rose and said:—Sir, I wish to ask the noble lord opposite some questions on a subject of the greatest importance. It is very generally rumoured, and the rumour is very generally believed, that a proposition—an overture—a communication—I really do not know by what name I ought to call it—has been made by the present 614 ruler of France to the Government of this country. I wish to ask the noble lord in the first instance, if such a proposition has been made; and in the next instance, if it has been made, what has been done by his Majesty's Government in consequence? It has been rumoured, that the communication to which I allude has been transmitted to the Court of Vienna. If the noble lord should answer the two questions which I have already put to him in the affirmative, I wish then to ask him, if the noble lord has no objection to the inquiry, and I am not disposed to press any question improperly, when any communication may be expected from Vienna in return?
—I am sure, Sir, that under the present circumstances of Europe, the right hon. gentleman will not expect me to state the nature either of the communication or of the reply. I have no difficulty in saying, that such a communication has been received by his Majesty's Government, and, as the right hon. gentleman has surmised, that it has been transmitted to our Allies assembled at Vienna. At what particular moment the answer may be expected it is not in my power to inform the right hon. gentleman.
I repeat, Sir, that I am anxious, not improperly to press any question on the noble lord, but this is a subject which seems to me of the highest importance. Is it in the contemplation of of his Majesty's Government to take any step aggressive towards France before the the answer from Vienna shall arrive?
after saying that he would not press it, proceeded to observe, that there was another subject on which it was necessary to make some arrangement. He alluded to his motion respecting Genoa, which had fallen to the ground, in consequence of a House not having been made yesterday. As he understood the noble lord when this subject was lately talked of by them, the noble lord was disposed to grant some of the papers which he required, though not all. It would perhaps save time were he to read the motion, which it was his intention to make; it was as follows: "That an humble 615 Address be presented to the Prince Regent, praying that his Royal Highness would be graciously pleased to order that there be laid before the House, copies of any instructions given to lord William Bentinck in 1811, 1812 and 1813, by his Royal Highness's command, touching his lordship's conduct respecting the Island of Sicily, and the government thereof, as well as the application of the British forces in the said Island; and also touching his lordship's conduct respecting Italy, and the States and people thereof." He wished to ascertain how far the noble lord might be disposed to accede to this motion, that he might thereby regulate his future proceedings.
replied, that he had no objection to the early part of the motion respecting Sicily; and that with respect to the latter part, although he could not consent to produce lord W. Bentinck's instructions generally as respecting Italy, he was perfectly disposed to produce the part of his lordship's instructions which, perhaps, might be desired by the right hon. gentleman.
inquired if the noble lord was disposed to consent to the production of so much of the instructions of lord W. Bentinck respecting Italy, as regarded the taking advantage of any disposition to insurrection against the power of France?
answered, that he had no objection to the production of that part of lord W. Bentinck's instructions. If the right hon. gentleman would communicate in private with him on the subject, they might probably come to an understanding upon it.
said, that the noble lord appeared disposed to give all that he wanted. He would at present fix his motion for Tuesday, and would, in the course of the evening, avail himself of the indulgence of the noble lord to communicate with him on the subject.