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vices. M. de Malleville next proceeded to condemn the manner in which the negotiations relative to Tahiti had been conducted in London and Paris, and entreated the members of the house, who, two days before wished to save the existence of the Ministry, to vote for his amendment, and thereby save the dignity of the country. M. Peyramont rose to reply. He combated the amendment, because it implied that nothing was due to England, and that England had been wanting in good feeling and equity towards France. This meant, in his opinion, that the indemnity agreed to be paid to Mr. Pritchard should not be paid by the Ministry which would succeed the present administration. The majority of the committee on the Address, of which he had been a member, rendered entire justice to the equity and good feeling of England throughout that affair, and it had determined to insert that conviction in the Address. M. Peyramont then proceeded to justify the conduct of the Ministry amidst the murmurs of the Opposition.
M. Odillon Barrot, who followed, referred to what had occurred at the close of the last session, when a Minister of Great Britain had declared in Parliament that an insult, a gross outrage, had been offered to the honour of England. Had the French Cabinet, he asked, responded to that expression, which, to say the least of it, was imprudent, either by recriminations or otherwise? No! After examining the events of which Tahiti had been the theatre, he protested on his soul and conscience, in presence of the facts, of the documents submitted to the assembly,
and the declaration of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, that the disavowal of M. d'Aubigny and the indemnity granted to Mr. Pritchard were not, as asserted in the address, conformable to equity. He then painted Mr. Pritchard as the author of all the calamities that had fallen on the French at Tahiti. He had remained there without any official character, to prevent Queen Pomare from returning among her subjects and restoring peace; he remained there to give time to his agents to kindle the fire of revolt; and when this object had been attained, he was preparing to quit the island in the darkness of night, when M. d'Aubigny found it his duty, under the apprehension of approaching danger, to arrest the fugitive; and although the guilt of the latter was so evident that the Ministry itself was obliged to admit it, it was the unfortunate officer who had adopted that indispensable measure for the security of his command who had been visited with a disavowal, and the wretch, the promoter of the revolt, at whose instigation murder and incendiarism pervaded the island, was to receive compensation, because he had been detained during a few days a prisoner; and so degrading a concession had been demanded and exacted in the face of Europe, from noble France! M. Odillon Barrot said, that he would willingly choose the English people for his judge in the affair; and he had so high an opinion of their good sense, that he was sure they would not view the affair in the light it had been viewed by a French Ministry. In concluding, he declared that there was no equity, no reciprocity, in granting an indemnity to the instigator of
a war of savages against civilization, particularly under the threats which had been preferred from the British tribune.
M. Guizot, in his reply to M. Odillon Barrot, denied that any threats had been made by the British Cabinet, and observed that the French Government had not, consequently, been influenced by fear in its determination. The gravity of the situation, he said, revealed itself by degrees, and by certain symptoms, which M. de Jarnac remarked and communicated to his Government. Those symptoms and facts did not modify the ideas which the Government originally entertained or change its resolution. "There must always exist between England and France," said M. Guizot, courtesy, regard, good proceedings, mutual advantages, and concession. Any other conduct would be shameful, and sooner or later fatal. When I hear men say that those sentiments are not reciprocal, after what has passed during four years, and particularly during the last six months, I think I am dreaming, for I can hardly conceive that facts should be so perverted or badly understood. I could, if I wished, lay before your eyes the relative situations of France and England, and all the facts relating thereto, in all the points of the globe, and you would see that everywhere the advantages and concessions are reciprocal between the two countries; you would see that wherever we had any object to carry, our policy, so far from losing ground, in consequence of our intimacy with Great Britain, had rather gained. French influence in Spain, in Africa, in the East, in Greece, in Italy, everywhere in short, has in
creased." M. Guizot then contended, that that mutual feeling was particularly manifested in the affair of Tahiti. When France had accepted the protectorate of that Archipelago, in which the English Government indirectly predominated through its missionaries, traditions, and the habits of the country during the last forty years, that Government had viewed that measure with displeasure; nevertheless it had acted loyally, sensibly, it had not contested the right of France, it had even accepted the protectorate, and sent instructions to that effect to its agents, and on that occasion the good feeling, the acts of complaisance and concession, were not on the side of France. M. Guizot admitted that in the case of the occupation of Tahiti, France had responded to that friendly disposition of England. "We considered," he said, "that the absolute sovereignty would not be advantageous to us, that it would modify the character of our establishment, that it would render the complications which it was likely to produce between us and England more difficult and delicate. We refused the absolute sovereignty, and we acted wisely; for, allow me to remind you, that the temporary protectorate had endured for a space of fourteen months, with difficulties and embarrassments, but without any serious event, without any insurrection, or any appeal to material force. Scarcely, however, had the absolute sovereignty been proclaimed than sedition and revolt pervaded the island. In this second act of the affair I confess it was the French Cabinet who evinced regard towards England; but it will be admitted, on the
other hand, that in the first two acts of the affair there was at least reciprocity. I now come to the third act-the explosion of the civil war and the expulsion of Mr. Pritchard. Two facts have been overlooked-first, at the moment when Mr. Pritchard was expelled he had been recalled by his Government; he had been removed from Tahiti and sent elsewhere. England had taken into consider ation our remonstrances on the inconvenience of continuing Mr. Pritchard at Tahiti; she had given us satisfaction by recalling him. When Mr. Pritchard was expelled, he demanded that an inquiry be instituted into the facts with which he was charged: he asked to be tried, and repeated that request after his return to England. He maintained, wrongfully, I believe, that he was a stranger to the explosion of the civil war and to the revolt; he contends that it would have been impossible to convict him, had he been tried, for want of proof. Our agents at Tahiti did not deem it expedient to adopt such a course. I approve their conduct. I regard their conviction respecting the intrigues of Mr. Pritchard and the danger of his presence as well founded; the trial would have been difficult and dangerous, and perhaps productive of no result." M. Guizot then described the effect created in England by the expulsion of Mr. Pritchard. "We wished," he said, "to give time to the agitation to subside; we assumed a passive and expectant attitude, persuaded as we were that this result would be attained when the truth should become known. We were strongly urged. Nothing was officially demanded from us, we were in nowise threatened. No
Government in Europe, whether friendly or indifferent, would presume to address in any shape, directly or indirectly, any menaces to the King's government. We did not require to be told that the situation was serious. We know that a solution should be given to it; that France should take a decision, and say something on what had occurred at Tahiti, otherwise serious events would be the consequence. After a month's delay, we made known to the English Government our opinion and resolution. We maintained that our agents had a right to expel Mr. Pritchard, and that they had acted properly in expelling him. We then added, as I myself stated to our agent from the beginning, that we regretted and disapproved certain proceedings and circumstances in his conduct. I persist at present more strongly than ever in that opinion, after what has been said at this tribune. I greatly apprehend that the sentiments delivered in this hall may cause a confusion in the minds of our agents scattered all over the globe, and impress them with a false idea of their situation and duties. We think that the proceedings to which I alluded and which a brave officer, full of devotedness for his country, conceived he could resort to at a moment of danger, might have been dispensed with, that they were unnecessary, and that he had a sufficient force at his disposal to have acted otherwise. Such was our opinion, and we gave it without hesitation; we thought, that at the very moment when we firmly asserted our right and the exercise of that right, we should tell the truth respecting accessory faults; we thought that the con
tinuance of our good relations with a friendly government was well worth the admission of those errors of an agent of the King. We accordingly told the truth, and disapproved his conduct." M. Guizot next justified the promise of an indemnity to Mr. Pritchard, not on account of his expulsion, but because the proceedings which the Government had blamed might have produced the injury and sufferings of which he complained. "We did not admit," he added, "the truth of the facts on his own assertion. We promised to give him an indemnity if his claim were well founded; the facts will be verified on the spot by the English and French admirals, and if those facts be such as Mr. Pritchard describes them, the arbitrators will fix the amount of the indemnity." M. Guizot again observed, that the situation in which the Government had found itself, during the whole transaction, had been extremely serious, having been placed between the alternative of a compromise or a rupture. "The compromise, of which the Chamber knows the conditions," he said, appeared to us equitable and proper. The English Government was of the same opinion, and, strange to say, it is at this very moment accused of the same errors and faults with which we have been reproached. As for us, we do not regret what we have done; we did not hesitate, nor should we hesitate to-day, if it was to do over again. I am convinced that on the other side of the Channel Sir Robert Peel and Lord Aberdeen will have the same thoughts and hold the same language that I do, and that they will not either regret what they have done. I am convinced that the two Govern
ments, and I will say the two countries, will congratulate themselves on such a compromise having averted such a rupture." In concluding, M. Guizot declared that the policy pursued during the last four years had been good and honest, useful to the country, conducive to its interests, and morally great; that, in order to succeed, it required the frank and firm support of the great powers of the state, and that if that support failed completely, or was not sufficiently firm to enable the Ministry to continue that policy with success, he and his colleagues would cease to charge themselves with it.
M. Dufaure followed M. Guizot, and after examining at some length and condemning the conduct of the Ministry in the Tahiti affair, thus concluded:-"If you acquiesce in the approbation which the committee claims in behalf of the Ministry you will add an evil to an evil; to the act of the Ministry you will add your own act, the act of the organs of the popular sentiments of this country. You will declare to the garrison of Tahiti that the indemnity granted to Mr. Pritchard was not only accorded by the Government, but that the Chamber of Deputies has accorded it a second time."
The discussion having been closed, on the amendment of M. Malleville, the President put it to the vote. The result of the first trial was proclaimed doubtful by the secretaries. It was rejected, however at the second, but by so small a majority that many pronounced the amendment to have been carried. The Chamber then adjourned, amidst great agitation.
Next day the discussion on the third paragraph was resumed.
M. Billault, the first speaker said that he would propose no amendment, that the words of the paragraph were sufficiently explicit, and that those who voted in its favour should be understood to express their satisfaction at the grant of an indemnity to Mr. Pritchard, and at the regret manifested by the French Cabinet to the English Government for the conduct of the French officers. Those who rejected it, or abstained from voting, necessarily condemned that course. The question consequently left no room for ambiguity. For his part, he considered that M. d'Aubigny had a right to expel and arrest Mr. Pritchard, and could not admit, with the framers of the address, that a feeling of goodwill and equity had characterized the conduct of the English Government throughout the affair; otherwise one of its members would not have declared in Parliament, that a gross insult had been offered to England, nor held out the alternative of a rupture, and the menace to send back Mr. Pritchard to Tahiti. M. Billault thought that every man should have the courage to manifest his opinion and give his vote in the face of the country. (Loud cries of "Order" from the Ministerial benches.) If the Chamber, he added, approved the conduct of the Ministry, and concurred in the praise bestowed by the address, the Opposition should deplore the vote and appeal to another tribunal. Already had the London papers received that day attested the exultation and triumph with which England had hailed the first vote of the Chamber, and he trusted that they would not afford a new subject of exultation.
M. Dumon, the Minister of Public Works, who followed, agreed with M. Billault, that there should be no ambiguity, nothing equivocal, in the decision about to be taken by the Chamber. He next proceeded to vindicate the conduct of the Ministry in the Tahiti affair, and contended that it had confined itself to defending acts which the agent of France had defended, and to blaming those which that agent had himself blamed. It had not, he thought, been a great sacrifice on the part of the Cabinet to admit grievances justly complained of, in order to re-establish a good understanding, which was proclaimed by all to be indispensable to the repose of the world. M. Dumon then earnestly entreated the Chamber to give its opinion conscientiously, and without heeding what might be thought of it elsewhere-an opinion, he said, which would either strengthen or overturn the Cabinet.
M. Odillon Barrot succeeded M. Dumon, and observed that France should not have the appearance of voting under a threat of a rupture; that if England did not dread such a rupture, neither was France afraid of it. were all, he said, men of honour, and if they were convinced that the impious war which had already cost the lives of 200 of their countrymen had been kindled by Mr. Pritchard, he was certain nobody in the house would consent to pay an indemnity to that manufacturer of sedition and revolt.
The President had risen, and was on the point of putting the question to the vote, when a list of twenty members, who demanded a secret ballot, was put in his hand. This announcement caused a great uproar among the Opposition.