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Opening of Parliament

The Illustrated London News, vol. 42, no. 1187, p. 142.

February 7, 1863


My Lords and Gentlemen,

...Her majesty has abstained from taking any step with a view to induce a cessation of the conflict between the contending parties in the North American States; because it has not yet seemed to her Majesty that any such overtures could be attended with any probability of success.

Her Majesty has viewed with the deepest concern the desolating warfare which still rages in these regions; and she has witnessed with heartfelt grief the severe distress and suffering which that war has inflicted upon a large class of her Majesty's subjects, but which have been borne by them with noble fortitude and with exemplary resignation. It is some consolation to her Majesty to be led to hope that this suffering and this distress are rather diminishing than increasing, and that some revival of employment is beginning to take place in the manufacturing districts...

The Address.

The Royal Speech having been read by the Lord Chancellor, and again by the clerk at the table,

Earl Dudley rose to move an address in reply, which as usual was a mere echo of the speech itself...

The Earl of Granard,in a brief speech, seconded the address.

The Earl of Derby contrasted the circumstances under which the House now assembled with those which marked the opening of Parliament last year....He was anxious to say that he had no objection to raise the course which her Majesty's Government had taken with regard to the desolating war now raging in the United States. He regretted that the Government had not felt themselves justified in joining in the attempt, however hopeless, in which they were invited by the Sovereign of France, not to intervene for the purpose of putting an end to the war, but to obtain by their good offices, if possible, such an armistice and cessation of hostilities as would lead the two parties themselves to reflect on the miseries and hopelessness of the war in which they were engaged. But, before he censured the course taken by the Government, it was but fair that he should say that they were in possession of much better information than he was as to whether any interference on their part would have been a judicious step. He differed from the opinion which had been expressed by many of his political friends that the time had arrived for recognising the Southern States. There were only two cases in which a recognition on the part of a neutral Power could be justified--namely, where there was no further struggle going on, as was the case when the South American States which had revolted from Spain were recognised, or when it was desirable in the interest of humanity that the great Powers should interfere in order to prevent the longer continuance of a desolating warfare. But in that case recognition was always followed by something further. It meant the support by force of arms of the claims of the country whose rights were recognised, such as was the case in the separation of Belgium from Holland and of Greece from Turkey. His conviction was that, come what may, the reconstruction of the United States as they formerly stood was absolutely impossible; and, on the whole, he approved of the course which her Majesty's Government had taken. There was another aspect in which the war in America had a serious bearing upon industry, happiness, and prosperity of this country--namely, in the cotton famine which had been produced...

Earl Russell, in reply to the remarks of the noble Earl, justified the policy of non-intervention which the Government had pursued in reference to the American War. The circumstances were very different from those which existed when Belgium was separated from Holland and Greece from Turkey; and, taking all matters into consideration, he thought her Majesty's Government had taken the wisest course in their power to pursue. At the same time he expressed a strong opinion that it would be impossible for the union of the Northern and Southern States to be again established...

The Earl of Malmesbury expressed great regret that her Majesty's Government had not joined with France in an attempt to mediate between the two contending parties in America, so that that deplorable struggle might be brought to a satisfactory termination.

Earl Grey differed from Lord Malmesbury in believing that the Government had neglected their duty in declining to join with France in the offer of their good offices in the dispute between the Northern and Southern States of America. If the good offices of her Majesty's Government in conjunction with France would have contributed to produce the termination of the war it would have been unpardonable if they had refused to exercise them; but, looking at the state of feeling in America with regard to this country at that time, he thought the interference of the Government would have produced more harm than good...

...The Address In Answer To The Queen's Speech.

The Speaker having read from the chair her Majesty's gracious Speech,

Mr. Calthorpe rose to move the address in reply, and, reviewing the principal topics of the Queen's Speech, briefly but warmly eulogised the proceedings and policy of the Government. He warmly acknowledged the subscriptions from America for the distress in Lancashire; which, sent in the midst of the pettish and hostile attacks of the press, showed that the respectable classes were well disposed towards England. He deeply deplored the course of the war, and the extremes to which the more violent parties were ready to go in the Northern States, at the same time expressing a hearty admiration of the gallantry and fortitude of the Confederates...

The address having been read from the chair,

Mr.Disraeli said the House would deeply sympathise with the feelings of her Majesty on so interesting an event as the marriage of the heir apparent....

The House would also deeply sympathise with the Sovereign in deploring the vicissitudes to which a large and important portion of her subjects had been subjected, and in her admiration of the fortitude with which they had been sustained. He trusted that these vicissitudes would, however, have a tendency towards promoting a sounder and more permanent prosperity; and, whilst, they might rather be regarded as a misfortune than a calamity, they would teach all classes that they had an interest in one great commmonwealth. They might on such occasions expect to learn how long this state of things was likely to last; but, for his own part, he could not but regard what was passing in America as a revolution. He briefly sketched the rise of the Union, and expressed an opinion that the ultimate results of the war would be an America very different to that known to our fathers and even to this generation. There would be an America of farmers, an America of diplomacy, and an America of turbulence and wars. He believed that the course originally marked out by the Government was one honorable to the country and beneficial to all its interests. He was, therefore, greatly mortified in the autumn when an important member of the Government, apparently with the sanction of his colleagues, made a declaration which could only be regarded as an intention to recognise the Confederate Republic. He felt that this was a great vacillation and inconsistency. The Foreign Secretary said that the North was fighting for empire and the South for independence; but the President of the Board of Trade the other day alleged that the cause of the war was slavery. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was warmly in favour of the South; but he was followed by the Secretary at War, who avowed opinions diametrically opposite; and, lastly, the Chief Secretary of Ireland declared that it was his conviction that the Lord of Hosts was fighting for the Confederates.

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