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this head are demonstrated.* he says that the principle laid down in the Circular is "not sufficiently fundamental to establish the fact of similarity of policy."
Let any impartial man read the terms in which Mr Canning spoke of this Circular, and say that he meant to express any thing but an unqualified adoption of the principles laid down in it, with the qualifications annexed, and no others? Or that it is not a fundamental, predominant, and universal rule for governing the conduct of England in all the matters to which it referred; that is, all cases in which a question might arise, connected with the establishment or suppression of internal constitutions amongst any people, and the interference of other powers there with?
These are the very cases about which we are disputing; and it is in reference to these that the Circular is adopted as the "political creed" of Mr Canning and his colleagues.
"Faithful to the principles which his Majesty has promulgated to the world as constituting the rule of his conduct, his Majesty declined being party to any proceedings at Verona, which could be deemed an interference in the internal concerns of Spain on the part of Foreign Powers."+
For the plain rule thus sanctioned, your correspondent would substitute another, at once, as he conceives, comprehensive and intelligible, bearing upon every measure of foreign policy, and serving as a test by which all might be tried. This is "to make England preserve the balance not only between contending nations, but between conflicting principles." Now mark; this rule was given by Mr Stapleton as a quotation from Mr Canning. But he made a most important addition, which I took the liberty of substracting from it, as not to be found in Mr Canning's speeches. This addition the Letter-writer does not venture to restore :-" Giving," subjoins Mr Stapleton, "the preference to neither, but aiding rather the liberal side, because the anti-liberals
were then the strongest." I must now carry my correction farther: "the balance" is a very pregnant expression, implying the preservation of an equipoise, by the occasional addition of weight to one side or the other. Nothing about a balance is in the speech of Mr Canning! Not only did he not profess the intention of aiding the "Liberals," but he never contemplated, under any circumstances, the grant of aid to either party. All that he did profess was to be TRAL between contending nations, and between conflicting principles."
Having thus reduced the " comprehensive and intelligible rule" of policy, to a form in which it is comprehensive and intelligible, namely, the form in which it was pronounced by Mr Canning, I will now, for the sake, not of detracting from Mr Canning's merit, but of proving his consistency, shew that this same principle was announced by Lord Liverpool, in defending and explaining the Circular itself. "No one who looked at the affairs of Europe dispassionately, could avoid seeing that there were two conflicting principles in the world. Never did Russia, Austria, and Prussia, do a more ill-advised act, than when they put forth that (the Troppau) declaration. Till then, it might be doubted whether there were two extreme principles, the disposition to crush all revolutions, without reference to time, to circumstances, to causes, or to the situation of the nations in which they arose. The other extreme principle, which he was sorry to see manifested in the noble Lords opposite, was to uphold all revolutions, not looking to their causes or justification. Revolution seemed to them to be certain good; the name cheered up their hearts. Let their Lordships look then to the constitution of Great Britain, which they boasted to be as far removed from despotism on the one hand, as from wild revolutionary principles on the other. They would see that the policy which the constitution demanded between two such principles, was neutrality. Neutrality was our policy-neutrality would
* Foreign Quarterly Review, xvi. 400. + Lord Commissioner's Speech, February 4th, 1823. Parl. Hist. viii, 1, Foreign Quarterly Review, xvi. 403-4.
command the respect of all the nations, and of all the temperate and moral men of Europe."*
These were the sentiments of Lord Liverpool, while Lord Castlereagh was Foreign Secretary, and Mr Canning was out of office. They agree entirely with the doctrine of Mr Canning, when restored to its original purity.
This restoration of the pure text entirely destroys the illustrationfanciful enough in any case-which the Letter-writer gives of the superiority of his favourite maxim. "Abstinence," says the Letter-writer, "from interference in the cause of Spain, would have been beneficial to the cause of liberty. In the case of Poland, it has benefited the cause of despotism." Non-interference, it appears to be thence argued, may be the principle at one time of one system, at another of its opposite.
Mr Canning's principle would operate in the case of Poland, as it operated in the case of Spain, to a strict and impartial neutrality. If he had lived to this time, he would have asked, not whether the Poles were oppressed, but whether the interests of England were nearly and surely endangered by the confirmed aggrandizement of Russia.
Not a word from Mr Canning justifies the belief, that he abstained from interference in Spain, for the sake of benefiting the cause of liberty. I will not ask you to insert the speech of the 30th April, 1823, but I beg that those passages of it may be once more perused, in which Mr Canning urges the possible danger to ensue to England from the wider diffusion of liberal institutions.‡
The Letter-writer suspends his comments upon the Circular of 1821, to convict me of a blundering admission, "in contradiction to my main argument." I had referred to the uneasiness of Mr Canning, while in the Cabinet with Lord Castlereagh, at the mode in which the diplomacy of England was conducted. I had mentioned his jealousy of the too intimate union of our representative with those of the continental powers;
* March 2, 1821. Parl. Deb. iv. 1064. Foreign Quarterly Review, xvi. 405, 6. || Ibid, xvi.
and his justifiable confidence in his own ability to "pursue the interests of England, by measures of a different style." Read, I beg, the very next line of my review, and you will find me connecting his contemplated difference of style, with a perfect conformity in principle, more particularly in reference to the institutions of foreign countries, the principal subject of alleged distinction. My admission, far from being inconsistent with any argument which I have used, is itself, in a new form, my favourite position.
We return to the famous Circular. I am accused of " unfairly" omitting those of Mr Stapleton's criticisms, which are in commendation of this state paper; and he gives the passage at length. After censuring Lord Castlereagh for his tardiness in remonstrating against the objectionable principles of the Allies, and for avowing, that if those principles had not been forced upon his notice by a written communication, he would not have observed upon them, Mr Stapleton admits, that "the answer, when it did come, was in some respects worthy of a British minister, since it condemned, in strong and energetic language, the most preposterous of the doctrines of the Alliance;" and then again, resuming the tone of censure, he imputes insincerity to the opinions tardily promulgated, and blames the " saving clause of justification for Austria."
If there be-which I indignantly deny-unfairness in my citations, it consists rather in the suppression of certain expressions of censure, than in the omission of those few words of slight commendation which a curious enquirer may discover in this criminatory passage.
The Letter-writer shares with Mr Stapleton a misconception of the occasion and object of the Naples Circular, and of one of its particular expressions, to which, as I noticed it but briefly in the Review,|| I will now again advert.
The Circular of the three allied courts from Troppau,¶ after mentioning the revolution at Naples, its
+ New Monthly Mag. p. 35. $ Ibid, xvi. 398, 9. Dec. 8, 1820. Ann. Reg. for 1820, vol. ii. p. 735.
dangerous example to legitimate governments, its inconsistency with the existing compact between European states, the right and necessity of interfering by joint measures of precaution, the invitation of the King of the two Sicilies to Laybach, and their resolution not to recognise governments which had been produced by open rebellion, proceeded thus:-" France and England have been invited to participate in this step, and it is to be expected that they will not refuse their concurrence, as the principles on which the invitation is founded are perfectly conformable to the treaties which they have formerly signed, and besides, offer a pledge of the most just and peaceable sentiments."
England had hitherto taken no part; she had been perfectly neutral,* neither doing nor saying any thing upon the subject, except that she would be neutral; but not interrupting her relations with revolutionized Naples. When the Allies not only promulgated doctrines, with respect to interference for the suppression of a revolt, to which England could not assent, but expressed a confidence that she would participate in these measures of interference, as to Naples, because her treaties bound her to interfere, it became necessary to publish formally, and in the face of the world, the dissent which we had alwayst expressed in diplomatic intercourse, from these objectionable doctrines, and from the construction put upon our treaties. Moreover, as the right of interference was stated generally, and might, therefore, by possibility be applied to any political change which might occur in this country, it was thought necessary to remind the Allies, and his Majesty's Ministers abroad, that in no case would any such interference be admitted by England‡ herself, and she, therefore, could not enforce it upon others. "The system of measures proposed, if reciprocally acted upon,
would be in direct repugnance to the fundamental laws of this country."
The necessity for denouncing the principles asserted, arose only when they were stated generally, and as principles which England had promised to enforce. The misconception consists in supposing that the doctrines of Troppau were in themselves repugnant to our laws. As between Austria, Russia, and Naples, the doctrine, however preposterous, could not be in any way affected by our internal constitution.
Our remonstrance, therefore, was made, so soon as the occasion required it.
The Letter-writer, who well knows that Mr Canning's approbation was applied to this particular paper, finds himself in a difficulty when he attempts to reconcile Mr Stapleton's criticisms upon it with Mr Canning's unqualified concurrence. His mode of extrication is ingenious. Mr Canning, he admits, praised" the rule and its exceptions," and so does Mr Stapleton; but Mr Stapleton agrees with Mr Canning in his commendation of the rule and its exceptions, but condemns the particular application which in the Circular is made of these exceptions.
He blames it, for that "it volunteers to admit that the position of Austria with respect to Naples came within the exception, and justified a forcible interference." Thus, according to Mr Stapleton and his friend, the dispatch, it would seem, addressed to Naples, is an admirable paper, full of just principles, qualified with exact propriety; and only wrong when it treats of Naples, and of the events which had occasioned its issue !
And to this paper, Mr Canningprecise as he was in notions and in language, accustomed to an almost excessive nicety of distinction twice appealed publicly as his political creed, and "clung with fond pertinacity!"
See Lord Liverpool's speeches, 19th Feb. and 2d March, and Lord Castlereagh's of 21st Feb. and 20th March, 1821. Parl. Deb. iv. 760, 1063, 865, and 1355. + See Lord Liverpool's speech, iv. 761; Lord Castlereagh's speech, p. 871; and the Circular itself.
See Lord Castlereagh's speech of 21st March, 1821.
Parl. Deb. iv. 869.
This is absolutely incredible. Now here, as throughout the book, the error lies in misrepresenting not Mr Canning, but Lord Castlereagh.
That Minister did not justify the forcible interference of Austria. Upon the strictest principle of neutrality, he admitted that either party might be right, but declined giving an opinion upon the question.*
Now, it may be true-I greatly doubt it, but I might admit it without any injury to my argument-that Mr Canning had, in 1823, a more decided opinion against Austria, than Lord Castlereagh had in 1821.
Nothing could have been more entirely contrary to Mr Canning's diplomacy, than to promulgate that opinion, unless he was prepared to enforce it by war. In this he was not prepared; and could, therefore, with perfect consistency, approve of the whole paper, even though he did not concur, in every sentiment, with its composer.
But, it has happened, strangely enough, and may at least serve to shew that if I am guilty of omissions, they are not all on one side, that I omitted all mention of the speech in which Mr Canning, then disconnected with the Government, gave his opinion of this celebrated document. The immediate subject of debate was the instructions given to Sir William A'Court, to protect the royal family of Naples.t In taking his share of the responsibility attaching to his deviation from the rule of non-interference, Mr Canning said, "at that period he entirely agreed with his colleagues, that the principle to be acted upon was one
of entire and strict neutrality,-neutrality not in word only, but in deed.” And after justifying the exception, he added, "with this simple exception, it was the opinion of his Majesty's Government when he was a member of it, and he had no doubt that that opinion remained unchanged-that a perfect neutrality should be preserved, an entire absence from any participation in the policy or councils of the Allies." He then charged Sir Robert Wilson (the mover) with a desire for war; and gave "He saw his own opinion for peace. that the principles of liberty were in operation, and should be one of the last persons who would attempt to restrain them, but there was a difference between excusing an action when done, and using such means as should incite to that action." He reprobated the complacency with which the murder of Charles the First had been contemplated; and proceeded thus:-" In stating once more that he was the advocate of an unqualified neutrality, he should advert for a moment to another course which had been hinted at. It was said that there were means by which this country might aid the Neapolitans, without committing itself to the issue of their struggle; that it might at least give the sanction of their opinion to the cause of freedom. Now it was upon that point more than any other, that he was at issue with the gentleman opposite. If it was right that with a view to favour the progress of liberty, we should declare our alliances broken, and make war against those who are now called the oppressors of the earth, in God's
"With respect to the particular case of Naples, the British Government, at the very earliest moment, did not hesitate to express their strong disapprobation of the mode and circumstances under which that revolution was understood to have been effected; but they, at the same time, expressly declared to the several Allied Courts that they should not consider themselves, as either called upon, or justified, to advise an interference on the part of this country; they fully admitted, however, that the other European States, and especially Austria and the Italian powers, might feel themselves differently circumstanced; and they professed that it was not their purpose to prejudge the question as it might affect them, or to interfere with the course which such States might think fit to adopt, with a view to their own security, provided only that they were able to give any reasonable assurance that their views were not directed to purposes of aggrandizement, subversive of the territorial system of Europe, as established by the late treaties."-See Circular of 19th Jan. 1821. Parl. Deb. iv. 284.
+ See Ann. Reg. 1820. Pt. 2. p. 745-6. In my Review, xvi, the date of 1813 is inadvertently given for 1821.
name let that course be decidedly taken." And then he described the House sitting "day after day, and night after night," &c. "Of all modes of support which England could extend to other countries, a constructive support was the most unfair * * * * * Was it not romantic to talk of embarking the country, not on account of duty, alliance, or obligation, but merely as matter of sympathy and feeling, in a war in which she had neither interest nor concern?
* * * The House had been told that we had arrived at a great crisis, in which the monarchical and the democratical opinions were at war throughout the world, and that England must make up her mind which side she would espouse. We were called upon to espouse the new opinions,' as Queen Elizabeth, (the heroine of Sir James Mackintosh) had been supposed to have espoused those of the Reformation. But he denied that she plunged into wars of which she could see no end.' No. Rapin said that she followed those
as long as they served her own interest."" The remainder of this interesting speech consisted of reiterated deprecation of war and interference.
If I had truly been arguing for victory rather than for truth, it would have been politic to keep back this memorable speech, for the purpose of a triumphant reply. But I use it for sober truth. It furnishes evidence, stronger, if possible, than that which I had before, of every one of my positions.
Here is a speech, delivered by Mr Canning out of office, explaining and defending the foreign policy of the Lords Liverpool and Castlereagh; enouncing the same doctrines, and displaying the same illustrations, as those which he afterwards adopted, in explaining his own policy; and treating, with mingled contempt and indignation, those notions of chivalrous patronage of European liberty,
I have not entered upon the question between the Duke of Wellington and Mr Canning's representatives, as to the "moral support" to be given to the Constitutionalists in Portugal. But I would recommend to those who have invented this novel term in diplomacy, a perusal of the speech of March 1821.
It is now with more confidence than ever that I repeat, that "Mr Canning came into office with a decided and unequivocal recognition of Lord Castlereagh's policy, as the principle of his own administration." *
I now come to South America. I had shewn that Lord Castlereagh, in July 1822, had warned the government of Spain, of our eventual recognition of the revolted provinces; and that thenceforward there was only a question of time. Lord Castlereagh died in August
The writer in the New Monthly observes, that Lord Castlereagh's notice was given when there was a Constitutional Government in Spain, and that after the more absolute government was restored; and "in consequence of this change, the question became one on which the two parties in the Cabinet maintained a severe struggle for the mastery, and that on its decision the Holy Alliance and its agents well knew that the nature of their intercourse with the British government depended."‡
So far as Lord Castlereagh is concerned, the whole force of this statement rests upon this assumption; that Lord Castlereagh would not have given the warning except to the Constitutional Government, and that if he had lived to see the restoration
of the old Government, he would have retracted it. As this assumption is perfectly gratuitous, I only say, that I see no reason for believing it to be justifiable.
The writer in the New Monthly says that it is nonsense to recognise a course policy' as a principle of action." If, in forty pages of close writing, I have fallen into one error in language, I am sorry for it. The language, however, is unambiguous, and perfectly intelligible; and I believe it to be quite correct. Perhaps it might have been a little better to say, "a recognition in Lord Castlereagh's policy of the principle of his own administration."
+ Foreign Quarterly Review, xvi.
New Monthly Magazine, p. 37.