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written by the noble Lord at the head off to release them. I hold in my hand some the Foreign Office to King Theodore, three extracts from a letter which have been months were given him for the release of received from Abyssinia, and only that it the captives. Those three months did not is not customary to read extracts on an expire until the 17th August, and as occasion like the present, I could show Parliament was prorogued on the 21st that the prisoners themselves implore us August, it was impossible—no answer to send out a force to release them, and having been received — to give further in- that if not speedily sent they fear it formation to the House. A final summons will be too late, The letter to which was sent by the noble Lord at the head of I refer contains also an account of the Foreign Affairs on the 9th September, de- indignities to which the prisoners have manding the release of the captives, and been subjected; it tells how their swords we may still hope that the Abyssinian ex- had been taken from them, and how they pedition may not become an Abyssinian had been thrown down before the Abyswar. The Government have had two sinian Monarch. I will say no more on courses before them. One was conciliation, the policy of the expedition; but I hope the other was force. I think all will allow the House will bear with me while I enter that conciliation has been stretched to its a little into military details. No Govern. utmost limits, and that after three long ment can insure success in any expedition, years of conciliation and prolonged nego- but they can do all in their power to de. tiation, during which time our captive serve it; and I can confidently state that countrymen have been kept languishing no expedition ever started to uphold Old in chains and suffering every indignity at England's honour better prepared by a the caprice of a barbarian monarch, Her provident and far - seeing Government. Majesty's Government were fully justified The preparations for an army to invade a in sending out an armed force with an country so little known as Abyssinia are imperative demand for the immediate re- necessarily of a complicated and an expenlease of the captives. Should the Em- sive character; but it will be found that peror of Abyssinia be so ill-advised as to while efficiency has been mainly sought brave the power of England, and so ren- as the truest economy, extravagance and der obligatory an appeal to arms, I think waste have been carefully guarded against. no one will say that force has been ap- I feel sure the House will approve the pealed to before every form of conciliation selection made of Sir Robert Napier as and persuasion had been exhausted, I Commander-in-Chief, whose past services believe that no Government ever sent forth eminently qualify him for that important an expedition with greater reluctance, or command. I may be allowed to mention under a greater sense of responsibility. some of the services of this distinguished This is not the time to vindicate the officer, whose deeds add lustre to the policy of Her Majesty's Government; but soldier's name he bears. Sir Robert I believe that none was ever sent forth Napier began his career in 1845. He was better provided. I may be permitted to in the Sutlej campaign; he was at Goojerat; allude to one or two of the objections I he was at both sieges of Lucknow ; he has have heard urged against this expedition. held important posts in various expediExpense is the first of these, and to those tions ; and was second in command in the who made it I will say—Are lives of cap- expedition to China. Her Majesty's Gotive countrymen and women of less value vernment having found a good soldier than gold? Can a saving of expense re- qualified to command, appointed him; and compense England's honour outraged by then they did the next best thing they the detention in chains of Her Majesty's trusted him — and accordingly they had Consul and an Envoy accredited by Ma- invested him with full power, political jesty itself? The second objection is that as well as military-thus avoiding delays the lives of those we seek to save might incident to a division of authority and rebe placed in greater peril by the means sponsibility. The force under Sir Robert's taken to release them. Be this as it may, command consists of 12,000 fighting men, the captives can hardly be worse than efficiently armed, and fully equipped for they are now, dying, as it were, by any duty they may be called upon to uninches in their chains, and in hourly, in dertake. The Papers laid before the House momentary danger of their lives. Their will show how carefully and anxiously own earnest desire was to hear of some Government has made provision for all effort being made to force King Theodore possible contingencies, by providing an
efficient transport and an ample commis- having returned to their homes and peacesariat, combined with arrangements for ful avocations, the Emperor Napoleon will the health of the troops. To carry out be able to remove his troops not only from this latter object, three steamers have been Rome but from Italy, and that all cause of despatched as hospital ships, with full discord being thus removed, peace may be medical attendance and every necessary restored to Italy. appliance for the sick. It may possibly be The House might well deplore with urged by some that the expedition is on Her Majesty that the treasonable conan unnecessary large scale ; to this I reply spiracy called Fenianism, baffled in Ireland that these ample preparations afford the by the vigour of the Executive, the good best hope of bringing King Theodore to sense of the mass of the people, and the reason without an actual collision, and if fair administration of justice by Irish hostilities should unfortunately be neces-juries, should have assumed the form in sary, they will tend to shorten their dura- England of assassination and organized tion. A smaller and less perfectly equipped violence. All classes of Her Majesty's force might be detained in Abyssinia wait- subjects will loyally rally round the Throne ing for reinforcements, and its protracted and the institutions of their country, and, detention would tend to give rise to com- while reprobating those wicked attempts plications which it would be most desir. to disturb the public peace, will uphold able to avoid. I have not adverted to those whose sad duty it may be to vinIndia as the basis of operations, believing dicate public justice. it will be admitted the Government have In the last Session important changes acted wisely in selecting it as the one best in the representation of England were inadapted for the purpose. As to the Indian troduced by Government, and after careful army being employed by the Government, consideration by Parliament became the these troops have well upheld the honour law of the land. Whatever differences of of our flag in Persia and in China and opinion there may have been on this longJapan, as well as in many well-fought vexed question, all are agreed that the fields in Hindostan, and I have no doubt measure passed was beneficial, and that will do as well in Abyssinia; and the these changes have removed considerable selection of soldiers whose habits and discontent from some classes of the people. whose constitutions were best adapted for The country has on many occasions exservice in Africa will meet the approval of pressed their approval of last Session's the House and country.
work, and this approval will encourage The question of our foreign relations is Parliament to approach the question of the one of the most paramount importance at Irish and Scotch Reform Bills with the the present time, and, after the many same forbearing spirit and the same candid menacing clouds which have recently hung temper as characterized the proceedings of over the political horizon, and the wars last Session. I am sure that the judicious and rumours of wars which have reached concessions granted to our working classes our ears, and the various alarms which in England will be freely extended to have for some months pervaded the public those in Scotland and in Ireland, and when mind, the assurance contained in Her our task shall have been concluded we Majesty's Speech, that our relations with shall look back with pride and heartfelt all foreign Powers are of the most friendly satisfaction at having passed measures description, and that She sees no reason to which I hope will conduce to the public apprehend any disturbance of the public good by uniting all classes of our fellowpeace, will be received not only by the subjects in the government of the country. House, but by the country, with feelings It appears from the Speech that our atof the liveliest satisfaction. If even the tention will be called to Bills for the
prerumour of a misunderstanding between vention of bribery and corruption. I trust European Monarchs, flashed through the that whatever measure may be passed will telegraph, made the pulse of credit and of tend to remove the plague spot of corcommerce vibrate to its centre, how much ruption which is a serious blot on our greater would have been the disturbance electoral system, as well as on the chaof England's commercial interests had war racter of the House of Commons. The really broken out in Europe. We must consolidation and revision of the various all deplore, with Her Majesty, that the Acts connected with our Mercantile Marine peace of Italy has been disturbed ; and now will be a great boon to our shipowners, we must hope that the bands of volunteers masters, and seamen. At present great
confusion exists, owing to the fact that sympathy." I admit that it had been my there are seven or eight Acts upon the intention—and I only mention it because subject, containing some 700 sections, I think this was the proper occasion for which have to be consulted, and it is diffi- such a proceeding-to ask of the right cult for those not learned in the law to hon. Gentleman, and of his colleagues, find what is applicable to any particular some explanation with regard to a declaquestion. I hope the promised reform ration which was made during the Recess ; will make these Acts more intelligible. It but, under the circumstances to which I is gratifying to learn that the railways, have adverted, I cannot think of introducwhich in the height of panic last year were ing at this moment any topic of the kind. all eagerly demanding the aid of Govern- Sir, the Speech of Her Majesty contains ment legislation, are now doing the work little, if anything, of which we have reaof reform themselves ; and there is good son to complain. As to the great subjectreason to hope that, with greater economy, that of the expedition to Abyssinia-I a better system of accounts, and a deter- cordially join with the hon. Gentleman mination among all classes of shareholders who said that we may still cling to the to forego present dividends unless fairly hope that the Abyssinian expedition may earned, our great railway system may be not prove to be the Abyssinian war. It fore long regain in the public estimation is a natural thing with regard to any war, that high state of credit from which it still more with regard to a war so peculiar ought never, with average good manage- in its character, and one as to which it is ment, to have fallen. Now that the fearful so difficult to see any definite issue, to and mysterious disease, the cattle plague, cherish as long as we can the faintest hope. has left this land, we may be enabled to I think it is quite evident that we could legislate on the subject in a manner which not make progress to-night, and we should will remove restrictions on home trade; probably only prejudice the future discusand, while relieving our farmers from all sion of the question, were the Governjust apprehension as to a fresh importa- ment to endeavour to obtain at this tion from abroad of this dread disease, may moment the sanction of the House, direct at the same time encourage that trade or indirect, for any proceedings connected which is the only means of insuring a with the Abyssinian expedition. Our cheap supply of meat for the public. I business to-night is to acknowledge in the fear I have too long trespassed on the most respectful manner the receipt, as it time of the House, to whom my best were, of Her Majesty's gracious communi. thanks are due for the kind attention they cation touching the Abyssinian war, and have been pleased to grant me, and I have then to await an occasion-no doubt an only to express my hope that the Address early one-on which some responsible I have the honour of seconding may meet Minister of the Crown will detail to us with unanimous approval.
what the proceedings of the Government Motion made, and Question proposed, they have been guided. Up to the present
have been, and by what considerations That,” &c.—[See Page 58.]
time, I apprehend, all action in regard to MR. GLADSTONE: There is nothing, this question has been the action of the Mr. Speaker, in either of the addresses Executive. For the House, it is a res which have been delivered by the Mover integra. In speaking of the Executive, I and Seconder of the Address which would do not speak exclusively of those who now at all tempt me to depart, or excuse me possess power, nor of the shares in which in departing, from the general and prudent the responsibility may be divided between rule that excludes controverted matters, as the present and the past Government; I far as possible, from the annual debate on merely mean that the House is not comthe Address. I have every disposition to mitted by anything to anything. It will conform to that rule, and I am bound to be its duty, therefore, to exercise a free say that I think there are special reasons judgment upon all that has been done. No for adhering to it strictly on the present doubt that free judgment ought to be a occasion in domestic circumstances, to considerate judgment ; for I fully admit which I need not more pointedly refer, that a more difficult question has rarely immediately affecting the Leader of this been submitted to a Government than the House, and with respect to which I will course which was incumbent upon them to merely take the opportunity of assuring take with respect to this matter. We him that he carries with him universal shall expect of them, however, a full and VOL. CXC. (THIRD SERIES.]
frank explanation, and not an explanation / again intimated dissent.] If I am w merely of the merits of the case as between I can be easily corrected. themselves and the Emperor of Abyssinia. SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: I That I take to be the simplest part of the the right hon. Gentleman's pardon question ; for, as has been well said by the interrupting him; but as the point is hon. Gentleman who moved the Address, of importance, and as some misappre and whom, on this his first occasion of sion prevails respecting it, I had be addressing us, I sincerely congratulate correct him at once. The clause as upon his most intelligent and judicious ginally introduced and it was introdu speech, no doubt can be raised to the exist- by the right hon. Gentleman himselfence in the amplest form of what is called to the effect which he has stated, the a casus belli between us and the Sovereign should not be lawful to use the In of Abyssinia. The questions upon which forces for such purposes without the it will be interesting to us to be informed, vious consent of Parliament ; but in g and upon which the House will have to through the Ilouse it was altered, an pass its judgment, are of an order quite it now stands it provides that it shall distinct from that primary consideration. be lawful to apply the revenues of I The great difficulty in the case is to show to the carrying on any military operat that the object which we seek is an attain- beyond the frontier without the prev able object--to show that it is practicable consent of Parliament. to carry on a war with an enemy of whom MR. GLADSTONE: My impressio we may be tempted to entertain the appre- the clause was different ; but the r hension that he will not fight, but run-hon. Gentleman's explanation will m and to show by any reasonable calculation it the more easy to show—which the how such a war is to be brought to an vernment are no doubt ready to do – issue. Upon these questions Her Majesty's conformity of their proceedings with Government have means of judging which exact provisions of that Act of Parliam we have not. I by no means wish at this There are two points on which I con moment to express any want of confidence I entertained very great anxiety.
On in the prudence or fairness or pacific them was as to the view of the Gov character of their intentions; but I think ment with regard to the limit to be pl it right to point to these mattors as sub- upon the purposes of this expedition. jects upon which the country will fairly are now going into Abyssinia, and expect to receive full information. I hope question which the country, I think, also—it is a point which I have no doubt regard with, perhaps, the greatest inte will not have escaped the attention of Her of all is the question, When shall Majesty's Government, they will be able come out of Abyssinia? Now, as to to show in what relation their proceed question, I am bound to say that notl ings stand to an enactment which passed can be more intelligible and nothing i through the Legislature in the year 1858, satisfactory than the declaration conta in the shape of a clause in the East India in Her Majesty's gracious Speech, thay Government Act. According to that clause expedition She has directed to be sen - I do not profess at this moment to quote that country is to be sent for one pur the exact words—but according to that alone. I do not in the slightest de clause it was made incumbent upon the understand those words as precluding Executive to seek beforehand the consent Majesty's Government, in the exercis of Parliament for military operations con their discretion, from availing themse ducted by the Indian force beyond the of the temporary opening which these Indian frontier, except they grew out of happy circumstances may afford for an invasion of the country, or out of sud- poses useful to science, to peace, an den and unforeseen exigencies. [Sir Star. civilization ; but I do understand t FORD NORTHCOTE intimated dissent.] I words as carrying a complete disave judge from the gesture of the Secretary of on their part of all intention and o State for India that he questions the cor- desire to make this expedition subserv rectness of my reference to the clause; I or instrumental in any degree eithe would say, therefore, the approval of Par- purposes of territorial aggrandizemei liament, not for the military operations, which they would hardly dream of--0 which is, of course, not possible--- but for the contraction, in whatever form, of the purpose for which the operations are political responsibilities. I think t carried on. [Sir STAFFORD Northcote difficult, doubtful, and dark, as necesse
are many of the circumstances of politics, future disclosures, I am not able to regard one thing there is beyond all doubt and with entire satisfaction any portion of what question, and it is that the people of this has taken place; but I do not think there country are at this moment fully charged, is any just cause to complain of the manner and, perhaps, overcharged, with responsi- in which Her Majesty has been advised to bilities of Empire from which they cannot refer to this subject, nor do I think that in honour escape, but to which it would the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) or the Gobe folly and guilt gratuitously to add. I vernment could have acted more prudently hope also that another important subject, than in recommending the Crown to intistrictly germane to this Abyssinian ques- mate in the friendly manner in which it tion, and an essential part of it, will be has been couched the desire which Her dealt with in a manner creditable to the Majesty has uttered. I make, therefore, House. The rumour is that a large sum no complaint whatever of the reference in will be asked for; there is also a rumour the Speech or the Address to the Italian that a limited portion of that sum may be question. With respect to “the treasoncharged on the revenues of India. The able conspiracy commonly known as Fenianmatter is one upon which it is quite un- ism," at a moment like the present, when necessary for me to give an opinion this the Executive Government has to disevening; but I cannot help expressing my charge, on its own responsibility, an imhope that if we are to be asked - as we portant function, I think I shall best permust be asked — to incur a heary expen- form my duty by refraining from any diture, the Government in their plans and general expression of opinion as to the provisions for meeting this expenditure precise character of that deplorable movewill confide in the courage and prudence ment and the way in which it ought to of Parliament and the country, and will be met. I observe we are told that that not propose to make that charge an addi- conspiracy "has assumed in England the tion to the debt of the country by saddling form of organized violence and assassinait upon
future years. I do not ask them tion,” and I cannot doubt that in advising for any declaration whatever; but I wish the Crown to use those terms Her Mato assure them, on my part, that in case jesty's Government are in possession of they act upon the principle, the wisdom knowledge by which they think them to of which I think has been acknowledged be strictly and absolutely justified. But of late years, that we should endeavour as as respects the more general purpose of far as possible to meet the whole wants the sentence, I am sure the Queen is well and expenditure of the day out of the sustained in the expectation She entertains means and resources that the day pro- that in the firm and discreet administravides, these proposals will receive from tion of the law She will at all times be us, I think, a fair consideration in no hos- supported by the great mass of her subjects, tile spirit. Of course, I cannot compro- and especially by her subjects as they are mise freedom of judgment on my own part represented in this House. I am glad, Sir, or on the part of others as to the parti- to perceive that Bills are to be laid before cular means of carrying out the object; us for amending the representation of the but with regard to the principle, I have people in Scotland and in Ireland; and I thought it right to say thus much. I pass cordially join in the expressions of the over the general expression in Her Ma- Mover and the Seconder, that we should jesty's Speech with regard to our relations address ourselves to the consideration of with foreign Powers, and I come to a these Bills with a feeling of the public matter of concern to England. Consider- duty incumbent upon us, and likewise ing the immense importance of the Italian with a conviction that our own honour question to European civilization as a and credit are in a peculiar manner inwhole, and considering that the Italian volved in bringing to a shape of completeKingdom has now become an essential ness and to an issue satisfactory all those part of our present European civilization, portions of the question of Parliamentary I think Her Majesty's Government could Reform which still remain undisposed of. not avoid advising Her Majesty to take But as the name of Ireland occurs in consome notice of recent painful circum- nection with this subject of Parliamentary stances - painful circumstances I cannot Reform, I shall venture upon two remarks. but call them. I confess that with the I do not presume to impute blame to the defective and partial information that I Government for refraining from submitting possess, which I hope may be enlarged by to Parliament-especially at the particular