HC Deb 04 August 1851 vol 118 cc1888-9

, in moving "an Address for a list of any Addresses to Her Majesty, or Memorials to the Foreign Office, on the subject of the liberation of Louis Kossuth and his Compatriots; with the names of the places from which addressed, and the number of signatures attached to each of them, stating also when signed by a Chairman on behalf of a meeting," observed, that the subject had been repeatedly brought before the House, and questions had been addressed to the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as to the shameful captivity of Kossuth and his compatriots. It was true, many of these unfortunate men had been set at liberty, and had come to this country. He hoped to hear from the noble Lord, and to have the noble Lord's positive assurance, that the rest, with Kossuth himself, would in a short period also be freed. He hoped the event would prove so, for the sake of the Turkish Government, whose credit was involved in having consented to keep them so long, in compliance with unjust demands. He should always consider the Turkish Government had no right to keep them in captivity, as they had done nothing against Turkey. There was a time when the name of Palmerston was sure to elicit a loud and spontaneous cheer; because the people had confidence that the noble Lord was doing his utmost on behalf of the oppressed. But if that name were pronounced now in a public meeting, he was afraid it would be received with far calmer feelings; because the people considered the noble Lord had not persevered in the same earnest and strenuous course in which he set out. He (Lord Dudley Stuart) hoped, however, that British influence would be superior to that of Austria, or Russia, or any other Power which, from vindictive or cowardly feelings, desired to retain these brave men in captivity. He trusted the noble Lord would state whether there was any truth in the report that the intrigues and representations of Austria had prevailed with the Turkish Government still further to detain these noble men; or whether there was any reason to doubt the understanding that Kossuth and his companions would be set at liberty as early as the 15th of September next?


said, he should make no opposition to the Motion of the noble Lord. He had often expressed his opinion on the subject on which his noble Friend's Motion was raised. He (Viscount Palmerston) had always regretted that the Turkish Government should have thought it right and necessary to detain so long in confinement those who had taken refuge in the Turkish territory, and who, when they entered it, received from officers in the Turkish service complete assurances of protection from the Sovereign of the country. The House well knew the circumstances which led the Turkish Government to swerve from that engagement, so entered into by their officers; and the House knew also the efforts and demonstrations made by the British and French Governments to support the Sultan in an independent course of action. It was undeniable that the long detention of these captives was entirely inconsistent with the independent action which it was the object of the French and English Governments to enable Turkey to pursue. Her Majesty's Government had not ceased to use all the means of friendly intercourse to induce the Sultan to put an end to that confinement (that detention rather than confinement), and had received a positive assurance that, on the 1st of September by the style which prevailed in Turkey, or on the 15th of September according to our style, those men who had been prisoners would be set at liberty, and would quit the Turkish territory; and there was no reason to suppose that that assurance would not be fulfilled.

Motion agreed to.

The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.