previous next

In the British House of Commons, on the 18th of March, a debate sprung up upon a call, made by Mr. S. Fitzgerald, of attention to the report of Jervois upon the defences of Canada, in the course of which Mr. Foster said that if England should undertake to put the whole of Canada in a state of complete defence it would cost a fabulous sum of money, and that he believed there was no reason for doing so, since he could see no ground for suspicion of the United States, and considered that such suspicions had been caused alone by the Confederates and their sympathizers, or by certain disappointed prophets. He protested against rushing into this enormous expense for the defence of Canada. Mr. d'israeli replied to Mr. Foster, and was followed by John Bright, who openly avowed that Great Britain cannot defend Canada, and that the only way to keep it, is to appeal to the magnanimity and forbearance of the United States. He said if there really was a party in the United States hostile to Great Britain, the temptation to enter into a war was particularly strong, for it was well known to every statesman and public man in both countries that "there is no power in the United Kingdom to defend the territory of Canada successfully against the United States." At the same time, he challenged the strictest investigation to point to a single word that Lincoln has spoken or written, or a single act that he has done, betraying anger or ill-feeling towards Great Britain. Four years ago, he said, when Fort Sumter was taken, the Confederate States had been acknowledged as belligerents, at a time when Mr. Adams was expected, as Minister, daily. He, in fact, arrived that day, and the first thing he saw in the newspapers next morning was the proclamation of neutrality and the acknowledgment of belligerent rights. Neither of these measures ought to have been adopted until Mr. Adams had arrived and been waited on, &c.; and the not waiting for his arrival was an unfriendly act, which gave great comfort at Richmond, &c.

When we read these remarks we could scarcely prevail on ourselves to believe that this House of Commons is the lineal successor of that body in which Pitt declared, a century ago, that he would suffer any extremity before he would ever consent to dismember the Empire over which the heir of the Princess Sophia bore rule. [It was, by-the-bye, in the House of Lords that this sentiment was uttered. But no matter. We wish to note the change that has come over England.]

To this speech Lord Palmerston made a reply of considerable length, devoted to the grossest flattery of the United States Government, and to praise of himself and his administration. According to him, there never was so just, so upright, so honorable, a government as that at Washington, except that in London. The two are paragons, which it would not be possible to match. He denied, however, that the United States had been ill-treated by Great Britain, and said that the acknowledgment of belligerent rights was a necessity. Englishmen, so far from feeling jealous of the United States, felt proud of her on account of kinship, and all that sort of stuff, as if it had not been the persistent study of England to break up the Union ever since it was first formed, eighty years ago. Both sides complained of England because she would not take part with either, but had remained strictly neutral. There was no fear, he said, that England would give any cause of offence. However, he was in favor of putting Canada in a posture of defence, since that was the most certain mode of preserving the peace.--He was persuaded the tone of moderation which had prevailed in that debate would be of the greatest service in the United States, &c.

It is impossible not to be struck with the subdued tone of these speeches, as well as of the English press generally. It contrasts ludicrously with the loud notes of defiance with which they answered any threat or complaint of the Northern press before the real strength of the Yankees was known. England is cowed, bullied, cooled down, into the meanest posture of submission.

It is refreshing, after seeing so much meanness, to turn to such an article as this, which we take from the London Standard. The writer feels the disgrace of England, and expresses himself in the warmest language upon the subject:

‘ "Mr. Lincoln, in 1861, could claim, with some show of reason, to be the President of the whole thirty-four States; for, though fifteen of them had unanimously and peremptorily rejected him, they had taken part in the election which led to his triumph. Mr. Lincoln, in 1864, is manifestly the President only of the North! Not only have the eleven Confederate States taken no part in the election, but they have been it by formal and express legislation. The governments of Louisiana and Tennessee chosen delegates to cast the vote of their States, and that vote has been rejected by the Congress at Washington. It is formally declared that the eleven States which form the Confederacy are out Union. The position of the Federal Government thus materially changed.

’ * * "To treat Mr. Lincoln as President over the Southern States, in virtue of the Section, is to commit ourselves to a whole lines of broadness; if those States are portions of the Union, he has not been elected at all; for that can be no election from which one-third of the constituent body is excluded. If they are portions of the Union, Congress could have no right to exclude or disposes with their votes. If they no longer belong to the Union, then Mr. Lincoln has no authority over them, and his present enterprise is an attempt to conquer an independent nation, not to subdue rebels. In a word, either the election is valid, in which case the eleven Confederate States are not members of the Union, or it is invalid, and the Union has no government whatever. If Mr. Lincoln be lawfully President of the Union, the secession of the South is a legal fact, and Mr. Davis is legally President of the Confederate States. If we recognize the present Government of the United States at all, we do, by implication, recognize the independence of the South. We have of course, no hope that any such argument will influence the policy of the Administration. With that policy neither justice nor reasons has anything to do. It is on the comparative strength, not on the diplomatically or legal rights, of the two confederacies that the action of Her Majesty's Government depends. But there is a melancholy pleasure in stripping away the last shred of excuse that has hidden from England the unworthiness of the part she has been made to play, and exposing to all eyes the naked hypocrisy of Lord Russell's strict and impartial neutrality."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (12)
Canada (Canada) (6)
England (United Kingdom) (4)
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Louisiana (Louisiana, United States) (1)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Lincoln (6)
Foster (2)
Adams (2)
Pitt (1)
S. Fitzgerald (1)
Davis (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1864 AD (1)
1861 AD (1)
March 18th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: