HC Deb 14 May 1822 vol 7 cc562-96
Mr. Hume

rose to submit his motion respecting the present state of the Ionian Islands. He commenced by stating, that the task which he had undertaken was not one pleasing to himself, nor, moreover, was it of a description which any man would be disposed to undertake who was anxious for his own ease; but he considered the welfare of 200,000 inhabitants of the Ionian islands, and the connexion which the maintenance of the English character had with their condition, as superior to all personal inducements, and as calling upon him to undertake the task, however painful it might be in any particular point of view. He was, therefore, perfectly prepared to discharge his public duty, entertaining as he did the strongest opinions upon the highly improper manner in which the government of the Ionian islands had been conducted since it was placed under the king of Great Britain, as protector. This was not the first but the third time he had called the attention of parliament to the subject: and he regretted that his endeavours to ameliorate the condition of the Ionians had had so little effect. He did so last year at considerable length; and, in now again submitting the miserable situation of those islands to the attention of the House, he should be happy to compress his statements within as narrow a compass as possible, consistent with the importance of the case, and the rendering all its circumstances as intelligible as was necessary to enable the House fully to comprehend the whole bearings of the question. In discharging this duty, He begged to disclaim being actuated by any personal feelings against the character of sir Thomas Maitland, whom he had principally to arraign in the narrative of these transactions. With that individual or his family he had never had any personal connexion or difference, and could not, therefore, be influenced by private motives of any description. He felt a deep interest in the condition of these islanders, because he had spent a considerable time amongst them, and had had much intercourse with them at that period. He could not, from his knowledge of their past and present situation, look at their condition now, without deploring it in the highest degree. When he had the pleasure of residing in the Ionian islands, Corfu was still held by France; and the remainder of the islands were occupied by British troops. He had then gone from island to island, and enjoyed the gratifying pleasure of hearing the English name and character, and every thing connected with them, praised and revered by the people: the connection with England was to them the harbinger of peace and happiness, and her protection was felt by them to be an assurance of the early enjoyment of British rights and liberty.

Before he alluded to the formal manner in which England had, by the treaty of Paris, become the protectress of the Ionian islands, he should, for the information of those hon. members who might not have heard him last year, say a few words respecting their previous condition and government. The Ionian islands formerly belonged to the republic of Venice: but when that state became subject to the dominion of France in 1797, they followed the fate of the republic. The French remained in occupation of them until the year 1800, when the Turks and Russians drove them out, and they then came under the protection of the latter, who established what was called the septinsular republic, and under that form of government, they remained until the treaty of Tilsit, when by a secret article they were conveyed back again to the French, who resumed their government and retained it until the year 1810, at which time they were all, except Corfu, (which had a strong garrison) re-captured by the British. He was then in these islands, and present at the time of the capture of Santa Maura. England then occupied Zante, Cephalonia, Ithaca, and the rest, except Corfu; and so they remained until the fall of Buonaparte, when the whole of the islands were placed under the protection of the king of England, by the treaty of Paris, signed at the congress in that capital on the 5th of Nov. 1815. They were by that treaty "declared to be free and independent states," and placed as such under the immediate guarantee and protection of the British government. One article of that treaty states, that they are consigned to the "immediate and exclusive protection of the king of Great Britain." And another article specifies, that a convention shall settle all matters therein (meaning the islands), and that they shall support and pay the British garrisons (which are still to occupy them) in time of peace, not exceeding 3000 men, with all their expenses. By the same article, Corfu was to remain under the then existing form of government, until by a convention of the several islands a local government should be organized there to supply its place. On the 17th May, 1817, a constitutional charter for the united states of these islands was prepared by sir T. Maitland, the lord high commissioner from Great Britain, with an appearance of concert with, but in reality without any sanction of the inhabitants; and, on the 11th of July following it was confirmed by the king of Great Britain.

In submitting his present motion to parliament, he (Mr. Hume) was actuated by a two-fold object: 1st, as related to Great Britain, on the score of expense; and 2dly, as related to the happiness of the people of these islands, and to the character of the nation in her capacity of protectress to the Ionian islands. He could refer to various speeches of the noble marquis (Londonderry) opposite, declaratory of the interest which Great Britain took at the congress respecting these islands, and what advantages the islanders were to enjoy in consequence of her protection: that the islands were to maintain the British garrisons out of their own revenues, and to enjoy the advantages of a free constitution: and that England was not to be put to any expense, as protector of the independence of the Ionian government.—These were the expectations which were held out by the noble marquis in that House, and by the noble lord at the head of the colonial department (earl Bathurst) in the House of Lords. The people naturally expected the enjoyment of peace, happiness, and tranquillity, under a representative form of government and under the protection of the king of Great Britain. From the whole tenour of the speeches of the noble lords, and obvious interpretation of the articles in the treaty, these people were to form their own constitution, and England was not to be saddled with any part of the expense of garrisoning the islands in time of peace. There was also an express stipulation which provided, that when the British garrisons should exceed the number of 3,000 troops (contemplating a state of war, and some political emergency) then the local revenue were not to be chargeable for more than the maintenance of the said 3,000 men. The word of the con- vention, which were probably framed by the noble marquis himself, were very precise, and to this effect—"That his Britannic majesty consented that a particular convention with the Ionian States shall settle all matters relating to the garrisons both as to number and expense:" of course the meaning of the contemplated arrangement must have been, that the settlement should take place with those constitutional authorities, in conformity with the stipulation, that all expenses were to be defrayed by the revenues of the islands: therefore clearly implying, that there was to exist a civil and independent government, separate and distinct from the military authorities. It should be stated, that in the year 1816 sir T. Maitland was appointed to the office of lord high commissioner of the Ionian islands, and succeeded general Campbell in the command; he remained a few months on the spot, and returned to England, as was supposed, to arrange with the British government at home the free constitution which it was pretended had been suggested by islanders. Sir T. Maitland returned to the lonian states in Nov. of the same year (1816), and the form of their constitution was settled in the spring of the following year (the 2nd of May, 1817). By the 12th article, 2nd section, and 7th chapter, of that charter, it was settled—that all expenses of quartering the regular troops of his Britannic majesty, and, generally speaking, all their garrison expenses, so far as providing for the above-mentioned 3,000 men, should be paid out of the treasury of the Ionian states. Now, he would ask, had that been done? Had not the people of England sufficient burthens to bear—did not their condition call loudly for relief—without being saddled with the large additional expense of maintaining these establishments in the Ionian islands? [Hear]. The main point for which he contended was this—that the Ionian government ought to pay, as the treaty stipulated, the expense of the British garrisons out of their revenues; instead of which, contrary to the express letter of the treaty, and the repeated declaration of the ministers, England was annually put to a very large expense for garrisoning these islands. He found it extremely difficult to get correct returns of the expenditure for the past year; several had been called for by him this session, but, hitherto, none had been laid before the House, and he was obliged to go back to a former return; and one in particular dated on the 25th Feb.1820, which purported to contain an abstract of the expenditure incurred by Great Britain in the Ionian islands for the years ending on the 25th Dec. 1817, and 1818, as far as these accounts had been delivered by the Mediterranean commissariat to the Audit-office. Since these returns had been made, he was aware that some praise was due to the secretary of the Treasury, for the more distinct manner in which the accounts of the army extra ordinaries had been made up: but much remained to be done to bring the colonial expenditure fairly before parliament. By the accounts to which he had referred, it appeared that in 1817, the expenses incurred by Great Britain in the Ionian islands, over and above the sums defrayed out of the local revenues, amounted to 145,203l. for the Ionian military establishment alone, exclusive of transports, which were kept there at a considerable expense for three years; and it was only on his moving for certain returns, the year before last, that four or five of these transports, which were kept sailing from island to island chiefly, if not entirely, for the convenience of the lord high commissioner, were discharged. In 1818, the expenditure charged to Great Britain was 120,000l. He had moved for further accounts, which were not yet forthcoming, but he knew that an increased number of British troops had been since employed there. At first 2,000 British troops were employed there, then the number was increased at different times, 2, 3, and 400, until the number of regular troops now amounted to 3,900, exclusive of the artillery, commissariat, and other departments. Upon calculating the expenditure incurred by England for these islands, during the seven years that had clasped since the treaty of Paris, he found that it amounted to above a million sterling, every shilling of which might and ought to have been left in the pockets of the people of England, agreeably to the treaty of Paris; and moreover he was convinced, that under a proper and provident management of the Ionian revenues, sufficient funds would have been derived from then for maintaining the garrisons, without adding any thing to the burthen of England on that account. He would, however, add, that under the profuse and extravagant government of sit T. Maitland, England would be drained to support useless civil and military establishments, and at the same time to deprive the islanders of their rights and liberties [Hear!]. So far, therefore, as pecuniary calculations were involved in this question, he must submit, that the resources of Great Britain were wasted to support establishments in these islands, which were not warranted by the circumstances of the times, or the treaties by which England had acquired the protection of these states. Upon are ference to the returns which had been made of the revenues of the Ionian islands, in the years 1817, 1818, and 1819, be found that in 1817 they were 391,000 dollars, or 87,000l., to which, for the purpose of showing the total expense of their government, must be added the 145,000l. charged to England: thus constituting for the civil government and military garrisons in one year of peace, no less a sum than 232,000l. [Hear !]. In 1818, the revenues appeared to have been increased to 615,000 dollars, a sum equal to carrying on the whole expense, were it not for the creation of new and useless offices, and the augmentation of the salaries of the old offices by sir T. Maitland. That lord high commissioner himself held a variety of offices in his own person: as governor of Malta he received 5,000l. a year; as commander in-chief in the Mediterranean he received 3,500l.; as lord high commissioner he received 1,000l.; by a pension from the revenues of Ceylon he derived 1,000l. more; and besides these emoluments, he had a regiment, and a variety of allowances, probably putting him during the last seven years, in the receipt of 15,000l. a year, or 13,000l. upon the most moderate computation. How far these appointments were consistent with the noble marquis's repeated declarations of economy, he (the marquis) would perhaps explain to the House: but he (Mr. H.), contended it was a breach of duty, as well as of promise, for the government not to look into and reduce this expenditure, and save the country the additional burthens it so improperly imposed.

The hon. gentleman then read a list of salaries and offices in the islands, which had all been of late years augmented. There was a secretary in one place at 500l. a year, an assistant at 300l., two others at 250l. and 150l., all with other allowances, a general treasurer at 700l.; his assistant 250l.; another at 280l.; the head of the supreme council 2,000l.; with a variety of other salaries of the same description. Amongst these items he also found an agent for the Ionian islands resident here (an office, in his humble opinion, utterly unnecessary), a sir Alex. Wood, with a salary of 500l. a year. Sir F. Adam had also 1,000l. a year as chief military officer under the lord high commissioner; four militia inspectors had 383l. a year each, and six sub-inspectors some had 228l., and others 191l. each. Near 3,000l. a year was thus paid for militia inspectors, when he knew, from an officer who had for three years filled one of these offices, that not a single inspector of them had, been called out on duty with the militia for one day throughout the whole of that period [Hear, hear!]. There were 10 staff officers in this manner useless; one of them was major Thomas Fane, a member of that House, appointed so lately as last August; captain J. L. White was another to rank as lieutenant-colonel, as all of them did on their appointment; he was from the 61st foot, and was appointed inspecting field-officer in the gazette of the 4th of August last. These offices were, as the fact proved, merely for the sake of patronage, and not for service, in the gift of either the government at home or the general abroad. It was intolerable that England should have to pay 150,000l. over and above the revenues of these islands for purposes of this kind, when their revenues ought to be quite sufficient for every purpose, or, if not so, it should be shown that these revenues were inadequate to the real services required under the protection of England. But no accounts whatever of such necessity were submitted to the House. [Hear.] In looking over the returns laid before the House on his (Mr. Hume's) motion, be found above 350 individuals on the list of offices. He regretted that the gallant general, sir Thomas Maitland, should in his last year's speech (a speech certainly intended for England rather than for the senate to which it was addressed) have taken so much pains to animadvert upon the manlier in which duties were discharged without pecuniary remuneration; it was a slur upon the whole unpaid magistracy of England, although there was no doubt that he, by that statement, intended to sanction all the extraordinary salaries which he had established in the Ionian islands. He (Mr. H.), when he was there, knew many persons of great respectability, who were proud to act as justices of the peace in their islands, and as officers of the inferior courts, in the same manner as our magistrates did in England, as an honour, and without reference to any remunerating salary.

But it was said, that these people had taken bribes. He denied the allegation generally, although there might be exceptions: it was improbable, and he thought, in the absence of all proof, his assertion on the one side was just as good as the one on the other. If there be any ground for the charge, why was the proof not produced? Under the Russian protection and the septinsular republic of these islands, the president was paid 1,515 dollars a year: living was cheap there, simplicity reigned in almost every branch of the Ionian domestic economy, and reduced the expenditure to one-fourth, or, perhaps, one-sixth of the cost of living in England; 1,5l5 dollars were, therefore, considered to be a large and liberal allowance by Russia. What did sir T. Maitland do for the president (whether he was a favoured man or not, he did not mean to say)—he raised his salary to 6,222 dollars a year. The senators, who had but 909 dollars each, received now 3,111 dollars; and the members of the legislative body who, in the time of the septinsular government, had altogether received but 12,000 dollars, were now allotted 26 or 27,000 dollars; and, although their services or sittings were only for a few weeks in the year, they were, instead of being paid during the time of their actual labours, put upon annual salaries, since sir T. Maitland's government. Not less extraordinary were some of the expenses charged on account of the lord high commissioner, sir T. Maitland. He alluded to the travelling expenses, under the head of army extra ordinaries in 1819: such as "paid to captain Maitland for the passage and expenses of sir T. Maitland, in his majesty's ships, from Corfu to Malta, from Malta to Genoa, &c. 778l." This was a charge, the House would observe, for the travelling expenses of an officer, receiving 5,000l. a year as governor of Malta, who ought to have been all the time on duty at Malta. [Hear.] It would be known to many members, that last year a petition had been sent from Malta, complaining of neglect of duty on the part of sir T. Maitland. In 1820, the charge for similar expenses, and on account of the same individual, was 982l. In 182l., it was 615l. All this seemed to be very exorbitant and unreasonable; but, why the charge of passage for a civil officer, in a ship of war, was entered in the army extraordinaries, he was to tally at a loss to conceive. These expenses seemed the more unwarranted, because that officer's pay and pensions amounted, exclusively of them, to no less than 10,458l. per annum. If such charges, therefore, were to be permitted for such offices, it was in vain for the country gentlemen to ask for relief: relief could not be effected, while items of this nature were allowed to remain.

Having now offered these few observations on the subject of economy, he would beg to add some upon the treatment which these islanders had received at our hands. There were many gentlemen in that House who had visited the Ionian islands since he himself had been there; and they would, perhaps, inform parliament what was the state of things at the time of their residence in those countries. For himself, he could vouch that at the period during which he was among the people in question, the English were almost adored. [Hear.] The Greeks looked up to them as their benefactors; they considered them as the assertors of their freedom; and from the hands which could confer so invaluable a gift, they were disposed to hope every thing. At the present moment, however; the very name of England was detested by all Greeks; and they awaited with impatient anxiety the moment which should enable them to free themselves from the odious thraldom in which they accused us of having bound them; and to break from the galling yoke which they reproached us with having imposed upon their country. [Hear.] They had, in truth, received from us the empty semblance of a representative constitution; but it was one destitute of all the benefits which they might reasonably have expected from it. The delusive constitution which they had received was calculated to be for a long time matter of deep regret to this unfortunate nation. He called it delusive, because it held out the form and appearance of popular representation, whilst it was a perfect despotism, under sir T. Maitland, who ruled every thing. When sir T. Maitland arrived at Corfu on the 17th Feb., 1816, his arrival was hailed by all the islanders with infinite joy, and they naturally hoped that under the representative of so powerful a protector as the sovereign of Great Britain, they should enjoy that freedom and those privileges, particularly the privilege of being represented in their senate, in the possession of which Great Britain herself had attained to such political distinction and renown. The very first opportunity that offered, however—in the case of Theotoki—attempts were made to influence and force the senate in their deliberations. These unfortunate islanders soon discovered that the lord high commissioner was disposed to put them and their institutions at defiance. In short, this case had been so often mentioned, that it was only necessary for him (Mr. H.) to state, that, in a few weeks after his arrival, endeavours were made to induce the senate to accede to measures which they had previously declared they could not conscientiously do. Four senators were expelled, and the most violent and unjustifiable measures were adopted by sir T. Maitland to procure their expulsion to Santa Maura and Zante. No specific charge was brought against them, but they were accused in a public proclamation generally of corrupt and wicked practices. [A laugh.] He (Mr. H.) thought it would, be difficult to attach any other meaning to the Italian words "gli atti inetti e corrotti." The senate protested, but in vain; and the event was, that the lord high commissioner thought it necessary to proceed against the senators in a similar way. The senate remonstrated; but this violent conduct was sanctioned by the authority of en English order in council; the ground of which appeared to be that this government could not consider the senate to be the general legislative body of the Ionian republic; but it considered it as the senate of Corfu only. Now what was the fact? The treaty of Paris had expressly recognized it for the senate of the septinsular government. The government of Great Britain had, by their first act, thus manifested, that they approved of a course of proceeding which was intended to strike terror into the minds of the people. This system of terror it was easy to trace at very different periods. On the 18th Jan., 1817, the drums beat to arms, the garrison was called out, the alarm was sounded, and every thing seemed to indicate that the island of Corfu was about to be attacked. There were at that time his majesty's ships Spartan and Tagus lying at their moorings; and these ships received the lord commissioner's orders to anchor opposite the town in the harbour, as if for the purpose of additional security. All the authorities were alarmed, and great pains were taken to persuade them that a conspiracy had been discovered, and that its objects were directed against the government. Now, this plot, which was called from its author Bignotti's conspiracy, had been anticipated in fact; for it was talked of at least two months before in the governor's house at Malta, as a thing very likely to happen. Private papers were seized; persons were imprisoned; and no one could reasonably consider himself to be safe. Priests, nobles, lawyers—none were respected who were considered to be obnoxious. At length an inquiry took place; the whole story was declared to be false and unfounded, and the parties who had been imprisoned were liberated, with a caution to demean themselves more carefully for the future. From that moment, no individual in the islands dared to express himself in the smallest degree dissatisfied with the British government. [Hear.] But a set of men easily discovered what they had to do, to curry fayour with it, and to be speak its favours by subserviency to the lord high commissioner and the crushing every complaint against his government. After acts of oppression and violence like these against innocent people, it would scarcely be credited that addresses to the lord high commissioner were got up by a set of sycophants—that some persons determined to raise triumphal arches to his honour—others to erect columns, with inscriptions to his praise. On the 5th of April 1817, the inhabitants of Cephalonia agreed upon a plan of this sort, and nothing could please them but a bronze statue of the general [A laugh.]; in Zante they proposed to erect a bust of a colossal size, which they determined should be made by the celebrated Canova. He (Mr. H.) regretted that an hon. gentleman, whom however he had not the pleasure of knowing (Mr. Bankes, jun.), was not now present, because that hon. member was understood to have been in the Ionian islands at the date of these transactions, and could, perhaps, afford the House some information on the subject. There were, how,, however, one or two other members who, from similar circumstances, were equally qualified to furnish some particulars. At Santa Maura they voted a triumphal column; Ithaca and the other islands vied to demonstrate their attachment to the lord high commissioner. Shortly after this it was, that, the grand crosses of the order of St. Michael were distributed in great profusion; and he believed that if a list of those distributions were laid before the House, he could with great facility point out those as knights who had been most active in preparing the fulsome addresses, or in voting for the columns, the busts, and the statues. This was much to be regretted, because those honours ought to have served a much better purpose. He really did believe, that if this country had ever done one thing more disgraceful than another, or one thing which was meant more than another to serve the purposes of a corrupt influence, it was the way in which the grand crosses of St. Michael were distributed. The noble marquis might rest assured, and he (Mr. H.) had no hesitation in asserting, that very many of them had been disposed of in the way just mentioned.

The House had been informed, that the lord high commissioner soon drew up a plan for a free government, and the people of course expected that their representatives should have some active part allotted them to perform. But they were disappointed: for those hon. members who had read what was called the constitutional charter, would see, that whatever it might hold out as its ostensible object, its practical effect was, to throw all the real power of the government of the Ionian islands into the hands of the lord high commissioner alone. [Hear, hear.] When the House looked at this instrument, they must perceive that it was one of the grossest delusions and most unblushing impositions that was ever submitted to the consideration of an intelligent people, under the name of a popular representative constitution. He had already said, in short, that the corrupt system of the self-elected magistracy of a Scotch burgh was nothing to it. A Scotch burgh was not presumed to possess a fair representation, and was considered as a mere rotten establishment; yet both purported to be represented by those who were selected by individuals competent to judge and having the power of selection for themselves. The fact was notoriously otherwise, and the analogy between the two cases Wits extraordinarily close. Would the noble marquis permit him to ask, how long it would take his lordship to settle the constitution of a country? [Hear, and a laugh.] Every body knew the facility of the noble lord in settling governments; and if the noble lord, in reply, should say, that it would occupy him for a space of time equal to that of the sitting of the agricultural committee, he (Mr. H.) would be quite satisfied. [A laugh.] But what was the case with the Ionian constitution? The legislative assembly of those islands was composed of 40 deputies or senators, of whom 29 ought to be returned by the freeholders of the different islands, and 10 were nominated out of a certain number elected by the lord high commissioner. Not contented with the power of electing 10 members, the lord high commissioner had endeavoured to influence the election of all the other senators who were eligible by the people. The people were summoned to vote for those who had been selected by sir T. Maitland. They refused; but being at length informed by the governors that they must vote, they came and voted in the negative. Notwithstanding the refusal of the people to vote for the parties nominated by sir T. Maitland, their votes were recorded, and the parties in question were sent up to the assembly, as if they had been duly returned, although a certain proportion of votes in the affirmative were requisite for an election [Hear!]. On the 24th of April, the assembly met and were called on to take an oath, that they would not divulge the subject or nature of their deliberations until the pleasure of the sovereign protector should be made known. On the following day, the 25th, the constitutional charter (to prepare which, agreeably to the treaty of Paris, they were summoned), ready prepared to their hands, was laid on the table, and read. The assembly were called upon immediately to, agree to it—one individual spoke against, its being confirmed, but be was immediately put down: no discussion was allowed; and thus the instrument was advanced towards its completion with a rapidity of which the House, quick as it was in the work of legislation, could hardly have an idea. On the 25th, it was finally agreed to, and the seal of the lord high commissioner was affixed to it.—This was the Magna Charta of the Ionian islands! [A laugh.] On the 25th, the assembly, the deliberative assembly, who had pre- pared, between the 24th and 25th, a constitution, were called upon to sign, and did actually sign, and approve of it after one reading! [Hear!] Five days afterwards a deputation was appointed to carry the instrument to England for his majesty's approbation; and on the 5th of May the deputation was sent to its destination. Since that period, the lord high commissioner had controlled every thing; and not a man in the Ionian islands dared to open his mouth against what was known to be his wish or even his will. Setting aside the disappointments the people in question had experienced, and they were grievous; surely it was shameful that England was thus to be held up to the censure and derision of all Europe, for such acts of injustice committed in her name by sir T. Maitland! What could the noble lord, what could any traveller expect, but always to hear the injustice we had committed complained of; and what could be more reasonable than the demand for justice and reparation at our hands?—The hon. gentleman then adverted to the cession of Parga, which he designated as one of the darkest blots upon our national reputation. In that, too, the lord high commissioner had had but too great a share. Then an insurrection had broken out at Santa Maura, and everybody well knew that it was the effect of a most impolitic taxation and oppressive government. Every act of our government in these islands had been distinguished by a character of violence or tyranny. Two priests accused of being concerned in exciting that insurrection were taken and executed in their canonicals. Though they might have been guilty, some measures other than a drum-head court martial should have been adopted that might have sufficiently proved them to be so. He, for one, could not separate sir T. Maitland from that responsibility which he conceived attached to the exercise of the British authority in the Ionian islands. Another act of his government was equally extraordinary and unwarrantable. The whole of the church property had been placed under the superintendance of col. Robinson, as administrator general. An officer of the marines was appointed head of the church to act under the authority of the senate. He was directed to recover all usurpations of property which he should consider as such, without an appeal or the interference of any tribunal: he appointed the stewards to: all the church establishments, and the elections of abbots and abbesses were held under his authority. What must have been the feeling of every Catholic at the nomination of colonel Robinson? It would not be enough to tell him (Mr. H.), in answer to this part of the case, that a change was subsequently made, and col. Robinson's authority in this respect limited to Corfu. In any island the interference of a heretic in that manner with the Greek church was the grossest insult. He would give one instance of the manner in which the powers to which he had alluded were exercised, as far as regarded the recovery of what was called usurped property. An individual of the name of Battaglia owned some land that had been in the possession of his family for a century. It was resumed, as belonging to the Church: he appealed, and four judges were called upon to decide the question: two gave an opinion in his favour, and two against him. The question was then referred to the lord high commissioner, and in his final decision a decree of the doge of Venice, as long ago as the year 1416, was quoted, declaring that none of the church lands could under any circumstances be alienated [Hear.] Accordingly, the land was resumed, and Battaglia had been a beggar ever since. The consequence of these proceedings was, a disturbance at Zante, which, however, did not proceed to the length of rebellion. A number of persons were arrested on suspicion and some were prosecuted; among them Martinengo, who was charged with no distinct crime, but was supposed to have had something to do in exciting an unpleasant feeling on the part of the people against the government. The manner of the arrest of that gentleman and the subsequent treatment would be a fair example of the manner in which the Ionians were treated. On the 7th of August, at midnight, he was dragged from his bed, and kept in silent and solitary confinement until the 23rd October, not even being allowed to have an interview with his adopted son. He was then brought to trial on a charge of so vague and wild a nature, that the learned member for Winchelsea (Mr. Brougham), on a former occasion, had truly stated, that the lowest attorney of the court ought to have been ashamed of producing it. It was worthy of remark also, that Martinengo was not tried according to the forms and court appointed for such offences in the constitutional charter; but a new court was constituted for the purpose, and that court sentenced a man of one of the first families in Zante, and sixty-six years old, to no less a punishment than to be degraded from his rank and to be imprisoned for 12 years in the fortress of Santa Maura. Death would have been mercy, compared with such an infliction. [Hear.] The adopted son of Martinengo came to this country, and on a statement of the facts, this government commuted the sentence to three or four years' banishment, and Martinengo was at this moment in Venice, with some hundreds of his unfortunate fellow-countrymen who have been banished or have fled from the tyranny of sir Thomas Maitland. Were not these facts enough to rouse the most indolent and supine? The bare relation of them made the blood boil; but the endurance of them was ample motive for the Ionians to make every exertion to throw off a yoke so unjust and so onerous. The wonder indeed was, that these brave islanders, under such aggravated oppressions, had not made greater efforts to free themselves from such an odious bondage.

After quoting a passage from his (Mr. Hume's) speech of last session, in which the hon. member asserted, that the blood of the innocent victims would be on the heads of the oppressors, unless the British government interfered to stop such cruel proceedings, be proceeded to express his satisfaction that he had put his opinions upon record; for almost at the very moment he was delivering them, the wretched Ionians had been exposed to a new and needless visitation. The whole presented a scene of injustice and iniquity to which no parallel could be found under any British officer in any part of the world. A large portion of the most respectable inhabitants of Zante, indignant at the injuries their country suffered and at the treatment they received, drew up a petition to the king, which was signed by 32 names of rank and importance, and among them by Signor Georgio Rossi, a judge. It represented the hardships the petitioners and all the islanders sustained, prayed for a reform, and claimed of his majesty the free constitution and the benignant protection promised at the peace of Paris. What was the result? Signor Rossi and all the rest of the individuals who had signed the remonstrance were arrested, hurried to prison, and there confined, for affixing their names to what was termed a "seditious and rebellious petition." One object he (Mr. H.) had in view was, that if he failed in carrying his resolutions, he might induce the House to direct a copy of this document to be laid upon the table. Signor Rossi, the most respectable of the prisoners, however had the good fortune to make his escape and came to England to claim redress. If it were urged that the information which he (Mr. H.) possessed of many of these atrocious transactions was insufficient and defective, that circumstance could be very easily accounted for: every avenue by which intelligence could get beyond the islands was closely stopped; letters were opened and taken, and every channel by which truth could arrive was choked; but still all that he (Mr. H.) had brought forward, he should be able satisfactorily to establish. He then related, on the authority of Signor Rossi, the facts attending his escape, and subsequent arrival in this kingdom. He had been the only individual out of 32, who had been able to avoid the vigilance of their persecutors. He came to demand justice for the wrongs of his country; and having laid the particulars of his case before the secretary of state, he was answered oh the 17th of July, 1821, that in his situation, no redress could be given; that he must go back to the islands, and put himself in the power of his oppressors, and that instructions had been sent out to the Ionian islands. At the time the 32 individuals were arrested, 50 other persons had put their names to another petition; the greater number of those were also subsequently confined; and Signor Rossi, obtaining information of the fact while in this country again addressed earl Bathurst on the 17th September. The answer he obtained was, that "considering the situation in which he (Rossi) stood, lord Bathurst did not deem it proper to enter into any discussion with him." The deputation from Parga, after remaining here until they, were almost unable to obtain subsistence, without obtaining redress of any kind, was at last obliged to return to those who had persecuted them. Signor Rossi, in the same way and for the same reason, had been obliged to leave this country and to go to Venice, where, he found his countrymen flying from the gaolers of sir T. Maitland; and the only hope they now had was, that a revolution, like that of Greece, might some time or other restore them to their homes and to their estates. Subjected to the arbitrary and unjust conduct of sir Thomas Maitland in their own islands, justice was denied, the ear of mercy was closed against their prayers in England!

In what a deplorable situation, then, were the Ionian islands at this moment. The lord high commissioner had asserted that they were in a state of "peace and tranquillity." They were in peace and tranquillity; but it was such as Mr. Burke had described the plains of Arcot when oppression and death had emptied the abodes of man. The islands had been lately put under martial law; the whole population had been disarmed, an act inflicting the deepest disgrace, for to them to be without arms was a badge of slavery. What was the alleged cause of this most oppressive and unnatural state of things on the part of their protectors? Merely that the people had sympathized with their fellow countrymen in Greece: because they had felt as all men ought to feel in behalf of fellow christians, struggling to throw off the yoke of infidel Turks, they were declared under martial law, and had been deprived of their arms. He agreed with the noble marquis, that this country ought to preserve the strictest neutrality: it had always been too anxious to mix itself in the broils of other states; but what sort of neutrality had been observed towards the Greeks? It was notorious that the public authorities in the Ionian islands had done every thing to favour the Turks, and to impede the march of liberty. [Lord Londonderry asked across the table, how this assertion was proved?] He admitted that it was difficult to establish the fact: in the nature of things it must be so; but it was not to be disputed, that after a fight between a Turkish ship and two Greek vessels, the former made towards the shore of Zante to escape; the people assembled in large numbers, anxious that as the Greek ships had been refused assistance in Zante, no succour should be afforded to the Turkish ships—a conduct fair from neutrals—a military force was dispatched to the shore where the Turkish ship was, under pretence that it was necessary to guard against the communication of the plague. A dispute took place between the inhabitants and the soldiers; both parties fired, and lives were lost on both sides. Another circumstance would more distinctly show that neutrality had not been observed. At Patras resided the consuls of various nations, and among them, Mr. Green, the consul for England. While the Greeks were beseiging the Turks in the citadel, they were most unfairly and improperly treated by Mr. Green; but instead of resorting to any more violent course against the envoy of a country they were so unwilling to offend, they entered a protest against his conduct, which was dated April 26, 1821, in which they charged him with being neutral only in words, and partial in deeds, employing spies against the Greeks, and giving information to the Turks, by which all the projects of the former were defeated. This instrument, a copy of which he had in his hands, was signed by the magistrates of Peloponnesus. After a knowledge of this fact, in addition to their own wrongs, was it surprising that the inhabitants of the Ionian islands should feel some degree of animosity against this government, and show a strong sympathy with the Greeks engaged in so arduous and so glorious a contest? a contest in which he hoped they would succeed, in spite of the disgraceful conduct of the British authorities in the Ionian islands [Hear!]. The examples that had been made by imprisonment, and the executions that had been the consequence of their manifesting that sympathy, might have been amply sufficient. Nevertheless, on the 12th of October last, martial law was proclaimed, and every means adopted to reduce the wretched and degraded islanders to what sir T. Maitland termed a state "of peace and tranquillity." This law, too, was extended to Cephalonia, Corfu, and Santa Maura, where not a man had attempted to contravene the orders of government, as was admitted by the lord high commissioner himself in his speech to the legislative body at Corfu. Great pains had been taken to circulate that speech in this country; and though it professed to be intended for the Ionian islands, it was very clearly meant to be read by the people of England. As a proof he might observe, that the legislative body were told by sir T. Maitland (a piece of information certainly not very new to them) that Santa Maura was separated horn the continent only by a narrow channel. [Hear!].—a piece of information, somewhat similar to what would have been the case in this House, if the king should inform us, that London bridge connected the city and the borough of Southwark. Besides, it involved an obvious contradiction, for the governor issued a proclama- tion against clandestine departures from the islands; yet in his speech he stated, as a reason for disarming the population, that they had left the islands in bands, and in the open day, in defiance of the public authorities. It was admitted, that banditti came over from the continent to Santa Maura, and plundered the inhabitants, and yet sir T. Maitland had deprived the people of their arms, that they might be unable to defend themselves and their property from such banditti [Hear, hear!]. There were strong internal marks in this document, that it was fabricated for publication here; but it bore no marks of having been manufactured by an artist of even ordinary skill. Much had been said of neutrality, and great pains had been taken to prevent any arms or military stores being sent to the Greeks. But gunpowder to the amount of 52,000 lb. and 15,000 shot had been, in 1820, sold to Ali Pacha out of the public stores, at Corfu and its delivery superintended by a British officer, in the month of May in that year. It was true that these stores had been taken from the French, but at the time to which he was referring they were under our control, and were disposed of in the manner he had described, by the agency of Mr. Johnson, a merchant. Did this indicate a sincere disposition to preserve neutrality? [Hear!]. The prohibition by proclamation in the supply of arms, although made equally against the Turks, he considered as in point of fact only another breach of the neutrality; for how could they expect that any assistance could be sent by the Greeks from those islands to the Turks? Sir T. Maitland, on his return, had conducted himself towards the bishop of Cephalonia and several ministers of that church, with the most unjustifiable harshness and oppression, on no pretext but that of their having offered up prayers for the success of the Greek arms. This had been done in Switzerland; and surely it was not surprising that amongst the inhabitants of the Ionian islands, a people of the same religious persuasion as the Greeks, a form of this kind should be adopted. Such, however, was the temper manifested by the lord high commissioner, that he issued a proclamation, in which it was declared, "that as the Turks were our friends, it was abhorrent to all the feelings and principles of a good subject to pray for their adversaries." The bishop of Cephalonia was seized and conveyed to Corfu; he was afterwards removed to Italy, where he now continued an exile and a wanderer in poverty and want [Hear, hear!]. He (Mr. H.) knew not what could be urged in exculpation of so cruel and unreasonable a proceeding; but he must say, that it appeared to him to fill up to the brim the measure of that despotism and oppression, which should, in his judgment, have heretofore disposed his majesty's ministers to investigate the conduct of sir T. Maitland. No real inquiry was, perhaps, ever likely to take place, whilst the lord high commissioner retained all his present authority; and therefore it was that he should have considered himself warranted in at once moving for his recall. So long as sir T. Maitland continued in the exercise of all his powers, very few individuals would have the boldness to step forward and offer their evidence to criminate him. Since, however, many of his (Mr. Hume's) friends were of opinion, that the more fair and regular course would be to move in the first instance for an inquiry, he had yielded to their recommendations. Had this inquiry been allowed during the last session, how many, melancholy scenes might have been prevented, and how much of that obloquy now cast upon the British name have been avoided! If the treaty by which those islands were placed under British protection had been attended to, and a free constitution given to them, much disgrace which we have suffered, would have been avoided; the people would have been happy, and an annual expenditure of 150,000l. would, in all probability, have been spared to England. Surely these were sums too extravagant to be paid for the reprehension and indignities to which we had been subjected by our administration in those unfortunate islands.—He had to apologize to the House for the length at which he had trespassed on its attention in the discussion of this interesting subject. Without doubt he had been led to express his feelings strongly, but he hoped not offensively; his decided conviction certainly still being, that unless his majesty's ministers would go into the investigation, there was no security against a recurrence of evils as grievous and deplorable as those which he had endeavoured to lay before them [Hear!]. He should now submit his resolutions, the first and second of which were only declaratory of certain facts that were, he believed, unquestion- able: the 3rd and 4th were recommendatory of the best means of saving expense to this country, and of ascertaining the truth to be enabled to do justice to the Ionians, as we were bound to do. The resolutions were as follow:

  1. l. "That it appears by documents upon the table of this House, that the Ionian Islands were, by a treaty signed at Paris on the 5th November 1815, between the courts of Vienna, St. Peters-burgh, London, and Berlin, declared 'to be a single, free, and independent state,' and were placed under the immediate and exclusive protection of the king of Great Britain; and that, by article 6 of the said treaty, 'his Britannic majesty consents that a particular convention with the government of the said United states shall settle, according to the state revenues, all matters relative to the maintenance of the fortresses now existing, as well as to the support and pay of the British garrisons, and to the number of men who are to compose them in time of peace. The said convention shall also establish the relations which are to take place between the armed force and the Ionian government.' That by article 12, of the 2nd section of the 7th chapter of the constitutional chart of the United states of the Ionian Islands, agreed to by the legislative assembly on the 2nd May, 1817, and sanctioned by his majesty the king of Great Britain, it is settled, 'that all expense of quartering the regular troops of his majesty, the protecting sovereign, and generally speaking, all military expense of every kind to be incurred by the states (as far as relates to the 3,000 men therein named) shall be paid out of the general treasury of the same.'
  2. 2. "That it appears by returns on the table of this House, that the expenditure of Great Britain for the military establishments in the Ionian Islands, amounted to the sum of 145,023l. in the year 1817; and to 120,015l. in 1818, exclusive of the expense for transports, relief of troops, passage money, and other charges, which have not been laid before the House.
  3. 3. "That it is expedient, in the present state of the finances of the United kingdom, that the military expense incurred for the Ionian Islands, should be paid from the revenues of those Islands, and regulated agreeably to the stipulations of the treaty of Paris, 5th November 1815, and the convention of the United Ionian 584 states, agreed to on the 2nd May, 1817, and sanctioned by his majesty.
  4. 4. "That an humble address be presented to his majesty, that he would be graciously pleased to direct an inquiry into the state of the government of the Ionian Islands, the causes of the general disaffection, and of the numerous arrests and banishments which have taken place there, and for what reasons the inhabitants were disarmed, and martial law proclaimed."

Mr. Wilmot

said, it would not be necessary for him to go over the whole ground traversed by the hon. member, inasmuch as his speech, or at least the greater part of it, occupying a space of nearly two hours, consisted in a discussion of topics, verbatim et seriatim, the same as he had brought forward in the course of the last session. The House had then rejected the hon. gentleman's proposition by a majority of 97 and 27; and it could not, therefore, be requisite for him to extend his reply on this occasion, or to animadvert on so many points as he should otherwise have thought it his duty to refer to. The first material difference between the hon. gentleman and himself regarded the construction of the article in the treaty of Paris, by which the Ionian Islands were bound to pay the whole expense attending both their civil government and the military force which it should be necessary to maintain. His interpretation of this article did not lead to the same inference, and he was prepared to contend that the article had been fully complied with. As far as the people of those islands were competent to defray the charges of their own government and security, they had been called upon to contribute to that object. This observation applied to the military as well as civil expenditure; the whole of the latter having been uniformly borne by them. But if it was found expedient to introduce British garrisons (and by another article this emergency was contemplated, 3,000 men being stated as the maximum), it was then to be considered how far the islands were competent to support an additional burthen of this nature. It might not be improper here to advert to the condition of those islands when they came for the first time under our protection. The hon. gentleman had referred to their situation before that period; but he hardly meant to argue, that whilst they were under the Venetian government they enjoyed more practical liberty than they did at the present moment. The dominion of France had certainly not been more favourable to their interests, than it was generally to the safety or happiness of the colonies belonging to that power, or of states placed under similar circumstances. With respect to Russia, it could not be maintained that there was the slightest analogy between the treatment which the inhabitants experienced under her control, and the rights which they enjoyed under the existing constitution. The system introduced by the Russian government in 1803, though called free, had been generally pronounced to be wholly unfit for the wants and character of the people. A different one was consequently established in 1806, and remained till the treaty of Tilsit restored all the islands to France. Such being the case, the House would not be surprised to learn, that when sir T. Maitland arrived among them in 1816, he found the senate to be a mere formula, without power or competency; and that the constitution, so far from being in action, must be entirely re-organized under the auspices of a protecting power. Instead of presenting a mortifying contrast to all good government, a great variety of abuses had been corrected and a very material improvement effected in the general administration, as soon as sir T. Maitland had taken the authority into his own hands. The civil expenses had indisputably been increased, but without imposing any additional burthens of taxation; for he must apprise the House, that if a new duty had been levied on the export of oil, it was in commutation for eleven other taxes which had been found infinitely more grievous. The hon. gentleman had complained that the expence of the civil government had been raised in 1819 from 98,000 to 221,000 dollars. Now, although this statement should be perfectly accurate, yet he would defy the hon. gentleman to prove that the islanders paid more now in taxes, than they had been accustomed to pay when the acknowledged public expenditure was so much less. The fact was, that public money was formerly intercepted and misapplied, in a mode that could not be adopted under the improved regulations now subsisting. Public service was now remunerated in the ordinary way, and adequate salaries were attached to the various offices into which the machinery of government was divided. All this was clearly explained by sir T. Maitland himself, in his speech to the assembly, in 1820; but the hon. gentleman was disposed to view with an unfavourable eve every part of that officer's conduct. Yet the truth was, that with very few exceptions, and those easily accounted for, there never was less discontent amongst the inhabitants than under his administration. It might not, however, have been precisely the same case, if we had, as the hon. gentleman seemed to advise, pressed our sovereignty upon them, and compelled them to raise larger funds than were deemed suitable to their means or resources. In point of fact, we had no valid claim for more than we had received; and no honourable member would blame the practice which had been introduced, of annexing salaries to official appointments. With regard to the charge made by sir T. Maitland for passage money, it was impossible for him (Mr. W.), until he had further information, to explain all the particulars that might have compelled sir T. Maitland to pass frequently from island to island. He could, however, state, that no such charge would again occur, as a vessel was now building for the purpose of conveying him in future on such occasions. The hon. member should not have presumed, without further information, that the addresses presented to sir T. Maitland were at all expressive of any disappointment in the people, and that they had ceased to afford any tokens of their satisfaction. As to the freedom which they enjoyed, he must remind the hon. gentleman, that the constitutional charter of France was not framed at once, or by the whole people, but on a deliberate reference to their wants and situation. The charter granted to the Ionian islands was not supposed to contain the exact portion of civil liberty which they were qualified to enjoy; but such a degree of it as might lay the basis of progressively super adding whatever might be found secure and desirable. It had received the sanction of that House without discussion; and if unsuitable to its purpose, that House must share the blame, mid the hon. gentleman had grossly vilified it in vilifying the plan which had been drawn for securing the rights and privileges of these islanders. The latter, indeed, were much better pleased with the British government than they had been represented, and felt relieved from various oppressive burthens, since their transfer to our protection. The hon. member had given a strong instance of his prejudice, in dwelling on the supposed subserviency and adulation in certain testimonies of respect offered to him by some persons, as if they were necessarily agreeable, to sir T. Maitland, who had interfered to prevent the erection of a statue, but who could not answer for the various modes which different people had of testifying their loyalty or respect. As to the orders of St. Michael and St. John, he believed they were nearly the same as those instituted by the Russian government. With regard to the form of election, it had been improved by the adoption of a double list; and as the Russians had introduced the ballot, the numbers were also now turned up before the people, to whom both the changes were agreeable. The hon. member next came to the transactions at Santa Maura, which had already been so fully discussed before the House, that he deemed it unnecessary to go into them minutely again. The hon. member asserted, that the circumstance alleged by government as the cause of the disturbance there, was not the true one; and he asked on what authority, the statement of government was founded? He would answer, that it was on the representation of those who had investigated the subject; and he could conceive no reason why the information of the hon. member should be better than that of the government. The fact was, that when an attempt was made to embody the militia, it was supposed that it was intended to send them to another climate, to act in the service of this country. It was this misapprehension which created the disturbance, and not the improper exaction of local taxes. With respect to the case of Valerio Lerico, the hon. member was entirely mistaken. That individual was dismissed for positive malversation and disobedience of orders. After a rigid inquiry into the conduct of that individual, he was found unworthy of office, and he was dismissed.—They next approached the question of the church establishment. And here the hon. member should recollect, that the law of which he complained was passed in the absence of sir Thomas Maitland, and in the time of sir F. Adam. It was received by the people as a boon and a blessing; and the peasantry expressed a very great wish to have it enforced. They were anxious that the property to which it related should be appro- priated to the use for which it was originally intended; and, with this view, that it should be taken out of the bands of private individuals, who dealt with it in an improper manner. There were, therefore, circumstances connected with the machinery of this bill, which fully justified it. On this point, the hon. gentleman adduced no cases except that of Alessandro Battaglia. Now, in that instance, he could not see that any principle of justice had been violated. He knew of no circumstance which could have led the hon. member to think that the person alluded to had been unfairly treated. At all events, he had the satisfaction of knowing, that no such feeling existed in the mind of the person whose case had been quoted. He, as appeared from his own letter, was perfectly satisfied with the treatment he had received. In a letter dated Corfu, March 23, and addressed by Battaglia to sir T. Maitland, he found, instead of expressions of disapprobation, nothing but the warmest acknowledgments of gratitude. The letter ran thus:—"I have received, with the profoundest gratitude, the favour which your excellency has condescended to show, and my feelings, which are overpowered, prompt me to say much, but their violence prevents me. I feel for your excellency the deepest impression of esteem and affection, heightened by gratitude. I feel that delightful sentiment to its fullest extent. Will your lordship receive the testimony of my humble respect, and that of my family, whose ardent prayer is, that Heaven may bless you the longest day you live." [A laugh] Whatever laughter this letter might excite, it was quite clear that this particular case could not be one which justified the interpretation put upon it by the hon. member. He called on the hon. member to adduce other instances; and he denied, in the outset, that any oppressive acts had been committed under the law in question. The hon. member might have cited various cases where the individuals affected by the law complained of its operation; but it did not, therefore, follow, that they had been unjustly treated. There was one case in which property that had been leased for three generations was affected; and, naturally enough, the parties, mho had been so long in possession thought it extremely hard that the property should go back to the family by which it was originally held. But, hard as it might appear the hon. member could not argue, that the property did not legally belong to the family of the grantors. The law was passed for the purpose of rescuing, for the use of the church, and for no other reason, grants and emoluments which were unjustly intercepted; and the measure, though perhaps it might be faulty in its details, was not unacceptable to the population of those islands.—With respect to the confusion at Zante, which the hon. gentleman attributed to an attack on the church property, his statement had, he knew, created a very strong impression on the minds of many individuals, particularly with reference to the case of Martinengo. But how did that case stand; and of what injustice could the individual complain? One of the first acts of the legislative assembly of the islands was, to place the crime of high treason under the immediate cognizance of the head of the high police. As sir T. Maitland stood in that situation, he was armed with power over that offence. And how did he act? He did that which every man must admit was most just—he remitted the case to a proper tribunal. The individual was found guilty; and, if the punishment to which he was sentenced wounded the feelings of gentlemen, it must give them pleasure to know, that that punishment was commuted. The hon. member alluded to the case of Flambunari and Rossi, one of whom had been deprived of his employment, and the other punished in a different manner, because they drew up a petition, which was meant to be forwarded to this country. The fact was, they had acted illegally. By the charter it was provided that petitions should be sent to England through the high commissioner. The hon. member, in touching on this point, had not read the whole of the petition in question. That petition was illegal, as it had not been handed over to the high commissioner, to be by him examined, and then sent to the mother country. That petition stated, that the constitutional charter was a disgrace to those who composed it—that it was the device of those who wished to place all the power in the hands of one, and thus reduce the government to a despotism. It was therefore disrespectful to the legislative assembly, insulting to the high commissioner, and no less insulting to the sovereign of this country, who had confirmed the national charter. These circumstances were all to be weighed, to- gether with other practices of the parties so petitioning. Was there not every reason to suppose, from the very nature of the petition, that it was not intended to be transmitted to the lord high commissioner, or to the king? Was it not pretty clear, that it was meant for treasonable purposes? It was on these grounds, that steps were taken against the parties. It was impossible to argue the case with analogy to petitions in this country. Situated as those islands were, it was necessary to be guided, in a very considerable degree, by a reference to the practices of those by whom the petition was drawn up. During the whole of this proceeding, the hon. member had reasoned the question on the analogy between this country and the Ionian islands, which, he conceived, was very unfair; because no person could contend, that the people in those islands had the same proportion of liberty which the people of England enjoyed. Making allowance for this, the conduct of sir T. Maitland was, in this instance, very different from what the hon. member represented it to be.—The hon. member, in the next place, had earnestly called the attention of the House to the manner in which the people in those islands had been treated since last he introduced the subject. He complained, that martial law had been proclaimed, and that the people had been deprived of their arms. Now, it should be observed, that martial law was the permanent condition of those islanders, until sir T. Maitland took the command With respect to the people being deprived of their arms without any justification of the act, the statement of the hon. member was not accurate. There were strong concurrent circumstances, which placed the policy of that measure beyond doubt, and no cruelty was exercised towards those who were subjected to its operation. He would ask the hon. member, did the people of those islands feel themselves disgraced by this measure? The British troops were not numerous, they were scattered in various directions, and there were 50,000 of the inhabitants in arms. Now, if the measure were viewed with a hostile feeling, how did it happen that, under these circumstances, it was carried into effect without any thing being done, which approached, in the slightest degree, to opposition or violence? Under martial law, he might be permitted to observe, no punishment, except whipping, had been inflicted; and that, in the case of only one individual, who had been sentenced to receive fifty lashes. With respect to what had occurred at Patras, it was sufficient to observe, that it could not be permitted to the inhabitants of those islands to proceed there, and adopt a line of conduct which British subjects would not be suffered to pursue. Mr. Philip Green, the consul at that place, had intended to prosecute certain persons for a misrepresentation of his conduct; but, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, it was found impossible to carry on the prosecution. He had, however, published a formal disclaimer of all that had been alleged against him. [Here Mr. Wilmot read an extract from the Moniteur]. This was an authorized extract from a French paper; and, if the hon. member asked him the question, he would say that it was sanctioned by Mr. Green himself; it answered the charges that had been alleged against him, and contained a formal disclaimer of the atrocious conduct which had been attributed to him at Patras. The more they considered the state of feeling in that country, the more they ought to hesitate before they gave implicit confidence to any report, when they knew that passion was so strong, and feeling was so weak.—The hon. member, in the next place, alluded to the affair that had occurred at Zante, where, he stated, a Greek brig was stranded, and when a part of the crew attempted to land, they were fired on by the soldiers. Now, this was not the case. The soldiers of the island came down to enforce the existing law, and were resisted. They surrounded the party who had landed, and fired two shots over their heads. The person in command of the Greek party caused his force to fire: a cry of murder was immediately heard, and it was found that an officer was killed, With respect to the state of the islands. the last dispatches declared them to be perfectly tranquil; and at that time martial law was about to be removed. This was directly contrary to the description which the hon. member had given of their present situation. As to the feeling in favour of the Greeks, which those people had manifested, it was not at all wonderful. It was not surprising that such a sympathy should exist between those who had one common origin. Indeed, no man who possessed the slightest sensibility could avoid deploring the sufferings which the Greeks endured under the Turkish government. And if there were any thing to diminish, and lower, and dilute their sympathies on this subject, it was to be found in the atrocities that characterized the present warfare. He therefore did not understand the propriety of entertaining an extreme sympathy on this question; and, as sir T. Maitland was directed to hold an attitude of the strictest neutrality, end to exert his best efforts for the preservation of tranquillity, he did not think that gallant officer was blameable in issuing a proclamation, declaring that the property of those who left the island to join the Greeks, and who thus broke the neutrality, should be confiscated. Under all the circumstances, he had great pleasure in stating, that the islands were in a much better situation now than they had been. Their revenue was advancing, their institutions were improving, and year after year their habits were becoming more congenial to the progress of rational liberty. From the improvement in their revenue, it could not be doubted that they would, hereafter, be enabled to defray the expense of the troops which the protecting nation supplied.—There were one or two other points connected with this question, to which he felt it necessary to allude. In the first place, he could not avoid noticing the anxiety which had been manifested by the public press to prejudge this question. The most unfounded and monstrous calumnies had been propagated in the newspaper on this subject. Since January last the most deliberate falsehoods had been constantly asserted in the public papers relative to the government of the Ionian Islands, and some of them had appeared so lately as yesterday. He called the attention of the House particularly to this point, because he wished to show how unfairly the government of those islands had been attacked. An accusation was made in the public papers, that by paying 15 per cent government might take possession of the property of any person trading to those islands. What was the fact? An ad valorem duty was established in the islands, as was the case in England and America; and the whole process was this: if the person importing an article would not pay the ad valorem duty, he was offered 115l. for goods which he declared to be worth 100l. The reason for this practice was, to prevent fraud on the revenue. If the value set down by the importer was satisfactory, the offer was not made; and if it were not satisfactory, he was not forced to accept the offer, and thus no possible injury could be done. Sir T. Maitland had also been censured for introducing a monopoly of corn. The fact was, that sir T. Maitland had, at one time, removed the monopoly, and he did not renew it until an absolute scarcity prevailed (there being corn sufficient only for a very few days on the islands), which rendered the renewal absolutely necessary. He mentioned these things to show, that there was scarcely a point in the civil government of those islands that had not been made the object of deliberate attack; and no pains had been spared in over stating, over charging, and falsely colouring, all the acts which that government had performed. He, however, was persuaded, that the more the subject was sifted, the more praiseworthy would appear the course of policy that had been adopted. It must not, however, be taken abstractedly: it: must be coupled and connected with a view of the circumstances of the time, and more particularly with reference to the situation of the adjoining country. If the hon. member would look to the date of the alleged transaction, relative to a, sale of gunpowder with Ali-Pacha, who was not friendly to the Turks, at least latterly, he would find, that his information was wrong. That sir T. Maitland had maintained the strictest neutrality, was evident from this circumstance, that his conduct drew forth remonstrances and complaints both from the Turks and Greeks. The information which he had given would enable the House to decide whether the measures adopted in the Ionian Islands were measures of aggression, or whether they were not thoroughly justified, and the most humane which could, under the circumstances, have been devised. He felt great responsibility attach to himself on this occasion, and regretted that he had not been prepared to do more justice to the question. Upon the whole view of the subject, he thought the motion unnecessary; and when the House considered all the circumstances, he hoped they would consider the measures now enforced as merely continued, and not introduced by the present government. He would therefore move the previous question on the two first resolutions, which were only assertions; and he trusted the House would agree with him in giving a decided negative to the remainder.

Mr. John Williams

considered the prey sent question most important as it affected the prosperity of the islands, but more important as it involved the national honour. There was some inconsistency in the argument of the hon. under-secretary. He had charged his hon. friend with having traversed a beaten track—with having furnished no new ground for his motion; and yet the hon. gentleman in the conclusion of his speech had, strange to say, expatiated on the predicament in which he was placed by being brought to the discussion of the subject by surprise. In what manner were these contradictory declarations to be reconciled? But though the hon. gentleman, in a speech of no short duration, had expatiated on many subjects rather inapplicable to the question, he had left the main body of the subject wholly unanswered. Neither on the gross amount of the expenditure incurred in the Ionian Islands, nor on the details of the civil government, the staff, &c. had the hon. gentleman condescended to give any thing in the shape of an answer. The question, then, of expenditure, remained, as stated by his hon. friend, untouched and unshaken. The hon. gentleman had, indeed, given an interpretation to the charter, which its provisions would not bear. These provisions particularly specified, that the whole military expenditure of these islands should be borne by the insular treasury to the amount of 3,000 men; but that the commander-in-chief was, on the existence of a competent necessity, authorized to increase the amount of military force. That arrangement was, however, followed up by another provision, which specified, that the whole military expense should be defrayed out of the general treasury of the island. It was, then, upon the policy pursued at home, as well as in the islands, that his hon. friend rested his position. He complained, and he complained justly, of the expense which was entailed upon this country in opposition to the provisions of the charter, and continued at a time when the extent of the national distresses required every alleviation. But then the hon. gentleman had asked, under what new pressure did the Ionian Islands labour, to render necessary a renewed discussion? The only object of such questions was, to withdraw the House from the immediate subject before it, to a distant consideration of topics altogether immaterial. Of that character was what had fallen from the hon. gentleman relative to the ecclesiastical arrangements of the islands, the regulations of abbeys and abbesses, when under the control of a gallant military officer. He did not know the peculiar state of the religious impressions of the inhabitants of these islands; but, constituted as human nature was, he must still believe that they must have contemplated with dismay an arrangement, which, if not shocking to their piety, was at least so to their prejudices, and in consequence of which the control over their religion was transferred to a military foreigner, who, however distinguished for feats of arms, had, at least, acquired no honours in the science of divinity. But the hon. gentleman had tauntingly asked, where were the proofs of discontent and disaffection in these islands? Where were the remonstrances? He knew well that on the very character of the oppression practised these rested. There were no remonstrances—there were no fresh complaints, because none dare to complain. Even that consolation to misfortune was denied. Here was a gratuitous assumption to solve the diffiulty—the very assumption constituting, as it did, the ground of complaint. Instead of meeting the charge with a refutation, or if undeniable, with a candid admission, the whole of the answer of the hon. gentleman was a petitio principii, from beginning to end. But, when the hon. gentleman asked, what new measures had, arisen, what peculiar exigency had called now for the discussion, he would answer—many. The hon. gentleman had said that until the golden era of the arrival of the gallant British general, the Greeks of these islands, notwithstanding their name and parentage, were wholly incapable of enjoying rational liberty: they were, forsooth, so used to military law, that military law was no grievance—they might be skinned, because they had been skinned so frequently before. Martial law had no horrors—it was exercised in a most tolerant manner, as only 50 lashes were inflicted! But the hon. member held forth a speedy relief. There was now a chance of that great boon of British protection to the Ionians, namely the expectancy of a reversionary freedom. Martial law was to cease. Why had it ever been inflicted? It was inflicted, because the Ionians, recollecting the country from which they sprung, and the people with whom they were allied, had felt an interest in that glorious struggle, which their brethren were supporting against their infidel oppressor. It was the unwelcome, the reluctant duty of the gallant Englishman who garrisoned those islands, to be the gaolers of those freemen—freemen he could not call them, but men struggling to be free. Was that no novel effect since the last discussion? Was it no matter of complaint, that England was inflicting martial law on her Ionian protegées, because those protegées naturally connected themselves with the struggles of their Christian countrymen, against the Turks, the, infidels of Europe? Was such a policy no new ground for renewing discussion, and repeating our regrets at the lamentable change in our character? Pudet hæc opprobria nobis, Et dici potuisse; et non potuisse refelli. Who would have supposed, from our ancient history, that the freemen of England were destined for the avocation of repressing the liberties of struggling nations. Finding that the first statement was admitted, and that no refutation was given to the second, he, with all his heart, gave his support to the motion of his hon. friend.

The previous question, "That the question he now put," was then put and negatived on the two first resolutions. The third resolution was negatived. On the fourth, the House divided: Ayes, 67; Noes, 152.

List of the Minority.
Althorp, lord Honywood, W. P.
Allen, J. A. Hamilton, lord A.
Anson, hon. G. Hutchinson, hon. C. H.
Blake, sir F. Hurst, R.
Butterworth, J. Hobhouse, J. C.
Burdett, sir F. Lennard, T. B.
Brougham, H. Lemon, sir W.
Bernal, Ralph Lloyd, sir E.
Baring, Sir T. Lushington, S.
Boughey, sir J. F. Milbank, M.
Bury, lord Maberly, J.
Concannon, Lucius Martin, John
Crompton, S. Monck, J. B.
Crespigny, sir W. De Maxwell, J.
Davies, colonel Macdonald, J.
Evans, W. Newman, R. W.
Ebrington, lord Normanby, lord
Fergusson, sir R. C. O'Callaghan, J.
Fitzgerald, lord W. Osborne, lord F.
Gurney, H. Powlett, hon. W.
Gurney, R. H. Palmer, C. F.
Grattan, J. Power, Rd.
Gaskell, B. Philips, G.
Grenfell, P. Price, R.
Heron, sir R. Ricardo, D.
Rumbold, C. E. Williams, W.
Rickford, W. Williams, J.
Russell, lord J. Williams, O. jun.
Robarts, colonel Williams, sir Rt.
Robinson, sir G. Wilson, sir R.
Smith, R. TELLERS.
Scarlett, J. Hume, J.
Smith, hon. R. Bennet, hon. H. G.
Sykes, D. SHUT OUT.
Smith, W. Guise, sir W.
Whitbread, W. S. Scott, James.
Wood, alderman