It was, however, said on the following day by Earl
Granville, in answer to a strong speech from Earl Russell in favour of defend- ing Belgium. The old Whig statesman delivered his best speech of late years, rising into something of his old daring attitude. He asserted that "a more specific and defined obligation than ours to Belgium could not be conceived ;" pointed out that on any view of the Draft Treaty, Prussia and France had been considering bow the independence of Belgium should be destroyed ; declared that he felt as if two of his friends had been overheard consulting how to commit a burglary on the house of a third friend, whom he was bound to assist ; quoted the statement of the Emperor of the French that France had slipped out of his hand ; asked what would happen if in the hour of victory it again slipped ; maintained that only the doubt of the Continent as to England's course placed Belgium in danger ; and desired, above all things, an open and explicit declaration. To this clear demand, Earl Granville, in a short but dignified speech, replied by remind- ing the House of the deep responsibility attaching to his office ; but said while "shrinking from any legal construction of particular clauses of a treaty, I venture to state most positively that Her Majesty's Government are not unaware of the duty which this country owes to the independence and the neutrality of Belgium." He hoped to make declarations before Parliament met, when the House would be able to judge "whether the steps which we took last week were judicious or not, in making, without anything of an offensive or menacing character, in intimation of what we believed to be right perfectly clear to others "; and "I trust that whatever may be the opinions of individual members of the House, your lordships will not believe that when once we have made a clear intimation of our intentions in any respect, anything will prevent us from adhering scrupulously to that which we have already intimated." This speech, to which only one interpretation can be given, was received with enthusiastic cheers.