Imágenes de páginas

step further, and to maintain by force the independence which they have acknowledged. I cannot but think that this consideration has not been sufficiently weighed by those who are anxious for the recognition of the South. My conviction, which has been strengthened by every thing which has occurred from the first outbreak of the civil war, is that the restoration of the Union as it formerly existed is the one conclusion which is absolutely impossible. # believe that at first the feelings of this country were strongly in favour of the North, and that it was not generally supposed that the North would have any great difficulty in overrunning and subduing the South. But even at that early period it was perceived that, if the North were to succeed in subjugating the South, its difficulties would only commence, because it was out of the question that where such mutual animosity existed, and such injuries had been inflicted on one side and on the other, any cordial reconciliation could take place between them. If it was so a year or two years ago, how much stronger must this conviction have grown when day by day the struggle becomes more desperate, when it is more apparent that neither party can obtain a signal and decisive advantage over the other, the one on the defensive being always the one which has practically the best of it; and when it is obvious that the continuance of the war is the continuance of the most dreadful slaughter and the most harrowing carnage, accompanied by increasing bitterness of feeling, and, if we may believe reports, by aggravating atrocities on both sides, which add unusual horrors to those by which war, and especially a civil war, is attended ? Under these circumstances I declare my firm conviction that there is no possibility of re-establishing the Union between the North and South. At the same time recollect the struggle is still going on. The whole sea-board of the South is in the possession of the North, and large Federal armies are in Southern territory, where they obtain occasional advantages. That being the case we have no right to recognize the South, unless we mean to do—what I do not believe the advocates of recognition are prepared for—interfere by force of arms and insist on laying down the terms on which a separation is to take place. Therefore, I own I approve, on the whole, of the course pursued by the Government, and of that entire neutrality which I believe they have practically carried out to the utmost extent in their power.” The noble lord then proceeded to express his views with reference to the distress in our manufacturing districts, which he regretted that he could not believe would be short-lived, and he entered into various details in regard to the effect of the system of relief adopted upon the moral condition of the work-people. For various reasons, depending on the price of cotton and the glut of cotton goods in the market, he took a very gloomy view of the prospects of the trade, and thought that for two or three years there would be a necessity for appealing to the public sympathy for contributions in aid of the distressed operatives.

Turning then to foreign affairs, Lord Derby expressed his regret that he was not able to offer his congratulations to the Foreign Secretary upon his policy. Earl Russell and himself had once been colleagues in the Cabinet of that very able and shrewd minister Lord Melbourne. One lesson he constantly inculcated on his colleagues in office. When there was a matter of great embarrassment, which it was not known how to dispose of at the moment, Lord Melbourne's favourite observation was, “Can't you let it alone?” But that was the very thing which, with all his experience, and the example of that minister before him, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs could not do: “he cannot let it alone.” Lord Derby proceeded to comment upon the inexpediency of Lord Russell tendering his advice, as he had done to Denmark, thereby aggravating the difficulties of the Danish Government. He assailed also in a happy vein of ridicule the offer which had been made to the Pope of a refuge under the }...". of the English flag at Malta, in the event of the Holy ather finding himself compelled to abdicate his own territory. Nothing, he said, could have been more unnecessary or ill-devised than the suggestion of such an asylum. The offer which had been made to Prince Alfred of the Crown of Greece was a very gratifying event; but Lord Derby desired to know why Greece was allowed by Her Majesty's Government to remain for so long a time in suspense as to their determination. Our Ministers were in this dilemma, either they had originally intended to accept the throne, apart from treaty obligations, or they had been frightened from that course by the strong language held by Russia and France. The last topic to which Lord Derby adverted, and in a tone of decision, which seemed to indicate that upon this question the Opposition party had resolved to controvert strongly the policy of the Government, was the contemplated cession of the Ionian Islands to the new sovereignty of Greece. The noble lord said:— “I must look at this question, not only as it affects the Ionian Islands themselves, not only as it affects Greece, but as it affects the interests of this country, and the interests of Europe. I am not going to say that Her Majesty's Government could not, even without the consent of Parliament, give up the protectorate of this country over those islands. I do not say that such a step could be regarded in the light of a dismemberment of the empire; but I say that they were confided to Great Britain after a consideration of serious questions of European policy, and after grave deliberation on the part of this and other Powers. It had been a matter of much anxiety to Great Britain to obtain those islands, and to retain that possession, and a position such as they afford is not a matter of such indifference to the power of this country as some persons have represented it to be. Previously to 1814 most of those islands had been captured. Corfu had not been in our possession, but for two years before it had been blockaded by the fleets of Great Britain, though it was only after the fall of Napoleon that the French Government gave up that island. From that moment it has been held by Great Britain. At a time when this country was at war, military and naval officers all concurred in the opinion as to the importance of holding and maintaining the Ionian Islands for the purposes of England. One of the latter said, he regarded the possession of Corfu as equal to the addition of two frigates to his fleet. Competent authorities on the subject have stated their opinions as to the importance of our protectorate of those islands in respect to our position in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, and on account of their geographical position in respect of the route to India via Egypt. I do not mean to say that there may not be some considerations of expenditure connected with this protectorate, and that it may not to some extent be an embarrassment to have to protect and watch over the most difficult set of men in the world to protect—Ionians travelling in foreign countries; but I do say that positions of such great importance ought not to be surrendered so lightly and so hastily as Her Majesty's Government seem to think they may be, and that considerations of inconvenience and expense ought not to interfere with the holding of positions of great importance to this country. I think I may appeal to the illustrious duke on the cross benches (the Duke of Cambridge) to corroborate me when I say that during the Crimean war great advantage was felt from the facility those islands afforded for supplying troops, while we were enabled to garrison them with militia. They afford a rendezvous for our fleets, and give us one of the safest and best harbours in the Mediterranean, while they might prove a source of great embarrassment to us if they were in possession of a naval Power hostile to this country. I am not arguing that under no circumstances that could possibly occur would it be desirable to surrender the Ionian Islands, though I greatly doubt whether it will ever be for the interest of England to give up the nominal protectorate, or the real possession, of these islands. Dut I do say that the utmost care and attention ought to be devoted to the subject before Her Majesty's Government come to any conclusion upon a matter of such grave importance. Last year I think the noble earl, in the House of Commons, when speaking of the great interests which England had in the Adriatic, was interrupted by an hon. member, who said, ‘What great interests?’ To which the noble earl replied, ‘I should have thought the harbour of Corfu afforded a sufficient answer to such a question.” Again, it was only last year that the noble duke (Newcastle), as Secretary for the Colonies, disclaimed in the most emphatic manner any desire and any intention on the part of the Government to surrender these islands, contending that they were a solemn trust confided to us by Europe, and that we had not the slightest idea of parting with them. bit to whom do you part with them 2 You propose quite gratuitously to cede these islands to a Government which is not yet formed—to a State which is yet in the throes of revolution. You propose to give them to this State, unasked for, and, as I will presently show you, in direct opposition and contradiction to the principles which have been laid down by the noble earl himself as those which should regulate the policy of this country. In a correspondence which, somewhat gratuitously again, the noble earl carried on in the course of last year with Prince Gortschakoff, he undertook to lay down certain principles which should regulate the policy of this country in the East, and concluded in terms to which Prince Gortschakoff cordially assented, expressing his great satisfaction at hearing such sentiments from the noble earl. The noble earl insisted then that there should be a total abandonment by Greece of grandes idées, that the country should abstain from acts of aggression upon the territory of her neighbours, and should keep down the turbulent revolutionary spirit of insurrection, which threatened alike all the thrones of Europe. The noble earl went on to enlarge upon the necessity of preventing Greece from becoming a dangerous enemy of Turkey; and that was the guiding principle he laid down. Well, now, how does he propose to carry out that principle? He proposes to cede the Ionian Islands to Greece, but insists that the form of government there should be monarchical. I presume he means that there shall exist in that country a constitutional monarchy. I presume he means a monarchy in which Parliament shall exercise some control over foreign as well as over domestic policy. Admitting the necessity of procuring the sanction of the Great Powers, it is now proposed that when a monarchy is established in Greece, based on these principles—the abandonment of grandes idées, the non-extension of territory, and non-aggression as regards Turkey—the great Powers shall be asked to sanction the surrender to that monarchy of the Ionian Islands. Now, that seems to me to be putting off the surrender ad Gracas Kalendas. How soon is the noble earl to be satisfied, not that a constitutional monarchy is established in Greece, but that the Government and Legislature there are willing and are able to discourage that dangerous spirit of aggression against which the noble earl protests in such strong terms? Then, again, how does the noble earl assist them to keep down this dangerous spirit P Why, by joining with them a number of islands, at present under the English Protectorate, the inhabitants of which have been the firmest supporters of that No. aggression upon Turkey which the noble earl says will form an absolute and entire bar to our surrender of these islands. In proof of this, it is not necessary that I should go further back than to the address of thanks presented by the inhabitants on the first intimation to them of Her Majesty's intention to cede the islands to Greece. In this address, the people declare their peculiar gratitude, because in that cession they see the future support of England during those struggles which must hereafter take place for the extension of Christianity and of Christian civilization—in other words, for their spread upon the territories of Turkey. And so the noble earl assists this constitutional Power to resist the spirit of aggression among its people by uniting with it, as an additional element, a nation which is as one man in favour of that very principle of aggression. One word more upon this subject. Look at the position of Corfu, the most important from its harbour and fortifications. It lies eighty miles to the north of the nearest point of the boundary of Greece, but it is within one mile of the coast of Thessaly, part of the Turkish dominions, thus affording favourable opportunities for constant, I will not sa invasions—but for constant broils, which will infallibly lead to struggles, in which Greece may get the worst of it, and to some new arrangements, in which Corfu may possibly fall into the hands of some other Power, that Power being neither Greece nor Turkey. On all these grounds I implore the Government to consider the gravity and importance of the step they are about to take. I earnestly conjure Parliament and the country to interpose by the pressure of public opinion against an act which is one of the most suicidal and imprudent I ever recollect.” Having disposed of these topics, Lord Derby threw out some jocular taunts against the Government, on account of the very scanty promises of legislation which the Royal Speech contained. He perceived they would bring forward no ambitious measures, no sweeping alterations of the Constitution, but that they would spend altogether “a quiet, humdrum session.” He concluded his speech by pathetically referring to the loss recently sustained by their Lordships in the death of the venerable Marquis of Lansdowne, and paying a just tribute to the high character and eminent services of that nobleman. Earl Russell, having briefly touched on the preliminary topics of the Royal Speech, vindicated the conduct of the Government in not acceding to the request of the French Emperor in regard to mediation between the belligerent parties in America, as the time had not arrived for such a course. He repelled the charge of meddling brought against him by Lord Derby, and showed the inconsistency of that noble lord, who blamed him for not meddling in America and Mexico, and did not praise him for meddling at Denmark and Rome. In his wish to prevent any rupture of the peace of Europe, he had given his advice to Denmark, and, although it had not been accepted, he was convinced that it would have placed Denmark in a better position than she occupied as regarded Schleswig at the present time. He then detailed the origin of the proposal to the Pope, which, it appeared, was only a reply to a question put by the Pope on the subject to Mr. Qdo Russell at an interview sought by the Pope himself. Nothing could be further from the truth than that the claim of Prince Alfred to the throne of Greece had been given up on account of the strong language of France and Russia. Her Majesty's

« AnteriorContinuar »