Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

giving an English excess of 12,800 in the maximum in the naval force of France fixed last year of Louis Philippe's reign. In by an Imperial decree in 1857—a decree 1859 the English navy had 70,400 sea- published openly, known to the whole men, and the French navy 39,470 ; giving world, and in the possession of everybody an excess of 30,930, against an excess of who takes an interest in such matters 12,800 in the former period. What appeal and that maximum was fixed for a concan there be from facts like these? I siderable number of years to come. But beg the noble Lord will not reply to me I find that the right hon. Baronet the with vague general assertions; and if Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood), in these facts cannot be gainsaid, as I be- bringing forward the Navy Estimates for lieve they cannot, what foundation con 1857, stated the number of English line. there be for the alarmist statements which of-battle ships then built and building as have been made on the assumption that 40. And in a paper presented to the France was making extraordinary and suc. House of Commons in April, 1859, by cessful efforts to change the accustomed the right hon. Baronct the Member for proportions between the strength of her Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), the navy and ours? But can we not, with the number of line-of-battlo ships possessed aid of these documents, which liave been by the French Government at that time is almost incautiously presented to the House stated as 40, built and building. Here, by the Government-can we not by these then, is a datum line; and if, instead of despatches of Captain Ilore, the English allowing our minds to be diverted to other naval attaché at the Paris Embassy, subjects, we would concentrato our attenwhich alone brings me to my feet-bring tion on this point, we should be able to this question to a still more precise and measure the increase and diminution of the tangible issue? I think we may, I go French navy by a test laid before us that back to the time when tlie French Govern- the Government itself cannot reject. From ment devised a scheme for its naval estab- 1857 down to within the last fortnight the lishment. In 1855 the French Govern-noble Lord at the head of the Government ment appointed a Commission to inquire has been constantly reiterating the great into the state of the navy, and to devise a efforts made by the French Government to programme for its future establishment. increase its navy, and to give it a disproIn consequence of that Commission a de- portion of strength compared with that of cree was published in 1857-I beg atten- the English navy. But we have now laid tion to the dates—in which the Emperor before us a despatch from the naval attaché defined and fixed the naval strength of of our Embassy in Paris ; and I find he France, and in which he published to the states that the number of line-of-battle world the amount of naval force which his ships in the French navy, built and buildGovernment intended to maintain for a ing, on the 1st of January of the present long period of years to come. In that year, was just 37. So instead of 40, decree the French Government decided which was announced by the French Gothat the maximum of the strength of the vernment as its maximum in 1857, we find, French navy should be forty line-of-battle on the authority of our own naval attaché, ships — a moderate establishment if we France has only 37. During these last compare it with what France had been five years our Naval Estimates have enoraccustomed to maintain in former times, mously augmented ; we have heard conwhen the standard of naval strength was stant alarms expressed at the increase of in sailing line-of-battle ships. From a the French navy; and appeals have been statement of the number of line-of-battle made to us in support of an enormous ships in the French navy in each year, system of fortifications ; yet we find that down to 1859, it appears that in 1778 it France has fewer line-of-battle ships now was 68, in 1794 it iras 77, and in 1830 than she had five years ngo. The fact is the number was 53. And it will be found a conclusive proof that these statements by any one who will consult that interest- were illusory. I am willing to believe that ing work, The Memoirs of the First Lord the noble Viscount has been himself under Auckland, that when he was, in 1783, some official delusion in respect to this negotiating the commercial treaty with matter. My hon. Friend the Member for France, he sent over to Mr, Pitt a list of Sunderland (Mr. Lindsay) has proposed all the ships of the line possessed by there should be an addition to this deFrance at that time. The number was spatch, showing what was the French paval 68.

Now, 40 line-of-battle ships is the force in 1860 and 1861 ; and I think this

prorale'

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

is due not only to the noble Lord, but quiet, without making an attack on me. to Captain Hore, our naval attaché at The noble Lord is the representative of an Paris, placed there to furnish informa. idea; he seems to be possessed by it-it tion for the instruction of the Govern is the idea of invasion. It is an idiosynment. Either he has not given cor- crasy of the noble Lord. Now, it will be rect information, or the noble Lord can- in the recollection of the House that in not have read his despatches, because it 1860, when the plan of fortifications was is impossible, taking the statement he now proposed, several hon. Members, among sends, compared with what has been stated them the Members for Sunderland, Glason official authority during the last five gow, and Montrose, took steps, either by years, that the Government could have writing or sending to France, to inquire been under such an illusion as to the for themselves as to the reality of the French having made such great naval naval preparations of the French Governpreparations. I have confined my state- ment. And, surely, if there are three ment to the number of line-of-battle ships, hon. Gentleman in this House who may be because that class of ships has been the supposed likely to give an impartial judg. measure of naval power in past years. But ment as to a proposal for an increase of if I extended it to smaller vessels, our case maritime defence, it would be the Memwould be infinitely strengthened. The bers for three of our largest commercial hon. Member for Sunderland has told us seaports. Those hon. Gentlemen, with that our navy comprises more vessels of my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury twenty guns and upwards than all the (Sir M. Peto) took great pains with this other navies in the world. I believe he subject. I happened to be in Paris at the states that correctly ; and it proves what I time, and I know the pains they did take. say, that by extending the comparison Some of them visited the French dock. from large ships to small we should find yards, or employed trustworthy agents to the case strengthened against the Govern- do so. Others saw the French Minister ment in reference to the exaggerated state of Marine. And after the groundless allements they have laid before us. Now, it gations that had been made here, almost is impossible to deal with this question imputing to the French Government some without the facts rising up in accusation clandestine design against us, I think it ngainst the noble Viscount. Whenever proves a great amiability on the part of the question of the organization of the the French authorities that these Gentlenavy is raised the noble Lord puts himself men were graciously received, and were prominently forward as the advocate of given every facility for visiting the French these large armaments, and always with dockyards and arsenals. Those Gentlemen reference to the state of things in France. came back, and in the spring of 1861 In the whole of the past five years I defy took the opportunity of stating in the any one to show an instance in which the House what they had heard and seen, noble Lord has advocated an increase of controverting and opposing the statements our naval armament in reference to any of the noble Lord, as to the great_prepaother country but France. We have heard rations, and hostile intentions of France. the word "invasion” from him a dozen How did the noble Viscount treat these times within the last few years. Now, hon. Gentlemen ? One would have thought for a Prime Minister to talk about this that, at all events, their sincerity would country being invaded by a friendly Power not have been questioned. But I will read without one fact to justify a suspicion of an extract from a speech of the noble Lord it-on the contrary, when the navy of that on March the 11th, 1861, when the Navy Government is less than at any former Estimates were brought forward, when time—is to commit this country to an

some of the Members of his Cabinet attitude towards that neighbouring Power shrunk away, and others could say nothat no Minister ought to give it, with the thing. The hon. Member for Birminglevity of indiscretion that has marked the ham (Mr. Bright), among others, had noble Lord's course on this subject. The spoken on the occasion. The noble Lord hon. Member who preceded me read an

said extract from a speech of the noble “I rise to contradict the hon. Gentleman's Lord that shows the manner in which (Mr. Bright's) own erroneous assertions, as well the noble Viscount has dealt with this as those of the hon. Members for Montrose and

Sunderland. Those hon. Gentlemen carne here question. He is aggressive in bis defen- propounding opinions based on extracts from sive policy. He would not allow me to sit some newspaper or other. I really think it was

Mr. Cobden

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

a Scotch newspaper that one hon.'Member quoted. | speaking of the land forces of France, They recount to us what they were told by friends

said whom they met at Paris, and they repeat the denials given there by persons excessively in

“On the 1st of January, 1862, the French army terested in misleading public opinion here, and consisted ”-[these are the corrected figures which making us all believe that nothing can be more

the noble Lord afterwards gave)—"of 446,348 harmless than all the military and naval prepara

men under arms. There was, besides, a reserve tions of France. Why, these Gentlemen come of 170,000 men, liable to be called out at a forthere like the Trojan horse, in order to deceive us night or three weeks' notice, making altogether as to the real possibility of danger to which we 616,348"might be exposed.” [3 Hansard, clxi., 1787]. Not 816,000, as the noble Lord really said. And then the noble Lord knocks them

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON: No, I never down with a Latin quotation. But he said anything of the kind. again returns to the charge

MR. COBDEN: I beg the noble Lord's “When some well-intentioned gentleman asks

pardon, because this was not a mistake of the French if they really mean to invade this a figure. There was addition and subcountry, if they really have any hostile inten- traction, and the statement was the same tions towards us, of course they say, 'Not the all through. The noble Lord proceeded least in the world, their feeling is one of perfect sympathy and friendship with us, and that all

“ In addition to this force actually under arms, their preparations are only for their own self or liable to be called out for service, I stated that advancement."-[3 Hansard, clxi., 1791.]

there were 268,417 National Guards, making a

total available force of 884,765.In this speech the noble Lord stated-and it was the only fact in his speech-that the That is the noble Lord's statement of the French had 34,000 men in their navy : 1862. Now, I have here another statement

land forces of France on the 24th of May, and just before, the Secretary of the Navy, made by the noble Lord on the 30th of on the same evening had taken a Vote for 78,200 men for our own naval service. I July, 1845, when he was urging Sir will defy any one to show any year during On that occasion he said

Robert Peel to increase our expenditure. the reign of Louis Philippe when there was such a disproportion between the naval

“ France, as I had occasion to state on a former forces of the two countries, as there had men, fully equipped, including a large force of

occasion, has now a standing army of 340,000 been during the reign of Louis Napoleon, cavalry and artillery, and, in addition to that, except in the time of the Crimean war. It 1,000,000 of the National Guard. I know that should be remembered that in 1859, when the National Guard of Paris amounts to 80,000 we had such a large disproportion of naval men,

trained, disciplined, reviewed, clothed, equippower as compared with that of France, petent, therefore, to take the internal duty of the France was engaged in a war in Italy, country, and to set free the whole of the regular while it was a year of peace with us. But force.” [3 Hansard, lxxxii., 1223.] in no year of peace during the reign of Now, let us compare the land forces of Louis Philippe did not the navy of France France according to the noble Lord's own bear a larger proportion to that of England authority in 1845, just previous to the fall than it has done during the reign of Louis of Louis Philippe, with those which she Napoleon. It is not, therefore, a question has at the present moment. In 1845 he of who began first. France has never in. states the total of the army and National creased the proportion of her navy. There Guard at 1,340,000 men. In 1862 he has not been one year in which you can states the total force of France at 884,765 show a tendency to increase, except on the men, being less in 1862 than in 1845 by part of this country. But the noble Lord 455,235 men. But there has been since bus not_confined his statements to the then a great change in the number of our navy. He has also given is some facts own armed force. We must add to our own and figures respecting the land forces of land forces at least 200,000 additional men France; but in his statement there was in the shape of Militia, Volunteers, and an inexactness of a very grave kind, for he increase of our regular forces. That is exceeded the real amount of the French a low estimate. Add these 200,000 to force by 200,000 men, which called down a the 455,000 which France has less now correction from the Moniteur. I must com- than in 1845, and it gives 655,235 fewer plain of the habitual inexactness of the noble armed men in France, as compared with Lord as to these matters ; and if the China those in England at present. That is not debate should come on to-morrow, I shall an alarming state of things ; and if you have to recite another grave inaccuracy. remember that the National Guard of On the 24th of May, the noble Lord, in Paris is now virtually disbanded-even

[ocr errors]

taking into account the increase in the The facts are all accessible to us. There regular force, which I am not here to de- are no secrets about the French naval fend, for it is the monster evil of the age-armaments. Every information which is considering all these points, the House will possessed by the Government may be bad see that France has not so large an armed by us ; and I think it is the duty of the force as in the time of Louis Philippe. 1 House, as representing the people and will make one more remark upon the ques. finding the money for these armaments, tion of the responsibility which rests upon to see that the grounds upon which we the Government and upon the House in vote such enormous sums are valid grounds, these matters. I have heard a doctrine and do not rest merely upon the fanciful very much insisted on-namely, that we and excited imagination of a Prime Minisare not to take the dicta of independent ter. Now, is this the proper time-does Members upon this question, but are to anybody who reflects upon what is passing trust implicitly the statements of a Prime among multitudes of men out of doorsMinister. One would think that the sa- does any one think this is the proper time gacity of the right hon. Gentleman oppo to be discussing in this House from day site (Mr. Henley) would lead him to take to day the question of more outlay upon a different view of the matter. Yet what bricks and mortar at Portsmouth or Woolis his maxim as to the authority of a Prime wich for the defence of the country? Minister ? In July last, when an attempt | After the statements we have heard, unwas made to get more money from us on less the facts and figures can be disputed the plea that more iron ships were wanted, and disproved, I say that to spend money that attempt was opposed by my hon. now upon gigantic fortifications, backing Friend (Mr. Lindsay), who, under the dis- up our enormous naval power, would be a couragement, the taunts, the imputations, waste of public money impossible to jusand the little attention he received some tify. I think we might more properly be years ago, deserves the thanks of the engaged in discussing other questions, as country for the manner in which he op. was stated by the hon. Gentleman who posed increased Estimates. Speaking of preceded me, relating to the internal state the noble Lord at the head of the Go- of the country. There is no question in vernment, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. this House as to defending the country Henley) on that occasion said

against a foreign enemy. It would be a “ Speaking as the noble Lord did from his place piece of supreme impertinence in me or in as Prime Minister, if 100 persons had been sent any other man to lay claim to an exclusive by hon. Members to look 'round them, open and interest or regard for the security of the shut their eyes when they liked, perhaps having country against a foreign enemy, and I no eyes to see with at all, he did not think that hold the man to be a charlatan who sets the reports of such people ought to be allowed by the country to weigh for one moment against the up a clnim to popularity because he holds positive declaration of the Prime Minister from the honour and safety of the country in his seat in Parliament, that he knew the facts higher estimation than I do. That is not he stated to be facts.” (3 Hansard, clxiv., 1676.] the question here, where every man has [“ Hear!”] Hon. Gentlemen cry " Hear, an equal interest in the safety of the counhear !” but I think that is a dangerous try. We may take different views-as doctrine. Are we absolved from our re- we are entitled to do—as to the best sponsibility because a Prime Minister modes of fortifying and permanently demakes certain assertions? We are here fending the country. Sone think we canas representatives of the people. The not do better than appeal for armaments Prime Minister is responsible to us, and and fortifications in addition to our eristwe are responsible to the country ; and if ing resources in time of peace, not with. we take implicitly the statement of the standing the weight of taxation under noble Lord, neglecting our own duty, do which the country is struggling; while you think that, by-and-by, when we get others, like myself, may think, with Sir into that condition in which the country is Robert Peel, thint you cannot defend every apt to judge of Parliament, and of Minis- part of your coast and colonies, and that ters by a very, ugly retrospect upon their in attempting to do so you run a greater past policy-do you think that we shall risk of danger to the country than you stand acquitted before the country for would incur by husbanding the resources voting these large sums of money without | which you are now expending upon arinquiry into the facts upon which the noble mamenis, so as to have them at call in Lord bases his statements and opinions ? ' time of emergency.

That is my view. Mr. Cobden

Let no one presume nor dare to say that of the country, in which they are mainly he has more regard for the safety of the occupied. It has been sometimes made country than I have. They may try to a reproach against me and my friends the create imaginary dangers and to take credit Free-traders, that we would leave the counfor guarding against them ; but give us a try defenceless. I say, if you have mulreal danger, show us that our navy is not tiplied the means of defence--if you can equal to our defence, that a neighbour is build three times as many steamers in the clandestinely and unduly trying to change same time as other countries, and if you the proportion which its force should bear have that threefold force of mechanics to that of this mercantile people living in of which my hon, Friend has spoken, to an island, and then I would willingly vote whom do you owe that but to the men £100,000,000 of money to protect our who, by contending for the true principles country against attack. But, in saying of commerce, have created a demand for this, I claim no merit. I do not set my- the labour of an increased number of artiself up as a great patriot, for there is no. sans in this country. Go to Plymouth or body here but would put his hand in his to Woolwich and look at the names of pocket and spend his whole fortune rather the inventors of the tools for making firethan have this island defiled by the foot of arms, and shot and shell. They bear the an enemy. I have my own views as to names of men in Birmingham, in Manwhat constitutes the strength of the coun-chester, and in Leeds, men nearly all contry, but they are not the views of those nected for the last twenty years with the who have had a band in promoting this extension of our commerce, which has thus gigantic system of expenditure. The contributed to the increase of the strength right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Hors- of the country by calling forth its genius man) is the author of this scheme. It is and skill. I resist the attempt which has his sober, sagacious leadership of which been made to show that I am not a proyou are followers.

The hon. Member for moter of the strength, the power, and the Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) has commend- greatness of this country; or that I, or ed this great plan of expenditure ; lie is any of those who act witha mo are or have the great champion of the noble Viscount been indifferent to or ignorant of what in this matter. I cannot follow those gen. constitutes the real strength and greatThe right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sin JOHN PAKINGTON: The lion. Stroud thinks that in proportion as you go Member for Rochdale and others have reon extending your commerce and increasing ferred so directly to me on the subject of your wealth you must also be continnally exaggerated statements alleged to have increasing your armed force. That might been made in this House with regard to be if we were an enervated people, gain the navy of France, that, in justice to Ading our wealth from tlie labour of slaves, miral Elliot, I wish to say a few words. or if remittances from gold regions were The speech of the hou. Member for Rochkeeping us in idleness and luxury ; but my dale has been mainly directed against the view is that every step you take towards noble Viscount, whom he has charged with the increase of wealth and the extension of vague and exaggerated statements as to the commerce, by that very commerce you are bavies of France and England. I leave the strengthening yourselves and building up noble Lord to answer that charge, but I those materials and that kind of population must say that I believe he has made no which will best provide means of defence specch upon the subject which was not only whenever we are attacked. Our wealth, not open to the charge of vagueness or commerce, and manufactures grow out of exaggeration, but was not strictly founded the skilled labour of men working in upon most accurate data.

But I must say metals. There is not one of those men further, that the speech of the hon. Mem. who in case of our being assailed by a ber for Rochdale with regard to the naval foreign Power would not in three weeks or proportion has really nothing to do with the a fortviglit be available with their hard question now before us, no more than if he hands and thoughtful brains for the ma- bind addressed the House upon the relativo nufacture of instruments of war. That strength of the varies of Spain and Engis not an industry that requires you at land at the time of the Spanish Armada. every step to multiply your armed men. His speech was in a large degree taken up What has given us our Armstrongs, our by comparison of the outlay of France and Whitworths, our Fairbains ? The industry England during two periods--one during

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »