§ In pursuance of the notice he had given,
§ Mr. Speaker
;—I now rise, pursuant to my notice, to discharge the most arduous, and certainly the most painful public duty which I have ever felt myself called to perform. I have to bring before the House, probably for its final consideration, the case of Genoa, which, in various forms of proceeding and stages of progress, has already occupied a considerable degree of our attention. All these previous 892 discussions of this great question of faith and justice, have hitherto of necessity been almost entirely confined to one side. When my hon. friend* moved for papers on this subject, the reasoning was only on this side of the House. The gentlemen on the opposite side professedly abstained from discussion of the merits of the case, because they alleged that discussion was then premature, and that disclosure of the documents necessary to form a right judgment would, at that period, have been injurious to the public interest. In what that danger consisted, or how such a disclosure would have been more inconvenient on the 22nd of February than on the 27th of April, they will doubtless this day explain. I have in vain examined the Papers for an explanation of it. It was a serious assertion, made on their ministerial responsibility, and absolutely requires to be satisfactorily established. After the return of the noble lord from Vienna, the discussion was again confined to one side, by the singular course which he thought fit to adopt. When my hon. friend (Mr. Whitbread) gave notice of a motion for all papers respecting those arrangements at Vienna which had been substantially completed, the noble lord did not intimate any intention of acceding to the motion. He suffered it to proceed as if it were to be adversely debated; and, instead of granting the papers so as that they might be in possession of every member a sufficient time for careful perusal and attentive consideration, he brought out upon us in the middle of his speech a number of documents, which had been familiar to him for six months, but of which no private member of the House could have known the existence. It was impossible for us to discuss a great mass of papers of which we had heard extracts once read in the beat and hurry of debate. For the moment we were silenced by this ingenious stratagem; the House was taken by surprise. They were betrayed into premature applause of that of which it was absolutely impossible that they should be competent judges.
It was a proceeding which tended (I say nothing of intention) to obtain tumultuary approbation by partial statement, and by the undue effect of a first impression on a numerous assembly to prejudge the final determination of this grave question of policy and national* Mr. Lambton. See vol. 29, p. 928.893 honour. It might be thought to imply a very unreasonable distrust in the noble lord of his own talents, if it were not much more naturally imputable to his well-grounded doubts of the justice of his cause. Once more, then, by these devices of parliamentary tactics, the argument was confined to one side.
I have felt great impatience to bring the question to a final hearing as soon as every member possessed that full information, in which alone I well knew that my strength must consist. The production of the Papers* has occasioned some delay; but it has been attended also with some advantage to me, which I ought to confess. It has given me the opportunity of hearing, in another place, a most perspicuous and forcible statement of the defence of the Ministers;† a statement which, without disparagement to the talents of the noble lord, I may venture to consider as containing the whole strength of their case. Alter listening to that able statement, after much reflection for two months, after the most anxious examination of the Papers before us; I feel myself compelled to adhere to my original opinion; to bring before the House the forcible transfer of the Genoese territory to the foreign master, whom the Genoese people most hate,—a transfer stipulated by British ministers, and executed by British troops, as an act by which the pledged faith of this nation has been forfeited, the rules of justice have been violated, the fundamental principles of European policy have been shaken, and the odious claims of conquest stretched to an extent unwarranted by a single precedent in the good times of Europe. On the examination of these charges, I entreat gentlemen to enter with that disposition which becomes a solemn and judicial determination of a question which affects the honour of their country, certainly without forgetting that justice which is due to the King's ministers, whose character it does most deeply import.
I shall not introduce into this discussion any of the practical questions which have arisen out of recent and terrible events. They may, like other events in history, supply argument or illustration;* Copies of the Papers relating to Genoa will be found at p. 387 of the present volume.†By Earl Bathurst.894 but I shall in substance argue the case as if I were again speaking on the 22nd of February; without any other change than a tone probably more subdued than would have been natural during that short moment of secure and almost triumphant tranquillity.
For this transaction, and for our share in all the great measures of the Congress of Vienna, the noble lord has told us that he is 'pre-eminently responsible.' I know not in what foreign school he may have learnt such principles or phrases; but however much his colleagues may have resigned their discretion to him, I trust that Parliament will not suffer him to relieve them from any part of their responsibility. I shall not now inquire on what principle of constitutional law the whole late conduct of continental negociations by the noble lord could be justified. A Secretary of State has travelled over Europe with the crown and sceptre of Great Britain, exercising the royal prerogatives without the possibility of access to the Crown to give advice and to receive commands, and concluding his country by irrevocable acts, without communication with the other responsible advisers of the King. I shall not now examine into the nature of what our ancestors would have termed an 'accroachment' of royal power, an oftence described indeed with dangerous laxity in ancient times, but as an exercise of supreme power in any other mode than by the forms, and under the responsibility prescribed by law undoubtedly tending to the subversion of the fundamental principles of the British monarchy.
In all the preliminary discussions of this subject, the noble lord has naturally laboured to excite prejudice against his opponents. He has made a liberal use of the common-places of every administration, against every opposition; and he has assailed us chiefly through my hon. friend (Mr. Whilbread), with language more acrimonious and contumelious than is very consistent with his recommendations of decorum and moderation. He speaks of our 'foul calumnies,' though calumniators do not call out as we did for inquiry and for trial. He tells us, "that our discussions inflame nations more than they correct governments;"—a pleasant antithesis, which I have no doubt contains the opinion entertained of all popular discussion by the sovereigns and ministers of absolute monarchies, under whom he has 895 lately studied constitutional principles. Indeed, Sir, I do not wonder that on his return to this House, he should have been provoked into some forgetfulness of his usual moderation; after long familiarity with the smooth and soft manners of diplomatists, it is natural that he should recoil from the turbulent freedom of a popular assembly. But let him remember, that to the un-courtly and fearless turbulence of this House, Great Britain owes a greatness and power so much above her natural resources, and that rank among nations, which gave him ascendancy and authority in the deliberations of assembled Europe. Sic fortis Etruria crevit. By that plainness and roughness of speech which wounded the nerves of courtiers, this House has forced kings and ministers to respect public liberty at home, and to observe public faith abroad. He complains, that this should be the first place where the faith of this country is impugned;—I rejoice that it is. It is because the first approaches towards breach of faith are sure of being attacked here, that there is so little ground for specious attack on our faith in other places. It is the nature and essence of the House of Commons to be jealous and suspicious, even to excess, of the manner in which the conduct of the Executive Government may affect that dearest of national interests—the character of the nation for justice and faith. What is destroyed by the slightest speck, can never be sincerely regarded, unless it be watched with jealous vigilance. In questions of policy, where inconvenience is the worst consequence of error, and where much deference may be reasonably paid to superior information, there is much room for confidence beforehand, and for indulgence afterwards; but confidence respecting a point of honour is a disregard of honour. Never, certainly, was there an occasion when these principles became of more urgent application than during the deliberations of the Congress of Vienna. Disposing, as they did, of rights and interests more momentous than were ever before placed at the disposal of a human assembly, is it fit that no channel should be left open by which they might learn the opinion of the public respecting their counsels, and the feelings which their measures excited from Norway to Andalusia? Were these princes and ministers really desirous, in a situation of tremendous responsibility, to bereave themselves of the guidance, and release their 896 judgment from the control which would arise from some knowledge of the general sentiments of mankind? Were they so infatuated by absolute power, as to wish that they might never hear the public judgment till their system was unalterably established, and the knowledge could no longer be useful? It seems so. There was only one assembly in Europe from whose free discussions they might learn the opinions of independent men; only one in which the grievances of men and nations might be published with some effect. The House of Commons was the only body which represented, in some sort, the public opinion of Europe; and the discussions which might have conveyed that opinion to the Sovereigns at Vienna, seem, from the language of the noble lord, to be odious and alarming to them;—even in that case we have one consolation. Those who hate advice most, always need it most. If our language was odious, it must, in the very same proportion, have been necessary; and notwithstanding all the abuse thrown upon it, may have been partly effectual: denial, at least, proves nothing:—we are very sure that if we had prevented any evil, we should only have been the more abused.
I do not regret the obloquy with which we have been loaded during the present session; it is a proof that we are following, though with unequal steps, the great men who have filled the same benches before us. It was their let to devote themselves to a life of toilsome, thankless, and often unpopular opposition, with no stronger allurement to ambition than a chance of a few months of office in half a century, and with no other inducement to virtue than the faint hope of limiting and mitigating evil; always certain that the merit would never be acknowledged, and generally obliged to seek for the best proof of their services in the scurrility with which they were reviled. To represent them as partisans of a foreign nation, for whom they demanded justice, was always one of the most effectual modes of exciting a vulgar prejudice against them. When Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox exhorted Great Britain to be wise in relation to America, and just towards Ireland, they were called Americans and Irishmen. But they considered it as the greatest of all human calamities to be unjust. They thought it worse to inflict than to suffer wrong; and they rightly thought themselves then most really Englishmen, when 897 they most laboured to dissuade England from tyranny. Afterwards, when Mr. Burke, with equal disinterestedness as I firmly believe, and certainly with sufficient zeal, supported the administration of Mr. Pitt and the war against the Revolution, he did not restrain the freedom which belonged to his generous character; speaking of that very alliance on which all his hopes were founded, he spoke of it as I might speak (if I had his power of language) of the Congress at Vienna: "there can be no tie of honour in a society for pillage." He was perhaps blamed for indecorum, but no one ever made any other conclusion from his language, than that it proved the ardour of his attachment to that cause which he could not endure to see dishonoured.
The noble lord has charged us with a more than usual interference in the functions of the monarchy, and with the course of foreign negociations. He has not indeed denied the right of this House to interfere. He will not venture to deny, "that this House is not only an accuser of competence to criminate, but a council of weight and wisdom to advise." He incautiously, indeed, said that there was a necessary collision between the powers of this House and the prerogatives of the Crown. It would have been more constitutional to have said that there was a liability to collision, and that the deference of each for the other produced mutual concession, compromise, and cooperation, instead of collision. It has been, in fact, by the exercise of the great parliamentary function of counsel, that in the best times of our history the House of Commons has suspended the exercise of its extreme powers. Respect for its opinion has rendered the exertion of its authority needless. It is not true, that the interposition of the advice of Parliament respecting the conduct of negociation, the conduct of war, or the terms of peace, has been more frequent of late than in former times: the contrary is the truth. From the earliest periods of Parliament, and during the most glorious reigns in our history, the counsel of the House of Commons has been proffered and accepted on the highest questions of peace and war. The interposition was necessarily even more frequent and more rough in these early times,—when the boundaries of authority were undefined, when the principal occupation of Parliament was a struggle to assert and fortify their rights, and when 898 it was sometimes as important to establish, the legality of a power by exercise, as to exercise it well,—than in these more fortunate periods of defined and acknowledged right, when a mild and indirect intimation of the opinion of Parliament ought to preclude the necessity of resorting to those awful powers, with which they are wisely armed. But though these interpositions of Parliament were more frequent in ancient times, partly from the necessity of asserting contested right, and more rare in recent periods, partly from the more submissive character of the House, they are wanting at no time in number enough to establish the grand principle of the constitution, that Parliament is the first counsel of the King, in war as well as in peace. This great principle has been acted on by Parliament in the best times; it has been reverenced by the Crown in the worst. A short time before the Revolution, it marked a struggle for the establishment of liberty;—a short time after the Revolution, it proved the secure enjoyment of liberty. The House of Commons did not suffer Charles 2. to betray his honour and his country, without constitutional warning to choose a better course.* Their first aid to William 3, was counsel, relating to war;† when, under the influence of other counsels, the House rather thwarted than aided their great deliverer; even the party hostile to liberty, carried the Rights of Parliament, as a political counsel, to their utmost constitutional limit when they censured the Treaty of Partition, as "passed under the Great Seal of England during the meeting of Parliament, and without the advice of the same."‡ During the War of the Succession, both, Houses repeatedly counselled the Crown on the conduct of war,║ on negociation with allies, and even on the terms of peace with the enemy. But what needs any farther enumeration? Did not the vote of this House put an end to the American war?* Com. Add. 15 March 1677; 29 March 1677; 23 May 1677; "To refuse supply till his Majesty's Alliances are known." 30 December 1680.†24 April 1689, advising a declaration of war.‡21 March 1701.║ 27 Nov. 1705; 22 Dec. 1707; both Houses, "that no peace can be safe while any part of the Spanish monarchy is under the Bourbons." 3 Mar. 1709; 18 Feb. 1710.899 Even if the right of Parliament to advise had not been as clearly established, as the prerogative of the Crown to make war or peace—if it had not been thus constantly exercised—if the wisest and best men had not been the first to call it forth into action; we might reasonably have been more forward than our ancestors to exercise this great right, because we contemplate a system of political negociation, such as our ancestors never saw. All former Congresses were assemblies of the ministers of belligerent Powers to terminate their differences by treaty, to define the rights and decide on the pretensions which had given rise to war, or to make compensation for the injuries which had been suffered in the course of it. The firm and secure system of Europe admitted no rapid, and few great changes of power and possession. A few fortresses in Flanders, a province on the frontiers of France and Germany, were generally the utmost cessions earned by the most victorious wars, and secured by the most important treaties. Those who have lately compared the transactions at Vienna with the Treaty of Westphalia,—which formed the code of the Empire and an æra in diplomatic history, which terminated civil wars of religion not only in Germany, but throughout Christendom, and which removed all that danger with which, for more than a century, the power of the House of Austria had threatened the liberties of Europe,—will perhaps feel some surprise when they are reminded, that except secularizing a few ecclesiastical principalities, that renowned and memorable Treaty ceded only Alsace to France, and part of Pomerania to Sweden; that its stipulations did not change the political condition of half a million of men; that it affected no pretension to dispose of any territory but that of those who were parties to it, and that not an acre of land was ceded without the express and formal consent of its legal sovereign.*Far other were the pretensions, and indeed the performances of the ministers assembled in Congress at Vienna. They met under the modest pretence of carrying into effect* This is certainly true respecting Pomerania and Alsace; whether the Ecclesiastical Principalities were treated with so much ceremony, may be more doubtful, and it would require more research to ascertain it, than can now be applied to the object.900 the thirty-second article of the Treaty of Paris.† But under colour of this humble language, they arrogated the power of doing that in comparison with which the whole Treaty of Paris was a trivial Convention, and which made the Treaty of Westphalia appear no more than an adjustment of parish boundaries. They claimed the absolute disposal of every territory which had been occupied by France and her vassals, from Flanders to Livonia, and from the Baltic to the Po. Over these,—the finest countries in the world, inhabited by twelve millions of mankind, whom they had taken up arms under pretence of delivering from a conqueror,—they arrogated to themselves the harshest rights of conquest. It is true, that in this vast territory they restored, or rather granted, a great part to its ancient sovereigns. But these sovereigns were always reminded by some new title, or by the disposal of some similarly circumstanced neighbouring territory, that they owed their restoration to the generosity, or at most to the prudence of the Congress, and that they were not entitled to require it from its justice. They came in by a new tenure. They were the feudatories of the new corporation of kings erected at Vienna, exercising joint power in effect over all Europe, consisting in form of eight or ten princes, but in substance of three great military powers—the spoilers of Poland, the original invaders of the European constitution, sanctioned by the support of England; checked, however feebly, by France alone. On these three Powers, whose reverence for national independence and title to public confidence were so firmly established by the partition of Poland, the dictatorship of Europe had fallen. Every restored state was restored as their vassal. They agree that Germany shall have a federal constitution; that Switzerland shall govern herself; that unhappy Italy shall, as they say, be composed of sovereign states. But it is all by grant from these lords paramount. Their will is the sole title to dominion; the universal tenure of sovereignty. A single acre granted on such a principle†"All the Powers engaged on either side in the present war, shall, within the space of two months, send Plenipotentiaries to Vienna, for the purpose of regulating in general Congress the arrangements which are to complete the provisions of the present Treaty.901 is, in truth, the signal of a monstrous revolution in the system of Europe. Were the House of Commons to remain silent when it was applied in practice to a large part of the Continent, and proclaimed in right over the whole? Were they to remain silent, when they heard the king of Sardinia, at the moment when he received possession of Genoa from a British garrison, and when the British commander stated himself to have made the transfer in consequence of the decision at Vienna, proclaim to the Genoese that he took possession of their territory "in concurrence with the wishes of the principal Powers of Europe?"
It is to this particular act of the Congress, that I now desire to call the attention of the House, not only on account of its own atrocity, but because it seems to represent in miniature the whole system of that body to be a perfect specimen of their new public law, and to exemplify every principle of that code of partition which they are about to establish on the ruins of that ancient system of national independence and balanced power which gradually raised the nations of Europe to the first rank of the human race. I contend, that all the parties to this violent transfer, and more especially the British Government, have been guilty of perfidy, have been guilty of injustice; and I shall also contend, that the danger of these violations of faith and justice is much increased when they are considered as examples of those principles by which the Congress of Vienna arrogate to themselves the right of regulating a considerable portion of Europe.
To establish the breach of faith, I must first ask, what did lord William Bentinck promise, as commander-in-chief of his Majesty's troops in Italy, by his proclamation of the 14th of March, and 26th of April, 1814? The first is addressed to the People of Italy. It offers them "the assistance of Great Britain to rescue them from the iron yoke of Buonaparté." It holds out the example of Spain, enabled, by the aid of Great Britain, to secure 'her independence,' of the neighbouring Sicily, "which hastens to resume her ancient splendour among 'independent nations.' Holland is about to obtain the same object. Warriors of Italy, you are invited to vindicate your own rights, and to be free!—Italy, by our united efforts, shall become what she was in her most prosperous periods, and what Spain now is!" 902 Now, Sir, I do contend, that all the powers of human ingenuity cannot give two senses to this proclamation. I defy the wit of man to explain it away. Whether lord William Bentinck had the power to promise, is an after question. What he did promise, can be no question at all. He promised the aid of England to obtain Italian independence. He promised to assist the Italians in throwing off a yoke, in escaping from thraldom, in establishing liberty, in asserting right, in obtaining independence. Every term of emancipation known in human language is exhausted to impress his purpose on the heart of Italy. I do not now inquire, whether the generous warmth of this language may not require in justice some understood limitation. Perhaps it may. But can independence mean a transfer to the yoke of the most hated of foreign masters? Were the Genoese invited to spill their blood, not merely for a choice of tyrants, but to earn the right of wearing the chains of their rival, and their enemy for two centuries? Are the references to Spain, to Sicily, and to Holland, mere frauds on the Italians, words "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?" If not, can they mean less than this, that those countries of Italy which were independent before the war, shall be independent again?—These words, therefore, were at least addressed to the Genoese. Suppose them to be limited as to any other Italians. Suppose the Lombards, or at that time the Neapolitans, to be tacitly excluded. To the Genoese, they either had no meaning, or they meant their ancient independence.
Did the Genoese act upon these promises? What did they do in consequence of that first proclamation of the 14th of March, at Leghorn, addressed to all the Italians, but applicable at least to the Genoese, and necessarily understood by that people as comprehending them? I admit that the promises were conditional; and to render them conclusive, it was necessary for the Genoese to fulfil the condition. I contend that they did. I shall not attempt again to describe the march of lord William Bentinck from Leghorn to Genoa, which has already been painted by an hon. and learned friend (Mr. Horner), with all the chaste beauties of his moral and philosophical eloquence. My duty confines me to the dry discussion of mere facts. The force with which lord William Bentinck left Leghorn, consisted of about 903 3000 English, supported by a motley band of perhaps 5000 Sicilians, Italians, and Creeks, the greater part of whom had scarcely seen a shot fired. At the head of this force, he undertook a long march, through one of the most defensible countries of Europe, against a city garrisoned or defended by 7000 French veterans, and which it would have required 25,000 men to invest, according to the common rules of military prudence. The defensive force was greater than that of the assailants. Now, Sir, I assert, without fear of contradiction, that such an expedition would have been an act of phrenzy, unless lord William Bentinck had the fullest assurance of the good-will and active aid of the Genoese people. The fact sufficiently speaks for itself. I cannot here name the high military authorities on which my assertion rests. But I defy the right hon. gentlemen, with all their means of commanding military information, to contradict me. I know they will not venture. In the first place, then, I assume, that the British general would not have begun his advance without assurance of the friendship of the Genoese, and that he owed his secure and unmolested march to the influence of the same friendship supplying his army, and deterring his enemies from attack. He therefore, in truth, owed his being before the walls of Genoa to Genoese co-operation. The city of Genoa, which, in 1799, had been defended by Massena, for three months, fell to lord William in two days. In two days 7000 French veterans laid down their arms to 3000 British soldiers, encumbered rather than aided by the auxiliary rabble whom I have described. Does any man in his senses believe that the French garrison could have been driven to such a surrender by any cause but their fear of the Genoese people? I have inquired, from the best military authorities accessible to me, what would be the smallest force with which the expedient might probably have been successful, if the population had been, I do not say enthusiastically, but commonly hostile to the invaders. I have been assured, that it could not have been less than 25,000 men. Here, again, I venture to challenge contradiction. If none can be given, must I not conclude that the known friendship of the Genoese to the British, manifested after the proclamation, and in part created by the proclamation, was equivalent to an auxiliary force of 17,000 men? Were not the known wishes of the people acting on 904 the hopes of the British, and on the fears of the French, the chief cause of the expulsion of the French from the Genoese territory? Can lord William's little army be considered as more than auxiliaries to the popular sentiment? If a body of 4000 Genoese had joined lord William on the declared ground of his proclamation, all mankind would have exclaimed that the condition was fulfilled, and the contract indissoluble. Is it not the height of absurdity to maintain, that a manifestation of public sentiment, which produced as much benefit to lord William, as four times that force, is not to have the same effect? A ship which is in sight of a capture, is entitled to her share of the prize, though she neither had nor could have fired a shot—upon the plain principle, that apprehension of her approach probably contributed to produce the surrender. If apprehension of Genoese hostility influenced the French garrison; if assurance of Genoese friendship encouraged the British army, on what principle do you defraud the Genoese of their national independence, the prize which you promised them, and which they thus helped to wrest from the enemy?
In fact, I am well informed that there was a revolt in the city, which produced the surrender; that Buonaparté's statue had been overthrown with every mark of indignity, and that the French garrison was on the point of being expelled, even if the besiegers had not appeared. But I am not obliged to risk the case upon the accuracy of that information. Be it that the Genoese complied with lord Wellesley's wise instruction to avoid premature revolt. I affirm that lord William's advance is positive evidence of an understanding with the Genoese leaders; that it would have been so in any judicious officer, but that it was so most peculiarly in lord William Bentinck for three years negociating in Upper Italy, and well acquainted with the prevalent impatience of the French yoke. I conceive it to be self-evident, that if the Genoese had believed the English army to be advancing in order to sell them to Sardinia, they would not have favoured the advance. I think it demonstrable, that to their favourable disposition the expedition owed its success, and it needs no proof that they favoured the English because the English promised them the restoration of independence. The English have, therefore, broken faith to them. The English de- 905 frauded them of solemnly-promised independence. The English have requited their co-operation by forcible reduction, under the power of the most odious of foreign masters. On the whole, I shall close this part of the question with challenging all the powers of human ingenuity to interpret the proclamation as otherwise than a promise of independence to those Italian nations who were formerly independent, and who would now co-operate for the recovery of their rights; and I leave to the gentlemen on the other side the task of convincing the House that the conduct of the Genoese did not co-operate towards success, though without it success was impossible.
But we have been told that lord William Bentinck was not authorized to make such a promise. It is needless for me to repeat my assent to a truth so trivial, as that no political negotiation is naturally within the province of a military commander, and that for such negociations he must have special authority. At the same time I must observe, that lord William Bentinck was not solely a military commander, and could not be considered by the Italians in that light. In Sicily his political functions had been more important than his military command. From 1811 to 1814 he had, with the approbation of his Government, performed the highest acts of political authority in that island; and he had, during the same period, carried on the secret negociations of the British government with all Italians disaffected to France. To the Italians he appeared as a plenipotentiary. They had a right to expect that his Government would ratify his acts and fulfil his engagements. In fact, his special authority was full and explicit. Lord Wellesley's instructions of the 2lst October and 27th December,* 1811, speak with the manly frankness which distinguishes that great statesman as much as his commanding character and splendid talents. His meaning is always precisely expressed. He leaves himself no retreat from his engagements in the ambiguity and perplexity of an unintelligible style. The principal object of these masterly dispatches is to instruct lord William Bentinck respecting his support of any "eventual effort of the Italian states to rescue Italy. They remind him of the* Papers relating to Italy laid before the House of Commons, April, 1815, p. 3, 4, and 5.906 desire of the Prince Regent to afford every practicable assistance to the people of Italy in any such effort." They convey so large a discretion, that it is thought necessary to say, "In all arrangements respecting the expulsion of the enemy, your lordship will not fail to give due consideration to our engagements with the courts of Sicily and Sardinia." Lord William had therefore powers which would have extended to Naples and Piedmont, unless they had been specially excepted. On the 19th of May, 1812, lord Castlereagh virtually confirms the same extensive and confidential powers. On the 4th of March 1812, lord Liverpool had indeed instructed lord William to employ a part of his force in a diversion in favour of lord Wellington by a descent on the eastern coast of Spain. This diversion doubtless suspended the negociations with the patriotic Italians, and precluded for a time the possibility of affording them aid. But so far from withdrawing lord William Bentinck's political power in Italy, they expressly contemplate their revival. "This operation would leave the question respecting Italy open for further consideration, if circumstances should subsequently render the prospect there more inviting." The dispatches of lord Bathurst from March 1812 to December 1813 treat lord William Bentinck as still in possession of those extensive powers originally vested by the dispatch of lord Wellesley. Every question of policy is discussed in these dispatches, not as with a mere general, nor even as with a mere ambassador, but as with a confidential minister for the Italian department. The last dispatch is that which closes with the remarkable sentence—which is, in my opinion, decisive of this whole question,—"Provided it be clearly with the entire concurrence of the inhabitants, you may take possession of Genoa in the name of his Sardinian majesty."—Now this is in effect tantamount to an instruction not to transfer Genoa to Sardinia without the concurrence of the inhabitants. It is a virtual instruction to consider the wishes of the people of Genoa as the rule and measure of his conduct:—it is more—it is a declaration that he had no need of any instruction to re-establish Genoa, if the Genoese desired it. That re-establishment was provided for by his original instructions; only the new project of transfer to a foreign sovereign required a new instruction: under these original instructions, thus ratified by 907 a long series of succeeding dispatches from a succession of ministers, did lord William issue the proclamation of the 14th of March.
Limitations there were in the original instructions. Sicily and Sardinia were excepted. New exceptions undoubtedly arose in the course of events so plainly within the principle of the original exceptions as to require no specification. Every Italian province of a sovereign with whom Great Britain had subsequently contracted alliance, was doubtless as much to be excepted out of general projects of revolt for Italian independence, as those which had been subject to allied sovereigns in 1811. A British minister needed no express instructions to comprehend that he was to aid no revolt against the Austrian government in their former province of Lombardy. The change of circumstances sufficiently instructed him. But in what respect were circumstances changed respecting Genoa? The circumstances of Genoa were the same as at the time of lord Wellesley's instructions. The very last dispatches (those of lord Bathurst of the 28th December, 1813,) had pointed to the Genoese territory as the scene of military operations, without any intimation that the original project was not still applicable there, unless the Genoese nation should agree to submit to the king of Sardinia. I contend, therefore, that the original instruction of lord Wellesley which authorized the promise of independence to every part of the Italian peninsula, except Naples and Piedmont, was still in force wherever it was not manifestly limited by subsequent engagements with the sovereigns of other countries, similar to our engagements with the sovereigns of Naples and Piedmont; that no such engagements existed respecting the Genoese territory; and that to the Genoese people, the instruction of lord Wellesley was as applicable as on the day when that instruction was issued.
The noble lord may then talk as he pleases of disentangling from the present question the question of Italy, to which, on a former occasion, he applied a phraseology so singular. He cannot disentangle these questions. They are inseparably blended. The instructions of 1811 authorized the promise of independence to all Italians, except the people of Naples and Piedmont. The proclamation of the 14th of March, 1814, promised independence to all Italians, with the manifestly-implied 908 exception of those who had been the subjects of Powers who were now become the allies of Great Britain. A British general, fully authorized, promised independence to those Italians, who, like the Genoese, had not been previously the subjects of an ally of Britain, and by that promise, so authorized, his government is inviolably bound.
But these direct instructions were not all. He was indirectly authorized by the acts and language of his own Government, and of the other great Powers of Europe. He was authorized to re-establish the republic of Genoa, because the British Government at the Treaty of Amiens had refused to acknowledge its destruction. He was authorized to believe that Austria desired the re-establishment of a republic, whose destruction that Government, in 1808, represented as a cause of war. He was surely authorized to consider that re-establishment as conformable to the sentiments of the emperor Alexander, who, at the same time had, on account of the annexation of Genoa to France, refused, even at the request of Great Britain, to continue his mediation between her and a power capable of such an outrage on the rights of independent nations. Where was lord William to learn the latest opinions of the Allied Powers? If he read the celebrated Declaration of Frankfort, he there found an alliance announced, of which the object was the restoration of Europe. Did restoration mean destruction? Perhaps before the 14th of March, certainly before the 26th of April, he had seen the first article of the Treaty of Chaumont, concluded on the 1st of March, 'dum curæ ambiguæ dum spes incerta future,' where he found the object of the war declared by the assembled majesty of confederated Europe, to be "a general peace under which the rights and liberties of all nations may be secured;"—words eternally honourable to their authors, if they were observed—more memorable still if they were openly and perpetually violated! Before the 26th of April, he had certainly perused these words, which no time will efface from the records of history; for he evidently adverts to them in the preamble of his proclamation, and justly considers them as a sufficient authority, if he had no other, to warrant its provisions. "Considering," says he, "that the general desire of the Genoese nation seems to be to return to their ancient government, and considering 909 that this desire seems to be conformable to the principles recognised by the high Allied Powers, of restoring to all their ancient rights and privileges."
In the work of my celebrated friend Mr. Gentz, of whom I can never speak without regard and admiration, 'On the Balance of Power,' he would have found the incorporation of Genoa justly reprobated as one of the most unprincipled acts of French tyranny. And he would most reasonably believe the sentiments of the Allied Powers to be spoken by that eminent person—now, if I am not misinformed, the Secretary of that Congress on whose measures his writings are the most severe censure. But that lord William Bentinck did believe himself to have offered independence to the Genoese, that he thought himself directly and indirectly authorized to make such an offer, and that he was satisfied that the Genoese had, by co-operation, performed their part of the compact, are facts which rest upon the positive and precise testimony of lord William Bentinck himself, I call upon him as the best interpreter of his own language and the most unexceptionable witness to prove the cooperation of the Genoese. Let his proclamation of the 26th of April be examined. It is the clearest commentary on that of the 14th of March. It is the most decisive testimony to the active aid of the Genoese people. On the 26 in of April, he bestows on the people of Genoa that independence which he had promised to all the nations of Italy (with the implied exception already often enough mentioned), on condition of their aiding to expel the oppressor. He, therefore, understood his own proclamation to be such a promise of independence. He could not doubt that he was authorized to make it, and he believed that the Genoese were entitled to claim the benefit of his proclamation by their performance of its condition.
This brings me to the consideration of this proclamation, on which I should have thought all observation unnecessary, unless I had heard some attempts made by the noble lord to explain it away, and to represent it as nothing but the establishment of a provisional government. I call on any member of the House to read that proclamation, and to say whether he can, in common honour, assent to such an interpretation. The proclamation, beyond all doubt, provides for two perfectly distinct objects: The establishment of a provi- 910 sional government till the 1st of January 1815, and the re-establishment of the ancient constitution of the republic, with certain reforms and modifications, from, and after that period. Three-fourths of the proclamation have no reference whatever to a provisional government. The first sentence of the preamble, and the third and fourth article of the proclamation, refer to that object; but the larger paragraph of the preamble, and four articles of the enacting part, relate to, the reestablishment of the ancient constitution alone. "The desire of the Genoese nation was to return to their ancient government under which they had enjoyed independence." Was this a provisional government? Were "the principles recognized by the high Allied Powers," the establishment of provisional governments? Did provisional governments imply "restoring to all their ancient rights and privileges?" Why should the ancient constitution be re-established,—the very constitution given by Andrew Doria when he delivered his country from a foreign yoke,—if nothing was meant but a provisional government preparatory to foreign slavery? Why was the government to be modified according to the general wish, the public good, and the spirit of Doria's constitution, if nothing was meant beyond, a temporary administration, till, the Allied Powers could decide on what vassal they were to bestow Genoa? But I may have been at first mistaken, and time may have rendered my mistake incorrigible. Let every gentleman, before he votes on this question, calmly peruse the proclamation of the 26th of April, and determine for himself, whether it admits of, any but one construction. Does it not provide for a provisional government immediately, and for the establishment of the ancient constitution hereafter? The provisional government till the 1st of January 1815. The constitution from the 1st of January 1815. The provisional government is in its nature temporary, and a limit is fixed to it. The constitution of the republic is permanent, and no term or limit is prescribed beyond which it is not to endure. It is not the object of the proclamation to establish the ancient constitution as a provisional government. On the contrary, the ancient constitution is not to be established till the provisional government ceases to exist. So distinct are they, that the mode of appointment to the supreme powers most materially differs.
911 Lord William Bentinck nominates the two colleges who compose the provisional government. The two colleges who are afterwards to compose the permanent government of the republic, are to be nominated agreeably to the ancient constitution. Can it be maintained that the intention was to establish two successive provisional governments? For what conceivable reason? Even in that case, why engage in the laborious and arduous task of reforming an ancient constitution for the sake of a second provisional government, which might not last three weeks? And what constitution was more unfit for a provisional government, what was more likely to indispose the people to all farther change, and, above all, to a sacrifice of their independence, than the ancient constitution of the republic, which revived all their feelings of national dignity, and seemed to be a pledge that they were once more to be Genoese? In short, Sir, I am rather fearful that I shall be thought to have overlaboured a point so extremely clear. But if I have dwelt too long upon this proclamation, and examined it too minutely, it is not because I think it difficult, but because I consider it as decisive of the whole question. If lord William Bentinck in that proclamation bestowed on the people of Genoa their place among nations, and the government of their forefathers, it must have been because he deemed himself authorized to make that establishment by the repeated instructions of the British Government, and by the avowed principles and solemn acts of the Allied Powers; and bound to make it by his own proclamation of the 14th of March, combined with the acts done by the Genoese nation in consequence of that proclamation.
I think I have proved that he did so, that he believed himself to do so, and that the people of Genoa believed it likewise.—Perhaps, however, if he had mistaken his instructions, and had acted without authority, he might have been disavowed, and his acts might have been annulled. I doubt whether, in such a case, any disavowal would have been sufficient. Where-ever a people, in consequence of the acts of an agent whom they had good reason to trust, have done acts which they cannot recall, I do not conceive the possibility of a just disavowal of such an agents acts. Where one party has innocently and reasonably advanced too far to recede, justice cuts off the other also from retreat. But 912 at all events, the disavowal to be effectual must have been prompt, clear, and public. Where is the disavowal? Where is the public notice to the Genoese, that they were deceived? Did their mistake deserve no correction, even on the ground of compassion? I look in vain through these papers for any such act. The noble lord's letter of the 30th of March was the first intimation which lord William Bentinck received of any change of system beyond Lombardy. It is only a caution for future conduct, and it does not hint an intention to cancel any act done on the faith of the proclamation of the 14th of March. The allusion to the same subject in the letter of the 3d of April, is liable to the very same observation; and, being inserted at the instance of the duke of Campo-Chiaro, was evidently intended only to prevent the prevalence of such ideas of Italian liberty, as were inconsistent with the accession then proposed to the territory of Naples: it certainly could not have been supposed by lord William Bentinck to apply to Genoa, for it was in his possession on the 26th, when he issued the proclamation, which he never could have published if he had understood the dispatch in that sense.
The noble lord's dispatch of the 6th May is, in my opinion, fatal to his argument. It evidently betrays a feeling that acts had been done, to create in the Genoese a hope of independence. Yet it does not direct these acts to be disavowed—it contains no order speedily to undeceive the people. It implies that a deception had been practised; and instead of an attempt to repair it, there is only an injunction not to repeat the fault. No expressions ate to be used which may prejudge the fate of Genoa. Even then that destiny is left doubtful. So far from disavowal, the noble lord proposes the re-establishment of Genoa, though with some curtailment of territory, to M. Pareto, who maintained the interests of his country with an ability and dignity worthy of happier success. And the Treaty of Paris itself, far from a disavowal, is, on every principle of rational construction, a ratification and adoption of the act of lord William Bentinck. The 6th article of that Treaty provides, that "Italy, beyond the limits of the country which is to revert to Austria, shall be composed of sovereign states." Now, Sir, I desire to know the meaning of this provision. I can conceive only three possible constructions. Either that every country 913 shall have some sovereign, or, in other words, some government. It will not be said that so trivial a proposition required a solemn stipulation. Or, that there is to be more than one sovereign. That was absolutely unnecessary. Naples, the states of the Church, and Tuscany, already existed—Or, thirdly, that the ancient sovereign states shall be re-established without the country which reverts to Austria. This, and this only, was an intelligible and important object of stipulation. It is the most reasonable of the only three possible constructions of these words. The phrase "sovereign states" seemed to be preferred to sovereigns, because it comprehended republics as well as monarchies. According to this article thus understood, the Powers of Europe had by the Treaty of Paris (to speak cautiously) given new hopes to the Genoese, that they were again to be a nation.
But, according to every principle of justice, it is unnecessary to carry the argument so far. The act of an agent, if not disavowed in reasonable time, becomes the act of the principal. When a pledge is made to a people,—such as the proclamations of the 14th of March and 26th of April,—it can be recalled only by a disavowal equally public.
On the policy of annexing Genoa to Piedmont, I have very little to say. That it was a compulsory, and therefore an unjust union, is, in my view of the subject, the circumstance which renders it most impolitic. It seems a bad means of securing Italy against France, to render a considerable part of the garrison of the Alps so dissatisfied with their condition, that they must consider every invader as a deliverer. But even if the annexation had been just, I should have doubted whether it was desirable. In former times, the House of Savoy might have been the guardians of the Alps. At present, to treat them as such, seems to be putting the keys of Italy into hands too weak to hold them. Formerly the conquest of Genoa and Piedmont were two distinct operations. Genoa did not necessarily follow the fate of Turin. In the state of things created by the Congress, a French army has no need of separately acting against the Genoese territory. It must fall with Piedmont; and, what is still more strange, it is bound to the destinies of Piedmont by the same Congress which has wantonly stripped Piedmont of its natural defences. The House of Sardinia is stripped of great part 914 of its ancient patrimony; a part of Savoy is, for no conceivable reason, given to France. The French are put in possession of the approaches and outposts of the passes of Mont Cenis. They are brought a campaign nearer to Italy. At this very moment they have assembled an army at Chambery, which, unless Savoy had been wantonly thrown to them, they must have assembled at Lyons. You impose on the House of Savoy the defence of a longer line of Alps with one hand, and you weaken the defence of that part of the line which covers their capital with the other. But it is perfectly sufficient for me if the policy is doubtful, or the interest slight, or even that it must be allowed not to be of the greatest magnitude. The laxest moralist will not, publicly at least, maintain, that more advantage is hot lost by loss of a character for good faith, than can be gained by a small improvement in the distribution of territory. Perhaps, indeed, this annexation of Genoa is the only instance recorded in history of great Powers having (to say no more) brought their faith and honour into question without any of the higher temptations of ambition, with no better inducement than a doubtful avantage in distributing territory more conveniently, unless indeed it can be supposed that they are allured by the pleasure of a triumph over the ancient principles of justice, and a parade of the new maxims of convenience, which are to regulate Europe in their stead.
I have hitherto argued this case as if the immorality of the annexation had arisen solely from the pledge made to the Genoese nation. I have argued it as if the proclamation of lord William Bentinck had been addressed to a French province on which there could be no obligation to confer independence, if there were no promise to do so. For the sake of distinctness, I have hitherto kept out of view that important circumstance, which would, as I contend, without promise, have of itself rendered a compulsory annexation unjust. Anterior to all promise, independent of all pledged faith, I conceive that Great Britain could not morally treat the Genoese territory as a mere conquest which she might hold as a province, or cede to another power at her pleasure. In the year 1797, when Genoa was conquered by France (then at war with England) under pretence of being revolutionized, the Genoese republic was at peace with Great Britain, and consequently, in the 915 language of the law of nations, they were friendly slates. Neither the substantial conquest in 1797, nor the formal union in 1805, had ever been recognised by this kingdom. When the British commander, therefore, entered the Genoese territory in 1814, be entered the territory of a friend in the possession of an enemy. Supposing him, by his own unaided force, to have conquered it from the enemy, can it be inferred that he conquered it from the Genoese people? He had rights of conquest against the French. But what right of conquest could accrue, from their expulsion, against the Genoese? How could we be at war with the Genoese—not with the ancient republic of Genoa which fell when in a state of amity with us—not as subjects of France, because we had never legally and formally acknowledged their subjection to that power. There could be no right of conquest against them, because there was neither the state of war, nor the right of war. Perhaps the powers of the continent, who had either expressly or tacitly recognized the annexation of Genoa in their treaties with France, might consistently treat the Genoese people as mere French subjects, and consequently the Genoese territory as a French province conquered from the French Government, which to them had become the sovereign of Genoa. But England stood in no such position. To her the republic of Genoa still of right subsisted. She had done no act which implied the legal destruction of that commonwealth, with whom she had no war nor cause of war. Genoa ought to have been regarded by England as a friendly state, oppressed for a time by the common enemy, and entitled to re-assume the exercise of her sovereign rights as soon as that enemy was driven from her territory by a friendly force. Voluntary, much more cheerful union, zealous co-operation, even long submission, might have altered the state of belligerent rights. None of these are here pretended. In such a case I contend that, according to the principles of the law of nations, anterior to all promise, and independent of all pledged faith, the republic of Genoa was restored to the exercise of her sovereignty, which in our eyes she had never lost, by the expulsion of the French from her soil. These are no reasonings of mine: I read them in the most accredited works on public law, delivered long before any events of our time were in contemplation, 916 and yet applicable to this transaction, as if they had been contrived for it. Vattel, in the 13th and 14th chapters of his third book, has stated fully and clearly the principles respecting the application of the jus postliminii to the case of states, which he had taken from his eminent predecessors, or rather which they and he had discovered to be agreeable to the plainest dictates of reason, and which they have transcribed from the usage of civilized nations. I shall not trouble the House with the passages,* unless I see some* "When a nation, a people, a state, has been entirely subjugated, whether a revolution can give it the right of Postliminium? To which we answer, that if the conquered state has not assented to the new subjection, if it did not yield voluntarily, if it only ceased to resist from inability, if the conqueror has not yet sheathed the sword to wield the sceptre of a pacific sovereign;—such a state is only conquered and oppressed, and when the arms of an ally deliver it, returns without doubt to its first state. Its ally cannot become its conqueror; he is a deliverer who can have a right only to compensation for his services.If the last conqueror, not being an ally of the state, claims a right to retain it under his authority as the prize of victory, he puts himself in the place of the conqueror, and becomes the enemy of the oppressed state. That state may legitimately resist him, and avail herself of a favourable occasion to recover her liberty. A state unjustly oppressed ought to be re-established in her rights by the conqueror who delivers her from the oppressor."†Whoever carefully considers the above passage, will observe that it is intended to be applicable to two very distinct cases:—that of deliverance by an ally, where the duty of restoration is strict and precise,—and that of deliverance by a state unallied but not hostile, where in the opinion of the writer the re-establishment of the oppressed nation, is at least the moral duty of the conqueror, though arising only from our common humanity, and from the amicable relation which subsists between all men, and all communities, till dissolved by wrongful aggression. It is to the latter case that the strong language in the second part of the above quotation is applied. It seems very difficult, and it has not hitherto been attempted to resist its application to the case of Genoa.†Vattel, Book 3, c. 14, s, 213.917 attempt to reconcile them with the annexation of Genoa. I venture to predict that no such attempt will be hazarded. It is not my disposition to over-rate the authority of this class of writers, or to consider authority in any case as a substitute for reason. But these eminent writers were at least necessarily impartial. Their weight, as bearing testimony to general sentiment and civilized usage, receives a new accession from every statesman who appeals to their writings, and from every year in which no contrary practice is established or hostile principles avowed. Their works are thus attested by successive generations to be records of the customs of the best times, and depositories of the deliberate and permanent judgments of the more enlightened part or mankind. Add to this, that their authority is usually invoked by the feeble, and despised by those who are strong enough to need no aid from moral sentiment, and to bid defiance to justice. I have never heard their principles questioned but by those whose flagitious policy they had by anticipation condemned.
Here, Sir, let me for a moment lower the claims of my argument, and abandon some part of the ground which I think it practicable to maintain. If I were to admit that the pledge is not so strong, nor the duty of re-establishing a rescued friend so imperious as I have represented; still it must be admitted to me, that it was a promise, though perhaps not unequivocal, to perform that which was moral and right, whether within the sphere of strict duty or not. Either the doubtful promise, or the imperfect duty, might singly have been insufficient. But combined they reciprocally strengthen each other. The slightest promise to do what was before a duty, becomes as binding as much stronger words to do an indifferent act. Strong assurances that a man will do what it is right for him to do, are not required. A slight declaration to such an effect is believed by those to whom it is addressed, and therefore obligatory on those by whom it is uttered. Was it not natural and reasonable for the people of Genoa to believe, on the slenderest pledges, that such a country as England, with whom they never had a difference, would avail herself of a victory, due, at least in part, to their friendly sentiments, in order to restore them to that independence of which they had been robbed by her enemy and theirs—by the general oppressor of Europe?
918 I shall not presume to define on invariable principles, the limits of the right of conquest. It is founded, like every right of war, on a regard to security, the object of all just war. The modes in which national safety may be provided for, by reparation for insult, by compensation for injury, by cessions, and by indemnifications, vary in such important respects, according to the circumstances of various cases, that it is, perhaps, impossible to limit them by an universal principle. In the, case of Norway, I did not pretend to argue the question upon grounds so high as those which were taken by the writers on public law. These writers, who for two centuries have been quoted as authorities in all the controversies of Europe, with the moderate and pacific Grotius at their head, have all concurred in treating it as a fundamental principle, that a defeated sovereign may indeed cede part of his dominions to the conqueror: but that he thereby only abdicates his own sovereignty over the ceded dominion; that the consent of the people is necessary to make them morally subject to the authority of the conqueror. Without renouncing this limitation of the right of conquest, founded on principles so generous, and so agreeable to the dignity of human nature, I was content to argue the cession of Norway, as I am content to argue the cession of Genoa, on lower and humbler but perhaps safer grounds. Let me waive the odious term 'right'—let me waive the necessity of any consent of a people, express or implied, to legitimate the cession of their territory. At least this will not be denied, that to unite a people by force to a nation against whom they entertain a strong antipathy, is the most probable means to render the community unhappy, to make the people discontented, and the sovereign tyrannical; but there can be no right in any governor, whether he derives his power from conquest or from any other source, to make the governed unhappy. All the rights of all governors exist only to make the governed happy. It may be disputed among some, whether the rights of government be from the people; but no man can doubt that they are for the people. Such a forcible union is an immoral and cruel exercise of the conqueror's power; and as soon as that concession is made, it is not worth while to discuss whether it be within his right, in other words, whether he be forbidden by 919 any law to make such a union; but if every cession of a territory against the deliberate and manifest sense of its inhabitants be a harsh and reprehensible abuse of conquest, it is most of all culpable, it becomes altogether atrocious and inhuman, where the antipathy was not the feeling of the moment, or the prejudice of the day, but a profound sentiment of hereditary repugnance and aversion, which has descended from generation to generation, has mingled with every part of thought and action, and had become part of patriotism itself. Such is the repugnance of the Genoese to a union with Piedmont, and such is commonly the peculiar horror which high-minded nations feel for the yoke of their immediate neighbours,—Norway towards Sweden, Portugal towards Spain, in former and less happy times, Scotland towards England, are a few out of innumerable examples. There is nothing either unreasonable or unnatural in this state of national feelings. With neighbours there are most occasions of quarrel; with them there have been most wars; from them there has been most suffering; of them there is most fear. The resentment of wrongs, and the remembrance of victories, strengthen our repugnance towards those who are most usually our enemies. It is not from illiberal prejudice, but from the constitution of human nature, that an Englishman animates his patriotic affections, and supports his national pride, by now looking back on victories over Frenchmen, on Cressy and Agincourt, on Blenheim and Minden, as our posterity will one day look back on Salamanca and Vittoria. The defensive principle ought to be the strongest where the danger is likely most frequently to arise. What, then, will the House decide concerning the morality of compelling Genoa to submit to the yoke of Piedmont,—a state which the Genoese have constantly dreaded and hated, and against whom their hatred was sharpened by continual apprehensions for their independence? Whatever construction may be attempted of lord William Bentinck's proclamations, whatever sophistry may be used successfully, to persuade you that Genoa was disposable as a conquered territory, will you affirm that the disposal of it to Piedmont was a just and humane exercise of your power as a conqueror?
It is for this reason, among others, that I detest and execrate the modern doctrine of rounding territory and following natural 920 boundaries, and melting down small states into masses, and substituting lines of defence, and right and left flanks, instead of justice and the law of nations, and ancient possession and national feeling: the system of Louis 14 and Napoleon, of the spoilers of Poland, and the spoilers of Norway and Genoa—the system which the noble lord, when newly arrived from the Congress, and deeply imbued with its doctrines, had delivered, in his ample and elaborate invective against the memory and principles of ancient Europe, when he condensed the whole new system into two phrases so characteristic of his reverence for the rights of nations, and his tenderness for their feelings, that they ought not easily to be forgotten—when he told us, speaking of this very antipathy of Genoa to Piedmont, "that great questions are not to be influenced by popular impressions," and "that a people may be happy without independence." The principal article of the new system is the incorporation of neighbouring, and therefore hostile communities. The system of justice reverenced the union of men who had long been members of the same commonwealth, because they had been long fellow-citizens, and had all the attachments and antipathies which grow out of that fellowship. The system of rapine tears asunder those whom nature has joined, and compels those to unite whom the contests of ages had rendered irre-concileable. And if all this had been lessens evident, would no aggravation of this act have arisen from the peculiar nature of the general war of Europe against France? It was a war in which not only the Italians, but every people in Europe were called by their Sovereigns to rise for the recovery of their independence. It was a revolt of the people against Napoleon. It owed its success to the spirit of popular insurrection. The principle of a war for the restoration of independence, was a pledge that each people were to be restored to their ancient territory. The nations of Europe accepted the pledge, and shook off the French yoke. But was it for a change of masters? Was it that three foreign ministers at Paris might dispose of the Genoese territory?—was it for this that the youth of Europe had risen in arms from Moscow to the Rhine.
Ergo pari voto gessisti bella Juventus?Tu quoque pro Dominis et Pompeiana fuistiNon Romana Manus!The people of Europe were, it seems, 921 roused to war, not to overthrow tyranny, but to shift it into new hands; not to re-establish the independence and restore the ancient institutions of nations, but to strengthen the right flank of one great military power, and to cover the left flank of another. This, at least, was not the war for the success of which I offered my most ardent prayers. I prayed for the deliverance of Europe, not for its transfer to other lords; for the restoration of Europe, by which all men must have understood, at least, the re-establishment of that ancient system, and of those wise principles under which it had become great and prosperous. I expected the re-establishment of every people in those territories, of which the sovereignty had been lost by recent usurpation; of every people who had been an ancient member of the family of Europe; of every people who had preserved the spirit and feelings which constitute a nation; and, above all, of every people who had lost their territory or their independence under the tyranny which the Allies had taken up arms to overthrow. I expected a reverence for ancient boundaries, a respect for ancient institutions, certainly without excluding a prudent regard to the new interests and opinions which had taken so deep a root that they could not be torn up without incurring the guilt and the mischief of the most violent innovation. The very same reason, indeed, both of morality and policy (since I must comply so far with vulgar usage as to distinguish what cannot be separated), bound the Allied Sovereigns to respect the ancient institutions, and to regard the new opinions and interests of nations. The art of all government, not tyrannical, whatever may be its form, is to conduct mankind by their feelings. It is immoral to disregard the feelings of the governed, because it renders them miserable. It is, and it ought to be, dangerous to disregard those feelings, because bold and intelligent men will always consider it as a mere question of prudence, whether they ought to obey governments which counteract the only purpose for which government exists. The feelings of men are most generally wounded by violence to those ancient institutions under which these feelings have been formed, the national character has been moulded, and to which all the habits and expectations of life are adapted. It was well said by Mr. Fox, that as ancient institutions 922 have been sanctioned by a far greater concurrence of human judgments than modern laws can be, they are, upon democratical principles, more respectable. But new opinions and new interests, a new arrangement of society which has given rise to other habits and hopes, also excite the strongest feelings, which, in proportion to their force and extent, claim the regard of all moral policy. As it was doubtless the policy of the Allies to consider the claims of ancient possession as sacred, as far as the irrevocable changes of the political system would allow, the considerate part of mankind did, I believe, hope that they would hail the long-continued and recently-lost sovereignty of a territory as generally an inviolable right; and that as they could not be supposed wanting in zeal for restoring the sovereignty of ancient reigning families, so they would guard that re-establishment, and render it respectable in the eyes of the world, by the impartiality with which they re-established those ancient and legitimate governments of a republican form, which had fallen in the general slavery of nations. We remembered that republics and monarchies were alike called to join in the war against the French Revoluion, not for forms of government, but for the social order. We hoped that Austria (to select a striking example) would not pollute her title to her ancient dominion of Lombardy, by blending it with the faithless and lawless seizure of Venice. So little republican territory was to be restored, that the act of justice was to be performed, and the character of impartiality gained at little expense, even if such expense be measured by the meanest calculations of the most vulgar politics. Vacant territory remained at the disposal of the Congress to satisfy the demands of policy. The sovereignty of the ecclesiastical territories might be fairly considered as lapsed. No reigning family could have any interest in it: no people could be attached to such a rule of nomination to supreme power. And, in fact, these principalities had lost all pride of independence and consciousness of national existence. Several other territories in Europe had been reduced to a like condition. Ceded, perhaps, at first questionably, they had been transferred so often from master to master; they had been so long in a state of provincial degradation, that no violence could be offered to their feelings by new 923 transfer or partition. They were, as it were, a sort of splinters thrown off from nations in the shocks of warfare, during two centuries; and they lay like stakes on the board to be played for at the terrible game which had detached them, and to satisfy the exchanges and cessions by which it is usually closed. Perhaps such detached partitions of the social system are necessary in the European system: but they are in themselves great evils. They are amputated and lifeless members, which, as soon as they lose the vital principle of national spirit, no longer contribute aught to the vigour and safety of the whole living system. From them is to be expected no struggle against invasion, no resistance to the designs of ambition, no defence of country. They have no independence: they have no country. They are individual men, but no longer a people. They are in themselves the defenceless part of the European commonwealth. They are the ready prey of every candidate for universal monarchy, who soon compels their passive inhabitants to fight for his ambition, as they would not fight against it, and to employ in enslaving other nations that courage which they had no noble interest to exert in defence of their own. Why should I seek examples of this truth in former times? What opened Europe to the first inroads of the French armies?—Not, I will venture to say, the mere smallness of the neighbouring states,—(for if every one of them had displayed as much national spirit in 1794, as the smallest stales of Switzerland did in 1798, no French army could ever have left the territory of France.),—but the unhappy course of events which had deprived Flanders and the Electorates and Lombardy of all national spirit. Extinguished by the form of government in some of these countries, crushed by a foreign yoke in others, without the pride of liberty, which bestows the highest national spirit on the smallest nations, or the pride of power, which sometimes supplies its place in mighty empires,—or the consciousness of not depending on another nation, without which there is no nationality,—they first became the prey of France, and afterwards they supplied the arms with which she almost conquered the world. To enlarge this dead part of Europe, to enrich it by the accession of countries renowned for their public feelings, to throw Genoa into the same grave with Poland, with 924 Venice, with Finland, and with Norway, is not the policy of the preservers or restorers of the European commonwealth.
It is not the principle of the balance of power, but one precisely opposite. The system of preserving some equilibrium of power; of preventing any state from becoming too great for her neighbours, is a system purely defensive, and directed towards the object of universal preservation. It is a system which provides for the security of all states, by balancing the force and opposing the interests of great states. The independence of nations is the end: the balance of power is only the means. To destroy independent nations in order to strengthen the balance of power, is the most extravagant sacrifice of the end to the means. This inversion of all the principles of the ancient and beautiful system of Europe, is the fundamental maxim of what the noble lord, enriching our language with foreign phrases as well as doctrines, calls 'a repartition of power.' In the new system small states are annihilated by a combination of great. In the old, small states were secured by the mutual jealousy of great. The noble lord very consistently treats the re-establishment of small states as an absurdity. This single feature betrays the school where he has studied. Undoubtedly, small communities are an absurdity, or rather their permanent existence is an impossibility on his new system. They could have no existence in the continual conquests of Asia. They were soon destroyed amidst the turbulence of the Grecian confederacy. They must be sacrificed on the system of rapine established at Vienna. Nations powerful enough to defend themselves, may subsist securely in most tolerable conditions of society. But states too small to be safe by their own strength can exist only where they are guarded by the equilibrium of force, and the vigilance which watches over its preservation. When the noble lord represents small states as incapable of existence, he, in truth, avows that he is returned in triumph from the destruction of that system of the balance of power of which indeed great empires were the guardians, but of which the perfect action was indicated by the security of feebler commonwealths. Under this system, no great violation of national independence had occurred, from the first civilization of the European states, till the partition of Poland. The safety of the feeblest states, under the authority of jus- 925 tice, was so great, that there seemed little exaggeration in calling such a society the commonwealth of Europe. Principles, which stood in the stead of laws and magistrates, provided for the security of defenceless communities, as the safety of the humblest individual is maintained in a well-ordered commonwealth. Europe can no longer be called a commonwealth, when her members have no safety but in strength.
In truth, the Balancing System is itself only a secondary guard of national independence. The paramount principle, the moving power, without which all such machinery would be perfectly inert, is national spirit. The love of country, the attachment to laws and government, and even to soil and scenery; the feelings of national glory in arms and arts, the remembrances of common triumph and common suffering, with the mitigated, but not obliterated recollection of common enmities, and the jealousy of dangerous neighbours, instruments employed (also by nature) to draw more closely the bands of affection to our country and to each other,—this is the only principle by which sovereigns could in the hour of danger rouse the minds of their subjects. Without this principle, the policy of the Balancing System would be impotent. To sacrifice a people actuated by this spirit, to overrule that repugnance to the yoke of a neighbour, which is one of the chief bulwarks of nations, is in the effect, and much more in the example, to erect a pretended balance of power by the destruction of that spirit, and of those sentiments, which alone render that balance effectual for its only useful purpose—the protection of independence.
The Congress of Vienna seems, indeed, to have adopted every part of the French system, except that they have transferred the dictatorship of Europe from an individual to a triumvirate. One of the grand and parent errors of the French Revolution, was the fatal opinion, that it was possible for human skill to make a government. It was an error too generally prevalent not to be excusable. The American Revolution had given it a fallacious semblance of support, though no event in history, more clearly showed its falsehood. The system of laws, and the frame of society in North America, remained after the Revolution, and remain to this day fundamentally the same as they ever were. The change in America, like the 926 change in 1688, was made in defence of legal right, not in pursuit of political improvement, and it was limited by the necessity of the defence which produced it. The whole internal order remained, which had always been essentially re-publican. The somewhat slender tie which loosely joined these republics to a monarchy, was easily and without violence divided. But the error of the French revolutionists was, in 1789, the error of Europe. From that error, we have been long reclaimed by fatal experience. We know, or rather we have seen and felt, that a government is not like a machine, or a building, the work of man—that it is the work of nature, like the nobler productions of the vegetable and animal world, which man may improve, and corrupt, and even destroy, but which he cannot create. We have long learned to despise the ignorance or the hypocrisy of those who speak of giving a free constitution to a people, and to exclaim with a great living poet——"A gift of that which never can be given, all the blended powers of Earth and Heaven!We have, perhaps, as usual, gone too near to the opposite error, and we do not make sufficient allowances for those dreadful cases which we must not call desperate, where, in long-enslaved countries, we must either humbly and cautiously labour to lay some foundations from which liberty may slowly rise, or acquiesce in the doom of perpetual bondage on ourselves and our children.
But though we no longer dream of making governments, the Confederacy of Kings seem to feel no doubt of their own power to make nations. Yet the only reason why it is impossible to make a government is, because it is impossible to make a nation. A government cannot be made, because its whole spirit and principles arise from the character of the nation. There would be no difficulty in framing a government, if the habits of a people could be changed by a law-giver; if he could obliterate their recollections, transfer their attachment and reverence, extinguish their animosities, and correct those sentiments which, being at variance with his opinions of public interest, he calls prejudices. Now this is precisely the power which our statesmen at Vienna have arrogated to themselves. They not only form nations, but they compose them of elements apparently the most irreconcile- 927 able. They make one nation out of Norway and Sweden: they tried to make another of Prussia and Saxony. They have in the present case forced together Piedmont and Genoa to form a nation, which is to guard the avenues of Italy, and to be one of the main securities of Europe against universal monarchy.
It was not the pretension of the ancient system to form states, to divide territory according to speculations of military convenience, and to unite and dissolve nations better than the course of events had done before. It was owned to be still more difficult to give a new constitution to Europe, than to form a new constitution for a single state. The great statesmen of former times did not speak of their measures as the noble lord did, about the incorporation of Belgium with Holland (against which I say nothing), "as a great improvement in the system of Europe." That is the language only of those who revolutionize that system by a partition like that of Poland, by the establishment of the federation of the Rhine at Paris, or by the creation of new states at Vienna. The ancient principle was to preserve all those states which had been formed by time and nature, which were animated by national spirit, and distinguished by the diversity of character which gave scope to every variety of talent and virtue; whose character was often preserved, and whose nationality was sometimes created by those very irregularities of frontier and inequalities of strength, of which a shallow policy complained, to preserve all these states, down to the smallest, first by their own national spirit, and secondly, by that mutual jealousy which made every great power the opponent of the dangerous ambition of every other. It was to preserve nations, living bodies, produced by the hand of nature, not to form artificial dead machines, called states by the words and parchment of a diplomatic act. Under this ancient system, which secured the weak by the jealousy of the strong, provision was made alike for the permanency of civil institutions, the stability of governments, the progressive reformation of laws and constitutions; for combining the general quiet, with the highest activity and energy of the human mind; for uniting the benefits both of rivalship and of friendship between nations; for cultivating the moral sentiments of men by the noble spectacle of the long triumph of justice in the security of the defenceless; and 928 finally, for maintaining uniform civilization by the struggle as well as union of all the moral and intellectual combinations which compose that vast and various mass. It effected these noble purposes, not merely by securing Europe against one master, but against any union or conspiracy of sovereignty, which, as long as it lasts, is in no respect better than the domination of an individual. The object of the new system is to crush the weak by the combination of the strong;—to subject Europe in the first place to an oligarchy of sovereigns, and ultimately to swallow it up in the gulph of universal monarchy; where civilization has always perished, with freedom of thought, with controlled power, with national character and spirit, with patriotism and emulation, in a word, with all its characteristic attributes, and with all its guardian principles.
I am content, Sir, that these observations should be thought wholly unreasonable by those new masters of civil wisdom, who tell us, that the whole policy of Europe consists in strengthening the right flank of Prussia, and the left flank of Austria; who see in that wise and venerable system long the boast and the safeguard of Europe, only the millions of souls to be given to one power, or the thousands of square miles to be given to another; who consider the frontier of a river as a better protection for a country, than the love of its inhabitants; and who provide for the safety of their states by wounding the pride and mortifying the patriotic affection of a people, in order to fortify a line of military posts. To such statesmen I will apply in the words of the great philosophical orator, who so long vainly laboured to inculcate wisdom in this House: "All this I know well enough will sound wild, and chimerical to the profane herd of those vulgar and mechanical politicians who have no place among us; a sort of people who think that nothing exists but what is gross and material; and who, therefore, far from being-qualified to be directors of the great movement of empire, are not fit to turn a wheel in the machine. But to men truly initiated and rightly taught, these ruling and master principles, which in the opinion of such men as I have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are in truth every thing, and all in all."** Mr. Burke's Speech on Conciliation, with America. New Parl. History, Vol. 18, p. 535.929 This great man, in the latter part of his life, and when his opinions were more popular, was often justly celebrated for that spirit of philosophical prophecy, which enabled him early to discern in their causes all the misfortunes which the leaders of the French Revolution were to bring on the world by their erroneous principles of reformation—"Quod ille pene solus Romanorum animo vidit, ingenio complexus est, eloquentiâ illuminavit." But it has not been remembered, that his foresight was not limited to one party or to one source of evil. In one of his immortal writings, of which he has somewhat concealed the durable instruction by the temporary title, he clearly enough points out the first scene of partition and rapine—the indemnifications granted out of the spoils of Germany in 1802: "I see, indeed, a fund from whence equivalents will be proposed. It opens another Iliad of woes to Europe."*
The policy of a conqueror is to demolish, to erect on new foundations, to bestow new names on authority, and to render every power around him as new as his own. The policy of a restorer is to re-establish, to strengthen, cautiously to improve, and to seem to recognise and confirm even that which necessity compels him to establish, anew. But in our times the policy of the avowed conqueror has been adopted by the pretended re-* Burke's Works, Vol. 4, p. 474. In the same Tract is also to be found the following remarkable sentence: "They" (the French) "made not laws, not conventions, not late possession, BUT PHYSICAL NATURE AND POLITICAL CONVENIENCE the sale foundation of their claims.If the following passage could be supposed to have been written by Mr. Burke, or by his suggestion, it would be a still more extraordinary instance of distant foresight. "The free states and cities of Germany may seem to be more immediately affected by the present extraordinary transaction than any other part of Europe. Indeed, if the partition of Poland takes place in its utmost extent, the existence, of the Germanic body, in its present form, for any length of time, will be a matter rather to be wished than expected." Annual Register, 1772, p. 3. The sequel of the passage is very deserving of perusal, and would do no discredit to the power of thinking, or the talent for composition, of the best writer.930 storers. The most minute particulars of the system of Napoleon are revived in the acts of those who overthrew his power. Even English officers, when they are compelled to carry such orders into execution, become infected by the spirit of the system of which they are doomed to be the ministers. I cannot read without pain and shame the language of sir John Dalrymple's dispatch—language which I lament as inconsistent with the feelings of a British officer, and with the natural prejudices of a Scotch gentleman. I wish that he had not adopted the very technical language of Jacobin conquest—the downfall of the aristocracy, and the irritation of the priests. I do not think it very decent to talk with levity of the destruction of a sovereignty exercised for six centuries by one of the most ancient and illustrious bodies of nobility in Europe.
Italy is, perhaps, of all civilized countries, that which affords the most signal example of the debasing power of provincial dependence, and of a foreign yoke. With independence, and with national spirit they have lost, if not talent, at least the moral and dignified use of talent, which constitutes its only worth. Italy alone seemed to, derive some hope of independence from those convulsions which had destroyed that of other nations. The restoration of Europe annihilated the hopes of Italy. The emancipation of other countries announced, her bondage, Stern necessity compelled us to suffer the re-establishment of foreign masters in the greater part of that renowned and humiliated country. As to Genoa, our hands were unfettered: we were at liberty to be just, or if you will to be generous. We had in our hands the destiny of the last of that great body of republics which united the ancient and the modern world, the children and heirs of Roman civilization, who spread commerce, and with it refinement, liberty, and humanity, over Western Europe; whose history has lately been rescued from oblivion, and disclosed to our times by the greatest of living historians.* I hope I shall not be thought fanciful when I say, that Genoa, whose greatness was founded on naval power, and which in the earliest ages gave the almost solitary example of a commercial gentry; Genoa, the remnant of Italian liberty, and the only remaining hope of* Sismondi "Républiques Italiennes.931 Italian independence, had peculiar claims (to say no more) on the generosity of the British nation. How have these claims been satisfied? She has been sacrificed to a frivolous, a doubtful, perhaps an imaginary speculation of convenience. The most odious of foreign yokes has been imposed upon her. This has been her fate in a war of emancipation, from a free state, from a people whom she never injured, after she had been mocked with the appearance of her ancient government, and with all the ensigns and badges of her past glory. She has been at last told to be grateful for the interest which the Government of England has taken in her fate. By this confiscation of the only Italian territory which was at the disposal of justice, the doors of hope have been barred on Italy for ever. No English general can ever again deceive Italians.
Will the House decide that all this is right? That is the question which you have now to decide. To vote with me it is not necessary to adopt my opinions in their full extent. All who think that the national faith has been brought into question, all who think that there has been an unprecedented extension or an ungenerous exercise of the rights of conquest, are, I humbly conceive, bound to express their disapprobation by their vote. We are on the eve of a new war, perhaps only the first of a long series—in which there must be conquests and cessions, and there may be hard and doubtful exertions of rights in their best state sufficiently odious. I call upon the House to interpose their counsel for the future in the form of an opinion regarding the past. I hope that I do not yield to any illusive feelings of national vanity, when I say that this House is qualified to speak the sentiments of mankind, and to convey them with authority to cabinets and thrones. Single among representative assemblies, this House is now in the seventh century of its recorded existence. It appeared with the first dawn of legal government. It exercised the highest powers under the most glorious princes. It survived the change of a religion and the extinction of a nobility; the fall of royal houses and an age of civil war. Depressed for a moment by the tyrannical power which is the usual growth of civil confusions, it revived with the first glimpse of tranquillity, gathered strength from the intrepidity of religious reformation; grew with the 932 knowledge and flourished with the progressive wealth of the people. After having experienced the excesses of the spirit of liberty during the civil war, and of the spirit of loyalty at the Restoration, it was at length finally established at the glorious era of the Revolution; and although since that immortal event it has experienced little change in its formal constitution, and received perhaps no accession of legal power, it has gradually cast its roots deep and wide; it has blended itself with every branch of the government and every institution of society, and has, at length, become the grandest example ever seen among men of a solid and durable representation of the people of a mighty empire. I move, Sir,1. "That it appears to this House, that the earl Bathurst, one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, in consequence of information which had been received by the British Government respecting the disposition of the inhabitants of Genoa and Piedmont, did, by a letter dated the 28th of December, 1813, instruct lieutenant-general lord William Bentinck, 'if any circumstances should occur to en-courage the inhabitants to rise against the Government of France, to lose no time in giving every possible assistance, and further, provided it were clearly with their entire concurrence, to take possession of Genoa, in the name and on the behalf of his Sardinian Majesty.'2. "That it further appears to this House, that lieutenant-general lord William Bentinck, acting under the aforesaid instructions, did, sometime previous to the 14th of March, 1814, disembark at Leghorn with the British forces under his command, and did on that day issue a proclamation, calling on the Italians 'to vindicate their own rights and to be free, and concluding with these words, Only call, and we will hasten to your relief, and then Italy, by our united efforts, will become what she was in her most prosperous periods, and what Spain now is.'3. "That it further appears, that previous to the 26th of April, 1814, the inhabitants of Genoa having been invited 'to vindicate their rights' as aforesaid, and, in consequence of such invitation, having materially contributed to oblige the French garrison to surrender that city, lord William Bentinck entered Genoa, and issued, on the said 26th of April, a proclamation of the following tenor:933'Considering that the general desire of the Genoese nation seems to be to return to that ancient form of government under which it enjoyed liberty, prosperity, and independence; and considering likewise that this desire seems to be conformable to the principles recognized by the High Allied Powers, of restoring to all their ancient rights and privileges, I declare:—1. That the Genoese State, such as it existed in 1797, with such modifications as the general wish, the public good, and the spirit of the original constitution of 1576 seem to require, is re-established. 3. That a Provisional Government, consisting of thirteen individuals and formed into two colleges, as heretofore, shall immediately be appointed, and shall continue in office until the 1st of January, 1815, when the two colleges shall be filled up in the number required by the constitution. 6. That the two colleges shall propose to the lesser and greater councils, all the measures which they shall judge necessary for the entire re-establishment of the ancient form of government.'4. "That in a letter to lord Castlereagh, one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, enclosing the afore-said Proclamation, and informing him of the measures which had been taken in consequence 'of the unanimous desire ex-pressed by the Genoese to return to their ancient state, lord William Bentinck did, amongst other things, represent, that the Genoese universally desired the restoration of their ancient republic; and that they dreaded, above all other arrangements, their annexation to Piedmont, to the inhabitants of which there had always been a peculiar aversion.'5. "That it does not appear that any subsequent dispatch or instruction from lord Castlereagh, or any other of his Majesty's ministers did convey to lord W. Bentinck the opinion of the British Government, that he had exceeded his powers in issuing the said Proclamation of the 26th of April, 1814, or in the proceedings consequent thereon; and that, in point of fact, the said Proclamation has never been disavowed in any public act of his Majesty's Government, or by any letter, dispatch, or instruction to lord William Bentinck, or by any Declaration to the Genoese people.6. "That it appears, that on the 11th of May a forcible representation was made to lord Castlereagh by M. Pareto, the minister 934 plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary of the government of Genoa, of the continued desire of the Genoese to return to their ancient government, of 'their invincible repugnance to a foreign domination, of their confident reliance on the assurance given them by the Commander of the British forces, the depositary of the intentions of the British Government, and of their just expectations that his royal highness the Prince Regent, sanctioning what had been done in his name by lord William Bentinck, would employ his good offices with the Allied Powers, to induce them to acknowledge the reestablishment of the republic of Genoa, and of the integrity and continuity of its territory.'7. "That similar representations of the wishes and hopes of the Genoese, together with further representations of the injury which would be done to them by the transfer of their territory to a foreign dominion, not only as it would affect their rights and liberties, but their commercial interests, and the internal prosperity of their country, were repeatedly and at various times submitted to his Majesty's Government, and more particularly in a paper of Observations communicated by M. Pareto, on the 18th of May, and in a protest against 'any resolutions that 'might be taken contrary to the rights 'and independence of Genoa,' laid before their excellencies the Ambassadors and Ministers assembled at the Congress at Vienna, on the 10th December 1814, by the Marquis de Brignoli, the minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary of that Government.8. "That notwithstanding these repeated claims and remonstrances, and in violation of the solemn engagements contracted by lord William Bentinck on the part of the British Government with the Genoese people, it appears that lord Castlereagh, in a letter dated the 17th December, 1814, in which was enclosed, 'The final decision of the Powers who signed the Treaty of Paris, annexing the State of Genoa, under certain conditions, to the Crown of Sardinia, did instruct lieutenant-general sir John Dalrymple, then commanding the British forces in Genoa, to take the necessary measures, in concert with the existing Provisional Government, to deliver over the same, in conformity with the decision above mentioned, to the King of Sardinia, or to 'such persons as his Sardinian Majesty 935 'may appoint to take charge thereof; continuing himself to act with the troops under his command as an auxiliary corps, at the disposal of his Sardinian Majesty until further orders.'9. "That it appears, that in conformity to the foregoing instructions, the Government of Genoa was delivered over accordingly, by sir John Dalrymple, to the officers appointed to take charge thereof by his Sardinian Majesty, and that the submission of the Genoese to this transfer of their Government and territory to a foreign power, was secured and enforced, and is still maintained by the continued occupation of that city by a British force.10. "That the conduct of his Majesty's Government, in thus availing itself of the occupation of the Genoese territory by a British force, which they owed in a considerable degree to the amicable disposition of the inhabitants, in order to make a compulsory transfer of the possession and sovereignty thereof to a foreign power, was not only a violation of the promises held out in lord William Bentinck's Declaration of the 14th of March, and of the implied engagement by which the British troops were received by the Genoese nation as deliverers, but also a manifest breach of the public faith expressly pledged to that Republic by his Majesty's general, sufficiently authorised to that effect, and never disavowed by his Majesty's Government; and that this measure was also wholly repugnant to those general principles of policy and justice, which it was equally the interest and the duty of this country to uphold in all the discussions respecting a final settlement of the affairs of Europe.
Mr. Charles Grant
jun. rose and said, that it was somewhat extraordinary to hear gentlemen on the other side of the House express so much affection for ancient institutions and old establishments, since they had, for twenty years past been giving advice to the House to acquiesce in all those acts which were calculated to overthrow every ancient establishment in Europe. He hoped his hon. and learned friend, who had that evening expressed himself so strongly in favour of ancient institutions, would always continue to hold the same opinion. With respect to the great question before the House, he agreed with his hon. and learned friend, that the good faith of the country was what they ought to look to with an anxious eye. In comparison 936 with that every other inquiry they might enter into was insignificant. Now, looking to lord William Bentinck's instructions, he contended that they did not bear the interpretation which his hon. and learned friend had been pleased to put on them. He certainly was directed to inquire into the state of Italy, and to mark the feelings of the people—he was authorized to assist their exertions against France—but he never was called on to hold out to them a hope of the re-establishment of the ancient forms of government in Italy. From first to last, the whole object of this Government was to excite the people of Italy against France, but not a word was ever said respecting a restoration of the ancient forms of government. It was clear that the people of Italy had not shown any very strong inclination to rescue themselves from the French yoke. In no one instance had they afforded that assistance or co-operation, which, in fact, was to be the basis of the advantages that had been described to them by lord William Bentinck, in the proclamations he issued when he first landed on their shores; on the contrary, they remained perfectly passive, and in consequence those troops which had been destined to promote their liberation, were transferred to Spain. He contended, that no pledge had at that time been given by lord William Bentinck as to the future government of Italy, inasmuch as they had themselves, by refusing co-operation with the British troops, failed in the compact which had been entered into. He now came to the proclamation of lord William Bentinck on his landing at Leghorn. It was said that by this proclamation we had pledged ourselves to the restoration of all the ancient powers of Italy. It by no means appeared to him that any such pledge had been given—and even if there had, he submitted, that the Italians had relieved us from its fulfilment by their own conduct. From what had been said by his hon. and learned friend, the House might be led to imagine, that the march of the British troops from Leghorn to Genoa was of the most triumphant description—that they were hailed as they went by the Italian people as the saviours of their country. The case was far otherwise, as the dispatches of lord William Bentinck and admiral Rowley demonstrated. Did they speak of enthusiastic welcome? Did they say one word of the assistance which 937 they had received? No, they had spoken only of the labours and difficulties which they had encountered on their march. There was not a single allusion to the co-operation of the people—not one observation which would lead to a supposition that they were doing otherwise than treading the shores of a hostile nation. It was true that the troops were accompanied on their inarch by a few peasants, as was always the case with an irregular army: but where did it appear that the inhabitants had exhibited any thing like a manifestation of pleasure at their approach, or of congratulation at the happy prospect by which they were cheered? If such a feeling had been evinced, why was it not stated in the dispatches? What could be the motive for withholding such a statement? That it was not stated, was the best proof that it had not existed; and hence it was but fair to conclude, that there had been no co-operation which could have, in the slightest degree, influenced the success of that expedition. At the moment lord William Bentinck approached the walls of Genoa, there was a French garrison of 2,000 men within it; and yet against those men, the inhabitants had not, in a single instance, raised their arms; on the contrary, they had accompanied a French officer to lord William Bentinck to obtain delay. And those troops which had assisted in maintaining the iron yoke of Buonaparté, which had since been spoken of in such terms of detestation, were allowed to depart with colours flying, and all the honours of war. After this, could it be said that the people of Genoa had assisted in their own emancipation? After this, could it be urged that when lord William Bentinck entered the town, he did so upon any other principle than the right of conquest? He now came to the proclamation of lord William Bentinck, of March 26, by which it had been said the faith of the British Government had been pledged to maintain the independence of Genoa, and to restore its ancient constitution. Even supposing that such was the fair construction of this proclamation, it was evident that lord William Bentinck had distinctly confined the act to himself, and not to the British Government. He denied, however, that any such interpretation could fairly be put upon the terms of this document—he denied that the independence of Genoa had been in any respect guaranteed. If it had been the object of lord William 938 Bentinck to restore the Genoese to their ancient freedom, would he not have at once pronounced them free and independent? That he had not done so, was the best proof of his real intentions. The army, however, having gained possession of the town, it became necessary, for the sake of good order, to institute a provisional government; and as the ancient constitution was that best adapted to the feelings of the people, it was preferred. There was, however, no promise of permanency; there was no pledge for its continuance beyond the will of the Allied Powers, under whose direction the whole conduct of lord William Bentinck was guided. It was known that it was not to the sanction of the British Government to which reference was to be made, but to the general feeling of the Allies. From all these circumstances, he did not hesitate to conclude that the British faith had in no instance been violated; and that lord William Bentinck had not contravened the instructions which he had received. With respect to the policy of the annexation of Genoa to Piedmont, so far was it from being injurious to either country, that he was satisfied the union would be beneficial to both. The one was an agricultural country, and the other a maritime state, so that their interests could in no respect clash; but, on the contrary, by a combination of both, the welfare of each would eventually be promoted. A barrier, too, was established between France and Italy, of an effective nature, which had not before existed. He denied that the principle upon which this annexation had taken place was at all novel—it had been recognized at the Treaty of Westphalia—upon which occasion the commonwealth of Europe assembled, and made such a division of states, without the consent of the people, as the interest of the whole demanded. Such, too, was the case at the Treaty of Utrecht, and in 1763 Canada was given up by France to Great Britain, without the consent of the inhabitants, who were French, and spoke the French language. During the time when Joseph Buonaparté was king of Naples, in the overtures for peace made by the French Government to this country, it was proposed that Sicily should be ceded to the King of Naples, and that the Sicilian monarch should receive Albania Dalmatia, and Ragusa, as indemnities. How had that proposal been received by Mr. Fox? He had not rejected it on the 939 ground that the sentiments of the people should be consulted. He staled it to be a mere question of compensation to be decided according to the feelings of the King of Sicily; and had even added, that to render it more conformable to the views of that monarch, Istria, and a part of the territory of Venice, should be joined to the proffered indemnity. When this doctrine had been maintained by such great men as Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Fox, surely it ought not to be considered liable to so much censure. The great fault in the former state of Europe was, that an arena was left between France and Austria, in which those two great Powers could wage war, without materially affecting their own territories. This had been remedied by the present arrangement; and the increased force of Belgium and of Piedmont, without rendering them fit for attack, gave them the power of self defence. On all these grounds the hon. member contended that the proposition of his hon. and learned friend was quite untenable, that the faith and honour of this country had been in no degree compromised in the transaction alluded to; and that throughout all the proceedings of Congress this country had uniformly acted upon the great principles which had regulated the political conduct of Europe for two centuries.
§ Mr. J. P. Grant
said, that the eloquent, luminous, and comprehensive speech of his hon. and learned friend, who made the motion, had left no part of this great question untouched, and that, therefore, he should not feel it necessary long to trespass upon the attention of the House. His Majesty's ministers were, in his opinion, placed in this dilemma upon the subject under consideration, namely, either that lord William Bentinck had held out, according to his instructions, a promise to the Italian people which, in the case of Genoa, had been grossly violated, or that that noble lord had acted without authority. But it was evident that lord William Bentinck was authorized by his instructions to act as he had done, and it was equally evident that this gallant officer's pledges to Genoa had been abandoned in such a way as to fix an indelible stain upon the good faith and honour of this country. He would, however, pass over all these subjects, which had been already so admirably discussed by his hon. and learned friend, and proceed to the proclamation of lord William Bentinck, 940 issued at Genoa, on the 14th of March. By this proclamation, he submitted, that the Genoese had been promised, not alone to be relieved from the iron yoke of Buonaparté, but to be, as had been the case with Sicily, with Portugal, with Spain, and with Holland, restored to independence, to civil liberty, and to their ancient splendour among independent nations. This was the language of the proclamation; and in having stated it, he thought he should be wasting the time of the House, and stultifying himself, were he to attempt to use a single argument in support of the inference he had already drawn. As it stood, the Genoese had been distinctly promised the enjoyment of their ancient freedom and splendour; and as for those who argued the contrary, he had neither respect for their understanding, nor sympathy for their feeling. The avowed object upon which lord W. Bentinck set out in his proceedings towards Genoa, was the restoration of the ancient government of that republic, and in the spirit of her original constitution. In the arrangement of the Provisional Government, there was no specification of its termination in the manner which it had terminated—quite the reverse; for from a perusal of the correspondence of lord William Bentinck with the Government at home, it would appear that he was fully impressed with the feelings of the Genoese upon this point. For he expressly stated, in one of his letters, that they dreaded their annexation to Piedmont, and rejoiced at the prospect of the restoration of their old Government; and yet this officer, in possession of such information, and having communicated it to the Administration by whom he was employed, was by them traduced, and stated to have acted one part to the Genoese, while he harboured another. When he reflected on those transactions, he could not but feel a degree of humiliation at seeing the honour of the country sullied and betrayed by those who were bound to maintain it with purity and integrity. The character of British faith had been prostituted for the purpose of enslaving a nation which it was pledged to liberate. Other treaties had been alluded to on former European confederacies, as justifying the outrage which was then under discussion; but they were not applicable to the case of Genoa. That slate had been annexed to France by force, still retaining a great part of her integral 941 character. When she was taken possession of by lord William Bentinck, she was not taken possession of as a conquered power, but rescued as an independent state from the hands of an enemy. And was there any instance in the law of nations, that a power so rescued became the property of the captors? He denied that the Treaty of Westphalia was a case in point; it was true the internal state of Germany had received on that occasion a complete organization; but there was no instance of the transfer of a whole independent power. When Buonaparté offered to Mr. Fox, that Sicily should receive Venice, as a compensation for the cession of Naples, what was the reply of that distinguished statesman? Why, that the king of Sicily should consider of the compensation in the first instance, and that even then, perhaps, objections would exist which would require deliberation. This new system which had been introduced, under the auspices of the noble lord opposite, was not likely to be of long duration—it was built upon too narrow a basis to exist when that force which introduced it, became weakened or divided. The idea that smaller states could not maintain an independent footing, was contrary to the known experience of history. The ancestor of one of the Allied Sovereigns, engaged in these transactions, whose wisdom and activity made Prussia what she was, was recorded to have said: "I have seen that small states can sustain themselves against large ones, if their internal affairs are regulated by attention and industry; and that great states proceed only by intrigues and abuses, in proportion to the extent they embrace." The hon. and learned gentleman concluded by declaring, that the country stood disgraced in the eyes of the world, by the line of conduct which ministers had adopted in the course they had sanctioned towards a small but independent state.
§ Mr. R. Ward
said, he had listened with much attention to the hon. and learned mover of the subject before them, and with much satisfaction to the able speech of his hon. friend who spoke second in the debate. The former was full of brilliancy—the latter full of argument. It strongly reminded him of the observation of the Cynic, that one ounce of good sense was worth a pound of declamation—and, indeed, the one speech was worth ten of the other. The whole of the arguments upon 942 this question arose from an idea that a certain promise had been held out to Genoa—now, this was not the fact: for the Declaration of the Allies at Frankfort, so far from promising the restoration of the ancient constitutions of the smaller states, distinctly stated, that for the common security of all, the political economy of Europe should be recast and new-modelled. A parallel was attempted to be drawn between the transfer of Genoa and the partition of Poland. The cases were entirely distinct; the latter was an unprovoked aggression, committed in the face of day, and in time of profound peace; but when Genoa was taken, she was in the possession of an enemy, and garrisoned by France. With reference to the pledge of lord William Bentinck to the Genoese—although he denied that any such was given—it was an admitted principle in Vattel, and other writers upon the law of nations, that no officer was competent to bind a nation to his acts, unless he was armed by that nation with positive and specific instructions for that purpose. The hon. gentleman here read several extracts from lord William Bentinck's instructions, and his own proclamations, to show that he had neither deceived the people of Italy, nor been traduced by his own Government: in fact, the Italians made no effort for themselves; they were only known to this country in a state of avowed war, and could be conceived in no other light than as enemies. Genoa was occupied at the point of the bayonet, and a considerable booty fell into the hands of the captors. This was decisive upon the principle of the case. Now, in the establishment of the Provisional Government, lord William Bentinck had not made the pledges with which he was charged; nor would the arguments which had been drawn from his proclamations have been at all thought of or produced, had it not been for the speeches and insinuations of gentlemen opposite—[Hear, hear! from the Opposition benches.] They were in fact nothing more than declamation without argument, and assertion without proof. The hon. gentleman then adverted to the conduct of France to Spain in the war of the Succession. He also warmly defended sir J. Dalrymple from the aspersions which were cast upon him; and concluded by saying, that if smaller states were unable to defend their independence, the cause arose out of the existing state of Europe: 943 when this was restored to its former footing, then indeed a different system could be adopted with general safety.
§ Mr. William Smith
said, he was ready to meet the hon. gentleman who spoke last on the point whether we were at peace or war with Genoa. Lord Bathurst in his letter to lord William Bentinck said, that if it was clear it could be done with the entire concurrence of the inhabitants, he might take possession of Genoa. Now, if we had been at war with Genoa, should he have considered this concurrence necessary? The hon. member reprobated, in the strongest terms, the fulsome address of the Council of Genoa to the King of Sardinia; and after observing upon the violation which was offered to the independent rights of the Genoese Republic, concluded by expressing his entire concurrence in the motion.
§ Mr. W. Bathurst
contended, that the instructions which were sent out to lord William Bentinck indicated clearly that no co-operation of the British force was to be attempted, unless the Italians should previously rise. He denied that lord William Bentinck bad, or that even the Government of this country could delegate to him, the power of inviting the Italians to assert their independence, as that must depend entirely upon the final decision of Congress. All the facts which were communicated in the papers, clearly proved, he thought, that the government established at Genoa by lord William Bentinck, was merely provisional; and as to the question of bad faith on the part of this Government, be had no hesitation in affirming that no case was made out.
§ Lord A. Hamilton
contended, that there was a co-operation on the part of the Genoese, and supported the motion.
began by observing, that after the length and ability of the discussion, he should not have thought it necessary to trouble the House with any observations, were it not for the reflection, that it might be considered a duty in his situation not to suffer a question of this nature to be passed with a silent vote. The subject had been properly divided into two branches, the first of which respected the general policy of the arrangement entered into with regard to Genoa, and the second involved the far more important question, whether or not a breach of faith had been committed by the British Government? The hon. and learned mover's, argument, however elo- 944 quently supported, amounted to this, that Congress had no right to interfere with, or alter the frame and constitution of the European commonwealth. If such a principle had always been acted on, it was impossible that the system of European policy could have advanced in a course of progressive improvement, the treaty of Westphalia could never have been carried into effect, and the very end and being of a general congress of different states would be utterly nugatory and unnecessary. The Congress at Vienna was not assembled for the discussion of moral principles, but for great practical purposes, to carry into effect the Treaty of Paris, and establish effectual provisions for the general security. The Powers there assembled felt that they had to perform high political duties; duties for the discharge of which they were responsible at the tribunal of public opinion, but which never could have been beneficially discharged, had they divested themselves of the right and full discretion of protecting the true separate interests of every state, by securing, upon an adequate basis of arrangement, the general interests of the whole. One great object was, to provide against the remains of that military system which had existed in France, and that military spirit that belonged to the French character. What claim bad Genoa, then, upon any particular gratitude or consideration,—which had for a long series of years been intimately connected with, and subservient to, the views of France, at certain periods even incorporated with the strength and resources of the French empire, forming a point of weakness to the King of Sardinia, and rendering Piedmont an ineffectual barrier between Austria and France? When Genoa capitulated to lord William Bentinck, it was not from a desire of British alliance, but from a dread of British conquest, and a knowledge that the authority of Buonaparté was about to be at an end. Could any state be thus allowed to shelter itself against all the consequences of legitimate hostility, to escape from the law of conquest, and derive from the enemy against whom they had acted the very means of their own defence and safety? He could appeal to great authorities in confirmation of the principles he had laid down, to the proposed arrangement of partition in 1799, sanctioned by Mr. Pitt and lord Grenville, and to the conduct, of Mr. Fox himself in 1805, with respect to Sicily. He proceeded to read to the 945 House a paper drawn up and written by Mr. Pitt himself, in which, in the year 1805, that great statesman had expressed his approbation of the principle of annexing Genoa to Piedmont, and had framed a plan of settlement, of which the Congress at Vienna had only been the servile copyists.
§ Sir John Newport
spoke to order, and objected to the noble lord's availing himself of his official situation to read partial documents which were not accessible to the other side.
resumed, and observed, that there could be no objection to his stating the substance of a document, which, if moved for, would be laid on the table.* The charge brought by the honourable and learned gentleman, was a charge, in fact, against lord Wm. Bentinck, and implied nothing less than that he had practised a system of deception upon the Genoese, and now resided in Genoa in the command of a British army, without having tendered his resignation. He conceived upon the whole, that the present question was nothing but a laborious effort of the hon. and learned gentleman, to redeem a sort of pledge that he had improvidently and indiscreetly given. The proclamation of the 14th of March could not be issued with such an intention as was attributed to it, because lord William Bentinck was then acting in conjunction with an Austrian general; neither could the proclamation published at Genoa bear the construction put upon it, inasmuch as lord William Bentinck had at that time his positive instructions in his pocket. If lord William Bentinck had supposed that the Genoese had been deceived, could it be supposed that his feelings would have permitted him still to retain the command in that same city of Genoa? The noble lord concluded by saying, that it was only within the walls of that House, that the honour and good faith of this country had been called in question.
§ Sir James Mackintosh
replied at so late an hour, and in a speech of such length, that no account of what he said was preserved. Among the matters to which he principally adverted, and the arguments on which he seemed chiefly to rely, were the following:
It was at length clear, he observed, that* The paper was afterwards laid on the table of the House, and will be found in Vol. 31, p. 178.946 his Majesty's ministers found it impossible to reconcile their own defence with that of lord William Bentinck. Both his hon. friends (Mr. Ward and Mr. Grant) had indeed maintained confidently their construction of lord William Bentinck's proclamations, and the last of them had said, that there was no disavowal of him, because there was nothing to disavow. But the noble lord felt the pressure of the case more sensibly,—and had, with very little disguise, rested his own vindication upon a charge of incautious and unauthorized acts against lord William Bentinck. But in that case, why was he not disavowed? It was impossible to escape from this dilemma. Either lord William did that which he was authorized to do,—and in that case the Government were bound to ratify his acts,—or he did that which he was not authorized to do, and in that case the Government were bound publicly to disavow his acts. They did neither.
Two authorities had been quoted by the noble lord in justification of the system of partition, and particularly of the annexation of Genoa to Piedmont. The first was that of Mr. Pitt, whose note to the Russian minister in London on the 19th of January 1805, had been read, as containing the general principles on which the Congress had acted, and as especially recommending, as a measure of policy, the subjection of the Genoese territory to the king of Sardinia. From Mr. Pitt he had himself differed during the greater part of his life, and many of the most important measures of that great minister he had disapproved and continued to lament. But he had no hesitation in adding, that, considering him altogether, he felt a high reverence for his memory; he honoured him as one of the brightest ornaments of his country; and he should regard with the most respectful attention, his opinion concerning any question of policy, and still more of public morality. On points of such transcendent moment, implicit confidence and blind acquiescence would not be justified by respect for any man; least of all could they be expected from him towards Mr. Pitt.
But the paper really afforded little, if any, sanction to the measures which he reprobated and deplored. In the first place, the House were not in possession of the correspondence which occasioned Mr. Pitt's communication. In that correspondence it would be seen whether this paper contained the spontaneous de- 947 cisions of his own great mind, or was in part only the result of compliance with the suggestion of those mighty states, without whose co-operation all projects of delivering Europe were purely visionary: some traces of compliance Mr. Pitt's warmest friends must admit to exist in it. To class Modena and Tuscany among states fit to be re-established, and capable of maintaining themselves as substantive members of the European confederacy, was carrying complaisance to the House of Austria very far: it was covering a provision for Austrian princes with a magnificent disguise. In the second place, the paper was unfit to be cited as an authority for what is now done, because the situation of the parties and the world is quite different. A plan for the distribution of territory may be justifiable before war, which after victory would be wholly inexcusable. Mr. Pitt himself partly justifies his plan by the necessity of compensating Austria and Prussia for their exertions. Victory, by removing the necessity, destroys the justification. Mr. Pitt evidently contemplated the cession of part of Lombardy to Sardinia, and the cession of part, if not of all the Austrian Netherlands, as a barrier to the restored Republic of the United Provinces. From all these very important parts of his system, the Allies have now departed, though it be apparent that if Piedmont had been much strengthened on the side of Lombardy, she might have become a fitter guardian of the Alps; and if Prussia had been made the natural enemy of France, by the possession of the Low Countries, the Austrian Government might have gradually become less Antigallican. The Allied Powers have destroyed all that Mr. Pitt considered as incapable of re-establishment. But they have not restored all that he thought well qualified for restoration.
To the general principle of Mr. Pitt's communication he assented,—that restoration was the grand object wherever it was attainable; but that there were certain territories which, either from the nature of their government, or from long subjection to foreigners, had become incapable of independence and indifferent to it, and that these territories formed the legitimate subject of negociation, of compensation, and indemnity. He differed from Mr. Pitt with respect to the inclusion of Genoa in that class. He differed totally from him respecting the validity of one of the reasons assigned by him for, that classification, 948 namely, the past conduct of Genoa in the war between France and Europe. This appeared to him to be a mere principle of revenge, forbidden by morality and in a compatible with policy. The other reason assigned "that no power should be left in Italy, not likely to enter into a general, system of defence for maintaining its independence," related entirely to a matter of fact;—the disposition of the Genoese people. Of that disposition in 1805 Mr. Pitt might have had no accurate information. If they were indifferent to independence, they must be incapable of maintaining it, and were therefore comprehended under his general principle;—if they were partisans of France, they were justly sacrificed to the common safety: either, or both of these assertions might have been made in the year 1805, without easy means of confutation. But neither of them could have been made at Vienna in 1814. Their desire of independence was acknowledged; their abhorrence of the Sardinian government was notorious;—to say the very least, they were not charged with supporting the French against the Allies. All the allegations which misled Mr. Pitt, were confuted by events; or all the facts which had justified his plan at that time, were now completely changed. In either case according to his own principles, the Genoese territory had now ceased to be the proper subject of compensation and indemnity; and it returned to the first and best class, of which he justly desired the enlargement, where the ancient government could be, and therefore ought to be restored. When that paper was composed, the memorable defence of Genoa in 1799 was fresh in the memory of all men. It was well known that all the talents of the general, and all the valour of the gallant army, could not have resisted so long without the attachment of the people. The people of Italy then considered the French as deliverers. They might do so, or fairly be thought to do so, in 1805. But they were known by the British Government to have undergone a total revolution of sentiment in 1810, when lord Wellesley wrote the dispatches so often quoted; and down to 1814, when lord W. Bentinck issued his proclamation. In 1805 only a war of great empires and powerful armies could be meditated against France. No popular war against them could have been then in contemplation. The people had before-time perhaps become neutral, but no 949 popular enthusiasm against France had then been roused. The long oppression of Germany, the perfidious occupation of Spain, and the tremendous overthrow in Russia, were necessary to excite a popular revolt against the universal oppressor. These were events which Mr. Pitt could not have contemplated, nor a state of things to which his reasonings could be applied without important modifications. Is it too much to say, that when the Sovereigns of Europe had called their people to arms, and had in fact become the leaders of a popular insurrection against Napoleon, Mr. Pitt would, have regarded so memorable a change as morally contracting the fund which was subservient to royal greatness, in order to enlarge the means of re-establishing independent nations?
But, above all, would Mr. Pitt have been indifferent to the effect of lord William Bentinck's proclamation, to the friendship of the Genoese people during his march, to the establishment (for it was an establishment, not a promise,) of the ancient government of the republic? Supposing that he did not consider these transactions as amounting to a positive engagement, could he have avoided a fear that they were at least words which excited reasonable expectations, and that such expectations could not be disappointed without bringing the public faith (to say the least) into question, and giving room for specious doubts of the inviolability of British honour? Surely neither the tone nor the reasonings of Mr. Pitt were such as to authorize an idea that he considered the convenience of annexing Genoa to Piedmont as worthy of being weighed against these sacred and inestimable objects.
Sir James observed, that respecting Mr. Fox he must own that his sentiments were different, and he should feel the greatest sorrow and mortification if he could believe, that on a question like the present, he differed from that illustrious person. Since the appeal made to the authority of Mr. Fox by his honourable friend (Mr. Grant), he had anxiously examined the dispatch, and he would now read part of it to the House.** Mr. Secretary Fox to the Earl of Yarmouth.Downing-street, July 18th, 1806.An exchange is now offered for Sicily, and it is in that view, and not in that of an absolute and uncompensated cession,950 The first question he must ask was, when was this dispatch written? It was after the battles of Austerlitz and Jena, when Austria was the subservient ally, and Prussia the oppressed vassal of France. It was a time of universal subjugation and despair. Only one ray of hope pierced the darkness. The last hope of the continent seemed to be the alliance of England and Russia. To prevent a separate peace between Russia and France, to preserve the last ally of England and the last hope of Europe, was naturally the predominant thought of an English statesman. If at that dreadful moment, to avert what seemed the consummation of all evil, he had made some sacrifice of principle, what moralist would be so rigorous as to hold him altogether without excuse; and what reasoner could consider such a sacrifice as a precedent for such an act as the transfer of Genoa on mere speculations of expediency, without any pretence of urgent motives, in the midst of victory and triumph, and with a prospect of general and permanent tranquillity? Could the noble lord now plead that dire necessity which justifies only what it compels? The dispatch of Mr. Fox, even if it had been what it is represented, is no final act. It only conveys a conditional assent to an arrangement which at the same time it represents as almost impossible ever to be realized.
The House could not fail to have observed Mr. Fox's objections to the acceptance even of a Turkish province, though in a state of substantial independence. Though he did not shock his correspondent by speaking of national independence, the sentiment which influenced his mind is easily perceived. It is avowed on the subject of Ragusa, to which he Objects; "1, Because it was independent. 2. Because it was ceded by no treaty to France. 3. Because it had been only recently occupied by the French." The House will see with what exactness everyone of these observations is applicable to the cession of Genoa, which Mr. Fox has thus condemned by anticipation in this dispatch, thus unfortunately cited as an authority for its justification.that the question is to be considered. In this shape of the business it is obvious, that the value of that exchange must be to be judged of, not only by this country and by Russia, but also by his Sicilian Majesty. As the King, whose troops were951 In consistency with his principles, which were not those of the Congress of Vienna, in the last paragraph just read, he excludes Ragusa from the enumeration of the territories which were to form a compensation to the King of Sicily. On the same principle, he rejects the Hans towns, whether offered as an indemnity to the King of Sicily, or held out as a lure to the House of Hanover, by a proposal to incorporate them with that electorate. Such was his invariable reverence for the independence of the feeblest commonwealths in Europe.
But it is said, that he was ready to accept Venice from France, for the King of Sicily. Under what circumstances? The Venetian territory had been ceded by Austria to France at the Treaty of Presburgh. The original seizure of that state by France and Austria was indeed the most atrocious act of injustice recorded in the history of human villainy; but it had been sanctioned by the Treaties of Campo-Formio and Luneville, and effectually, perhaps though tacitly, by the Treaty of Amiens. No hopes of independence had been held out to theadmitted into Sicily for its defence and protection, naturally feels insuperable objections to any proposal for abandoning that island, unless with the free and full consent of its Sovereign, and in consequence of such arrangement as should provide for his interests by a compensation really satisfactory both in point of value and of security.The plan of creating for him a new kingdom, to consist of Dalmatia, Ragusa, and Albania, does not appear likely to answer this description. Albania, which forms so large a part of this proposed sovereignty, is now a province of the Turkish empire, the dismemberment of which it is a principal object of the policy of Great Britain to prevent. That province has, indeed, been frequently involved in the same sort of confusion which prevails in many other parts of that empire. But this circumstance only increases the difficulty of giving any consistence to a state to be formed out of such materials. It does not lessen the other objections to such a plan.There are in like manner many and strong objections to that part of the proposal which respects Ragusa—an independent state, whose territory has never been ceded to France, by any Treaty,952 Venetian people: no British army had rescued them from the domination of France. What was more, there was not the slenderest hope that such a rescue could be accomplished. The question, proposed by Mr. Fox, was not whether the people were again to be Venetians or to become Sicilians; but whether they were to continue French, or to be transferred to Sicily. It was a choice between two foreign masters: not between the most hated of foreign masters and the ancient government of the republic restored to independence. In all these important particulars, the project about the cession of Venice, was diametrically opposite to the measure executed in the case of Genoa. If they had been similar, the House would judge in what manner Mr. Fox would have received such a proposition, from the manner in which he actually did receive the proposals for receiving Ragusa, or for seizing Hamburgh. Above all, it could not be doubted how Mr. Fox would have treated a proposal to subject an ancient commonwealth to her most hated neighbour—an atrocity unexampled in the annals of mankind, till it was attempted towards Saxony, and unfortunatelyand of which she can consequently have no right to dispose, her occupation of it being indeed of very recent date.If there could, with the consent of his Sicilian Majesty, be any question of an exchange for Sicily, by the creation of a new state in that quarter; it is obvious that this could no otherwise be done than by annexing to Dalmatia not only the whole of Islria, but also a very large portion, if not the whole of the Venetian states, including, if possible, the city of Venice itself.In some such shape as this it is possible that the proposition might be rendered not wholly unacceptable to his Sicilian Majesty. And although the interests of this country separately would be far less consulted by such a plan than by the continued occupation of Sicily, yet the sense which the Russian minister at Paris appears to entertain of the advantage which might result from it to Austria and Russia from the recovery of Dalmatia, if it were well combined with future arrangements of defence, might induce his Majesty to accede to proposals of this description, on the supposition above mentioned of a bonâ fide consent on the part of his Sicilian Majesty.953 cousummated towards Norway and Genoa.
The Congress of Vienna must be content with the precedents afforded by the members of their own body. They had the authority of the spoilers of Poland. They had an example in the robbery perpetrated by France and Austria against Venice. They might quote the precedent of the partition of Germany under the name of indemnities, by France and Russia in 1802; and of the cession of Hanover by France to Prussia in 1806. Each of the three great Powers bad committed a similar crime as the accomplice of France. But they would in vain seek any warrant for their acts in the former conduct of Great Britain, and they must not hope to shelter a mere lawless exercise of force, under the spotless name of Mr. Fox.
could not allow the House to separate without defending his respected friend, sir J. Dalrymple, against the suspicion of democratical sentiments, or levity of conduct, in what he had said respecting the fall of the aristocracy. His language had been misunderstood.
§ Sir James Mackintosh,
in explanation, declared, that he never meant to apply the words which he used to the intentions of sir J. Dalrymple, but only to his language; and after what he had been privately told by his noble friend, he could not doubt that sir J. Dalrymple could not have intended to employ the language in the sense which seemed to him so extremely objectionable.
§ The previous question being moved on the first Resolution, the House divided:
|For the Resolution||60|
§ The previous question was carried on all the other Resolutions, excepting the last, which was negatived without a division.
|List of the Minority.|
|Abercrombie, hon. J.||Brand, hon. Thos.|
|Aubrey, sir John||Calvert, Charles|
|Althorpe, lord||Campbell, hon. J.|
|Burdett, sir F.||Cocks, hon. J. S.|
|Bewick, C.||Chaloner, R.|
|Babington, Thos.||Cavendish, Charles|
|Bernard, Scope||Cavendish, Henry|
|Butler, hon. C.||Douglas, hon. F.|
|Bovil, J.||Dundas, hon. L.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Duncannon, visc.|
|Bernard, lord||Forbes, Charles|
|Fergusson, sir R.||Proby, lord|
|Frankland, W.||Paulet, hon. V.|
|Grant, J. P.||Ponsonby, rt. hon. G.|
|Gordon, R.||Prittie, hon. F.|
|Hamilton, lord A.||Ramsden, John|
|Horner, F.||Rowley, sir Wm.|
|Halsey, J.||Smith, J.|
|Hammersley, Hugh||Smith, S.|
|Knox, Thos.||Smyth, J. H.|
|Lyttelton, hon. W.||Scudamore, R. P.|
|Leader, W.||Sebright, sir J.|
|Latouche, R.||Tavistock, lord|
|Mackintosh, sir J.||Western, C. C.|
|Milton, lord||Whitbread, S.|
|Morpeth, lord||Wynn, Charles|
|Martin, Wm.||Winnington, sir T.|
|Monck, sir C.||Wellesley, R.|
|Montgomery, sir H.||TELLERS.|
|Newport, sir J.||Sir M. W. Ridley.|
|Nugent, lord||Wm. Smith.|