Imperial ParliamentThe Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1301, p. 134.
February 11, 1865
The seventh session of the present Parliament was opened by Commission. The ceremony was a very simple one. A few ladies assembled in the House of Lords and occupied the back seats usually taken by the peers. In the galleries there were also a few ladies. As soon as the Royal Commissioners entered, the Lord Chancellor directed the Usher of the Black Rod to summon the House of Commons, and in a few moments afterwards the Speaker, in his state robes and accompanied by a few members of the House of Commons, appeared at the bar. The Lord Chancellor then read the
My Lords And Gentlemen,
We are commanded to assure you that her Majesty has great satisfaction in recurring again to the advice and assistance of her Parliament....
The civil war in North America still unhappily continues. Her Majesty remains steadfastly neutral between the contending parties, and would rejoice at a friendly reconciliation between them....
The House resumed at five o'clock, when, the Speech from the Throne having been again read,
The Earl of Charlemont (in the absence of the Duke of Cleveland, owing to domestic breavement) moved the Address in reply to the Royal Speech. Having adverted to the principal questions to which the attention of Parliament had been called, he read some statistics referring to the condition of Ireland to prove the gradual progress of that country, and maintained that though some persons and parties were dissatisfied, the people were generally loyal.
Lord Houghton seconded the motion. After referring to the treaty with France of 1852 and the confederation of the British North American provinces, he defended her Majesty's Government from the charge of having violated its neutrality in the civil war now waging in America. He denied that in any one instance it had ever departed from the policy of non-interference it had declared it would observe. As to the relations of England to foreign nations generally, he pointed out the important fact that wherever England was in arms it was entirely in self-defence. The domestic legislation in which they were asked to engage in the present Session would, he assumed, be of the same kind as that of former years. The measures to be proposed to them would mostly be of a practical character. He had hoped that in some manner they would have succeeded in broadening the basis of the Parliamentary representation; but that work was, perhaps, reserved for another and more ardent generation. He hoped, however, that some progress would be made in preparing a digest of the law of England, a measure that certainly ought to receive serious attention.
The Earl of Derby described the Speech from the Throne as just the sort of speech that was likely to be addressed by an aged minister to a moribund Parliament, whose dissolution no event can postpone; so that all its experienced advisers could do was to find it some gentle occupation and take care that its dying moments were not disturbed by any unnecessary excitement; whilst its physicians held the usual consultation and pocketed their accustomed fees. The noble Earl then adverted to our relations with Brazil and the civil war in America, calling attention to the ingratitude with which the neutrality of this country had been met by the Government of Washington, who had given notice to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty and the agreement for securing the neutrality of the American lakes. Under these circumstances the noble Earl said he regarded with satisfaction the proposed confederation of the British North American provinces. He alluded to the distress in the cotton districts, pointing out the condition of those districts; and expressed his regret that legislation had not been determined upon as the result of the Public Schools Commission.
Earl Granville congratulated their Lordships upon the good sense and good humour displayed by the Earl of Derby, and congratulated the latter upon the brilliant success which had attended his literary labours during the recess. Referring to the notice given by the Government at Washington to terminate the Reciprocity Treaty with England, he stated his belief that it was to be traced to irritation consequent upon the movements of Confederate raiders, but that there was still time for negotiation.
The Earl of Leitrim, having spoken on the Irish portion of the Speech,
Earl Russell stated his pleasure at finding that there was a general approval of the House of the foreign policy of the Government; but in answer to observations of Lord Derby on the diplomatic rupture with Brazil, he denied that the Foreign Office was to blame, or could have taken any other course than they had adopted. As regarded American politics, he urged that the United States expected that her Majesty's Government should do all that the law of nations and international law required to prevent any aid being given to the Confederates; but it had been impossible to prevent acts by British subjects, which had caused great irritation in America, such as the fitting out of ships in English ports to prey on the commerce of the United States. In Canada also Confederate agents had done acts calculated to embroil this country with the United States, and it was not surprising that the Federal Government, seeing the Canadian lake made use of for such purposes, should be inclined to take steps to put a stop to such proceedings. While, however, her Majesty's Government would adhere strictly to neutrality in the American contest, they would not admit claims on this country which were not founded on justice.
The Address was then agreed to.