§ Mr. Cochrane
rose, pursuant to notice, to move for copy of correspondence, or extracts from correspondence, between Her Majesty's 991 Government and Sir E. Lyons, or the Courts of France and Russia, relative to the Affairs of Greece. He said, that since he had last the honour of calling the attention of the House to the condition of the kingdom of Greece, that country must have acquired fresh claims to their consideration; the occurrences of the last six months had exercised so important an influence upon her destinies, had so strikingly developed the character of the people and the resources which they possessed, that he was sure the House would pardon him for making a few observations upon events of such vast moment to a nation in whose welfare we ought to take the first interest, inasmuch as we were the first to recognise her independent existence. It was because that kingdom was the creation of the three protecting powers—because England had always taken so active a part in promoting her welfare, that he was anxious to learn what course Her Majesty's Government was prepared to adopt in our future diplomatic relations with that country. Prior to the 15th of September last Greece was suffering from all the evils incidental to a petty despotism—the energies of the people were depressed—the internal administration of the country was enfeebled—privileges the most dear to all the inhabitants—her municipal privileges—were trampled under foot—the Constitution so solemnly guaranteed by the protecting powers was denied to them; in the meanwhile, the Executive, blindly relying upon foreign aid and mercenary troops, took no precaution against the coming storm, while those who were best acquainted with the character of the people, who, like the hon. Member for Bolton (Dr. Bowring), had witnessed their gallant exertions, their indomitable perseverance during many years of unparalleled privation, could only anticipate a renewal of those scenes of horror which had already devastated that rich and fertile country. But upon the 15th of September, the people so long depressed—so broken—some thought so dispirited—rose like one man. No act of bloodshed—almost no act of violence—was committed. The Constitution was proclaimed—it was nobly accepted by the King. It was accepted by the Representatives of France and England, who, in this, anticipated the wishes of their respective Governments. And here he trusted he should be permitted to pay what he was sure the House—what he was sure Her Majesty's Government— 992 would consider only a just tribute to the merits of that gallant officer, who was at present Minister at the Court of Greece, appointed by the noble Viscount opposite, and confirmed in that appointment by the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Government. That gallant Officer had won golden opinions from all political classes, and he (Mr. Cochrane) was assured from many sources, that it was the common feeling at Athens, that to the able counsels, to the wise and conciliating policy of Sir Edmund Lyons, the country was indebted for seeing many evils averted which threatened it—and to the confirmation of that good understanding between M. Piscatory and himself, without which the future would, indeed, be fraught with danger. But he must appeal in that House against the term revolution, which had been applied to this unanimous expression of the national will. When the Assembly first met, one Deputy rose and said, "Those who make revolutions against the King and the Throne should be prepared to justify them;" but the Assembly replied with one voice, "It is not a revolution—it is not even a reform—we have asserted the truth." He thought that the House would agree with him, that all the circumstances attending this great assertion of principles were calculated to win admiration. The elections took place unaccompanied by any of those acts of violence which he was afraid were not uncommon on similar occasions, even in this country; and with the exception of one slight movement at Athens at the latter end of October, occasioned by some misinterpretation of an order from the Palace, nothing occurred to disturb the public tranquillity. The House should not forget the difficulties with which a constitutional Government so newly organized had to contend. The conflicting views and interests of parties—the small factions which, incapable of public spirit, could not be controlled by public opinion—the very ignorance of those forms which seemed so simple and were so easily understood when the representation of the people had been long established he thought that when all this was fairly considered, they must marvel at the tranquillity which had so universally prevailed, and believe that a nation so capable of appreciating the blessings of good government would be the last to compromise its existence. But there must always be in every state a certain number of individuals to whom anarchy was power, and who dreaded nothing more 993 than the establishment of institutions, with all their guards and securities—such a party existed in Greece. Besides the House would not forget that in that country certain conflicting influences had been always operating. England, France, and Russia, each had their party, and these parties were represented in Greece respectively by MM. Mavrocordato, Coletti, and Metaxa. The Russian was the most powerful, and possessed eighty votes in the chamber—England and France together 102, and the republicans, under M. Riga Palamides, could command forty-five votes. To show the perfect cordiality which prevailed between France and England on the subject of Grecian Affairs, the House, would perhaps, permit him to quote one or two extracts from the despatches of M. Guizot and Lord Aberdeen. Extracts of the former appeared in the Journal des Debats—and M. Guizot said,Now that these events are accomplished, it only remains for us to restrain them within due limits, and to regulate their consequences; the King may, perhaps, be tempted, and even among those who have not sustained his cause in the hour of danger, there may be found many who will advise him to adopt a very different course—who will counsel him to withdraw all he has promised, to overthrow all he has accepted; but such conduct we ate profoundly convinced would he as imprudent as it must be considered dishonourable. The King will assuredly have many opportunities of exercising over the future Constitution of the State a legitimate influence—let him employ them without hesitation, without any arrières pensées—let him endeavour to uphold the monarchial rights, and all those conditions which are essential to a constitutional Government. If, on the other hand, King Otho should endeavour to retrace the past, to withdraw the concessions he has made—if he should enter upon a course of hesitation, secrecy, and duplicity—it is then we shall fear for him many trials, more bitter than those which he has experienced, and, for Greece, dangers more fatal than those from which she has escaped. MM. Colletti and Mavrocordato will unite their endeavours to establish a constitution in that country at once free and monarchial, and it is probable that this monarchial Constitution will be owing to the cordial understanding between the two Powers.Lord Aberdeen writing to Sir E. Lyons, in November 29, said,—The King of Bavaria is desirous that the royal power should be established on a solid basis, so that the democratic principle should not be unduly extended; and that all unjust attempts against the throne should be averted. The French Ambassador concurs with us upon 994 those principles, without which the Government of his Majesty cannot possibly establish a constitutional government, which will possess the elements of power and duration. It is the duty of the protecting Powers to watch over the progress and the fulfilment of the constitution. * * * This is, therefore, the manner in which her Majesty's Government desire that you, in conjunction with that of France, induce the leaders of the Greek nation to adopt that course which all men regard as the only sure means of confirming the new state of things; but at the same time you will miss no opportunity of impressing upon the King the necessity not merely of fulfilling his promises to the people, but also of avoiding every act and expression which could awaken a suspicion in the minds of his subjects; inevitable mischief would result from such conduct. On the other hand, you will use all your endeavours to prove the mischievous theories of the extension of democratic principles.It was, however, much to be lamented that Russia had never fairly accepted the revolution which had been accomplished, and that M. Metaxa, who represented the interests of that country, had latterly thrown some obstacles in the way of MM. Mavrocordato and Colletti. His object was, to direct the attention of Her Majesty's Government to some articles of the proposed constitution adopted by the State, but not yet ratified by tile King, which, he much feared, would, if ratified, be fatal to the stability of the Throne, and the prosperity of the country. He wished to know whether Her Majesty's Government meant to support the ratification. What did Greece require? A free constitution capable of aiding the natural developement of her resources—of securing the rights of her citizens—of putting a check upon the caprices of her rulers—for this the events of the 15th of September were accomplished. And they had been most loyally and frankly accepted by the King. Would Greece now leave the straight path into which she had entered? He trusted, he believed not—but for this what was required? Above all else, a Senate, if not hereditary, at least, nominated for life by the King, as a natural counterpoise to the Chamber, elected by the people. The Assembly might well be accused of want of due reflection, if, with the example of France and England before their eyes, and surrounded by governments purely monarchical, they should not be contented with the same amount of liberty as reigned in the constitutional governments of Europe. He would now merely glance at 995 those articles of the constitution which had been adopted by the Assembly, but which he fondly trusted the good sense of the people would prevent their insisting upon. The 39th Article of the proposed constitution enacted that each successor to the throne of Greece, must be a member of the Greek Church. Now this was to fly in the face of the allied Powers, and to act in direct violation of the original Treaty, by which the throne was vested—in the event of failure of direct heirs, to the present King—in the house of Bavaria; and this would include his Majesty's brother, who was a Roman Catholic, and on whom the throne was entailed. Besides, it was directly opposed to the 37th Article of their own constitution, which reproduced the 8th Article of the Treaty in 1832, relative to the succession. He regretted much to see, by the papers which had arrived yesterday, that this 39th Article was adopted unanimously. But he did think the Assembly should be satisfied with an engagement from the King for himself and his children, and merely express the national wish that his successors should be members of the Greek Church. The 34th Article voted the Civil List for ten years only. But the 71st Article was the most objectionable of any, by which the Senate was nominated for ten years; and this was directly opposed to the opinion of France and England, and, if ratified, must infallibly sow the seeds of constant agitation and intrigue, and of anarchy, in that country. There were several other points of minor importance, but with these he would not trouble the House; the confirmation of the articles he had cited must prove fatal to the stability of the Government, and without such stability there could be no prospect of the revival of prosperity. He thought, therefore, that it was incumbent upon the allied Powers to urge, in the strongest manner, upon the National Assembly the danger of the course into which they were rushing. The circumstances of the Greek nation having obtained a constitution for themselves did not place them beyond the protection of the three Powers. This nation was only in the position it should have occupied in 1832, and it would be a most unjust policy in us not to use all our exertions to prevent a settlement which must lead ultimately to acts of outrage and violence. Any feeling in the Assembly opposed to a fair constitution, by which the legitimate powers were to be obtained for each part of the State, was 996 the more to be lamented, from the circumstance that his Majesty had since the 15th of September in no degree been wanting to the State. When he had the honour of seeing Prince Wallerstein in Paris, the Prince assured him that both his Majesty, King Otho, as well as the King of Bavaria, were resolved to fulfil the conditions entered into on the 15th of September, and honestly and cordially admit the new order of things. In answer to the address presented to his Majesty by the National Assembly, his Majesty thus expressed himself:—I receive with much pleasure this address. The assurance which it conveys to me, that my own sentiments are in accordance with yours gives me the deepest satisfaction. In this manner we shall happily accomplish the great work of giving a constitutional government to Greece, and thus I do not doubt that we all understand the 15th of September.It was not towards a Sovereign, who, whatever his previous faults, had now acted with so much honesty, that the nation should be wanting in reliance and faith. He did not believe his Majesty would fail in his duty. He would feign trust the Assembly would not fail in theirs; but it would be necessary for all who really had the welfare of their country at heart, boldly to follow enlightened patriotic men like M. Mavrocordato and Colletti. There were some, he feared, who supported the new Government, but were too much disposed to await events and see what course the world would take. But it was with the State as it was with religion—"He that is not with me is against me." Before he sat down, perhaps the House would permit him to make one comment upon some remarks which had fallen a few nights previously from the hon. Member for Pontefract. The hon. Member had accused him of inconsistency, because he advocated at one and the same time principles of legitimacy in old countries, and a constitutional Government in Greece. Inconsistency was a strange charge for the hon. Member to bring against any man—but in his case it was absurd. What! because he clung to hereditary descent, because he did not believe in the doctrine that kings ruled by the will of the people. In the first place, from a religious feeling; secondly, because he thought the principle of legitimacy was not only a security for our peace and happiness, but also secured us in our constitutional privileges. Nay, more; though he believed a despotism the govern- 997 ment best adapted to Russia, was he, on that account, blind to the fact that a republicanism was suited to America? Was he, on that account, incapable of appreciating the vast blessings of constitutional government? and was he to be accused of inconsistency because he would vindicate our national faith by obtaining such privileges for Greece? and thus fulfil the conditions entered into with that country when she accepted King Otho? They must remember, that institutions adapted for one country, another was not ripe for; another, perhaps, too ripe; and he was but a shallow reasoner who would apply the same principles to all nations and to all climes. We could but use our best endeavours to obtain that great end, for which each citizen sacrificed a part of his national liberty. We must scatter in his path as many flowers as we could gather, so that he might rind, in the happiness and the enjoyment of life, some consolation for the shortness of its duration. Might it be thus with Greece! In this spirit he had again ventured to bring her case before the consideration of the House, which he trusted would sympathise with him in the expression of his warm congratulations for the past, and in the fond anticipations with which he regarded the future. The hon. Member concluded by reading the terms of his Motion as stated above.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, the hon. Gentleman's Motion was, "for correspondence, or extracts of any correspondence, between Her Majesty's Government and Sir Edmund Lyons, or the Courts of France and Russia, relative to the recent events in Greece." With that Motion he was not prepared substantially to disagree; but he hoped that the hon. Gentleman would permit Her Majesty's Government to exercise a very large discretion in withholding such portions of the correspondence, which, as responsible Ministers of the Crown, they might think it advisable, for the interests of the State, and from the duties they had to perform, not to produce. The question of the principle and details of the constitution of Greece was at present under discussion by the constituted authorities of that country; and the Government of England had united with that of France in offering some advice upon the general principles connected with the formation of such a constitution. He thought the House and the hon. Gentleman would give the two 998 Governments credit, at least for good intentions, when he said that those instructions and that advice had been influenced by the purest motives and the sincerest wishes to establish in Greece a popular representative and constitutional government, combined, at the same time, with such institutions as should secure the existence of a limited monarchy. He thought that the correspondence which he meant to lay before the House would fully prove the truth of this assertion. But he should feel exceedingly unwilling to lay before the House at present any correspondence with regard to the details which are now under consideration. He thought we ought to be very cautious how we dictated to a free people any thing with reference to their government. He thought that the mode in which the National Assembly and the constituted authorities of Greece were proceeding, was calculated to inspire and was deserving, of public confidence, and that we could better depend on those institutions which might be established by their own free-will, after full deliberation, and free discussion—he thought that institutions so established would be more likely to be permanent than if they should appear to have been unduly influenced by the dictation, or even the advice of foreign powers. He would mention one single circumstance to show how important it was for him, in the position in which he stood, not to be premature in offering opinions or communicating papers with respect to the matters, now under discussion in Greece. If the hon. Gentleman had at four o'clock to-day, (it was a little after five when Sir R. Peel said this) asked him what was the decision of the National Assembly of Greece as to one of the points under discussion, namely, the duration of the tenure of office by members of the Council, he should not have been able to inform him. He was now, however, able to say, that accounts had been received from Greece in the course of the present day reporting the result of the discussion on that measure. A division had taken place upon it, in which the number were equal, ninety-eight being for the limitation to ten years, and ninety-eight for its extension during life. Another division however, was expected on the next day, which might have a material bearing on the question. Now, he thought the House would see, that while this subject was abso- 999 lutely under the consideration of the constituted authorities of Greece, it would be extremely unwise for the British House of Commons to enter into any debate or discussion upon it. He, therefore, deprecated the continuance of the discussion on the present occasion; there would be plenty of opportunities for free discussion and the free expression of opinion, without prejudicing the subject by a premature consideration of it. As he had before said, he would be happy to give the hon. Member the communications made at the commencement of the proceedings—communications which he was satisfied would show the dispositions of the British and French Governments, and satisfy the House that they had done that which was becoming in them, and calculated to induce the constituted authorities in Greece to secure the blessings of free institutions, together with a limited monarchy. With respect to what the hon. Gentleman had said on the subject of the loan, he (Sir R. Peel) must be excused for at present declining to answer. Whatever might have been felt at one time as to the expediency of insisting on the repayment of the loan, he felt that the House would agree with him that those considerations would not apply to a people who were passing through such a crisis in their affairs as that which was taking place in Greece, and he trusted the House would rest assured that every attempt would be made, on the part of the Government, to reconcile the duty which they owed to this country as the guardians of the public purse, with what they felt due to a country placed in such a position as that which Greece now occupied. In conclusion, he begged to inform the hon. Gentleman, that in the course of a week or ten days he would be prepared to lay on the Table such portions of the public correspondence on the subject of Greece as it would be consistent with his duty to give.
§ Viscount Palmerston
said, that undoubtedly the answer of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, to the speech of the hon. Member for Bridport was more encouraging and satisfactory than the state of the Treasury Benches when the hon. Gentleman began his speech would have led the House to expect. [Sir R. Peel: How so?] Because there was nobody present on those Benches. But he thought, under the circumstances, 1000 that the statement of the right hon. Baronet was satisfactory in regard to the Motion. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to give the papers asked for by the hon. Gentleman, and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman was justified in claiming to exercise a discretion as to the selection which he should make of Papers forming part of a correspondence still going on, and involving points of great delicacy, affecting the feelings of another and an independent nation, in regard to the details of the constitution they had under deliberation. He trusted, however, that the right hon. Gentleman would give as large a selection from the correspondence as he could consistently with the present position of the affair, and the feelings of the people of Greece in regard to it. He concurred with the hon. Member for Bridport that the change which had lately taken place in Greece did not amount to a revolution, but was only a measure taken for the assertion and maintenance of rights which had been conceded to the Greek nation by Treaty; therefore, the manifestation made by the Greek nation, could not with propriety be called a revolution. Their conduct during that event, in his opinion, did them the highest honour. Persons had been in the habit of saying that the Greeks had been so many centuries under slavery and oppression, that they were not yet fitted for the enjoyment of a constitutional form of government. The event had proved how undeserving they were of that opinion. Greece had by her acts given a convincing disproof to such notions, and had afforded an evidence of the soundness of the position that all nations were fitted for the enjoyment of a constitutional Government if it were given to them; and for his part he believed that if any nation should be found not fit for constitutional Government, the best way to fit such nation for it would be to give it them; but if nations were to wait until the enemies of popular institutions pronounced them fitted to receive them, he feared they would have to wait long enough. Nothing could be more honourable to the Greek nation than the mode in which they had brought about the establishment of their constitution; and he thought, also, that the conduct of the King of Greece, during this trying state of things, had been infinitely honourable to him. Many people had thought, knowing the repugnance which he had evinced to a popular constitution, 1001 that His Majesty would have endeavoured to have escaped from the practical adoption of that constitution which had been forced upon him; but, on the contrary, he appeared to have acted throughout with the utmost sincerity and good faith in so fulfilling the engagements which he had entered into with the Greek nation in September last. He sincerely hoped, that both His Majesty and the Greek people would continue to follow up what was then done in the same spirit. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet that great delicacy and discretion ought to be exercised by the Governments of France and England in any advice they might think it right to offer to the Greek nation in regard to the details of their constitution. Although he admitted that they might advise, yet the utmost forbearance in advising ought to be shown. But he agreed with the hon. Member for Bridport, that the attention of those Governments ought to be directed to that article in the Greek constitution which provided that the Sovereign should be of the Greek religion. It was settled by the Treaty of 1832, that if the succession should fail in the line of King Otho, the Crown should pass to his younger brother Leopold, and to his male descendants. Now, these princes would of course be of the Catholic religion, and, therefore, this article of the constitution would, in such a case, become incompatible with the Treaty of 1832. He trusted he should not be told that this incompatibility might be got over by the adoption of the Greek religion by the Catholic successor to the Throne of Greece. He trusted that neither England, nor France, nor the Greek people, would expect that a person brought up in one religion, should change it merely to mount a throne. Upon this ground it would be inconsistent with the treaties by which the succession to the Throne of Greece was regulated to ratify that article of the constitution. But there was another objection to this article, collateral and contingent; for if all the branches of the House of Bavaria should fail, and if that article which required the Sovereign to be of the Greek Church should remain in force, where would the Greeks be obliged to go to find a successor to the Throne? They would be driven to the Royal Family of Russia, one of the three parties to the alliance by which the independence of Greece was established and it was a fundamental condition of that alliance that neither of the three Royal Families should 1002 give a sovereign to the Throne of that country. It was one of the fundamental principles upon which the union of the three contracting parties was based, that Greece should be made independent of all and each of these three Powers; therefore it was another objection to this article of the constitution, that it would in a possible contingency drive the Greeks to choose a successor from the Family of one of the contracting parties to the Treaty. He trusted, therefore, the Governments of England and France would use the influence they were entitled to exercise to obtain a modification, of this article. He was glad to hear the testimony that had been borne by the hon. Member for Bridport to the conduct of that distinguished officer and diplomatist, Sir Edmund Lyons. Throughout all the transactions in which that officer had been engaged in Greece, his conduct had been equally honourable to himself and advantageous to the country. He felt particularly gratified at this, because that gallant officer had been appointed to this diplomatic post by the Government to which he had had the honour to belong, and they had appointed him, he was aware, under considerable responsibility. Though Sir E. Lyons had previously distinguished himself as an able naval officer, he had never before been engaged in the diplomatic service. He was glad that the result of that appointment had justified the opinion of the Government as to the gallant officer's abilities, and that he had acted not only to the satisfaction of the Government which had appointed him, but also to that of their successors. In conclusion, he could only again say that be was glad that the right hon. Baronet had agreed to give the papers moved for, and he thought that the hon. Member would exercise a sound discretion in leaving the Government to make such a fair selection as they considered might be presented to the House, without detriment to the interests of the public service.
§ Sir R. Peel
begged, after what had fallen from the noble Lord, to say a few words in explanation. He trusted that the House would not draw any inference from his silence on particular points of the Greek constitution. The religion of the successor to the throne of that country was a point that had not escaped the attention of the Government. It. had occupied its full consideration, but he believed the noble Lord would concur with 1003 him in considering it to be one of those points upon which it would be unwise to enter into a discussion at the present moment. He was sorry that he had not been present at the commencement of the speech of the hon. Member for Bridport, or he should have been happy to have borne his testimony to the admirable conduct of Sir Edmund Lyons, in the important duties which had been entrusted to him. The noble Lord took credit to himself, and justly so, for the appointment of Sir Edmund Lyons; but he hoped that the noble Lord would admit that the present Government was entitled to some credit for having retained in office that gallant officer, and reposed in him that full and entire confidence to which he was entitled. It was an honour to the profession to which he belonged that the gallant officer had discharged his duties with such discretion, fidelity, and ability.
§ Sir Howard Douglas
entirely concurred with his right hon. Friend, the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that it was extremely unwise for the British House of Commons to enter into any debate or discussion upon the details of the proposed Constitution of Greece, whilst that subject was under the consideration of the constituted authorities of that kingdom; and, though possessed of ample materials, he (Sir H. Douglas) would reserve himself for future discussions upon the affairs of Greece, and abstain from giving any opinion in detail as to the merits and tendencies of the new Constitution, until it shall have been completed. All he would say in the mean time was, that he entertained no very favourable expectations of a wholesome result from a movement which had commenced with one of those military pronunciementos of which we have lately heard so much, and which have produced such disastrous effects elsewhere. He (Sir H. Douglas) would therefore confine his observations to one most important, and most decisive circumstance, which entirely forbade every expectation that the present movement in Greece would effectuate what the Greek people fought for in their revolution, and which the whole civilized world desired they might accomplish, namely, their entire and absolute independence, spiritual as well as temporal. He (Sir H. Douglas) concurred with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton in the opinion he expressed, and the apprehensions he entertained, as to the probable 1004 consequences of that article of the Greek Constitution, which provided that all future sovereigns of Greece should be of the Greek religion. But the noble Lord did not refer his objections to what was, in fact, a primary and a decisive step in that direction, leading inevitably to the result which, in the event of King Otho having no children, the noble Lord had indicated; and which, taken altogether, he (Sir H. Douglas) had a very strong impression exhibited what the main spring was, of the action of those, who had been mainly instrumental in bringing about the late movement at Athens. The great object of the Greek people in their memorable revolution, and for the accomplishment of which the civilized world felt most anxious for their success, was, that they might not only acquire political independence, but their complete spiritual separation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This was accordingly provided for, at the elevation of King Otho to the throne of Greece, by solemn acts, copies of which he (Sir H. Douglas) held in his hand, namely, Protocols of the meetings of the Prelates, convoked at Nauplia, for the purpose of declaring the entire independence of the Church of Greece; and a solemn act, decree, and proclamation, of the entire independence of the Hellenic Church, the first article of which declares, that the Orthodox Eastern Apostolic Church of the Kingdom of Greece acknowledge no Spiritual Head, but the Founder of the Christian faith, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Now the second article of the proposed Constitution, rescinds that declaratory act, so far as to declare, that the Greek Church, instead of acknowledging no Spiritual Head but our Saviour Jesus Christ, is inseparably united with the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople. The noble Lord must be well aware of the serious inconvenience and dangers that have resulted, and must result from the Spiritual influence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in connection with certain temporal Powers, extending over and interfering with the internal affairs of independent states. When the Ionian Islands came under British protection, it was a great omission not to separate the Ionian Church from the Spiritual Dominion of the Patriarch of Constantinople, as effected with respect to Greece, by the documents to which he (Sir H. Douglas) had referred. And he would prove the dangers that must result to Greece from the alteration now proposed, according to the new Greek Constitution, by adverting to the serious and 1005 dangerous interferences of the late Patriarch of Constantinople with the internal affairs of the Ionian Islands, and the obstructions thus interposed to the improvements and ameliorations in the laws and internal affairs of the Ionian Islands, proceeding under British Administration. So dangerous did the intrigues of the Patriarch become, from the exercise of this spiritual influence, under that of the temporal Powers with which it was connected, that the noble Lord, the Member for Tiverton, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, found it absolutely necessary to instruct Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople, a noble and distinguished personage, of whom he (Sir H. Douglas) would speak in terms of the highest respect and regard, and with a strong sense of the ability and vigour of that noble Lord's conduct, to demand the deposition of the Patriarch, as the only way of averting the very serious evils that must have ensued, had that influence not been effectually counteracted. So, unquestionably, will it be, if that influence does not remain effectually excluded from interfering in the affairs of Greece. And he would fearlessly say, that all the blood which has been shed in the cause of Greek freedom, will have been shed in vain; all the expectations entertained by the British people in particular—all the great objects of the Powers which mainly brought about the independence of Greece, will be disappointed, if the Church of Greece he restored, in any degree, to spiritual subjection to the Patriarch of the Turkish capital. The noble Lord had clearly pointed out what would happen, in the event of King Otho dying without an heir, or the Crown becoming vacant. The proposed Constitution provides another vehicle for facilitating this, by the article, which, in such events, makes the monarchy elective; and, as the noble Lord has well said, there is but one royal family, from which a Prince could be selected, in whose person and persuasions all these foreboding Articles, relating to religion, in the new Constitution, may be accomplished.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
certainly thought it was desirable, that the Church of Greece should be entirely independent; but he did not think it was convenient that the House should discuss the details of the Greek constitution at a moment when they were under deliberation by the constituted authorities in that country, He could not agree with the noble Lord the Member for 1006 Tiverton, in the sweeping proposition which he had enunciated, that in any country whatever, even China or Japan, it was only necessary to introduce free institutions in order to fit the people for their enjoyment. He thought this was a proposition which, coming from the authority which it did, should not be tacitly assented to by the House. He thought, that without previous cultivation and preparation, the sudden introduction of free institutions amongst nations generally would only lead to increased barbarism, and eventually to actual anarchy. With respect to the appointment of Sir Edmund Lyons, looking at the conduct of that gallant officer, which had been most excellent throughout, he was prepared to say that no appointment had ever been made by the noble Lord which was so wholly unobjectionable. In his opinion, Sir Edmund Lyons was entitled to represent England and its interests, not only on account of the diplomatic abilities which he had displayed, but from his having throughout united the high character of an English gentleman with that of an eminent officer. The noble Lord had said that Greece was entitled to claim a constitution. More than that, the King himself had ten years ago promised to give a constitution, and it was by virtue of that pledge he continued to govern that fine and glorious country. Yet he believed that a grosser system of tyranny had been exercised in that country during those ten years than in any other country in Europe for a century. He would not stop to inquire whether what had happened on the 15th of September were worthy of the name of a revolution, but it was of such a nature as to recommend anything even bearing that name to him. He could not go along with his gallant Friend near him (Sir H. Douglas) in saying that it was merely a military movement. He believed the revolution was prepared by the scarcely endurable despotism of the King, and that the soldiers shared, but did not lead the feeling of the country.
§ Sir H. Douglas
explained, that what he said was, that the movement in Greece, commenced with a military pronunciemento; and he thought no good could come of that. The gallant General concurred most cordially, in the respect and esteem, in which Sir Edmund Lyons was most deservedly held.
§ Mr. Cochrane,
in reply, said that he did not for a moment imagine that the absence of the right hon. Gentleman at 1007 the commencement of his observations had arisen from any disregard of the interests of Greece; but he at the same time regretted that the right hon. Gentleman was not present during the whole of his speech, as there were some other points which he thought the right hon. Gentleman would have replied to. But, at all events, he was delighted to find that the attention of the right hon. Gentleman had been called to that article of the Constitution which referred to the religion of the successors to the throne of Greece, and also that he bore such ample and honourable testimony to the ability of Sir E. Lyons, who, he believed had not once left Athens since his appointment by the noble Viscount, now nearly ten years since. The gallant Officer behind him (Sir H. Douglas) had called this a military movement in Greece. It was, on the contrary, the unanimous movement of a free people. As for what the gallant Officer said about waiting for the ratification of the Constitution by the King—however valuable the gallant Officer's opinion might be—it would never be too late for him to give it. He regretted his right hon. Friend near him (Sir R. Inglis) had alluded to the King's past conduct, Whatever that might have been, he had behaved admirably since he had accepted the Constitution. As for the loan, he thought every possible delay should be given to the nation under the circumstances of the case. He did not think it necessary to divide for the papers, as the right hon. Gentleman had promised to exercise a large discretion. He trusted the term "large" applied to the number of the papers which were to be laid on the Table.
§ Motion, as qualified by Sir It. Peel, agreed to.