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OPPOSITION TO THE BILL-MR. GIBSON'S AMENDMENT.
with the French foreign minister. This might | made on either side. “ What the Emperor have answered the purpose if the subsequent of the French really required, I apprehend,” utterances of French addresses and French said Mr. Disraeli,“was a plain demonstration journals had not given another interpretation on the part of this country, which would have to the despatch in the minds of its opponents. dissipated the apprehensions that have unforBut though the French government had been tunately proved so considerable in France; told, through the official channels, that we but I cannot believe that the bill which the could not pass an Alien Bill, and could only noble lord has proposed will at all tend to set in motion a law against conspiracy on re
that most desirable consummation. So far as ceiving proper evidence, and though the em- I am concerned, I consider it the most unforperor,--directly his attention was called to the tunate part of the position in which we are outrageous language of the army addresses,- placed, that this opportunity has been so mishad authorized his minister to express his managed by her majesty's ministers as to have regret that they should have been received, alarmed England without pleasing France. or should have been allowed to appear in the Still I cannot think that we ought to take a Voniteur; a majority of the House of Com- course which might lead to prolonged and mons and the country had determined to sup- mischievous misconceptions, because we disport an amendment-arranged, it was said, by approve of the clumsy and feeble manner in Lord John Russell, and moved by Mr. Milner which the government has attempted to deal Gibson-against the second reading. The with this difficulty." amendment was:—That this house cannot but Lord Palmerston attempted to carry the regret that her majesty's government, pre- house with him against Mr. Milner Gibson's viously to inviting the house to amend the motion, by treating the language of the French law of conspiracy at the present time, have colonels as a trumpery reason for refusing an not felt it to be their duty to reply to the important measure. It would be unworthy important despatch received from the French of the nation to be turned from a course othergovernment, dated January 20th.
wise proper “upon any paltry feelings of On the first introduction of the bill it had offended dignity or of irritation at the expresbeen opposed by Mr. Kinglake with some sions of three or four colonels of French regiforce; but Mr. Kinglake was not a power in ments.” But if the propriety of the proposed the House of Commons, and was known to be measure was not denied, its timeliness was a bitter opponent of the French emperor. strongly disputed. The temper of the nation Mr. Disraeli had seemed to be waiting on would have refused even the most desirable events, and employed the tactics of balancing measure of legislation to the demand of a forthe debate and at the same time incidentally eign government, and the very fact that Paldamaging the ministry. He pointed out that merston had apparently submitted to dictation, , in 1853, under a government of which the at once created suspicion that there was unnoble lord the member for London, who felt worthy truckling to the French emperor for that this country would be so humiliated by some state purpose. The country was jealous the adoption of the bill, was the leading mem- and disappointed, and it soon became evident ber of the house, we had statesmen of the that the premier and the ministry had taken greatest eminence in this country denouncing a step from which they would not be able to the Emperor of the French as a tyrant, usurper, recover their former footing. The amendment and perjurer; we had a cabinet minister fresh was supported not only by the Radicals who from a cabinet council proceeding to the hust- had opposed the first reading of the bill, but ings, and amusing his constituents by depict- also by Mr. Gladstone and the Peelites, as ing to them the danger of their country from well as by the chiefs of the opposition. “What the impending piratical invasion of the French satisfaction," said Mr. Disraeli, was it to people. What was now to be considered, how- the country that some indefinite words were ever, was not the foolish or insulting speeches | dropped in a conversation? The government
had acted in a perplexed, timid, and confused | dicating that law. As far as justice requires, manner, deficient in dignity and self-respect. let us have the existing law viudicated, and The despatch ought to have been answered in a then let us proceed to amend it if it be found spirit worthy of the occasion. A great oppor- necessary. But do not let us allow it to lie tunity had been lost of asserting the principles under a cloud of accusations of which we are of public law."
convinced that it is totally innocent. These Mr. Disraeli had voted with the govern- times are grave for liberty. We live in the ment for the introduction of the bill, though nineteenth century; we talk of progress; we he had by his comments endeavoured to in- believe that we are advancing; but can any jure the ministry. He now opposed it. But man of observation who has watched the its fate was already fixed. Mr. Gibson, re- events of the last few years in Europe have turned to parliament by another constituency failed to perceive that there is a movement after he had been rejected by his former sup- indeed, but a downward and backward moveporters, was the representative of a body ment? There are a few spots in which instiwhich, though it had been depressed during tutions that claim our sympathy still exist the Crimean war, was again rising to influence, and flourish. They are secondary placesand Palmerston had lost some popularity be- nay, they are alnjost the holes and corners of fore the promotion of this measure. His ap- Europe so far as mere material greatness is pointment, to the office of lord privy-seal, of the concerned, although their moral greatness will, Marquis of Clanricarde, whose reputation was I trust, ensure them long prosperity and hapby no means a good one, and who had recently piness. But in these times more than ever been exposed in a trial in the Dublin Court of does responsibility centre upon the institutions Chancery, had caused some scandal, and a very of England; and if it does centre upon Engobvious element of public distrust appeared land, upon her principles, upon her laws, and to be mingled with the former admiration for
governors, then I say that a measure the noble lord, who was presently to discover passed by this House of Commons—the chief that he was the subject of general abuse and hope of freedom—which attempts to establish of accusations of subserviency to France and a moral complicity between us and those who nobody knew what other crimes against the seek safety in repressive measures, will be a state. Among the most favourable expressions blow and a discouragement to that sacred of opinion at that time it was said, “ Palmer- cause in
every country in the world.” ston is growing old and childish, his day is These words were full of meaning in relaover; and though he was once the representa- tion to coming events in Italy, the shadows tive of English power and influence in Europe, of which were even then being thrown forhis head has been turned by the civilities of ward with unmistakable distinctness, though the Tuileries and a personal friendship for the only a few could discern their shape and reFrench emperor."
lative proportions. But there were statesmen who, setting Lord Palmerston could always take defent party considerations aside, were still strongly with cheerful equanimity, but he seldom alopposed to the introduction of the bill with lowed that he would be defeated until the out a formal answer having been given to the battle was really over. He usually fought to French despatch explaining the state of our the last with courage and address. He fought law. Not only had this been neglected, but now, but not with his usual address. He lost they were asked to pass the present bill as an his temper, and became as abusive to Mr. answer to Count Walewski's despatch. “If Milner Gibson as he had on former occasions there is any feeling in this house for the hon- been to Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden, and in our of England,” said Mr. Gladstone, “don't much the same style. It was, he said, the let us be led away by some vague statement first time in his life that he had seen Mr. about the necessity of reforming the criminal Gibson stand forth in the character of chamlaw. Let us insist upon the necessity of vin- | pion of the honour of England and vindicator
LORD DERBY'S GOVERNMENT-LORD COWLEY.
of the rights of the country against foreign / would not at first accept his resignation, but nations. The policy which that gentleman he had no desire to retain office under the had invariably advocated had been one of circumstances. Lord Derby was sent for to submission-of crouching to every foreign undertake the difficult task of forming a govpower with which we had any differences to ernment, and the ex-premier resumed, with discuss. The right honourable gentleman be- cheerful ardour, occupations which still gave longed to a small party who said, “What care him a large share of public business, until the we if this country should be conquered by a following November, when he went gaily off foreign force? If we are conquered by a to Compiégne on a visit to the Emperor Naforeign power, they would allow us to work poleon, to join in shooting pheasants and our mills." This might have “fetched” the hunting stays in the imperial forest, and to house two years before, but the spell which talk philosophical politics with his host in gave such animus to any attack on the “Man- the intervals of festivity. chester school," and the “Peace-at-any-price" Lord Derby had little confidence in being party, had been weakened. Neither Cobden able to maintain a Conservative government, nor Bright were in parliament, but they had and it was generally understood that the new not been altogether silent, and there had been ministry would only keep office as it were by a peculiar fusion of parties on some leading sufferance. There were few new names in the questions. His attack on Mr. Gibson was as administration. Mr. Disraeli was of course ill-timed as the bill which it was intended to chancellor of the exchequer; Lord Malmesdefend. He seemed to forget that the indig- bury, foreign secretary; Mr. Walpole, home nant rejection by men with Mr. Milner Gib- secretary; Sir J. Pakington, first lord of the son's views, of a foreign despatch which he admiralty. It is to be remarked that Lord had been ready to accept and to act upon, Derby offered the appointment of secretary for was a startling evidence of the national dis- the colonies to Mr. Gladstone, who declined it, like to the position which he had been ready to and that it was then conferred on Lord Stanassume towards the French government. His ley, in whom the Conservatives had begun to retorts were received with murmurs and ex- look with no little expectation, because of his clamations of dissent, and he was too good a solid acquirements and a certain appearance tactician not to feel that he was on a wrong of calm deliberation which peculiarly distin
He ended by appealing to the house guished him from his father. It was both not to support an amendment which would significant and important that Lord Cowley have an entirely contrary effect to that which was retained as our representative in Paris. had been anticipated; but the house did not In fact after Lord Derby had made his minrespond to his appeal, and the government isterial statement on assuming office, Lord was defeated by a majority of 19 on a division Clarendon had given such an explanation of in which 459 members voted—that majority the course adopted by the late government, being composed of 146 Conservatives, 84 that the new prime minister, in reporting to Liberals, and 4 of those who were still called the queen the proceedings of the evening, Peelites, viz. Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Cardwell, wrote, “ Lord Clarendon made an admirable Mr. Sidney Herbert, and Sir James Graham. speech in explanation of the course which the
Palmerston could scarcely have expected late government pursued, and which, had it such a result, and it is very doubtful whether been delivered in the House of Commons on those who made the majority were quite pre- the subject of the amendment, would propared for it, or were delighted with the pros-bably have deprived Lord Derby of the pect of a Conservative government. Had honour of addressing your majesty on the Palmerston chosen to drop the bill, and to present occasion.” appeal to the house for a vote of confidence, It was well that a man so fully trusted by he would very likely have gained the point, the Emperor of the French as Lord Cowley but he preferred to resign at once. The queen was to be retained at Paris, for it required
some one in a confidential relation to explain | frankness which has characterized his conduct, the necessity for dropping the Conspiracy Bill to offer an explanation which cannot fail to and sending a definite answer to Count Walew- remove any existing misconception.” ski's despatch.
The strongest assurances were given orally When the Emperor of the French learned by Count Walewski to Lord Cowley, when from Lord Derby's speech that the Conspiracy this despatch was read to him, that he had Bill would not be proceeded with, his vexation never intended to do more than to call attenand disappointment were at first great. The tion to the acts of certain conspirators against passing of the bill would have helped to ap- the emperor's life, who had used England as pease the angry spirit which his own indis- the base for their machinations, but that he cretion had helped to foment among a certain had never pointed out, “or intended to point section of his followers, and which had been out, a remedy for them. It was for the Eng. inade the most of, for their own purpose, by lish government and the English nation alone the plotters against the Anglo-French alliance. to determine in what manner, and in what Once persuaded that the measure was one measure, a remedy could be applied.”—Count which no ministry could carry, he was certain de Persigny was also instructed, in a despatch to see the wisdom of letting the subject drop. from Count Walewski, to reiterate these asTo satisfy him on this head, therefore, became surances in unqualified terms, and the followthe first object of the government, and they ing paragraph of the despatch brought the were materially assisted in this by the confi- differences between the governments to an dence which the emperor felt in Lord Cowley, honourable close :and by the frankness with which he discussed “In giving these assurances to the principal this subject with his lordship, as, indeed, he secretary of state you will add, that the enwas in the habit of discussing with him all peror's intentions baving been misunderstood, questions that affected the interests of the two his majesty's government will abstain from countries. Lord Cowley had even the courage continuing a discussion, which, if prolonged, to suggest that as such a measure, unless car- might injuriously affect the dignity and good ried by what was clearly not to be hoped for, understanding of the two countries, and will the almost unanimous consent of parliament, place its reliance purely and simply on the could be no satisfaction to France, the emperor loyalty of the English people.” would place himself in a far better position This was satisfactory, the honour of both with England were he himself to request that countries was vindicated, and when Mr. Disall further discussion on the subject should raeli was able to announce the bappy termidrop. An intimation to this effect was sub- nation of the difference, it was felt to be a sequently conveyed from the emperor to the favourable introduction to the new adminisFrench ambassador here.
tration. That administration had, as we have A friendly adjustment was in fact soon ar- seen, to take up the question of an India Bill, rived at. Walewski's obnoxious despatch of and the programme which had been announced the 20th of January was answered in a de- also included parliamentary reform. Nobody spatch by Lord Malmesbury to Lord Cowley, expected that the government could last long, written to be communicated to Count Walew. nobody looked forward with very great exski. In this answer Count Walewski's atten- citement to its operations after the India Bill tion was called to the imputations which had passed. One or two of the measures seemed to be conveyed by the language of his which were adopted we have already noted. despatch. A conviction was expressed that, Some of the events we shall place hereafter in whatever the words might import, it could not their relation to their results. The two feahave been Count Walewski's intention to con- tures of the session now to be considered were vey an imputation, “injurious alike to the the budget and the proposal of a measure of morality and honour of the British nation," reform which had been promised in the minisand that he would not hesitate, “with that terial programme. The budget was not cal
THE CONSERVATIVE REFORM BILL.
culated to arouse either great admiration or to all lodgers who paid ten pounds a year sustained opposition. It was framed to meet rental, and would have reduced the franchise peculiar difficulties. There was an increased in counties to a ten-pound rental, laying the expenditure, and yet commercial failures had expenses of the returning officer on the county diminished revenue. The financial statement or borough rate, prescribing that votes should was felt to be a critical point, but it was well be taken by ballot, wholly disfranchising received, chiefly because it proposed no violent eighty-six boroughs, taking away one member changes. There was a deficit of £3,990,000, from each of thirty-four other boroughs, and and Mr. Disraeli had determined to postpone transferring the seats thus obtained to the the engagement to pay off £2,000,000 of ex- larger towns, counties, and divisions of counchequer bonds and £1,500,000 of the war
ties. sinking-fund. The introduction of a stamp It could scarcely be expected that the Conon bankers' cheques was a new feature which servative ministry would introduce such a would produce £300,000, and it was hoped bill as this; and there was some anxiety to that £500,000 would be obtained by an equal discover what would be their plan. Practiization of the spirit duties. Mr. Disraeli saidcally they had no definite scheme, and were so he hoped it would still be possible, in the long in framing one that there were fears lest year anticipated, to carry into effect Mr. Glad- they might break down altogether. On the stone's wise arrangements for the extinction 28th of February, 1859, however, Mr. Disof the income-tax; and Mr. Gladstone, who raeli was ready to explain the measure which was, as we may remember, soon about to depart had been framed by the government. It was for Corfu as Lord Commissioner Extraor- a remarkable proposal, reminding one somedinary to the Ionian Islands, expressed gen- what, in its curiously fanciful provisions, of eral approval of the scheme, thanked the the India bill proposed by Lord Ellenborough. chancellor of the exchequer for equalizing the
It was not intended, its introducer said, to spirit duties, and hoped there would be some alter the limits of the franchise, but to introprospect of keeping down the scale of national duce into the borough a new kind of franchise, expenditure, and of conferring upon the founded upon personal property. It was to country, at an early date, an actual and posi- give a vote in boroughs to persons with £10 tive realization of its wishes.
a year in the funds, bank stock, or East India The budget passed without difficulty, and stock, to persons having £60 in a savings
, the government had enough on its hands to bank, to pensioners of £20 a year in the last till the end of the session, when it had to naval, military, or civil services; to the inconsider what should be the measure of reform habitants of a portion of any house whose which would satisfy the country. The subject aggregate rental was £20 per annum; to had not been sleeping during the past twelve- graduates, ministers of religion, members of months. Had Palmerston's ministry con- the legal and medical professions, and under tinued to hold office, they were pledged to in- certain circumstances to schoolmasters. It troduce a new reform bill. Several large and proposed to remedy the working of the famous important meetings had been held at Bir- Chandos Clause of the Reform Bill of 1832, mingham, Manchester, and Glasgow, at which by extending the £10 household franchise to Mr. Bright had spoken, for he had recovered the counties, an arrangement which, it was from the serious illness which had affected calculated, would add 200,000 to the number him for nearly two years, and was again ac- of county electors. tively engaged in political work. To him the The bill was brought in without opposition, promoters of a wide measure of reform had but it pleased neither side.
The charge applied to prepare the outlines of a bill, and brought against it by the opposition was that he somewhat reluctantly consented. He it aimed to increase the number of voters in would have given the borough franchise to all such a way as to secure a Conservative majorpersons rated for the relief of the poor, and ity. Mr. Walpole and Mr. Henley, on the