« PreviousContinue »
Secretary of State for War, moves a Vote of Thanks to the officers and men engaged in the China Expedition-His Speech, giving an account of the operations of the War-The Earl of Derby gives his cordial assent to the Motion, and compliments the Military Department on the organization of the Expedition-Remarks of the Duke of Cambridge, Earl Grey, the Duke of Somerset, Earl of Ellenborough, and other Peers-The Resolution is adopted, nem. con.-A similar Resolution in the House of Commons is moved by Lord Palmerston, seconded by Mr. Disraeli-Remarks of Mr. White, Sir James Elphinstone, Lord John Russell, and other Members-The Motion is voted unanimously-LAW OF BANKRUPTCY-The Attorney-General again introduces his Measure, somewhat altered since last Session, for the Amendment of the Bankrupt Laws-He explains the various provisions and details of the Bill-A general approval is expressed by the legal and mercantile Members of the House-The Bill is brought in-Death of H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent on the 16th of March-Addresses of Condolence moved by the Ministers in both Houses-Their Speeches— The Addresses are agreed to, nem. con.
internal state of the counTHE try at the opening of the year 1861 was generally prosperous and tranquil. The harvest of the preceding autumn had, indeed, proved deficient, even to a greater extent than was at first apprehended, but the policy of free-trade had happily, in a great measure, obviated the effects of domestic scarcity, and very large importations of grain having been received both from Europe and America, the cost of the prime necessary of life was kept within moderate bounds, and occasioned but little pressure upon the poorer classes. The state of the agricultural and manufacturing interests at the opening of the year was apparently sound, and a spirit of contentment and political tranquillity generally prevailed. What ever demand had temporarily existed for constitutional changes appeared to have now completely subsided, and the subject of. Parliamentary Reform to be suspended by consent of all parties. In the absence of stirring events
at home, attention was chiefly bent upon the progress of affairs abroad, especially upon the gradual development of Italian unity, in which a warm interest was felt, though the attitude of neutrality was strictly maintained by our Government. The successful and honourable termination of the war in China was hailed with cordial satisfaction. On the other side of the Atlantic, the first scene of a revolution of great importance, no less than the disruption of the hitherto United States into two hostile sections, had just begun to excite a warm interest in this country. The sympathies of England were at the outset distinctly engaged on behalf of the Northern States, the national abhorrence of slavery producing a strong alienation from the Southern cause; but in this case, as well as in that of Italy, both the British Administration and the people at large were firmly resolved in adhering to the policy of non-interference.
On the 5th of February, Parliament was opened by Her
Majesty in person with the fol- vention will have been fully atlowing Speech:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
It is with great satisfaction that I meet you again in Parliament, and have recourse to your assistance and advice.
"My relations with foreign Powers continue to be friendly and satisfactory; and I trust that the moderation of the Powers of Europe will prevent any interruption of the general peace.
"Events of great importance are taking place in Italy. Believing that the Italians ought to be left to settle their own affairs, I have not thought it right to exercise any active interference in those matters. Papers on this I subject will be laid before you.
"I announced to you, at the close of the last Session of Parliament, that the atrocities which had then recently been committed in Syria had induced me to concur with the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of the French, the Prince Regent of Prussia, and the Emperor of Russia, in entering into an engagement with the Sultan, by which temporary military assistance was to be afforded to the Sultan for the purpose of establishing order in that part of his dominions.
"That assistance has been afforded by a body of French troops, who have been sent to Syria as representing the Allied Powers. The Sultan has also placed a considerable military force in Syria, under the direction of an able officer; and I trust that tranquillity will soon be re-established in that province, and that the objects of the con
"I announced to you also, at the close of the last Session of Parliament, that the pacific overtures which my Envoy in China had made to the Imperial Government at Pekin having led to no satisfactory result, my naval and military forces, and those of my ally the Emperor of the French, were to advance towards the northern provinces of China, for the purpose of supporting the just demands of the Allied Powers, and that the Earl of Elgin had been sent to China as special Ambassador to treat with the Chinese Government.
"I am glad to inform you that the operations of the allied forces have been attended with complete success. After the capture of the forts at the mouth of the Peiho, and several engagements with the Chinese army, the allied forces became masters of the imperial city of Pekin; and the Earl of Elgin and Baron Gros, the Ambassador of the Emperor of the French, were enabled to obtain an honourable and satisfactory settlement of all matters in dispute.
"Throughout these operations, and the negotiations which followed them, the Commanders and Ambassadors of the Allied Powers acted with the most friendly concert. Papers on this subject will be laid before you.
"The state of my Indian territories is progressively improving, and I trust that their financial condition will gradually partake of the general amendment.
"An insurrection of a portion of the natives of New Zealand has interrupted the peace of a
increased by the kind and cordial reception given by them to the Prince of Wales during his recent
visit to the continent of America.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I have directed the estimates
for the ensuing year to be laid before you. framed with They have been a due regard to economy and to the efficiency of the several branches of the public service.
"I am glad to take this opportunity of expressing my warm appreciation of the loyalty and attachment to my person and throne manifested by my CanaIdian and other North American subjects on the occasion of the residence of the Prince of Wales among them.
"I have concluded with the Emperor of the French conventions supplementary to the treaty of commerce of the 23rd of January, 1860, and in furtherance of the objects of that treaty.
I have also concluded with the King of Sardinia a convention for the reciprocal protection of copyright.
These conventions will be laid before you.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
you for the consolidation of important parts of the criminal law; for the improvement of the law of bankruptcy and insolvency; for rendering more easy the transfer of land; for esta
blishing a uniform system of rating in England and Wales; and for several other purposes of public usefulness.
"I confidently commit the great interests of my empire to your wisdom and care; and I fervently pray that the blessing of the Almighty may attend your liberations to the attainment of councils and may guide your dethe object of my constant solicitude, the welfare and happiness my people."
In the House of Lords the Address in answer to the Royal Speech was moved by the Earl of Sefton, who began by congratulating the House on the restoration to health of Lord Derby, and proceeded to comment in the language of approval on the several paragraphs in Her Majesty's Address. The motion having been seconded in an able maiden speech by Lord Lismore, the Earl of Derby entered at some length upon the various topics which had been presented to the House. The noble lord
stated at the outset that he had no intention of disturbing the harmony of the proceedings by moving any amendment to the Address. At the same time, he could not refrain from remarking upon the deficiencies which he had observed in the Royal Speech. He regretted that no notice had been taken of the recent distress which had prevailed among the working classes, and of the noble generosity on the part of the wealthier classes which it had evoked. He passed on to express his surprise that nothing had been said in the Royal Speech of the general financial condition of the country, and contrasted in this respect the meagreness of the Speech from the Throne with that delivered by the Emperor of the French at the opening of the Legislative Chambers. No one viewed with more regret than himself the present disruption of the United States, both as to the disastrous consequences to the States themselves, and to the effect which would be produced upon the manufacturing classes of this country. He trusted that the present condition of the United States would lead in this country to a more serious consideration of the best means for procuring a supply of cotton from other districts. In brief, but elegant terms, he next congratulated Her Majesty on the reception which the Prince of Wales had met in Canada and the United States, and on the perfect manner in which his Royal Highness had conducted himself. Lord Derby then briefly touched upon the rebellion in New Zealand and the position of India, briefly eulogizing the military and naval
operations which had brought the war in China to a successful termination. Passing to the foreign relations of the country, he expressed his wish to hear from Her Majesty's Government the state of our relations with France on two points-the Syrian expedition and the affairs of Italy. As to the first point, he would be glad to hear whether any time been appointed for the withdrawal of the French troops from Syria, and also whether the French Government had determined to insist on a further occupation of the country. In speaking of Italian affairs, he wished to know what was the position in which Her Majesty's Government stood with regard to the present state of Italy and its future prospects.
He had nothing to say in vindication of the Government of Francis II., but thought he had had hard measure, seeing that he was exposed to the long pent-up indignation of his people before he had an opportunity of showing what his principles and policy really were. If the dream of an united Italy could be realized, Lord Derby would look upon it without jealousy, provided it were not only great and united but really independent of a foreign Power. Passing from the merits of the Neapolitan revolt, Lord Derby condemned the manner in which it had been encouraged. General Garibaldi was an excellent man, and an honest politician, but he would not have done so much had he not been supported by the King of Sardinia, whose course was a flagrant violation of international law. The Queen's Speech said the Italians were to be left to settle their own affairs, but
that sentence involved a fallacy. It could not be contended that Sardinia was justified in interfering in Naples without a declaration of war. If the French people interfered with the affairs of the French who live in Canada or the Mauritius, Lord John Russell would find good reason for objecting to it. He did not, however, wish to discuss so much the merits of the King of Sardinia and General Garibaldi, as the tone Her Majesty's Government meant to assume with respect to Italy, and their views of her future position. His complaint was that the oracle had spoken in ambiguous terms The Foreign Minister had written contradictory despatches, one on the 31st of August, and one on the 27th of October. They embodied totally distinct principles, and he wished to know by which they meant to abide. In August the Minister deprecated, on the ground of principle, any interference by Sardinia in Naples; in October his language underwent a total change, the more remarkable as all the other Governments of Europe had disapproved of the course taken by Sardinia. On a former occasion Lord John Russell had read a letter in the House of Commons telling Lord Palmerston how foreign correspondence should be conducted, and dwelling on the necessity of submitting all despatches to the Queen. Lord Derby said he thought at the time that was a strong step to take, and then insinuated that Lord John had forgotten to act upon his own counsel to Lord Lord Palmerston, and obtain the Queen's sanction. Having argued that Lord John's doctrines in the October despatch were untenable,
Lord Derby demanded explana tions. He then proceeded to ask for a distinct statement of the future policy of the Government, all the more because in the Royal Speech Her Majesty said she "trusts to the moderation of the great Powers of Europe to prevent any interruption of the general peace."
"There is no use," said the noble lord, "in blinking this question. It is quite right to speak openly, and say that the preservation of peace or the calamity of war depends wholly and entirely on the attitude taken by the Emperor of the French; and I must confess that I am not very favourably impressed with the prospects of peace by the language used in the speech delivered by the Emperor of the French. At this time last year I undertook to express my earnest hope that the Emperor of the French would not commit so great an error and so great a political fault as to persist in the annexation of Savoy and Nice; and I expressed that hope, not only on account of the effect which the actual transfer of those provinces would have on the relations of the countries in Europe, but more particularly so on account of the effect it would produce in shaking the confidence of Europe in the good faith of the Emperor of the French. In this country people are only too ready to state openly, clearly, and distinctly what their views and objects are. They go straightforward to their mark, sometimes indiscreetly perhaps, but they expect to see in explanations of objects and intentions on the part of other Powers the same straightforwardness. They are, therefore, very easily duped by