HC Deb 26 July 1856 vol 143 cc1488-9

said, he begged to ask the permission of the House to make a brief personal explanation with respect to a gentleman who undeservedly, as regarded himself, had been a sufferer on public grounds. He alluded to Mr. Mathew, who had lately held the office of British Consul in America, but from whom his exequatur had been withdrawn on the; charge that he had been implicated in; breaches of the American law in matters relating to the enlistment question. The proceedings of Mr. Consul Mathew bad been taken in the most direct and straight forward manner, he had reported all that he had done to his official superior, Mr. Crampton; that gentleman had, in his turn, reported his proceedings to the Government, by whom they were sanctioned and approved. It was clear, therefore, that, whatever might be thought of the merits of the general question, no blame could fairly attach to Mr. Consul Mathew. The responsibility of his proceedings, if they constituted a breach of the American law, was transferred to his superiors, and if he had gone wrong he had done so in his zeal for his country, and in his earnest desire to carry into effect the instructions of those who were in authority over him. In acquainting them with the course he had taken, and in procuring their approval of it, he had placed himself beyond the possibility of offence, but, unfortunately, as it appeared, not of punishment. He was undeservedly a sufferer, and he (Mr. Gladstone) considered him to be well entitled to the consideration of the English Government. He had been given to understand, however, that in the course of the debate on the enlistment question words were imputed to him (Mr. Gladstone) to the effect that he was not disposed to give entire credence to the statements of Mr. Consul Mathew. If any such words had indeed been attributed to him, all he could say was that they had been erroneously attributed, for, in point of fact, he gave the fullest credence to the statements of that gentleman, whom he believed to be an honourable and well-intentioned man.