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and Sardinia) have agreed on the transfer, and the people of Savoy themselves are favourable to it, I say it is contrary to the interests of England, and to the honour of the English Government, to pretend to interpose against a transaction which, though I would never have recommended or promoted it, is yet, I am sure, not worth the imposition of a single tax on Englishmen, or the expenditure of a single drop of blood for one moment to prevent it.'
Mr. Bright was subjected to great abuse in some quarters for the attitude he took upon this matter, although it was one which subsequent events fully justified. The question came up many times in the course of the session, and on the 2nd of March Lord John Russell detailed the policy of the English Government in connection therewith. At a later date in the same month, viz., the 26th, Mr. Horsman initiated a discussion upon the subject by making a severe attack upon the French Emperor and the policy of our own Ministers. Lord John Russell defended the Government, and was followed by Mr. Bright, who said that the members who had so frequently introduced this question to the House had entirely avoided what was the most important point, viz., the clear and direct interest the House and the country had in the matter under discussion. He contended for the interests of England. There was one reason why England should rather be glad of the transfer of Savoy to France. Sardinia agreed to the transfer as a compensation to France; and it was
perhaps better that the score should be settled in this manner than that for the future Sardinia should consider herself greatly indebted to France, and bound up in a perpetual political alliance with that country. Discussing the position of Austria, Mr. Bright asked whether the gentlemen opposite thought that the Austrian Government would join in a quarrel about Savoy when they had not a word to say when Austria was dismembered ? As to Russia, was there any man idiot enough to suppose that the Russian Government would step out of its tranquil path to join us upon a miserable question like this, remembering the course we took with regard to Russia seven years ago? Prussia, too, though for many reasons disposed to side with England, had no interest in this question, and did not desire to take any steps with us.
Coming then to England, who amongst us was interested in this matter? There was a portion of the press which vituperated everything connected with the French people and the French Government; and he (Mr. Bright) suspected it was with the object of supporting a family who, when in power, were not able to maintain themselves in France, and who had no claim on the strength or influence of England to replace them in the position they had lost. He did not believe that the House was alarmed about the matter. Europe had given the question up, and it seemed that England had also given it up. The House of Commons was willing to give it up, and the only persons who were in a state of trepidation were the hon. and learned member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake), the right hon. member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), and one or two others. If Mr. Horsman wanted to make war on the Treasury Bench, he should not begin his assaults when the Treasury Bench was in the right. With regard to the main question at issue, continued Mr. Bright, 'I am against the House putting itself in the humiliating position which it is invited to take up, and barking where it does not intend to bite, and making itself, not the guardian of the affairs of Europe, for that would be foolish and impossible, but making itself the common scold of all Europe. The noble lord will truckle to no Power in Europe, I am sure; but let him so conduct the foreign policy of this country that all the nations of Europe shall say, what, I believe, they have not heretofore said, that England is a Power regarding her own great interests mainly, not interfering in Europe when it can be avoided, and, when interfering, doing so, not for the sake of exalting one Power and degrading another, but in favour of those great principles of justice and moderation which are necessary in the transactions of the great Powers if the peace of Europe is to be preserved.'
It is scarcely necessary to add that the cession of Savoy and Nice to France was completed during the year, the provinces themselves voting by an enormous majority in favour of annexation.
The relations between England and China occupied the attention of Parliament during the session of 1860; and on the 16th of March, when the Government proposed to take a vote of credit on account of the China war, Sir De Lacy Evans proposed the following amendment: 'That humbly participating in the wish of Her Majesty, expressed in her most gracious speech on the opening of this session of Parliament—namely, that she will be gratified if the prompt acquiescence of the Emperor of China in the moderate demands which have been made upon him by the allies shall obviate the necessity for the employment of forcethis House is of opinion that the moderation of policy thus indicated on the part of Her Majesty and that of her ally the Emperor of the French, will best contribute to diminish expenditure, avert complications, and to promote commerce, the interests of justice, and the establishment of peace. Lord John Russell, in reply, said that no one could regret more than he did the necessity for this expedition; but the persons and property of our trades must be secured, and he thought that our Minister in China should have the power not only of going to but of residing at the capital. He considered that we were also entitled to an indemnity.
Mr. Bright expressed his disappointment at Lord John Russell's statements. On occasions of this nature, it was the duty of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to be a little more explicit. The hon. member then traced the progress of the transactions in China from the war which was commenced, he affirmed, by the indiscretion of Sir J. Bowring; and after blaming the stipulations of the last treaty, he contended that, in the proceedings for the ratification of that treaty, we were as much in the wrong as we were at Canton, under the management of Sir J. Bowring. He denied that the Chinese were open to the charge of treachery; he insisted that the collision at the mouth of the Peiho was attributable to the folly and imbecility of our own Minister and the indiscretion of the Admiral ; and he censured the Government for allowing a person so utterly unfit to conduct the negotiations as Mr. Bruce to continue to be our Minister in China. He could see no advantage to this country in requiring that our Minister should reside at Pekin, which would inflict a grievous insult upon the Emperor of China, and be an ungenerous act on our part.
Further, Mr. Bright warned the Government against a partnership with another power, and against making demands upon the Government of China which, being based only upon a disaster occasioned by the folly of our own Minister, we ought not in the sight of God or man to make. 'Looking back upon our transactions with China during the last few years, I believe nothing more vicious can be found in our history; no page of our annals is more full of humiliation, because full of crime, than that on which is recorded our transactions with China; and because I feel thisbecause I wish the Government to live and prosperbecause I wish this House to stand in honour before the country—because I wish the country to hold a