§ Order for Committee (Supply) read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
said, he rose to ask the Foreign Secretary whether the Governments of France and Italy continued to deny the King of Italy had entertained a project for ceding to France 1190 the Island of Sardinia, and whether the truth of any such denials was confirmed or shaken by the information which Her Majesty's Government might have received from other quarters, and to make a Motion on the subject? He had determined, at first, to depart from his intention of bringing the question forward in consequence of the denial addressed to the Sardinian Chamber by Baron Ricasoli, and the strong denial addressed to the Government of Her Majesty by the Government of France; but, owing to a recent act on the part of the French Government, he now felt it to be his duty to proceed with it. The question was essentially an English question, and if any European interest attached to it, the reason was to be found in the fact that English interests were so deeply involved that all the Powers who desired the welfare of England naturally felt some anxiety on the subject. He would not weary the House with any remarks on the agricultural or the mineral wealth of the Island of Sardinia, and his reason for such abstinence was that he entertained no feeling of jealousy with respect to the material prosperity of France. He believed that the richer France was the better it would be for us; and if there were nothing in the cession of the Island of Sardinia except a mere acquisition of land, and of the advantages which land could give, he should be the last person to find fault with it. But he thought it would be seen that the possession of the Island of Sardinia went necessarily to a great extent to secure the control of the Mediterranean. More than half a century ago that question was anxiously considered by Lord Nelson, who had left upon record in his correspondence a most solemn declaration as to the enormous importance to England of the control of the Mediterranean. Hon. Members would all recollect the phrase in which he expressed his longing for more frigates, when he said that the words would be found written upon his heart if he were then to die. The energy he had brought to bear upon the subject of Sardinia was sufficient to remind them of that expression. Over and over again Lord Nelson had referred to the subject. In one letter he said, "What a noble harbour! The world cannot produce a finer." In another he said, "The Island has a harbour capable of holding our whole fleet, and if it were in the possession of a great naval Power, no fleet could pass to the 1191 eastward." "Malta," he said, in a third letter, "is not to be named in the same breath with Sardinia;" and again, "This is the most important island as a naval and military station in the Mediterranean." He said, "the more I know of it the more I am convinced of its unspeakable value from its position and naval resources." He said, "The King of Sardinia cannot keep it; if France gets it she commands the Mediterranean." Then he said, in another letter, "Sardinia never must even risk its falling into the hands of France." It was rather curious that in part of the correspondence to which he had adverted, and for which he was indebted to Mr. Forster, who had collected Lord Nelson's correspondence—in one of those letters Lord Nelson took occasion to state that at that very time the island had in it French intriguers, and he mentioned a report that Napoleon Bonaparte had gone to the island for the purpose of effecting an exchange of Parma and Piacenza, in order to bring it into the possession of France. If the possession of the island of Sardinia was important in the time of the First Napoleon, it was now vitally so, for every one must know that the importance of the Mediterranean to us had since then been enormously increased. Our communications with India, now a recognized possession of the British Crown, were to a great extent carried on no longer by the Cape, but by the Mediterranean. It could not, therefore, be endured that our communications with the Mediterranean should be imperilled or held by sufferance. Even, independently of the danger which would affect our communications in the Mediterranean, the mere fact that these would be affected by the cession of that island, an enormous change in the distribution of naval power was of itself sufficient to make this country resolute and determined to prevent any such change, because it was obvious that the sufficiency of our naval resources, the sufficiency of our harbours, ships, and seamen, was not a positive thing, but only a relative amount as compared with the resources of our neighbours, or, to speak more plainly, with the naval resources of France; and it was plain, therefore, that if by any operation similar to that which took place last year France should succeed in acquiring the Island of Sardinia, she would be inflicting on us a loss—a relative loss, but still a loss as far as our interests were concerned, equivalent to having endured a great 1192 naval disaster. They all knew that the First Napoleon made it one of the great objects of his life to reduce the Mediterranean to what he called "a French lake." Well, that object of Napoleon was a perfectly natural, and in a sense a perfectly legitimate one; because during the whole time of his occupying the imperial throne he was engaged in a flagrant war with England, and it was his right—nay, in a sense his duty—to do England all the harm he could. Consistently, therefore, with that position of his, he sought to make the Mediterranean "a French lake," with the view as far as possible to injure the country with which he was at war. But what he had now to remark was that when they were not at war with France, at a time when they were at peace with our neighbour, the same kind of effort was going on to obtain for France the control of the Mediterranean.
What, he would ask, was the meaning of the phrase, to make the Mediterranean "a French lake?" Why, the meaning of it was that France, by acquiring in some places actual dominion and in other places a dominant influence, should creep on, and on, and on, until no vessel could go into the Mediterranean Sea without having, as it were, to run the gauntlet between lands either under the actual dominion or control of France. Now, what progress had already been made in that direction? His hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) had most properly kept his eye on what was doing on the coast of Africa. There they all knew there had been indicated a great desire on the part of Spain to possess herself of Tetuan. The possession of Gibraltar was to a great extent dependent on that of Tangier, and the independence of Tangier was threatened by the occupation by Spain of Tetuan. Since the last war almost the whole of that coast till they approached Tunis had become in the strictest sense of the term a French dominion; and, then, last year a great stride was made in the same direction by the acquisition of the country of Nice and the seaboard in that direction. It was obvious that upon its being known that France was aiming at an object of the kind no English Government could stand idle. They knew by the papers laid before the House that he was speaking of last year—no sooner had Government acquired knowledge or suspicion of the course that was being taken than a vigorous measure, he would not say was 1193 executed, that would be too strong a term, but a very wise and vigorous measure was conceived by the noble Lord the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He wrote a stringent despatch to Sir James Hudson, stating that certain rumours had come to his ears but that the acquisition by France of that island would be a serious derangement of the balance of power in the Mediterranean, and that no further acquisition of territory by France could be viewed with indifference by Europe. The noble Lord followed up these stringent words by a wisely-conceived instruction addressed to Sir James Hudson, in which he called upon him, and he afterwards instructed him, to write a formal note on the subject; he was to call on Count Cavour to give a formal engagement binding the King of Sardinia not to code any more territory to France. He said that was a wisely-conceived instruction; but, unfortunately, it was answered in a way which, as events had occurred, was far from satisfactory. Count Cavour answered that he had just been making a speech in the Sardinian Chamber, in which he had declared that even the temptation of acquiring Venice would not induce him to part with an inch of the Italian territory. Well, now, that reference to his speech which Count Cavour wished our Government should receive in substitution of the formal engagement which the noble Lord had demanded, fell grievously short of the demand; because, in the first place, that equivocal expression, "Italian soil," might be conceived as not applying to the Island of Sardinia; and then there was a very important difference between a reference to a speech and an actual diplomatic engagement. Count Cavour was now no more, and there existed no such diplomatic engagement as had been demanded by the noble Lord on which he could call Sardinia to account. The noble Lord last year was not content to make the declaration at the Court of Turin, but he also instructed Earl Cowley to state to the French Government that these rumours had reached his ears, that they were disbelieved; and Earl Cowley received from M. Thouvenel the most positive denial that there was any truth in those rumours. The expression was very strong; he called it an abjuration; M. Thouvenel said it was quite preposterous; it could not be expected that for Sardinia, so barren of resources, France would incur the risk of war. A very curious circumstance occurred—ten days after receiving that despatch the noble 1194 Lord again addressed Earl Cowley on the subject. He said those rumours had again reached him, and again Earl Cowley was distinctly instructed to bring the subject under the notice of the French Government. No doubt, that was a disagreeable duty for Earl Cowley to perform, because, having received that previous solemn denial from M. Thouvenel, it might be thought awkward to have to return to the subject within so short a time, and again to state that Her Majesty's Government were still suffering anxiety in regard to it. How Earl Cowley executed that duty they did not know, for there was hiatus in the despatches at that point. It might easily be conceived that the despatch explaining the mode in which he had performed that task had been withheld on good grounds; but it was rather unfortunate for Earl Cowley that it should be so without some reference being made to the missing despatch, because one might be led to imagine, what was certainly not likely to be the fact in Earl Cowley's case —namely, that there had been on his part something like a flinching from the performance of a painful duty. Well, those despatches were long since laid on the Table, whereby the opinion of the House upon them might be said to have been invited. He thought the House was somewhat to blame in the matter; and he was quite willing to take his own share of that blame for not calling public attention to the purport of the despatches, because they left off in an unsatisfactory manner, informing them that the Government was anxious on the subject, without containing anything tending to show that that feeling had been removed. That was the more to be regretted because he was disposed to think the silecne— the dangerous silecne—of the House of Commons might have been one of the causes that induced the French Government to take the steps which it afterwards took. If the House had performed their duty more vigilantly it was not improbable that those steps might have been prevented. The result was that since the spring there had been very strong ground for supposing that France had been advancing towards the attainment of its original object—the acquisition of Sardinia.
In testing the accuracy of that supposition they were justified in looking at the anterior position of those two Powers, Sardinia and France, as, if he might so speak, the buyer and the seller. They must remember that those were the very 1195 two Powers which, the one by ceding and the other by accepting the surrender of territory, occasioned a great distraction last year in Europe. And one could not help feeling that the Island of Sardinia was an enormous temptation to France, and that France had the means of so tempting the King of Sardinia that, a priori and in the absence of all engagements, it was possible that the Sovereign who made up his mind to surrender Savoy might, under similar motives, be induced to surrender the Island of Sardinia. To try the question by its probabilities, if such an engagement had really been entered into between those two Governments what might they expect to find? Why, that the people of the Island of Sardinia were disturbed by the notion that under some sort of compulsion, which they could not well understand, it was their fate to be surrendered to France. They might also expect to find some preparations going on in that island for that wonderful piece of legerdemain which the Imperial statesmen were accustomed to call a plebiscite. They might further expect, a little later, that there would be a strenuous denial by France of any intention to effect a transaction of the kind; that the King of Sardinia, emboldened by the vehemence of that denial, might imagine for a moment that he was really a free man and assert his intention to hold his own; but that the next step would be a rebuke addressed to him by France for daring to fancy that he was free to refuse the cession of the island in question. That was what they might expect to find, applying the canon of construction of which he had spoken the other night in respect to the conduct of those two Powers. Well, he was prepared to say that all that, and more than this, had already occurred. In the Island of Sardinia agitation had been going on which led the people to suppose that they were necessarily and inevitably to become French. He had a copy of an able newspaper published at Cagliari, which was written exactly in the same painful tone which was so distressing last year in the case of Savoy and Nice. The writer hoped and feared, but was apparently convinced, that by some process which he could not prevent the island was to be ceded. That process had, indeed, been carried so far that even the humble official of the Government was brought to the belief that the Sardinian uniform he wore was the last of the kind he would ever have, and that the time was not distant 1196 When the islanders must necessarily become French. It would be interesting to know from the noble Lord what accounts he had from the English Consul at Cagliari, a man, as he was told, of high character and great ability. The reports of that gentleman would be exceedingly useful either in dissipating our alarms, if they were idle, or in furnishing a better foundation for them if well founded. It was unwise to suppose that the fears of the people of Sardinia were no element for consideration. When transactions of that kind were going on the instinct of the people concerned enabled them to know pretty well what was about to take place; and he did say that the sensations of the victims were in this case much deserving of our attention. No one, perhaps, could be supposed to be less acquainted with what was passing in Europe than an humble shopkeeper —say at Chambery or Nice; and no one could be supposed to be better acquainted with what was passing in Europe than the noble Lord at the head of the Government. Yet, last year, those humble men had an instinct which told them with greater truth and certainty than the noble Lord was able to attain that they were about to be handed over to France. Turning from the Island of Sardinia to Turin, the belief in the fact that an agreement of some kind had been signed had been so strongly entertained by those who were so placed as to have the means of knowledge, that it would be incorrect to speak of it as a mere rumour. It so happened, however, that the sources of information on which that rumour depended were not within his reach, and, therefore, he would not even advert to the date of the agreement, nor to the names by which it was supposed to have been signed. Perhaps before that discussion terminated his lack of information on that head might be supplied by others. But the House should remember that the understanding of which they had suspicions was not of a perfectly definite kind, fixing the day on which it would take effect; and he could also easily believe that to a great extent the terms in which it was intended to be carried into full operation might have been left uncertain. They ought, likewise, to bear in mind that Count Cavour, with a sensitiveness which he thought honourable to him, was accustomed throughout all the transactions relating to Savoy and Nice to flinch from avowing the whole extent to which he had engaged himself. Count 1197 Cavour had also this peculiarity—that he was very much in the habit, he would not say improperly, of giving but half confidences to other people, and would instruct the man who was acting under him as far as was necessary for his guidance, but would not tell him a whit more.
He would now state to the House what he believed to be the real extent to which Count Cavour was engaged in negotiations for the cession of the Island of Sardinia to the Emperor of the French. Count Cavour, as he was informed, put himself in communication with a gentleman, whose name would be well known to Her Majesty's Ministers and to Europe generally. He was not at present at liberty to mention it himself; but he believed he should obtain permission to do so to one of Her Majesty's Ministers should it be necessary. Count Cavour told that gentleman to make inquiries—personal inquiries —in the Island of Sardinia, with a view to ascertain what progress the French were making with the arrangements for a cession of the island. Not unnaturally, the gentleman to whom these instructions were addressed, said, "What progress have you made with negotiations? Is the island to be ceded?" Count Cavour's answer was, "The Emperor of the French is always pressing me. Hitherto I have held out." Well, the gentleman, as instructed, went to the Island of Sardinia. He there ascertained that the people had been worked upon in the way which he had already described to the House, and he also learned that the process for drawing the island to the French Empire had been that of constituting on the island itself two Committees of annexation. And now he would tell the House who had been performing that singular duty. His hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth would not, he was sure, be unwilling to bear the odium of being considered one of the detective officers engaged in bringing those transactions to view; and, pursuing the analogy of the expression, he thought he might say that the gentleman who was constructing these Committees of annexation in the Island of Sardinia was one well known to the police. He was no other than M. Pietri—Senator Pietri —the very man who conducted universal suffrage in Savoy and Nice. Well, so much for the Island of Sardinia; so much for Turin. He now came to Paris, and he found that towards, the close of the Session one of the bureaux, as they were called—which were 1198 certain sections of the House working with closed doors— was engaged in considering what would be called here "the Naval Estimates." It was remarked by one of the deputies that those Naval Estimates were on an enormous scale, and that the ports of France were clearly insufficient for the reception of so great a navy as France was contemplating. Thereupon, as he was informed, the General who in that bureau represented the Government said that it was very droll, but France was engaged in negotiations which would have the effect of putting her in possession of additional ports, and that there were to be additional ports in the Mediterranean. If there were any other ports in the Mediterranean which they expected to acquire, he hoped the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary would be able to tell the House what ports they were, if not those in the Island of Sardinia. Then, he was told of another fact, which was this—that in the Ministry of Marine an inquiry was ordered into the capacity of the port of Cagliari for the reception of vessels of war. He thoughts, that when he had put together all these converging circumstances—when the Island of Sardinia expected to be ceded—when they found the Prime Minister of the kingdom of Sardinia in exactly that kind of agony which his predecessor was suffering last year —and when they found France, while denying a proposed cession, yet going on in the same way as if a cession was to take place—he had succeeded in showing, if not that an arrangement existed—and he did not go so far as that—certainly that the most serious grounds for uneasiness and anxiety on the part of this country at present existed. It was not long since Baron Ricasoli addressed the Sardinian Chamber in a speech in which in almost proud terms he stated that he knew not of any portion of Italian soil which Sardinia would yield. He had reason for thinking that, at the same time, there were addressed to Her Majesty's Government such earnest and positive denials on the part of the French Government as succeeded in producing something very like a belief—perhaps a complete belief—that under those circumstances, at least, the idea of a cession had been adjourned. He had not been willing, therefore, to raise any discussion in that House which might be injurious; and under that feeling he had determined to abstain from bringing the question forward. But no sooner had the denials of Baron Ricasoli 1199 and the French Government taken effect than exactly the process of last year went on again, and the French Government returned to its enterprize. He held in his hand a rebuke which La Patrie, the official organ of France, addressed to Baron Ricasoli for his denial. He was very reluctant to read anything to the House; but, as that must be regarded as an official statement of the French Government, he would venture to do so. It was as follows:—M. Ricasoli has also declared 'that the Government of the King did not know of a palm of Italian territory which it could cede.' By these words, no doubt, the Prime Minister only meant to allude to accomplished facts, to retrospective acts. Nevertheless, in order to prevent any of the truth of principles from being lost sight of, we think it our duty to remark that it has always been admitted that a nation could, without compromising its independence, without failing in its dignity, and taking counsel only of its own interests, voluntarily make territorial cessions. Does not history in modern times justify and furnish example of numerous and similar cessions? However noble and honourable may be the sentiments expressed by M. Ricasoli—declarations so absolute as those which he has uttered, and which could not prevail in public law, would be an invincible obstacle to those transactions which (dans l'ordre politique) two countries always could, and always can freely accomplish.He believed that the matter did not end with that official rebuke, for, unless he was much misinformed, M. Thouvenel addressed an official note to M. Ricasoli, complaining of the fact that he had repudiated all idea of making any further cession of territory to France. The spirit in which the French Government was disposed to act in the matter had been laid down in a extract copied into a paper which they all had on their table that morning. The Revue Contemporaine was a journal not only founded and subsidized by the French Government, but which evidently received its inspirations from the same source, and its last number contained the following observations on the annexation of the Island of Sardinia:—We had hoped to possess some day the Island of Sardinia, which would be so useful a half-way resting place to Algeria, offering us excellent timbel for our navy and good harbours of refuge for our vessels. The Island of Sardinia is the continuation of Corsica; it is an island more French than Italian, where the people love France, and feel that their happiness lies with her, and where the annexation would be voted with enthusiasm, were the island, either by necessity or chance, to be relieved of its duties towards the Crown of Italy. And, now, here is M. Ricasoli extinguishing our patriotic dreams, and depriving us of a hope similar to that which he entertains regarding 1200 Venice. It is true that certain circumstances may arise calculated to oblige the Italian Government to modify its programme a little with respect to France, and induce it to establish a happy distinction between Sardinian territory and Italian territory—two things which are, indeed, very distinct. We do not believe that the Government of the Emperor will ever claim this second Corsica either by threats or force, although it is so essential to the preservation of the sister island in the case of a conflict in the Mediterranean; but our Government would certainly not refuse it if courteously offered, especially if the population, on being consulted, were to answer by an almost unanimous vote, like Nice and Savoy. In order to preserve the Island of Sardinia, which no more belongs to Turin than Corsica belonged to Genoa, the Italians should, therefore, above all, avoid offering it to us; that is their business.No doubt, if the annexation were carried out, M. Pietri would obtain another unanimous vote, recollecting that he had performed a similar duty at Nice with such zeal that, according to M. Mocquard, the number of votes in favour of annexation considerably exceeded the whole number of voters. He had said enough, he hoped, to justify the anxiety he felt upon the matter, and which he had endeavoured to convey to the House. He might point to the despatches of the English Consul in Sardinia, and to the negotiations which had been going on during the summer on the subject. It was unsafe to rely on the moderation of France. He did not believe that when the Emperor of the French used moderate expressions he was always misrepresenting himself, for there were often occasions when he desired that matters should pass off as quietly as possible. The truth was that, having engaged in transaction of this kind, he succeeded in interesting a great number of persons in his plans, and when he was willing to recede he was driven forward by his own ideas fermenting in the minds of other men. Last year, when he outraged Europe by the annexation of Savoy and Nice, he did so on a momentary impulse upon the suggestion of a mere soldier who was not competent to advise him on state affairs. But on his mere suggestion that his credit with the army would be imperilled if the annexation did not take place he gave way. If a similar suggestion were addressed to him by the French navy, and nothing was more probable, with regard to the annexation of Sardinia, it would be absolutely necessary that he should be sustained in resisting any such annexation by the certainty as to the light in which such a cession would be regarded in this country. He repeated that they could not trust either 1201 the moderation of France or the firmness of Ricasoli, or any other Italian gentleman. A firmer or more honourable man than Ricasoli did not exist; but he very much doubted whether he had yet come into full possession of all the humiliations which awaited him as the legatee of Count Cavour. [Sir GEORGE BOWYER: Hear, hear!] He did not yet know all that Count Cavour had agreed to do. He hoped that Sardinia would never be annexed to France. He did not believe that the noble Viscount at the head of the Government would ever let history say of him that while he was Prime Minister of England and in time of Peace there was endured such a displacement of the naval powers of the countries of Europe as must be grievously prejudicial to England, as must endanger her communication by way of the Mediterranean, and make a great stride towards placing France in possession of that control of the Mediterranean which had always been the main object of the Bonapartist policy.
To leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of any further Correspondence which may have passed respecting the Cession to France of the Island of Sardinia,"—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL:
Sir, I hope the House will allow me to second the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend, and I am sure I do but express the feeling of the House when I say that it has listened with pleasure and pride to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend. I can well understand the grounds which have induced my hon. and learned Friend to bring forward this question under our notice before the close of the Session, because it is quite evident, from the repeated denials respecting this alleged cession of Sardinia to France, that there is and must have been some foundation for the apprehensions that have alarmed Italy and Europe, and not only Italy and Europe, but England in particular. This a question that directly affects this country and the power of England, inasmuch as we must look at this annexation in a different light from the annexations of last year. England was not directly concerned in those an- 1202 nexations, but protested against them as one of the great Powers of Europe. As regards the bucaniering annexation of St. Domingo by Spain, it is clear that America's misfortune has been Spain's opportunity. Then, again, there is the question of Tetuan. Those, however, are all matters affecting Europe; but the cession of the Island of Sardinia affects this country immediately. It is a matter of great importance to us, and if there are grounds for this apprehension—if this annexation were accomplished, it would strike the mostly severe blow against the maritime power and legitimate influence of England that has been inflicted for fifty years. That naval supremacy, for which Nelson and other great men fought and bled and conquered would be imperilled, and the position which every English Government has taken up is that the independence of the Island of Sardinia is essentially necessary for the commercial interests and naval power of Great Britain. My hon. Friend has told us what the position of Sardinia is. Hon. Members, if they refer to the map, will see that Sardinia is the largest island in the Mediterranean, that it is larger than Sicily. [Mr. ROEBUCK: No !] I quote from a book lately published. At all events, its position is most remarkable. It spreads out from Corsica to the centre of the Mediterranean. It is half way between France, Spain, Italy, and the coast of Barbary. It is the half-way house of France, and has two magnificent ports, La Maddalena, on the north, and Cagliari, on the south. My hon. Friend has quoted the language of Nelson on this subject, and it cannot be too strongly impressed on Her Majesty's Government. Nelson writes to Lord St. Vincent in December, 1803. He says that Sardinia is the finest island in the Mediterranean, that its harbours are fit for arsenals, and capacious enough for the whole navy. He says, in 1804, "I have written to Lord Hobart to way that Sardinia worth a hundred Maltas, and that it has the finest man-of-war harbour in Europe." On the 17th of September he wrote another letter to Lord Hobart, to say that, "Sardinia is the summum bonum of everything valuable to us in the Mediterranean." These opinions of Lord Nelson justify the most serious apprehensions as to the danger to this country if Sardinia should be seized by France. But there is something in the way of such a cession. There are treaties. I know that in these days trea- 1203 ties are of very little value. But there are treaties, and there is a distinct treaty regulation that binds this Island of Sardinia to Savory. In 1720, by the Treaty of London, to which France, England, Holland, Savoy, and Sardinia, were parties, Spain gave up Sardinia, were parties, Spain gave up Sardinia, which she then held. An arrangement was made by which the Island of Sardinia was ceded to Savoy, and Savoy gave up Sicily—which she held under the Treaty of Utrecht—to Naples, by which the Kingdom of Naples become the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. This treaty was confirmed by the Treaty of Vienna. But the Emperor Napoleon wants to annul the Treaty of Vienna. He demands that satisfaction of Europe, and he hopes that Europe will not interfere. But this treaty is the charter-paper of Europe, and without the consent of the Great Powers we cannot allow one Power to monopolize the authority of doing all this. There is only one hon. Gentleman in this House who supports the policy of the Emperor Napoleon. I refer to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) who blew his trumpet so loudly at the Mansion-house the other night. I regret the absence of that hon. Gentleman, as I was very anxious to address some observations to him on this subject. He is the only man here who applauded this conduct of Louis Napoleon. Last year, I recollect the pain and grief I felt when I heard the hon. Member for Birmingham say:—"Savoy was worthless. France and Switzerland both said that it was a matter of vital importance. But later in the year the hon. Member for Birmingham said, as regards the map of Europe and the limitations of States, that that was not worth one minute's consideration. This Socialist view of the rights of others was happily not re-echoed by nor shared in by the people of England, who desire to respect the rights of others, but at the same time are anxious that there would be maintained that balance of power which is just and legitimate. About the same time I was very much struck with some observations, which, as it appeared to me, so admirably expressed the feelings of this country in respect to the policy of France, and the danger resulting from the annexation of Savory and Nice, that I ask permission of the House to quote them. There appeared in The Times newspaper, in March, 1860, this sentence— 1204This act must leave upon every man's mind a conviction that there is no safety, except in continual watchfulness and in armed preparation, against the aggression of a Sovereign who thus seizes upon the possessions of a friendly Power, and then challenges approval, and talks of equity and claims the assent of Europe to his act.That is a sentence which, I am certain, finds an echo in the heart o every man in this country, and it is because we feel that we are dealing with a subtle and dangerous man, always designing how to carry out the object he has in view, that I urge this vigilance on the Government, and desire, with my hon. and learned Friend, to impress its necessity on the House and on the country. Now I ask the Government are there any just and legitimate grounds of apprehension in this matter? Over and over again we have had denials that anything was intended; and I should be inclined to regard those denials, but for the repeated proofs we have had of the principles which actuate and influence not only Louis Napoleon, but the Imperial policy of France. The noble Lord at the head of the Government has found out whom he has to deal with in dealing with Louis Napoleon, and if you cast your eyes around Europe at this moment you see abundant confirmation of the danger in the distrust prevailing at the uncertain position of affairs. That is our justification for submitting this subject at the present moment to the consideration of Parliament. Some people may say that we are handling very delicate questions, and that we ought not to allude to these foreign affair matters in the House of Commons at this moment, when the situation of things is so delicate. The hon. Member for Birmingham said so the other night. Such was not always the opinion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. I recollect that when he was in Opposition, he did not consider what might be the position of the Government of the day, or the position of France at that time. An almost parallel case occurred in 1844. There existed than extreme uneasiness respecting France and Morocco, and the Government of the day urged on the House of Commons the necessity of not alluding to questions which might agitate the public mind. What did the present Prime Minister then say? In his expression of opinion delivered at that time I entirely concur, deeming it one of those straightforward, honest declarations which have gained for the noble Lord a legitimate popularity in this country. When begged 1205 to be silent, and not to endanger negotiations which were going on, the noble Lord said —That, so far from being tongue-tied in the House because of the state of parties in France, he did not think that any consideration arising from the position of persons or parties in foreign countries, should debar us from canvassing the conduct of the Government with reference to our own interests, for the consideration of our own interests must be paramount with an English House of Commons.That is precisely the feeling we have now. The interests of this country are intimately wrapt up with the consideration of this matter. My hon. and learned Friend has made so able and interesting a speech that he has really left me almost nothing to add; but he has omitted to refer to one thing, and that is the very striking expression of opinion which appeared in the Moniteur, the official journal of France, representing what M. Thouvenel calls the Imperial policy of France. Let the House consider M. Thouvenel's opinion respecting the Imperial policy of France, and the imminent danger of the measures which Louis Napoleon has in view. In June, 1860, M. Thouvenel, addressing a report to the Emperor which appeared in the Moniteur, ays —The Imperial policy is guided, not by ambitious intentions, but considerations respecting the future (un sentiment de prévoyance.) Your Majesty has obtained a 'guarantee' from the friendship and gratitude of a Sovereign, which constitutes a fine page of the history of a reign already so fruitful of prosperities.It is precisely this "sentiment de prévoyance," and this system of France always asking for a guarantee that we wish to watch. When she took Savoy and Nice that was a Guarantee. In the speech of the Emperor, in 1860, it was observed— In frankly stating the question to the great Powers their equity will, doubtless, induce them to recognize that the important territorial change which is about to take place gives us the right to a guarantee indicated by Nature herself."
Only the other day France recognized the King of Italy, and what were the expressions introduced by M. Thouvenel into his despatch? They were not like the frank and generous avowal made by the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary. In M. Thouvenel's despatch appeared this short sentence, with the word "guarantee," which indeed is always to be seen in M. Thouvenel's despatches—The French troops will continue to occupy Rome so long as the interests which brought France to Rome are not covered by guarantees.1206 I should like to know what is the meaning of that; because I think it means continual annexations of different places in Europe to the French Empire. I wish to point out to the House, also, how full, but how fallacious have been the denials we have received from the Sardinian Government. Three times has this question of the annexation of Sardinia to France been brought before the Constitutional Chambers at Turin, and three times it has been most emphatically denied, twice by the lamented Cavour and once by M. Ricasoli. Count Cavour, in October, 1860, said—The charge of the meditated annexation of Sardinia (Island of) to France was met in a manner in which a wide distinction was endeavoured to be made between that question of the Island of Sardinia and the cession of Savoy and Nice. The great principal of nationality, the corner stone of our political edifice, can never be invoked for a cession of a portion of our territory.That was what Count Cavour said in October, 1860; but precisely the same thing was said as regards the cession of Savoy and Nice on the 22nd of March, 1860. On that day the King of Sardinia received the Savoyard deputation, and said "That the ties which bound his dynasty to Savoy were too ancient to be rent asunder." At the very moment when that solemn declaration was made, M. de Persigny, writing from this country to the French Government, mentions that the cession of Savoy was long arranged to take place on the conclusion of the war in Italy. On the 8th April, 1861, another interpellation was addressed to Count Cavour, and he made a brief reply on the subject of the rumoured cession of the Island of Sardinia to France. He said:—"I give a formal denial to the rumours of an intended cession of the Island of Sardinia to France." A similar denial preceded the cession of Savoy and Nice; and Sir James Hudson wrote a despatch, dated Turin, February 10, 1980, in which he said—I called upon his Excellency this morning, and the Count said that he could only repeat to me what he had already stated, that Sardinia was Savoy or any other part of her dominions.And yet at that very time it was understood that Sardinia would cede Savoy and Nice to France, as reward for the assistance she had given Sardinia in Italy. The House of Commons and the country, under those of Commons and the country, under those circumstances, require, I am sure, something more than verbal denials, especially when we have precedents so 1207 strong telling against the credit which they are entitled to receive. Again, I find the Sardinian Government writing in March, 1860, to M. Nigra, who was then Charge d'Affaires in Paris, precisely in the same terms on the same subject. They say—His Majesty's Government would never consent, with even the greatest prospective advantages, to code or exchange any one of the parts of the territory which has formed for so many ages the glorious inheritance of the House of Savoy.Stronger terms than these could scarcely be used; but I now come to Baron Ricasoli. He, in the month of June in the present year, made a bold speech—I hope he will act up to its boldness— in the Sardinian Chamber, in which he said—We arm for the defence, not only of the national territory as it is actually constituted, but also to complete it, and to restore to it its natural and legitimate limits.He goes on to say—I have heard a cession of territory spoken of, but permit me,"—and he made this emphatic declaration—"but permit me, Gentlemen, to repel with profound disdain the very thought.Cries of "Brava" followed this announcement, and Baron Ricasoli added— "The King's Government knows not of a foot of Italian territory which it can give up; il ne le veut pas; il ne le fera pas; non, absolument non." Now, if I could be persuaded Baron Ricasoli would act up to that statement, I should feel satisfied; but the danger is, as my hon. and learned Friend has pointed out, that he will fall into the toils of the French Emperor, and be absolutely unable to resist the schemes which he may have set on foot to effect his object. My hon. and learned Friend has just read an article from a newspaper issued under the direct authority of the French Government, and I shall not, therefore, further advert to it; but I feel assured the interesting observations he has addressed to the House are sufficient to show that Her majesty's Government ought to exercise the utmost vigilance in this matter. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs knows perfectly well that I have approved —of the policy of non intervention in the affairs of Italy which he has pursued, and if the tranquillization of the country has not proceeded so rapidly as we could wish, it is owing to no fault of which we can be justly accused. It is to be attributed rather to the presence at Rome of a French 1208 army, for I do contend that army is maintained there, not for the purpose of protecting the liberties of Italy or upholding the authority of the Pope, but solely with the view of insuring to the Emperor of the French some ultimate guarantee in the shape of a cession of territory either in the Island of Sardinia or elsewhere. That being so, I venture to second the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend, and I beg the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs to direct his serious attention to this subject. Rumour says the noble Lord is about to leave this House for "another place," and I am quite sure I but express the opinion of every hon. Gentleman here when I say that by his removal from among us we shall lose one of the brightest ornaments of this assembly. I must on public grounds also give utterance to the hope that the country will not by the change be deprived of the services of a man of the noble Lord's enlightened experience, but I must at the same time observe that I do not like to hear the indisposition of England to go to war so frequently paraded. That is an expression of opinion to which I have listened more than once both this year and last. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, indeed, received the other day a deputation, I think on the subject of the slave trade, and he said upon that occasion—Spain had acted with great insincerity, and no doubt had given ample cause of war, if this country chose to resort to force. But he doubted if House of Commons would respond to the call for war on such grounds.Now, I agree with my noble Friend in this respect, but I do not see why we should be so anxious to lay before the House and the public the indisposition of the country to go to war on trivial grounds. God forbid we should ever resort to hostilities under such circumstances, but the country, as well as my noble Friend, knows well that the force and strength of a Government depend, not so much upon its declaring its reluctance to enter into war, as upon its avoiding the possibility of such an event by the dignity of the policy which it pursues. That is the policy which I would ask the noble Lord the Secretary fir Foreign Affairs to pursue in this case. There is no reason why, if we follow out such a course manfully, we should, therefore, immediately rush into arms to vindicate our position. I will merely add the expression of an anxious wish that the noble Lord will not allow 1209 his vigilance to relax in this matter. The Island of Sardinia is included in the great national movement towards Italian liberty. Her Majesty's Government have acknowledged the Kingdom of Italy, and this cession of the Island of Sardinia would, I contend, be an infringement of the principles by which in that acknowledgement they have declared their readiness to abide. The proceeding is one, it is true, which may be calculated to add another bright page to the history of France in the reign of the present Emperor, but it would, if carried into effect, be in direct contradiction to the principle of Italian unity, and be an outrange and an insult on Italian independence. Nay, more, this cession would so violently disturb the present position and balance of power in Europe that we should ultimately be obliged to interfere, and I now take the liberty of telling Victor Emmanuel, as one who is deeply interested in the progress of Italian liberty, that if this island is handed over to France a blow will be struck at the maritime power and legitimate influence of this country which will unquestionably have the effect of alienating from him and his Ministers the confidence and sympathy which happily the people of England and their Government have hitherto so generously manifested in favour of Italian independence.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
observed that the two hon. Members who had just spoken had dealt with the question under discussion principally as affecting English interests, and he wished to deal with it in the same point of view. There were, however, some remarks which had fallen from the hon. Baronet which had, he confessed, caused him not a little surprise. Both his hon. Friend and the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the Motion insisted strongly upon one point—namely, that for a long period of time antecedent to the secession of Savoy and Nice to France, there was an understanding with Count Cavour that the cession was to be made, and yet his hon. Friend quoted the speeches of Count Cavour, in which he stated that not one inch of Italian ground would be ceded to France. According to the statement of his hon. Friend the conduct of Cavour was most extraordinary. Count Cavour, it appeared, had entered into secret treaty with France for the cession of Savoy and Nice at the very time he was stating there was to be no cession of territory to France. Now, if that were really 1210 the case, it was a subject of marvel to him that the hon. Baronet should have passed upon the statesman who had been guilty of such conduct an eulogium so flattering as he had upon a former occasion pronounced in that House. But, be that as it might, the hon. Baronet had proceeded to quote extracts from the speech of Baron Ricasoli. The hon. Baronet said he approved the policy of Baron Ricasoli; but did he go to the full extent of the policy shadowed forth in the speech? [Sir ROBERT PEEL: I do.] Then it was important to see what that policy was. In the speech to which reference had been made Baron Ricasoli went on to say—What the King's Government sees is a territory to defend, a territory to recover. It seems Rome, it sees Venice. To the Eternal City and to the Queen of the Adriatic it turns the thoughts, the hopes, the energies of the nation. The Government feels the heavy task that lies before it. With God's help it will fulfil it. Opportunity matured by time will open our way to Venice. In the meantime we think of Rome. Yes, we will go to Rome.Then follow these remarkable words:—We will go to Rome hand in hand with France.He (Mr. Cochrane) would like to know what view Her Majesty's Government took of that policy, and whether the noble Lord had taken any notice of that extraordinary declaration? The question did not stop at the possible cession of Sardinia. He fully agreed that there was a secret understanding respecting the Island of Sardinia, and he begged to call attention to what they might anticipate the state of Italy would be should such a cession take place. The accounts from the South of Italy were worse and worse. There existed what was called a state of brigandage; but the feelings of the country were deeper than could be expressed by that term. It was, therefore, doubly important to see that nothing should occur to disturb the present state of Europe, and they should also recollect that no faith was to be placed in the pledges and promises given by France. It appeared that there had been representations made by the French Government to the Swiss Confederation, in which they insisted upon a further cession of territory, and the noble Lord would, of course, know whether that was correct or not. It was stated that M. Thouvenel had gone on to say that he would not discuss the matter any further. He should ask the noble Lord not only to answer the question put to him, but go 1211 further and tell them what was the advice given by the English Government to the Sardinian Government. English interests required that every Government should be conducted upon the principles of justice, and according to those treaties which had been grossly violated.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, that one advantage resulted from these discussions—that they proved that there was no apathy in England as regarded foreign politics. In the present day all men's minds were unsettled, and, although there was no expectation of war, there was no confidence in the maintenance of peace. Commerce was stagnant; the funds were almost at a war price; and, as had been well said elsewhere, Europe was in a state of armed truce. He feared the disturbing influences had been aggravated by the political principles laid down, and the admissions made which had tended to diminish the force of treaties. No greater proof could be given of the disorganized state of our foreign relations than these repeated discussions about annexations. First, there was the annexation of Savoy and Nice. When that was settled there came a question of Chablais and Faucigny, which in its turn was followed by the question of the French Switzerland, and now they were talking of the apprehended annexation of the Island of Sardinia. He was bound to say that, in his opinion, if the Government had pursed a more vigorous and consistent line of conduct they would not have heard of any more annexations. In the course of last year the policy of the present Government underwent a change. In the debate which led to the defeat of the late Government the noble Lord the present Prime Minister taunted the Earl of Derby's Government with having misapprehended the state of things abroad; and argued that they had threatened France and had patronized Austria, and thought that all danger of aggression arose from France, while in truth Austria was the aggressive Power. The noble Lord, now Foreign Secretary, also maintained upon that occasion that the true policy of this country was alliance with France, but that the late Government had weakened that alliance. But when events had shown that France was from the first the aggressive Power, and that there was a secret treaty between France and Sardinia that they were to attack Austria and divide the spoils. The noble Lords opposite found themselves in a position of 1212 great perplexity. He, therefore, admired the manly speech of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) in the last days of the last Session, wherein he expressed distrust of France, and said that thenceforth fore-thought and precaution was the duty of every Power. He rejoiced at hearing the noble Lord utter that sentiment, and admit at the same time that he had been deceived and had wronged the Earl of Derby's Government in the debate upon the vote of want of confidence. It was creditable to the great Conservative party, to the right hon. Member for Bucks, and to the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. S. FitzGerald), that they had not attempted to embarrass the Government in its foreign policy, but, on the contrary, had pursued a patriotic course, and had endeavoured to assist the Government in every way. If the relative positions of parties had been changed he did not think the noble Lords opposite would have been so forbearing. The policy indicated in the speech of the noble Lord the Prime Minister at the close of last Session had for its logical consequence the celebrated despatch of the 31st of August, in which the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary told Sardinia that England would not tolerate aggression on her part, and hinted that England had interests to guard in the Adriatic. If the principles of that despatch had been acted upon we should have heard no more of other annexations; but afterwards it appeared that the noble Lord forgot all about the necessity of precaution and forethought. He wrote a despatch on the 29th of October, laying it down that every State and part of a State had a right to choose its own rulers. He favoured the Sardinian intrigues and the expedition of Garibaldi; and thus, opened the door to every species of aggression and spoliation. It had been argued in justification that the noble Lord had contributed to the unity of Italy, and had outwitted the French Emperor in his schemes. He (Mr. C. Bentinck) differed from both those statements. It was quite true that by the suggestion of the non-employment of force, the noble Lord placed an instrument in the hands of the French Emperor by which he was enabled to get rid of the provisions of the Treaty of Villafranca; but, if even there had been any serious intention of executing those provisions on the part of the French, the assistance of the noble Lord would not have been wanted for there could be no doubt 1213 that Austria would have stood true to her engagements. It was clear that if the Treaty of Villafranca had been executed Savoy and Nice would not have been immediately annexed to France. The terms of the agreement between France and Sardinia were to be effect that Savoy and Nice were to be ceded to France only in the event of Lombardy and Venetia being conquered by France for Sardinia. If the Treaty of Villafranca had been carried out, France could have taken Savoy and Nice only by some violent proceeding; but when the noble Lord opposite succeeded with the French in overthrowing that treaty, Savoy and Nice fell to France as a necessary consequence. On the annexation of Romagna and the Duchies to Sardinia, the noble Lord was not consistent in his argument as to the non-employment of force, because he had not objected to force in the subjugation of Naples by Piedmontese troops; nor could it be said that the result of his policy had been to diminish French influence in Italy. Great mystery hung about all the negotiations between France and Sardinia, and it was to be apprehended that the danger of annexation was greater than ever. It was certain that the French Government had been a party to the invasion of Umbria and the Marches by Sardinia, and that they had also sanctioned the invasion of Naples by Piedmontese troops. The denials of France with respect to the Island of Sardinia would be almost diverting if they were not likely to be so tragical in their consequences. M. Thouvenel had asked how it could be supposed that France wished for an island which was in such a state of barbarism that it was a disgrace to the Sardinian Government? But it was the alleged barbarous rule in Naples and in Sicily that was used as a justification of the invasion of those territories. The noble Lord had virtually admitted that the ballot-box was to decide the fate of nations; for, although he had altogether objected to the ballot-box and universal suffrage in Savoy and Nice, yet, with singular want of logic, he had approved it both in Naples and Sicily. He hoped the noble Lord would tell the House where the policy of the ballot-box was to stop. He was as much in favour of Italian liberty and unity as any man in that House, but he was certain that even a united Italy would prove no barrier to France. France was gradually encroaching on Italy. She pos- 1214 sessed Corsica and Nice; she was in occupation of Rome, and it was as idle to expect that Civita Vecchia would be given back to Italy as that Calais would be restored to England. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord would accede to the Motion, and would give the House every possible information on all the points mooted by the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater and subsequent speakers.
§ MR. STIRLING
thought the House was much indebted to the hon. Member for Bridgwater, not only for bringing this subject forward, but also for the watchful eye which during the last two years he had kept on the intrigues of the Emperor of the French. It was impossible not to remember how last Session the hon. Member week after week addressed questions to the Government about the annexation of Savoy and Nice; how his statements were first of all denied, then discredited, then deprecated, and at last, by the course of events, confirmed and verified in every particular. It was to be hoped that the warnings which he had on the present occasion so vigorously addressed to the Government would fall on less unwilling ears, and that the House would not be told, when too late, that England could only enter her protest against the annexation of the Island of Sardinia. He agreed with his hon. Friend, the Member for Taunton, that on its Foreign policy Government owed a debt of gratitude, not only to its supporters for their confidence, but also to the Opposition for its forbearance. No one could have forgotten that, at the very time when the questions of the hon. Member with respect to Savoy and Nice were receiving evasive and inaccurate answers from the Treasury Bench, Lord Cowley by means of private letters was keeping the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office fully aware of the intrigues and intentions of the Government of France. On the publication of the blue book on Italian affairs, he (Mr. Stirling) had himself called the attention of the House to the fact, which on the 23rd of April was put beyond all doubt by Lord Cowley in his speech in "another place." He could not help contrasting that state of things, so little creditable to the present Ministry, with the languages held by the noble Lord and his colleagues when in Opposition towards their predecessors in office. Nothing was too severe or too contemptuous to be said of the policy of Lord Derby's Government. Lord Derby's Government, we were told, 1215 was in unsatisfactory relations with every Power in Europe. With some it was too intimate; of others it was too distrustful. Now that Lord Derby's Government had been superseded by the two noble Lords opposite, what were the most salient features of the existing relations between the French Emperor and this country? In the two years which had elapsed since the change of Government the principal historical events were these—that England had concluded with the French Emperor a treaty of commerce for ten years, that the French Emperor had taken in perpetuity a large mountain territory which gave him the keys of Italy and Switzerland, and that he had also increased his dominions by a long stretch of Mediterranean coast, which would greatly aid in the development of that great naval force which every month saw growing at Toulon. There never was a Government which more peculiarly owed to that House and country all their exertions to prevent the annexation to France of the Island of Sardinia, which his hon. Friend had shown such good grounds for fearing was about to take place. Last year they were told that, however we might condemn the circumstances under which the cession of Savoy and Nice had taken place, England was not materially interested in the question. They were not of vital importance to her, and besides, she could not possibly have prevented the cession being made. Would that be said of the Island of Sardinia after the opinions which his hon. Friend had quoted from the correspondence of Lord Nelson as to its importance to our position in the Mediterranean? Surely it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to tell the French Government, in the most firm, though courteous terms, that the cession of that island would not be allowed under any circumstances. Out of this question, important as it was, there arose another of still greater importance. How long was the Emperor, by his own acts and deeds, to make himself an object of distrust to Europe? There was a small minority in that House, consisting of Gentlemen whose intellectual qualities he greatly respected, and whose patriotism he did not presume to doubt, who maintained that distrust of the Emperor was on our part unjust, and that he might more justly be distrustful of us. But what were the facts of the case? It was said we were under great obligations to the Emperor as a good and faithful 1216 ally, and especially as the author of the recent treaty of commerce. He was quite willing to admit some of these obligations. The Emperor had certainly shown in part of his conduct that he wished to be on good terms with this country. Had it not been that the negotiations for the treaty of commerce were simultaneous with the cession of Savoy and Nice, which he could call by no other name than a trick, he should have said that treaty did lay us and Europe under considerable obligations. It was a beneficent though an arbitrary act, which, in some degree, redeemed a despotism founded on the destruction of French liberty. But under present circumstances it was impossible not to connect that treaty of commerce with the aggressive designs of the French Emperor. At all events, whatever our obligations to him in respect of the treaty, and of the improved position and prospects of Italy, was there not another side to the balance-sheet? Did we not owe to him the Russian war, arising, as it did, out of his intrigues in the East? Above all, did we not owe to him our enormous naval and military expenditure? In 1850, before the coup d'etat, on which the Emperor's despotism rested—an act of which the noble Viscount, the head of Her Majesty's Government, had expressed a hasty, and, he must say, an un-English approval— our Naval and Military Estimates were only £15,500,000. They has since gone on steadily increasing till they were £26,500,000. In addition to this we had the expense of the fortifications, and the hardly-to-be-calculated cost of the Volunteer movement. He believed he was understating the amount if he said that military despotism in France did not cost England less than from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000 a year. He thought the science of diplomacy might find terms in which the Emperor might be asked how long he was going to play at this game of beggar-my-neighbour, not only with England, but with all Europe. It might be hinted to him, in diplomatic terms, that, however ruinous to other nations, such a policy must in the long run prove most disastrous to that Power whose foundations were least secure, which did not rest on a broad and popular basis, but on the surprise and popular basis, but on the surprise and overthrow of the liberties of a people. He hoped the noble Lord would firmly and decidedly inform the Emperor that those vast naval armaments which he had compelled us to create and maintain 1217 might, if the necessity of using them should arise, possibly be found a considerable impediment in the way of his occupying the Island of Sardinia.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL:
Sir, I must say I think the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken shows a very considerable forgetfulness of facts. In the first place, with regard to Savoy and Nice, it was during the Government of the Earl of Derby that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) informed me that he had received information to the effect that, in return for the assistance the Emperor gave to Sardinia in the war with Austria, the provinces of Savoy and Nice were to be yielded to France. Did I bring that forward or urge my hon. and learned Friend to bring it in the House of Commons as an accusation against the Earl of Derby's Government? What I advised him to do was to go to the Earl of Malmesbury, and apprise him of the information he had received. He did see the Earl of Malmesbury, who made inquiries on the subject at Paris; but if the Earl of Derby's Government had thought that it was a question on which England ought to go to war with France, it was for the Earl of Malmesbury to declare that resolution on the part of the Earl of Derby's Government. The Earl of Malmesbury did not take any such course. And when the war was impending, the Earl of Derby and the Earl of Malmesbury were quite unable, although they made efforts in that direction, to prevent that war from taking place. Did my noble Friend and I reproach the Government of the day for the course they pursued? There were arguments that might have been used to show that the efforts of the British Government might have averted that war; but it seemed to me that it would not have been just to say that any recommendations could prevail in that state of things, and, accordingly, I never uttered a word of reproach of the Earl of Malmesbury, in consequence of the course which the Government then took. I think all the time we were in opposition with reference to foreign affairs my noble Friend and I showed very great forbearance in regard to the conduct of the Earl of Derby's Government. I have always said in this House, and to this day I am ready to say, that I think the Earl of Malmesbury was a very efficient Minister of Foreign Affairs, and that the general course of his policy was the right policy to pursue. Both in 1218 this House and before my constituents I defended the course of neutrality he pursued in regard to the war. There were some things said by the Earl of Derby at the beginning of the war which I did not approve, and these words were afterwards explained away in a speech made by the noble Earl at the Mansion House. I have nothing to reproach myself with in the course I pursued in regard to his Government. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last but one has certainly somewhat mistaken the facts, because he said that, although I talked of the invalidity of universal suffrage in regard to Savoy and Nice, I never said a word as to the invalidity of universal suffrage in regard to Naples and Sicily; and, therefore, there was a remarkable inconsistency on my part. Now, if the hon. Gentleman will refer to my despatch upon that subject to Sir James Hudson, he will find that I distinctly stated that with respect to Naples, Sicily, Umbria, and the Marshes, the taking of votes by universal suffrage "appeared to have little validity," and I went on to show why, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, they had little validity. The hon. Gentleman, however, says that I fell into a remarkable inconsistency, because I allowed the validity of that vote in Naples and Sicily, while I denied its validity in Savoy and Nice. Really, if hon. Gentlemen will come forward and enter into long disquisitions for the purpose of attacking the foreign policy of the Government, they should take a little more care and not state as facts what are totally remote from the real truth.
With regard to the main object of this debate it is, no doubt, a very important one. With regard to the question of Sardinia, I entirely admit the importance of that island, and I have in despatches repeatedly expressed my opinion that the annexation of the Island of Sardinia to France would be a great disturbance of the territorial distribution of power in Europe, and would more especially affect the distribution of power in the Mediterranean. It may be an object of desire and ambition to an ambitious Power; but I must put in the balance the consequences—the very grave consequences which would follow from any attempt on the part of France to annex the Island of Sardinia. It is not a transaction which could take place merely between the Emperor of the French and the King of Sardinia. It must put an end at once to any intimate alliance between 1219 this country and France. The importance of the island is very considerable; but at the same time I must say it is not my opinion that the Government of the Emperor of the French will attempt to annex the Island of Sardinia, seeing the grave consequences that would ensue. What has happened in the present spring is nearly as follows:—About the mouth of April, I think, there appeared in a journal published at Cagliari an intimation that French agents were active in the Island of Sardinia. Soon after that there followed a despatch sent by Sir James Hudson, from Her Majesty's Consul in the Island of Sardinia, saying that he believed there were French agents busy in the islands, although he had not, I think, then any very accurate details on the subject. Further inquiries were directed to be made, and the inquiries so made by the Consul, who has been many years there and is a most intelligent man, conveyed very conflicting information. There was one person described as having been to several places and having spoken of the benefits to be derived to the island from annexation to France. There were other accounts that no such attempts had been made; and men who knew the island said that very few persons, indeed, had been spoken to on the subject. Then there came what might naturally have been expected—an appeal in the first place to the Government of Turin with respect to these rumours. They were in the first instance denied by a telegraphic message from Count Cavour. Soon after Count Cavour's death Baron Ricasoli stated emphatically what has been read here as part of his speech, but he stated it verbally to Sir James Hudson—namely, that Italy had no intention of yielding an inch of her territory; that there was territory which ought to belong to Italy which did not belong to her, but that there was no territory which she possessed that she was ready to give up. My hon. and learned Friend who brought forward this subject said that when Baron Ricasoli spoke of Italy and of Italian soil he might not have included the Island of Sardinia. At the same time my hon. and learned Friend stated his belief that Baron Ricasoli is a man of character and of honour, and that he would not violate his word. Sir, all that I know of Baron Ricasoli, of whom, although I have had a very slight personal acquaintance with him myself, I have heard others speak who have had much intimacy with 1220 him, confirms that description. He is a man, perhaps, somewhat proud in his manner, less conciliatory in his bearing that Count Cavour; but he is a man of the highest honour, the highest patriotism, with an honest ambition to acquire a name in Europe by contributing to the establishment of the independence of his country. But, if he said that he would not give up an inch of Italian soil, and was afterwards found engaging in intrigues with the view of transferring the Island of Sardinia to France, I should say that he was one of the meanest equivocators that ever existed. Equivocation, I am convinced, forms no part of his character, and that such a thing would never enter the head or be shown in the conduct of Baron Ricasoli. We have always spoken of the soil of Italy as, of course, including the Island of Sardinia, and have never had a contradiction to that statement. Well, I believe the Baron Ricasoli does not intend to give up the Island of Sardinia.
On the other hand, when we have applied, as we were bound to do, to the Government of France on the subject, they have not only given the most positive contradiction to the rumour, but when M. Thouvenel was told that there were French agents, perhaps busy voluntary agents, in that Island, he said he would write at once to the Consul to disavow any such agency—to put an end to any such meddling there. Well, an hon. Gentleman had asked what is the use of obtaining denials. Why, I think if I had not asked the Governments of France and of Italy what was the truth with regard to these rumours I should have been accused, and very properly accused, of neglecting my duty in that respect. Sir, I admit—one must admit—that in the present state of Europe, and seeing what has passed during the last three or four years, it would be very unwise in the Government of this country, very unwise also in the Parliament of this country, to rest in a blind confidence that there would be no aggressions, no annexations, no ambitious projects entertained. The Emperor of the French is very powerful. Everbody sees the great power that he possesses. But, at the same time, if it was his intention, as I believe it is his intention, to preserve the peace of Europe and remain upon the most friendly terms with England, I am not all sure—I cannot rest in any perfect confidence that the state of 1221 public opinion in France, that the state of opinion in the French Chambers or in the French army, might not in a most sudden manner alter the whole policy of the Government. That has happened with past Sovereigns of France, and I think we should be very unwise if we thought we had a security that it should not happen again; and, therefore, what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater said—and the hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth spoke in the same tone—was that there were two things which we ought to do:—In the first place, we ought to be very watchful with regard to the events which are taking place in Europe. Those events, be it remarked, are not altogether connected with the policy of Sovereigns and of Courts; it is not merely that this Sovereign has shown too much ambition and another has disregarded treaties. There is much more in the condition of Europe than that statement of itself would imply. There are great movements going on in different parts of Europe of which the movement in Italy was perhaps only the first—great movement of popular bodies and of whole nations discontented with the Governments under which they have lived, asking for better forms of Government, and looking out for aid by which they may obtain them. Why, what results from such a state of things? What but uneasiness, proceeding perhaps to civil convulsions, to insurrection, to wars, and producing changes of sovereignty and of possession among the Powers and Europe. Well, then, I say that that alone, without imputing to any Sovereign designs hostile to Great Britain, that alone is a reason why the Government of this country ought to be watchful, why they should be vigilant with respect to every event that takes place in Europe, and I trust that neither my noble Friend nor I have our eyes entirely shut to that which is going on around us, and that we shall not idly neglect the interests of this country whenever they may be threatened with injury. At the same time, to be continually expressing suspicion, to be making the whole state of peace uneasy, would, I think, be not only a very puerile, but a very mischievous policy. It ought to be our endeavour, and has been our endeavour, wherever these threats of war occur, rather to compose the differences which exist and strive to reconcile those among whom discord is arising, and promote peace between them.
1222 The hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) who spoke second in this debate has alluded more than once to the question between Spain and Morocco. Our endeavours have been directed on the one hand to inducing the Sultan of Morocco to keep faith with the Kingdom of Spain, and on the other to inducing the Spanish Government to press their advantages in such a manner as may make reconciliation possible. And when hon. Gentlemen speak in a tone as if Spain was constantly acting in a state of aggression, and that the Spanish policy must be confounded with French policy, I must own that my view is a very different one. I think it should be our policy to favour and encourage the spirit of independence which prevails among the various nations of Europe. And there does prevail among the Spanish people as high a feeling of independence as that which exists in any other continental country. In other days, during the last century, owing to the War of the Succession, there was a family alliance between France and Spain, and whenever you found yourselves at war with Spain immediately followed; but there is no such family connection at present. Spain, which has been long weak, is recovering her strength; and that she should take her fitting part and fitting place among the Powers of Europe is a thing not be checked and discouraged by Great Britain, but is rather a matter to be fostered by Great Britain as long as her own honour and interests are not interfered with by that Power. My belief is that both the Queen of Spain and her Prime Minister are favourably disposed towards this country. I have always endeavoured to assure them that we have no wish inconsistent with the greatness and dignity of Spain, and that they might rely on our friendship on any question in which they may be concerned. Look again at Italy. Hon. Gentlemen are very fond of representing Italy as a mere follower and vassal of France. Undoubtedly she is under great obligations to France, and after her long contest with Austria she owes much to the army by which she was enabled to obtain a victory that she could never otherwise have accomplished. But notwithstanding these obligations there are many matters in which she must rely upon her own spirit, and to the hand of her own sons she must owe her real independence. It is they who, like 1223 Harmodius in giving liberty to Greece, must, in the noble lines of Wordsworth— "Give the gift which is not to be givenBy all the blended powers of earth or heaven.It is not in the power of France to make Italy; it is she herself who, by her own strength, and patience, and wisdom must build up and consolidate her independence, and if she does not do so, all the Powers in Europe cannot do it for her. What we have done has not been to assist in this work, but to require that other Powers should not prevent it from being accomplished; and the Emperor of the French had held the same language with regard to intervention. He has said that he would not allow foreign Powers to interfere in Italy. But while such has been his policy, it is impossible not to see that there has been among his subjects—perhaps in an even greater degree among those who are opposed to his dunasty—a feeling that the creation of an independent Kingdom of Italy, with many millions of subjects, pursuing its own policy and following out its own destiny, was an obstacle to the greatness of France. You trace that feeling in speeches, and in all the pamphlets and publications in France; they hold that it is a mistake for France to assist in forming a strong Italy. That I hold to be a great mistake on the part of French politicians, and I believe that the jealousy which is thus shown will diminish the influence which France naturally possesses in Italy. But still it is not now in the power of France to prevent the Kingdom of Italy from being constituted; and when it is constituted we shall have an additional security for the liberties and independence of Europe. It was one of the recommendations addressed to us in the course of this debate that we should be watchful with regard to all changes which might take place in Europe. With that recommendation I perfectly agree; we should be to blame if we did not act in that spirit. The hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. Baronet added another recommendation that, while great armaments were going on in Europe, we should not disarm. That piece of advice I consider as sound as the other. It is a great misfortune for England, and it is a great misfortune for Europe, that such costly armaments should be kept up in time of peace; but we should not remedy that if we were to disarm, and to leave nations to increase their pre- 1224 parations. I trust that no shortsighted view of our interests, no narrow spirit—for I should call it a narrow spirit—of saving with regard to any particular tax, will induce this country, in the present state of Europe and the world, to maintain a navy and army which are not adequate in all respects to the position we ought to occupy. Not merely the greatness, but the very safety of this country is concerned in her state of preparation. So far from increasing the probability of war, as some have thought, I believe the knowledge that this country is strong is not only advantageous for her own interests, but is a weapon in the hand of every other Power that seeks for independence and for liberty. The knowledge that this country is able, and in a just cause is ready, to assume the offensive, at the same time that she prizes the blessings which result from peace and the prosperity of her own commerce and manufacture, is, I believe, a guarantee for the independence of nations and a security at the same time for the peace of Europe. And now, Sir, let me add, in the same spirit in which I have spoken—that of discountenancing needless and irritating suspicions—that I think it my duty not to agree with the Motion for the production of papers at the present moment. When the Government think that any public benefit can be gained by the production of papers on this subject they will not hesitate to do so; but I hope the House will confide so far in us as to believe that we shall not neglect any opportunity of meeting in the proper manner any dangers which may arise.
§ MR. STANSFELD
said, it was difficult to exaggerate the importance of the question which had been raised. If the possibilities suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman should unfortunately be realized in fact, they would entail the shipwreck of that great policy of non-intervention which they had made such efforts to uphold in Europe. He could not pretend to be entirely reassured by the statement of the noble Lord, for he was bound to place some confidence in information coming from the same source which had revealed to this country the contract of Plombières, and the very plan of the campaign in Lombardy before those memorable words were spoken to Baron Hübner which first woke Europe from her dream of peace. The question which had been raised by the hon. and learned Member could not exist were it not for the existence in Italy of a 1225 fact and of a policy in which we are deeply interested, not only as well-wishers to Italy, but also as Englishmen and members of the European community of nations. The policy was that which had hitherto obtained too exclusively in Italy—the policy of too absolute and too subservient a dependence upon one foreign alliance. And the fact was the longstanding and anomalous fact of the occupation of Rome by the troops of the French Emperor. What should be the policy of the councillors of the kingdom of Italy? Italy had recently lost a great statesman, and though he had never been one of his indiscriminate admirers that was no time for a detailed criticism of his policy. After all his great labours and successes he was gone; and he might be permitted to say that it would be well for the honour of Italy, and for the peace and welfare of Europe, if all the personal engagements, or, at least, the personal entanglements of that distinguished statesman could be buried in his grave. What, then, ought to be the policy of his successors. Rome and Venice were essential to Italy, and she could not pause or dally long on the road leading to their acquisition except at the risk of fatal internal dissensions and national suicide. There were only two policies open to the counsellors of the new kingdom. The first was the policy of Plombières, which, owing to the indomitable spirit of the Italian people, had met wit successes which did not at the time of its reception appear possible, but of which no one would recommend a repetition. The other alternative was that of a national Italian policy, which should rest exclusively and subserviently upon no one foreign alliance, but which, backed by the sympathies and moral weight of all free peoples, should multiply and organize the forces of Italy, so that in due time she might suffice for the completion of her own emancipation. There were great dangers to Europe in a Franco-Italian war of independence—danger of cessions of territory which might dissipate the last poor remnant of confidence upon which slender thread hung suspended the peace of Europe, danger of Germany being drawn into the war, and danger of an active alliance between Italy and France being brought into action, not upon the plains of Lombardy, but upon the banks of the Rhine. There were also dangers in an exclusive Franco-Italian alliance, if things remained as they were. Rome, in the 1226 possession of the troops of the Empire, was, as they knew, the focus of reactionary intrigues and attempts. Nor was that all. There was, as had been stated from the other side of the House, springing up in the South of Italy a spirit of disaffection to Sardinia, which was not confined exclusively to the ranks of those who were still devoted to the exiled dynasty of Bourbon. [Sir GEORGE BOWYER: Hear!] He did not wish to criticise in a hostile spirit the faults of Ministries at Turin which might have caused that disaffection, but he wished to point out the remedy. The only way to get rid of that disaffection was to adopt a truly national policy, which, trusting, not fearing the people, should rally them round the Government and its head, and should organize the immense and willing force of a nation which desired to be free. There were three bases on which a policy useful to us and to Italy ought to rest. The first was a negotiation, in the face of Europe, on the part of the kingdom of Italy with the Emperor of the French, to induce him to withdraw his troops from Rome; the second, with a view to dispelling the disaffection in the South, was that there should be a clearly expressed intention that when once its capital was restored to Italy a National Assembly should sit at Rome, and should revise in a national sense the laws of the country; and the third was the armament, multiplication, and organization of the regular and irregular forces of the kingdom. Italy, with 22,000,000 of inhabitants, had now no more armed men at her command than her neighbour, the little Republic, Switzerland, which had but one-eighth of her population; and of the 150,000 men whom she could place in line, they were told that 60,000 were required to keep order in the South. Why was no attempt worthy of the name made to organize a system of volunteering, and thus free the Italians from their wrongful and foolish dependence upon the power and the will of their great ally? He wished to say a few words of a party of which he had some special knowledge—the party originally known as the party of Young Italy, then as the Republican, then as the National party, and, lastly, as the party of action. He neither knew nor had read of any other party which had been so much and so persistently misrepresented and maligned as they had been. In their ranks was born and nursed into a faith the idea of Italian unity. It was their faith and 1227 his when not a single English statesman believed in the possibility of realization; and but for the motive-power which they supplied that realization would have been impossible. Let them trace back, step by step, the policy of Count Cavour, and from each of those steps, whether in argument before the assembled diplomatists of Europe, or, in fact, upon the field of Italy, let them eliminate the element of the existence, the determination and the restless enthusiasm of that party, and they would find that that step in argument would have been impossible, as it would have proved abortive in point of fact. The latest achievement of that party was the most brilliant and most conclusive proof of what he said. By far the greater number of the volunteers who followed Garibaldi and regained Naples and Sicily sprung from the ranks of that party. Men who were called Republicans, led by one of themselves, died on the field of battle that monarchy might rule the destinies of the future united Italy. That party had a programme and a policy of its own, to which he would direct the attention of the noble Lord. Its programme and its policy were consistent with the declarations of the present First Minister of the King of Italy, and if that Minister would carry into action the words which he had spoken, he would rally that party round him, he would secure all the elements of the vital force of the nation, and the moral unity of Italy would be at once and for ever assured. The programme of that party was neither more nor less than the simple independent national Italian programme, good for Italy and good for Europe, which he had endeavoured to bring before the House.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had told them that in the case of the cession of Sardinia of France taking place an end would be put to the intimate relations which existed between this country and France. But the noble Lord had said precisely the same thing in regard to the cession of Savoy and Nice to France. And what came of it? Nothing — not even an empty protest. The noble Lord, indeed, expressed very strongly in that House his vexation at having been duped by the Emperor of the French and his friend Count Cavour; but there was an end of the matter. Previous to the accomplishment of the cession of Savoy to Nice the noble Lord said that such a circumstance must cause England to seek 1228 other alliances, and must put an end to the friendship which existed between this country and France. In consequence of that statement there appeared in Paris one of those semi-official pamphlets to which they had been so much accustomed of late years. The author of that document at once met the noble Lord on his own grounds, and asked very pertinently, where was England to find other alliances upon which she could fall back when she lost the alliance of France? And he went on to show that the foreign policy of the two noble Lords on the Ministerial bench was one which was calculated to alienate from England every nation on the Continent, and to cause the English Government to be looked on with distrust by every nation in the world. Now, that was the very thing which he (Sir George Bowyer) complained of. The noble Lord talked with great indignation of the cession of Savoy and Nice to France; but he (Sir George Bowyer) contended that it was in a great measure brought about by that policy which the noble Lord encouraged. And when Sardinia was ceded to France— as he believed it would be—that result might be charged to the policy of the noble Lord himself. He thought the House ought to feel deeply indebted to the hon. Member for Bridgwater for having pointed out in his speech that night—a speech characterized by great clearness of expression, almost judicial impartiality, and thoroughly statesmanlike views—the dangers which the Government seemed ready to ignore. The noble Lord had assured them that Baron Ricasoli was an honourable man, whose word was to be trusted; but the noble Lord also said that Count Cavour was to be believed, and they knew how strongly that Minister had denied the cession of Nice and Savoy, and what that denial was worth. What ground was there for placing more confidence in Baron Ricasoli than in Count Cavour? Was the denial given by Count Ricasoli less worthless than that of Count Cavour? The noble Lord had refused to produce the papers asked for. That fact alone spoke volumes. If the whole matter were fair and above board, what objection could the noble Lord have to produce those papers? If there were nothing in them but questions addressed by the Government of England to the Sardinian and French Governments, and plain straightforward denials by those Governments of the truth of those rumours, surely the no- 1229 ble Lord could have no fear about their production. But the noble Lord's refusal showed that there was something going on on the subject of the cession of Sardinia to France, and that England was endeavouring weakly and impotently to stop it. He defied any person to put any other rational construction on the refusal of the noble Lord to produce those papers except the report was true, and he (Sir George Bowyer) believed that that cession would take place. The noble Lord, no doubt, would then again express his vexation and annoyance in having been duped by the Emperor of the French, and there would be an end of the matter. What he wished to impress upon the House was the extraordinary inconsistency of hon. Members and Her Majesty's Government on that subject. When anything was done affecting the interests of this country the Government made an outcry about it, and hon. Members talked of the violation of treaties and of the law of nations. But they were perfectly ready to applaud any attack on the lawful rights of Sovereigns, any destruction of treaties, or any violation of the law of nations, if it suited what was called "public opinion" in this country. They pandered to sectarian prejudice, and made use of popular opinion to keep themselves in office. No act of the character to which he had just referred succeeded in arousing their indignation, if it did not touch their own interests or the interests of their party. We were told the other day in the paper which was supposed to express—and which really did to a great extent express—the opinions of the people of this country; that the great reason of Count Cavour's popularity in England was, that he was an enemy of the Pope. [Mr. WHITE: Hear, hear !] The Government kept themselves in office by supporting that policy on which Count Cavour acted. The Government supported the revolutionary party in Italy and in that House—not that he believed that they had any real faith in the opinions of that party, but simply because they knew it was popular in the country and would help to keep themselves in power. The Government encouraged revolution all over the world, and especially in Italy. He was glad to see his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer taking notes of what he said, because he believed him to be the chief offender. Even the noble Lord's own supporters said that the Earl of Derby might come into office on the 1230 next day, and get the support of the country, but what the noble Lord rested upon was his foreign policy. The Earl of Derby was supposed not to be so favourable to what was called the revolutionary party as the noble Lord. It was constantly repeated in political circles that if the noble Lord went to the country during the Session, he would go on his foreign policy—upon a cry against the established Governments of Europe, and especially against the Pope. The Emperor of the French made use of the revolutionary party as his tool to effect his ulterior objects. The first Emperor carried his points chiefly by great armies. The present Emperor carried on his policy partly by arms, and still more by the engine of revolution. If he wanted to cripple a country he stirred up revolution. If he wished to have territory ceded to him, he encouraged the revolutionary party. He made use of Piedmont to revolutionize Italy, and to obtain Savoy and Nice. It was very well to talk of an united Italy; but they all knew that Italy was not united, nor ever would be so. The King of Sardinia was but the satrap of the Emperor of the French. It was avowed by Mr. Ratazzi, in the Piedmont Chambers, that the King of Sardinia could not refuse the Emperor of the French anything. And he went on to say that the Government of the Pope, which was physically the weakest, when asked to make a cession of territory, said Non possumus; whereas, their Government, which was the great standard of nationality in Europe, could not use that language, but must submit if the demand were made by the Emperor of the French. The policy of the noble Lord opposite placed Italy at the feet of the Emperor of the French. That had been the effect of what was called "non-intervention." He believed that if the Emperor of the French thought that the cession of the Island of Sardinia to France would increase his popularity and strengthen his dynasty, he would bring it about. He would take Sardinia if it suited his purpose, and treat our protests with contempt. Her Majesty's Government had given their sanction to and introduced into the public law of Europe the principle that la propriété c'est le rol; and, as a consequence, their protests in such a case could be disregarded by those to whom they might be addressed. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown the most bitter animosity against the deposed Princes of Italy. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the 1231 Duke of Modena had made a retro-active law, under which persons could be executed who could not be executed under the existing law. Hon. Gentlemen cheered him loudly, and went home under the impression that some person had been put to death. The right hon. Gentleman was forced to come down to the House and state that the person to whom he had referred had not been put to death. The attacks of the right hon. Gentleman on the deposed Princes were part of the system of which he complained. The hon. Gentleman who preceded him had admitted that the rule of the King of Sardinia had not produced happiness and contentment in Southern Italy, and that disaffection existed in the kingdom of Naples. But what had been the cause of that disaffection? They saw the organs of the press continually calling out for more severity because the Neapolitans did not wish to see their country a province of Piedmont; and the Neapolitans were to be butchered because they would not submit to a Viceroy sent from Turin. Hon. Gentlemen on the Government side of the House sympathized in the claims of Hungarians and Poles for independence; but why, he asked, was not Neapolitan independence also to be respected? The people of Naples were burdened with heavy taxation. They were governed by military law, and the prisons, he was told, were crammed with 13,700 persons on account of political offences. The whole country was in a state of insurrection. The hon. Gentleman called it disaffection; but he called it loyalty to their rightful Sovereign. Some little had come out as to the real state of the country, but not one-tenth part of the facts, because they were not acceptable to the English people, and, therefore, the English papers did not publish them. He believed that the noble Lords on the Treasury bench knew a great deal more than they chose to say. They had produced only some meagre letters from some Government understrapper at Naples; but those letters gave no more idea of the true state of the country than if they had been written from Cochin China. The whole country was overrun by bands of men faithful to their King, who were defeating the Piedmontese and disarming the National Guard in every quarter of the kingdom. And those men were all to be got rid of. It was stated that 600 brigands had gone from Rome. It was perfectly ridiculous to call them brigands. But he would tell them what 1232 did take place. A body of men, near Severino, encountered some of the Hungarian Legion. The Hungarians said, "We cannot fight in the mountains; come down into the open plain and fight us." They did come down into the open plain, and not only fought the Hungarian Legion, but gave them a thorough good thrashing; and those were the men who were called brigands. The people had been deceived, but truth would in the end prevail. He believed that before long there would be a general rising in the South of Italy, and that it would be impossible for the Piedmontese to retain their hold except by cruelties and bloodshed, which would be applauded by the Liberal Members in that House. The people of Italy were beginning to open their eyes and to repent not having opposed foreign invasion. Before long they would see the King of the Two Sicilies again in possession of the dominions to which he was entitled. The deprivation of the King of Naples, the violation of the temporal rights of the Pope, and the deposition of the Italian Princes suited the views of some constituencies, and would enable Her Majesty's Ministers to raise a useful election cry; but they should remember that the consequence would be a cession of territory, an increase of the power of France and a diminution of the power of England. He had said on a former occasion that the policy of the noble Lord might be Italian or Liberal; but it was certainly revolutionary. It was founded on clap-trap and adapted to party purposes; but it was not calculated to promote the honour or the interests of England, and at no very distant day would receive the contempt of an indignant people.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER:
Sir, I feel bound to acknowledge without any delay the compliment which my hon. Friend had paid me, for he has gone so far as to introduce me under the honourable title of the chief offender. That is, he does me the honour to say that I am the main promoter of the designs of what he calls the revolutionary party in Italy. If I thought he really knew who are the revolutionary party, I should disclaim the compliment; but I think it a great honour to be called the chief offender in promoting the designs of those whom he intends to designate when he speaks of the revolutionary party. What he thinks the revolutionary party are, in my conviction, the real friends alike of freedom and 1233 of order. And my hon. Friend does me a great deal more than justice when he calls me the chief offender in promoting their designs in the presence of two noble Lords, whose authority, whose experience, and whose services entitle them to the withering denunciations of my hon. Friend in a far higher degree than I can possibly aspire to. It I were to speak of the true revolutionary party—if I were to speak of those agencies which produce disorders in the States and disorganize society, then I could tell my hon. Friend who in this House is the chief agent of that revolutionary party and has done the most to favour them. Himself! Those whose cause, I must say, he so constantly, so courageously, and in manner and temper so inoffensively recommends and pleads are those who have been the great promoters of revolutionary movements. My hon. Friend deals partly in matters of fact and partly in matters of argument. He says that all the people of Southern Italy are repenting what they have done in promoting and concurring in the rejection of the Bourbon family. My hon. Friend comes forward and claims, as usual, the absolute and implicit reception of his statement, and as, unfortunately, the papers laid on the table to bear no indication of this popular repentance, he is perfectly ready with a remedy, for he denounces the papers of the accredited diplomatists of this country as the productions of understrappers and underlings, intended, or, at all events, calculated, to blind the eyes of the people of England. He asks us to accept his unsupported assertions, without any evidence to corroborate them, in direct opposition to the statements which are received from the authorized agents of the Executive Government. So much for the fact—and what, then, is the main argument of my hon. Friend? He says to my two noble Friends, because you have taken an active part by the moral support you have given them, in enabling the Italians to regulate their own concerns, by that atrocious act of conspiracy in favour of the liberty of that long oppressed people you have forfeited all right to consider anything which relates to the balance of power and the security of peace in Europe, and if that balance is destroyed and that peace broken, it is on account of the active support you have given to the cause of peace and order in Italy. I cannot help thinking that if my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. King- 1234 lake) had heard the speech of my hon. Friend who has just sat down, if he had heard the warm compliments which were paid to him in that speech, he would have listened to it then with a sort of cold, chill sensation. Though the sentiments and aspirations of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater differ much from those of the hon. Member opposite, yet my hon. and learned Friend does take, I think, a gloomy view, and shows considerable susceptibility in his estimate of those phenomena which from time to time mark the progress of events in Europe. All this, however, plays admirably into the hands of the hon. Member for Dundalk. Two years ago it was his business to assure us that the people of Italy were living under the best Government in the world. Now he has precisely the opposite task to perform, and whatever tends to excite and foment rumours, suspicions, and misgivings with regard to proceedings in France Italy or anywhere else, connected with the peace of Europe— all that is so much grist to his mill.
On the subject of the Motion before the House I will only say that if there be any indications that this grave and serious event, of the cession of Sardinia, is contemplated either in Italy or France, such indications are certainly unknown to me. This I may point out to my hon. and learned Friend in regard to what he said of the French alliance. When the Government of England conspires and combines with the Government of France for an unworthy purpose, then, by all means let him denounce the alliance between the two countries. But I venture to think the true merit of the alliance between the two countries is this—that it is an alliance that never can be turned to any unworthy purpose, for directly either one country or the other shall attempt to substitute a selfish, aggressive, or lawless purpose for purposes which contribute to the general good, that moment the other country is sure to become the first witness against it, and the rupture of weakening of the alliance itself will bear witness to and prevent the mischief which is intended. But why is it that the hon. Member for Dundalk is so jealous of the alliance of England and France? Is it because of the mischief that alliance has done or the good? If England had actively concerted with France to send troops to Rome, or to support the Bourbon dynasty in Naples, my hon. Friend would have been the first to trumpet to 1235 the world the merits of that alliance. The censures bestowed on that alliance by the hon. Member for Dundalk really amount to nothing short of a clear demonstration that its effect on the whole—though in certain respects it may have been impaired by causes to which I need not now refer—has been conducive, as respects the Italian question, which is the hon. Member's real test and criterion, to the attainment of those objects which we highly value and appreciate, but which he, unfortunately, thinks injurious and mischievous. The hon. Gentleman says—and no charge could be more unsupported, or more directly confute itself—that the two noble Lords have acted in this matter as the heads of a party, and to serve the interests of party. He himself, however, in other parts of his speech betrayed his consciousness that the chief characteristic of the policy pursued by them with regard to Italy is this, that it is not a party, but a national and British policy. It has been challenged by no party in this House, and it is not a policy which tends to set up the interests of one party against another, but it is a policy which explains, represents, and applies that which may be said to be the general and cordial sentiments of the whole people of this country. I cannot help saying one word on a speech very different in its order from the speech of the hon. Member for Dundalk; I mean the speech delivered by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). The able and powerful speeches of the hon. Member are always listened to with delight, and no one listens to him with greater pleasure than I; but my admiration to-night by the peculiar tone he took and the comparative narrowness of the ground on which he placed his advocacy of the Italian cause, limiting himself as he did to a particular class and a particular school of politicans. He says he wishes to speak on behalf of what he calls "Young Italy." I believe I speak the general sentiment when I say that it had been my hope that young Italy had within these last times grown a little older. On some occasions young Italy has shown itself somewhat too young for the management of practical affairs. The exhibition of the agency of young Italy is to be found in the events of 1848 and 1849; it is the agency of an older and a wiser Italy which has given a sounder, firmer, and more beneficial direction to the course of events in that country during 1236 the great crisis and the agonies of the last two years. The hon. Gentleman says that young Italy has been the parent and author of all the great ideas of Italian unity. I am not prepared to dispute that proposition. It is very probable that in the speculative minds of these ardent spirits those ideas may, for the most part, have taken their birth.Sic vos non vobis nidificatis aves, and so on. It may be that that which is the universal law of human events may also have prevailed in Italy— that the original thinkers and parents of ideas are one set of men, but that the application of those ideas and the practical solution of political problems are given to another. The hon. Gentleman said he thought there was a good deal of disaffection among the people of Southern Italy; and observe how that valuable admission was gathered up from the ground by the hon. Member for Dundalk. Let the truth be told if it be the truth, but I can find no evidence of it. It certainly is not in the official papers laid on the table. They bear no indication of popular disaffection. I will not dispute with the hon. Member for Dundalk whether it is brigandage or not, but the only proof of disaffection which he gave was a story of a body of 600 men, who came from Rome into the Neapolitan territory, who he says being on the top of a mountain were invited by the Hungarians to come down to fight the affair out. Well do not let such noble-minded persons who disdained to take advantage of a strategical position be called brigands. Call them what you will; let them be the flowers of knighthood, the bloom and pride of chivalry from the days of King Arthur to those of Charlemane—and what then? We have not the slightest evidence that they are the population of the Neapolitan kingdom. Some 20,000 or 30,000 men of the Royal army were most imprudently disbanded—I am afraid under what may be called young Italian influence. A gross political error was committed; they were sent to their homes, though it is difficult to say where their homes were when their habits of life had been broken up by military service. They were thrown suddenly on the world, and naturally we have among them those manifestations, partly of brigandage and partly of military enterprise, which, however much they may tend to disorder and disturbances, are in no true sense proofs of popular disaffection. The hon. Member for Halifax says that the Italians must 1237 not dally and delay on their way to Rome and Venice. That is all very well, but are you thus advancing the Italian cause? Are you not rather increasing the difficulties of those who rule in that country by stimulating the ardent spirits of Italy to rashness which may be fatal to the peace of Europe, by declining to leave them judges of the time and mode of achieving results most difficult of fulfilment, and by taking into our own hands, sitting here at our ease within these four walls, to dictate the rate and the pace at which the Italians are to march to Rome? I cannot help contrasting with that "Young Italian" inspiration the sentiments which I heard the other day from the gallant gentleman who, as the representative of Englishmen, attracted so much attention both in the war of 1859 and subsequently, who fought side by side with Garibaldi, and who has, I believe, a high place in Garibaldi's esteem. I said this was not a party question, and I may say, in justice to him, that I believe his name is still on the books of the Carlton Club. He said to me, "No doubt it is necessary for Italy that she should go further; she cannot stop, you need not be afraid of that; it is impossible for the Italian question to rest at the stage in which it now stands. But do not let us attempt to precipitate consequences for which we are not responsible." "That it is most important," said that gallant gentleman to me, "that the solution of the Roman question should be as rapid as possible, and that Rome should take, as soon as possible, her natural position as the political, geographical, historical, and traditional head of Italy; but don't let the Italians be in a hurry with regard to Venice. If by any chance the Italians could be put in possession of Venice to-morrow it would be premature, and the effect of the removal of the Austrians from Italy, while the Italians were not in possession of Rome, would give rise to an amount of municipal jealousies which would be most threatening to the unity of Italy. I could not help being struck with the great practical prudence and wisdom of that declaration.
The hon. Baronet (Sir George Bowyer) says I am very much given—that of indulging in bitter animosity against Italian Princes, and of making statements to their prejudice. Sir, I do not intend to do any more on this occasion than complete an explanation which was interrupted yester- 1238 day by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli). I make no objection either to the manner or the matter of the interruption, but I stated yesterday that, so far as I knew, a young man named Granaj, who was the subject of a certain proceeding on the part of the Duke of Modena, had not been executed, and, as it appeared from reports that I had used words which might give rise to the impression that he had been executed, I was anxious to take the first opportunity of stating that, so far as I knew that was not the case, and of expressing regret if I had used any language which could lead to the circulation of an erroneous statement. With that, however, I combined a more serious statement. The question is not so much whether a particular individual has or has not been executed, because particular cases of oppression and suffering are merely important as illustrations of the state of lawlessness which has been established under the countenance of Italian sovereigns. The first to which I attempted to draw attention was that by an ex post facto law capital punishment had been made applicable by the Duke of Modena to youths under twenty one charged with homicide. The Marquess of Normanby has written me a letter, in which he desired that I should withdraw the charge. I am not able to do so, because the evidence in support of it is too certain and too conclusive. This evidence is contained in a work which is printed and published, and which is as accessible to others as it is to me. It was published in Modena in 1859 and 1860, very shortly after the expulsion of the late Duke. It is a work consisting not of comments, nor of extracts, but, so far as I have consulted it, consisting exclusively of original documents, the authenticity of which, to my knowledge, has never been impugned. If those documents were forged, if they were mangled or garbled, the fact would be easy of proof; but their authenticity. I believe, has never been denied. At all events, I speak upon the authority of these documents, and if in a particular instance I misunderstood them, the text was as accessible to others as it was to me, and I am sorry that the error was not immediately corrected. But the fact has not been denied that capital punishment was made applicable to an ex post facto law in the dominions of the Duke of Modena ion 1857 to youths charged with homicide. [SIR GEORGE BOWYER: Under what age?] I will tell you presently. In September, 1239 1857, the Duke of Modena appointed a military commission in his capital to try, by military law, certain offences which were enumerated. But the action of the military commission was not confined to offences committed after the commission itself was established, but it was authorized to deal with offences that had been committed for a very considerable period before—I think two years or more. Those offences were in the first instance brought under the action of the military law; and then, I must add, it was stated that persons who were capitally condemned by the commission were to be executed within twenty-four hours. On the 7th of October, in the same year, the Military commandant, whose name is rather Austrian than Italian, was authorized to apply capital punishment, the edict embracing cases which had happened long previous, to youths under eighteen years. Nor was that all, for the law was altered against the criminal, a law resembling that respecting Queen's evidence in our own country was established by the edict; and it was provided that soldiers, who were of course under the direct orders of the Judges of this tribunal, should be specially qualified to appear as witnesses in the case. That is the upshot of the matter so far as regards the application of an ex post facto law to youths of tender age when charged with homicide. I am much obliged to the House for listening to those observations. I wish it had been in my power to make any general retraction or abandonment of the charges. The book to which I have referred is, I repeat, accessible to the world. Some part of it has been published a year, some part of it for two years; and, as far as I know, there has been no denial of the authenticity of the documents which it contains.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
observed that it was unquestionably much owing to Count Cavour that the unity of Italy had been established; but while due praise was rendered to Cavour they must bear in mind that no small portion of the success which had attended the endeavours for the unification of Italy was attributable to Baron Ricasoli. He believed that had the people of Sardinia known that when Cavour came back to office he would approve of the cession of a portion of the King of Sardinia's territory to France he would never have been brought into office. He had seen it stated that when Baron Ricasoli was invited to take office, his question was whether there was any notion of the 1240 cession of any part of Italy to France, and expressly whether there was any question of the cession of Sardinia. He had good authority for believing that it was only on receiving a direct assurance from the King of Sardinia that there was no intention to cede any part of Italy, and especially Sardinia, that Baron Ricasoli consented to take office. The House, therefore, might take it for granted that, as long as Baron Ricasoli remained at the head of the Government of the King of Italy, not one inch of Italian soil would ever be ceded to any foreign monarch, whether on the peninsular of Italy or in the island of Sardinia. He made that statement from particular knowledge on the subject, and he felt bound to make it in justification of the distinguished man who now held so high a place in the councils of the King of Italy.
§ MR. LAYARD
wished to do justice to the memory of a great man then no more. the hon. and learned Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) had said that Cavour deliberately deceived the English Government, and the hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) had used expressions which might lead to the same inference, though he (Mr. Layard) was sure the hon. Baronet did not credit it. He beleived that Count Cavour never intended to deceive the English Government. He (Mr. Layard) had had opportunities of tracing that great man's character from boyhood, and he did not hesitate to declare the noblest feature of his noble character was his love of truth. No doubt at the meeting at Plombières there was a tacit understanding between the Emperor of the French and Count Cavour as to the cession of Savoy and Nice. Count Cavour himself had stated that the Emperor said that if Lombardy and Venice were united to Piedmont, he, not as Louis Napoleon, but as Emperor of the French carrying out the traditional policy of France and responsible for French interests, should, in such an event, insist on the surrender to France of Savoy and Nice. Count Cavour gave no written engagement or verbal promise. He only replied that when Venice and Lombardy were united to Piedmont the Emperor of the French might appeal to the populations of Savoy and Nice, and that if they expressed a wish to be united to France, that wish should be taken into consideration by the King of Sardinia. That declaration was known to many, and was told him by Count Cavour himself. When the Peace of Villafranca was made 1241 and the war ceased, without the cession of Venice to Piedmont, the Emperor resigned his claims to Savoy and Nice. Nor was any further claim made to those two provinces until Tuscany, the Duchies and the Legations expressed their determination to be annexed to Piedmont. The Emperor then revived his claim. On the 10th of February Sir James Hudson stated that Count Cavour denied that there was any intention on the part of the King of Sardinia either to cede or to sell the territory of Savoy and Nice. That denial was given over and over again by Count Cavour. He had, however, no intention to mislead the English Government. They knew, from the conversations between the Emperor and Earl Cowley, that until the month of February the Emperor had not expressed his intention to demand the cession of the provinces. Earl Cowley was in that month first told that the Emperor had determined to ask for the cession of Savoy and Nice. Count Cavour still resisted, and although M. Talleyrand was cession, Count Cavour, until about the 23rd of February, refused to listen to the demands of the Emperor. M. Benedetti was then sent to Turin to bring an additional pressure to bear. He was told to say that, unless the cession were made in sufficient time to be announced to the Legislative Assembly at its meeting in March, the Emperor would march his troops into Tuscany. He had received that fact from high authority. On the 25th of February Count Covour, with pain and reluctance, ceded the provinces. Count Cavour was so deeply affected by the act that he had thus been compelled to perform that he could never allude to it without exhibiting the most distressing symptoms of pain and grief; and he (Mr. Layard) remembered, when passing through Turin sometime after, having been entreated by an intimate friend of Count Cavour's not to touch upon a subject which caused him such strong emotion. The Count had to consider whether he should fail in the great schemes he had formed for the greatness and happiness of his country, or cede two provinces to France that were not necessary to Italy. Hr believed that Count Cavour was considered by the Italians themselves as justified in agreeing to that cession, and that he only yielded to a dire necessity. The punishment of the Emperor of the French had already fallen upon that potentate. Why was his word now doubted? Because he had for- 1242 feited his word and honour in this matter. But a more honest, a more honourable, and a more truthful man than Count Cavour never existed, and posterity would do justice to him.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he would trouble the House with only a few remarks upon the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the late Duke of Modena. He was in the House in March last, when, without the slightest notice, the right hon. Gentleman made an attack on the Duke of Modena. The right hon. Gentleman then held what he called an official document in his hand, which stated that a young man named Granaj was sentenced to be executed. The right hon. Gentleman had withdrawn a part of that charge that night; but he had made the charges against what he called the cruel and lawless Government of the Duke of Modena. The Duke of Modena had reigned for thirteen years. How many capital executions did the House think had taken place in the time? Only five. And those executions had taken place in the early part of his reign, when a state of war was impending in Italy, and when it was necessary to place a portion of his dominions in a state of siege. It was directed by the Duke that the new penalties were to be imposed only when they were lighter than the old. The right hon. Gentleman had said that there was nothing in the despatches to support the statements of the hon. Member for Dundalk. Why, the very first despatch in the blue book, which was a despatch addressed to Sir James Hudson from Mr. Solan, stated that in Castiglione the peasants had risen the moment the military were withdrawn. There were others of a similar nature, and he referred to those documents, not for the purpose of proving that the inhabitants of South Italy were loyal to their Sovereign and abhorred the Piedmontese, but to give the House some idea of the little reliance which was to be placed on the bold assertions of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
observed, that it was natural to suppose, when a large body of troops was disbanded and thrown on the country, that some disorganization must result. With regard to Cavour, he was convinced that, though a mistake was made in respect to the cession of Nice and Savoy, the brilliant career of that statesman had caused that particular error to be forgotten