§ Order of the Day for considering Her Majesty's most Gracious Message of Monday last read.
§ The Message having been read by the Reading Clerk,
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
rose, and said: My Lords, in rising to move your Lordships to agree to the Address which I shall have the honour to propose in answer to the Gracious Message of Her Majesty which has just been read, I trust that it will not be necessary for me to detain the House at any great length on a subject with which your Lordships are already so well acquainted, both from the papers which have been laid before Parliament, and from the discussions which have already taken place in this House. But, my Lords, upon an occasion like the present—upon an occasion of such solemn and grave importance—when the hopes and anticipations of the last few months have been dispelled—when the peace which we have so long laboured to main-tam has been terminated—when war, which we have thought for years past to be impossible to be renewed, is about to be commenced—and when your Lordships are now called upon to reply to the appeal which Her Majesty has made to your loyal devotion and zeal in the struggle which she is about to wage in defence of an injured ally—I admit that I cannot approach the subject, familiar as it is, without feelings of the greatest anxiety. My Lords, I do not shrink from the expression of this opinion, because I believe it is a feeling in which your Lordships will entirely participate; because it is not inconsistent with our national honour; it is not inconsistent 141 with that courage which characterises our countrymen; it is not inconsistent with that firm determination and stedfastness of purpose which in past times has borne us safely through difficulties and dangers—calmly to contemplate the wide field of calamity that war opens before us, and to reflect upon the various and vast interests that will be endangered, upon the social progress which will be interrupted, upon the burdens which will be increased upon the people, and the plans of improvement which will be set aside, by this war. But, my Lords, these considerations—presenting themselves, and weighing heavily, as they must do, on every reflecting mind—have not proved sufficient either to abate the determination or to damp the ardour—I would rather say the enthusiasm—with which this country has risen as one man at the sacred call of duty to defend the national honour, in a holy, just, and righteous cause. My Lords, I trust that nothing will fall from me this evening to mar those unanimous feelings with which on every account it is so important that our proceedings should be characterised, or that I should impair the great and good effect which I know has been produced throughout the whole of Europe by the unanimity of the people of this country and by the imposing attitude which in conquence England has assumed since war has appeared to be imminent. But, my Lords, in saying this, I am far from intending, as my noble Friend opposite thought on a former and less important occasion, to deprecate discussion or avert inquiry in any and every stage of these proceedings; still less have I any intention to complain of the spirit in which these inquiries and that criticism have hitherto been conducted. Some of your Lordships may have thought that we did not speak out sufficiently strong and in sufficiently good time; others have thought that we should have acted more vigorously, and rendered war inevitable in order to avoid war; others have thought that we have displayed a foolish confidence in the assurances we have received; while others, like my noble Friend below me (Earl Grey), have, by powerful arguments, endeavoured to establish that we should not have interfered at all. But, my Lords, as far as I have been able to ascertain the real state of public opinion, I believe that the verdict of the country has been given in our favour, and I believe it is because our persevering efforts to maintain peace 142 have been exhausted, that the unanimous support of this powerful nation is now so cordially to be given to us.
My Lords, it has been, on several occasions, my duty to explain and defend the policy of the Government; and I shall not, therefore, on the present occasion, occupy your Lordships' time, or weary you, by going over the same ground and repeating the same facts and arguments. But, my Lords, with reference to that undue confidence which we have been accused of exhibiting in the Emperor of Russia, I do desire to say a few words, and they will be with reference to that correspondence which has just been laid on your Lordships' table. My Lords, it is unnecessary for me to say that that correspondence would have remained buried in the archives of the Foreign Office, if we had not been challenged, and consequently compelled, by the Emperor of Russia to produce it. We neither desired nor sought these communications; but, having received them as confidential, we have behaved with scrupulous honour to the Emperor of Russia, and I can give your Lordships no better proof of this than this fact—that in a despatch that I wrote at the end of April, in which I recapitulated the various assurances given us by the Emperor, I inserted one short extract, not from the despatch sent by Sir Hamilton Seymour containing an account of his conversations with the Emperor, but from the memorandum presented by Count Nesselrode at the Emperor's request, and which the Emperor had caused to be drawn up. Count Nesselrode, observing this extract, protested against this as a breach of confidence, and requested that it might not be inserted in that despatch when it was laid before Parliament. We replied, that all communications of this kind were exceedingly inconvenient to a constitutional Government; but that if the Emperor thought he had just cause to complain, we would promise him that that passage should be withdrawn from the despatch when it was laid before Parliament. And I can with confidence appeal to your Lordships whether, in the course of the various discussions which have taken place upon this subject, there has been any, the slightest allusion, on the part of the Government to these communications made by the Emperor of Russia. But, my Lords, as that correspondence has been produced, I can only express my satisfaction that it has seen the light; because I think I may say, 143 without presumption, that it proves that we have been honest to the Sultan, honest to our allies, and honest to the Emperor himself. It was the Emperor who voluntarily developed his ideas, or rather expressed his convictions that the dissolution of the Ottoman empire was inevitable. And, my Lords, we must remember that this was no singular idea on the part of the Emperor—that he had no monopoly of it—and that it was shared by thousands of persons in this country, who, at this time last year, had no idea of the vital energy and national spirit which the Turks have since exhibited. It was proved in books, in pamphlets, in newspapers, and by a variety of statistical data, that the Ottoman empire could not last. The Emperor of Russia desired to discuss this matter with us, and to arrange with us what would be suitable, or rather what would not be suitable, to the interests of the two countries in the event of these prophecies being realised. My Lords, I say there was in this nothing more to excite suspicion or create alarm in the year 1853 than there had been in the year 1844, or in 1829, when these ideas were first broached. But, my Lords, if this country had participated in these ideas of the Emperor—if we had shown that we believed that the dissolution of the Turkish empire was at hand—if we had been ready to admit its dismemberment, or shown a readiness to accept Egypt or Candia, as was proposed to us—then, my Lords, I think, the Emperor might have looked to the realisation of his prophecy. But it was because we wished to avert that danger, and to bring the Emperor to our view of the question, that we did not shrink from his wish that we should discuss the whole question with him. We frankly discussed his arguments; we gave him our reasons for thinking that the dissolution of the Ottoman empire was not at hand; we declared that we would not be a party to any underhand dealings, and that we would have no secrets from our allies; we dismissed with something like silent contempt the offer of a territorial bribe; and we pointed out to the Emperor the course which he himself ought to pursue. Well, my Lords, the Emperor in return said that Russia was too great in territorial extent already; that he desired no increase of territory; he agreed with us that the maintenance of the Ottoman empire was a European necessity, and that its downfall would be a European calamity; and, 144 though he said he should insist upon justice being done him by the Sultan upon the question of the Holy Places, yet he positively asserted that he had not, moved a man or a ship at that time towards Turkey. And, my Lords, these assurances were given to us, not only upon the word of the Emperor, but on the word of a "gentleman"—His Imperial Majesty seems to draw some distinction between the two—and these assurances were addressed, not merely to Her Majesty's Government, but to the Queen herself. And then, my Lords, in a memorandum drawn up by the Emperor's desire, and perhaps by his own pen, we received these assurances:—The Emperor has, with lively satisfaction, made himself acquainted with Lord Clarendon's despatch of the 23rd of March. His Majesty congratulates himself on perceiving that his views and those of the English Cabinet entirely coincide on the subject of the political combinations which it would be chiefly necessary to avoid in the extreme case of the contingency occurring in the East which Russia and England have equally at heart to prevent, or, at all events, to delay as long as possible. Sharing generally the opinions expressed by Lord Clarendon on the necessity of the prolonged maintenance of the existing state a things in Turkey, the Emperor, nevertheless, cannot abstain from adverting to a special point which leads him to suppose that the information received by the British Government is not altogether in accordance with ours. It refers to the humanity and the toleration to be shown by Turkey in her manner of treating her Christian subjects. Putting aside many other examples to the contrary of an old date, it is, for all that, notorious that recently the cruelties committed by the Turks in Bosnia forced hundreds of Christian families to seek refuge in Austria. In other respects, without wishing on this occasion to enter upon a discussion as to the symptoms of decay, more or less evident, presented by the Ottoman Power, or the greater or less degree of vitality which its internal constitution may retain, the Emperor will readily agree that the best means of upholding the duration of the Turkish Government is not to harass it by overbearing demands, supported in a manner humiliating to its independence and its dignity. his Majesty is disposed, as he has ever been, to act upon this system, with the clear understanding, however, that the same rule of conduct shall be observed, without distinction and unanimously, by each of the great Powers, and that none of them shall take advantage of the weakness of the Porte to obtain from it concessions which might turn to the prejudice of the others. This principle being laid down, the Emperor declares that he is ready to labour, in concert with England, at the common work of prolonging the existence of the Turkish empire, setting aside all cause of alarm on the subject of its dissolution. He readily accepts the evidence offered by the British Cabinet of entire confidence in the uprightness of his sentiments, and the hope that, on this basis, his alliance with England cannot fail to become stronger.145 Now, my Lords, this was on the 15th of April, and as the result and conclusion of a correspondence begun, apparently, with very different feelings on the part of the Emperor of Russia from those which he now entertains, I think it was all we could expect and all we could desire; unless, indeed, we are to proceed upon a general system of disbelief and suspicion in the honour and rectitude of persons in high quarters, where they might most naturally be expected to be found. Well, my Lords, if you can divest your minds of all that has passed since the month of May, and realise the impression which would have been made upon you, if, at the end of April last, and before the real nature of Prince Menchikoff's mission was known, I had been able to lay this memorandum on your Lordships' table, I think your Lordships would have felt, as Her Majesty's Government felt at that time, that Turkey was safe from the dangers in which she was soon after involved. And, my Lords, the dangers were and are of a very clear and substantial nature. The Emperor of Russia has endeavoured by a treaty, or by an engagement which should have the force of treaty, to obtain that right of interference between the Sultan and many millions of his subjects which would have extended not only to a virtual protectorate, but have conferred actual government upon him. Had the Sultan entered into the engagements which were required from him, the Greek Christians, who are the subjects of the Porte, would have been placed in the same position as the subjects of the Emperor of Russia. No question, however small and however trifling, connected with the control of the affairs of the Greek subjects of the Sultan could have arisen which would not have had to be determined by the Russian Ambassador at Constantinople. We should then have seen the enlightenment, the intelligence, and the progress of the Greek subjects of Turkey, as well as the free exercise of their religion, brought down to the same low level as those of the subjects of the Emperor of Russia; and any demur upon the part of the Sultan to submit to the government of the Russian Ambassador would have been an infraction of treaty and a legitimate cause of quarrel. Under these circumstances, my Lords, Russia would have been enabled at any moment, and upon any pretext, with her powerful fleet in the Black Sea, to render herself mistress of Constantinople. I need not waste your 146 Lordships' time by any comments upon the effect of such an event as that occurring. We should have found in such a case, to our cost and to our disgrace, that the maintenance of the Ottoman empire, which is a matter of European necessity, as its downfall would be an European calamity, was nothing more than a vague and unmeaning term. And I must say, my Lords, that I think it was unworthy of the dignity of the Emperor of Russia perseveringly to attribute the failure of his scheme, not to the nature of the scheme itself, but to the perseverance and malignity of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. The Sultan was perfectly alive to his own interests, and, under any circumstances, would have refused the terms sought to be imposed upon him by the Emperor of Russia. True it is that Lord Stratford, on being consulted, did not advise the Porte to commit political suicide; but it is also true that the same advice was given at the same time by the French Ambassador, the Austrian Inter-nuncio, and the Prussian Minister. When the outrage of occupying the Principalities was committed, it was committed as a material guarantee for the fulfilment of a treaty which had not been violated. And, my Lords, although this part of the subject has been more than once alluded to before, your Lordships must bear in mind that the whole question, as regards the Emperor of Russia, turns upon the interpretation of the seventh article of the treaty of Kainardji, by which the Porte engaged to protect the Christian religion and all its churches thoughout the Ottoman dominions; but so carefully did the Porte guard itself against any right of interference on the part of Russia that, by a subsequent portion of the article, that interference was expressly limited to the right of making representations with respect to a church at that time building at Constantinople, and. to an engagement on the part of the Porte to take those representations into consideration. But, my Lords, it is this unlimited interpretation of the treaty which has been throughout insisted upon by Russia, and for which she is now prepared to enter into war. And, my Lords, if a mission like that of Prince Menchikoff could be resorted to to enforce rights which she was not entitled to demand, I leave your Lordships to judge what would have been the effect as regards Russia if this scheme had succeeded, and if the Emperor had been entitled to demand all that was conceded to him, with 147 the additional interpretation put upon this treaty. We have a treaty with the King of Naples. Suppose we had suddenly chosen to give an interpretation to that treaty that it was an undertaking to admit British commodities free of duty, for the purpose of rendering them cheaper to His Majesty's subjects; and suppose the King of Naples, as he was justly entitled, had resisted this, and we had seized on Sicily as a material pledge—not for anything we had a right to claim, but for a compliance with demands resting merely on our own interpretation of the treaty—in that case, I ask whether the indignation of Europe would not have been aroused, and whether the King of Naples would not have been warranted in calling in his allies to assist him in repelling the aggression, if England could even have attempted it? Yet such an assumption of power would not have been one whit more unwarranted or unjustifiable than has been the conduct of the Emperor of Russia towards the Porte. But, notwithstanding all that had occurred, the mediation of Austria for the settlement of the differences between Russia and the Porte was called in, and Austria invited the aid of the other three Powers in this work. Though the four Powers felt that the Emperor of Russia had committed a great wrong, they thought it advisable to find for him a means of retreat without loss of dignity, and if the Emperor had accepted the modified Vienna Note he would have lost nothing of dignity, but in reality would have gained in other respects. However, he rejected the terms proposed, and Count Nesselrode then, in a note, avowed what it was that Russia really would insist on. Still, however, the Emperor of Russia having said, after the Conferences at Olmutz, that if any fresh terms were proposed to him he desired that they should be first settled with the Porte, the four Powers again renewed their endeavours, and their representatives at Constantinople obtained from the Porte fresh terms, giving the Emperor much more than he had a right to demand. And it deserves to be recorded to the honour of the Porte, that it was after the Sultan had been compelled, in his own defence, to declare war, and after the massacre at Sinope, which aroused national indignation, that this fresh negotiation was begun. My Lords, the terms of ads negotiation were sent to Vienna, and unanimously approved by the representatives of the four Powers, who declared them to be just and 148 honourable, and such as the Emperor might accept without any loss of that honour and dignity which it was thought so desirable to maintain. And, my Lords, how were those negotiations received? The Emperor of Russia did not even notice them. He ignored the terms offered him by the Porte. He disregarded the advice and recommendation of the four Powers, and he disregarded the highest and greatest interests of Europe and the universal expression of public opinion. He, however, subsequently sent proposals of his own, in which his original demands, so far from being abated, were increased, and put in a form to render them more injurious and offensive to the Porte. Could we, under such circumstances—could France and England—allow the virtual supremacy over millions of the subjects of the Sultan to be handed over to the Emperor of Russia? Could France and England submit to the degradation of allowing Russia to take up a position as regards Turkey which would be the means of inflicting death upon that country, either by slow poison or by sudden death? for that is the alternative which Russia offers. There could be but one answer to that question, and that answer has already been given by the generous and high-minded people of this country, who detest aggression, whatever form it may assume, and who are always ready to protect the weak against the strong. And, my Lords, it was a sense of national honour, a sense of duty, and a desire that this country should continue to be respected among the nations of the earth, that made Her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with the Government of the Emperor of the French, feel it their bounden duty to bring this question to a final decision, and require within a given period an understanding from the Emperor of Russia that he would evacuate the Principalities, giving him notice at the same time that his refusal to comply with the terms proposed, or a refusal to reply, would be considered as equivalent to a declaration of war. Late on Saturday evening last a messenger arrived from St. Petersburg with the information that the Emperor did not consider it consistent with his dignity to give any answer to the communication of the Allied Powers, and on Monday Her Majesty's Royal Message was read in this House. My Lords, I think your Lordships will admit that we have been actuated by no selfish considerations, that we have sought for no territorial ag- 149 grandisement, and no extension of political influence. We want nothing for our trade, and we fear nothing for our Indian possessions. For none of these would we make the sacrifices we are now about to make; but for the preservation of our honour and our self-respect we are prepared to make any sacrifice, and it is to maintain our honour and our self-respect that Her Majesty appeals to the loyal devotion of your Lordships.
On Monday evening, a noble Earl Opposite (the Earl of Derby) expressed a wish that the agreements between England and France, and England, France, and Turkey, should be laid upon the table. Certain papers have already been delivered, but at the present moment we are not able to lay our agreement with France on the table. At present it consists simply of an exchange of notes, containing arrangements with respect to military operations, and which have been drawn up for the purpose of facilitating arrangements elsewhere, which, I hope, may have been concluded before now. If those arrangements are not concluded at Vienna, the notes between France and England will take a more decisive and definite form, and will then of course be laid upon your Lordships' table. With respect to the convention entered into with Turkey, I explained to my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury), last night, that, in consequence of a misunderstanding at the French Foreign Office, the Ambassador of the Emperor of the French at Constantinople had not yet received his full powers, and, consequently, the treaty had only been provisionally signed. It cannot, therefore, at present be laid upon the table. But I may at once reply to the inquiries made by my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby), the other evening, with respect to some fears he expressed with regard to certain rumours which had reached him, that the convention contains no stipulations of any kind with respect to the Christian subjects of the Porte. A question has been asked by my noble Friend opposite (Earl Grey) as to the object of the war, or, in other words, what are the terms on which peace would be concluded? But I think my noble Friend will not press that question, when he must be aware that the answer must depend upon a vast variety of circumstances which it is impossible for any one to foresee. We enter on the war for a definite object; it is to check and repel the unjust aggression of Russia. In what manner that will be carried out, and to what consequences it may lead, must depend entirely upon the 150 proverbial chances of war, upon the success that may attend our arms, and upon the activity of our allies; and I certainly, therefore, can give no answer to that inquiry, seeing how unfounded any assurances I can give may ultimately prove to be. When the British army went to Spain we went to assist the people of that country to defend themselves from aggression; but in 1808, or 1809, or 1810, or 1811, we could not say we would make no peace except upon the territorial arrangements which were ultimately fixed at Vienna. In entering on war now, we do so to repel aggression and to secure a peace honourable to Turkey. I believe there is not a man in the dominions of the Czar who does not expect that Constantinople will ultimately belong to Russia. It will be our duty, as far as we possibly can, to prevent the realisation of that expectation, and to take care that a Russian occupation may never begin there. Were it to succeed, and were Russia to be in possession of Constantinople, commanding, as she would do then, the Black Sea and its shores, being enabled, as she would, to occupy Circassia and Georgia, and convert the population of those frontier countries into one mighty army, having access to the Mediterranean and a vast naval fleet in the Baltic, and determined, as she now is, to increase her naval power by all those facilities which steam and modern invention have afforded for the transport of troops—with all these advantages, were Russia in possession of Constantinople, it would not be too much to anticipate that more than one Western Power would have to undergo the fate of Poland. The wealth, and the intelligence, and the civilisation of Europe would be no more a barrier against encroachments upon the part of Russia than were the intelligence and civilisation of ancient Rome against the encroachments of the Huns and Vandals. And, my Lords, the more we examine this question, the more gigantic is the aspect it assumes. It is not merely the protection of Turkey against the aggressions of Russia that is concerned in the Eastern question, as it is commonly called, but it is the battle of civilisation against barbarism, for the maintenance of the independence of Europe. Already, even without territorial aggrandisement, the policy pursued by Russia has, in a great measure, placed the nations of Germany in a state of dependence. Several foreign Governments, but more particularly those of Germany, have been acted 151 upon by Russia with a strength and influence which have been and always will be exercised to check education, the free expression of opinion, and that progress which is essential to civilisation. The object of the Emperor of Russia has been to render other countries dependent upon him. From the papers which have already been laid upon the table of the House, your Lordships must have seen at once that the submission of Austria to the designs of the Emperor of Russia upon Turkey was taken for granted, and that, with respect to Prussia, she was not thought worthy of mention at all. And even after all that had passed, even in the course of this very year, after Austria and Prussia had signed the protocols condemning the conduct of the Emperor of Russia, the Emperor of Russia sent a tripartite convention for the German Powers to sign for his advantage, and did not authorise his agent to give an answer to the Emperor of Austria himself, when he asked what the policy of the Emperor of Russia would be in the event of his signing that convention. Nor would the Emperor of Russia even say whether his forces would cross the Danube or not. But the conventions and propositions of the Emperor of Russia were rejected in a manner well calculated to maintain the dignity and independence of Austria and Prussia. And here, my Lords, let me repeat what I have said before, that this country has every reason to be satisfied with the conduct of Austria. She has behaved in an honourable and straightforward manner throughout the negotiations with Russia, and she has done, in her own way, and at her own time, everything that she could for the preservation of peace, and to maintain the integrity of Turkey. I believe she has now placed her army upon a war footing, and only this evening I received a communication stating the position of her different forces, which now amount to 130,000 men, independently of her troops upon the frontier, and I think we have no right to be dissatisfied with that disposition. There is, however, unfortunately, a difference in the mode of action between Austria and Prussia. The latter Power is desirous of exercising a perfect neutrality; but I must say that, with such a war as is now about to be waged upon the frontiers of both countries, it will be impossible for either Power to preserve a neutrality. At all events, nothing could be more exhausting, nothing more disastrous, nothing more fatal, to the 152 best interests of both these countries than a protracted war, and nothing could be better for them than a short and decisive contest. But if the two great German Powers be divided, the result will inevitably be in favour of revolution; and therefore favourable to the present interests of Russia. If these Powers, however, proceed in accordance with popular opinion, which is every day more and more against Russia, it cannot be for one moment doubted that the ultimate result will be favourable to German independence. That Power which lends itself to the designs of Russia will transfer all the popular sympathy of Germany to the Power that refuses to do so, and into the hands of that Power will be committed the future destinies of the German nation. Under these circumstances, I do sincerely hope that these two great Powers—taking an accurate estimate both of their own interests and the interests of Europe—may become not only united in their policy with the Western Powers, but that they will undertake united action with them. I trust they will take the parts which befit them in this great struggle, of which not only the immediate, but the ultimate result concerns them even more than it does Western Europe. I trust that, at the close of this struggle, we shall find them by our side, re-establishing peace upon a solid and secure foundation; but that peace, my Lords, will be neither solid nor secure sinless the territorial extension and the immoderate influence of Russia be repressed and for ever limited. That peace will not be a glorious peace, my Lords, if we do not secure equal rights and immunities for the Christian subjects of the Porte—not securing them by treaties nor by a protectorate, nor by acquiring rights fatal to the very independence of the Power which we intend to uphold; but securing them as the spontaneous act of the Sultan—and not less binding on him on that account—by which he will best consult his own interests, and by which he will entitle himself to the gratitude of Europe, and afford to France and England the only return they desire for the exertions which they are now making on his behalf. With these objects in view—and if the Crown meets, as I trust it will, with the unanimous support of the Parliament and people of this country—we may humbly hope that the protection of Heaven may be vouchsafed to a cause which we believe to be a righteous and just one, and we may look forward boldly and fearlessly to the 153 result of the struggle in which we have now embarked. The noble Earl concluded by moving—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to return Her Majesty the thanks of this House for Her most gracious Message, and for the communication of the several papers which have been laid before it in obedience to Her Majesty's command. To assure Her Majesty of the just sense we entertain of Her Majesty's anxious and uniform endeavours to preserve to Her people the blessings of peace, and of our perfect confidence in Her Majesty's disposition to terminate the calamities of war, whenever that object can be accomplished consistently with the honour of Her Majesty's Crown and the interests of Her people. That we have observed with deep concern that Her Majesty's endeavours have been frustrated by the spirit of aggression displayed by the Emperor of Russia in his invasion and continued occupation of the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia, in the rejection of equitable terms of peace proposed under the sanction of four of the principal Powers of Europe, and in the preparation of immense threes to support his unjust pretensions. That these pretensions appear to us subversive of the independence of the Turkish empire. That we feel that the trust reposed in us demands on our part a firm determination to co-operate with Her Majesty in a vigorous resistance to the projects of a Sovereign whose further aggrandisement would be dangerous to the independence of Europe.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I rise, not for the purpose of offering any opposition to the adoption by your Lordships of the Address which has been moved by the noble Earl opposite, because I concur with him in thinking that, whatever may be our differences of opinion as to the manner in which the negotiations which have preceded this war have been conducted, this is a moment and an occasion on which it is of importance—of the utmost and most vital importance—that there should be no difference in the expression by this or the other House of Parliament of an opinion which I believe, with the noble Earl, to be the general and almost universal feeling and opinion of the country, with regard to the necessity of giving an active support to Her Majesty's Government in the prosecution of that war which, however lamentable and however much to be deprecated—as all war must be—is, in my belief, and in the belief of the country, a just war, and which, in the present state of things, however different it may have been originally, is also a necessary war. And I am only apprehensive, my Lords, that, as Her Majesty's Government have, up to the latest moment, continued to hope against hope—that as, up to the last moment, they have spoken of peace when all around them breathed war 154 —so that even now they imperfectly appreciate, or, to use an American expression, they fail to "realise" the magnitude, the importance, and the probable duration of that arduous struggle upon which we are now about to enter. I fear, too, that the country has set its hopes and expectations too high with regard to the immediate and direct success of our interference. I fear that they underrate the resources, more especially great for purposes of defensive warfare, of the great antagonist whom we have to meet. I fear they underrate the difficulties which must be thrown in the way of the best combined operations, of the most gallant armies, and of the most powerful fleets, from circumstances against which neither bravery nor conduct can secure those fleets or those armies. And if I venture, my Lords, at this moment, when we are entering upon a great war, to call your attention and the attention of the country to its importance and magnitude, and to its possible duration, I do it, not with a view of discouraging that enthusiasm which the noble Earl describes to be felt by the nation in this struggle—I do it with no wish to damp the ardour and eagerness of the people of this country at any sacrifice to support a cause which they believe to he a just and sacred cause—but I do it, well knowing the character and nature of my countrymen, and believing that those energies, that eagerness, and that enthusiasm will be rather kindled and excited than diminished by having placed before them, plainly and distinctly, the magnitude of the struggle and the greatness of the sacrifices for which they must be prepared. And I think nothing would be so unfortunate as that we should enter on this great struggle with an idea entertained by a great portion of the community, still less with an idea entertained or encouraged on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that this war will be a light affair or one of a trifling nature. I cannot conceive a greater mortification—1 cannot conceive a greater discouragement, that the country should feel, after two or three campaigns, that they had made but little progress towards the attainment of the object which they were led to believe would be of instantaneous execution; and I think it infinitely better they should know beforehand the magnitude of the cause they are about to undertake, than that they should lightly contract hopes and expectations which may for a considerable time be baffled and deluded. But it 155 is not because I think the war will be of long duration and of serious importance—it is not because I fear we do not enter into it in so full a state of preparation as, perhaps, we might have done—it is not because I feel that for defensive purposes the resources of the Emperor of Russia, even if he receive no co-operation or neutrality from other Powers, are formidable—that I deprecate underrating a conflict, which, however fatal and lamentable, however easily it might have been avoided in its origin, has now, I think, become necessary for the protection and maintenance of the liberties of Europe. I concur fully with the noble Earl opposite that the possession of Constantinople would in point of fact give to Russia a preponderating and overwhelming power, which would render her the mistress and arbiter of Europe and a great part of Asia. I concur also with him in thinking—for although I think he did not express the opinion, it is one which he must entertain—that the assumption of that amount of influence that the protectorate which Russia claims over Turkey would virtually, if assented to and allowed by Europe, give to Russia, would give her the same power, and place her in the same position in regard to Europe, as if by her armies she occupied that country. It is, then, of importance that we should understand what it is for which we are about to contend, and what position that is which is demanded by Russia. I concur with my noble Friend in thinking that, from the very first moment the pretensions of Russia to this protectorate for which she has throughout uniformly contended, were pretensions which it was impossible to admit, and pretensions which, if admitted, would give to Russia an absolute sovereignty over Turkey. Therefore, it is not merely for the expulsion of the Russian forces from the provinces, it is not merely for the purpose of preventing the realisation of the future dreams of Russian ambition and Russian greatness that we are contending—it is for placing the relations between Russia and Turkey, by the act of universal Europe, upon a footing which shall be that of two independent States—not that of one nominally independent, but smothered and strangled under the protectorate of the other. I concur, then, with the noble Earl, that this is a just war, that it is a necessary war, and I that it has for a long time been an inevitable war. But I am afraid, in accepting the invitation given by the noble Earl to 156 enter upon a discussion of those revelations which have been made by the secret papers lately produced, and laid upon your Lordships' table, I am not altogether prepared to go along with him in the view which he takes as to the deception which he thinks was practised on this country by Russia, or the conviction he still entertains, that, with the information which they had in their hands, Her Majesty's Government were justified in supposing that there was no danger to the peace of Europe arising from the pretensions made by Russia. I must go further—I say it without meaning any personal disrespect—but I must say I believe this war never would have taken place, these pretensions never would have been put forward, if, at the particular time of these particular differences arising, the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen) had not been the Minister at the head of the Government. It is impossible to enter on the consideration of these papers, and the consideration of that question, without referring, in the first instance, to that secret memorandum which has been produced and laid on the table by the noble Earl—I mean the memorandum which I, erroneously, had always supposed to have been prepared by Baron Brunnow, but which is now stated to have been prepared by Count Nesselrode. The endorsement on this memorandum is of rather a peculiar character. It is stated to be a memorandum founded upon communications received from the Emperor of Russia subsequently to His Imperial Majesty's visit to England in 1844. Now I dare say the memorandum was framed subsequent to His Imperial Majesty's visit; but I do not understand that the communications were made by the Russian Emperor to Count Nesselrode subsequent to His Imperial Majesty's visit. That can hardly be the meaning of the noble Earl, or else there must have been communications to Her Majesty's Government subsequently. But if there has been diplomatic correspondence, there must be despatches to be produced, and those despatches have not been produced. But, if I am not misinformed, this memorandum, whatever the time when it was framed, was framed in consequence of communications which took place at the period of the Emperor's visit to this country in 1844—personal, not official, communications with two or three Ministers of whom the noble Earl is the only survivor, and especially personal com- 157 munications with the noble Earl himself, who at that time filled the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. This document is one of a very remarkable character. It is not an official document—it is not a document, I think I can venture to say, which was brought under the cognisance or consideration of the Cabinet of which the noble Earl and myself were, at the time, both Members. It was not an official document at all. It was a personal document, binding on the noble Earl himself, but not binding in the slightest degree any subsequent Government. It remained, not with the ordinary papers of the Foreign Office; it remained in the custody of each successive Secretary of State, with no copy in the Foreign Office. I am in a position to know the great importance which Russia attached to this document, because I had not occupied the situation which, in 1852, I had the honour of holding, many days when, both to me and the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Malmesbury), Baron Brunnow expressed an anxious desire that we should see and make ourselves acquainted with this particular document. At that time I could answer with perfect sincerity, "of that document 1 knew nothing," and (luring the whole period—not a very long one certainly—I held office, no reference or communication was made by Baron Brunnow to me with regard to this document, which, if it had been held binding on the British Government, would infallibly have been the case. But when the noble Earl succeeded to the head of the Government, then immediately the correspondence or memorandum, which the Emperor, to use his own expression, held to be binding upon himself as a "gentleman," and which, in his judgment, was also binding on the noble Earl as a gentleman—not as a British Minister, but as the individual to whom he had confidentially communicated the whole of his scheme in 1844, and who then, as he conceived, gave him encouragement in it, was brought forward; and the then position of Europe giving encouragement, the Emperor was led, and most naturally, to believe that the time had arrived to carry into operation the understanding entered into in 1844. What was that understanding—what was that undertaking—what was that which (if this memorandum be correct, and I presume it is, for it has never been contradicted) was agreed upon 158 personally by the noble Earl during the Emperor's residence in Her Britannic Majesty's dominions? The result was "the eventual engagement that, if anything unforeseen occurred in Turkey, Russia and England should previously concert together as to the course which they should pursue in common." It seemed as if England and Russia went hand in hand, according to the Emperor's views, as developed in that memorandum; and it was assumed that if Austria followed in the train of Russia, as from the period of 1844 up to the present moment Russia has always assumed she would, France would be obliged to act in conformity with the course which might be agreed on between the Courts of St. Petersburg, London, and Vienna. The object was that in the event of unforeseen events in Turkey, England, Russia, and Austria—Austria following in the train of Russia—should enter into a combination which would compel France to accept any terms they might think desirable. When that agreement was entered into, the noble Earl now at the head of the Government was Foreign Secretary; when he acceded to power again, it was supposed that there was no very cordial understanding between the incoming Ministers and France. At that moment there were serious differences between France and Russia, arising out of the question of the Holy Places—or, rather, the question of the disputed protectorate—and it was supposed, rightly or wrongly I do not say; but whether rightly or wrongly then, the reverse is happily the case now—that between the incoming Ministers and the French Government there was no very cordial understanding. And it was thought that if Russia could succeed in binding the Prime Minister of 1853 to the obligations into which he entered in 1844, France would be isolated, England, Russia, and Austria would make arrangements among themselves for the settlement of the Turkish difficulty, and the arrangements they made would be assented to by the rest of Europe, leaving only the question how the spoils were to be divided between Austria, Russia, and England. That such was the state of things no one can doubt. That such was the design these papers are the evidence, and not only so, for in the most open and most unblushing manner that design was developed to the British Government; and I do not understand what the noble Earl means when he says that there was no greater 159 danger in 1853 than there was in 1844, when the original undertaking was entered into. It seems to me there was much greater danger. There was this great difference—that the agreement of 1844 was a theoretical arrangement providing generally as to what should be the course in case of unforeseen events at some distant period, which might never occur; while in 1853 the state of things was such that it was intimated that the dissolution of Turkey might occur at any moment, and the danger to Europe, therefore, in 1853 must be considered imminent and inevitable. The one was a theoretical agreement which might take effect on some future occasion. The other was a proposition to be carried into effect immediately, and without delay, and in the then state of Europe. I think the language of these despatches very strongly bears out the view I have ventured to lay before your Lordships. The very first paragraph contains the report of a declaration made by the Emperor, of the extreme pleasure with which he had heard of the formation of Her Majesty's present Government; adding that he trusted it would be of long duration; and he desired that assurance might be conveyed to the Earl of Aberdeen, with whom he said he had been acquainted for nearly forty years, and for whom he entertained equal regard and esteem. He then in the very same conversation, on that very same morning—it vas either on that or the following day, certainly at no more distant period—he referred at once to the conversation which he had in England in 1844, in a manner which evidently shows that he thought the time had arrived when the understanding then entered into might be acted upon. And here I must say that, on looking at these papers, whatever now may be the faults we have to find with the Emperor of Russia—and I am not standing here as the apologist of his course of policy—I do not think we have any right to say that he has wilfully deceived this country. On the contrary, as between the two parties, I think the Emperor of Russia has much more reason to say he has been misled by the conduct pursued by the British Government, not only by the antecedents—not only by the individual who found himself at the head of the British Government at that moment—but by the correspondence now laid on the table for the purpose of proving that, in the estimation of Her Majesty's Government, on 160 the 25th of April last there was not the slightest reason to apprehend any danger to the peace of Europe from any undue aggression by Russia. The question still remains, what are we going to war about? The noble Earl concurs with me in saying—to put down and destroy this assumption of the protectorate of Russia over Turkey. Now, my Lords, has Russia upon any occasion concealed her determination to claim that protectorate? Has she ever varied in the interpretation site seeks to put on the treaty of Kainardji? Has she ever gone from the determination to obtain that interpretation, by negotiation if possible, but if not by negotiation then by menaces, and if not by menaces, then by force? The claim to a protectorate is put very broadly forward by Russia in a conversation detailed in a secret and confidential despatch from Sir Hamilton Seymour to Lord John Russell, received 6th February, 1853. In that communication Sir Hamilton Seymour reports the Emperor of Russia to have said to him in conversation:—In the Turkish empire there are several millions of Christians, whose interests I am called upon to watch over, while the right of doing so is secured to me by treaty. I may truly say that I make a moderate and sparing use of my right, and I will freely confess that it is one which is attended with obligations occasionally very inconvenient; but I cannot recede from the discharge of a distinct duty. Our religion, as established in this country, came to us from the East, and there are feelings, as well as obligations which never must be lost sight of.Now, my Lords, observe, this right, which the Emperor states is secured to him by treaty—the right of protectorate over many millions of the subjects of the Sultan—is the very right which we are now going to war for the purpose of repelling. What was the answer of the British Minister to that declaration? But first, my Lords, I may say that the correspondence to which I refer makes perfectly clear what were the intentions and the hopes of Russia. The Emperor again and again refers to the arrangement of 1844—namely, the union of England, Russia, and Austria, in dealing with the affairs of Turkey. He declared that he does not desire any extension of territory, but at the same time he insists upon the maintenance of his protectorate, which is equivalent to territory, in its full power and to its full extent; and he subsequently does not disclaim the occupation by himself provi- 161 sionally even of Constantinople itself—not for the purpose of securing a permanent footing there, but as a means of obtaining the recognition of the protectorate which he demands. He says:—Maintenant je désire vous parler en ami et en gentleman; si nous arrivons à nous entendre sur cette affaire, l'Angleterre et moi, pour le reste peu m'importe; il m'est indifférent ce que font ou pensent les autres. Usant donc de franchise, je vous dis nettement, que si l'Angleterre songe à s'établir un de ces jours à Constantinople, je ne le permettrai pas. Je ne vous prête point ces intentions, mais il vaut mieux dans ces occasions parler clairement; de mon côtê, je suis également disposé de prendre l'engagement de ne pas m'y établir, en propriétaire il s'entend, car en dépositaire je ne dis pas; il pourrait se faire que les circonstances me misent dans le cas d'occuper Constantinople, si rien ne se trouve prévu, si l'on doit tout laisser aller au hazard.He speaks of occupying Constantinople provisionally; not only to invade Turkey—not only to take possession of the Principalities—but provisionally to occupy Constantinople itself, for the purpose of obtaining the recognition of his claim to the protectorate. What is the answer of the British Government to the declaration? My Lords, I do full justice to the language and to the principles and sentiments expressed by the noble Lord who at that time held the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The answer of Lord John Russell was the only answer which a British Minister could give, or which any man of honour could give, to such a proposition—namely, that they could not enter into any engagement which was to be kept secret from the other Powers of Europe; that, were such concealment possible, it would not be consistent with the end of preventing an European war; and that, moreover, such an agreement would only tend to accelerate the contingency for which it was intended to provide. But while I do justice to the manner in which the proposition of the Emperor was received by the British Minister and the British Government, I must call the attention of your Lordships to a most serious error which it appears to me was committed by the noble Lord, who, in his answer to the despatch from Sir H. Seymour, distinctly recognised the whole principle which we are now about to go to war for the purpose of repelling and repudiating. While he denies any—I had almost said complicity—but any concurrence in the views set forth by the Emperor of Russia for the ultimate partition of Turkey, he says:— 162The more the Turkish Government adopts the rules of impartial law and equal administration, the less will the Emperor of Russia find it necessary to apply that exceptional protection which his Imperial Majesty has found so burdensome and so inconvenient, though no doubt prescribed by duty and sanctioned by treaty.Now, my Lords, we are going to war to prevent the Emperor of Russia exercising a protectorate over a portion of the subjects of the Sultan, and in the first phase of these transactions, in almost the first page of that correspondence in which the Emperor of Russia is charged by the Government with having concealed his intentions, and with having misled them, the Emperor declares that he shall have recourse to negotiations, next to the use of menaces, and then, if menaces failed, to the use of force, for the purpose of establishing the Russian interpretation of the treaty of Kainardji and his protectorate over several millions of Turkish subjects; and the noble Lord then describes that protectorate as being "prescribed by duty and sanctioned by treaty." Well, my Lords, with that letter in his hands, in what possible way could the Emperor of Russia understand the course intended by the British Government except this—that they would enter into no engagement at that moment for the ultimate destination of the spoils of Turkey, but that they recognised his right to a protectorate, and that, recognising his right to a protectorate which was guaranteed to him by treaty, they of course extended to him the right conceded to every independent Sovereign and every independent nation, namely, the right of vindicating by force of arms that which is already secured to them by treaty. It appears to me that this letter of the noble Lord gives up the whole of the case for which Europe is at the present moment about to be involved in war. But, my Lords, the correspondence continues; and throughout the whole the Emperor declares his intentions with the utmost candour; and I am satisfied, that at this moment the Emperor of Russia is convinced in his own mind that throughout all these negotiations he has been perfectly frank, open, and unreserved with the British Government in regard to his intentions. Her Majesty's Government appear to me never to have separated in their own minds two questions which are essentially distinct and separate, and which have all along been distinct and separate in the judgment of the Emperor, namely, the reparation which he demanded for an in- 163 jury which he asserted had been done to him in consequence of the interpretation put by Turkey upon the treaty of Kainardji, mid that other, and widely different question, what should be the ulterior disposition of the various members of the Turkish empire when that empire should finally fall to pieces. With regard to the second of these questions, the Emperor expressed himself anxious and ready to communicate, and, in point of fact, he did communicate, most frankly and unreservedly, with the British Government. With regard to the first, there is no proof whatever that he recognised the right of the British Government in any way to interfere. He claimed the liberty of asserting for himself rights which he declared—and he British Government assented to the declaration—were secured to him and sanctioned by treaty. My Lords, I say nothing of the manner in which the Emperor of Russia thought fit to treat his other ally, Austria, with whom the tripartite engagement was to have been entered into by England and Russia; but I must say that, as an example of supreme contempt, as an example of utter indifference to the feelings and honour of one nation or one person on the part of another, l know no parallel to it since the days of the Roman Triumvirate, except in the language put by Shakspeare into the mouth of Antony, when expressing to Octavius the estimation in which he holds Lepidus. Octavius says that Lepidus is a "tried and valiant soldier;" to which Antony replies:—So is my horse, Octavius; and, for that,I do appoint him store of provender.It is a creature that I teach to fight,To wind, to stop, to run directly on;His corporal motion governed by my spirit.Do not talk of him,But as a property.Now, my Lords, since that celebrated conversation, in which two of a party frankly intimated their opinion of the merits and importance of the third—having in view especially the ultimate consequence of the conference to the absent Lepidus—I know no parallel to it, except that of the Imperial Antony unbosoming himself to Sir Octavius Seymour with regard to Austria. But, my Lords, the Emperor of Russia, whatever may be said of his conduct to Austria, has, at all events, been candid, frank, and open to the British Government; for, after the last of the communications from Lord John Russell to which I have referred, he proceeds to expound and de- 164 velope his scheme for the ultimate partition of Turkey, assuring the British Minister that, if he imagined there was any vitality in Turkey, his accounts had miserably deceived that the moment of the dissolution of Turkey was at hand, and that it was essential to come to an immediate determination as to what ought to be done; and then went on to explain not only what he would not do, and what he would not permit, but also what he should consider as a reasonable mode of arriving at a satisfactory solution of the Turkish question. He said:—I will not tolerate the permanent occupation of Constantinople by the Russians. Haying said this, I will say that it never shall be held by the English or French, or any other great nation. Again, I never will permit an attempt at the reconstruction of a Byzantine empire, or such an extension of Greece as would render her a powerful State. Still less will permit the breaking up of Turkey into little republics.Having said what he would not do, he proceeds to what he will do. I quote from a despatch from Sir H. Seymour:—He thought it might be less difficult to arrive at a satisfactory territorial arrangement than was commonly believed. The Principalities are, he said, in fact, an independent State under my protection; this might so continue. Servia might receive the same form of government. So again with Bulgaria. There seems to be no reason why this province should not form an independent State. As to Egypt, I quite understand the importance to England of that territory. I can then only say, that if, in the event of a distribution of the Ottoman succession upon the full of the empire, you should take possession of Egypt, I shall have no objections to offer. I would say the same thing of Candia. That island might suit you, and I do not know why it should not become an English possession.Again:—In dismissing me, His Imperial Majesty said, 'Well, induce your Government to write again upon these subjects—to write more fully, and to do so without hesitation. I have confidence in the English Government. Ce n'est point un engagement, une convention, que je leur demande; c'est un libre échange d'idées, et au besoin une parole de gentleman; entre nous cola suffit;Now, my Lords, how was that proposition received by the British Government? No doubt they repudiated the idea of any territorial aggrandisement—no doubt they repudiated the idea of keeping up an understanding with Russia which was not to be known by the other Powers—but with regard to the negative propositions of the Emperor, the British Minister entirely concurred in the whole of them. Lord John Russell, the predecessor of the noble Earl opposite, had declared his opinion that—to use a common expression now—the ven- 165 tilation of this question had a material tendency to accelerate the fall of Turkey, and that, consequently, it would be better to avoid discussions and negotiations on the subject. The noble Earl opposite, I presume, entertained a different opinion, because, though he adhered to the policy laid down in the despatches of Lord John Russell, yet he gladly complied with the request of the Emperor, that the subject should be further and frankly discussed; and, having complied with that request, he went on to say:—Her Majesty's Government entirely share the opinion of the Emperor, that the occupation of Constantinople by either of the great Powers would be incompatible with the present balance of power and the maintenance of peace in Europe, and must at once be regarded as impossible; that there are no elements for the reconstruction of a Byzantine empire; that the systematic misgovernment of Greece offers no encouragement to extend its territorial dominion; and that as there are no materials for provincial or communal government, anarchy would be the result of leaving the provinces of Turkey to themselves, or permitting them to form separate republics.Well, now, there are only a certain number of ways of dealing with the partition of Turkey. The Emperor of Russia declares that he would never permit England to occupy Constantinople—that he will not permanently occupy it himself—that he will not allow the establishment of a Byzantine empire; but he tells you what he thinks would be a very easy and agreeable arrangement. In your answer you say nothing about the easy and agreeable arrangement which he proposes; you merely say that you cannot enter into any engagement without consulting the other Powers; but, with regard to all those suppositions which he excluded, you exclude them also; and, after you have done so, and after you have thus assumed the impossibility of the independence and integrity of Turkey, I want to know what more the Emperor could desire, fully satisfied as he must have been that you concurred with him in the necessity of a protectorate, by himself over a portion, and by yourselves over another portion, of the Turkish empire. My Lords, it appears to me that the Emperor has some reason to conclude, as he does conclude, from the despatches of the noble Earl opposite, that, with regard to the ultimate arrangement of the affairs of Turkey, he and Her Majesty's Government were perfectly agreed, and were acting entirely in concert. But with respect to the other question, which Her Majesty's Government seem to have per- 166 petually misunderstood—namely, his vindication of his own right to his own- protectorate, and the subsequent mission of Prince Menchikoff for the purpose of enforcing that claim—there is not a single passage to be found in the whole correspondence by which it can be shown, or attempted to be shown, that the Emperor ever abandoned his interpretation of the treaty of Kainardji, or ever departed from his right of enforcing that treaty by force of arms, if necessary. Now, my Lords, I will not say—I am far from saying—that the interpretation which the Emperor of Russia puts upon the treaty of Kainardji is an interpretation which can be borne out by facts. I concur entirely with the declaration made by the noble Earl opposite when, referring to the seventh and eighth articles of the treaty, he showed that while the seventh provided for the protection of the Christian subjects of the Porte by the Porte itself, the eighth specially limited the right of interference on the part of Russia to one particular case, which it was attempted by the Emperor to expand into a general protectorate over the whole Christian population of the Turkish empire. I say the argument of Russia is untenable and indefensible, and that its adoption and execution would be dangerous, if not fatal, to the interests of Europe. It would be the destruction of Turkey; and I say that the British Government had a clear and perfect right to advise the Sultan—while the Sultan in turn had an equally clear and undoubted right to anticipate that advice—never to accept the Russian interpretation of the treaty. But as the Emperor never acknowledged your right to interfere in the matter—as he always, on the contrary, treated the question as one which concerned himself only—as he never concealed his views on the subject or denied that he was determined to enforce those views—there is not the slightest ground for Her Majesty's Government to complain that they have been misled or deceived. That, however, with all these declarations and propositions which emanated from the Emperor, and which we now find embodied in public documents—with all the warnings which the Government received from their Ministers at St. Petersburg, Vienna, and Constantinople—the noble Earl at the head of the Government should declare on the 25th of April that he entertained no apprehension of a disturbance of the peace of Europe, arising out of the affairs of Turkey, and that he 167 had received the most solemn assurances from the Emperor of Russia of his desire to act entirely with the British Government, appears to me an example of political blindness not very complimentary to the sagacity of the noble Earl. Yet from that imputation of political blindness the noble Earl opposite cannot escape except by subjecting himself to a charge, which I certainly am not disposed to advance—namely, that of political connivance. I say at once that I acquit the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Clarendon), as well as the noble Earl at the head of the Government, of having at that time any desire to favour the ulterior views of Russia.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
The noble Earl knows that better than I do. It certainly is not for me to pry into the secret recesses of the imperturbable mind of the noble Earl opposite, who certainly contrives to keep his own counsel, both here and elsewhere, by dint of a solemn and persevering silence such as I have seen in no other Minister. Well, my Lords, I say again that as far as this country is concerned it has no cause to complain of having been misled by the Emperor of Russia with regard to his ulterior intentions. I say that those intentions are of a character most dangerous and most formidable to the peace of Europe. I say they are intentions which it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government or for this country not to resist by every means in their power; but I again repeat that which I have urged upon your Lordships before, that, supposing the view which is taken of the intentions of the Emperor of Russia to be correct, if at that moment, when the Russian forces crossed the Pruth, and took possession of the Principalities, the noble Earl opposite had then pointed out to the Czar that he was following a course, not only inconsistent with the ordinary rights of nations, and the ordinary course of political proceedings, but wholly inconsistent also with those engagements into which he had entered with the British Government themselves, then, if the Emperor did not recede from his unjust demands, we should, at all events, have known what to do, and we should no longer have blinded ourselves to the consequences which would inevitably come. I say, my 168 Lords, from that period when, disregarding the ordinary course of nations in dealing with each other—disregarding even the solemn engagements entered into with the British Government, who thereby acquired a right to interfere—the Russian forces crossed the Pruth, in my conviction and belief either absolute submission to Russia or war with Russia was irresistible.
My Lords, I will not go through the whole mass of diplomacy, of negotiations, of protocols, and of notes which followed that event; but I would remark to the noble Earl opposite that the Vienna note, of which he speaks as having been rejected by the Emperor of Russia, and rejected apparently to his extreme surprise, after having been amended on the part of Turkey, was refused to be listened to by the Emperor of Russia, for precisely the same reason which induced him in the first instance to accept the unmodified note, and for the same reason likewise which induced Turkey to insist upon its modification, namely, that in its original shape the Vienna note, adopting the spirit, if not the language, of a previous despatch from Lord John Russell, granted to the Emperor of Russia that protectorate which every one admits to be dangerous to the peace of Europe. The British Government were compelled to confess that Turkey had reasons, on the one hand, for rejecting, and that Russia had reasons, on the other, for accepting that note.
My Lords, it is not without considerable uneasiness that I find this country embarked in a most formidable and what I fear will be a protracted war. I have the fullest confidence in the good understanding which has been established between this country and France. I think we have had upon the part of France, from the moment of the memorable declaration, "L'Empire c'est la paix!" down to the equally remarkable declaration, "Le temps des conquétes est passé sans rétour!" abundant evidence to convince even the most sceptical of the entire good faith and loyauté of the Emperor of the French. My Lords, it may be that at a time not very far distant, when it was found necessary in this country—and I rejoice that it was found necessary, for if they had not been made then those preparations would have to be made now—to increase our military and naval forces, there might be many who doubted, not, perhaps, the intentions of that extraordinary man who had raised France from anarchy and confusion, and placed her in the foremost rank of the 169 nations of Europe, but the unsettled state of the country itself, and the confusion and tumult of parties into which it was divided, and whether it would be in the power of any single mind, however great, and of any intellect, however commanding, to reunite and bring under control all those parties, and, above all, to extinguish, and boldly to proclaim his determination to extinguish, that which in the mind of Frenchmen is the strongest of all passions—the thirst for military glory and the ambition of military power. At that time, some alarm was created by the seeming impossibility I have mentioned; but now,
Via prima salutis,Quod minimé reris, Graiâ pandetur ab urbe.But, my Lords, we cannot forget that the quarter from which we are now threatened with a disturbance of the peace of Europe and with an unprovoked aggression upon the territories of an independent power, is the very quarter which at that time was most anxious to instill suspicions against the good intentions of France, to warn us of the territorial aggressions which were said to be meditated by France, and to insist strongly upon the maintenance of the treaties and of the territorial status quo of Europe.
My Lords, I say that I look with anxiety to the commencement of this great struggle, not that I doubt of the continuance on the part of my countrymen of the patient endurance of such sacrifices as they may be called upon to make—not that I think they are merely actuated by a blind and momentary enthusiasm in what they believe to be a just cause, and in the expectation that the object of it will be obtained at a slight sacrifice; but because I foresee that the war in all probability will be a long and arduous one, and because I cannot but feel that our recent financial arrangements have been made in accordance with an unwise policy, and not been such as could place this country in an advantageous position for entering upon a war. I cannot forget that last year, after the danger of war had become imminent, in spite of all that could be said both in and out of Parliament by persons of the highest authority in such matters, a financial scheme was brought forward and was applauded to the echo, more especially by the noble Earl opposite, as a very model of financial science and an example to all future Chancellors of the Exchequer, but which nevertheless proved completely abortive, as had been foreseen; and I cannot 170 forget, also, that, in spite of the remonstrances of a noble Earl whom I see near me, there was, with a war impending over us, a gratuitous and unnecessary sacrifice of revenue to the amount of about 1,000,000l. annually. It is true that my noble Friend warned Ministers against that sacrifice, at a time when they were proposing to continue the income tax; but it was continued with a declaration that its continuance was to be limited to a very short period, and that at the expiration of that period it should finally cease. What is the case now? We find ourselves in the position of having lost the greater portion of our balances in the Exchequer; we find ourselves in the position of having lost the revenue derived from soap and other articles; we find ourselves under the necessity, in order to provide for the emergencies of war and for meeting our deficiency bills out—in consequence of the course pursued by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we find ourselves compelled to double the income tax, and to do that, moreover, under the plea of taking the double income tax for the first half-year only, in order to meet a temporary deficiency. Now, I want to know in what position we are likely to be at the expiration of the first half-year? No human being imagines that this war can be brought to anything like a close within the period of six months. No human being believes that the estimates which have been submitted to the House of Commons will be sufficient to meet even one-tenth part of the expenses which the Government are bringing on the country. No human being, I think, will contend, or can believe, that direct taxation, by means of the income tax, will defray the current expenses of the war. I say, then, that if, at the moment when you are entering into that which must, I am afraid, be called a protracted war, you have deprived yourselves of the means which were formerly at your disposal—if you have cut off a large source of revenue which was at your command—if you have anticipated your future outlay—if you have been obliged to disregard the pledge which you gave last year, that you would put an end to the income tax in the course of seven years—and if you have declared it to be the intention of the Government not to anticipate the revenue of the country, but to make the present generation pay, year by year, for the whole expense of the war—I tell you you will find that line of policy simply impracticable. My Lords, it is absolutely 171 impossible, especially if you intend to limit the incidence of taxation, and to make that taxation bear directly on property by means of the income tax—I think it possible in no case, but especially not in such a case as this, that the current expenses of the war can be borne by the current revenue of the country. At all events, if they are to be so borne, it must be by the destruction of your whole system of currency as it at present exists—it must be by recurring to a depreciated currency and an unlimited issue of inconvertible paper money. In that way you may, if you think fit, defray the current expenses of the war; but if you maintain your present metallic currency, and the stringent law of 1844, it will be utterly impossible year by year to pay the expenses of the war out of the ordinary revenue of the country. Now, my Lords, I think it is right that we should look to these circumstances and to these dangers, ay, even to the sustaining national failures and national disgraces in the first instance. We must look at the state of our preparations, and be careful that we are in a state of continued and progressive preparation for a continued and formidable struggle. Our present means as regards men, we are exhausting by an effort, mighty indeed, for the preparation of a great military demonstration—for it can hardly be more than a military demonstration, whatever may be the magnitude of the preparations of your fleet; but you are taking almost every man whose service at the present moment you can dispense with. But, my Lords, you must be preparing your resources—you must not raise the whole of our forces—pensioners, coast-guardsmen, and all—in the first instance. If you do that, you put the honour of England, the security of the country, and the liberties of Europe upon the hazard of one fearful throw, and you will expose yourselves to dangers and disasters such as this country never witnessed heretofore. My Lords, you are now embarking in an arduous war. I give the noble Earl opposite and the Government credit for everything they have done in the interest of peace, and to postpone—if possible, to prevent—the horrors of war. I do not think that their measures have been either skilfully combined or judiciously adopted; but I give them full credit for a desire to avert war if possible; and I give them equal credit now that they have entered into war, for a desire to carry it on in a manner befitting the dignity and honour of this country. But 172 that being so, there must now be no hesitation, no tampering, no pottering with the question of a few hundred thousand pounds, more or less, in the expenditure of the year. What the Government should say is, "We have a great object before us, and that object we will and must attain, at whatever cost and whatever inconvenience. We appeal not to the enthusiasm, but to the perseverance of the country. We appeal to the patriotism of our opponents—we appeal to all classes who are interested in the honour of their common country." If they do make that appeal, believing the war to be in itself a just and righteous war, I am confident it will not be made in vain, either in this House or in the country at large.
Now, my Lords, one word more in reference to some of the points touched upon by the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The noble Earl has explained to us the reason which renders it impossible for him, technically speaking, to lay on the table of the House the convention entered into with France. He says, notwithstanding, that that engagement is as clearly binding upon both Governments as if it were embodied in the more regular form of a treaty.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
There is an honourable understanding; but we are called upon to go to war on the faith of that honourable understanding, and I do think it is right that the Parliament of England, at the moment when war is at our doors—when we are entering into a struggle, the issue of which no man can foresee—should know at least to what it is we have pledged ourselves and our allies. I agree with the noble Earl that it is quite impossible we could now declare what are the terms upon which, and upon which alone, peace may be restored to Europe; but I presume there is something in the shape of a sine quâ non about which we are going to fight. We are not fighting for the mere evacuation of the Principalities, or for the mere restoration of the original state as between Russia and Turkey. We are not about to enter into a war in which the Russians will be permitted to retire whenever they please, on terms under which their claims may be revived and repeated. I confess, my Lords, there is one—but only one—passage in the Address of which I do not entirely approve. I am not disposed to move any Amend- 173 ment to the Address. But I confess I should be glad to see, in addition to the announcement, that there is to be a "vigorous resistance to the projects of a Sovereign, whose further aggrandisement would be dangerous to the independence of Europe;" that some security is to be taken, that the unjust pretensions of the Emperor shall not again and again be brought forward; but that, having been once repelled, measures should be taken in order to prevent their repetition. Now, my Lords, the treaties between Russia and Turkey are at an end in consequence of this war; and I say, and I hope to hear the Government say also, that there can be no safe or satisfactory termination of this war, unless, in any treaty which may be adopted for regulating the future relations between Russia and Turkey, there is an absolute negative placed upon the interpretation which the Emperor of Russia has attempted to put upon the treaty of Kainardji, and unless there is some guarantee afforded for the observance of that understanding and for the maintenance of that treaty. I do not ask anything further, but I do ask the Government to explain a little more distinctly than has been done by the noble Earl opposite, what are the engagements into which we are entering, or have entered. My Lords, I rejoice to hear that there is no stipulation with regard to any protectorate over the Christian subjects of the Sultan, such as would have placed us in a position as false as that of Russia; but I do think it not unreasonable, when we are about to go into a war, to ask what are the engagements to which Her Majesty's Government have pledged us, and for the maintenance of which we are about to shed the best blood and a large portion of the treasures of the country? It is reasonable also to ask, what are the objects for which this war is to be undertaken, and what are the ends to be accomplished before it can be brought to a successful termination? For my own part, I intend to offer no opposition, no amendment, no qualification to the terms of the Address. I cordially join with Her Majesty's Government in the tone, the language, and the spirit of that Address. As I believe that this war is a just and necessary war—a war undertaken in a righteous cause—and as I think it is a war necessary for the preservation of the liberties of Europe and the repression of the encroachments of Russia; so I feel, with my noble Friend, that we may look with 174 more confidence and hope, and less in a spirit of blasphemy than characterised Russia on a recent occasion, that we may look with humble confidence, having done all in our power to avert the horrors of this war, having failed in these endeavours in consequence of unjustifiable pretensions on the part of Russia—having endeavoured, not with any motives of self-aggrandisement, or with any designs of ambition, but for the purpose of defending the weak and succouring the oppressed, to resist the pretensions of Russia—we may look with humble confidence to the protection of that Great Power in whose hands are the hearts of kings and the destinies of nations; and, as the armies of England will never be employed in a more honourable cause, so I trust they will bring the war in which they are engaged to a conclusion, than which none has ever been more honourable or more glorious.
§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN
My Lords, your Lordships have now an opportunity of remarking the nature of that support which the noble Earl, in a spirit of patriotism, has thought proper to offer Her Majesty's Government. I presume we must be grateful for what we have received; but I confess that I trust we shall receive from your Lordships and from the country a very (Efferent support. My Lords, the noble Earl has confined a large portion of his speech to what may be called a personal attack upon myself, and the trans. actions in which I have been concerned. Now, before I take notice of that attack, I will admit with the noble Earl, that I am one of those who have, as he says, "hoped against hope," and to the last, moment I have preserved the opinion that that greatest of blessings which a country can enjoy would still be preserved to us. I think, my Lords, I could give your Lordships good reasons for the hopes which I entertained; but that subject has been so much discussed, and these topics have been so much exhausted, that 1 should unnecessarily weary your Lordships by explaining the grounds and the motives which induced me to entertain that belief; and especially is it unnecessary for me to do so because, unfortunately, those hopes have been fallacious. The noble Earl first stated that he was persuaded that this war, much as he lamented it, would never have taken place had I not had the misfortune to be at the head of the Government of this country. He referred to the remarks made by the Emperor of Russia to Her 175 Majesty's Minister at St. Petersburg, in which His Majesty was pleased to express an opinion favourable to myself personally, and to allude to the long acquaintance which he was pleased to recollect he had had with me. Now, on that I will say, that I, of course, cannot but feel flattered by the good opinion of any Sovereign in alliance with our own Queen—and that was the condition in which the Emperor of Russia stood at that time; and I confess I see nothing to be ashamed of in the good opinion expressed of an humble individual like myself, by a Monarch in alliance with Her Majesty. But the noble Earl is not without his compliments also. At the instant the noble Earl assumed the head of affairs in this country what happened? Why, the Austrian Government wrote to congratulate him; and the noble Earl who was then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Malmesbury) returned a despatch full of gratitude to the Emperor for that congratulation. And this congratulation was offered by the only Minister whom I ever recollect in Austria as the bitter enemy of the English nation. That was the great distinction of Prince Schwarzenberg beyond that of any other Austrian Minister. Now, my Lords, I have had no congratulation from Austria, notwithstanding I have been longer formally in connection with that Government than even the noble Earl opposite, and, indeed, have been even branded in this and other countries as "the pupil of the detested Metternich," but no congratulations have reached me from that quarter. And I am ashamed to say that even the congratulations of His Imperial Majesty, through Sir Hamilton Seymour, were received by me without any notice, and with. out that profound sense of gratitude expressed by the noble Earl opposite in the case of Austria. The noble Earl next proceeded to deal with this "memorandum" prepared in 1844, upon which he has dwelt a great deal, and out of which he fancies he has made a great discovery, and turns to great account. He even thinks that there is a correspondence connected with it, and that there must be something more yet to be produced. How it is that he has formed that opinion I am unable to state; but I can only say that everything which exists in connection with the subject is on your Lordships' table. With respect to the memorandum itself, its history is briefly this:—When the Emperor of Russia was in this country, in 176 some conversations which he had with the Duke of Wellington, with Sir Robert Peel, and with myself, he repeated the apprehensions which he entertained of the probable dissolution of the Turkish empire, and expressed his anxiety as to the consequences which must necessarily ensue from such a European calamity. The whole drift, and the only particular effect, of this memorandum is simply this—to request us to do nothing, or, at all events, to do nothing without an understanding and previous concert with Russia—but not at all to the exclusion of other Powers—not in the least. It is quite true that the Emperor, as your Lordships well know, treated in the same cavalier manner the Ministry of the dynasty which then ruled in France as he has treated the present Government of that country, and therefore he put out of the view any concert with the French Government; but he never insinuated in the slightest degree that we were precluded from communicating with the French Government on this subject; and, further than this, the fact is, that I myself personally communicated to the French Ambassador the substance of the conversations which had taken place. There was not, therefore, the slightest uneasiness on the part of France on that subject—not the least in the world; for, as I stated before, this memorandum has no other practical effect in the world than that there should be no separate action, in the event of that calamity taking place which the Emperor of Russia anticipated would happen to Turkey. This memorandum, after an interval of ten years, I see again; and I look upon it, on the whole, with great satisfaction. I see nothing to find fault with in it. It seems to me, always supposing the Emperor to have been well founded in his apprehensions of the dissolution of the Turkish empire—and of his sincerity I cannot doubt, whether he were well or ill founded in his apprehensions—but, acting upon that belief, I see nothing but that which is wise, and moderate, and judicious, in this memorandum. There are some portions of it particularly to be admired, and particularly such as your Lordships would do well to ponder and act upon in case of necessity. For instance, all relating to the interference with the Christian subjects of the Porte; and, in fact, I see nothing whatever to object to; and I should be perfectly ready again to subscribe to the opinions which it embodies, under the 177 same circumstances as those in which this paper was drawn up. It is a very common notion—one which the noble Earl was not the first to give currency to—that this is part of a deep-laid plan of the Emperor of Russia, and that this apprehension of the speedy dissolution of the Turkish empire was but a pretext put forward as a means of engaging this country in his scheme of that partition of the Turkish dominions which was to be brought about under the specious pretext of that dissolution. I think the noble Earl near me (the Earl of Clarendon) has already said that he had no monopoly of those apprehensions. I confess that, on the part of myself, that apprehension is not of recent date, nor even of the date of 1844, but it was shared in by myself so far back as 1829. And I will give your Lordships the proof that I had these apprehensions. Your Lordships are aware that by what is called "the Treaty of London" it was the intention of Mr. Canning to erect Greece into a State under the suzerainty of the Porte, and not to make it an independent State. After the Peace of Adrianople, my opinion of the state of Turkey was such that I proposed to my noble Friend, then at the head of Government, to endeavour to change the intention of Mr. Canning, and to constitute Greece, if possible, into an independent State, as being more consistent with the interests of Europe, and as affording a better chance of Greece being independent of Russia, than if it continued to be connected with the Porte by the suzerainty intended by Mr. Canning. My noble Friend agreed with that view, and the other Powers assented to our proposition, and this in consequence of that very apprehension of the speedy dissolution of the Turkish empire which we entertained after the Peace of Adrianople. The independence of Greece was thus established upon a general concurrence in this opinion. Your Lordships will see that here was a practical proof of the apprehension which the noble Earl has treated as a mere pretext. The noble Earl, in the course of his remarks upon this memorandum, made some which I have had the benefit of hearing and reading before—nay, which I should not be very much surprised if, at the same time, they were being made in another place. But I have seen them before—I allude to a publication which is supposed to enjoy great authority, but, at all events, judging from its 178 malignity and misrepresentations, the origin of it is not, perhaps, very difficult to imagine. Seeing, therefore, that it possesses some weight—even greater, perhaps, than the Times—I will venture to make an observation upon the contents of the last number of this publication, the Press—which I have just received—with respect to the memorandum, which is the grand cheval de bataille of the noble Earl, but which appears to me to be what is vulgarly called "a mare's nest." This article begins with a falsehood, but that was nothing more than might be expected. It states:—In the year 1844 the Emperor of Russia visited our country. An estrangement having then taken place between England and France, His Majesty deemed the season appropriate for the advancement of a long-cherished project, and he seized the opportunity of personally accomplishing it, with the co-operation of an English Minister, between whom and the Count of St. Petersburg there had existed for thirty years relations of extreme confidence. That Minister was Lord Aberdeen, then Secretary of State in the Government of Sir Robert Peel.Now, the falsehood to which I refer is, that there was the slightest misunderstanding between this country and France at that time. I know what is intended; it is intended to allude to the celebrated Tahiti affair, which did occur in 1844, which, though greatly exaggerated at best, and entirely owing its importance to the patriotic efforts of individuals and a part of the press in this country and in France, still had somewhat of a serious character. Undoubtedly, however, the Emperor of Russia visited this country in the first week of June in that year, and with respect to the Tahiti affair, the first intelligence of it was not received until early in August. Therefore that misunderstanding could not have invited the Emperor to indulge any hopes such as those set forth in the paper. The article also states:—On his return to St. Petersburg, the Emperor instructed Count Nesselrode to draw up a memorandum embodying the understanding arrived at during his recent visit, and forward it to Baron Brunnow, accompanied by a private letter from the Emperor to Lord Aberdeen, in which he begged that if any inaccuracy were found in the document it might be corrected; but that, if approved, the memorandum should be accepted and preserved as 'the key of the relations between Russia and England.'Now, my Lords, I can only say that I know of no such letter. I think my Imperial and Royal correspondence is not quite so extensive as to prevent me from recollecting such a letter as this, and I 179 can only say that I have not the slightest recollection of ever having received such a letter from His Imperial Majesty of Russia. The article next goes on to say:—The Emperor succeeded in his first object. By the advice of Lord Aberdeen, he addressed himself to Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington. The Duke was always favourable to the Russian alliance.Yes, his Grace was always favourable to the Russian alliance. And why was he so? His Grace was always favourable to it for the same reason for which he taught me to be favourable to it, because he thought it favourable to the interests of England. And I regret—deeply regret—although forced into a war which I believe to be just and indispensable—I deeply regret the rupture of our friendly relations with Russia. And therefore, not only was his Grace favourable to the Russian alliance, but I should hope that every man who values the interests of England is also favourable to the Russian alliance. It would not do to criticism his Grace, so the criticism was reserved for me. But the article goes on to say:—Sir Robert Peel, full of tariffs, was entirely governed with respect to external politics by Lord Aberdeen. It was definitively settled in 1844, between the Emperor of Russia and the English Government, that the partition of Turkey, when it became necessary, should be transacted by Great Britain and the two Imperial Courts, without France.Yes. The writer of this well knew, when he talked of Sir Robert Peel as thinking of nothing but tariffs, that the opinion of the Duke of Wellington was shared by that statesman, and I humbly endeavoured to act with them; and to this hour it is my endeavour to profit by their precept and example. I wish to be led by their light, and by their wisdom and guidance. I confess that, for myself, I have no intention whatever—indeed, I never think of contending for a moment with the noble Earl who has now left the House (the Earl of Derby)—but your Lordships will permit me to say that, with those two names, and acting with them, and with this memorandum approved and sanctioned by them, I care little indeed for whatever may have fallen from, or whatever may be the opinion, of the noble Earl. My Lords, I believe I have stated sufficient on this personal part of the subject. I have merely to add these few words—that, being now engaged in this war, I trust that, although to the last deprecating and resisting it to the utmost of my power, as far as I thought it 180 my duty to the country to do so, I do say that I do trust I shall not now be found deficient in carrying it on in such a manner as may lead to the only legitimate end of all war, that is, a lasting and enduring peace, upon terms consistent with the honour and dignity of the country. My Lords, I do not feel that, even if at this moment I make peace my first object and my first vow, if it is never absent from my thoughts, I am acting in a manner at all inconsistent with carrying on the war with vigour and energy. Your Lordships will recollect that the most virtuous character in our civil war, and the man most devoted to the cause in which he was engaged, even when arming himself for the combat, still murmured "Peace! Peace!" That is the feeling which is still uppermost in my heart; and while I trust that the war will be carried on with all the spirit and energy which becomes this nation, I still hope that its termination will be an enduring peace; and this feeling is one which I trust is shared by your Lordships.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
My Lords, there is no one of your Lordships who is more anxious than myself that we should all with the greatest unanimity concur in the Address to be presented to Her Most Gracious Majesty. I have already addressed your Lordships several times on this subject, and I regret that I should again have to trespass on your time; but I cannot refrain from expressing my extreme surprise that at a moment of such solemn import as the present, when your Lordships' minds, like that of the whole country, must be occupied with the perilous situation in which this country stands, that the noble Earl at the head of the Government should have made a speech like that which your Lordships have just heard. During the greatest part of that speech it is not too much to say that your Lordships have been convulsed with laughter. Instead of taking a statesmanlike view of the subject, and reassuring the country with respect to the dangers to which it is exposed, and the resources on which it has to rely—instead of showing how greatly superior at this moment is its position to that in which it stood fifty years ago, when about to enter upon a war—or going deeply into the question to prove the necessity of the war, and assisting the enthusiasm and spirit of the country by stimulating its hopes—the Prime Minister of England, at this important moment, should take up a weekly, and what he calls a 181 scurrilous paper, and should lay it upon the table of your Lordships' House, and for nearly half an hour occupy your attention by reading some absurd extracts from this public print. The Prime Minister did not answer a single argument of my noble Friend, and did not think your Lordships worthy of hearing any reply to that eloquent and stirring address of my noble Friend; but merely read—what those of your noble Lordships who had nothing better to do might have read for yourselves—certain extracts from a weekly publication. Had the noble Earl been paid by the editor of the Press to puff his journal, I could have understood his object in reading what he himself describes as scurrilous nonsense to the House; but I think the Prime Minister on such an occasion should have occupied your Lordships' time with matters of a higher tone and a deeper consideration. The noble Earl, however, for a short time, made some remarks which seemed something like a reply to the speech of my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) in reference to the congratulations the noble Earl had received from the Emperor of Russia on his accession to office, and he appeared to consider it as a very natural expression of feeling towards him. The noble Earl is accustomed to Royal compliments. He has been called by successive Sovereigns, "the dear," "the good," and "the excellent," and at this moment the usual manner in which the Pope speaks of him is "that estimable heretic." The noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) takes exceptions to the remarks that have been made on the congratulations of the Emperor of Russia—for what reason I cannot see—for upon this occasion the expressions go a little further than mere empty compliment. The Emperor, while speaking to Sir Hamilton Seymour with such interest of the "dying man" whom he so often mentions, said, "We must come to some understanding and we should, I am convinced, if I could only hold out about ten minutes' conversation with your Ministers;" and then, perhaps not quite so sure of that, he says, "with Aberdeen for instance, who knows me so well, and who has as full confidence in me as I have in him." This was not simply that natural respect which we all feel for the noble Earl to which reference was made, but the compliment was paid because upon this particular question the Emperor knew well the sympathy between the noble Earl and himself. With respect 182 to this memorandum, if my memory does not betray me, there has been an alteration or mistake in the endorsement. If I recollect rightly, the original was endorsed in this way, "Memorandum by Count Nesselrode, delivered to Her Majesty's Government, and founded on communications received from the Emperor of Russia during his Imperial visit to England in June, 1844." As now endorsed it runs, "Memorandum by Count Nesselrode, delivered to Her Majesty's Government, and founded on communications received from the Emperor of Russia subsequently to his Imperial Majesty's visit to England in June, 1844." The internal evidence of the document shows, and the noble Earl himself admits it, that this communication was made during the visit of His Majesty. The identity of the noble Earl with this document was distinguished from that of a mere Minister with an official document; and that this was the case is proved by another paper that has not been laid before your Lordships. This document has always been considered of the greatest possible importance, and one which was not to be communicated to the other Powers, although the noble Earl has stated that he did think it his duty to communicate the substance of it to the French Ambassador, but I should like to know whether he ever informed Count Nesselrode that he had made this confession to France. When I came into office I received the document from the noble Earl who preceded me in the office (Earl Granville); it was not kept in the archives of the office, but was delivered to each successive Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. With it I received a note stating that it was a memorandum drawn up by Baron Brunnow as the result of the conferences between the Emperor of Russia, Sir Robert Peel, and Lord Aberdeen—the name of the Duke of Wellington was not mentioned. It is of little consequence whether this document was drawn up by Baron Brunnow or Count Nesselrode;—it was, if I understand it rightly, intended as a provisional, conditional, and secret arrangement between Russia, Austria, and England, to do certain things with respect to Turkey, and to that arrangement France—without any consent of her own—was to be obliged to concur. If any doubt exists upon that point, the single paragraph referring to that point will remove it. The document states—For the purpose thus stated, the policy of 183 Russia and of Austria, as we have already said, is closely united by the principle of perfect identity. If England, as the principal maritime Power, acts in concert with them, it is to be supposed that France will find herself obliged to act in conformity with the course agreed upon between St. Petersburg, London, and Vienna.Now, I should like to know if the Emperor of Russia was aware of the noble Earl having communicated the contents of this document to the French Ambassador? Because, mark the progress of events! I had not been in office forty-eight hours before Baron Brunnow came to ask me if I had read the memorandum. I had not, then, however, received it from my predecessor. Baron Brunnow urged and pressed upon me the necessity of reading the document, and stated to me that he conceived it to be the key of our whole policy with Russia. From that moment, although I saw Baron Brunnow almost every day during the ten months I held office, it was never afterwards mentioned to me. Baron Brunnow must either have judged for himself that it was not likely that the Government of my noble Friend (the Earl of Derby) would concur in the policy marked out, or he was instructed from St. Petersburg to say nothing further to me on the subject. On the 8th of December, 1852, the Government of my noble Friend resigned; and immediately it was known at St. Petersburg who was the new Prime Minister, on the 11th of January, the Emperor of Russia opened up the subject to Sir Hamilton Seymour. Now I think that is evidence, considering that Lord Palmerston had been in office for a great many years, and might have been naturally supposed not to have concurred with that view—considering that during the whole of the time in which the Government of my noble Friend was in office not one word was said upon the subject, and that within five or six days after the intelligence of the accession to office of the noble Earl opposite the Emperor took up the thread of the propositions as broken off since 1844—that is, I think, sufficient evidence to convince almost any mind that the Emperor considered the noble Earl as ready to act upon the policy embodied in the memorandum. I should not have risen to snake the statements I have, had not the reply of the noble Earl to my noble Friend appeared to call for them. In conclusion, I can only say, without expressing either approbation of the manner in which the negotiations have been carried on, or confidence in the probable vigour and judgment 184 of Her Majesty's Ministers in carrying on this war—I give no opinion on these subjects—I think it my duty as a loyal subject, and as an Englishman anxious for the success of my country's arms, to support the Address which Her Majesty's Government has proposed for the adoption of the House.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he did not think it necessary that he should then enter into a discussion of the general question which had been brought under the consideration of their Lordships. But there were a few points in the speeches of the noble Earl who had preceded him which he did not wish to leave altogether unnoticed. The noble Earl who had just sat down was perfectly correct in stating that he (Earl Granville) had handed to him the memorandum in that box, as Lord Palmerston had handed them to him. Baron Brunnow had requested him to do so; but he owned that on reading it he had been rather surprised to find that there had not been more in so mysterious a document. The noble Earl had told them that, immediately after his appointment to the Foreign Office, Baron Brunnow had directed his attention to the memorandum of the Russian Government, drawn up in the year 1844; and the noble Earl had referred to that circumstance for the purpose of proving what he considered the extreme importance which the representative of Russia in this country attached to that document. But it seemed to him (Earl Granville) that that step on the part of Baron Brunnow might fairly be attributed to the interest which his Government began at that time to feel in the question of the Holy Places. With respect to the speech of the noble Earl who had spoken second in that debate (the Earl of Derby), he could not help observing that one portion of that speech seemed singularly inappropriate, after the explanations which had been given by his noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs with respect to the objects of the war; and in fact it would appear as if that portion of the noble Earl's speech must have been prepared before the discussion of that evening had commenced. When the noble Earl who had spoken last expressed his opinion that the noble Earl at the head of the Government had not entered into the subject of the war in a statesman-like manner and had hardly acted in a manner worthy of his position when he had referred upon so grave an occasion as that to an article in a weekly newspaper, it seemed to him 185 (Earl Granville) that that article derived an importance which it would not otherwise possess from the fact that it had been introduced into the speech of so distinguished a Member of that House as the noble Earl who was at the head of the late Government. The noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) seemed to labour under an impression that the Emperor of Russia had been induced to attempt to carry into effect his ambitious designs in consequence of the retirement of the late Government from office. But whatever respect he had for the two noble Earls opposite, as the present Administration comprised men so distinguished in European diplomacy as the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office, the noble Lord the Leader of the House of Commons (Lord T. Russell), and the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department (Viscount Palmerston), he (Earl Granville) could not but think that the noble Earl assumed too much credit to himself and his Colleagues when he supposed that the Emperor of Russia had thought that the last change effected in the councils of the British Crown offered a favourable opportunity for the prosecution of his projects.
said, he could not help taking that opportunity of expressing his satisfaction that one noble Earl had taken occasion to state, what he thought it was most essential to have stated—that this contest in which we were now most unhappily, though most unavoidably, engaged, was not likely to be an easy contest—one unaccompanied with heavy sacrifices to this country—and, he must add, he feared it might not prove a very short one. It was most necessary that those things should he stated, in order to prevent any popular delusion as to the extent of the sacrifices which, he greatly feared, the country might be called on to make; and it was the more necessary, when their Lordships remembered that the Government, having most wisely and most consistently shown the utmost possible reluctance to enter into this struggle, had been anticipated by the popular voice expressing the popular feeling, which had been much more general and much more vehement in favour of hostilities than the desire of the Government, as appeared by the recent negotiations. That reluctance, he felt confident, would have been heartily shared by the great man whose name had been mentioned in the course of the debate, if he had been happily preserved to us. The Duke of 186 Wellington, of all men, would have been most reluctant to have seen that peace which he conquered interrupted. But as we had been reluctant in beginning the war, in the same proportion, he (Lord Brougham) felt assured, would be found our vigour in carrying it on. We had on this occasion, happily, what we had not in former wars, not only a perfectly just cause, but a perfectly unanimous Parliament, and a united and zealous people engaged in supporting it; and we had also the inestimable advantage of an alliance with France, the Government of which had shown a wisdom, a firmness, and a good faith, throughout the whole of those transactions and negotiations, which it would be wholly impossible to praise too highly. But he wished he could say—with all his hopes of the success of our arms, and feeling nothing like alarm in reference to the impending struggle—he wished he could say he felt no anxiety regarding the possible result, not to the two allies, England and France, but to the rest of Europe. For as regarded the southern and central parts of Europe he owned he felt considerable anxiety. Nothing was more to be dreaded for the safety of the Continent than a war of what was commonly called "propagandism," and nothing was more to be deprecated than any appeal to insurrectionary movements—nothing more perilous to all our European neighbours. Nor can you wrap yourselves up as standing aloof, and indulge in the sordid reflection quibus ipse malis careas quia cernere suave est; for though secure in your insular position, and feeling no alarm from any risk your internal tranquillity may run, you are not without your part of the peril. Their Lordships might believe him that our prosperity is so bound up with that of the rest of Europe that nothing could happen, he would not say to carry disaster and desolation, but to extend discord and disturbance over the southern and central parts of the Continent, which must not put our own interests in jeopardy. Towards avoiding that great calamity, he looked to the wisdom and the firmness of certain of the German Potentates. With respect to Austria he had no fear; and if all the rest of the Germanic Powers took the same view with the Emperor and his sage advisers, he believed the Continent would be safe from those insurrectionary movements to which he had alluded. None had so great an interest as they in preventing the extension and limiting the duration 187 of the contest which had unhappily begun. As to the Power against whom that war was to be waged, he would merely say it was a common remark, sometimes applied wickedly as well as foolishly to the transactions of individuals in private life, that "You should always live with your friend as if he might one day be your enemy." But to the transactions of States this maxim was well and wisely applied; and there was another, alike applicable to States and to individuals, that "You should deal with your adversary as if he might one day be again your friend." Acting upon this sound maxim, he would fain shut his eyes to some passages in the correspondence now laid before Parliament, in which the conduct of our adversary is displayed in such colours as we naturally shrink from contemplating. Acting upon the same maxim, he would, if he could, forget scenes lately enacted in Asia—forget, if he could, scenes which it seemed beyond the power, the unlimited power, of their actor to exhibit—scenes which he should have thought exceeded the power of autocracy itself, eclipsing the atrocities of Ismail, and casting even the combined horrors and blasphemies of praga into the shade.
§ EARL GREY
said, he certainly did not rise with the intention of following any of the noble Lords who had preceded him into an examination of the events of the past, nor did he mean to make any objection to the Address which had been moved by his noble Friend. But he must confess that he was disappointed with the terms in which the Address had been drawn up. He had hoped that it would have been so framed that even he, much as he differed in opinion from many of their Lordships, should have been able to give his cordial assent to it without any reserve whatever. It was impossible, however, that he could do so, consistently with the opinions he formerly expressed in their Lordships' House in regard to this war. Those opinions were not changed. On the contrary, all that had happened since their last discussion of the subject, and all the additional information which had been laid before their Lordships, had only tended to confirm the opinions he then expressed. But having stated then very fully why he disapproved of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and why he believed that this war might have been and ought to have been avoided, he would not do that which would be most irksome to their Lordships and himself, and again go over that ground. He was therefore pre- 188 pared to look, not to the past, but to the future; and notwithstanding the terms in which it was expressed, he was ready to accept the Address as one not expressing or implying any opinion as to the past, or as to the conduct of either party in those transactions, but as simply pledging the House to support Her Majesty in that struggle which had now, unhappily, become inevitable. In that sense he concurred in the Address; and he was content merely to disclaim any participation in any further meaning that might be extracted from it. As the struggle was now unavoidable, he might be permitted to say there was no one of their Lordships and no one person in the country more anxious than he was for the successful termination of that struggle, and for the honour of the British arms. From the greater part of what had fallen from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) he widely differed; but he concurred in one point of the noble Earl's speech—he meant in what the noble Earl said with reference to the financial condition of the country at the commencement of the war. He (Earl Grey) believed that that condition was one which was likely to lead to very serious embarrassment; and he could not help concurring with the noble Earl in thinking that, with the knowledge of the difficulties then impending, the measures adopted last year under these circumstances, and persevered in too long, were inconsistent with real prudence, and had placed Her Majesty's Government and the country in a situation of very great embarrassment. He also believed that the provision that had been made for the expenses of the war was, as the noble Earl had stated, altogether inadequate to that object, and inadequate for it even if we could hope—which he (Earl Grey) could not do—that hostilities were likely to be concluded in a few months. He would, likewise, venture to allude to a subject to which he had adverted on the first night of the Session. He meant the inadequacy of the existing arrangements of the public departments connected with the administration of the Army for carrying on that most important branch of the public service during a state of war. But that was a subject which he considered of such urgent importance that he would take another opportunity of offering to their Lordships some remarks in reference to it; and he would, therefore, next week move their Lordships to call for the production of certain papers, which would show whether the 189 Government had taken any steps on the subject, and, if so, what those steps were; and in making that Motion he should venture to lay before their Lordships the arguments which led him to believe that a much more extensive change than that which he understood was at present contemplated was absolutely and pressingly required in the existing circumstances of the country. Before he sat down he must express the very great pain, and the anxiety, and solicitude for the future, with which he joined their Lordships in taking this last formal step for placing the country in a state of war. He could not concur in the vote which was to be the inauguration of a great war without saying how deeply he deplored the necessity which was now thrown upon us, and how entirely he concurred in those sentiments which, much to his honour, had been expressed on this point by his noble Friend at the head of the Government. When be remembered during that long European peace of which we were now witnessing the termination—when he remembered how much had been done for the moral and physical improvement of the inhabitants of this island—how much had been done for the general benefit of the whole human race by the freer intercourse of nations, by the diffusion of knowledge both moral and religious, and by the blessings of commerce and civilisation throughout the globe—when he remembered also bow great as was the improvement that had been effected, small in proportion as it appeared to what was still required—when he also recollected that this peaceful progress which was going on year by year with accelerated steps was now to be cut short—that nations were now no longer to vie with one another in cultivating the arts of peace, and in increasing and extending the enjoyment of that commercial intercourse by which they were bound together, but that, instead of that, the energies of nations were to be arrayed against nations for their mutual destruction—when he reflected on the extent of human suffering that might be in prospect—the misery, privation, and famine resulting from the loss of friends near and dear, not only to our fellow-countrymen, but to our allies and also to our enemies—and when he thought of the victims which were to be offered up on the altar of war, he could not but deplore the commencement of a contest which would carry so many fatal consequences in its train. It was impossible not to feel respect for that 190 great Russian nation, for their devotion to their Emperor and their country, which they believed to be a duty. He thought the Russian people was one which, under better guidance and better circumstances, had within it all the elements of a great and enlightened nation. He believed if peace had been continued, that by degrees light and knowledge, in spite of every effort to exclude them, would have penetrated even to the masses of Russia, and that by such means, in not many years, we should have obtained a more certain security against the designs of their despotic master than we should now do by the most successful war; for he (Earl Grey) was convinced that as that population became enlightened and civilised, and knew the real interests of their country, they would have ceased to be mere passive instruments for fulfilling the will of any one man, and to pursue a line of conduct opposed to their own interests. He could not, also, help referring with regret to the spirit with which he feared this war was pursued. He apprehended there was too much truth in what fell from his noble Friend at the head of the Government on the first night of the Session, when he said there were many persons in this country to whom the avoidance of war, and a reconciliation with Russia, would rather be a matter of disappointment than otherwise—that they would miss a subject of excitement; and that, instead of rejoicing, as they might to do, in the restoration of tranquillity, they would rather regard it as a misfortune. He feared there was too much of a feeling prevalent that was unsuited to a solemn sense of our responsibility which would befit us on such an occasion—that there was a presumptuous confidence in our position, an eager, if not a fierce, desire to engage in mortal conflict with our enemy, and an unreasoning feeling of animosity, not only against the Emperor of Russia, but against his people, whom we ought not to regard with any such feelings. He was, however, happy to acknowledge that those feelings had received no encouragement from either side of their Lordships' House that night; that, on the contrary, nothing could have been more becoming than the tone and temper with which the prospects of war had been referred to on both sides of the House. But, although that had been the case here, he was afraid he was not mistaken in regard to the feeling that prevailed out of doors. He could not help 191 reminding those who might be encouraging the feelings to which he had alluded, that they ought to remember that that was not the spirit in which a Christian nation ought to enter on a war; that those were not the feelings and dispositions which they were taught to believe were likely to bring down blessings on our arms; and that it became them at this solemn moment to bear in mind that "the race was not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong."
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
said, that he rose for the purpose of performing what he considered to be a duty which he owed to his country and to his brother officers of the profession to which he belonged, and on which we mainly depended for the success of our present operations. He had no hesitation in saying, that, in his opinion, our force in the Baltic was not sufficiently strong. He believed that we ought not to have a less force at starting there than twenty sail of the line, fully manned by well-disciplined crews, in order to be successful in what we undertook. He felt persuaded that a niggardly use of the public money in the manning of our fleet would be productive of the most pernicious results. He would call upon their Lordships, and upon his fellow-countrymen generally, to be forbearing in the judgment they would form of the conduct of the gallant men who were prepared to shed their blood in the public cause, if those men should undertake no decisive operations until they should find that their crews had become thoroughly disciplined and effective. The strength of a ship depended entirely on the discipline of its crew. The seamen who were serving in the Baltic fleet were, for the most part, newly-raised levies; and though they might be gallant and active men, they must become disciplined in order to be effective. All mobs were useless; but of all mobs on the face of the earth, the most useless and the worst was a mob on board a line-of-battle ship engaged with the enemy. It should not be supposed that because our vessels were propelled by steam they were to be brought immediately into action, and were to conquer by the mere flash of their guns. Under these circumstances, he appealed to their Lordships, and to the people generally of this country, to exercise some patience in judging of the mode in which the commanders of our ships might be pleased to act, for it should be remembered that they ought not to act until they 192 could calculate on meeting with success. Again, he should observe, that anything like a niggardly manner of dealing with our seamen would be productive of the very worst results. The seaman was a man of very peculiar character. Although he was prodigal of his money and of his food, when he received them, yet he calculated with the greatest nicety the amount of either which he might obtain. During the war with America, the American Government had been enabled to get British seamen to man their ships and to fight against their own country, loyal though those men usually were. And how had that been done? It had been done by means of the high wages paid in the American navy. It was only by pursuing a similar course that the Government of this country could get their fleets sufficiently manned at the present time, and the more especially as they seemed disposed not to have recourse to the system of empressment. He believed that we ought to have a reserve of twenty sail of the line, in addition to twenty sail of the line in the Baltic; and if we could obtain those ships and crews to man them, there could be no doubt that we should easily find plenty of gallant officers to command such a force.
THE MARQUESS OF LANSD OWNE
Although not at all disposed in the present stage of the debate, and after this question has engaged our attention some few hours, to ask your Lordships to prolong that debate, I cannot allow myself on an occasion like the present to acquiesce in perfect silence to this Address, little as has been the opposition which has been exhibited to it. Notwithstanding the observations, many of them severe and many of them uncalled for, of the noble Earl opposite relating to the conduct of the negotiations, I am happy to say that to the Address itself, and to the spirit in which it is framed, no opposition has been offered, save that which my noble Friend (Earl Grey) has offered to one sentence of it only, acting undoubtedly in perfect consistency with those opinions to which he has already lent the authority of his name. My Lords, I will not now go into the question at length connected with the general policy of Europe, which has formed the foundation of these objections on the part of my noble Friend; but I am most desirous, and that alone would have been a motive for me to rise, in the strongest terms to deny that which I will not say the noble Earl opposite has brought 193 forward as a charge, but that which he certainly appeared to impute to the Government and its supporters—namely, that they have shown in the progress of these negotiations a want of appreciation of the difficulties of the contest in which we are about to engage, or a want of sense of the means with which it is necessary to carry on that contest. On the part of my noble Friend near me, and on my own part, so far as I have had the honour of sharing in the advice of these transactions, I do most distinctly deny that there has been at any time wanting the strongest sense of the difficulties of the contest we were about to engage in, of the magnitude of the means we were called on to employ, or of the greatness of the sacrifices on the part of the country, by which alone that contest could be maintained. But, my Lords, if we felt all this, were we not bound to feel something more? Were we not bound to feel that before we engaged the country in such a contest, we were bound to exhaust every means which negotiation and conciliation could suggest for the purpose of avoiding that contest and preventing its consequences? And that, my Lords, is the answer, and which I humbly think is a sufficient answer, to all those accusations which have been made, in and out of this House, against the Government of this country, of having placed too firm a reliance on the continuance of peace and of not having at once taken steps, the inevitable tendency of which would have been to produce and hasten that very war which it was their duty, as far as possible, to prevent. I must say, that throughout the whole observations and strictures made in this and the other House of Parliament, and by a portion of the press of this country, against the mode in which these negotiations have been carried on by the Government, and for its not having hastily plunged the country in a war by a more direct hostility against Russia at an earlier period, I have never up to this moment heard the particular period of the negotiation mentioned, at which we were bound at once to renounce all hope, to declare our want of faith in the Sovereign with whom we were negotiating, and to plunge the country into a war which would have brought with it a reaction in the public opinion of Europe against this country, this being a war in which it is of the greatest importance that we should carry with us the general sentiments and the public opinion of Europe. The noble Lord 194 may say, that we ought to have been suspicious at one period, another noble Lord may point to another moment of these transactions—nay, everybody who considers the papers and the transactions to which they relate, has, I venture to say, in the infallibility of his own judgment, ascertained the precise point at which we ought to have detected the bad faith of the Emperor of Russia; and I have no doubt that, if the Government, like the painter who asked his friends to scratch out those parts of his picture which they did not like, asked every noble Lord to strike out the particular passages to which lie objects, every line of ours in the blue books would he scratched out. We all know that in public transactions it is necessary to trust to the faith of Sovereigns, as in private life an individual will put his trust in the friend of many years, or an employer have confidence in one who has served him long; and when a friend betrays his trust, and employers are deceived by those whom they employ, it is by a long train of small circumstances that the violation of friendship is evinced, and then when utter want of confidence comes to be felt, then "trifles light as air" come to be" confirmation strong as Holy Writ." If the matter is to be examined in this House as in a court of law, to determine at what particular moment we ought to have changed a course which was suggested by a disposition to believe that a Sovereign whom not only all parties in this country, but in all countries of Europe, so much respected, was a man of honour and of character, whose word would not be forfeited, one whose declaration might be believed, I am convinced we shall stand blameless; and until some more specific charge shall have been brought forward, it cannot be said that we have failed in our duty to the country by abstaining, while there was any hope that action would not be required, from endeavouring to excite general suspicion in order to procure a joint action on the part of those whose united action would give us strength. If your Lordships look to the papers before the House, you will see that during the whole time, from the first moment that there was any reasonable ground for suspecting the projects of the Emperor of Russia, from the moment that there appeared any danger of the great calamity of war, no exertions have been spared to lead the other Powers to the same conviction as ourselves—Austria and Prussia, and all those countries which were 195 more or less affected by doubts which the Government did not partake, and he must add by timidity in which he hoped it did not share;—and to induce those Powers to co-operate in that course of action which it was his firm belief, if it had been adopted at an earlier period, might have secured to us the blessings of peace. But it was not the fault of the Government, if other Powers did not at once see with the same eyes as we, or were not prepared to meet the danger with the same courage and vigour which this country has displayed. My Lords, the noble Earl who sits on the bench below me (Earl Grey) has said that he cannot go the length of approving of one paragraph in the Address which pledges us to resist any further aggrandisement of the Emperor of Russia. As to that point, without venturing to offer any opinion as to the precise terms or conditions on which we ought to be prepared to conclude peace, or what securities we ought to require for the future, I must say that I entertain a strong opinion, not only that the further aggrandisement of Russia ought to be resisted, but that, looking to the extent to which that aggrandisement has been already carried, and the uses to which her great power has been applied, the peace, and the security, and the happiness of Europe require that bounds should be set to it. To effect our object in this struggle, we must trust to Providence and to our exertions. I do not mean to say that those exertions must not be great; on the contrary, I believe that the country will be called on to make the sacrifices which the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), not with a view to alarm, but to prepare the country, has depicted. The calamities of war are great; it is attended with a loss of life which no man who is not inhuman can contemplate without seriousness and regret. Yet even in these sacrifices, even in this state of war, there are symptoms from whence we may derive consolation and satisfaction. The noble Earl has stated that the war is to be waged against a mighty Power—that, from the localities in which it is to be carried on, it will be a long and a difficult one; but at least we have this satisfaction, that it is not a dynastic war, a war most difficult to end—nor is it a religious war, a war which is never brought to an end without leaving lasting traces of the strife and hostility. I cannot but express my disgust at the hypocrisy which puts on the mask of religion, which seeks to make this a war of 196 religion on the part of Russia—a war in which no religious principles are involved, and with which Christianity has nothing to do. But there is one thing connected with this war for which I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the Emperor of Russia. For many years there has been a growing disposition to amity, a tendency to good fellowship, between this country and France, which I have no doubt would have ultimately produced a conviction of the mutual advantages to be derived from a perfect understanding and confidence between them; but the Emperor of Russia has cemented these bonds, and has brought home to the feelings, not only of the Governments of the two countries, but of every individual in England and France, the advantages to be derived from the perfect confidence and friendship that have existed during the course of these negotiations. The Governments of the two countries have laid the foundations of a system of action of which I hope that the ultimate if not immediate success will remain on record, as a monument of the advantages to the two countries, and to the world, arising from their perfect amity and cooperation for the interest of both. I may take this opportunity of expressing my satisfaction at the system of action laid down in reference to neutrals and commerce, which must do honour to France and England in the eyes of the world, and which will have a beneficial action on the law of nations as applied to war. If we strike strongly, I have no doubt as to our success, whatever be the duration of the war. Before I sit down, I wish, without questioning the statements made by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Hardwicke) as to the profession to which he was so long an honour, to unite with him in imploring of the House and country not to expect too much from the gallant men who have gone forth so nobly at the first call in the cause of their country. Whatever defects may exist in our preparations, I must say that no blame can attach to the Government—no blame to any of the establishments. All that man could do has been done by every individual in the Horse Guards and Admiralty, and in every department, and nothing has tended so much to excite the universal admiration of Europe as the manner in which that splendid fleet has been equipped, which I trust will soon vindicate the honour of this country against her enemies. However, my Lords, we have acted in the whole 197 course of the negotiations which have been so ably conducted and so ably explained to-night by my noble Friend (the Earl of Clarendon), I am ready to take my share of the responsibility of everything that has been done, and of everything that has not been done—of everything that has been omitted, not from negligence, but from a deliberate anxiety to preserve peace if possible, and when that could not be done, to gain the assent of Europe to our line of conduct, and by commanding public confidence, gain the best auxiliary for success in war and the attainment of peace. On these grounds I hope the House will agree to the Address.
§ Motion agreed to, Nemine Dissentiente; and a Committee was appointed to prepare the Address. The Committee withdrew; and, after some time, Report was made of an Address drawn by them, which, being read, as follows:—
§ "MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,
§ "We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to return Your Majesty our humble Thanks for Your Majesty's Most Gracious Message, and for the Communication of the several Papers which have been laid before Us in obedience to Your Majesty's Command.
§ "We beg leave to assure Your Majesty of the just Sense we entertain of Your Majesty's anxious and uniform Endeavours to preserve to Your People the Blessings of Peace, and of our perfect Confidence in Your Majesty's Disposition to terminate the Calamities of War, whenever that Object can be accomplished consistently with the Honour of Your Majesty's Crown and the Interests of Your People.
§ "We have observed with deep Concern that Your Majesty's Endeavours have been frustrated by the Spirit of Aggression displayed by The Emperor of Russia in his Invasion and continued Occupation of the Provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia, in the Rejection of equitable Terms of Peace proposed under the Sanction of Four of the principal Powers of Europe, and in the Preparation of immense Forces to support His unjust Pretensions.198
§ "These Pretensions appear to Us subversive of the Independence of the Turkish Empire.
§ "We feel that the Trust reposed in Us demands on our Part a Firm Determination to co-operate with Your Majesty in a vigorous Resistance to the Projects of a Sovereign whose further Aggrandisement would be dangerous to the Independence of Europe."
§ The Address was agreed to; and Ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Whole House: And the Lords with White Staves were Ordered to wait on Her Majesty, to know when She will please to appoint to be attended therewith.
§ Afterwards—The Lord Chamberlain reported, That Her Majesty had appointed Monday next, at Three O'Clock, to receive the Address of this House, at Buckingham Palace.
§ House adjourned to Monday next.