§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, that in bringing forward the Motion of which he had given notice, he could not think that he was guilty of an unwarrantable trespass on the time and attention of the House, in submitting to its consideration a subject of considerable public interest, involving many important principles which it was most expedient that that House should either affirm or deny, and creating a practical grievance which at the present moment was felt with severity by a not inconsiderable portion of Her Majesty's subjects. Two series of papers had been laid upon the table of the House respecting the residence in England of certain foreign refugees, and the measures taken by foreign Governments to procure their punishment, expulsion, or extradition. It was, doubtless, in the recollection of the House, that during the recent political convulsions in Europe, numbers of persons from different foreign countries had been driven to England, as to the only asylum left open to them amid the tumults of the Continent. It was asserted that after a certain residence in this country, these refugees becoming more and more excited, in proportion as their cause on the Continent became more hopeless and embarrassing, and rendering their return to their respective countries more difficult, formed themselves into associations, and set on foot conspiracies, having for object to revolutionise, or at least to alter, the Governments to which they severally belonged. It was alleged, moreover, that those persons endeavoured to levy money, by way of loan, from the people of this country, for the purpose of exciting revolutionary disturbances in foreign States. About that time also, there arrived in this country, a very remarkable man, a Hungarian refugee, no other, indeed, than Louis Kossuth, an individual who had been made the subject of much diplomatic communication between this and other countries, and in whose favour, and for the purpose of saving him from being surrendered to the Austrian Government, England had adopted the extreme and unusual measure of sending a British fleet to the Dardanelles. Several foreign Governments thought themselves aggrieved by Kossuth's reception in England, and 478 generally by the protection afforded in this country to foreign refugees. With regard to the first point, he would maintain that the British people had given no just cause whatsoever of umbrage to the Austrian Government, or any other Government, by their conduct with respect to the reception of Kossuth. The demonstrations which were made in his favour were purely spontaneous, and confined almost exclusively to the masses of the people, having received no encouragement whatever from the Government, and but very little from the upper classes of society. Nevertheless, towards the close of last year, certain foreign Governments thought it right to address to his noble Friend the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, certain very strong representations with respect to the residence of refugees in this country. Those papers being already in the hands of hon. Members, he would not detain the House by reading from them, but there was one point to which he could not forbear from directing attention, namely, that several of these foreign Ministers, acting, he was bound to believe, with perfect independence, and yet with a singular coincidence of thought, referred, in justification of their demands, to the conduct of the noble Lord the hon. Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), with regard to a despatch addressed by that noble Lord to the Government of America at the time of the feared and projected rebellion in Ireland. The despatches of the foreign Ministers to whom he alluded all went upon the assumption that the conduct of his noble Friend the Member for Tiverton, on the occasion in question, gave colour and pretence to the demand which they made for punishment, expulsion, or extradition of the foreign refugees resident in England. But nothing could be more unreasonable than such an assumption. It was only those whose judgments were warped by inveterate prejudice who could avoid perceiving that there was no true analogy between the cases. At the period of the projected rebellion in Ireland, a large number of Irishmen, who were located in the United States, and had become citizens of that Republic, took an active part against England, and by contributions of money and other moans testified their sympathy with the disaffected portion of the Irish people. It was at such a critical juncture as that that his noble Friend the Member for Tiverton, then at the head of the Foreign Depart- 479 ment, addressed the American Government in a despatch, in which he expressed his natural disapproval of such proceedings on the part of the Irish resident in the States, but at the same time admitted the constitutional difficulty, and indeed the absolute inability under which the President laboured with respect to the adoption of effective measures for putting an end to such occurrences:—The Government of the United States must not take it amiss that Her Majesty's Government should resort to measures of precaution and of repression in regard to persons, whatever their nationality may he, who, in this posture of affairs may come from the United States to this realm; and if there should be any citizens of the United States who have chosen this period of disturbance for visiting Ireland for innocent purposes, they must not be surprised if, like persons whom curiosity may lead into the midst of a battle, they should be involved into the sweep of measures aimed at men of a different description.Surely it was out of the question to suppose that this paragraph could be fairly interpreted as meaning anything else than this, that, at a period when Ireland was in a state of actual rebellion, and when that rebellion was continually fostered and encouraged by remittances from America, persons known to have come from the United States were travelling through Ireland; and that the circumstances of the times requiring that such persons should be identified, and their true mission ascertained, the American Government was not to regard it as an offence or an indignity if they were treated accordingly. The noble Lord, however, took care to say that "Her Majesty's Government will always lament that mistakes of this kind should happen, by which unoffending travellers may be exposed to inconvenience;" and he promised that if an error were committed, the Irish Government would do all in their power to rectify it. No Member of that House, whose mind was untainted by prejudice, could persuade himself that that moderate and temperate passage in the despatch of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was in any degree analogous in spirit or in substance with an extract from a despatch of Prince Schwarzenberg, to which he would presently allude. After the change in the administration of the Foreign Office, which took place at the end of last year, it became the duty of Earl Granville to return an answer to those Austrian despatches; and nobody who read the reply of the noble Lord could help being impressed with its tone of statesmanship and mode- 480 ration. If it erred in any point, it was in not sufficiently vindicating the rights and privileges of British subjects. That reply was favourably received by many Governments; but before the noble Lord retired from the Foreign Office, there came an answer from one Government in particular which was eminently worthy of the attention of that House. Prince Schwarzenberg, misapprehending the tone of Earl Granville's letter, received it with no more favour than he had received the despatches of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and accordingly replied to Earl Granville in the following terms:—The Emperor, in noting down these assurances, has pleasure in thence deriving a hope that the British Government will henceforth know how to make more ample and rigorous use than it has hitherto done of the legal means at its disposal, and which it appears to judge sufficient to enable it to fulfil its international duties with regard to the proceedings of the refugees. At any rate, while waiting till these dispositions of the British Government are followed by deeds, the almost unlimited liberty of action which the refugees have hitherto enjoyed in England, with regard to the revolutionary plots that a great number of them do not cease hatching against the repose of the States of the Continent, imposes upon us, on our side, the duty of taking some measure of precaution, tending to guard us against the annoyances and dangers of which that liberty is the source. The Imperial authorities will henceforth receive orders to 'redouble' their vigilance with regard to travellers coming from England, and to execute strictly, in relation to their passports, the existing rules to which formerly, under the empire of other circumstances, it had become a habit to make frequent exceptions in favour of British subjects. The Imperial Government, moreover, reserves to itself the faculty of taking into consideration ulterior measures, if unhappily the need of them still makes itself felt.The only reply to this during Earl Granville's administration of the Foreign Office, was the following passage, in a despatch bearing date the 23rd of February:—From you, M. Le Comte, I have received communication of a despatch from Prince Schwarzenberg, in which, while professing the hope that the British Government will henceforth make more ample use of the means at its disposal for repressing the intrigues of the refugees, his Highness, contrary to the belief expressed by me in my despatch to the Earl of Westmoreland, of the 13th ultimo, that it will be in the highest degree unworthy of the enlightened character of any European Government to put vexatious impediments in the way of unoffending English travellers, by way of retaliation for the acts of foreign refugees in England, threatens, in terms to which I will not further advert, to renew precautions become obsolete with regard to such travellers, and reserves to himself the power of considering still more stringent measures.481 It might, perhaps, be pretended that this despatch referred to general measures on the part of the Austrian Government, by which its own greater security, as regarded travellers, might be ensured, and that in fact that the whole document might he interpreted in a universal sense, and not as having any special reference to England. But one moment's consideration would suffice to show how erroneous would be any such interpretation. The whole tone of Prince Schwarzenberg's despatch—its animus, from first to last, made it so clear as not to admit of a question that the annoyances to which British subjects were in future to be subjected in the Austrian territory, were designed and intended by way of reprisal and retaliation. Prince Schwarzenberg did not pretend for one moment that the additional "protections" to which he alluded in his despatch would be brought into use, or were at all required, for any internal or domestic advantage to the Austrian Government. He did not attempt to disguise that they were intended for the purpose of annoying British subjects and the British Government by way of reprisals for certain things which the Austrian Government wanted to be done in this country, but which the English Government had not, according to the spirit of the British Constitution, the power to do. It might be said, however, that the Austrian despatches that had been received in this country since the accession to office of Her Majesty's present Government gave a totally different aspect to the question. It might be said, "Yes, before the accession of the present Ministry, there were discomforts and disturbances between the Austrian and British Governments, but since then the difficulties are entirely removed—the relations of the countries are changed, and the question is altogether altered." But how far the despatch laid on the table the other night would warrant such a conclusion, he would leave the House to decide. In the last despatch of Prince Schwartzenberg, to the Government of this country there occurred a passage which, if he mistook not, the oldest and most experienced statesman in that House would admit to be of a character entirely unparalleled. The despatch was addressed to the Earl of Malmesbury, and it contained these remarkable sentences:—The intelligence of the formation of the new Government under the auspices of the Earl of Derby has been received by the Imperial Cabinet with a feeling of general satisfaction. The hopes 482 which the known principles and the honourable antecedents of the First Lord of the Treasury justify us in connecting with his assumption of office, have not failed to receive a fresh impulse from the speech pronounced by Lord Derby at the sitting of the House of Lords on the 27th of February; a speech in which the political course he intends to pursue is stated.If this expression of the satisfaction of the Austrian Government, at the accession to office of Her Majesty's present Government, were merely designed as matter of courtesy, there would have been no necessity to lay this particular extract of the despatch upon the table; but these words had something more than a purely complimentary signification. The whole despatch, as he read it, meant, and was intended to mean, nothing less that this—that the Austrian Government recognised, in the accession of the present Ministry to office, an evidence of a change in the foreign policy of this country, and the indication of a totally different direction to the impulse of the power of England on the Continent; and it must be confessed that their joy at the anticipation of such an event was as unreserved and undisguised as the most injudicious friend of the present Government could possibly desire. But he must say that his surprise was considerable on finding that, not only did the Earl of Malmesbury not accept these gracious expressions as mere matter of compliment, but that he regarded them as a most serious and important manifestation of favour, and did not hesitate to express the liveliest satisfaction that Her Majesty's Ministry should have been so fortunate as to secure the good opinion of the Austrian Government. When they found the Foreign Minister of England writing in such a tone, and calling Austria our oldest ally—a distinction which he believed belonged of right to the Queen of Portugal, and which had frequently been claimed by the Government of the Porte, such things seemed to establish a certain sympathy between the present British and Austrian Governments, which he would take leave to say, would be anything rather than grateful to the feelings and opinions of the people of this country, for surely it could not be pleasing to them to know that there were Foreign Ministers who adapted their language towards this country according to the vicissitudes of political party, one day addressing us with insult, and the next with obsequiousness. If British travellers were to owe their security, not to the moral power and right of England—not to the purity of 483 their own purpose, and the rectitude of their own conduct—nor yet to the consciousness of there being an honest and upright Government at home to protect them, but simply to the accident which had given official power and influence to the Earl of Derby; that had also given us a Foreign Secretary friendly to Austrian policy, and a right hon. Gentleman holding office in the same Government who had defended the destruction of the free city of Cracow, and had rarely lost an opportunity of throwing the weight of his talents and influence into the cause of the absolutists of Europe—all he could say was that, under these circumstances, he did not think that the security they enjoyed was such as British subjects had a right to demand. Of this singular interference of the Austrian Government in the internal and domestic affairs of England, he would not say more on the present occasion than to express his opinion that if, after the occurrences of 1848 in the city of Vienna, and after the fall of that remarkable Minister who for so many years directed the affairs, not of Austria only, but, in some measure, of all Europe, his noble Friend the Member for Tiverton, who, at that time had charge of the Foreign Department, had written a despatch expressive of the "genuine satisfaction" of the English Government at the accession to office of Baron Pillersdorf, such an act would have been deemed, and justly deemed, in this country, one of great indecorum, and, indeed, of singular impropriety. In matters of this kind, it was the Minister of the Queen of England with whom Foreign Courts had to deal, and not the Minister of one particular party or another. That was the principle on which we had heretofore always acted; and it was a principle to which, he hoped, we would at all times adhere. He had little hesitation, therefore, in asking the House to affirm the proposition which he now submitted, and to declare that they viewed with regret a menace, on the part of a friendly Power, to visit upon unoffending British travellers its displeasure at that exercise of the right of asylum which is agreeable to the laws, the customs, and the feelings of the people of Great Britain, and which, in recent times, has afforded refuge and security to persons of various nations without any distinction of political opinions. In the Resolution which he should have the honour of moving, he had used the words "unoffending British tra- 484 vellers," not only because the phrase occurred in Earl Granville's despatch, but because there was no person on the face of the globle who offended so little against the Governments of the places through which he passed as the British traveller. If this threat of reprisal had been accompanied with an allegation that any British travellers had interfered unwarrantably in the internal affairs of Austria, or if there had been any primâ facie evidence that any British traveller, permitted to visit any portion of the Austrian Empire, had mixed himself up with the political affairs of that country, then, indeed, there might have been some meaning in this menace of reprisal and retaliation. But nothing of the kind was so much as alleged. Since the revolution of 1848, while there were to be found, in the different convulsions that had taken place upon the Continent, enthusiastic men of all nations taking a more or less enthusiastic interest in affairs which did not belong to them, not one single case had arisen of an Englishman's having meddled in matters which did not concern him; or, however just his feelings, and earnest his sympathies, of his having violated the strict law of neutrality in those countries in which he was residing, or through which he was passing. It had been stated, indeed, that one of the most distinguished leaders in the Hungarian army was an officer of Irish parentage; but that was an exceptional case, for, on the other hand, it was well known that many English officers served in the Austrian army; and, speaking generally, he did not hesitate to assert that the Austrian Government had no pretence whatever for believing that Englishmen had ever interfered in their internal political affairs. Generally speaking, the British traveller was a very grumbling, police-hating, comfort-loving animal, who didn't care much about the, politics of the countries he visited, and was fortified in that indifference by an infinite amount of pride in his own nationality, He not unfrequently added to this a secret conviction that the English people were the only people on the face of the earth who were fit to be free, and that all other nations had better remain slaves as they are. This, he was sorry to say, was the feeling of too many British travellers; but that such men should be made the subject of retaliation and reprisal because the English Government could not act otherwise than they were acting with regard to, foreign refugees, was one of the most fla- 485 grant pieces of injustice ever perpetrated by absolute power. It was idle for the Austrian Government to pretend that the new regulations which they contemplated were merely regulations as to passports essential to the seeurity of the Austrian Empire, for any one who had ever visited those countries must be aware that the menace meant nothing more or less than that every English traveller was to be held up to public suspicion, and marked as an object for the especial surveillance of the police. These threats of retaliation and reprisals contained in Prince Schwarzenberg's despatch would prompt the Austrian soldiers and police agents to distinguish themselves by annoying British travellers; and that it had already had that effect was proved by the outrage committed on Mr. Mather at Florence, and by the arrest of the courier of Sir Stratford Canning, the son of Lord Cowley, our Ambassador at the Court of Paris. He was confident that such things could not take place but for this unworthy suspicion of the Austrian Government itself; for no class of people in the world were more kind, more genial, or more amiable than those who inhabited the States of Southern Germany. The grievances of which the Austrian Government complained, and against which they directed these unworthy measures of retaliation, simply consisted in the exercise by this nation of the Eight of Asylum. This right was dear to the hearts of the English people; for it was connected with some of the most important portions of our history, and we were reminded of it by the daily associations of our life. It could not be forgotten that it was the right of asylum in this country which secured to us the inestimable advantage of the sojourn amongst us of the great Protestant divines, who, expelled by religious persecution from other countries, were enabled to confirm the Reformation here, and to help it to take permanent root in the hearts of the English people. It was the cause of the Piedmontese Protestants, for whom Milton wrote and Cromwell fought, that was still recorded in the chapel of the Savoy, where foreign Protestants still offered their homage to their Creator. In certain districts of the eastern coast of Ireland the traveller was still reminded, by the features, the habits, and the language of the people he encountered, of the Palatines who encamped on Black heath. When the revocation of the Edict of Nantes expelled thousands of Protestants from their native land, the 486 right of asylum was granted to them on the shores of England; and here they undertook the establishment of those silk manufactures in Spitalfields which had since become one of the most beautiful and most celebrated of our commodities. And when in later times the deluge of the first great French Revolution drove to these shores Borne of the best, the most gifted, and the most learned of men, and the great mass of the Catholic priesthood, they were received in this country with a cordiality and a kindness the recollection of which could not easily depart even from the minds of the French people. Nor had these great results of the right of asylum ceased in our own times, for it could not be forgotten that it was to that right that the discrowned heads of Charles the Tenth and Louis Philippe owed, if not repose, at least security and comfort. It was because of the exercise of that right that we now meet in our streets the republican refugees of 1848, and the Orleanist exiles of 1850. With the knowledge of such facts, it could not but awaken the indignation of every Englishman, jealous for the dignity of his country, that an attempt should be made by any foreign Power to restrict that privilege—one of the most glorious with which this country had been endowed by Providence, and a privilege which no Government would be able to overthrow, how ardently soever they might desire to do so. That privilege, in England, was a counterpart of the constitutional system of the country. It arose from no special law, but was an indefeasible right which the Legislature could not touch. Certain Alien Bills, no doubt, had been passed, from time to time, giving to the Government, for the time being, the power to dismiss from this country, without trial, certain foreigners whose presence the Government might consider prejudicial to the peace and welfare of this country; but there was no instance in the history of England of an Alien Act having been ever passed to authorise any Government to give up to any foreign Power a person who had taken refuge in our country, or to expel from this country any political refugee whatever upon the representation of that foreign Power. Every Act of that description which had been passed related solely to our own security, and our own internal defence, and never in any one case had we admitted the principle that we were the guardians of the peace of foreign countries—that we were to take care to remedy the abuses 487 which any misgovernment in foreign countries might engender; that we were, in fact, to make ourselves policemen and constables for the rest of the world. When the remarkable trial of Peltier took place, in the year 1803, a request was made that he might be driven out of this country and given up to Napoleon Bonaparte. On that occasion Sir James Mackintosh used these remarkable words:—That he still enjoys the security of this asylum is perhaps owing to the firmness of the King's Government. If that he the fact—if His Majesty's Ministers have received applications to expel the unfortunate gentleman from England—I should publicly thank them for their firmness, if it were not unseemly and improper to suppose that they could have acted otherwise, to thank an English Government for not violating the most sacred duties of hospitality, for not bringing indelible disgrace on their country.That was the feeling expressed by Sir James Mackintosh on the question of the possibility of giving up a refugee who had been found guilty of a libel, in which it was supposed he had recommended the assassination of the First Consul. He considered it a perfect absurdity to think either of driving him out of the country, or delivering him up to a foreign Government. In one portion of the despatch of Count Nesselrode to the present Government, there was a most interesting argumentation upon this question. Count Nesselrode states that the municipal law of England does not provide for the case of which his Government had complained. He says "the municipal law of England merely regards your own internal security, and has nothing to do with the affairs of foreign countries;" and, therefore, he says that Earl Granville's promise to do all that can be done by our municipal law is not sufficient, and calls upon his Lordship, by his own interpretation of the law of nations, to do something beyond exercising the municipal law, and quotes the authority of Vattel upon the subject. The application of the law of nations demanded by Count Nesselrode was one which this country had never admitted, which no Government, even with a majority in Parliament, could establish so as to receive the sanction of the British people; and he was quite sure that any attempt to do so would bring destruction on the heads of any Government, and produce a general feeling of indignation throughout the whole realm. With respect to the danger to foreign Governments from this body of refugees, he was quite aware that danger might arise from the pub- 488 lication of revolutionary decrees, and from the collection of money for revolutionary purposes; but surely it was better for those Governments themselves that these things should be openly and distinctly declared in the face of the British people, in order that they might take every means in their power to counteract them. Foreign Governments would do well to consider that the encouragement given by the English people to foreign refugees was not of a character which need cause them any alarm. If English travellers took little interest in the affairs of foreign countries, so the people of this country, unless greatly excited, were not in the habit of taking much interest in the affairs of foreign refugees. He could not conceive a less enviable position than that of a man who had played a distinguished part in his own country coming here to be lost in me great sea of this metropolis. When such a man found himself no longer an object of general surprise—when he found that the policemen at the ends of the streets did not know even his name—when he found that, instead of exciting universal fame and admiration, his name hardly ever appeared in a newspaper, or was mentioned at a public meeting—there was a moral exercised in that position of a refugee which ought to moderate and temper his opinion; and any attempt to disturb that obscurity, and to make him the object of diplomatic correspondence, would be doing the very thing he most desired. He' had now stated the principal grounds for his Motion. His object was to give general protection to the British traveller with all the weight which a Resolution of that House could give, stating that it has observed with great regret a menace to interfere with our independence; and he had also an ulterior object, believing that if some measure of the kind should not be adopted by the House, the Government might be induced te suppose that despatches of such a tone were acceptable to the House and to the people of this country. He would not do any Government the injustice to suppose that they intended to change our system of foreign policy, for they must be convinced of the impossibility of doing so. Whoever might become the Minister, our foreign policy must remain nearly the same. Any interference with foreign politics must be on the side of liberty and freedom. If we were prevented from any hostile interference in these matters, and were left to our own 489 domestic arrangements, the old laws and customs of England must maintain their rights, notwithstanding any temporary inconvenience which might be suffered by foreign Powers. For their sakes, we could not alter these privileges, which had been used for the advantage of all political parties; and it would argue a great degree of boldness on the part of any Government to wish to abrogate or weaken them. If we were to permit Austria to dictate to us in this matter, he did not see how we could refuse to make similar concessions to other Powers. The noble Lord at the head of the Government would find, if he remained in office for a certain period, that the autocratic Powers of Europe would make fresh demands upon him; every concession would be met with a fresh requirement, until the moment would come when the Earl of Malmesbury, however obsequious might be the tone of the Austrian Government at the present time, would have to assume a tone as independent and firm as ever was assumed by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston). England was the author and founder of the principle of self-government. He believed that that principle might be carried out, and would be found to be of universal application, and that all the concessions that might be made to it would be found to be advantageous to the progress of real liberty amongst men. He felt certain that the only effect of the proceedings of the Court of Austria would be to excite more interest in this country with regard to the acts of foreign nations. He had already complained of the very little sympathy entertained by Englishmen in the progress of constitutional liberty abroad; but this was rather the result of temper, and of opinion, than of education, and he believed that the time would come when such language as that which was held in those despatches, and such menaces as those that had been made by Prince Schwarzenberg, would really touch the people of England as much as their own internal affairs. And it was right that it should be so, for to attempt to isolate one country from all the rest of mankind, and to establish one State in absolute superiority over the other nations of the word, was a fallacious and immoral attempt. It was the same now as it was in the days of Cicero, who said—Qui autem civium rationem dicunt habendam, externorum negant, hi dirimunt communem humani generis societatem; qua sublate, beneficentia, liberalitas, bonitas, justitia funditus tolli- 490 ur: quæ qui tollunt etiam adversos Deos immortales impii judicandi sunt.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
, in seconding the Motion, said, that he could not help congratulating Her Majesty's Ministers upon the revelations contained in the papers laid upon the table. The present Government, who had lately come into power, were by their own confession, in a minority in that House, and it was extremely doubtful whether they were not also in a minority in the House of Lords; and as to the estimation in which they were hold by the country at large, so afraid were they of making an appeal to the people of this country, that sooner than do that, the noble Lord at the head of the Government did not shrink from violating an assurance which he had given in his place in Parliament, and backing out of his engagements, though the House of Commons, upon the faith of those engagements, had consented to vote the Supplies. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Question!"] No, they did not like to be told that; but he would maintain that he was speaking to the question, and that his observation had grown immediately out of the papers upon the table of the House. Although the Government was in such a position, they had the consolation of knowing that, whatever the people and Parliament of this country might think of their conduct, Prince Schwarzenberg and the Austrian Government had hailed their advent to power with genuine satisfaction. If the state of Europe was not very satisfactory to the lovers of liberty—if liberty had been expelled from almost every European country, and had taken root and flourished only in England—they who loved liberty and wished for the welfare of mankind had at least the comfort of seeing that the despots who had trampled upon freedom were very uncomfortable on their thrones. They had upon their side their forces by land and sea, and tribunals that were ready at their command to condemn all who were obnoxious to them; and against them, they had a few humble refugees in a distant country. For them there was power and bayonets; and against them was Kossuth and liberty of speech. The papers that were laid upon the table showed that the different foreign Governments had attempted to establish the fact that there was amongst the refugees taking shelter in this country from their tyranny a general conspiracy. But let any man read those papers with calm and dis- 491 passionate mind—let him go through the story that was told by the French Ambassador, Count Walewski—and what would he find? He would find an account of some persons forming themselves into a society for promoting liberal principles; he would find an account of some attempts made to write in secret characters on the borders of newspapers, and of means taken for procuring the admission of revolutionary songs into foreign countries; and other miserable trifles of that sort. But as to conspiracy dangerous to the Governments of Europe, he maintained that there was a total failure of all proof. But he would tell the House what conspiracy was proved by these despatches. It was proved that there was a conspiracy among all the crowned heads and despots of Europe to frighten this country, if possible, into introducing some new laws to control the refugees, and to deprive them of that asylum which they had obtained here. They would find all the Governments simultaneously, and many of them in the same words, addressing our Cabinet, and pressing upon it their vindictive and unjustifiable demands. There were the Czar of Russia, the King of Prussia, the Emperor of Austria, the Diet of Frankfort; then that king celebrated for his humanity in his own dominions, the King of Naples; next, the Grand Duke of Modena; and, lastly, the Pope; while—Beside them stood another ruling thing,In acts, in words, in all but name, a king.Louis Napoleon—he who was himself a short time ago a refugee—by the intervention of another refugee (Count Walewski) demanded that we should withdraw Our hospitality from these men. Not long ago Count Walewski was himself nothing more than a Polish refugee in this country. First of all he came here as an envoy of Prince Czartoryski, then at the head of the National Government of Poland, and subsequently he lived in this country as a Polish refugee; and now he came forward, with a list of Polish and other refugees, and called upon the English Government to belie all its antecedents, and, by introducing some Alien Bill, to interfere with those unfortunate men, many of them his own countrymen. Now they were told, and in a certain sense properly and rightly told, that refugees ought not to abuse the hospitality which had been afforded to them, in order to disturb the tranquillity of their own country. Why, 492 who ever violated so flagrantly the hospitality of this country for that very purpose—who ever committed that culpable action so openly and so shamefully as Louis Napoleon himself had done? Talk of Kossuth's speeches—talk of secret meetings of the Republicans—talk of writing on the edges of newspapers—what were all these, and such like things, compared with the conduct of Louis Napoleon, who now came forward with his demands against the refugees?Qui tulerit Gracchos de seditione quærentes?The revelations contained in the papers upon the table were such as to justify an observation made long ago in Parliament by a distinguished statesman, which he (Lord D. Stuart) was glad to have an opportunity of quoting in that House. These were the words of Lord Holland: "In all times, and according to the testimony of all history, if ever there was anything mean, oppressive, or treacherous to be done, Austria was the Government to do it." And when called upon by the Earl of Liverpool to retract this observation, Lord Holland not only refused to do so, but repeated what he had said, and added that there never was a Government which had displayed more meanness, subtlety, or treachery, than the Austrian Government. That was the character given by Lord Holland of the Austrian Government thirty years ago; and he (Lord Dudley Stuart) must say, that it had not lost that character since. It was curious to see the amount of impudence which a Government like that of Austria exhibited. In one of the despatches addressed by Prince Schwarzenberg to the Earl of Malmesbury, the Austrian Minister, referring to the statement of the Earl of Derby—that it would be the policy of his Government to observe a moderate demeanour, scrupulously to maintain treaties, and to respect, in the highest degree, the independence of nations, great or small—expressed his entire satisfaction with those opinions. The Earl of Malmesbury replied that it was with the most unfeigned pleasure that Her Majesty's Government had received the assurance that the Court of Vienna subscribed to the opinions of the First Minister of the Crown. Now, one of the principles avowed by the Earl of Derby was the maintenance of all treaties, and Austria subscribed to that principle—Austria, the most faithless Power in Europe, and which had given most just reason of complaint of late years in this respect, He 493 was not now speaking of the inhumanity of Austria, or of the way in which she persecuted refugees, driving them out of her own territories, and pursuing them into other countries for the purpose of having them put to death. But for Austria to talk of the faith of treaties! Why, did the House recollect that it was only a few years since Her Majesty, in a Speech from the Throne, was compelled to speak of certain proceedings on the part of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, by name, as a manifest violation of treaties? Here was no despatch from the First Minister of the Crown, no expression of party or particular opinion, but there was the deliberate assertion of the Sovereign of this country in Parliament upon record, that Austria had committed a flagrant violation of the Treaty of Vienna, which was the foundation of the public law of Europe, and in virtue of which Austria holds a great part of her own dominions. This was the country that now came forward to cant about the faith of treaties, as if she had not violated treaties with this and other countries, to say nothing of her conduct towards the Hungarians. Her complaints were, that we afforded shelter and support to some unfortunate men who fled from her vengeance and sought an asylum in this country. Why, we, too, had complaints to make against Austria, though they were complaints of a very different nature. We did not complain of Austria giving shelter to persons who had offended us; but we complained that she maltreated the subjects of Queen Victoria. It was only lately that a most nefarious and brutal outrage was committed on a British subject by persons wearing the uniform and in the service of Austria, for which no redress had yet been afforded. The House was acquainted with the case of Mr. Mather, an unoffending man, who was struck down by three Austrian officers in open day, and who was so seriously maltreated, that his life was long in danger. Representations were addressed to the Austrian Commander-in-Chief in Italy, but these officers remained unpunished, and were still walking about the streets of the town where the outrage was perpetrated, and none of them had been made to undergo even reprimand, except one, who was called to task by the military authorities, because he had struck Mr. Mather with his fist instead of cutting him down with his sword. But no mark of disapprobation had ever been shown towards 494 the other officer who struck Mr. Mather with his sword. He (Lord D. Stuart) hoped that something would be done in this case. They all knew that Austria ruled in Tuscany; that she had in fact taken possession of Tuscany; and therefore it was all nonsense to say that the outrage having been committed in the Tuscan territory, that Austria could not be called upon to afford redress. He knew that he was borne out by facts in what he had stated with regard to this case, and it was an entire mistake to suppose that the Austrian officers had offered Mr. Mather any reparation. He (Lord D. Stuart) was glad to have the opportunity of contradicting that statement, although it had been asserted by a noble Earl (Earl Granville) lately at the head of the Foreign Office, that it had been intimated to Mr. Mather, that if he would make some explanation to the Austrian officers, they would make an apology to him for their conduct. He (Lord D. Stuart) contradicted that assertion, and said that no such offer had been made. It seemed to him that the only satisfactory reparation should be the signal punishment of the men who committed that frightful outrage. Mr. Mather wanted no advantage for himself; but the people of this country demanded, and had a right to demand, the punishment of those men. It was said that, according to the rules of the Austrian army, it was expected that an officer should immediately put to death any man who interfered with his troops, whether intentionally or not. But we had nothing to do with such a regulation of the Austrian army, and he thought that we ought to call upon the Austrian authorities to alter their regulations, and, if that should be thought too strong a proceeding, let us call upon them at least for a modification of their rules, so that innocent British travellers, when they met with Austrian officers, should not be cut down and have their blood shed without any reparation. The Austrian and Russian Governments complained that a reply to their demands had been given which was not satisfactory, because, in fact, the answer had been, that the British Government would do everything that it could do by law to prevent the refugees from plotting against the countries to which they belonged, but that they could not go beyond the law. Count Nesselrode thought that very hard, And said that our laws were only a municipal 495 arrangement, and that he wanted something more than the laws could give him. He (Lord D. Stuart) trusted that it would be long before the Parliament of Great Britain should be induced to alter the laws in order to satisfy the convenience of any foreign State. Count Nesselrode did not seem to know the difference between this country and Austria and Russia. With them, suspicion was enough; but here, thank God! no man could be punished unless he was properly tried according to the laws, and unless he were found by satisfactory evidence to have been guilty of some offence. If any foreigner in this country should give any cause of offence, try him, find him guilty, and punish him; but do not let us have new laws dictated to us by the Ministers of foreign countries. He did not know whether the Government intended to agree to this Motion. He most heartily hoped that they would, because he thought it would be a very proper rebuke to those countries which had attempted so unjustifiably to interfere with us. He thought that Her Majesty's Government might perfectly well agree to the Motion, and he was the more inclined to hope that they would do so, because he was quite aware, and was very glad to acknowledge, that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the noble Earl at the head of the Government, though they certainly had no sympathy with the political principles of those persons who had taken refuge in England, were yet not without sympathy for their misfortunes, and had shown that sympathy during the brief period they had been in office, by agreeing to furnish some of the refugees with means to relieve them from the distress which would otherwise have overwhelmed them. He, therefore, hoped that the Government would agree to the extremely temperate Resolution of his hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes) which only expressed regret that anything like a menace should be offered by any foreign Government; and in that regret he was quite sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would participate. The best answer that the Earl of Derby could give to those foreign Governments who pressed upon him to introduce a new Alien Bill would be, that he could not comply with the request, for that any attempt to do so would be (to use a homely phrase) as much as his place was worth.
That this House has observed with regret, in the Correspondence respecting Foreign Refugees
laid upon the Table, a menace, on the part of a friendly Power, to visit, upon unoffending British travellers, its displeasure at that exercise of the right of asylum which is agreeable to the Laws the customs, and the feelings of the people of Great Britain, and which, in recent times, has afforded refuge and security to persons of various nations without any distinction of political opinions.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Sir, I think I shall best consult the convenience of the Houses if I avoid those more inflammatory topics with which the hon. Gentleman opposite commenced his speech, inasmuch as they have no immediate relation to the question; now before the House: and I am the; more particularly anxious to do so, since, in the unavoidable absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the somewhat unexpected duty has been thrown upon me speaking upon a question of foreign affairs, with which I am not so well acquainted as with the affairs of that department with which I am more immediately connected. I, have, however, carefully read through the papers which have been laid upon the table of the House in reference to this, subject, and I have listened most attentively to the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Mover of this Resolution, and also to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down; and I must say, I am quite at a loss to understand whether they intend to blame the late or the present Government. But I think I can satisfy them that a more careful perusal of the papers to which I allude, will prove that the only fair inferences to be drawn, from them are those which I shall presently mention, and which I hope, more especially from the circumstances in which we are now placed with regard to foreign, Governments, will induce the hon. Gentleman opposite not to press his Resolution to a division. I think that these inferences may be drawn from the despatches on the table. The first of them is, that the conduct of the Government of this country—of the late as well as of the present Administration—has been such as tip uphold and maintain the honour and dignity of the country with reference to its relations with foreign Powers. The second inference to be drawn is, that the, foreign Governments in question have some-what misunderstood the laws and regulations of this country with reference to foreign refugees, and that misunderstanding has naturally arisen from the difference between the laws which exist in their own countries and those which exist in 497 this—laws, which in England give perfect freedom in all proper matters to all the population, and to which freedom all persons are admitted on coming into the country to reside—laws which it is the determination of the present Government to maintain. The third inference is—considering the misapprehension into which I think certain foreign Governments had fallen in the course of last autumn, with reference to the rights and privileges of foreigners in this country—considering that this impression has been more or less removed by the representations of the late Government, and considering that a more conciliatory tone is now used by all foreign Powers towards this country, and that more amicable relations subsist between us—that it would be extremely inexpedient and very unwise for the House to pass an abstract Resolution, which will necessarily tend to foment a feeling of dissatisfaction on the part of those foreign Governments who are now on terms of amity with us. With reference to the first of these inferences, it is perfectly true that, in the course of the last autumn, the Powers of Russia, Austria, France, and Prussia, were induced to take a view with regard to political refugees, which in reference to the laws of this country was somewhat strange, and which was certainly not such as we could agree in. This view may be briefly stated by quoting the despatch of the French Minister, delivered by Count Walewski on the 29th of October, 1851. In that despatch the French Minister says—My Lord—I have the honour to transmit herewith to your Excellency a memorandum, together with some papers in support of its contents, with a view of proving the existence of a continued conspiracy on the part of revolutionary committees organised by the political refugees in London, against all the Governments of Europe, and particularly against France. The facts and proofs contained in these various papers render it impossible to doubt the existence of a conspiracy which does not confine itself to vague projects, but which is constantly at work, and in every I possible manner. The series of the manifestoes I of the Central Society of Demagogues, presided ever by Ledru Rollin, Mazzini, &c, which I shall I shortly have the honour to complete, are open calls to insurrection, and will doubtless be regarded by your Excellency of sufficient importance to warrant Her Majesty's Government in adopting all such measures against those conspirators as the laws of England will permit. I am instructed by my Government to request your Lordship's immediate attention to our representations, and to ask you to put an end to the open designs of these conspirators, who shelter themselves under the erroneous idea that they 498 are protected by the English laws, and by the sympathy of persons in England, happily few in number, who hold similar anarchical doctrines.Now, I quite agree with the view which was taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the same observation which was contained in the French Minister's despatch, was likewise contained in the despatches of the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian Ministers; and that it explains the view which appears to have been taken by them in the course of last year. But the view adopted by Her Majesty's Government appears to be the just one. It was explained in that very able despatch of Earl Granville, in which he told the foreign Powers what was the real state of the law of this country in regard to the duty and the obligation of the country to admit foreign refugees to an asylum here, and to interfere with them no more than with any British subject, so long as they did not abuse the laws. That being the course taken by Earl Granville, it is perfectly clear that a change soon took place in the opinion of the foreign Powers; for on the 30th of December, 1851, the Prussian Minister stated distinctly that he had been instructed by his Government, by telegraph, not to press the representations heretofore made by the Prussian Government on the subject of the foreign refugees, as they were willing to let that question drop. Then commenced the change of tone. On a subsequent occasion, on the 20th of January, 1852, the French Minister informed Lord Granville—That he had received a despatch from his Government, in which they express regret that there should appear to be an idea entertained by Her Majesty's Government that the presentation of the French note on the subject of the refugees, was part of a combined scheme with the three other Powers; that this was not the case; that France had acted alone in this matter; and that Count Walewski's note of the 29th of October last merely transmitted a memorandum drawn up by M. Carlier for the use of the Minister of the Interior, and that in this communication no future course of action was pointed out.And it was shown that France did not intend to act in co-operation with other foreign Powers so as to excite any unpleasant feelings with reference to ourselves. Soon after that, the Russian Minister also adopted a somewhat different tone, for on the 26th of January, 1852, Count Nesselrode concluded a despatch by saying—We are willing to hope that the English Ministers, in their wisdom and equity, will devise a remedy for a state of things which is irreconcilable with the principles of public law. For 499 the present, without pursuing the controversy any further, we take note of the promise given to us by the British Cabinet to watch the machinations of the political refugees, and to employ all legal means in order to prevent them from abusing the hospitality which they enjoy in England, for the purpose of assailing countries and Governments the friends and allies of Great Britain. The Emperor will await with confidence the realisation of this promise.Now, out of the four Powers there is only one that seemed disposed to persist in entertaining anything like a feeling of dissatisfaction with the conduct of this Government, and that is Austria. The despatch to which the hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Resolution particularly referred is a despatch of the 3rd of February, 1852; and no doubt there are expressions in that despatch which the late Government as well as the present cannot but regret; but I think the hon. Gentleman will find that after the quiet answer given to that despatch by Earl Granville, a repetition of those expressions is not likely to occur; for he will also find that in a subsequent despatch the Austrian Government adopted a more conciliatory and a more friendly tone. The last despatch written by the Austrian Minister to Lord Granville was dated the 27th of February, 1852, twenty-four days after the first despatch, of which the hon. Gentleman complained; and in that despatch the Austrian Minister, Count Buol, says—Your Excellency will allow me to remind you that the Austrian Cabinet has with pleasure conceived the hope, from the expressions contained in that document, that the British Government would for the future be able to prevent all attempts at insurrection against friendly and allied Governments, and that the avowal of such intention has already sufficed to induce the Imperial Government to suspend, for the greater part, the restrictive measures which, under contrary circumstances, they would have seen themselves compelled to adopt in the interest of their subjects. I am happy, moreover, to acknowledge that the different interviews which I have had the honour to hold with your Excellency have left me with the impression that the British Government admits the importance of providing against the continuance of intrigues openly hostile to the States of the Continent; and, if the information which I have gathered has been accurate, your Excellency will, during the transitory duration of your Ministry, have within the very restricted limits which the legislation of Great Britain prescribes, already devoted your meritorious attention to this object. I will even add, and I have net failed to give its value to this circumstance in reporting to my Court, that if the results have hitherto only feebly responded to the disposition Which has been avowed, this must be attributed to reasons entirely independent of the intentions of the British Cabinet, and of the will of your Excellency.500 Here you get four despatches—one from the Prussian Minister, one from the French, one from the Russian, and one from the Austrian Minister—all of them show that the views taken by those Governments with reference to foreign refugees in this country last autumn are no longer entertained to the same extent, and that they believe that the views entertained by this Government in reference to that subject are correct, and that it has acted in a proper way. That was the state of things when the present Government came into power; and I must say that I was somewhat surprised at the tone of the hon. Gentleman in finding fault with the language of Prince Schwarzenberg in the despatch addressed to the Earl of Malmesbury on the 5th of March, 1852. Surely that is a despatch which the people of this country must be well satisfied to receive, inasmuch as it shows that whatever were the differences which might have existed between this country and Austria, they had already passed, or were passing, away; and from that time there was every reason to hope that matters might be placed on the same friendly basis as they had been before. I think it is not a fair way of putting it, to state, as the noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) did, that the renewal of our friendly relations with Austria had solely arisen from the assumption of office by the present Government; though if they had, it would have been no discredit to them. It is true that the Austrian Government, in that despatch, declared that it considered as highly satisfactory the conciliatory tone employed towards Austria by the noble Earl at the head of the Government, in the speech in which he shadowed forth his policy with reference to the subject of foreign affairs. It was that which had given satisfaction to Austria, and it was that which it stated was calculated to remove the unpleasant feeling that had so long existed between Austria and this country. Prince Schwarzenberg says, in his despatch—The Cabinet, of which he is the head, the Premier said, is penetrated with the necessity of maintaining universal peace. He thinks that, in order to attain this object, there is no batter means than to adopt towards all foreign Powers a calm and moderate demeanour, scrupulously to maintain treaties, and to respect, in the highest degree, the independence of all nations, great or small, and their right to manage, according to their own convictions, their internal affairs. If the English Government (continued Lord Derby) had causes of complaint against another nation, 501 he would set forth its grievances with calmness and moderation, and with confidence in the honour and justice of those to whom the complaint would have to be addressed. It is in acting thus that the Earl of Derby hopes, not alone to be able to preserve the blessing of peace, but likewise the most friendly and amicable relations with the several nations of the world. As far as we are concerned we adhere sincerely to this hope, and we are ready loyally to act in such wise that it may not be rendered nugatory. The intention which Lord Derby has announced with respect to the political refugees, appears to us likewise of a nature to remove henceforward the subjects of discussion to which this question has given rise between the British Government and the States of the Continent. Austria, as regards herself individually, has never endeavoured to dispute the right of England to grant an asylum to foreign refugees. She has only protested against the abuse by those refugees of the hospitality which they enjoyed, by hatching revolutionary intrigues, to the detriment of countries the friends and allies of England. Lord Derby has branded this abuse, and he will, we doubt not, prevent it for the future. I beg that your Excellency will express, as well to Lord Malmesbury as to the Earl of Derby himself, the favourable impression which the explanations of the Premier have produced upon the Cabinet of the Emperor. They have given rise here to the hope that the relations between the two Governments may henceforward resume that character of frank and intimate confidence which events, independent of our will, have more or less troubled.Surely there is nothing in these words, and nothing in the policy there shadowed forth, which this country can regret, or of which it can complain. And when you look to the particular subject before us, you will find that the view taken by the present is exactly that taken by the late Government; for there is one sentence in the note of the Earl of Malmesbury, to which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Milnes) did not refer, but which, in fairness, he ought not to have omitted. Referring to the policy of the present Government, the Earl of Malmesbury says—Keeping steadily in view those principles and intentions, maintaining inviolate the sacred right of according hospitality towards those whom misfortunes or political offences may have banished from their native land; discouraging and repressing, as far as the law and the constitution warrant, any attempt on the part of such exiles to abuse the hospitality they enjoy, by seeking to foment disturbance in their own country; restrained by the highest obligations of duty from straining that law beyond its legitimate bounds, but visiting with exemplary punishment those who may violate the law, Her Majesty's Government feel assured that they shall have no difficulty in reconciling their duty as Ministers of a constitutional Sovereign with the obligations which they owe to the just claims of any friendly Power, and the sentiments of sincere friendship with which they are actuated towards the Court of Vienna.502 Such is the policy of the present Government, stated, as it was, in another place by the noble Earl at its head, and stated also by the noble Earl at the head of its Foreign Affairs. Well, now, in that policy, as I said before, there is nothing which this country has to be ashamed of; but, on the contrary, I think may rest fully satisfied with. It is highly satisfactory that under that policy the amicable relations of this country with foreign Powers, which were more or less estranged, and which were beginning to return during the existence of the late Government, have continued under the present Administration; and we trust that by means of it we may at length return to a state of perfect amity with all foreign Powers. Another subject of complaint has reference to passports. It appears that passports have been occasionally given, not to native Englishmen, but to foreigners. I am not going to find fault at all with any one on account of the circumstance that passports were thus given. The times required it. The House will recollect that in the year 1848, disturbances were rife in many States of Europe, and that when the Governments got the upper hand, individuals were exposed to great danger on account of their previous political proceedings. To some of these persons, for ensuring their safety, passports were given by British Consuls, but several of these passports were subsequently abused. It was against that abuse that the foreign Governments protested. They would not sanction, any more than we would do, passports which were given by British authorities to any other persons than the subjects of the Crown under whom they acted. The regulations of the Foreign Office are clear on this subject. I will read them to the House:—3. Foreign Office Passports are granted only to British subjects, including in that description foreigners who have been naturalised by Act of Parliament, or by Certificates of Naturalisation granted before the 24th day of August, 1850; in this latter case, the party is described in the Passport as a 'Naturalised British subject.' 5. Passports are granted to persons who are either known to the Secretary of State, or recommended to him by some person who is known to him; or upon the written application of any Banking Firm established in London or in any other part of the United Kingdom. 6. Passports cannot be sent by the Foreign Office to persons already abroad. Such persons should apply to the nearest British Mission or Consulate. 7. Foreign Office Passports must be countersigned at the Mission, or at some Consulate in England, 503 of the Government of the country which the bearer of the Passport intends to visit.Now the only passports which the Austrian Government excepted and wished to be abolished, were not the passports granted to Englishmen, but granted to foreigners, and subsequently abused. In the fetter of March 12, 1852, the Austrian Minister observes—The custom, which has more and more established itself, of foreigners furnishing themselves with passports emanating from an authority other than that of their respective Governments, having given rise to divers abuses and inconveniences, it has been thought useful to abolish it for the future.Let us pause here for a moment. These passports, unless given with great care, must lead to confusion, and the encouragement of political machinations in foreign countries; and the fact of withdrawing them is not only consistent with the regulations of the Foreign Office, but consistent also with the line of policy which ought to be pursued with reference to the protection of British subjects travelling abroad. For if British passports in the hands of foreigners were thus liable to be abused, they would be viewed with distrust even in the hands of British subjects. The question now is, how are we to deal with the present Motion? The noble Lord who seconded the Motion said that it meant merely that "this House had observed with regret, in the correspondence respecting foreign refugees laid upon the table, a menace, on the part of a friendly Power, to visit, upon the unoffending British travellers, its displeasure at that exercise of the right of asylum which is agreeable to the laws, the customs, and the feelings of the people of Great Britain, and which, in recent times, has afforded refuge and security to persons of various nations without any distinction of political opinions." Well, but why record this opinion? The present Government is as determined to maintain the laws and privileges of this country in regard to the right of asylum, as any Government that has ever conducted the affairs of this country; and it views with as great regret as the last the particular expressions used in the despatch of the 3rd of February, 1852. But, as I said before, seeing as I do that the present Administration, as well as the last, have effectually maintained the dignity of the country—seeing that upon the question of the foreign refugees we have succeeded in quieting the apprehensions of foreign 504 countries—and seeing, also, that all foreign Powers are upon better terms of amity with this country than they were at no very distant period; I think the House will agree with me that it will be neither expedient nor wise to pass a Resolution of the kind, a Resolution, be it remember ed, which might lead to impressions upon the minds of foreign Powers that it was thereby desired to pass something like a censure or reflection on their conduct. To such a Resolution, on the part of the Government, I cannot accede, for I do not consider that sufficient grounds were shown for it in the speech either of the hon. Gentleman who moved it, or of the noble Lord who seconded it. Under these, circumstances, therefore, I submit to the House that this is a Resolution which ought not to be sanctioned; and I submit further that the policy of this as well as that of the late Government, is a policy which the House may well approve of, since they will find that we are determined to maintain the rights of our own countrymen, and the rights of asylum to foreign refugees, to uphold the present laws in their strictest integrity, and to continue to all foreigners those rights of hospitality which the law secures to them, and which I trust it will always continue to do, so as long as they do not attempt to abuse it, whatever their opinions may happen to be, whether they be monarchical, aristocratic, or republican.
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
said, he regarded with some suspicion the declaration which the right hon. Gentleman had just made of the good intentions of Her Majesty's present advisers with respect to this foreign question. He believed that it was with the concurrence of the present Government that the Austrian Government were carrying out their recent measures. To him (Mr. C. Anstey) this was manifest, from the despatches of the Austrian and the Russian Ministers. What these Governments required was, that England should frame her free laws upon the model of their own system of surveillance and espionage. In the month of October last the menace was held out by Austria; and on the 10th of January succeeding, we had the first instance of her determination to make her threats good. Three Scottish ministers of the Free Church, who in 1841, with the permission of then Viceroy, emigrated into Hungary to diffuse Christianity among the Jews, in the 505 cities of Pesth and Lemberg, and two at feast of whom, by ten years' domicile, under the law of Hungary, had acquired the rights of naturalised subjects, were suddenly ordered to quit the Austrian territories within six days. No explanation was given for this extraordinary step, except that unless the arbitrary mandate was obeyed, they would be forcibly expelled. The conseqence was, that these unoffending British subjects had to sacrifice their property by a hurried sale of part, and the abandonment of the rest, and leave the country by forced marches in the depth of winter, with their wives and children of tender years. How had Her Majesty's Government exerted themselves to obtain redress for so wanton an injury? Earl Granville had promised to procure satisfaction for these Scottish clergyman, A communication was made with that view, through the Earl of Westmoreland—not, he thought, the best channel for Communicating with the Government of Austria on a subject of that nature—but where was the redress? The right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had answered that a despatch had been received from the Earl of Westmoreland, but that it was of such a nature that it could not be laid upon the table of the House. It was plain that redress had been refused, and that the Government had abandoned the case; being neverthless, as they say, on terms of good understanding with the Ministry of the perjured despot, which had committed this outrage upon unoffending British subjects. The Government have also, as it appears allowed measures to be taken for further annoyances being put on unoffending travellers, without due remonstrances. Not a syllable further had been heard upon the subject; and yet the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary got up and told the House, and, what was worse, told the Austrian Government, that on their parts a good understanding reigned between the two Governments. Why, what did that amount to but a virtual giving up the claims of the three injured British subjects, and all claims of a like nature. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had attempted to apologise for the conduct of the Austrian Government, in holding out the menaces last October. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that Austria's conduct was strange, and such as that House ought to regret. He (Mr. C. Anstey thought that House ought not to 506 regret it, but it would be more to the purpose if Austria herself regretted her own unjustifiable conduct. But what was the apology which the right hon. Gentleman urged for her? Why, that the menaces she had offered us had been impliedly and virtually, although not avowedly and directly, retracted in a subsequent despatch. But what had Prince Schwarzenberg told us? Why, that all the regulations regarding passports which Austria enforced against the most obnoxious Powers, should be rigorously enforced against English travellers. To justify his conduct he attempted to falsify the language of our own Government. He had misquoted the despatches of Lord Palmerston, in order to make it appear that all American citizens visiting Ireland during the insurrection which was headed by Mr. Smith O'Brien, were indiscriminately cast into prison, although those papers clearly showed that only two were apprehended under the Act suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, one of them being a British subject, and both hiving been deeply implicated in the first rebellion. Then, with regard to France, Count Walewski, on the 29th of October last, had requested the noble Lord the Member fair Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) to check the aggressions of "incorrigible conspirators against the liberties of the French Republic." When that despatch was written, Were was a National Assembly in France; but Count Waleswski was now silent about the refugees, and he (Mr. C. Anstey) thought there was a different cause for his silence than the fact of friendly relations with England. On the 2nd of December last the French President, by whose orders that despatch was penned, himself became a "conspirator"—an "incorrigible conspirator"—and was successful in overturning the "liberties of the French Republic." Then, again, was Russia altogether satisfied with the change of the Ministry? was she disposed to relax in her hostile bearing towards this country? Quite the contrary. Baron Brunow declared that the Czar would not return to a good understanding till England altered her laws. It was also said that Prussia was satisfied with Earl Granville's dispatch. What despatch? A despatch had certainly been received by Earl Granville from Mr. Howard, dated Berlin, 30th of December, intimating the official answer of Baron Manteuffel to the announcement of his Lordship's nomination to the office of Her Majesty's Foreign Secretary of 507 State; but there was a total silence on Prussia's part as to the important despatch in which that nobleman enounced his plan of policy; and he (Mr. C. Anstey) denied that there was any conclusive evidence that Prussia admitted the restoration of a perfect understanding. The Prussian Government merely said, "We will not press our note so long as Earl Granville is Foreign Minister." But his Lordship had been succeeded by a Foreign Secretary who, if they took the word of his Colleagues, was as firm a supporter of the principles of international hospitality as the noble Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston). He could not, if that were true, be on good terms with Prussia. The German Diet stood in the same category with Austria; and with respect to the Grand Duke of Modena, the princes of Italy and the Pope, he presumed, that if there was a good understanding with them, and if our subjects travelling in their territories were to be in future freed from annoyance, it must be in consequence of something that had occurred since the Earl of Malmesbury became Foreign Minister; because the proper contempt with which Earl Granville received the communications of those potentates was not very likely to have procured us their friendship and alliance. Then the question was reduced to this—what communications other than those contained in the blue book have passed between the Earl of Malmesbury and the foreign Governments, which have contributed in so eminent a degree to the re-establishment of that good understanding which formerly prevailed between this country and those Governments when absolutist principles were all the rage, and constitutional principles at a discount? If such communications had passed, they were not to the credit of the Earl of Malmesbury; and if they had not, then we had no better security than formerly for the preservation of our good understanding with these Powers; nor, in fact, should we ever have, so long as they remained absolutist, while this country enjoyed a constitution, under the protection of which not only its own subjects but many of theirs had the happiness to live. With respect to the subject of passports, he contended that the right of a foreign Government to add new restrictions, in the shape of new formalities to the already oppressive system of passports, was one which no English Minister should admit. If they turned to the treaties on 508 international law which had been so liberally referred to by Baron Brunow, of all men in the world, they would find that the right of entry into and passage through a foreign country was a general right, and was generally acknowledged, Governments reserving to themselves the power to impose only four restrictions—the right to know the names of the passengers, and hence to have their own statement authenticated by the signature of some public functionary; the right to exclude persons believed to be of a suspicious character; the right to exclude certain classes of foreigners, and certain individuals, by name, from the enjoyment of the general right of passage; and the right to deny the exercise of this privilege to those who attempted to enter their territory with an armed force, or in too great numbers. These being the only legitimate restrictions of the right of entry and passage, if the Government of this country was to exercise a salutary and efficient protection over British subjects travelling abroad, they were bound to see that their rights were not further restricted by novel edicts. If they did not, what was done at Pesth in the cases of Mr. Wingate and Mr. H. Smith, and at Lemberg in the case of Mr. Edwards, would become the common case of British subjects abroad, whether travelling or domiciled under the protection of the municipal laws of the country in which they lived, and relying upon the faith of treaties. He thought that the Earl of Malmesbury was disposed to admit far too lightly the right of Austria to innovate in this matter, and he feared that his admissions would be turned to ill account against us some day. It clearly appeared from the papers that had been laid on the table, that Prince Schwarzenberg was quite insatiable, and that no concessions would turn him from his purpose, which evidently was to take away the protection that once attached to every traveller through countries either under Austrian or Prussian rule, who was able to utter those grand and simple words, "I am a British citizen.' Considering that the Resolution of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) only expressed a plain truth, which even the Ministers were not quite prepared to deny—and that it expressed the universal sentiment of the people of this country, because it recognised those great principles of civil and religious liberty to which they were attached—he must implore the hon. Gentleman to test the sincerity of the pro- 509 fessed friends of those principles in that House by pressing his Motion to a division, notwithstanding any suggestions that might be addressed to him, and from whatsoever side of the House they might emanate.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I think my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) has acted quite right in bringing under the consideration of the House a question of great importance as regards our own laws, as regards our international relations, as regards the rights of British subjects abroad, and the obligations of the British Government at home. Sir, I think that the right hon. Gentleman who has spoken on behalf of the Government, has not altogether embaced the full scope of the argument of my hon. Friend. He has addressed the better part of the observations which have fallen from him to one branch only of the arguments of my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend dwelt with great force upon two points—the one, the duty which is incumbent on the British Government to afford protection to foreign exiles; the other, the duty which is also incumbent on the British Government to afford protection to British subjects travelling abroad. Now the right hon. Gentleman seemed to me chiefly to direct his remarks to the first of those points, and having, as he conceived, satisfactorily shown to the House that the present Government was determined to maintain the right of affording hospitality to foreigners, he seemed to think that he had laid sufficient grounds for negativing the Motion of my hon. Friend. But he did not, I think, equally explain to the House the determination of Her Majesty's Government to enforce that protection to British subjects travelling abroad, to which, when not violating the laws of the country in which they may happen to be, they are so decidedly and positively entitled. Now, Sir, with regard to the papers which are the subject of discussion, and with respect to the transactions to which they relate, I think it right to say that some allowance ought to be made for the sensitive anxiety which some of the Governments of the Continent expressed last year in regard to the proceedings of certain foreign refugees in this country. We must remember that they have not the same notions as we have of the expediency, as well as of the right, of free discussion and free action, which fortunately belong to every man in this country. They are apt to measure things here by their own standard of what is 510 practicable and what they think expedient, and placing ourselves, therefore, in their situation, which is the course we should always pursue when judging of the conduct of others—for we should not measure their conduct simply by our own views, but endeavour to place ourselves in the point of view in which they stand—taking that into consideration, I say, there are some allowances to be made for the earnestness with which they pressed that point last year. There is also this other consideration to be borne in mind, that their anxiety upon that subject was increased last summer by the exaggerated notion which they entertained of the effects which would arise from the Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations. They imagined that there would be here a mischievous congregation of all the disturbing elements of European society, and that England was to become, I know not why or how, the great centre of revolutionary emanation. Not only were those representations made which appear in those papers, but previous to the date of those communications I had bad repeated conversations with many of the foreign Ministers upon those subjects. I should state, however, in the first place, that that communication, which was dated in October, from the Ambassador of the French Republic, was wholly disconnected in its origin from any communications with the other Powers who made representations in the December following. It was the result of several conversations which I had had upon former occasions with Count Walewski, and, in short, I had stated that which the then Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir G. Grey) stated in this House, namely, that the British Government could do no more than the powers of the law enabled them to do; that it was idle to ask us to expel any foreigner on account of the danger which his presence in this country might entail upon any foreign Government; but that it was against our law for any man, whether a British subject or a foreigner, to levy war, or to take steps manifestly for the purpose of levying war, against any foreign Power; and that if it could be shown that any foreigner—Frenchman or other—had violated that part of our law, this Government would feel it their duty to enforce the law as far as circumstances and proofs enabled them to do so. The result was that this paper, which is printed in this I blue book, was given to me rather as a confidential communication than as a formal 511 note by the French Ambassador, furnishing, as the French Government thought, indications that there were persons here who were violating the existing law of the country, and with regard to whom the British Government might take steps; but it is not like the other and subsequent communications from the Governments of Austria, Russia, and Prussia, and the German Confederation—an application to do more than the law existing in this country enabled us to do. I think it both right and just to the French Government to explain exactly the nature, and intent, and purport of that communication. Now, Sir, when those representations were made to me by many of the foreign Ministers, I stated to them that the British Government had certainly at different periods thought it necessary to pass Alien Bills, but that the powers which those Bills conferred never went to the object to which they wished the action of the British Government to go—that England, like other countries, took care of her own tranquillity—that she was not prepared to look after the internal tranquillity of other countries—that they must look after their own interests, and that the powers of Alien Bills simply went to this—that the Government was enabled to send out of the country any foreigner whose presence was dangerous to the internal tranquillity of this country; that, therefore, it was in vain for them to ask us to do that which not only the present law did not enable us to do, but which no previous law had ever authorised, which I was perfectly sure no Government would ever ask Parliament to sanction, and which I well knew no Parliament would consent to, even if it were asked. But I took the liberty further of stating to those persons that I thought they greatly exaggerated the danger to be apprehended to any foreign country from the presence of foreign refugees here. Why, Sir, I think there is nothing in which opinion goes so far beyond fact as in the notion that refugees can effect any considerable mischiefs in the country from which they have been alienated. How are they to do it? In the first place, it is said that by their missives and letters, and proclamations, they may excite plans of insurrection. Well, but the effect of a cause depends very much not merely on the cause itself, but on the condition of the thing on which that cause is to operate. A single spark will explode a powder magazine, and a blazing torch will burn out harmless on a turnpike road. If a country 512 be in a state of suppressed internal discontent, a very slight indication may augment that discontent, and produce an explosion; but if the country be well governed, and the people be contented, then letters and proclamations from unhappy refugees will be as harmless as the torch upon the turnpike road. I endeavoured, Sir, with great deference and respect, to impress that idea upon those foreign Ministers who represented to me the danger to be apprehended from the refugees. But, then, it was urged that they might send money. Why, good Heavens! the money that those unhappy refugees, who were living in lodgings in back places, some of them of the lowest kind, and who could hardly pay for their daily subsistence—what kind of danger could there possibly arise to any foreign Government from the money which such persons could send? Then, I was told, "But see, here are notes issued by Mazzini of 50 francs each, in return for money deposited which are to be paid when an Italian Communal Republic shall be fully established—here's the name of a banker who is to open an account for this Mazzini loan." Upon inquiry of that banker it certainly appeared that parties had offered to open an account with him, but up to that period not one single farthing had been paid in. Then it was said, "If money cannot be sent, perhaps arms might go;" and, no doubt, one did hear of some 200 or 300 muskets which were supposed to be destined for those purposes; but how, I should like to know, are refugees to send any formidable quantity of arms unless they get money; and I do not think that those notes, which are payable on such an eventuality as I have described, are likely to raise any considerable amount, in order to send arms in sufficient quantities to be dangerous to any foreign country. Besides, arms are things that it is difficult to smuggle, and every country is bound to look after its own interests, and to stop those arms in their transit. "Then, if their letters will not produce revolution—if their money be not forthcoming, and their arsis be next to nothing, yet men may be sent." But the moment that any foreigner begins to enroll men in this country for the purpose of military operations in another country, then you have a law which very properly prevents such practices (and these are practices which cannot be easily concealed), and you are enabled by that law—a law which no doubt every Government would put into immediate execution—to 513 prevent such proceedings against a country Which is in friendly relations with our own. I felt it to be my duty to endeavour to point out to those foreign Governments, that though it was not unnatural, considering the difference in the organisation between foreign countries and Great Britain, that they should feel these apprehensions, and this exaggerated alarm, yet that, besides our being powerless to relieve them, in truth there was not so much foundation for them as they themselves appeared to imagine. Then, however certainly there had been granted, as was stated in 1848, a considerable number of passports by British consuls and diplomatic agents abroad to persons who were not British subjects, I think that it was quite right that passports should have been issued. It was done in a moment of great commotion in Europe. Those passports were granted to persons of all parties—to Royalists in France, to Republicans in Rome, to Hungarians in the east of Europe—every man who was flying from imminent danger, and wishing to withdraw himself from that country where his presence might create disturbance, was assisted by British agents; and I believe that this was not only an act of great charity to individuals, but that it was one which contributed much to the tranquillity of the country itself Where it was put in practice. I can only say with regard to Rome, for instance, which has been much commented on, espeally by foreign Continental Governments, that the British Consul, and the French Consul, and another foreign Consul, did grant passports which enabled nearly 2,000 men to quit Rome, who, if they had remained there, must either have been a source of great disturbance, or have been supported by the charity of the people of the city; and the authorities of Rome not only wished that it should be done, but they urged the Consuls to assist them in getting rid of those persons; nevertheless, that act has been made the frequent subject of reproach since, especially to the Consul of this country. It was an act done on his own responsibility, at the desire of the authorities of Rome at the moment. I think it was an act which was perfectly justified, and it is one which I thought it my duty entirely to approve. At the same time it is true that the Austrian Government, for instance, might think that some of those passports might get into ether hands, or that the same persona to whom they were given might 514 seek to return under cover of those passports. I am not, therefore, myself disposed to find great fault with the Austrian Government for establishing with regard to passports this general regulation, that foreigners wishing to enter the Austrian dominions should have passports granted by the authorities of their own country, and countersigned by some representative of the Austrian Government. I think that every Government is entitled to make such regulations with regard to the admission of foreigners as it may think consistent with its own security; and if those regulations are liberally enforced, without vexatious severity, I think that foreigners are bound to acquiesce in them. There was an attempt made, indeed, to compel the British Government to establish, in regard to our passports, those picturesque descriptions which some foreign passports contain, being a definition of the particular features which the individual who bears the passport may boast of. I declined to follow this example. We are fond enough of sitting for our portraits in England, but it is to painters we like to sit, and not to passport-givers. I therefore declined either to follow the example, or to comply with the wishes of the Governments who desired it. But it certainly does appear from the papers which have been laid on the table of the House, that there was at one time a determined intention on the part, especially, of the Austrian Government, to retaliate upon British travellers by undue severity in respect to their passports and their admission into the Austrian territory, for not doing that which the Austrian Government must have known the British Government could not do by law, and which they neither hoped nor wished to have by law the power of doing. Now, I think that that is a perfectly proper thing to mention in this House. I think my hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes) was perfectly right in calling the serious attention of Parliament to menaces unbecoming in a foreign Government to make, and unfit for the British Government to receive. There are parts of the papers, especially towards the conclusion, upon which I wish only to make two remarks. I am alluding now to the amicable Arcadian dialogue which has passed between the Austrian Government and the present Ministry since the accession of the latter to office. The beautiful, complimentary, and amicable feeling exchanged between the two parties, is indeed worthy of Virgil. I must say I could not 515 read the despatches without a smile; and there were circumstances which took place when the present Government was formed, which certainly did not diminish in my mind the disposition to smile at the joy which the Austrian Government exhibited at the entire change of men, councils, and principles which had occurred. It was certainly rather amusing, many things considered. But there is another point which strikes me, and that is, that I think probably the answer of our Government was written somewhat hastily, without their having had an opportunity of diving into the depths of Rymer, or of consulting our ancient treaties; for, although I have great respect for Austria, and am by no means disposed to undervalue her importance as an ally of our Government, and while I admit that the antiquity of the alliance goes back as far, I believe, as 1689, yet I cannot but think that the epithet, "the oldest ally of England" must have slipped rather inadvertently from the pen of our Government. I think they will find that we have had a treaty offensive and defensive with Portugal since 1373. Now, I do not think, however ancient our alliance with Austria may be, that it extends as far back as the period I mention. And not only have we had a treaty with Portugal binding us in an alliance defensive and offensive, but a couple of years after the treaty was agreed to it was actually carried into effect, and a British force sent to assist Portugal in a war in which she was engaged with Castile. Now, I should be sorry in this way to pass by a really faithful ally like the kingdom of Portugal; because, although Austria has been very valuable to us on many occasions, yet we all know that there have been certain circumstances, independent of the will and inclination of the Austrian Government perhaps, which have induced them at different times, and particularly in the last war, to break away from their engagements with us. Now, I must say that I do not think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department was quite satisfactory with respect to the point to which especially the Resolution of my hon. Friend points. The Resolution of my hon. Friend points distinctly, almost exclusively, to the intentions of foreign Governments; and the reply is, "We will tell you about the intention of the English Government upon a different point—namely, the hospitality shown to foreign refugees." Still I am 516 willing to accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as even larger than his words would appear to indicate; and, as the present Ministry are supposed by the Austrian Government to sympathise more fully with the principles of that Government than the preceding Ministry did, as it appears that at last amicable relations have been restored, which we are told have not existed for the last five years—and I can refer to this the more freely, that the new state of things dates not from December, but from February—as it appears, I say, that there is now such friendly and mutual confidence between the British and Austrian Governments, and that there is no longer any danger of annoyance to British travellers in the Austrian dominions; since my hon. Friend (Mr. M. Milnes) may probably think the discussion which has taken place will have sufficiently accomplished the object he had in view in bringing the matter forward; and lest the motive may be considered by the Government of Austria as a rebuke for an offence which has ceased to exist, or might in any way render less satisfactory the relations between the two Governments—I would venture to suggest to my hon. Friend that, if the Government should think it better to move the previous question than to agree to the Motion—for I presume they will not attempt to negative it, because it contains assertions which nobody can deny—my hon. Friend should acquiesce in that mode of disposing of his very proper, and, I trust, useful Motion.
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
said, he thought that the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) had totally failed to show that the Austrian Government intended to inflict any hardship upon British travellers in their dominions. And indeed the noble Lord who had just resumed his seat had told the House that the regulations which the Austrian Government had lately adopted were perfectly fair, and such as it was open to any foreign Government to adopt for the purpose of excluding foreign refugees. It appeared to him that the real fact of the case was this—that in times when Europe was in a much more peaceable state than it had been lately, many passport regulations were, as a matter of favour, waived by Austria; and all the Government of that country had now done was to notify to us that in the altered circumstances of Europe it would be necessary to enforce those regulations (which had always existed) more precisely than 517 hitherto. He believed it was a universal passport regulation over the whole of the Continent that a foreigner entering any State should be furnished with a passport emanating from the authorities of his own country, and countersigned by some authority of the country which he visited. He believed that this regulation had been relaxed in favour of our Continental tourists, who had frequently been allowed to make the whole tour of Europe with French passports; and the Austrian note of March 5, was merely a notification that these regulations would in future be more strictly enforced. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department had not thought it necessary to reply to the particular case of the hon Member for Pontefract, for he had really failed to lay any ground for his assertions. It might be fairly assumed that there were no regulations now in force in the Austrian dominions directed especially against British subjects, and that there were at all events no regulations bearing the character of any peculiar and unusual seventy. He trusted that the hon. Member would follow the advice of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), in not opposing the previous question; but still he (Sir J. Walsh) could not help regretting that this subject had been brought before the House at all, for it must evidently give rise to speeches which could have no other effect than to produce great irritation in foreign countries. The irritation which had existed seemde to have been very much allayed, by recent circumstances; and was it desirable that anything should be done to renew it? Hon. Gentlemen had expressed their desire to perpetuate peace; but he (Sir J. Walsh) submitted that a discussion of this kind might sow the seeds of war. The subject of foreign refugees was a most difficult one; and he rejoiced to perceive that the Governments of foreign countries, no longer alarmed by the apprehensions of revolution and convulsion, were disposed to recede from the demands they had made, and were not disposed to press them with the force that they did some time ago. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Milnes) had made one great omission in stating the case of those refugees. There was no Gentleman who would contest the right of England to afford protection to all refugees and political exiles seeking an asylum on her shores as refugees in consequence of political convulsions in their own country. He was sure that every Englishman would 518 be ready to defend the right to afford them shelter, even though it involved the great alternative of war; but that was not the whole of the case with respect to those refugees. When they came to this country to seek an asylum, they were not satisfied to remain quiet, and to sleep under the shade of the British oak, guarded by the British lion. They forgot that when they came to this country they should not disturb the tranquillity of foreign States, or attempt to excite revolutions in their own country. That was the grievance, indeed it was the strong point, of the foreign Powers; and they accordingly said to the British Government, "We grant your right to be hospitable; but when it interferes with our country, and when endeavours are made to create revolutions against our Governments, it is an abuse of the hospitality you offer to them, and disentitles them to your protection." That was the difficult question they might have been called upon to decide if the state of Europe had continued to be as menacing as it was some time ago. A very strong position was laid down on the subject in a despatch of Count Walewski, and in a State paper of Count Nesselrode, who mentioned no less than six cases in which he conceived there were acts of hostility emanating from those refugees against the Governments of their country. He (Sir J. Walsh) also believed in the existence of formidable societies of foreigners in this country in connexion with kindred societies abroad, which, under the shelter of the British Government, proceeded to acts of sedition and treason against the Governments to which they belonged. The acts of which those parties were guilty would be punished as treasonable if committed by British subjects, but because they were the work of foreigners they went unscathed. There could be no doubt that by many of those refugees the rights of hospitality had been grossly abused, whereas it might have been expected of them that they would have abstained from overt acts of hostility in the land which afforded them an asylum. Though the law could not touch those refugees, and though the Government of this country could not interfere, still they afforded some grounds for the complaints that had been addressed to them by foreign Governments. He (Sir J. Walsh) did not say he would support an extension of the present law respecting refugees—he did not think it would be practicable to pass any such law; but, stating the case fairly, 519 he must say that there was a stronger primâ facie case in favour of foreign Powers than many hon. Gentlemen might think. He thought that feelings of honuor towards the country that gave them refuge should dictate to those refugees the propriety of abstaining from the commission of acts which must have a tendency to affect the friendly relations between that country and foreign States. He had little sympathy for many of those refugees—he had little sympathy for men who had been the real cause of the entire failure of the attempt to establish a constitutional monarchy in Italy—he had little sympathy for the men who had stimulated the assassination of Rossi, or for the men who had plunged France into a state of anarchy and misery from which she had been only able to find refuge in the arms of absolute power. He would say that those men had not been the real friends of liberty. And if, for the honour of England, they were bound to afford them an asylum, they were not bound to afford them their sympathy. He hoped they would not be called upon to divide upon this question, because he was quite sure that in the present state of affairs in Europe, the less they were made the subject of discussion in that House, the better. Considering the immense importance of peace to the country, and that every day their very existence and the supply of the food of the people became more dependent upon foreign countries, they should take care that they did not needlessly provoke the hostility of foreign Powers.
MR. VERNON SMITH
said, he agreed with what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, and his noble Friend the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), that if there had been an angry correspondence between this country and foreign nations, which had now come to an end, it would be better not to revive it. Still the hon. Member for Pontefract's Motion was a reasonable one, and had elicited much from the Government. He (Mr. V. Smith) wished to elicit something more. He wished to know whether British, travellers in Austria would continue to be subjected to additional inconvenience, and, if so, whether that was to be done in consequence of the refusal of our Government to do that which they had no power to do? He wished particularly to call the attention of the House to the letter of the 9th December, 1851, containing 520 the first menace. The Austrian Minister stated—Would Austria not be justified to employ this line of argument as against England, if the British Government should not find means to put an end to the aggressive machinations directed against the tranquillity of the Austrian empire by political refugees residing in England? And would English travellers be entitled to complain, if, coming from a country where manifestations, and, what is more, acts, openly hostile to Austria are tolerated, they should henceforth be no longer admitted into that empire except under the safeguard of exceptional precautionary measures?Then came the correspondence between, Earl Granville and Prince Schwarzenberg, and subsequently that with the Earl of Malmesbury, on which his noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston) had commented, with much wit and good humour; and he (Mr. V. Smith) must say, with regard to that singular letter, that he believed it was quite unusual for the Government of one nation to compliment a particular Government of another country upon its accession to power. He entirely denied the interpretation put upon that letter by a right hon. Gentleman opposite—that the congratulations referred to the close of the controversy, and not to the accession of the Earl of Derby's Government. They had heard a great deal of the phrase commonly used by a late monarch, Le cher Aberdeen; but he thought that the "dear Derby" of this correspondence would supersede that. As he understood, the exemptions which had always been allowed to British subjects in Austria had been withdrawn—and why? Because the demand to expel refugees from this country had not been complied with. Was it not the fact that British travellers were now in a worse position than they were formerly; either that exemptions they enjoyed had been withdrawn, or fresh inconveniences put on them, and that because the demands with regard to foreign refugees in this country had not been complied with? Unless Her Majesty's Government stated that British travellers were restored to the privileges they formerly enjoyed, he thought his honourable Friend would be justified in dividing on his Motion, although he admitted that adopting the course of moving the previous question would be more advisable in a case where the acts of a foreign Government were not denied and when it was not desired that a Resolution condemning them should be passed by the House. He hoped that some Member of the Government would give satisfactory answer to the question whether 521 British, travellers in Austria now stood in a worse position than they did before?
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, that although no despatch had yet been published from which it appeared that the menace of the Austrian Government had been withdrawn, he found it stated in an article in one of the newspapers, that that Government, so far from wishing to place greater restrictions in the way of British Subjects passing through the Austrian territories, or to render a residence in Austria in any way disagreeable to them, intended to adopt with respect to them precisely the same regulations which were applied to all other foreigners visiting the Austrian dominions. He could not agree with the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) when he expressed his gratitude to the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) for bringing forward this question. He (Mr. B. Cochrane) did not know whether the Motion had been brought forward in conformity with the wishes of the noble Lord, but he could not but regret the language that had been used in the course of the discussion. He thought the result of the Motion would be most mischievous, and that it was much to be regretted that it had been brought forward. The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord D. Stuart), and the hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. C. Anstey), had used language which made him (Mr. B. Cochrane) think that the results of the Motion must be highly mischievous—and it was much to be regretted that it had ever been brought forward. The language he had heard that night formed a strange contrast to the moderate and calm self-reliance which characterised the admirable despatches of Earl Granville and the Earl of Malmesbury. The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) found fault with the Imperial Government for expressing kindly feelings towards this country, for—no matter on what account—the Imperial Government did express kindly feelings, and avowed the confidence it entertained in the good intentions of Her Majesty's present Government. But what was the language that had been used in that House?—language which he believed it to be highly improper to apply to an alloy of the Crown. The hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. C. Anstey) had applied the term "perjured despot" to the Emperor of Austria. He (Mr. B. Cochrane) did not know how far the rules of the House would permit such language 522 to be applied to an ally of this country. Again, the hon. and learned Gentleman had charged Prince Schwarzenberg with falsehood and unheard-of insults. Now, if discussions on foreign questions in that House were to be thus conducted, and if such language was to be applied to the First Minister of the Imperial Government by a Member of the British Legislature, he thought their debates, so far from being either advantageous or dignified, would be positively disadvantageous, and would be calculated to bring their proceedings into contempt. The noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) had alluded strongly to the despatch in which what he termed the menace was contained—but he might not perhaps be aware of the circumstances under which that despatch was sent. It wm written after a speech had been delivered by M. Mazzini in this city; and he thought, when the House heard the language of that speech, they could not be surprised that the Austrian Government had felt some alarm as to the effects of such language. M. Mazzini said—Their cause was a popular one, and their secret association throughout this land was such that messages could be despatched from town to town with nearly as much security as they could between London and Dublin.M. Mazzini further called upon the English people to aid him in creating an organised public opinion, and in disseminating his views throughout the country by means of pamphlets, lectures, and newspaper articles. Now, when a person in the position of M. Mazzini made use of such language—when he talked of an organisation in this country to disseminate the opinions of the Italian Socialists—he (Mr. B. Cochrane) thought the Austrian Government, not knowing the exact value to be placed upon such expressions or boastings, might fairly consider it a case in which such a despatch as had been referred to might be written. The noble Member for Marylebone only a night or two ago pointed out the blessings that might be derived from universal suffrage and the ballot; but that noble Lord had now applied the strongest epithets to the President of the French Republic, whose position was the result of universal suffrage and the ballot. The noble Lord had also strongly deprecated the cruelties of Austria towards her rebellious subjects, and the misconduct of Austrian officers towards Mr. Mather, a British subject, at Florence. He (Mr. B. Cochrane) believed, 523 however, it was commonly reported that the noble Lord—who had now an opportunity of correcting the report, if it was incorrect—was one of those who went down to Barclay's brewery to congratulate the men who attacked Marshal Haynau in a most cowardly and discreditable manner, violating every feeling of hospitality and humanity. He could see nothing undignified in the language of the despatch to which the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. M. Milnes) had mainly referred, or anything that would justify the attack of that hon. Gentleman, whose conduct would, he thought, be deemed by the Austrian Government the unkindest cut of all. "If mine enemy had done this, then I could have borne it, but it was my companion, and my own familiar friend." He (Mr. B. Cochrane) had no doubt that if the hon. Member for Pontefract looked back to his journal, he would be reminded how cordially he had always been received by those very Powers whom he had judged, within the last two or three years, with so much severity; and he was sure that if the hon. Gentleman returned to those Courts he would be received with the same hospitality which had been exhibited towards him on previous occasions.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down perhaps did not know that British subjects had recently been expelled from Hungary, under circumstances of great oppression and hardship. Scotchmen and their families had been expelled from Pesth without being guilty of any violation of any law; and Captain Pakenham and others had been sent away from Florence for no fault being alleged against them, but simply from the fact that they had been found reading the Bible, and uniting in family prayer. He could also inform the House, from his own experience, that every possible inconvenience and trouble were heaped upon English travellers. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), who was so well qualified to advise them on this matter, had suggested that the House should not be forced to a division, and he trusted that the noble Lord's suggestion would be accepted. The noble Viscount had been long recognised as the protector of British subjects in every part of the world. He had known it from his own experience; and he could tell the hon. Member (Mr. B. Cochrane) that under the Government of the noble Viscount, the fact of being a British subject, and the fact of the noble 524 Viscount being a Minister who had the will as well as the power to enforce the respect due to the British name, had made an English passport the talisman of safety and respect in every part of the world.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, it was not unnatural, in the state of things which had taken place during the last three or four years, that many persons, without having anything to do with those transactions, might be exposed to inconvenience, and that was a matter which should not be lost sight of in considering this subject. The fact was, as had been stated by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), that more than 2,000 persons, not British subjects, had had the protection of English and French passports granted to them in order to facilitate their removal from places which had derived great advantage from their absence. Under these circumstances, no doubt, many parties had received that protection who were undeserving of it. At the present moment, as heretofore, however, to be a British subject was a claim to respect in any part of the world, because it had always been known that England was a Power which would see no injury inflicted upon its subjects without ample reparation. He (Mr. Henley) was one of those who thought that any and every Government in this country must always act on that principle. The noble Viscount had alluded in humorous terms to the letter addressed by the Austrian Ambassador to the Earl of Derby; but the commendations in that letter could only fairly be taken as applicable to the principles expressed by the Earl of Derby—not to any particular set of men, but to the principles they professed. Now, with regard to the question put by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. V. Smith), he was not aware that any possible inconvenience could have arisen to any British subject in, consequence of the despatches which were the subject of the present discussion; and he certainly had not heard, nor did he believe that any such inconvenience existed. When the right hon. Gentleman asked whether the restrictions which had been threatened to be put upon British subjects were now at an end, he had only to say, in reply, that he thought they had a right to consider that what was called the semiofficial paper transmitted by our Minister at Vienna to this country, did give a different complexion to the matter, and that all the Austrian Government meant in 525 future to enforce was, that British passports should be available only to British subjects, and that the subjects of all nations should be put under the same category. That was not a case of which a British subject had any right to complain. With regard to the missionaries who had been expelled from Hungary, their case had no reference to the questions under present discussion. Whether religious feelings were at the bottom of their expulsion, or whatever it was, it had no reference to political circumstances. The previous question had been suggested as the proper mode of meeting this Motion. He quite agreed in that suggestion, and in accordance with it he begged to move the previous question.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
, in reply, said, that he should but inadequately acknowledge the kindness with which the House had bestowed its attention on the subject, if he showed any unwillingness to follow what appeared its general desire that it should not divide on the present question. At the same time, he must maintain that the words of his Motion were, on the whole, so moderate, and couched in so amicable a spirit to the foreign Government to which it alluded, that he did not think the general consent of the House to the Resolution would have had any other meaning than implied by the present course, namely, that they regretted the circumstances which had led to the language used in the despatch of the Austrian Minister, and that the feeling of the House was that that language was profoundly to be regretted. He had been a follower of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) when he had recommended energetic measures, and now he was not disposed to differ from his counsel when he advised moderation. The noble Lord was a far better judge upon such a subject; and if he thought the object in view could be obtained, he (Mr. M. Milnes) would not attempt to put forward his inexperience against the knowledge of the noble Lord. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridport (Mr. B. Cochrane) had stated that the present Motion was an ungenerous one, considering the especial favour which the Government of Austria had extended to him (Mr. M. Milnes). Now, in reply to that statement, he could only say that in the course of last year he had been stopped on his journey through the Austrian dominions, and had not been allowed to proceed further. So trivial a circum- 526 stance happening to so very unimportant a person as himself, he would not have presumed to refer to on an occasion like the present, and he now only alluded to it by way of reply to the remark of the hon. Member for Bridport. On all the other occasions in which he had come in contact with the officials of the Austrian Government, he had been treated with the utmost civility. He believed that the feeling of the people of Austria was favourable to this country, and it was upon that account he regretted the language of Prince Schwarzenberg's despatch. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department for the manner in which he had made the announcement that the right of an asylum in this country should never be tampered with so long as he was connected with the Government. He trusted that the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman would inspire the rest of the Government to which he belonged, and that he would maintain the dignity of this country, and the rights of hospitality, combined with those feelings of respect for so important an ally of England as the Austrian Empire was, and ever would be. For his own part, nothing would give him more satisfaction than to see such a modification of the government of that empire, as would make it as useful a member of the European body, as it was a great and mighty country.
§ Whereupon the Previous Question, "That the Question be now put," was put, and negatived.