Page images

the nation, and army, felt a strong interest in the possession of Saxony, in consideration of the efforts and sacrifices which they had made in the common cause, and the importance of the line of defence which it would have afforded. Nothing, perhaps, but a wish to conciliate the nations of Europe, and their receiving the line of the Elbe, could have induced them voluntarily to have relinquished their views.

other sacrifice was made in favour of the king of Saxony. But while he stated this he would broadly contend that the right of conquest, under certain circumstances, would warrant the incorporation of the whole of one country with another. He did not wish to say any thing painful to the feelings of the sovereign of Saxony, whom he wished to continue long to reign over his Saxon subjects: he had fallen on unfortunate times; but if ever the principle of conquest had a legitimate application it was in the case of the king of Saxony. He had returned to his connection with France, after he was placed in circumstances which might have withdrawn him from it, if he had not thought the other course more for his interest. With respect to the principles of conquest, there was no writer who would deny that the country and people of a conquered enemy, with arms in their hands, did not fall a sacrifice to the conqueror. Happily this principle had been modified in mo. dern warfare by two principles, the one the receiving a reasonable indemnification, and the other the reasonable security to be given to prevent the recurrence of future attack. It was no argument that other powers had also been in alliance with Buonaparté; for they had afterwards contributed to the salvation of Europe; and the compensation fell properly in an aggravated proportion, on the power which came last in. But the principle on which he conceived the measure of corporation unadvisable was, that it would have been a mischief to Prussia rather than an advantage; for the general feeling in Germany at the sacrifice of an ancient family, would have revolted against Prussia. Then came the proclamation of prince Repnin on delivering up the government to the Prussian authorities, which he really believed originated in one of those misconceptions to which the best officers were liable. When the proclamation first came into his hands, he (lord C.) lost no time in shewing it to the Prussian minister, who said that it was the first time he had seen it. Count Nesselrode, the Russian minister, made a similar declaration; and in return to an official note which he (lord C.) addressed to prince Hardenberg, that minister returned an official declaration that the proclamation was wholly unauthorized on the part of Prussia. Such were the unequivocal declarations of both these courts. It was true that the Prussian government,

+ ተ

With regard to Poland, his lordship had interested himself as much as possible, to procure a determination that would be equally satisfactory to all parties; and whatever might be the particular arrangements that the separate powers might adopt, they would all be dictated by the same spirit of liberality and justice that had governed the great states in all arrangements. The main object of conciliating the people would not be lost sight of, and they would be relieved from those local difficulties and personal disqualifications under which they formerly laboured. Whatever system of policy might formerly exist, the Poles would now be governed as Poles; and with regard to terri torial arrangement, and to the particular form of government that each possessor would establish, he wished the House to suspend any opinion until more detailed information was supplied. In erecting them into a separate kingdom, hon. gentlemen would not forget the many diffi in-culties that must be encountered, not merely in procuring the assent of the monarchs who were interested, but in severing immense tracts of territory bound to its neighbour during a long course of years, until at length they had grown, as it were, into each other, and were sometimes incapable of separate existence.

In calling the attention of Parliament to those parts of the arrangements that more peculiarly regarded this country, he should have had less satisfaction, if, during the course of his mission, he had employed himself in obtaining concessions, the objects of which were merely the separate aggrandizement and interest of Great Britain; but in the case of Holland, in whose establishment under the present system, we were individually deeply interested, the allied powers had felt, as they must feel, that they were all gaining an equivalent advantage. If it were impolitic for this country, as no one would deny, that France should in future possess the large naval resources supplied by a

long line of coast from the Pyrennees to the Texel, it was not less the interest of the other states of Europe to prevent the application of such means; and at the same time, by erecting Holland into a powerful and independent kingdom, under the House of Orange, by the annexation of territory formerly belonging to Austria, an essential service was rendered to all the continental powers. It was but a tribute due to the sovereign now reigning, to say, that none of the high individuals had been more successful in gaining the confidence of his subjects, by persevering endeavours for their benefit, by liberality in the exercise of his authority, and by a happy talent of drawing resources equally from all parts of the dominions so recently placed in his hands. What he had said of Holland would apply equally to Hanover: the Sovereign of Great Britain had not consulted merely his own private interests, and his allies were sensible of the enlarged views upon which he had acted. On this point there had always been some degree of jealousy in this country; but he was rather inclined to think that Hanover had, generally speaking, suffered more than she had gained from the connexion. Its people had recently proved themselves faithful supporters of Great Britain; and he would say that there had not been a more efficient, more faithful, and honest body of men in our service than the Hanoverian Legion; they amounted to not less than 12,000 men, to which number they had always been kept up by voluntary enrolment, and it was not too much to say that the absence of such a corps might have had a most injurious effect on our military exertions. The preservation of the importance of Hanover, as a constituent state of Germany, should therefore be dear to us, as well in this point of view, as from its connexion with our reigning family. The increase of territory she had received tended to consolidate her connexion with this country, by the extent of sea coast which it gave her: while liable to be intercepted from this country, her efficiency was less considerable. From the moment also she was in close contact with Holland for an extent of 150 miles; this naturally contributed to strengthen and protect her. Neither was this a connexion of which our continental allies were at all disposed to feel jealous. They were thoroughly convinced that no interest was felt so strongly in this country as the con

servation of the general liberties of Europe. In noticing the treaty with Spain, upon which the hon. gentleman had commented, the noble lord expressed his conviction, that on procuring from that country in its present situation, an acknowledgment like that which had been referred to, much had been procured; and he thought that some reliance was to be placed upon the assurances given both by that country and by Portugal. He vindicated government from the imputation that they had not procured that proper neutrality between the king of Spain and his South American subjects; and he severely censured the hon. member who bad brought forward this subject, for recommending that the British nation should erect itself into an arbiter between a sovereign and his revolted subjects. His lordship never could prevail upon himself to pay any respect to opinions given to encourage rebellious subjects, and he thought that the individual who delivered them travelled far beyond the duty he owed to his own sovereign. He admitted that the scenes transacting in South America were disgusting and painful; he allowed also that Spain, with respect to commerce, had not conducted herself with the liberality we had deserved, but that clouds of prejudice prevented her from seeing how nearly her own interests were connected with those of this country.

The noble lord said, he concurred in several parts of what the hon. member had said regarding the events that had recently occurred in France. What course of policy England would pursue in regard to the convulsion by which France was at present agitated, he could not venture to state, but upon the issue of that contest much of the happiness and repose of the world in future depended. If Buonaparté succeeded in re-establishing his authority in France, peace must be despaired of; at least such a peace as we had recently the hope of enjoying. The question now was, whether Europe must once more return to that dreadful system which it had so long pursued; whether Europe was again to become a series of armed nations, and whether Great Britain among them was to abandon that wholesome state into which she was now settling, to resume her station as a military people, and again to struggle for the independence of the world? These were questions of no small magnitude, depending upon events now in issue, depending upon a new and an

[ocr errors]

unexpected contest, in which the liberties of mankind were once more assaulted and endangered. It was not merely a question whether the Bourbon family, which had already given so many benefits to France, and among them, that best of all benefits, peace, should continue to reign in France, but whether tyranny and despotism should again reign over the independent nations of the continent? Whether as applied to this country, we should enjoy the happy state that we had bought with our blood after a long struggle, or whether we should once more revert to that artificial system which, during that struggle, we were compelled to main tain? Upon these points there could exist only o feeling, and his lordship trusted that Providence would ordain only one result. After referring again to the efforts made by the King of France to give a free constitution to that country, and the suc cess with which the experiment had been attended during the sitting of the legislature for five or six months, his lordship concluded by justifying himself for not having, as much as might be wished by some, endeavoured abroad to introduce the free principles of the British constitution; he had not, like a missionary, gone about to preach to the world its excellency and its fitness, because he by no means felt convinced, that in countries yet in a state of comparative ignorance, and brought up under a system so diametrically opposite, it could be advantageously introduced. A great deal had been done to promote the happiness of nations, and if Buonaparte was not permitted to intercept the prospects which were arising, never could Europe look forward to brighter days than those which it might now anticipate. The noble lord sat down amidst loud and repeated cheers.

An hon. member under the gallery, whose name we could not learn, remarked upon the mode in which the noble lord had cast imputations upon lord William Bentinck, for the purpose of justifying his own conduct.


Mr. Ponsonby argued, that the noble lord could only escape from the charge by removing the weight to lord W. Bentinck, as he had done, in fact, though not perhaps in argument, in the course of his speech. He hoped that the original instructions to the British minister in Italy would be produced upon some future occasion. He did not understand the very unsatisfactory explanation made by the noble lord with regard to Poland. What was meant by the assertion that the Poles would be governed as Poles?' Had they not been so governed heretofore? and if so, what new advantage had they acquired? With respect to Saxony, the noble lord's statement was by no means convincing, and he hoped that all the documents would be laid upon the table, and that the noble lord would be ready to give the necessary explanations. It appeared to him, that a very extraordinary and unparliamentary course had been pursued upon the present occasion, for the noble lord, contrary to all practice, had first made his speech, and then was to produce the papers. After the Easter recess he would probably make some motion upon the subject, but in the mean time, until all the information was afforded, he protested against being supposed to give any opinion upon the subject.

Mr. Whitbread, in reply, remarked, that considering the charge of the noble lord, that he had brought forward his accusations upon illicit information, it was singular that the noble lord had not only not ventured to give one of them a contradiction, but that they had all turned out to be true and authentic evidences. The noble lord had said that he had not deemed it a part of his duty to go about the continent like a missionary, preaching the English constitution. He was glad that the noble lord had not undertaken the task, for assuredly it would have been most inadequately executed, if his speeches there would have been like those in parliament, which, like that just delivered, was a libel upon the excellency of our constitution: one of those libels was the bad effect of discussions like the present in parliament; but Mr. W. said, he was disposed to apply a very different epithet to them, and to assert, that even with regard to the Congress the effect had been most beneficial. To what a state of degradation would the noble lord reduce the House of Commons, a part of our excellent constitution, when he would make it

Lord Castlereagh, in explanation, observed, that he had not argued that lord W. Bentinck in any respect had acted inconsistently with his duty; on the contrary, the foundation of what he had said with regard to Genoa was, that the British minister having no such power, had not re-established permanently, but only provisionally, the ancient government of the capital of the Ligurian Republic.

dependent upon an envoy at Vienna, whether it should or should not be submissively silent. In his view the noble lord's explanation was complete and satisfactory in no one point. Regarding that large tract of territory upon the left bank of the Rhine, the noble lord had given no information; and as to Belgium, Saxony, and Genoa, the information given was altogether delusive. What did the noble lord mean to say regarding the Poles? Did he mean to be understood? What was meant by the Poles being governed like Poles? unless indeed, as had been long the case with that unhappy people, they were to be continued in a state of bondage to the will of their temporary masters. As to Saxony, the noble lord had said, that the proclamation of prince Repnin was unauthorized; but who could tell whether, on the remonstrance being made, it had not been diplomatically disavowed by Prussia, while the agent was abandoned? He would again repeat the question, Why did the noble lord go to Vienna, and why did he come back? Because he was ordered, was the answer. Who ordered him? Why, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Master of the Mint; and yet the noble lord had talked so soundingly of his responsibility, and his confidence in himself, which enabled him to decide upon points without instructions, which would have delayed the mighty machine of Congress. He hoped, as Buonaparté had said, that the Congress was now dissolved, and that it would not turn out that what in his hands they had called robbery and plunder, in their holy keeping was vested right and legal property.

Mr. Wilberforce expressed his satisfaction at what had been done respecting the Slave Trade.

The Address was then agreed to.

HOUSE OF LORDS. Tuesday, March 21.

CONGRESS AT VIENNA.] The Marquis Wellesley wished to know whether it was the intention of ministers to make any communication, as from the Executive Government to that House on the subject of the arrangements at Vienna. Considering the immense magnitude of the interests concerned, and the consequences with which they might be attended in regard to this country, it was fitting that some authoritative communication should ( VOL. XXX. )

be made from the Prince Regent in the manner which a just sense of the greatness of the subject, and the respect due to that House, required. Arrangements so extensive and important had never before taken place in Europe at one time, and their lordships ought to be made acquainted with the circumstances without delay.

The Earl of Liverpool replied, that there was every inclination on the part of ministers to advise the Prince Regent to make every communication to the House that might be consistent with the public service.

He had before stated, that the communication should be made when the arrangements were completed, as far as this could be done without injury to the public service. They were not all completed; but he had no objection now to state, that the arrangements which had already taken place would be communicated from the Prince Regent soon after the recess. In answer to a question from the marquis of Buckingham, he said, that the papers respecting Genoa would be included; in answer to a question from earl Grey, he said, that he could not pledge himself as to the possibility of laying the papers on the table previous to the recess, so that they might be considered in the interim; and in answer to a question from lord Grenville, he stated, that he should take care to have the printed copies on the table as soon as the papers were laid there.

BANK RESTRICTION BILL.] The order of the day for the third reading of the Bank Restriction Bill being read,

The Earl of Liverpool rose and said, that he could anticipate no objection to the third reading of this Bill, because, however they might have differed formerly on the subject, no one would contend that the present was the proper period for resuming cash payments. Considering all the circumstances that had taken place previous to the termination of hostilities, the consequences of which were still heavily felt, this must be considered as of all others the least favourable moment for putting an end to the restriction. The Bill was made to expire on the 5th of July, 1816, and this period had been fixed upon with two views; first, that the Legislature might have the subject under consideration in the course of the next session; and second, because some hopes were entertained that by the (X)

time mentioned the Bank might be enabled to resume cash payments. These hopes were founded on the favourable alteration which had taken place in the course of exchange, which justified the expectation that unless any very particular circumstances occurred to prevent it, the exchange with the Continent would be generally above par. The price of gold had fallen very considerably indeed in the course of one year, being in January, 1814, at 51. 10s.; and in February, 1815, at 41. 10s. or thereabouts. It ought to be considered that this country had for a series of years past made foreign payments to a great amount, and increasing till the last year-in 1812, 18 millions; in 1813, 23 millions; and in 814, 30 millions. The troops in America could not be brought home before the end of the summer, or the beginning of autumn; large debts and arrears were still due, and payments making; and considering all these circumstances, the favourable change which had taken place far exceeded the most sanguine expectations even of those who had thought with him on the subject. It was, however, highly desirable and necessary, that cash payments should be resumed, and things restored to their original course, as soon as it possibly could be done with advan tage to the Bank and consistently with the public service. He concluded by moving the third reading of the Bill.

Lord Grenville did not mean to object to the third reading of the Bill, but on the contrary admitted that cash payments could not be immediately resumed. The declaration of the noble earl, that it was necessary for the restoration of proper confidence and security that cash payments should be as soon as possible resumed, gave him a great deal of pleasure; but, if the public service required it, the resumption might well take place before it became advantageous to the Bank. It ought to be remembered, that the Company had made immense gains by the restriction while it lasted, and they could now afford to put themselves to a little inconvenience for the public advantage. He thought, however, it would have been better if this Bill had contained some provisions for taking proper steps towards a resumption of cash payments. Whether cash payments should or should not be resumed at the period mentioned, the noble earl ought, early next session, to propose a parliamentary inquiry into all

the circumstances of the case. He could, he believed, perfectly well account for the alteration in the course of exchange and the price of gold, in consistency with the theory which he and others had held on the subject; but it was fitting that the matter should be examined into, and thoroughly investigated; and he therefore hoped, that early in the next session, such an inquiry would be proposed; and this would at all events be proper, though from recent events, his confidence in the reviving state of our affairs, as connected with this subject, was very much shaken.

The Earl of Lauderdale had no objection to the passing of the Bill under present circumstances, provided he could obtain from the noble lords on the other side, a pledge that an inquiry should be instituted, early in the next session, relative to this important subject, in order that full information might be obtained, with the view of satisfying the public mind. It was essential that such an inqu quiry should be instituted, in order that all the facts bearing upon the question might be accurately and distinctly ascertained. As to the fall in the price of gold, alluded to by the noble earl, it did not in the least affect the theory supported by himself and his noble friends. By an ordonnance of the Russian government, a forced circulation was given to the Russian paper money, under which four rubles in paper were to pass for one ruble in gold, This, from the nature of circumstances at the time, had a very extensive operation, and gold naturally flocked to this country, where the pressure upon it was less. This would account at once for the fall in the price of gold bullion. His object was, that the matter should be inquired into, and the minds of the people set at rest, not only as to the resumption of payments by the Bank, but also as to the probability that such cash payments would be continued. He hoped, therefore, that the noble earl would next session propose an inquiry into all the circumstances.

The Earl of Liverpool, in explanation, observed, that when he spoke of the benefit accruing to the Bank, he identified it in that view with the country at large. He admitted that some sacrifices were to be fairly and reasonably expected on the part of that body to the general interest. If found necessary, the subject might be taken up at a sufficiently

« PreviousContinue »