HC Deb 06 March 1848 vol 97 cc232-5

said, that on Wednesday last the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) had attributed to him corrupt motives in making the statement he did respecting the noble Lord's conduct in the Foreign Office. The corrupt motive attributed was, that his (Mr. Urquhart's) being removed from office, was the reason why he had made those charges, and continued to make them. Any such imputation would disqualify him, if true, for having the honour of a seat in that House; and he was sure that if false, he should be equally disqualified if he did not rebut it. A charge of such a nature was not to be bandied about: it was incumbent on the noble Lord to bring forward the grounds on which he made it. But without waiting for those grounds, he would show that the allegation was groundless. Two facts contradicted the insinuation of the noble Lord. The first was, that the charges he had brought forward had been advanced by him before his appointment. So far, indeed, from agreeing with the noble Lord up to the time of his recall, he had been in conflict with the noble Lord from the first moment they had come in contact. On his side, the noble Lord had—he referred now to the years 1834–5—been insidiously and underhandedly ma ligning and calumniating him. The noble Lord had been insidiously and underhandedly maligning and calumniating him—he held the proofs in his hand—representing him at one time as a firebrand, disturbing the peace of Europe, by hatred of Russia; and at another time as a Russian agent. [Lord Palmerston made a gesture of denegation.] Did the noble Lord deny the statement? Why had not the noble Lord, in his elaborate reply, answered the charge when formally made, that the noble Lord had represented to the Turkish Government that treaty of commerce, which had recently been so much commented on, as a Russian project? If it was a Russian project, then must he have been a Russian agent. On this and such like acts, were founded his first suspicions of the noble Lord. These were not suppressed; they were communicated to those connected with him in the public service, and were well known to the noble Lord. Then came a change in the conduct of the noble Lord, and then for the first time concert between them: not that he had gone over to the measures of the noble Lord, but the noble Lord had come to concur with him in measures which were exactly the reverse of his former course. So much then for his charges following his recall, which they must have done if they had been prompted by that act.

The second fact was, that this recall had never been the ground of any complaint. His position had been made painful to the last degree; and he held in his hand the letter which he had addressed to the noble Lord at the period of his recall—taking no exception—making no complaint—and expressing, he might almost say, gratitude to the noble Lord. He had not at that time reason to suspect that the noble Lord was about to abandon the measures which he had adopted; nor was it till many months after that he brought forward in a public manner his former charges, having been now again satisfied of their truth by the acts of the noble Lord, or by circumstances which had come to his know- ledge in the interval. His recall had thus nothing on earth to do with the charges; but the noble Lord had been the first to make charges against him. The noble Lord had attempted to fasten upon him this very complaint; he had industriously taken every means to ruin his character, to disqualify him as a witness against himself. The noble Lord on a former occasion had read a lengthy extract from a correspondence which had passed between the noble Lord, Mr. Backhouse, and himself; and which had been inserted at various times in the newspapers. He appealed to that correspondence as affording the proof on the second of the two points which he had mentioned. He called upon the noble Lord to lay that correspondence on the table of the House. The noble Lord could not pretend any injury to the public service, since it had been already printed. The noble Lord could not complain of being taken unawares, for every line of it on his side had been written for publication; but in case the noble Lord refused, he would read to the House a short extract, which would show the character of the grievances which he had against the noble Lord:— TO Mr. J. BACKHOUSE. July 20, 1838. That my letter is founded on any such assumption, is wholly groundless. It was as positively put by me, and as clearly understood by Lord Palmerston, as any proposition could be, that I made no complaint or objection whatever to my recall from Constantinople; but that I claimed—that I demanded—justice and redress for injury inflicted on me by the withholding of charges made by the Ambassador—by the false statements made at the interview itself—by the dissemination of calumny from official sources—and by the official sanction given to the insertion of paid libels in the public press. He had now shown that the insinuation of motives of the noble Lord was utterly incompatible with the facts; that his charges had been made before his appointment to office; that a change in the conduct of the noble Lord had induced him to abandon those charges; that they were not resumed at his removal from office, but at a subsequent period, and in consequence of other acts; that his course had been consistent and the same; that what he had said at the beginning he had said at the end; and he now called upon the noble Lord either to retract the insinuations to which he had given utterance on Wednesday last, or to lay upon the table of the House the correspondence to which he had referred.


I own I did state the other day, that it was my impression—an impression very much corroborated by the statement which the hon. Gentleman himself made on the last occasion in this House—that his removal from office had inspired him with his opinion regarding my conduct. I think the hon. Member said, on a former occasion, that even at the moment when he was recalled, he believed I had recalled him for the furtherance of certain views, and that he thought he had been made a sacrifice to forward his own views of general policy. I have, I confess, that impression on my mind—it may be wrong, or it may be right; but I shall have no objection to lay on the table the letters to which the hon. Gentleman alludes—almost all of them, I believe, were published in the newspapers. With regard to what he now states—that from the first time we came in contact we were in conflict—the hon. Member himself has said, that at the time when he accepted the appointment offered him, he did so because he was convinced, not that he concurred with me, but that I concurred with him. It would appear, then, that an official conflict between two persons connected with each other is not a very hostile collision. The hon. Member says, he thought I concurred with him at the time he accepted the appointment; he has also said that he thought I concurred with him at the time I removed him. That was a long period; and therefore there must be some exception to the assertion that from the first time we were in contact we were in conflict. And the hon. Gentleman will not say, I am sure, that if he thought at the time he accepted office that my views of policy were such as he condemned, he would have accepted office under a person of whose views he did not approve. He has said, that even before I appointed him I had endeavoured to undermine him in public opinion; but I have never attempted to undermine him. I certainly must say, though it may cast some imputation on my own friends, that I was told at the time of the appointment I had done an injudicious act; but believing at the time I made a proper appointment, I maintained it, and the hon. Gentleman went out.

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