HC Deb 28 February 1860 vol 156 cc1936-70

said, he then rose to move for the production of the Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of Franco and Sardinia in respect to the proposal for annexing Savoy and Nice to the empire of France. He wished to call the attention of the House to this rumoured annexation; but he would endeavour from the outset to confine himself strictly to the subject in hand—not that there were not many neighbouring topics of great interest and importance, but because, by so limiting himself to the question, he should best achieve the main object of his Motion, which was an expression of opinion on the part of the House, almost, if not entirely, unanimous. The rumour of an annexation had arisen in a strange manner, and he had found extreme difficulty in discovering its origin. Here were two countries side by side, the sovereigns of both living, as far as we know, on terms of amity and friendship; they were comrades and allies in the Italian war, and he was not aware of any grounds on which the one should be supposed to be seeking to despoil the other. Yet suddenly it became known or believed that a portion of the provinces of Sardinia were by some process or other to be transferred to France. In the autumn of last year he had received a communication from Paris, which was very short and pithy. It was in these words:—"Savoy and Nice are to be annexed by universal suffrage." He had not, therefore, been taken by surprise, and the House would see by and by how it was he was not much startled by this announcement. The rumour spread abroad and gathered strength, and in the early part of the present year the impression that these provinces were to be severed from the territory of Sardinia became so general that the loyal subjects of Sardinia, both in Savoy and Nice, began to think it time to express their fidelity to the King of Sardinia. They accordingly met in large numbers in Chambery, brought out their ancient banners, and in a firm but respectful manner asserted the unaltered loyalty with which they clung to the ancient house of Savoy. A similar demonstration took place in the county, or, more strictly speaking, in the city of Nice. He should have thought if any public act could be more than another justifiable, it would be this act of loyal subjects of their king meeting together, not for the purpose of raising a disturbance or expressing discontent, but to exhibit their loyalty, not to an exiled king, but their reigning Sovereign. These loyal demonstrations on the part of the people of Savoy soon called forth angry denunciations from the organs of the Parisian press supposed to speak with more or less precision the views of the Imperial Government. The Patrie said:— Two measures cannot be applied to Savoy and to Italy.…. We have a right to demand a cessation of this intolerable state of affairs, and equal justice for all. People will then see that the real inspirations of Savoy and Nice are for France. In the time of the old French Revolution moderatisme was made a crime; but he had never before heard it charged as a crime against a people, that they had clung with loyalty to the actual ruler under whom they lived. These menaces, if he might so call them, issuing from the official or semiofficial press, produced a great deal of alarm. It was in some degree mitigated, but not altogether allayed, by the following curious statement made by the Constitutionnel, in that part of the paper which indicated that the writer expressed the views of the Imperial Government:— The report going the round of the journals relative to the annexation of Savoy and Nice to France is but the result of a presentiment of public opinion, and a statement based on the logic of facts. The press has been struck by the attraction felt by the population of Savoy towards France, and by the justice of a measure which, at the moment when Piedmont is to be singularly aggrandized, would give France a geographical frontier. But this unanimous tendency of the press remains completely without official impulse. What Savoy wishes for, what France desires, does not appear doubtful; but what the Government will and can do remains hidden under the veil of diplomacy. Those who assert that the affair is settled are no better informed than those who say that it will not take place. The Emperor is the scrupulous defender of the essential conditions which insure and guarantee the European equilibrium, and will certainly not allow them to be altered, either to his own detriment or that of others. This article left the question altogether in doubt. On the 7th of February a discussion took place in that House on the question; and it then became known, from the statement of a Minister of the Crown, that the annexation of these two provinces to France had been the subject of negotiation. As to the principles on which this annexation was founded, they were of so general a nature that it was difficult to say to what country they might not be applied. It was said for instance that the people of Savoy spoke the language of France. Where was that principle to stop? If the consent of Europe to the annexation was sought on account of the sympathies of the people of Savoy with France, the people had themselves given a most distinct answer to that proposition. They have evinced a strong determination to remain subjects of the King of Sardinia. He would not trouble the House with reading the touching declarations published at Chambery; one was addressed to the people of England, the other to the King of Sardinia; but the House might learn from those declarations with what feeling the people of Savoy were animated. On the other hand the objections on European grounds against the scheme were of the most stringent character. In the first place, the northern portion of Savoy—that was to say, that portion of it that consisted of Chablais, Faucigny, and Genevois—was not, in the full and complete sense of the terns, part of the kingdom of Sardinia; the fact being that for all European purposes those provinces belonged to Switzerland, and that the great Powers at the settlement of 1815 had guaranteed the neutrality of the whole of those provinces with the same completeness and anxiety with which they had guaranteed to Europe the neutrality and integrity of Switzerland herself. If, then, the northern part of Savoy were to become a portion of the territory of France, what, he should like to know, would become of the neutrality which had been thus guaranteed? Would not France, were she to become possessed of this department of Mont Blanc, as he believed it was intended to be called, be in a position to march her troops across it with a directness which was not at present the case; would she not for military purposes envelop Switzerland, and would not the security which Europe sought to obtain by the neutrality of Switzerland, under these circumstances be almost completely at an end? For his own part, he was prepared to contend that if there were one circumstance to which more than another it was due that this happy part of the world had not been desolated by conquest, it was the fact that in a central part of the Continent there existed a mountainous district. Our forefathers had in 1815 so felt the value of that fact that they had in the most solemn manner guaranteed the neutrality and integrity of Switzerland, and he had been rejoiced to hear from the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in that decisive language, of which he was so great a master, a few days ago, that by that guarantee the Government of this country was determined to abide. Now, however, that we had it established that the neutrality of Switzerland was to be maintained, it clearly followed that the frontiers of that country on the side of Savoy ought to be upheld undisturbed, so that the integrity of Switzerland might with the greatest advantage be secured. Let any man cast his eye over the map of that part of Europe to which he referred, and he would see at a glance the danger with which the integrity of Switzerland would be menaced if the contemplated annexation of Savoy to France were to take place. She would, in fact, be jammed in between the fangs, so to speak, of two departments of France, and the maintenance of her neutrality would, he thought, be under such circumstances almost a geographical impossibility. There was, however, even a still more important view of the question which he wished to submit to the House, and one with respect to which, as far as he was aware, very false ideas seemed to he entertained. He had heard it frequently stated that treaties—since those which had been entered into in 1815—had been thought so little of, and had been so frequently violated, that we need not make ourselves very anxious about their exact observance in particular instances. Now, he could understand the way in which an erroneous view of that kind had originated, but he hoped he should be able to satisfy the House that that sort of cynical indifference to the obligations which treaties imposed had at all events no application to the engagements by which we were bound in the case of those provinces which bordered on France. Many of the engagements which had been entered into at the settlement of 1815—such, for instance, as the constitution of the republic of Cracow—might he regarded in the light to which he alluded; for, although each and all the Powers which had been parties to that particular engagement had an undoubted right to remonstrate against its violation, yet they were under no obligation to take any active steps in case such violation took place. The same might be said with respect to the Italian States. There was another class of treaties by which the ownership and enjoyment of her territories was specifically guaranteed to an independent country, as, for instance, was the case of Switzerland. There was, however, a third and a more important class of treaties, under which category came that by which this country had guaranteed, not that Savoy and Nice should be part of Sardinia, or that the Rhenish provinces should always belong to Prussia, but that those provinces verging as they did on the borders of France should not be annexed to the French Empire. That being so, a definitive treaty which had been signed between France and the Allied Powers on the 20th of November, 1815, provided by its first article that the frontiers of France should be the same as they had been in the year 1790, save so far as related to such modifications on one side or the other as were detailed in the article itself. The article then went on to describe the frontiers of France exactly as they stood at the present moment. Now, if the matter had rested at that point, the neutrality of Switzerland would have rested on the same footing as the security of the republic of Cracow or that of many other States of Europe to which no special guarantee applied; but the time was not one in which the four great Powers of Europe were disposed to leave it to the mere whim of other Powers to decide whether they would or would not acquiesce at some future day in an alteration of the frontiers of France; and accordingly, by the use of the most stringent language, and by the most stringent process known to diplomacy, every one of the four great Powers had been made to engage by separate Treaty one with the other that it would maintain in its full force and vigour the particular treaty which he had just mentioned. Another treaty had, therefore, been signed at Paris on the 20th of November, 1815, between this country and Austria, the object of which was declared to be "to fix beforehand, by a solemn treaty, the principles which they (the two Powers concerned) proposed to follow in order to guarantee Europe from the dangers by which she may still be menaced." The first Article of the Treaty was as follows:— The High Contracting Parties reciprocally promise to maintain in its full force and vigour the treaty signed this day with His Most Christian Majesty, and to see that the stipulations of the said treaty, as well as those of the particular conventions which have reference thereto, shall be strictly and faithfully executed in their fullest extent. A treaty in precisely the same words had been entered into with Russia and Prussia, and it was somewhat curious that, by a protocol which was written nearly at the same time, it was provided that the King of Sardinia should receive out of the common fund under the control of the great Powers a sum of 10,000,000 francs, to be laid out upon the strengthening of the Sardinian fortifications on the French side, so that it appeared they were not satisfied with simply giving him the territories in question in trust, as it were, for the rest of Europe. Now, what he wished the House specially to observe was the effect which the annexation of Nice and Savoy to France would be calculated to have upon that which, he supposed, was dear to every hon. Member at the present moment—our freedom of action. As matters at present stood, it was competent to us to stand aloof from the great Continental struggles, and to come to a calm determination as to whether we should or should not take any part in those contests. If the proposed annexation, however, took place, our freedom of action would have departed for ever, for no sooner would it have been accomplished than the casus fœderis would have been complete, and Austria or Russia or Prussia might call upon us separately, and without joint action, to fulfil our treaty engagements. If, therefore, this country were desirous not to be forced against her will into European complications, or not to expose herself to the liability of rendering herself liable to the charge of dishonour for not having abided by her obligations, it was of the deepest importance that Savoy should not be added to the French Empire. He, for one, could not consent to forget that the kingdom of Sardinia was governed in accordance with principles of which we in this country highly approved; while he, at the same time, did not wish to enter into any comparison between our institutions and those of France. It was enough for him to say that, perhaps by prejudice, he was led to prefer those we ourselves enjoyed; and he could not but think that in the present state of Europe it would not be merely a misfortune to Savoy and Nice, but to the whole of Europe, to extend in any degree the influence of French institutions in that direction. Indeed, we could not consent to the annexation of Savoy and Nice without defacing the map of Europe. He desired to say that he did not speak with anything like jealousy of the extension of France in a fair direction. He thought the acquiescence of this coun- try in the vast extension France had made for itself in Algeria was a proof that we had no jealousy of that sort; and no doubt the extension of France in Algeria had added very much to her material means. It had given her a great deal of that military strength she now enjoyed; and he thought the Emperor must feel that, if he was now strong in a military point of view, he owed a very large proportion of his military strength to the foresight and care of those great statesmen who in the time of Louis Philippe so very perseveringly went on with the determination to extend the influence of France in the north of Africa. It had been his fortune to travel in that country, and its was competent for him, as an individual, to come back and endeavour to persuade the people that it was dangerous for France to extend herself in that direction, and that she ought to withdraw from Algeria, which tended to increase her influence and strength in Europe. But he never entertained any idea of that kind, and no such idea was ever entertained in England. His objection to the annexation of Savoy and Nice was not that it would add a certain amount of population and strength to France; his objection was founded on this—that the possession of these territories by France would be the unsettlement of Europe. There was another circumstance which rendered this annexation objectionable, and that was that Sardinia was a settled Government while the empire of France was an institution very newly founded. He confessed he could warmly enter into the feelings of those Savoyards and men of Nice who preferred to belong to a settled Government and did not desire to become the subjects of the French Empire. They willingly admitted the great glory the French Empire was manifesting in the world, but they also respectfully said that in that glory they did not desire to share. It was important to inquire how and when did this scheme of annexation of Savoy and Nice originate. Was it, or was it not, true that the idea of effecting this annexation was entertained before the late war? The Emperor of the French, when he engaged in the last Italian war, obtained the acquiescence of Europe to that enterprise of his by the most solemn assurances that he entertained no scheme of personal ambition, no scheme involving the aggrandisement of France. "The Government of the Emperor," Count Walewski wrote to the Duke of Malakhoff, "being neither influenced by any arrière pensée, nor by any ambitious views, has nothing to dissemble, nothing to conceal." On the 27th of April (wrote Earl Cowley to the Earl of Malmesbury), Count Walewski informed me yesterday, that he had written to the Duke of Malakhoff a despatch for communication to Her Majesty's Government, in which he had given assurances that the present attitude of the Imperial Government was dictated by no prospects of conquest or ambition."—[No. 458.] Count Walewski, approaching still more closely to the very subject of this discussion, addressed the Duke of Malakhoff in these few words:—he said, The passes of the Alps are not in our hands, and it is in the highest degree important to us that the key of them should remain at Turin—at Turin only."…. His Imperial Majesty, strictly faithful to the words which he pronounced when the French people recalled him to the throne of the chief of his dynasty, is animated by no personal ambition, by no desire of conquest.… His Majesty has no thought, you may give the most positive assurances to those about you, of separating his views from those of his Allies. Well, then, in a still more striking and public form, the Emperor gave assurances of the same kind when he was at Milan on the 8th of June. In the Proclamation he addressed to the Italian people, he said,— Your enemies, who are my enemies, have endeavoured to diminish the sympathy which exists throughout all Europe for your cause, by trying to persuade the world that I am carrying on this war only for personal ambition, or to aggrandize the territory of France. If there are men who do not understand their epoch, I am not of the number. In the enlightened state of public opinion which prevails, men are greater by the moral influence which they exercise than by barren conquests, and this moral influence I seek after with pride in endeavouring to emancipate one of the most beautiful parts of Europe. He must frankly acknowledge that he was not one of those who placed implicit reliance on those representations, for he happened to have in his drawer a paper that led him to suspect that those words had not much more foundation, and deserved no more weight, than the bulletins of a former Emperor. It was no doubt said that men who spoke of this annexation being conceived and contrived before the war, indulged a malignant thought after the time. He was so circumstanced that he should be able to appeal to an hon. Member of that House (Mr. S. FitzGerald), who would tell them, if asked the question, that eleven months ago, in March last, when peace prevailed in Europe, he had felt it his duty to make to Her Majesty's then Government (although he was in opposition to them), a communication to the effect he would read to the House; but, before doing so, he must be permitted to say that he received it under circumstances which fully justified him in making any use of it he chose. He might have come down and read it to the House at once; but it seemed better for the public service that he should communicate it privately to the hon. Gentleman opposite. The House must not, however, ask him to give the name of the gentleman from whom he received the communication. All he could say was that, speaking on his honour, he received it from a source which made him firmly believe in its truth; and he would have the support of the hon. Gentleman opposite when he said this was no new thought or idea, but a communication he made to him eleven months ago. He repeated that at a time when Europe was at peace, when the war in Italy had not begun, he received a communication which was in these words:— On the evening before the marriage with the Princess Clotilde a paper was signed by the Emperor of the French, which was called a pacte de famille, not a treaty or convention, promising aid, offensive and defensive, to Sardinia; the King, on his side, promising Savoy and Nice, in return for whatever possessions he may gain in Lombardy. The paper was signed by Walewski. The Earl of Malmesbury seemed to have desired the Earl Cowley to ask a question on the subject, but he used the word "treaty," and asked whether a treaty did not exist, instead of the pacte de famille. Earl Cowley replied on the 1st of May, 1859:— Count Walewski having given me an opportunity, I said to him this afternoon, but without putting any question to him on the subject, I thought it right to let him know that Her Majesty's Government had been informed that a treaty had been signed on the 17th of January last between France and Sardinia, by which the latter agreed to cede Savoy to France provided she was put in possession of Lombardy. Count Walewski replied that all he could assure me was that, up to this moment, there was no treaty whatever between France and Sardinia.… He made no allusion to the territorial question."—[No. 507.] No disclaimer was made for a long time, and in the month of July, when the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Lord John Russell) announced to the House the conclusion of the Peace of Villafranca, he had also the happiness of being able to announce, on the authority of the statement of Count Walewski, that there was no intention of annexing Savoy and Nice. He said:— I am happy to be able to inform the House that the Emperor of the French has made no demand of that kind, and that there is every reason to suppose that he does not intend to make any addition whatever to the territory of France. This is most gratifying, because any addition to the territory of France, however insignificant, following on the war, could not fail to rouse the suspicions and jealousies of Europe."—[3 Hansard, cliv. 1052.] Now, the existence of that arrangement seemed to have been pretty well concealed until he himself gave his first notice of Motion in this matter. Into that notice of Motion he introduced the words pacte de famille. It then, perhaps, became known that this was a matter which could not any longer be concealed from Europe, and Earl Granville, speaking in another place, on the 7th of February for the first time disclosed—not, of course, in complete language, but in language which very well shadowed out the truth—the existence of something like the arrangement to which he had referred. Earl Granville said:— We have been told by the Imperial Government that there is no question at present of the annexation of Savoy; that one of a great many points discussed before the war was the annexation of Savoy, under certain contingencies, but that those contingencies not having occurred there is at this moment no question of annexation. The French Government adds, at the same time, that, in the event of Sardinia, with the addition of Lombardy and other provinces, becoming a powerful Italian State, they will feel themselves at liberty to consider what conditions they should attach to the sanction they might give to such an arrangement. Well, the matter, apparantly, now stood thus:—There was no doubt that before the war an arrangement was entered into that, in exchange for Lombardy, the Emperor of the French should become possessed of Savoy and the county of Nice. But the Emperor of the French having failed to conquer all Lombardy, according to the original programme, the contingency failed, and for a time France and Sardinia both acquiesced in the proposition that the circumstances under which Savoy and Nice were to be surrendered to France had not occurred. But later in the autumn, when it became obvious that the provisions of the Treaty of Villafranca were of such a kind that they could not and would not be carried into effect, the Central States of Italy began to provide for themselves and indicated an intention to become annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia. Then the Emperor of the French apparently reverted to his former proposal, and seemed to say that if Sardinia was to be aggrandized, though not in the way originally contemplated, then virtually, though not actually and in terms, there was that between himself and the King of Sardinia which would entitle him to insist on the pacte de famille. We had, happily, since been told that this annexation would not be carried into effect by the Emperor of the French without consulting the great Powers of Europe. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary stated in that House:— Her Majesty's Ambassador in France, having addressed the Emperor on this subject, was assured that the Emperor of the French would not proceed to a final decision on this matter of Savoy without consulting the great Powers of Europe. Now, if he were told by a plain man that he would not do a particular thing without consulting some other person, he might, perhaps, infer that he meant something more than the strict literal force of his words would imply, and that he would not only consult that third person, but would to some extent be governed by the advice he might receive. But when it was found that, contemporaneously with the assurance of the Emperor that he would consult the great Powers of Europe he asserted that a portion of Savoy was necessary to the Empire of France, one was led to fear that this consultation would rather be an indication on the part of France of what she meant to do, than a real question and inquiry' from her as to what the other Powers of Europe thought right. When the inquiry, which, if he was not misinformed, would soon come from the Foreign Office of Paris, arrived, and the four great Powers were consulted on this subject in the way which he heard was now intended, he trusted that the answer of England would be so closely similar to the answer of every other Government that all Europe would know that the four great Powers were of one mind. It was often said it was well that this country should be allied with France or with some other state. The truth was that alliances did not depend on proximity, nor upon caprice. The one thing on which our alliances should depend must he a community of interest. Did we or did we not desire the same thing as any other power of Europe? He believed that England anxiously desired peace. Then it followed that the Allies of England must be those who also desired peace. Would the Emperor of the French persist in this scheme? Whatever might he the natural moderation or the good sense of that ruler, he was armed with a power which had annexed to it certain conditions. That power had annexed to it this fatal condition, that he must use it. And it was gravely to be doubted whether he would be able to resist the evil counsels which might prompt him to execute this project. If he did not resist, them we should at all events have so provided that he would no longer have it in his power to proceed privily or by stealth. All Europe would know that this act, if it was to be done, would be done in open violation of treaty; and we should then come to understand our epoch, and to perceive that the rights of nations were made to depend, not altogether upon the justice of their cause, but also upon their strength. The hon. Member concluded by moving an Address for Copies of the Correspondence which has taken place between Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of the Emperor of the French and the King of Sardinia in respect to the proposal for annexing Savoy and Nice to the Empire of France.


said, he had great pleasure in seconding the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend. He felt so deeply the importance of the subject they were now called on to discuss that he could not refrain, before entering on the observations he had to make, from tendering his thanks to his hon. and learned Friend not only for the very able and lucid manner in which he had brought the question before the House, but also for the opportunity he has afforded us of eliciting some opinions from the Government; and he presumed the Government are gratified at the opportunity which this discussion supplies of giving such explanations and assurances as may be calculated to place their conduct in this matter in a clear and intelligible light before the public, for, as they are well aware, their conduct in the matter, without some explanation from them, is liable to be canvassed, and indeed, probably from inadequate means of information, had been generally canvassed in the country, in no very favourable light. The question of Savoy not only affected the whole of Italy, but was of vast and vital importance to Europe. It not merely concerned the territorial limits or the geographical frontiers of Sardinia and France—not merely involved the independence of Switzerland, as regarded the three neutralized provinces of Chablais, Faucigny, and Genevois, but it touched the whole European comity of nations, inasmuch as it was the first attempt to make an inroad upon that charter of European tenure which was the basis of the existing territorial arrangements. It was an attempt, therefore, which either must be checked at once with a vigorous hand, or must be sanctioned by the consent of the other Powers; or else, if carried out without the consent of those Powers, it would infallibly lead to European convulsion. The Motion was brought forward in no spirit of hostility to the present Government. Up to this point he believed that Her Majesty's Government, following the policy pursued by their predecessors in a troublous and hazardous time, had been desirous of maintaining those friendly relations with other States which every Government of this country, irrespective of its politics, must seek to maintain. The Earl of Aberdeen, a veteran and distinguished statesman of perhaps, a bygone generation, had affirmed that the foreign policy of England had been more or less identical for the last thirty years—that was to say, that each succeeding Minister for Foreign Affairs had been obliged to adhere, in the main, to the policy of his predecessor. They all knew what was the policy of the Earl of Malmesbury in regard to Italy. That noble Earl had declared—and the country would, doubtless, be prepared to endorse his statement—that his own exertions, and those of the Earl of Derby's Government, saved Europe from a general war last year. The Earl of Malmesbury had also declared as publicly that the same exertions were instrumental in confining the struggle between Austria on the one side, and France and Sardinia on the other, within the limits of Northern Italy. The present advisers of the Crown, with a clear insight into the drift of affairs, had, no doubt, also been desirous to abstain from involving this country in the disputes of other nations who were our allies and friends. How came it then, that after having wisely determined on that course on the 4th of February, Earl Cowley communicated to M. Thouvenel a project of the English Cabinet for the definitive settlement of the Italian question? The heads of that scheme were, that Venetia should remain under the Austrian rule; that the inhabitants of the Central States of Italy should be again invited to decide upon their own constitution, and that if they pronounced for annexation with Savoy that Power should be authorized to accomplish their wishes; and lastly, that France should withdraw her troops from Rome and other parts of Italy. He believed that the French Minister had given for an answer that he was not ready on the moment to give a reply; but surely when he (Sir R. Peel) heard that foreign Governments were now giving or refusing their adhesion to what they called the English proposals, he was justified in asking whether we were abandoning that independent course of action which the Government of this country had hitherto wisely pursued. What had we to do with asking France to allow Tuscany to be united to Sardinia? Why, what was the answer which France gave to our request? She replied, "Let Tuscany be united to Sardinia, but I, France, will then take Savoy." His hon. and learned Friend had said that this question of the annexation of Savoy had been agreed on long ago. It might be so. But it was patent to every one that when Her Majesty's Government proposed to France that Sardinia should be at liberty to appropriate Tuscany, Franco had replied with the annexation of Savoy to France. Her Majesty's Government no doubt wished to give some practical effect to their Administration, and he greatly approved the exertions which they had recently made to extend and improve the commercial relations of this country; but it was remarkable that the day on which the Commercial Treaty was signed was the very day on which the Emperor of the French first mentioned the annexation of Savoy to Her Majesty's Government. It looked very much as if this Commercial Treaty had a very important political bearing. He did not assert that it had such a bearing, but it certainly looked something like it. They had heard a great deal lately about the conciliatory spirit of the Emperor of the French, and he (Sir R. Peel) was as anxious as any one to preserve our friendly relations with France; but what he wanted to know was, what was the cause of this sudden civility on the part of France. Was the Treaty a proof of the moderation of the Emperor, of his wish to disprove the libellous charges which had been so plentifully heaped upon him? Was the Treaty a proof of his desire to open fresh channels of communication with this country, or was it merely a sop to enable France to carry out with undiminished vigour her schemes of aggression and aggrandisement? The increase of intercourse with France was a matter of the greatest importance to this country, the channels where wealth and prosperity flowed with such increased vigour under the improved system of our commercial policy; but he hoped the House would boldly say, and that the Government would avail themselves of that opportunity of stating, that the conclusion of the Commercial Treaty with France had no reference whatever to the political condition of Italy, nor would it be allowed in any way to bind the counsels of this country as regarded the future policy of France. He had lately read the very voluminous blue-book on the affairs of Italy which had been presented to the House, and he was proud to see that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had conducted these negotiations with a dignity and a propriety worthy of the country, of his own character, and of the office over which he presided. The noble Lord must, however, remember that the friendly assurances of France were not always to be relied upon as an infallible proof of her sincerity. There was one notable instance which had made a great impression on the minds of statesmen of the day wherein it occurred. That country never made more earnest professions of friendship and amity to England than when she was about to join America in her struggle for independence. He did not mean of course, to draw any parallel between the professions of France at that time and those which she was making now; but it was remarkable that at the very time that she was giving us these friendly assurances she talked about correcting her geographical frontiers. Correcting the geographical frontiers of France! That was a most serious matter, and who was to decide upon it except the great Powers who had put their seals to the instrument which fixed those frontiers at the limit which existed in 1792? The extracts from the French newspapers which had been read by his hon. and learned Friend were very remarkable, especially as the press in France was not, as in this country, a noble engine for the circulation and communication of ideas, but was confined to the expression of the authorized intentions and objects of the Government. The Patrie of the 2nd of February, 1860, had the impertinence to say,—"The Sardinian authorities are everywhere encouraging the movement against the separation of Savoy." If the Emperor of the French wanted to take Ireland it was probable that our authorities would endeavour to prevent him. The Sardinian authorities are everywhere encouraging the movement against the separation of Savoy by putting down the almost unanimous wish of the inhabitants who are asking for annexation with France. He should shortly have occasion to show that, so far from unanimously desiring to be annexed to France, the people of Savoy were unanimous in their desire either to remain subject to the present dynasty, or else, if possible, with the consent of the great Powers, to be annexed to Switzerland. The paper, however, went on to say— The people of Savoy have the same right as the people of Italy to declare their opinion in perfect security and complete independence. The idea of a French newspaper making such an assertion when no less than nineteen of its contemporaries had been already, within the last few months, suppressed for declaring their opinions in what they thought security and independence! The article concluded. Their wishes are of so energetic a character that they have been manifested in spite of all obstacles and all difficulties. We have a right to demand the cessation of this intolerable state of things and equal justice for all. The French ambassador in this country expressed himself excessively annoyed at that article, and he said that in a day or two there would be a soothing one in the Constitutionnel. This was the soothing article which appeared in that journal:— The report going the round of the journals relative to the annexation of Savoy and Nice to France is but the result of a presentiment of public opinion. The press has been struck by the attraction felt by the population of Savoy towards France, and by the justice of a measure which at this moment, when Piedmont is to be singularly aggrandized, would give France a geographical frontier. What Savoy wishes for, what France desires, does not appear doubtful. That was a bold and hardy assertion, when he should be able to bring forward infallible proof that not only was the contrary the case, but that there was among the people of Savoy a stern determination on no account whatever to sacrifice what they called their national feeling to the political expediency of any party in France. His hon. and learned Friend had said that this question of the annexation of Savoy was not a new one, but that the agreement between France and Sardinia was signed on the occasion of the marriage of the Princess Clotilde with Prince Napoleon. Some treaty had, certainly, been signed on that occasion, although Her Majesty's Government were disposed to doubt it. The fact was, that this treaty was a pacte de famille. The Emperor, however, had well concealed his intentions until the day on which the Commercial Treaty was signed. Count Walewski, who was always flourishing beautiful phrases, said, "France draws the sword not to govern but to free," and the Emperor himself, in his proclamation to the Italians at Milan, on the 8th of June, 1859, declared,— Vos ennemis, qui sont les miens, ont tenté de diminuer la sympathie universelle qu'il y avait en Europe pour votre cause, en faisant croire que je ne faisais la guerre que par ambition personnelle ou pour agrandir le territoire de la France. We might be inclined to place implicit confidence in what he said, but there was that unfortunate pacte de famille, and of all things which were hateful it was such an instrument as that. The last pacte de famille which produced any great convulsion in Europe was one concluded at Paris so far back as the year 1761 between Louis XV. and the King of Spain, and signed by the Due de Choiseul and the Marquis de Grimaldi. Another such pacte was made between the first Napoleon and his brothers, but that more resembled an arrangement between a general and his lieutenants than one between sovereigns who stood on a perfect equality. But the pacte de famille of 1761 was of a different character. It consisted of 28 Articles. There was a reciprocal guarantee of mutual obligations, and, to use the words of Article 4, Qui attaque une Couronne attaque I'autre. Perhaps, however, the most important Article was the 21st, which stipulated that the Treaty was to be regarded comme un Pacte de famille, et nulle autre Puissance ne pourra être invitée ni admise à y accéder. Such was the kind of pacte which had been formed between France and Sardinia, and he believed that no arrangements could be more dangerous to Europe. It demanded therefore the closest attention from Her Majesty's Government. Whence, he would ask, had the Savoy question originated, and how had it come on the tapis at that moment? It had a close and direct connection undoubtedly with that great Italian struggle which had been going on for the last twelve months. In consequence of the annexation of Lombardy to Piedmont, France had demanded the cession of Savoy. This had rendered the condition of Savoy one of great uncertainty, and that of Switzerland one of restless anxiety. The independence of Switzerland depended upon its neutrality, and its neutrality would be destroyed by the annexation of any part of Savoy to France. Now, the neutrality of Switzerland was guaranteed by the Act of Congress which was proclaimed on the 20th of November, 1815, signed by eight Powers, the principal directing influences being those of England and of Russia, and which declared the neutrality of Switzerland as being "dans l'intêret de toute l'Europe," and Prince Metternich himself had declared "that the Powers regarded the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland as the only guarantee of her independence." So essential had the independence and neutrality of Switzerland been considered, that during the last forty years no foreign foe had ever ventured to put his foot upon Swiss territory, which had been allowed to rest in peace amid all the convulsions in which other countries had been plunged. Moreover, with the view of confirming the neutrality and strengthening the independence of Switzerland, the Powers gave to Switzerland, in addition to a geographical frontier, a military frontier on the side of Savoy. Chablais was that part of Savoy which immediately abutted on the Lake of Geneva, then came Faucigny, and beyond that Genevois. These three provinces were neutralized and rendered almost independent of Savoy. It was laid down that in the event of war no foreign troops should pass through those territories, which, on the contrary, were to be occupied by Swiss troops. Nothing, in fact, could be stronger than the desire of the Powers to establish both the independence and the neutrality of Switzerland upon a firm basis. The very existence of the Helvetic Confederation was bound up in the maintenance of its neutrality, and the moment France disturbed the existing treaty-arrangements by the annexation of Savoy the independence and neutrality of Switzerland would be virtually at an end. What would be the inevitable consequence? There were at present about 20,000 French and 20,000 Savoyards residing in Geneva. But if Geneva were surrounded by French territory and inhabited as would probably then be the case with 20,000 Frenchmen, what would be the position of that magnificent but diminutive Canton with 40,000 within the walls of its chief city. Again if France an- nexed Savoy, she would secure the possession of the Simplon, which would bring her into direct communication with Italy, and Germany would undoubtedly demand to be put in the same possession by the cession of the St. Gothard Pass. Thus endless complications of the gravest character would arise, and the probability was, that if the Powers now consented to the annexation of Savoy, France would in a short time claim the Rhenish provinces. He would entreat the House and the Government to put a cheek to such proceedings at once. The past was full of warning. In 1792 France annexed Savoy; in 1798 she annexed Geneva; in 1802 the Valais; and those three provinces remained integral parts of the Republic and the First Empire until 1814. Surely, instructed by experience, the Powers of Europe would not allow France to begin a new career of ambition and spoliation by the annexation of Savoy. He trusted they would pay some respect to what was called national feeling. La Patrie had declared that the Savoyards were all in favour of annexation to France. Nothing could be further from the truth. He knew that the feelings of the people were absolutely antagonistic to any connection with France. He had been asked—he admitted he might prove but a comparatively weak and inefficient champion—but he had been asked to advocate the interests of the Swiss people in this matter, and in the absence of any better champion he had undertaken the task. In former years he had resided in that country in charge of Her Majesty's Mission from 1846 to 1850, embracing a period of great political excitement, and through the favour of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton he had had the advantage of becoming acquainted with the leading statesmen and most influential inhabitants of that country. He had a letter from one of the most distinguished statesmen in Switzerland, who frequently honoured him with his correspondence, one paragraph from which he would read to the House. It was dated on the 4th February, and stated— We have learnt that the treaty for the annexation of Savoy to France has been signed by Sardinia and France, and that no exceptional mention was made of those neutralized provinces which touch the Swiss frontier. The neutralized provinces referred to were Chablais and Faucigny and part of Genevois, which were included in the system of neutrality by which the Powers in 1815 guaranteed the independence of Switzer- land, and which were neutralized with the view of giving the Swiss Confederation a stronger natural boundary. The writer continued:— Moreover, if we are well informed, there are well-grounded reasons for apprehending that France intends to repudiate the neutrality of these provinces, sanctioned not only by the Treaties of 1815, but also by all previous treaties between Switzerland and the House of Savoy. These treaties went even further than a guarantee of neutrality, for the House of Savoy engaged never to detach these provinces of Chablais and Faucigny otherwise than to Switzerland. On the faith of these engagements we had hoped that, in the event of the cession of Savoy to France, reservation would be made for the incorporation into the Swiss Confederation of Chablais, Faucigny, and a portion of the Upper Genevois, which are essential to the maintenance of Swiss neutrality on that side, and command the Simplon. These provinces represent a population of about 150,000 souls, who, in the event of the cession of Savoy to France, earnestly desire to be incorporated into Switzerland. That was the opinion of a gentleman who occupied a high position in Switzerland, and who had been intimately connected with the politics of France and Sardinia. He knew that the Swiss people desired above all things the maintenance of the status quo. Such was also the feeling of the people of Chablais and Faucigny, but if a change must be made they would prefer to be incorporated into the Helvetic Confederation. They were attached to the House of Savoy, which they knew to be sprung from their mountain region, and they were anxious to remain as heretofore united under the sway of this ancient family, which had shone with such éclat in the history of Europe. Up to the 10th of February last, petitions, or rather declarations, had been circulated in those communes, signed by more than 920 of the principal inhabitants, thus stating what they desired:— Dans le cas inattendu d'une séparation de la Savoie, le Faucigny et le Chablais ne voudraient pas être Francais, mais toleraient plutÔt leur annexion à la Suisse. Such a feeling was creditable to those people in the highest degree. But what would be the feelings of the people on the other side of the Alps if they knew that they had acquired liberty by the sacrifice of the liberty of these small but free communities? They were ready to thank the Emperor of the French for the assistance he had rendered them, but when they knew that a part of Europe which had hitherto been free, which had carried the cross of Savoy and the tricolour of Italy through all the recent battlefields, was to be absorbed in France they must feel the deepest regret that the first hour of their deliverance should be the first of slavery to these ancient provinces. He appealed with confidence to the Government. He believed that the House of Commons would support the Government in their desire to do what was right to the people of these provinces. He trusted that the directing policy of the Government would be in accordance with the acknowledged character of the noble Viscount, at its head, and that the noble Viscount acting in concert with the noble Lord the Member for London, would be able to conduct the Foreign Affairs of this country in a moment of critical emergency with conciliation as well as power. Never was such a policy more needed. The eyes of Europe are cast upon this country to see what course she will pursue. Italy is just bursting into liberty, almost realizing the magnificent lines of Byron:— Italy! Time, which hath wrong'd thee with ten thousand rents Of thine imperial garment, shall deny And hath denied to every other sky Spirits which soar from ruin. Thy decay Is still impregnate with divinity, Which gilds it with revivifying ray. Beautiful words! so expressive of the circumstances of the case at the present moment. It is that revivifying ray which now gilds the horizon of the Peninsula; it is that hope of soaring from ruin which now animates the people of that country. I entreat you not to quench that ray, not to disappoint that hope. I appeal to the noble Lord at the head of the Government. I ask him to stand true to the character he has so long enjoyed, and which happily with undiminished vigour he is still enabled to maintain. I ask him to throw all the weight of his Government into the scale in favour of Italian freedom and independence. I trust that, acting in concert with France—to whom Italy really owes a debt of gratitude—he will be able not only to regulate the future of Italy upon a basis of honourable and independent existence, but also to secure the independence and neutrality of that ancient and magnanimous republic which, amidst the shock of surrounding nations, has stood, and happily still stands, as a beacon of political liberty and the home of the political exile. If the Government do not follow a statesman- like and honourable policy in this matter they will not meet with the support of this House, but if they can assure the House and can prove that their policy has been not an unnecessary intermeddling with the affairs of other countries, or been formed in subservience to the views of other nations, but has been directed to bringing the legitimate influence of England to secure the independence and freedom of Italy and Switzerland, I take the liberty to tell them that they will secure to themselves not only the sympathy and affection of tens of thousands of people in those countries, but they will be able to count upon that best reward of their services, that best guarantee for the success of their policy, which consists in the confidence and approval of every friend of civil and religious liberty.


Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of expressing dissent on the part of the Government from the observations which have been addressed to the House by the two hon. Gentlemen who have moved and seconded this Motion, not only with remarkable force and eloquence, but in entire unison with the feelings which pervade this House and the country. This question is undoubtedly one of European interest, it is one to which public attention in this country and on the Continent has been much and justly directed, and it is one on which the Government are ready to admit the House has a perfect right to demand full information as to the policy which they have pursued as guardians of the public honour in negotiations with foreign countries. The Government, therefore, give a ready assent to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman for papers, and they are willing to lay on the table, at an early day, all the papers which he desires, with the trifling but usual insertion of the word, "or extracts" after copies, & c. But I cannot help thinking that any protracted discussion would be more satisfactory when the House is in possession of the papers, and when hon. Gentlemen have had the fullest opportunity of seeing the course which the Government has taken in this matter both with regard to France and Sardinia. The hon. and learned Gentleman who made this Motion has expressed a hope that there would be a unanimous expression of opinion on this subject; but, though on the present Motion there is no opportunity afforded of formally recording our opinion, yet I am sure that no hon. Member who rises to address the House will differ from the two hon. Members in the general tenor and purport of the opinions which they have expressed. There is no man in this House, I am sure, who will not join with them in earnestly deprecating the annexation of Savoy, not upon the ground of any specific interest which this country has in that annexation, but because of the consequences to which it would lead, the mistrust it would occasion, and, as the hon. Gentleman has well said, of the unsettlement of Europe which it would create. I cannot but feel that the hon. Baronet who seconded the Motion, if he had read these papers, would not have assumed that certain things were possible with respect to which he desires a disclaimer from us. For instance, he wished us to disclaim that in entering into that Commercial Treaty we had any political object—that we were actuated by subservience to France—that the Treaty had any connection whatever with the annexation of Savoy. That disclaimer I am perfectly prepared to make on the part of the Government in the most explicit terms. Our hands are perfectly free, and when the papers are produced it will be seen that, notwithstanding the Commercial Treaty, the Government have explained to France, in clear and unambiguous terms, the views which they entertain with respect to the annexation of Savoy. One word as to the despatch of my noble Friend near me, to which reference has been made. The hon. Baronet who seconded the Motion objected to the proposals made by my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary for the settlement of Italy as being a departure from the neutrality which this country ought to observe, and as giving, in the proposal to annex Tuscany to Piedmont, a pretence to the Emperor of the French to ask for the annexation of Savoy. When the whole correspondence is on the table, however, the hon. Baronet, as well as the House, will see that the charge of departing from the principle of neutrality is unfounded, and that the despatch in question is in conformity with the policy which the Government have uniformly pursued, which was to leave to the people of Italy the right to choose their own form of government, and the liberty of expressing their opinions on the settlement of their own affairs. The policy of the Government has been uniformly directed to that end. The Government earnestly desire the peace and tranquillity of Europe. But one essen- tial element in the tranquillity of Europe is the contentment and good government of the people of Italy, and those two objects can never be secured unless the people of Italy be allowed the opportunity of expressing their own wishes. It is to secure them this power that the efforts of Her Majesty's Government have been directed. That is a policy which I believe to be strictly in accordance with the intentions of the House and of the country, and I trust the result will prove that it has not been pursued in vain. Although, probably, other Members may desire to express their opinions on this subject, I hope we shall not be led, in the absence of the papers, into any protracted debate on the subject; but with such an expression of opinion as has been already elicited from the House, and as hon. Members may desire further to give, that we shall be allowed to proceed to that business which it was yesterday generally understood would occupy our attention.


Although this subject, Sir, has been brought under the consideration of the House in two speeches of singular eloquence and ability, both by the hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel), I think that after the promise made by the right hon. Baronet who last addressed us, it will, on the whole, be more convenient that we should refrain from giving any opinion on the subject generally until the papers have been laid on the table. At the same time I must say that I was not surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bridgwater should have made this Motion, for although the Chancellor of the Duchy on the part of the Government, has expressed their extreme willingness and prompt readiness to afford all the information in their power, I must be permitted to say that the present quickness in producing papers—which must be very gratifying to those hon. Members who require information—is rather a novel disposition on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and had it been displayed at an earlier period of the Session would have been more satisfactory to the House. Hon. Members may not, perhaps, forget the inquiry which I made on the 2nd of this month with respect to these provinces of Nice and Savoy, and the unsatisfactory reply which I received from the noble Lord; and it was not until the chief Minister of the Crown, in another House of Parliament, had made an admission which seemed after- wards to be regretted, that I was enabled to come to this House and to urge an inquiry upon that admission which it was impossible any longer to meet with silence. What, however, was even then the answer of the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs? Why, he told us this—that communications had certainly passed between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of France on the subject of the possible annexation of Savoy to the French Empire, but they were dated so far back, I think, as last July; and certainly the impression conveyed by Her Majesty's Government was that the whole question had died away, that it was not one of that urgent and pressing interest which it is now universally recognized to be. The consequence was that the House was entirely thrown off it3 guard. An inquiry was made five days afterwards by an hon. Friend of mine who was in possession of authentic information, and it was not until he had produced that information that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to meet the House with the frankness with which I think it is always wise on these subjects for Ministers to treat the House of Commons. I thought it due to myself and others who proposed to inquire into this important matter to make these observations; but I shall scrupulously refrain from entering into the merits of the question. When the papers are in our possession I am sure we shall all feel that no more important documents could be placed in our hands, and they cannot fail to become the subject of grave deliberation.


said, he concurred in the belief that another time might better be chosen for this discussion, but he wished to make one observation. He trusted the House, in the absence of authentic information, would be cautious in allowing itself to be led away by mere idle rumours of pactes de famille, or any other arrangement whatever; but would wait until the papers were laid before them. Until that was done he hoped they would not attach full credence to the theory of his two hon. Friends, which, though made in the best possible spirit, was, nevertheless based on mere assertions, and implicated not only the good faith and honour of the French Government but also the freedom and integrity of the King of Sardinia, who was represented as abandoning the subjects of his own hereditary possessions. He was informed, on authority as good as any which his hon. and learned Friend had cited, that the reply given by the Sardinian Government to this proposition of annexation was conveyed in the simple and dignified words—"We cannot bargain away men," or, as it seemed the fashion that evening to express themselves in French, "Nous ne pouvons pas marchander les hommes." The free desires of the people of Savoy in no way tended towards a change in their political position, nor had they any wish to alter their political allegiance, and he did not believe that any change in their position would take place, unless they entirely concurred in the arrangement.


said, he was willing to believe what had been slated on the part of the Government by the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) that the correspondence, when produced, would prove that Her Majesty's Government had all through been opposed to the annexation of Savoy and Nice to France, but he thought official men were apt to attach too much importance to correspondence. What he complained of was that the general policy of the Government, however, in Italy had been marked by an abnegation of those principles of public law by which the relations of countries had hitherto been governed, and on which all civil politics must ultimately depend; and he was convinced that if Her Majesty's Government had not encouraged rebellion, annexation, demonstrations, and schemes of settlement in different countries by upsetting the treaties on which international law had previously been based, nothing would ever have been heard of this proposal for annexing Savoy to France. Few events in the recent history of Italy had given him more concern than the position in which the Sardinian monarchy was placed by the ambitious and unprincipled policy of Count Cavour. On both public and private grounds he felt great respect for and even attachment to the illustrious house of Savoy, and he saw with much pain the humiliating and dangerous position in which the King of Sardinia, the head of that house, was placed. No doubt a considerable increase of territory had been acquired in Lombardy. But it had been acquired by means of an unjust war, and he believed that this apparent aggrandizement would cause the ruin of that ancient and illustrious dynasty. The King of Sardinia had been involved in an unjust quarrel by promises of assistance on the part of France. A time would probably come when France would no longer be prepared to march armies into Italy to support the King of Sardinia; and Austria, backed by Germany, and possibly by Russia, would once more take possession of Lombardy, and perhaps march to Genoa and Turin. They were told that France had gone into Italy from a love of Italian liberty and independence, but the real motives were now apparent, and the tortuous policy which had dictated the whole proceeding. The consummation of the humiliation of the Sardinian Monarch was this project which had been assented to for the separation of the countries of Savoy and Nice from his Crown. He (Mr. Bowyer) remembered another King of Sardinia, bearing the same name as the present monarch—Victor Emmanuel, who with a very small force had gallantly defended the passes of Savoy against a French army for a considerable time. That gallant monarch, he felt sure, would rather have placed his head upon the block than relinquish the ancient inheritance of his house—the place where for nearly eight centuries his ancestors had been buried—and from which the name of their dynasty was derived. It would hereafter be a sarcasm to style them princes of the house of Savoy. In this question of annexation the House might discern an indication and example of the policy which the Emperor of the French was pursuing. A plan was adopted for transferring these provinces to France, and now we learn what the plan was; money was expended, secret agents employed, and public manifestations, or what were called such, in favour of France were made. He thought English statesmen should hear with distrust what was published of these manifestations in other countries. Before he left Rome, he was told by one of the Ministers that a public manifestation in favour of France would soon be made in that city. It did take place; but the thing was perfectly understood, how it was managed and where the money came from. Another strong French manifestation had been managed in Nice. It all indicated an ambitious policy on the part of the French Emperor, to which they ought all to open their eyes. He should rejoice in the good understanding between France and England. It was for the interest of both countries, and the rest of Europe that those countries should be on good terms; but he thought the cultivation of a friendly feeling was a very different thing to the policy of subserviency he had remarked, and with great regret, on the part of Her Majesty's Government. The Emperor of the French knew very well how to manage Her Majesty's Ministers. He knew he had only to talk liberalism to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs about "civil and religious liberty all over the world," and to use other phrases of the same kind, and he could lead him as he pleased. Under this influence, Her Majesty's Government had been induced to sanction an unprincipled policy, a policy of intrigue, of annexation, a policy of everything that could disturb mankind; and which, if carried further, would unsettle the whole of Europe and lead to some great convulsion. He would not go into any discussion of the affairs of Italy; but he would mention one fact that showed the danger of playing into the hands of France. What occurred in Florence? There the Minister accredited by Sardinia to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, M. Boncompagni, who was in constant communication and on intimate terms with the Duke, that Minister, at the instigation of France and Sardinia, conspired to overthrow the Prince to whom he was accredited, and at whose Court he resided. He was made the means of conveying money to the officers of the Tuscan troops; he corrupted the army and brought about the revolution. When it was completed that Minister, accredited to the Court of Tuscany, became the head of the revolutionary Government established on the expulsion of the Grand Duke. He was afterwards appointed a sort of Viceroy over Central Italy. Not one word had been said by Her Majesty's Government in reprobation of such conduct. And by not protesting against such dishonourable proceedings they were abetting a system subversive, not only of all political security, but of the mere principles of honour between man and man, and without which they should all be picking each other's pockets, and cutting each other's throats. After this transaction, the next thing was the landing of French troops at Leghorn to assist the revolutionary party; and by this means the Emperor subverted the Governments of what were called the Dukes, and caused the insurrection in the Romagna. It was done only by a foreign invasion. The Government should have its eyes opened by such a system. The object of the Emperor was by keeping every state in a condition of uncertainty, and by fomenting revolutions, to obtain a paramount power in Italy. He now refused to have Tuscany annexed to Sardinia unless Savoy was annexed to France. He thus showed how false were his professions of disinterestedness when he invaded Italy. He said everything should be done in Italy without foreign intervention; yet he had 50,000 men in Lombardy, and a large military force in other parts of Italy. Wherever there was a movement in Italy, there some connection of the Emperor was found actively promoting it. Thus at Bologna there was Count Pepoli, a relation of the Emperor by marriage, and receiving a pension from him. The Emperor intended to make the Mediterranean a "French lake," and he would succeed in doing it. Yet they always spoke of him as their faithful Ally; but if he were not the master of 600,000 soldiers they would talk of him in a very different tone. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had of late years pursued a system of bullying the weak and truckling to the strong which was discreditable to this country. Violent attacks were made on the Government of the Pope and the King of Naples. The noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the noble Viscount had repeatedly spoken of that King with contempt and sarcasm. All this was directed against a Government supposed to be weak. All Governments known to be strong were treated with respect. They heard nothing said of the French deportations to Cayenne, of the French police, of the total destruction of all liberty of thought and speech in France. Nor did they hear anything of the suppression of liberty of thought and speech in Italy, where liberty was supposed to reign. They heard nothing of these things, done by the instigation of the Emperor of the French; but he must always be spoken of with respect; nay, he was eulogized in terms of the most fulsome adulation. He did not say this was not prudent; but he did not think it magnanimous; he did not think it even wise; and of this he was quite sure—it was not English. The people were beginning to open their eyes to this system. He had heard it said that this country had never since 1814 stood higher, so far as regarded her relations with foreign Powers, than she did at the present moment. Yet notwithstanding that statement, we were going to content ourselves with entering a simple protest against the march of French troops into Savoy. He saw nothing dignified in mere protestations which were no more than an admission of impotency. The reason why we pursued a course such as that was, that the Government had placed themselves altogether in the hands of Prance, partly because they thought the independence of Italy might result from her interference in its affairs, partly because they entertained the expectation that The Emperor of the French might do something against the Pope, and partly also because they felt an interest in the constitutional kingdom of Sardinia, and desired to see its territories extended. But, although the Ministers of England were so completely bound up with France, he did not think her people were so; and he, therefore, hoped we should adopt a policy more consistent with our interests and the welfare of Europe.


contended that, as the happiest consequences had flowed from the withdrawal of the Austrian troops from the Romagna, so the withdrawal of the French troops from Rome would be likely to be followed by equally beneficial results. He did not, therefore, concur in the peculiar view of the question which the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken advocated, while he was of opinion that the correspondence which the learned Gentlemen had criticized was of a nature to reflect the highest credit upon the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Again the panegyric bestowed upon the temporal power of the Pope by the hon. and learned Member was utterly devoid of foundation. He did not blame the Holy Father individually, but the system on which his Government was based. It was his firm belief that if the principle of non-intervention were carried out and Central Italy were left to emancipate herself, the freedom of a land whose prosperity the nation at large had so much at heart would, notwithstanding all the complications by which her progress to independence was beset, ultimately be secured.


said, he would suggest that as the discussion had, in deference to the views of the Government, been carried on only within a certain limit, an early day, when the subject might be more fully entered into, should be fixed.


said, that he hoped that as the speeches which had been delivered that evening on the question before the House were calculated to produce a great effect on the country, the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs would inform hon. Members whether he would lay the papers relating to the ques- tion on the table of the House at an early day, in order that the discussion might he resumed as soon as possible.


There have been certain observations made in the course of the present discussion, and certain questions raised, which I think require some explanation at my hands. I may in the first place state, in reply to my hon. Friend who has just spoken (Mr. Kinnaird), that the papers to which he refers are already in print, and will be produced within a day or two; and while upon this point I may remark that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks seems to think that I have shown reluctance to give information on this subject to the House. [Mr. DISRAELI: I said you refused to produce the papers.] Well, the truth is, that when a question was asked upon this point by the right hon. Gentleman on a former occasion, I replied in accordance with what was the exact state of the facts as they existed at that time. Some days after that question was put to me a discussion with respect to the contemplated annexation of Savoy to France arose in the other House of Parliament, in which my noble Friend the President of the Council took part, and I placed in his hand despatches relating to the question, which I had received on the morning of the day on which the discussion came on, in order that he might be able to explain the position in which this question stood. The right hon. Gentleman will therefore at once perceive that I could not produce the papers for which he asked at the time at which he mentioned the subject in this House. I may say generally, with respect to the production of papers, that I think there are certain rules to which we ought to adhere. When in our correspondence with a Foreign Government we have stated the views of Her Majesty's Government it is not desirable to lay the despatch containing those views before the House, until the Foreign Government to which it is addressed has had time to receive and to return an answer to it, if it should deem it right to do so. I, it is true, addressed a despatch to Earl Cowley, to be submitted to M. Thouvenel, which has not been answered, but we have no difficulty in producing it, because it might have been answered before now if it had been deemed desirable to reply to it. I may now observe that I listened with great pleasure to the speeches of my hon. Friends who proposed and seconded the present Motion. I must at the same time say, with respect to that family compact to which one of my hon. Friends alluded, that we have no diplomatic information to the effect that such a treaty as he describes was entered into before the war broke out between France and Sardinia; and I believe both have repeatedly denied that any such treaty exists. That the question which is involved in this discussion has been and is still agitated I cannot deny; and I may perhaps now proceed to refer to some of the remarks which fell from the hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth(Sir R. Peel) with respect to it. He said very fairly, alluding to the condition of Chablais and Faucigny, that the Powers of Europe guaranteed the neutrality of those territories; that if they pass into the possession of France that guarantee will have been of no effect, and he expressed a hope that no such arrangement will be made. Now, I think if the subject were confined to that part of Savoy which borders on the Lake of Geneva, it would not be a matter of difficulty to obtain from France the cession of that territory to Switzerland. We did not however look to that object. What we wished was to preserve the whole of Savoy, and we did not discuss the particular question to which the hon. Baronet alluded, and on which, no doubt, Switzerland looks with intense anxiety. Another subject to which the hon. Baronet alluded was the four points to which Her Majesty's Government proposed for the settlement of the affairs of Italy. I beg the hon. Baronet to consider what was the state of affairs just immediately previous to the proposal of a Congress. The Austrian Government had declared that if a single Sardinian soldier should go into Central Italy they would at once march their troops to oppose them. On the other hand, the Emperor of France declared to the Austrian Ambassador at Paris, that the moment a single Austrian soldier crossed the Po, the French army would be marched to oppose them. Consider how critical, how dangerous to the peace of Europe, such a state of things must necessarily be. The remedy was to open the Congress. It was said this extremely critical and dangerous state of things cannot last much longer, because the Congress is about to meet, and will provide a remedy. But then it was agreed by France, in communication with Austria, that the Congress should be indefinitely postponed, and at the same time none of these declarations were withdrawn. There was the same danger, if occasion arose, that Sardinian troops might be marched by order of the King of Sardinia, of Austrian troops being marched to resist them, and of a French army being marched to resist the Austrians. Was it not natural for a Power anxious for the peace of Europe, that dreaded the renewal of the war, to make propositions which they thought might prevent the renewal of such a calamity? We did make those propositions. The first was, that neither France nor Austria should intervene in the settlement of the affairs of Central Italy without the consent of the other European Powers. We did not, it is true, obtain the assent of Austria to that proposition, but this we did obtain—a declaration, made both at Vienna and in London, that the Austrian Government wished no more to interfere in the affairs of Italy beyond their own frontier; that we might rely on it, although Austria would not give up claims she thought just, although she would not give up treaties which bound her to maintain the rights of certain Sovereigns, yet she had no wish or intention to maintain those treaties by force of arms. This alone we looked upon as a great gain and a great security for the maintenance of the peace of Europe. Then we went further in the fourth proposition, and said that if the States of Central Italy determined upon any form of government for themselves we should object to any attempt by force of arms to overthrow that Government, and if the Government they selected should be in favour of annexation to Sardinia, we should not object to that arrangement. This was in conformity with the whole principles we contended for from June to January—namely, that the Italian people themselves should decide with regard to their own government. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer), I am happy to see, has been able to speak his mind to-night. It must have been very painful to him, charged as he was with the whole sentiments of the Pope and the Cardinal, not to have been able to express his views before this time. We have now heard those opinions—we have now heard what the hon. Gentleman thinks of the "manifestations" of public opinion in Central Italy. He seems to think that those "manifestations" are not of much value. There are, no doubt, "manifestations" of no value, but there are also "manifestations" caused by bad government and which are apt to be symptoms of revolution. The hon. Gentleman has perhaps heard of a "manifestation" that took place once on Hounslow Heath. There was an adviser of the Sovereign in those days who was asked by the King what it meant. Such an adviser as the hon. Gentleman said it was nothing; it was only the soldiers shouting for the acquittal of the seven Bishops; but the King knew very well what that was; he knew very well what a "manifestation" meant, and he saw the danger which threatened his throne on that occasion. It is dangerous for Sovereigns to rely on such advisers as the hon. Gentleman, who seems to think that discontent is to be appeased and revolution prevented by merely telling Princes to go on with their Government exactly as it is. We have heard of Princes who had violated the fundamental compact under which they sat on the throne, and who withdrew from their dominions; and such appears to be the case of the Grand Duke of Tuscany—a case very similar to that which on one occasion happened in this country. Sir, with regard to this immediate question, I have one thing further to say. Whatever the more violent newspapers of France may say, although there has been a great deal of excited opinion in France in favour of the annexation of Savoy, I cannot but think that is a course which the Emperor in his wisdom will long hesitate before he finally determines to adopt it. I cannot but see—every one must see—that it would produce distrust for two reasons. The one is that such a policy would be in contradiction to the proclamation—that magnificent proclamation, I must call it, even at the risk of being accused of flattery—which the Emperor addressed to the Italian people of Milan; and the other reason it would create distrust is this—other encroachments of France have begun in small beginnings only on one side of the country, and yet have been afterwards carried by her armies to the territorial disturbance of Europe. I am afraid if Savoy be annexed to France, although there may be a meeting at Chambery in its favour, even although the Powers of Europe might give a reluctant assent, it would be the precursor of a long period of distrust and apprehension. I believe that it would not tend to the strength of France. A country such as France—inhabited by a race so warlike, and at the same time possessing within itself such vast resources—with such wealth, such union, does not depend for its security, its independence, or even its power, upon the question whether its frontier is advanced somewhat nearer to the top of the Alps, or somewhat nearer to the banks of the Rhine. It depends on its own resources, on the spirit of its people, upon the unconquerable spirit of independence which rules in that people, upon its warlike qualities, which from time to time have been called forth, and perhaps never more than last year excited the admiration of every nation in Europe. Such is the security of France. We have known what has happened to France in our days. In 1792, before she acquired Savoy, when her people was in a state of disunion and apparent anarchy, when she was attacked by a formidable league extending from Turin on the one side to Berlin on the other, she was able by her own innate strength and the careful military disposition of her forces to repel the invader and even to conquer the very territories from which she had been attacked. The tide of conquest which then began rolled on until at length her frontier extended from Hamburg on the north to Rome on the south. Was she then more secure? On the contrary, three years after her frontier had been so extended her enemies entered the capital of her dominions. It is, therefore, I say, not the right policy for France—it is not the secure policy for France, to attempt to extend her frontier. Her present ruler, without emulating those brilliant conquests which his uncle made, has, as is well known, established his throne by the sagacity and prudence of his character. Having watched that character—seeing the mistrust likely to be excited, seeing the apprehension and even the hostility that would arise if the Emperor persevered in this project, I cannot but hope that the project will be abandoned, to the general satisfaction of Europe.

Motion agreed to. Address for "Copies or Extracts of the Correspondence which has taken place between Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of the Emperor of the French and the King of Sardinia, in respect to the proposal for annexing Savoy and Nice to the Empire of France.

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