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a like position, do but acquiesce? This was on the 18th of March. When Parliament reassembled after the Easter recess, the Government announced that a Conference was about to meet, and thus discussion was again staved off. The first act of Lord Russell in the Conference was to propose that the proceedings should be kept secret; and this arrangement, though quite disregarded by the other Powers, was pleaded by our Government as a reason for keeping Parliament in the dark as to what was in progress. Parliament, indeed, was pretty well informed as to the transactions of the Conference through the medium of foreign newspapers; but, owing to the ruse of our Government, it was not in a position to take cognisance of them. foreign critic observed, the Conference was simply a protracted Parliamentary manœuvre," devised by our Ministry to stave off discussion and keep themselves in office. There is a great power in accomplished facts; and when the mischief was done, and remedy impossible, the Ministry reckoned that Parliament would have less motive for displacing them. From first to last their game was delay; and the game was so far successful, that Parliament was made to appear as to some extent an accomplice in the policy of the Government. The Opposition took the very earliest opportunity of challenging a verdict upon that policy; but the fact that the miserable career of blundering was, or seemed to be, at an end, enabled the ingenious consciences of many members to ignore the true character of the question
submitted to decision, and to give their votes in favour of the Ministry, while fully admitting the accusations laid to their charge.
So conscious was the Ministry of the badness of its case that it did not dare to meet the vote of censure on the usual issue of Aye or No. It took refuge under cover of an amendment, which simply sought to give the go-by to the motion of the Opposition, and which, whatever other objections there were to it, certainly did not pledge the House to an approval of the Ministerial policy. This was of itself a humiliation for the Ministry. A Ministry which shrinks from meeting a vote of censure stands self-condemned. But if we look at the amendment, what do we see? Why, the very adoption of the form of address proposed by Mr Kinglake was a censure on the policy of the Government. Its terms were, 'to express the satisfaction with which we have learnt that, at this conjuncture, her Majesty has been advised to abstain from armed interference in the war now going on between Denmark and the German Powers." Now, the Government, so far from having been desirous to remain neutral, had throughout been eager to go to war. This fact is patent on the face of their despatches; it was publicly acknowledged by Lords Russell and Palmerston in their speeches in Parliament on the 27th of June. When announcing the failure of the Conference, and the resumption of hostilities by the German Powers, Lord Russell took pains to show that the Government had done its best to go to war with
my own part, I must say that I should have been very glad to render the fullest explanation of the conduct of the Government in respect to the affairs of Denmark and Germany. There are, however, reasons of public policy which make it desirable that there should be no discussion at the present moment. In the first place,
I have now to present, by command of her Majesty, various papers in continuation of those which were presented a few weeks ago. These papers contain the further correspondence which has taken place up to a very recent period. In the next place, there has been a correspondence lately carried on with regard to the holding of a Conference and a proposed armistice, and I have good hopes that the Danish Government will agree to that Conference."-Times, March 19, 1864..
the German Powers, and that if it had failed to do so, it was only because it could not help it. He said the Government had repeatedly solicited France and Russia, and every Power who was likely to help us, to join us in a war against the Germans, but that unfortunately they would not co-operate with us. What, then, could we do? he said. We have no allies-no Power will join with us and we cannot venture single-handed to engage in a war with the whole powers of Germany. Such was the language of the Foreign Minister-such was the exposition he gave of his policy. The Government had tried all along to go to war, and regretted that they had not been able to do Nevertheless, he said, there were certain events not unlikely to arise in the continuance of the contest which, if they occurred, would cause the Government to reconsider the matter obviously implying that the Government might yet take part in the war, even without allies! Lord Palmerston spoke to the same effect, and in some respects even more strongly, in the House of Commons. And yet, after all this, the Ministry, in order to save themselves, actually supported an address to the Queen, taking credit to themselves for having followed a policy of peace! If this be not humiliation, we know not where to look for it. The Ministry saved themselves from a direct vote of censure only by supporting an amendment which condemned them by implication.
Three months ago we pointed out, by quotations from the official despatches, that the desire and intention of the Ministry was to engage in the Dano-German contest in the character of belligerents. Unwise as were the threats which Lord Russell directed against the German Powers, and the expectations held out to Denmark-and humiliating as the consequences of these threats and promises have been to this country-there can be
no doubt that they were made in earnest, and that the Cabinet meant to be as good as its word. Even Mr Gladstone and Mr Layard in the recent debate admitted that this was the case up to the end of January; and their only defence of the Government is, that after that date, as soon as it became certain that we could not get allies for the war, the policy of menace was discontinued, and all thought of intervention abandoned. Such a defence in reality is an admission of the case against the Government. Yet, as was to be expected, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs confessed to only a part of the truth. The policy of menace was continued for several months after France had peremptorily declined to join us in hostilities. And the intention to intervene singlehanded was not abandoned even up to the close of the Conference. For months the public mind was disturbed by threats and signs of imminent war. The Channel Fleet was recalled from Portugal; then it was advanced to the Downs; and again it was officially announced to be ready to go anywhere on twenty-four hours' notice. Nay, Lord Russell openly menaced the AustroPrussian fleet with an attack from our powerful squadron. It was not until the debate on the vote of censure commenced that the Ministry began to realise its position. Then at length it made a wonderful gyration-turning its back upon its former self, and supporting an address to the Queen which her Majesty knew well was quite at variance with the past sentiments and conduct of her official advisers.
The conduct of the Ministry in regard to the late abortive Conference was shameless beyond parallel. Seldom has hypocrisy been carried so far, or the selfish interests of a Ministry been more recklessly pursued. Ostensibly the Conference was sought after for the sake of Denmark, to preserve her integrity
and independence-yet no sooner did the Conference assemble than Denmark was sacrificed, and the English Minister himself proposed her dismemberment! When the Conference met, no Power had repudiated the Treaty of 1852; and Lord Palmerston stated that England engaged in the Conference on the basis of the treaty, and to uphold the integrity and independence of the Danish monarchy. Well, it met but when it ended, the public heard with amazement that the Treaty of 1852 was wholly abandoned, that the English Minister himself had proposed the dismemberment of Denmark, and finally, after time had been given to Prussia 'to purchase iron-clad ships of war, hostilities were to be resumed, and Denmark was to be left alone to meet annihilation at the hands of her assailants! "Denmark is dead!" was the curt remark of one of the Plenipotentiaries as the Conference broke up. Dead she is, and it is England that has killed her. But for the expectations of aid which were held out to her by Lords Palmerston and Russell, Denmark would never have engaged in a war with Germany. She would have negotiated. But our precious Ministry first led her to take up arms, and then left her to her fate. only at the outset, but at every new phase of the contest, Denmark hoped for aid from England. In January she was told by the Morning Post' (the special organ of Lord Palmerston's policy) that an army of 30,000 men, commanded by the Duke of Cambridge, was to go to her help, and maintain the line of the Dannewerke. Her soldiers worked themselves to death in fortifying that line: but the redcoats never came, and the poor Danes, left unsupported in a position which their numbers were quite inadequate to defend, had to make a terrible night-retreat in the depth of winter to save themselves from being surrounded. Again, at Dybbol and Alsen, they heard with eager ears
of the movements of the British fleet; and they knew that if once our iron-clads were in the offing, their terrible flanking fire would crush every attempt at assault on the part of the assailants. Dybbol fell, and the Conference met: and still hope lingered in the breasts of the Danes. England, they said, has now brought our enemies to book; and if they will not make peace on tolerably fair terms, then at last she will throw off her neutrality and come to our aid. How different was the actual issue-how different the sentiments and conduct of our Ministers, every one knows. They sought for a Conference only as a Parliamentary manoevure, in order to save themselves. They sought for an armistice, which told only in favour of the Germans-for further prolongations of the Conference, though at the price of new sacrifices imposed on Denmark,they sought for anything, in short, which might postpone the crisis, and stave off discussion in Parliament. Step by step, week by week, they abandoned one part of the Danish cause after another, in order to propitiate the German Powers, and obtain a peace which might ruin Denmark but which would save themselves. And now, how stands the case? Baron Beust, the arch-champion of Germany against Denmark, boasts of the Conference as a greater triumph than could have otherwise been obtained. On his return to Dresden, on the 8th July, he said, "I am most entirely convinced that the London Conference, alike in its proceedings and in its termination, could not possibly have operated in a manner more favourable for Germany. I am of opinion that the position gained there, without any sacrifice, could not have been equalled even by the most advantageous arrangement of which the circumstances permitted." There is no longer any appeal to the Treaty of London Lord Russell himself has abandoned it. There is no longer any question of maintaining the
integrity of Denmark: Lord Russell himself has proposed the dismemberment of that kingdom. At the outset of the war, the line of the Schlei and the Dannewerke was more than the Germans even in secret could hope for: now, whatever happen, it is the least that they can get. Lord Russell, in the hope of getting them to make peace, has declared that they are entitled to have it; and has even proposed that other portions of Schleswig shall be theirs also, if a plebiscite decide in their favour. After encouraging Denmark to resist-after threatening and abusing the German Powers as outrageous robbers
- after maintaining that war in no way nullified the Treaty of London, and that the integrity and independence of Denmark were requisite to the balance of power in Europe, the English Ministry at length sacrifices Denmark, abandons the Treaty, and recognises as just and equitable the annexation of the half of Denmark to the territories of Germany. Baron Beust is right. The Conference gave him a greater triumph than could have been won by mere force of arms; and Lords Palmerston and Russell have assassinated Denmark and her King under the pretext of being their friends.
There was only one more ignominy, one more hypocrisy, wanted to complete the tale of Ministerial culpability. And the want was supplied. Having sacrificed Denmark in the Conference, Lords Palmerston and Russell, to the disgust of every one, still flourished their threats, and hinted their promises as before. If the Germans went farther-if they attacked the islands-or, at all events, if they took the capital-certainly if they took it by storm, or if the King should fall into their hands, or if there were a bloody bombardment —ah, then, said Lord Palmerston, we shall see what England will do! It was the drivel of senility, or the empty flourish of hypocrisy. Den
mark and her King had had enough of that. A sardonic smile must have curled the lips of the Danes as they read that pitiable declaration, if indeed they had heart to smile at all. A short and emphatic curse was the more likely reply to it. Denmark has been fooled to her ruin by the English Ministry. Too late she perceives the unworthy game that has been played on her, and now she turns to her cruel adversaries to obtain terms of peace which, hard as they will be, will better serve her purpose than relying any longer upon her faithless friends.
The case against the Government was so strong that the Ministerial speakers sought rather to carp at and misrepresent the arguments of the Opposition than to maintain the soundness of their own policy. This was the line taken at the outset by the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and it was only varied by Lord Palmerston, who, on the eve of the division which he feared would be hostile, appealed to the House to condone the errors of the Ministry, and not visit upon their heads the punishment which they had fully incurred. There was one feature in the speeches of the Ministerialists in the Lower House which was eminently base as well as ridiculous. Mr Gladstone and Mr Layard, both of whom are singularly reckless and unscrupulous as debaters, indulged in charges against Mr Disraeli and other members of the Opposition of "misquoting" and "falsifying" the despatches from which they read extracts. It is very rarely that any such charge is well founded, and in the present case there was not a vestige of foundation for it. Mr Disraeli gave the dates of the despatches from which he quoted, and any member could verify the accuracy of his quotations in a moment. And when pressed home, Mr Layard admitted that what he meant by "falsification" was simply the omitting of
certain parts of the despatches disgraced by such shameless manquoted from; and neither he nor Mr Gladstone succeeded in showing that in any case the true meaning of the despatches had been perverted. But these charges of "misquoting" and "falsification" sound well for the moment; they raise doubts for the time, and take the edge off the facts which were so efficiently appealed to by the leaders of the Opposition; and both Mr Layard and Mr Gladstone, in lieu of honest argument, did not hesitate to have recourse to this shameless mode of warfare. Happily the House was soon brought to a just sense of the position by the eloquent speech of Mr Hardy, who repelled these charges with indignation, and very properly denounced them as 66 a calumny.' Then followed a curious, though certainly not edifying scene. Layard, with marvellous effrontery, rose to demand that the words be taken down, and appealed to the Speaker on the question of order. The Speaker at once decided that in this case Mr Hardy was entitled to use the phrase a calumny." The decision of the Speaker is always final; yet, strange to say, the Premier rose and protested against his decision, setting himself in open opposition to the highest authority in the House. This was too much for the House, so it peremptorily supported the Speaker; and Mr Layard and his backer, the Premier, had to keep their seats, and had to listen to Mr Hardy as he again denounced their charges of "falsification" as calumnies. What added to the piquancy of this Parliamentary fracas was, that soon afterwards a member rose and read a passage from 'Hansard,' showing that on a former occasion Mr Layard had been called a calumniator, with the permission of the Speaker, and that he had been called so by Lord Palmerston himself!
In the Upper House, as was to be expected, the debate was not
œuvres. The Duke of Argyll was as pert and carping as usual, but neither he nor any of his colleagues stooped to imitate the "calumnies" of Mr Gladstone and Mr Layard. The Opposition had to sustain the irreparable absence of Lord Derby, who was suffering from indisposition, and whose powerful eloquence would in other circumstances have led the attack against the Ministry. In his absence Lord Malmesbury assumed the leadership of the Conservative Peers, and discharged the duty which thus unexpectedly devolved upon him with eminent ability. It is to be regretted that, apparently from natural diffidence, the noble Earl rarely does justice in delivery to the substantial excellence of his speeches; but it would have been difficult for any orator in either House to have surpassed the luminous exposition with which he opened the case against the Government. The Government were beaten on the discussion, and the policy of the Foreign Minister was condemned in the House of which he is a member. In the Lords as in the Commons the most eminent of the independent members spoke and voted against the Government. At first sight it seems surprising that, on so clear an issue, the Conservatives should not have had a larger majority than nine. But it is long since there has been a great party fight in the Upper House, and the public forget the enormous addition which the Liberal party have made to their power in the Lords by the creation of new peerages, both spiritual and temporal. With two exceptions the whole bench of bishops voted with the Ministers who had raised them to the episcopate; and it has been computed that, of the whole number of Peers present who voted with the Ministry, one-half have owed their peerages to the Liberal party since 1831.
Up to the very moment of the