HC Deb 16 February 1854 vol 130 cc733-5

Sir, I wish to make inquiry of Her Majesty's Government re- specting a very important diplomatic document that has just appeared in the French journals. That document affects to be a letter from the Emperor of the French to the Emperor of Russia, and it offers to re-open negotiations with that latter potentate, apparently with the sanction and the cognisance of the Government of this country. What I wish to know from Her Majesty's Government is, whether they can inform the House if that is an authentic document, and if it be an authentic document, whether any communication took place between the Government of France and Her Majesty's Government before that letter was transmitted to the personage to whom it was addressed; and further, if any such communication took place, whether that letter was sent to Russia with the cognisance and sanction of Her Majesty's Government?


Sir, in answer to the question of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, I beg to state, in the first place, that I have every reason to believe the document to which allusion has been made, as published in the Moniteur, is an authentic document. With respect to the second part of the question, I have to say that we had had a communication from the Government of France, stating that the Emperor of the French thought it desirable he should make a further effort, by means of a letter written by himself—an autograph letter—to the Emperor of Russia, in order to procure a termination of disputes which have been so long going on, and which have tended towards hostilities. Her Majesty's Government, when in possession of the nature of the letter which was proposed to be sent, observed upon it that they could have no objection to such a step being taken, provided it was entirely in conformity with the terms which had been proposed by the Conference at Vienna, and provided that certain modifications which they suggested should be adopted. The answer which we received was, the terms which were proposed agreed with those which had been proposed by the Conference at Vienna, and that the modifications which Her Majesty's Government suggested would be adopted. Generally speaking, in substance, these modifications had been adopted, but Her Majesty's Government had not had an opportunity of seeing the letter before it was despatched by the Emperor of the French to the Emperor of Russia. Therefore, while I can say Her Majesty's Govern- ment hold themselves entirely responsible for being parties to the substance of that letter, as communicated and shown to us, still I will not say that every particular word or phrase is such as we should be prepared to adopt. But I have no hesitation in saying that we entirely approved of the step which the Emperor of the French proposed to take, as we considered it a most laudable endeavour to prevent the breaking out of war, and should be very glad if it should be successful in inducing the Emperor of Russia to agree to the proposals which have been made to him. I have only further to say, that no answer had been received from the Emperor of Russia to the proposals of the Conference of Vienna when the letter of the Emperor of the French was sent from Paris.