Изображения страниц



which could scarcely be obtained outside the ; What are our whole exports? Even this cabinet; he may entirely have mistaken the year, far the largest year of exports we bave causes and the claims by which the attitude ever known, they may amount to £80,000,000. of England had been determined; but at least Well, then, plant some one at the mouth of he had something to say worth listening to, every harbour and port in the United Kingand men had listened already. Far beyond dom, and let him take every alternate ship the meeting of the Peace Society, at whose that leaves your rivers and your harbours with conference in Edinburgh he had spoken in all its valuable cargo on board, and let him October in the previous year, many of his carry it off as tribute, and it will not amount words on the then impending struggle had been to the cost that you pay every year for a war, effectual in arousing serious attention to what that fifty years ago was justified as much as war really meant for the people of a country. it is attempted to justify this impending war, Perhaps nobody could venture to contradict and for the preparations which you now make that portion of his declarations; but his after a peace which has lasted for thirty-eight representations of the reasons for which wars years. were undertaken, and the principle on which “Every twenty years—in a nation's life nothey were maintained, at once challenged de- thing, in a person's life something-every nial, and were of course utterly repudiated by twenty years a thousand millions sterling out his opponents.

of the industry of the hard-working people of “What is it,” he asked, "that we really want this United Kingdom are extorted, approhere? We wish to protest against the mainten- priated, and expended to pay for that unnecesance of great armaments in times of peace; we sary and unjust war, and for the absurd and wish to protest against the spirit which is not | ruinous expenditure which you now incur. only willing for war but eager for war; and we thousand millions every twenty years ! wish to protest, with all the emphasis of which Apply a thousand millions, not every twenty we are capable, against the mischievous policy years, but for one period of twenty years, to pursued so long by this country, of interfering objects of good in this country, and it would with the internal affairs of other countries, be rendered more like a paradise than anyand thereby leading to disputes, and often to thing that history records of man's condition, disastrous wars.

and would make so great a change in these "I mentioned last night what it was we were islands that a man having seen them as they annually spending on our armaments. Ad- are now, and seeing them as they might then miral Napier says that the hon. member for be, would not recognize them as the same the West Riding, who can do everything, country, nor our population as the same had persuaded a feeble government to reduce people. But what do we expend all this for? the armaments of this country to 'nothing.' Bear in mind that admirals, and generals, What is 'nothing' in the admiral's estima- and statesmen defended that great war; and tion? Fifteen millions a year! Was all that that your newspapers, with scarcely an excepmoney thrown away? We have it in the tion, were in favour of it, and denounced and estimates, we pay it out of the taxes; it is ostracised hundreds of good men who dared, appropriated by parliament, it sustains your as we dare now, to denounce the spirit which dockyards, pays the wages of your men, and would again lead this country into war. We maintains your ships. Fifteen millions sterling went to war that France should not choose paid in the very year when the admiral says that its own government; the grand conclusion my honourable friend reduced the armaments was that no Bonaparte should sit on the of the country to nothing! But take the sums throne of France; yet France has all along which we spent for the past year in warlike been changing its government from that time preparation-seventeen millions, and the in- to this, and now we find ourselves with a terest on debt caused by war-twenty-eight Bonaparte on the throne of France, and, for millions sterling, and it amounts to £45,000,000. ! anything I know to the contrary, likely to remain there a good while. So far, therefore, invites us to embrace it, and asks us by all for the calculations of our forefathers, and for our love of freedom, by all our respect for the results of that enormous expenditure men struggling for their rights, to interfere which they have saddled upon us.

in the affairs of some other country. And “We object to these great armaments as pro- we find now in this country that a great voking a war spirit. I should like to ask number of those who are calling out loudest what was the object of the Chobham Exhi- for interference are those who, being very bition? There were special trains at the liberal in their politics, are bitterly hostile to disposal of members of parliament, to go the despotism and exclusiveness of the Russian down to Chobham the one day, and to Spit- government. But I should like to ask this head the other. What was the use of our meeting what sort of intervention we are to pointing to the President of the French Re- have? There are three kinds-one for despotpublic two years ago, who is the emperor now, ism, one for liberty; and you may have an and saying that he was spending his time at intervention like that now proposed, from a playing at soldiers in his great camp at Satory, vague sense of danger which cannot be accuand in making great circuses for the amuse- rately described. ment of his soldiers? We, too, are getting “What have our interventions been up to this into the way of playing at soldiers, and camps, time? It is not long since we intervened in the and fleets, and the object of this is to raise case of Spain. The foreign enlistment laws up in the spirit of the people a feeling anta- were suspended; and English soldiers went to gonistic to peace, and to render the people join the Spanish legion, and the government the deluded, hard-working, toiling people of Spain was fixed in the present queen of that satisfied with the extortion of £17,000,000 country, and yet Spain has the most exclusive annually, when, upon the very principles of tariff against this country in the world, and the men who take it, it might be demonstrated a dead Englishman is there reckoned little that one-half of the money would be amply better than a dead dog. Then take the case sufficient for the purposes to which it is of Portugal. We interfered, and Admiral devoted. What observation has been more Napier was one of those employed in that common during the discussion upon Turkey interference to place the Queen of Portugal than this—'Why are we to keep up these on the throne; and yet she has violated every great fleets if we are not to use them? Why clause of the charter which she had sworn to have we our Mediterranean fleet lying at the people; and in 1849, under the governBesika Bay, when it might be earning glory ment of Lord John Russell, and with Lord and adding to the warlike renown of the Palmerston in the foreign office, our fleet country?' This is just what comes from the entered the Tagus and destroyed the Liberal maintenance of great fleets and armies. There party by allowing the queen to escape from grows up an esprit de corps—there grows a their hands, when they would have driven passion for these things, a powerful opinion her to give additional guarantees for liberty; in their favour, that smothers the immorality and from that time to this she has still conof the whole thing, and leads the people to tinued to violate every clause of the charter of tolerate, under those excited feelings, that the country. Now let us come to Syria; what, which, under feelings of greater temperance as Admiral Napier said, about the Syrian and moderation, they would know was hostile war? He told us that the English fleet was to their country, as it is opposed to everything scattered all about the Mediterranean, and which we recognize as the spirit of the Chris- that if the French fleet had come to Cherbourg tian religion.

and had taken on board 50,000 men and “Then we are against intervention. Now landed them on our coasts, all sorts of things this question of intervention is a most impor- would have befallen us. But how happened tant one, for this reason, that it comes before it that Admiral Napier and his friends got up us sometimes in a form so attractive that it the quarrel with the French? Because we





interfered in the Syrian question when we entered Hungary. I myself heard Lord Palhad no business to interfere whatever. The merston in the House of Commons go out of Egyptian pasba, the vassal of the sultan, be- his way needlessly, but intentionally, to excame more powerful than the sultan, and press a sort of approbation of the intervention threatened to depose him and place himself of Russia in the case of Hungary. I heard him as monarch upon the throne of Constantinople; say in a most unnecessary parenthesis, that it and but for England he would assuredly have was not contrary to international law or to the done it. Why did we interfere? What ad- law of Europe for Russia to send an army into vantage was it to us to have a feeble monarch Hungary to assist Austria in putting down in Constantinople, when you might have an the Hungarian insurrection. I should like to energetic and powerful one in Mehemet Ali? know whether Hungary had not constitutional We interfered, however, and quarrelled with rights as sacred as ever any country hadas France, although she neither declared war nor sacred, surely, as the sovereign of Turkey can landed men upon our coast. France is not a have upon his throne. If it were not contrary country of savages and banditti. The ad- to international law and to the law of Europe miral's whole theory goes upon this, that there for a Russian army to invade Hungary, to supis a total want of public morality in France, press there a struggle which called for, and and that something which no nation in Europe obtained too, the sympathy of every man in would dare to do or think of doing, which even favour of freedom in every part of the world, Russia would scorn to do, would be done I say, how can it be contrary to international without any warning by the polished, civilized law and the law of Europe for Russia to and intelligent nation across the Channel.” threaten the Sultan of Turkey, and to ender

In reading this speech delivered six months vour to annex Turkey to the Russian Empire? before the Napier banquet, who can avoid the “I want our policy to be consistent. Do suspicion that Lord Palmerston had it in his not let us interfere now, or concur in or enmemory when he eulogized the admiral, and courage the interference of anybody else, and that his resentment of Mr. Bright's remon- then get up a hypocritical pretence on some strances was sharpened by the recollection. other occasion that we are against interference.

“But,” Mr. Bright asked in continuation, you want war, let it be for something that “if they are the friends of freedom who think has at least the features of grandeur and of we ought to go to war with Russia be- nobility about it, but not for the miserable, cause Russia is a despotic country, what do decrepit, moribund government which is now you say to the interference with the Roman enthroned, but which cannot last long, in the Republic three or four years ago? What do city of Constantinople. you say to Lord John Russell's government, “They tell us that if Russia gets to ConLord Palmerston with his own hand writing stantinople Englishmen will not be able to get the despatch, declaring that the government to India by the overland journey. Mehemet of her majesty the Queen of England entirely Ali, even when Admiral Napier was battering concurred with the government of the French down his towns, did not interfere with the Republic in believing that it was desirable carriage of our mails through his territory. and necessary to re-establish the pope upon We bring our overland mails at present partly his throne? The French army, with the full through Austria and partly through France, concurrence of the English government, crossed and the mails from Canada pass through the over to Italy, invaded Rome, destroyed the re- United States; and though I do not think public, banished its leading men, and restored there is the remotest possibility or probability the pope; and on that throne he sits still, of anything of the kind happening, yet I do maintained only by the army of France. not think that in the event of war with these

“Jy honourable friend has referred to the countries we should have our mails stopped or time when Russia crossed through the very our persons arrested in passing through these principalities we hear so much about, and countries. At any rate it would be a much


more definite danger that would drive me to nearly 30,000,000 of people into a long and incur the ruin, guilt, and suffering of war. bloody struggle for a decrepit and tottering

“ But they tell us further that the Emperor empire, which all the nations in Europe cannot of Russia would get India. That is a still long sustain. And mind, war now would take more remote contingency. If I were asked as a different aspect from what it did formerly. to the probabilities of it, I should say that, It is not only that you send out men who subjudging from our past and present policy in mit to be slaughtered, and that you pay a Asia, we are more likely to invade Russia from large amount of taxes; the amount of taxes India than Russia is to invade us in India. would be but a feeble indication of what you The policy we pursue in Asia is much mor would suffer. Our trade is now much more aggressive, aggrandizing, and warlike than any extensive than it was, our commerce is more that Russia has pursued or threatened during expanded, our undertakings are more vast, our time. But it is just possible that Russia may and war will find you all out at home by be more powerful by acquiring Turkey. . . withering up the resources of the prosperity But I should like to ask whether, even if that enjoyed by the middle and working classes of be true, it is a sufficient reason for our going the country. You would find that war in 1853 to war, and entering on what perhaps may be would be infinitely more perilous and destruca long, ruinous, and sanguinary struggle with tive to our country than it has ever yet been a powerful empire like Russia?

at any former period of our history. There is “What is war? I believe that half the peo- another question which comes home to my ple that talk about war have not the slightest mind with a gravity and seriousness which I idea of what it is. In a short sentence it may can scarcely hope to communicate to you. be summed up to be the combination and con- You who lived during the period of 1815 to centration of all the horrors, atrocities, crimes, 1822 may remember that this country was and sufferings of which human nature on this probably never in a more uneasy position. globe is capable. But what is even a rumour The sufferings of the working-classes were of war? Is there anybody here who has any- beyond description, and the difficulties, and thing in the funds, or who is the owner of any struggles, and bankruptcies of the middle railway stock, or anybody who has a large stock classes were such as few persons have a just of raw material or manufactured goods? The idea of. There was scarcely a year in which funds have recently gone down 10 per cent. there was not an incipient insurrection in I do not say that the fall is all on account of some parts of the country, arising from the this danger of war, but a great proportion of sufferings which the working-classes endured. it undoubtedly is. A fall of 10 per cent. in the You know very well that the government of funds is nearly £80,000,000 sterling of value, the day employed spies to create plots, and to and railway stock having gone down 20 per get ignorant men to combine to take unlawful cent. makes a difference of £60,000,000 in the oaths, and you know that in the town of Stirvalue of the railway property of this country. ling two men, who but for this diabolical Add the two- £140,000,000—and take the agency might have lived good and honest citidiminished prosperity and value of manufac- zens, paid the penalty of their lives for their tures of all kinds during the last few months, connection with unlawful combinations of this and you will understate the actual loss to the kind. country now if you put it down at £200,000,000 “Well, if you go into war now you will sterling. But that is merely a rumour of war. have more banners to decorate your cathedrals That is war a long way off-the small cloud and churches. Evglishmen will fight now as no bigger than a man's hand; what will it be well as they ever did, and there is ample power if it comes nearer and becomes a fact? And to back them if the country can be but suffisurely some men ought to consider whether ciently excited and deluded. You may raise the case is a good one, the ground fair, the up great generals. You may have another necessity clear, before they drag a nation of Wellington and another Nelson too; for this





[ocr errors]

country can grow men capable for every enter- Should they remain in port, we must try to prise. Then there may be titles, and pensions, get at them. Success depends on the quickand marble monuments to eternize the men ness and precision of your fire. Lads, sharpen who have thus become great; but what be- your cutlasses and the day is your own.” Now comes of you and your country and your chil- this was much in the vein of the oratory at dren? For there is more than this in store. the dinner at the Reform Club, and Sir James That seven years to which I have referred was Graham began to fear that the ardour of the a period dangerous to the existence of govern- admiral might outrun his discretion, or that ment in this country, for the whole substratum, he might be tempted to make some sudden the whole foundations of society were discon- venture and endanger the fleet for the purpose tented, suffering intolerable evils, and hostile of satisfying public expectation. He advised in the bitterest degree to the institutions Sir Charles Napier in the first instance to feel and the government of the country.”

his way and to make good his hold in the It is scarcely necessary to point out how Gulf of Finland. “When I say this,” he illustrative this speech is of the difference added, “I by no means contemplate an attack between the manner of Mr. Bright and that either on Sweaborg or on Cronstadt. I have of Mr. Cobden. Nor can we omit to notice a great respect for stone walls, and have no that want of discrimination in the application fancy for running even screw line-of-battle of the statements brought forward to illus- ships against them. Because the public here trate his argument which laid the speaker may be impatient, you must not be rash; open to more than adverse criticism, and because they, at a distance from danger, are excited a feeling stronger than mere con- foolhardy, you must not risk the loss of a fleet tradiction.

in an impossible enterprise.” Sir James conIt was unfortunate that the laudations be- tinued that he believed both Sweaborg and stowed on Sir Charles Napier and the intended Cronstadt to be all but impregnable from the operations of the first division of the Baltic sea - Sweaborg more especially -- and that fleet should have been so overdone. The spec- none but a very large army could co-operate tacle of the departure of that fleet had aroused by land efficiently in the presence of such a a large amount of public enthusiasm, for it force as Russia could readily concentrate for was the most important naval force which the immediate defence of the approaches to had ever gone forth from the chief maritime her capital. He advised the admiral, if he station of the kingdom, and a vast multitude had none but naval means at his command, of people had left London and various large to pause long and consider well before he towns and assembled at Portsmouth for the attempted any attack on the Russian squadpurpose of witnessing the warlike show - rons in their strongholds, and he impressed almost the last naval display before iron-clads these cautions upon him lest, " to satisfy the and their successors, with rams and turrets, had wild wishes of an impatient multitude,” he superseded the old “wooden walls”—the first should " yield to some rash impulse and fail in which the principal vessels were propelled in the discharge of one of the noblest duties, by steam-power. Three large ships remained which is the moral courage to do what you behind to form the nucleus of a second divi- know to be right at the risk of being accused sion. The expectations of the nation ran high of having done wrong.” 50 high that the admiral possibly foresaw There was much “mounting the high horse" the disappointment which must follow. If he in all this, and Sir James Graham either sucdid so, however, the address which he sig- ceeded beyond his intention in impressing the nalled to the fleet before commencing opera- ardent admiral with his own caution, or he tions seems to have been rather impolitic:- was altogether mistaken in believing such "Lads! war is declared. We are to meet a solemn warnings to be necessary. The truth bold and numerous enemy; should they offer seems to have been, that Sir Charles Napier uz battle, you know how to dispose of them. knew very

well what he might be able to do

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »