§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL,
having brought up further Correspondence relating to the affairs of Italy, said:—Mr. Speaker, in moving that these papers do lie on the table, I wish to answer the inquiry which was made yesterday by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. The right hon. Gentleman, as I understood, complained that during the debate on the Commercial Treaty, I did not answer various questions which he had put—questions relating to the conduct of foreign affairs by Her Majesty's Ministers. I did not deem it at all advisable to enter upon the conduct of foreign affairs during the discussion of the Commercial Treaty, or to prevent the progress of that debate, which was properly directed to the merits of that Treaty; but, although I did not take part in that debate, and although I cannot refer regularly to what took place in a former debate, I have no objection to answer the charges which are made the subject of complaint against us. And, in the first place, I should say that I should be very sorry if I were thought to have misrepresented the conduct of the Earl of Malmesbury, as I understood was stated by the noble Lord opposite, the Member for Leicestershire (Lord J. Manners). I said, that so far as I could make out, that the Earl of Malmesbury had not obtained any very satisfactory assurance on the subject of Savoy from the French Government. Now, it is of some importance to see in what state the question was left when the present Government came into office. I find on the first page of the correspondence regarding Savoy and Nice in Captain Harris's despatch that he says:—I pointed out to the President the despatches Nos. 480 and 507 in the blue-book on the Affairs of Italy, showing the steps which Her Majesty's Government had taken, through Lord Cowley, to ascertain the truth of this report, which had, however, not led to a very distinct refutation of it on the part of the French Minister.Now, I do not think that Captain Harris is a person likely to view unfavourably the conduct of the Earl of Malmesbury, and if he had thought that the Earl of 450 Malmesbury had obtained a satisfactory assurance, and a distinct refutation of this report, no doubt he would have said so in the despatch. But, looking to the despatches which are referred to—480 and 507, I find that 480 is a despatch from the I Earl of Malmesbury to Earl Cowley, dated the 30th of April, 1859, in which he!says:—I have received this afternoon an account of a treaty which, it is said, was concluded between France and Sardinia on the 18th of January, and which is said to provide for the cession of Savoy, and to certain arrangements for the future government of Italy. Your Excellency will endeavour to ascertain whether any such treaty has been concluded.Earl Cowley's answer to the Earl of Malmesbury is dated May 1, in which he says:—Count Walewski replied that all he could assure me was, that up to this moment there was no treaty whatever between France and Sardinia; but he said that under present circumstances an offensive and defensive one would become necessary. He made no allusion to the territorial question.Now, if that was understood by the noble Lord as a satisfactory answer on the subject of Savoy, all I can say is, that it appears to me, on the other hand, that it certainly left room for further inquiry. It stated that up to that moment there was no treaty, but it gave no assurance whatever that there was not an understanding between the two Governments, and that Savoy was not to be ceded in the event of certain conquests or arrangements being made. Well, then, it was in that state of affairs that Her Majesty' s present Government came into office and found this question. I think the first of the accusations brought against us is to this effect, that the Government have pursued a policy of promoting the annexation of Tuscany and Romagna to Sardinia, and that thereby they have been laying the ground for that annexation of Savoy to France which it ought to have been their business to prevent. I think this accusation founded on an entire misapprehension of the policy which the Government have pursued. The policy of the Government was not a policy which required the annexation of Tuscany and Romagna to Sardinia, or required them to be a separate government. Their policy was to endeavour, by negotiation and representing their views to the different Governments of Europe to secure to the Italian people a power of managing their own affairs. Now, that ob- 451 ject, which is in fact the independence of Italy, was to be accompanied, if possible, by such an arrangement as would be recognized as the de facto Government by the various Powers of Europe, and especially by France. Well, Sir, I had a message from Count Walewski, through Earl Cowley, that he hoped would endeavour to persuade the Tuscan official agent, when he came here after the war, to induce the Provisional Government of Tuscany to be content with the recall of the son of the Grand Duke Leopold, with the establishment of a liberal constitution, an Italian Ministry, and the Tuscan colours. I found the agent who came here on behalf of the Government of Tuscany—the Marquis of Lajatico—a person as highminded, of as much integrity, of as much disinterestedness as I ever knew. When he came to speak to me on the subject I represented to him that the son of the Grand Duke was said to be a prince of cultivated mind, of liberal disposition in politics, and that he was likely, if called to be the ruler of Tuscany, to govern that country according to constitutional principles. He told me it was not possible that the Tuscans could receive the son of the Grand Duke. I said, "Why, you yourself were the person who, when called upon by the Grand Duke Leopold to form a Ministry, recommended that the Archduke Ferdinand should succeed and be the Grand Duke of Tuscany." He said, "That is perfectly true, but his conduct since then has been of a nature to alienate from him entirely the affections of the people. He went to Modena at the time of the battle of Magenta, when it was arranged that if the battle of Magenta should be decided in favour of the Austrians he was to march with a portion of the Austrian army and take possession of Florence and Tuscany in virtue of his command of that Austrian force. Again, at Solferino he accompanied the Emperor of Austria, and he has thus decided to take part with Austria and against Italy, while we are determined to fight the battle of Italy against Austria." That seemed to me to be a reasonable objection to the restoration of the Archduke Ferdinand. At a later period there was a question of another combination, and I was informed by Earl Cowley that he thought that combination might be one with which the Emperor of the French would be content, and that he would propose it to Austria. On the other hand, it was stated to me by-Lord Loftus that it was not possible, if 452 such a proposition were made, that Austria would be content with it. That proposition was to form a kingdom of Central Italy. There is a despatch on the table relating to this subject. But, although I might entertain such a proposition, although I might say that Great Britain would be content with it, it was quite impossible for me to be bound to assent to any proposition with which the people of Italy themselves should not be content. I took means to ascertain what were the opinions of the leading people of Italy in relation to that proposition, and I was informed by those who knew them intimately, both Italians and English, that they would not agree to the formation of a kingdom of Central Italy; in fact, then-position was this,—they said it was quite allowable to the Emperor of the French, if he did not wish to carry on the war any further, to make peace at Villafranca, and confirm that peace afterwards at Zurich; but we on our side are bound to consider in what state Italy would have been left if the conquests of the French had proceeded as far as the Adriatic. If the King of Sardinia had agreed with France not only for Lombardy but Venetia, we should have been content that the Grand Duke Ferdinand should be received in Tuscany and that the Pope should hold the Romagna; but in our present position it is obvious that the kingdom of Sardinia, divided from the Romagna and from Tuscany, would be so weak, with the forts on the Mincio constantly frowning on and menacing her, it would be impossible to continue independent. And, therefore, we were of opinion that nothing but the strengthening of Sardinia by the addition of the Romagna, Tuscany, Parma, and Modena, would be sufficient to maintain the independence of Italy. There, again, as Her Majesty's Government have not been hostile to the restoration of the Grand Dnke, so likewise they have not been hostile to the formation of a kingdom of Central Italy. Put the whole of our conduct was based, not, as has been represented, on such an annexation, but on a wish to allow the people of Central Italy to form their Governments for themselves, and after three centuries of oppression and servitude to assert their independence whether of Austria, of France, or any-other Power whatsoever. Therefore, when we found that neither restoration nor a kingdom of Central Italy would be accepted as an arrangement,—when we 453 knew likewise that the Emperor of the French had declared over and over again that no force should be employed to impose a form of Government on the people of Tuscany, we could not but come to the conclusion that if the people of Central Italy were to have their own way—if they were to constitute their Government as pleased themselves, annexation to Sardinia was the plan on which they would certainly act. Accordingly it was our wish, desirous that the independence of Italy should be secured, that they should be allowed, if they thought proper, by a vote or otherwise, to assert again their annexation to Sardinia, and, if the King of Sardinia should accept them, that that country thus enlarged should become one of the recognized Powers of Europe. Well, the next accusation brought against us is that for a long time I was acquainted, by private letters and otherwise, that the intention of the Emperor of the French, if a kingdom of Northern and Central Italy thus strengthened were constituted, to ask for the annexation of Savoy to France, and that I made no objection against that course till the end of January. That accusation rests merely on a confusion of dates, because, if any one consults the papers about the annexation of Savoy, he will find that the strongest objections which I made, pushing them, perhaps, to an extreme, were made on the 5th of July. I stated on the 5th of July what I conceived might be the consequences to the Emperor of the French from a persistence in any plan for the annexation of Savoy, and what distrust such perseverance would occasion. No doubt Count Walewski said to Earl Cowley, and repeated it three or four times, that in the first place the annexation of Tuscany to Sardinia was impossible—that was an arrangement which could never be permitted; and he hinted more than once, as appears from the despatches, that there was a probability, if that plan was persisted in, although the French army might not march into Tuscany, that there would be no opposition made by France to an Austrian army entering that province in order to restore the Archduke. Therefore, in his view of the case no such event was likely to occur. At another time he said, I believe, that a kingdom of Central Italy might possibly be formed; but at no period was he willing to agree to the annexation which the people of Central Italy desired. Thus, it will appear to every one that this question 454 of the annexation of Savoy was in his eyes an improbable contingency, and it certainly seemed to me quite unnecessary to write to Earl Cowley saying, "Supposing the Grand Duke is not restored, supposing no kingdom of Central Italy is formed, supposing the annexation which Count Walewski states is impossible should be accomplished, then I desire you to repeat in November the objections and the protest which you made in July." It appears to me that such a course would not only have been quite unnecessary, but quite absurd. If Earl Cowley had wished for further instructions, he would no doubt by a despatch have asked for them. But we did not think that what might be regarded as mere threats to prevent the people of Italy from going by their own way to their own ends of independence called upon us to write or volunteer despatches. In January again the quest in assumed another shape. We were asked by Switzerland what we intended to do. There appeared in some of the French newspapers articles indicating that the project was again on foot for the annexation of Savoy; and again at the end of January we reiterated, in terms as strong but not stronger than those we used in July, the objections we felt to this annexation, and our fears of the distrust it would create. We have never on this question, in fact, concealed our opinions from the Emperor of the French—we have never left him to believe this was a project that would not meet with objection, but we have stated in a plain and straightforward manner what our objections were. Then we are also blamed because, in making our communications to Vienna, Berlin, and St. Petersburg, with respect to the four propositions, we did not say that if Sardinia annexed Tuscany and the Romagna, in that case the Emperor of the French proposed to annex Savoy. Why, Sir, we could not properly do that, because on the part of France that proposition was never made. The agreement of those different Courts was never asked in any way; and Prince Gortschakoff, on the part of Russia, said, "I am glad to find that I need not make any objections to this proposition because our assent to it was never proposed in any way." It would, therefore, not only have been improper, but absurd for us to say that if this annexation to Sardinia takes plate there is a proposition on the part of France which may possibly be brought forward, but which we do not know will be brought forward, 455 and we warn you against it even now. It was for the French Government, if they had a proposition of that hind, to make it to the various Powers, and not for us to suggest it as an objection. What we did was to make the proposal to the French Government that, if the Italian people by a new vote in these provinces should declare in favour of annexation, the King of Sardinia should not be asked to abstain any longer from sending his troops into them. We made that proposition to France; and Franco knew perfectly well what she intended to do. There was no mistake on her part as to what would be the consequences of her proceedings. These, Sir, are the explanations I have to give as to these various points. But there is another accusation which is an aggravation of all the rest, and my noble Friend who sits near me is liable to the same reproach. It is said that we have been so zealous for the independence of Italy and so intent on carrying out chimerical views of our own with respect to that country that we have neglected other and important objects to secure that end. I confess, Sir, I do not feel that to be a very heavy accusation. I recollect that in 1856 the Earl of Clarendon and Count Walewski at the Paris Conference brought forward the question of Italy. It should be remembered that that was a Conference assembled for a totally different purpose, namely, to settle the terms of peace between Russia on the one side, and France, Great Britain, Sardinia, and Turkey on the other. Italy had no immediate connection with that Conference. Yet the Earl of Clarendon thought the question of such pressing importance, so menacing to the tranquillity of Europe, that he stated his views upon it in that Conference. He pointed out that the continued occupation of Rome and of Bologna by foreign troops was a thing unprecedented, that it destroyed the independence of those countries, threatened revolution, and thereby imperilled the general peace of Europe. He pointed out also the condition of the Government of the Two Sicilies, its maladministration of justice, and asked the Conference—consisting of all the various Powers—to take measures to secure a remedy for that state of affairs. It would have been happy for the Austrian Government had they listened to that warning; but they determined to continue their occupation of Bologna, and to govern Lombardy in the same manner as before. We all know the consequences. We know 456 that after three years the two great Powers which occupied different points in Italy not only broke out into dissensions, but appeared in arms in the field to contend which should be supreme. We know, likewise, that after the conclusion of the peace of Zurich the state of Italy was still threatening. We were informed, as the world generally was informed, that from time to time the Austrians threatened to march against the troops of the King of Sardinia, in which case the French said that they would assist the Sardinians. We could not think that any settlement of Italy which restored by force of arms the power of the Grand Duke of Tuscany or the authority of the Pope could be a lasting one; and we therefore felt that it was an European interest, and as an European it was a British interest to lay, as the preamble of the Treaty of Zurich calls it, "a large and solid basis for the external and internal independence of Italy." It was, therefore, for an European object that we employed the influence of Great Britain. We employed it peacefully; we employed it with a view to reconcile differences, to prevent war, and to lay the foundations of peace between the great Powers of Europe. But, Sir, if, consulting at once the interests of Great Britain and those of Europe, it should have been our fate at the same time to contribute in any way, even in the smallest degree, to the permanent independence of Italy, to the raising up a people who have been long sunk, and enabling men of the most cultivated intellect, and possessed of every gift of knowledge, to exercise their minds free from the prohibitions of a censor,—if we should be enabled again to see that country, which has been for three centuries sunk and degraded, once more taking rank amongst the great Powers of Europe, and the people of Italy, with their great abilities and honest hearts, one of the most distinguished among the families of the world, so far from being ashamed of having contributed to that result, so far from shrinking from any responsibility, I shall, on the contrary, take pride to myself that I have been able, in any degree, to contribute to that result.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Sir, I quite agreed with an observation of the noble Viscount at the head of the Government on a previous night, when he said that in discussing this question, we ought to avoid personalities, and endeavour to speak upon it with the gravity and 457 caution which its importance deserves; but I cannot help thinking that he had inadvertently fallen into error, when he said that the House of Commons ought not to raise a discussion on such a subject, except upon a Motion for a Vote of Censure. I have always understood that the noble Viscount was a pupil of that popular and brilliant Minister, Mr. Canning, who, when Prince Metternich pressed him, through the Austrian Ambassador, to prevent the House of Commons from expressing its opinion upon the affairs of Spain, replied that the House of Commons was not a clog upon the Executive Government, but a part of the great council of the nation, sharing the authority of the State; that it was the right of Members of Parliament to participate in the deliberations of that Council, and that no Minister could conduct the Foreign Affairs of this country by throwing dust in the eyes of the House of Commons. The noble Lord, who has just spoken himself, by moving for papers, gave rise to a very instructive debate in Parliament, in the year 1823, on the subject of the intervention of France in the affairs of Spain; but he did not, nor did any person at that time contend, that before you can venture to examine or attempt to understand the conduct of a Ministry, you must propose a vote of censure. There is no such doctrine known to the Constitution, and against it I beg to enter my protest. In discussing the matter before the House, I have not the slightest intention of making any personal attack upon the French Emperor, or of uttering a single word which should be provocative of war; because I quite agree with the noble Lord, who has just sat down, that it should be the object of the Ministry to promote peace. I subscribe as readily as any Gentleman in this House does to the doctrine, that it is not our business to encourage a busy, officious practice of intermeddling in the internal affairs of other States; and for that reason I never was able to understand why our Ambassador was withdrawn from Naples, because the internal Government of that country was not to our mind. I asked an eminent statesman why it was done, and he said that he was as ignorant of the reason as I was myself. But when we come to consider a question touching the public law of Europe, it is a totally different matter; and from what is that public law to be collected? As I understand it, from the public treaties which govern the affairs of Europe, and from those im- 458 portant State Papers, which, formally and deliberately communicated by one State to another, are accepted as the expositions of that land. If public law is not respected where a small State is concerned, it will be violated with impunity by a great and powerful one, and therefore I appeal to those Gentlemen who prefer peace to war, to encourage a fair reference to the principles of that law, which will tend to the repression of aggression upon the territories of foreign States, without in the slightest degree touching the question of their internal administration. There is no subject more interesting than that which we are now discussing; and I have founded that opinion upon the statements of the noble Lord contained in his despatches, that the question concerns the independence of Switzerland, the safety of Italy, the tranquillity of Europe, and the character of the French Emperor. When I found those statements in the despatches of the noble Lord, I was convinced of the importance of the question. I pray the House to observe the conduct of the statesmen of Switzerland. From the first moment the statesmen of Switzerland have never wavered in their opinions, or ceased to give the most decided and unequivocal warnings to the noble Lord representing the Government presided over by the noble Viscount—and here let me say a word about three members of that Government. The mind of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is locked up in his Budget, the noble Lord the Member for London has spoken occasionally on this subject, but the Prime Minister has held his tongue. He has never, that I can recollect, uttered a single intelligible sentence upon the important question before us. What may be his policy, whether he gathered it from Imperial lips at Compiègne, I cannot say. I have learnt something from the noble Lord, the Member for London, but nothing from the noble Viscount. In the month of July the Swiss Government communicated to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, "We are of opinion that a bargain has been struck between France and Sardinia"—(we shall see presently who was right about that fact; for myself, I believe that the Emperor of the French was)—"that in certain events Savoy and Nice shall be handed over to the French Government, and the opinion of our country is that it is of vital importance to the independence of Switzerland that such a trans- 459 fer should not take place." Therefore, in the opinion of the rulers of Switzerland, the question was not one merely of boundary, but one which concerned the safety and independence of their own country. That statement was communicated to the noble Lord early in July, and was touched upon by Earl Cowley, whose words, in his despatch of the 5th of that month, were very emphatic. He wrote:—The French Minister said, that he could give me the positive assurance that there was no understanding between France and Sardinia, but he did not deny that the question had been more than once discussed, and that the Emperor entertained the idea, if Sardinia was to become a large Italian kingdom, that it was not unreasonable to expect she should make territorial concessions to him elsewhere.Nothing could be more distinct, therefore, than the statement made to the noble Lord that in the event of Sardinia not being satisfied with Lombardy, which the Emperor had conquered and given to her, and in the event of her appeal to popular feeling against the plan propounded by the French Emperor, in short, if the duchies were united to Sardinia he must have compensation for that elsewhere. In the month of July the noble Lord stated to the House that the French Emperor did not contemplate encroachment upon Savoy, and on the 8th of July Count Walewski informs Earl Cowley that he might give to his Lordship the assurance that the Emperor had abandoned all idea of annexing Savoy to Prance. What follows? There is nothing done in July or August. But I find that, on the 26th of September the Swiss Government, being always, as it appears, better informed than our own, make another communication to our Ministry, praying them to remonstrate against or to interfere to prevent the annexation of Savoy, which they alleged would be fatal to the independence of Switzerland. The noble Lord did not pay the smallest respect to that remonstrance. We now come to December 9. On that day we find the Swiss Minister in Paris representing exactly what he had represented in July. He calls upon Earl Cowley, and informs him that it was the opinion of the Swiss Government that something was about to happen which would be fatal to the safety and independence of Switzerland by exposing its frontiers to be invaded at any moment by a French army. Again, nothing is done consequent upon that statement. On the 22nd of December 460 Captain Harris writes to the noble Lord that he had been informed by the President of the Confederation that the Federal Council had received from the Austrian Government an answer to their despatch and memorial respecting the neutral territory of Savoy, and that the Austrian Government had promised that in the event of the question of annexation being mooted in the Congress they would use their utmost endeavours to maintain the arrangements which protected the independence and neutrality of Switzerland. Such was the declaration of the Austrian Government, but I find no response to that despatch on the part of the British Government. Nothing whatever was done by the noble Lord, notwithstanding the pressing appeal of the Swiss Minister, and notwithstanding the fact that the Austrian Government had promised to maintain the cause of Switzerland in the Congress. On the 9th of January the noble Lord for the first time tells Captain Harris that Her Majesty's Government were anxious, as they had ever been, to do all in their power to maintain the security and independence of Switzerland. What did the noble Lord do? Nothing. Did he submit to the different Powers of Europe a statement of the communications which had been addressed to him by the Government of Switzerland, and did he ask those Powers to come to a common conclusion upon that important statement? He did nothing of the kind. We are now in January, and I admit that in that month the noble Lord did something. He wrote a despatch; but in my simple innocence the other night I fell into a slight mistake. I was not aware that there was one set of despatches printed and laid on our table, and another set in the shape of private letters which passed between the noble Lord and our Ambassador at Paris; and that most important facts might be contained in those private letters, which facts, if stated in public documents, might change altogether the character of the despatches which have been published to the world. On the 9th of January I find Mr. Grey writing to the noble Lord from Paris. He says that Dr. Kern, the Swiss Minister, appeared to have been alarmed by one of his colleagues, who had reported to him that he was sure the cession of Savoy to Prance was already determined upon by Sardinia, in return for which France was to sanction the annexation of the Duchies and Romagna to Sardinia. 461 That is a very important statement. It means that kingdoms are to be handed about according to the interests of the makers of a bargain, which, I say, is in flat contradiction to the treaties of 1815, which Mr. Canning, though he did not like them, insisted were to be acted upon by every statesman in Europe, and to be upheld by England. When such a transaction was communicated to the noble Lord he ought to have submitted it to every great Power in Europe, and to have protested against it at the earliest moment. He did neither the one thing nor the other. Mr. Grey in the same letter says:—"The question, Dr. Kern repeated again and again, was so serious and so materially affected, not only the independence, but the very existence of Switzerland, that he hoped Her Majesty's Government would give it their earnest consideration." I find no reply whatever to that letter, notwithstanding the moving appeal of the Swiss Minister. On the 25th of January, Earl Cowley writes two letters to the noble Lord. In the first he says that the indefatigable Swiss Minister had been with him again, and had expressed an earnest hope that Her Majesty's Government would see fit to remonstrate against the supposed intentions of the Emperor of the French. In his second letter he states that a rumour prevailed in Paris that there existed a secret treaty between Franco and Sardinia, by which the latter bound herself, in case her territory should be considerably increased in Italy, to hand over Savoy and Nice to France. The noble Lord does not reply to either of these important letters. I suppose the noble Viscount at the head of the Government was of opinion that the less that was said on the subject the better. In a despatch written at the same time I find Earl Cowley making the following statement:—Dr. Kern observed that Switzerland would not be satisfied, should Savoy be transferred to France, by the mere renewal on the part of France of the engagements respecting the neutral territory; and he showed me, by a reference to a map of Switzerland and the adjacent territory of France, that, were France to obtain possession of Savoy, she might pour her legions into Switzerland without difficulty or natural hindrance.Here we have the whole case stated. But now it is said by the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that Earl Cowley did not ask him for instructions. In justice to Earl Cowley it ought to be 462 stated that the noble Lord appears to labour under some misapprehension on that point, for, on the 27th of January, Earl Cowley distinctly says:—I should be glad to receive your Lordship's instructions as to the language which I am to use with regard to the annexation of Savoy and of the county of Nice to France.It appears, then, that up to that date the noble Lord had given no instructions whatever to our Ambassador in Paris as to what he was to say or to do with respect to a matter which, according to previous Despatches, touched not merely the safety and independence of Switzerland, but menaced Italy, and which, according to the noble Lord himself, imperilled the tranquillity of Europe. In fact, there is nothing done on their part from July up to the 28th of January to show what the Government thought on the subject. On that day the noble Lord wrote a formidable Despatch, in which he says:—The question of the annexation of Savoy would be regarded not so much as composing past troubles, as raising the elements for new storms. Natural frontiers—the Alps and the Rhino—the repetition of the history of long and bloody wars—the commencement of a new struggle between France and Europe; such are the ideas which would pass through men's minds at the announcement of such an acquisition.It is a solemn and awful thought which the noble Lord suggests, and I am not disposed to say that he overrated the importance of the subject. But what did he do? Nothing. He wrote that despatch, which is good as far as it goes, expressed a hope that the French Emperor would not think of territorial aggrandizement, and there left the matter. I confess I am surprised that after the language made use of by the noble Lord, no action was taken by him in the way of obtaining such a general remonstrance founded upon the international law of Europe as should check the aggrandizement which he so strongly deprecated. On the 6th of February, however, he desires our Minister at Turin to tell Count Cavour that it would be a blot on the escutcheon of the House of Savoy if the King of Sardinia were to yield to France the cradle of his illustrious family. My own private opinion is that the King of Sardinia is about to submit to that blot. That was all the noble Lord did so far as Sardinia was concerned. But I find a strange despatch which I cannot reconcile with the account given by the French Emperor of the same transac- 463 tion. It is dated the 3rd of February, and is written by Sir James Hudson to the noble Lord. Our Minister at Turin states that he had been informed by Count Cavour that the Sardinian Government had not the slightest intention of "ceding, exchanging, or selling Savoy." I ask myself is that true? because the French Emperor tells a very different tale, and I am rather inclined to accept his statement. The Swiss Minister insists, from the beginning there was a contract, or call it what you will—an understanding, an arrangement, a bargain—that Sardinia should give up Savoy and Nice for a consideration. He never deserts that point. Count Cavour denies the existence of any such contract, and this brings me to the 5th of February, and to the Despatch which raises the whole question against Her Majesty's Government. On that day Earl Cowley writes to the noble Lord:—I have had an opportunity of ascertaining from Count Walewski that he recognizes the accuracy of the report which I had sent to your Lordship of his declaration to me in July last; but he reminded me that he had made that declaration in view of the strict accomplishment of the Treaty of Zurich, and that he had more than once afterwards maintained that if Sardinia was to be aggrandized by the annexation of the Duchies, it must be at the cost of Savoy and the county of Nice, which must pass to France.That is very decided language; there can be no mistake about it. After such a statement it is useless to indulge in idle fancies. The matter is one of business. Let us see what it is that Count Walewski says and that Earl Cowley admits. Count Walewski says in effect:—"What is the meaning of these reports in England that France is pursuing a new and unexpected policy? I have told you repeatedly, beginning in July last, that if Piedmont was not satisfied with Lombardy, conquered by the blood and treasure of France, but aimed at the Duchies and Tuscany, then we must have Savoy and Nice." Was that communicated to the British Government? I understand that these important matters were communicated by private letters; but what has Count Walewski or the French Government to do with that? Count Walewski stands before the world fairly and honourably, as distinctly stating to the British Ambassador:—"If the Sardinian Government claim the Duchies, we must have Savoy." I want to know at what time Count Walewski made this communication to Earl Cowley. I understand that Count Walewski retired from 464 office on the 2nd of January; therefore, his communication must have been made as early as the month of December; consequently these private letters, containing matters of fact relating to the safety and independence of Switzerland, to the peace of Italy and the tranquillity of Europe, are thus sent to the noble Lord; and what does he do? Nothing. What does the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, who is very bellicose when a small country is in hand like Greece, and who is very ready to go to war with a country like China against every principle of humanity and reason, do? Nothing. Therefore, we have established the all-important facts that these two provinces would in certain eventualities be annexed to France, and that the knowledge of that circumstance was in the possession of the Government. Yet, when my right hon. Friend asked the rational question, "What did the noble Lord do?" The answer is, "I did nothing till the 28th of January, and then I wrote a despatch." I at first believed that there had been no despatches but those laid on the table; but, ascertaining afterwards that important facts were known a long time before anything was done by our Minister, I concluded that the whole Government, being aware of those facts, must bear the blame. Earl Cowley, in his despatch of the 5th of February, states the case of the Emperor of the French as already quoted; and in reference to Count Wallewski's assertion, adds—This is perfectly true, and on more than one occasion I alluded to these observations in my private correspondence with your Lordship.M. Thouvenel, it appears, then promises to go to the Emperor and to make a statement of his views, to prevent the possibility of mistakes. Accordingly, M. Thouvenel afterwards read an official answer, in which the following passage occurs—It was true that among the possible arrangements discussed between the French and Sardinian Governments, when they found themselves likely to be engaged side by side in war with Austria, was the cession to France, under certain contingencies, of Savoy and the county of Nice.Therefore, Count Cavour and the Emperor were opposed to each other as to this statement of fact; but, looking at the whole of the evidence, I am bound to say I believe the French Emperor. I should like to know what passed between Count Cavour 465 and the French Emperor at Plombières before the latter marched his army into Italy. Bid that sagacious Emperor say nothing? It appears, indeed, that the Swiss Minister understood the question, and appreciated the truth from the beginning. The real fact is that the policy of the Emperor is stated in that despatch I have referred to, and whoever pursued a course which led to those contingencies alluded to are responsible for the confusion of Europe at the present moment. Earl Cowley reports, M. Thouvenel stated to him:—The Emperor had thought that if the chances of war had given such a largo accession of territory to Sardinia as would have altered the relative proportions of the military strength of the two countries, he might with justice have demanded such territorial concessions of Sardinia as would have preserved those relative proportions. But so long as the sole addition made to Sardinia was the province of Lombardy there was no sufficient reason, in the Emperor's opinion, for asking of Sardinia, the sacrifice of any part of her ancient territory, and therefore Count Walewski had made the declaration referred to by me.Nothing could be more clear than that statement. So long, then, as the arrangements stood which were come to at Zurich the Emperor would not claim any territory, but he had before the war and all throughout informed the Sardinia Minister, and the French Minister informed Earl Cowley, that in case Sardinia claimed any further aggrandizement, France would then insist on the enlargement of her territory. It is true that the British Government made four propositions, which have been stated to this House; but they were then intermeddling in affairs in which they had no concern, for such were the complications and difficulty in dealing with the Italian question, that it would have been wiser to let the Italians settle their affairs themselves, instead of contriving propositions. M. Thouvenel added:—The Preliminaries of Villafranca, and subsequently the treaty of Zurich, left the territorial distribution of Italy, with the exception of Lombardy, as it had been before the war. The different States were to form a Confederation of a purely defensive character. The French Government desires no better than that this plan should be realized, and there will be no motive for raising the question of any territorial concessions in regard to France.Nothing could be more plain than that statement. "But," the French Minister proceeded,—The aspect of the whole matter has completely changed, and Her Majesty's Government have 466 themselves made proposals, which must lead to one of two results. Either the people of the States of Central Italy will pronounce themselves in favour of a Central Kingdom, or they will persist in asking to be annexed to Sardinia. In the former case, the French Government, considering that the solution would partake of the nature of the arrangements made at Zurich, will not think it necessary to look to the more immediate safety of the French frontier. But the French Government could not consent to the formation of a kingdom of above 10,000,000 souls in the south of Europe without taking precautions for the future security of France.Therefore, the whole matter comes to this:—The French Emperor says, and says very truly—The aspect of affairs is totally changed; the British Government has made four propositions, the last of which may lead to the annexation of Tuscany to Sardinia, and that annexation fulfils the condition on which I stated I would take Savoy and Nice. Consequently the British Government have led to this state of things, and it is necessary that we should hear something more than we have yet heard from the noble Viscount opposite. The noble Viscount, relying on a blind majority, tells us, when we ask for information, that we ought to propose a vote of censure; but the noble Viscount should remember that a majority is but a doubtful element of strength. It is one that has failed him ere this, and may fail him again. And even were the minority less than it is, it is but fair that they should seek for information, and it is the duty of the Ministers to give it. I find that subsequently the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary receives a despatch from Earl Cowley, dated the 10th of February. In that despatch Earl Cowley states:—I had an opportunity of seeing the Emperor yesterday, and I had the honour of having some conversation with His Majesty on the subject of the annexation of Savoy to France. His Majesty did not deny that, under certain eventualities, and on the grounds stated in my despatch of the 5th inst., he might think it right to claim a proper frontier for France: that he believed that the wish of the Savoyards was to be united to France; and that he could not understand why in the case of the Duchies the wishes of the populations were to be attended to, and that the same principle should not prevail with respect to Savoy.Very good. The noble Lord opposite, with the assent of the Cabinet, writes out and says:—"The will of the populations of Italy must determine their form of Government;" and now this policy had been carried to a singular pitch, when Kings and Queens move off like sentries when the time was up, and people voted by universal 467 suffrage what form of Government they would have, whether republican or monarchical, according to their caprices the noble Lord could not have been aware how his own proposition would be so retorted upon him. The noble Lord is the advocate of a popular form of Government, but he inspires me with terror when he says that whether there are to be Dukes, Kings, Emperors, or Popes, must depend upon universal suffrage and the number of votes deposited in an urn. The Emperor of the French, however, accepts the principle, and hopes that it will be applied to his own case. He thus fairly retorts their argument of universal suffrage on Her Majesty's Ministers; and I shall be glad to learn from the noble Viscount at the head of the Government what case they have to make. Admitting that the noble Lord, in July, made a statement in this House, yet he was immediately after informed by the Swiss Minister of what was about to happen. He was also informed of it by Earl Cowley; but from that time up to the present hour there has been no appeal to the parties who, according to the noble Lord, ought to be consulted before the Treaty of Vienna is subverted. This, then, is one of the most important questions which the House has had before it for a considerable time. Gentlemen who are in favour of reduced Estimates and of peace should never object to a right understanding of the foreign policy of this country, because it is in vain that they seek for a reduction in expenditure, while, according to the noble Lord, the tranquillity of Europe is threatened by a policy which they themselves encouraged and, indeed, created. I do not censure the French Emperor. He is an able man, avows his policy and seems inclined to revive the traditions of the Empire. At present he is an Emperor without an empire, and would like to furnish himself with one in the easiest way possible. His are not peddling, but great designs. "The people of Savoy," he says, "would rather live under my Government." But then he objects in their case to universal suffrage. The mayors, if they choose, may let him know how they wish the thing to be done, and he has a corps ready to march in and settle the dispute. Meanwhile this able man has an interview with Mr. Cobden on the 24th of December, in which he says:—"Territorial aggrandizement is far from my thoughts. By the way, your coal is the only fuel suited to the consumption of my 468 navy; but there is a race of men in England called Tories, who will have it I have some ulterior designs, and want to prevent me from getting that coal." Then you have a treaty of peace and commerce agreed to. Earl Cowley writes that two kingdoms are about to be annexed, and you write back to Mr. Cobden about the introduction of cotton twist into France on easier terms. Now, I do not blame those who wish for a great market for their manufactures; but I would put it to their good sense whether they have any doubt as to the ultimate intentions of the French Emperor. His Majesty knows this country well. He is the ablest Sovereign on the Continent of Europe, and he probably said, "I will give free trade to gratify one party in England, and I will take Savoy and Nice for myself." That is a very intelligible policy, but, if anything spoken by so humble a person as myself can ever reach the ears of so great a potentate, I would venture to remind Mm of an interesting anecdote told in a recent work (Canning and his Times) as having occurred during the voyage of the great Emperor to St. Helena. Some conversation about a camp library took place when the ship was in sight of the rocky island which was to be his grave. He called for this library, took out a book, and in a clear voice read the story of the benevolent fairy:—A farmer asked a fairy to give him what would be most suitable to his condition. She consented. First he asked for health for himself and his family; next fruitful crops; then an additional farm. The fairy granted all these petitions. He wished then for another farm, for a park, and a castle, and was denied none of these. But in a corner of the park was a strip of land which belonged to a neighbour who would neither sell nor exchange it. The fairy had warned him never to ask for what was unreasonable, but his evil genius prompted him to seek for his neighbour's land; and, as a punishment for his inordinate ambition he found himself remitted to his original I state of destitution and poverty. There the Emperor closed the book. "This, likewise, has befallen me," he said, "and behold I am at St. Helena." A picture of a great man moralizing on his fallen condition! I believe, with the noble Lord, that the policy which has been pursued in this particular matter is one of the last importance to the peace of Europe. I do not think he has been judicious in following that policy, and therefore I say that the 469 inquiry for information has been a reasonable and a just one.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he should rejoice if the Motion should have the effect which it was intended it should, of inducing Her Majesty's Government to bring this question forward in a proper manner. The relations between France and Savoy and Nice depended upon several historical circumstances, and were connected with important historical events. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had given a picture of negotiations, to which he had stated he could see no valid conclusion. But he had omitted one point. When he stated that Count Cavour made one statement and the Emperor another, and that the Emperor was right, his right hon. Friend had attacked the veracity of one of the greatest of European statesmen. He (Mr. Milnes) did not believe that Count Cavour had been guilty of any misrepresentation of the agreement between himself and the Emperor. No doubt what was said in the conversation at Plombières or elsewhere was, that if by any process of annexation Sardinia should assume an important position in Europe in a military sense, if she obtained the Quadrilateral and Venetia, then it would become necessary that France should be at liberty to demand a rectification of her frontier, and that in such circumstances Sardinia should not refuse to entertain the question. That was, no doubt, the agreement, if any, between the French Emperor and Count Cavour. But the condition had not been carried out. Venetia was not annexed to Sardinia but remained to Austria, and the Quadrilateral was still a menace for Sardinia and for Italy. Count Cavour, therefore, was perfectly right in the position he had taken up. To that moment he had asserted that if Savoy and Nice were given up, it could only be by an act of force majeure on the part of France, and not in consequence of any agreement between the Emperor and himself. This supposition rendered entirely explicable the difficulties and inconsistencies which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had perceived, and had been unable to solve in recent diplomacy. The Emperor of the French contended that the annexation of Tuscany and the Duchies was equal for all the purposes of the agreement to the annexation at first contemplated, and therefore he claimed the cession of Savoy and Nice. In making that assertion the Emperor placed himself 470 in a totally fresh position towards Sardinia, which Count Cavour never recognized. He admitted that if the kingdom of Sardinia extended from sea to sea, the rectification of the French frontier on the side of Savoy would then come legitimately before Europe; but Count Cavour had never recognized the claims of France, so far as they were founded on the present position of Sardinia. If, therefore, Savoy and Nice were given to France, it would only be because Sardinia was not in a position to resist, and because having received from France the magnificent possession of Lombardy, it was impossible she could hold any other language except that almost of a dependent. The annexation of Savoy and Nice to France was one of those historical traditions that sunk deep into the heart of one nation, though it was almost impossible to make another nation understand it. The moment the question of the annexation of Savoy to France was started it ceased to be a question between "this man" or "that man;" it became purely a question of French national feeling, on which a prisoner in Cayenne might take as deep an interest as any one in the Imperial Court. Nor was the question new to French history. An Italian Confederation, the honorary presidency of the Pope, the exclusion of the Spaniards, who then occupied the position of the Austrians in Italy, were all proposed by Henry IV. to Queen Elizabeth, and that great Sovereign acceded to all these propositions, In the partition of Italy in the reign of William III. the cession of Savoy to France was acceded to by that monarch, who fully understood the foreign interests of England, and was by no means disposed to view with complacency an accession to the power of France. With their traditions it was natural that the French would not readily let slip the opportunity of strengthening their frontier, and obtaining the possession of the watersheds of their own rivers, when a railway carried under Mont Cenis might enable a foreign nation in twenty-four hours to cut off the communication between Paris and Toulon. Sardinia had ceased to be a petty state, and become a great Italian power, competent to form alliances and to enter into confederations with other powers, and she might possibly, in the event of an European war, join in a coalition against France herself. If Sardinia had opposed the propositions, then the question of the annexation of Savoy was a question that 471 might well be proposed to an European Congress. He did not think, even if Lombardy and the Romagna were annexed to Sardinia, that the new Italian State would, as a military Power, be dangerous to France. At the same time she might be entitled to a rectification of her frontiers, and he repeated he should be glad to see the question of the annexation of Savoy referred to an European Congress. The other question was a different one. He had no desire to wrest from Austria any part of her dominions, but he had for many years resided in Italy, and he felt it was impossible Lombardy could continue to form part of the Austrian Empire. He could not regret to see it form part of an Italian State. And it was desirable that by some arrangement Venetia should be restored to Italy; an enormous expense and difficulty would be saved to Austria in the present embarrassed condition of her empire. Her Majesty's Government had been blamed for the course it had taken on this question. The present system of transacting the business of the Foreign Office by private letters rendered it almost impossible to pass any fair criticism on its proceedings. He did not suppose the communications laid on the table were all that had passed; but he was willing to believe that any other documents were in conformity with those that had been published. Her Majesty's Government had been blamed for not taking a more open and distinct course on this question. It was said that England should have hounded on the other Powers of Europe to terrify France from this annexation of Savoy. For the peace of Europe and the world he believed this course would have been most disastrous, and it would have entirely failed of its purpose, while it would have placed England almost in a position of ignominy. The other Powers would have found no difficulty in giving a satisfactory, but perhaps insulting reply to the demand. Austria might reply, "You allowed me to be deprived of one of my richest provinces, to be despoiled of the Iron Crown of Lombardy without a word of remonstrance; but now, on this petty question, because it may tend to aggrandize France, you ask me to raise a clamour against her, and place myself in a position of extreme peril by interposing." That was the language Austria might have held, and been justified in holding. He was glad the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Af- 472 fairs did not attempt to take this course. It would be better now to be content with taking the English position, and protest against the measure of French aggrandizement, leaving any further interference till the time when the difference between France and Sardinia may be brought before an European Congress. But as long as Austria retains possession of Venetia and the fortified Quadrilateral, Sardinia must be insecure, and ought not to be called on to give up an inch of territory, and Savoy would be justified in maintaining the position it has hitherto preserved. They had lived to see districts of the world hitherto believed to be barren and worthless filled with population and rich in productions of the utmost benefit to mankind. He hoped they might see a still greater improvement; to see a population hitherto supposed to be servile and weak rise up and become an independent nation. This, he believed, was the future prospect of Italy. He trusted every point connected with Italy would be considered with reference to her great future prospects. And, if France should acquire some increase of territory by the cession of Savoy, if the people of both countries were not unwilling to consent to exchange rulers, the world might be a great gainer, even though France herself might have gained something also.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he rose to enter his protest against some of the opinions he found in the correspondence, and which had been announced by the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary. It was stated in these despatches that countries had the right to choose their own rulers. Now, would the noble Lord admit that principle if the people of the Ionian Islands petitioned, as he understood was the intention of the inhabitants of Zante, to be annexed to the kingdom of Greece? He should wish to ask the noble Lord whether he was prepared to extend the doctrine which he had thus laid down to the Ionian Islands; for if the principle that a people might assemble together and choose their own Sovereign were good in one case he saw no reason why it might not be resorted to in another. For his own part, he deemed such a doctrine to be calculated to subvert alike order and good government. But the noble Lord asked, Why discuss the question of the annexation of Savoy to France unless the House of Commons was prepared to enforce its opinions by having recourse to arms? The simple answer was 473 that it was desirable to enter into such a discussion in order to show the unsoundness of arguments such as those which were advanced by the Emperor of the French. The question was not simply a question of annexation, it was one rather of a future annexation policy, and the arguments on which it was supported, and if they were allowed to pass as unanswerable, the annexation of Savoy might be brought forward with greater force as a precedent hereafter. Now, the Emperor of the French, in his address to the Chambers, had made use of three arguments in support on the view of the subject which he entertained. The first of those arguments was that he deemed it to be his duty to annex Savoy to France, but that could only mean that he felt himself called upon to add to the territories of the French Empire on whatsoever side it should seem to him desirable. The second argument was that Savoy was so small a country that no objection could reasonably be offered to the course with respect to it which he proposed to take; but Switzerland was small also, and in close proximity to Savoy. Let Savoy be annexed because it was so small, and in process of time Switzerland would be annexed also, and so on with other territories to whose frontiers the establishment of this principle would shortly bring the aggrandizing power of France. But then the Emperor went on to contend that the limit which he was about to fix to France on the side of Piedmont formed the natural geographical boundary of his dominions in that direction. If that were so, what, he (Mr. B. Cochrane) should like to know, was to be the boundary of the province of Nice? Was it to be Nice or that spur of the Alps which extended down to the Mediterranean at St. Remo? Or might it not come to pass that the geographical boundary of France in that quarter might be regarded as capable of being extended with still greater advantage to Genoa? In fact, he saw no limits which could be set, if such arguments were to have weight, to the march of Imperial policy. He had given on a former occasion full credit to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs for the language which he had employed in those despatches, copies of which then lay on the table; but additional despatches had since been produced in which he thought he could trace precisely the same spirit by which the policy of the noble Lord had been animated as represented by the noble Viscount at the head of the Government 474 in 1848—a policy by which, in his opinion, much of the suffering of Italy had been occasioned. And what, let him ask, had Sardinia gained by her intercourse with France? What advantage had she reaped from it? What would be the result to her if the proposed annexation took place? Would the monument of Charles Emmanuel—would the magnificent statues at Turin illustrative of the ancient House of Savoy all be borne away to France when the King of Sardinia had given up the oldest inheritance of his family—that country which had afforded them a safe and secure shelter in the days of their difficulties and dangers? They might talk of the bleak and barren mountains of Savoy as unworthy of consideration, but the history of Savoy was the greatest and most illustrious in existence. But it was said that the people of Savoy themselves were anxious for the proposed annexation. If that were the case, if they preferred to live under the despotism of France to being subjects of the constitutional King of Sardinia, it would not say much for the Government of Piedmont. But it was not so. Every act proved the affection entertained by the people for the House of Savoy. For his own part, he earnestly hoped the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, as he had already interfered so much in the affairs of Italy, would, without any menace of war, so far interfere again, as to use all the weight attaching to Her Majesty's Government to prevent the accomplishment of an annexation which, if carried out, would be an act that could only bring disgrace upon its perpetrators.
§ MR. HORSMAN
Sir, I am very glad the Government have afforded the House an opportunity of discussing this question, for we have thereby presented to us the means of removing misconceptions as to the policy of the Government, and also as to the views of private Members. I am, of course, aware of the great difficulties by which the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs is beset in dealing with a subject so important, and I, for one, have no wish to say a word by which those difficulties might be increased. I trust, however, it is not too late to dissuade Her Majesty's Ministers from setting before us the alternative of open war or silent acquiescence in the annexation of Savoy as the only one within our reach. I for one am not prepared to accept that alternative, and I trust the House will be of the same opinion. The notice which 475 my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) gave on this question had its origin, I believe, in the language which was used by the noble Lord himself, when he stated in this House that if Russia, Prussia, and Austria were all to protest against the proposed annexation, that measure would not, in his opinion, be carried into effect. Upon that statement the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater acted, with the view, I have no doubt, of strengthening the hands of the Government. Last night, however, the noble Lord seemed to interpret this proceeding of my hon. and learned Friend into a desire to promote a war with Franco; but, for my part, I think that, although there are very few subjects on which the 600 and odd Members of which this House is composed could completely concur, yet that, in condemning the Minister who should make the annexation of Savoy a cause of war with France we should all be unanimous. But I may be asked what alternative I propose. I find in a despatch written by the noble Lord, which has been deservedly applauded, and of which I have on a previous occasion expressed my warm approval, there is this paragraph:—But the question of the annexation of Savoy would be regarded not so much as composing past troubles as raising the elements for new storms. Natural frontiers—the Alps and the Rhine—the repetition of the history of long and bloody wars—the commencement of a new struggle between France and Europe,—fuch are the ideas which would pass through men's minds at the announcement of such an acquisition.It appeared to me last night that there was a contrast between the spirited despatch which treated the annexation of Savoy as a European question, and the language of the noble Lord, who seems now inclined to reduce the matter to a simple question between Savoy and France, and the cession of a few mountain-tops and half-a million of subjects. But that is not the question. It is whether France, a great military Power, shall acquire a new military frontier. France at present has no pass into Italy lit for artillery. She is about to get one, and she attaches great importance to it. The gain to France we must look at from a French point of view, while the danger to Europe must be considered in the spirit of the noble Lord's despatch. For the last forty-five years France has been complaining of the treaties of 1815, which she regards as humiliating and unjust to her. The Emperor of 476 France, upon whose policy it is our duty to comment, although I admit we should abstain from remarks of a merely personal character—has encouraged the belief of Franco that he is destined to relieve her from that wrong and humiliation. But what were those treaties? The nations which had been for a series of years trampled under the heel of France at last succeeded in overthrowing her dominion, and then determined that, while France should continue in future to be a great Power, she should have a defined frontier. A proposal was made for the dismemberment of France, but was prevented from, being carried out by the Duke of Wellington, who said that two things were necessary for the good of Europe—that France should remain a great Power, and that she should have a defined frontier. He wished France to be great, but not too great, and those treaties were securities taken by the other Powers of Europe against what had been for 200 years the traditional policy of France—a policy of war, aggression, and aggrandizement. I ask, under those circumstances, what right has Sardinia or any other Power to liberate France from the restrictions that were placed upon her for the general protection of Europe? I ask, too, what right has any party in this country—still more what right has any Government to allow this question, which is a great European question, to become a mere question of a few mountain-tops, and the transfer of a small population? It will be said, What are we to do? Have our statesmen no alternative but war or acquiescence? There cannot be such blindness, such political cowardice, as to abstain from interference, because Savoy is so distant. When the Italian war broke out last year the oldest diplomatists predicted that France was about to enter upon a new career. France now considers herself as liberated from the treaties, and enters upon that new career. The noble Lord in the despatch I have referred to says that any alteration of existing arrangements would create great distrust. Now, what does distrust mean? It means increased Estimates in England, preparations for war in Europe, and the confusion, embarrassments, and interruption to commerce which we all deprecate. Peace to the mind of a statesman does not mean the simple absence of actual war, but an absence of the aggression that leads to war, and it is for a statesmen to say "I must secure peace by 477 taking those securities which will alone preserve it." Then, I shall be asked, What are we to do? In that spirited despatch of the noble Lord he refers to the Rhine, and in a speech which he made last year to his constituents, he referred to Belgium, and said that if Belgium was attacked, we should be obliged to go to war. I say the natural policy of this country, if we would provide for dangers which we see approaching, is to take precautions and to make alliances with those Powers which, like ourselves, might be threatened by the danger. That is the traditional policy of England and the policy we ought to adopt. The taste for aggrandizement will only be increased by indulgence, and sooner or later we shall be compelled to confront the danger. During the reigns of our greatest monarchs, in the times of Elizabeth, of William, of Anne, and in the time of the two Pitts, the policy of England has ever been to form alliances in order to check the aggressive tendencies of any single European power. And I say I think the Government would have done well now if they had entered into an alliance with Prussia as a protest that could not be mistaken against this aggression—this challenge to Europe making that alliance prospective in its operation; but, instead of doing that which would have been a wise policy, they are hugging a Commercial Treaty, thinking that from that we shall get the security against the aggressive attitude of Trance which we can alone obtain from continental alliances. I rose to vindicate my hon. and learned Friend and myself from the insinuation that because we disapproved the annexation of Savoy we therefore were in favour of war. I do not believe there is a man in the House who would advocate such a policy; but I do say that a tame acquiescence would be a dangerous policy, an unworthy policy, and I think the noble Lord would have done well to have followed up his despatch, and to have frankly toll the Emperor that as in former times the aggressive disposition of France had provoked combinations against her, so, similar conduct in the present time, might load to similar combinations in Europe. That would have been a dignified course; it would have placed the Government in a proper position before the country and in the eyes of the world, and if my hon. and learned Friend should renew his Motion at some future day, I hope we may then be able to extract from the Govern- 478 ment a declaration that that is a course which they have felt it due to the character and honour of the nation to pursue.
§ LORD HARRY VANE
said, that as the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater; intended to bring the subject before the House at some future day, it was not desirable on the present occasion to continue a discussion which might possibly prove of an irritating character upon the mere question of a production of papers. At the same time it was desirable that the House should express an opinion, for, although he would not indulge in vituperation of the French Emperor, he felt there were great principles involved which at the present time made it expedient that the House of Commons should pronounce a deliberate opinion. He quite agreed that those who desired discussion did not desire war, but rather to make a protest for the future, more than for the present. No opportunity should be thrown away of making alliances with other powers, as it was impossible to say where such proceedings as those contemplated by the Emperor of the French would end, if no check were put upon them. He had risen, however, principally to express his regret that so much of the correspondence relative to the annexation of Savoy and Nice had been carried on in private letters. There could be no doubt that the attention of the Government had been directed at a very early period to this project of the Emperor of the French, which had never been finally abandoned He hoped the Government would in future take care that there should be a record preserved of every important conversation that took place between the Foreign Minister of France and our Ambassador in Paris. There was no other way in which the House of Commons could be kept duly informed of the events which took place. He had often heard accusations made by foreigners against our diplomacy, not of falsehood, but of something very like it, grounded principally on the fact that a very large proportion of the correspondence produced before the House of Commons did not give the real narration of the affairs to which they related. Many questions were thus wrapt in mystery, and no fair view of transactions could be obtained. As notice of a distinct Motion on this subject had been given by the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater, he would not take up the time of the House further at present. He would only repeat that he hoped means would be taken to 479 prevent Parliament being kept for the future so much in the dark with reference to important conversations and negotiations that were taking place between our representatives abroad and the Ministers of foreign countries.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he rose to correct a fallacy which appeared to have run through the whole discussion. It had been assumed that the King of Sardinia had been exciting the national feelings of the people of Central Italy, and urging them to clamour for annexation to his Government. He would venture to assert that the very reverse was the fact, and to express his opinion that the Government of Sardinia had been by no means the primum mobile of the sentiment of liberty in Italy. He believed that for a long time the King of Sardinia, in the exercise of a judicious prudence and reserve in the treatment of such important events, connected with so many elements of danger and disturbance; had shown himself extremely unwilling to be mixed up more than was necessary with the affairs of Central Italy. Indeed, the people rather considered him as hanging back, and not so ready to undertake direct responsibility in their favour as they wished him to be. The feeling throughout Central Italy in favour of annexation to Sardinia was entirely spontaneous, and printed placards might be seen in September last, affixed to every house of Bologna calling for annexation. He made full allowance for the difficulties of the Emperor of the French, and he had no doubt the two Emperors, when they concluded the Treaty of Villafranca, bonâ fide believed that there would be no difficulty in restoring the Bakes to their position. But the feeling of the people of Central Italy had never varied; it was for nationality, as far as they could realize it. They saw that before them in the Constitutional Government of Sardinia; they very sensibly determined to look no further, and their annexation was now being submitted to the test of universal suffrage. He denied that the noble Lord by any intervention of his had promoted a policy which must eventuate in the annexation of Savoy to France. He had, on the contrary, faithfully adhered to the principle of nonintervention, which the people of this country were so anxious to see fully carried out. The difficulty with regard to Savoy arose from the changing course of events. It was no imputation upon Count 480 cavour if, for the sake of what had been held out as the liberation of Italy from the Adriatic to the Alps, he had been ready to make some small sacrifice of Sardinian territory. But, that magnificent programme not having been fulfilled, Franco was not entitled to regard the proposed annexation of Central Italy to Sardinia as an equivalent for Venetia, and to demand Savoy for herself. Central Italy had never been at the disposal of the French Emperor, and therefore he could not fairly ask for any compensation for it. It was a fundamental error to ascribe the aspirations of the Central Italians for national independence to the instigation of Sardinia. They had been determined, at whatever sacrifice, to shake off foreign thraldom, and he could testify from personal observation, that they were one and all ready to undergo the greatest extremities of human endurance rather than fail in that patriotic object. The lust of dominion was a passion of human nature which the Emperor of the French had kept in abeyance during the war in Northern Italy; but it seemed to have returned when the illusion as to a Kingdom of Etruria for an Imperial Prince had been wholly dispelled. By refusing to participate in the recent struggle, but by enunciating and maintaining by peaceful means the principle of non-intervention, England had secured for herself one of the greatest moral triumphs the world had ever seen.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, that in his very able speech the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin had attributed the proposed annexation of Savoy to our Government having made its four propositions on behalf of Central Italy. That opinion, he thought, would not be borne out by the official papers. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had made an attack upon Count Cavour. Having himself the honour of that distinguished man's acquaintance, he must say that he could not believe that Count Cavour was open to the charge of dishonesty attempted to be cast upon him. If Italy obtained her independence, it would, humanly speaking, be owing to the eminent ability, indefatigable energy, and untiring zeal which had rendered this statesman the most prominent, as well as the most popular man in Italy. The substance of the attack made upon Count Cavour was, that in the despatch dated Turin, the 3rd of February, it was said that the Sardinian 481 Government had not the slightest intention to cede, exchange, or sell Savoy. Now, he believed that that was the determination of Count Cavour at this very moment; but it should be remembered that Count Cavour had a very difficult part to play. His first object, it was true, was the interest of his own country, Italy; but, at the same time, he had rejected the proposal which had been mentioned of taking the sense of the country by mayors, and within the last few days it had been announced that the sense of Savoy would be taken by universal voting. It could be proved that in the interest of his Sovereign Count Cavour had done all in his power to secure the independence of the Savoyards. In the debates in that House on this subject, hon. Gentlemen had all along spoken as if the annexation of Savoy was to be received as an accomplished fact. He, however, thought that if we had wished honestly to support the King of Sardinia in resisting this measure, it should not have been by holding the tame and lukewarm language that had been held in that House, treating the annexation as a thing that would be done. It would have been well if Her Majesty's Government had taken a stronger and bolder line from the beginning, which would have encouraged the other Powers of Europe to make a stand on that question. The opportunity had, however, been lost. Still, he should not willingly believe that the annexation would be executed; but if, unfortunately, it should be persevered in, he agreed with the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University that the Emperor of the French would never have committed a greater political error, or one that would produce throughout Europe greater distrust as to further projects of aggression. He wished, before sitting down, to ask, whether, in the event of this annexation taking place, any security had been obtained for the independence and neutrality of Switzerland, which would be vitally affected by the step which it was currently stated was about to be adopted.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I am anxious to say a few words in reply to what has passed in the course of this debate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke after my noble Friend, misunderstood, I think, what was stated by me on a former occasion. He said that I, without reason, had laid down the principle that if these questions were debated 482 in the House at all, it must be with a view of censuring either the Emperor of the French or Her Majeety's Government; and that, as far as an expression of opinion could go, I wished to preclude the House from discussing the matter, except on the ground of a formal censure. My observations related solely to what fell from the right lion. Gentleman the Member for "Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) who I understood to have said that he thought the conduct of the Government open to considerable animadversion, and that it was one of the points which ought to be brought under the consideration of the House. But it never could enter into my mind to lay down a doctrine so much at variance with the proper functions of Parliament, as that a matter of European interest, connected with the foreign relations of this country, was not to be discussed unless it was brought forward by a direct Motion of censure on the Government. Now, Sir, I think the course which Her Majesty's Government have pursued in this matter is much more clear and consistent than would appear from the observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. When first the possible cession of Savoy and Nice to France was made known, as a matter which was still in doubt, my noble Friend immediately instructed our Ambassador at Paris to ask the French Minister whether there was any foundation for the report, and he was told by Count Walewski that the notion, if it ever were entertained, had been abandoned. Rumours doubtless existed that the plan was still in contemplation; but it was settled at that time, as is well known, that whenever the Peace of Zurich should be signed and concluded, a Congress was to assemble for the purpose, not only of taking cognizance of the Treaty, but also of considering the settlement of the affairs of Italy. And in that Congress the objections which England or any other Power might feel to any arrangement that might be dependent or consequent on the treaty of Zurich, or on the settlement of the affairs of Italy would naturally have been stated. There was, therefore, no great use in entering into an animated correspondence with the French Government in reference to a contingent event which was to depend on the discussions that would take place only when this Congress assembled; but as the House is aware, the treaty of Zurich was delayed for a considerable time, and it was not till 483 very late in the year—indeed, I think it was not till the beginning of the present year—that it became known that the Congress would not be assembled. When we became aware of that fact my noble Friend, as will appear by the papers which have been laid before Parliament, did express a very strong opinion with regard to the contemplated Cession of Savoy and Nice to France. I cannot quite understand the opinion which the right hon. and learned Gentleman entertains on this subject: at one moment he seemed to censure my noble Friend for not having expressed the opinions of the English Government with sufficient firmness and vigour, and at another time he criticised a despatch as being too strong and energetic. In my opinion considerable judgment and discretion were required in determining the course which Her Majesty's Government ought to pursue. In the first place, as was stated by my right hon. Friend, the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), it was quite clear this was not a question on which the issue of peace or war would depend. "Whatever objections we might entertain to the proposed cession of Savoy and Nice to France, nobody could maintain that it involved the interests of this country to so great and direct an extent as to justify the Government in calling on the country to go to war with France in order to prevent that cession. As far as England is concerned, France—possessing Savoy and Nice—would not be a more formidable enemy in war than she would be without them. Any interference on our part, therefore, ought not to be viewed by the French Government, or by the French nation, as arising from jealousy of the power of France; it is not from apprehension of the power of France that we object to the annexation, nor is the case one in which, if our representations were unsuccessful we should think it right to take up arms to prevent the cession of territory from being completed. If that be admitted, then I think it is clear that some of the propositions which have been started in the course of this discussion would not have been expedient. We are told that we ought to have applied to the great Powers of Europe, and that we should have entered into an alliance with Prussia, Austria, and Russia, for the purpose of preventing this annextion. The only mode of preventing it, I think, was to represent to the Government of France the objections which pre- 484 sented themselves to our minds in relation to the transaction; and, unless we were of opinion that the matter was of sufficient importance to justify a resort to warlike measures, my own opinion is, that to array a hostile confederacy against France on this point would be a most injudicious method of endeavouring to accomplish our purpose. It would have roused the national feeling of the French people, it would have stimulated the sense of dignity in the French Government, and it would have borne an appearance of compulsion when we were not prepared to exercise the reality, which would have been more calculated to prevent the accomplishment of our wishes than to forward their attainment. There was one course which it was expedient to adopt when it was ascertained that the Congress would not take place, and when it was, therefore, evident that there would not be any opportunity of bringing this matter under discussion in the assembled Councils of Europe; what remained to be done was to state fairly and distinctly to the French Government the objections which we entertained to the fulfilment of this project, and to communicate those objections to the other Powers of Europe, in order that they, knowing what we had done, might, if they thought fit, take corresponding steps to urge further objections on the Government of France. Now, this is what was done by my noble Friend; and it is the course which appears to me to have been best adapted for the accomplishment of our purpose, without wounding the dignity of France or without placing the French Government in a position in which they could not have yielded without a sacrifice of dignity or of honour. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) says he does not yet know what my opinions on this subject are—that I have not yet stated them to the House. My opinions agree entirely with those of my noble Friend. I perfectly subscribe to every -word in those despatches which he has laid on the table of the House, and which I think—with the exception of the right hon. and learned Gentleman—have obtained the assent and approbation of almost everybody who has expressed any opinion in reference to them. Indeed, I rather think, if my memory does not deceive me, that the right hon. Gentleman himself, on a former occasion, did justice to the spirit in which my noble Friend represented the Government of England in 485 that correspondence. I consider that it would be a great mistake on the part of the French Government if they were to persist in this plan. When first the present Emperor mounted the throne—or rather when he first acceded to power in France—apprehension was no doubt excited in many of the Continental Governments that he might adopt the policy of his uncle, which was one that we know involved the whole of Europe in the calamities of war. The Emperor took an early opportunity of declaring that the Empire meant peace—a declaration which was received with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction by the whole of Europe, and which inspired confidence in the new policy which it was supposed he intended to pursue. I do not hold that in what took place last year in Italy there was any departure from that principle. France undertook a noble enterprise—that of freeing Italy from foreign domination—aye, and from French domination included, for it was part of the scheme of Italian liberty that France as well as Austria should retire from any future interference in the internal affairs of that country. It would have been—and should it so turn out, it will be—a most honourable, a most glorious result to the Government of France, if, after restoring to Italy the freedom and independence of which she has been so long deprived, France was content with the glory of that achievement, and abstained from mixing up with a generous enterprise any small or petty objects of selfish and local aggrandizement. Many reasons have been assigned for the cession of Savoy and "Nice, but I cannot admit that any of them have any force or value. It is said that so long as Piedmont remains a small Power she continues to be the harmless neighbour of France, but that if she becomes so large as to contain a population of eight, ten, or eleven millions, she will become a Power formidable as a neighbour, and therefore one which in the nature of things requires that the French frontier should be made additionally secure. I must say that when a country containing about thirty-six millions of people, the most warlike on the earth in its character, full of resources, and compact in territory, holds such language as that, and asserts that it is in danger from a State having a population of only eight or ten millions, it is an argument which cannot, I think, be gravely and seriously maintained, and which is not founded on truth or in reason. 486 It is also said that France ought to have her natural boundaries, and that the population of Savoy speaks the French language. Why, Sir, in the first place, history tells us that natural boundaries are no defence whatever. What instance is there on record in which an army of sufficient amount determined to invade a country has been stopped either by rivers or by mountains? Therefore, whether the watershed of the Alps is in the possession of France or of Sardinia, France, as long as she continues to be the stronger Power, will be able to enter Italy; and should the Sardinians be insane enough to attempt to invade France, the French armies would give such an account of the invading force as would not encourage a repetition of the attempt. But it is said that Sardinia might be a member of a confederation, and might open the passage to the troops of other countries. The answer to that is plain. Such a confederation must, if it exist at all, consist of Powers north of the Alps, and those Powers, if they meant to invade France, would not descend to the Tyrol, pass along northern Italy, and go back again over the Alps, but would take the more direct and natural course of attacking France on her eastern frontier. Another answer is, that I do not think it enters into the imagination of any Government in the world to attack France without some great and adequate provocation, and therefore, if the Empire is peace and means peace, which I believe was a sincere declaration on the part of the Emperor, it is not in the nature of things conceivable that there should be any confederation to join Sardinia in an invasion of France. But, Sir, the objection which we feel to the cession is not, as I have said, an objection founded upon any direct British interest, because danger to England from the annexation of Savoy and Mice to France there would be none. It is founded upon the danger to Europe which would rise from the precedent—from the principle which such an annexation would establish. For, Sir, if you come to natural boundaries, and if the country which claims them is to be the judge of where they are, it is very easy to see that Europe would find it very difficult to decide where danger would begin and where resistance upon a grand scale ought to be undertaken. If language were to be the measure of aggrandizement, it is plain that it would be difficult for many countries to show that they had a good title to possessions which they now 487 hold. Therefore, these two principles of natural boundaries and of community of language are principles the establishment of which would be very dangerous to Europe, however small, comparatively speaking, might be the instance in which they were carried into effect. There is one case in which the cession of Savoy to Prance would be attended with direct danger to a country whose independence it is the interest of all Europe—aye, I will say of France herself to maintain—I mean Switzerland. We are asked whether any steps have been taken to provide for the security of Switzerland in the event of this cession taking place. We have not taken any such steps, and I will tell the House why. Because, if you begin to talk about the modification of a measure which you want to prevent in its entirety, you weaken the ground upon which you stand. It will be time enough to talk of that when, if it ever happens, the cession shall become inevitable; and therefore I think it would not have been prudent to talk to France about the conditions on which the cession of Savoy should take place, so long as it was the opinion of the Government that events might occur which would prevent that annexation being carried into effect at all. On what grounds, then, I may be asked, can the Government, can this House entertain the opinion that that cession may not take place? In the first place, the French Emperor has stated that Savoy shall not be taken by force of arms; in the next, that it shall not be taken without the consent of its own Sovereign and people; and again, that it shall not be taken without consulting the great Powers of Europe. And when you say "consulting the great Powers of Europe," it seems to me to follow as a natural consequence that it will not be taken without their assent. Well, then, if these conditions are laid down and adhered to—abstinence from force, the consent of the Sovereign and people of Savoy, and the assent of the great Powers of Europe—I think we are not yet come to that point at which we are justified in holding that reason and reflection, and a due regard to the honour of France, may not induce the French Government to abandon the project which they have hitherto entertained. Now, we are told by an hon. Member opposite (Mr. B. Cochrane) that with regard to Tuscany we have been laying down a principle which might be applied to the Ionian 488 Islands; and we have been asked why, as we have said that the Tuscans should decide by universal suffrage what should be their condition, we do not apply the same rule to the Ionian Islands. The answer is obvious. In the first place, we did not propose universal suffrage to the people of Tuscany. We said that it was not part of our habits or constitution, but that they were the best judges of what suffrage it became them to adopt. More than that, it happens that in the case of Tuscany— and this distinction applies to Savoy as well as to the Ionian Islands—that in the case of Modena, and in the case of Parma, the Sovereigns had fled; they had done that which James II. did in England, they had left their countries without Governments, and the countries so left had established provisional Governments, and had determined that they would not permit these runaway Sovereigns to return. But we are not the Sovereigns of the Ionian Islands, but only the protecting Power, and we have not yet run away from them, therefore, until that happens, the parallel cannot be drawn. Again, with regard to Savoy. The King of Sardinia still reigns in Savoy, and therefore it is not to be maintained that, because the people of Tuscany are to be left to determine their own condition, therefore for the same reason the people of Savoy should, upon their own authority, without the consent of their Sovereign, without the consideration of the other Powers of Europe, be invited to go to the poll and say to whom they will belong. It appears to me that we did on the whole pursue the course which was best adapted to the purpose which we had in view. We inquired of the French Government whether a certain intention was entertained, and we were told that it was abandoned. We knew that if it were resumed, and if the event upon which it hinged were to occur, the proper place for making our representations would be at the Congress at which it was to be settled. When it was apparent that no Congress was to meet, we communicated our strong objections to the French Government; and when we had done so, not endeavouring to array the other Powers of Europe in hostile confederacy against France, we informed them of our objections, and of the grounds on which they are founded. It is for them to determine whether they will state their objections to the Government of France; but that Government has announced its intention to consult them, and therefore 489 they will be obliged in reply to state the views which they take of this subject. In our opinion it is a question of European interest. I cannot help thinking that the great Powers of Europe will take the same view of it as we do—a view devoid of passion, nut tinctured by jealousy, not founded upon any feeling that can be offensive to France, or at which she can justly take umbrage, but a view founded upon considerations of general European interest, which, I hold, are of as much importance to France as to any of the other Powers concerned. If these European Governments, when consulted by France, state in a calm, temperate, and friendly manner the reasons which induce them to think that this measure would be unadvisable, I cannot divest myself of the impression that the Government of France will see that it would gain more advantage by preserving the good opinion and confidence of Europe, by disabusing the Powers of Europe of any feelings of jealousy or suspicion as to ulterior designs on the part of France, than it could derive from the acquisition, not as my right hon. Friend supposed my noble Friend to have said, of a few mountain tops and half a million of people, but of a district which, whatever its value may be, is really comparatively unimportant to France as a territory that would give her any addition of military or physical strength. With regard to the other point adverted to, I cannot but congratulate the Government, the House, and the country upon the prospect which the accounts received this evening seem to hold out that by a quiet manifestation of public determination Tuscany is likely to aggregate herself to Sardinia, and that there will be created in northern and central Italy a State which, by the freedom of its institutions, by the independence which it will have acquired, may hold out a fair prospect that Italy may a third time rise to the eminence in the civilized world which she occupied in the days of the Roman Emperors, and again during those periods when the revival of arts and literature placed her States—though she was not then, as in the former period, a great military Power—in a position of honour and glory which as long as history endures will be looked back to by Italians with just satisfaction and pride. If such an arrangement be accomplished, we shall see a development of talents, public spirit, and civilization which England may be proud of having contributed by its moral weight 490 and influence to bring about. I must say that if we contrast the judgment, moderation, temper, and statesmanlike qualities which the Italians have shown during the last twelve months with that less laudable spirit which was displayed in 1848, we may entertain the strongest hopes for the future. With regard to one Italian statesman, who has been somewhat unfavourably mentioned during this debate—Count Cavour—whatever may be thought of him by those whose policy he has thwarted, and whose views he has defeated, I can only say that Italy, both present and future, will regard him as one of the most distinguished patriots who have adorned the history of any country. She will owe to him as great obligations as any nation ever owed to any of its members; and with the conviction of what he has done for Italy he need not he dispirited by any aspersions by which he may be assailed in any country.
§ MR. DISRAELI
As some observations of mine have given rise to this discussion, I would make a few remarks before it closes In the first place, I am glad to find that the noble Viscount the first Minister has recalled that unconstitutional dogma, which he apparently laid down last night—that, in case the Opposition in the House of Commons were not satisfied altogether with the conduct of foreign affairs by the Government, it was their duty to originate immediately a vote of censure. The noble Viscount now says that he understood that I had indulged in language of animadversion on the conduct of the Government, and that I was bound in consequence to make such a Motion; but what I said was simply that their conduct was involved in so much mystery that it required explanation. I particularly guarded myself against any other object than a desire to obtain upon some points that information which it appeared to me the general wish of the House to possess. Indeed, it was clear, from the subsequent discussion, that the Government, and especially the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs, felt that this was a rational desire, and that it was the duty of the Government to take measures to furnish that information, and it was with that impression that the noble Lord gave notice of a Motion to present papers in order to afford an opportunity for offering a defence of the Government on those points which appeared to require explanation. The noble Lord the First 491 Minister has spoken of some hon. Gentlemen in this House who would make the annexation of Savoy and Nice to France a cause for declaring war against France. He has never heard from me any expression of that kind. He has spoken, also, of some who would make the annexation of these Sardinian provinces to France a reason for England forming a league with the great Powers of Europe in opposition to such annexations. Again, I say, he has heard no expression of that kind from me. Nay more, he will allow that even the modest proposal of some hon. Gentlemen, that a protest should be presented, has received no sanction from me. At the same time, as this last point has given rise to so much misconception, and especially in the case of an hon. Gentleman who has sometimes taken a part in these discussions, but not always with the ability and information which he displays on other subjects—I mean the hon. Member for Birmingham—I may be permitted to inform the hon. Gentlemen that when he accuses Gentleman on this side of the House of a desire to involve this country in war with France because they recommend a protest in case the annexation of Savoy takes place, he would seem not aware that the very fact of having recourse to a protest is primâ facie evidence that a country is not going to war. He would seem not aware that a protest is a diplomatic instrument as formal as a treaty or a convention—not a mere burst of rhetoric; it is an instrument which expresses and records the feelings of a nation when they do not think it advisable or politic to have recourse to extreme measures. The present Government is not the Government, and especially the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs is not the Minister who should take any objection to a course of this kind, or who should hold it as one of a hostile character, because, in the case of Cracow —where, by the bye, great doubts were entertained even by eminent jurists whether the Treaty of Vienna had really been violated, but where the English Government thought otherwise—we did not go to war, but we did protest; we recorded a formal protest, and sent it round to the different Courts of Europe. Who was our Prime Minister then? The noble Lord who now sits opposite to me as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I now come to the information which the noble Lord has afforded us to-night in presenting the 492 papers, after giving formal notice, in order to explain the policy of the Government with respect to this impending annexation of Savoy to France. But the noble Secretary, in fact, forgot to make any remarks at all upon the annexation of Savoy. His whole speech was entirely upon the settlement of Italy. So far as the case is concerned which I put before the House very imperfectly at the end of a late debate, but which was reproduced to-night with brilliant and logical precision by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside), we have obtained from the noble Lord no information. He never denied the statement which I made the other night, not so confidently as I might make it now, with the evidence before us, because I thought that something lurked behind which the papers did not explain; he never denied that he had ample, complete, and repeated warnings of the policy of the French Government. Indeed, his whole observations—meagre and limited as they were with regard to the annexation of Savoy—started unfortunately from the very beginning. What was his first observation? As if he thought he would silence this side of the House at the outset, he made an observation which completely weakened his own case. He said; that whatever could be known with respect to the possible annexation of Savoy was known to the late Government, who were, in fact) more responsible for the affair; that it was known to the Earl of Malmesbury; and that the rceords in the Foreign Office did not prove that the Earl of Malmesbury had received any very satisfactory reply upon the subject. At another time I might argue and might prove that the Earl of Malmesbury did receive a very satisfactory reply; but I will take the noble Lord's own statement, and on his own showing I say that if, when he acceded to office he found that his predecessor had not received a satisfactory reply, his first duty obviously was to have pressed for one. I remember being told, when I sat on those benches, that we had taken office with all the responsibilities and the engagements of our predecessors; and if that were true in our case, it is as true and just in that of the noble Lord. The very fact, that according to the interpretation of the noble Lord, the answer of the French Government was not satisfactory, was a reason why he should have pricked 493 up his cars and said, "The first thing I must have is satisfactory information on this matter of Savoy." However, there is no doubt from the evidence before us that totally independent of the late Government the noble Lord was obliged to make some inquiries. He received then that information which appears in the papers, dated in the early part of July, announcing that the Imperial Government had given up all intention of annexing Savoy. But the noble Lord has not contradicted my statement that during the interval between July and his Despatch of January he received frequent intimations from our own Ambassador at Paris, of the intention of the French Government to revert to their original policy in contemplation of events in Italy; and there is no doubt now, that, besides this information from our own Ambassador, the Swiss Government, deeply interested in this question, on which their existence and independence as a free people entirely depend, had impressed in every way, directly and indirectly, upon the representatives of the Queen, both here and abroad, the great anxiety which they felt upon it. The noble Lord does not contradict this statement, but rather confirms it. And what is his defence? The very weakest ever made by a Minister, but especially by a Minister invested with such great responsibilities as the noble Lord. "It is true," he says in his defence, "that I received these representations, but I thought nothing of them. I thought they were mere threats, and I treated them with indifference." But have they turned out to be mere threats? On the contrary, they have turned out to be grave and serious warnings of events which, notwithstanding the sanguine anticipations in which the noble Viscount has just indulged, I must express my conviction are on the eve of accomplishment. What are we to think then of a Minister who treats intimations which turn out to be grave and serious warnings on a subject of high policy as mere casual unimportant observations? To my mind, it argues a great want of perception in the noble Lord; and, surely, perception is a faculty eminently necessary in a Minister for Foreign Affairs. It appears, then, that from the month of July until the end of January only one solitary despatch—so far as a despatch expressing the policy of the Government is concerned—was written by the Foreign Secretary, although the noble 494 Lord was aware, or ought to have been aware, that if Sardinia were aggrandized by the annexation of the Duchies and Tuscany, as a matter of course France would demand Savoy and Nice. I say, therefore, that if with that information in his possession, the noble Lord pursued a policy in Italy which greatly favoured and assisted the aggrandizement of Sardinia, to that degree and in that manner, he inevitably favoured and assisted the policy of France by affording her a pretext for carrying out her views with respect to the expansion of her present frontiers That appears to me quite unanswerable; at any rate, it has not received an answer tonight, cither from the noble Lord the Secretary of State or from the First Minister. The other charge, as the Foreign Minister calls it, or the other question upon which I wish to have an explanation, is why, when the noble Lord devised the plan for the settlement of Italy at the commencement of January, which was embodied in the four propositions, and when these propositions were communicated to the great Powers, did the noble Lord not communicate at the same time the cognizance he had of the inevitable policy of the French Government in the event of his scheme being successfully carried out? Upon that point we have had no satisfactory answer. The great Powers, our Allies, appear, as far as England is concerned, to have been left completely in the dark; and, indeed, on this head there is one despatch, which had not been mentioned in our discussion to-night, but which should be noticed. I allude to one dated the 16th of February, from Lord Bloomfield, to the noble-Lord, in which he says that the Prussian Minister, who seemed to be in a state of some anxiety, doubtless in consequence of information he had received from the Swiss Minister, had asked him whether our Government had heard anything of the proposed annexation of Savoy and Nice to France, and what they intended to do with respect to it. Lord Bloom-field was obliged to reply that he had no instructions from the noble Lord opposite, except that the English Government had received no official communication on the subject, and I think he added that, as they had received no official communication, they thought the best plan would be to leave the matter alone. We now know what the noble Lord meant by saying that the Government had received 495 no official communication. The communication was conveyed in those private letters of which we have heard, and with respect to which I urged upon the House the other night the importance of expressing some opinion. Private letters are perfectly legitimate as long as they are private, but it is quite against all rule, and will bring the utmost confusion upon public affairs, to allow any public functionary when his public despatches are produced and subjected to criticism to fall back upon his private letters. I say, then, that upon the second point which I wish to be inquired into—namely, why the noble Lord, when he communicated with the great Powers on the subject of Italy, did not frankly inform them what would be the inevitable consequence as regards the extension of the frontiers of France if his policy were successful—we have received no explanation whatever from the Secretary of State. What explanation, however, have we had from the noble "Viscount the First Minister? The noble Secretary gave us a dissertation upon the settlement of Italy instead of the annexation of Savoy; but, so far as he touched upon the latter subject, he took a totally different view of the case from the First Minister. The First Minister did not think that the rumours concerning the annexation were utterly idle and indifferent, and were not to be regarded for a moment; on the contrary, the reason, according to him, of their course was, that they expected everything would be settled at the Congress. As the Congress was expected to meet in a short time, and as the supposed project of annexation could not be carried into effect until the Congress met, the Government thought it unnecessary for them to express their opinion to the French Government, to communicate with their Allies, or, in fact, to take any step to counteract or prevent a policy which, whatever may be the opinion of the House, is at least in the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers pernicious and perilous. That is the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury. Let us see whether there is any weight in this difference between the noble Lords, and if there is any excuse in that view of the case for the unparalleled negligence of the noble Viscount and his colleagues. When did the difficulties arise which made the French Government recur to their original policy of annexation, and when did the notion first become prevalent that the Congress would 496 not take place? There is no doubt that it was towards the end of November when the difficulties connected with the carrying into effect of the Treaty of Zurich came to be generally felt among practical statesmen, and when Count Walewski intimated to the English Government that, in consequence of those difficulties, in consequence of the preliminaries of Villa-franca not being carried out in their spirit, it would be necessary for the French Government to reconsider their position, and that if the result of not carrying the Treaty of Zurich into effect should be the aggrandizement of Sardinia by the annexation of several Italian provinces, France then must—"must," not "might"—look to the annexation of Savoy and Nice as necessary to the completion of her military frontiers. The project of a Congress was not, I believe, formally abandoned till the beginning of January, but among statesmen I do not think there was one who was not of opinion towards the end of the year that the idea of a Congress was relinquished as impracticable. What steps were taken then by our Government? The First Minister dwells upon the Congress as the cause to absolve his Government from the charge of negligence, or, at least of indifference; but I ask what course was adopted after the plan of a Congress was given up? We know by the records before us that at the end of December, or early in January, the greatest anxiety existed in Europe on this subject. We know that the Swiss Government did everything they could to bring the anxiety they felt on the subject of Savoy under the consideration of Her Majesty's Ministers. I do not find, however, that our Government took any steps to reassure Switzerland, to influence France, or to lay before her those considerations of high and pure morality in which the noble Viscount has been so exuberant to-night. I want to know whether the Ambassador of the Queen, the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, or any other public functionary of authority and influence was authorized to lay before the French Emperor those considerations militating against his intended policy which the noble Viscount has expressed to night, and which received the sympathy and approbation of the House. We have no evidence of it. Not a single thing was done during the six weeks preceding the 28th of January. Yet we know from private letters that Count Walewski was frank and straight- 497 forward in his explanations of French policy to our Government, although the noble Secretary of State treated the whole affair as rumour, pretence, or menace. We know that the Swiss Government took every possible means, with great energy, and with that perseverance which is a characteristic of the race, to bring the possible fate of their country before our Government. We know that our Ambassador at Paris was not wanting to his duty. Even when Earl Cowley was absent we have a despatch from the hargé d' Affaires—not a common despatch, but one of the greatest importance and to which an answer ought to have been given in twenty-four hours in a manner to have influenced the Court at which he was resident. Nevertheless, nothing was done till a few days before Parliament assembled, and then we find a despatch from Earl Cowley in which the noble Earl predicting the storm that was rising, alluded to what he calls the interpellations which might be made in both Houses of Parliament, and knowing that, although he had warned the Minister frequently, his warnings had been expressed in documents which it would not be parliamentary to refer to, absolutely did that which, as far as my experience goes, is without example in the history of diplomacy—referred for his vindication to his private letters in his public despatches. An Ambassador must be hard pressed, a Minister must be in a peculiar position, when he pursues such a course. Parliament meets, and we are presented with a high-sounding despatch. We have had a high-sounding despatch before. Remember the Russian war. We now know the secret of the circumstances which led to that war. It was a grave secret. An accident revealed it. Fifty years might have passed before the secret cause of the Russian war—the communications which took place between the Emperor, Sir Hamilton Seymour, and Her Majesty's Government—could be discovered; but it was accidentally discovered. What happened then? We had a high - sounding despatch, recounting the history of the last of the Medici and the War of Succession; but that despatch, though written with so much literary ability, did not prevent the Russian war. Let us remember, then, that a rhetorical despatch is not a specific against an impending war, if causes exist in Europe calculated to bring it about. I sum up, therefore, in this 498 way, so far as this discussion is concerned, the points upon which I require information—namely, why, with ample information as to the intentions of the French Government, in the event of the aggrandizement of Sardinia, to annex Savoy, Her Majesty's Government took no step whatever to influence the French Government to a contrary policy, while they pursued a policy in Italy which must necessarily lead to that aggrandizement? Why, also, when Her Majesty's Government communicated formally their plan for the settlement of Italy to foreign Courts, they made no simultaneous communication that the adoption of their Italian policy must necessarily bring about the annexation of Savoy and Nice to France r We have had no answer on these points, although we have been replied to by the two most eminent members of the Ministry. Let us now see what has been the conduct of France. Whenever we have made inquiries of the Government as to their foreign policy in this matter, the noble Lord has told us that questions might have a very pernicious effect upon our relations with our near neighbour. He has denounced these inquiries as irritating, as unstatesmanlike. He has told us that information of this kind, if sought for, should be sought for in a more formal manner; and of late— only of late—he has deprecated altogether any discussion. If, when the first inquiry was made about this business of Savoy, the noble Lord had got up in his place, and had said that communications upon the subject at the moment could not be made without serious injury to the public service, and had appealed to the patriotic forbearance of the House of Commons and of the Opposition, as far as I am concerned—and I can answer for every hon. Gentleman who sits on these benches—not a word from that time would have ever issued from our lips. But the noble Lord laid papers on the table, informed us of what had passed, and solicited our opinion. There may be hon. Gentlemen in this House who consider the conduct of the Emperor of the French highly alarming to Europe, and that it ought to be arrested at once by a decided course. But, as they sit on the same side of the House as the noble Lord, he has naturally as much influence upon them as upon us. I say that, so far from irritating conversations in Parliament, dangerous to the public interests, annoying and enfeebling the course of a Government, no British Minister has ever 499 had any real cause for complaint of that kind. The noble Lord has himself placed papers on the table of the House. Why are these papers on the question of the annexation of Savoy laid upon our table if not to invite inquiry—not censure, and probably not confidence? The tastes of the Government are always in the extreme. Nothing seems to suit them but confidence or censure. But, Sir, there is a middle course. The House of Commons has the constitutional right to be made fairly acquainted with public affairs. But they have more than that right. They have a duty to fulfil when a Minister places papers on the table. They must consider those papers, and form an opinion upon them. If on reading those papers their opinion is that the information is imperfect, that it is obscure or involved in mystery, that the narrative requires explanation, short of the expression of confidence or censure, they are bound to take the usual Parliamentary means to make the information sufficient. And I am not aware, as far as I am myself concerned, that I have taken any other means than those which the custom of Parliament recognizes in endeavouring to obtain more ample and more accurate information than has yet been placed upon the table. But let us look at this point of our relations with Prance, and the danger to those relations in consequence of discussing this question of the annexation of Savoy, because that is why the noble Lord deprecates discussion. I said the other night, and I repeat it, that as far as the conduct of the French Government to the English Government—and therefore, of course, to the English nation—is concerned, it has been a frank, candid, sincere, and straightforward policy. I see nothing that we have to complain of as regards France. I do not see where our quarrel can be with France. France, according to my interpretation of these documents—and I doubt whether after this debate that interpretation can be successfully impugned—France has given timely and repeated notice of her policy. She has told us that if Sardinia be excessively-aggrandized she must annex Savoy and Nice; and when there was a notion prevalent that by the Treaty of Zurich or by some arrangement in the spirit of the Treaty of Zurich, the ultra-aggrandizement of Sardinia would not take place, France informed us that she had renounced her policy; and among the latest documents on the table we find again the 500 willingness of France expressed, if the Duchies only, irrespective of Tuscany, were added to Sardinia, although that would be a considerable aggrandizement, not to insist on her policy of annexing Savoy and Nice. I want to know then what quarrel, as far as the announcement of her intentions is concerned, we have with France? None. May all Powers always behave with the same frankness and candour. But this is not all. France told us fairly that if Sardinia were aggrandized, and became a considerable Italian Power, she must inevitably take this course of reconstructing her military frontier. And with that knowledge, Her Majesty's Government favoured a policy which, he knew, must necessarily lead to annexation. I do not want to enter into the merits of the Italian policy of Her Majesty's Government on this occasion, as it would only render confused the clear point to which I wish to confine this discussion. For the sake of argument, I will grant that it may be better for England that Sardinia should be a powerful State, and France should have her frontier extended. That may be the best policy for England; but we cannot turn round and denounce France for annexing the Sardinian provinces, when for months and months she has told us it would be the inevitable consequence and absolute condition of the policy which we were favouring in Italy. Therefore, I say, these are not discussions which tend to irritate and injure the French Emperor and the French nation. They are discussions which may irritate and injure somebody else. The French Government is not the Government which will be ultimately affected by a fair discussion and debate on this policy, and therefore I think we may remove that bugbear from our minds, and not allow ourselves to be thwarted in an expression of opinion upon the conduct of the Government at a moment of interest and importance. My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. D. Griffith) in one of those entertaining and eccentric speeches with which he enlivens our debates, seemed to me to make a much better defence of the Government, than the noble Lord, the Foreign Secretary, or the noble Viscount, the Chief Minister. They seized with avidity on one of his ingenious speculations. The noble Lord, the Secretary of State, laboured with considerable power, and the Prime Minister followed his example, to prove what?—that they had not succeeded in aggrandizing Sardinia; that 501 it must not be attributed to them, if the Duchies and Tuscany were annexed to that country; that they were not able Ministers; that they had no sincerity; that they had had no success; that it was a wild idea of the House of Commons, to suppose they had accomplished any good whatever, and that it was all mere chance. I gave them credit for deeper design and finer execution. I really thought that the noble Lord, the Foreign Secretary, who has been brooding over Italy for so many years since he first visited it and tried his 'prentice hand at revolution and renovation, had really matured an arrangement with such felicity, that success was inevitable. And I have always been saying, "It is a very serious thing that Savoy and Nice should be annexed to France. Still, though the price may be costly, the treasure gained for the price is not mean. "We are in the hands of an eminent statesman, by whose ceaseless labour, happy vigilance, and blended prudence and courage, we shall have at last a chance of a free and independent Italy." "Not at all," says the noble Lord; "we have had nothing to do with it." When the noble Lord considered himself justified in sending proposals for the settlement of Italy to all the Powers of Europe, I thought at least there must be some moral influence in Her Majesty's Government under such circumstances. Nobody can read those proposals — nobody has ever read them, or ever will read them, without applying to them one sense only—namely, that if not a statesmanlike, it was certainly a safe mode, of accomplishing the annexation of the Duchies to Sardinia; and I really did not think the noble Lord would deprive himself and his colleagues of the fair renown which was to be gained by the successful accomplishment of that project. If that be the true view of the case, if France has from the first frankly informed us of her policy, if we, being thus forewarned, have pursued an Italian scheme that inevitably forwarded the policy of France, then I say that England cannot complain of the candour and conduct of the French Government, or of the policy they have pursued. But what is this policy? The noble Secretary is astonished that the House should notice this policy; questions are irritating, a conversation may be perilous to the peace of Europe. The noble Lord even did that which is a peculiarity of some members of the present Cabinet, but certainly not of himself—he lost his temper. He says it 502 is not to be tolerated that the House of Commons should inquire respecting a policy which has been described by the Government, and therefore which humble Members like myself need not seek words again to give an account of it to the House and country. But I venture to say that there is no language on record more calculated to convey to the country that something is happening to alarm, to endanger, and to injure them, than the description which Her Majesty's Government, by the mouth of the Secretary of State, has given of the intended policy of France. The noble Lord's celebrated despatch has been read to-night, and is still fresh in every one's mind; but not merely in that despatch, but also in the House of Commons, one night, the noble Lord wishing, I suppose, to influence events, as a person of authority speaking in a place of authority, expressed the views of the Government on that subject. The words he used were not the calm expressions of the first Minister to-night. No ! the noble Lord used language directly calculated to impress upon Parliament and the country that a crisis might be at hand of the most fearful kind; and he appealed to the highest feelings of the Emperor, and even calculated the horoscope of his futurity, to dissuade him from a course which might distract and alarm Europe, and lead to appalling consequences. If such be the policy of the Emperor—and remember it is not the Opposition, not an independent Member on either side of the House, who has given us this description of it—if that be the policy involved in the annexation of these two Sardinian provinces, is it to be expected that the House of Commons should be silent? Is it to be expected that hon. Gentlemen should not avail themselves of some opportunity of ascertaining whether there is or is not a chance of so terrible a danger being averted from the country? The very fact that a Minister should have written that despatch, made that speech denouncing this policy, would alone in old times and even in the present time have been thought a sufficient reason for devoting nearly every night to the subject. Hon. Members would naturally come down and ask Her Majesty's Ministers whether there is any prospect of less distraction and alarm in Europe than the noble Lord spoke of the other night, whether the danger which the noble Lord apprised us was impending 503 over Europe may be mitigated, whether there is no chance of escape left open to us. An inexhaustible fund of inquiries on the Motion for adjournment on Friday ! I look forward to Fridays with great alarm, after the denunciation of the policy of the Emperor of the French by the noble Lord. Every night we may inquire anxiously as to the prospect of the long and sanguinary struggles associated in men's minds with the policy of the Emperor of the French. I who take an interest in the peaceful settlement of France, and do not wish to see a change of dynasties, might inquire from the noble Lord whether any fair prospect of the present dynasty continuing really existed. It is unfair, after the Government have gone out of the way to alarm and terrify the country, for them to turn round on us if we ask for any information and say we are imperilling the peace of Europe and doing what is unworthy of the House of Commons. I do not denounce the policy of the Emperor of the French in the alarming language of the noble Lord; but I think it is a policy which demands the calm and careful consideration of the country. It is a policy which involves a great principle, and the Emperor of the French in his speech from his throne has not concealed the principle which regulates his conduct. He has recognized the natural boundaries of his empire, and every one knows, nay, the noble Lord the First Minister himself has fairly, and fully acknowledged to-night, what consequences may possibly emanate from the adoption of such a principle of action by a Prince so powerful as the Emperor, ruling over a nation which has had some sad, but at the same time, much celebrated experience of that principle in practice. I think it is a policy of very great danger, but I cannot see that with regard to the question of these annexations either the Government or the nation have any cause of quarrel with France. The Government of France have given us warning of their policy; we have worked to accomplish that policy; where, then, is our cause of complaint and controversy? But that does not alter the state of circumstances, and if those terrible consequences which the noble Lord has foreseen do occur—if that principle of natural boundaries of empires now to be countenanced by, as I believe, the certain annexation of Savoy and Nice be realized; if distrust and despair be spread throughout Europe; if there be scenes of horror and 504 sanguinary war; if empires be overthrown and dynasties subverted — then I say it is the Minister, it is the Government, who assisted that policy who will be responsible to their country and to history for those calamitous results.
said, he would trouble the House with but few observations. In the first place, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken in thinking that the tendency of the discussion had been, not to increase the venom which seemed at one time to be infused into it, but, on the contrary, very considerably to remove it. Much of what fell from the noble Lord at the head of the Government was, he thought, extremely gratifying. It was of importance that they should know as soon as possible whether, as the noble Lord said he had reason to believe and hope, the Emperor intended that the annexation of Savoy and Nice would not take place without the counsel and approval of the Powers to be consulted. If that were the case, there was an end to all discussion and all ill-humour. No one in the House had ever said that angry reluctance should be shown by the great States of Europe to consider this question if fairly submitted to them by the Emperor of the French. All he and others had said was, that it might be dangerous to Europe, if the annexation took place without the consent of the great Powers; and if they could be assured that it would not be done without that consent, then they would be content. He must say, however, that the noble Viscount seemed inclined to put more favourable constructions upon the conduct of the Emperor of the French than he did on that of the Members of the House of Commons. The Motion which he (Mr. Kinglake) had put on the paper suggested only a very slight shade of difference between the view he entertained and that which the Government had adopted; and yet the Ministers took it upon them to impute to himself and others who agreed with him that they were favourable to a war policy. He indignantly repelled that accusation. There was no man in the House who looked with greater horror upon the calamity of war than he did. It had been his fate to see something of the horrors of war, and if the sight of those horrors had had any effect on his mind, it was to increase his detestation of those who wickedly inflicted such evils on mankind, and certainly not to lessen the disgust with which 505 they must all look on the cruelty of wantonly involving any nation in war. The noble Viscount had told them that the policy of the Empire was the policy of peace, and that the war of last year was no exception to that policy. He had waited with much curiosity to learn how the noble Lord would justify that extraordinary statement. The noble Viscount had justified it by asserting that the recent war was a noble enterprise. He supposed, therefore, that the noble Viscount agreed with the Emperor that it was a war for "an idea," and that as such it deserved the applause of England. For his own part, he believed that if ever there was a war begun more in cold blood than another it was the late war with Austria, from the first rupture on New Tear's Day. The noble Lord seemed to think we were bound at the outset of any discussion with a foreign Power to make up our mind at once whether the question was one worth going to war about, and that we should disclose the result of our meditations. That was contrary to all diplomatic usage, was inconsistent with a course of peace, and was a mode of argument either extremely offensive or entirely imbecile. Though he greatly approved a great deal of the language used by the Foreign Secretary in the correspondence, yet, when the correspondence was compared with the events which followed, one could not help feeling that there was about the whole of it an appearance of the want of reality. The language had not produced its natural result. The noble Lord remonstrated in very strong and vigorous language; but his remonstrances appeared to be vain for all purposes, producing neither acquiescence nor irritation, nor counter argument, but being treated simply as null, and the French Emperor calmly proceeded to deliver his speech to the French Chamber, pleasantly alluding to his relations with Foreign Powers, and his intended annexation of these two provinces. What had transpired during the present discussion afforded some explanation of this matter. It appeared that in July the Foreign Secretary strongly protested against the annexation of Savoy and Nice, and was told, upon the conclusion of peace, that the idea had been abandoned. Afterwards, when it became probable that Central Italy would become annexed to Piedmont, it then appeared to have been fairly enough stated to Earl Cowley that in that case the Emperor would recur to the abandoned idea 506 of the annexation of the two provinces to France. The noble Foreign Secretary said that, inasmuch as the event which was to cause the annexation was only contingent, he thought it his duty to abstain from making any protest against a merely contingent event; but the result was that our relation with France on this question was now very much altered, because the Government of France could say, "We told you all along that we should claim as a counterpoise this annexation of Savoy, and, though you before protested against the latter, yet when it was mentioned, coupled with the annexation of Central Italy, you did not think it necessary to express disapproval."
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
said, he thought the tone of the noble Lord, the First Minister, had been much more satisfactory that evening than when he addressed the House on a former occasion, when he told hon. Members that if they proceeded to discuss this question of the annexation of Savoy they might probably endanger the relations of this county with France; and that, if they referred to the subject at all, they were bound to bring forward a vote of censure. Whether they would ever have an opportunity of discussing the question in a way to have any influence with regard to the annexation it was impossible for him to say; but it appeared to him that long before the House would have that opportunity the annexation would be completely perfected. The peculiar relation in which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had placed himself with Earl Cowley had, in his opinion, put the noble Lord in a false position with regard to the House. No one acquainted with the character of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary would believe him capable of want of candour to the House or of wilfully misleading it, yet the peculiar manner in which private letters were mixed up with official communications placed the noble Lord in such difficulty that it was impossible for him at an early part of the Session to answer the questions of the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire without appearing to speak uncandidly or in a way to mislead the House. The noble Lord was asked whether he was aware of any communications or negotiations with respect to the annexation of Savoy and Nice, and what was his answer? The noble Lord referred to certain communications which took place last July, and said that any desire for the annexa- 507 tion of Savoy which had been felt by the French Government had been definitely abandoned, and he added that, as far as he knew, no negotiation was on foot for the cession of Savoy. Now, the noble Lord felt the difficulty of referring to private letters, which had informed him that between July and the time when he spoke the French Government had repeatedly warned him that circumstances had so far changed that they did contemplate the annexation, and, under certain circumstances, they must regard it as a political necessity. This showed the dangerous effect of a course which as he (Mr. S. FitzGerald) believed the noble Lord had adopted, for the first time in the history of our diplomacy, of mixing up private correspondence with the official communications of our Minister at a Foreign Court, and he trusted that for the future such a practice would be abandoned. As regarded the conduct of the Government in other respects, it was abundantly clear that it was liable to great disapprobation on two points. In the first place, it put us in a disadvantageous position with respect to France, as it almost placed France in the position of being right, and England in the position of being wrong, and the French Emperor was entitled to say, "I never concealed my desire or intention to effect the annexation of Savoy. During October, November, and December of last year I never ceased to tell you that on a certain contingency I should consider it a political necessity to possess myself of Savoy. I communicated that to your Minister; he must have communicated it to you—I care not whether by public or by private letters. Did you then hold to me the language of remonstrance which for three months past you have used, and which you now address to the House of Commons? Had I not every reason to suppose that you assented to this annexation? I told you that, in the event of a certain territorial aggrandizement by Sardinia, I should think it necessary, for the security of France, that she should possess Savoy. You continued to urge a policy the result of which has been the aggrandizement of Sardinia; you urged the establishment of a great Italian kingdom, and therefore I was entitled to assume that you considered that to be worth the acquisition of Savoy by France." The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was still sanguine that this project of annexation would be abandoned. But from the he-ginning to the end of this business the 508 Government had manifested a facility of conviction which was most extraordinary. First, the Foreign Secretary told the House that, after all, there would not be much danger, because the great Powers of Europe were to be consulted before the annexation took place. The Prime Minister had to-night repeated that conviction; but since those words were first used had not the Emperor of the French stated in his speech to the Chambers that, instead of "consulting" the great Powers, the subject would only be "explained" (exposé) to them? Nobody, in fact, now believed that the consent of the great Powers would be asked to perfect this annexation. Well, then, the House were told that the wishes of the Savoyards would be ascertained. But that project, too, had now been abandoned, and the will of the municipalities was alone to be taken. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had also told the House that there was a further guarantee, because, before the surrender of Sardinian territory, the Sardinian Parliament would be consulted. But he found a fact calculated to throw a curious light upon that point set forth in a journal which was at one time the most influential organ of independent opinion in France, but which was understood to be at present one of the organs of the French Government—he meant the Journal des Debats. From that journal he learned that, although Count Cavour's despatch, as it appeared in the telegram, contained an assurance of this kind, all reference to any expression of opinion on the part of the Sardinian Parliament was omitted from the despatch when inserted in the Moniteur. Thus, all the guarantees which were to secure a legal and peaceable annexation had one by one disappeared. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) had expressed the general feeling of the House when he said that this should not for one moment be regarded as a question of peace or war, and that any Minister who put the question in that shape deserved great condemnation; but it was certainly never suggested by any hon. Member on that side of the House that such a course should be taken by the Government. He (Mr. S. FitzGerald) had himself suggested that this country ought to take the initiative in expressing their disapproval of the scheme in the hope that the other Powers would follow the same course—not, as the noble Lord said, that it was ever their intention in this way to 509 enter into an offensive alliance against France, but in order that the Government should give to foreign Powers an opportunity of taking a similar course, and of offering a like remonstrance against the intended annexation. In point of fact, the noble Lord stood self-convicted and condemned for not having done so. It was only on the 5th of March that the noble Lord said—It is my persuasion that if this language of disapproval is held in Berlin, is held in Vienna, and is held in St. Petersburg, this project of annexation will not be persevered in.But hon. Members would look in vain through the papers for any communications from the noble Lord to these Courts which would secure any such protest. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) had pointed out a remarkable despatch on the 4th of February from Lord Bloomfield to the Foreign Secretary; but the noble Lord's letter to which that was an answer, was even more remarkable:—I transmit for your information," it stated, "a copy of a despatch which I have addressed to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris respecting the rumour which has lately prevailed of a plan being in agitation for annexing to France Savoy and the county of Rice. Your Lordship will understand that you are not to read, still less give a copy of, this despatch to Baron Schleinitz; but in speaking to his Excellency on the subject, you will conform your language to what I have stated to Earl Cowley.No steps, therefore, were taken to invite from the Court of Berlin an expression of opinion which, according to the noble Lord, would have been effectual in preventing annexation. He had looked in vain through the table of contents for any such letter to Sir J. Crampton or Lord Augustus Loftus. It might possibly have been written; but, if so, it had been carefully omitted from the papers on the table. In conclusion, he hoped that to-night, at least, no one would say that expressions had been used which were calculated to irritate the feelings of the French people, and were conceived in a spirit insulting to the Emperor of that great people. He could only say that at no time had he ever used terms expressive of anything but such respect as was due to the Monarch of so great a nation. Moreover, he had never used language half so strong as that of the noble Lord, who had no right, therefore, to say that those who differed from him on this question were producing irritation between the two nations, and might embroil them in a war.
§ MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
Sir, if the language of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary has been more satisfactory to the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. S. Fitz-Gerald), I think the language of the hon. Member must also be more satisfactory to the noble Lord. But I. cannot permit the hon. Member to take advantage of a short memory in the apologetic speech we have just heard, when we know that he said the other night, "Don't let us have any figures of rhetoric in your despatches," and that he was for re-animating the Holy Alliance. Then, he denounced the Emperor of the French by name; but now, by an ingenious change of tactics, having been thrown over and discarded, by his leader, alter his denunciations of the Emperor ["No, no!"]—I am in the recollection of the House. The Irish element was strong in the hon. Gentleman at the time, and he was all for a row in Europe at any price. But now, having been completely put on one side by the temperate and able speeches of the right hon. Member (Mr. Disraeli) and of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside), the late Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs finds that he has taken an incorrect view, and now comes cap in hand to his very good friend the Emperor of the French, for whom he entertains so high an opinion. Now, I think that if, as the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater observed, there has been unreality in these despatches, there has also been unreality in this debate. I think I may take the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks in contradistinction to that taken by the hon. Member for Horsham. I think, too, that the Emperor of the French stands altogether acquitted of any deceit in this transaction, No one can read these despatches and maintain that we have a right to accuse the Emperor of the French of any deceit on his part. If there has been any deceit and any subterfuge in this transaction, I think that our good Friends the Sardinians are not quite free from that charge, and that the principle of intervention which, I am sorry to see, we are rashly running into has occasioned this little transaction. But when it is said that the treaty of 1815 has not been respected, I ask who has ever respected the treaty of 1815? The noble Viscount (Viscount Palmerston) has committed the greatest outrage upon the treaty of 1815 I ever heard of, for he has rejoiced on every occasion that Lombardy has been taken from Austria. I believe 511 that Lombardy was guaranteed to Austria by the treaty of 1815. [A cry of "No !"] No, not guaranteed, because there is a distinction; but at any rate the treaty of 1815 was broken, when Lombardy was taken from Austria. The right hon. Member for Bucks mentioned the annexation of Cracow, but he made a great mistake when he said the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) was Premier at the time. I believe it took place in 1836 when Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister [Mr. DISRAELI: in 1840.] Well, at all events a debate on the annexation took place as far back as 1836. The annexation of Cracow was clearly a disruption of the treaty of 1815. Talk of observing the treaty of 1815! Why, every nation at every time for every purpose has put its foot on the treaty of 1815. I do not think that this country has any great interest in hindering this union of Savoy to France. I believe that the annexation of Savoy to France will not strengthen France in any hostile views against country. I believe the real thing is that you are afraid of France going to the Rhine. If you have no confidence in the Emperor of the French, why do you enter into such intimate alliances with him? The whole mistake is this, that we have certain statesmen in this country who, no doubt, with very laudable motives, are determined to interfere to raise up a central kingdom in Italy. Now, I have as great an admiration for the Italians as any man, but I am not inclined to see the Government of this country interfering for the purpose of raising up a great central kingdom in Italy. If they can work out their own independence I shall rejoice, but I am certain that the more we interfere the greater handle we shall give to the Emperor of the French to aggrandize himself. We have no right to expect if we interfere in behalf of this great kingdom of Central Italy, that the Emperor of the French, after the expenditure of so much blood and treasure, will sit down contentedly without annexation. I am surprised to hear noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen believing in proclamations about going to war for an idea. Of course, a proclamation must be issued to an army on going to war, and fine language in a proclamation for French soldiers is of great importance; but I should never suppose that if England were going to erect a central kingdom in Italy it would be for the interest of France, which is not a constitutional Government, to erect a constitutional kingdom at her own gate without 512 some strategetical advantage to compensate her. I cannot help remarking upon the change of tactics on the part of hon. Gentlemen sitting upon the Opposition benches, and most wisely too, because of the language of the hon. Member for Horsham the other night. [Mr. S. FITZGERALD: Repeat it.] I could repeat both the language and the manner, but no man in this House who heard it will say that it was not the language of a man who had been instructed by his party to take a particular line, and who took it with all his heart. I am glad to find that the hon. Gentleman's leader has disowned the language of his Under Secretary, and I hope that in future discussions the same wise and statesmanlike spirit will be manifested as that which has been shown by the Opposition leader to-night
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I have a few words to say at the end of this debate. I cannot but remark that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Horsham (Mr. FitzGerald) has made a statement very different from that which he made the other night, because what I understood him to say then was, that there ought to be a solemn protest on the part of the Powers of Europe, and that it should be collective. [Mr. S. FITZGERALD: I never said a word of the kind.] I recollect the hon. Gentleman using the words, "a solemn protest by England to the Powers of Europe." [Mr. S. FITZGERALD: Hear!] I could not help expressing then, and I cannot help saying now, that if the Powers of Europe make a solemn protest to the Emperor of the French, it will be very difficult for them not to insist upon carrying into effect what they propose, and very difficult for the Emperor of the French to yield what he must consider in the light of a threat. But the hon. Gentleman has now changed his language. Both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and the hon. Member for Horsham certainly change the question and transform it very much as they please. I never heard that Her Majesty's Government had brought any charge against the Government of the Emperor of the French of deceiving them. A statement appears in Earl Cowley's despatch on this subject, and we produce that despatch. Earl Cowley says:—"I have often heard from Count Walewski the expression that if this plan, which he thought impossible, should ever succeed, in that case Savoy would be demanded by the Emperor." Earl Cowley 513 goes on to say:—"I never gave Count Walewski any reason to suppose that such a proposal would be approved by Her Majesty's Government." I certainly have every confidence in Earl Cowley's discretion. There is no charge there in that despatch of Earl Cowley. On the contrary, he says truly that he did receive communications from Count Walewski, but that he did not think it was necessary or would be prudent to write despatches on the subject. I might have been writing every week to the French Government the views of Her Majesty's Government, and they might have replied in the language they had held to Earl Cowley, but this would have made no difference at all, because the question was a practical one, and it had not come into discussion. If the Congress had mot, the question must have been discussed then; and, if not, very soon after. The hon. Gentleman says I ought to have sent despatches to Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Berlin, and have given copies of them to those Courts. Well, that is the very course I have taken. If the hon. Gentleman had waited until tomorrow, he would have found that I had done what he says I ought to have done. But the hon. Gentleman is too quick at censure, and he blames me for not doing the thing that I have been doing. But what I have not thought proper to do is to ask those Powers to conform their language to ours, or to enter into anything like an alliance or combination which might appear hostile to the Emperor. With regard to the French despatch, I cannot inform the hon. Gentleman what it contains. It has arrived to-day, but it has not been put into my hands, and I cannot say what form it may take. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks goes on repeating, but, at the same time, carefully veiling the meaning of his proposition, that this proposal of the annexation of Savoy is brought on because we persist in the policy of making a great kingdom in Central Italy and annexing Tuscany to Sardinia. But I endeavoured, to explain to the right hon. Gentleman that our policy was to prevent any force from being used to control the people of Central Italy. There was one practical way of preventing these annexations, and that was by saying to the Emperor of the French, "You make very unreasonable objections when you oppose the use of force in Central Italy. Let your troops be withdrawn, let the Austrians enter, 514 and then they will be able to restore the Grand Dnke to Tuscany and the Pope to the Romagna, and then there will be an end of the question of annexation." That is the practical end to which his proposition would come. The right hon. Gentleman does not say it openly, but that was the way in which you might have prevented this project, by letting the Italians take their own course. If that proposal to the Emperor of the French were successful, the Austrians would have restored the Grand Duke in Tuscany and the Pope in Bologna, and then there would be no question of annexation. We have preferred to leave the Italians to take their own course. They have done so, and they have chosen to annex themselves to the Kingdom of Sardinia, and we are against using force to interfere with their decision.
Copy presented,—of further Correspondence relating to the affairs of Italy, Part III. [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.