§ Sir Charles Napier
wished to put a question to the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, relative to a reply he had made yesterday to the question put by the 828 hon. Member for Pontefract. If he understood the right hon. Baronet properly, the right hon. Baronet said that the two sons of Admiral Bandiera and twenty other individuals had taken refuge in the Ionian Islands; that they left them on a particular day; and that the Governor of the Islands, as well as the Government at home, had been taken entirely by surprise, on those gentlemen leaving the Ionian Islands. He wished now to ask the right hon. Baronet whether the arrival of the two sons of Admiral Bandiera, men of some distinction, and twenty other individuals, had been communicated to the Lord High Commissioner by the Government at home; and whether any instructions had been given by the Government in the event of their leaving the island. It appeared that the Consuls of Russia, Austria, and Rome had made application to the Governor when they heard of the departure of those individuals, to send a steam man-of-war to prevent their landing on the coast of Calabria. He remembered a similar case which had occurred some years back, when the Duke of Wellington was at the head of the Government. A certain number of Portuguese refugees took refuge in Plymouth, whence they sailed for Terceira. A man of war was sent off to the island to prevent them from landing, and with strict orders, if they persisted, to drive them away, which was done, with the loss of one man killed. He wished to know whether any instructions had been given by the Governor of those islands to prevent them from landing. If Lord Seaton had acted a humane part, instead of sending a communication to the Neapolitan Government, he should have sent the steamer to acquaint those twenty-two unfortunate individuals of their danger, and apprise them that it was the intention of the Government to inform the Neapolitan authorities that they were going to land. He wished to know whether the Governor had communicated their arrival, and had received instructions how to act; and whether he had orders to communicate with them before they sailed for Otranto?
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, I thought I had fully communicated all I knew on this subject in the answer which I gave to the question put by my hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes); but, for the satisfaction of the hon. and gallant Officer, I have no objection to answer his question, and to repeat all I recollect on the subject. I must, however, decline any reference to the case of the 829 Marquess de Saldanha, and the Portuguese who accompanied him to this country, and thence to Terceira, for I have no perfect recollection of the circumstances. With respect to the case put by the hon. and gallant Officer, I say that no communication was made by Lord Seaton to the Neapolitan Government respecting the intended landing of the sons of Admiral Bandiera and their companions until after they had sailed. I do not recollect that Lord Seaton made any communication on the subject to the Government, or that any instructions were sent to him on the subject. Lord Seaton stated to the Neapolitan Representative that a son of Admiral Bandiera had arrived in the Ionian Islands in the month of February—that thence he went to Malta, and after some short time returned to the Ionian Islands—that he there conducted himself in a manner not calculated to excite any suspicion whatever—that on the 12th of June he, accompanied by his brother and twenty companions, left in two boats—and that Government had no suspicion of their intentions, as they all were unarmed. On the 13th of June three Consuls applied to Lord Seaton to send a certain armed steamer, called, I think, the Medea, for the purpose of preventing the parties from landing in Calabria. That Lord Seaton declined to do. [Lord J. Russell: What three Consuls made the application?] I believe the Austrian Consul, the Consul of the Papal States, and the Russian Consul. [Mr. T. Buncombe: Not the Russian—the Neapolitan Consul.] I am speaking to the beat of my recollection. I believe the three Consuls were those of Russia, Austria, and the Papal States;* but if I am substituting one for another, I will inform the noble Lord to-morrow. I do not, however, think I am mistaken. The answer Lord Seaton made to the representation of the three Consuls was this, — "I think the statement made very much exaggerated"—they had stated that sixty individuals had left the island—"I think that statement made very much exaggerated; I don't think it possible, these parties are going to land on the coast of Calabria. I cannot send the Medea to prevent them from landing, but I will send a small boat to enable you to apprise the Neapolitan Government to take such measures as they think fit to guard against the attack."* The right hon. Baronet explained at a subsequent part of the evening, that he was mistaken in mentioning the Russian Consul. He should have said the Neapolitan.
§ Sir C. Napier
What I want to know is, whether Lord Seaton, in communicating to the British Government what he had done, stated that he had sent to inform those unfortunate individuals that he had apprized the Neapolitan Government of their having left the island.
§ Sir R. Peel
The parties had sailed before Lord Seaton was aware of the fact. They sailed about ten o'clock at night. I again say I am speaking only to the best of my recollection. They sailed at ten o'clock on the evening of the 12th of June. Lord Seaton had not the least conception they intended to leave the island: but on the 13th the Consuls made the representation I have referred to, and asked that the Medea might be sent immediately after them. The gallant Officer asks whether Lord Seaton made any communication to the two Bandieras. It was impossible that he could make any commnication to the Bandieras before they left the island, because he had not the least suspicion of their intending to leave it. To the question whether Lord Seaton sent any boat after them to communicate with the Bandeiras on their passage, I have to reply that he did not.
Lord J. Russell
I wish to ask another question connected with this subject. The right hon. Baronet has stated that Lord Seaton did not suspect when those twenty-two individuals left Corfu that they were going to Calabria. But it is stated in the newspapers that a letter had been received in this country from one of those unfortunate victims, written I think on the day before his death, in which it was stated, that a person who came on horseback to visit them in the island of Corfu, was the person who betrayed them to the Neapolitan Government. The question I wish to put is, whether by Lord Seaton, or the British Minister at the Court of Naples, any information has been conveyed to Her Majesty's Government, to the effect that a person accompanying these parties to the coast of Calabria had entrapped them.
§ Sir R. Peel
I assure the noble Lord I have no recollection whatever on that point. Had I known the noble Lord's intention to put such a question, I should have come prepared to answer it. Perhaps the noble Lord will renew his question tomorrow.
§ Mr. Milnes
Is there any objection to lay on the Table of the House any letter, or copy of any letter, that may have passed between this Government and the Austrian 831 authorities connected with this subject? The matter has created so much interest in the country, that it would be much more satisfactory to have the papers.
§ Mr. T. Duncombe
Letters or extracts of letters. You had the correspondence of these parties with Mr. Mazzini to guide you.
§ Sir R. Peel
I assure the House what I have stated is in exact conformity with the communications received. I am bound to say, having read the despatch of Lord Seaton, that if I am asked whether there will be any inconvenience in producing it, I don't think there would. But when I have produced one paper, hon. Gentlemen opposite may ask, why not produce some others? What I staled to the House was this—no communication was made to the British Government—no communication was made to Lord Seaton—no communication of any kind was received by Lord Seaton with respect to the conduct of the Bandieras and other refugees in Corfu, until after they had actually sailed. The first account we had of their having sailed was from Austria, from Sir Robert Gordon, in a letter dated the 26th of July, with a remonstrance against our having permitted the expedition to sail. Upon receiving it we called on Lord Seaton for a further report, and then we had two letters from Lord Seaton exactly in conformity with what I have stated.
§ Mr. G. W. Hope
Perhaps I may be allowed to state that we had no notice whatever. I can find no notice whatever in the correspondence with Lord Seaton respecting the arrival of the Bandieras in the Ionian Islands previously to the report that they had left, except this,—application was made to him that one of the brothers, being a deserter, should be delivered up, which application was refused.
§ Subject at an end.