HC Deb 12 December 1837 vol 39 cc992-1011
Mr. Borthwick

said, that, as he considered the papers for which he was about to move, were subjects of too great importance to be fully gone into in the absence of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department, he should abstain from touching upon many parts of them to which, had the noble Lord been present, he should have thought it necessary to call his attention. As, however, he had the authority of the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) that the papers should be granted, he trusted he might be allowed to state a few of the grounds on which his motion was founded. In the year 1833 the quarrel of the succession in Spain assumed that formidable aspect which still continued to press upon the industry, to excite the passions, and to cloud the hopes of that unfortunate country. Donna Christina, who was then, as now, the de facto Regent, adopted divers measures with respect to the succession, which were calculated to rouse the scarcely slumbering passions of the people. He alluded more particularly to the manner in which the Royalist troops, consisting of about 250,000 men, were disbanded; a body which up to that period had been considered as the principal bulwark and shield of the country. Many men of high rank and consideration in Spain had thereby been dismissed from offices of importance, because they approved of what were called Royalist politics in Spain. That created so much confusion that hatred began to assume the form of violence, and violence, in many instances, that of bloodshed. In this state of things, a body of men, to the amount of 950, who had formed them selves into a corps of volunteers in support of these politics, had found them- selves obliged to seek refuge in Portugal, and ought afterwards to have obtained their liberty, in virtue of the treaty to which his motion more particularly referred. A Gentleman had some time ago asked the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs as to the present prospects and future hopes of this corps. The noble Lord then expressed it as his belief that their situation was not so desperate or deplorable as had been represented in the newspapers and other quarters, but said that he would forward the petition placed in his hands by the hon. Member for Oxford to the Portuguese Government, and communicate the answer as soon as he received it. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. Borthwick) would not have called for the production of the papers to which he referred, if it had not been for two facts. His hon. Friend (Mr. G. Price) the late Member for Sandwich, had, by the authority of the persons so imprisoned, laid before the noble Lord a statement of the facts of their case, and required his interference in their behalf; but to that communication the noble Lord had from that time to the present given no reply, although he had, with such a statement before him, expressed his belief to the hon. Member for Oxford that the situation of these persons was neither so uncomfortable or desperate as had been represented. Now, what were the facts? Why, that those persons were now confined in a ravelin of Fort St. Julian—that means were on foot for delivering them up unconditionally to the Christino Government, and that they prayed, whatever might be their fate, that they would be spared so serious a calamity. It was on the broad ground of humanity, and not of policy, that he appeared as their advocate in that House. He did not ask hon. Gentlemen to agree with him in the views he entertained with respect to foreign policy—he did not ask them to pledge themselves to any opinion on the subject of the rival claims to the Crown of Spain—but he did call upon that House to consider well the statement of these prisoners before they consented to their being surrendered up to the tender mercies of the Christino Government. Hon. Gentlemen would recollect what occurred in 1833. In 1833 Don Carlos was resident in Portugal at the death of his brother, King Ferdinand, but he lived there us a private individual. He did not, however, conceal his pretensions to the Crown of Spain, but he took no part whatever in public affairs. At that period Portugal was the scene of civil commotions. It was highly dangerous to travel the roads, as they were all beset by the hordes of the rival powers then contending for the Portuguese Crown. There were then with Don Carlos 950 Spanish emigrants, of whom the 600 of whose unjustifiable detention he complained were a part, and they formed themselves into a battalion for the protection of Don Carlos. These parties never drew sabre or sword, or took any part, in the quarrel against the Queen of Portugal; on the contrary, they strictly confined themselves to the only object which they had in view, namely, the protection of Don Carlos. Don Miguel finally capitulated, and the agreement—the international agreement—then entered into between the Queen of Portugal and her allies, the Evora Monte treaty, was inserted as an additional article; so that, in fact, the papers for which he moved formed part and parcel of the title of the Queen of Portugal to the possession of the throne of that country. In an historical work on the revolution in Spain, by Walton, he found a translation of this treaty, and, therefore, without undertaking to say whether it was an accurate one or not, he would venture to give the substance of the treaty as he found it in the work to which he referred the House:— His Royal Highness the Infante Don Carlos shall leave Evora with his suite on the 30th of the current May, for Aldea Gallego, where he shall embark. In his journey thither the Marshals of Portugal will answer for the personal safety of his Royal Highness and suite, and provide for him such escort as his Royal Highness may point out. The Spanish subjects who may he in Portugal, compromised in the service of his Royal Highness, shall be received in a provisional dépôt at Santarem, whither they shall go under such escort as may be necessary for their security. The Portuguese Government shall give them the means of subsistence in the dépôt until they may be able to go there from without danger to some other place of residence. Now, in pursuance of the stipulations contained in this treaty, it was suggested by Mr. Grant, the Secretary of his Britannic Majesty's Legation then in Portugal, that these 950 persons should be assembled at Aldea Gallego, and that proper provision should be made for their protection. This was done. There were then but two ships of the British fleet there to take them away, and in these vessels 240 embarked, and were conveyed to Antwerp and England, according to the terms of the treaty. This left 680, whose liberty, up to this time, had never been called in question, either by the Portuguese or any other Government. At Aldea Gallego these men were left defenceless and unarmed, and, instructions were afterwards given to them to go to Santarem, on the understanding that all necessary provision would be made to insure their safety and protection. No such protection was, however, afforded to them, but still this body marched the whole distance from Aldea Gallego to Santarem in the short space of five days. It was melancholy to recal to mind the hardships which they had to endure during those five days. They were not only driven from every village and town through which they passed, or in which they sought shelter or relief, but nowhere was protection afforded to them. The only subsistence they were able to obtain was the roots which they picked up, and the only shelter they could procure was such as the forests in the line of their march gave to them. Many of them died of hunger, and more perished by the hands of assassins, who waylaid them, and, even at that moment, the plains en the banks of the Tagus bore melancholy witness of the fact that this treaty—a treaty which bore on it the stamp of British sanction—was violated in the face of Europe, for literally the bones of these victims now lay whiteening on that ground which was so well known to British valour, and which was so dearly in the recollection of every Englishman. But he would not trouble the House by detailing the sufferings of these unfortunate men in all their marches and counter marches. Suffice it then to say, that in one short month, from the 30th of May, 1833, to the 30th of June following, no fewer than 272 of them fell victims either to assassination or disease, brought on by hunger and improper treatment. From Santarem a deputation from this unhappy body subsequently went to Lisbon, and represented their forlorn and helpless condition to the Portuguese Government. Upon this they were removed from Santarem to Tories Novas. The deputation, the House should understand, travelled from Santarem to Lis- bon without their liberty having been even once called in question. They were also permitted to go on board the fleet, and, had there been room for them, they might have remained on board. There was not, however; they therefore returned back to Santarem, to communicate to their companions the answer which they had received from the Portuguese Government, and they then were allowed to proceed to their new destination, Torres Novas; and, bad as had been their sufferings before, here their real misery commenced. It was not until the arrival of the Ambassador of Donna Christina that the fortunes of the emigrants changed—that their hopes were dashed to pieces; for it was then for the first time that they heard of the intention to deliver them up to the tender mercies of a Government so liberal and humane that its most cherished General was the butcher of women and the desolator of towns and villages. In their next march from Torres Novas to Peniche numbers of them fell a sacrifice to the marauding bands of peasantry by whom they were attacked; and although they travelled under a military escort not a soldier of their guard fired a single shot in their defence. When they arrived at Peniche they were followed by two carts full of their wounded companions, and even at Peniche they did not fare better, for one of them, a Colonel, was heartlessly massacred in the hovel where he had been placed. Some of them were lodged in a convent that was in ruins, and there they were left not only without proper shelter, but without a sufficient supply of food. From this place the greater part of them were sent on board the hulk Don Pedro, and the remainder, about eighty in number, were transferred to the Castle of St. Julian. It was an extraordinary statement, but nevertheless a true one, that out of 680 men there was a diminution in the short period of three years and a half of 391, produced by disease, brought on by cruel and inhuman treatment. The account on which he made this statement, was dated the 19th of November, but of course he had no means of knowing how many had perished since. He thought, however, that the simple fact of such a diminution having taken place within so limited a period, was in itself enough to startle that House, and to require her Majesty's Government promptly and at once to interfere in their behalf.— He said, that, in consequence of the absence of the noble Lord, he would abridge his statement of facts, and he should do so; but he, at the same time, must entreat the House to bear in mind the melancholy situation of those unfortunate persons, and to permit him to refer to letters which had been received from some of the prisoners—men whose honour could not be doubted—in confirmation of the statement which he had made. The hon. Gentleman then read the following letters:— Tower of St. Julian's, Lisbon, Oct. 20,1837. SIR,—I received your esteemed favour of the 1st inst., and in reply thereto I beg to inform you that we have made repeated applications to the Government to cause the Convention of Evora Monte to be fulfilled, the violation of which is enormous and glaring, but of none of these applications has any notice been taken until lately, when some of the deputies, and more particularly Don Juan Victorino, sensible that justice was on our side, have spoken strongly in our favour; and yet all this has ended in nothing, nor is there a hope that anything will be done for us. By this post we send various applications to London, and we do not write to our friends, not to put them to the expense of postage, as we consider them short of funds; but, however wretched they may be, they cannot be in so miserable a condition as the unfortunate beings of this déspôt, who out of the scanty pittance of one hundred patacos (18s. 9d.)t allowed to each monthly for his support, are, at the end of the current month, in nine months' arrears; and even from this allowance they lately wished to deduct four per cent.; in such manner that we dread this pittance being altogether withdrawn. By the enclosed you will see what has been agitated in the Cortes here; but, after all, this is mere speechifying, and amounts to nothing; for so long as the infamous Perez de Castro, the Christino Ambassador, remains here, this weak Government will come to no determination; therefore, if, through your zeal and exertions, you do not succeed in liberating us poor captives, I firmly believe that our bones will be left to moulder in this prison. The House would understand that the writers felt they were detained as prisoners contrary to the stipulations of a treaty, and, therefore, some allowance was to be made for the terms in which they expressed their sentiments with respect to those who had spoken against them in the debates of the Cortes. He trusted that it would not be necessary to have any more speechification on this subject, but that the facts which he had brought under the notice of that House would induce her Majesty's Government to adorn the commencement of her reign by an act which would not only reflect honour on the high and dignified station which she filled, but which would be in accordance with her own gentle and generous spirit, namely, the liberation of those unfortunate persons. Our misfortunes, in fact (the letter continued) daily become more intolerable. We are kept confined under ground, and at seven in the morning our windows are opened. We are then mustered, and the adjutant calls over our names. After this we are again shut up, and at twelve they open our place of confinement, in order that our miserable food may be brought in, and at one as many as twenty-five are allowed to ascend the ravelin above our prisons till four in the afternoon. We are then again mustered and the names called over, when we are shut up till the next day, unless the adjutant out of commiseration, allows our windows to be left open till sunset; but this seldom happens, so that while the sun is yet up we are excluded from daylight. In short, believe me, if any of us survive this wretchedness, they will remain blind and their health totally destroyed, &c. (Signed) "Marquis DE LA ZERREZUELA, Viscount DE LA MOTILLA. To D. Ramon Salvador. The next letter which he would read was from Miguel de Quintana, and, although he wished to read the whole of it, he would—out of consideration for the time of the House, and the important subject which was likely to come under their notice that night—content himself by giving extracts only. The hon. Gentleman then read as follows; — Tower of St. Julian's, Lisbon, Oct. 26, 1837. Sir,—I confirm the contents of mine of the 20th, inclosing the report of the diplomatic committee of the Portuguese Cortes, recommending our being delivered up to Spain at a fixed period, on condition of our being amnestied by the Spanish Government, or, at the expiration of that period, that passports should be delivered to us for foreign countries. You may easily imagine how much we have been alarmed at the first part of this proposal, fearing, as we do, that it is founded upon some intrigue of Perez de Castro, the Christino envoy here. Three years and a half have expired of our painful slavery in this kingdom, and scarcely has a day passed without us having solicited this Government to grant us passports, in compliance with the convention of Evora Monte. We have published three manifestoes—we have represented our case to the British Government, and several Lords in particular, but nothing have we obtained. Sometimes we have seen this Government inclined to give us our freedom, or at least to alleviate our unhappy fate, but invariably has the infamous Perez de Castro stepped forward with remonstrances from Madrid, and we have not only been left as we were, but even worse. This happened to us so long as the Cartistas remained in power, whose leaders Palmella and Villareal, were our bitterest enemies. The Constitutionalists came in with the aid of the revolution of September, 1836, and they began by treating us better. Sa da Bandeira, the Minister of Marine, officially wrote to Madrid to have us exchanged. Many letters passed upon the subject, but the result was always obstructed by the infamous Perez de Castro. Finally, in last July, they had come to an understanding, and a transport ship and two schooners were ready to convey us to St. Sebastian, when Saldanha's insurrection prevented the affair from being realised, and it has remained paralysed up to the present moment. To D. Ramon Salvador. The letter which he would now read was from Madame Luno, who had been Maid of Honour to the wife of Don Carlos, and whose husband was one of the parties imprisoned at St. Julian. It was in these words:— Lisbon, Oct. 26, 1837. Having learnt at the Spanish depot that you have been commissioned to obtain the liberation of the poor sufferers so long dragging a miserable existence there, indeed, ever since the signing of the Evora Monte Convention, I do not hesitate to address you. My unfortunate husband is one of the sufferers, and, owing to the wretchedness which he has endured, he is now ill of a brain fever; and, although somewhat better, I have no hopes of his recovery so long as he remains in his present miserable condition. Under securities I have been able to get him out of the depot, and we are now in the house of a Portuguese lady, without whose benevolent aid we should have perished through want. Such is our miserable condition, after having lost everything. As I have remained in Lisbon, I have not ceased calling upon Ministers, Deputies, and Ambassadors, using every possible exertion to have their sufferings alleviated, by endeavouring to have the Convention observed, and passports delivered to them; but, unfortunately, all my efforts have been vain, and, at the solicitation of the Spanish Ambassador, Don Evaristo Perez de Castro, instead of alleviation, their condition is rendered worse, as they themselves inform you, &c. (Signed) "MARIA DEL ROSARIO VALERA. To Don Ramon Salvador, London. He thought that this was a case in which the strong arm of power ought to be used, and he did hope the British Government would advise the instant liberation of men who had committed no crime—who had not been guilty of violating any law. If they could be accused of high treason against any Government—if they had committed any crime, either as soldiers or civilians—why, let them be brought to a fair trial; and, if the charge were established against them then let their punishment be not only severe but speedy. But if on the other hand, their safety had been guaranteed by the British and Portuguese Governments—if they had suffered three years and a half's confinement for no positive crime, and contrary to a treaty which formed part of the title of the Queen of Portugal to the throne of that country—if they had endured all the miseries which he had described, then he said it was the duty of this country, unless her Majesty's Government wished to appear as weak as their Peninsular allies had proved themselves wicked, to take immediate steps for the liberation of those men. He knew it had been said that Don Carlos was in want of soldiers, and that these parties would be an acquisition to his cause. This was not the case. These prisoners were willing either to be exchanged or to go to any other country than Spain. They were ready to sacrifice their own rights, although they did not consider themselves as prisoners of war, but they were not willing to be delivered up to the tender mercies of a Government from whom their companions had suffered so deeply. He held in his hand an official return from the officer in command at Fort St. Julian as to the number of the prisoners confined there and on board the hulk. In the former the number was ninety-two and in the latter 230, besides nine ladies. The whole of the prisoners were kept in unjustifiable and cruel confinement, and it was stated that they were not allowed even a sufficiency of provisions. There was not, he believed, a case parallel to this to be found in the history of any country of which there was a record. The hon. Member then read the following letters from Commandant Roderiguez to Don Ramon Salvador:— Fortress of St. Julian, Lisbon, Nov. 5. I have seen your letter, addressed to the Marquis de Zerezuela. &c. However much I might wish to say, my pen would be too feeble to describe the sufferings which this dépôt has experienced. Charged with its interior Government ever since the month of May 1835, in consequence of the Commandant, with other Officers, having been deported to the Azores Islands, I have not ceased to demand of the British Parliament, the British Sovereign, and his Ministers, the fulfilment of the Treaty of Evora. No other answer did I receive but silence, oppression and tyranny. I lost no opportunity of enabling the cries of these unhappy people to reach the hearing of his Majesty (Don Carlos), in order that he might, if he could amidst his vast cares, remedy their wretched fate. I know not whether I had the honour of any of my application had reaching his Royal hand. In the meanwhile that this plan is realizing, and in consequence of the flight above-mentioned, the officers, and even the women, are kept in continual confinement—myself ever since the said day of the 19th September, separate in solitary [incomunicado,] in one of the prisons of the tower. When will so much suffering have an end? Wherefore I repeat to you what I said in my previous letter. Unless with a strong hand at all hazards, and without delay, measures be taken for our liberation, assuredly the fatal delivery of us up to our enemies will be effected. But I confide in your zeal, energy, and solicitude to see so barbarous a measure obviated, &c. I suppose that you are aware that the privates belonging to the dépÔt are still kept in an old hulk,, confounded with criminals, and abandoned, it may be said, to their fate: but ever constant, and with serene mind, anxiously looking forward to the day of their sighed-for liberation, which I hope is not far distant; and till it arrives, I remain, &c. Lisbon,. Nov. 19. I cannot, while in the depot, lay protests before this Government. All I can do is to interest myself more and more with Deputies of the Cortes, in order that they may ward off the fatal day. Within the last few days one has been presented to the British Ambassador, and another is forwarded to him this day. Of these protests, our remonstrances, petitions, &c., a volume might be formed. The rough copies exist in my possession, and, together with the printed papers, they will ever afford authentic testimony that here nothing has been neglected for a single moment. It would, indeed, my friend, almost appear as if curses from all sides followed the dépôt. Within and without we are persecuted, for within elements are not wanting to embitter our days. Some persons will, sometime or other, experience the punishment deserved in the remorse of their own consciences, and this seems to be the only guarantee we now have. In the midst of all, our misfortunes continue, our oppression is prolonged, and our freedom delayed, for in the meanwhile that his Majesty Don Carlos is consulted, and his royal determination arrives, or before things are put in their proper train, months will elapse, and the Government of Christina will avail itself of this, and by main force, while that of Portugal, forgetting its dignity and obligations will make the delivery—the last calamity that can befal us. Do not believe that I say this to you from suspicion or surmise, I have data, and here they shall be published, in confirmation thereof, &c. These letters were down to the 19th of last month, and they showed that, instead of being relaxed, the sufferings of those prisoners were rather increased, and that their numbers were almost daily diminishing, from the severity of the treatment they received. The object which he had in view in mentioning the few facts which composed this monstrous and unheard of case was, that the whole of the papers, with the answer of the Portuguese Government, should be laid on the table of that House, in order that it might be seen whether the sufferings of these persons, inflicted under a treaty by which protection was guaranteed to them by the British Government, was not only a violation of the law of nations but a direct insult to this country. Upon this point he had much to say, but he would abstain from going into it, in consequence of the absence of the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for Foreign affairs. As soon, however, as the whole of the papers for which he meant to move were laid upon the table, he would reserve to himself, should it not be taken up by abler hands, the right of bringing the whole subject before that House; but he sincerely trusted that the noble Lord would, in the meantime, so interfere as to effect the liberation, or, if not, to cause an amelioration of the condition of the unfortunate persons on behalf of whom he appeared, not as a political advocate, but as the advocate of humanity. The hon. Gentleman, in conclusion, moved for a copy of the convention of Evora Monte; and also a copy of the letter enclosing the same addressed by Mr. Grant to the Infante Don Carlos; also, a copy of the letter addressed to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs by the Commandant of the dep6t of Spanish Emigrants detained in the hulks, and in the prison of Fort St. Julian, at Lisbon.

Lord John Russell

said, that as there was no objection to the production of the papers for which the hon. Gentleman moved, it was not his intention to offer any opposition to the motion. With regard to the discussion of the subject, it was quite clear that the House could not properly judge of its merits without the papers for which the hon. Gentleman called, and when they were laid on the table it would, of course, be competent to the hon. Gentleman, or any other hon. Member opposite, to take any course he might think necessary. As to Don Carlos, all he would say was, that he was most fortunate in being allowed to leave Portugal, because had it not been for the British Government, had he remained in that country, he would, in all probability, have been taken and tried for high treason.

Mr. Borthwick

said, that Don Carlos was fully sensible, so were the prisoners, of the conduct of the British Government at that time. He held in his hand the correspondence connected with the treaty of Evora Monte, and he must say, that much credit was due to the British Government for the course they pursued on that occasion, and he only hoped they would now act in the same spirit, and not allow themselves to be influenced by the machinations of others elsewhere. The obligation of the British Government was the more binding on them because this treaty originated in their own diplomacy. The Duke de Terceira and the Conde de Saldanha, in the official statements which they made to their Government, said: — Lemos declared that he was not empowered to act for Don Carlos, when Mr. Grant, the Secretary of the British Legation, took upon himself to represent that Prince and his interests, and with him they stipulated for the articles contained in the treaty. These articles were as follow:— Don Miguel having capitulated, Mr. Grant, Secretary of her Britannic Majesty's Legation at Lisbon, addressed the Infante Don Carlos, under date of the 26th of May, 1834, in these words;—'General Lemos not having treated respecting the interests and security of your Royal Highness and the Princesses of your family, I took the liberty of submitting to the Marshals, commanding the Portuguese armies, this subject, in which I feel a lively interest; and I now enclose to your Royal Highness the articles stipulated with them, a copy of which I this day send to my Ambassador. I hope they will meet your Royal Highness's approbation, whose assent thereto, I flatter myself, I shall to-morrow receive, signed, in order that I may, conjointly with the said Marshals, occupy myself in their execution.

Colonel Evans

said, that was the second time he had been doomed to listen to the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Borthwick) on so grave a subject as the affairs of Spain. It was not his intention to say anything on this occasion calculated to excite dis- cussion, but he could not at the same time help making one or two observations on what had fallen from the hon. Member. It was his intention, if the hon. Gentleman did not, to bring the whole subject under the notice of the House after the recess. There had been great alacrity on the part of the hon. Members opposite to go into the general subject during his absence from this country; and, in compliance with the expressed wish of many hon. Members on his side of the House, he was most anxious to bring it forward, not so much as regarded himself, but because he owed such a course to the officers and soldiers who had served under him, and against whom aspersions had been poured out both in that House and by the press, under the influence of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. The fitting opportunity had not yet arisen for entering upon such a statement, and, therefore, he now gave notice that it was his intention, immediately after the recess, to bring the whole subject under their consideration. The hon. Gentleman had complained of prisoners being confined in the hulks and ravelins of Fort St. Julian; but what, he should like to know, had that to do with the English Government? Such a charge might be made against the Government of Portugal; but then the House should recollect why they were confined—that they were confined as prisoners of war. The complaint was, therefore, a groundless one, and the only question was, whether a ravelin was not better as a prison than a hulk. It was, however, complained that the Portuguese Government had violated the convention of Evora Monte; but was it not clear that the fate of Don Carlos involved that of all those who followed him as a guard? Since that convention a war had broken out in Spain between Don Carlos and the Government of Spain; and was it not, therefore, right on the part of the Government of Portugal, to restrain those of Don Carlos's followers who were in arms, and to prevent them from being exchanged or liberated. They were, in fact, national prisoners, and consequently the disposal of them could not depend on the will of either the Portuguese or the British Governments. He would not at present go further into the details connected with the conduct of Don Carlos; but he must be allowed to say that any one would be led to suppose from the statements of the hon. Gentle- men opposite that they were in entire ignorance, or the facts were so mistified, that they could not understand them, for otherwise they would not commit themselves by coming forward so frequently as they had done as the advocates of Don Carlos. They must be altogether ignorant of the Durango decree, or the fifty British subjects who had been massacred under that decree, or they never would have taken such a course.

Sir S. Canning

said, that, although he was most anxious to enter into the whole subject connected with the war in Spain, he could not understand what connexion that matter had with the subject now before the House. What the hon. Gentleman on his side of the House had done was to appeal to her Majesty's Government whether they were not bound by a particular treaty to use diplomatic interference with the Portuguese Government on behalf of those prisoners? He had not come down prepared to enter into a general discussion, but he was happy to know that the hon. and gallant Officer opposite intended to bring the subject conected with his own proceedings before the House at an early period after the recess. He could assure that hon. and gallant Officer that there was no wish on the part of his (the Conservative) side of the House to shrink from such a discussion—but he must be allowed to say that the hon. and gallant Officer had no just cause of complaint in consequence of any reference which had been made to him on any one occasion when the affairs of Spain were mentioned during his absence. The hon. and gallant Officer no doubt had duties to perform elsewhere; but if he had been in his place in that House he might have taken part in the discussions which occurred in vindication of himself. He, however, thought it hardly fair of the hon. and gallant Officer to complain that the matter had been unnecessarily pressed upon the attention of that House. The term for which the men serving in the Legion which the hon. and gallant Officer commanded had nearly expired, and, under such circumstances, was it at all wonderful that his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir H. Hardinge) had, felt it his duty to bring the whole subject forward as he had done? In the whole of that discussion no imputation had been cast upon the hon. and gallant Officer opposite, nor had any statement been made which rendered it necessary for him now to be at the trouble of vindicating his character. The disposition evinced by every hon. Member who took part in that debate was, to do justice to the spirit and gallantry which the hon. and gallant Officer had displayed, and no one was more prompt in doing this than his hon. and gallant Friend by whom the matter was brought forward.

Colonel Evans

said, he had nothing to complain of on the ground of courtesy with respect to the right hon. Gentleman, nor had anything been said by him which he could feel as unpalatable. He was glad, however, that the opportunity would be afforded to him to bring the general subject forward. With regard to what the hon. Member (Mr. Borthwick) had said about his being actuated by feelings of humanity, and not by political motives, all he could say was, that it was this observation which had caused him to rise. He said that, on the score of humanity, and without any reference whatever to policy, Don Carlos was the last description of prince who was entitled to either the sympathy or compassion of that House.

Mr. Hume

thought, that both of the parties who had spoken were at variance about the fact. It had been stated that nothing to the prejudice of his hon. and gallant Friend had been said in the course of the debates referred to; but did the right hon. Baronet not recollect that on the very day information of a slight defeat experienced by his hon. and gallant Friend was received, an opportunity was sought to bring the whole subject forward, and that aspersions and charges were then made not only against him but the whole corps which he commanded. With a full recollection of all that took place when the matter was brought forward, he could only say that he was glad his hon. and gallant Friend would have an early opportunity of going in detail into the whole subject, as the conduct pursued towards him was anything but fair.

Mr. Lucas

said, that though he had taken no part in the debate in question, he must vindicate the right of every hon. Member in that House to express an independent opinion on every subject connected with British interests, and though at the time when this debate occurred the gallant Officer was absent, seeking renown in a foreign service, he would recal to his recollection that other officers, who were also Members of that House, had a duty to perform to the British service which they were bound to fulfil. For his own part he would never shrink from the discharge of his duty, and he should feel himself perfectly at liberty to speak of the conduct of the gallant Officer in a public sense, or of any other individual, whenever he felt it his duty to do so. If the hon. and gallant Officer was absent from his duty in Parliament upon that occasion, he felt quite sure that all who took a part in that discussion would have felt better pleased that the hon. and gallant Officer had been present. What he wished to assert was the right of a Member of that House to express his opinion upon any subject under discussion.

Colonel Evans

said, that the hon. Member had asserted the privileged right of a Member of that House to speak freely of the public conduct of any individual. As far as the general conduct of any individual, he did not mean to deny that right. But did the hon. Member mean to say that there was any instance of a similar course to that which had been pursued towards him and the troops under his command? If the hon. Member could point out any instance where a similar course had been pursued towards a British officer or the troops under his command as had been pursued in his case he would then consent to the applicability of the vague generality which the hon. Member had put forward.

Mr. Williams Wynn

said, that if an officer went into the service of a foreign Power, and that any discussion arose as to the propriety of his continuing to serve in that foreign service, or as to the continuance of the troops under his command, he considered that the Members of that House would have the fullest liberty to make any observations that their sense of public duty prompted. He considered that the right of a Member to discuss the public conduct of any individual in a public point of view in relation to any questions before the House could not be denied.

Mr. Lambton

said, that on the occasion of the discussion respecting Spanish affairs he thought that the hon. and gallant Officer had been very severely dealt with.

Mr. Goulburn

would claim for himself and for every other hon. Member the right of questioning the public policy, and, in his mind, the very doubtful public policy, which had been pursued in respect to Spain; and he would claim the exercise of that right however closely it might be connected with the conduct of the hon. and gallant Officer. He had never spoken harshly of the conduct of that hon. and gallant Officer, nor did he suppose he ever should. But when a question came before the House as to the policy of continuing British subjects in the service of a foreign State, when persons who objected to that policy, and who might entertain strong objections to the course that had been altogether pursued, it was impossible, notwithstanding any delicacy that might be used, not to say something which might be disagreeable to the feelings of an individual engaged on such service. He could state that when his right hon. and gallant Friend (Sir H. Hardinge) had brought forward his motion he had abstained from using many documents that bore upon the conduct of the hon. and gallant Officer, and he did so from a feeling that he was not present to defend himself. With respect to the question itself, it was the duty of his right hon. Friend at the time to have brought the motion forward. It was a motion to inquire whether or not the House would agree to an address to the Crown to discontinue the service of British subjects under a foreign Crown. The right hon. Gentleman, in conclusion, stated that he would claim the right to express his opinion in the fullest and freest manner upon any subject of public policy, and that he should do so at any risk of provoking any commentary that such a course might call forth.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that no person ever raised a question so entirely preposterous as to deny the right of any hon. Member to state his opinion freely upon any subject before the House. So far from that, it was not only their right but their duty fully and freely to discuss any matter in which the public interests were involved. No question had been at all raised on that point. All admitted the right—the question was as to the proper exercise of that right. No one doubted that it was perfectly open to any hon. Member to dispute the policy of the order in Council as to the continuance of the British Legion in the service of the Queen of Spain. He was also ready to admit the right to speak of the conduct of the Legion, and of any officer either in his public or individual capacity. He was not now further going to discuss that question; when the proper occasion came he should be quite ready to do so. That would be the proper time to discuss the question, and not upon a question on which they were all agreed. There was no difference of opinion as to the right and duty of Parliament to discuss with freedom all questions that came under its consideration.

Colonel Evans

said, that any irritability that had been evinced might arise from the fact that he had used one or two words which might have been misinterpreted. He had spoken of calumny and asperity; but he used those expressions in reference to the conduct of the public press, which had received countenance in that House, and he would take for granted that nothing had occurred which was in any way unparliamentary.

Sir C. B. Vere

was present at the debate in question, and he could assure the hon. and gallant Officer opposite that his situation and personal gallantry were fully considered, and he did not think, on that occasion, that there had been any tendency to throw anything discreditable upon the character of the hon. and gallant Officer.

Mr. Horsman

thought that, on the occasion referred to, expressions had been made use of calculated to produce soreness. If he recollected rightly, something like the term "hireling" had been made use of. With regard to the right of discussion which had been asserted, it was a right which no one denied; the only objection that could be was to the manner of the exercise of the right. During the absence of the hon. and gallant Officer great alacrity had been shown to bring forward questions affecting his conduct; but now that the gallant Officer was present the same alacrity did not exist, and he was forced to give notice of his intention to bring forward the subject himself.

Viscount Sandon

said, that there were no grounds for the charges which the hon. Member had made. The same urgency did not exist now as had existed last year, and the hon. Member could therefore draw no analogy from the circumstances of last year. If notice had not then been given and the motion brought forward, the opportunity would have been lost, as the order in Council was just upon the point of expiring. But he must deny that they were to be precluded from discussing a question because an hon. Member did not happen to be present, and they were forced to bring forward the question of Spanish politics last year at a time when the hon. and gallant Officer was not in his place in Parliament. As he was on his legs he must beg to allude to an observation that had fallen 'from the hon. and gallant Officer. He seemed inclined to characterise as the supporters of Don Carlos all those at his side of the House who felt disposed to question the policy of the present Government respecting Spain, but before the gallant Officer did that he would ask him was he prepared to take upon his own shoulders every cruelty that had been committed at the other side? When the hon. and gallant Officer was prepared to do that he might then talk of the supporters of Don Carlos.

Sir H. Vivian

was present when the right hon. and gallant Officer (Sir H. Hardinge) brought forward his motion respecting Spain, and he was ready to say that both that gallant Officer and the seconder of the motion had treated the question in that manner which his hon. and gallant Friend had a right to expect. He regretted that many severe expressions had been made use of concerning the troops under the command of his hon. and gallant Friend. Those troops had been subjected to misfortune; but they had conducted themselves on all occasions with a gallantry that was creditable to them as British soldiers. With respect to the cruelties that had taken place, it would be hard to hold his hon. and gallant Friend accountable for them. He hoped whenever they came to the discussion of this subject they would enter upon it without asperity towards his hon. and gallant Friend, or the troops engaged under his orders.

Mr. Borthwick

was anxious to have abstained from anything connected with the hon. and gallant Officer, without giving him an opportunity of replying. With respect to what the hon. and gallant Officer had stated, he having had occasion to take part in the debate on Spain, as far as he recollected, no person called in question the bravery of the hon. and gallant Officer. He had merely called in question the policy that continued the hon. and gallant Officer in Spain, and when the proper occasion came he should be prepared to do so again. He trusted to be present when the hon. and gallant Officer would bring forward his motion, for it had now assumed a proper form. He did not now mean to discuss what had been said about Don Carlos. He had been stigmatised as a blood-thirsty tyrant, but that at least was a reason why they should not allow one whom they so stigmatised to outstrip them in the race of humanity. As the noble Lord had made his appearance he would state that, had he been earlier present, he would have had the honour of enlarging more at length upon the subject which he had brought forward. Now that the noble Lord was in his place he would state that all the facts of the case had for some time been in the possession of the noble Lord, as they had been laid before him in a letter from his hon. Friend, the late Member for Sandwich. To this statement the noble Lord had not given an answer. Having now done his duty, he would leave the case in the hands of the noble Lord, believing that, when the facts of the case were established, he would do his duty in the cause of humanity and liberty.

Viscount Palmerston

regretted he had been detained by business elsewhere. He would have been in the House earlier; but the notice of the hon. Member for Evesham was the 13th on the paper, and he did not anticipate it would have come on so soon. He regretted that his absence should have in any way shortened the speech of the hon. Member.

Motion agreed to.