« PreviousContinue »
ing against the course adopted by Great Britain and Holland, and binding themselves to take efficient steps for their mutual protection. Vattel and other great authorities on the law of nations supported their view of the case, and what was the consequence? Why, the representations of those powers produced the desired effect. Great Britain and Holland yielded at once to the representations made to them. They withdrew their notice, and made reparation to the injured parties. Now, it was worthy of remark, that we were then at war with France—Holland was at war with France, and, of course, every right appertaining to a belligerent power then belonged to us. But even in that state and posture of affairs we admitted, that in resorting to such a measure we had done wrong. But how were we situated in this case? We were no belligerents, and therefore had not a shadow of ground for this proceeding. Was it ever before known or heard of, that because a state wished well to one of two hostile parties, was in alliance with one of them, but not at war with the other—was it ever before heard of, that in such a state of things they were authorized to issue an order to prevent a neutral power from entering the ports of the country where the contest was going on? Since the law of nations was first established amongst civilized men— amongst whom alone it was known—such a monstrous, such a preposterous proceeding, was never before heard of. The noble Earl (Minto) was not well pleased when, on a former occasion, a noble Lord introduced this subject. The noble Earl could not conceive where the noble Lord had procured his information on a matter which was of a purely confidential character. He wished the order had been of a private and confidential nature, as private and confidential as the Oxford and Cambridge libels which were mentioned last night. It ought to have been so confidential as never to have left the desk ; such an abortion ought never to have seen the light. But it was something new to hear of a confidential order, addressed to the captain of a frigate, not to be opened until he arrived at a certain degree of longitude and latitude, but to be acted on immediately. Why, the moment the order was notified to the captain of a frigate, with 500 or 600 men on board, it became a matter of notoriety to every one of them
—it became a matter of public notoriety, the instant an attempt was made to carry it into execution. But why, he wished to know, for he must assume the fact, were these confidential orders kept back from the neutral powers? Why were not the Sardinians, why were not the Dutch (for it was levelled at them), made acquainted with this order? Why was that knowledge withheld from them? They were, in consequence of their ignorance, induced to freight vessels with stores, for no human imagination could ever suppose that orders and instructions of such a description could emanate from any mortal being who had ever presided over the Admiralty or had occupied a seat at the board. So it was, however; individuals were induced to freight vessels with stores, they fared forth, they crossed the seas, only to reap disappointment when they approached their destination. He must express his satisfaction that no accident should have happened in consequence of those instructions during the last two years. But, notwithstanding, these instructions were an aggression upon neutral rights, which violated the law of nations, and put in jeopardy the peace both of this country and of Europe. These were the reasons, thus shortly stated, which would make him deeply lament that the question which he had ventured to ask should be unsatisfactorily answered. For these reasons he rejoiced that an opportunity was given them of arresting the Government in this bad course, when otherwise it might be too late to interfere, except for the sake of precedent. These were the reasons which made him apprehensive that mischief would still happen unless these instructions were revoked. He would suppose a case. He did not know what ramifications of treaties might exist between the Italian and German states: The parties who had entered into the quadruple alliance, to which he himself had been a party, had never dreamt of any thing in the slightest degree resembling any interference with neutral stales; so far from that, one party to the treaty, the King of the French, bound himself to prevent any arms or ammunition being furnished to Don Carlos from the French territory, but not one word was said about stopping any neutral powers from giving their assistance to Don Carlos. He would just put this case*, it was a known truth, that certain Powers were not parties to the quadripartite alliance. He never yet saw the case of a treaty on which other Powers looked with a jealous eye in which that treaty did not give rise to other treaties. Nations, like individuals, acted in the spirit of Mr. Burke's aphorism—"When bad men combine, good men must associate." The Powers who did not unite with us in forming the quadripartite alii, ance naturally looked upon that as a combination for bad purposes, and said," We must associate for our legitimate purposes;" from which reasons he argued, that it was eminently probable that some treaties had arisen out of the quadripartite alliance. He would suppose Sardinia to be a weak state; but no—he would not suppose Sardinia to be weak, for he remembered that when he had urged the noble Lord to put a stop to the slave trade, and had pointed to the manner in which Portugal connived at that iniquitous traffic, the noble Lord's answer was, " Oh, we must not interfere with Portugal; we could immediately put a stop to the slave trade if we chose, but Portugal is under our protection, and is a weak power; nothing could be so indelicate as such a proceeding; but if it had been France, or Prussia, or Austria, or Russia, it would have been a different thing." This was a line of policy closely approximating to the conduct of a sovereign of the house of Bourbon, in the southern part of the Peninsula, who was distinguished by all that firmness of character which seemed an hereditary qualification of that illustrious house, and who being one day out hunting was observed to change colour and run away as fast as he could from some small animal, R dog or something of the kind, which happened to come through a gap in the hedge. Some surprise being expressed at this unusual exhibition, his Majesty replied with great energy and emphasis, " Oh, if it had been a lion, you should have seen what a reception I would have given him." Just so, her Majesty's Government could not think of coercing a poor little thing like Portugal; but if it had been Russia, or France, or Austria, or Prussia, then indeed we should have seen what they would have done. Therefore he had no right to assume that Sardinia was a weak power. But he would suppose a case. He would suppose, that Sardinia had put herself under the protection of Austria. He would suppose, that a defensive alliance subsisted between
Austria and Sardinia in viridi observanti/l. What if that were the case? What, if he knew it to be true that there was a defensive alliance between Austria and Sardinia, which bound Austria to make common cause with Sardinia in any case in which Sardinia was involved in war. It was possible that that treaty had been made since those instructions were issued, but their production would at once put a stop to any surmise about the date. He must say, that according to the law of nations Austria was perfectly justified in entering into a defensive alliance with Sardinia. An offensive alliance was another thing. An offensive alliance was an aggression in itself; it led to war, and was therefore abhorred by the law of nations. But defensive alliances were objects of peculiar favour with that law; they threw the shield of the strong over the weak, and were therefore highly favoured by the law of nations.' A defensive alliance did not lead to the great national felony of war, and no one had a right to complain, because the aggressor only was injured. The fate of this motion rested with their Lordships, but he certainly thought that unless strong reasons were shown against the production of these instructions they ought to be laid before their Lordships. He should therefore move—
"That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that she would be graciously pleased to direct that there be laid before this House copies of any orders issued by the Admiralty touching any warning or prohibition against an entrance into the Spanish ports by Sardinian or other vessels; and of any warning or notification addressed to neutral Powers accordingly."
Viscount Melbourne said, that in answer to the question of the noble and learned Lord, on the former occasion, when the noble and learned Lord stated, that he requested him to make this motion, he begged to observe, that what he meant to say was, that he could not produce the papers referring to this matter, unless they were called for by the House, but he denied, that he recommended the noble and learned Lord, to move for these papers, or gave him to understand, that they would be produced on such a motion being made. What he said, was with the view of leading the noble and learned Lord to the conclusion, that the more he considered the subject, that the more calm deliberation he gave to it, the moi e he would
ho had just read. VVas this a basis on which, to give rise to a ju [gainst the Government, with respect to v»»v *.> Iiliulv lo arise 1 the adairs referred to by him, namely, U» had devliueU to those of Spain? He, however, also proK-h» uut iv turn by the ' tested against the motion in a high degree l.k»»d\ tiv* because he 1 >u consequence of its impolicv und inex
—fl* said, that it wi
namely, the possibility of displeasing a foreign power, on the same ground no question of foreign policy should be discussed, because it involved the possibility of displeasure, and war with the world. He did not mean to say, that Parliament should act with unreasonable jealousy on these questions, but still they were questions well worthy of the attention of Parliament. He did not see what there was worthy of praise in these instructions, for they were as likely, as anything could be, to engage us in a war with all the neutral powers in the world. He approved of the acknowledgment of the Queen of Spain, and he thought that the quadruple treaty was a wise and expedient measure; but it should be remembered, that it was framed with the view to promote the interests of Portugal, and not those of Spain. He denied, however, that the additional articles were any necessary parts of the treaty —they were added long afterwards, and were not a necessary consequence of the treaty. He could not conceive, that it was part of the original treaty that they should risk a war with all the neutral governments in Europe for the sake of the Queen of Spain. He could hardly tell what vote he should be induced to give, but he trusted that their Lordships would receive a more satisfactory explanation than had hitherto been presented to the House. If the noble Lord at the head of the Government said, that the public service would be injured by the production of these papers, he hoped that such was his sense of duty that he could not, for one, consent to press the Government for papers which the Minister declared before Parliament, could not be produced without detriment to the public service. But not a single reason had been given as an argument for the non-production of these documents. Of one thing, however, they might be quite certain; and this from the speech of the noble Viscount, that the instructions were sent to the naval officers on the coast of Spain; secondly, that they had had the influence and produced the effect intended; and, thirdly, that there had been no necessity to act upon them in any case whatever.
The Earl of Minto said, that notwithstanding the able and eloquent manner in which the noble and learned Lord made hit statement to the House, and in which he waj itipported by the noble Earl, on the ground whton ho had jjost itate j, it
was clear that the motion was nothing more nor less than a fishing motion, to see what could be got from them. The object of it was not to get any instructions which had been acted on, but to call for contingent instructions which had only been framed for temporary and not for permanent objects. He believed, that (his was the first time in which such a demand had been made; and should their Lordships agree to the motion, it would certainly be the first time such a demand had been successful. It appeared to him, that there was nothing in the noble and learned Lord's speech which was in opposition to the quadruple treaty and to the additional articles, to which the noble Lord had also been a party, and that they had been faithfully executed. What were the additional articles? The first was, that steps should, be taken to guard against the introduction of arms and warlike stores into Spain. It was, therefore, clear what was the object of the second article. The words of the article were—" His Majesty, the King of Great Britain and Ireland, engages to furnish to the Queen of Spain, such supplies of arms and warlike stores as the maintenance of her cause may require, and, if necessary, to furnish a naval force." In what way, then, were they to lend assistance by means of a naval force? It was only by preventing the invasion of the country by other states, that efficient aid could be afforded. Might they, therefore, not say, then, that these instructions were framed with the view to restrain those who were hostile to the Queen's Government, and that this was the only effective mode in which they could hope to render assistance? The noble Earl said, that the instructions might involve us in a war with Spain. The noble Earl was no party to the additional articles, but the noble and learned Lord was; and, by the second of these articles, as he had shown, they were required and bound to give the assistance of a naval force to Spain. This was framed on the presumption that some other countries would send, not merchantmen, but men-of-war, to the coast, to take part with Don Carlos against the Government. Their ships appear on the coast of Spain, and the Government then begs aid of its allies, and says, "This is the time of want; you can now be of service to us; will you not give us all the aid in your power?" These were, as nearly as possible, the facts of the cast1
and he did not see how it could be said, that they gave the co-operation of a naval force if they refused such aid. He contended, that they could not be released from their obligation of preventing the cruisers of the friends and supporters of Don Carlos landing on the coast; and this could only be done by means of armed ships. The noble Earl adverted to the danger which was likely to result from taking such a step; but this was a matter to be considered in reference to the policy of the treaty, and the additional articles and the objects of that treaty had been strictly and faithfully carried out at the time the noble Earl was Secretary for the Colonial Affairs, and in a manner in which he trusted that treaties would always be carried out in this country. If this country was distinguished for one thing more than another, it was for its strict observance of the obligations of treaties with fidelity, and more than fidelity; it had ever been remarkable for a full and entire observance of them, and for never attempting to escape from the obligations of treaties by any verbal quibbles,or nice or technical distinctions. The noble and learned Lord had dwelt at great length on the rights of neutrals, and on the question of blockade. Now, he did not suppose that the Government was charged with issuing orders fora blockade of the coast of Biscay, but the charge was, that certain armed ships belonging to Sardinia, being about to invade the coast of Spain, that he attempted to prevent it by instructions to the naval officers.
Lord Brougham denied, that he had said anything respecting the invasion of the coast by the Sardinians and Dutch, but merely of ships carrying arms and stores, and other contraband of war.
The Earl of Minlo had no wish to misrepresent the noble and learned Lord, but he would proceed to another topic. He w as most anxious to pay all attention to the rights of neutrality; but they had no intention to institute a blockade against the trade of other countries. The noble Lord argued as if a gross attack had been made on the rights of neutrals, and yet the whole subject matter of the charge that he brought was, that orders had been issued or warning had been given, to the Sardinians not to send ships laden with arms and other warlike stores to the coast of Spain for Don Carlos. He must say, that if he ■ I had thought it to be his duty to issue such