Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [26th February]—
That this House has heard with concern of the conflicts which have occurred between the British and Chinese authorities in the Canton river; and, without expressing an opinion as to the extent to which the Government of China may have afforded this Country cause of complaint respecting the non-fulfilment of the Treaty of 1842, this House considers that the Papers which have been laid upon the Table fail to establish satisfactory grounds for the violent measures resorted to at Canton in the late affair of the Arrow.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that his hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding had taken a wise and judicious course in not calling upon the House to 1727 commit itself to any unnecessary expression of opinion as to whether the Chinese had now or at any former time been guilty of any default in the performance of their treaties with this country which would have justified the adoption of other means of redress, or the making of other representations than those which had been adopted and made its this instance. If it were proved to demonstration that in the affair of the Arrow the Chinese Government was more or less wrong, and that there was matter for remonstrance and complaint, that would be far from justifying either the kind and tone of the remonstrances which were made, or the perseverance in those complaints, with the addition of new demands, after a redress which he trusted the House would think was adequate to the occasion had been offered. But although it was by no means requisite to justify the votes of those who intended to support the Motion, that it should be determined that the Chinese had given no ground of complaint; on the other hand, it was absolutely necessary to the case of the Government that they should clearly make out that the Chinese had been guilty of a deliberate violation of their treaty with Great Britain. His right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had, towards the conclusion of his able and eloquent speech—in which, however, he entirely gave the go-by to the substantial merits of the case—said that he declined to enter upon the narrow technical ground of the legal question. He must, however, be permitted to say that, according to his (Mr. R. Palmer's) view of the matter, it was absolutely necessary for the Government to prove themselves right as to the question of law, in order to establish the least justification for the course which they had sanctioned and approved. How stood the matter according to the showing of the Government themselves? His hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General had discarded as irrelevant the arguments which had been founded upon the colonial ordinance, and upon the Acts of the Imperial Parliament, and had said—and he (Mr. R. Palmer) concurred in that assertion—that the treaty must determine between China and Great Britain whether there was any cause for the reprisals which had been made by the latter Power. His hon. and learned Friend said that, if it were not for this treaty, the Arrow, or any other merchant ship at Canton, was liable to be visited by the Chinese authorities. 1728 In saying this, he only repeated what was stated by Lord Wensleydale, as high a legal authority as any, in another place. The words of that noble Lord were these:—If it was then in the port of Canton, within the territorial bounds of China, the Chinese had undoubted authority to seize criminals breaking their laws on board the ship, in this port as well as on their own territory, and we had no right to treat the seizure as a wrong done to us, unless the Chinese had by treaty agreed to give us the right.Then, what became of the declamation about the British flag, unless it could be made out that by the terms of this treaty the Chinese had agreed to take the British flag, when hoisted by any vessel, as conclusive evidence of the nationality of the vessel hoisting it? It was admitted by the Attorney General, and by the highest legal authorities elsewhere, that the British flag by itself was wholly irrelevant to the question, and that the boarding of a vessel bearing such a flag for the purpose for which the Arrow was boarded, within the river of Canton, was no violation of the law of nations, unless the Emperor of China had by this treaty contracted himself out of the right to exercise what would otherwise be his undoubted prerogative. Then, it became necessary to look to the treaty. Did the Emperor of China, or did he not, by that treaty, concede his rights?—because, if he did not, we had been making war upon the Emperor of China for exercising his undoubted right of sovereignty in his own dominions in a case not provided for, and in which he had not agreed to limit his sovereignty by the terms of the treaty. The Government, then, must make out that the Arrow was an English merchant ship, within the terms of this treaty. If they failed to do that, their whole case fell to the ground, and there was no justification for any part of the hostilities in which we were engaged. Some hon. Gentlemen had said—but to do him justice this argument was not repeated by the Attorney General—that the Chinese had nothing to do but to look at this ship to see that she was a British vessel; she was a lorcha; all lorchas were English; therefore this lorcha was an English vessel; and therefore the Chinese, in boarding a lorcha must have known that she was an English vessel. Would any one contend that all lorchas in China belonged to the English nation? Were there no Portuguese, no American, no Danish lorchas? No lorchas belonging to Chinese insurgents or pirates? 1729 Why, the papers showed that this very lorcha, at one time in her history at least, belonged to Chinese pirates; and therefore an argument more preposterous than that because this vessel was a lorcha, ergo it must have been British in the sense of the treaty, probably never entered the mind of man. That, however, was not the argument of the Attorney General. That hon. and learned Gentleman said that the sailing letter or register clearly made the Arrow a British ship—that the 17th Article of the treaty required every British schooner, lorcha, cutter, &c., to have a sailing letter or register in English and Chinese, under the seal and signature of the Chief Superintendent of Trade. This was very true; but the hon. and learned Gentleman contended that every lorcha receiving such a sailing letter or register was by the very letter and conditions of that treaty converted into a British lorcha, and entitled to the character and privileges of a British vessel. The hon. and learned Gentleman had earned many distinctions while at the University of Oxford, and probably had not forgotten that a book called Aldrich's Logic was used at that seat of learning. But if the hon. and learned Gentleman, when in the schools of Oxford, had proposed as an example of sound logic, that because every British lorcha must have a British sailing letter or register, therefore every lorcha having a British sailing letter or register must be British, he could hardly have carried off the high honours which he had won there. He (Mr. R. Palmer) would venture to put the proposition in a shape that could scarcely be mistaken:—''Every Member of the House of Commons must take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy; therefore everybody who takes the oaths of allegiance and supremacy is a Member of the House of Commons." Therefore he thought it not so abundantly clear that the mere sailing letter or register was the only condition to be looked to. No doubt, a British lorcha without a sailing letter or register was not entitled to the protection of the treaty, and he should inquire by and by whether this lorcha had one in the meaning of the treaty. His hon. and learned Friend, the Attorney General, however, had relied upon another argument, which he was bound to say carried greater weight with it, and deserved a more careful examination. He had endeavoured to make out that this ship must have been British because the person to whom it belonged was a Chinaman residing at Hong Kong. 1730 In this part of the subject he had been anticipated by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger); yet he would examine it briefly in the light of the treaty itself. There could be no greater fallacy than to apply mere abstract principles of construction to the interpretation of such a document; and there was no sounder principle than, in the first instance, to consider what the parties intended, by looking at what they had said. The first and governing words of the 17th Article, to which the Attorney General adverted, were "various small vessels belonging to the English nation." Here there was nothing about British subjects, to introduce nice technical arguments as to how many kinds of British subjects there might be, and under what limitations and conditions a man might be called a British subject neither was there anything about British citizens. The nationality of the vessels was pointed out, and not the temporary subjection of the persons owning them, who might not share in that nationality. The nationality of a ship could be English in one of two ways only—either her ownership would make her so, or the character of the ship itself must be English. The Attorney General held that the ownership of a person residing at Hong Kong, being a Chinese and owing allegiance to the Emperor of China, made this ship a British ship. If that argument was true, of course the principle of it would apply throughout the treaty; and they must adopt the same rule of interpretation in all other parts of the treaty. This was the case of a Chinaman living at Hong Kong, whose ownership of the vessel made it in all the ports of China a British vessel. Well, would a vessel belonging to an Englishman, settled for the purposes of trade at Canton or at Shanghai, be a Chinese vessel within the meaning of the treaty? If the owner's residence at Hong Kong made the vessel of a Chinaman an English vessel: so the residence of an English owner at Canton or Shanghai would make his vessel a Chinese one. Everybody saw how monstrous it was to say that ships belonging to Englishmen, resident he cared not for how many years at Canton or any other Chinese port, were not in the sense of the treaty English ships, and as such entitled to English protection. But there was another point. It was clear that if Chinese shipowners living at Hong Kong were British subjects entitled to the protection of the treaty, 1731 then all the obligations and duties imposed by the treaty on the same class of persons applied reciprocally to such shipowners and such ships. According to this principle of interpretation, under the fourth Article of the treaty these Chinese shipowners resident at Hong Kong would not be allowed to trade at any Chinese ports, except Canton, Foochow, Amoy, Ningpo, and Shanghai, neither should they repair to any other ports or places, nor would the Chinese people at any other ports be permitted to trade with them. The infringement of these restrictions would render their vessels as "English merchant vessels," and their cargoes liable to confiscation by the Chinese authorities. Would it, then, be gravely maintained that because a Chinese owner, owing allegiance to his own Government, lived at Hong Kong, his junk or his lorcha (for the two classes of vessels were all one to the sense of this clause of the treaty) would not be permitted to go to any Chinese port except the five above-named, and that we should be guilty of a breach of the treaty if we did not endeavour to prevent it? The sixth Article of the treaty precluded English merchants, and others residing at, or resorting to, the five ports, from going into the surrounding country beyond certain short distances; seamen, and persons belonging to the "ships," should only be allowed to land under authority, and rules, which would be fixed by the Consul, in communication with the local officers; and that it is also declared that persons infringing this article should be seized and handed over to our Consul for suitable punishment. Should we, then, be guilty of a violation of the treaty if we allowed such Chinamen as the crew of the Arrow to go into their own country? It was clear that this Article pointed to English nationality, properly so called; and was wholly repugnant to the notion that by residence at Hong Kong subjects of the Emperor of China could, for the purposes of this treaty, be converted into Englishmen. If we attempted to do this we should manifestly bring these persons under the disabilities as well as confer on them the privileges of the treaty—a thing which we could have no power to do, and which we never meant to undertake. Were we to be responsible for these people? Why the blue-books showed that the Chinese residents at Hong Kong were a turbulent, disaffected race, nearly allied to the insurgents and the 1732 secret societies in feeling; and if we were to be made responsible for their acts, except during the time they were actually within the British territory at Hong Kong, it was most essential that we should look narrowly at the obligations we undertook in regard to them. It was also material to recollect what was the actual position of Hong Kong, both before, and at the time of, the signature of this Supplementary Treaty. Before the first Chinese war, it had long been a favourite trading station for English merchant ships; it was ceded by the Treaty of 1842; and the Supplementary Treaty was concluded in 1843, being within a month of the ratification of the former, and before the settlement of Hong Kong was effected. The third Article of the first treaty declared that Hong Kong was ceded to us by China, because "it was obviously necessary and desirable that British subjects should have some port where they could careen and refit their ships and could keep stores for that purpose." That being so, would it not be a fraud towards the Chinese Government under this treaty to create a depôt at the place thus ceded to us in which Chinese subjects might, ad libitum, be turned into Englishmen, and in which you should multiply in favour of an indefinite class of Chinese ships privileges that were intended for English ships only? Thel7th Article of the Supplementary Treaty showed that the same usage which existed before Hong Kong was ceded, and while the whole of the British trade was necessarily carried on in ships belonging to the British nation, was contemplated by the stipulations bearing on this question. Suppose that when we ratified the independence of the United States, and entered into a commercial treaty with them, we had ceded to them, in order to give their vessels greater facilities for careening, refitting, and taking in stores, some small island off our coast—say the island of Arran, near Glasgow—and had agreed that no English offender should be taken off American vessels entering the harbour of Glasgow without communication with their consul; would any Judge of any court in this country hold that small vessels belonging to Scotchmen who had gone to the Isle of Arran to make money by dealing with the Americans there, and who for convenience resided there, were American ships, and were entitled to the privileges granted to vessels entering the port of Glasgow belonging to the American nation? Would it not be asked 1733 what it was which made these vessels American ships? Would it be held for a moment that the owners by simply going to the Isle of Arran, and staying there for ever so short a time, became immediately invested with American nationality? How ridiculous and absurd such a proposition would seem! How could the ships of such persons be American ships unless they were recognized by the superior Imperial authority of the United States as being possessed of a general American nationality? This brought him to the consideration of the arguments derived by the Attorney General from the decisions which had been given in the cases arising under the American treaty. He had not understood his hon. and learned Friend the other evening as speaking with any disrespect of what had fallen from Lord Lyndhurst in another place, but quite the reverse. Neither had he understood his hon. and learned Friend to speak of the omission of any reference by Lord Lyndhurst to the case of Marryat v. Wilson, in the language which had been represented as falling from him by the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger). The Attorney General, he thought, said on Friday night that Lord Lyndhurst had, in some way which he could not explain, overlooked that ease.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
What I said did not refer particularly to Lord Lyndhurst, but was meant generally. I expressed my surprise that that particular case had been overlooked altogether in the debate.
§ MR. ROUNDELL PALMER
That was quite consistent with his impression of his hon. and learned Friend's meaning. But the oversight did not appear to him to be so surprising, or so difficult to explain. The reason why the noble and learned Lords who took so prominent a part in the debate in the other House—the Lord Chancellor and Lord Wensleydale on one side, and Lord Lyndhurst and Lord St. Leonards on the other—had not mentioned this case, with which they were, of course, perfectly familiar, probably was that they were of opinion that it had nothing whatever to do with the question;—and, fortifying himself with such high authority, he was obliged to confess that that opinion was also his own. In the first place, that decision turned not upon any abstract and general question, but on the meaning of the particular words, "vessels belonging to citizens of the United States of America," in the 13th Article of the Treaty of Commerce 1734 with America. It was the case of a man who had been living for twenty years in the United States of America, who was settled there with his family, who had been naturalized and admitted as a citizen according to the law of the United States, who had taken the oath of allegiance, and who in America had every right of citizenship; he was also a natural-born subject of this country, and the Court said, "If we by treaty and by Act of Parliament have given to vessels belonging to citizens of the United States certain rights and privileges, and if it is as clear as daylight that this man is a citizen of the United States, and we have not said in the treaty that citizens of the United States who are also natural-born subjects of the British Crown shall lose those rights, why should he not possess them?" The argument appeared perfectly clear, nor was there much doubt about it at the time. There was another point incidentally touched upon, but not decided, bearing on the interpretation of the word "subject," on which Lord Eldon, Lord Stowell, and Lord Redesdale had expressed a different opinion, and had held that within the meaning of the same treaty a person similarly circumstanced was not to he regarded as an American subject when he came to this country. That opinion was not absolutely overruled, but it must be admitted that considerable doubt was cast upon it by the decision in the case. Consistently with the comity and law of nations, a person being naturalized became a citizen of his adopted country; and the Court decided that he should have the privileges given by Act of Parliament, though he was the natural-born subject of this country; and on the other hand they decided on similar principles, that being a bonâ fide citizen of the United States he might have the privileges of such a citizen, though in another and a higher sense he had also the privileges given to subjects of this country. But "citizens" or "subjects" had nothing to do with the present question. The point to be decided was, did this ship belong to the English nation? It was clearly not a public vessel, nor was it the property of any person belonging to the English nation. Its owner had not been naturalized. It was not seriously contended that he had been domiciled, and he had done nothing whatever to clothe himself with the rights of British citizenship. Going back to the case which he had put of the Isle of Arran, what would those Judges have said, if, because certain rights might have been ceded to 1735 bonâ fide American citizens residing on the mainland of the United States, any Scotchman who had been living in the Isle of Arran for a short time and trading with the persons residing there, who was in reality no more an American citizen than any Member of that House, had claimed the right of taking a vessel from Arran, and of trading within the limits of the jurisdiction of the East India Company? The cases were exactly parallel. There was no pretence whatever for the assertion that the accidental residence of a Chinese subject within the limits of Hong Kong gave him a right to protection on the score of British ownership. If it was not on the score of ownership, on what other ground could this vessel claim the rights of British nationality? To give a ship a national character the national authority must be impressed upon it, and it was clear that that had not been done in this case, unless by the colonial ordinance; and even assuming that ordinance to be valid, it seemed plain that in this case it did not confer any rights at all. If the ordinance had any force to make a Chinese vessel a British vessel it could only be while it was operative; but the moment it failed, if the ship was not a British ship without it, there was an end of the nationality. The 17th Article of the Supplementary Treaty laid down:—1. That every British schooner, cutter, lorcha, &c., shall have a sailing letter or register in Chinese and English, under the seal and signature of the chief Superintendent of Trade, describing her appearance, burden, &c., &c.2. That every schooner, lorcha, and such vessel, shall report herself, as large vessels are required to do, at the Bocca Tigris; and when she carries cargo she shall also report herself at Whampoa, and shall, on reaching Canton, deliver up her sailing letter or register to the British Consul, who will obtain permission from the Hoppo for her to discharge her cargo. …3. When the inward cargo is discharged and an outward one (if intended) on board, and the duties on both arranged and paid, the Consul will restore the sailing letter or register and allow the vessel to depart.It was a remarkable fact that throughout these papers there was no intimation that the Arrow ever had discharged her cargo or that her sailing letters had ever been communicated to the Chinese authorities, or that their permission had ever been obtained for the unloading of her cargo. He would venture to say that none of these things, which ought to have been done had she been a vessel entitled to British protection, had been done; and for two reasons. 1736 If she had paid the duty it would have been stated in the papers, because it would have fixed the Chinese with a conclusive knowledge of her nationality; and if her sailing letters had been shown to the Chinese, they would have known that she was not a British ship, and that the only register under which she sailed had expired on the, 27th of September. It was said, however, that the register was still in force, because the ordinance provided for cases in which registers expired while vessels were at sea. But how did this case stand? Where was this ship on the 27th of September? Mr. Parkes, in a letter of the 12th of October, 1856, told them that on the 1st of September the Arrow sailed from Hong Kong for Canton, and proceeded thence to Macao, where she lay a fortnight, painting and refitting; that she then loaded again outside Macao, re-entered that port, discharged a portion of her cargo there, and brought the remainder, consisting of rice, on to Canton, where she arrived on the 3rd of October, five days after the register expired. According to that statement, then, the Arrow, when her register expired, was at Macao, within three or four hours' sail of Hong Kong,—so that nothing could have been more easy than for the master to proceed thither and to obtain a proper renewal of his licence, which would have entitled him to trade at Canton. It was clear that the Arrow was not at sea in any sense of the words. Although close to her port of registry she did not choose to go there, but sailed up the river to Canton with an expired register, which, he assumed, was delivered to Consul Parkes, who knew on receiving it—and must have told the captain—that it was mere waste paper. Whatever might be the authority of the colonial ordinance, it did not apply in this case; but yet, they were gravely told that the register entitled the Arrow to British protection. Upon this point there could be no mistake. Sir John Bowring must have understood the matter, and they could not accept the excuse made elsewhere that he did not understand his own case. In his letter to Consul Parkes of the 11th of October Sir John Bowring said,—It appears on examination that the Arrow had no right to hoist the British flag; the licence to do so expired on the 27th of September, from which period she has not been entitled to protection.Dr. Bowring admitted that, not only had the register expired, but that after that period the Arrow was not entitled to protection. 1737 On the 12th of October Consul Parkes wrote a letter, in which he faintly and falteringly suggested the possibility of getting out of the difficulty by saying that the Arrow might be supposed to have been at sea when her licence expired.When this document," said Consul Parkes, "was deposited with me on the 3rd inst., the year for which it was granted had expired five days previously; but, if the statement of the master is to be believed, it was because the lorcha was then at sea, and has not been in the waters of the colony since the 1st of September last, that timely application had not been made for its renewal.Then followed a passage to which he (Mr. R. Palmer) had before referred, which showed that the Arrow had been at Macao, a place much nearer to Hong Kong than to Canton, and there was therefore no possible excuse for neglecting to renew the register. What was the decision of Sir John Bowring under these circumstances? On the 13th of October he wrote to Consul Parkes—I will consider the regranting the register of the Arrow if applied for; but there can be no doubt that after the expiry of the licence protection could not be legally granted.These were nearly the same expressions which Sir John Bowring afterwards used in writing to the Chinese Commissioner—"there could be no doubt that the Arrow was entitled to protection."
He would now advert to the argument of the hon. and learned Attorney General with reference to the character of a British ship as defined by the navigation laws. He (Mr. R. Palmer) had shown that the Arrow did not become a British vessel from the character of her colonial ownership; but she might possibly have become a British vessel by the authority of the Imperial Government. The Attorney General had quoted from the well-known work of Lord Tenterden On Shipping, a passage describing the state of the law as it existed in former times. It must be remembered that at that period the navigation laws, which had now been abandoned with such general advantage to the country, prohibited the carrying of certain descriptions of goods, within definite limits, in any hut British bottoms; the right of carrying such goods being denied to foreign vessels. Lord Tenterden had said, that, although registry, according to the Navigation Acts, was necessary to confer the privileges of a British ship; there was nothing in those acts which rendered the possession of an unregistered British ship impossible or illegal, if such a ship 1738 only carried goods which a foreign ship might lawfully carry. Upon this point, however, the ground taken by his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General was entirely cut away by the Merchant Shipping Act passed in May, 1855, previously to the grant of the licence to the Arrow. It was perfectly clear under that Act, that, so far from the national authorities being allowed to sanction a claim to the protection of the British flag on the part of any vessel not owned and registered in conformity with the requirements of that statute at Canton or elsewhere, they were absolutely prohibited from doing so. It was expressly provided, by clause 18, that that the second portion of the Act, which defined British ships, their ownership, measurement, and registry, should apply to the whole of Her Majesty's dominions. The Act, therefore, applied to Hong Kong as well as to any other place which was not specially excepted from its operation. With regard to ownership, the 18th clause provided that no ship should be deemed a British vessel unless she belonged wholly to a natural-born subject of the British Crown, with certain exceptions as to persons who had received letters of denization, or to persons naturalized by an Act or ordinance of proper legislative authority. Now, it was not pretended that the owner of the Arrow answered any of these descriptions. The 19th clause provided that every British ship might be registered in a prescribed manner, except (among other cases which were immaterial, but in this instance the exception was emphatic, as showing the extent of the rule) "vessels not exceeding thirty tons employed wholly in fishing or trading coastwise on the shores of Newfoundland, Canada, Nova Scotia, &c." These vessels were of much smaller burden than the Arrow, and were employed in a somewhat similar colonial trade; but it would be observed that there was no exception with regard to Hong Kong. The same clause then proceeded to enact, "And no ship hereby required to be registered shall, unless registered, be recognized as a British ship." And lastly, the 108th clause provided, that, whenever it was declared by the Act that a ship belonging to any person or body corporate qualified to be owners of British ships should not be registered as a British ship, such ship "should not be entitled to any benefits, privileges, advantages, or protection usually enjoyed by British ships and 1739 should not be entitled to use the British flag, or assume the British national character." The British authorities at Canton had, then, been doing the very thing which this law prohibited—namely, encouraging a vessel, which was not qualified to do so under the provisions of the Act, to carry the British flag and to assume the character of a British vessel, and, as if that flag and that character were legally assumed, they had taken upon themselves to involve us and the whole empire of China in a war, the consequences of which no one could foretell.
With regard to the general question, he thought the arguments advanced by some hon. Gentlemen—the stories of crimes committed by the Chinese, of the vices of the Government, of the weakness of the people, and of the vexations to which British subjects had been exposed—if they were at all pertinent to the matter, were certainly not in favour of the course taken by Her Majesty's Government. Surely, the considerations that the Chinese were misgoverned—that they were imperfectly civilized—that they were destitute of the light of Christianity—that they were irritable, impatient, easily provoked to acts of outrage and violence, and, when so provoked, were not restrained within the limits imposed by civilization and Christianity—ought to have rendered the British authorities more scrupulous and more cautious in dealing with such a people. They ought to have set an example of justice, humanity, and moderation in dealing with the Chinese. Although they should have maintained an attitude of firmness, they should have been firm only when they knew they were right; and instead of insisting upon that as a violation of a treaty which they knew not to be so—instead of insisting, after they had received reasonable reparation for an alleged though doubtful injury, upon new and further demands—their first object in dealing with such a people should have been to show how superior the light of civilization and the knowledge of Christianity had rendered the British people to the inhabitants of China. Our trade and commerce were no doubt instruments of good to them as well as to ourselves—instruments of good to them as well as to us, if we endeavoured to extend them in a spirit of prudence, of wisdom, and of goodwill. The expansion of our trade and commerce would be of signal advantage to mankind; and the peaceful extension of our means of intercourse with the Chinese 1740 would be to that people and to us in the highest degree beneficial; but if we sought to force it from them—if we endeavoured to excite them, to irritate and exasperate their sense of dignity—to involve them in a struggle of this cruel kind, and to expose them to these dreadful calamities, under circumstances which no man could lay his hand on his heart and justify, then that appeared to him to be the last course calculated either to increase our commerce or our influence, or to exalt the reputation of this country among either Western or Oriental nations.
said he would detain the House but a very few moments, while he ventured upon some observations which he thought were pertinent to the discussion. He had listened last evening with steady attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, and he confessed he was at first inclined to draw from that speech the most cheering prospects as to the support which henceforth officers employed at a distance were to meet at the hands of Her Majesty's Government. But when he contrasted the lavish declarations of last evening, and the small support measured out to the late Lord Raglan in the midst of his terrible difficulties, when two years ago he was at the head of the British army—when he remembered that Her Majesty's Government, conscious of those difficulties, failed to extend to him a fair share of support—whilst he recollected how they shrunk from the responsibility of recalling the noble Lord, although they would not support him, he confessed he for one could place but little reliance on such new-born sentiments. Lord Raglan had not had the advantage of blue-books to refer to; nevertheless that noble Lord would have been too glad to have placed his case before the House of Commons and to be judged by his own despatches and the instructions of Her Majesty's Government. As he listened to the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman in favour of public servants at a distance, he could not help thinking how a little of all that virtuous indignation two years since might have cheered and solaced the last hours of that simple-hearted and noble-minded man. When he contrasted the conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers upon that occasion with their conduct now, he could not help expressing his indignation that the Government should have reserved their protest against attacks upon 1741 absent officers for a cause so worthless in itself that all the legal ingenuity and subtlety of the Attorney General only served to mystify the House concerning it—a mystification, however, that had been happily cleared away by Gentlemen that had since followed in the debate. But, above all, he was indignant that it should have been reserved for the case of an individual who had been so justly described by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and he appealed to every Member whether, with the papers before him, he did not think the noble Lord was justified in that description, as a troublesome and worthless official.
§ MR. KENDALL
Sir, I cannot support the Motion of the hon. Member for the West Riding. I feel much surprised and alarmed that so many gentlemen on this side the House should be prepared to condemn, on such grounds as have been stated, an absent public servant. I have given to the matter the utmost consideration, and I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for anything to be more unjust, more ungenerous, or more dangerous than hastily to condemn a public servant. I do not refer so much to an individual as to public men in general, I will say, let a public servant be ever so full of moral courage, have ever so much confidence in himself, if he finds the House of Commons ready without a hearing to condemn him, he will be more than mortal if he is not cowed by such a prospect; and if it be so, his public usefulness must be to some degree affected by it. I do not mean to say that I approve altogether of Sir John Bowring's proceedings, but I ask you, examining what has happened by the light of common sense, ought we to condemn him? or again, take it upon the ground of humanity, ought we to condemn him? We have heard much of humanity, and I give all credit to the hon. gentlemen that are promoting these Resolutions for being actuated by humane feelings; but my conscientious belief is, that if the Motion passes there will be more bloodshed than ever. Suppose the Chinese to be powerful—when this news arrives in China they will put forth all their strength, and not an Englishman's life there would be worth an hour's purchase. On the other hand, suppose them to be weak and powerless, you lead them to think that they 1742 are sympathised with in this country, you are only coaxing them on to their destruction—you are only inducing them to bring large masses together to be cut down at once by our broadsides. Leave them rather to the operation of the merciful shot which may be dropped in amongst them now and then. [Laughter] Yes, it is a merciful thing to kill a few to save thousands. Well, my common sense has been very much offended. I have been astonished to hear how British merchants have been run down as if they were the scum of the earth; but I have been equally astonished to hear the character given of the Chinese. They are the gentlemen, we the reverse; they are the Christians, we the barbarians. Let me ask, has any change taken place within the last three months to bring this about? Why, if at any time previous to the last three months I had gone up to any person, and given him that character of the Chinese which is now given in this House, I venture to say the remark would be, "That man is a fool; he ought to be sent to a lunatic asylum." Until, therefore, I know that some change has taken place, I, for one, shall be cautious, indeed, before I give my support to such a Motion. But I have other grounds for that determination. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle told us the other night that he was justified in suspecting the conduct of absent men. Well, I hold that if he is justified in suspecting those that are absent, I am justified in suspecting those that are present; and I think that, mixed up with the question of the lorcha Arrow, there is an ulterior consequence. I say any man must be blind who does not see that there are certain combinations at work. I do not believe there has been any actual communication between gentlemen; but if there is an understanding, where is the necessity for communication? Let me ask, if the combination succeeds, what will be the consequence? Now I hope I shall not say anything un parliamentary, for I am one who likes to go straight to the point, neither have I the power of making a long speech; but what I mean to tell you is this, that if the present Ministry goes out, your new Ministry must include the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wilts. I ask myself, then, this question at a such juncture, "What 1743 ought I to do as a party man?" I must be either very ungrateful or very forgetful to play my part as a party man. I cannot forget the war question—I cannot forget how we drifted into that war—I cannot forget who managed to get us into our difficulties then—nor can I forget who helped to get us out of them. I believe that nine-tenths of the English people attribute the difficulties and disasters of those clays to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite; but I believe likewise that nine-tenths of the English people have not forgotten that to the noble Lord at the head of her Majesty's Government is due our release from those difficulties—aye, and that, too, under a pressure which no one but the noble Lord would have withstood. Well then, we are at war with the Chinese; and I put it to you, who is the most likely man to get us out of it? I come to another matter, and I must turn now to my own side of the House, although I am sorry to have to say anything displeasing to that quarter. The Motion has been submitted to us by the hon. Member for the West Riding; I must say I admire the abilities of that hon. Gentleman very much, although I do not like his politics. I cannot, as I have said, give my support to the Motion. If I mistake not, however, I heard the speech of the hon. Member very much cheered by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). I was not surprised at that, for the noble Lord is gradually working over to hon. Gentlemen opposite. But I was astonished to hear Gentlemen occupying the benches on this side of the House cheering every word that fell from the hon. Member for the West Riding. Why is the hon. Gentleman to receive cheers now that were denied to him when he was fighting against the late war? Who, when he uttered his prophecies with respect to France and Russia, attempted to sneer him down? Why, the Opposition—the very parties who now cheered his speech upon China. I was made suspicious of the hon. Gentleman, but am I to blame those who made me suspicious of him? And when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) had the boldness—for he is a bold man—to talk to us of Odessa, as exemplifying how we ought to have treated Canton, he was loudly cheered by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting on these benches. He had a right to say so; but what right had they to cheer the right hon. Baronet now who blamed him before? I was much 1744 mortified by those cheers. I would here wish to set the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) right as to some observations which fell from my hon. Friend near me, the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) on Thursday night. What my hon. Friend really said upon that occasion was this:—He would further say, that there was no man in that House more anxious than himself (Mr. Bentinck) to see a pure Conservative Government at the head of affairs. No man in the House, he would add, would exert himself more strenuously to secure that object. But adverting to the fact that he was bound to look at the Motion as a vote of censure on the Government, and assuming the possibility that an adverse vote might be passed, and the Government resign their seats as a consequence of it, he could only say, that he, for one, would never be accessory, by word or deed, to bringing into power—more particularly in combination with a Conservative Government—any of those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who, for the last six years, had been closely identified with all the most anti-Protestant and democratic measures which had been brought before Parliament.Now there was a sneer in the House at this allusion to Protestant feeling. I may differ from my hon. Friend on some points of his speech, but I certainly agree with him in his views as to the Protestant religion. And when I talk of the Protestant religion I do not speak as a Dissenter, I do not speak as a low Churchman, but I speak as a good Churchman, although a very poor erring mortal. I say that, before we go further, we should consider what things are now in progress. There is a party, and a very strong political party in the country, with very High Church notions. Now I believe that if there is any body of men that are likely to pull the Church about their ears, it is these extreme High Churchmen. And I know, if there is one single thing more than another for which the whole community are grateful to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, it is for his episcopal appointments. I am afraid, however, that there is a very strong party in this House—strong from intellect, strong from position—who disapprove of those appointments. The Protestant feelings of the noble Lord were sneered at the other night. Now, my impression is, that if the noble Lord were removed from office our Protestant institutions would suffer; for I am afraid that if the Resolution of the hon. Member for the West Riding were carried, a party would get into power who would not evince the same Protestant feelings as the noble Lord. Sir, I have as strong a Conservative 1745 feeling as any one in this House; but with all that Conservative feeling, if we are to have among the elements of a new Administration men who have those extreme High Church opinions, I must say I would rather sacrifice my Conservative feelings than see such a Government in office.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said he would not presume to go into the Church controversies which had been introduced, he know not why, by the last speaker. He had risen on Thursday last to second the Motion of the hon. Member for the West Riding, on which he did not then think it necessary to make any observations, after the very able and comprehensive speech of his hon. Friend; he felt, however, that he should not be discharging his duty if he did not ask the House to hear a few remarks before the debate closed. The hon. Member who spoke last, like many other Gentlemen who had addressed the House, seemed not quite to comprehend the position in which they were placed. How was it that it had become necessary that Parliament should pronounce an opinion upon the proceedings in China? It was because in the speech from the Throne Her Majesty announced that hostilities had commenced with China, and the Government laid on the tables of both Houses papers conveying information as to the grounds of those hostilities. The object undoubtedly was to invite the opinion of Parliament on the question, for it was unavoidable that some notice should be taken when papers were laid on the table by command of Her Majesty. The House, then, had no alternative but to enter into a consideration of the question, because if those papers had been received in silence, the acquiescence of Parliament would have been immediately assumed, and they would have upon themselves the responsibility which at present belonged to the Executive Government. Therefore, when it was said that it would be wrong to express any opinion by vote upon the question of the war with China while hostilities were going on, it was at least equally wrong for the Government to lay the information before the House, which was tantamount to saying, "You, the House of Commons, can give a conscientious opinion upon the proceedings of your Executive Government without any injury to the public interests." What was the Resolution of the hon. Member for the West Riding? It had been erroneously called an abstract Resolution. There was nothing abstract about it; on the contrary, 1746 it was a practical reply to the invitation of the Government for an expression of their opinion. His hon. Friend said that, having heard the case which the Government had laid before the House, he was of opinion that the papers failed to establish sufficient grounds for the violent measures adopted at Canton in the affair of the Arrow, Could the Government be said to have proved, either by their speeches or their papers, that the bombardment of Canton was an act of positive necessity? If they entertained a doubt whether these acts of violence which had taken place were necessary, they ought to vote with the hon. Member for the West Riding; for, by negativing his Motion the House would volunteer to share in the responsibility, now solely resting on the Government, of all the proceedings in China. The right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, had stated that if the House accepted the Resolution the most disastrous consequences would happen in China, and that every English resident would feel that his life was Unsafe from day to day after the news arrived there. Surely the right ton. Gentleman did not mean to say that protection for British life and property would be withdrawn if the Resolution passed, or that, if it were negatived, the Chinese would not do all in their power against British life and property after the bombardment of Canton? He imagined that that statement of the Home Secretary was inconsiderate—that it fell from him, perhaps, in the excitement of the delivery of what had the character of a purely party speech. The House had been told that the merchants were in favour of the course which had been pursued, and they must know what was right. But was it intended to be maintained that the mercantile body of England was in favour of the policy pursued in China? The British merchants at Canton were some hundred in number; could their opinions be taken as an indication of the views of the great mercantile body of the United Kingdom? He had the honour to represent a most important city of manufacturers and consumers, and he had received no communication from his constituents in favour of the policy pursued by the Government in China. The only intimation which had reached him was one proceeding from a public meeting of the inhabitants of Manchester, and he had presented the memorial agreed to at that meeting to the Home Secretary 1747 order that he might lay it before Her Majesty. Through the medium of that memorial, the inhabitants of Manchester, in public meeting assembled, conveyed to Her Majesty the feelings of shame and indignation with which they had learned the news of the destruction by the British forces of innocent life at Canton, and their belief, founded on the published evidence, that the hostile acts committed by Admiral Seymour, with the concurrence of Sir John Bowring and Mr. Parkes, could not be justified on the plea of necessity, and were worthy of the heaviest censure. They observed that Her Majesty's prerogative to declare war had been usurped by the before mentioned servants of the Crown, and they implored that they might be recalled, in order that a searching inquiry should be made into their conduct. It therefore appeared to him that it was not correct to identify the opinion of a small limited body of gentlemen connected with the opium and tea trade in China with the opinion of the general mercantile community of England. Let the House not forget that there might be such a thing as the opinions of a certain class being biassed by their immediate interests. It was said that the stock of tea was never so large as at the present moment, and that during the first two months of last year the export of tea at Canton had exceeded that of any previous two months by 17,000,000 lbs. They knew too that extensive credit had been given for those teas; and he could easily understand that individuals might think anything would be to their interest which would have a tendency to give increased value to their stocks, or to extend the period of their credits. Who complained, during the recent war, that the blockade of the ports of the Baltic was not sufficiently rigorous? It was discovered that they were owners of large stocks of Baltic produce, who wanted to keep out competition, and so to get the greatest possible advantage out of the speculations into which they had entered. Therefore, without charging against this body of gentlemen, who had been referred to as approving the proceedings in China, that they were all actuated by interested motives, yet, as a man of common sense, he was bound to take into consideration circumstances affecting their opinions. And had not those who consumed tea a claim to be considered in this matter? Had they not as good a right to be consulted as those who supplied tea? 1748 The impression among those with whom he had conversed was, that the only way to extend the English trade with China was by increasing the consumption of tea in this country, and that could only be done by lowering the duties on tea, and not by raising them as proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Increasing the consumption of tea would do more to extend the trade with China than would ever be accomplished by the bombardment of a commercial town, or by any measures of hostility. Another point which had been very strongly urged was this—that it might be very well to support the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden); their feelings and convictions might be that he was right; but then that they must look to the state of parties and to what might be the result of their vote. They were, in fact, invited to vote against the Motion, simply because hon. Gentlemen opposite were going to vote for it. He would make what might seem a peculiar remark, but nothing gave him so much confidence that it was right to support the present Motion, as the fact that the great body of the Conservative party were about to support it. Why did he say that? Because the Conservative party as a rule supported the Crown during wars and hostilities. This was not a question which involved distinctive principles between the Liberal party, as it was called, and the Conservative party. This was a question which had been thrown among all the Members of the House, and upon which every Member, without any reference to his political opinions, was entitled to pronounce a deliberate opinion. The Conservative party generally supported the Government of the day in foreign complications, and especially when actual hostilities had commenced; the case must then be strong indeed when Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House (who, he believed, had considered it as fully and as free from party ties as any other Gentlemen in the House) were willing to pass a disapproving vote as to the policy of the Government with reference to the hostilities at Canton. Instead, then, of the support which the Conservative party had given to the Motion being an argument against it, he believed that it was rather a proof of its propriety and justice. When the noble Lord at the head of the Government was in any difficulty he made no scruple of accepting the votes of the Conservative against the Liberal party. When 1749 it was necessary to put down the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Sir W. Clay) on his question of church rates, or the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. H. Berkeley) on the ballot, or the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Locke King) on the extension of the franchise—all of which questions lay at the very foundation of the principles of the Liberal party—the noble Lord at the head of the Government was not squeamish about accepting the support of the Conservative party. Well, then, when the hon. Member for the West Riding brought forward a motion consistent with all the views which he had entertained and professed in his public life, was he to be deterred from asking the support of his friends because members of the Conservative party, forsooth! would support it? He (Mr. M. Gibson) had been told that there had been a meeting of the Liberal party lately at the residence of the noble Lord. He read the report in the public newspapers—for it seemed now to be the fashion to publish in the journals reports of these private political meetings. That meeting was remarkable more for the absence of certain distinguished men than for the presence of those who attended it. He read over the names, and he must say that it was the first time he ever recollected a meeting of the Liberal party being held without the name of Lord John Russell appearing among those who attended it. There were other distinguished names which were not to be found in the list of those present at that meeting. He should like to know what the noble Lord at the head of the Government said to his hon. friends who attended the meeting? What pledges were given, what inducements were held out? When sufficient inducements were held out on such occasions, many a Member, for the purpose of saving a Ministry in danger, gave a vote that was not exactly according to his convictions. He read in the newspapers that one thing stated at the meeting was that the noble Lord at the head of the Government was a man of extraordinary luck, and that it would be well for those present to give him their support. Well, now, he (Mr. M. Gibson) should think that the Canton and the Persian difficulties were no proof that good fortune had attended the career of the noble Lord. He believed that the cause of these foreign complications was to be traced to what the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) called the mischievous activity of the noble Lord, who interfered in 1750 all parts of the known world. What "cry" would the Government inscribe upon their banner if they were to go to a general election, as had been threatened in the event of this Motion being carried? They must have a political banner of some kind with which to go to the country. They were told that the name of Lord Palmerston was a tower of strength. He (Mr. M. Gibson) doubted that. Could they put on their political banner the old motto, "Peace, Retrenchment, Reform," or would they stand on "Bombardment of Canton and no Reform?" He concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding in thinking that if they were to ask the country to give the Liberal party increased power, in order to enable them to carry on the administration of public affairs, they would be obliged to pick up some new principles for that party, and to inscribe on their banner something more than was indicated at the political meeting that was held at the residence of the noble Lord. He (Mr. M. Gibson) felt at liberty to make these statements, for he could assure the House that the pressure—the disagreeable pressure—that was put upon hon. Gentlemen to induce them to change their votes upon this important question was of a character that could only be equalled by the pressure put upon voters at a small provincial contested election in order to compel them to vote in this or that direction. Now, hon. Gentlemen were at liberty, with a due regard to the public interests, and without being in the least afraid of the deluge coming upon them if the Government should experience some difficulty on this occasion, to pronounce their conscientious opinion upon the Motion of the hon. Member for the West Riding. They had been told the hostilities at Canton were necessary; but why had no attempt been made at the commencement of the dispute to refer the question of the lorcha to the Emperor of China? [A laugh.] That laugh no doubt meant that such a reference was impossible. Why, then, did Sir John Bowring threaten Commissioner Yeh with a complaint of his conduct to the Emperor of China if he did not alter his conduct? That threat assumed that Sir John Bowring had the power of carrying it into effect, and nothing appeared to be more natural. Had this been done, the Emperor might have thought proper to reprimand Yeh, and thus afford the most satisfactory reparation. But what were we fighting about? There were no men to be rescued, and no 1751 property to be got out of the hands of the Chinese. The only question that remained to be settled was about a doubtful construction of a particular treaty. But the commencement of hostilities rendered it most difficult for the Emperor of China, whatever might be his wishes, to interfere pacifically in the matter. What, then, were we fighting for now? He hoped that before this debate closed Her Majesty's Government would state to the House what were the precise objects for which we were now to fight, and what were the terms which they considered to be sufficient to satisfy our wounded honour? He saw that reinforcements were to be sent out. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government would give the House some idea of the expenditure that this war with China would entail. Without that information the case would be very incomplete. A letter had been put into his (Mr. M. Gibson's) hands which bore upon what was called the law of this question. That was a subject upon which he could not presume to give an opinion; but the letter referred to a legal authority, which entirely confirmed the opinion of Lord Lyndhurst as to the illegality of any attempt to nationalize vessels as against the rights of other countries. The opinion which he was about to read was that of a practical man, now administering in our courts of justice the particular laws bearing upon this question—he alluded to Dr. Lushington. Now, Dr. Lushington, in the Admiralty Court, in the case of The Soglasie, gave the following judgment—It is not competent to any State by its own particular regulations at once to change a national character to the detriment of other States. It may give local rights and privileges, it may confer all those benefits which are within its own jurisdiction, but I am of opinion that it cannot alter the rights of others.Therefore it was not quite true that noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen connected with the legal profession gave opinions simply in accordance with their political opinions, for here was a Judge who laid down a rule in entire accordance with the views of those who supported this Motion. He (Mr. M. Gibson) would not go over ground which had been so often travelled over by other hon. Members, but he would tell the Government that the feeling which he had heard expressed, and which was to he found in most of the provincial newspapers, and in all the London ones, with one or 1752 two exceptions, was that Her Majesty's Government—and he said Her Majesty's Government, because he declined to give any opinion as to the conduct of Sir John Bowring and Mr. Consul Parkes, seeing that the Government had most loyally and most properly adopted the conduct of those gentlemen; he believed they were all wrong together, but he should have thought it extremely shabby, he should have thought it a meanness of which no one would be capable, if, having approved and encouraged the conduct of Sir John Bowring, the Government had at the last moment made a scapegoat of him and thrown him over in order to save themselves—the feeling generally expressed both by the provincial and the London press, and by those with whom he had conversed upon this subject, was, that in this matter Her Majesty's Government had shown a too zealous sensitiveness, and had seen insults on the part of the Chinese when no one else had perceived them; that they exhibited indifference to the blood which had been shed, and had treated this difficulty as if upon every offence from a foreign country we were at once to fly to arms and raise the cry for blood. This was the feeling of those with whom he had communicated upon this subject. It was not that they did not wish to see British interests protected and the British honour vindicated, but they believed that the Government had from the commencement of these hostilities exhibited an indifference which was not becoming those who administered the affairs of an enlightened and a Christian country.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
Sir, I have not been surprised by the two speeches which have proceeded from the other side of the House; for, although at first sight it appears very extraordinary that Lord Raglan and the Crimean campaign, and still more extraordinary that the noble Lord's appointments to the Bench of Bishops, should be introduced into a Chinese discussion, still, when I consider how this debate has been mystified, how it has been obfuscated, by the opinions and speeches of the numerous lawyers who have worried this subject, and who have plunged it into a morass from which it is very difficult for a plain man to extricate it, I do not wonder that the two hon. Gentlemen opposite should not have been very well aware what is the subject under discussion. For my own part, I would entreat the House, in the language used by my right hon. Friend 1753 the Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham) on a former occasion, to have done with nisi prius, at least for to-night, and to discuss this question upon broader grounds. In my humble opinion, this matter resolves itself into two questions:—Were Sir John Bowring, Mr. Consul Parkes, and Admiral Sir Michael Seymour justified in taking the course which they have adopted, after deliberate consideration of what had taken place, they being upon the spot? and, secondly, are Her Majesty's Ministers deserving of censure for their support and approval of their officers? I was much surprised to find a right hon. Gentleman, lately Secretary for War (Mr. Sidney Herbert), in his speech last night, endeavouring to draw a distinction between Sir Michael Seymour and Sir John Bowring. Although he said that he had no acquaintance with that gallant officer, he gave him credit for a humanity which I know belongs to him, and for a bravery in which he has not an equal. But why did the right hon. Gentleman thus praise the gallant Admiral? In order that he might blacken the character of Sir John Bowring; not that he had any great love for the gallant Admiral, but because he had so strong a wish to decry Sir John Bowring he determined to draw a contrast between them. He went further. He accused Sir John Bowring of having by deception forced the gallant Admiral into the line which he took. The right hon. Gentleman is labouring under a most complete misapprehension of the facts. Sir Michael Seymour was in complete possession of Sir John Bowring's intentions; and, although I have a great objection to read anything from a blue-book, and am sure that the House must be ready to faint at the sight of this one, I will quote the letter of Sir John Bowring, in which he says he is glad to find that "there is a perfect concurrence of opinion as to the course of action between the Admiral and myself." It is very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he has found other things in the appendix; but I tell him that this is the fact, that the gallant Admiral entertained exactly the same views as Sir John Bowring, and acted concurrently with him upon those views. But, says the right hon. Gentleman, he bombarded the city; and really from the speeches which we have heard to-night and on other occasions it would seem as if Canton had been laid in ashes. How stands the fact? The city 1754 has not been bombarded. Those shells which the right hon. Gentleman described so graphically as being pitched in every five minutes were confined to a certain portion of the city. ["Hear!"] I repeat the assertion, founded both upon private letters and upon public documents, that these shells were thrown into a certain part of the city, when the Chinese attempted to burn down the factories, in order, if possible, to save the buildings and prevent their being plundered. The right hon. Gentleman even took exception to the attack upon the High Commissioner's house, and quoted a passage, I think, from Sir Charles Napier's biography with regard to an attack by a picket upon Marshal Ney and his suite. I was surprised at this, because I could perceive no analogy between Marshal Ney and the High Commissioner, between the French Marshal and the Tartar chief, except that both their names are monosyllabic—'Yeh and Ney—which, I suppose, suggested the comparison to the right hon. Gentleman. What similarity is there between the French Marshal who in 1810 conducted the war according to the principles of civilized nations and this High Commissioner Yeh, who is now the protegé of the right hon. Gentleman? Did Marshal Ney offer rewards for assassination? Did he issue proclamations recommending the poisoning of his opponents? We have seen what effect these rewards have had in the case of the unfortunate ship the Thistle, the crew of which were murdered, and have witnessed the result of the incentives to poisoning in the attempt made to poison the inhabitants of Hong Kong. Many hon. Gentlemen will regret to learn that a gentleman who was for some time a Member of this House, the present Attorney General for Hong Kong (Mr. Anstey), is suffering from the effects of Commissioner Yeh's recommendations, and it is doubtful whether he will recover. The right hon. Gentleman also favoured the House with a Chinese anecdote, which, as I then suspected and have since discovered, was derived from a French novel. If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will read to him a real State paper belonging to these people, who he says are so refined—these Tartars. This is a literal translation of a Chinese edict with which I have been favoured by the kindness of a friend. It is headed "Rewards for arrest or murder of English"—and continues— 1755To those who will verily put the English barbarians to death.—No matter whether literary, or military officers, soldiers, or common people, whosoever will capture a large English 80 gun ship, a reward shall be given in cash to the amount of 20,000 dollars. … For the murder of a barbarian officer, genuine evidences of the fact being shown, a reward varying, according to rank, from 5,000 dollars to 500 dollars. For murder of common men, 100 dollars. … Nobody cares for the mischievous rat, if he does fall into a disagreeable vessel!After this will the right hon. Gentleman or his right hon. Friends get up in this House to excuse the Chinese, and tell us that they are a people of refined notions and elegant tastes. Anybody who comes to this question with an unbiassed mind will agree—and I am sure people out of doors will agree—that it is impossible to discuss it from an English or a European point of view. Talk of applying the pedantic rules of international law towards the Chinese! Why, they neither regard your morals nor look at justice in your light. Their treatment of foreigners is now what it always has been, and what it was in 1847, when six unfortunate Englishmen were murdered as they were coming from church. We hear nothing of that; and, though their blood cries for reparation to this day, no reparation has been given. The right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) with the quiet sarcasm that lurks in everything he says, talks of referring this matter to the Emperor of China, as if such a thing could, under any circumstances, be done by any Government. The right hon. Gentleman, following in the track of the hon. Member for the West Riding, sought to detract from the character of British merchants, and also undertook to say that the commercial community of this country dissent from the course adopted by the Government. Is the right hon. Gentleman so sure of that? Is he so sure that when he returns to those hustings for which he is so eminently qualified, his commercial constituency will accord with what he has stated to-night? He has made insinuations with reference to the tea-merchants which I am surprised that the hon. Member for Ashburton (Mr. Moffat) could hear and sit in his seat—only he happened not to be in the House. He insinuates that for the sake of filthy lucre the merchants of this country are urging the noble Lord to involve us in a war with China. Does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that the hon. Gentleman, who may be regarded as the head of 1756 this great interest, would advocate these hostilities because he has a large stock of tea on hand? The noble Lord the Member for London affected to have a great respect for the opinion of the British residents of Canton; but he altogether passed by their judgment on this question. It will not do to come down and cast wholesale aspersions on a body of men because they happen to deal in a particular article of commerce. If any class of men is more qualified than another to speak on this subject it is the persons who have been engaged in the China trade. Why should aspersions be thrown out against them because they happened to deal in a particular article? The hon. Member for the West Riding, however, talked more like a Tartar mandarin, than a Member of this House; and though it was his bounden duty to speak with singular respect of that body of English merchants who had subscribed to present him with the most munificent testimonial ever presented to a Member of Parliament, he did not shrink from branding them with selfishness, or from accusing them of wishing to get up a war in order to raise the price of their own commodities. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall), who spoke with great practical knowledge of the question, gave the best reasons for the course adopted by the Government; while the Member for Hastings (Mr. Robertson), in a speech which did him honour, because it showed that the force of his convictions compelled him to separate himself from his usual political friends, declared, from his own experience as a resident for many years at Canton, that the charges preferred by the two hon. Members of the Manchester school are not founded on fact. Any hon. Gentleman free from those party motives which it is unparliamentary to ascribe to anybody, but which, nevertheless, we all have, could not hesitate, after hearing the practical witnesses who have come forward on this occasion, to pronounce a judgment in favour of the noble Lord. He, of course, had his own party feelings—but such would be the decision of any impartial man who sat on a jury in this case; and certainly, with so many legal gentlemen addressing us, this is more like a trial before a jury than a Parliamentary debate. There is one argument which will weigh at least with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Supposing you pass this vote of censure—for a vote of censure it 1757 is—and recall Sir John Bowring in disgrace, I understand you will have a Bill brought into this House for damages on behalf of British, American, and other merchants, to the amount of £5,000,000 sterling. The sum may seem a mere trifle to those who are bent on what they call "justice to China," but it will be no trifle to the people of England if they have to pay it. But this will not be the only evil consequence. It may suit the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) to throw ridicule on this point, but I say that if you disavow Sir John Bowring, neither the property nor the lives of Europeans at Canton will be safe. The name of Dr. Lushington has been alluded to in this debate. This reminds me that the hon. and learned Member for Stamford (Sir F. Thesiger) last night referred to the bombardment of Copenhagen, at which it appears he was present as a midshipman. I much regret that the hon. and learned Gentleman ever left the navy. If he had remained in that service I feel sure that he would have achieved as great distinction in it as he has won in the legal profession; but, then, I am convinced that if he had been in Admiral Seymour's place he would have acted precisely as that gallant officer has done. Will the House allow me to quote the sentiments expressed in this House in 1808, in the debate on the bombardment of Copenhagen by a Mr. Lushington, whose language would have done honour to the present bearer of that eminent name? I would draw the particular attention of the representatives of the Manchester school to this passage. Mr. Lushington said:—The sentimental system of hon. Gentlemen would embrace all nations but their own. These ingenious disquisitions may be well calculated for the amusement of the schools, but they are not fitted for the events of real life, or a state of ferocious war.Can anything worse be conceived than the present state of things in China, when rewards are offered for the heads of our countrymen? ["Hear!"] Is the hon. Gentleman who interrupts me so thoroughly Tartarized in his tastes that he wishes for something more? Mr. Lushington continued:—Sir, the first law of nature, the foundation of the law of nations, is the preservation of man. It is on the knowledge of his nature that the science of his duty must be founded. When the feelings point out to him a mighty danger, and his reason suggests the means of avoiding it, he must despise the sophistical trifler who tells him it is a moral duty he owes to others to wait till 1758 the danger break upon his foolish head, lest he should hurt the meditated instrument of his destruction."—[1 Hansard, x. 308.]Whoever spoke these sentiments, they were worthy of the House and of a great debate. This debate, however, seems to me to have been a medley of questions of law and abuse of Sir John Bowring. I think "the plaintiff's attorney" was never so well abused as on the present occasion. What are the antecedents of Sir John Bowring? He was first introduced to me when I entered Parliament by the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Milner Gibson). At that time the right hon. Gentleman sat on the Conservative side; and no man is better able to give an opinion on the different states of feeling on both sides of this House than the right hon. Gentleman, who has vacillated so often. He was then a remarkably high Conservative—he was for "Church and State," and all that sort of thing. Well, the right hon. Gentleman introduced Dr. Bowring to me as a man of great abilities, although not a lively speaker; but, said he, "He has only one crotchet, and that is about peace." I believe he was then the Secretary of the Peace Society; and I must say I think it unfortunate that this circumstance was not taken into consideration by the noble Lord who gave Sir John Bowring his appointment. But in the course of this debate he has been hunted down, he has been called a liar, a plunderer—in fact, everything but a thief; he has been accused of every larceny but petty larceny; but I have no doubt, notwithstanding the usual unwillingness of hon. Gentlemen on the benches below to throw out imputations; that he will be accused of that before the night is out. But what has been done in China? I believe, owing to his peculiar fidgetiness of disposition, of which there is no doubt, he is not a favourite with the merchants at Canton. They do not like him, and one reason for that is, that soon after his arrival he undertook to settle a question which had been pending for six years about certain duties, and having taken the Chinese side of the question he made the British merchants pay up. Those merchants, however, petitioned that he should have fuller powers, when he was made Superintendent of Trade by Lord Aberdeen's Government. In concluding the treaty with Siam he showed the greatest ability. But, after all, is it Sir John Bowring's character which is in question? It is not. No man can be deceived on that 1759 point. It is not the Superintendent at Hong Kong who is struck at, but the Minister in Downing Street. You care little about Sir John Bowring; it answers your purpose to blacken his character—an amiable amusement forsooth!—but your real object is to displace the noble Lord. You object altogether to the foreign policy of the noble Lord. Who that has listened to this debate can have failed to call to mind the great debate of 1850? Changing Greece for China, and substituting Bowring for Pacifico, we might imagine that we were listening to the same speeches and going through the same debate. But of what faults do you accuse the noble Lord? He remained at his post in times of difficulty when the war waxed hot, and success was doubtful. He remained at the helm when he was deserted by a body of Gentlemen, for whom individually I entertain the greatest personal respect, but whose public course, I think, has been neither prudent nor patriotic—but he weathered the storm, he brought the vessel of the State into smooth water, and now you seek to throw him overboard—the man who never forgot a friend, and who has no enemies but those of his country and his country's honour. Is this a proper course—is this the gratitude which the country owes to the noble Lord? I differ from the noble Lord on many points—I differ from the course which he took the other evening. I did not vote on that occasion because I had not given the noble Lord warning; but however I may differ from him I will not stab him in the back. But, supposing you do upset the noble Lord, in what lorcha are you going to embark? I think that hon. Gentlemen opposite must acknowledge that the crow is rather mixed. Who have you taken for jour comprador? The hon. Member for the West Riding, in whom you have put so much confidence in your previous cruises. The nominal master is a noble Lord in another place, and the registered owners, I grieve to say, are the well-known firm of Russell and Co. I have nothing to say with respect to the great name which heads this firm. I honour that noble Lord, and not a word shall fall from my lips to cause him pain or myself regret; but I am afraid that the noble Lord, giving way to a chivalrous feeling for the Chinese nation, has allowed himself on this occasion to be made the catspaw of others. I am sure that the noble Lord's motives are good, nor do I impugn the motives of other right hon. Gentlemen; 1760 but they have always been consistent; and from the year 1840, from that Chinese debate which I had the pleasure of reading this morning, they have been, I may say, the hereditary enemies of the noble Lord's policy. A high authority in this House has laid it down that "England distrusts coalitions." I differed from my right hon. Friend at the time because a coalition was then in full bloom; but I do not think now, from circumstances which have recently occurred, that coalitions will be very successful or popular in this House; but, however great their popularity or success here may be, sure I am that the public out of this House will never listen or give their assent to a conspiracy to displace the noble Lord from power.
§ MR. HENLEY
said he thought the House could not fail to be much amused by the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed them, but he questioned whether they would derive much information from it, for amongst all the subjects which the hon. Gentleman had thought fit to travel over, there was hardly one that belonged or was apposite to the question before them. The hon. Gentleman had talked a great deal about the character of British merchants; he had dwelt a great deal on the various observations of a collateral nature in that debate; and he had condemned with considerable energy the epithets applied to, and matters charged against, Sir John Bowring; but he had not denied one of the allegations made against that official. The hon. Gentleman had complained that Sir John Bowring had been called a liar. [Mr. B. OSBORNE:—That he had been accused of falsehood.] The hon. Gentleman now repeated his complaint, but it was rather surprising, considering the line which the hon. Gentleman took, that he had not ventured to express an opinion that Sir John Bowring had not been guilty of falsehood. No, nor had any one Member who had spoken on the Government side of the House ventured to do so. The observations which he (Mr. Henley) intended to address to the House should be confined to the point at issue, and to account for the vote which he was about to give. He thought that in a matter of this kind party considerations ought to be laid aside; and he was not aware that this had been made a party question. He was not a member of the Peace Party. He was not particularly fond of the hon. Member for the West Riding; he had never had any political association 1761 with the hon. Member, so that he could not be accused of any private bias in favour of the Resolution. He was quite ready to accept the proposition laid down by the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) that they ought to deal with the question as a jury should with a case coming before them. He (Mr. Henley) went even further, and using the language applied by Judges in their addresses to juries, he said that if the House had any reasonable doubt, the benefit of that doubt ought to be given to the accused. On the other hand he said, that if the circumstances of this case were so clear as to leave no reasonable doubt, then, however painful it might be, they were bound to record the opinion at which they had conscientiously arrived. He, of course, held that the case should be decided on the evidence before them; but the hon. Member for Middlesex did not seem to be of that opinion, for he had not alluded to the evidence at all, but had made those who had commented on the evidence his witnesses, and applied his remarks to their statements. That certainly was a very curious mode of conducting so serious an inquiry. The issue was exceedingly clear and simple; on the one side they were called by the Resolution before the House to say, that on the statements in official papers before the House—not the statements of British merchants, but those contained in the papers laid upon the table of the House—it was not shown that there had been sufficient ground for the violence which had been used in China by the British authorities. That was the question on which the House was called to come to a determination. On the other hand the Government had declared, through the despatches of Lord Clarendon, their approbation of the measures adopted by their agents in China—of the judgment, forbearance, and moderation of those agents, and of the respect shown for the lives and property of the Chinese. Now, he thought that all that had been said about the character of the Chinese was altogether foreign to the question before the House. He did not suppose that any one would stand up in the House and say, that because the Chinese were, as some persons alleged, cruel, uncivilized, and many more such things, on that account it was justifiable to inflict upon them violence that was not necessary or excessive. However, the argument of the hon. Member for Middlesex seemed to have been directed in 1762 that way. The hon. Gentleman made use of the word "ferocious;" he bad introduced it into the debate, and asked hon. Members if the cutting off of men's heads and attempting to poison the community of Hong Kong was not warfare of a sufficiently ferocious character. But he (Mr. Henley) would ask, was not the commencement of those ferocities the bombardment of Canton? [Mr. B. OSBORNE, No, no!] The hon. Member for Middlesex said "no, no!" but he (Mr. Henley) said "yes, yes!" This cutting off of heads, and those threats of poisoning, were long subsequent to the bombardment of Canton, the burning down of the suburbs and the slaughter of a number of people. It had been truly stated that the question turned upon the construction of the treaty. The complaint was that a vessel had been boarded, the flag hauled down, and an arrest of some of the crew made in violation of the 9th Article of the treaty. The person who made the arrest was applied to; but he referred the matter to higher authorities, and a correspondence took place between the High Commissioner and Consul Parkes. Sir John Bowring informed the Consul that the vessel had no right to the British flag—no right to be protected, and that she was not entitled at all to be considered a British vessel. But some time after that, and with a full knowledge that Sir John Bowring did not consider the vessel entitled to protection, Mr. Consul Parkes claimed redress from the Chinese governor for the boarding of this vessel, under the 9th Article of the treaty. A correspondence, attended with no satisfactory result followed, and was continued until the 23rd or 24th of October, with no satisfactory result; and then the British authorities commenced reprisals by seizing a Chinese junk, and they afterwards took and destroyed three or four forts, mounting 200 guns, and so ended the first stage of the hostilities. Now, supposing—though they had Sir John Bowring's own statement to the contrary—that the Arrow was entitled to all the protection of a British vessel, were not these proceedings reprisal enough for the injury committed in the case of the Arrow? But it had been said in the course of the debate that the French and American authorities at Canton approved of the course pursued by the British representatives. However, no hon. Member had ventured to assert that when French and American authorities approved of what was done, they were aware of the declaration of 1763 Sir John Bowring that this vessel was not entitled to British protection. Unless they were prepared to state that the French and American authorities had the whole case before them, their approbation went for nothing, inasmuch as it was an opinion on a case of the facts of which they were not informed. What was the American view of this case? It happened that a much greater insult than any that could be supposed in this case had been offered to the American flag; for an American man-of-war's boat was fired on by the Chinese while the American flag was flying, and there was not, nor could not be, any allegation that the boat was not an American boat. Those who were in her were obliged to save their lives by putting back. Yet what was the course which the American authorities deemed it proper to adopt under such circumstances? The American Commodore said that he would require reparation, and that, failing to obtain it, they would inflict becoming punishment on the Chinese, and would reserve the consideration of future measures. He (Mr. Henley) thought that that was a spirited and, at the same time, a prudent course; and it was pretty well known that the revolver and bowie knife were in such frequent use amongst their American brethren that they were not the people to be particularly slow in obtaining redress for wrongs inflicted upon them. He (Mr. Henley) thought that the destruction of the forts by the British forces was a sufficient punishment for the insult offered to the British flag; but the question was complicated by further demands on the part of the British authorities. The affair of the Arrow having brought our agents and all the Chinese authorities into collision, Sir John Bowring directed Mr. Parkes to raise the vexatio question as to the entrance of foreigners into Canton under the treaty. The Admiral disclaimed to make that a question when the matter was placed in his hands, but for some reason or other he raised another question, which, though closely connected with the first, was not in his (Mr. Henley's) opinion necessarily contained in it. The Admiral did not ask for the admission of British merchants or foreign people generally into Canton, but he demanded the right of entry for official people, for the purposes of official intercourse with the Chinese Government. To his (Mr. Henley's) unlearned mind it was not clear that that was a treaty right; he had very considerable doubt of it, because 1764 in the treaty were regulations for the conducting of official correspondence, and when details like that were gone into in the treaty, it was very extraordinary that there should be no regulations concerning personal official conferences, if such had been contemplated. At all events, he could not, in the papers before him, see anything which would lead him to think that it was just or politic to proceed to enforce the right which the Admiral asserted by the bombardment and other hostile movements that had been resorted to. Great exception had been taken on the other side of the House to the distinction drawn, in the course of the debate, between the officials engaged in these hostile proceedings. But while averse to such distinctions, when made with the view of casting obloquy on one person rather than on another, he thought that in a case like the present distinction was justifiable. The papers before the House did, to his mind, show irresistibly that two out of the three parties concerned for our Government in China had stated as a fact one thing which they knew to be untrue. Under these circumstances, he felt that it was only an act of justice to the third party to say, that the papers on the table did not afford a shadow of proof that Sir Michael Seymour was aware of those shameful untruths. It was as clear to him (Mr. Henley) as the sun at noon-day that Sir John Bowring and Mr. Consul Parkes had asserted in formal documents to the Chinese a thing to be lawful which they had said in other documents under their own hands was not lawful. Sir John Bowring said to the Chinese that a vessel was entitled to British protection which under his own hand he had declared was not entitled to that protection. He (Mr. Henley) therefore thought that, when an officer of great standing like Sir Michael Seymour appeared by the evidence not to have had any knowledge of such a state of things, it was but common justice to hold him acquitted of the falsehood. He rejoiced that no Member of the Government had attempted to deny that falsehood; it was one of the redeeming features of the debate that they had not attempted to do so. Much had been said of the effect of passing a Resolution of this kind on officials in foreign ports. He was entitled to say that Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House, had always shown a disposition to support the Government in its dealings with foreign States. He held that opinion 1765 as strongly as any man; but he did not think that the doctrine should be carried so far as to compel men to justify what they believed no circumstances could justify. What were matters that formed an exception to the rule? Downright, deliberate, and wilful untruth, which could only be designated by the name of falsehood, was what, in his opinion, could not be justified. He said also that the bringing of the horrors of war within a crowded city, on non-combatant defenceless women and children, was one of those things which it was almost impossible to justify. He would, if on his oath in a jury box, feel bound to declare that on the most strict and accurate reading that he was able to give to the official papers, he could not therein find any justification for what had lately been done in China. As he had before observed, for falsehood there could be no justification. He believed that if the things which had been done in China had, under similar circumstances, been done in London, the man guilty of them could not show his face in that House. There was another circumstance which proved to him that the Admiral was not very closely informed of what was doing by other parties. In one of his despatches to Consul Parkes, Sir John Bowring directed that if Governor Yeh proposed a reference to the Emperor, the reference should be refused. Now he (Mr. Henley) did not think that a very creditable order, seeing that one of the principal matters in dispute had been in abeyance since 1849, and that, consequently, the Government might well feel it necessary to refer to the Emperor in respect to that matter. What was the conduct of the Admiral, Sir Michael Seymour, after the letter of Sir John Bowring? The Admiral proceeded to take a second time some forts which the Chinese had again occupied; but before doing so, he wrote a letter to the Chinese commander, saying, that if he gave up the forts without fighting, he (the Admiral) would hold them in pledge, in the same condition as they then were, till—when?—till the matter could be referred to the Emperor. That fact showed that the Admiral was not guided by the same sentiments as those which seemed to actuate Sir John Bowring and Mr. Consul Parkes. To his mind distrust was thrown over every line of these gentlemen's communications, when he saw them deliberately and solemnly asserting a thing which they themselves had before written they knew to be 1766 untrue. Upon men who did that, no reliance could be placed for one moment. It was absolutely impossible that faith could be reposed in any of their representations. Moreover, their conduct was not attempted to be explained away in any part of the correspondence. It was not one loose assertion only, but had been asserted twice; and there was not a tittle of evidence in the blue-books to show that they thought they had formed their opinions wrongfully. True, they qualified their assertion by the statement that the Chinese did not know it. That, however, only made the matter worse, and themselves ten thousand times more guilty; and the fact still remained that they unblushingly assured the Chinese, in the name of their country, of what they knew to be untrue. He had looked through the papers before the House with every disposition to see if he could find anything that would relieve him from the necessity of voting with the hon. Member for the West Riding. He felt all the inconvenience which might result from the adoption of the Motion, but he thought it had been very much exaggerated, inasmuch as every fresh day's arrival from China showed that all the evils which could possibly ensue from a knowledge in that country two months hence of what had taken place in this House had already occurred. We had begun hostilities. We had drawn the sword without any of these warnings which civilized nations usually give. No war had been declared. We had murdered untold numbers of people, according to the translation of one of those Chinese papers, which carried upon the face of it evidence of its truth, and by the last accounts the Chinese were in their turn beginning to murder us. We complained that they had resorted to poison and assassination; but had they no right to complain also of our having thrown shells among non-combatants and unoffending people? We had no reliable information as yet with regard to what was doing at the other four ports; but he thought it was the, duty of her Majesty's Government to give the House some information as to the measures they had adopted for the security and protection of British interests at those ports. It was quite clear, however, that the Chinese had taken what we had done as a declaration of war. It was as clear as the sun at noonday that they would be justified in doing all they could against us in the way of seizing our property, sinking and burning our 1767 ships, and killing our people. War had fairly begun without a declaration. We had burnt their war junks, taken all their forts, destroyed al their guns, shelled their non-combatant people, and burnt the suburbs of their city. They in retaliation had burnt our factories. How were we to know what security the English people enjoyed at Ningpo, Shanghai, and the other ports, where the Chinese would be equally justified in burning our ships and seizing our property. For his part, he saw no earthly reason why they should not: and if they were actuated by the common feelings of men, seeing their country treated as it was, they would inevitably do so. Looking at the Correspondence, he could come to no other conclusion than that Sir John Bowring would never have adopted the policy he had pursued unless he had received a pretty sure intimation that it was a line of conduct that would be considered just and politic by the Government at home. When he observed the great increase that had taken place in our naval force in the China seas, and saw by the last accounts that gun-boats were expected out, it appeared to him as if there were a kind of foreknowledge on the part of the Government that hostilities were likely to take place; and if they had that foreknowledge, surely the mercantile community had a right to expect adequate protection at the other ports. He (Mr. Henley) hoped they had that protection. It is stated in one of the papers that British interests appear to be safe at those places; and one of the Governors is reported to have used the expression that "every man should sweep his own floor." But though a subordinate Governor may use such language, it is very possible he may receive from the central authority orders not only to look after his own floor, but to take charge of those of his neighbours: and if so, British interests may suffer very materially in those quarters. He thought, also, that this House had some right to hear from the Government an explanation of what was so pertinently asked for by the noble Lord the Member for London, at an early period of the debate, namely, their future intentions with regard to China. As yet, however, not a single Member of the Government had given the least intimation of what the future line of policy was to be. Of course, it was not to be expected that, with Chinese exactness, they would state what were the precise terms which they 1768 mean to exact; but he thought the House had a right to be informed, as the matter was one of great gravity and not likely to pass away like a summer cloud, what was the probable course the Government meant to pursue. He could not sit down without referring to the great pain which it had given him to be obliged to express an opinion adverse to men who were serving their country in a distant part of the earth. Nothing could have induced him to do so but circumstances so strong as those which he had stated to the House. He felt that no choice was left to him, for the Government having, by the approbation they had given to the acts of our authorities in China, identified themselves with every thing that had taken place there, it was impossible that they could consider the fitness and propriety of that approbation, without discussing the acts to which it was extended. No man could be more fully aware than he was of the consequences which might come from the adoption of the Resolution. He thought, however, that those consequences were the less to be apprehended, because all the evils which could possibly happen had already taken place. He did not hesitate for a moment, therefore, to take the responsibility upon himself of voting for the Motion of the hon. Member for the West Riding; for he could not consent to share the responsibility of a downright public falsehood, or the unnecessary shedding of innocent blood.
§ MR. E. C. EGERTON
said that it was with much pain that he had arrived at a conclusion how to give his vote on the Motion before the House, because by that vote he should separate himself on the present occasion from many of those hon. Members with whom it was his pleasure to live in habits of the closest political intimacy and friendship. He could not share in the feelings which influenced the hon. Member for Cornwall (Mr. Kendall) in giving his vote; neither could he enter into any of the reasons which that hon. Gentleman had assigned for the course which he should adopt that night. It was equally his desire to avoid touching upon the legal merits of the question. They had been discussed until the House must be thoroughly weary of the subject. Whether the Arrow was a British registered vessel or not; whether Sir John Bowring had exercised the amount of moderation and discretion which it was natural to look for in a high public character, the representative 1769 of important British interests abroad; whether the amount of reparation exacted at the hands of the Chinese was more than sufficient for the injuries they had inflicted—all these were questions which he should forbear inquiring into. They had been discussed with so much ability and at such length that it would be superfluous and impertinent in him to offer any remarks respecting them. The simple question he had to ask himself was, what would be the practical effect of the Resolution if it were adopted by the House? And he confessed that he could not shut his ears or his eyes to what had been stated by practical men in that House. They heard last night from an hon. Gentleman (Mr. Robertson), whose long acquaintance with China made him a good judge of those matters, that the state of things was dangerous in the extreme, and that if it went forth to the people of China, and to the British Admirals and forces now employed in checking the hostile proceedings of the Chinese, that this House sympathised in any way with the acts of the Chinese authorities at Canton, he did believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had not used the language of exaggeration when he said that neither British life nor property would be safe in that country. It was that consideration, and that alone, which made him give his vote most unhesitatingly to the Government on the present occasion. There were large interests at stake—large mercantile interests—which were every day being developed into greater and greater importance between China and this country. He had hoped, however, that they would have heard from the noble Lord at the head of the Government that it was his intention to satisfy public opinion by recalling Sir John Bowring, and sending out some Plenipotentiary whose known character and great weight might bring the question to a fair settlement—for a settlement the country must have, sooner or later. We were now involved in a war, which he feared might be a disastrous war for some time. It was impossible for us to stay our hand at the present moment, and however averse we might be to the horrors of war, he did believe that severity in the first instance was very often mercy in the end. The hon. mover of the Resolution had, he believed, most conscientious objections to war of all kinds. He was the only Member of this House who had stood up in his place and opposed the prosecution of a war which to the whole of 1770 this House, with the exception of the hon. Member himself and two or three others, and to the whole of the people out of doors, appeared to be a most just and necessary war. If, because Sir John Bowring had committed very great indiscretion, and there had been some severities exercised in the first instance, we now stayed our hands, he felt sure that the trade of the country would suffer to a most serious extent. In the first portion of his Resolution the hon. Member for the West Riding asked the House to decline expressing an opinion on the conduct of the Chinese Government as regarded the non-fulfilment of the treaty of 1842; but then he went on to say that he thought the papers which had been laid before the House failed to establish satisfactory grounds for the course we had adopted in the matter of the Arrow. Now he (Mr. Egerton) was of opinion that what had been stated in this House, and what they had read elsewhere, was sufficient to show that the Chinese had no character for honesty or fair dealing, and that the whole course of their conduct since 1840 had been marked by bad faith and duplicity towards this country. And it was in the full belief that the Resolution, if carried, would fetter the hands of those who in distant countries had a difficult and dangerous task to perform, that he should content himself, in sitting down, with expressing his firm opposition to the Motion of the hon. Member, and his intention to vote with her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. J. G. PHILLIMORE
said, that he regretted the vote he was about to give; but he protested that it was not to be attributed to any other motives than such as should influence a person who endeavoured conscientiously and to the best of his ability to come to a just decision on the papers laid before Parliament. He, therefore, assured the House that the vote he was about to give would not be given in pursuance of party bias or political feeling. He was oppressed by the weight of responsibility which must attach to every one, however humble, who lent his support to manifest injustice, and though no one thought more highly than he did of party ties, there were questions of such transcendent magnitude as to be beyond their reach. But before stating his reasons for his vote, he wished to make a few comments on the singular and audacious speech of the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne). The hon. Member told them that the House ought to consider itself a jury, 1771 and he certainly proceeded to address them as if they were a jury of the most ordinary description, for his speech did not contain one word which bore on the grave subject submitted to their decision; but jokes (as to the good taste of which there might be difference of opinion), and misrepresentations of the most obvious facts, and allusions to the character of the Chinese, constituted the whole argument by which he endeavoured to divert the House from the consideration of a question which all must be anxious properly to understand. Nobody admired more than he the play and corruscation of wit in its proper place, but he much regretted that any wit, bordering very closely on buffoonery, should be introduced on such an occasion to bias the decision of the House; neither did he think that the learned Judge of the Admiralty Court would be much flattered, when he saw that the hon. Member had imputed to him the speech of one of the most virulent Tories, and most uncompromising supporters of a corrupt and incapable Government, uttered in defence of one of the most flagitious actions that ever brought disgrace upon the name of England, the seizure of the Danish fleet. He would not dwell on the legal question, but should content himself with stating his conviction that in point of law the Chinese were completely right. The licence was mere waste paper from first to last; and even if it had been valid from first to last, it could not make the ship a British ship. One topic was sufficient to prove that position. They were told there was a nominal owner; if the vessel was entitled to the privileges of a British ship, where was the necessity for a nominal owner? The Attorney General, in his able speech, said Sir John Bowring might be excused for not knowing the law when Lord Lyndhurst and Lord Wensleydale had differed on it; but Sir John's own letters showed he knew the law, but acted in direct opposition to it. A noble Lord had advanced the proposition that no matter what the vessel was, if she carried the British flag, she was entitled to protection in the name of the law of nature and of nations. He denied such a monstrous doctrine. If there had been an error of judgment, he could have sympathised with it; and unless he had traced a deliberate intention on the part of Sir John Bowring to provoke a quarrel, he would not give the vote he was about to give. From the beginning to the end of the papers there was evidence of a ludicrous anxiety on the 1772 part of Sir John Bowring to procure admission for himself into Canton. For what were they at war? They were at war because the offended dignity of Sir John Bowring had not been sufficiently appeased by the manner in which his demand for the return of the men had been substantially complied with. First of all they said none of the men would be returned—all but two were returned: then they said all must be returned—all were returned; but the mandarin who brought them back was not of sufficient rank, so that in fact they were at war because the mandarin who returned the men was not a mandarin of sufficient rank. Was it possible to justify a war based on such frivolous grounds? One of the arguments of the Lord Advocate struck him as being very singular. It was this,—that as the injury which had been done to us by the Chinese authorities was very trifling that was precisely the reason why we should punish them severely, for that was the only way to deal with Orientals. That argument reminded him (Mr. J. Phillimore) of the Duke of Buckingham's impromptu reply to a foolish verse:—My wound is great because it is so small."—Then t'would be greater were it none at all.The House had been warned that the passing a vote of censure upon, the Government would lead to results in China exceedingly prejudicial to British interests there; but would the adoption of the Motion prevent the noble Lord at the head of the Government from doing what was requisite for the protection of those interests? The hon. Member for Middlesex denied that Canton had been bombarded at all. Had he read the address of the inhabitants of the city? He would read one passage from it:—You do not remember that our authorities are subject to promotion, translation, and similar changes of office, which may remove them from Kwang-tung; in the twinkling of an eye its whole establishment may be changed. But the native trader has been here, generation after generation, from father to son, from grandsire to grandson, for hundreds and thousands of years, without interruption of the line. You do not reflect upon the distant future, that to inflict injury on the Canton people is to make enemies of thousands and millions of men; that the longer the feud endures the deeper rooted it will be; that the more protracted the struggle, the more impetuous will be the zeal for it. Is it in your power to go the extreme length of injury that can be inflicted?Could it be said that a conciliatory vote would inflame and exasperate? It was 1773 said, right or wrong Sir John Bowring must be supported; then what was the use of putting the blue-books into their hands, unless they were to pronounce a judgment on the facts contained in them. But it seems all this is done to conciliate the Chinese, the yells and shrieks of the miserable artizans flying from their blazing houses, the gnashings of the teeth—to use the emphatic language of Commissioner Yeh—of a population exasperated to frenzy—these are to be the harbingers of a closer intercourse, to inspire a taste for our manners, and to create a demand for our manufactures—civilization, nay, according to some, Christianity herself is to force her way over the levelled breach and the crumbling rampart, amid the clash of bayonets and the thunder of artillery. Why, since the days of Pharaoh, whose understanding was darkened as his foolish heart was hardened, had there ever been an instance of such infatuation? Are we so pedantic as to suppose because the Chinese differ from us in some of the forms of social intercourse, because personal vanity and the appetite for frivolous distinction is gratified among them by a peacock's feather instead of a baronetcy, or by a double button instead of a blue riband, that the feelings which the great Creator of European and Asiatic has implanted in the hearts of all to whom he has vouchsafed the form of man as securities against oppression, do not glow in their bosoms as well as in our own? Do we suppose that Chinese mothers do not weep their sons?—that the Chinese bride will look with kindness on him who has slain the husband of her youth? Or that the Chinese father, when he sees the ruins of his home, and the mutilated limbs of his children, will not cherish an inextinguishable hatred against the author of his wrongs? The feeling engendered by such wrong would rankle and fester long after the occasion had passed away. The Vice President of the Board of Trade had asked the House whether they would be insensible to the dishonour done to the English flag? There was no man in the House or country so abject as not to be tenacious of the honour of their flag. To couple the word dishonour with our flag was to impose on their judgment, and excite a tumult of feelings, and must prevent them from coming dispassionately to the consideration of any subject. The English flag had, indeed, been dishonoured, but by whom? It had 1774 been dishonoured when it was made a shelter for banditti, for smugglers, and for pirates, the enemies of human intercourse: it was dishonoured when it carried terror to the helpless, and destruction to the innocent. It was because he would not be an accomplice in that dishonour, and because he wished, as far as in him lay, to show that the act of an upstart and arrogant Minister would not be approved of by a generous, moral, and high spirited people, that he had determined (he confessed with some reluctance) to support the Resolutions of the hon. Member for the West Riding.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he was anxious to remove a misapprehension which had been created by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. Whilst listening to that speech he was almost led to believe that we had declared war in the name of the civilization, and bombarded cities in the name of humanity. The right hon. Gentleman stated that no injury had been done to the city of Canton by the proceedings of Her Majesty's forces. Now he (Mr. Cochrane) happened to have in his possession information derived from those who had visited the city of Canton in person on two or three different occasions, and he might, therefore, take the liberty of informing the House what was the position of the city of Canton; the House would then he able to judge for itself how much damage must have been done to the city by the proceedings of our forces there. Canton contained about a million and a half of inhabitants, who were confined in a space of about one fourth that the same number of inhabitants occupied in this metropolis. The streets were so narrow that in most of them there was scarcely room for two persons to pass each other, and the city itself was in the same relative position to its suburbs that London was to Westminster and other districts. The papers which had been laid before the House showed that Canton had been bombarded at intervals for a period of six weeks. He would put it to the House, then, whether it was reasonable to imagine that a bombardment could be carried on against a city so circumstanced without causing enormous destruction to the life and property of the inhabitants. But he owned that he was perfectly astonished tonight when he heard from the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Bernal Osborne) that there had been no bombardment of Canton. He at once looked to the dispatch 1775 of Consul Parkes of November 5th, and, in that despatch he found it stated that the bombardment had then lasted three days. But the fact was that, off and on, the bombardment must have lasted for six weeks. It commenced on the 29th of October. On the 5th of November, Mr. Parkes wrote that it had lasted three days; and on the 15th of December, Sir Michael Seymour wrote thus:—"We are beginning to shell the city from the Dutch Folly." He (Mr. Cochrane) did not, of course, suppose that the siege operations were carried on all that time; but during a period of six weeks it was evident that the inhabitants of Canton were, off and on, subject to the bombardment. Yet, in the face of that fact, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Home Office told the House that in the proceedings of Her Majesty's forces every precaution had been taken to protect the lives and properties of the inhabitants. The right hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. Sydney Herbert) had quoted a passage from that admirable biography, The Life of Sir Charles Napier—and the hon. Member for Middlesex had attempted to cast ridicule upon that quotation; but there was another passage in that work which he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) would quote; it was that where the gallant General said that war could not be carried on with rose-water any more than revolutions, but the great thing is to be sure that you are right and justified by circumstances. It was a terrible thing, said he, to carry on an unjust war. And the gallant General in another passage said:—"We have taken Beyrout. It is sad work, for it is a cruel thing to batter clown a town full of men and women, bedridden old persons, and sick; there is a terrible responsibility in firing upon any except troops." Every Member of that House must concur abstractedly with that expression of opinion of Sir C. Napier; and, however they might view the question because of reasons connected with party, or because of an apprehended dissolution of Parliament, or other causes which should not find a place in the discussion of such a subject, he was sure that there was not one hon. Member in the House whoso feelings of humanity did not cause him to tremble at the terrible responsibility of firing upon any but troops. There was another argument which he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had also heard with astonishment—although it was the only one which could really be brought forward in support of the course taken in China—he meant that repeated 1776 by the hon. Member for Middlesex, that the people of China were not to be treated as a civilized people. A speech of the Emperor of the French to the French Legislature on a recent occasion stated that civilization marched on like an army demanding their victims and its sacrifices, He (Mr. Bailie Cochrane) would lament it were so. It was the only argument, however, that could at all be adduced on the other side, and it was a terrible argument; but he denied its principle. The Government were, however, shut out from that argument, for this country, in fact, had had treaties with the Chinese, the same as with any civilized people; and under other Ministers than the present a far different policy towards that nation had been adopted. As regarded Sir John Bowring's conduct in the case, he had known Sir John Bowring when he was a Member of that House, and he was impressed with the conviction that he was actuated almost entirely by a feeling of vanity. Chateaubriand had said of a man that while he wore the cap of liberty in Mexico, he wore the turban in Constantinople; and the same might with equal justice be said of Sir John Bowring in this case, for his acts were the acts of a tyrant at Canton, whatever his doctrines might have been in this country. The question at issue, however, did not depend on the personal character or conduct of Sir John Bowring or Sir Michael Seymour or Consul Parkes. The House was called on to decide if the policy pursued in China was a just, a truthful, and a truly national policy. He (Mr.Baillie Cochrane) thought that the conduct of her Majesty's Government in the East was one which was consistent neither with truth nor humanity, but was on the contrary, such as ought to call forth feelings of indignation; and he, therefore, should support the Motion.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
said, he would briefly explain the grounds on which he meant to vote against the Motion before the House. Hon. Gentlemen who had lately addressed the House had dwelt with particular emphasis upon the indiscriminate nature of the bombardment of Canton, and the horrors to which it gave rise. Now, he was anxious to draw the attention of hon. Members to two extracts from the blue-books before them, which went to show the truth of what had already been asserted on the part of Government, namely, that the bombardment was not an indiscriminate bombardment of an innocent and defenceless 1777 city, but that it was confined to the public buildings and places of that description.It is a subject of congratulation that no conflagration has attended the bombardment of the last three days, and, though it is impossible to estimate at this distance the extent of the destruction caused by our guns, there is reason to believe that this has been mainly limited to the public building's at which attack has been aimed.Her Majesty's ship Barracouta had previously moved up to a position abreast of the heights at the back of the city, where, to judge from the number of the tents, a considerable force had encamped. She threw shell at these, and at the foot of the heights, but with limited effect.He would now pass to the general question before the House, and in doing so he must express his entire concurrence with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich and other hon. Gentlemen who had described the act the Legislature was about to perform as strictly of a judicial character. The Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding could not, he thought, be regarded otherwise than as a vote and motion of censure first upon the Government, who had done nothing of the acts which were the grounds of complaint, and then upon our representatives abroad, who had really done these things. They were called upon to declare that Sir John Bowring had, without a shadow of justification, and as the result of his own personal feelings, been guilty of the greatest atrocities known in modern times. The act which the House had to perform being a judicial one, and involving a censure upon a gentleman who had sat there for many years as a representative of the people, and whose present appointment was the reward of a long public career, it was incumbent upon hon. Members, before pronouncing judgment, to place themselves individually in the circumstances in which Sir John Bowring was placed, to study all the bearings of the subject, to make themselves acquainted with the position in which he stood with regard to the Chinese authorities, to inform themselves of the character of the Chinese people, and to take into consideration all those attendant circumstances which rendered Sir John Bowring's position one of so peculiar and difficult a nature. It has been said that to Sir John Bowring's personal arrogance was due much of the recent rupture with the Chinese. That assertion was, in his opinion, very strong; and he thought that the hon. Member who had censured his 1778 conduct had excluded from his consideration—had absolutely ignored all those circumstances which had the most important bearings on the case. While no term of reproach and ignominy had been spared Sir John Bowring, and the merchants of Canton had had their share of censure, the Chinese in general and Commissioner Yeh in particular had been held up as models of simple purity and innocence. They thus started wrong on what ought to be a judicial investigation, and he could not but express his conviction that such a mode of proceeding would certainly lead the House to a wrong conclusion. Since that House had existed as a branch of the Legislature such a motion of censure had never been submitted to its consideration. It was monstrously unjust in its terms, and unjust, from what the hon. Member (Mr. Cobden) would perhaps call its moderation. The hon. Gentleman asked the House that, without expressing any opinion how far the Chinese had given cause of complaint by their nonfulfilment of the treaty of 1842, they should declare that the papers before the House did not furnish satisfactory grounds for the measures taken in the case of the Arrow—the hon. Gentleman should have added to the Motion as it stood upon the paper, "carefully excluding from their consideration every fact and circumstance which ought to govern their judgment." There could be no other interpretation of the malicious moderation of the Motion than that. The hon. Baronet the Member for Herts (Sir Bulwer Lytton) had said, "Let British commerce approach simple nations not only with justice, but with justice arrayed in her mildest attributes." That was no doubt a beautiful sentiment, beautifully expressed; but he could furnish the hon. Baronet with a much better lay-figure whereon to hang his rhetorical drapery. Need he remind the House that under the treaty of 1842 we had a right to enter the city of Canton, and that from that hour to the present there was not a moment at which we had not sufficient strength at our command to enforce that right? Nevertheless, from that time until now, we, in common with every other European nation, had been patiently knocking at the gates of Canton, when all had the right and the power to enforce the claim to admission. Did not, he would ask, those fifteen years of endurance afford a signal; proof of the forbearance of Great Britain? It was said respecting the Arrow that, in point of law, we were in the wrong; but, after listening to all the arguments on both 1779 sides, he (Mr. T. Chambers) had come to the conclusion that we were in the right, and that the Arrow was entitled to British protection. Under any circumstances, it was perfectly clear that Yeh did not know but that the Arrow was entitled to that protection. (Hear.) He understood those cheers; but did hon. Gentlemen mean to say that no argument was to be founded on that circumstance? He (Mr. T. Chambers) contended that the importance of the question lay, not in the thing done, but in the moral and political significance attaching to it. It was not that twelve men were taken away, but that a public offence was studiously given to the British Government, and a wrong offered to the British flag, in the face of a people who would be, and were intended to be, greatly influenced by it. It was, therefore, asked that the reparation should be of such a character as exactly to meet and avenge the moral affront, and it was exactly that which had been refused. Yeh was willing to do everything to replace matters in statu quo, but he would not, by restoring the twelve men in the same public manner in which he had taken them away, offer reparation to the British flag, and do away the mischievous moral effect of his unjustifiable proceedings. Who, he would ask, were the witnesses we should call if we desired to come to a correct verdict on this point? The British merchants, of all human beings, must be interested in this question. An hon. Member actually stated that they had an interest in getting up the war because they would have an opportunity of supplying the army engaged in it; but that was too absurd an argument to address to a rational assembly. The British merchants supplied 50,000,000 of customers with that necessary of life, tea; and the war with China would almost put an end to that trade. Did that give them an interest in keeping up these hostilities? He should have thought that if any single man had an interest in maintaining peace with China it was the British merchant, whose trade in this important article would not only be suspended, but destroyed. Why, also, had they not called the English residents in China, who, whatever was their shade of politics, or their opinions on other matters, unanimously approved of all that had taken place? Why had they omitted to call those who had recently left China, and knew the state of things there, and the character of the people? Because, although they were all interested by way of trade in 1780 keeping peace with China, their testimony would have been against the Motion of the hon. Member for the West Riding. Those who supported the Government thought that the evidence of these persons ought to have been taken. He next asked, what was the policy which should be pursued when these hostilities had once broken out? It was impossible to say that the lorcha was the cause of what had happened. Nobody ever contended that it was. It was, no doubt, the occasion of hostilities, as the last drop put into a cup of water made it run over; but the storm had been collecting ever since the treaty was made—ever since 1842. For a long time the Chinese Government—not the Chinese people—had shown a determined hostility towards the British Government, and this made it material that these proceedings should be taken even in the case of the lorcha—[Mr. COBDEN: Mention one case in which the Government have been insulted]. He had promised not to read the blue-books; and would not be induced to break his promise, even on the appeal of the hon. Gentleman; but he would ask hon. Members whether any person could read the papers without feeling perfectly satisfied that it was the policy of the Chinese Commissioner Yeh to stir up the fanaticism of the Chinese people against the British? The testimony of all the English residents, and of all those who had at any time had dealings at Canton, was to the same effect; and these persons unanimously approved all that had been done by our officials in this affair, although a state of war was the worst thing that could happen for the interests of their trade. The House had already been told of the edicts against the life of the British which had been posted up on the city walls. The hon. Member for the West Riding had treated the question before the House on a narrow basis, but the people of England would judge of it on broad principles; they were overwhelmingly against the hon. Member, and he trusted the House would also be so. If the views and opinions expressed by the hon. Member were correct, his Resolution was miserably inadequate for the occasion; for no language could be too strong to describe the proceedings at Canton, viewed in the light in which he had spoken of them. If the conduct of Sir John Bowring admitted of no justification, no palliation, no excuse, no explanation, then he (Mr. T. Chambers) should have been prepared, if he agreed with the hon. Member, to propose a Motion, every word 1781 of which would have been a superlative, for the purpose of condemning what had taken place. It was quite as gross a misrepresentation to use an intentional inadequate expression as to enunciate an opinion of erroneous opinion. When it was intended, after a long debate, to pass the stern judicial censure of the House upon the Government, a Motion of this kind, simply stating that the papers failed to disclose a satisfactory ground for commencing hostilities, was a false Motion, and miserably inadequate to the occasion. As a vote of censure nothing could be weaker than this Motion. On these grounds, he entertained not the slightest doubt that it was his duty to support the Government. He believed that the hon. Member for the West Riding had brought forward the Motion honestly and candidly; but then that hon. Member was an opponent of war under all circumstances, and he ought no more to be heard as a witness in the present case than a man who entertained strong views against capital punishment ought to be placed upon a jury which had to try a man for his life—
§ MR. COBDEN
I beg the hon. Member's pardon—he is making assertions as to my views, which are totally unfounded in truth. I believe I hold precisely the same opinions as the hon. and learned Member himself professes to hold with regard to the subject he has mentioned.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
said he had no wish to misrepresent the views of the hon. Member, and would retract what he had said upon the matter. That did not, however, diminish his objections to his Motion. There was a most extraordinary union of parties in support of the hon. Member's Motion. Sir John Bowring had been censured in the strongest terms by men who were responsible for his appointment and the position he held. But he thought the Motion was not either broad enough or hard enough to hammer the new coalition upon. It seemed almost to have been framed for that purpose; but he would not say so, for he could scarcely believe that such a course would be taken upon a question of this kind, which was admitted to be a judicial one. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford would tell them what he thought about these proceedings, seeing that he was virtually responsible for the appointment of Sir John Bowring. He must have had a good opinion of him or he would not have appointed him to the post which he held; 1782 and he (Mr. Chambers) could not believe that he would concur in the sentiments which had been uttered with regard to that gentleman by hon. Members who supported the Motion. He should himself give his vote with great pleasure for the Government, thinking that Sir John Bowring had, under very painful and difficult circumstances, acted as became the representative of England.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
Sir, at this period of the debate, and at this time of the night, I assure the House that I am neither going to trouble them with a long speech nor with any remarks upon the legal aspect of the case. We have been told that we ought to approach this subject in a judicial state of mind. We have just had, Sir, a specimen of the judicial spirit in which it is discussed by a Judge himself. It appears to me that this Motion is really one of censure, and in that light I at once accept it. I mean by my vote boldly to express that censure, and not simply to censure the persons who have been acting at Canton, but the noble Lord and his colleagues who sit upon the Ministerial bench. I will tell the House why I do so. The blue-books that have been laid upon the table detail the acts committed at Canton. We have been told in this House that the responsibility of all those acts is accepted by Her Majesty's Government, and that they mean to defend them. I say, then, that we are now called upon to pass over the subordinates, and to fix the responsibility where it ought to rest—namely, upon the shoulders of the Administration. It has been said that there is a wonderful coalition, and those who take the course I intend to pursue are accused of party motives. I thought, Sir, that my conduct through life would have freed me from the imputation of supporting any party. I have, unfortunately, as I thought, been compelled to oppose all parties, and I never formed a coalition with anybody. On this occasion, therefore, I may be considered to act according to my wont, and that it will be believed I am now coming forward to blame the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) and his colleagues because I think them deserving of censure. It is to me matter of utter insignificance whether the noble Lord sits on the opposite benches or on those which he and his supporters now occupy. I have only to inquire whether the acts of the Government redound to the honour of England, and upon that issue I am determined to vote. Now, Sir, 1783 England holds a very peculiar position among the nations. In Europe we are the only great people who have what is called constitutional Government, and every act of ours that is condemned by mankind is brought forward as an evidence against liberal institutions. Thus are we judged in Europe; but in Asia the case is different. We are the only great people in the western world who possess large Eastern dominions. All our acts in those dominions are judged by a different standard, and if they are found fault with it is said, "This is significant of western civilization and of Christianity." So that our acts in Europe are cited against liberal institutions, and our acts in the East against western civilization and Christianity. I say, then, that it behoves us as Englishmen seriously to consider what we do. We are acting not merely before one part of the world, but before the whole world. There is this additional circumstance to be considered:—If we were under a despotism it might be said, "The people are not to blame; the fault is with their governors;" but the liberal institutions of England enable us to blame our governors, and therefore if we do not blame them we take upon ourselves the responsibility of their acts. In such a case the dishonour—if there be dishonour—of their acts reverts from the noble Lord and his colleagues upon the people of England, and it is in their name that I raise my voice against the transactions in China. I will not treat this question upon the narrow ground on which it has been placed. I listened to the observations of the hon. and learned Attorney General, and it struck me that he did indeed speak as a lawyer. He spoke as if he had a retaining fee and a brief. He holds a brief for the defendants in a "running down" case. That, Sir, is not the way in which this question ought to be treated. It ought to be treated upon the great principles of humanity; and supposing everything urged in support of these transactions to be true—supposing the law to be as it has been stated—I ask, are the people of England prepared to take upon themselves the responsibility of these acts of revenge for the infraction of the law? The issue is a simple one. I at once acknowledge, if hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House desire it, that the police force at Canton were wrong in boarding a vessel bearing the English flag; but it should be borne in mind that 1784 if they were wrong, great luminaries of the law in this country were wrong also. And will you punish the unfortunate people of Canton for an action which has been considered right by some of the greatest lawyers in England? I wish hon. Gentlemen would suppose that these transactions took place in the city of Liverpool and the Mersey, for I have found that Englishmen, and western people generally, have one rule of morality for the west and another for the east. Indeed, that principle has been put boldly forward in this House; but, in my opinion, the rule of morality extends over the globe, and what is just and unjust in the Mersey, is equally just or unjust in the river before Canton. The Attorney General has acknowledged that by the law of civilized nations, if a merchant vessel appear in the waters of a foreign country, and it is supposed that a crime has taken place on board that vessel, the police of the State in whose waters she may be, have a right previous to any treaty, to board such vessel and to make inquiries. But the Attorney General said, "The Chinese have divested themselves of that right by a treaty with us, and therefore they cannot board ships upon which the British flag is flying." Suppose the scene of action to be Liverpool, and not Canton, and the foreign nation to be France. A vessel is lying off Liverpool manned by Englishmen, two of whom are known to be pirates. In the present state of the law the police of Liverpool could and would board that vessel. But we will suppose that the fortune of war had gone against us, and that we had entered into a treaty with France which prevented the police from boarding a French vessel. The police, seeing the flag of France flying, would say, "The mere hoisting of the flag does not give a character to the vessel. We believe she has no right to hoist the flag." They board the vessel; they ask for the captain; he is not there. Who are the crew? All Englishmen. The police ask, "Where are your papers?" The reply is, "We have none." I say the police would be justified in boarding that vessel. That is a clear and simple statement, and I should like to hear it answered. But in a case as to which lawyers differ—in which you have Lyudhurst on one side and Wensleydale on the other—you bring to bear upon a million and a half of people cooped up in a small town the whole power of the civilized English nation. Now, let me say a word 1785 or two about the maligned Chinese. They have been called barbarians, but it must not be forgotten that they call us barbarians. They are civilized, but their civilization is of a peculiar kind. [Laughter.] I understand the shallow minds who laugh at that expression. It is a peculiar civilization, and it is peculiar in this respect and no other, that they have not applied their intelligence to the art of war. Europe has done so; and if we were to judge of civilization by a knowledge of the art of war Russia would stand very high among civilized nations. I say China is a civilized nation after a peculiar fashion. It is not ours; but they are a civilized people; and I would ask any man who doubts it to judge of them by the papers in that blue-book. Compare the truculent manner in which the English papers are written with the papers of the Chinese. Mark the courtesy and intelligence that distinguish the latter, and let any impartial person—if such is to be found on the face of the earth—say which is the civilized man and which the barbarian. I would go still further, and say which is the man that professes the most humane and generous doctrines? We call ourselves a civilized people. We profess to be Christians and to be the friends of peace; and we sent out to China the Secretary of the Peace Society. The result you have before you. I hope that this is no indication of what we may expect from those Gentlemen who advocate peace in the abstract. That man has been sent to represent the people of this country. In his hands have been placed the honour of England. It was not the bunting flying over the mast of that vessel that was the symbol and the type of the honour of England, but it was our representative there. You talk about that flag being tarnished. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade on having turned to my hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding and said, "If that flag has been tarnished, I dare say the constituents of the hon. Gentleman can turn out a new one." "Turn out" is rather an ominous phrase in this debate. I cannot envy the state of mind that can so contemplate the conduct of our representative in that country. If that flag has been tarnished it has not been tarnished by the police of Canton pulling it down. That flag has been tarnished because it has been flying over the heads of men who have been engaged in that cruel mission, and 1786 who have been hurling shot and shell among defenceless people. The citizens of Canton have seen their dwellings cut up and destroyed; they have seen their relatives butchered by the wondrous civilization of England; their blood has flowed; and for what? All because it is said the flag of England has been tarnished by the police officers of Canton. This we have been told; but the hon. Gentleman, who has set us a judicial example, says, "No such thing; we did not go to war because of the conduct of these men on board the vessel—we went to war because of the long series of injuries we have suffered from the Chinese." Sir, that is what we say. We say that it was a foregone conclusion. You were determined to go to war whatever happened. You seized an opportunity when it presented itself. That you put forth as the cause of the war, and when driven from it by the force of argument you fall back upon a foregone conclusion, and say you went to war because the treaty was broken. I ask is this to support the honour of England? Having first maintained one thing you leave it when it is assailed, and take to another; and what is that? Why, we are told that the Chinese have broken the treaty. I want to know whether we have not broken our treaty? The people of China are said to be very barbarous because they will not admit us to their cities. Mark what is the reason. I said the civilization of China was a peculiar civilization. The Government of that country interferes much more with private life than ours. They call themselves the conservators of public morality, and in that character they say the use of opium among their people is contrary to their ideas of morality. They see an outside people very shrewd, and possessed of great powers, doing all they can to introduce into their country by smuggling what they call this most deleterious drug. That is contrary to their ideas of morality, and, therefore, they endeavour to prevent us entering into their cities. I have read the account of the expedition of Burns up the river Indus, and I shall give an incident that he has related. He says that some old men on the banks looked at his vessel as it passed upwards, and in a mournful voice they said, "our country is lost, for these men are going up the river." How true was that prophecy! Their country was lost, and has been annexed to our eastern dominions. The Chinese, looking on our 1787 progress in India, say we are an aggressive people—that where we plant our foot we extend our administration; they are afraid of us, and, therefore, they will not let us enter their cities. That is not my idea. The desire to enter China may be just and right, but the fact that they will not let us enter into their cities ought to be viewed by us with tenderness and respect. Suppose we heard that a foreign vessel came up the Thames and laid itself alongside the building in which we now are, and because certain men in Downing Street did not do exactly as they desired, that the crew should begin to batter down this and other buildings, would you think it right or just? If you transport yourselves to China and carry with you your ideas of morality, you would come to a different conclusion from that at which some of you have arrived. If I have not imagination enough to put myself in the position of the Chinese, I think I can understand what would be the feelings of the people of London, if London were so shelled by a people of superior civilization to ourselves. Why, London would be upturned. We should have this House not only mourned over, but revenged. Every man would be ready to sacrifice himself to destroy the barbarians, as we might call them, who had battered the city about our ears; and we should say of them that such conduct is indefensible, such conduct is ungenerous, such conduct is un-Christian, and deserving of the reprobation of this House.
Sir, I rise, in the first place, to answer the appeal made to me by the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) with regard to the appointment of Sir John Bowring. That appeal, so far as the hon. and learned Member is concerned, was naturally and justly made, because he was misled by the higher authority of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I complain of that speech in respect, not of sincerity only, but of justice, in so far as the appointment of Sir John Bowring is concerned; and I presume to complain on behalf of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London; for to make him responsible for the appointment of Sir John Bowring to high political and diplomatic position it was requisite to show more than the mere fact that he had considered him fit, from his commercial knowledge and his undoubted zeal and ability, to discharge 1788 the subordinate duties of the consulate. But I complain, also, on behalf of my right hon. Friends near me and myself, that a misapprehension has been created by the Secretary of State, who, if he did not know better, might have known better, and ought to have known better. The simple fact is, that neither my right hon. Friends near me nor myself were in any manner parties to the appointment of Sir John Bowring, and that we learned it, like the rest of the world, through the ordinary channels of information. There is, no doubt, a sort of responsibility so far as we are concerned, of which I am sure the candour of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford will lead him to see the just extent. That appointment was made, I am far from saying blameably, without the knowledge or consent of the Cabinet. It is not the usage or custom to require the consent of the Cabinet in such cases. It was made known to the head of the Government (the Earl of Aberdeen), and it was by the head of the Government allowed to pass, with a declaration that the consular services of Sir John Bowring would have given him a knowledge of China which might be useful—that he (Lord Aberdeen) was not intimate with Sir John Bowring nor conversant with his career—but that he knew Lord Clarendon to be conversant with both, and therefore he consented.
Now, Sir, as the name of Sir John Bowring must, unfortunately, recur from time to time through the whole course of these discussions, let me state that, as far as I am concerned, I entirely disclaim and repudiate the description which has been given by the hon. and learned Member of the issue we are now trying. He says that it is a judicial issue, that the case we are now trying is the individual case of Sir John Bowring, and that if a single doubt hangs upon that case it is our duty to acquit our representative in China. I protest, Sir, against thus making Sir John Bowring a stalking-horse to divert our attention from the real matters that are in issue. No doubt, the conduct of Sir John Bowring is involved in these discussions, but we are not trying Sir John Bowring judicially. It is our duty to be fair, just, and equitable towards him, but our prime and paramount duty is to consider the interests of humanity and the honour of England. I regret that, from motives which I do not doubt were nothing more than an excess of zeal for the public service, Sir John Bowring has been led into 1789 proceedings in themselves unwarrantable. But I am bound to express my candid conviction that the policy which Sir John Bowring has clumsily chosen his opportunity for carrying into effect was a policy not unknown to Her Majesty's Government, nor by them disapproved. I found myself in that statement upon matter palpable to us all—I found myself upon what was quoted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle—a letter from Lord Clarendon—from which it appeared to me to be distinctly established, that that which had in former years been expressly prohibited by successive Secretaries of State has how come in principle to be permitted. and that it was understood between Sir John Bowring and his official superiors, that although he was bound to use the best of his judgment in making choice of his occasion, yet he was to regard himself at liberty to prosecute his design of obtaining entry into Canton, and that in case of need the force of the British fleet was to be available for supporting him in that design. Therefore, Sir, it is not the case of Sir John Bowring that we are here trying; and far less, Sir, is it the case of Sir Michael Seymour. I am sorry to say that this is not a pleasant part of the question, and therefore I shall not dwell upon it; but I must remind the House that there has been no answer to the statement made last night by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Wilts (Mr. Sydney Herbert) who gave you a letter from Sir John Bowring to Sir Michael Seymour, in which, undoubtedly, the instruction of Ministers at home were communicated to Sir Michael Seymour, but—although I do not say they were intentionally garbled, because I have no right or disposition to believe it—they were made known to Sir Michael Seymour in such a form and in a manner so incomplete that they must have misled his judgment and have communicated to him an erroneous impression as to the views and intentions of the British Government. Sir, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department said it was sad to see upon these occasions—and it is sad to see—that the memory of long and confidential official intercourse and of arduous labours conjointly performed in the public service is not sufficient to restrain men from acrimonious and personal attacks. Sir, I am quite sure that the words which I am now going to quote fell unintentionally from my right hon. Friend, but, at the same time, as those words have been spoken, they 1790 ought to be noticed. I make no general charge of personalties against the Secretary of State for the Home Department; I do not hesitate to state my conviction that the words in question were used hurriedly and in the heat of debate; but my right hon. Friend did say when referring to the noble Lord the Member for the City of London:—I give him credit for that honesty of purpose and that depth of conviction which I know influence every action of his life. I wish that I could say as much—and I would gladly if I could—for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle.Sir, I submit to Her Majesty's Government—if it be necessary for me to submit it—that these were words which could hardly have represented the true feelings of the Secretary of State; but if they did represent his true feelings, they were words incompatible with the relations that ought to subsist between one Member of this House and another. But I pass, Sir, from these points to express the satisfaction with which I heard, towards the close of the speech of my right hon. Friend, his manly declaration that this was a question in which every man was bound to give his vote irrespective of party or political considerations. My right hon. Friend spoke out those words with warmth and sincerity, and I think it the duty of every one who follows him in debate to respond to his appeal. Sir, I have had the means of knowing the mind of many Members of this House with respect to the question before it, and I can truly say, that there is not one of them, at least within my knowledge, who is about to support the Motion of the hon. Member for the West Riding through the influence of party or political motives. It was the more creditable, Sir, on the part of my right hon. Friend to call upon us to apply this criterion, because, not presuming to judge the secret motives of men, but looking solely at their overt acts and plain declarations, I do not hesitate to say, that the negative of the Resolution will not stand the application of that test so well. We have heard the remarks of the hon. Members for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), and Cornwall (Mr. Kendall); and here let me say, that with regard to the charges of anti-Protestantism and democratism, of starving armies, and of everything base and vile, which it seems to be the pleasure of the hon. Member for Norfolk to hurl forth, I am far too sensible of the vast importance of the issues that are before us to 1791 claim the right which perhaps the indulgence of the House might concede of defending myself against those most dishonouring imputations. All these I pass by in silence; but on the votes of the hon. Members for West Norfolk and Cornwall I must comment as a Member of Parliament. They know what is going on; they know what is doing in China. They know that no inconsiderable portion of Canton has been in flames. They know that the troops which had been posted to defend the country against the rebels have, through stern necessity, been concentrated in that great capital. They know the consequences of that concentration—they know—for, without doubt, as was their duty, they have read the papers—thatThe removal of a military presence, such as it was, from the districts overrun last year by the Hak-ka men has exposed these to a repetition of a calamity in more aggravated form, and a very considerable tract of country is believed to be swept clean by the Hak-kas. One district has been seized, and its magistrate killed, and in several towns, small and great, that have been sacked, the inhabitants have been massacred wholesale, without distinction of sex or age.These things are known to the hon. Members for West Norfolk and Cornwall, and they think that they discharge their duty as Members of the British House of Commons when they frankly avow that the votes they are about to give upon this great question of humanity and justice are to be influenced not even by a desire to keep a Government in office—for that I could understand—but by a fear lest three insignificant Gentlemen who sit on this Bench should, through some fancied combination, find their way into power. Sir, I have the consolation of reflecting that, though the votes which the hon. Members thus tender cannot indeed be rejected by the Secretary of State for the Home Department—for it is not in his power to refuse them—yet the high nature of my right hon. Friend has prevented him from availing himself, even in a critical moment, of those votes without laying down a principle that utterly condemns them.
Now, Sir, there are some points that have been raised in these discussions which I pray the House to take note have been substantially abandoned or disposed of. It is very well to talk of the opinions of British merchants; but it has never been the practice of Parliament, when it has been dealing with questions in which a particular part of the community had a special 1792 and personal interest, even though that interest should be accompanied with the advantage of superior knowledge, to abdicate its own functions and to register its judgments according to the opinions of that class. I certainly, like the Secretary of State for the Colonies, am one of the last men in this House who either ought to feel or could by possibility feel a disposition to throw discredit upon the class from which I am sprung; but I utterly disclaim the notion that we are to bow to this species of authority, and say it is not according to the practice of Parliament. If it had been the practice of Parliament to govern its proceedings in cases where particular classes were greatly interested by the opinions of those classes, its deliberations would have taken a very different colour from that which they now wear. We certainly, when we were considering the Factory Bills, did not take as our paramount authority the opinions of the manufacturers. When we were considering the Corn Laws, we did not take as our paramount authority the opinion of the landed gentlemen. When we were considering the abolition of the slave trade we did not take as our paramount authority the voices of the Members for Liverpool; and if in 1833 the sentiments of the West India planters, with what they called their knowledge of the negro character, had been predominant, would emancipation have been given to the black population? Sir, the judgment of the merchants is an element in the case, but it does not discharge us of our responsibility to become ourselves the judges of that judgment, and to give sentence accordingly.
There is another charge which is sometimes made against these unfortunate Chinese, and which seems to exist in the minds of some persons—that they have a practice, when there is a competition for official situations, of preferring those who are supposed to be unfavourable to foreigners, and of dismissing others because they suspect them of an excess of friendly feeling towards foreigners. But China is not the only country in which I have heard of circumstances which appear to me very correctly to answer that description. I find it stated that Muhchangah, Wang, and a number of other high ministers had been dismissed because they were favourable to foreigners, while others who were distinguished for their violence and dislike to foreigners had been promoted to posts 1793 of dignity and honour. Well, about two years ago a Prime Minister in this country, not very unlike this Muhchangah, was dismissed, because he was deemed too favourable to foreigners, and another Mandarin, who undoubtedly has always reaped his principal credit with the people of England on account of his determined antipathy to the barbarian element, was appointed in his place. Then, do not let us visit this preference so severely on the Chinese; because I really do not believe that there is much room for discussion founded upon that cabalistic phrase Insults in China. The Secretary of State for the Home Department cleared up a misapprehension on this subject, and showed us that the title of that book, which undoubtedly is delusive, had naturally its origin in the nature of things, although the book does not consist of a string of insults inflicted upon the British by the Chinese. Seventeen years ago, when we frequently discussed Chinese matters, there was frequently mentioned the name of Mr. Jardine, who was so well known for his connection with China—so well known, indeed, that the Natives used to describe him under a sort of name the English interpretation of which certainly conveyed a compliment to his Scotch sagacity, being that of the "iron-headed old rat." Now, Mr. Jardine took the opportunity of a meeting of his countrymen connected with China to record, as an old resident in that country, his strong conviction that, although the Chinese were an unsocial—in fact, an anti-social, a peculiar, and an exclusive people—yet that the general rule of their treatment of the English community was one of kindness and justice; and I believe that that is the impression which this blue-book will leave upon the minds of those who have perused it. How stands the case? I believe that in the last seven years of the period to which this record refers you have but six cases of insult, either from Chinamen to Englishmen, or from Englishmen to Chinese; and I ask whether that is a state of things which, measuring it only by the number, would at all tend to support the proposition that you had festering wrongs of old standing in China which only waited the moment to break forth, and that though this lorcha business was not the cause of the war, yet that there were legitimate causes already in existence; or whether it does not show that you have made by the good judgment of successive Ministers 1794 considerable progress in conciliating the Chinese, in establishing a footing in that country, and in reducing almost to nothing those petty quarrels which of course must occasionally occur? I will not go into the nature of those six cases which I admit to exist; but in two of them, if I remember rightly, the aggressors were Englishmen. In all the others the Chinese authorities exerted themselves to the full satisfaction of the British authorities in order to punish the offenders. And now let us look at the last of these cases. On the 6th of October—two days before the affair of the lorcha—they brought to an end a case in which a British missionary, as it appears to me in a most culpable manner, wilfully and deliberately violated the treaty, and gave the Chinese authorities the right to demand that he should be punished. They demanded, however, no such thing. The Native merchants became pecuniary security for him to a considerable amount, and Mr. Parkes, writing to Sir John Bowring on the 6th of October, states that the Imperial Commissioner, in managing the matter, had shown a commendable moderation in not calling on him to take more stringent notice of that infraction of the treaty.
Then, Sir, the hon. Member for the West Riding is complained of for technicalities; and yet not always for technicalities; sometimes for that, sometimes for generalities. If you show that there is no ground for these proceedings you are accused of entangling yourself in technicalities; and if you speak of the general rules of amity and peace which should bind nations, you are accused of flying off into generalities; and so, alternating between technicalities and generalities, the defence of what is indefensible is carried on. Let the House remember how this case of the technicalities stands. If you fail in your proof of the technicalities you fail altogether; if you succeed in your proof of the technicalities you do not succeed in the main issue, but you only lay the first step of a long process which you must demonstrate. If you are about to hang a man, and, although you find a technical flaw in the proceedings, yet persist in hanging him, is that a technical offence only, or is it not also an offence against the first principles of justice, tending to undermine the essential safeguards of society? It is just so here. You have got together with most elaborate skill a parcel of pleas to impart a British character to that which was Chinese, and if you fail in your argument 1795 you have not an inch of ground to stand upon. But if you succeed in your argument, what follows? Not that you were justified in going to war, or in commencing hostilities without;—for to do that you must not only show that there has been some denial of a right which you are entitled to claim, but you must show clearly upon evidence that the magnitude of the injury inflicted was sufficient to justify a recourse to arms; and unless you prove these things and establish the substantial justice as well as the dry technicality of your demands, you might as well never have begun your process of reasoning.
That is the case of the technicalities. But we are approaching the close of the debate, and it is as well to register some of the results. Let me remind the House, therefore, that no notice has been taken of the argument of the learned civilian the Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore) who states, upon the authority of your own Queen's Advocate, and of your own Foreign Office, that, if there were a wrong here committed, the proper remedy was distinctly pointed out by the principle of the law of nations,—that it was to be sought in reprisals, and nothing beyond that. Let it be remembered that that challenge has not been answered. My hon. and learned friend the Attorney General did indeed answer a good many challenges. I take it that this case is arguable on three grounds—as a matter of municipal law, as a matter of international law; or you may argue it, and far strongest of all, as a question of natural justice. What was the process of the learned Attorney General? I never heard a gentleman, learned or unlearned, do so much execution in the course of a single sentence as was done by my hon. and learned Friend. In endeavouring to quote that sentence I am sure that I shall spoil it, so far as the beauty of the language goes, but I shall give the substance of it. He said, "Don't expect me to answer specifically that which has been advanced in this House. What I will do is to answer that which has been advanced elsewhere, and you will find that in doing that I shall answer everything that has been said in this House." By that statement it appears to me that my learned Friend did great execution; for he contrived thereby—I will not say to affront—but certainly to chastise the vanity of the whole House of Commons and of one-half of the House of Lords. It is good for us to have our vanity chastised, 1796 and, as far as I am concerned, I tender my thanks to my learned Friend. There can be no question that he chastised the House of Commons, because he said, "After two nights' debate until I the Attorney General rose it is ridiculous to suppose that anything could have been said in this House which was not said in the other House." But, now, look at the bearing of this upon half the House of Lords. Half the House of Lords argued in favour of a Motion analogous to that of the hon. Member for the West Riding; the other half, including his own legal chief, the Lord Chancellor, argued against it. My hon. and learned Friend said that he would answer the arguments of those who supported the views of the Member for the West Riding, and in so doing he pretty clearly implied that they had not been answered before. He made that more direct afterwards; for when the Lord Chancellor and others his noble Friends had, with infinite labour, constructed their little bulwarks and fortifications about them as they best could, from materials such as the statute law and the colonial ordinance afforded, he swept them all away into the sea, as we are told in the story of the siege of Troy that Neptune swept away the bulwarks of the Greeks—he made completely clear decks, and began upon his own account, stating everything upon his own single argument, and declaring that all that had been advanced before, drawn from the statute law and the ordinance, was either worthless or immaterial. That is not, so far as I am concerned, either an unimportant or unsatisfactory result of the debate to record. We now start fresh and clear with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General. We have nothing to do with those I am almost afraid to name, but who will be well understood; we have nothing to do with their argument; but have only to look to the argument as presented by the Attorney General. Well, the Attorney General declined altogether to deal with any argument of title which we could derive from municipal law, Imperial or colonial. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the only document to look to is the treaty; and it is under that treaty, if at all, we must make good our case. Now, I do not know whether I shall be unduly taxing the patience of the House, if I observe, in passing, how curiously, as occasion serves and interest prompts, nations and Governments can accept in one year, or discover in one 1797 year, arguments which in the mouth of adverse Powers they have repelled the year before. Last year we had a question with America about recruiting. America charged us with having violated the rules of international law. We declined to admit the appeal to that authority, and never would consent to be tried on any other issue but whether we had broken the municipal law of the United States. So we said, in effect, that where a country has dealt by its municipal law with part of the matter of international law, that country is bound by the definitions of its municipal law, and is not entitled in the face of another country to go beyond those definitions. That was the argument last year. It served its turn, and now we have a different argument. We are now in the condition of America, with limited conditions established by municipal law. It could not have escaped the acuteness of my hon. and learned Friend that the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act were fatal to his argument. He saw that it was impossible to adopt the definitions of the Merchant Shipping Act, and therefore now says—exactly reversing the whole doctrine of the controversy with America last year—we have nothing to do with the narrow definitions of our municipal law, but we must resort to the plain commonsense view of the treaty. But my hon. and learned Friend, it appears to me, was curiously inconsistent, not only with the argument of last year, but with his own argument on the present occasion, for he said the treaty is the only document in the case, and the municipal law has nothing to do with it; the question is altogether one of international law. And how did he make good his argument? Why, he made the question turn on the meaning of the words "British subject;" and did the hon. and learned Gentleman derive his interpretation from the international law? No; he resorted to a dictum of a municipal tribunal dealing with a civil question at home—a question thoroughly British—and, after denying that the municipal law could supply materials to assist us in coming to a right view of the case, he fetched out a judgment of that tribunal and presented it as an instrument which was authoritatively to decide the question. But the last and greatest wonder of all is, that this instrument which he made use of was, as has been shown by the hon. and learned Member for Tavistock, by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite 1798 (Sir F. Thesiger), and lastly and most clearly by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. R. Palmer), utterly worthless for his purpose, and had nothing whatever to do with the matter in dispute. What the hon. and learned Attorney General showed was this, that there was a judgment, or, perhaps, judgments of British courts, under which the claim of a natural-born English subject, who had become an American subject, had been domiciled, registered, had planted all the roots of his social life in America, to the rights and privileges of an American subject, under a particular treaty describing him as an American subject, was conceded. What is the use of stating such a case and applying it to the case of the Chinese, who do not claim under the definitions of a particular treaty, who had never been domiciled in any legal sense in British dominions, who had never been naturalized at all, who had taken no oath of allegiance, who had not even, according to my learned Friend's argument, leased a handful of land at Hong Kong, but were mere residents there for a short or long time? The whole question, according to the Attorney General's argument, turns on the construction of the 17th Article of the treaty; and what by the term "British subject" is meant at Hong Kong? It includes every Chinese resident within the British allegiance according to the Attorney General, whether he had resided there a long time or only for the moment when he took out his register. If that were really the law—which I am firmly convinced, on the authority of the hon. and learned Gentlemen around me, that it is not—it would be time to call law to the tribunal of common sense and justice; because then, instead of being the guardian of the institutions of the State and the regulator of the relations between man and man, it would be a mass of cabalistic art, got up by sophistical minds, not to assist the infirm reason of mankind, but to prevent that reason, through its infirmity, ever coming to a right conclusion.
Having, Sir, adverted to the arguments founded on the municipal and international law, I now ask, how does this question stand on the higher ground of natural justice? I say higher ground, because it is the highest ground of all. My right hon. Friend was forbidden to appeal to the principles of Christianity, I grant that it is painful to have them brought into discussions of this kind; but at the same time any man, feeling 1799 the application of Christian principles t to the position in which he is placed, might find it difficult under the circumstances altogether to refrain from giving expression to his deepest convictions. However, as it seems to give offence, I will make no appeal to those principles; but I will appeal to that which is older than Christianity, because it was in the world before Christianity—to that which is broader than Christianity, because it extends in the world beyond Christianity,—and to that which underlays Christianity, for Christianity itself appeals to it,—I appeal to that justice which binds man to man. I ask the House to take with me a short survey of the position in which we stand in China. We have spoken of the treaty obligations of China towards ourselves; but let not our treaty obligations to China be forgotten. For what purpose did we acquire Hong Kong? Have you looked to the terms of the treaty on that point? The purpose for which you acquired it is stated in the following passage:—His Majesty the Emperor of China cedes to the Queen of Great Britain the island of Hong Kong, it being obviously necessary and desirable that British subjects should have some port whereat they might careen and refit their ships when required.That was the purpose of the cession of Hong Kong, and to that purpose, if we were to act in conformity with the spirit of the treaty, it should be applied. I confess I heard with astonishment the statement of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Board of Trade the other evening upon this subject. He rose from his seat and said that he would introduce to the House something not mentioned before. It certainly had not been mentioned before, and it has not been mentioned since, and I very much doubt whether it will ever be mentioned again. He told us that Hong Kong had been handed over to Her Majesty by the Emperor of China, and that at the period of the cession the Emperor himself had virtually clothed and invested the population of the island with British rights. I certainly never heard what I should consider a more ingenious argument, if it had only the slightest foundation in fact. But of the 60,000 Chinese at the present moment in Hong Kong, how many were there at the time when it first became a British possession? My right hon. Friend stated the number the other night at 1,000, but if I am rightly informed it did not in reality 1800 amount to more than 500; and that is the largest number of Chinese who could have been included in the cession of the island made by the Emperor of China. But there is no ground whatever for the claim put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in tins case. The purpose for which Hong Kong was ceded is clearly indicated in the treaty itself; it was that it might afford a port for careening and refitting our ships. But that is not your only treaty obligation towards China. There is another. It is the 12th Article of the Supplementary Treaty:—A fair and regular tariff of duties and other dues having now been established, it is to be hoped that the system of smuggling which has heretofore been carried on between English and Chinese merchants—in many cases with the open connivance and collusion of the Chinese Custom House officers—will entirely cease; and the most peremptory proclamation to all English merchants has been already issued on this subject by the British Plenipotentiary, who will also instruct the different Consuls to strictly watch over and carefully scrutinize the conduct of all persons being British subjects trading under his superintendence.By that article you have contracted, under the most solemn obligations to put down smuggling to the very best of your power. Is there anything peculiar in your smuggling trade on the coast of China? It is the worst, the most pernicious, demoralizing, and destructive of all the contraband trades that are carried on upon the surface of the globe. It is partly a trade in salt. That, of course, can be open to no objection beyond the fact that it is contraband. But it is also partly a trade in opium. Have you struggled to put down that trade? I ask the Prime Minister who will, no doubt, address the House to-night, have the British Government struggled to put down that trade? They may say that they did struggle to put it down, but they found that it was too strong for them. Then, I will ask another question—whether they have done anything to encourage that trade? Yes, Sir, they have done the very thing that is now in issue. They have created this fleet of lorchas. What has been its purpose? What has been its effect? I refer you to the very words of your own authority, page 7 of the correspondence, where it is said that the granting of the registers to these colonial vessels has been eminently beneficial to Hong Kong. That passage was quoted by the Lord Advocate. He is a gentleman of so much intelligence that, as he appeared not to have gathered the sense of it, I infer that he cannot have read these papers. 1801 It was beneficial to the colony? And why was it beneficial? Because it increased this coasting trade. It has already added to and still tends to increase the coasting trade in goods the manufacture of Great Britain or in the produce of India, such as cotton, opium, &c. It is quite plain that this coasting trade mainly has reference to smuggling purposes. There can be no doubt about it. Unfortunately, the quantity of British goods which you send to China is still extremely small. Your greatest and most valuable trade with China is this trade in opium. It is a smuggling trade. You promised to put it down; you bound yourselves by the terms of the treaty as far as possible to suppress it. You received Hong Kong for the purpose of careening and refitting your vessels; and instead of that you have located those 60,000 Chinese within it, and from them you find the means of sustaining and organizing a fleet of coasters whose business it is to enlarge, who have enlarged, and who are enlarging, that smuggling traffic that you are bound by treaty to put down. So stands the case so far as the treaty is concerned. And, now, having taken Hong Kong for purposes that you have not fulfilled, having applied it to different purposes, hoving failed entirely, or rather not having bonâ fide endeavoured to put down this smuggling trade, which on the contrary has grown largely since the treaty, having organized tins coasting trade for purposes which included an enlargement of that smuggling trade, you accumulate all these acts of injustice by trumping up a claim built upon technicalities to cover this coasting fleet with the British flag; and when we are told that such proceedings ought not to be endured, then you reproach us with indifference to the honour of the ensign of our country. Was there ever such a series of mockeries? But you have confessed that the case of the Arrow is satisfied. I will not weary the House by quoting the words of Consul Parkes on that subject. There is no doubt about their meaning. They have been cited over and over again in this debate. He undoubtedly confesses in these documents that the case of the Arrow is satisfied; and you are now, in point of fact, engaged, as I will show, in bombarding and burning a city in order that your envoy may enter within it. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies made a complaint on the part of Her Majesty's Government that 1802 gentlemen were irreverently in the habit of speaking of the war with China. He said there is no war with China. I agree with him; there is not war with China. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: With China.] I thank my right hon. Friend for that correction. There is not war with China. No, Sir, there is not war with China, but what is there? There is hostility. There is bloodshed. There is a trampling down of the weak by the strong. There is the terrible and abominable retaliation of the weak upon the strong. You are now occupied in this House by revolting and harrowing details about a Chinese baker who has poisoned bread, by proclamations for the capture of British heads, and the waylaying of a postal steamer. And these things you think strengthen your case. Why, they deepen your guilt. They place you more completely in the wrong. War taken at the best is a frightful scourge to the human race; but because it is so the wisdom of ages has surrounded it with strict laws and usages, and has required formalities to be observed which shall act as a curb upon the wild passions of man, to prevent that scourge from being let loose unless under circumstances of full deliberation and from absolute necessity. You have dispensed with all these precautions. You have turned a consul into a diplomatist, and that metamorphosed consul is forsooth to be at liberty to direct the whole might of England against the lives of a defenceless people. While war is a scourge and curse to man it is yet attended with certain compensations. It is attended with acts of heroic self-sacrifice and of unbounded daring. It is ennobled by a consciousness that you are meeting equals in the field, and that while you challenge the issue of life or death you at least enter into a fair encounter. But you go to China and make war upon those who stand before you as women or children. They try to resist you; they call together their troops; they load their guns; they kill one man and wound another in action, but while they are doing so you perhaps slay thousands. They are unable to meet you in the field. You have no equality of ground on which to meet them. You can earn no glory in such warfare. And it is those who put the British flag to such uses that stain it. It is not from them that we are to hear rhetorical exaggerations on the subject of the allegiance that we owe to the national standard. Such is the case of the war in China. And what do these 1803 people—who have no means of offering you open resistance—who are women and children before you—what do they do when you make war with them? They resort to those miserable and detestable contrivances for the destruction of their enemies which their weakness teaches them. It is not the first time in the history of the world. Have you never read of those rebellions of the slaves which have risen to the dignity of being called wars, and which stand recorded in history as the servile wars? Is it not notorious that among all the wars upon record those have been the most terrible, ferocious, and destructive? And why? Because those who have been trampled upon have observed no limit in the gratification of their feeling of revenge against their oppressors; and however wrong may have been their excesses in the abstract, those excesses could not become a just subject of complaint on the part of those who had provoked them. Every account that reaches us of the cruelties and the atrocities to which this war gives rise only deepens the pain and the shame with which I look back, and with which I trust the majority of this House will look back, on the origin of this deplorable contest. Something has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) on the subject of what he considered the limited nature of the destruction and the havoc that have taken place in this case, and the hon. and learned Gentleman read a document dated the 10th of November, for the purpose of sustaining his views upon that point. But documents of the 10th of November have by this time become obsolete and superannuated. We have much later intelligence; and I remember that the hon. Member for Cornwall (Mr. Kendall) eulogised for its humanity a later account which has reached us to the effect that our fleet had been firing cannon balls into Canton at "moderate intervals." But your agents do not appear now to confine themselves to those "moderate intervals." I have received a letter, dated the 14th of January, which has not been published in the journals, and, therefore, I trust the House will attend to it, as it is written by one of our officers and shows the real character of our operations against China. He says—On Monday morning, at daylight, fire parties were told off from the Encounter, Barracouta, Niger, the 59th, and, last not least, the Dutch Folly. The orders were to advance as near as possible to the city wall, and all the suburbs from 1804 Shamen Fort down to the Dutch Folly were to be burnt. This was well accomplished, and by nine o'clock there was a tremendous conflagration, having been fired in so many places. The naval, I am glad to say, had no casualties. Not so the 59th; they had what I consider a severe loss—two killed, eleven seriously and two slightly wounded;——had a narrow escape, as also one of our fire party. They were surprised and nearly cut off by a hundred and more men, but the revolvers and cutlasses told well, and they rushed clear. We then commenced 'carcasses' and fireballs from the Folly into the city, and got up a tremendous fire, which was much aided by a very strong breeze, which blew all day, and they only got the fire under in the city about noon on Tuesday. It must have done great damage. The entire suburbs from Shamen Fort to 400 yards beyond this fort in the French Folly direction is now a mass of ruins.Sir, that is the state of things that existed on the 14th of January. That is the state of things to which, as early as circumstances permit, but, unhappily, I fear, too late, the wisdom and firmness of Parliament have been called upon to apply a remedy. And, now, when this matter has been discussed, when the cause has been sustained by learning, eloquence, zeal, and feeling, worthy as relates to the other House of Parliament, and worthy as relates to some portion of the debate in this House, of the best days of Parliamentary history, that which calls itself wordly wisdom steps in and warns us against the exercise of the authority of Parliament, which seeks to put an effectual check upon these deplorable proceedings. We are told to take care what we are about. We are told to support our representatives. But we have swept away the rubbish which has been talked with respect to Sir John Bowring. We have got so far in the consideration of this question that we are not dealing judicially with Sir John Bowring. As far as we are dealing with persons at all, it is with the Government by whom these proceedings have been approved that we are now dealing; but we are dealing much more with the vast interests of humanity which are at stake, and with respect to which we are told that they, and they alone, ought to guide us. But we are told to beware of an adverse vote of the House of Commons. We are told to consider the effect of such a vote upon the Chinese. We are told to consider the ruinous consequences to our trade. We are asked if we wish to extend the ruinous conflagration which has broken out, and to injure those interests of humanity which it is our duty to assert. That is the argument, and I will make this concession to those who use 1805 it. Our last accounts from China are up to the middle of January, and we are now debating this question on the 3rd of March. No human wisdom can tell, and I, for one, am not bold enough to conjecture what has happened since, or what may happen within the three months that have elapsed from the date of the last advices, and before the decision of Parliament can reach China. But, Sir, I must say, that if I look to the continuation of the influences that have been at work there can be nothing darker than the prospect before us, and I, for one, should have not the smallest hope. You amused us with the story that the population of Canton were rising against the authorities. On the contrary, we are now assured by contrary accounts that the populace are arming to a man to do their best—I will not say to fight, for they are unequal to that great operation—but to expose themselves, and to die in the quarrel which you have forced upon them. But of all the cases in which warlike operations were ever begun I do not know of any in which the political problem to be solved was so simple. What do we want from the Chinese? They are not making war on us. If the vote of Parliament had induced the Chinese to make war upon us that would be a different matter. With a good heart and a clear conscience, we could then apply the full strength of the British Empire. But there is nothing so improbable as that they should make war on us. They have never shown that skill or daring necessary for undertaking aggressive operations. Sir, it is we who are making war upon them; and for what are we making war? What are we asking from the Chinese? Sir John Bowring has proposed our entrance into Canton. But the Government have never told us that this is an adequate cause for the war. They have never told us even that they consider our entrance into Canton desirable. It is impossible for me to say whether it is desirable; but I own I lean to the opinion of Yeh, the Chinese Commissioner, and that I am inclined to believe that our entrance into Canton, if it were conceded, would be more mischievous than beneficial. I, for one, therefore, see no reason why we should make war for the purpose of obtaining a thing which, so far from being desirable, is likely to be mischievous. Sir, I repeat, there never was a case in which the solution of the political problem was so simple; for the actual state of war has never been constituted. This is a happy 1806 thing. I might almost say it is a providential circumstance, if we consider it in regard to the solution of the difficulty. The state of war has not been regularly and legally constituted, and that freedom which we now possess for correcting the proposals of our agents would have been lost if war had been regularly and formally declared. But, Sir, I am not content with that mode of dealing with such an argument. I find an appeal has been made to this House which appears to me to be a false and illegitimate appeal. It appears to me the basest that could be made under existing circumstances. It is an appeal to fear, which is seldom a rightful and noble sentiment, and it is to that fear which is the basis of the worst kind of fear—the fear of being thought afraid. The Government are afraid of the mischievous impression that will be produced upon the Chinese if the acts of our officials are disavowed. Sir, let us consider fairly, impartially, and at large the moral impressions that must now be produced, and that cannot be avoided. Let us weigh the evil and the good upon one side and the other, and I have no fear of the result. Hereafter we shall be told by the noble Lord of the wise caution that we ought to display, of the solemn predicament in which we are placed, of the political mischief which may ensue. The noble Lord will, no doubt, draw some shadowy pictures of the dangers, the confusion, the weakness, and the paralysis of British power in the East. But what is the foundation of British power in the East—what is the foundation of the promise to be permanent and useful of that British power? It is not now a question as if the Chinese are alone concerned, for the debate has been prolonged night after night, and your words have gone throughout the whole earth. The confessions and avowals of the supporters of the Government have been, it appears to me, perfectly fatal either to the continuance of that policy or else to the character and fame of England. When you talk of the consequences, and talk of injustice, and then say that we must go on with that injustice; when you speak of the necessity of appealing to the law of force in respect of the Chinese; when you say that it is by force only that your influence can be supported, I am bound to remind you that that has not been the general tone of the language used in this debate. The opponents of the Resolution of my hon. Friend have not generally ascended to that height of boldness, although a few 1807 amongst them have attempted to justify the proceedings that have taken place. I heard the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford in support of the Government, but I did not understand that he approved them. I heard the able and vigorous speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, but I thought he eschewed that portion of the case. I doubt whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department justified the proceedings. Many of those who intend to support the Government have openly condemned the proceedings that have taken place. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cornwall condemns them. The hon. Member for Norfolk condemns them. Members more than I could name have condemned the proceedings. I will ask what the effect will be throughout the world if it goes forth that in the debates held in the two Houses of Parliament the majority of speakers condemned the proceedings, and that even among those who sustained the Government with their vote there was a large number who condemned these proceedings? Why, Sir, the opinion will be that England is a Power which, while it is higher and more daring in its pretensions to Christianity than any other Power on the face of the globe, yet that in a case where her own worldly interests were concerned, and where she was acting in the remote and distant East, when fairly put to it and asked whether she would do right or wrong, she was ready to adopt for fear of political inconvenience the principle,—"I will make the law of wrong the law of my Eastern policy, and will lay the foundation of that empire which is my proudest boast in nothing more nor less than huge injustice." Sir, this is not my opinion. I will not believe that England will lay the foundations of its Eastern empire on such unstable ground as this. I believe, on the contrary, that if you have the courage to assert your prerogative as the British House of Commons, you will pursue a course more consistent with sound policy as well as the eternal principles of justice.
Sir, how stands the case at present? I have just now supposed that the House are going to negative the Resolution. That will go forth as the seal of our disgrace. But let me reverse the picture and suppose that the House will adopt the Resolution, and then what will the House do, and what will be the history of this case? Its history will read well for England and for the 1808 nineteenth century. Its history will, then, be this,—The subordinate officers of England, in a remote quarter of the globe, misconstrued the intentions of their country; they acted in violation of the principles of right; the Executive Government failed to check them. The appeal was next made to the House of Lords, and made as such an appeal ought to be made, for the cause was worthy of the eloquence, and the eloquence was worthy of the cause. It was made to nobles and it was made to bishops, and it failed. But it does not rest with subordinate functionaries abroad, it does not rest with the Executive Government, it does not rest with the House of Lords, finally, and in the last resort, to say what shall be the policy of England and to what purpose shall her power be directed. Sir, that function lies within these walls. Every Member of the House of Commons is proudly conscious that he belongs to an assembly which in its collective capacity is the paramount power of the State. But if it is the paramount power of the State it can never separate from that paramount power a similar and paramount responsibility. The vote of the House of Lords will not acquit us; the sentence of the Government will not acquit us. It is with us that it lies to determine whether this wrong shall remain unchecked and uncorrected. And at a time when sentiments are so much divided, every man I trust, will give his vote with the recollection and the consciousness that it may depend upon his single vote whether the miseries, the crimes, the atrocities that I fear are now proceeding in China are to be discountenanced or not. We have now come to the crisis of the case. England is not yet committed. But if an adverse vote be given—if an adverse division reject the Motion of my hon. Friend, to-morrow morning, England will have been committed. With you then, with us, with every one of us, it rests to show that this House, which is the first, the most ancient, and the noblest temple of freedom in the world, is also the temple of that everlasting justice without which freedom itself would be only a name or only a curse to mankind. And I cherish the trust and belief that when you, Sir, rise in your place to-night to declare the numbers of the division from the chair which you adorn, the words which you speak will go forth from the walls of the House of Commons, not only as a message of mercy and peace, but also as a message of British 1809 justice and British wisdom, to the farthest corners of the world.
I rise to explain. I will not detain the House a moment. The right hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us, in adverting to some remarks I made in this debate, stated that I had preferred against him charges of a vile and a base character. So I understood the right hon. Gentleman. Sir, what I did say was this—I stated that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends have been for some years past associated with all the anti-Protestant measures—["Question!"] Will the House permit me to repeat what I said? What I did say was this—that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends have been for some years past associated with all the anti-Protestant measures that had passed this House.—I limited myself to the expression of that opinion.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I confess, Mr. Speaker, that from a Gentleman possessing the talents and experience of the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire—from a Gentleman whose private and personal character stands so high in the estimation of those who know him—I should not have expected such a Motion as he has made, or such a speech as that with which he has introduced it. The Motion has been properly explained by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies as a Motion contradictory in itself; as a Motion falling short of the object—for it is no use to conceal a fact so well understood—to which it is directed; as a Motion calling on the House to abstain from inquiring into the grounds on which the Chinese have afforded cause of complaint, and yet following it up with a Resolution that condemns the measures taken to redress the wrongs of which they have been guilty. The hon. Gentleman talked of the logic of the Chinese before the days of Aristotle. If he had studied either the logic of the Chinese or the days of Aristotle, I think he would never have penned such a Resolution as that he has submitted to us. He has commented also on the morals of the Chinese. I think it would have been better for his morals if he had abstained from those comments. He drew a contrast between Sir John Bowring on the one hand, and Commissioner Yeh on the other. Now, Sir John Bowring, he stated, was an intimate friend of his of twenty years' standing. We know, Sir, that Sir John Bowring was the associate 1810 of the hon. Gentleman in that career of public usefulness for which the name of the hon. Gentleman will go down to posterity, in which he laboured to introduce the most valuable reforms into our commercial system. What has happened since the hon. Gentleman and Sir John Bowring parted? Why did the hon. Gentleman disclaim any vindictive feeling against Sir John Bowring? What injury has Sir John Bowring done to the hon. Gentleman that he should forget the ties which formerly bound them? My notion of a friend of twenty years' standing is to view his faults with indulgence, to make excuse, if excuse can be made, for any error that he has committed; and that he should never be the man to expose the first false step, which it may be his opinion he has taken. There was a bitterness in the attack which seems to me very inconsistent with the friendship of twenty years' duration, and which only a private enemy can be supposed to feel. Who is Sir John Bowring, and how came he in the situation which he holds? Does he owe his situation to aristocratic influence, which we are told is so often the cause of promotion in the public service? Was he a Member of that aristocracy which some people wish to banish from public employment? Sir John Bowring is essentially a man of the people. He has raised himself to the situation which he holds by his own talents, by his own attainments, by his own industry, by his public service. He was selected for the first appointment which he received as Consul at Canton when I was Secretary of State for the Foreign Department. I was led to make that choice because I had watched Sir John Bowring in his former career. He had been employed in commercial negotiations in Paris. He had distinguished himself by his eminent knowledge of commercial matters. He was a man of great talents, of varied attainments, and eminently fitted for the situation. Then came a vacancy in the office of Plenipotentiary and Superintendent of Trade at Hong Kong. My noble Friend Lord Clarendon promoted him from the office of Consul at Canton to that appointment simply on his own authority. My noble Friend, undoubtedly, consulted me, as having more knowledge of Sir John Bowring, although he had been associated with my noble Friend in commercial negotiations at Paris, and he had had experience of his talents. But he did 1811 consult, also, the head of the Government; and, although the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last may endeavour to throw off from Lord Aberdeen any responsibility, if, any there be in that selection, yet I hold in my hand a letter, which I am authorized to read, which shows that Lord Aberdeen assented to and approved Sir John Bowring's appointment. This is the letter. It is dated September 9—I do not know the year:—I am not very well acquainted with Dr. Bowring, and I think I have never had anything to do with him officially. But he is evidently a clever man, and has acquired such a knowledge of China as must give him great advantages, so that you cannot probably find a better man.Then I say, Sir, that it is in vain for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, and for his right hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle, to say that the Government of which they were both members had no share in the responsibility of the appointment of Sir John Bowring. I am not disposed to think that that appointment requires defence. I think that Sir John Bowring was a fit person for the situation, and that Lord Aberdeen and Lord Clarendon showed both their discrimination and their sense of justice in transferring him to a post which his previous experience at Canton had peculiarly fitted him to hold. What is this other man who has been made the subject of panegyric, and whose productions have been praised at the expense of those of our own officers? What is the character of this Yeh? He is one of the most savage barbarians that ever disgraced a nation. He has been guilty of every crime which can degrade and debase human nature. In the contest between these two men, it is most extraordinary that partiality should turn rather towards this barbarian than towards the British representative. We have heard much of the meddling spirit of Sir John Bowring, which, it has been said, has made him reckless of the consequences of his actions. Why, Sir John Bowring was, as we know, a member of the Peace Society. He was distinguished for his amiable qualities and for the mildness of his disposition; and I should say that if there be one man less likely than another to engage the country which he represents in hostilities, that man is Sir John Bowring. I know that I have on former occasions said that no men are so pugnacious 1812 as the members of the Peace Society, and, no doubt, if some other members of that society had been in Sir John Bowring's place they would long ere this have involved us in serious difficulties. I noticed, I must confess, with great pain the tenor and tone of the speech of the hon. Member for the West Riding, because there pervaded the whole of it an anti-English feeling, an abnegation of all those ties which bind men to their country and to their fellow-countrymen, which I should hardly have expected from the lips of any Member of this House. Everything that was English was wrong, and everything that was hostile to England was right. The hon. Gentleman said that the British merchants were a set of haughty, overhearing, unruly, selfish, grasping, money-getting men, who, for their own selfish objects, were perpetually engaging this country in disputes in the places in which they resided. Where has the hon. Member acquired this knowledge of English merchants? Was it in the course of that continental tour which he made that he learned that English merchants were men so unworthy of their country? The hon. Gentleman has said that he should not like to have written over his counting-house the motto, "Civis Romanus sum;" if he write up instead, "I am a British subject," that inscription would be held by those who knew him to be untrue in spirit and at heart. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government of England are bullies to the weak and cowards to the strong; and that was said at the close of a war with Russia, one of the greatest Powers of the civilized world,—a war undertaken in obedience to every principle of justice and right, and carried on, in spite of all difficulties, with an energy and a courage which would have done honour to any nation on the face of the earth. But the hon. Gentleman pointed the object of his remark. He said, "Would you have done this to the United States?" He meant that we acted as cowards in the dispute with the United States. And this was a member of the Peace Society, who taunts us with having made a friendly arrangement with a kindred people, by which a war was avoided; an arrangement which was honourable to us, and was accepted with cordiality by them. The hon. Member, forsooth, taunts us for not having made the events to which he alluded the cause of a breach and of a war with the United States. He says that you are 1813 cowards because you maintain friendly relations with the people of the United States, with whom, as men of spirit and men of courage, you ought to have gone to war. So much for the reasoning of this member of the Peace Society. The illustration which he used was a singularly unfortunate one for his argument. He said, "How different was your conduct towards the United States upon a question which might have led to a difference between you from that which you have pursued in China. There was a law passed in South Carolina, according to which your coloured subjects were, if they came into the port of Charleston, put into prison and kept there until the vessel in which they had arrived was ready to depart. This," said the hon. Gentleman, "was a gross outrage which would naturally hurt the susceptibilities of the English nation; and what did you do? Your Consul at Charleston made an application to your Minister at Washington; your Minister went to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the matter was arranged. Redress could not be given, but reasons were assigned why it was not in the power of the Federal Government to give such redress, and the matter was settled without an appeal to arms." Why, Sir, if we had had a minister at Pekin who could have addressed himself to the servants of the Emperor, no doubt a similar result would have followed; and this and other local difficulties would have been surmounted and accommodated without difficulty; and that shows the value of the demand which has been made by the Admiral for personal intercourse, at least, with the authorities of Canton. It is manifest that if your officials had the right of communicating directly with the local authorities—still more if there was diplomatic communication with the central Government—the difficulties which otherwise swell into quarrels would soon be arranged, and mutual interests would bring about a mutual and amicable accommodation.
Let us, Sir, inquire what was the event which has given rise to these unfortunate occurrences. I will not go into the legal question. I think that much of the legal argument as to whether the lorcha was or was not a British vessel would have been very proper if this case had been before the Court of Admiralty or the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council upon a question whether this ship, having been captured by an enemy of England or of 1814 China, was or was not a legal prize and liable to be condemned; but I hold that that dissertation, however interesting it may have been, and however valuable and important may be the legal knowledge which has been brought to bear upon this question in both Houses of Parliament, does not touch the bottom of this matter. We have a treaty with China, and that treaty says that British vessels shall not be boarded, and men taken out of them without a previous application to the British Consul. The whole question is, what did the Chinese know and believe this vessel to be? Did they or did they not consider her to be a British vessel? I say that they did. The whole question turns upon that; and when it is said that it was a falsehood on the part of Sir John Bowring when he said that the Chinese Government did not know that the licence had expired, I say, on the contrary, that that is a correct statement of the real principle at issue between the British and the Chinese authorities, and in fact, contains the gist of the whole transaction; and I say that, instead of this being a flagitious attempt at imposition, it was a statement of the principle upon which the question between the British and Chinese authorities was to be adjusted. If the Chinese, knowing and believing—whether rightly or wrongly believing—that this was a British vessel, nevertheless in violation of the treaty boarded her, carried off her crew, and hauled down her colours. I say that it is immaterial to the question whether by the technicalities of the law you can or cannot show that at that moment she had not a right to be protected. The animus of an insult, the animus of violation of the treaty was in the Chinese, and you had a right to demand not only an apology for the wrong that was done, but an assurance that it should not be repeated. But, I think, it has been shown that, in point of fact, this vessel was, to all intents and purposes, entitled to protection as a British vessel. Although the licence had expired five days, yet the register was good until the return of the lorcha to her port. Why, Sir, I never before heard such a quibble as that by which it is maintained that the lorcha was not at sea because she was in the river at Canton. Sir, I was ashamed, in a serious argument in this House, to see a distinction of that kind taken. The provision that the register should continue good while the vessel was at sea means of course that it should be in force as long as the 1815 voyage in which she was engaged kept her out of her port, and the miserable distinction between her being at sea and being in a river I certainly did not expect to hear taken in this House. What, then, is the history of the Arrow? Why, that she had obtained a register; that she went to Macao, where she took in a cargo; and that she conveyed part of that cargo to Canton. What does she there, and what must she have done according to established regulation? She must have deposited, and did deposit, her register with the British Consul, who thereupon communicated with the Hoppo, to obtain permission for the landing of her cargo. That permission was given, and the cargo was landed. It consisted of rice. There was no pretence that it was contraband; and it must have been landed with the cognizance of the customhouse officers of Canton. The vessel lay five or six days opposite that town; and I say that the Chinese authorities must have known that she was a British vessel engaged in a legal trade—that she had not violated any Chinese law, and was therefore entitled to the protection which the 9th Article of the treaty afforded her. Nevertheless, they choose, in contravention of that treaty, at the moment when she was about to sail, to board her and carry off her crew. The question has been raised whether the British ensign was flying. What evidence have we, may I ask, upon that point? We have the evidence of Kennedy, the master of the Arrow, and also of Leach, the master of the Dart, who being both within fifty yards of the lorcha at the time, state that they saw the flag hauled down from the mizen peak by a mandarin soldier, and likewise—an important point that has not been sufficiently dwelt upon—that they saw the 'blue-peter' hauled down. I say this is important, because it is an answer to one of the main arguments of Yeh, who states that the lorcha could not have had the British ensign flying, inasmuch as no vessel is allowed to hoist British colours from the moment she casts anchor until the moment she is about to get under way. Why, she was about to get under way. Everybody knows that the 'blue-peter' is a sign of immediate departure. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that the vessel was about to get under-weigh, and the argument of Commissioner Yeh is thus at once disposed of. The master was preparing to go on board, and the Arrow would probably have been under- 1816 weigh within a few minutes afterwards had not the Chinese officers come and boarded her. Then another excuse is that there was no foreigner on board, and therefore they did not believe she was a British vessel, but concluded that she must be Chinese. True, there was no foreigner on board at the time when the Chinese officials entered her, but then the master went on board with two other British subjects before they left the ship, and he was actually on board while they were still alongside. Could, there have been any doubt in their minds that he was on board? Why, Kennedy, knowing enough Chinese to communicate with them in their own language, represented to them the injury they would do him if they took away the whole crew; and he asked them to leave him two of the men, and they did leave him two, in consequence of his own special application. I say, then, away with the excuse—the falsehood—the "flagitious falsehood" of the Chinese authorities—that there was no British ensign flying and no foreigner on board the lorcha at the time when the men were taken away. Well, what was the allegation urged by them in defence of the course they were pursuing? It was quite different from the allegation subsequently put forward by Yeh when he had got evidence better suited for his purpose. The allegation made by the officer commanding the party was, that there was on board the Arrow an old man who was supposed to be the father of a pirate. On that ground they seized him, on the Chinese principle that relatives are made to answer for relatives; and no doubt if they could not have found the pirate himself they would have cut off this old man's head. But why did they take the rest of the crew? They wanted them, they said, as witnesses, to give information on the matter in question. Well, was that statement made only to the master of the lorcha? It was repeated afterwards to Consul Parkes when he applied to the proper authorities for the release of the men. They said that it was done on account of the old man whose son was supposed, somewhere or other, to have been engaged in piracy. Subsequently, however, Yeh—with that ability, which I do not deny that he possesses—Commissioner Yeh, I repeat, whose forbearance we have heard so much praised—though the chief forbearance which I think he exhibits is a forbearance to tell the truth—Yeh, however, with that conciliatory spirit which is said to animate him, shifts 1817 his ground, sends in a new and a different story. And what is that story? Why, that a certain man, a sailor, having been some months before attacked in his own vessel by a band of pirates, and plundered, was able to recognize one of the pirates by two circumstances—the one was that he wore a red turban, the other that he had lost a front tooth. As for the red turban, I do not know whether that is a distinguishing mark sufficient to enable one to say whenever he meets a person wearing it that he is a pirate, and ought to be seized. The tale, however, is that while sailing up the Canton river the accuser passed the lorcha, the Arrow, and identified on board of her the very pirate by whom his ship had been plundered—a man, be it observed, whom he could only recognise by observing that he had lost a front tooth. They say that eyesight is keener and quicker in warm climates than in these colder regions; but this, I think, cannot be denied, that a man who could distinguish in rapidly passing another vessel in a river whether one man of the crew had or had not lost a front tooth would be a valuable addition to one of our sharp-shooting regiments, where I am sure he would make an admirable and most successful rifleman. If a gross outrage could only be justified by such an absurd story as that, it only shows how hardly put to it Commissioner Yeh must have been to invent a ground for its commission. But it having been committed, what was our demand? An apology and an assurance that such a violation of the treaty should not be repeated. And it was not until forbearance had been shown by our commander for some days, and a refusal on the part of the Chinese authorities to grant any satisfaction, that measured hostilities were resorted to, first in the shape of reprisals by the seizure of a junk, and afterwards by an attack on some of their forts. The hon. Member for the West Riding is very fond of referring us to the United States, as a model to be imitated in all respects, both in our institutions and our conduct. What, then was the conduct of the American Commodore when an outrage was offered about the same time to his flag? An American boat rowing along the river, after the dispute with us had begun, was fired into by one of the Chinese forts. She hoisted the American flog, and that was fired upon. That was an insult which undoubtedly required reparation. But, at the same time, it was not an outrage of 1818 the same kind as the deliberate violation of a treaty. It might have been caused by an accidental mistake of a single gunner stationed in the fort, or the use of the American flag might have been deemed the stratagem of an English boat wishing to pass by in security by pretending to belong to the United States. The United States' commander, however, very properly thought that it required atonement; and what was the course he pursued. Some people are fond of a word and a blow. The United States' commander preferred a blow and a word. He judged that it was better to punish first and ask for explanations afterwards—that it was better in the first place to knock down the offending fort, and after that to demand from Yeh an apology and a guarantee for the future. He inverted our course of proceeding. His demand, when made, was precisely the same as ours, only his attack went first, and the demand followed after it. But was that all? He destroyed the fort—he demanded reparation from the Chinese; and twenty-four hours were given them to make their apology. Before that interval had elapsed the American captain, with a shrewd eye, saw that something was going on in the fort near which he lay that indicated that at the end of the twenty-four hours, if the answer was unfavourable, his position might not be so good as it was at the beginning of that time, and he accordingly renewed his hostile operations without waiting for the expiration of the period allowed to the Chinese to deliberate whether they would give an explanation and make an apology. The hon. Member for the West Riding, who is so fond of making the conduct of the Americans a model for our imitation, must admit, then, that our proceedings evinced extreme forbearance compared with the proceedings of those whom he would have us to copy. Well, Sir, we demanded reparation. And for what? Was it a matter of little consequence? You may say, what did it signify if a few men were taken out of a small vessel?—you might have overlooked it and have said, if it happens again we will make it a serious matter. But, Sir, this was only one out of many acts of deliberate violation of our treaty rights. We had by the treaty of Nankin a right for all British subjects to enter and reside in, without molestation, certain five cities of China, of which Canton is one. In the case of Canton that right has been pertinaciously refused. We had a right by the 1819 treaty to a certain quantity of land to be given, either in the city or immediately adjoining the city, for the purposes of commercial business; and it was distinctly stated that, as the wants of the British community could not be defined beforehand, so no particular limit should be placed as to the quantity of land to be devoted to their uses. Well, Sir, the fulfilment of that stipulation has been determinately refused to us at Canton. We have had a small area of ground allotted in which all foreign merchants are confined; and, as I know from official information, direct communications have been made to the Chinese authorities on this subject; we have stated that we wished land to be assigned to us, we care not in what particular direction, for the purpose of warehousing British property; but our applications have been in vain. In vain are cited our treaty rights to have this land: the demand has never been complied with. And the consequence has been that a great quantity of British merchandise has been stored in Chinese warehouses instead of where it ought to have been, in British warehouses under the custody of the British merchants themselves. There was a systematic determination on the part of the Canton authorities to refuse to us all our treaty rights as far as it was possible to deny them. Well, what were the grounds of that refusal? It was that the people of Canton were so barbarous, so unruly, so savage, so hostile to foreigners, that it would not be safe for British or any foreign subjects to attempt to enter the city. Now, Sir, the hon. Member for the West Riding himself gave us a complete refutation of that excuse of Yeh and his predecessors. He read us a statement showing that British officers and subjects had walked through the suburbs of Canton and had been treated with the utmost civility and kindness—that there was curiosity to ascertain the quality of the clothes worn by the foreign visitors—some inclination to examine their dress—but there was not the slightest indication of insult or molestation during the course of a long promenade. Well, Sir, does the wall of Canton mark such a division between barbarism and civilization, between brutality and good humour, that those living in the suburbs will receive strangers in this way, while those who happen to reside within the walls will act in the way Yeh suggests? I think we may very fairly assume that the people within the walls would be as 1820 courteous as the people outside the walls; and that if foreigners were permitted to enter the city, the people there would take the same interest in them as those outside have practically shown they do. And, Sir, what is the character of the Chinese people in general? What happens in the other towns? If Canton were the only Chinese town with which we had intercourse, we might, from want of knowing better, give credit to Yeh, and suppose that he knew his countrymen better than we did. But there is Shanghai—fully as important a city as Canton, and proving more and more important every day—a populous city itself, and adjoining a populous district. No difficulty is there made; British subjects are admitted within the town; social intercourse exists between the Chinese and British subjects; and everything proceeds in the most ample harmony and good nature. So far from any difficulty arising, even now, from the accounts that have of course been received from Canton, no interruption of good feeling has occurred between the Chinese and foreigners in Shanghai, or, indeed, in any of the other Chinese ports. I say then, Sir, this is a falsehood—another of those Chinese falsehoods—"flagitious falsehoods"—by which Yeh and his predecessors have endeavoured to find excuses for violating the treaty which the Emperor entered into with this country. I say, Sir, this violation of our treaty in regard to the lorcha is not the first or only one that occurred, but a part of a deliberate system to strip us step by step of our treaty rights, to set the population of the city against us for purposes of their own, and to give an undue advantage to others against British subjects. The most important right was violated—a right of the utmost importance to us. How could any commerce between Canton and Hong Kong be carried on in British vessels under British licence if those vessels are to be liable to all the caprices of Chinese police or Chinese authorities, and to have their whole crews carried off at the moment of sailing. It so happened that at the time of the occurrence the subject of this discussion, this lorcha did not happen to have any cargo on board; but it might have happened that she had a valuable cargo, and thus she would have been stripped of all hands and left exposed to all the risks of damage from want of a proper crew, to say nothing of the loss which all merchants know to arise from the detention of a vessel 1821 which is ready to sail. Then I say the right which was violated was a most important right—a right most important to the whole British commerce between Hong Kong and Canton, a commerce which is continually growing, and which is carried on almost entirely by vessels of this description. It is said this vessel had been a pirate. That has been disproved, and at the particular time she was certainly engaged in lawful commerce. Had there been any doubt about her character, application ought to have been made to the Consul. There was not even a pretence on which an application could have been made to the Consul, for the old man who was seized was not accused of being concerned in any crime, but was a relation of a man who was suspected.
Well, Sir, was the Chinese Governor of Canton a man of that mildness of character, of that justice and forbearance, that our authorities might have been satisfied with a mere remonstrance and an assurance that no such thing would occur again? Why, all the equivocations of Yeh in replying to our communications, and in escaping from that assurance, show that in his mind there was a reservation, and that he would commit the same offence when the opportunity again occurred. His answer was, no Chinese vessel in future shall take men out of any British lorcha "without reason." Well, who is to judge of that reason? Why, the Chinese themselves. The very object of the treaty was to prevent the Chinese from setting up their own reason as a sufficient ground for interfering with the just rights and privileges of British vessels. Again, he says that it belongs to Chinese officials to arrest Chinese criminals on board British vessels. But that is entirely setting aside the right which we by treaty have acquired for our Consul to intervene, and is an arrogation to the Chinese authorities of privileges which by the treaty do not belong to them—that is, a right to judge of the criminality of persons aboard these vessels. I do not think, throughout the course of this debate, however extreme may have been the opinions of hon. Gentlemen, that any one has ventured to defend this inhuman monster. I do not think any one has asserted that these men were legally seized because they were Chinese subjects. The hon. Member for the West Riding has asked what would happen if a British vessel went into a Spanish port and Spanish 1822 criminals were taken out of that ship? He also says, "You refuse to permit the authorities of another country to board your vessels to take criminals; yet do you not yourselves, in your own ports, subject foreigners coming in foreign vessels to your own municipal regulations and laws?" Undoubtedly, Sir, we do. But those who thus argue have omitted the circumstance of the treaty, which overrides all international obligations, and which was specially constructed for the very purpose of overriding those obligations. It is well known that in all our treaties with nations less civilized than those in Europe, engagements of this sort are necessarily entered into. In Turkey, for instance, British subjects are not to be taken without the presence of the British Consul; in Persia the same; and in China the stipulation is still more necessary. Why, if the Canton authorities had really been the mild, the gentle, the humane, the forbearing people which they have been so assiduously represented to be, one might have trusted to them, and have said, "We believe in future you will have recourse to the British Consul or other British authorities." But look at the ferocious system of administration which has prevailed in China, and especially in Canton—though I confess that what we have been told in the course of this debate exceeded any notion I had on the subject. We have been told that in the course of a few months 70,000 heads—Chinese heads—have been struck off by the axe of the executioner of the barbarous Yeh. We have further been told that the remains of 5,000 or 6,000 people were left reeking in the place of public execution; that the authorities had not even taken the trouble of removing those mutilated remains from the view of the new victims coming to execution. Sir, I am almost afraid to believe that 70,000 executions took place within less than a year; but I am afraid it is too true. And what must we say of the barbarity of the Government under which those executions had taken place? There is another circumstance, Sir, which I have been several times assured of, though when I first heard it I thought it must be a joke. But I have heard from more than one person locally connected with China, that persons condemned to death may for about 200 dollars get a substitute to represent them at the place of execution. I believe it is too true. The argument used to 1823 these substitutes is, "Your life is very precarious; you have no certainty that you may not be beheaded in a few months by the caprice of some official without getting anything for it. How much better, therefore, is it that you should take what will enable you to maintain yourself in luxury for a fortnight, and to leave something behind for your family." What a picture does that give of the state of society among these much be-praised and be lauded people! These barbarities are committed by the ruling authorities. Undoubtedly it is by them that all those cruelties to Europeans of which we have recently read have been instigated. The first act of Yeh upon the breaking out of the dispute was to issue a reward for the heads of Englishmen, and he next put out a proclamation declaring that he had taken secret means of extirpating that hated race. We have seen by the latest accounts from Hong Kong how these secret methods are carried into effect—by the atrocious murder of eleven Europeans in the Thistle, and by the poisoning of the food of the European community of Hong Kong. Yet, to my utter astonishment, the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Oxford, instead of displaying that generous zeal and those honourable sentiments which he has so much at command on subjects much less deserving of them, repeated, though not in the same words yet in the same spirit, the justification winch he put forth in the discussion on Chinese affairs some fifteen years ago. It was alleged then that the Chinese had poisoned their wells—"Of course they poisoned their wells," said the right hon. Gentleman. Now, the right hon. Gentleman has undertaken to defend ("No! no!")—yes, Sir, I say he has undertaken to defend these atrocities. ("No! no!") He says it is the natural and necessary recourse of the weak against the strong; and if, therefore, a nation should be too weak to resist its enemies in open fight, that, according to the right hon. Gentleman's view, is a sufficient justification for the perpetration of the basest and most atrocious acts which disgrace mankind. (''No! no!") I was the more sorry to hear that formal, elaborate, and studied defence—("No! no!")—because I had framed an excuse which I believed in my own mind to be the true one for the words which escaped the right hon. Gentleman in the former debate. I did not believe that he meant 1824 to justify the poisoning of the wells. What I believe he meant was, that the Chinese were such a barbarous nation, that they were capable of such enormities; that they combined such cruelty with treachery, that it was only natural they should have resorted to this flagrant atrocity. But I grieve to say that upon the present occasion the language of the right hon. Gentleman, and the manner in which he dealt with the subject, indicate to my mind that he was framing a sort of excuse for these terrible crimes—("No! no!")—that he was arguing that the weakness of the Chinese justified their recourse to means of defence which even savage nations—which even nations far less civilized than they—which even the Caffres and the Indians would shrink from with horror. ("No! no!")
It was essential, then, I maintain, that we should require the fulfilment of treaty obligations, because the Government with which we had to do was not only forgetful of engagements, but given to encroaching step by step, and habitually accustomed to stimulate among its people feelings of hatred and antipathy which would have endangered the lives and property of our residents. Hon. Gentlemen tell us that we ought to have begun by reprisals. So we did. The Admiral commenced by seizing a junk. The result was that Yeh said, "We are perfectly easy about that; you think you have got an Imperial junk, but it is only a merchantman—much good may it do you!" Was the Admiral to remain content with that? Obviously not. It became necessary to have recourse to further measures. But then it is said, "It is true that you went step by step, you destroyed fort after fort, allowing between each an interval for reflection; but when you had done that you had got all the reparation necessary, you had obtained satisfaction, you should have been content, and ought to have discontinued your operations." Suppose we had done so, in what condition would our affairs at Canton have been? We should have destroyed a few forts and spiked a few guns; but Yeh would have said, "These barbarians demanded from me an apology for what has been done, and an assurance for the future that such things should not occur again. I have given neither the apology nor the assurance for the future. Let the fort go; it was erected by the inhabitants of Canton; they shall pay for its reconstruction. I have gained a political victory over these 1825 barbarians. I am satisfied; and if they are, so much the worse for them." It was said that all these measures of coercion were attended with great slaughter. But have hon. Gentlemen read the account given by a naval officer of the capture of the strongest of these forts? There was but a feeble resistance, which caused some little loss to our men; but when they got into the fort, they found that the Mandarins had provided boats for their own escape, and the garrison, when deserted by their commanders, rushed into the water to escape after them. Did our people leave them to drown, or fire on them in the water? No, they rescued them from the risk of drowning, and sent them to their own friends in their boats. Was that a measure of cruelty—was that a measure in which there was no principle manifested of humanity and forbearance? The measures of coercion were adopted by Admiral Seymour in concert, no doubt, with Sir John Bowring; but it is sufficient to read these papers to see that, Sir John Bowring being at Hong Kong and Admiral Seymour at Canton, the detailed execution of them rested principally with the Admiral; and if the Admiral had said, "I dislike going any further; we have done enough; we ought to be satisfied;" of course Sir John Bowring would have bowed to his decision, as he had no power to compel him to act. These papers show, I think, that, instead of arrogance, insult, and presumption, being on the side of our people, and moderation and praiseworthy concession on the side of the Chinese, the moderation and gentlemanlike feeling was all on our side, and that the proceedings of the Chinese were marked with evasion, equivocation, and false statement. When our Admiral found that the Chinese Commissioner was determined to push matters to extremities, and would not make either reparation or apology, he assented to the suggestion of the Plenipotentiary, and said he must now insist upon the concession of personal official communication with the Commissioner. That is the natural course of all hostilities. If demands which are in themselves moderate are refused in the first instance, and no accommodation is arrived at, further and increased demands are put forward as hostilities go on. Yeh cannot complain if he has subjected himself to additional demands.
Well, then, it is said the demands were entirely at variance with the letters which I wrote, and with the instructions which 1826 my successors at the Foreign Office gave to the Superintendents and Plenipotentiaries at Hong Kong. I confess I am astonished that men of clear intellects, having a regard to truth, and who profess a desire to act judicially in this matter, should confound things so entirely distinct. The demand which I said ought not to be pressed to hostilities was a demand for the full enjoyment of conditions and privileges according to treaty—a demand for the general and unrestrained admission of all British subjects into the city of Canton, to live there, to have their houses of business there, and there to communicate generally with the Chinese people. Was that the demand which was made by Sir Michael Seymour? Quite the contrary. His demand was one of a much more limited character. It was simply, and first of all, for personal communication between the Commissioner and himself, and no doubt by implication for eventually a more permanent and official access for British officials to the city of Canton. Is that a demand which was unreasonable or inexpedient to make, or which it would not be advantageous to obtain? Even on the arguments used by the hon. Member for the West Riding, I call on him to support me in saying that that would be a valuable concession—valuable, not only for the purpose of our promoting our present interest, but for the purpose of avoiding causes of future disturbance and collision. Therefore, I say they were right in adding that to the demands which had been previously made.
Now, Sir, it is said we are at war with China. I contend that we are not at war with China. Up to the last accounts the quarrel was purely local, and arising simply from the barbarous character of a man unfortunately placed in high authority at Canton. The last accounts we had from the other ports showed no probability of any disturbance in the friendly relations of the people of the two countries. We are asked what our future policy with regard to China is to be. That, of course, will depend very much on the turn which our present relations with the Chinese may take. Our first duty must be to care for the protection of those British subjects there who have gone out on the faith of our protection, who have accumulated a large amount of property in different parts of China; and also to care for the interests of those enterprising merchants in this country who have extensive property situated locally in China, and liable to all 1827 the accidents which a state of hostilities may tend to produce. I say our ardent wish is that these disputes should speedily and satisfactorily terminate. We have no wish to make China a British kingdom. The Chinese are certainly not entitled to infer from the conduct of Great Britain in other foreign States that their independence would be invaded if free commercial intercourse were established between us. I would ask, are the Brazils in any danger because British subjects have free intercourse with the Brazilians, or the free States of America because our industrious countrymen are carrying on an extensive commerce with them? Have we exhibited any desire for conquest in those other countries in which our merchants have established themselves? I contend, therefore, that those who say that the Chinese have any right to keep us out for fear of the inroads and encroachments which we might make upon them are persons who are misapplying the facts and circumstances of the case. It would be, on the contrary, to the great and manifest advantage of the people of China if a larger commercial intercourse were established between them and other countries. And if these unfortunate events had not happened we should have been in communication with the Government of France—and I think the United States would have joined us—with the view of sending a friendly diplomatic mission to Pekin for the purpose of making fresh arrangements with the Chinese for securing more extended commercial relations with them, or for placing our existing relations on a more satisfactory footing. What may now be done in that direction must depend on the course which present events may take. But when first the ports of China were opened in consequence of the Treaty of Nankin, the expectations of British manufacturers and merchants may be said to have been unbounded at the prospect of opening up a trade with 350,000,000 of people, or, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle expressed it, a third of the whole human race. We have been greatly disappointed. Why? Because, by the internal regulations of China, and by the obstacles they have always opposed to British commerce in general, I believe the supply of British manufactures has been limited to a narrow strip of land not extending very widely from the coast. Our manufactures have not expanded under the treaties in any quantities, and if, acting in 1828 conjunction with France and the United States—for the French and Americans are entitled to be put upon the same footing as ourselves, the footing of "the most favoured nation"—if I say there were a good revision of those treaties, by which a larger access to the people of China were afforded to Europeans, I am sure there would be an immense augmentation of European commerce with China—an extension which would be equally advantageous both to the European producer and the Chinese consumer. The existing restrictions on our commerce are one cause of that trade in opium to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Wilts (Mr. Sidney Herbert) so dexterously alluded last night for the purpose of catching some stray votes. At present the nature of our commerce with the Chinese is such that we can pay for our purchases only partly in goods, the rest we must pay in opium and in silver. The small quantity of English manufactures taken is not equivalent to the Chinese produce yearly purchased by us. From 1842 to the present time our imports in the article of tea alone have risen from 42,000,000 lbs. to 80,000,000 odd lbs.; the increase in the imports in silk have been still larger, and we cannot have the slightest doubt, if, by amicable relations with China, the Governments of England, France, and the United States were to succeed in obtaining a larger opening for their commerce, that the benefits to those three countries would be immense, and that the advantages to the Chinese themselves would be almost incalculable. Well, then, the question is what are we to do in this state of things. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding, not choosing to allow things to develope themselves, rushes to a conclusion and calls on the House to affirm a Resolution which I defy the ingenuity of man to determine whether it is a censure on the British officers in China or on Her Majesty's Government at home. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), in the few words he said the other night speaking on the question of the adjournment, adopted the last construction, and stated distinctly that he considered it a censure on Her Majesty's Government. Much of the argument used in the debate points to that conclusion, because we are told that the conduct of our officials in China has been cruel and imprudent, and therefore that we ought at once to have censured them, and not 1829 having done that, but having, on the contrary, supported them, and approved their conduct, believing, as we did, that they had done their best to the utmost of their ability, the responsibility, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford says, falls, of course, upon us, and therefore it is to us that the vote of this evening applies.
Sir, there are some things that I own have struck me very painfully in the course of this debate. Nothing can be more respectable or can more excite the sympathies of men than appeals to high considerations when they are made on adequate grounds. I cannot say the same of the parodies of Lord Chatham and Mr. Burke which we have heard during this debate. When an appeal is made to the great principles of truth, of justice, of humanity, of the Christian religion, I say that such an appeal is a profanation when those sacred principles are invoked in defence of flagitious falsehood, of base perfidy, of cruel inhumanity, and atrocious crime. Sir, I say that this is what has been done on the present occasion. I heard, Sir, with great regret, appeals like those which have been made by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, because I feel confident that the eloquence with which Providence has invested them was designed for nobler and better objects; whereas they have employed it to break down all the moral principles of truth—have employed it to justify crime—have employed it to induce the House to confound right and wrong. What I say, then, is the true object of this Motion? The hon. Member who moved it appears to aim, in a great degree, at his old and bosom friend, Sir John Bowring. Now, I have always understood that the way in which friends ought to deal with each other is that indicated by the poet,—Be to their faults a little blind,Be to their virtues very kind,And fix a padlock on the mind.But whether the hon. Member for the West Riding has acted upon these principles with regard to his dear, his bosom, his ancient friend Sir John Bowring, I leave to the House to determine. At all events, I venture to say that there is no man whose heart will be more grieved at the enmity and bitterness, undeserved and unexpected, of an old friend, than Sir John Bowring will be when he reads the hon. Member's speech in proposing this Motion to the House. But, Sir, what is it, then, that we are wanted to do? Are we to send out 1830 to China and say, "Tell Yeh that he is right. Tell him that subtle lawyers in this House have discovered by a great variety of legal technicalities that the lorcha Arrow was really not a British ship according to the Imperial law; that therefore he was right in what he did; and that he may do the same again with any vessel under British colours which he may think, with what he calls 'reason,' is liable to the same insult." What would be the consequences of that? I tell the House, that if this Motion be agreed to, our trade at Hong Kong and Canton would be as insecure as if pirates had gained possession of the latter city. There would be no security for any British property at Canton or upon the river, or at any other of the five ports. But would that be all? Why Yeh, raising a song of triumph, would say, "These cowardly Englishmen are afraid of me. I have driven away all the barbarians that were here. They tell me that England is a great Power and has a great navy and army; but Englishmen are afraid of me. I, Commissioner Yeh, will do what I like with them in future, and whether it pleases me to adorn the palisades of Canton with English rather than with Chinese heads, I will do what I please; and their property shall be plundered by whoever chooses to take it." Would that state of things be confined to Canton? We have great and extensive interests at other ports as well as there. Shanghai, for example, is almost a European community. What man will answer for the security of our people at Shanghai one fortnight after the news of the adoption of such a Motion as this? It would be a virtual casting off of these British communities; it would be committing them to the mercy of these barbarians; it would be a public manifestation to the whole world that you are not prepared to defend by your power those whom you have induced to place themselves and their property in a foreign land. Such a policy would, I say, be disgraceful to the country as well as dangerous to those whom we are bound to defend. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), at the conclusion of his speech, described in Tory eloquent terms the opinion which, in his view, foreign nations would take of the possible decision of this House. Sir, I believe that if the House adopts this Motion, their view will be not far different from that which the right hon. Gentleman suggested. They will say, "Here is a Power that has been formerly great in 1831 arms, whose armies have gained victories in remote regions, whose fleets have floated triumphantly over every ocean; the people of this country are governed by a deliberate assembly—powerful, as the right hon. Gentleman says, and responsible for its acts. At last a change has come over the spirit of their dream. This mighty, and hitherto undaunted nation, who have deemed it their duty to protect their fellow-subjects wherever they were authorized by their laws to go—this proud and hitherto mighty people have now laid aside their bold front, and have shrunk from encountering Commissioner Yeh. They who have braved the armies of Russia; they who maintained a long and not unsuccessful conflict with one of the greatest nations in the world,"—with whom, I trust, we are destined never again to come into conflict, except, as our French neighbours say, in a conflict of generosity,—"this people are now overcome by the love of gain. They fear the expenses and the efforts which may be necessary to protect their countrymen, and they abandon a large community of British subjects at the extreme end of the globe to a set of barbarians—a set of kidnapping, murdering poisoning barbarians." I say foreign nations would feel that England has descended from that high station which hitherto she has occupied, at the beck of some of the basest, the meanest, and the most degraded beings in the civilized world. They would ask, What has brought about this change? Those who look below the surface, those who look not merely to results, but investigate causes, would say, "Do not believe that the British nation is a party to these proceedings. No," they would say, "take care of yourselves; do not imagine that so bold, so brave, so generous a people are consenting parties to this cowardly arrangement, or that you may safely trust to meet with similar conduct for the future. It is an occasional event. It depends upon an accidental condition of things in the great council of the British nation. There have been combinations recently entered into among men who had for a long course of time been kept apart by the strongest differences of opinion, and by recollections of resentments even not now entirely forgotten." They would say, "This combination, not daring to put forward their objects in the face of day—having concluded a secret treaty, not guaranteeing their present state of possession (that being 1832 the last thing they wish to do), but guaranteeing to each other the state of possession which they hope to obtain—have cautiously abstained in the Resolutions they have proposed from using words which would fully in the face of day have explained and clearly developed unto all the nations the object which they have in view. They have shrunk from moving an Address to the Queen to remove Ministers whose places they want to occupy. They knew that that Government, not so much perhaps for its own merits as for the demerits of those who might be its rivals, did possess the approval of the country, and that if the question were fairly put 'Aye or No, will you have that Government or the Coalition Government which we are prepared to offer you?' they knew perfectly well what the answer of the country would be. Knowing that, and therefore sheltering themselves under the mysterious veil of unintelligible phrases, and imposing upon the conscientious feelings of honourable and respectable men who, in supporting the Resolution, do not stop to inquire whether the war is just or necessary, or what the wrongs are which have produced it, but are prepared upon every occasion to assert that no recourse to force is ever legitimate or allowable"—foreign nations will say that this coalition, practising upon the good feelings of these persons, and uniting themselves with those from whom they have been hitherto long and widely separated, have—if the result should be so—succeeded in (I will use no uncivil term) extracting from the House a vote the effect of which is different from that which it would have been had they manfully and boldly stated their object—foreign nations will say, "Don't trust the English Government. Look at the result of this debate and division. There are some Members of the Legislature who raise the nicest legal quibbles, who endeavour to excuse the most atrocious crimes, who take part with any foreigner against an Englishman, and who—like the hon. Member for the West Riding—almost repudiate their country. This result may have arisen from a combination of accidental circumstances; but beware how you imagine that you can venture to deal with the British Government upon the assumption that this result represents the feelings and intentions of the nation."
I do not intend to follow the example of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham), who went so far 1833 as to say that every Member of this House would be accountable for the vote he may give not only to his own conscience, not only to his constituents, not only to his countrymen, but—if I did not misunderstand him—at that last day when all human actions will stand revealed. I do not go so far as that, but I do say that this House has now in its keeping not only the interests, the property, and the lives of many of our fellow-countrymen, but that it has also in its keeping the honour, the welfare, the reputation—expressions which my noble Friend the Member for the City of London justly preferred to the foreign term "prestige"—of this great empire. That is a sacred and a holy trust, and to many minds it will be a sacred duty, the way in which they discharge it. They may think that in giving their vote they are only expressing their disapprobation of the destruction of certain fortresses or of particular public buildings in Canton,—they may think they are only recording an opinion that less severe measures would have been sufficient to meet the case,—that the additional demand made was one that might have been foregone,—or that if they had been in the situation of Sir John Bowring they would have acted somewhat differently. These are considerations that will present themselves to most men—they are highly reasonable, and it is quite proper that they should have their due weight. But there are greater interests at stake in the vote to be given to-night. This House has now to determine a question of vast importance to British interests that now exist, and that may hereafter accrue. Not merely the property, but I will venture to say the lives of many of your countrymen depend upon your vote. Those who are most averse to the laws which inflict upon the greatest malefactors the penalty of death, may well pause before they come to a decision by which they may, it is to be feared, pass sentence of death upon many of their fellow-subjects abroad. I have trespassed longer than I had intended to do upon the attention of the House; but I do trust that hon. Gentlemen will not allow themselves to be carried away by the eloquent flourishes which we have heard in the course of the debate. I trust they will view this subject in its true light, as bearing upon the real interests of the country. Let them do this, and I am satisfied that impartial men, who are not wedded to party, who are not members of any coalition that has been formed—and 1834 there are, and I hope always will be, in this House many men who act most independently, and who exercise their own judgment upon the questions brought before them—will give their votes to-night in such a manner as to maintain the honour, the dignity, and the interests of the country.
I rise just to say one word in explanation. I understand that during my temporary absence from the House the noble Lord at the head of the Government stated that I had defended the acts of retaliation which have taken place in China. Now, in answer to that statement, I need only refer to some of the expressions which I used. I remember two of them. I described those acts of retaliation as "detestable acts," and I spoke of them as "an abominable system of warfare."
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
What I said, I think, was, that the right hon. Gentleman had showed his sympathy with the Chinese by characterising the acts in question as the natural acts of the weak against the strong.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I wish, Sir, very briefly to recall the attention of the House to the real issue which we are about to decide. The noble Lord has entered into a great deal of detail, which I should have hoped, after the discussion which has taken place, had become obsolete. The noble Lord cast imputations upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, and intruded into the debate charges which must have originated in a speech made many years ago, and not from anything that had been said that night. The noble Lord has also found fault with the Resolution upon which we are now about to decide, and has characterized it as being indefinite, and he has attributed to me the expression of an opinion that it is a vote of censure upon the Government. Now, I beg to inform the noble Lord that to me the Resolution appears both definite and moderate, and the implication that it is a vote of censure on the Government did not originate with me, but with the learned Lord Advocate. In fact, on the Motion for the adjournment of the debate I stated that as the Government considered the Motion to be a vote of censure I should not be willing to press it prematurely to a division. I am, however, Unwilling to quarrel with the name the noble Lord has accepted, and I also accept this as a vote of censure upon the Government. I think it more for the honour of the House of 1835 Commons that it should be so considered than that it should be regarded as a mere censure upon absent officials. I am not going to enter into any of the legal arguments which have been adduced, and I must admit my surprise that the debate has been so lengthened by the introduction of the legal element, because it appears to me that a few observations would dispose of the whole of that part of the subject. In the first place if the Arrow had been a British ship, built at Blackball, owned by an Englishman, and manned by British seamen, I do not think that the Government would have been authorized in taking the course which they adopted: and in the second place, the representatives of England in China were unable to take their stand upon the case which they originally stated, and were driven to placing the whole matter on a very different issue. On both grounds our position is equally untenable, and therefore I think that the legal part of the question as regards the Arrow is not material. It has all along been a question not of law, but of policy, and it is to the question of policy that I shall briefly address myself—that is the question upon which we are called upon to decide, and I hope that the House will not be diverted from the real issue which is involved by the tone which the noble Lord so singularly adopted towards the close of his speech. The noble Lord adopted the regular tu quoque line. Some Gentlemen have found fault with what they have described as a disregard for truth on the part of Sir John Bowring; to that the noble Lord replies that Yeh is a liar. Some Gentlemen have spoken with more freedom than perhaps I should have allowed myself to use of the conduct of British merchants abroad; to that the noble Lord replies that we who are going to vote for this Resolution are influenced by a lust for lucre. Let us come to this question of policy. It appears to me that Sir John Bowring has been unjustly treated by the majority, indeed I may say by all the speakers who have addressed the House. If Sir John Bowring's conduct has been ratified, sanctioned, and approved by the Government, then, in my opinion, that conduct is no longer to be reviewed by the House of Commons. But the case is much stronger than that. I have only known Sir John Bowring as a public man, having sat with him in this House, as many of us have done; but I remember 1836 that three or four years ago he returned from his consulate, having revisited England in order to receive his instructions before he appeared in his new and superior station at Hong Kong. Sir John Bowring then called on several of the leading Members of both Houses of Parliament, and, among others, he did me the honour to call on me, though I had no social acquaintance with him. He talked very frankly of his ideas with respect to the position of China and the policy to be pursued there, and I am bound to say that the policy then recommended by Sir John Bowring was the policy which he has recently put in practice, and the history of which is to be found in the papers on the table. I have a right to assume that he spoke as frankly to Her Majesty's Ministers as he did to those Members of Parliament on whom he called. They were, therefore, cognizant of his views, and I think it is not going too far to assume that they approved of them. And when Sir John Bowring assumed the Government of Hong Kong, he proceeded to put into practice a policy, the spirit of which had been approved by Her Majesty's Government, and which he endeavoured to carry into effect. Now, if this be the case, I think that under all the circumstances the conduct of Sir John Bowring is not open to criticism, but that it is the policy of the Government we are called upon to discuss. It would, in such circumstances, be ungenerous on our part and unjust to make this an issue on the personal character and conduct of an absent public servant. Let us, however, look at this policy. It is an attempt by force to increase our commercial relations with the East. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall), and my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Robertson), that it is most desirable to have our commercial relations with China increased; and I should look forward with great interest to a new treaty for that object; but I cannot reconcile such a policy with the course that has recently been pursued by the Government. There is one idea too prevalent with regard to China,—namely, that all England has to do is to act with energy in order to produce the same results as have been achieved in India. Fifty years ago Lord Hastings offered to conquer China with 20,000 men. So great a captain as the Marquess of Hastings might have succeeded; but since 1837 the time when our Clives and Hastings founded our Indian Empire the position of affairs in the East has greatly changed. Great Powers have been brought into contact with us in the East. We have the Russian Empire and the American Republic there, and a system of political compromise has developed itself like the balance of power in Europe; and, if you are not cautious and careful in your conduct now in dealing with China, you will find that you are likely not to extend commerce, but to excite the jealousy of powerful States, and to involve yourselves in hostilities with nations not inferior to yourselves. Look at the position in which you have placed yourselves within these few months with the two countries of Persia and China. I hope we may have peace with Persia, and that in a few days that peace will be announced, even by our having probably accepted the very terms we some months ago refused. But if you have peace with Persia you will probably have succeeded in establishing Russian ascendancy in that country by your violent conduct; while in China, where also you may soon have peace, you will very probably have established the ascendancy of the United States. If that is the true state of affairs, this country must dismiss from its mind the idea of dealing, as barbarous and uncivilized, with States with which Powers civilized like ourselves have sympathies, and we must habituate ourselves to the idea of extending to countries like China the same diplomatic intercourse that we adopt with other nations. You cannot do that in a moment—it must be a work of time; but I maintain that we had made great advances in our relations with China, and that the policy which the Government has adopted is one which will deprive my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool and Hastings of those very results which they desire to obtain. You are dealing with a country of immense antiquity. You have been reminded in this debate that China enjoys a civilization of twenty-five centuries. In point of antiquity the civilization of Europe is nothing to that. But the result of those ancient habits and customs is an existence of profound ceremony and formal etiquette; and yet you expect that such a country will not be startled by the frank and occasionally, I am sorry to say, the brutal freedom of European manners. With a policy of combination with other powerful European States in attempting to 1838 influence the conduct of the Chinese by negotiations and treaties, it is my belief that ultimately, slowly but surely, we may attain our end; but it is because the actual policy of the Government—the policy approved and vindicated by the noble Lord—seems to me inconsistent with the policy of combination with other European States, that I think the time has arrived for the House of Commons to express an opinion upon events so startling and upon behaviour so inconsistent with such a profession. How, then, has the House been, called upon to express its opinion? We have been told to-night of factious combinations and concerted movements. Let us see whether the facts justify such, broad accusations on the part of the noble Lord. Why, Sir, one thing is quite clear. Here is a Motion of which notice was given by a Gentleman who acts certainly in no political connection with hon. Members on this side of the House, and with not many on the other side. One fact is clear. It is evident that the Motion could not have been seen before it was placed in your hands, Sir, by any great number of the Members of this House, because—the objection was, I admit, almost a technical one—it was drawn up in such a manner, with what may be called the annexe of a proposed Committee, that many hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House at once declared that they could not join with those with whom they usually acted in supporting it in that form. We have been told, Sir, of party moves. I really think the time has come when both sides of the House should cease indulging in these platitudes. Why, Sir, everything is a party move in a House which ought to be ruled by party, and which, if not ruled by party, would soon lose all its significance. What is a party but a body of men who have a policy which they recommend, and who do not shrink from the responsibility of putting that policy into practice? But really there has been no party move on the present occasion. A Resolution has been brought forward by the hon. Member for the West Riding. On this side of the House it has received considerable, but not unanimous support. I have the misfortune to differ on this occasion from many Gentlemen with whom I act in political life, and among whom are some of my most intimate friends in private life. If I look to the benches opposite, I find there the noble Lord the Member for the City. He is also a party 1839 to this unprincipled combination. I really think that the First Minister should settle his courteous description with his late much-cherished and honoured colleague, and not with me. There are also Gentlemen opposite who once did act in very intimate connection with the Conservative party, and the apprehension that that intimacy should be renewed has conjured up before the First Minister a combination at once the most horrible and the most heterogeneous. The First Minister is of all men the man who cannot bear a coalition. Why, Sir, he is the archetype of political combinations without avowed principles. See how his Government is formed. It was only last year that every Member of his Cabinet in this House supported a Bill introduced, I think, by a late colleague. It was opposed in the other House by a Member of the Government, who, to excuse his apparent inconsistency, declared that when he took office the First Minister required no pledge from him on any subject whatever. Yet the noble Lord is alarmed and shocked at this unprincipled combination! The noble Lord cannot bear coalitions! The noble Lord has acted only with those among whom he was born and bred in politics! That infant Hercules was taken out of a Whig cradle! And how consistent has been his political life! Looking back upon the last half century, during which he has professed almost every principle, and connected himself with almost every party, the noble Lord has raised a warning voice to-night against coalitions, because he fears that a majority of the House of Commons, ranking in its numbers some of the most eminent Members of the House—men who have been colleagues of the noble Lord—may not approve a policy with respect to China which has begun in outrage, and which, if pursued, will end in ruin. That, Sir, is the position of the noble Lord. And what defence of that policy have we had from the noble Lord? Has he laid down a single principle on which our relations with China ought to depend? Has he enunciated a solitary political maxim which should guide us in this moment of peril and perplexity? On the contrary, he has covered a weak and shambling case by saying—what?—that he is the victim of a conspiracy. It's the old story. How often does a prisoner at the bar, when he is in the unfortunate position of having no defence, declare that the whole thing is a conspiracy? The 1840 noble Lord was singularly inconsistent in the language which he addressed to the House. He carefully enumerated the various influential sections which are combined against him. He alluded to the different distinguished statesmen who, disagreeing on other subjects, agreed in their opinion of his policy. And what was his defence? He did not enter into any manly or statesmanlike defence of his conduct. He reproduced petty observations made in the course of the debate which I thought really had become exhausted and obsolete, and then he turned round and said that the whole was a conspiracy! Accustomed to majorities which have been obtained without the assertion of a single principle, which have, indeed, been the consequence of an occasional position, and which have, in fact, originated in the noble Lord's sitting on that bench without the necessity of expressing an opinion upon any subject, foreign or domestic, that can interest the heart of the country or influence the opinion of the nation, the noble Lord fit last finds that the time has come when, if he be a statesman, he must have a policy; and that it will not do, the instant that the blundering of his Cabinet is detected, and every man accustomed to influence the opinion of the House unites in condemning it, to complain to the country that he is the victim of conspiracy. Let the noble Lord not only complain to the country, but let him appeal to the country. I hope my constituents will return me again; if they do not, I shall be most happy to meet him on the hustings at Tiverton. I should like to see the programme of the proud leader of the Liberal party—"No Reform! New Taxes! Canton Blazing! Persia Invaded!" That would be the programme of the statesman who appeals to a great nation as the worthy leader of the cause of progress and civilization. I hope that the House will not for a moment be influenced by the languid threat of the noble Lord. I hope that hon. Members will feel to-night that they have a duty to perform which will be remembered long after this Parliament shall have ceased to exist; and that, not frightened by the menace of a Minister, they will dare to vindicate the cause of justice, and to lay down a principle, without the observance of which the empire of which we are so proud may soon be questioned.
§ MR. COBDEN
As I have been personally referred to during the four nights 1841 of the debate by many speakers, and as much has been erroneously attributed to me, I trust that I may claim the indulgence of the House for a few minutes while I reply to them. I have been accused of ungenerous language towards Sir John Bowring. Now, I stated that I had twenty years' acquaintance with Sir John Bowring, and that I would rather not refer revengefully or harshly to him, and the only epithet which I applied to his unfortunate despatches was that in which I described one of them as the most flagitious public document which had been ever published. I repeat those words, and I am sorry that a sense of duty compels me to do so. The noble Lord at the head of the Government remarked upon my conduct to foreigners and to my own countrymen, and characterized it as anti-English. [Cries of "Hear, hear!" from behind the Treasury benches.] Will that very small knot of Gentlemen up in that quarter cease to proclaim the nakedness of the land by interrupting me? because, though I know there will be a very large vote for the Government upon this occasion, those feeble cheers show that there is not very much heart in the business. If the House will give me its attention I promise to be very brief. The noble Lord characterized my conduct as anti-English. He described me as being very prone to take the part of foreigners; and in the same breath the noble Lord said that posterity would regard me with some degree of consideration for having rendered some service to my country. I thought there was some inconsistency in that statement, and I do not understand how posterity could regard with favour one who abandoned his own countrymen and sided with foreigners. There are some people who suppose that the noble Lord's motives of action are not always the best, and part of the press believe him to be actuated by almost treason in his public conduct. The noble Lord, therefore, should be himself disinclined to fix on men false motives and unworthy objects. My only motive of conduct in this House is to promote the just interests of my country, believing them to be in harmony with the interests of the whole world. The noble Lord has referred again to my remarks with respect to certain merchants, and with that dexterity he knows so well how to employ has attributed to me all sorts of aspersions on the character of British merchants. Now, I made no disparaging reference to British merchants 1842 as a body. I spoke of certain merchants at Liverpool, represented by Mr. Charles Turner, chairman, who, in the name of the East India and China Association, sent a memorial to Government recommending the Government to insist on the opening to foreign trade of any port on the coast of China or on any navigable river, and on placing consuls at them, and, moreover, desired that our ships of war should have free navigation and access to all ports and rivers in China. I say that such a document applied to an independent and great empire was never before published to the world. With respect to the language I used, it was applied, not to the merchants of Liverpool generally, but to the persons who expressed such sentiments; and I say such language is worthy of reprobation. The noble Lord, in the course of his speech, has let fall a most important piece of information. He has stated that but for these unfortunate events at Canton the Government had made representations to the Government of France, and was about to make them to America, with a prospect of success, for a joint representation to Pekin, in favour of greater commercial facilities with China. That is an important disclosure, but it is one which tends immensely to aggravate the misconduct which has led to those unfortunate events. The noble Lord tells us that France and America have also treaties with China; but that they are treaties terminable on notice, which ours is not, and that if they exercise their right of giving notice of the termination of these treaties England, as a favoured Power, might also have claimed from China the termination of her treaty, and all three Powers might then effectually have joined in such a representation to Pekin as has been indicated. Is there now a prospect of such an arrangement being made? I speak advisedly when I say I believe that America will not be a party to any combined action with the Government of this country on the basis now taken up in China. The noble Lord may perhaps know more of the feelings of France on this point, but I believe it doubtful whether France will now join us in any such proceeding. What does the noble Lord want with another treaty with China? He tells us that he believes the reason why so few of our manufactures enter China is that there are internal duties and obstacles which prevent their circulation inland. Well, this may be true; but I think that he is mistaken. I think 1843 that a country which shows such an almost unparalleled freedom at her ports, that puts no restriction on shipping, that gives such facilities for the carrying on of business, is not very likely to put obstacles in the way for the purpose of preventing the circulation of manufactured goods in her interior. But if that is the reason why we send no more goods to China now than before the war of 1840—namely, to the extent of only £1,250,000 per annum—does the noble Lord think that the bombardment of Canton will tend to remove those obstructions in the interior of China of which he complains? The great grievance in this affair is that you are carrying on hostilities now without any definite object, and no possible good can arise from them. The noble Lord has told us, with the view of alarming us, that if a vote adverse to the Government should be given to-night the results will be most disastrous all over the world, and particularly in China, where British lives may be destroyed out of revenge by the Chinese. But we have no residents at Canton, and by the latest information which I have received on this subject all the English residents in the south of China have taken refuge at Hong Kong, and the danger is that, as in that place scarcely anything is grown, they will be starved for want of provisions. I presume, however, that there is no danger of their being massacred by the Chinese, as you must have sent out reinforcements sufficient to protect them. Those reinforcements will be able to protect the British residents in the north as well as in the south of China. It seems to me that all the mischief that could be done has been already done, for have you not burned down the factories and all the mercantile residences at Canton? 8,000 or 10,000 houses have been destroyed—that is to say, the residences of about 30,000 or 40,000 inhabitants. All this mischief is done, and a vote of this House cannot make the matter worse. The noble Lord predicts that terrible dangers would result from a change of Ministry; but we all remember that in the midst of the last Chinese war, in 1840, Sir Robert Peel was carried into power,—and yet we do not find that British interests in China suffered by that change of Ministry, for the war was, in fact, carried on more fiercely than before. One word with regard to the terms of my Motion. The noble Lord has found fault with it, which he says were dictated by a combination of parties; but I beg to state distinctly that 1844 no one in this House, with the exception of my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), was consulted by me with regard to the terms of my Motion. Neither directly nor indirectly, was any intimation given of my Motion to any hon. Gentleman opposite, or in any other part of the House, with the exception of my right hon. Friend. I challenge contradiction of that assertion from any and every quarter. How, then, can the noble Lord charge me with entering into a conspiracy to drive him from office? He has talked about party combinations, but even he has not had the boldness to tell the House that I am likely to gain anything by a change of Ministry. I shall not take office in consequence of any change of Ministry, nor do I hope or expect that the division on my Motion will lead to that change of Ministry of which the noble Lord has so much dread. But even if that should be the result of my Motion, I do not think that a change of Ministry would be any great calamity. During the seventeen or eighteen years that I have had a seat in this House I know that, whenever a change of Ministry is expected, those who are interested in supporting the existing Ministry are all on the qui vive—they tell us that heaven and earth will come together if the dreaded change should happen. And I never knew a change of Government where the people did not gain something by it. And I will tell the House what will be the result of a change of Ministers. I take it for granted that either the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) or my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Gladstone) will be Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now what will be the effect? They will take the Budget and reconsider it, and we shall have a reduction of £2,000,000 in the expenditure. Now, the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) sometimes deals some hard blows at me, but there is so much polish in his thrusts that it is impossible for me to be angry with him. No person in this House has fewer enemies, and I am not among them. Yet I will tell the noble Lord candidly that I should make a most excellent bargain for the country if I disposed of him for that £2,000,000 of reduction. I have only one more remark to make, and it refers to the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers). I must confess his speech a little surprised me. He took me to task for the character I had given of British merchants engaged in the 1845 China trade, and he argued in favour of calling those British merchants to give evidence in favour of the Government. Now, if any one happens to recollect, there was a little while ago a meeting at the Freemasons' Tavern at which Lord Shaftesbury ought to have presided; but he failing to appear, and being obliged to rig up a jury-mast and improvise a president, they called upon the hon. and learned Member for Hertford to take the chair. What was that meeting for? Why, every speaker denounced the British merchants in China for carrying on the opium trade. It was from those speeches, which I carefully read, and from which, as is my wont, I cut out certain passages, that I got so much information with regard to these Chinese merchants. I can never be angry with the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall), who has certainly a feminine way of scolding, but if I had introduced a tithe of the facts which have been forced upon my notice as to the doings of this exceptional body of British merchants, the hon. Member, instead of scolding me, would have been obliged to find arguments to defend his friends. The hon. and learned Member for Hertford took us to task for not acting in a judicial way, and as a specimen of his judicial capacity he was first president of a meeting where the speakers excommunicated and outlawed the British merchants, and then he proposes to call upon these outlawed representatives of the British merchants as evidence to the character of the Government. I am obliged to the House for having heard me. In all sincerity I wish this Motion to be taken without reference to its consequences, and with the sole desire to do justice to the merits of the case. I think it hard that any hon. Gentleman should be debarred from giving an honest vote on a question of this importance. I will admit that Parliamentary government must be carried on by parties. If parties were more advanced and came up to my standard, I might join them; but as it is I am isolated, and am content to be a pioneer. But there are great occasions upon which all parties ought to give an honest and conscientious vote. We all of us have moments when we look back upon such a vote as this with more satisfaction than any vote given in the mere scramble of parties. I tell my hon. Friends near me (on the Ministerial benches), many of whom, I fear, are giving their votes with heavy hearts, that I wish they would look 1846 at this question free from party bias, and give that vote which will be most for their own peace and happiness of mind.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
(of whose speech only a few sentences could be heard amid cries for a division) said, he was present at the meeting referred to by the hon. Member for the West Riding, and he did not shrink from owning it. The right hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. Herbert) ask him how he could reconcile the vote he was about to give in favour of the Government with his objections to the opium traffic, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) went so far as to say he washed his hands of the bloodguiltiness in the slaughter at Canton. For the hundreds of lives lost by recent proceedings at Canton, hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in consequence of the opium trade.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 263; Noes 247: Majority 16.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Clive, hon. R. W.|
|Alcock, T.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Annesley, Earl of||Cochrane, A. D. B.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. Gen.||Cocks, T. S.|
|Bagge, W.||Cole, hon. H. A.|
|Bailey, Sir J.||Coles, H. B.|
|Bailey, C.||Compton, H. C.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Conolly, T.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Ball, E.||Cotton, hon. W. H. S.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Crook, J.|
|Baring, T.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Barrington, Visct.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Davison, R.|
|Bective, Earl of||Deedes, W.|
|Bell, J.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Bellew, T. A.||Dod, J. W.|
|Bennet, P.||Drax, J. S. W. S. E.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Bernard, hon. W.||Duncombe, hon. A.|
|Bignold, Sir S.||Duncombe, hon. Col.|
|Boldero, Col.||Duncombe, hon. W. E.|
|Bond, J. W. M'G.||Dundas, G.|
|Bowyer, G.||Dunlop, A. M.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Dunne, Col.|
|Bruce, Major C.||Du Pre, C. G.|
|Bruce, H. A.||East, Sir J. B.|
|Buck, Col.||Elmley, Visct.|
|Bunbury, W. B. M'C.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Burghley, Lord||Farnham, E. B.|
|Burrowes, H. N.||Fellowes, E.|
|Butt, G. M.||Fergusson, Sir J.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Fitzgerald, W. R. S.|
|Cairns, H. M'C.||Floyer, J.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Follett, B. S.|
|Carnac, Sir J. R.||Fox, W. J.|
|Cecil Lord R.||Franklyn, G. W.|
|Chandos, Marq.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Gallwey, Sir W. P.|
|Child, S.||Galway, Visct.|
|Christy, S.||Gilpin, Col.|
|Clinton, Lord R.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||MacGregor, Jas.|
|Goderich, Visct.||M'Mahon, P.|
|Gordon, hon. A.||Maddock, Sir H.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Malins, R.|
|Graham, Lord M. W.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Greenall, G.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Greene, J.||March, Earl of|
|Greene, T.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Grogan, E.||Maxwell, hon. Col.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Meagher, T.|
|Guernsey, Lord||Meux, Sir H.|
|Guinness, R. S.||Miall, E.|
|Gwyn, H.||Miles, W.|
|Haddo, Lord||Morgan, O.|
|Hadfield, G.||Mowbray, J. R.|
|Hale, R. B.||Mundy, W.|
|Halford, Sir H.||Murrough, J. P.|
|Hall, Gen.||Naas, Lord|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Napier, rt. hon. J.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Neeld, J.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Hamilton, rt. hn. R. C. N.||Newport, Visct.|
|Hanbury, hon. C. S. B.||Nisbet, R. P.|
|Handcock, hon. Capt. H.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Harcourt, Col.||North, Col.|
|Hardy, G.||Northcote, Sir S. H.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Oakes, J. H. P.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Ossulston, Lord|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Otway, A. J.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Packe, C. W.|
|Henniker, Lord||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Palk, L.|
|Herbert, Sir T.||Palmer, Robert|
|Herbert, hon. P. E.||Palmer, Roundell|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Parker, R. T.|
|Heyworth, L.||Paxton, Sir J.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Hill, Lord A. E.||Peel, Gen.|
|Hogg, Sir J. W.||Pellatt, A.|
|Holford, R. S.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Hotham, Lord||Perry, Sir T. E.|
|Hume, W. F.||Phillimore, J. G.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Phillimore, R. J.|
|Johnstone, J.||Pilkington, J.|
|Johnstone, J. J. H.||Portal, M.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Pugh, D.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Jolliffe, H. H.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Kennedy, T.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Kerrison, Sir E. C.||Rust, J.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Sandars, G.|
|Knatchbull, W. F.||Scobell, Capt.|
|Knight, F. W.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Knox, Col.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Knox, hon. W. S.||Shirley, E. P.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Sibthorp, Maj.|
|Laing, S.||Smith, J. B.|
|Langton, W. G.||Smith, W. M.|
|Laslett, W.||Smith, A.|
|Layard, A. H.||Somerset, Col.|
|Lennox, Lord A. F.||Spooner, R.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Stafford, A.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Stanley, Lord|
|Lindsay, W. S.||Starkie, Le G. N.|
|Locke, J.||Stirling, W.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Stracey, Sir H. J.|
|Lovaine, Lord||Stewart, Sir M. R. S.|
|Lowther, Capt.||Stuart, Capt.|
|Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.||Sturt, C. N.|
|Macartney, G.||Sturt, H. G.|
|MacEvoy, E.||Sullivan, M.|
|Sutton, J. H. M.||Warner, E.|
|Swift, R.||Warren, S.|
|Taylor, Col.||Welby, Sir G. E.|
|Thesiger, Sir F.||Whiteside, J.|
|Thompson, G.||Whitmore, H.|
|Tite, W.||Wigram, L. T.|
|Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.||Williams, W.|
|Tyler, Sir G.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Vance, J.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Vane, Lord H.||Wyndham, Gen.|
|Vernon, G. E. H.||Wyndham, H.|
|Vernon, L. V.||Wynn, Lieut. Col.|
|Vyse, Col.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Waddington, D.||Wynne, W. W. E.|
|Waddington, H. S.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.||Cobden, R.|
|Walsh, Sir J. B.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acton, J.||Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.|
|Adair, Col.||Craufurd, E. H. J.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Crossley, F.|
|Anderson, Sir J,||Currie, R.|
|Antrobus, E.||Dashwood, Sir G. H.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Denison, E.|
|Bagwell, J.||Denison, J. E.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Dent, J. D.|
|Ball, J.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Bass, M. T.||Divett, E.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Drummond, H.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Duff, G. S.|
|Beckett, W.||Duke, Sir J.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Berkeley, Sir M.||Duncan, G.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Duncombe, T.|
|Berkeley, F. W. F.||Dundas, F.|
|Bethell, Sir R.||Dunne, M.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Biggs, J.||Ellice, rt. hon. E.|
|Black, A.||Ellice, E.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Emlyn, Visct.|
|Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P.||Euston, Earl of|
|Boyle, hon. W. G.||Ewart, J. C.|
|Brand, hon. H.||Fagan, W.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Feilden, Major|
|Brockman, E. D.||Fenwick, H.|
|Brown, H.||Fergus, J.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Ferguson, Col.|
|Buckley, Gen.||Ferguson, Sir R.|
|Butler, C. S.||Ferguson, J.|
|Butt, I.||FitzGerald, Sir J.|
|Byng, hon. G. H. C.||FitzGerald, rt. hon. J. D.|
|Castlerosse, Visct.||FitzRoy, rt. hon. H.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.|
|Cavendish, hon. G.||Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Forster, C.|
|Challis, Mr. Ald.||Forster, J.|
|Chambers, M.||Fortescue, C. S.|
|Chambers, T.||Freestun, Col.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Gifford, Earl of|
|Cholmondeley, Lord H.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Clay, J.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Gregson. S.|
|Clive, G.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Cobbett, J. M.||Greville, Col. F.|
|Codrington, Gen.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Coffin, W.||Grey, R. W.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Gurney, J. H.|
|Cowan, C.||Hall, rt. hon. Sir B.|
|Hankey, T.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hastie, Alex.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Hastie, Arch.||Peel, Sir R.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Peel, F.|
|Heard, J. I.||Philipps, J. H.|
|Heneage, G. F.||Pigott, F.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Pinney, Col.|
|Higgins, Col.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Holland, E.||Ponsonby, hon. A. G. J.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Portman, hon. W. H. B.|
|Horsman, rt. hon. E.||Pritchard, J.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Ramsden, Sir J. W.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Raynham, Visct.|
|Hughes, H. G.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Hutt, W.||Reed, Maj. J. H.|
|Ingham, R.||Ricardo, O.|
|Ingram, H.||Ricardo, S.|
|Jackson, W.||Rice, E. R.|
|Keating, R.||Ridley, G.|
|Kendall, N.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Ker, R.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Kingscote, R. N. F.||Russell, F. W.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Kirk, W.||Sawle, C. B. G.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Scholefield, W.|
|Laffan, R. M.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Langston, J. H.||Scully, F.|
|Langton, H. G.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Legh, G. C.||Seymour, W. D.|
|Lewis, rt. hn. Sir G. C.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.||Shee, W.|
|Luce, T.||Shelley, Sir J. V.|
|Mackie, J.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Smijth, Sir W.|
|McTaggart, Sir J.||Smith, J. A.|
|Magan, W. H.||Smith, M. T.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Marjoribanks, D. C.||Smyth, Col.|
|Marshall, W.||Stafford, Marq. of|
|Martin, J.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Martin, P. W.||Steel, J.|
|Martin, C. W.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Massey, W. N.||Tempest, Lord A. V.|
|Masterman, J.||Thornely, T.|
|Matheson, Alex.||Thornhill, W. P.|
|Millighan, R.||Tollemache, J.|
|Mills, T.||Tomline, G.|
|Milnes, R. M.||Traill, G.|
|Milton, Visct.||Tynte, Col. C. J. K.|
|Michell, W.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Uxbridge, Earl of|
|Moffatt, G.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Monck, Visct.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Monsell, rt. hon. W.||Walter, J.|
|Moody, C. A.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Morris, D.||Weguelin, T. M.|
|Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.||Wells, W.|
|Mowatt, F.||Whatman, J.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Whitbread, S.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Wilkinson, W. A.|
|North, F.||Willcox, B. M'G.|
|O'Brien, P.||Williams, Sir W. F.|
|O'Brien, Sir T.||Wilson, J.|
|O'Connell, Capt. D.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Oliveira, B.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Osborne, R.||Wyndham, W.|
|Owen, Sir J.||TELLERS.|
|Paget, C.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Blackburne, P.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Vansittart, G. H.||Wyvill, M.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Duff, J.|
|Buck, L. W.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Booth, Sir G.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Bland, L. H.|
|Percy, hon. J. W.||Henchy, D. O'C.|
|Goddard, A. L. [?]||Esmonde, J.|
|Forster, Sir G.||Deasy, R.|
|Baird, J.||Beamish, F. B.|
|Long, W.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Col.||Davie, Sir H. R. F.|
|Davies, J. L.||Atherton, W.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Lushington, C. M.||Collier, R. P.|
|Baring, hon. F.||Baring, H.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Montgomery, H. L.||French, Col.|
|George, J.||O'Brien, Serj.|
|Verner, Sir W.||Acland, Sir T. D.|
|Williams, Col. T. P.||Bulkeley, Sir R.|
|Patten, Col. W.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Burrowes, R.||De Vere, S. E.|
|Burrell, Sir C.||Heywood, J.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Hutchins, E. J.|
§ The House adjourned at half after Two o'clock.