§ On the Order of the Day for receiving the Report on Supply,
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
rose, according to notice, "to call the attention of the House to the case of Air. Mather, and generally to the present state of Public Affairs." Sir, I am at all times unwilling to bring questions relating to the foreign policy of the Government before the attention of the House; for I think that, generally speaking, it is difficult to judge of the conduct of the Government with respect to particular transactions in which they may have been concerned with foreign Powers on terms of amity with this country; and I am so little disposed to press the Government upon this subject, that when, the other day, I asked the noble Lord (Lord 617 Stanley) the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, if it were true that a protocol had been signed with the great Powers as to Neufchatel, and whether it could be laid on the table—the noble Lord having informed me that there was such a protocol, which he described as being one of considerable importance—when he went on to say that it would not be desirable to lay it on the table (meaning, I presume, that reasons of public interest would prevent the Government from laying it on the table)—I did not say one word more, or press for its production. But in the case to which I am about to call the attention of the House, the Government have, of their own accord, without any pressure on the part of the House so far as I am aware, produced the correspondence respecting the assault committed upon Mr. Erskine Mather at Florence; and this correspondence was presented to both Houses "by command of Her Majesty." And, Sir, having read those papers, it could not but occur to me that if they were left altogether unnoticed by Members of this House, such Gentlemen as might have the good fortune to be elected to the next Parliament would be told that they had taken no notice of these papers, though they had been presented to Parliament in June, and that, therefore, it must be presumed that they had no fault to find with the conduct of the Government. Now, Sir, upon reading these papers, it appears to me that though it is not necessary nor advisable to come to any resolution upon the subject, yet that it is advisable that Members of the House should not be supposed to be committed to an approbation of the course that has been pursued; and, therefore, I think it necessary to call the attention of the House to the contents of these papers. Sir, the House will recollect that at the end of last December, two gentlemen of the name of Mather, one of the age of seventeen and the other nineteen, being in a crowded street in Florence, and having in their attempt to cross come between a detachment of an Austrian regiment, and the regimental band, one of these young gentlemen (the elder of them) received, first a blow on the back, next a severe blow on the face, and, when he was recovering from that blow, he received a cut with a sword, which opened his skull, and placed him in a situation of some danger, so as to require his immediate conveyance to an hospital—I do not, of course, mean to say that the injury was of such a kind 618 as to place his life in danger, but at all events it was an injury of some magnitude. A complaint was made to my noble Friend Earl Granville, then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who immediately wrote to Mr. Scarlett, our acting Minister at Florence, and to the Earl of Westmoreland, our Ambassador at Vienna, stating the facts of the case as they had been reported to him. But in the meantime a despatch had been received from Mr. Scarlett, stating that a formal inquiry had been demanded from the Tuscan Government; that that formal inquiry was to be instituted, and was to commence immediately. Earl Granville, therefore, added to the end of the despatch to the Earl of Westmoreland, that at that moment he had no official instruction to give. These were his words:—I have now received a report from Mr. Scarlett, stating that at his request and ii> conformity with a desire expressed by Mr. Mather, the Tuscan Government has consented to a judicial inquiry. I have, therefore, no official instructions to address to you; hut if this inquiry is not fairly conducted, and influence is used to suppress the truth, the British Government will be obliged to ask for reparation for this outrage upon an unoffending and unarmed British subject, from Austria, and to express the confident expectation of Her Majesty's Government that such reparation will he promptly afforded by the Austrian Government.I should now, however, mention that Mr. Mather has made a representation with respect to what was said in this House, in which he has not been correctly informed. He has stated that it had been said in this House by myself, that it was proposed by Mr. Mather that there should be a proceeding before the legal tribunals of Florence. Now, I never said any such thing. There may have been some report to that effect in a newspaper which I have never seen: but it was correctly and exactly reported in Hansard, that I said—The British resident had already taken steps to comply with the request of the injured gentleman to procure a judicial investigation of inquiry."—[3 Hansard, cxix. 199.]In this position the case stood when the present Ministry came into office. Mr. Scarlett had obtained from the Tuscan Government a promise of inquiry, and that inquiry was, after a time, instituted by that Government. Now, the first question which arises upon this subject is—What was the nature of the offence given; and, secondly, what would be the reparation to be required? Of course, the second question depends entirely upon the first. If 619 the offence was of a certain nature, entirely wanton or unprovoked, one kind of reparation would be required; but if it were merely an accident, a different kind of reparation would be sufficient. I looked, therefore, to these papers, in order to ascertain what was the view taken by the Earl of Malmesbury. It appears that the statements made upon [this subject by the two parties are more conflicting than I had at first supposed. Mr. Mather states—On the forenoon of the 29th of last month a detachment of the infantry regiment Kinsky was marching down the Via dei Martelli, preceded by its band. The usual crowd of persons accompanied the music, some of them (including Mr. Mather and his brother) walking between the band and the troops. An obstruction was created in a narrow part of the street by the passage of a carriage. Mr. Mather came accidentally in the way of the commander of the detachment, Lieutenant Forsthüber, and admits that he may possibly have touched that officer. He then received a blow from the flat of Mr. Forsthüber's sabre on his back, and on turning round indignantly to expostulate, was struck in the face by another with his fist. While staggering from this blow he received a sabre-cut on the head from Lieutenant Forsthüber, which wounded him so severely that his life is still in danger. He was then taken to the hospital, and still lies there.The account given by the Austrian officers is very different. It is stated by the Austrian Minister—The detachment of infantry which, preceded by military music, was mounting guard, was passing through the narrow street which leads from the Via Larga to the Piazza del Duomo. There was a stoppage, and many people were pushing themselves between the music and the troops, insomuch that the latter were forced to shorten step. One man in particular walked the whole time precisely before the officer, who being in command of this detachment was in the place prescribed to him by our military regulations, and prevented him from continuing his progress. The officer told him politely in Italian to give place to him, at the same time touching him with his sabre in order to make him understand that he was speaking to him. This man thereupon turned round, looked at the officer, but continued to walk in the same manner. After this proceeding had been several times repeated, the officer became angry, and forcibly thrust aside the man who prevented him from continuing his march, and who he could not but think did so with mischievous intent, as he did not attend to words spoken politely.Another officer who accompanied the guard, without being on duty, gave (under a like impression) another blow to this individual, who turned round with an irritated look, and was no other than Mr. Mather. Upon that Mr. Mather putting himself in a boxing attitude advanced with his fist uplifted towards the officer—who was on duty, and had his sabre in hand. The officer, who certainly could not submit to be treated after such a fashion, and who was exposed to the risk of receiving an outrageous insult at the head of his detachment, 620 made use of his arms by giving Mr. Mather a stroke of his sabre.The House will see that there is the greatest difference between the two statements. In the one case there appears to have been a wanton and unprovoked attack—in the other case the officer had, if not a justification, at least an excuse or palliation in this, that he imagined Mr. Mather was about to strike him, and that he could only prevent the dishonour of the insult by striking him with his sword. Sir, I naturally looked to see what was the character Lord Malmesbury gave to the transaction—whether he took the one view or the other of the circumstances connected with it. It appears to me. that one course he might have taken, without deciding at once what was the character of the transaction, was to have had the parties who gave these two contradictory accounts confronted with one another and examined. This is the way in which we proceed in this country in similar cases. It appears, however, that in this case no such course was taken. It never seems to have occurred to the Government to ask to have the facts ascertained, although, on the one hand, Mr. Mather and his witnesses concur in one story—that the unfortunate young gentleman was struck on the back with a sword, that he received another blow in the face with the fist, and that while staggering under this second blow and had not yet recovered himself, he received the cut on the head from a sword; while, on the other side, it is stated as positively that the menacing attitude of the young-man provoked the sword-cut. I will read to the House, for the purpose of putting them in possession of the very different account of the circumstances which the Austrian officers give, what Marshal Radetzky says; in doing so, however, I must say, the Marshal sets altogether aside the proceedings of this Tuscan court of inquiry, which had been granted at the solicitation of Mr. Scarlett. He says—On the 29th of December last, First Lieutenant Forsthuber, marching at the head of his detachment directed to occupy the post at the Palace, was passing through a narrow street. At that instant the Englishman Mather placed himself between the band and the commander of the detachment. The latter, inconvenienced in his advance, intimated to him to withdraw, first by a slight pressure with the flat of his sword, and afterwards with his left hand, the first intimation having been ineffectual. In complying with this injunction, Mr. Mather, apparently without intention, knocked against Lieutenant Baron de Karg, who, not being on duty, was walking by the side 621 of the detachment. The latter had the imprudence to strike him a blow in the face with his fist. The Englishman, irritated, turned round, in a threatening attitude, and with his fist uplifted after the manner of boxers, against First Lieutenant Forsthüber, towards whom he advanced; when the latter, fearing to be exposed to a dishonouring insult, from which it necessarily behaved him to secure himself, struck him immediately a blow on the head with the edge of his sabre. Mr. Mather, whose wound, moreover, did not seem serious, was carried to the hospital.Although the civilians heard as witnesses by the Tuscan authorities do not represent the matter exactly as I have stated it, inasmuch as they pretend not to have remarked, or at least not to have perceived, the menacing attitude assumed by Mr. Mather against First Lieutenant Forsthüber, that circumstance is not the less proved by the depositions of the soldiers; and there is the less doubt attaching to it, inasmuch as all the civilian witnesses assert that Mather was walking between the band and the detachment, and one of them expressly declares that he had observed that a sharp dispute had taken place between him and the officer in command.The character and previous conduct of First Lieutenant Forsthüber not allowing me to suppose that he acted without sufficient reason, I am of opinion that that officer was perfectly in the right, and that he absolutely did nothing but what he was bound to do to defend himself from an outrage and its inevitable consequences.That being the case, it is my opinion that, saving better information, the conduct of First Lieutenant Forsthüber is fully justified.Unfortunately, I cannot say so much for Lieut. Baron do Karg, who, by striking an Englishman in the face, without cause, necessarily excited in him a degree of passion easily to be accounted for, and who must consequently be considered as being the principal cause of the menacing gesture of Mr. Mather.Although, in general, the previous conduct of Lieut. Baron do Karg is equally altogether blameless, and although the proceeding of that officer, who is moreover well-conducted, cannot assuredly be attributed to anything but hastiness, I have nevertheless caused him to be put under arrest for a week.Sir, this seems to me rather a peremptory declaration upon the part of Marshal Ra-detzky. He is a person whom all Europe respects for his gallantry and his distinguished character; but I must say he seems in this instance to set at nought anything like civil testimony, and to conclude that nothing but the evidence of soldiers is worth anything: jura negat sibi nata, nihil non arrogai artnis. Not a word do we hear in his despatch, except as to the testimony of his own soldiers; and at the same time no pains are taken to have that testimony; it is all to be taken on the word of the Marshal himself, who ordered a separate military inquiry; and there are no means of ascertaining whether the testimony of the soldiers was enti- 622 tled to credit, or whether it were shaken by that of the civilians, or whether it is obviously in contradiction to the facts. But Her Majesty's Government having taken no means to ascertain the truth, one would think that at least they would have decided themselves which was the story to be believed, and that they would have said either "here is a most unprovoked assault"—as Mr. Mather says—or,"it was a mere accident," occasioned by Mr. Mather having placed himself in a provoking position, and a menacing attitude towards an Austrian officer at the head of his detachment. Now, Sir, I find on looking through these pages, to my great astonishment, that Lord Malmesbury actually adopts both these views. lie speaks of it sometimes as an "unprovoked and wanton outrage;" and at other times as an "accident, purely fortuitous." The noble Earl, writing to Mr. Scarlett, calls it an "unprovoked outrage," and says—Although it would unquestionably have been more satisfactory to Her Majesty's Government, and in their opinion more conducive to the ends of justice, if the party aggrieved had been allowed to be present, either in person or by his advocate, during the examination of the various witnesses, yet as it is stated that such a course would have been inconsistent with the practice observed in Tuscany in regard to such matters, Her Majesty's Government are content to take the evidence as it has been communicated to them, and they readily admit that as far as they can judge by the documents, the Tuscan authorities engaged in the inquiry appear to have been actuated by a sincere desire to elicit the truth.Now the evidence which has thus been obtained conclusively establishes that a most unprovoked outrage was committed on an unarmed and unoffending British subject by an officer in command of a military party acting for Tuscan purposes in the Tuscan dominions.But Her Majesty's Government have such entire confidence in the honourable and just sentiments by which the Grand Duke of Tuscany is distinguished, that they are satisfied that the Government of Tuscany must be anxious to mark their abhorrence of this outrage inflicted upon an innocent individual by a becoming reparation.And even if Her Majesty's Government could take a lenient view of the conduct of the Austrian officer, and consider the blow inflicted by him as the result of a misapprehension on his part, still it would be impossible for Her Majesty's Government to release the Tuscan Government from the performance of an international duty by making reparation to Mr. Mather for the personal insult and bodily suffering which he has sustained.But when the noble Earl writes to Lord Westmoreland, he speaks of it as a "fortuitous accident:"—Her Majesty's Government entirely agree with his Highness that there is no reason to believe that any national feeling of animosity to 623 Englishmen moved the Austrian officer on duty to repel so hastily and with such violence an anticipated affront from an unarmed man. It is equally certain that no object of private or personal malice provoked the act.Assuming therefore with his Highness that it was caused by a 'concourse of fortuitous and unfortunate circumstances' (concours de circon-stances fortuites et malheureuses), it is nevertheless the duty of the Tuscan Government, on whose territory these occurred, to present the sufferer with such pecuniary compensation as he would have obtained in his own country if his life had been endangered either by a premeditated or an accidental injury. With the conviction that such a demand is consonant with those principles of justice and humanity which are equally binding to nations and individuals, Her Majesty's Government has required of the Tuscan Government this reparation for the severe sufferings and great peril which Mr. Mather has experienced.This was giving up altogether the statement that the assault was an unprovoked and wanton outrage; and Count Buol, very naturally, as far as I can see—and I must observe here that the Government of Austria appears to have been very conciliatory with respect to this matter so far as Her Majesty's Government has asked them, and really pressed upon them to look into the case—Count Buol added, in his reply to Lord Westmoreland—Count Buol also stated that during the occupation of the northern provinces of France by the Allied Armies, the soldiers were not under the civil tribunals of that country. Count Buol added, that as the question at present stood, he did not see that he could do more than wait for information from Tuscany as to the line that Government had taken upon the reply they had received from your Lordship; and in the meantime he would recommend an arrangement upon the principle of compensation, not for an insult—for, according to your Lordship's correspondence, that was not the ground upon which you placed this question—but for an unfortunate accident in which no nationality was concerned; and he would at the same time state the disposition of the Emperor (upon such an understanding) to come forward himself with the proposition I have already mentioned for the arrangement of this question.There it is. In the first place it is an unprovoked and wanton outrage; and, in the next place, it stands in the despatches as the result of accident. The House cannot but have remarked, too, that when the despatches were directed to Florence, the assault is represented as unprovoked and wanton; and when to Vienna, it is then nothing else but an unfortunate accident. Again, when the noble Earl is writing to Florence, however, there is a curious passage in one of his despatches, which it is difficult to understand. He says—You will thank Count Buol for his amicable offer respecting the Mather case, and state that I 624 consider it as an earnest of his friendly feelings towards this country and its Government. You will, however, explain that as Her Majesty's Government have always insisted on the independence of Tuscany, and its responsibility either to open her civil courts to foreign plaintiffs, or, if she closes them, to entertain the complaint through the Executive, there would be considerable awkwardness in our receiving compensation from Austria, with whom we have had no official correspondence in the matter. If Count Buol wishes to serve us in this dispute, he can best do so by giving his advice to Tuscany to refer the amount to an arbitration which Mr. Scarlett is instructed to propose at Florence. My determination is that Mr. Mather should get what he would have obtained from an English court had be been cut down at a review in Hyde Park by accidentally hustling, a violent soldier.I have before stated that there is no reason whatever to suppose that malice or any anti-English feeling stimulated the act; but certainly ninety-nine out of a hundred would, under the circumstances, have only struck the supposed offender with the hilt or flat of their sword. It was, therefore, a brutal act, although unpremeditated; and as I understand the skull of the sufferer is injured, and he is not in opulent circumstances, a pecuniary compensation is both an equitable and a legal demand on his part.I cannot understand how a man could be "cut down-by hustling a soldier." The "hustling" might, perhaps, have the effect of provoking the soldier to cut the man down, but one can hardly speak of its being an "accident," that a "violent soldier" should cut a man down. However, after all, Mr. Addington writes to Mr. Mather thus:—I have the satisfaction of informing you, by the direction of the Earl of Malmesbury, that after long and vexatious negotiations with the Tuscan Government, Mr. Scarlett has succeeded in obtaining for your son a practical atonement for the unmerited and brutal treatment he received at Florence, by the payment by that Government of the sum of 1,000 francesconi. Although Her Majesty's Government do not consider that this sum is equivalent to the injury which Mr. Mather suffered, or to that which an English Court would have awarded him as damages for his sufferings; and although it is less than Mr. Scarlett was instructed to demand, Her Majesty's Government have reason to believe that Mr. Scarlett acted to the best of his judgment in thus concluding the controversy.This quite contradicts the idea of an "accident." "An unprovoked and brutal outrage" cannot be an accident. An accident may be violent, but if it be once admitted to be an accident, that takes away its "brutality," and it cannot have been an "unprovoked outrage." With regard to the first question, then, the character of this injury—that young Mr. Mather had his head cut open with a sword, that he had previously been struck in the face— 625 these are facts which no one denies; but whether these were acts which wore done wantonly, brutally, and unprovoked, is a question which Lord Malmesbury would appear never to have decided, because, what was an "unprovoked outrage" when the noble Lord writes to Florence, becomes an "unfortunate accident" when he writes to Vienna. Well, then, it is not surprising that Her Majesty's Government, having taken no steps to ascertain the truth of this charge, having never made up their minds which of the witnesses are to be believed, whether they would believe Mr. Mather himself and his brother, or the Austrian officers—and I must say the Messrs. Mather seem to me to be unexceptionable, plain, and straightforward in their story, and they are corroborated by all the Florentines upon the spot—Her Majesty's Government, I say, do not appear to have made up their minds whether they would believe these gentlemen or Marshal Radetzky, as to a military inquiry, the result of which was that Lieutenant Forsthübcr was entirely in the right, and is not to be blamed. And it is no wonder, therefore, being in that doubt as to the character of that transaction, that the Government have not behaved very consistently with regard to the reparation they should exact. I have said that Lord Granville had asked for ample reparation from the Government of Tuscany, it being true that, that being the Government under which the injury was committed, was in the first place responsible for that injury. But Lord Granville likewise said that if that inquiry did not result in due reparation being given by the Tuscan Government, the Austrian Government would likewise be hound to give reparation; and that was the true view to be taken of the case, because I think both Governments were responsible. Well, Mr. Mather, I must say, in the first instance, placed the question in the hands of Lord Granville, and expressed himself in as fair a manner as could be. He stated very fan-objections to taking it before the Tuscan courts; but he said—We are, however, entirely in the hands of your Lordship and the British Legation here. If it be deemed best, for reasons of state which I do not understand, to take such a course, or any other, by our receiving official authority and instructions how to act, as far as we are concerned, they shall be promptly and willingly obeyed. What may be fitting for the honour and satisfaction of our country, of which your Lordship in such a case is the guardian and judge, cannot but be so for us.626 Nothing could be more fitting or becoming than the tone taken by Mr. Mather on the occasion. His son had suffered a great injury; he had gone out to Italy in great anxiety, and found his son still weak from the effects of the injury; and he felt that he had fair claims for redress; but he says to the Foreign Minister, "You will prescribe the course to be pursued to vindicate the honour of the country, and though it may not be according to my judgment, it will be the judgment of my own Government, and a decision to which [shall bow." No one could take his stand better than Mr. Mather in using that language. Well, Sir, Lord Malmesbury has so contrived that Mr. Mather, who was the object of the injury, and Mr. Scarlett, who was the person endeavouring to obtain reparation for him, should be the only persons insulted, and that the officer who inflicted the injury should be the only person to get off with applause; for Mr. Mather's character is injured, and Mr. Scarlett has a very cruel censure passed upon him by his Government. Mr. Mather is invited to a conference with Lord Malmesbury, and is told that the noble Lord has demanded pecuniary reparation. Of that conference the following is a memorandum:—Lord Malmesbury having been pleased to indicate that he thought personal reparation should be obtained for Mr. Erskine Mather, and to desire Mr. Mather's opinion on this point, he begs to state that it is with the utmost pain that he addresses himself to it, and that nothing but the official commands of his Lordship should have made him deviate from the uniform course which he and his unfortunate son have invariably taken in this matter, of refusing to make it a personal question, but one of a higher and more important nature.Mr. Mather taking into consideration the grievous injury inflicted; the risk of his son's life; his sufferings; the continued injury to his health; the eventual uncertainty of future results; the party that inflicted it being the officer of a Government which has been implicated by his act; and the probability that an appeal for reparation in an impartial court, and on the principles universally recognised, would have produced a large amount of reparation in such a case; Mr. Mather names to his Lordship 5,000?. as what seems to him, under all these circumstances, just and proper, and is not overvaluing the injury and its probable consequences to his son.Mr. Mather again begs to repeat to his Lordship that this is the most painful part of the duty imposed upon him in all the trying circumstances with which this unfortunate affair has been attended, and that respect for the views and wishes of Lord Malmesbury have alone induced him to express an opinion upon this point of the question.Nothing could be clearer than that Mr. 627 Mather did not desire it to be made a question of pecuniary reparation, but showed a due deference to the opinion of Lord Malmesbury, and was induced to name a sum to be demanded. He named 5,000l., at the same time stating that this was the sum he deemed due, not only to himself for his anxiety, and his son for the injury, but to the injury done to the honour of his country, and for the breach of international law. But it is perfectly clear that, whether the sum he named were right or not, Mr. Mather had no business to fix the sum due for the breach of international law; that was a question entirely for the noble Lord. That was not a question for him, and he had always so felt it; and when he was asked again to name a sum, he said it was with the greatest reluctance that he named a sum by way of reparation for the injury he had sustained. Well, Mr. Mather might have named 50,000l. or 100,000l. He might have thought that if the Government ought to ask for money, it ought to be a large sum. But, evidently, Lord Malmesbury was the person to fix the sum, for he represented the Government, and he was quite wrong to call upon Mr. Mather to name a sum as reparation. Lord Malmesbury might have told him, "I will inquire of the Queen's Advocate the proper sum to be given by the Tuscan Government as reparation, and I will inform you." I remember a case which occurred when the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) the Member for Tiverton was at the Foreign Office—of an English merchant in South America, who was unjustly imprisoned. My noble Friend asked the Queen's Advocate what the reparation ought to be, and he said it ought to he 20l. a day; and my noble Friend asked for that sum from the South American Government. The merchant was not satisfied with that, and thought it not enough; but the noble Lord, who understood' the business of his department, never thought of saying to him, "I will listen to you, a private merchant, as to the reparation I shall demand: state what is the amount you think proper." The noble Lord said, "I shall consult persons who are competent to give me an opinion, and I shall ask that which the Government have a right to ask." But Lord Malmesbury, having committed this very great mistake, was so far from repairing that mistake as to say, "I will put aside the question whether the reparation shall be 1,000l. or 500l. I think it ought to be 628 in money; it is tangible," as the noble Lord says in one of his despatches. "If so," Mr. Mather said, "I am quite content with anything that the Government of my own country think fit. Theirs is the responsibility, and not mine." But what did Lord Malmesbury do? He did not fix a sum—he did not tell Mr. Mather what he thought he ought to ask—but he writes a general direction to Mr. Scarlett to obtain a sum of money:—You must, if possible, got 500l. for Mr. Mather, or he should have such a sum as could buy him an annuity. That is what he would have got in England. As a last resource you might ask for arbitration.The noble Lord also writes:—The sum asked by Mr. Mather is exorbitant; but you will be able to judge what can be got. A pecuniary compensation is at least tangible. You must hold firm language on both subjects. I do not think we should take less than 1,000l. If, however, you get the Tuscan Government to admit that some compensation is due, it will not be very difficult for us to fix the sum.Now, look at the injury done to Mr. Mather. He stood in the position of a man saying, "My son has suffered a cruel injury, and I have suffered a cruel injury. I put my case in the hands of my country; I submit my case to my Government, to do what they think fit." And, then, the Secretary of State has no better means of obtaining the redress that is asked than asking him how much he thinks his son's wound is worth in money? which the noble Lord says is "tangible;" and then, having obtained the estimate from him, he sends it out to Florence to be published about that Mr. Mather is a man who has made an "exorbitant demand." That is the position in which the Secretary of State places a man who has been cruelly injured—representing him as a man greedy of money, and only anxious to obtain a large amount. Thus the character of Mr. Mather is injured by the very Minister who ought to have undertaken his defence and obtained redress from him. Lord Malmesbury should have written to Florence that Mr. Mather would never have thought of naming a sum as reparation for the injury his son had sustained, and that he would not name a sum until he desired him to do so. But Lord Malmesbury left it to be understood at Florence, as if there were a demand on the part of Mr. Mather of what was most unreasonable and out of the question. And what directions are given by the noble Lord to Mr. Scarlett as to the sum he should demand? The noble Lord 629 does not name a certain sum, and say that no less must be taken; the noble Lord merely says—It now becomes necessary for Her Majesty's Government to point out in what that reparation should consist, and it may facilitate the settlement of this question on the part of the Tuscan Government if they are informed that the father of Mr. Mather (who is a minor) is himself inclined to consider that the injury done to his son may be atoned for by a pecuniary payment on the part of the Tuscan Government. On this point the undersigned is instructed to stats to the Duke of Casigliano that Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs having heard from Mr. Mather's father, subsequently to that gentleman's return to England from visiting his son at Florence, the representations which he had to make upon the subject of the injury done to his son, requested him to put in writing the nature of the reparation which he demanded on behalf of his son, who is under age; and Her Majesty's Secretary of State shortly afterwards received from Mr. Mather's father a statement that he would he satisfied if a sum of 5,000l. was paid to his son.Her Majesty's Government, however, consider that sum to be greater than they ought to demand of the Tuscan Government to pay.And accordingly Mr. Scarlett says—The undersigned is therefore instructed to state to the Duke of Casigliano that Her Majesty's Government expect and require that a sum proportionate to the sufferings and indignity inflicted on Mr. Mather, jun., should be paid to Ins father, as compensation for the outrage inflicted on his son.In another despatch the noble Earl says—Her Majesty's Government have seen with deep regret that the Tuscan Government do not appreciate the arguments you have used and the spirit you have shown in advocating Mr. Mather's just claim to a pecuniary compensation, when all other opportunities of redress which independent and civilised nations afford to injured persons have been denied him.It is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to abandon the demands they have made, and although they again repeat that they consider Mr. Mather, sen's valuation of 5,000l. to be exorbitant, that opinion in no way alters the question of principle involved, nor diminishes the alt-solute necessity that some compensation should be paid.The noble Lord, however, having used these words, "You must, if possible, get 500l.," Mr. Scarlett, finding that he could not get that sum, came to an arrangement with the Tuscan Government, which was not satisfactory, and which he ought not to have concluded without referring home for instructions. Up to this time, however, he had never been informed what he was to ask, and the very words—"Yon must, if possible, get 500l.," left him a 630 large latitude of discretion. Had he been told, "You must get 500l.: no less will be received, "he could have understood his instructions. He agrees, however, to take 220l., saying (strangely enough):—If I treat the Mather question by itself, my instructions absolutely prevent mo from consenting to any minimum but that of 500l. sterling, as I had the honour of announcing to you in our yesterday's conversation.The only way in which I could venture to take upon myself the question of fixing a sum more nearly approaching to yours, would be by persuading Monseigneur the Grand Duke to exorcise at the same time his gracious clemency in favour of the Messrs. Stratford.No doubt Mr. Scarlett was to blame for finally making such an agreement; but it is a great palliation of his conduct that he never received instructions as to the sum he was to ask. Lord Malmesbury thereupon writes thus:—Mr. Barron informs Her Majesty's Government that Mr. Scarlett has brought the negotiations which have so long been pending on the Mather case to a close, by receiving from the Tuscan Government a compensation of 222l.; and he explains the acceptance of a sum so inferior to that which I instructed Mr. Scarlett to demand for Mr. Mather by stating that the release of the Messrs. Stratford from prison was also obtained as part of the bargain.Her Majesty's Government cannot for a moment doubt the zeal which Mr. Scarlett has uniformly shown in carrying out till now the various orders which he has received from this office, bearing upon questions of a difficult and vexatious character, and they are ready to admit that in this last transaction Mr. Scarlett has acted to the best of his judgment.I should not, however, he strictly performing my duty were I not to express to you that Her Majesty's Government regret that Mr. Scarlett should have taken a view of what was expedient in the settlement of Mr. Mather's compensation, as much at variance with his instructions as with sound reason and equity.It is rather unaccountable how Mr. Scarlett could have "acted to the best of his judgment," and have "zeal in carrying out the orders he received," and yet have "taken a view as much at variance with his instructions as with sound reason and equity." The result is unfortunate: the object being to obtain reparation for Mr. Mather, the only persons who are found to suffer in the transaction are Mr. Mather, who was injured, and the agent to whom was entrusted the negotiation for reparation! Do not tell mo that Mr. Scarlett is incapable of carrying out his instructions He has had considerable experience, and if he had been duly instructed would have 631 conformed to his instructions. But it is the old story of the bad workman—one man will carve a statue with a penknife, while another with the best tools will only produce a shapeless mass. Mr. Scarlett, if he had been informed what sum his Government would have accepted, would have demanded it and taken no less. Be it observed that during all this time the Austrian Government, which professed throughout the most conciliatory disposition, and showed every wish to gratify the Government in any reasonable request, was not asked to take any steps on the subject; and this, after a communication had been made by the Tuscan Government to the effect that a convention had been signed with Austria, by which Austrian officers could not be brought to trial for any offences committed against civilians. If it were beyond the power of the Tuscan Government to arrest an Austrian officer for such offences, the Austrian Government became responsible for their conduct; and to that Government a request for reparation might properly have been made. If it had only been that the Austrian troops should not be indulged in the wanton habit of cutting down men for an insult offered, that would have been a satisfaction: but as it is, every Englishmen who goes into any part of Italy where there are Austrian troops—and, unhappily, they are in all parts, and where they ought not to be—even in independent States, as the States of the Church and the Tuscan States—every Englishmen in these States is exposed to any injury which an Austrian officer may think proper to inflict upon him, without any chance of redress, according to the mode in which the Government had behaved in this case. I have heard lately of a non-commissioned officer of marines who has been punished in one of the towns of Italy according to the Austrian code—a case which ought to be considered. But though the present case was simple in itself, and though neither the Austrian nor the Tuscan Governments seem to have been disposed to resist any reasonable demands, such is the mode in which Lord Malmesbury has conducted the case that it has only tended to ridicule and contempt. I will say only a few words as to the conclusion of the transaction. On the 21st of May, Lord Malmesbury wrote to Sir Henry Bulwer, "Although I have with much regret explained to you that Her Majesty's Government cannot approve of the arrangement thus 632 concluded by Her Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Florence, they will, of course, not refuse to recognise it;" but it appears that after this despatch was sent off, namely, on the 24th of May, a despatch was read by Lord Malmesbury, which, however, arrived on the 22nd of May, and which totally changed Lord Malmesbury's view of the whole transaction. It certainly does seem extraordinary—considering the regularity with which business is transacted at the Foreign Office—considering more especially the regularity with which Mr. Addington, the Under Secretary for the Foreign Office, is sure to transmit every despatch of importance to the Chief Secretary—that the despatch in question should have arrived on the 22nd, and not have been read until the 24th of May. However, Lord Malmesbury, not having seen the despatch until the 24th, it would, I think, have been better for him to have remained satisfied with what he had already done, and not have receded from the decision at which he had arrived; instead of which his Lordship wrote another despatch, reopening the whole question, and desiring Sir H. Bulwer to leave Florence and break off all communication with the Tuscan Government unless it should make what was deemed sufficient reparation. He says—Should you find the Tuscan Government absolutely resolved not to agree to the sum named to Mr. Scarlett as the minimum which Her Majesty's Government would consent to accept, you are at liberty to refer the amount to arbitration; but if the Tuscan Government should be so ill-advised as to refuse all payment whatever, you will then inform the Tuscan Government that Her Majesty's Government can no longer recommend Her Majesty to allow Her representative to sanction an act of such great injustice by his presence at Florence, and you will close Her Majesty's mission at that Court. You will also state to the Tuscan Government that ulterior measures will be adopted by Her Majesty's Government to obtain redress.It appears to mo that the character of the transaction is not improved by desiring Sir H. Bulwer to leave Florence. The only consequence of this proceeding will he, that British subjects, residents and travellers in Florence, will not have an able and intelligent Minister there to protect them. After the manner in which this transaction has been managed, I really cannot see what can now be done. This is not the only case that has occurred. I received a letter to-day from a gentleman, saying that he had some time ago been seized by a Con- 633 tinental Government, and thrown into prison for twenty-four hours. He states that his case was taken up by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and subsequently by Lord Granville, who remonstrated with the offending Government, but that the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs had taken no notice of the matter. The only advice I can give this gentleman—and I take the opportunity of giving it him thus publicly—is not to ask the present Government to interfere in his case at all. If lie has a good grievance to complain of, I recommend him to follow the example of the great Captain Gonzales de Cordova in a similar position, who, when his sovereign wanted to pacify him by a gift of the city of Lucca, told His Majesty that he liked his grievance better than the city. The gentleman aggrieved at Berlin had better be content with his grievance than seek any redress through his own Government. As far as Mr. Mather is concerned, the result to him is the offer of a thousand francisconi, which he rejected with disdain; in addition to which his character as a man of independence and disinterestedness has been blasted by the interference of our Government. All I can say on the subject is, that I will not take the course which Lord Derby did when he saw reason to censure the conduct of the late Government in regard to the affairs of Greece, but I will content myself with protesting against what has been done in Mr. Mather's case in terms similar to those which his Lordship then employed. Lord Derby said on that occasion—Surely it becomes the British Legislature to step forward and say that the Foreign Office of England is not England—that the high-minded, generous feeling, of this great people is opposed to measures such as have been taken by the Government of the country—that we separate our actions from theirs—our feelings from theirs— our views of justice and good faith from theirs."—[3 Hansard, cxi. 1331–2.]So, Sir, I say I separate my feelings, my notions of justice and good faith, from the conduct the Government have pursued in this transaction. I beg leave to enter my protest against the conduct -which seems to have degraded the Government in the eyes of all Europe; it could not degrade this country, because this country takes better and higher views than the Government of what is due to our national character. Sir, I trust, however, this will be recollected before the Government; interfere again to obtain redress for a British subject—I trust it will be recollected that 634 in the present state of the Continent of Europe, this is almost the only country where there can be a free expression of opinion—where a free press can speak, and free discussion can take place, and where the discussions of the Legislature can fairly make themselves felt; because, although the forms of constitutional government exist in several States of Europe, those forms are in some cases so perverted, while other countries in which they are not perverted, and where real liberty exists, are so small and so dependent on their more powerful neighbours, that no bold and loud expression of public opinion can take place in them. No such addresses as are delivered in our Legislature, and no such publications as that which, to his immortal honour, the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) issued from the press last year, can be made or put forth in any other country of Europe. Sir, if all this he the case, it more especially behoves us to keep our character unhurt and our honour untarnished. It becomes us, if we have occasion to ask for redress from a foreign Government, to proceed mildly and with temper; but, at the same time, to insist on that which we really think duo to us. It would be an inestimable loss, not to this country alone, but to all the world, if our character as a great and independent nation should be in any degree lessened or impaired. I trust, therefore, that before the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office again writes such despatches as these, he will consider how great is the charge that has been entrusted to him, and that he will not lightly commit the great interests and the high character of this nation by heedless expressions.
I gave notice that when I should make these observations on Mr. Mather's case, I would also call the attention of the House to the present state of public business, and I will now proceed to do so as shortly as I can. The House will recollect that immediately after the accession to office of the present Government, those who sat on this side of the House, having heard declarations from the present Government that they could not bring forward measures which they considered were essential to be brought forward to repair in some respect the ruin which the measure of 1846 and the subsequent commercial policy had inflicted on the country, in the present Parliament, but would look to the next Parliament with the view of sub- 635 mitting to it measures by which the alleged calamity and ruin might be repaired, we on this side of the House contended if no measures which Government thought essential to the prosperity of this great country were submitted to Parliament, we thought in the first place it behoved us to make the Session as short as was consistent with the course of needful public business; and next, that Government should declare the nature of their policy. Sir, I cannot say with regard to the first of these demands we have' obtained full satisfaction, but at least there was some admission as to the intention of Government going through the regular Session, and summoning Parliament again at the beginning of next year; and it then appeared to me and other hon. Gentleman, that, the principle conceded, none but necessary measures should be proceeded with, and that before the Parliament closed, the intentions and measures considered necessary should be submitted to us. So far as this first request is concerned, we did not obtain immediately what we desired, but we made no further objection to certain measures Government proposed being carried into effect. But with respect to the second question, our expectations, I must say, have been totally and entirely disappointed. We asked Ministers to do what had been done by other Ministers under similar circumstances. If we referred to the dissolution of the Government of Lord Grey, in 1832, we should find that the reform measure was before Parliament, and that a dissolution took place on that question. When Sir Robert Peel advised a dissolution in 1834, he issued a statement of his opinions—a clear and explicit statement as to his course of policy, and one of the principles laid down being inconsistent with the vote which had been arrived at, the Government resigned office. Again, when Lord Melbourne advised a dissolution in 1841, he declared what measures of commercial policy he should propose, and the country having refused its confidence any longer, he resigned. But the present Government from the first minute they took office to the present day, so far from publicly announcing and declaring their policy, seem only studious to conceal what their intentions and policy are. With regard to the question respecting which for six years they have agitated the country—the great question of the abolition of the corn laws—in the beginning of February this year we were told by the noble Earl at the head 636 of the Government, then in opposition, that it was, in his opinion, desirable to impose a duty on the importation of foreign corn. When the noble Earl came into office, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) said it was most desirable that some such measure should be passed. But by degrees it began to be understood that this desirable measure was to he abandoned; but, at the same time, we were left as much in the dark as before as to the precise course which was to be taken. What we and the country, generally, desire to know, is not so much the particular measures to be proposed, as the spirit in which they are to be framed. Sir, it appears to me that the clear question to be put to Government ought to be the question, What are the precise and practical measures you mean to propose? Do you, or do you not, adopt the financial and commercial policy which was established in 1842, and which was continued until now? Is the policy of the last ten years beneficial to the country; ought it to be followed and adhered to, and care taken that it shall not be abrogated? Ought that policy to be your guide, as it had been the guide of the Ministry of Sir Robert Peel, and the Ministry lately displaced? Or is that policy injurious, mischievous, and will the injurious effects be averted by alteration? Now, Sir, to these questions the House and the country never have had anything like an answer. At one time I was deluded into the belief this step would be taken when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his able speech on opening the Budget; for we on this side of the House looked upon it as conclusive in favour of a free-trade policy, and we believed that thenceforward that policy would be the rule of our proceedings. Everybody here was delighted with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech, and no one thought of taunting the right hon. Gentleman, or any of his Colleagues, with inconsistency. The right hon. Gentleman, however, found a critic, a commentator, and an adversary; and who was he? He appeared at the Mansion House in the person of the First Lord of the Treasury. That was the scene which Lord Derby chose for criticising his Chancellor of the Exchequer. The noble Earl pointed out a great omission in his Colleague's address, and supplied it by something, not as lucid and conclusive as the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement, but by something that was eminently ob- 637 scure and ambiguous. This was certainly a novel proceeding. As a Member for London, I have often had occasion to dine in the City, but it never occurred to me to avail myself of any of those opportunities to answer my own Chancellor of the Exchequer. Well, we have not had, either from the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman, any clear explanation of their policy; but we have had explanations from members and supporters of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster spoke out; and the hon. and learned Solicitor General, in his speech, reviewed the policy of the last ten years, and both declared themselves anxious to reverse our existing commercial policy. A number of Gentlemen had gone down to constituencies as the professed supporters of Government. One of these hon. Gentlemen said he wished, above all things, to see a new corn law imposed. The address of the hon. Gentleman to the Maidstone electors stated that the hon. Gentleman rejoiced to say that at that moment no Government bad a chance of imposing a tax upon bread, or that by any change in the commercial policy cheap bread should he taken from the people. I am told by an hon. Gentleman near me that an hon. Gentleman—a delegate, as he is called— who addressed the electors of Greenwich, marched about with a big loaf before him, declaring that he was for the Government that gave a large loaf and cheap bread; that, at least, seems free from ambiguity. At the same time it did seem we got something like light when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressed his constituents, and told them that the time for restoring the protective duties of 1846 had gone by; that the spirit of the ago was opposed to such a course of policy; and that no Minister could safely oppose the advancing spirit of the age. This was a wise maxim, and the only thing which astonishes me is, that this light has been so long in reaching the right hon. Gentleman. The question was raised at the general election of 1847. Since then it has undergone repeated discussions in Parliament, and it has been obvious to nineteen persons out of twenty, for the last three or four years, that the time for the reimposition of the corn laws was gone. It seems, however, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not make this discovery until the other day. What the Chancellor of the Exchequer says be- 638 sides in his address is not very reassuring. He tells his constituents that the rent of land has diminished no less than 5,000,000l. a year, as appears by the returns of the Property Tax. I will not stop to inquire whether that circumstance is attributable to the cause to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer refers it; but if the right hon. Gentleman puts that forward as a ground for giving the landowners compensation, by imposing general burdens on the rest of the community, I can only say the idea is preposterous. The ease appears to be this: Some person—say Lord Derby—had an estate of 5,000l a year, which was claimed by the parish from which it had been derived. The inhabitants say, "This 5,000l a year belongs to the parish, for the use of the inhabitants, and not you." The case is heard and decided by the Lord Chancellor, and goes to the House of Lords, who decide with the Lord Chancellor that the 5,000l. a year was intended for the whole of the inhabitants of the parish, and must be given back to the whole of the inhabitants. If Lord Derby had any such estate, and discovered that it was claimed in this way, and that he must submit to the award, how much would the Lord Chancellor he surprised if Lord Derby should say, "You must find means to restore to me the value of this 5,000l a year, which belonged to the poor of the parish." Be it observed that the corn laws were never defended by any man of sense on the ground that they should give an additional income to the landed proprietor. The grounds taken by the advocates of these laws were, that it was for the advantage of the country—that the country would have its supply of food within itself, and should be independent of foreigners for their supply of food. But, in addition to the national advantage, undoubtedly the landed proprietor might take a benefit by the corn laws; but the principal reason in favour of the corn laws was the advantage in the end, and the benefit they must confer on the country. The nation now being of opinion that this was a fallacy, and that it is unnecessary to continue the laws, there is no pretence for saying that compensation ought to be given to the landowners. Speaking of the interest of the landlords themselves, I am of opinion that nothing would be more injurious than for them to defend the corn laws, not as a national benefit, but as imposed for their own benefit. They were told by the right hon. 639 Gentleman that there was to be a revision of taxation, and that the burdens would be adjusted so as to benefit the farmers. I am afraid that will not give satisfaction to the farmers, after what has been constantly said by the Duke of Richmond—"Get in Lord Derby—get him into office, and you will get back protection." Such language had been constantly held—they said, "Only get Lord Derby in for Minister— only get rid of the free-trade Ministry— have a dissolution and you will get protection back. Do not carry out any improvements on your farm—do not lay out money for drainage—the only way to get rich is to turn out the free-trade Ministry." That was the language of the Duke of Richmond, endorsed, he must say, by the noble Earl at the head of the Government. After these promises it will be but little consolation to the farmers to be told that a chance of lightening burdens "looms in the future." With respect to benefit from revised taxation, I should say that the farmers, from the experience of the past, ought to be able to understand the policy which must surely lighten their burdens. That the political system begun in 1842, and continued to this time, without any new system of policy, without any new invention, had lightened the burdens without injury to the Exchequer, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave a striking instance. He said with regard to sugar duties last year, though 300,000l. had been taken off the country, the loss of the Exchequer was only 300l. I recollect that was said in the right hon. Gentleman's statement; and can there be a better proof of the advantages of the policy, and the propriety of going on with it? All I beg now to say is, that I hope after the farmers have been deceived for the last four years about protection being restored, that they will not allow themselves to be again deceived by the promise of measures which are to give them prosperity—which indeed is really to be attained by no other means than by the exercise of their skill and industry. Well, then, with regard to the measures for which Her Majesty's Ministers claim credit—what they have done, and what they propose to do. I will say with regard to what they have done, that with the exception of the Militia Bill, which is entirely their own, and which I willingly resign to them, they derive all the credit from the measures of the last Government. Some of those measures are of importance, and 640 I think likely to be carried. Of these, Chancery reform was one of the most important. That was no party question. I am far from asking credit for it as a party measure; but a Commission having been instituted by the late Government, made their report upon the subject, and it was announced in the Queen's Speech that on that subject a measure would be introduced. The Government introduced a Bill, but even at the last moment there were clauses in it so objectionable that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham), who belonged to the Commission, had to insist on the report of the Commissioners being carried into effect in order to make it a good and useful measure. While other pressing measures were passed over, Government made, with respect to one measure, not immediately under discussion, a dangerous proposition. It had reference to education in Ireland. The plan of mixed education settled by Her Majesty's Government had given general satisfaction; but the present Government were no sooner in office than they said they would make a change with respect to the system of mixed education, and do a favour to the Established Church by which the Established Church might obtain a portion of the grant. I cannot conceive anything more dangerous for Ireland than this, for it was admitted by Lord Derby himself and the Bishop of Ossory, at a meeting of the Church Education Society, that if you grant separate sums in order to have children educated and taught the Scriptures according to the Authorised Version, you must, as said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, at the same time give the same advantage to the Roman Catholics. And I observe that those who belong to the Roman Catholic community, who are most opposed to the mixed education, are quite ready to meet you on that subject. I have seen to-day, in an address published by the Catholic Defence Association, these words: "Catholics of Ireland, do you especially trust no man who is not distinctly and explicitly in favour of Catholic education for Catholics, Protestant education for Protestants." If you give way to the Protestants in this case, you must give way to that demand, instead of having the mixed education established by Lord Derby himself, and so highly creditable and honourable to him, but which he is now ready to forego. Supposing, however, you adopt this principle, are there no other questions raised there- 641 by? You now give 150,000l. for education; and it will be impossible to give more than 30,000l., or perhaps 50,000l., to the Established Church for that object. You will then be giving 100,000l. for exclusively Catholic schools. But that will come to be another Maynooth question. If you give 100,000l. for educating children in the Roman Catholic faith, will there not be as much objection to that as there now is to the 26,000l. which you pay to Maynooth? See the danger of raising a question that was settled. For twenty years you have gone on without disturbance, and you might have so gone on still, but for what has been said by the present Government, which has unsettled the question, and once more tossed it up into the air. Then it appears they are not satisfied with disturbing education in Ireland—they are disturbing also the plan of education adopted in England. I have seen what I wish I had seen six weeks ago—for the vote for education was only taken a week ago—I have seen it stated that the Government have made up their minds to do that which they say they have always been anxious and earnestly desirous to do—to do justice to the Church of England in the matter of education, as they thought there was undue restriction upon the Church in that matter. Then why should not the Minute containing this announcement have been introduced before the vote for education was agreed to? They must know that this question produces, and will produce, the greatest excitement. They must know that the condition of the National Society is now such that many persons wish there should be an alteration in the charter of that society. Surely that was a question to be kept, at least, in abeyance. Or, if they were determined to make an alteration, they should have made it some time ago, though the better course, I think, would have been, not to take it up at all till they had found time to look into the whole question. Then I must say that the Government have suffered from the mode in which they had themselves prepared to accept office in the present state of affairs. We all know that in the course of last year, when called upon to form a Government, they declared themselves incapable of doing so, because they were unable to find persons to fill the several offices of the Government. Soon after that it was publicly announced that they had made their dispositions, that they had the means of forming a Government, 642 when called upon to do so; and the event showed this rumour to be perfectly true. A very eminent person accepted the office of Lord Chancellor, and several Gentlemen, pursuing the agreeable pursuits and easy business that belong to an English country gentleman, and which makes life so easy and agreeable, were ready to accept the troubles, the responsibilities, and the obloquy of office. So a Government was formed; but there was one thing they seem to have entirely forgotten, and that was, what were the principles and opinions upon which as a Government they were to act. They entirely lost sight of that which appears to me to be an essential preliminary, but which I suppose they thought trivial. They seem to have had no fixed opinions on any one subject. No sooner does any Gentleman start a subject, than the Government avow themselves quite ready to agree to his proposal. An hon. Gentleman opposite proposes to raise the question of Maynooth. That is another dangerous subject to meddle with; but no sooner is it brought forward than the Government exclaim—"We are quite ready to go into that question; we have, to he sure, not made up our minds what to do; we have no present intention of abolishing Maynooth, but we will leave Ireland to be disquieted till we make up our minds on the subject." Then Mr. George Denison says he wants an alteration of the management clauses in the system of education in England, and they exclaim, "With all our heart, let us have an alteration in that scheme." A party in the Irish Church come forward and say they wish a change in the mixed system of education in that country. "By all means, we are quite willing," is the answer of the Government. Indeed, all that seems necessary is that some Gentleman should start a crude notion upon any subject, in order to have the Government saying, "We have not made up our minds upon it, but we are quite ready nevertheless to go into the consideration of it." Why, here is a direct premium upon agitation. I have said that it was our object, after obtaining an assurance that Parliament would be dissolved as soon as possible, to get some explanations from the Government as to their policy. That explanation we certainly have not obtained; but we have obtained that which is quite sufficient; we have obtained enough to enable my right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham) to say that the question before you is, 643 whether you have confidence in Lord Derby's Government, or whether you have not. I know that some people say my right hon. Friend is very unreasonable— that he is in the situation of Sir Lucius O' Trigger when he said to Captain Absolute, "I think we did differ in opinion," to which Captain Absolute replied, "That is a very odd thing, for I gave no opinion whatever." My right hon. Friend says he differs in opinion with the Government, and they say, "That is a very odd thing, for we have no opinions whatever." But, with great deference to them, in this country of England that is a good and sufficient reason for my right hon. Friend's distrust. This country will never he satisfied unless they have men ruling the country who have some principles and some opinions. It may seem to be a popular thing to say that the country has only by a majority to express an opinion in favour of a corn law, and that the corn laws will be reimposed; or that, if there is a majority against such a policy, then we shall have free trade. That may seem to be a popular declaration, and one likely to attract popular favour; hut, depend upon it, it is not so. The people of this country would be better pleased to see men who had some opinions, and who were ready to bring questions clearly before them. Is the country likely to place its confidence in a Government that has no opinions, no principles, and which is ready to be guided by any wind that may rise into any port that is open for them?
Sir, it is not a duty which devolves on me to vindicate the general conduct of the present Government from those grave and sweeping, though I must say most unfair and unfounded, charges, with which the noble Lord has thought fit to conclude the review of a Session which he may he excused for regarding with no particular complacency. In the subordinate post which I occupy, it is not my duty—it is not my privilege— officially to explain, or officially to defend, the measures of a Conservative Cabinet. But when a distinct and personal charge is made by the noble Lord, first, against the head of the Government, for differing, as the noble Lord alleged, in opinion from some of his principal Colleagues; and when the noble Lord goes on to make another personal charge against my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, of incapacity to conduct the business of his department (for the noble Lord's words im- 644 plied nothing less), I am justified in saying that such charges come with the worst possible grace from the leader of a party which fell to pieces in consequence of no hostile assault, but solely and exclusively from its own internal weakness and disorganisation, from its incapacity to carry on the business of the country, and from the discussions which divided its leading Members. Sir, in turning from the general issue which the noble Lord has raised, to that more confined and merely departmental question with which alone I am entitled to deal, I have personally to solicit the indulgence of the House, not merely because I now for the first time rise, in a case of such magnitude and importance, charged with the defence of the Government—not merely because during by far the greater part of the transactions detailed in these papers I was absent in a distant country, insomuch that most of the letters contained in that volume from which the noble Lord quoted have been seen by me only in their printed form; but I ask it because I cannot help perceiving, that from the very first moment when this subject was brought before Parliament and the public, even down to the present time, there has prevailed upon it a degree of prejudice (I mean prejudice in its most literal sense—a prejudging of the question—an amount of misapprehension, and even actual misstatement of facts, to which in my brief political experience, I can recollect no parallel. The noble Lord began his address by stating that two different stories, resting upon separate and independent testimony, and mutually contradictory the one of the other, had gone forth with regard to the outrage committed upon Mr. Mather; and he observed that my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, instead of adopting either the one or the other of these statements, had appeared to admit the accuracy of both, opposite and incompatible as they were, and had, in fact, mixed them up into one. Now, I think that if hon. Gentlemen will look into the volume from which the noble Lord has quoted, they will see that the discrepancy to which he alludes entirely vanishes. Lord Malmesbury, it is true, states in one place, that the outrage was accidental, and in another place he spoke of it as "brutal and unprovoked;" but this apparent discrepancy disappears on looking more closely at the connexion of these statements. There are 645 two ways of looking at the question: one is with reference to the Government, and the other is with reference to the individual outrage. I can quite understand that my noble Friend used the word "accidental" as applied to this country and the Government: he said—and his opinion is justified by the evidence before us—that the outrage had nothing to do with any intended insult to the national character. Now, I believe that if hon. Gentlemen will give themselves the trouble to look into the volume from which the noble Lord quoted—and I need not remind the House that mere quotation of extracts prove nothing at all—I say that if hon. Gentlemen will give themselves the trouble to look into the volume itself, they will see that the discrepancy which the noble Lord alleges to have existed, will vanish altogether. It is true that Lord Malmesbury speaks, in some instances, of the outrage on Mr. Mather as having been accidental, and that, in other places, he speaks of it as one of a brutal and unprovoked character. What is the mode of reconciling this apparent discrepancy? It is this. There are two ways of viewing the question; the one in reference to the Government, and the other in reference to the individual. I cannot think it surprising that my noble Friend should have spoken of the transaction as an outrage as far as regarded Mr. Mather personally; and when he referred to it as being accidental, I believe he used that expression for the purpose of showing that, in his opinion, the outrage had nothing of a national character—I believe he meant to imply that it was not a studied and premeditated insult to England, and that it was so far an accident that it arose out of a sudden occurrence which no one could foresee, and out of the hasty and blameable conduct of a single individual. Now, using the word in that sense, in which my noble Friend certainly did use it, I say that it was a perfectly fair and natural expression, but that does not prevent its being equally true that as regards the individual who committed the outrage it was as brutal and as unprovoked an attack as any which has ever been perpetrated upon a British subject. The noble Lord likewise complained—at least I understood him to speak in the language of complaint on the subject—the noble Lord complained that immediate reparation had not been demanded in the case of Her Majesty's Go- 646 vernment, but that the case had been submitted to a Tuscan tribunal. [Lord JOHN RUSSELL: No!] The noble Lord at least, as I understand him, spoke of that court as being one which afforded no facilities for eliciting the truth. Now, I do not for one moment pretend that a tribunal, sitting in secret, can be as safe and as trustworthy a means of eliciting the facts of a case as one of which the proceedings are conducted according to our English mode. But I must say, that looking not at the construction of the tribunal, but at the result of the inquiry which took place before it—I am bound to admit that that tribunal appears to have done its duty as fairly and as impartially as could under the circumstances have been expected. I believe it is impossible for any one to read the mass of testimony brought forward before that court of inquiry—testimony undoubtedly kept secret at the time, but which was subsequently published to the world—I say I believe it is impossible to look at that testimony without seeing that the other version of the case which was given in evidence before the Austrian court-martial was utterly unfounded in truth.
resumed: The noble Lord undoubtedly alluded to it briefly, hut he alluded to it as a tribunal from which justice was not to be expected. But then the noble Lord came to what is really the most material point in the case. He took up the case at the point where the tribunal of preliminary inquiry having substantiated the story of Mr. Mather, that tribunal and the Tuscan Government declared that their power was limited—that it stopped there—that they had elicited the facts, and that they could do nothing more. Two questions then arose for the consideration of the Minister at Florence and of the British Government. These questions were—first, from what party reparation for the outrage that had been committed was to be sought? and, secondly, what should be the nature of that reparation? Now, I must say, that I look upon the first question—namely, the question as to the party who was to be held responsible in the case, as even more important, if possible, than it was represented to be by the noble Lord. I look upon it, however, as important in a different point of view from that taken by the noble Lord. I look upon it in that light 647 because the effect of the decision thereon pronounced in this particular case must be the establishment of a precedent applicable to all cases of a similar nature that might in future arise. Her Majesty's Government had ostensibly only to decide what was the best means of bringing an offender to justice, and of obtaining reparation for an injured British subject; but there was in point of fact involved in the case a grave question of international law, which related to the position of the auxiliary force of Austria in Tuscany. I need not say that if that force were acknowledged as possessing the right to act in Tuscany without any control on the part of the Tuscan Government, such a doctrine would involve the gravest consequences, and would possibly affect even the territorial integrity of Europe. And it will be seen, on referring to various parts of the papers which I hold in my hand, that such a right has actually been asserted, and that attempts were made to support it by adding what were alleged to be parallel cases. The first parallel which was adduced by the Tuscan Government when seeking to remove from themselves the responsibility in the case, and to throw it on the Austrian Government, was that of the occupation of France by the Allied Powers in the years 1814 and 1815. Now to that parallel it is sufficient to reply, that it cannot in any way be considered as a case in point; and for this reason, that every one knows that the occupation of France by the Allied Armies at the time referred to was a hostile occupation, and one not even professing to be friendly; while the Austrian force occupying Tuscany is stationed there with the consent and concurrence of the Tuscan Government. Then, again, it is stated that the French army in Spain, under the Duke of Angouleme, in the year 1823, which army had been sent there for the purpose of interfering in the internal affairs of that country—it is stated that that army was under its own officers exclusively, and was in no manner subject to the Spanish tribunals. I think it must in fairness be admitted, that we have here an historical precedent which, so far as it goes, is in point; but I do not believe that that peculiar, and anomalous, and most dangerous state of things was ever admitted or recognised by the other European Powers. There is a third case adduced, which is, if possible, even less applicable as a parallel to the relative posi- 648 tion of Austria and Tuscany than either of the other two. It was one of the arguments employed against the English representative, that if in the territory of the Nizam, in India, where there is a large British auxiliary force, officered by British commanders, and maintained by the British Government, although at the expense of the inhabitants of the country—it was argued that if in that country one of those British officers so circumstanced had insulted or injured some foreigner, reparation would undoubtedly be sought, not from the native prince, who had no power of controlling those officers, but from the British Government, to whom alone they were responsible. Now, that is a very fair and accurate statement of the law; but I must remark that, as a precedent, it fails in just the most important particular; because the State of the Nizam has not, and by treaties entered into with us cannot have, any external relations. It is independent in its internal affairs, but in its internal affairs only, and with regard to all foreign affairs it is absolutely dependent. It appears, therefore, that of these three precedents, which were alleged for the purpose of removing the responsibility from Tuscany and throwing it upon Austria, two are, in fact, no precedents at all; while the third is admitted to be an anomalous and exceptional case, not recognised by the European Powers. But there was one precedent which was brought forward by the British Minister, and which, I really think, is of far more value than any which has been adduced upon the other side: I refer to the position which our own army occupied in the Peninsula under the Duke of Wellington. It should be remembered that that army was quartered there during a time of actual war— a time when the country was greatly disturbed, and when the legal tribunals could not be expected to act with all the regularity which might be desired; and yet, even under these circumstances, so strongly were the British Government and the chiefs of the British Army impressed with the danger of destroying the responsibility of the native tribunals that our army was actually made amenable to those tribunals, and remained so during the war. Suppose we had taken the opposite course; suppose Her Majesty's Government had said to the Government of Tuscany, "We admit your excuse, we know you have no power to compel those officers to appear 649 before your tribunals, and that being the case, we will go to the Austrian Government at once, and hold it responsible in the matter." That is the course which the noble Lord recommended.
continued: But the noble Lord stated, and I think we have Lord Granville's assurance to the same effect, that the Government of the noble Lord intended to apply to Tuscany in the first instance, and that if they failed in obtaining reparation from Tuscany, as they must have done, they would then have been prepared to go to Austria, and to hold Austria responsible. But what would have been the results of that course? The noble Lord professes to dread any increase in the influence of despotic Governments in Europe. But the noble Lord and his Colleague would have taken the very course most calculated to increase the power of these despotic Governments. The noble Lord would have recognised that which we objected and refused to recognise from the first—the absolute military occupation of Tuscany by the Austrian troops. I say that the noble Lord who professes so much jealousy of the increasing influence of despotic Powers—who professes himself, and I dare say, justly, to be a warm advocate of liberal government throughout Europe—I say that the noble Lord has acted in a very extraordinary and inconsistent manner in recommending such a step. Again, turning to another part of the question, it must not be forgotten by the House, that whatever may he thought of the nature of the trial, and of the justice and impartiality of the tribunal before which the officer was brought—it could not be denied that he had been tried by a court comprised in accordance with the laws of his country, and that by that court he had been acquitted. [Sir A. COCK BURN gave marks of dissent.] I will not enter into a legal controversy with the hon. and learned Gentleman; but I imagine that a court-martial was the regular and legal tribunal to try military officers. I believe it would have been impossible, under the circumstances, to bring an Austrian officer before any other tribunal. Under these circumstances, and admitting, for argument sake, that the Austrian Government was to be held responsible instead of the Tuscan, I think there could be hardly a more difficult question for diplomatists and Cabinets than to say what 650 is the course which a Government ought to take when one of its subjects has been injured and insulted in a foreign country, and when the person who has committed the injury or the insult has been brought to trial according to the legal forms of that country, hut has been acquitted, on that trial manifestly in defiance of all law and justice. I say that I can hardly conceive anything more difficult than to say to what extent a foreign Government is justified in interfering in such a case. In considering that question, I dare say there is one instance which will recur to every one's mind. I do not mean to adduce it as an exact parallel; but I will suppose a case for the purpose of elucidating the point to which I am now referring. It is well known that a gross and unprovoked act of violence was committed in this country some time since on a distinguished subject of Austria. I will put an imaginary case, I will suppose that that person, having been so injured and insulted at a time when there existed among certain classes in this country a very strong prejudice against him personally, arising nut of political feeling, I will suppose that he prosecuted the offenders in a court of justice, and that, acting under the influence of that prejudice to which I have referred, a jury had returned a verdict of "not guilty," in defiance of law and of the evidence in the case. I believe that in such a case it would not have been in the power of the British Government to do anything except that which the Austrian Government have done in the present instance—namely, to express their regret at the occurrence. I am sure that no Government, either constitutional or despotic, could take upon themselves the responsibility of punishing a person after he had been once tried and acquitted according to the laws of his country. I mention this as a further difficulty which must have been overcome if Her Majesty's Government had determined on making Austria responsible in this case, independently of that more general question which I have already discussed, the question how far they could, without violating a great international principle, admit that, in the Tuscan territory, an Austrian officer serving the Tuscan Government should be held responsible to no Government except that of his own country. Another point to which the noble Lord referred was the nature of the reparation to he exacted in the case. And here I must advert to the 651 statement of the noble Lord that the character of Mr. Mather has boon damaged by the language held by my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office, with respect to the nature and amount of Mr. Mather's claim—language of which, according to the noble Lord, the object was to injure Mr. Mather's character.
continued: That was certainly implied in the words of the noble Lord. But we will say that in his opinion the result, at least, of the language employed by my noble Friend was to damage the character of Mr. Mather, Now I do not think that has been the case. If it had been, I am sure the Government ought to take the earliest opportunity of fully and frankly bearing their testimony to the conduct and character of that gentleman. Throughout this whole transaction Mr. Mather suffered much pain, anxiety, and annoyance; and even if, acting as he did, sometimes with a partial knowledge of what took place, and sometimes under the influence of feelings naturally excited—-even if, under these circumstances, he did not always do justice to the conduct of the Government, that is no reason why the Government should not do justice to him, I do not think there is anything at all reprehensible in the conduct or the demands of Mr, Mather. I admit fully the difficult position in which that gentleman was placed by the demand made on him that he should name the amount of his own compensation. But I think that upon that point there was, on Mr. Mather's part, something of a misunderstanding. Mr. Mather evidently took the national view of the question—that an Englishman had been insulted—that it was a premeditated insult on the part of a foreign Government, and that on that foreign Government a fine should be inflicted—I will not say proportionate to the insult, for it is difficult to measure the extent of an insult, but—sufficient to express the indignant sense of injury on the part of the British Government, I dare say—I am willing to believe—that was the view which Mr. Mather took of the transaction, and in that case I do not think there is anything unreasonable or exorbitant in his demand of 5,000l But supposing there had been no premeditated injury in the case— supposing there had been no intended insult, merely as it affected the individual concerned in it, that individual having in 652 consequence only the right to claim the amount of damages to which a native of the country would, under the same circumstances, have been entitled, then I say that a demand of 5,000l. was an unreasonable one, and that such a sum was far beyond what could have been expected. The noble Lord commented—and commented, I cannot help thinking, a little unfairly—on the various sums which were named at various times. In one respect I must take the liberty of setting the noble Lord right. He stated distinctly and positively that Mr. Scarlett had received no order to take 500l., and nothing less, but that his orders were to get 500Z. if he could; and if not, that he was authorised to accept a smaller sum: and he tried to represent Mr. Scarlett as having suffered ill usage, in that a large discretion had at first been left him, and that he had subsequently, as the noble Lord made it appear, been disavowed for having used that discretion to the best of his judgment. Now Mr. Scarlett had himself stated, in one of the papers before the House, "If I treat the Mather question by itself," which his instructions strictly enjoined him to do," my instructions absolutely prevent me from consenting to any minimum but that of 500l. sterling, as I had the honour of announcing to you in our yesterday's conversation."[Mr. Scarlett to the Duke of Gasigliano, May 6, 1852.] I do not wish to say one word that can be considered harsh or unjust to Mr. Scarlett, and I will only repeat what is already stated in these papers, that Mr. Scarlett was suffering at the time under an illness from which he has not yet recovered, and which at the time seriously endangered his life. If under those circumstances Mr. Scarlett committed an error of judgment, that was an error which ought to be dealt with as leniently as possible. But the real question—and here is the point which the noble Lord seems to avoid—with reference to which Mr. Scarlett was disavowed, was, not that he had taken 222l instead of 500l.—not that he had consented to accept, as part of the bargain, the immediate liberation of two political prisoners, whose release had been, indeed, previously promised—not for one or other of these deviations from his instructions, but he was disavowed because he had expressly and in contravention of his instructions, disclaimed that principle which it was the great object of Lord Malmesbury and the Government to assert—the respon- 653 sibility of the Tuscan Government, in such a case as the one under consideration. [Lord J. RUSSELL: Where is that?] it was stated in one of the despatches—Although Her Majesty's Government were; willing to consider that Mr. Scarlett, under a combination of difficulties, acted to the best of his judgment when he agreed to receive a sum so much smaller than the minimum which his instructions permitted him to accept, and under that impression informed you, on the 21st inst., that they recognised his act, it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to sanction the renunciation of so important a principle as that which Mr. Scarlett now appears to have surrendered, and still less to admit that a British subject cruelly injured on Tuscan territory is indebted to the charity of the Grand Duke for that protection and compensation which he has a right to claim from justice and international law.
No; but Lord Malmesbury does. That despatch was sent from the Foreign Office to Sir II. Bulwer on the 29th May. I am endeavouring to show that Mr. Scarlett was not disavowed for taking 222l instead of 500l., or for accepting in a most unusual way, as part of the bargain, the release of two political prisoners, but for expressly surrendering that important principle of international law which it was our main object throughout the whole negotiation to establish. I have now gone through in succession the principal points which were touched upon by the noble Lord: and I will no longer detain the House from the larger and more general issue which has been raised. But this I will say, that searching carefully, and inquiring minutely, I have looked in vain through the record of this negotiation contained in the published correspondence— I have sought in vain in every detail of these transactions with which I had it in my power to make myself acquainted—for one act, for one word, or one sentiment, on the part of my noble Friend or of the Government, which could be held unworthy of an English Minister, or derogatory to the honour of the Crown. Strong in this conviction, and satisfied that nothing more is required for the justification of the Government than a full and fair perusal of the evidence adduced, I leave this case confidently and without fear of the result to the decision of Parliament and of the country.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he was one of those who lamented the course taken by the noble Lord the Member for London, 654 because, if ever there was a question which ought to be brought forward and considered separately on its merits, without the general imbecility of the present Government being mixed up with it, it was the case of Mr. Mather, and the conduct of the noble Lord whom the country had the misfortune to see installed in the Foreign Office. It appeared to him that that question had been diluted by going into extraneous topics relative to the shuffling of Her Majesty's Government, which was at present patent to the whole country. He would ask the House, putting aside all party feeling, whether it ever heard a statement so lame and impotent as that made by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Lord Stanley)? The noble Under Secretary had said that that House was not easily convinced; but would the country be easily convinced that the department over which the Under Secretary did not preside—and he (Mr. Osborne) lamented that, because he thought the noble Lord's hereditary spirit would at least impel him to conduct the affairs of the country bettor than the Earl of Malmesbury—had treated this case with common decency or propriety? The noble Under Secretary had referred to our expedition to Portugal; but he was bound to have told the House that the convention by which the Austrian troops had possession of Tuscany was peculiar in every respect, and such as had never been entered into by one independent State with another. When the Grand Duke was restored, in 1848, by the intervention of the Austrians, a convention was entered into, to the effect that 8,000 Austrian troops were to march into Tuscany and take possession of the country, and were not to be amenable to any Tuscan tribunal, but solely to the Austrian Minister of War. There was also a remarkable stipulation, that those troops were not to leave the country without the mutual consent of both Governments. Consequently, though the Tuscan Government might say that they no longer required the services of the Austrian troops, they could not be removed without the consent of the Austrian Government. The very head and front of Lord Malmesbury's offence was entering into this petty huckstering with the Tuscan Government, and not calling the Austrian Government at once to account for the insult. The noble Under Secretary had attempted to lead the House to believe that Mr. Mather was the person who first suggested the subject of pecuniary compensation; but the papers before the House 655 showed that the suggestion of pecuniary compensation first appeared in a despatch of Mr. Scarlett to Lord Granville, who took a proper view of the case, inasmuch as he early displayed an intention, in case of any difficulty, to apply to the Austrian Government for reparation. From the papers it appeared that Lord Malmesbury asked Mr. Mather whether he wished the Government to go to war, which was a most monstrous expression for the Foreign Minister to use to a British subject. Lord Malmesbury then, in the true spirit of a pedlar, asked, "What will you take for your injury?" Lord Malmesbury, therefore, suggested pecuniary compensation— a suggestion which was accepted by Mr. Mather with pain and reluctance. But on Mr. Mather naming 5,000l, for which he stated his reasons, Lord Malmesbury did not tell him that he considered the sum at which, considering the national character to be involved, be had fixed the compensation, to be an exorbitant sum; but, behind his back, and without giving him any information on the point, wrote a letter to Mr. Scarlett, designating this as an exorbitant demand, and naming 1,000l. as the sum for which a British subject might be cut down in the streets of Florence. Lord Malmesbury, in one of his despatches, stated that the sum named by Mr. Mather was exorbitant, but Mr. Scarlett would be able to judge "what can be got." If the noble Lord below him (Viscount Palmerston) had written such a despatch when he presided with distinction and honour over the Foreign Affairs of the country, what would have been said by the then Opposition? "A pecuniary compensation is at least tangible," said Lord Malmesbury to Mr. Scarlett; "you must hold firm language." Firm language, indeed, on the theme of "what can be got." That was in the true spirit of the peddling instinct which presided over the Foreign Office. That was on the 9th of March; but soon after, Lord Derby made his memorable speech at the Mansion House on the doctrine of compromise, and Lord Malmesbury, acting on that doctrine, wrote a very laconic despatch, in which he instructed Mr. Scarlett to "split the difference," and came down to 500l, in a spirit which was worthy of the Board of Trade; and Mr. Scarlett endeavoured to come to some arrangement with the Tuscan Minister on that footing. The noble Lord, who said he did not know much of this matter—an assertion he was very ready to believe, for he doubted if he 656 had read the whole of the papers—remarked that Mr. Mather's character had not been much damaged, though Lord Malmesbury had endeavoured to make it appear to the Tuscan Government that Mr. Mather had been the first to ask for a pecuniary compensation.
explained: He never intended to say that Mr. Mather's character might not have been damaged; but he said there was not the slightest intention to damage it on the part of the Government, and that Mr. Mather had borne testimony to the fair and candid way in which the noble Lord had acted towards him.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
If Mr. Mather was satisfied with such an apology at the eleventh hour, he was not the man he took him for. He said it was Mr. Mather who first suggested a pecuniary compensation; whereas it was clear Lord Malmesbury had proposed it; and he knew that the English at Florence bad passed Mr. Mather by in contempt, under the impression that he bad first put the question on the national honour, and then said he was ready to take 500l., while Lord Malmesbury was ready to encourage that belief in the mind of foreigners, and of the Tuscan Government, that Mr. Mather had made an exorbitant demand. There was another matter which had never been explained to the House to this day-—the case of Corporal Baggs; he believed that to be one of the worst insults ever offered to the British power. What security had we for the life or honour of a British subject, when Lord Malmesbury was ready to act in such a way? The boast of Civis Momanus sum was gone now—it seemed merely to ticket a man to be insulted with impunity. The greatest temper, knowledge of law, and firmness, were required for the office of Foreign Secretary; and he regretted the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) had ever left his natural post, for no other man was able to take up the position with foreign Powers he had done; and if he had been at the Foreign Office, such disgraceful despatches would never have been written for the purpose of ascertaining what would be got from the Tuscan Government. That noble Lord would speedily have obtained reparation from the Austrian Government, who expected some demand to be made upon them. To show that the Austrian Government expected that a demand would be made for reparation, Prince Lichten-stein had, with the sanction of Marshal 657 Radetsky, put Baron de Karg, the officer who commenced the outrage, under arrest for a week. It was the Austrian Government they were hound to call upon to show Lieutenant Forsthüher was justified in his conduct; and if they failed to do so, then to demand some mark of regret for what had occurred; hut the Austrians, so far from expressing contrition, had commended Lieutenant Forsthüher's conduct, and he was going about Florence as a sort of hero, as "as the man who had cut down the Englishman."["No, no!"] Yes, he knew it to be the case; and it was said Lord Malmesbury had given Lieutenant Forsthüher "a step." The noble Lord was distinguished not so much by absolute incapacity as by great infirmity of purpose and great ignorance. He might have asked for the opinion and advice of the Queen's Advocate; hut it did not appear that he had thought proper to do so, but went on with the pen of a ready but ungrammatical writer to suggest 1,000l. and then to split the difference; and up to this day the only person who had reason to feel proud, and of whom the country had reason to feel proud, was the father of Mr. Mather. What did the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton do in a somewhat similar case in 1847? When Mr. Russell, our Consul pro tem, at New Grenada, was assaulted and imprisoned, and had his papers taken from him, General Santander refused to grant any reparation until a British fleet appeared off the coast, and then Mr. Russell's papers were restored, and 1,000l. were paid to him as a compensation for the indignity he had sustained. Lord Malmesbury was bound for the credit of the country to have; taken a higher tone, and ought to have insisted upon an inquiry by the Austrian authorities, instead of peddling with the Tuscan State. He was at a loss to know which was most culpable—the low views entertained by the Foreign Office, or the total mismanagement of Mr. Scarlett. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said a short time ago, in reply to a question as to the education of diplomatic servants, that none but men of classical attainments, and such as had been brought up at the Universities, would be admitted. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: I never used such words at all.] Then the right hon. Gentleman had been grossly misrepresented; indeed, be was a man of too just a spirit to follow such 658 views, and, to use a popular phrase just now, there was "looming in the distance" a chance that the right hon. Gentleman would break away from the very bad company about him. But as to Mr. Scarlett, he was on excellent visiting terms with Prince Lichtenstein and the Duke de Casigliano, hut he was not fitted for the conduct of any serious business; and, as Mr. Mather said, he at first treated the case very coldly. He seriously impressed on the Chancellor of the Exchequer the expediency of sending Mr. Scarlett to some quiet place where there were no foreign troops, and to put Lord Malmesbury on the half-pay list, if there was such a thing at the Foreign Office. He regretted very much the question had been brought before the House in its present shape, and that he was prevented by the forms of the House from moving a direct vote of censure on Lord Malmcsbury for trifling with the honour of the country, and for having disgraced us in the eyes of the whole Continent of Europe.
The MARQUESS of GRANBY
Sir, it is not my intention to enter into this part of the question that has been brought before us by the noble Lord the Member for London, or to make any remarks on Mr. Mather's case; but I am very desirous of making a few observations on the subject of the commercial policy which, for the last few years, has prevailed. And I am the more anxious to do so just now, inasmuch as an election is imminent, and I may not have another opportunity of addressing this House on the subject before that event shall have arrived. I must say that there never was a time when so many rash and reckless statements were made, of the advantages which, it is alleged, we have derived from the adoption of the commercial policy of 1846; and I really am anxious that the country should know what is its present position in a commercial point of view, in order that the people of this country may he able the better to decide whether that policy shall be maintained, or not. And I say that, if it can be shown that that policy has benefited the people of this country at large, it should in that case, be continued, and carried out gradually to its full extent; but if it has had, and will have, as I in my conscience believe it has and will, an evil effect on all classes in this country, then I say that that policy should be gradually modified, and eventually reversed. The noble Lord 659 (Lord John Russell), in the remarks he had addressed to the House on this subject, though he made a very violent attack on Her Majesty's Government, and said that they were desirous of concealing their opinion, yet he said very little as to his own opinions on the point—he did not tell the House whether he was prepared to carry that policy fully out—or that he was going to the hustings with a recommendation that the farmers should have justice, that the malt tax should be repealed, that he should be allowed to grow what crops ha pleased, that all classes should be put on an equal footing under this policy, that all the protective duties still remaining on manufactures should be taken off, and that the 20,000,000l. of our customs, and the 13,000,000l. of our excise duties, should be swept away. On all these points the noble Lord was very careful to say nothing, and to say very little with regard to the present state of alleged prosperity in this country. The hon. Member for Grates-head (Mr. Hutt) put a notice on the paper, too, the other day, in which he declared the prosperity which the country derived from these free-trade measures; but, somehow or other, that Motion has never been made, and it now appears that that notice has been quietly withdrawn. The fact is, you are afraid of the case coming to argument—you are afraid to meet it—for you well know that your policy has failed, and you dare not meet the assertions that are made on the side opposed to you. I call upon you to point to any class in this country that can be said to be in a state of prosperity. I assert, in the first place— and the fact has been admitted by hon. Gentlemen opposite—that the agricultural interest is not in a prosperous condition. Are your colonies so? Is Jamaica—is Antigua—is Trinidad, or any one of those that are similarly situated, in a state of prosperity? It was only the other day that the noble Earl at the head of the Government presented a memorial from the clergy of all denominations in Jamaica, in which they stated that not only were the inhabitants of that colony not in a state of prosperity, but that they were actually relapsing into a state of barbarism, and this owing to your recent free-trade measures. Can Scotland he said to be in a state of prosperity when we see a Highland Emigration Fund advertised in the newspapers, and when we find the hardy Highlander unable to support himself in his own coun- 660 try, and ready to leave the land of his forefathers, and to seek in Australian climes that reward for his labour which is denied him in his native land? What is it that these Scottish emigrants want? Employment; and yet the things that you are daily bringing into the country under your present commercial system are the produce of foreign labour, and not the work of native hands. Look, again, at the state of the working-men of Spitalfields. These are not your agricultural labourers, or your farmers that I am referring to; and what do they say? They have passed but very recently a resolution, in which they state that they are painfully convinced that the distress that prevails among the operatives engaged in the silk manufacture is unprecedented in character—that their wages have been reduced 25 per cent since 1845, that one-half of the trade are unemployed—and they declare that it is the duty of the present Government to take steps for putting a stop to the existing system of reckless and unrestricted competition, by introducing a principle of external protection and of internal regulation. If, again, you turn to the shipping interests, are they a state of prosperity? Is it not admitted that the British tonnage inwards has decreased since 1849, whilst the foreign tonnage has increased to an enormous extent? Is it not true, also, that British tonnage outwards has but slightly increased in comparison with the increase of foreign? Take the list of the number of ships and steamers built of late years, you will find that the number built in 1849 was 730; in 1850, 689; and in 1851 but 672. It was but the other night that the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Slaney), who is not only a free-trader, but one who has the interests of the industrious classes deeply at heart, said in this House, that the labouring population in the agricultural districts had not advanced in comfort and independence, and he related the state in which the people were, even in the manufacturing districts, where the rate of mortality was from four to four and a half per cent, while in the agricultural it was but two per cent. What, interest then can they point to that is prosperous? Perhaps I may be told that the manufacturing interest is so; but I must be permitted to say that I much doubt the fact. You tell me that your exports and imports have in-increased, and I don't deny that they have; hut if you will take the time and 661 trouble to look a little deeper into the matter, I think you will see that the prosperity you lay claim to has not been in proportion to the increase of trade—that profits have not been increased, but have, on the contrary, diminished, and that your commerce is rather in a state of feverish excitement than of a healthy prosperity. We are told the large importations of corn are proofs of the advantage derived by the country from free trade; but an hon. Member now compelled to absent himself from the House owing to illness (Mr. G. P. Young), and whose place I have inadequately endeavoured to fill, has written a letter in which this point is set in the clearest light. The cereal produce imported last year was 9,618,026 quarters, of which 5,330,412 only were of wheat. In 1846 there were imported 2,344,142 quarters, which, deducted from the above, loft an increase of 2,986,270 quarters only. But in Ireland there was a decreased production of 1,376,537 quarters last year as compared with 1847. In England we have no account of wheat grown; but, taking the return of wheat sold in 290 market towns, there was a decrease as compared with the year 1846, of no less than 1,471,921 quarters, which, deducted from the 2,986,270, leave only as increase 137,812 quarters; or, doubling it, as I have a right—as these towns do not include half the towns in which wheat is sold—a decrease of 1,334,109 quarters. I want to know what answer can be made to that statement; and if no answer has been, or as I firmly believe can be given, to it, I do hope that we shall hear no more of these assertions about the increased quantity of bread consumed by the people of this country. We were told, too, that if we took the corn of foreign countries, our exports to such countries would increase, and be taken in exchange for the corn imported; but what do I find are the results as regards Prussia, Russia, France, Holland, the four countries from which we import the largest quantity of wheat and flour? Why, our exports have not increased; they have diminished. I find that from Prussia, in 1846, we imported 832,731 quarters of wheat, and that while, in 1847, our exported goods to Prussia were of the value of 544,000l., they tumbled down, in 1850, to 424,486; that from Russia, in 1846, we imported 638,000 quarters, and that our exports to Russia, in 1847, were 1,725,000l., and that they 662 fell, in 1850, to 1,454,771l.; that from France, in 1846, we imported 595,000 quarters, whilst our exports to France, which, in 1847, were to the amount of 2,715,926l., fell, in 1850, to 2,401,956l and that from Holland, in 1846, we imported 277,000 quarters, while our exports to that country, which, in 1847, amounted to 3,576,469l., fell, in 1850, to 3,542,632l., showing that our exports to the four countries from which the great bulk of our corn is imported have absolutely diminished; and I may add that it has been to the United States and to the British East Indies to which the principal portion of our exports have boon made; and the United States has rigidly maintained the principle of protection. Now, with reference to the condition of the working classes, we have heard much of their improved condition: it may be the case that they have benefited to some extent in some few districts; but, generally speaking, it has not been the case. I have letters here from gentlemen, clergymen, and others, who are intimately acquainted with the poorer classes of the community whore I live. I won't trouble the House by reading them; but they state unequivocally their opinion that the condition of the agricultural labourers is worse than it was before the repeal of the corn laws. It was said that one of the great benefits which free trade would confer upon the poorer classes would be the cheapening of the cost of their articles of clothing. Now, Sir, I do not see the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) in his place, and I am sorry for it, because I should wish to call his attention to the fact, that, although the poor get their gowns and their fustian jackets cheaper now than they did before the adoption of free trade, yet they have to buy infinitely worse materials now, which do not last nearly so long as did those that were purchased under the protective system. Two of their present gowns won't last as long as one of the old ones, therefore this promised advantage as to the cheapening of the cost of clothing by free trade proves to be altogether chimerical. The poor generally prefer higher wages and dearer provision and clothing to their present wages and the present price of food and clothing. Now there are four tests by which I wish to try free trade, and I think that you will admit that they are tests of very great importance in helping us to come to a right con- 663 clusion upon the subject. I refer to the poor-laws, to emigration, to the amount of crime, and to the deposits in the savings banks. Now, the amount of money paid for the support of the poor in England and Wales, in the first three years after the adoption of free trade, 1845, 1846, and 1847, was 20,556,454l., and in the last three years, 1849, 1850, and 1851, it had increased to 21,696,553l. Then I go to Ireland, and find that the sum paid there for the relief of the poor during 1845, 1846, and 1847, was 1,317,925l., but during the last three years it has increased to 1,555,000l. Then, with regard to crime in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the following were the results shown in each year respectively:—
|England and Wales.||Scotland.||Ireland.|
§ With regard to emigration, the House is already aware of the enormous extent to which emigration has proceeded. In the year 1846, there were only 129,851 emigrants; in 1851, the number rose to 333,959; and, Sir, it is not with regard to the emigrants to Australia, nor to our own Colonies, that this increase has taken place. There has been an actual diminution with regard to the number of emigrants to Australia—it is to North America that the bulk of poor emigrants have gone, and not to your own Colonies. The bone and sinew of your fellow-countrymen have gone to another country—to a country where they will be protected—where they will find employment, and where their labour is protected. Well, Sir, I now come to the savings banks. Sir Robert Peel, who, as an authority, is always looked back to with the greatest respect by this House—Sir Robert Peel ever regarded the savings banks as one of the surest tests of the prosperity or decline of the labouring population. Now, Sir, I find that, in the series of years from 1834 to 1846, there was an increase of about 1,000 annually in the depositors in the savings banks, and of 1,000,000l. in the amount of the deposits; while in the last four years of free trade there has been a diminution to the same extent, as is shown in the following table, namely— 664
§ Now, Sir, I have gone through these four tests, and I do ask the House whether they are of opinion that the labouring population is in a better or a worse condition than before the repeal of the corn laws. Sir, I have said, and I repeat it, that it is not the large landed proprietors that are suffering from free trade—it is the small occupiers—it is the freeholders of this country. Aye, Sir, if it was your large landed proprietors, this House of Commons would soon reverse free trade. I am sorry to be obliged say, that if it was the large landed proprietors that were suffering, I should not now be advocating the cause of the poor agricultural proprietors and the labouring classes. The battle that is to be fought is not one between the agricultural and the manufacturing interest—between one class and another—but the battle that is to be fought is between capital and labour—between industry and idleness. Do not think that you can escape the issue, for the people are becoming enlightened, and have studied the question for themselves. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London may go to his election with a loaf upon a pole; but he will be laughed at by the labouring people. Go and ask the man in the street who is without employment whether he cares much for bread as long as he cannot obtain employment. He will tell you that a sixpenny loaf is of no avail to him, if he has only 4d. to buy it with. He will tell you that without employment he cannot live, and that it is employment that he wants. The labouring classes of the country are beginning to study these questions. What I ask for is, that you will allow them to say aye or no to the question that shall be put to them—have they or have they not been benefited by free trade? Let it not be said the question is decided, and that 665 no one will now dare to impose a duty upon corn. We, Sir, will dare to impose a duty upon corn, if we have the people with us, as I believe we shall have. Let the question be put before the people, and let them fairly decide. There have been two remedies proposed for the present lamentable state of things: one is a return to a protective duty, and the other is a revision of taxation. Now, Sir, I say that the advantage which the community at large would derive from the one, would be infinitely greater than that which the upper classes would derive from the other. The one is an external policy, and the other internal. The one protects every one against the foreigner, the other merely provides that justice shall be done between one class of Englishmen and another class of Englishmen. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London, in his speech to-night, said—"I want to know whether you, who have long advocated protection to the great national interests, condescend to accept a pecuniary remuneration for the evil that you say has been done to you?" Now, I say this, that I would infinitely prefer, on public grounds, a return to protection, because in my conscience I believe it to be essential to the maintenance of the general prosperity of the country. But if you will not return to protection, then, I say, reduce the burthens that peculiarly press on the agricultural interest, or any interest that is suffering from your late policy, or else you will do great injustice. The present Government are, no doubt, placed in a position of great difficulty, because they are a Government that are young in office, and young in official experience; while they have opposed to them Gentlemen of the greatest abilities, of a very large amount of official experience and great influence; and I must say that they have not shown very great forbearance to Her Majesty's Government. ["Oh, oh!"] Why, did you not when they first came into power, force on an immediate dissolution? Did you not before they could pass those measures which even the safety and welfare of the country demand—did you not, by every argument, endeavour to force them to come to a premature dissolution? And having failed in that attempt, because the country would not go with you, did you not retreat from that unpopular position? Having failed in that attempt, you then did everything in your power to retard the dissolution. You opposed the Militia Bill, although it 666 was a measure which you yourselves said was necessary; and then you say that you have not pressed hardly upon Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London, in his speech to-night, did everything he possibly could do to damage Her Majesty's Government. He raked up everything he could find against them. He went from Florence to Ireland, and from Ireland he came back to England and our national reputation. He taunted the Government—"You have no policy; you have no opinion of your own." Well, Sir, I cannot say the same of the noble Lord, for I believe that the noble Lord has one opinion, which is this; that there is nobody fit for the government of this country except himself. The whole of the noble Lord's speech appeared to be directed to this object, namely, to make the country exclaim, "What a pity it is that the noble Lord is not sitting on the Government benches! The Government have received no little embarrassment from the noble Lord and his supporters; but I do hope that Her Majesty's Government will fulfil the promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—that they will carry out, now that they are in power, those measures, which, when in Opposition, they said were necessary for the good of the country. I rely upon that statement. I rely upon the good sense and good feeling of the country. You cannot contradict the statements that I have endeavoured, however feebly, to lay before you to-night; I only wish that I could have commanded the eloquence of my hon. Friends around me in doing so. I am so convinced of their truth that I know that no one will attempt to contradict them. And if I look with any anxiety to the coming elections, it is not so much with regard to Protection, because I have no doubt that ultimately this country will return to a system of protection; but it is because I would avert the misery that I foresee must come upon us during the existence of free trade. It is that feeling that has induced me to trespass on the House at so great a length.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, it is not my intention to follow the noble Lord who has just sat down into a comparison of the relative merits of the miseries of free trade, or the blessings of protection, or to compare the calamities of cheap food and abundant subsistence, with the blessings of a high price of corn and other concomitants of the system of which the noble Lord 667 is the advocate. I look, Sir, on all discussion of that question as an idle waste of the time of this House. The principle of protection is dead. I rely, like the noble Lord, on the good sense and judgment of the country, and I am quite sure the country will act the part of registrar general, and that at the next election the death and interment of the venerable principle of protection will be duly and universally registered. But, Sir, I wish to address some few observations to that which was the first topic of the speech of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, and from which the noble Lord opposite has led the House by that which may in some respects have been a convenient diversion. Sir,I certainly must confess that I have read with anything but feelings of satisfaction the papers which have been laid on the table of this House relating to the affair of Mr. Mather. I own, Sir, that for the sake of the country—for the character of the country'— I wish the whole of this correspondence had been buried in oblivion. I am sorry to say that that observation applies to the whole Case, from the beginning to the end of it, for I must own it seems to me that it was not a comedy, but a tragedy of All in the Wrong. I must say that I find much to criticise in the conduct of almost all the parties concerned, except Mr. Mather and his son. I think the late Government took a wrong view of the case, I think, also, the present Government took a wrong view of it; and I am sorry to say that our Chargé d'Affaires at Florence took a wrong view of it too. What is the course which in the case of a personal outrage committed upon a British subject abroad—what is the course which I think the British Government ought to have pursued? Why, it is the first duty of the Government to ascertain clearly the facts of the case—to ascertain clearly the character of the injury which the British subject has sustained, and how far he was in the wrong, or, if not in the wrong, how far those by whom the injury was inflicted were unjustifiably aggressors, Having clone that, if the Government find that an outrage has been committed, reparation ought to be demanded. That reparation may consist, first, in a demand for the punishment of the offender; and next, also, in a demand for compensation to the sufferer. Upon these points it has been always the practice of the Secretary of State to consult the Queen's Advocate, to lay the facts of the case before him to ask him what, according to his 668 view and his knowledge of the habits of courts of justice in other countries—what might be a fit sum to demand for pecuniary compensation; and how far, according to international law, the Government would be justified in asking for the punishment of the wrongdoer. That does not appear to have been done by either Government in this Case, But the first question which arises is, what was the injury inflicted, or was there any injury inflicted? I think no man who has read these papers can hesitate one moment in acknowledging that A grievous injury was committed; that a British subject was exposed to a most violent, a most cowardly outrage, for which no adequate, in fact no provocation whatever was given. A British subject was accompanying a band of music in the streets of Florence; and he was struck, first by a sword by one officer, then by the fist of another, and then, in a cowardly manner, was cut down with the sword of the officer who first assaulted him. Now, what is the feeling of different countries with regard to an attack by an armed against an unarmed man? Why, Sir, we all know the old anecdote of the English butcher, who, while employed in the avocation of his profession, was struck by a man with whom he had had words, and whom he reproached with the good old English sentiment, "Why, what a mean, cowardly fellow you must be to strike a man who has a knife in his hand, and who cannot return the blow." That is the English feeling. What is the French feeling? Why, Sir, many of us know that there was a distinguished officer in the British service in the cavalry (Colonel Harvey), who had lost an arm, but who served in the Peninsular war, mutilated as he was, In an action in which he was engaged, he got into the melée, and a French officer rode up to him with Sabre uplifted, and was going to cut him down, But the Frenchman saw that his opponent had only one arm, and, seeing that, he dropped his sabre point, and passed on to seek out an opponent with whom he might contend on equal terms. That is the French feeling. Then, I shall be told that this case is a proof of the Austrian feeling in such matters. Sir, I don't believe any such thing. My conviction is that the cowardly conduct of that lieutenant who cut down, without provocation, an unarmed British subject, has met with as much disapproval and disavowal on the part of his comrades in Tuscany as they in their service dare show by their conduct towards their of- 669 ficers. I am persuaded that if Marshal Radetzky had known the true facts of the case at the time when he said that the officer was fully justified in what he did—I am fully convinced that such a brave man would have sympathised with Prince Schwarzenberg, who, when appealed to by the Earl of Westmoreland, who said to him, "We are both soldiers, and we, I am sure, never raised our sword against an unarmed man," replied, "No; such a thing could never happened to either of us;"—I am persuaded that had Marshal Radetzky known the truth of the matter he would never have written the despatch which we find among these papers; for, whatever we may think of the policy which is pursued by the Austrian Government, no man who knows the Austrian people and army can for a moment doubt their generosity and personal courage. Well, then, how was the outrage committed? By whom? By an Austrian officer in Florence. Who should be responsible? Upon a primâ facie view I believe the Government of the country in which the outrage was committed. But responsibility is the companion of power. Those are responsible for injuries who could have prevented them, or who could have punished those who inflicted them; but where there is no power there ought to be no responsibility. That Austrian garrison was in Florence, and, as stated by my hon. and gallant Friend (Mr. B. Osborne) their continuance there depended upon the will of the Government of Austria, and not upon the will of the Government of Tuscany. It is not now known for the first time by these despatches—it is a fact which the English Government knew before I quitted office— that the Austrian troops, while there, were not amenable to Tuscan authority. We perfectly well know they are not. In the course of last autumn a rude assault was offered by a detachment of Austrian troops to members of the Grand Ducal family, who were stopped in their carriage while taking a drive and compelled to get out, and in that carriage out of which they were taken, the Austrians oldiers put a drunken comrade, who was too drunk to be able to return to town on foot. The Government of Tuscany could not punish the offenders; they were compelled to apply to the Austrian Commander-in-Chief, and the delinquents were punished militarily by their own officers. It being known, then, that the Tuscan Government have no power or authority over the Aus- 670 trian troops, it seems to me, firstly, that primâ facie the Austrian Government is the party from whom redress should have been demanded. That redress was of two kinds: in the first place, the Government ought to have demanded the punishment of the officer—the punishment of a man of whom this at least was known, that he, an armed man, had cut down an unarmed British subject. The Austrian Government might have made reply. "No doubt," they might have said, "an outrage has been committed; but there are certain regulations in the Austrian service which render it imperative on the officer to do what he did, and if he had not done so, we should have punished him." That would have been undoubtedly an answer that would have required further explanation. The English Government would have been entitled to say, "Show us your regulations." But if those regulations had been shown to bear out that assertion, and if the Government of Austria could have proved that the officer had no alternative but to do what he did, or receive punishment from his own superiors, I admit that any demand for the punishment of that officer could not with propriety have been pressed. But then you would have had the right to say to the Austrian Government, "You may make what regulations you like, provided they are not attended with injury to a British subject; but when a British subject suffers by those regulations they become improper, and we expect that you shall at all events make an apology." I must say that from the handsome manner in which this matter has been dealt with, as far as the Austrian Government is concerned, I think that they would have made, had that course been taken, as ample an apology as, under the circumstances, was due from one Government to another. Well, but then I think I have a right to criticise the conduct of the late Government; because, whereas the noble Lord who introduced the subject to-night remarked upon the difference of tone assumed by the present Minister towards Florence as compared to that assumed towards Vienna—I must observe that in making the communication to the Government of Austria there were no instructions given to the Earl of Westmoreland with regard to any application he was to make to that Government. Lord Malmesbury distinctly said in his despatch, "I have no instructions to give you," and no application was made to the Austrian Government, There, I think, an 671 error was committed. Another part of the reparation demanded would have been to require compensation to the individual for the injuries sustained by him, and that would have been a proceeding borne out by innumerable precedents. You may say that though pecuniary compensation may apply as to cases of individual injury, the honour of a country should not be measured in pounds sterling; but, nevertheless, the Power giving such a compensation makes an admission that an atonement is due, and it is, perhaps, the only compensation which can be paid to an individual who has suffered a severe bodily injury. The late Government, in their first communication to the Tuscan Government, instructed Mr. Scarlett to demand "ample reparation," and expressed their expectation that that reparation would be promptly given. But they omitted to state of what kind that ample reparation was to be, and in so far I think Mr. Scarlett was left in a situation in which no agent of the Government ought to be placed, because he was left to determine what should be the reparation in question. He was not told whether it was to be an apology, the punishment of an individual, or a money reparation; he was to be the judge what the reparation was to consist of, and I think that was not a matter which ought to have been left to the discretion of an agent. It reminded me of a conversation I had a few days since with an agriculturist in the country, who was lamenting, like the noble Lord (the Marquess of Granby) the unfortunate condition of the farmers, and who, in reply to my question what we should do for them, said, "Give the farmer a fair chance;" and when I asked him, "But how?" his reply still was "Give the farmer a fair chance." The man clearly imagined that that was a sufficiently intelligible description of the precise remedy that was necessary. In the same way, "ample reparation" seemed to be a sort of term convertible into some definite quantity; it was like the x of an algebraical problem which, when it came to be worked out, was made "equal to nothing." It seems to me, then, Sir, that the demand might have been fairly made in the first instance upon the Tuscan Government. There was a presumption that they were liable to make this compensation. It was impossible for them to execute punishment upon the Austrian officer, because he was plainly beyond their reach; but they ought to have made a compensa- 672 tion to Mr. Mather, the Queen's Advocate ought to have been consulted; the sum to be demanded ought to have been such as he recommended, and that sum being demanded, the Government ought to have abided by that demand. Now, I come to the conduct of the present Government; and I must say that I think their course is still more open to criticism than the course of the late Government, because they did what was perfectly unusual in calling on the sufferer to assess his own damages. That never was thought of before. The sufferer in such a case could not be a judge of what was fitting as compensation to himself: that must depend on the judgment of impartial persons, and the law adviser I have mentioned was the proper person to fix it. I must say I think the noble Lord the Member for the City of London was very well borne out in his remarks upon the course pursued in forcing Mr. Mather to name a sum against his inclination and against his protest, and then showing him up to the Tuscan Government as having made an exorbitant demand. Indeed if that sum was thought exorbitant, I cannot for the life of me understand why it was communicated to the Tuscan Government. If we had been acting as mediators in a dispute between two Powers of equal weight, we might, as mediators, have boon bound to convey to the one the proposals made by the other. Supposing Austria and France had been the parties concerned, and a claim of 5,000l. had been made by the latter for an alleged injury to one of her subjects; if we had been unable to prevail upon France to diminish the amount of her claim, we should have been bound to make known to Austria the demand, and we should have been bound to say that we thought the amount was more than Austria ought to be called on to pay. But I cannot understand, under the critical circumstances of this case, why, before the demand for this 5,000l. was communicated to Tuscany, Mr. Mather was not told that the sum was considered exorbitant, and why the sum was not reduced by communication with Mr. Mather to that amount which the British Government; might have thought was just. I think that the course adopted by the Government was open to that objection. I am sorry to say that I cannot approve of the manner in which Mr. Scarlett executed his instructions, because he evidently went below the minimum which he was told to require. He was told that 673 the least sum he must ask for was 500l., and if that were not acceded to he was to propose arbitration. That is a very intelligible instruction; but Mr. Scarlett asked less than half the sum fixed as the minimum, and then takes in part payment the release of the two Messrs. Stratfords. This last proceeding puts me in mind of what has been said of it, that "it ought to have made up the difference." But the fact, in regard to these Messrs. Stratfords, is, that they were accused of that which was in itself an offence—that is to say, they had in their houses a private printing press, which is prohibited by the law of Tuscany; and it was shown that with this printing press they had printed papers inveighing against the Government, for the purpose of distribution. No doubt they had incurred the liability to punishment; but they were tried by an Austrian court-martial at Leghorn. Well, the Government, when I was a Member of it, protested against this proceeding. We consulted our legal advisers, and found that by the fundamental law of Tuscany even the Tuscan Government could not establish martial law to the supersession of the ordinary tribunals, much less could a foreign garrison acting under the orders of a foreign Government do so. We protested, both at Florence and at Vienna, against the competency of the court, and consequently against the validity of the sentence; and I presume, from what I have heard tonight, that that protest was insisted upon; that its force had been admitted; and that these two young men were to be liberated in consequence of the incompetency of the court and the invalidity of the sentence; therefore, their release, while it was no great satisfaction to Mr. Mather, was, diplomatically speaking, not, I think, a fair arrangement, inasmuch as we should have had them released without it. Well, then, Sir, I should say that Mr. Scarlett acted unwisely in acceding to that arrangement; and I humbly think that Her Majesty's Government acted very hastily and not wisely in sanctioning that arrangement when it was first communicated to them. They seem to have been under the impression that whatever a British agent abroad agrees to, whether in conformity with or against his instructions, it is incumbent upon the Government to adopt all his acts. That is not diplomatic or international practice. If you can show that what your agent has done is at variance with his instructions, you are per- 674 fectly at liberty to disavow him and refuse to sanction the arrangement he has come to. The Government would, therefore, have been perfectly justified in refusing to agree to the arrangement made by Mr. Scarlett. I confess, myself, that I do think, if any pecuniary compensation was to be demanded, whether from the Tuscan or the Austrian Government, in a case of that sort, the sum of 500l. demanded was altogether inadequate, whether to the circumstances of the individual injured, or as an acknowledgment from the Government of one country to another; and I think that that, Sir, ought not to have been reduced to the insignificant amount demanded by Mr. Scarlett. But so far I think that the Government, having adopted that arrangement, and having consented to the 500l and the exchange of the Mr. Stratfords—I think that they acted with great haste, and with an imperfect examination of the documents, when they disavowed Mr. Scarlett in the last despatch, upon the ground that he had abandoned the principle of the responsibility of the Tuscan Government; because Mr. Scarlett did no such thing. Mr. Scarlett, whatever mistake he may have made in his anxiety to come to an arrangement, and accept what I think a very inadequate compromise, did not abandon the principle; he waved the discussion of the principle, but he by no means abandoned the principle itself; he distinctly affirmed it, instead of abandoning it. If the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs (the Earl of Malmesbury) will look to Mr. Scarlett's note to the Duke of Casigliano, he will sec a transcript of the instructions sent him; he will see that that note, of the 18th of March, contains, word for word, the assertion on the part of the British Government that Tuscany is responsible for what happened to Mr. Mather. Well, when Mr. Scarlett and the Duke of Casigliano came to their final arrangement, it was agreed that the Duke of Casigliano should offer 240l and the two Mr. Stratfords, and that the discussion as to the principle of responsibility should be waved. The Duke of Castigliano did not adhere to the bargain; he did so in regard to the money, but he perseveringly pokes into his note a reassertion by implication of his doctrine that Tuscany was not responsible. What says Mr. Scarlett in his reply, dated April 18?—?
I accept your arrangement; but as you have thought right to reaffirm your principle as to the 675 non-responsibility of Tuscany, I think it right to refer you to my note of the 18th of March, in which the principle of the British Government is laid down that you are responsible; and I tell you that the British Government maintains that principle in all its integrity.I am at a loss to understand how the Government could consider Mr. Scarlett as abandoning the principle, which he seems to me to have maintained fully. I think Mr. Scarlett was not to be blamed for that part of his arrangement. We demanded payment of money from the Tuscan Government, as a compensation for the injury done to Mr. Mather. They said, "We will give you a sum, but we give it as an act of generosity on our part, denying our responsibility, and denying that in any similar case we should be liable to make good the injury done to a British subject." I think, if the Government were not satisfied with the amount which the Tuscan Government offered, the more handy way of dealing with that case would have been to say, "We take the money in our sense; and remember, that if ever the same thing happen again, we will compel you to give us what we think ample compensation; and we don't care a pin what you say about your non-responsibility—we will make you responsible." I think if the British Government had said that, which, indeed, was pretty much what Mr. Scarlett did say, the negotiations need not have been broken off simply because the Tuscan Government would not pronounce the words which we wished to put in their mouths. I think, Sir, that the present state of things is not one which need lead to any serious interruption of relations between this country and Tuscany—relations, however, to which it is evident the Tuscan Government think we attach infinitely more importance than I am convinced is attached to them by any persons in this country. We should be very sorry, of course, to see those relations indefinitely suspended; but I do think we could manage to survive the calamity if it were to befall us. I quite agree with Her Majesty's Government in thinking it a matter of great importance to maintain the principle of the independence of Tuscany; but I do not think that you maintain very particularly the independence of a country by compelling that country to pay for something done by another country. It is something like making Tuscany the whipping-boy of Austria—when Austria sins Tuscany is to be flogged. I dare say the Austrian Government wishes well to Tus- 676 cany; but nevertheless I think the Austrian Government will bear with great fortitude anything you may inflict on Tuscany. If you wanted to inflict a practical lesson, I think it would have been better read by applying it to Austria. The practical lesson read to Tuscany was this—and it is applicable to all small States—you say to Tuscany, "You possess practically an independence, but you have, nevertheless, let in a foreign garrison, over which you have no control; we will teach you to do that again, for we will make you pay for the conduct of that garrison." No doubt there is a moral in that; but I am not sure that greater European good could not have been accomplished by reading a lesson to the other party, and by saying to a great Power, "If you take advantage of your superior force to impose upon a smaller Power, and occupy and garrison that small State, you shall continue responsible for the conduct of that garrison; and if that garrison misbehaves itself towards English subjects, we shall come to you instead of to the weak Power which you have overruled and overborne." Both lessons are good, but, in a European sense, that would have been best. I am very much interested, as the Government naturally are, in the independence of Tuscany, and I must say these papers do call for serious attention on the part of the Government to the unfortunate condition of large portions of the Italian States. The Italians are a people endowed with very great and eminent qualities; they are gifted with great intellectual ability; they have shown in former times that they produce men not inferior as statesmen and warriors, and in political knowledge and capacity, to the people of any other part of Europe. I apprehend their qualities remain the same, though the cultivation of those powers by the possession of opportunities of employing them are not the same as they possessed in former periods. It is lamentable to see the present state of Tuscany, the Roman States, and of Naples. It is difficult to say where the greatest misgovernment prevails. It has been said of Austria that they wish the people of Italy should draw a comparison favourable to them between the condition of the States which they govern, and those which other Governments administer; but, like the gentleman from the sister island, who complained of his bootmaker that, whereas he had ordered him to make one larger than the other, the bootmaker had made one less than the 677 other, so the Government of Austria, instead of making a comparison in such guise that the Italians should think the Lombards and the Venetians are better governed than the rest, only compels them to think that the other territories are worse governed than the other States. This is, I say, lamentable, and I do not believe there is another example in modern times of such a system of cruelty, tyranny, and violence of every sort as exists in the Neapolitan and Roman States. It is a disgrace to modern Europe. The position of affairs in Tuscany is not so had; hut the people there are exposed continually to acts of violence from a foreign garrison, for which they have no redress, and which, if committed in England, would arouse the indignation of every man from one end of the kingdom to the other. This occupation of the Italian States, especially of Tuscany, by foreign troops, did not escape the attention of the late Government. It is evident that that occupation cannot cease, except by common consent between the Government of France and the Government of Austria. France would not withdraw until Austria has evacuated Tuscany and the Legations, which it cannot be expected to do until the French have retired from Home. We have been told that nothing could be done until the month of May had passed; and there was much force in the arguments and statements then made. But May was anticipated by December. May has now gone by. I do entreat Her Majesty's Government to turn their minds to this question. It is one which really concerns—not merely the happiness and welfare of a most interesting- part of Europe—but which also involves great international questions, and which deeply affects the balance of power in Europe. I should hope that Her Majesty's Government, being on good and friendly terms with the two Governments mainly interested in a decision upon this matter, will exert that influence that justly belongs to the Government of this great country, and will endeavour to persuade the Governments of France and Austria to put an end to the anomalous and irregular state of things which now prevails in so great a part of the Italian peninsula. I shall be told that the condition of the Roman States is such that, if the French garrison were to retire, a great revolution and disturbance would take place. But let me remind the House of what possed in 1831 and 1832, when the five Powers of Austria, 678 Prussia, Russia, France, and England, gave to the then Pope advice with regard to the improvement of the internal organisation of his Government, which, if it had been acted upon and carried out, would have secured the tranquillity of the States which he governs. Some such arrangement might now with advantage be adopted. I shall be told, perhaps, that some steps have been already taken with that object; but I feel that they are practically illusive, and that no practical step has been taken with the view to those improvements which were then recommended, and which are now more wanted than ever. I ought, perhaps, to apologise to the House for the time during which I have occupied its attention. I am sure, however, that the subject I have mentioned is one that must engage the sympathy of every man in this country; and I am persuaded that if Her Majesty's Government will take it up in the spirit in which I think they are disposed to act, great good will result to Europe from their endeavours.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I am extremely glad that in the course of this debate we have been favoured with the opinions of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. On these subjects he is a very high authority, and I am sure that the temper and tone in which he has treated the question to-night will lend an additional influence to the opinions he has expressed. The noble Lord, we have been informed by the right hon. Member for the City of London, is a very high authority, because he understands the business of the department in question. On hearing this, one is tempted to ask the right hon. Member for the City why, if so highly qualified, he turned the noble Lord out of office? and when he contrasts the abilities of his Foreign Secretary with the Foreign Secretary whose conduct we have now to defend, we cannot forget the remarkable circumstances under which the two noble Lords separated. These questions, in which individual injury is experienced in a foreign country by one of Her Majesty's subjects, although not so important at the outset as those in which the nationality of the country is concerned, are really, from that very circumstance, the most difficult and the most troublesome to deal with. The hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne), who spoke in his usual airy tone, said it was easy to settle these things. Look at the 679 case of Mr. Russell. He said Mr. Russell was our Consul at New Grenada; the people there insulted and illtreated him; they seized his papers; and see, the hon. Gentleman said, how the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton acted. He immediately ordered a British force to the spot, and reparation was instantly obtained. Why, Sir, that was a case in which the nationality of this country was concerned. When a consul, a person who certainly in South America may be looked upon as a quasi diplomatist, and who represents the authority, if not the Crown, of England, is insulted and illtreated by those who may be said to represent the people, there can be no doubt as to the course that is to be pursued; and when the remedy is at hand, as it always is upon those coasts, nothing can be more prompt than the redress obtained. But in the case in question there were none of these circumstances. The nationality of this country was not involved, and although it was an outrageous, a wanton, and a cruel act, it still was, as Lord Malmesbury said, an accidental one; and I must say I was quite surprised at the manner in which the noble Lord the Member for the City of London alleged that there was an inconsistency in the language of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In my opinion these epithets are perfectly consistent with the circumstances of the case, and present a clear and accurate description of the incident. We are told that we did not apply for redress to the right quarter; that we ought to have applied, not to the Tuscan, but to the Austrian Government. Now I shall not defend the conduct of the Government by the example of Earl Granville, or any other Minister. The conduct of the Government, whether right or wrong, was at least founded upon principle, and upon a principle adopted only after mature deliberation and the most anxious inquiry. It was our opinion that if there be a State which maintains diplomatic relations with Her Majesty, with those public rights there must be correlative duties; and it was our opinion that, as Tuscany is recognised and treated by us as an independent State, an outrage committed upon a British subject in Tuscany ought to be brought under the notice of the Tuscan Government. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton has done justice to the tone which, throughout this business, has been exhibited by the Austrian Government—that they have behaved with great courtesy, with some approach 680 even to sympathy; and their treatment of the case being so encouraging, the noble Lord asked why we did not go for redress to the stronger Power—the Power which actually committed this outrage. I have no doubt that Austria would have been willing to concede to such a demand for reparation; Austria would have been very willing to have yielded to a demand which certainly would have been a virtual acknowledgment of the supremacy of Austria in the Tuscan State. It would have been very agreeable to Austria that we should have applied to Vienna for redress, because that would have been treating Tuscany as a mediatised State. But that is not the policy which Her Majesty's Ministers wish to maintain with reference to that country; and though the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton has, I think, in a manner more superficial than becomes one so well acquainted with these matters, commented upon the facility of obtaining redress from Austria, and the invidious position in which we placed ourselves in negotiating with the Ministers of a small Power like Tuscany, I think the noble Lord might have foreseen that circumstances might occur under which the power of holding Tuscany as the responsible party in a controversy might prove of very great importance to England, and circumstances, for example, might arise in which it might be of the greatest importance for England to show herself in the ports of Tuscany in a manner which might considerably influence the decisions of Austria. But if, at the very first moment at which a misunderstanding takes place, we apply for redress to the Government of Austria, that is, treat Tuscany as a province of the Austrian Empire, because a convention has been entered into which we have never acknowledged—that is a doctrine that I, for one, could not in any way sanction; and I believe that if the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton were in a more responsible position than that which he now holds, he, also, would not maintain this opinion. At any rate, it does not seem to me that the late Government acted on that principle, and I think that they were wise. But we were not idle at Vienna; although we did not officially call upon Austria to make reparation, we exercised the influence which we possessed at that Court in a manner calculated to facilitate and accomplish a friendly and satisfactory result. The next considerable point in this case relates to what has been treated in the discussion 681 as the only means by which the Secretary of State endeavoured to obtain reparation for this injury. Now, I wish not to say one word that would seem to reflect upon the conduct or character of Mr. Mather. I have no reason to believe that he is otherwise than a respectable Englishman, and who, placed under circumstances of great difficulty, and to which, from his previous habits of life, he was unaccustomed, appears to me to have conducted himself with discretion and good sense; and any attempt to criticise his conduct or his language would, I think, be not only wanting in good taste but in good feeling. But when I am told that the Secretary of State sent to Mr. Mather, and proposed a pecuniary indemnity as a means of settling this affair, I am bound in justice to my Colleague and to the Government, to say that that is a statement that conveys to the House and the country an impression not perfectly accurate. There is no appearance, in any of the papers that have been placed on the table, of such an incident. There is a statement of Mr. Mather, which I do not wish to refer to further; but I beg the House to take that view of the case which, as men of the world and Members of Parliament, they will take, and that they will understand that, in the interview between Mr. Mather and the Secretary of State, such a subject might have been brought forward and entered into with perfect propriety on the part of the Minister, and on the part of the gentleman complaining of the conduct of a foreign Power. I have here the minute made by Lord Malmesbury after that interview. I shall not read it, because that might introduce into this debate expressions which might hurt the feelings of individuals who are not present; but I say most distinctly that Lord Malmesbury did nothing and said nothing but what any of his predecessors might have said and done, and would probably have said and done. The question was treated in a natural and proper manner, and in a manner quite different from that which is conveyed by this discussion, and the statements that have been made. There were two points in the discussion between the Secretary of State and Mr. Mather. The one was the reparation due to the honour of the country for an injury offered to a subject of Her Majesty; the second was the reparation due to the individual injured. Lord Malmesbury very properly 682 said as to the first point—"The honour of the country is under my custody, and, therefore, we need not converse about that; but it is my duty to confer with you on some means by which reparation may be made to your injured son;"and, therefore, they naturally came to that mode which is the only mode in which reparation can be made. I hear great squeamishness expressed as to a man taking money who is suffering under an outrage of this kind. Why, it is a mode of reparation recognised by the habits and by the laws of this country. Gentlemen, on a subject in which their most delicate honour is concerned, appear before the courts of this country, and accept pecuniary damages. Does any one suppose that when damages are awarded under such circumstances, they are merely offered as a reparation for the injury? They are accepted because it is the only mode according to the custom of the country by which certain punishment can be inflicted on the person who has done the injury, and at the same time a certain recognition of wrong can be offered to the person injured; and to pretend that there is anything novel or monstrous in recommending an individual in the position of Mr. Mather, who had suffered as he had done at Florence, to accept as an avowed acknowledgment of the wrong inflicted by the Government a pecuniary fine from that Government, is a proposition which I think, upon cool reflection, no one will attempt to substantiate, and which I am sure the common sense of this country would not for a moment entertain. Well, then, firstly, Sir, as to the quarter to which we applied for redress—even the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, notwithstanding the many ingenious observations he made, learned as he is in public law, docs not for a moment deny that it was the right quarter. And secondly, Sir, as to the mode by which redress was to be obtained from that quarter—it cannot be denied' that the mode of redress was the usual one. But I am told that Lord Malmesbury showed great infirmity of purpose: that was the expression used by the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne). I say, on the contrary, there was no infirmity of purpose; because I find in every despatch that Lord Malmesbury is consistent, in trying to obtain the same end. In his very first letter to Sir H. Bulwer, dated the 26th of April, he desired him not to lose sight in any manner of the prin- 683 ciple upon which our demands had been made, namely, that an independent State is responsible for every outrage committed in its territory. Mr. Scarlett's despatch, written on the 23rd, and received on the 1st of May, stated that no objection was made to 500l., as the minimum of compensation. Still, under these circumstances, the Secretary of State instructed the Minister, who he had supposed by that time had arrived at Florence, not to wave the recognition by Tuscany of the principle insisted on, although the compensation he had fixed upon had been conceded. Suddenly he found the whole circumstances changed—that the principle was given up, and much less compensation was accepted. But then the noble Lord said, "You are in error in supposing that Mr. Scarlett waved the principle of responsibility." Mr. Scarlett did not wave that principle; but what the Secretary of State required was, that there should be an acknowledgment of that principle. If it was a question between 250l. and 500l., it would certainly not be an object that would have justified having recourse to the measures which were recommended; but the pecuniary sum was not the great object. The great object in our eyes, not merely with respect to this particular instance, but with regard to circumstances that might exercise an influence on the fate of Europe, was that the Tuscan Government should acknowledge the principle of their absolute responsibility, and then we should have been justified in taking the sum we fixed. But, said the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, what indiscretion could be greater than when Mr. Mather had after reflection fixed upon 5,000l., the Minister should let the Tuscan Government know that Mr. Mather had fixed upon that sum as a sum required, in his opinion, for compensation, and at the same time acknowledge, on the part of the British Government, that they thought that demand was exorbitant? What could be the reason of such strange conduct? said the noble Lord. It appears to me that the reason is obvious. The object of the Government was to get, not an exorbitant but an ample compensation for the party suffering, not as vindicating the national honour, or satisfying the outrage committed against this country, but as a compensation to Mr. Mather for a gross insult and injury to him; and, knowing that the views of the Italians as to compensation are very different from the views 684 entertained in this country, I certainly do not see that it was very indiscreet to let the Tuscan Government know that Mr. Mather claimed 5,000l., although the British Government were not prepared to sanction a claim of that amount, which of course they knew it would be impracticable to realise. But of course the Tuscan Government would be and were more prepared, hearing of the extent of Mr. Mather's demand, to offer the sum they ultimately did—namely, 500l., for that was the sum they were prepared to give until that remarkable change took place in the circumstances to which reference has been made. No doubt there may here be room for difference of judgment. Some may think that was not the most adroit way of obtaining the end; but when the noble Lord says he cannot understand the reason why the British Minister should let the Tuscan Government know the individual had fixed his compensation so high that the Government could not recognise it, I think the noble Lord cannot perceive the possible consequences that I should otherwise have thought would have been very obvious. The noble Lord has called our attention to the state of Italy; and he only does justice to the feelings of the Government when he assumes that they look with great interest and some anxiety to that important country. But he spoke in a tone as if the Government were responsible for the state of affairs there. The state of Italy is no worse than we found it. The noble Lord has been making these speeches on the state of Italy for a considerable time, and very just are his observations, and very ingenious his policy; but the state of Italy has not been improved hitherto by the counsel or conduct of the noble Lord. Not only has he made speeches on the state of Italy, but he has sent some of his friends on missions to that country; and when we find that, notwithstanding the vast ability of the noble Lord, and his great experience and eloquence, the state of Italy is rather aggravated than not, I can assure the noble Lord that the Government is sensible that they must proceed in such affairs with very great deliberation and foresight. That the time may come when the fairest part of Europe may not be possessed by hostile garrisons is a result which every man must desire who sympathises with freedom, and is grateful for what the Italians have done for modern civilisation. The former Government were 685 responsible for the position of the affairs in which Mr. Mather was so much concerned. It is a painful subject; for every one must feel for one of our fellow-subjects when he is injured, and particularly for a youth of such tender years, and who has, in my opinion, behaved with such good feeling throughout the whole of this transaction. But it is not well to impeach a Government upon such a subject, even with a dissolution impending; and no one knows that better than the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), because, after due reflection upon the subject be had announced, he added a very interesting postscript. Sir, I must not follow the enviable example of my noble Friend (Lord Stanley), and leave that postscript altogether unanswered; nor must I leave the reply to it altogether to my noble Friend the Member for Stamford (the Marquess of Granby). I am bound to notice the elaborate attack of the noble Lord. He has taken a review of what has occurred during the brief period that we have sat upon these benches. We have heard from him a statement of that kind before during the course of this Session. The very first night that I took my seat, the noble Lord rose and opened his batteries. He has since recurred to the attack, but his drums were muffled and the fire slackened. Now we have a last effort—but it is a forlorn hope, that will not take the citadel. The noble Lord has, amongst other things, criticised an address that I have recently issued to my constituents; and, if I understand him correctly, he would seem to convey to the House that I have declared that the abolished corn laws were altogether passed to maintain rents. I wish the noble Lord, who has read extracts from despatches to support the first part of his case, had quoted any passage from my address which might have seemed to substantiate this statement. I have said, as I am always ready to say, that laws that are passed with a view to maintain rents, are laws that cannot be tolerated. I have never said that the corn laws were passed with that object. The noble Lord himself has never said it; but hon. Gentlemen behind him have said it every night of their lives; and it was in reply to their observation that I wrote the sentence to which the noble Lord has referred in so mistaken a manner. Laws passed to maintain the rents paid in this country are not to be tolerated; but, at 686 the same time, laws that inflict upon the land burdens, imposts, and regulations that other property and other industry are not subject to, are equally unjustifiable. And if at any time I have recommended a revision of taxation with a view of equalising the burdens upon land, I have never recommended such measures as compensation for rent, which the noble Lord quoted as if words used in my address. I never have and never shall recommend them on such a ground. If, however, the consequence of the legislation of this country is a diminution of rent, and if it can be shown there is a pressure of taxation upon land which is not shared by the other great properties of the country, then I think there is a legitimate claim on the part of the property the value of which is thus depreciated, for redress and relief. The noble Lord has also said, that although I have referred to the great things that the present Government have done—I am sure I was not conscious of it—he is not aware that we have done anything of any consequence since we have been in power, except passing the Militia Bill—that he could not pass. But the noble Lord said, "I make you a present of your Militia Bill; but your great measure of Chancery Reform on which you plume yourself so much, you have only stolen from our Commission, and when you introduced it you made changes in it which, had it not been for my trusty Friend the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), would have marred all its good effects." Sir, if these measures for the reform of Chancery should pass, I believe they will confer upon this country the greatest blessing that society has for a long while experienced; and, no matter who the Ministry who brought it forward, or the Parliament who passed it, that Ministry and that Parliament will not be forgotten. But, Sir, there is something which I remember also—it was on the 15th of March, when the noble Lord, proud of the new Opposition of which he is the recognised leader, said it was incumbent upon me to declare the measures that the Government considered it necessary to pass; and when I, with a modest catalogue of those measures, said that Chancery reform was one that we meant to try to pass, the noble Lord received that intimation with derisive scorn. He was supported by all the sections of the new Opposition— yes, even by that section, small in num- 687 ber, but of great power, led by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and who trusted that the House and the country were not going to be embarked in a Chancery suit. I thought there was, and is, a fair prospect of the passing of our measures of Chancery reform; and I claim no more credit except this, that when the chance was offered us of passing this measure, we did it in spite of the opposition and the derision of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London. But the noble Lord said, "Then there is another subject of great importance, besides your equivocal conduct towards the agricultural interest. Besides the support of the agricultural interest, and the false plumage in which you have arrayed yourselves with this Chancery reform, you have acted in the most unconstitutional, most equivocal, and equivocating manner, for some object of the hour, in tampering with the great question of education." Now, what have we done to justify all this indignation on the part of the noble Lord and all those brokenhearted inquiries which have been addressed to us by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. J. H. Smith)? The noble Lord wishes to convey to the country that, for party purposes—nay, for a viler consideration, for hustings purposes—we have been tampering with the question of education in this country. ["Hear, hear [" from the Opposition benches.]"Hear, hear!" Yes, you shall hear. The noble Lord can't endure that subjects of religion or education should ever be used for party purposes. He remembers the Appropriation Clause, and shrinks with horror from the repetition of such manoæuvres. Here is, according to the noble Lord, a Government that is having recourse to most unjustifiable proceedings; it seems that a Minute has been issued by the Committee of Privy Council on Education, which has been laid upon the table to-night; a Minute which I think it would have been more prudent if the noble Lord had read before he delivered his observations, because he would then have seen that this Minute does not alter the management clauses. They still remain as they were; but we have, consistently with the opinion we have always professed, offered an alternative to those who would not accede to the management clauses, which however we have not relinquished, and which are still regulations in force. Let the alternative we have offered in certain cases be considered by the House; 688 and, if the House does not approve of it, take your means to express your disapprobation. But, confident am I that every person who has the interest of the Church of England at heart—nay, I will not limit it to such—but say that every person who is sensible of the value of justice in the conduct of public affairs, will agree with us in the course we have taken. I do not now wish to enter into details upon the nature of the Minute—it will soon be in everybody's hands—and everybody can judge of it for themselves; but I must somewhat more particularly refer to the noble Lord's statement. The statement of the noble Lord is, that we waited until the vote upon education was taken before we passed that Minute and placed it on the table of the House; so that we possessed ourselves of the public funds, and are about to administer them in a manner which has not been sanctioned by this House, and has never before been adopted. I address myself to this grave accusation, and I assert that, without any exception, there is [no instance in which the Minutes of the Committee of Education of the Privy Council upon the management clauses have been laid upon the table of this House as a separate paper preceding the vote for education. This grave charge has been made in another place, by one whose high authority and eminent virtues I freely recognise, and it has been freely circulated. Let us look to the facts of the case. My position is this— that no Minute referring to the management clauses has ever been placed as a separate paper upon the table previous to the vote for education, but, on the contrary, has always appeared in those blue books which have been circulated long afterwards—on an average, some six months after the adopting of the Minute. The first Minutes with respect to the management Clauses A, B, C, and D were signed June 28, 1847, during the Administration of the noble Lord; and in that year, 1847, the vote for education of 100,000l. was taken upon the 26th of April, while no announcement was made during that Session of Parliament of the management clauses having been signed; indeed those clauses were never presented to Parliament until they appeared next year in the blue book, amidst a mass of other documents. That was the first precedent, and a very important one. But these clauses received important alterations two years afterwards—in the year 1849. I am told upon official authority, 689 that the date of the signature of the Minute effecting the alterations was the 26th of May, 1849; and true it is that the money vote of 125,000l. was not passed until the 4th of June, in that year; hut the amended clauses were never laid before Parliament—were never noticed in Parliament—and they were only known in Parliament by being printed in the blue books containing the Minutes of the Council, which were not circulated until the month of January in the following year. Now, I acknowledge that there was an occasion on which a Minute of the Committee of Education was laid upon the table previous to a vote, and it was that which effected that important alteration, the institution of pupil teachers, involving new pecuniary arrangements, and rendering- necessary a new distribution of the funds. It was thought that Parliament ought to be made aware of that new system before the money vote was obtained, and Lord Lansdowne placed the Minute on the table of this House before the vote was taken; and I am quite sure the noble Marquess, who is incapable of misrepresentation and of making an unfounded charge against his political opponents, must have been misled by that solitary precedent, which does not at all apply to the management clauses, and which had betrayed him into an unfounded charge against the Government, to which he has given the weight of his authority very recently in another place. But the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), who is so well versed in the business of this House— who has been conversant with the proceedings of Parliament for I know not how many years—who is, in fact, the highest authority in this House wherever he may sit—the noble Lord must not shrink under the gabardine of the noble Marquess to justify the statement he has made. There have been great concessions made in the management clauses as regards Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Jewish schools. These were three great changes made under the Government of the noble Lord, and the latter might have provoked great controversy in this House; but in no one instance was the Minute of the Council of Education laid upon the table before the vote for education was passed. And now, I ask the House and the country, was the noble Lord justified in making that statement to-night? When he was accumulating every possible means of creating odium against his opponents, beginning with the unhappy squabble 690 at Florence, and ending—but I have not come to his ending yet—I do not think he wa3 justified in making that statement. He has accused the Government of tampering with the system of education in this country. He charges us with having stealthily obtained and cheated the House out of a money vote. He has lent his—I will say—illustrious name to the circulation of a statement that must agitato every hearth in the country, that the Government are tampering with a system of education that has received for so long a period the approbation of Parliament; and that they have done this in a manner the most disingenuous and the most disgraceful, by procrastinating their movements until Parliament has been betrayed into a generous vote of upwards of 150,000l., which is now to be distributed and applied to a new system that they have disingenuously established— thus making the House of Commons an unwilling confederate with us in a revolution which the noble Lord deprecates and denounces. But what is the fact? I have shown that in no one instance where the management clauses are concerned has the Minute of the Privy Council ever been laid on the table of the House of Commons: in every instance, whatever changes might have been made, Parliament has always voted the sum for education in perfect ignorance and in total disregard of what might be the change in the management clauses which the Government, in its responsibility, might think fit to recommend. I have shown to the House that when the management clauses were first introduced, they wore signed after the vote was passed in this House, and were not communicated to the House of Commons until six months afterwards. That was in the year 1847. I have shown the House that great alterations in them took place in 1849, and that the Minute was signed only six days before the vote was passed, but was never communicated to the House of Commons until six months afterwards. That recently, within the last eighteen months, three most important changes have been made in the management clauses with regard to the education of Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, and Jews; and not in one single instance has the Minute been placed on the table of the House of Commons until six months afterwards; and that, in every instance, has the vote for education been continued by the House in total ignorance of those changes. I hope the House 691 will excuse me if I have attempted to vindicate the Government from the most serious charge which has been made against them; one which I think affects their character as Gentlemen, as well as their conduct as Ministers—conduct of which I trust that no Government from whatever side of the House it may be deputed—of whatever party it may be formed—would willingly be guilty in this House. Certainly, had we for a moment believed that in recommending—as I believe—the temperate, wise, and salutary alternative that we have recommended with regard to the management clauses for Church schools—if I thought that we had been taking advantage of the House of Commons—that we had been cheating the people, through their representatives, of their money to support a cause which they do not approve, and maintain a system which they look upon with dislike, I should have conceived that we were acting in a manner totally unworthy of our character as Ministers, and should have thought, that even in the last days of this Parliament, there would have been spirit enough in the House of Commons to have, by some expression of reprobation, shown the country how undeserving we were of the position in which we were placed. Sir, the noble Lord may rest assured that we shall go to the country, with no undue confidence, I trust, but at least in a manner which will allow us to meet the people without shame. And whatever the noble Lord may say of our change of opinions, I shall be prepared to vindicate them here or before my constituents in a manner which I trust will entitle me to maintain their good opinion which I now possess. I deny that there has been, on our part, at any time since the unfortunate circumstances of 1846— circumstances which I ever deeply deplored—I deny that there has been any attempt to change the position which we then took up. Sir, I do now, and ever shall, look on the changes which took place in 1846, both as regards the repeal of the corn laws and the alteration of the sugar duties, as totally unauthorised. I opposed them, as most of my hon. Friends about me opposed them, from an apprehension of the great suffering which must be incurred by such a change. That suffering, in a great degree, though it may be limited to particular classes, has in some instances been even severer than we anticipated; but, Sir, I deny that at any time after 692 those laws were passed, either I or the bulk of those with whom I have the honour to act have ever maintained a recurrence to the same laws that regulated those industries previous to 1846. You cannot recall a single speech to that effect; I defy anybody to quote any speech that I ever made, or any sentence that I ever uttered, that recommended such a course as desirable or possible. Why, what is your charge against my Lord Derby? You say that he recommended a fixed duty, and now that he has intimated his belief that the country would not support such a policy. Well, but is a fixed duty a recurrence to the laws which regulated the introduction of corn or sugar prior to 1846? If my Lord Derby had declared that he counselled a recurrence to those laws, don't you think that you would be ready to refer to his speeches—that night after night you would din in our ears your quotations from what he said? I defy you to produce a single sentence of the kind. When we come to this question of a fixed duty, that is talked of so much, I must say now what I have said before in this House, that I will not pin my political career on any policy which is not, after all, a principle, but a measure. I should be very glad, as a financier, that there was a moderate fixed duty on corn. I admit that; and I see opposite me numerous great authorities who have often admitted it also. But, Sir, when I find that, by circumstances which I do not wish now particularly to describe, by arts which I have no wish now to denounce, a fiscal proposition is invested with so much popular odium that it would be one of the unwisest things which a Minister could do to propose such a tax, thus disliked by the people—whether rightly or wrongly I will not say—I do not feel myself bound in honour to make that the basis of my policy, or to hold it up as the only measure which I can offer as a panacea to a suffering community. I could offer authorities in favour of a duty on corn, not culled from Gentlemen on my own benches, but from Gentlemen whose writings you particularly quote, from men whose political opinions entirely agree with yours, from distinguished public writers, from members of the Political Economy Club. I could quote you not merely the writings of Mr. MacCulloch, whom once you always quoted, though now you shrink from his authority, but from the pages of Colonel Torrens, from the writings of Mr. Mill. I might bring you 693 scientific authorities in support of such a measure, which you would find it very difficult to cope with; but we must look to something beyond the mere consideration of scientific propriety; and if a measure, though recommended by the highest economical authorities, is one that the popular will repudiates, I do not think that any Minister is bound to propose it. But what is this measure that you seem always wishing us to propose?— that you, with such anxiety, press for, and appear so jealous if for a moment we lose sight of it? It is, after all, nothing but a countervailing duty against certain inequalities of taxation; and if we can remove those inequalities of taxation, and redress the fiscal injuries and injustice which we believe exist, without having recourse to odious means, I consider that we are acting in strict consistency with all we have said if we adopt those means, that we are acting in perfect unison with all that we have counselled if we follow the course which we think preferable, and which we believe to be popular. Why, Sir, Session after Session, at the desire and with the sanction of my friends, when on the other side of the House, I have repeatedly urged upon Parliament a variety of means, all of the same character, by which that great result might be obtained without a recurrence to those unpopular measures which you, in your secret heart, seem so anxious that we should have recourse to. Is it anything inconsistent in me, and those with whom I act, that now we should counsel the course which for years, under great obstacles and difficulties, we supported on the benches opposite? Our wish is that the interests which we believe were unjustly treated in 1846 should receive the justice which they deserve, with as little injury to those who may have benefited more than they were entitled, as it is possible for human wisdom to devise. Sir, I call that reconciling the interests of the consumer and the producer, when you do not permit the consumer to flourish by placing unjust taxes upon the producer; while, at the same time, you resort to no tax which gives to the producer an unjust and artificial price for his productions. Those are the views which we supported in Opposition. Those are the views which we are resolved, if possible, to carry into effect. Our object is to do justice to those classes towards whom we believe that in 1846 you acted unjustly; and we attempt to do that without disturbing the system which is now established. Sir, I believe, 694 that the country will support these views. I believe that that temperate, that remedial, and that purely conciliatory policy will be by the country ratified. And when the noble Lord the Member for the city of London talks of our being a party without principles, why, he seems plainly to admit that he is an Opposition without a cry. In his woefulness he confesses his desolation; no principle, no opinion, no movement, no agitation. What is left to the noble Lord? With the imagination of a poet—for he is still a poet—at his last gasp, to my great surprise he discovered a resource. "Something," says the noble Lord, "we must rally round. We must rally round the only thing that is left to us, that profound apophthegm of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir James Graham)." The right hon. Gentleman has emblazoned on his standard the original, the inspiring inscription, "Don't put any confidence in Lord Derby. "A year ago was emblazoned on that self-same standard," Do not trust in the noble Lord the Member for the City of London." Sir, we shall survive the want of confidence reposed in us by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon; and if the only way in which the noble Lord thinks he can make the present Government unpopular—if the only mode by which he thinks he can unseat the present Administration—is by announcing to the country that it does not possess the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon, why, then, Sir, I must express my heartfelt conviction that this time next year we shall still have the honour of serving Her Majesty.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
regretted that the noble Lord the Member for London should have added the postscript to this Motion, as it gave an opportunity to the right hon. Gentleman opposite to get up a corn law and an education debate. Without the speech of the noble Member for Stamford, the country was aware of the differences that existed in the Cabinet on these subjects. He, however, was anxious to call back the attention of the House to the more legitimate topic for consideration—the case of Mr. Mather. Any one who road the despatches upon the subject must feel, despite any respect they might entertain for Lord Malmesbury's private character, that if it had been his Lordship's object to lower the country in the estimation of the world, and sacrifice the character of Mr. Mather, he could not have 695 taken a better course. He felt bound to suppose that Lord Malmesbury desired to obtain the best redress he could for the injured party, as well as for the honour of the country, but his proceedings showed a desire to pay court to Austria. Any one who had listened to the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer must have been surprised at his making statements so utterly at variance with the real state of the case. He did not think that the tone of the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with this question was such as it should have been. So far from his showing any generous indignation that a British subject should be cut down in a foreign city, the right hon. Gentleman described the injuries inflicted on Mr. Mather as arising in "an unhappy squabble." He should like to know what there had been in the conduct of Mr. Mather deserving of criticism unless that he had too easily yielded to the demands of Lord Malmesbury, to name a pecuniary compensation for the injury he had received; and when he had done so, Lord Malmesbury, in a despatch to Mr. Scarlett, which he desired should be read to the Tuscan Government, said that Mr. Mather, the father of the young man so brutally used, had demanded a sum as compensation greater than he should have asked. Lord Malmesbury had on this question pursued a course such as might have been expected from an attorney of sharp practice, except that the Foreign Secretary had pursued that course in the character of an attorney for his own client—he first urged Mr. Mather to demand pecuniary compensation, and when he had acceded to that, said to him—"You shall have that, but not so much as you ask." He would here take the opportunity of observing that he had been misrepresented by Mr. Scarlett, in his despatch of the 10th of April, and that he had been perfectly correct in his statement that no apology had been offered to Mr. Mather. Mr. Scarlett, who he must say had been ill-treated by the Foreign Office, though in his opinion he had not altogether acted rightly, took the view he had done, that reparation should have been demanded from Austria and not from Tuscany. He would ask the Government what they now proposed to do? The country wanted to know whether they were going to do anything further, or whether they were going to sit down under this outrage to the honour and dignity of the country. Lord Malmesbury, in one of his early despatches 696 to Sir H. Bulwer, had written to say that if reparation were not afforded, the mission to Tuscany would be closed, and that ulterior steps would be taken. Would the Government take those ulterior steps? If not, they would suffer the deepest humiliation. And now he would ask why all the despatches relating to this case had not been laid on the table? Why were the letters of Mr. Mather and other letters excluded? It could not be on the ground that they were trivial, for others were given of so trivial a character that they could hardly be expected to be found in a list of despatches. It appeared to him that the whole affair from beginning to end had been a bungle on the part of Lord Malmesbury. He would remind the House that this was not the only outrage on a British subject that had occurred in Tuscany, for they found Lord Granville in one of his despatches telling Mr. Mather that more outrages had occurred in Tuscany than in any other State; and Mr. Scarlett expressing a hope that such outrages would not occur again. He would ask if the Tuscans had since then mended their manners? He believed not. If these outrages were allowed to pass unredressed, it would encourage foreign nations to repeat the insults heaped upon England. The character of this country was not so degraded under the administration of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton. He took care to sustain the honour of the country. He did not know whether a British frigate was going to Leghorn; he did not know whether the Government were prepared to insist on redress; but if they did not, the discontent in the country would increase. They talked of appealing to the country; but he could tell them that if they went with this case of Mather and Baggs in their hands, it would not conduce much to their chance of obtaining the confidence of the English people.