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'I have another complaint to make, and in allusion to that hon. member. It is within your recollection that when on a former occasion he made that speech and defended his course, he declared that he would rather be the builder of a dozen Alabamas than do something which nobody has done. That language was received with repeated cheering from the Opposition side of the House. Well, Sir, I undertake to say that that was at least a most unfortunate circumstance, and I beg to tell the hon. gentleman that at the end of last session, when the great debate took place on the question of Denmark, there were many men on this side of the House who had no objection whatever to see the present Government turned out of office, for they had many grounds of complaint against them; but they felt it impossible that they should take the responsibility of bringing into office the right hon. member for Buckinghamshire or the party who could utter such cheers on such a subject as that.' (Cheers.)
Mr. Bright next showed that there had been a gradual change of feeling amongst Ministers and in the House on the American question since the time of Mr. Gladstone's declaration at Newcastle, to the effect that the South had established itself as a nation. He also referred to the indiscriminating abuse heaped upon the United States by Mr. Roebuck, and the unsleeping ill-will of Lord Cranborne (the Marquis of Salisbury). Being interrupted by Mr. Roebuck with an expression that he adhered to his old sentiments, Mr. Bright said he was sorry to hear it. He had hoped that these things would be regretted and repented of, and trusted that if any in this country who had been thus ungenerous should fall into trouble, they would find friends more kind and more just across the Atlantic. The millions of Lancashire and Yorkshire—whose industry had not only created but sustained the fabric of the national power-had no kind of sympathy with the views which he had been condemning. They have been more generous and more wise; they have shown that magnanimity and love of freedom are not extinct. And, speaking of the county from which I comethe county of many sorrows, whose griefs have hung like a dark cloud over almost every heart during the last three years—all the attempts which the agents of the Confederacy have made there by money, by printing, by platform speeches, by agitation, have utterly failed to get from that population one expression of sympathy with the American insurrection.' If the bond of union and friendship between England and America should remain unbroken, they would not have to thank the wealthy and the cultivated, .but those laborious millions whom statesmen and histories too frequently took little account of.
There was, no doubt, said Mr. Bright, a war party in the United States, and that was the Irish party; but it was merely a small percentage, which had no sensible effect upon the constitution of Congress, or upon legislation or government. With regard to the claims made by the respective countries, it was quite absurd to suppose that the English Government and the Government at Washington could have a question about half a million of money which they could not amicably settle. When the passions had cooled down, he wag quite sure that Mr. Seward, Earl Russell, Mr. Adams, and Sir Frederick Bruce would be able without much difficulty to settle this matter. Having observed that a great many bubbles would burst
before that which had been described as the 'bubble republic' of America, the speaker went on to say:
Some people fear that, should America become a great nation, she will be arrogant and aggressive. It does not follow that it should be so. The character of a nation does not depend altogether upon its size, but upon the instruction, the civilization, and the morals of its people. You fancy the supremacy of the sea will pass away from you; and the noble lord, who has had much experience, and is supposed to be wiser on the subject than any other man in the House, will say that "Rule Britannia” may become obsolete. Well, inasmuch as the supremacy of the seas means arrogance and the assumption of a dictatorial power on the part of this country, the sooner that becomes obsolete the better.' Nature would not be baffled because we were jealous of the United States. The States were rapidly growing in population; and would constant snarling at a great republic alter this state of things, or swell us up in these islands to 40,000,000 or 50,000,000, or bring them down to our 30,000,000? Finally, Mr. Bright observed,
'It is on record that when the author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was about to begin bis great work, David Hume wrote a letter to him urging him not to employ the French but the English tongue ; " because,” he said, “our establishments in America promise superior stability and duration to the English language." How far that promise has been in part fulfilled, we who are living now can see ; but how far it will be more largely and more completely fulfilled in aftertimes we must leave after-times to tell. I believe that in the centuries which are to come it will be the greatest pride and the highest renown
of England, that from her loins have sprung a hundred millions—it may be two hundred millions of men who dwell and prosper on that continent which the grand old Genoese gave to Europe. Sir, if the sentiments which I have uttered shall become the sentiments of the Parliament and people of the United Kingdom-if the moderation which I have described shall mark the course of the Government and of the people of the United States—then, notwithstanding some present irritation and some present distrust—and I have faith both in us and in them-I believe that these two great commonwealths will march abreast, the parents and the guardians of freedom and justice, wheresoever their language shall be spoken and their power shall extend.' (Loud cheers.)
Some days after this discussion, Lord Hartington proposed a vote of £50,000 for the fortification of Quebec, being part of a sum of £200,000 which would be asked for the defences of Canada. A lengthy debate ensued upon the policy of defending Canada by fortifications, and also upon the best mode of resistance in the event of invasion from the United States. In the end the sum was voted by a large majority.
Mr. Bright opposed the vote, reiterating his conviction that no one believed this country could attempt a successful defence of the frontier of Canada against the whole power of the United States. He objected to the vote, not on the ground that he did not believe in the probability of war, or that the amount was too large, but that its expenditure would be taken as a menace; the most that it could do was to show that some people here, and the Government itself, had some little distrust of the United States. So far, it might be productive of injury. He maintained that the vote was the commencement of a policy which we should have to abandon, because it
would entail on the Canadians a burden in respect to fortifications that would make them dissatisfied with this country, and ultimately lead to their separation
To that separation he did not object. It would be better for both. But of all the misfortunes that could happen to Canada, this would be the greatest, that their separation should take place after a period of irritation and estrangement; and that we should have on the American continent another element hostile to England. He regretted the proposition, but after all it was like everything else that was done by the Government, who appeared to be divided into two parties, one pulling one way and one the other. The result was that they pleased nobody, and failed to produce a good effect in any direction. He did not place much reliance on the speech of Mr. Disraeli, because on matters of this kind, whatever might be their animosities in other directions, the Opposition and the Ministerialists always shook hands. No doubt if Mr. Disraeli were on the Treasury Bench, and Lord Palmerston were sitting opposite to him, the latter would extend to Mr. Disraeli the very same support that he now received from him. • This question seems to me so plain,' urged Mr. Bright, 'so much on the surface, appealing so much to our common sense, having in it such great issues for the future, that I am persuaded it is the duty of the House of Commons on this occasion to take the matter out of the hands of the Executive Government, and to determine that, with