringement of the constitution, and as calculated to expose the Queen to danger, and to create confusion in the country. Might not General Narvaez have informed him that the Spanish law was no concern of his? If Lord Aberdeen was entitled to interfere in order to prevent a trick upon the Cortes, was not Lord Palmerston at least as well entitled to interfere, in order to prevent the total abolition of the Cortes, and to remonstrate against a policy by which every vestige of the constitution should be swept away? Lord Palmerston returned to office in 1846, and wrote a despatch in July in that year, which has been employed against Lord Palmerston, but which appears to me to constitute a complete case in his favour. Lord Palmerston depicts a vivid picture of the spectacle which Spain presented to him. The constitution existed but in name—the Cortes were a passive instrument in the hands of the Executive—the press, excepting for the purposes of adulation, was struck dumb; men had been exiled, incarcerated, or put to death without trial. The forms of liberty were increased, as a veil with which the stern features of despotism were imperfectly disguised. Lord Palmerston, after describing the state of Spain, observes that it was not to establish a grinding tyranny that England lent her aid in the agony of Spain. You will suppose that Lord Palmerston directed Sir Henry Bulwer to interfere and remonstrate against the misdeeds of the Moderado Administration. Quite the reverse: hear it, you who think that Lord Palmerston labours under some distempered addiction to intermeddle, which it is not his power to restrain. He says—Her Majesty's Government are so sensible of the evil of interfering, even by friendly advice, in the internal affairs of independent States, that I 368 have to abstain from giving you instructions to make any representations whatever to the Spanish Ministers, on these matters.But wherefore was it that Lord Palmerston gave Sir H. Bulwer the most positive instructions not to interfere, in 1846, and directed him to interpose with his advice in 1848? For a very obvious reason. In 1846, the Throne of Louis Philippe was ostensibly stable. The Orleans dynasty and all the institutions of France had not been engulphed amidst that terrible concussion, whose shock was felt beyond the Pyrenees. But in 1848, that great event befel, at which we stand appalled, and to which history will look back with amazement. When Lord Palmerston behold every Throne in Europe rocking to its foundations, he turned his eyes towards Spain. Warned by Sir H. Bulwer, and perceiving a Carlist insurrection to be followed in all probability by a democracy, allied in stern sisterhood with France, the noble Lord, the author of the Quadruple Alliance, and of the treaty on whose subsistence Spain still insists, addressed a despatch to Sir H. Bulwer, in which not a single dictatorial phrase, not a single authoritative intimation, is to be found. That despatch reached Sir H. Bulwer on the 21st of March, but for twenty days after was not transmitted to the Spanish Government. Sir H. Bulwer reserved it as his last expedient. On the 23rd, the Cortes were virtually suppressed. On the 26th of March, an insurrection took place, and on the 28th of March, Sir H. Bulwer, trembling with apprehension for the fate of the Queen, made a verbal communication of the instructions which he had received. He afterwards saw the Queen Mother. His expostulations with that Princess were of no avail; at last, on the 9th of April, seeing that new perils were gathering round the Queen of Spain, Sir H. Bulwer determined to give to his admonition all the weight which he could impart to it, and gives the following statement of the course which he adopted:—In this state of circumstances I consulted my instructions; I had already acted upon them by giving friendly and intimate advice without any effect being produced. It began to be very probable that Count Montemolin might show himself, supported by the Liberal party, and with the cry of the Constitution of 1812; this was here canvassed on one side, a republic on the other. Now, if the Pretender raised his banner, proclaiming constitutional principles, and we were called upon to support Queen Isabella, Her Catholic Majesty upholding military government, it would be difficult for us to support the military govern- 369 ment against the constitutional one, or to desert Queen Isabella suddenly, on the ground that we disapproved of the course she had pursued, unless there was some proof that we had so disapproved. My unofficial conversations had no authority. Even if Her Catholic Majesty fell without exposing us to this difficult and particular question, it might be said, 'Why did not Mr. Bulwer warn the Spanish Government of the dangerous course they were pursuing? Why did he not do so with all the weight that a formal communication of the views of Great Britain would have afforded?'It was, my Lord, in view of all these various probabilities that I gave the sanction of your Lordship's name and of my own opinion to the advice I presumed to offer. It was not, that I am aware of, couched in improper terms; I did not, therefore, expect a violently hostile reply, or that the present Government of Spain would involve amongst Queen Isabella's enemies Her Majesty's Government, with more than the precipitancy with which it had included in this category distinguished and loyal Spaniards. The result shows I was mistaken.Why was he mistaken? The Spanish Government believed that England was on the brink of a revolution. Their anticipations were akin to their desires; they imagined that the institutions of England, whose deep foundations they do not know, nor the indissoluble cement with which they are constructed, would be as readily overthrown as those frail edifices which their Continental architects call "a constitution." They omitted to reflect that, in this country, liberty and order have given each other reciprocal guarantees, and mistook a Chartist procession for a nation's march. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dorsetshire has adverted to an article in the Heraldo newspaper, which is under the immediate influence or inspiration of Sartorius, a Cabinet Minister. It is the organ of the Spanish Government. The editor of that journal distinctly states that England is exposed to the greatest perils, and is unable to resent any affront which might be offered her. It was under the impressions of which this paragraph is the exponent, that the Spanish Minister, forgetting all the service which had been conferred upon his country, or rather resenting them—forgetting that even recently Spain had appealed to the Quadruple Alliance—availed themselves of the occasion which they thought had presented itself of offering with impunity a gross insult to the benefactor of their Sovereign. We are told that the English Minister is humiliated. It would be strange indeed if the Minister of the greatest empire in the world—if the Minister of England, that can inflict a terrible vengeance for an affront, but can also 370 afford to despise it—it would be strange, I say, if the Minister of England were humiliated by the Minister of a Government that not many years ago fell down upon its knees before him. But instead of insisting on that incalculable disparity, I think it better to say, that with right, with truth, with justice, and with honour, humiliation cannot be allied. It is with nations as with men. I will put this case to the hon. and learned Gentleman, who justly said that it is with nations as with men. If a man, calling himself his friend, were in his direst need to fly to him for aid—if that aid were promptly, largely, and generously given—if, not contented with lifting him from the earth, and raising him to prosperity, the hon. and learned Gentleman were to become his surety, and contract for the fulfilment of his future engagements—and if after doing all this, or more than this, seeing that the man for whom he had done so much was rushing again to destruction, he were to interpose, and to exclaim, "For your own sake and for my sake, pause in your race to ruin"—and if instead of thanking him for the advice which he had every right to have given, the man whom he had saved were to turn contumeliously upon him, and strike him upon the cheek—does the hon. Gentleman think that he would be dishonoured? or does he not rather know, that the vile insult would recoil upon the heartless ingrate, who would pull down shame and humiliation upon himself? This observation applies to every incident in this series of transactions, which reflects so much real ignominy upon the thankless Ministers of Spain, from the first repudiation of Lord Palmerston's despatch, down to the dismissal of Sir H. Bulwer, upon grounds to which, in the annals of diplomatic affairs, no parallel can he discovered. Sir H. Bulwer is told by the men who seek to stab his character to the core, that they are afraid of his being assassinated at Madrid; and they tell him that he has been abandoned here. He has not been abandoned here. The noble Lord has not abandoned, and never will abandon him. "Never," said the Duke of Wellington, with the moral elevation that consistently belongs to him, "never give up the man who has done his best to do his duty." In the sentiment of the gallant soldier the generous civilian coincides. Lord Palmerston has approved and does approve of everything that Sir H. Bulwer did or said; and I am persuaded that he would fling his office 371 to the wind, rather than desert him. But there are other charges, it seems, against Sir H. Bulwer, none of which are distinctly stated, but are dispersed in whispers by the men who have laboured to undo him. If the Spanish Ministers have any accusation to press against the Minister of England, why was it not set forth in the letter with which his passport was transmitted; because Sir H. Bulwer would then have had the opportunity of refuting the libel and confounding the libeller. The inquisitorial process was not unnaturally thought the most convenient one. But if the Government of Spain have exhibited little knowledge of the political condition of the country, in stating that Messrs. Hume and Cobden would place themselves at the head of a revolutionary movement, they have manifested an ignorance still more gross, in imagining that the people of England would give to base calumnies any other heed than that of indignation and of disgust. The base tales which have been put into circulation do not deserve any specific confutation; but it would be wrong to withhold a specimen of the mode adopted to destroy the character of a gentleman whom they are devising pretences for having expelled. A pattern falsehood should be laid before the House. In one of the Government papers published in Madrid, Sir H. Bulwer was charged with having paid for the assassination of General Fulgosio. From this sample of atrocity the whole mass of infamous imputations may be judged. I do not think it necessary to enter into this case further than I have done. I have purposely abstained from minutely noticing the details of the correspondence laid on the table of the House. Much of it, however interesting, does not affect the real question on which you have to decide: whether Lord Palmerston was justified in his interference, when he conveyed his advice to the Spanish Government in the midst of circumstances of a nature so peculiar as those in which that Government is now placed. If Lord Palmerston interfered wantonly, officiously, and overweeningly, condemn him; but if he was influenced by a real unaffected solicitude for the good of the Spanish Queen and of the Spanish people—if he desired to avert from the illustrious Lady on whose head he had contributed to fasten the diadem of Spain, the danger that hung so darkly, and still hangs so imminently, upon her—then the controversy is at end, and the imputations which have been heaped 372 so laboriously upon the noble Lord are at once disposed of. For weeks the noble Lord has been the theme of continued invective. But this is not the first time that Lord Palmerston has been assailed with fierce derision, and aspersed with virulent vituperation. I have, however, observed, that whenever the noble Lord has had the opportunity of defending himself, and has been heard in this great tribunal, where the Ministers of England are put before the Gentlemen of England upon their trial for their fame—whenever he has had the means of proving that he was swayed in all that he did by the love of England, and the passion for freedom, his vindication has been triumphantly victorious; and he has been hailed by the acclamations of the House of Commons, when he has ceased to speak. As it was, so it will again be. He will be sustained by the majority of this House, who cannot fail to feel that this is not a time for the indulgence of party—that in this crisis in the destinies of the empire, rash experiments are not to be made in any department of the State—that although the noble Lord may not be incapable of error, or may have been betrayed into mistakes, yet that, taking him for all in all, there is no man intellectually and morally better qualified to encounter great emergencies—that he is fit to cope with mighty hazards—and that England may be sure of him, whenever there shall be need of great talents and great sagacity, and when tranquil courage and indomitable determination shall be required.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had concluded his speech by complaining of the violent personal attacks to which, as he thought, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had been latterly exposed. He (Viscount Mahon) should feel sincere regret if, in the observations which he was now about to offer to the House, a single word were to fall from him inconsistent with his respect for the noble Lord. He entertained that feeling of high respect for the noble Lord, on account of his eminent and undoubted ability, his long experience in public affairs, and the high post which he now for the third time filled. Neither was he insensible to the delicacy of the subject, and the apprehension of saying anything which might aggravate the difficulty of forming negotiations with a foreign and hitherto friendly Power. But the question having been brought before the House, he hoped he could, consistently with that feeling 373 of personal respect, and also with due regard to those negotiations now in progress, venture to state to the House the opinions formed upon the present transactions. He entirely conceded to the right hon. Gentleman that the noble Lord had, under all the circumstances, a right to tender some advice to the Spanish Government. After the sacrifices made by us for that country—after the assistance we had given in the civil strife connected with Don Carlos, the money we had expended, and the stores we had supplied—he thought England had a right to offer advice in suitable terms to the Spanish Government. But the question then arose, in what terms and to what effect that advice ought to be given? When he looked at the despatch of the 16th of March, he must say that he could not concur either in the scope or in the terms of that advice. In that despatch not only is set forth the course of policy which was to be pursued, but a change of Administration was also recommended:—The course pursued by the Crown is at variance with the general sentiments of the country. It would, then, be wise for the Queen of Spain, in the present critical state of affairs, to strengthen the Executive Government, by enlarging the basis upon which the Administration is founded, and by calling to her councils some of those men who possess the confidence of the Liberal party.
Now he could not but think that this was stepping beyond the proper and usual line of tendering good advice; not only pointing out the measures but almost the men to be employed. It was not unusual for men of weight and station in this country, from time to time, to go to the head of the Government and give him suggestions, and tell him their views as to the propriety or impropriety of the course of policy the Government was pursuing. These counsels were given in an amicable spirit, and were generally received in an amicable spirit. But he could not but think the case would be different if those persons were to say, "We advise a change of Administration. You are unfit for office. Tell the Queen to call other men to her councils." He could not but think that, if such language as that was used, the friendly spirit would have been quite laid aside. He regretted therefore to see that, in this case, the noble Lord had given advice, not merely as to the measures but as to the men to be employed; and when he looked at the terms of the despatch, he must again say that he found in them grounds for regret. Remembering the national
jealousy of Spain of foreign interference, he thought the utmost care and circumspection ought to have been taken, lest a single word should fall which would wound the sensitive jealousy of the Spanish people. It was impossible to know anything of the Spanish people without being aware to what an extent they carried their jealousy of foreign interference. Indeed it was a distinguishing ingredient in their character. Could it be said that the noble Lord had consulted this jealousy of the Spanish Government—could it be said that in this despatch, unaccompanied as it was with terms of persuasion or argument, but authoritative and peremptory—he had paid any regard to this feeling of pride? He would read the commencement of that despatch:—
I have to instruct you to recommend earnestly to the Spanish Government and to the Queen Mother, if you have an opportunity of doing so, the adoption of a legal and constitutional course of government in Spain.
Now he thought the noble Lord, so far from assuming this brief and decisive tone, ought to have at least prefaced his views of the course of Spanish policy which he wished to see carried out, with stating, as he truly might, that he was impelled by none but friendly motives, and that the Government, in tendering this advice, was wholly uninfluenced by any selfish object. But then it might be said, this despatch was not intended for the Spanish Government. He now begged to ask the question, whether the despatch of the 16th of March, 1848, was intended merely for the private information of Sir H. Bulwer, or to be communicated to the Spanish Government? He would be glad to know which was the fact. If that despatch was intended merely for the instruction of Sir H. Bulwer, then the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs might be excused. The noble Lord might say, "I wrote a letter to him as our diplomatic agent, and I was not bound to use very cautious terms. I was not bound to recapitulate that which Sir H. Bulwer knew perfectly well already, nor was I obliged to use the forms which would be proper in addressing the Spanish Government." But then what became of the despatch of the 19th of April, and also the despatch of the 20th of April, in which the noble Lord had signified his approval of the course pursued by Sir H. Bulwer? If the despatch of the 16th of March was merely intended for Sir H. Bulwer,
then, he repeated, he could not blame the noble Lord if the noble Lord had not subsequently approved of Sir H. Bulwer's conduct. But what was this despatch of the 19th of April? It ran thus—addressed, of course, from Lord Palmerston to Mr. Bulwer:—
With reference to your despatch of the 10th instant, I have to inform you, that Her Majesty's Government approve the language which you held to Queen Christina on the 4th instant, pointing out to Her Majesty the importance of governing Spain by constitutional means; and that Her Majesty's Government likewise approve of the note which you addressed on the 7th instant to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, offering similar counsel to the present Ministers of her Catholic Majesty.
§ He confessed that after this despatch he could not see how the noble Lord could defend himself on the ground that the despatch of the 16th of March was not intended for presentation. If it had been shown that our Ambassador at Madrid had merely committed an error of judgment, to which the ablest men were occasionally liable—if he had, under an erroneous impression of his duty, communicated this despatch to the Spanish Government, he did not think it would have been at all inconsistent with the dignity of the noble Lord to have disclaimed and regretted that course. The noble Lord might admit the error, although he approved of the motive. But the noble Lord commended Sir H. Bulwer for his conduct in presenting the despatch in question, although that document was undoubtedly written in a tone calculated to give pain, and he must say to cause offence. He could very well understand how the conduct of the noble Lord might be excused as regarded the despatch of the 16th March separately; but, taking that despatch in conjunction with that of the 20th of April, he confessed he could not see how the noble Lord could acquit himself on both together. There was a most important point yet to be considered as to the grounds of the Spanish Government for having expelled Sir Henry Bulwer from Madrid, and in reference to which the information was as yet most incomplete. The noble Lord had promised further papers; and he could not but think the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Bankes) would have exercised a sound discretion if he had postponed his Motion until those papers had been laid upon the table of the House. They were at present discussing that question in the dark—in a state of obscurity and eclipse, which could not he, perpetual, 376 and which the noble Lord (Lord Palmers-ton) had promised to remove. He did not doubt that, whilst negotiations were pending with a foreign Power, the noble Lord was justified in withholding despatches until those negotiations had been brought to a conclusion; but he wished, as far as he was concerned, that they had not been forced into a discussion at a time when they could not decide in a satisfactory manner—at a moment when the national honour was at stake, and when there was a determination to suffer no affront from any foreign Power—he wished, he repeated, that upon so momentous an occasion they had not been invited to decide upon conjecture instead of certainty. In this state of the case, finding that no information was before the House as to the grounds upon which the Spanish Government acted in the dismissal of Sir H. Bulwer, it would not become him to give any opinion to the House; but this he would state, that so far as the papers before them were concerned, he could not find in them any justification whatever for the Spaniards in dismissing the Ambassador of that very Power which had so much and so lately befriended them. They should have borne in mind the not very remote time when we stepped forward to assist them with our blood, with our treasure, with our moral influence; and it should have been some very strong provocation indeed which would justify so great an outrage upon their part. He must again say that in those papers there was no such justification—not the shadow of a justification. He did not of course, presume to say what other facts the Spanish Government could bring forward, for, as he had already stated, they had not all the documents of its defence before them. Some allowance was to be made for its just displeasure at the terms of the noble Lord, in his despatch of the 16th of March; terms which would naturally occasion irritation on the part of the Spanish Government. He contended, however, that, as far as they could judge of the present facts, and entirely reserving his decision upon any new facts which might he adduced, there never was an act so offensive in itself, and of such great consequence, undertaken upon such slight grounds. This act—dismissing an Ambassador—was not altogether without parallel. We had committed this act ourselves by the dismissal of the Swedish Ambassador, Count Gyllenborg, in 1717. But Count Gyllenborg was dismissed be- 377 cause he had been in correspondence with the Pretender. Papers connecting him with the cause of the Pretender were seized. It was a daring act to dismiss the Ambassador, but it was justified by the emergency; and the Spanish Government would be justified if they could show a similar cause. Yes, if the Spanish Government could show anything like such grounds, that House would not, from its attachment to any party, Government, or person, blame them for the course they had pursued. But as far as he could see at present, no such justification was alleged; and he might venture to say, that if there was no such justification, no party differences in that House—no feeling of any kind—would prevent all the Members of that House from concurring in any course which the vindication of our national honour might call upon us to pursue. It remained to be considered whether the House should adopt the Motion brought forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorsetshire. He would at once say that he could not concur with it. To vote with the hon. Gentleman, would be, however it might be disguised, a vote of censure. The words of the Motion, it was true, were, that the House expressed its regret; but "regret," in such a case, meant nothing more or less than censure. He had already touched upon those points in the despatches which he thought unwise. He would again say, that be regretted that such terms had been used; but let it be borne in mind what would be the consequences of the House agreeing to a Motion such as that proposed by the hon. Gentleman. He might admit that our position was a "humiliating" one, as it was termed in the Motion; but he was not prepared to say that that position had not been brought about rather by the unjust suspicion of the Spanish Government than by any default in our diplomacy. For these reasons he could not concur in the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and although he thought the despatch of the noble Lord open to animadversion, yet when he knew that the immediate consequences of the Motion, if carried tonight, would be the immediate retirement of the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs and his Colleagues—and when he recollected the want of information, the deficiency in the materials for arriving at a proper conclusion—he thought the House of Commons could not with due regard to its own dignity and to the interests of the country, concur in the Motion of the hon. 378 Gentleman. He must, therefore, express his dissent from the vote proposed for their adoption. Again, expressing his regret at the course pursued by the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) in some of these transactions, he must say that he did not think the House would he taking that course which it was consistent with the vindication of the honour of the country to pursue, if, without the documents necessary to arrive at a proper conclusion upon this matter, they agreed in the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The noble Lord who has just down has spoken so truly—he has expressed his doubts, where he has doubts, so candidly—his approbation where he can give it, so fairly—and his reluctance to agree to a vote of censure, in terms so becoming to the Members of this House—that I cannot refrain from at once rising to endeavour to give some information upon those points on which he is, as yet, uninformed. The noble Lord is willing to admit, and I think the great majority of this House must be willing to admit, that even putting aside the peculiar relations which subsist between this country and Spain, it is competent for one Government to give advice to the Government of another country. It may even feel at times bound to give advice with regard to its internal affairs. Provided that advice is conveyed in friendly terms, and it has a friendly object, there are few Members of this House who would deny there may be occasions upon which such advice may he given. Without referring to the innumerable examples which may be found where such advice has been given by persons of the highest authority in all matters of international relation, I will mention one case that I happened to be reading, I think not more than two or three days ago, with regard to the late events in Naples. A person of high authority sent for three of the foreign Ministers, informing them that tranquillity was restored in the capital. One of them, taking upon himself to speak on behalf of his Colleagues, the other foreign Ministers, said that their opinion was, that the time had come when their own conclusions should be considered by the Sovereign and by the Government. Who was the Minister that ventured, unasked, to give this advice to the Government of Naples? It was the representative of Her Catholic Majesty the Queen of Spain. Subsequent discussions occurred with one of the Ministers of the King of Naples, in which the 379 nature of the constitution, and the propriety of dissolving the Chambers, were laid be-fore those foreign Ministers. Various opinions were given—the Spanish Minister giving one opinion, the English Minister giving another; but it never occurred to the Minister of the King of Naples to say, "Any advice upon the internal affairs of this kingdom is an unjustifiable interference, and I call upon you to refrain from such interference, unless you wish me to give advice with regard to the mode of conducting the Governments of England and Spain." But, Sir, there were, as the noble Lord admits, peculiar reasons why England should have some title to give advice to the Government of Spain. Her interests had been too deeply concerned when the Marquess of Miraflores came here to pray, to beg, to supplicate for assistance—her assistance had been given too readily—her assistance had been too effectual, for her not to think that if the occasion arose when the Throne of the Queen of Spain should be endangered, her sympathy might be exhibited, her friendly counsels might be tendered, without fear of arousing any national susceptibility. Sir, the events of the present year have been extraordinary. My right hon. Friend the Master of the Mint, who went through this case so ably and so clearly, and altogether in a manner so masterly that I can add little to what he has addressed to the House, has referred most aptly to the despatch of my noble Friend in 1846, in which my noble Friend says, "Such are the sentiments of the British Government; and you will inform those who have the power to act according to those sentiments, but you will not intrude any advice with respect to the internal affairs of Spain." But, as I have said, the events of the present year have been most extraordinary, and there was no country hardly which could be considered to be safe from those convulsions which have overset thrones, have destroyed constitutions, have placed towns at the mercy of the mob, and have threatened to convulse the whole state of Europe. At such a time it was impossible, considering the relations between this country and Spain, that the fate of Spain should not seriously and painfully attract the attention of the British Government. My noble Friend wrote the despatch of the 16th of March. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Mahon) asks—and it is a perfectly justifiable question to ask—whether that despatch was written with the view of being 380 communicated to the Spanish Government, or whether it was written for the information of Sir Henry Bulwer? Now, Sir, I shall answer that question by relating the events as they occurred. My noble Friend wrote that despatch, which is not in its form a despatch to be communicated in a note to a foreign Government. It was a despatch written in that form which is intended for the information of a Minister; but, at the same time, that despatch was for the information and guidance of a Minister who had been chosen for his eminent abilities, who was fully acquainted with the state of Spain, and in whom, therefore, the Government of this country might wisely repose confidence. Sir H. Bulwer evidently understood that despatch as it was meant, as a despatch for his guidance; but there occurred a state of things which filled him with alarm as to the safety of the Throne of Spain, the circumstances of which he has described in a despatch dated the 22nd of April. In that despatch he relates that extraordinary powers were obtained by the Spanish Government—that the Cortes were prorogued—that no sooner were they prorogued than almost every officer of note in the Progressista party was arrested or banished, and some of the most distinguished deputies were seized and imprisoned with an apparent intent to deport them, and all this without the parties thus treated being told of their offence, or submitted to any sort of trial. Now, on this part of the case, I must say that I believe it to have been the opinion of Sir H. Bulwer—for we have seen it frankly stated in despatches and letters of his—that the best policy for the Queen of Spain to pursue would be to unite, if possible, in her councils, the most eminent of those who would support her title as opposed to the title of Don Carlos—and that whether called Moderados or Progressistas, it was her interest to see her throne surrounded by both of those parties, and to make of those parties, united, a rampart, as it were, against the attempts of those who would support the pretensions of another prince. Whether that were a just opinion or not, I have no occasion now to argue. I will only say that it was an opinion formed by Sir H. Bulwer, not from any regard for one party or the other—not from any desire to take a part in the internal policy of Spain—but from a wish to see the Throne of Spain strengthened, and the title of the present Queen affirmed and recognised by the nation. Sir, with 381 those opinions, therefore, the House can well conceive that Sir H. Bulwer saw with alarm that not only was an extraordinary law passed suspending all the guarantees of public liberty, but that the most eminent men who had held Progressista opinions in the Cortes—men who were distinguished orators, and men of known attainments and character—were seized and imprisoned without a trial, and were threatened with the loss of their liberty wherever they might be. Such being the case, then, Sir H. Bulwer was afraid that the partisans of Don Carlos, or the partisans of a Republic, might make a successful insurrection; and upon this point he says—It began to be very probable that the Count Montemolin might show himself, supported by the Liberal party, and with the cry of the constitution of 1812—this was here canvassed on one side, a republic on the other.In the previous passage he said—In this state of circumstances I consulted my instructions. I had already acted upon them by giving friendly and intimate advice, without any effect being produced.That shows—and I believe the noble Lord is satisfied of the fact—that Sir H. Bulwer really understood those instructions as authorising him to use "friendly and intimate advice" with the Government of Spain, without immediately producing the note which authorised him to do so. Under the circumstances of the case, however, to which he has referred, Sir H. Bulwer thought that if he went no further, no record would remain of that advice having been given. He reflected that the advice had been given in the course of conversation merely, and that no one would know that it had been given; and it seemed to him that for the sake of the British Government, in order that it might appear that we had left no warning that we could adopt untried—that we had not allowed recklessly the Throne of the Queen of Spain to be subverted, and that at all events we should be justified if that throne were placed in peril—with those opinions, and under those circumstances, he then wrote to the Duke of Sotomayor, and enclosed the despatch of my noble Friend. Sir, those are the circumstances which account, first, for the despatch being written in terms which I think are shorter and more abrupt than those which my noble Friend would have used in writing a note that was purposely intended to be communicated to the Spanish Government; and they also account for the conduct of Sir 382 H. Bulwer in afterwards delivering that note to the Government of Spain. Now, what course were we to take upon this occasion? It was not originally intended that that note should be delivered to the Spanish Government; but Sir H. Bulwer acted upon his discretion, and we had to consider whether he had acted properly upon that discretion; and it was the consideration of Her Majesty's Government that he had acted properly upon that discretion, and that he deserved the approbation of the Government for the mode in which he had discharged his duty. And I think, Sir, it would have been a bad course indeed if, taking advantage of any technical point, having a person like Sir H. Bulwer at Madrid, who had been there for years, and who was well acquainted with that country, we had said to him, "You were not instructed to give in that note to the Spanish Government, and therefore your conduct must be disproved." Sir, I think we should have been lowering the Government of this country if we had so acted, and that we were right in sharing the responsibility with Sir H. Bulwer, or rather in taking upon ourselves the greater part of the responsibility, because the hon. Gentleman who made the Motion to-night is quite right in saying that, if censure there is to be, let that censure fall upon the Government at home, and not upon the agent who followed their instructions abroad. We have, therefore, taken the greater share of that responsibility—and we are here to justify that conduct, to stand responsible for it: to be acquitted if it should please the House to acquit us; to be censured, if it should please the House to censure us; but at all events not denying, or in any way evading, that responsibility which properly belongs to us. Sir, the despatch of my noble Friend, approving of the conduct of Sir H. Bulwer, has been found fault with on another ground; and it has been said that after such an affront—after an act of discourtesy seldom suffered by any Minister as the despatch of the Secretary of State being returned—it was quite undignified of my noble Friend not to fall into a great passion upon this subject, and to resent most deeply, and in very pompous terms, and perhaps, with acts of an extreme nature, the indignity that had been put upon us. Why, Sir, I think that my noble Friend took a much better course in explaining that what was done was meant as a friendly warning—that it was not a matter for our partial. 383 interference—that it was a matter for the Government of Spain to consider—that we had acted with the most friendly intentions—and that if she chose to be angry, we did not intend to be offended about the matter. I remember once the late Lord Holland telling me a story of Lord Archibald Hamilton, who was to dine at Holland-house, and had been shown into a room with a gentleman with whom he was not acquainted. Lord Holland said that Lord Archibald Hamilton went up to him with no little agitation, and said, "This gentleman, whom I don't know, has said such things to me that I must either burst out laughing, or knock him down." Lord Holland replied, "By all means, then, burst out laughing, and don't knock him down." So I think it was in the case of my noble Friend. He must either have taken this up as a great national quarrel, or have passed it by as a matter of no importance. But, Sir, there are other matters connected with this despatch of my noble Friend; and it is said that we ought not to have reminded the Government of Spain of the obligations under which that Government lay to this Government and to this country. I entirely differ from that opinion. I do not think, if the Government of Spain had really consulted the interests of the Queen whom they serve, that they would have given such an air as the Duke de Sotomayor gave to the note of Sir H. Bulwer. I think that whatever their opinion was—whether they thought the advice uncalled for, whether they thought it injurious, or whatever other opinion they might have had—they, the representatives of the Queen of Spain, should have been themselves too mindful of the obligations under which the Queen of Spain and her Government lay to the assistance of England to have made it a matter of reproach and taunt, and puerile sarcasm, that we had given advice to them with respect to their internal government. But as they did so, they were fairly met with the answer that the position was a totally different one, and that the Queen of England was under no such obligations to Spain as the Queen of Spain was under to this country. All my observations are founded on papers already laid before the House. Sir, the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion has chosen to do so, thinking it wise and proper, whilst negotiations are still going on between the representatives of Spain at this Court and Her Majesty's Govern- 384 ment, not only to ask for information, not only to bring on a discussion, but he has thought it the proper moment for moving a vote of censure upon the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. Though we could not ask the hon. Gentleman to put off his Motion—though we could not show the least appearance of a desire to avoid that vote of censure—yet I cannot agree with him that it is at all proper to bring forward such vote whilst matters stand as they do between Spain and this country; and I think, whatever Government might be in power, supposing the House of Commons to adopt such a vote, that it could not but weaken, I will not say the particular Ministry, but, any Ministry, whoever they might be, in their attempts to effect a satisfactory negotiation. With regard to our relations with Spain, I think that they are not only very peculiar and very delicate, but that whilst they require that English honour should be maintained, they do at the same time require the exercise of very great forbearance. Perhaps if the two countries were more upon a level in point of force, it would be more difficult or more liable to suspicion, if that forbearance were shown; but standing as we do in the relation of England and of Spain—seeing what is the power of England and what is now the power of Spain—I think that we are not only justified, but that we are bound to show the utmost temper and forbearance in our dealings with that country. I trust we shall take care that no stain shall fall upon the honour of England. Anything but that I would be ready to submit to for the purpose of maintaining the most friendly relations with Spain. If I am unable to vouch that they have had any justification, as far as I have yet seen, for the peremptory and violent step that has been taken with regard to Sir H. Bulwer, yet I must also consider that there is the Queen of Spain, whose throne I most heartily wish to see maintained, whose security upon that throne I trust will not be endangered—that there is the Spanish nation, a nation of as gallant sentiments and of as chivalrous feelings as Britain herself; and whilst I think that the Queen of Spain has placed the concerns of the nation in hands wanting in temper, wanting in discretion, wanting in due regard for a faithful and generous ally, and whilst I must think that that Spanish nation has but imperfect organs for the expressions of its will in the Duke of Valencia and the Duke de Sotomayor, yet in all we may do, in all we 385 may find it necessary in future to write upon this subject, we will not forget that while such are the temporary representatives of Spain, the interests of the Queen of Spain and the character of the Spanish nation are to be regarded by us with the utmost interest and consideration.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, it would be difficult, in following the debate as hitherto conducted, for any one who had not been previously acquainted with what has occurred between this country and Spain, easily to conceive what really has happened. Is it possible to imagine that a gross outrage has been committed—a gross public outrage, and under circumstances of unprecedented flagrancy, upon an individual whom, both from the position he occupies, and the public estimation he has acquired, was one in whoso career, conduct, and treatment, this country must naturally feel a great interest? Would any one have imagined that a foreign country had dismissed the representative of the Queen of Great Britain almost ignominiously from its capital—that he had arrived here hurried and in haste—that the circumstances that led to this outrage had only transpired, originally, to the English House of Commons through foreign newspapers; that it was with the utmost difficulty any public notice of these events should have occurred in this House—the chosen temple of national rights and national honour; and that when at last, on an occasion most constitutional and legitimate, some notice is taken of it, the Prime Minister should tell us that negotiations are going on? Why, Sir, that is the great fault we find with Her Majesty's Ministers in the present state of affairs. I want to know, after this outrage has been committed, why a full and complete satisfaction has not long before this been exacted? I say this is a question totally independent of the policy of the Government, or the character of the English Minister. It is this primary condition which we ought to notice—it is this primary condition which we ought to demand to be fulfilled, before we enter into the question of the policy of the Government, or of the conduct of the Minister. We have been favoured with the reasons why the representative of Her Majesty was dismissed with shame and dishonour from the capital of Spain. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at Madrid most graciously and courteously informed Sir Henry Bulwer that he (Sir Henry Bulwer) was abused in the Spanish 386 press, and in the Spanish Parliament, and that the Government of Spain could not answer for his safety at Madrid, and he therefore sent him his passport; and the Under Secretary of State, as Sir Henry entered his carriage, was ready to assure him of his high consideration! Yet, negotiations are going on! Why, Sir, the reasons have been given for the dismissal of Sir Henry Bulwer from Madrid. Do you find them satisfactory? That is the whole question before the House. Is the message of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at Madrid, or is the speech of the Duke de Sotomayor—are they an ample satisfaction to you for this unprecedented outrage? Why, Sir, we are told that a distinguished gentleman left Madrid twenty-four hours before the English Minister, in order, in detail, completely to satisfy the Court of St. James's of the expediency and unavoidable necessity of the unprecedented step the Spanish Government had taken. But, according to every principle of public law, and according to the practice of nations in their mutual and reciprocal conduct, that circumstance would not have been a justification of the step which the Spanish Cabinet adopted. The official arrived; and that the grounds he had to assign for the step taken by the Spanish government were unquestionably unsatisfactory, Her Majesty's Ministers must no doubt have been aware. But I can understand why the British Government may feel that a country like Great Britain could afford to be generous, and cherish generosity even to the verge of contemptuousness. All that I could understand and allow. If Her Majesty's Ministers had ever any suspicion, notwithstanding the formal politeness of the despatch of the Spanish Minister—and notwithstanding the verbal message of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Sir H. Bulwer—notwithstanding these formal circumstances, that still there were accusations in detail which could be proved with facility against a man who had hitherto stood in the high and responsible position of Her Majesty's Minister Plenipotentiary at Madrid, I could understand why a Secretary of State should have said to Spain, "Notwithstanding you should have communicated to us through the Spanish Minister here those grounds of complaint which you had to allege before you inflicted, in the face of Europe and the civilised world, this unparalleled outrage on the representative of the British 387 Sovereign, still we are prepared to hear, if, after all, it can be explained and apologised for." Well, where is this Extraordinary Minister from Madrid, who came over the day after the insult was inflicted to vindicate the outrage? Has he ever applied to the noble Lord? The noble Lord said—"A person came over here, but he was not accredited to me, and I declined to receive him, and told him that if he had anything to say he must communicate it through the Spanish Minister—but with this condition, that the communication must be made in writing." The noble Lord in this instance departed from the laws of nations, and from the rules of public propriety, I think, too much for his own self-respect. I should like to know what business he had to receive in writing any representation as to foreign affairs from persons who were not accredited to the Government of this country? I want to know who this person—this Mr. Mirasol, who is still in London, is. Has he anything to say? If he has, and he cannot find a Secretary of State courteous enough to listen to him, still he might meet with an audience in a House of Commons. If he is the accredited representative of his Sovereign at Madrid, and has any statement to make, let him make it. Has he communicated it to any one in writing, or orally? Who is he? What is he? Why is he here? Why is his name bruited about? Why is this anomalous authority quoted on this occasion? The time is come to know who this person is, and whether he, or any one else, is ready to vindicate this great and unparalleled outrage. Before you enter into any question of policy, that question ought first to be resolved. If he had been accredited to the noble Lord, and had made his communication, it would by this time, I doubt not, have been on the table of the House. If, taking advantage of the too indulgent permission of the noble Lord, he had communicated in writing to the Spanish Minister—if he could have written anything worth listening to—if he composed, with the Spanish Minister, without a blushing front, anything that could be offered for the acceptance of the noble Lord, it would now have been on the table of this House. It ought to have been there ten days ago. Why did he not get here sooner? He might have been here twenty-four hours before the late English Minister at Madrid; and when that English Minister arrived at the Clarendon, or at Mivart's, the letter of 388 this Mr. Mirasol might have been sent to him, and the whole matter might have been at once settled. After all the delay that has occurred in this affair, I have a right to infer that the Spanish Government have no accusation whatever to make against the English Minister; and, except the expulsion of Sir Henry Bulwer from Madrid, I can conceive no outrage greater than that they should send a person over here to circulate these rumours without being ready to substantiate them, and to allege circumstances respecting the British Minister at Madrid which had never been before heard of, and which, from the high character of that gentleman, can never be believed. This outrage, then, ought first to be noticed; and I impugn a Government who could allow themselves to look into negotiations of any kind without an explanation. Before they entered into negotiations on any point, the honour and character of the country ought to have been vindicated. If the noble Lord did not choose to send Mr. Mirasol his passport within twenty-four hours after his arrival here, and which I think, as a retaliation for the dismissal of Sir Henry Bulwer, he might have justly done, he might at least have proved that there was some use in the new Alien Bill, and sent Mr. Mirasol about his business. It is of importance, in the first place, to trace this outrage to its cause, though I believe it to be totally without a cause—dismissing for the present from our minds whatever our opinions or views may be—all considerations as to Spanish politics, and keeping our eyes attentively upon the fact, that a gross outrage has been inflicted upon this country. That we ought never to forget. It is one of the first duties of the House of Commons to be very jealous of the honour of public Ministers intrusted in foreign countries to act on behalf of this. Diplomatists are the most forlorn of men. There are very few who find their way into the House of Commons. However injured by a Minister, however misrepresented by a Minister in Parliament, it would be fatal to any one to speak against the conduct of his political chief. A scapegoat is a useful character in all transactions; and no scapegoat is more easy to select than the man who has been chosen to transact business in a foreign scene, at a distant time, and connected with circumstances with which we cannot be familiar. The non-answering of a letter, or the presentation of a letter not duly authorised, 389 or not considered as duly authorised, may be held as exonerating the character of a whole Cabinet, and save it from a future Parliamentary censure. I make that observation generally, and not in reference to the present case. I am willing to believe that Her Majesty's Ministers are not going to desert one of the most honest servants of the Crown. I say this notwithstanding the observations which the noble Lord has just addressed to the House, and who tells us that he and his Colleagues are prepared to take their share of the responsibility; and afterwards, ameliorating and cherishing his phraseology, he assured us that Her Majesty's Ministers are even prepared to take upon them the greater part of the responsibility. I toll the noble Lord that Her Majesty's Ministers must take upon themselves the responsibility, and the whole responsibility. [Lord J. RUSSELL: I said so.] I am willing to believe that the noble Lord meant that. I am gratified to understand that that which the noble Lord did say was totally different to that which my ears at first led me to believe. I am perfectly ready to accept the expression of the noble Lord in that sense; but of this let me remind the House—I am not rising to defend Sir H. Bulwer, because in the whole course of the debate, I am glad to observe, notwithstanding the doubtful expression of the noble Lord, an expression which he has since satisfactorily explained, Sir H. Bulwer has not been attacked—I mean not by Her Majesty's Government, but he has been outraged and insulted by the Government of Spain; and, although the Government may he willing to take upon themselves the responsibility, still they cannot take away from Sir H. Bulwer any part of the outrage which has been inflicted upon him. On an occasion like the present, before entering into the causes which led to these unparalleled and insufferable transactions, or into any explanations of the policy of the Government, or of the policy of the Minister more immediately concerned in this country, we ought, at least—unless good ground can be shown to the contrary, but which I maintain cannot be shown—we ought to show, irrespective of party, that the House of Commons is determined to uphold any Minister abroad, who, they believe, has done his duty, and done it well. The gentleman whose name has been called to our consideration tonight, is one who, however painful the discussion must be to his feelings, and peri- 390 lous as it would be to many others, ought not to be afraid to meet an English Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Master of the Mint has eloquently described the merits of Sir H. Bulwer. I cannot describe those merits in the glowing terms which the right hon. Gentleman's eloquence has furnished; but I can say that it has been my fortune to find Sir H. Bulwer as Minister in several foreign countries, where he was engaged in important transactions of State; and I believe that no man has of late years been employed by the Government to serve Her Majesty abroad who has done better service to the Crown, or who has shown more sagacity, more penetration, and—notwithstanding these transitory circumstances—I will say, more conciliatory temper, than Sir Henry Bulwer. No man has succeeded more, under circumstances of great difficulty, and great political niceness, than that gentleman. He eminently succeeded at Constantinople. With regard to the events of 840, the extraordinary occurrences which have happened within the last few months, permit what was called the other night a private Member of Parliament to speak upon these subjects in a way in which he might not otherwise have spoken; and I will say, that the conduct of Sir H. Bulwer in 1840, with respect to the information he obtained, and the advice—founded on the finest personal observation, and the most extensive acquaintance with public men in Paris—which he afforded to the noble Lord, was of very signal service to the Crown of England, and to the fortunes of this country. I am not sure that the labours of that gentleman had not a very material effect in preventing war at that time; and his appointment to the Court of Madrid was the reward of his eminent achievements in the year 1840. But by whom was he promoted? Not by the noble Lord, who was most conscious of his merits, and who, I believe I may say, was most anxious to acknowledge them. It was the archives of the Foreign Office—the register of his distinguished services—that induced Lord Aberdeen, when he succeeded the noble Lord in office, to fix upon Sir H. Bulwer as the man best qualified, both by his natural talents, and his acquired experience, to fill what was at that moment the most difficult and responsible post in our diplomacy. This circumstance alone affords primâ facie evidence of Sir H. Bulwer's capacity and conduct. Without entering into the peculiar policy of 391 the noble Lord opposite, I may remind the House that Sir H. Bulwer acted for a considerable period under Lord Aberdeen, who was supposed to have pursued a line of policy different from that adopted by the noble Lord. I am not speaking under what the right hon. Master of the Mint (Mr. Sheil) called the inspiration of Lord Aberdeen, or any of his late Colleagues. But I speak on unquestionable authority, when I say, that the conduct of Sir H. Bulwer, when he was at Madrid, under the instructions of Lord Aberdeen, will at least prove, that he was not one who was anxious to develop a party and factious policy; and that he did not attain to office, and did not maintain himself in office, by pandering to any prurient feelings of the noble Lord in favour of a particular course of policy in Spain. Under Lord Aberdeen, Sir Henry Bulwer obeyed his instructions, and developed and carried them out, with great tact and with great adroitness, by favour of that discretion which was intrusted to him, both by the late and present Secretaries for Foreign Affairs. I feel it my duty to express my earnest opinions on this subject, because I know, whatever may he the decision we may come to upon the present question—whatever may be the opinions that may be most popular, as far as majorities in this House are concerned, upon what is called foreign policy in general—it is of the utmost importance that we should show to Europe that our party quarrels do not prevent us from perfectly appreciating the conduct of public men who have been engaged in the service of the country. Having said this, let us conceive what must be the position of such a man as Sir H. Bulwer, after such an outrage, arriving in England, remaining in England now I believe nearly a fortnight, and having received no public recognition of his services, and no testimony of the sympathy of his fellow-countrymen. I was going to say—think what must be the feelings of such an individual; but I would say rather, think what must be the interests of this country. How must they suffer at this period, when the world is governed only by opinion, and when it is the opinion of the power, the high moral conduct, and the great public spirit of England, that is the most necessary element in your system of managing public affairs. Think how that opinion for which you have sacrificed so much, which you have cherished at so much cost, and which you must depend upon as a better 392 arm than your fleets or your troops to maintain peace—think how that opinion must have suffered when such an outrage has been committed on such a man—when such a term has elapsed, since his arrival in this country, before his countrymen have expressed their opinion upon his conduct, and upon the behaviour of a foreign Court towards him. Think how that opinion must be affected when, an attempt being made in a manner most legitimate and constitutional by a Member of the Opposition in this House, to bring forward, on Committee of Supply, a great public grievance—and I am at a loss to understand what is a public grievance if this is not a public grievance—an insult to your Sovereign, an insult to yourselves, an insult to the nation at large; think, I say, how that opinion, on which you so much rely, must suffer when, on the attention of Parliament being called to these circumstances, we are coolly told by the noble Lord at the head of the Government that negotiations are going on. Going on, for what? To receive fresh insults? We have a Secretary of Legation at Madrid; do you want him to receive his passports? The more you negotiate, the more certain you are to receive fresh insults. I form that opinion from the documents which have been so obligingly placed before us. Sir H. Bulwer delivers a despatch, and makes certain friendly remonstrances to the Spanish Government. This creates offence. The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs retorts in a despatch distinguished by some acerbity, and not written without ability. What happens then? A Member of the British Government, in another place, takes the earliest opportunity to regret the conduct pursued by Sir H. Bulwer. Why, that is the whole cause of the miserable incident that afterwards occurred. Deeply do I regret that a nobleman so distinguished as Lord Lansdowne, so eminent for his knowledge, his experience, his temper and tone in political affairs, and the large and enlightened views he takes upon all subjects, should have been the means of inflicting such a stigma upon a British Minister. But suppose this statement had not been made by the Lord President of the Council; suppose it had been made by a Minister not so eminent, it might then have been thought that the speaker had been influenced by feelings not so amiable towards the noble Foreign Secretary as those by which Lord Lansdowne was no doubt actuated, the circum- 393 stance might have been understood, and the result would not have been so noxious. But when one of our first public men, second to few in ability, second to none in public character, comes forward in a place so eminent as the House of Lords, and declines to justify the conduct of a British Minister, who can doubt that the persons who dared to hint dislike before would hesitate afterwards to accomplish the foul outrage the House is now called upon to discuss? We are told that it was the despatch of the noble Lord opposite that did all the mischief. Did the noble Lord mean it to be so? Did he not know what he was writing? Was he so hurried by the agitated condition of Europe, with every capital in insurrection, and every nation in revolt, that he forgot to mention in a postscript that the despatch was not to be shown? No, it was not the despatch of the noble Lord that did this mischief, it was the speech of his Colleague in another place. All the despatches that were ever written might easily have been obeyed—might easily have been managed; their ill effects might have been removed by a diplomatist of the tried experience, and, above all, of the perfect temper which is the great characteristic—and one most important in a person occupying such a position—of Sir H. Bulwer. Here is the despatch which has been so much criticised, dated the 16th of March. It is headed, as you all know, "Confidential;" and it states, that—The recent fall of the King of the French and of his whole family, and the expulsion of his Ministers, ought to teach the Spanish Court and Government how great is the danger of an attempt to govern a country in a manner at variance with the feelings and opinions of the nation; and the catastrophe which has happened in France must serve to show that even a large and well-disciplined army becomes an ineffectual defence for the Crown, when the course pursued by the Crown is at variance with the general sentiments of the country.Why, it is like reading a passage out of Gibbon. Some persons write despatches for work; this is for show. Nothing could be more ridiculous than that a man of such experience as the noble Lord—one too who has so long had the good fortune of being in the House of Commons, which prevents a man becoming too stilted—should write to his confidential agents these sesquipedalian sentences. The letter is an excellent letter for its purpose. It was written to a country where they like grand sentences. Had 394 the despatch been longer, and in the same style, it might have prevented the disagreeable events that have occurred. But though the noble Lord was obliged to be epigrammatic, his style is high Castillan. It is totally impossible that this despatch could have been meant for any other eyes than those of the Duke de Sotomayor or General Narvaez. But then it is said, it was a confidential despatch; yes, and it was confidentially communicated. Sir H. Bulwer was told to seize an occasion for communicating its contents, especially to the Queen Mother; and from what I have observed of the career and know of the character of Sir H. Bulwer, I am satisfied that the opportunities of which he availed himself would be most discreetly chosen. But these communications were probably made in French, and it is not easy to convey in the French language the grandiose style of the noble Lord; and as a sceptical ear was turned to these implied menaces, however softened by his phraseology, Sir H. Bulwer at last felt that the occasion was ripe for showing that he was in earnest. How was he to show it? After pressing the effect of his despatch upon the Queen Mother and the Spanish Court for twenty days without effect, finding that they did not give credence to his statements, or rather insinuations, the English Envoy had to consider what course it was best for him to take, to convince them that he was authorised to make these representations. Suppose Sir H. Bulwer had written a formal note, commencing, "The undersigned has the honour to inform the Duke de Sotomayor that he has been instructed to forward," &c., it would probably have had little more effect than his conversations; and if this step had failed, he would have been responsible to his Government for not having used his discretion, and shown the letter of his principal. The only chance of success, according to his rational calculation, was to prove that, during the whole time he had been making these conversational insinuations, he was only, with great tact and temper, expressing the absolute instructions he had received in an official despatch from the English Secretary of State. At the last moment, therefore, Sir H. Bulwer confidentially communicated this note, marked "confidential," to the Spanish Minister. Now, after this conduct, which only could have been pursued by a man who to great experience adds a 395 happy talent for the profession in which he is engaged, I certainly am surprised that it should have been said in the House of Lords that the letter was confidential, and that it was to be regretted that Sir H. Bulwer had been indiscreet enough to show it. But the affair becomes absolutely absurd—nay, more than absurd, most noxious in the eye of Europe—when we find that by the same post which conveyed the English journals containing these remarks of the Lord President of the Council, Sir H. Bulwer received a despatch from the British Government expressing their entire approval of his conduct, which despatch he had to produce to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs. This, then, is the position in which Sir H. Bulwer was placed, and it is that position which is the key to all these unfortunate circumstances. And now I come to inquire—and that is the important business of the night—why this misunderstanding took place between Members of the same Cabinet? This brings me to the policy of the noble Lord. It has been frankly avowed by the right hon. Gentleman the Master of the Mint, who seemed to glory in the circumstance, that all this is the necessary consequence of the Quadruple Treaty. That right hon. Gentleman appeared to hold up the Quadruple Treaty as the Magna Charta of diplomacy. He says it is out of that treaty that our duties and our rights with respect to Spain have flowed. It is, he observes, by the Quadruple Treaty that we bound the crown upon the brow of the Queen of Spain. A flattering memento this, let me remind the right hon. Gentleman, to go by the next post to Madrid! At a time when we are told the Spanish nation have that high-born and natural sensitiveness that they cannot bear an allusion to the Peninsular War, and to those victories which redeemed their independence—softened as the recollection is by the lapse of more than thirty years, is it likely that the Spanish people can bear to have it said that their Sovereign owed her crown, not to the British nation, but to the British Minister. That, at any rate, is what we have been told to-night. Well, the Quadruple Treaty has produced all this mischief. I remember, when I first had the honour of entering this House, now too many years ago for me to care to recollect, if any Gentleman got up and made any derogatory allusions to the Quadruple Treaty, he was always received with unanimous derision. Any person who dared to insinuate that the Quadruple Treaty was 396 not the most magnanimous monument, not of English diplomacy merely, but of the march of liberalism, and of the spread of liberal opinions, identifying Great Britain with the liberal cause throughout the world, was a Pariah in politics. But what was the Quadruple Treaty? It was the triumph of that liberalism which, whether developed in domestic or foreign affairs, is, alike fatal to liberty, and which has been the characteristic of the foreign policy of England for now too many years. The noble Lord opposite, who became Lord Grey's Foreign Secretary, necessarily from his position, was not only the organ and expounder, but, fortunately for him, the most able expounder, of this great diplomatic fallacy. The noble Lord opposite was then supported by the liberal party, and was especially supported by the liberal Members of the Cabinet. There was not an occasion on which we were not told, whenever any subject connected with our external affairs was brought under our eye, that England was to identify herself with the liberal cause, and with the growth of liberal institutions in foreign countries; and the noble Lord accepted power, and maintained himself in power, by the tenure of entertaining and advocating such opinions. This course of policy was announced to Parliament by a great master of rhetoric, in a way which persuaded everybody that this patronage of foreign liberalism would not lead to foreign war. Lord Grey's declaration on taking office in 1830 was as follows:—"Our true policy is to maintain universal peace." In this sentiment Lord Grey anticipated the hon. Member for the West Riding. There is nothing new, it seems, under the sun. Lord Grey, at that time, said—Our true policy is to maintain universal peace, and, therefore, non-interference is the principle—the great principle—which ought to be and will be heartily adopted by the present Administration.This, therefore, perfectly justified the statement of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire. No doubt, the hon. Member for Montrose still represents all those liberal ideas, and is of opinion that by meddling in every country you secure universal peace. Such, at least, was, at the time I refer to, the idea of the liberal party with respect to Foreign Affairs. My objection to liberalism is this—that it is the introduction into the practical business of life of the highest kind—namely, politics—of philosophical ideas instead of political princi- 397 ples. In fact, when a man goes to Madrid, for instance, he is not to guide his conduct with reference to the interests of England or of Spain, which, I hope, are mutual, but he is immediately to set about to infuse into a party, probably the weakest in the country, certain philosophical principles; and the promulgation of those principles is to be the bond of brotherhood with some small political faction, which, perhaps, would never have existed were it not for such fostering. The noble Lord opposite went on in this course. Who could blame him? You gave him immense majorities; though we, then a small party in this House, told you that it would never do, and that you could never conduct the foreign affairs of England on this system of abstract theories. You could not find a country governed by an absolute power without telling it that the only way to be happy and prosperous was to have a House of Lords and a House of Commons, and an English treaty of commerce. All this ended in confusion. All that was practical you never obtained. You never obtained the treaty of commerce, but you fostered confusion and convulsion. By lending all the aid of a great country like England to some miserable faction, you did create parties in domestic policy in every country, from Athens to Madrid, deteriorated the prosperity and condition of the people, and laid the seeds of infinite confusion. The noble Lord opposite proceeded in this course—the great prophet of liberalism in foreign affairs. I do the noble Lord the justice to say, that it was quite impossible for any man entertaining or advocating such absurd and perilous opinions to conduct their development in a more business-like manner: for the noble Lord has been educated in the best school, and is one of its most distinguished pupils. But the plot thickened; and, notwithstanding this fostering of constitutions in Greece, Portugal, and Spain; notwithstanding, even, that the noble Lord, on one of those very rare occasions when he deigns to open the oracle of the Foreign Office in this House, was forced by his party to come to the table of the House to connect France with the great liberal cause, and to assure us that France was our natural ally, and that the constitutional Governments of France and England might form such an alliance as would govern the world—the noble Lord found, as he went on, being a practical man, that the system would not work. 398 How could it? During the last twenty years you have introduced a sentimental instead of a political principle into the conduct of your foreign affairs. The slave trade was to be abolished, and the noble Lord the Secretary of State appeared likely to embroil the whole world by forcing parties into treaties, without stopping to inquire whether the course pursued might not aggravate the horrors of slavery, and lay the seeds of endless misconceptions between us and Foreign Powers. I do not blame the noble Lord opposite. This was one of the tenures by which a Liberal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs held his office. The noble Lord set about it in the most business-like way; and I say that no other Secretary of State could have accomplished more treaties for the extinction of the slave trade, or have created more misconceptions, or have extricated himself with more adroitness. Well, the sentimental principle went on. You looked on the English constitution as a model farm. You forced this constitution in every country. You laid it down as a great principle that you were not to consider the interests of England, or the interests of the country you were in connexion with, but that you were to consider the great system of liberalism, which had nothing to do with the interests of England, and was generally antagonistic with the interests of the country with which you were in connexion. In 1839 and 1840 things began to get very serious. The noble Lord, than whom no one understands better the interests of this country, and than whom, if permitted, no one would vindicate them with more ability, was obliged to sacrifice, in the early part of the Reform Ministry, all our interests in the East. ["Question!"] This is the question, as I will show it to be. The noble Lord was obliged to sacrifice those interests of England because of his alliance with France; and what happened in 1839, and led to the affairs of 1840? The noble Lord found that he could not manage affairs with this sentimental alliance with France; and the hon. Gentleman who just called "Question" cannot understand Foreign Affairs if he supposes that the Spanish Minister turned the English representative out of Spain without reference to antecedent circumstances. The affairs of 1840 led to all this. The noble Lord found that this system of liberalism would not do; and, recurring to the practical principles in which he had been educated, he extricated 399 himself from all the blunders he had committed in the Levant some years ago; and then arose that misconception with France, which is the origin of all we are now speaking about. In 1846, when the noble Lord by accident found himself called to power, what occurred? His intended Colleagues entered into an intrigue—into a disgraceful cabal—to keep the noble Lord out of the Cabinet. I am now speaking of circumstances with which I am acquainted, and am not dealing with rumours merely. Their plea for this conduct was the noble Lord's meddling policy, which had lost them the convenient friendship of France; but which was never discovered to be meddling while the noble Lord was developing liberalism for eight years, and sacrificing, to his intriguing Colleagues and his party, the interests of England. The noble Lord, however, found himself nearly the victim of as disgraceful an intrigue as ever existed in this country. I believe I speak accurately when I say that the noble Lord was anxious, on taking power, to conduct, if possible, public affairs with a good understanding with France. But how could the noble Lord have influence with France, when his own Colleagues did all they could to blacken his character in Europe? And when, on his accepting office, the creatures of the late Cabinet went to the Court of the Tuileries, and said, "You see the position of Lord Palmerston; his own Colleagues are against him, so all you have to do is to cross him in every way, and he must fall." That led, and that alone, to the unhappy difference between France and England. While I make this observation, it is impossible for me not to recur to the lamentable fall of one who, notwithstanding the events of the last three months, I must ever consider as a most able prince. And now the noble Lord, crossed in every way, finds himself forced to take up liberalism again. We, too, find the same results ensuing—confusion in every country with which we are connected, because we are not attempting to regulate our relations with those countries with any reference to our mutual interests, but because we adopt this dangerous principle of liberalism; and, consequently, we interfere in all their internal concerns, and not only frame constitutions for their acceptance, but we have arrived at this pitch—that we select Ministers for the administration of their affairs. These being my feelings on this subject, I am exceedingly loth to assent to any vote which singles out the noble 400 Lord as the Member of the Government who has followed out a policy so pernicious to this country. We ought to strike at the system, and not at the individual. It is, no doubt, convenient to the noble Lord at the head of the Government to say, that this is a vote of censure upon the Government. I am sorry that a calm expression of opinion on the part of this House should be always called a vote of censure. But even if it be a vote of censure, like medicine it may be disagreeable, but the Government will be none the worse for it. I do not consider it would terminate their existence. At all events, we, by the force of circumstances, are obliged to express our opinion on one of the most remarkable events that ever happened in the diplomatic history of the country. But to get up and deliver a crude opinion upon it, without reference to its antecedents, would not be consistent with our duty or our interests. This expulsion of our Minister from Madrid is the result of that system of liberalism which has too long existed in the administration of foreign affairs, and should he accepted as the consequence of that system by this House. Our first duty, without any reference to any party whatever, is to express our sense of the gross and unprecedented outrage against the dignity of the Sovereign and the honour of the country. We have also to declare, in a marked and decided manner, that we will not permit an eminent public servant to be made the scapegoat of a mischievous policy. We are to show, whatever may be the consequences of this vote, if the question should come to a vote, that it is not an attack upon an individual Minister, but upon the system which, from circumstances, he has been too often and too long forced to develop and follow. Still less should such an attack be made when the individual Minister has heretofore, on a great historic occasion, had the courage, notwithstanding the opposition of his Colleagues, to depart from his system, and to vindicate the interests and the honour of our country.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
was understood to say, that it was a fact unprecedented in the history of England that such an insult as the expulsion of Sir H. Bulwer from Madrid had been offered to the Crown of England in the person of one of its representatives; and he believed it was almost unparalleled in the diplomatic history of Europe. The more immediate question under discussion, was not whether England 401 had the right to interfere under any circumstances in the affairs of Spain. That right must be conceded to some extent; otherwise what was the use of sending an Ambassador to the Court of Spain at all? With respect to the present case, he objected to the manner of the noble Lord's interference. Instead of confining himself to communicating the views of the English Government to the Queen of Spain, or to her responsible Ministers, he directs Sir H. Bulwer to communicate also with a Person who, of all the individuals of her sex in Europe, had obtained the most unhappy notoriety, and was the least entitled to enjoy the confidence of the English Government. [The hon. Baronet hero read the passage from the despatch of March 16, which directed Sir H. Bulwer to communicate Viscount Palmerston's sentiments to Queen Christina.] He would ask the noble Lord what he would say if the Spanish Minister should authorise his Ambassador at the Court of St. James's to communicate his views not only to the Queen of England or to her Ministers, but to the Queen Dowager or the Duchess of Kent? Was not there not a close analogy between the two cases? It appeared also from the correspondence, that everything which the noble Lord desired, was in progress, if he had permitted the Spanish Minister to exercise the same discretion which he claimed for himself. He objected to that passage in the despatches in which Viscount Palmerston told the Spanish Minister that the English Government were not at all offended at the indignity which had been put upon the English Ambassador. He thought that under the circumstances the noble Lord, if he were not prepared to send passports to the Spanish Minister in London, ought, at the least, to have held a very different language in respect to the removal of Sir H. Bulwer from Madrid. If Sir Henry Bulwer deserved the approbation of his Government, why submit to his dismissal? If he did not, why allow so long an interval to pass without an effort to restore his position, or vindicate the honour of the country by requiring an apology from the Spanish Government? In any case, the Government appeared to be involved in difficulties from which it would not be easy for them to extricate themselves. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Dorset intended to divide or not, for so flagrant a case as this had never occurred, and therefore no previous case could be re- 402 ferred to as a precedent for their guidance.
§ SIR R. PEEL
Sir, I have heard with great satisfaction the noble Lord declare that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to avow their public approbation of the conduct of Sir Henry Bulwer, and to adopt the responsibility for themselves of that conduct. I can assure the noble Lord, however, that in the speech he delivered he did qualify the approbation of Sir H. Bulwer's conduct, by stating, as he is represented to have said by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, that the Government would assume the greater part of the responsibility for the conduct of Sir Henry Bulwer. The noble Lord's subsequent exclamation led me to think that he would adopt the more manly and more just course in this case, of adopting for the Government the whole of the responsibility, and identify themselves with Sir Henry Bulwer. Sir, I think it but just that they should do so. I think it the more incumbent on the Government now to adopt that responsibility, and to give it their sanction, because it appears recorded in these papers which have been laid before Parliament, that one of the causes assigned by the Spanish Government for removing Sir Henry Bulwer was this, that public opinion was adverse to him in Spain. [Several Hon. MEMBERS: In England.] In Spain. The public mind in Spain was excited, and the papers say, "How can we reconcile Spaniards to your maintenance as Minister here, when, in your own country, the Government gives you up?" Sir Henry Bulwer was placed in Spain not by the noble Lord, but by my noble Friend Lord Aberdeen, who preceded him. He was placed there not from any political connection, but he was placed there because my noble Friend thought that his past conduct in the profession which he had chosen entitled him to the favour and confidence of a Government from which he differed in political sentiments. Sir, my noble Friend thought—and thought most justly—that the diplomatic profession was not a profession which should be made subservient to the mere promotion of party feeling. My noble Friend thought that the diplomatic profession partook in some degree of the character of the naval or military profession, and that it would be unjust if a man, having entered into that profession, although politically connected with another party, yet proving himself worthy of the confidence of any party, was to be de- 403 prived of that fair advancement to which his abilities entitled him, merely because he differed in political opinion from the party in power. Sir, my noble Friend, I believe, was blamed in some quarters for the profession of those sentiments, and for acting upon them; but I am sure that the true way to encourage diplomatic exertions is to show that no such difference of opinion disentitles a man to the confidence of those who employ him; and to prove to those engaged in the diplomatic profession that if they serve their country faithfully and honestly, they will not lose the prospect of reward because they entertain different political sentiments from the party which happens to be in power. Sir, it was in pursuance of those opinions that my noble Friend, having no personal acquaintance or party connexion with Sir Henry Bulwer, advised Her Majesty to place him in the responsible and difficult position of Minister at Madrid; and I must say that during the period that he acted in communication with us, his conduct fully justified the confidence we reposed in him. My experience of the manner in which Sir Henry Bulwer fulfilled his instructions, led us to expect that he would not be found deficient; and as he acted faithfully and honourably with us, strictly pursuing the instructions which he received, so in this ease his conduct would be in conformity with the wishes and intentions of those by whom he was instructed. So much for the general opinion I entertain of his conduct. But looking at these despatches, I see no grounds for imputing any blame to Sir H. Bulwer. He was told to seek an opportunity of communicating with the Queen Mother. The instructions of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary to Sir H. Bulwer appear plain. Sir H. Bulwer understood them in that sense; and no man reading the letter of the noble Lord could construe its meaning otherwise than as instructing Sir H. Bulwer to make a certain communication with the Spanish Government on a certain subject, if an opportunity were afforded him to do so. That Sir H. Bulwer placed such a construction on them appears from his letter, where he answers, "I have taken an opportunity of communicating with the Queen Mother," &c. Now, I think, whatever might have been the intentions of the noble Lord, Sir H. Bulwer was justified, under the circumstances in which he was placed, to communicate the letter which he did communicate, in extenso, to the Spanish Govern- 404 ment. Let us consider that he was watching thrones tumbling around him in Europe, when he believed there was danger to the Spanish monarchy—for there had already been an insurrection at Madrid—he felt it necessary to give a warning to the Government, and, distrusting his own personal influence, unless he satisfied the Spanish Government that he was armed with higher authority than his own fears, he communicated the opinions entertained by the English Government; and if that Government then throws any portion of the blame, if blame there be, on Sir H. Bulwer, it would be setting a bad example for the future, and one which would warn any servant of the British Crown from incurring any of the responsibility which might accrue to a difficult position. Therefore I heard with satisfaction that the acts of Sir Henry Bulwer were adopted and defended by the noble Lord. But, Sir, the immediate matter for us to decide is, how shall we dispose of the Motion which has been made by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire? Now, the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) says that we have three duties on this occasion to perform: first, we have to manifest a determination to exempt Sir Henry Bulwer from blame; secondly, we are to manifest a determination to support the British Government in maintaining the honour of England, outraged by the act of Spain; and, thirdly, that we are not to condemn the noble Lord, but we are to condemn that system by which liberalism has influenced our diplomatic proceedings in foreign countries. Now, I confess I do not see how we can fulfil any one of those duties by voting for the resolution before the House. First of all, I see no recognition whatever of the good conduct of Sir Henry Bulwer; but I see a resolution which, if adopted by this House, must, I think, imply that Sir Henry Bulwer has acted improperly. When we are called upon to affirm this resolution, there is no difference between Sir Henry Bulwer and the Government. The resolution is—That this House learns with deep regret, from a correspondence between the British Government and the Government of Spain, now upon the table of this House, that a proposed interference with the internal concerns of the Spanish Government, as conducted under the authority and with the entire approval of Her Majesty's Ministers, has placed the British Government, and our representative at the Court of Madrid, in a position humiliating in its character, and which is calculated to affect the friendly relations heretofore existing between the Courts of Great Britain and of Spain.405 Well, if we really wish to exempt Sir Henry Bulwer from any share of the responsibility—and I think he is fairly entitled to it—surely, we ought if we vote any resolution, distinctly to imply that we do not disapprove of the conduct of Sir Henry Bulwer. The nature of our duty is to manifest, on the part of the House of Commons, a desire to support the Crown in vindicating the insulted honour of the nation. If that he our duty, and we are prepared to fulfil it, we ought to give to the Throne the expression of our opinion in some less equivocal terms than this. It should have been—that we regret that Spain has committed an outrage upon this country by the abrupt dismissal of our Minister; and we give our assurance to the Crown that the House of Commons will support the Crown in the vindication of the honour of the country. But instead of that, if we vote that a proposed interference with the internal concerns of the Spanish Government has placed the British Government in a position humiliating to its character, so far from aiding the Government in vindicating the honour of England, I think you would send the British Government who have conducted these negotiations—you would send them away with disgrace tied round their necks by a vote of the House of Commons; and, so far from enabling them to vindicate the insulted honour of the country, you would incapacitate them from taking that position and assuming that high tone in the discussion which you wish them to exhibit. The Spanish Government, in reply, would say, "We cannot defend Sir Henry Bulwer, if you cannot defend him"—as, depend upon it, they will say it—" We can pay no attention to your representations, for the House of Commons have told you that you have placed the Government in a humiliating position. If you had approached us armed with the express concurrence of the House of Commons, then we might probably have thought that you were in earnest when you advert to your power; but after your censure by the House of Commons, and your consenting to remain in office after the infliction of that censure, it is utterly impossible for us to attach any weight to the representations you may make." I think, Sir, that second duty to which the hon. Gentleman adverted would be ineffectually discharged by assenting to this resolution. Then remember the third duty is condemning the system under which the noble Lord has 406 acted. I know not what the noble Lord's feelings would be after this vote had been assented to; but as this vote distinctly recognises that the proposed interference has placed the Government in a humiliating position, I am very much afraid the noble Lord will not be able to maintain his post, notwithstanding the construction placed by the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) on the tenor of the resolution, namely, that we may condemn the system and not involve in punishment any individual; therefore it does appear to me that no one of these three objects specially recommended by the hon. Gentleman will be accomplished by voting for this resolution. Now, Sir, although I cannot concur in this resolution, yet I would not have my refusal to agree to it imply approbation of the noble Lord in the course he has taken. I think the noble Lord was fully entitled to give warning and advice to the Spanish Government. I don't object to the thing, I do object to the manner in which it was done. I do not think, after all our relations with Spain, seeing the position in which Europe is placed—seeing the tremendous events that have been and are still of daily occurrence—I do not think it was an illegitimate, I do not think it was an unfriendly, act for the noble Lord to say to Spain and the Spanish Government, "Beware, be cautious, watch the events that are passing, place no reliance upon arms, however numerous or however disciplined—consult the general good will of your people." Therefore I do not find fault with the noble Lord. But, adverting to the fair description of the Spanish people and our relations with them, as given by the noble Lord—remembering that they are a people inferior to us—remembering that they are a people under deep obligations to this country, not only for advice tendered but for exertions made—for vast sums expended—for noble blood shed in defence and vindication of their liberties—remembering, above all, that they are a gallant nation, peculiarly jealous of independence—sensitive upon the point of honour; it is because I believe the noble Lord has correctly described our relations, has formed a just estimate of the Spanish character, has justly dwelt upon its pride, its gallantry, its sensitiveness, its jealousy if you will—that I do think, if the noble Lord wished to make an impression upon the mind of that people, it would have been wiser to have held different language, and have proffered advice in a different 407 manner from that adopted by the noble Lord. Of course the object of the noble Lord was that the friendly advice tendered by him should be adopted, and followed in a cordial spirit. I think there is an abruptness in the original letter to Sir H. Bulwer. There are expressions assuming a tone of superiority which are I think calculated to offend that gallant nation. There is the recordatio of past services, which looks like ex probatio. Then with respect to the second letter of the noble Lord. Seeing that at that time the noble Lord could read in any newspaper accounts of three or four revolutions at a time, I am not surprised that he wrote hastily. Those letters were transmitted to Sir H. Bulwer, and he thought it his duty to communicate them to the Spanish Government. I do not find so much fault with the first letter as I really do with the second. I do think that such reminiscences of the great obligations which Spain owes to this country were calculated to give pain. I think the concluding part of that sentence, in which the noble Lord said that but for British assistance the Spanish Ministers whom he was now addressing might have been exiles in a foreign land—I must say that I think that personal appeal to the Spanish Ministers was not calculated to win their confidence, or conciliate the adoption of the advice tendered to them. Now, the noble Lord the Prime Minister vindicates the noble Lord by reciting a story which he had from Lord Holland, which did not appear to be very germane to the matter. The noble Lord says that Lord Holland told him that Lord Archibald Hamilton was dining at Holland-house, and he was shown into a room where there was another gentleman, with whom he was not acquainted—that that gentleman held to him very offensive language—and that Lord Archibald Hamilton, when Lord Holland entered the room, said, "This person, who is a total stranger to me, has used offensive language to me—so offensive, indeed, that the alternative I have is either to laugh at him or knock him down." Well, it was very well to do one or other of these things; but the noble Lord has done both. He first laughs at the gentleman who offered the offence, and then knocks him down. Now, suppose Lord Archibald Hamilton had taken that course—suppose that being offended, he had first of all laughed, and supposing after having laughed he had addressed him in the longest sentence that was ever 408 written in the English language. Supposing before Lord Holland had entered, Lord Archibald Hamilton, being grossly offended, and being determined to adopt the milder alternative named, received the offence with indifference, and even smiled at it. Then supposing he had gone on to make a speech to this gentleman longer than some sermons, and had ended by saying to him, "If it had not been for me, you would have been a beggar in the streets," why Lord Holland could not have admired Lord Archibald Hamilton for having wisely chosen the milder of the two alternatives; and Lord Archibald Hamilton would have forfeited that character for discretion which Lord Holland appears willing to have assigned him. I look at the sentence of the noble Lord, in which he declares that he is not in the slightest degree offended, and then he proceeds to administer twenty-nine consecutive lines of rebuke, in so impassioned a strain as not to stop to take breath during the whole of that sentence. Now, I think the noble Lord—begging his pardon—is more like Sir Fretful Plagiary than Lord Archibald Hamilton, because he says, "I am not in the least degee offended;" and then at once, by way of showing his perfect indifference, he proceeds to abuse his unfortunate opponent without mercy, as I said before, in twenty-nine lines of consecutive rebuke. He goes into a painful remonstrance with these dukes and distinguished generals, and says, "If it had not been for me and my liberal policy, at this moment you would have been exiles in a foreign land." Now, that was most ungracious, and it is with that part of the transaction that I am most dissatisfied. But, at the same time, I apprehend it is very difficult to conduct diplomatic transactions of this kind without making errors, and even grave ones. The error on this occasion, in my opinion, was not an error of fact—the error was in the way in which the noble Lord exercised his authority, which I think he was entitled to exercise. I regret the manner, because the noble Lord, by assuming that tone, defied instead of conciliating the Spanish Government, and thereby establishing legitimate British influence, and making the Spanish Government feel that amidst all the storms and convulsions that were then raging, we were animated by a sincere desire for the welfare of Spain: instead of that the noble Lord has alienated at least a part of the Spanish nation—the Spanish Government—merely by the mode 409 in which he gave the advice that he tendered. On that account I deeply regret it. I do not think the terms happily chosen; I know no proposed interference with the Spanish Government excepting by the proffer of advice; and that interference the Spanish Government have rejected. In the very second letter presented, it appears that the Duke of Sotomayor invited Sir H. Bulwer to have an interview with him; that Sir H. Bulwer gave him advice—that he took it very friendly and cordially when it was tendered in a friendly spirit; and even General Narvaez admitted the justice of the observations made by Sir H. Bulwer, and was ready to conform to them so far as he could; nay, he went much further than I could have supposed it possible for General Narvaez to do; so far, that when he was approached in a proper manner, and Sir H. Bulwer gave this advice, he declared that he was ready to abandon office, and let his enemies come in—to let the Progressistas come in—with a provision that they would adopt Moderado views. I think, then, that Sir H. Bulwer had the opportunity of offering advice to the Spanish Government when tendered in a friendly spirit, in the manner which true wisdom and policy would dictate. Thus no objection to the proposed interference, so far as advice was concerned, can be recognised in this resolution; the objection is to the manner in which it was offered, and not to the interference itself. Sir, I object to this resolution, because I think it is not consistent with justice. I do not think that an error on the part of a Minister of the Crown ought to be visited with so heavy a censure as such a resolution of the House of Commons. I object to the resolution because I think it is calculated to weaken the authority of the Government, and to make us appear as if we were partisans of the Spanish Government, and because I think it would prejudice the chance of securing an amicable and satisfactory settlement, by showing that there was a material difference of opinion between the Ministers of the Crown and us. I cannot sanction a resolution which records that my country is in a humiliated state. I think the Motion premature, and that it would he much better, if the House of Commons is to express any opinion at all in this matter, to wait until the whole transaction is before us, than to take a single scene of a single act of a complicated and unperformed drama. I think it would be better, instead of taking one scene of one act, 410 that we should wait until the piece is complete, and see what is the dénouement. I think, if the tone and manner of the despatches of the noble Lord be not perfectly justifiable, that the penalty proposed by this resolution is far too severe, for that penalty is the censure of the House of Commons. I think it would be unwise on the part of the House of Commons to record a resolution that this country is in a humiliated condition. I believe that such a record would, moreover, paralyse the exertions of our Government by leading that of Spain to entertain false expectations and false notions; and believing that the public interests of this country would be affected by affirming this resolution, instead of staying away from the House, as I might have done, I shall give a vote which will not imply an entire approbation of the terms and manner employed by the noble Lord in this correspondence; I shall vote for the House passing to a Committee of Supply, instead of affirming this resolution.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I certainly concur in opinion with the right hon. Baronet, that if the hon. and learned Member thought it expedient to make this Motion, it is not therefore one which it is expedient for the House to agree to. The hon. and learned Gentleman, expressing a desire to vindicate the honour of this country, if it requires vindication, began by proposing to the House to affirm a resolution that this country is in a state of humiliation. That is certainly not a mode in which, in my opinion, his object can be accomplished. If the hon. and learned Gentleman finds fault with the first part of the transaction—namely, with the despatch which I wrote to Sir H. Bulwer, and which was sent by him to the Duke de Sotomayor, to that his Motion ought to have been directed, and upon that ground I should have been prepared, as I am, to meet him. First of all, I shall answer the question which he put to me as to who was to be reponsible for the approval given in two despatches of mine to Sir H. Bulwer. Sir, I have no hesitation in saying that I, and I alone, am responsible for an act of that kind, for a signification of approval conveyed to an officer of the department over which I preside; and if the House shall be of opinion that the approbation was improperly conveyed, and that instead of approving of the conduct of Sir H. Bulwer, it ought to have been censured, it is upon me, and me alone, that the censure 411 of the House ought to fall. Sir, I think no censure is due for that approval, because, in my opinion, Sir H. Bulwer acted according to the best of his judgment, exercising a proper discretion; and I think I was borne out in conveying to him the approbation which those despatches communicated. Having said that, I must at the same time observe, in order to state the matter as it really passed to the House, that that despatch of mine, dated March 16, was not sent for the purpose of being communicated in writing to the Spanish Government. I think any man who reads that despatch will see that it was not so intended; there was no such intention. First of all, the form, as has been very justly remarked by those who have spoken upon the subject, if it had been the draft of a note to be sent in to the Spanish Government, would have more amply developed the views stated in it; there would have been a longer introduction; it would have been written, in short, in a different manner from that in which it was composed, laconic as the sentences appear to the hon. Gentleman opposite. It was a text upon which Sir H. Bulwer was to speak; but it was not intended, when written, to be presented just in the shape in which it was given in. Sir, it is hardly necessary for me, I think, especially after what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet opposite, to justify myself in having written that despatch, instructing Sir H. Bulwer to give advice upon those matters to the Government of Spain. Those Gentlemen who have looked at the papers will see that some days before I wrote that despatch I had received information from Sir H. Bulwer that the Spanish Government was meditating a course which, in his opinion, was likely to produce great opposition in Parliament, if Parliament continued to sit; that that opposition was likely to induce the Government to prorogue or get rid of Parliament; and if that course were to be pursued, there would be the greatest danger of insurrection in different parts of the country, and more especially the Carlist party would be likely to show itself in force in those parts of Spain which were the head-quarters of that party. Well, Sir, the general knowledge of the state of Europe, the multitude of disastrous events which came to our knowledge from day to day, and this representation of what was the course likely to be pursued by the Spanish Government, and its probable consequences, I think were a full justifica- 412 tion for my instructing Sir H. Bulwer to bring under the consideration of the Government of Spain those considerations which pointed out on the one hand their danger, and on the other showed the means by which that danger might be obviated. I had no reason to think that such a course would give offence to the Spanish Government, because it will be seen that upon an occasion very shortly previous, the Duke of Sotomayor, having had a conversation with Sir H. Bulwer upon those matters, of his own accord turned the conversation afterwards to the unfortunate condition of Spain, spoke to Sir H. Bulwer of what the intentions of the Spanish Government were; and when Sir H. Bulwer said to him, "As what you have said invites me to give an opinion, I give it;" he received in a very frank and amicable spirit the opinions tendered, and the reasons for those opinions. I have been asked something about the asterisks in that despatch, which seem to have excited all that curiosity which always attaches to things unknown; and it is supposed that the omitted passage indicated by the asterisks, contained some grave and important matter bearing very closely upon the points we are now discussing. I have here the despatch from which that extract is given. I can read to the House the omitted passage; but the House will probably not ask me to do so when I mention the nature of the passage, which is simply that the Duke of Sotomayor stated to Sir H. Bulwer what were the views and intentions of the Spanish Government in regard to its relations with a third Power. It had nothing to do with the relations of England and Spain, but with the relations of Spain and another country; and I thought it would be unfair to the Government of Spain, to lay it on the table and publish it, because I could not tell how far the language held by the Duke of Sotomayor to Sir H. Bulwer might tally or not with the language held by the Spanish Government in its direct communications. I say, then, seeing that both the Duke of Sotomayor and the Duke of Valentia permitted Sir H. Bulwer to talk freely to them as to the internal affairs of Spain, I had no reason to think that the instruction which I was giving to Sir H. Bulwer was calculated to produce any irritation or acrimony of feeling. In point of fact, the instruction of March 16th only desires him to state that which it appears he had been stating at the very time upon 413 his own discretion and judgment, anticipating thereby the instructions he afterwards received. Well, then, the question is—was Sir H. Bulwer, having received a despatch which obviously meant only personal and verbal communications, justified or not in putting that despatch to a different purpose, and in communicating it in writing to the Government of Spain? Now, I think he was. I think the reasons which he gives for having pursued that course were perfectly sufficient to justify the discretion which he exercised by so doing. He had exhausted all the means of representation which personal and verbal communications afforded him; he had represented the arguments and the facts with which he was entrusted to the Duke of Sotomayor and the Duke of Valentia; he had found his representations unavailing; he desired very naturally to give to his representations that greater weight which they would derive from its being manifest that they came not from him only but from his Government; and there was another motive, that by giving these representations in writing, they were likely to come to the knowledge of persons to whose knowledge he was not sure that they would come if they did not go beyond conversation. I therefore was of opinion, and am so still, that Sir H. Bulwer was perfectly borne out in the course which he pursued; and thinking that, I gave the approbation which was due from me as the person responsible to Parliament. If I had even doubted as to the discretion which be had exercised—and I have no doubt—I think that when the despatch and letter were rejected in the manner in which they were rejected, it would have been a shabby abandonment of a public officer, if I had not armed him as against the Government from which this rejection had proceeded with a full and entire approbation of his conduct in the transactions in which it was implicated. Sir, I must say, that that letter also was not calculated to produce the irritation which it seems to have excited, because it did not make the representation in that formal manner in which those acquainted with diplomatic transactions know that official communications are framed. He did not say, "the undersigned is instructed to state;" he qualifies the despatch communicated, as remarks recently transmitted to him by the Secretary of State on the aspect of Spanish affairs. With respect to our right to give friendly advice to the Spanish Government, I do 414 not put it simply upon the ground of obligations we have conferred, or of our being entitled to appeal to the gratitude of the Spanish nation or the Spanish Government for services rendered by England to Spain, though I think upon that ground we may establish a claim to say much to Spain, if we can prove that our advice is tendered in a friendly spirit, and with no object in view but the interests of Spain herself. But I put it upon ground, I think, even stronger and more indisputable than that of gratitude—upon the ground of the view uniformly taken by Spain, that we were bound to give her assistance in cases which may arise to require it. My right hon. Friend the Master of the Mint has reminded the House of the transactions out of which the Quadruple Treaty arose; that treaty was not an engagement volunteered by this country; it was an engagement originally sought by the Spanish agents sent to this country for the express purpose of inducing the English Government to step forward and assist them in the difficult position in which Spain then stood. It is said, we gave that assistance because we thought the Queen of Spain had the better right of the two claimants. Why, that was only part of the reason for the decision which the English Government took. If we had not thought that the Queen of Spain had the better right, we certainly should not have given the support which was asked; but we should not have given that support merely because we thought she was the best claimant. It was because we felt that the cause with which she was identified was the cause of the liberties and independence of the Spanish nation; it was because we believed the judgments of the Spanish nation were enlisted on her side, and that the banner for which they fought was not merely the banner of Isabella, but the banner of the constitution; it was upon this ground we were led to conclude that in giving the assistance and support which was asked, we should be borne out by the public opinion and approbation of this country. When the first act of that transaction was completed—when Don Miguel and Don Carlos were expelled from Portugal, and Don Carlos afterwards repaired to Spain—we were asked to conclude additional articles which referred to Spain; and the very ground on which those additional articles were sought, as stated by Senor Martinez do la Rosa, were these:—He dwelt on the manifold evils to be apprehended from the 415 return of the Pretender to Portugal; and he said the question was, not with respect to the succession to the thrones of Spain and Portugal, but the question was between the agitating principles which disturbed Europe, which would yet disturb the Peninsula, and embarrass the Governments both of England and of France. It was on that ground the support of this country was asked for by Spain; and it was on that ground that, believing as we did the claims of Queen Isabella were founded on justice, and were identified with the principles on which Martinez de la Rosa appealed, and that we should be borne out by the people of this country—we consented to take the steps we did take. If that be so, in what position would this country be placed if we were called on to act under the letter of our engagements, when such was the spirit in which they were formed; if this country were called upon not to assist the Spanish nation to support the constitution, but to enable the Government to overturn that constitution and to establish in Spain that very despotism against which the treaty was originally framed? It is said, it is a boastful assertion to make that the Queen of Spain owed her throne in a great degree to the support which this country has given her. That may be a boastful assertion, but it is an assertion founded on fact. It is an assertion which has more than once been made a matter of reproach to mo by hon. Gentlemen who are supporters of the claims of the contending Prince. But what is the state of the case? It is, that on the one hand the great bulk of the Spanish nation were contending for Queen Isabella and the constitution, but on the other hand there was a smaller party supported by foreign influence, and whose expenses, as since ascertained, were assisted by very large contributions of money from other countries. It was a contest between one party in Spain and another, the latter a smaller party, but supported by foreign influence and money; and therefore it was not only civil war that raged, it was, in fact, a warfare of a much larger description. It was not only a question which affected Spain; it was an European question. We have been told that Lord Grey proclaimed it as his principle that the march of his administration should proceed on the basis of non-intervention and peace abroad, as of reform and retrenchment at home. It is perfectly true that non-interference was mentioned also; but that mention of non-interference alluded to what was 416 then going on in Belgium, where—there being a revolt at the time—there was an apprehension that England and the other Powers united by treaties were going to interfere, not by moral influence or persuasion, but by the force of arms, in order to coerce the people of Belgium, and compel them to return to the authority of the Netherlands Government. It was with respect to that interference by force of arms the disclaimer towards the hon. Gentleman alluded to was made; and so far from the Government of Lord Grey having been founded on the principle of non-interference, one of the very first courses of action pursued by that Government was to call for the joint interference of the Five Powers in the arrangements between Belgium and Holland. I say, then, Sir, that so far we were entitled by the nature of our engagements to say, under the provisions of the Quadruple Treaty, which rendered us liable to be called upon to act under that treaty, what we did say, and to warn the Spanish Government against pursuing the course under which that appeal and demand for assistance might be made to us. I contend that in writing the despatch of the 16th of March, I did no more than in point of principle Her Majesty's Government was entitled to do; and although the right hon. Baronet who spoke last thought there was matter in the wording of the despatch which was not such as was calculated to conciliate or to persuade, my answer to his remark is, that the despatch in question was not written for the purpose of threatening, and that the right hon. Gentleman, thinking, as it would appear, that there was some allusion in that despatch to benefits conferred, will find, on looking to it again and reading it more closely, that there was no allusion about benefits at all, and that it contained nothing but advice. The allusion to the past benefits of England to Spain was in the subsequent despatch, which was written in answer to the reply to the first despatch. The right hon. Gentleman says, I "laughed at the Spanish Minister, and knocked him down." This is his opinion. There are, on the other hand, some hon. Gentlemen who think that I evinced a want of proper spirit on the occasion, and that I should have shown myself more offended by the conduct of the Spanish Government. Again, there are other Gentlemen who think that I was too much offended, and that I exhibited in my communication too great an indication of a sense of offence. 417 Between these contending opinions, which I leave to those who entertain them to discuss between themselves, I think I may state that this was not a case in which the British Government believed themselves offended; and that even if they were, any one who reads the despatch of the Duke of Sotomayor, in which the despatch of the British Government is returned to Sir Henry Bulwer, will, I think, see that no one can possibly contemplate it with any feeling to which the terms anger or indignation can be applied; but that he will look upon it with feelings of a very different nature. At all events, the complaint was made that we showed too much forbearance to the Spanish Government, and that having grounds for taking offence with them, we abstained from availing ourselves of that ground. Sir, I confess, if I am accused of an error of judgment in a matter of such importance as that which relates to the continuance of amicable intercourse between the States, I should rather be blamed for being too tardy in taking offence, than for being too prone and prompt to pick a quarrel on such grounds with a foreign nation. With respect to the other stage of this affair, I have stated to the House that communications are going on with the Minister of Spain on the part of Her Majesty's Government, on the subject of the reasons which have been assigned for sending Sir H. Bulwer his passport. When these communications are concluded, and when Her Majesty's Government shall have been able to come to a decision on the question, I shall be prepared to communicate to Parliament the correspondence which has passed on the occasion; but I am sure the House will sec that while these communications—for I will not, under the circumstances, call them negotiations—are going on, it would be highly improper for me either to state the precise nature of what has passed, or to tell the House I am prepared to lay the papers on the table. But so far I may state, that though, for reasons which I believe to be valid, I have declined to have any direct communication with Count de Mirasol, who comes to this Court, so far as I am aware, without any diplomatic character, and whose statements have no official value or authenticity, I have nevertheless expressed to M. Isturitz, the Minister of the Queen of Spain at this Court, the fact that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to take from him any statement of any kind with reference 418 to this affair, without the Count de Mirasol having been sent to this country at all. I will further say, that in a country which, like Spain, has been subject to several multiplied changes, it is difficult for the Minister who represents a foreign Court not to hold communication with all parties; and that where there is a country like Spain, in which, between 1832 and 1847, there have been thirty Presidents of the Council, and thirty-eight Ministers of Foreign Affairs, it must, I think, be difficult indeed for any one who has to treat with these various and successive Ministries to confine his communications of political and social intercourse to that particular Gentleman who for six months shall happen to be in office; and that it is not surprising if he should keep up his habits of intercourse with the other thirty-seven Foreign Ministers, besides the one who happens to be in office, or that the twenty-nine ex-Presidents should still be in habits of social intercourse with that Foreign Minister. I really feel, after the manner in which this question has been discussed—after the arguments used on one side and the other—and after the small degree of difference of opinion which has prevailed on material points—that I shall do best if I shall leave the case in the hands of the House. I think there can be but little doubt, after what has passed on this occasion, how they will dispose of the present Motion. But I again say, that if there be any degree of responsibility with respect to the approval which I have expressed of Sir Henry Bulwer's conduct, I am ready to take that degree which it is my duty to take upon myself. I must say that I think this approbation has been properly bestowed on him. Of the various Gentlemen who have spoken, all have concurred in saying that no blame attached to Sir H. Bulwer for his conduct. If that be the opinion of the House, I trust I stand excused for my approval of it; but if they should not come to that conclusion, then on me must rest the censure of the House, and on me must rest the responsibility.
§ MR. HUME
could not understand how the Motion could be persevered in after the speech they had just heard from the noble Lord. Having been mixed up in that question in various ways, he (Mr. Hume) could not but state, that, having pressed for the documents which had been laid before the House, he approved most entirely of the conduct of Sir H. Bulwer, and that 419 he also approved of the conduct of the noble Lord; except that if he had been in the noble Lord's place, he would have directed Sir H. Bulwer to have at once asked for his passports and to leave Madrid. The ingratitude of the Spanish Government ought to show the noble Lord, and all who meddled in foreign affairs, what they had to expect from foreign Governments. No country had ever received such favours from another as had Spain from England; but what benefits had those favours created either to the people of Spain or to the people of England? All the result had been a vast expenditure of money, much interference, and a great deal of ill-will between the two countries. He could assure the hon. Gentleman who alluded to him in the course of the debate, that if there were any points in public matters to which he would direct his attention more than to others, they were reform, economy, and non-intervention.
§ MR. URQUHART
In this discussion all that is of importance has been omitted. It is the meddling of England in the affairs of Spain which has been the source of the calamities of that country. If you would give me the time, I would prove it to you by the authority of the first of French statesmen, M. Guizot and M. Thiers. Since you will not give me that time, you must take upon trust what I assert to be their conclusion that the rivalries of England and France in Spain have been the cause of the troubles which have visited that country. Sir Henry Bulwer has only acted in conformity with this system, and in obedience to the instructions which he had received, and which have been ably directed to that same end. If you want additional proof to that which is afforded by the papers recently laid upon the table of the House, read the despatch of the 19th July, 1836, in which the noble Lord originated the quarrel between France and England on the subject of Spain, and there you will see that the representative of England was ordered, in a secret and covert manner, to foment the discontent and ill will which, by his instructions in 1848, he was openly to manifest. It is here no question of principles and doctrines, but one of act and purpose. [Mr. URQUHART here said he would move the adjournment of the debate, and silence being for some time restored, he resumed.] I told you upon a former occasion I should trust to events to justify my words and my warnings against your opinions and your indiffe- 420 rence. Here we have one of those results—not one which merely in a general manner confirms what I have asserted—but one of those which accomplishes a special prediction. All the reasonings in the world, and all the panegyrics, cannot destroy the fact; and what is the fact that you have before you? A rupture with Spain—a rupture which has no cause save that universal cause—the presence of the noble Lord in the Foreign Office. England has endured an unparalleled insult; and French influence, which was put forward by the noble Lord as a pretext for his interference, having been by events excluded from the Peninsula, he has managed to restore it all. I announced, when the noble Lord was restored to office, in June, 1846, that before six months we should have a quarrel with France. One month had not elapsed, and that prediction was realised. When the fall of Louis Philippe put an end to French influence in the Peninsula, I predicted that the noble Lord would restore it. These were the words which I used in this House on the 16th of May last:—The noble Lord has laboured, and with success, to upset one dynasty in France; that is what I predicted—that is what he has accomplished. The gulf into which he has dragged that dynasty was Spain; and no sooner had it fallen, than his joy broke forth, not in this House, but in his organ, and he exclaimed,'Pyreneas transit!' Having destroyed one system in France, would he spare the next? No. The Spanish correspondence, which has just appeared, shows that he is at his work again, and by the same means. He irritates France by new intrigues at Madrid, and opens to her a new door of influence by the animosity which he has excited in Spain against the English name.These were the words which I uttered in this House on the 16th of May. Are they not confirmed? In what position is the Duke de Montpensier now in Spain—and to whom does he owe that position, save from the treatment at the hands of the noble Lord in England, and by the noble Lord's acts in Spain? And what means were so appropriate to excite again France into foreign and diplomatic intrigues, as to raise to importance in Spain the fallen dynasty? I will support the Motion of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, not in a spirit hostile to the Ministry, but in order to assist, if possible, in relieving the Ministry and the country from the presence of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign department—to relieve that Ministry from the control of an individual Member, in whose confidence they are not. I must 421 impress upon the attention of the House that the resolution of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire had reference not to the expulsion of Sir Henry Bulwer, but to the return to the insulting advice transmitted by the noble Lord, with which the latter could have nothing to do; but it is to be observed that that resolution, while conveying a censure upon what had already happened, was a prediction as to what would follow. It was therein asserted that what had occurred was calculated to interrupt the friendly relations between Spain and England. This consequence has followed, and it will not stop here. Determinatey, deliberately, has the design been conceived and executed: the object is a rupture with Spain, not for anything connected with Spain, but for the effects which it is to have elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvon, in defending the noble Lord, has spoken of the violence with which he had often seen him attacked, and the splendour on such occasions of his defence. Does that right hon. Gentleman refer to his own eloquence? Never was it exerted with more vigour than in attacking the noble Lord; but he has not put us in possession of the satisfaction which he had over received. Hero is a dispute with an old ally, produced without cause, and when every circumstance was favourable to the most harmonious intercourse, at a moment when that historic influence of France had disappeared, and when Moderado not less than Progressista had turned round to England, seeking confident alliance and support—at the very moment when it was requisite to have supported the Throne, and rescued the Peninsula from the disorders of the rest of Europe, is this inconceivable, this incredible dispute created, bringing results so evident, that they must have entered into the calculation. And who is Minister, when this occurs? Why, a man who has gained the reputation through all Europe of a firebrand—one of whom Talleyrand had said that he would end by laying Europe in blood and ashes—and of whom his own ally, M. Thiers, has used these remarkable words, that he was "detested by the Cabinets of the Continent"—against whom the last of our British statesmen warns on his death-bed his successors. Is not this, then, the occasion for you to separate the conduct of the Minister from all questions of principle and of policy, and to examine and judge him in himself, I declare to you that the projects of that 422 Minister are dangerous to England, to Europe, and the human race. Already has he laboriously effected the destruction of respect for the British name, and deeply and universally compromised the interests of the country. He pursues that course, confident in the impunity which he finds in the indifference of this House. I declare to you, that so long as that Minister remains in office, peace in Europe will be without security, and honest concord between England and any foreign Power impossible.
§ Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question, put and agreed to.
§ House in Committee of Supply, pro formâ, and resumed.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past One o'clock.