Изображения страниц

General either did not ask advice or acted in direct opposition to advice. Mr. Maddock was with his lordship as acting Secretary. Now I know enough of Mr. Maddock to be quite certain that he never counselled the Governor General to publish such a paper. I will pawn my life that he either was never called upon to give an opinion, or that he gave an opinion adverse to the course which has been taken. No Governor General who was on good terms with the civil service would have been, I may say, permitted to expose himself thus. Lord William Bentinck and Lord Auckland were, to be sure, the last men in the world to think of doing such a thing as this. But if either of those noble lords, at some unlucky moment when he was not quite himself, when his mind was thrown off the balance by the pride and delight of an extraordinary success, had proposed to put forth such a proclamation, he would have been saved from committing so great a mistake by the respectful but earnest remonstrances of those in whom he placed confidence, and who were solicitous for his honor. From the appearance of this proclamation, therefore, I infer that the terms on which Lord Ellenborough is with the civil servants of the Company are such that those servants could not venture to offer him counsel when he most needed it.

For these reasons, Sir, I think the noble lord unfit for high public trust. Let us, then, consider the nature of the public trust which is now reposed in him. Are gentlemen aware that, even when he is at Calcutta, surrounded by his councillors, his single voice can carry any resolution concerning the executive administration against them all? They can object: they can protest: they can record their opinions in writing, and can require him to give in writing his reasons for persisting in his own course: but they must then submit. On the most important questions, on the question whether a war shall be declared, on the question whether a treaty shall be concluded, on the question whether the whole system of land revenue established in a great province shall be changed, his single vote weighs down the votes of all who sit at the Board with him. The right honorable Baronet opposite is a powerful minister, a more powerful minister than any that we have seen during many years. But I will venture to say that his power over the people of England is nothing when compared with the power which the Governor General possesses over the people of India. Such is Lord Ellenborough's power when he is with his council, and is to some extent held in check. But where is he now? He has given his council the slip. He is alone. He has near him no person who is entitled and bound to offer advice, asked or unasked: he asks no advice: and you cannot expect men to outstep the strict line of their official duty by obtruding advice on a superior by whom it would be ungraciously received. The danger of having a rash and flighty Governor General is sufficiently serious, at the very best. But the danger of having such a Governor General up the country, eight or nine hundred miles from any person who has a right to remonstrate with him, is fearful indeed. Interests so vast, that the most sober language in which they can be described sounds hyperbolical, are entrusted to a single man; to a man who, whatever his parts may be, and they are doubtless considerable, has shown an indiscretion and temerity almost beyond belief; to a man who has been only a few months in India; to a man who takes no counsel with those who are well acquainted with India.

I cannot sit down without addressing myself to those Directors of the East India Company who are present. I exhort them to consider the heavy responsibility which rests on them. They have the power to recall Lord Ellenborough: and I trust that they will not hesitate to exercise that power. This is the advice of one who has been their servant, who has served them loyally, and who is still sincerely anxious for their credit and for the welfare of the empire of which they are the guardians. But if, from whatever cause, they are unwilling to recall the noble lord, then I implore them to take care that he be immediately ordered to return to Calcutta Who can say what new freak we may hear of by the next mail? I am quite confident that neither the Court of Directors nor Her Majesty's Ministers can look forward to the arrival of that mail without great uneasiness. Therefore I say, send Lord Ellenborough back to Calcutta. There at least he will find persons who have a right to advise him and to expostulate with him, and who will, I doubt not, have also the spirit to do so. It is something that he will be forced to record his reasons for what he does. It is something that he will be forced to hear reasons against his propositions. It is something that a delay, though only of twenty-four hours, will be interposed between the first conception of a wild scheme and the execution. I am afraid that these checks will not be sufficient to prevent much evil: but they are not absolutely nugatory. I intreat the Directors to consider in what a position they will stand if, in consequence of their neglect, some serious calamity should befall the country which is con

they are the Gore be in

fided to their care. I will only say, in conclusion, that, if there be any use in having a Council of India, if it be not meant that the members of Council should draw large salaries for doing nothing, if they are really appointed for the purpose of assisting and restraining the Governor, it is to the last degree absurd that their powers should be in abeyance when there is a Governor who, of all the Governors that ever England sent to the East, stands most in need both of assistance and of restraint.




On the thirteenth of February, 1844, Lord John Russell moved for

a Committee of the whole House to take into consideration the state of Ireland. After a discussion of nine nights the motion was rejected by 324 votes to 225. On the fifth night of the debate the following Speech was made.

I CANNOT refrain, Sir, from congratulating you and the House that I did not catch your eye when I rose before. I should have been extremely sorry to have prevented any Irish member from addressing the House on a question so interesting to Ireland, but peculiarly sorry to have stood in the way of the honorable gentleman who to-night pleaded the cause of his country with so much force and eloquence.*

I am sorry to say that I cannot reconcile it to my conscience to follow the advice which has been just given me by my honorable friend the Member for Pomfrett, with all the authority which, as he has reminded us, belongs to his venerable youth. I cannot at all agree with him in thinking that the wisest thing that we can do is to suffer Her Majesty's Ministers to go on in their own way, seeing that the way in which they have long been going on is an exceedingly bad one. I support the motion of my noble friend for these plain reasons.

First, I hold that Ireland is in a most unsatisfactory, indeed in a most dangerous, state.

Secondly, I hold that for the state in which Ireland is Her Majesty's Ministers are in a great measure accountable, and that they have not shown, either as legislators or as administrators, that they are capable of remedying the evils which they have caused. * Mr. J. O'Brien.

+ Mr. R. Milnes.

Now, Sir, if I make out these two propositions, it will follow that it is the constitutional right and duty of the representatives of the nation to interfere; and I conceive that my noble friend, by moving for a Committee of the whole House, has proposed a mode of interference which is both parliamentary and convenient.

My first proposition, Sir, will scarcely be disputed. Both sides of the House are fully agreed in thinking that the condition of Ireland may well excite great anxiety and apprehension. That island, in extent about one fourth of the United Kingdom, in population more than one fourth, superior probably in natural fertility to any area of equal size in Europe, possessed of natural facilities for trade such as can nowhere else be found in an equal extent of coast, an inexhaustible nursery of gallant soldiers, a country far more important to the prosperity, the strength, the dignity of this great empire than all our distant dependencies together, than the Canadas and the West Indies added to Southern Africa, to Australasia, to Ceylon, and to the vast dominions of the Moguls, that island, Sir, is acknowledged by all to be so ill affected and so turbulent that it must, in any estimate of our power, be not added but deducted. You admit that you govern that island, not as you govern England and Scotland, but as you govern your new conquests in Scinde; not by means of the respect which the people feel for the laws, but by means of bayonets, of artillery, of entrenched camps.

My first proposition, then, I take to be conceded. Ireland is in a dangerous state. The question which remains to be considered is, whether for the state in which Ireland is Her Majesty's Ministers are to be held accountable.

Now, Sir, I at once admit that the distempers of Ireland must in part be attributed to causes for which neither Her Majesty's present Ministers nor any public men now living can justly be held accountable. I will not trouble the House with a long dissertation on those causes. But it is necessary, I think, to take at least a rapid glance at them: and in order to do so, Sir, we must go back to a period not only anterior to the birth of the statesmen who are now arrayed against each other on the right and left of your chair, but anterior to the birth even of the great parties of which those statesmen are the leaders; anterior to the days when the names of Tory and Whig, of court party and country party, of cavalier and roundhead, came into use; anterior to the existence of those

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »