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the wishes of the English Government, and we should act as if we thought him sincere and amicable towards this country. But the speech of Lord Palmerston the other night in bringing forward this resolution was calculated to encourage the panic in England, and to create excitement and distrust in France.
Demanding to know when the limit of our enormous expenditure was to be reached, Mr. Bright continued: 'How has this change come about? It all came about since the year 1853, when the flood-gates of passion were opened; and from that time to the present the Exchequer has been open, and every man, it appears, has been allowed to put his hand into it, and spend just as much money as he likes. Up to that time it was boasted that the reign of Queen Victoria was to be a reign of peace. We were told that
“ No war or battle's sound
The idle spear and shield were high up hung." But since then the Court seems to have its chief occupation in connection with military affairs ;reviews in Hyde Park, reviews at Aldershot, shooting matches on Wimbledon Common, all these are occupations which for a long time have been foreign to the English Court, and for which I believe in my conscience there is not a particle of justification at the moment at which I am speaking. The people are stimulated to arm, the Cabinet is constantly
devising new modes of expenditure, and all this appears to be based on the ignorance of the people, the clamours of the services, and the want of courage in the Cabinet to speak the real truth to the nation.'
Mr. Bright said that a great Minister of Queen Elizabeth once declared that England would never be undone except by a Parliament; and he feared that what was now occurring was tending to that which we understood by the undoing of a nation. The coming census of the United States was expected to show a population of 32,000,000 souls, or more than the next census of the United Kingdom would show; yet the expenses of the whole Government of the United States would not amount to more than £12,000,000 sterling. Now he asked whether it was possible that we could continue to raise from the people of this country £60,000,000 of taxes in excess of what an equal population was called to pay for its Government and its policy in the United States. Mr. Bright then closed with this stirring and vigorous peroration :
France may be our enemy. I do not believe she is. There may be enemies abroad; but I can find nobody who can point them out. I can, however, point out an enemy at home, and that is this insane and wicked policy, which requires that you should abstract from the labour and the industry of the people of England this enormous, incredible, and ruinous sum from year to year. What is the result in every other country? If somebody had told the Minister of Louis XIV. that his extravagance would end in disaster to France, he would have answered them, as I shall be answered, “ The country is rich enough,—the glory of France is worth more than your sordid considerations of pounds, shillings, and pence. France must keep a great position in Europe—there is no burden which France will not easily by its elasticity raise itself under and sup
port.” But do we not know that in another generation his family became exiles ; the aristocracy of his country was overthrown ; another branch of his family has been exiled, and the kingdom which he did so much to ruin has been subjected to sixty years of anarchy and recurring revolution! This is the story history tells of other countries as well as of France ; and if we pursue the same course, I fear the history which will be written in the future of our time will be exactly like that which has been written of France and of other countries. You will have an exiled royal family, you will have an overthrown aristocracy, and you will have a period of recurring revolution ; and there is no path so straight, so downward, so slippery, so easily travelled to all these mis fortunes, as the path which we are now following, year after year, adding to these enormous expenses, until the time will come when there will be some change throughout the country, when men will open their eyes, will ask who has deceived them, defrauded them, pillaged them. And then you will have to pay the penalty which all men in the upper classes of society in every country have had to pay when they have not maintained the rights of the great body of the people in this particular, and when they have not performed the duties which devolved upon them as the governing classes of the country. It is because I hate this policybecause I condemn this expenditure—because I see that it will lead to more expenditure, and to the wider prevalence of this policy, that I oppose with all my heart the resolution of the noble lord ; and in doing that, I feel the strongest conviction in my conscience that I am doing my duty, not less to the people of whom I am one, than to the monarchy under which I live.'
The orator might as well have appealed to a wall of adamant. The House was panic-stricken, and the amendment was negatived by the large majority of 268 to 39. Another amendment moved by the hon. gentleman himself only obtained thirty-seven votes, and the original resolution was agreed to. A bill was subsequently brought in to give effect to the resolution, and the second reading was carried by 141 to 32. The measure afterwards passed through both Houses.
Mr. Bright took the opportunity during the session of 1860 of expressing his views on the question of
English support of Turkey, in a debate which arose in connection with the disturbances in Syria. Massacres of Christians had taken place, and Turkey was apparently too weak to secure the safety of the Christian population. While admitting that no intervention within our memory could be so well excused as that undertaken by England in regard to affairs in Syria, Mr. Bright said he rose to protest against the policy of maintaining the integrity of the
Turkish Empire, and of supporting the Sultan's Government. According to Lord John Russell's own statement, this Power was doomed to extinction, and no human aid could avert its decay. After re-establishing the power and dignity of the Porte, and securing the integrity of the Turkish Empire by a treaty of the various Powers of Europe, we found that country, seven years after the commencement of the Crimean war, in a worse condition of anarchy than it was before we meddled with it. There was much talk of improvement, but it was only to bolster up the stock markets. No improvement was made, and in Syria the authorities of the Sultan did not lift a hand to stay the shedding of the blood of our fellowcreatures, and, to some extent, our co-religionists. What was to be the end of it ?
After further dwelling upon the helplessness of Turkey, Mr. Bright said: “The question of Constantinople, which is supposed to be the great political question, is surely not an insuperable difficulty. It cannot be said that Heaven permitted
a great city to grow up in a favoured spot to form continually a bone of contention between the nations of Europe, or that the statesmen who have settled so many questions cannot suggest what can be done with this. What I am myself most anxious for is that England should hold itself aloof from that policy-should, in point of fact, repudiate it altogether as a mistake, that the integrity of the Turkish Empire is to be maintained, and that, not this power, but the pretended power—the feebleness and the dignity of the Sultan—is to be supported; and that all this is to be done again at the expense of the taxes drawn from the English people, and of the blood of Englishmen squandered like water in the endeavour to do that which nature says is impossible, and that all experience tells us we must fail in if we ever attempt.'
Language almost precisely similar to this with regard to Turkey was used by many eminent English statesmen nearly twenty years later. Mr. Bright saw public opinion grow rapidly towards his own views, in fact, when the crisis arose which resulted in the Russo-Turkish war.
In the session of 1864 Mr. Bright spoke again on a question relating to foreign politics, when he chivalrously defended Mr. Stansfeld-member for Halifax, and a Junior Lord of the Admiralty in Lord Palmerston's Government-from the aspersions cast upon him. It appears that at the trial in Paris of Greco and others for conspiring to assassinate the Emperor