§ Order for Committee (Supply) read;
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the proceedings of a society advertised as the Garibaldi Fund for the Unity of Italy, which was presided over by the hon. Member for the Ayr District of Burghs, while other Members of the House were on the committee of management. He intended no disrespect to the Members of the House whose names he should have to mention, 47 nor did he desire to excite any angry discussion upon the affairs of Italy. The position of affairs in that country was much too critical for any hon. Member to desire to excite any great difference of opinion upon the subject, and it was on that account that he must protest against the conduct of certain hon. Members of that House in associating themselves with committees such as that to which he should have to refer. As to mere opinions upon foreign affairs, he might hold to old traditions and old monarchies, while other hon. Members of a more speculative turn of mind might prefer new alliances and young republics; but he trusted that the course which had been adopted by the committee, the conduct of which he was about to call in question, would meet with the reprobation of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who had recently on one or two occasions spoken of Austria in terms which were much more likely to be beneficial to this country than those which he adopted in the early part of last year. The advertisement of the committee to which he referred, and which appeared in the columns of The Times, was as follows:—Garibaldi Fund for the Unity of Italy.—Committee:—E. H. J. Craufurd, Esq., M.P., chairman; W. Coningham, Esq., M.P.; J. Stansfeld, Esq., M.P.; J. White, Esq., M.P.; Gore Langton, Esq., M.P.; P.A. Taylor, Esq.; W. Austin, Esq.; W. J. Linton, Esq.; Frederick Lawrence, Esq.; W. H. Ashurst, Esq., treasurer; and J. Sale Barker, Esq., hon. sec.It would go abroad that such a committee as that existed, and that Members of that House were members of it, and how prejudicial must that be to the interests of England in foreign countries! What were the objects of the Committee? The advertisement said—The emancipation of Italy has yet to be accomplished. One step towards it was made by the annexation of Tuscany and the Æmilia to Piedmont. The expulsion of the Bourbons from Naples and the extension of the Constitutional Government of Victor Emmanuel to Southern Italy, formed the second step. It yet remains to free Venetia and install the Italian Government at Rome. To promote this end the above committee has been formed at the desire of Garibaldi, and will act in concert with the Central Italian Committee at Genoa. Its object is to collect funds, and, in Garibaldi's own words, 'to take whatever steps may seem advantageous for vindicating to the British people the aims of the Italian patriots, and otherwise promoting the interests and independence of Italy.'["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen cheered that sentiment, and they had a perfect 48 right to hold that opinion as to what might be for the interests of Italy; but what he protested against was that a committee composed of these gentlemen should raise subscriptions to be sent to a country with which we were in strict alliance, in order to rob it of part of its territory. Last year the subject of another Garibaldi Committee was brought before the House by his hon. Friend the Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy); and he would prove, from the observations which were then made by the Solicitor General and the late Attorney General, that at any rate this committee must be considered illegal. The hon. and learned Solicitor General said—I do not deny that in the case of a foreign loan attempted to be raised here for the purpose of fomenting revolution in a foreign country in amity with us, the Court of Common Pleas, in an action on the contract, has held that the contract could not be enforced, being tainted with the character of illegality."—[3 Hansard, clviii. 1376.]That was a case in point; a fund was being raised for the purpose of exciting revolution in a foreign country with which we were in alliance. The late Attorney General (now the Lord Chancellor) spoke more strongly. He said—I quite agree, therefore, that according to the common law of England any subjects of the Queen who, either directly or indirectly, may supply money in aid of the revolt of subjects of any nation or Power with whom we are in alliance commit an offence at common law. …. An hon. Gentleman has said that the committee formed for the collection of subscriptions is open to an indictment for conspiracy. I must, however, observe that, according to the papers, almost the whole of that committee is constituted of foreigners. Now, I do not mean to say that the principle of the law does not extend its prohibition to all persons who are permanently resident in this kingdom, and who owe allegiance to, as they receive protection from, the Crown, but I do not believe that principle has ever been established upon authority."—[3 Hansard, clviii. 1381–1383.]It was evidently the opinion of Her Majesty's late Attorney General that the committee then complained of was only not illegal because it was composed of foreigners, but that a committee of Englishmen would have been decidedly illegal. How much stronger was the case when the committee was composed of Members of the House? He would not for a moment go into a discussion of the merits or demerits of the King of Naples or those of the Papal Government. All he desired was that the principle of non-intervention should be carried out honestly and fairly. He simply said that we had no right to 49 interfere at all in the matter. Suppose a subscription was being raised to restore to their country the Princes of the House of Orleans—a family which had endeared themselves to the people of England by the nobility of their character and their benevolence — would not representations be made by the French Government, and would they not be attended to by that of England? But then it would be said the Government of France was a powerful Government, and one with which we could not trifle. Again, suppose the members of the French Senate formed themselves into a committee to collect money to revolutionize Ireland or the Ionian Islands, would not the English Government insist upon such a committee being broken up? Let them act on the Continent upon the principles of justice, and adhere strictly to a policy of non-intervention. More especially was that necessary now, for what had been the state of Italy since the death of Count Cavour? They read in The Times the other day that twenty-three men had been shot at Syracuse, that two villages had been burnt by the Piedmontese, that all the inhabitants had been deported, and that five had been shot. Outbreaks were occurring in every part of Italy. The present state of things was at once the eulogy and the condemnation of Count Cavour. It was the eulogy of his abilities as a Minister because he, and he alone, with the aid of Garibaldi, produced the revolution in Italy. It was his condemnation, because every Italian paper now stated that no dependence could be placed on the stability of affairs in Italy. With respect to Sardinia, what had they to trust to? Hon. Gentlemen thought that they had the support of The Times, the most influential paper in this country; but, although that journal was now favourable to what was called Italian unity, it on the 2nd of March last thus described the conduct of Sardinia during the last two years—An able publicist may convict Sardinia of a gross violation of Vattel or even of higher authorities. Sardinia entered into a war against Russia, not being a party to the Treaties respecting the Porte. Sardinia provoked Austria deliberately, and Austria fell into the trap laid by her enemy. Sardinia took advantage of the popular commotion to annex Tuscany and the Legations, although the Grand Duke and the Pope had taken no part in the war of 1859. Sardinia invaded the Papal States without a declaration of war and under a shallow pretext. Sardinia connived at the expedition of Garibaldi, and reaped the fruits of his daring enterprise. Sardinia is pro- 50 bably now meditating how she can reduce the most ancient Sovereignty in Europe to a name, and annex the city of Rome to her rapidly extending dominions. Finally, she threatens an attack on an empire with which she made a solemn peace less than two years ago, and does not conceal her desire to wrest the Province of Venice from its legitimate master.Every hon. Gentleman had a right to sympathize, if he chose, with the desire for what he (Mr. Cochrane) considered an impossibility—a united Italy; but with regard to a nation so important to this country, as the noble Lord had declared Austria to be, with whom we were so perfectly in accord as to wishes and objects that an eminent man remarked that the battles of Solferino and Magenta were as fatal to us as if fought on the soil of Sussex or Kent, he protested against any steps being taken to disturb what slight chance of repose existed in Northern Italy. The noble Lord's despatch to Sir James Hudson, written on the 21st of March, exhibited an admirable spirit. The noble Lord said—The obligations of the various States of Europe towards each other, the validity of the treaties which fix the territorial circumscription of each State, and the duty of acting in a friendly manner towards all its neighbours with whom it is not at war—these are the general ties which bind the nations of Europe together, and which prevent the suspicion, distrust, and discord that might otherwise deprive peace of all that makes it happy and secure. It is not without a purpose that I have made these general observations. My despatch of the 31st of August last need not here be repeated, but the sentiments there expressed continue to animate Her Majesty's Government. After the troubles of the last few years Europe has a right to expect that the Italian Kingdom shall not be a new source of dissension and alarm.Those were excellent sentiments. But, on the one hand, while Europe entertained expectations with regard to the Italian Kingdom, Italy had a right to require that those occupying high places in this country should not conspire to raise war against a country with which we were in strict alliance.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words—The existence of any Society, formed for the purpose of raising funds to assist a revolutionary party in any Country with which we are in strict alliance, is inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention.—instead thereof.
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL:
It is hardly 51 necessary for me to answer the hon. Gentleman at any length. I thought some person who was more directly aimed at by the hon. Gentleman would have risen to speak with regard to this Garibaldi Fund. So far from being a revolutionary association, I believe the Purpose for which the Garibaldi Fund was set on foot was to support the Italian Government. I cannot say that I approve of it, or that I think it desirable to maintain that society, but I really do not think it is a matter which requires the attention of the House at all.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
Do I understand it to be the noble Lord's impression that this society was formed for the purpose of maintaining the status quo in Italy?
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I really know so little about the society that I am unable to answer the noble Lord's question.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
Perhaps the noble Lord will not think it beneath him to institute inquiries and satisfy his mind whether this is really an innocent society, or whether its object is to raise civil war in the dominion of a friendly Power?
§ MR. SLANEY
said, he thought inquiry perfectly unnecessary, as the Italian Kingdom had now been recognized.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
said, he could not agree with the hon. Member, and he wished to point out one inconvenience which resulted to Englishmen from this direct violation of good faith, and the principle of non-intervention. The habit of foreign travel is known to be much improving, and to be most popular in this country. Many English families are in the habit of visiting the Austrian dominions, heretofore they had always been received with great courtesy and kindness, and were looked upon as friends and allies. But a great change has lately taken place. Since the establishment of societies, such as this one, headed by the five gentlemen already named, and since English travellers and writers have declared themselves to be such warm partisans of the enemies of Austria, and so openly express opinions antagonistic to the Austrian Government, and completely subversive of the existing state of things, they have ceased to be regarded as citizens of a friendly state. Recently an English gentleman and his family were exposed to great inconvenience. What was the history of the case? They wanted to proceed to a part of Austria little visited by travellers from the Kingdom of Sardinia, and, their baggage being subjected to a very close search, there were found 52 among it some photographs of Garibaldi. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh, but it was really no joking matter for English travellers, as this party found—for they were immediately surrounded by police and treated with the greatest harshness. He believed they owed all this discomfort to the hon. Gentleman and his four colleagues; for the subscriptions to the Garibaldi Fund were for the avowed purpose of creating civil war; and this English family having been led by their natural admiration for a very remarkable individual to possess themselves of his likeness, were exposed to the suspicion of being agents of this improper and revolutionary society. He believed hon. Gentlemen who had become supporters of this society were merely actuated by a desire to see their names figuring in the public papers with that of a great man; and if any of them regarded the matter in any more serious light he would ask, did they believe they were going to take the Quadrilateral? The noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office must surely feel that existence of such a society was contrary to his own sense of good faith and honourable English feeling, and he trusted that he would take steps to put an end to such a nuisance.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he felt it difficult to express in Parliamentary language his opinion of the answer which had been given by noble Lord. Could he mean to tell the House as a gentleman that he believed the only object of this society was to maintain the status quo in what was now called the Kingdom of Italy? A great many things were publicly said under the guise of debating dexterity which he would pay the noble Lord the compliment of declaring that he would shrink form averring in private. The character of the society was stamped by the name which he bore—that of Garibaldi—the most aggressive man in the world. What danger threatened the Kingdom of Italy that it could be said this was merely a defensive organization? The noble Lord, surely, had not heard the advertisement, which stated distinctly, "It yet remains to free Venetia and to instal the Italian Government at Rome". If that did not mean aggression against the Emperor of Austria and the Pope there was no meaning in the English Language. If the noble Lord heard the terms of the advertisement, he was still more astonished at the reply which he had ventured to give. We were 53 at peace with the Courts both of Austria and Rome. It was true the Queen had no regular representative at Rome, but there was a diplomatic agent, a near relative of the noble Lord, who resided on the spot, and practically there could be no doubt that the Pope was recognized as the lawful Sovereign of his dominions. The Emperor of Austria had a representative in London, and we had one in Vienna. Now, he maintained, without fear of contradiction by the hon. and learned Solicitor General, that any person within these realms, whether actually subjects of the Queen, or but temporarily resident beneath her sway, who levied money for the purposes of aggression against any Sovereign at peace with the Crown of England was guilty of an offence against the law of England. He would not go into the question of the state of Italy, for he hoped before the Session closed they should have an opportunity of discussing fully and fairly the important events which had taken place in that country; but he must observe that the noble Lord, when he detailed what he believed to be the state of things in the Kingdom of Naples, spoke doubtless what he believed, though it was the reverse of fact. To prove what he said he would quote an authority hostile to the Bourbons and the King of Naples, and friendly to the Revolutionary party; and he would ask the noble Lord whether in the letters of The Times' correspondent, who wrote in the strongest manner, not only as a partisan but almost as an advocate, proofs of the grossest oppression were not visible showing that Naples had been treated as a conquered country? It was perfectly untrue that the Piedmontese came as deliverers and were welcomed as such; everything which had transpired proved such a statement to be utterly false. They came there by false pretences, by treason, and corruption, and they kept down the people since their arrival by the rigour of military discipline and by the cruelty of military executions. They knew from the accounts sent home by The Times' correspondent, that there was anarchy in Naples and Sicily, and that in those countries there was no law at all. The loyal subjects of the King of Naples who endeavoured to maintain their rights were called "brigands;" but call them what they might, there was no doubt that the people were opposed to the Piedmontese, and that the latter had shot scores—hundreds of men for no crime but loyalty. It 54 was equally certain that the prisons were full. One viceroy after another had been sent from Turin to keep the peace in those countries, and yet there was no safety for life or property. That was the liberty which the noble Lord's friends had brought to the people of Southern Italy; that was the freedom which that people were forced to accept by the bullet and the bayonet. That the votes for annexation were mere folly and delusion was perfectly well known. The noble Lord was aware of it. He knew that they were worth as much as, and not more than, the votes received for the annexation of Nice and Savoy. Everything which had happened since the annexation itself showed how worthless was that ceremony of taking votes, and that the votes themselves did not express the feelings of the people. All that had occurred since showed that the people desired the return of the Sovereign, and they would yet see his return. The people were at present very cruelly treated; and, therefore, his observations bore directly on the Motion of his hon. Friend, because they went to show that if hon. Gentlemen to whom the Motion alluded were banded together for the purpose of aiding in the further conquest of Italy by the Piedmontese, they were banded together to extend the same system of cruelty, dishonesty, and revolutionary aggression which now prevailed in what was called the Kingdom of Italy, in Sicily, and Naples. The state of things now existing in the South of Italy could not last, and ought not to last. It was impossible to know anything of what was going on in that part of Europe without feeling that it could not last.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that with sincerity he could say that he was as ignorant as his noble Friend had professed himself to be of the organization, combination, and objects of the society to which particular reference had been made; but he must observe that the proposition contained in the Motion before the House was not directed in form, and ought not to be regarded as directed, against the particular society to which the hon. Member for Honiton had thought fit to call the attention of the House. It was what might be called an abstract proposition of international law, and it was to this effect—that the formation of any society established for the purpose of raising funds to assist any revolutionary party in any country with which Great Britain was in strict 55 alliance was inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention. He ventured most humbly to express his opinion that it would be a mistake of the House to discuss that abstract question, and that it would be a still more grievous mistake for them to arrive at any such conclusion as that to which the hon. Gentleman invited them. The discussion of such a question could not possibly be attended with any good results, while it might be productive of the greatest mischief. By passing a Resolution to the effect suggested they would be simply and spontaneously giving a handle against themselves to foreign Governments. It was not the function of the House of Commons to be debating or deciding abstract propositions of law of any kind. There was much more useful business to which the House could apply themselves at the present moment; and whatever opinion he might entertain he would not be drawn into an expression of opinion on that abstract proposition.
§ MR. HENNESSY
observed that the hon. and learned Gentleman, however, unwilling he now appeared to be to vindicate English law, was certainly drawn into an expression of opinion on the subject last Session. The Solicitor General then told them what his opinion was; and when he (Mr. Hennessy) ventured to question the judgment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, every lawyer who took a part in the debate coincided with him in the opinion that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not pronounced what the law of England was on this important subject. Seeing that, for his part, he could not bow to the decision of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that this was not the time to discuss a question of this importance. He thought it was a fitting time; for they had had hon. Members of that House, they had had Ministers on the Treasury bench, upholding the doctrine that they might wage war against a State with which the Sovereign of Great Britain was in amity, and wage it in the most cowardly and underhand manner. That was a question of the deepest importance. He confidently stated again, as he had stated before, that the people of the South of Italy were in a state of siege—that martial law was in operation against them, and that the proceedings which had led to that unhappy position of affairs had been, to a great extent, promoted by the acts of this country. He thought it was of great importance to ascertain this— 56 whether the gentlemen who were subscribing money for Garibaldi were subscribing money to oppress the people of Southern Italy. He had on two or three occasions asked the noble Lord to give the House Whatever information he possessed about what was called the reactionary feeling of the people of Southern Italy. He certainly had not made a Motion; but he had asked the noble Lord for the papers on that subject, but he had not laid them on the table. It appeared to him that, on a matter of such grave importance, information ought not to be withheld by the Government. However, in the absence of information from the Government, they had been supplied with some by the correspondent of The Times, and he should quote a few passages from the letters of that gentleman, as they were the only authority they had in addition to the private letters which some hon. Members were in the habit of receiving. In quoting The Times correspondent he would be citing the authority of one who wrote in a spirit antagonistic to the ancient institutions of Italy, and in favour of the Piedmontese Policy. There were three particular stages of the revolution described in the correspondence to which he would ask the attention of the House. With reference to the popular feeling towards the King of Sardinia, The Times correspondent, under date November 23, used these observations, in speaking of his Majesty's entry into Naples—The unfortunate wretches cry out they are being invaded. This cry is eagerly taken up by the Tuscans and Lombards. Victor Emmanuel has not made that impression on the minds and hearts of the Neapolitans which might have been desired. …. It is a misfortune that it should be so in a man who presents himself in the new character of king of Italy.Alluding to the King's departure, the correspondent, in his letter of the 1st of December, remarked—The Renown and Hannibal fired a Royal salute to Victor Emmanuel. The bowsprit of the Admiral's vessel was manned. …. A few Neapolitans assembled in Santa Lucia to gaze, as it were, on a pretty sight. But there was no life, no enthusiasm. … They are still in their shrouds. …. A pretty danseuse, with a good ankle, would have driven them into fits.When a united Italy was proclaimed, and the People were told that for the first time they were free, how did they manifest their joy? In his letter of the 4th of June, the same correspondent stated— 57The national fete is over, and were I an Italian, as, thank God, I am an Englishman, my blood would be at freezing point. This is strong language to use; but I get disgusted with the apathy and puerility, the impatience, and the egotism of the people, and long to seize them by the shoulders and shake them into some kind of life. …. Early in the morning the ships in the harbour were dressed. The forts and vessels of war fired salutes, in which the Exmouth joined, at midday, and the people were fairly in for their rejoicings. I went through the city to mark how far the counsel of the syndic to the inhabitants to hoist flags had been followed. Long rows of streets exhibited scarcely a banner. The Toledo had a fair sprinkling, and so had some of the side streets leading into the great artery. I remarked another fact, too, and it was that in private houses, with one or two exceptions, no preparations had been made for the illuminations, or, if any, just such as conventional usages appointed.The next extract which he would read to the House was one from a letter which had appeared in The Times within the last day or two. The House would recollect that it was not more than about six months since General Cialdini, when invading the country, proclaimed that he would shoot all who might be taken in arms fighting for their King. The Times' correspondent, however, in that day's paper (June 28), stated that the reactionary movements were increasing. He said—The reactionary disturbances—call them by whatever name you please—occastion much disquietude and increase in audacity.… . There are many here who affect to ignore or pooh-pooh them (though they admit their frequent occurrence) by saying that the bands are small and are always put down. Yet, however small they may be, they are found more or less in all directions; they increase and multiply, and show a general dissolution of society. … It was not long since the Piedmontese were repulsed in an action with these canaglia, and we have reports continually of the members of the National Guard being, shot, and lately a small detachment of them was massacred. …. Within the last few days the audacity of the bands has been shown within a few miles of the capital.In a discussion of this kind hon. Members may be reminded of an attempt at a subscription for the Italian cause, got up not in London but in Italy. How had that subscripton succeeded? He would refer hon. Members on this point to the same authority—The Times' correspondent—which ought to be regarded with so much veneration by hon. Gentlemen opposite—Dukes have put themselves down for 3s. 6d., Ministers (Piedmontese), at the most, for £1; and the vast majority of those whose voices were making the welkin ring with their sympathy and admiration of their brothers have not been ashamed to write themselves down for 4d., 6d., 8d.—aye, for the'feriti di Garibaldi.' The sum contributed cannot have been great. I cannot tell the gross amount; but I have published lists, and they 58 have been formed in the way I have described. I have no hesitation in saying that the foreigner has shown ten times the amount of substantial sympathy that the Neapolitans have shown.He met some English Garibaldian officers in Italy, and he heard one of them, an officer occupying a post of high authority, say that he was never more mistaken than he had been about the feeling of the people. He said that there was but one sentiment, indeed, among them, and that was detestation of the Piedmontese. Reference had been made to the presence of the British fleet; but when so much was said about the British policy of non-intervention, he must tell the House a story he heard, but for the precise accuracy of which he could not of course vouch, namely, that an aide-de-camp in the British Garibaldian's Legion, was in daily Communication with General Garibaldi on the one hand, and the British fleet on the other. The aide-de-camp in question was the eldest son of a Cabinet Minister, who presided over the department of the Admiralty. That the eldest son of one of the Queen's principal ministers should have acted as a military secretary or aide-de-camp to a Colonel in the Garibaldian Legion, and should still have held his commission in the 4th Dragoon Guards, was not creditable to Her Majesty's service, He regretted that the English people should thus take any share in the oppression of the people of Southern Italy, and he hoped that discussion would do something to inform and modify public opinions on the subject.
MR. SERJEANT PIGOTT
said, he should like to know what the House was called upon by this Resolution to do? Was it called upon to express its sympathy with the Government of Austria and Rome, or to affirm some plain constitutional principle, or was it intended to urge the Government to set the detective force to work to get up evidence for a political prosecution against the supposed offenders? He thought that the noble Lord and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General had acted with sound judgment in refusing to be drawn into a discussion on the subject. If hon. Gentlemen opposite thought that the society ought to be prosecuted, it was open to them to collect evidence, to prefer a Bill before a Grand Jury, and to get a common jury, if they could, to convict. Those hon. Gentlemen might sympathize with Austria or Rome as much as they pleased, but they would 59 never induce an English jury to convict any one brought before them for subscribing to such a society.
§ SIR JOHN WALSH
said, he thought it would be extremely difficult for the Government to interfere with advantage in the matter, or to institute a prosecution against the society. But the Government might interfere in an indirect manner—by the more open and decided expression of their opinion in that House against a course of conduct and policy on the part of private individuals which seemed likely, if it became general, to involve the country in great difficulties with foreign Powers. The tendency of that and all similar proceedings was to compromise the character of the country, and render England unpopular on the Continent. A great moral responsibility, therefore, rested on persons who set up this sort of private society to carry on a kind of buccaneering expedition. He trusted that they would succeed in eliciting from the Government some strong expression of disapprobation of that kind of private war-making. It was in itself a breach of the common law of the country, it led to a breach of the law of nations, and might mix up the country in a foreign, struggle which it might be our wish and policy to avoid. Suppose a society of the same kind was to arise for the purpose of taking a part one way or the other in the delicate and difficult questions now at issue on the other side of the Atlantic. In the present state of exasperated feeling against this country which at the present moment existed so causelessly in the Northern States, what would be said if a society, headed by a Member of Parliament, and containing other representatives of the people among its members, evinced a disposition to interfere on one side or the other? Why, such a society would defeat the whole policy of the Government, and probably plunge the country into a disastrous war. A course of conduct which would be wrong in that case was equally objectionable in the present instance. A policy of non-intervention in Italy was, he believed, the policy of England, and individuals were bound to concur in that general policy.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, he did not suppose that the House would follow the course which it was now called on to take; and if the society to which he had the honour of belonging was so heinous in its character, the proper course of proceeding would be that which the law pointed 60 out. The hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Cochrane) drew attention to a particular society, and asked the House to pledge itself to an abstract Resolution, which impliedly seemed to impute revolutionary designs to that society. The hon. Member, however, had stated no facts against the society, and, if the hon. Member had, he would not have entered upon his defence in that House, for it was not his duty to implicate the House in any expression of feeling, either of sympathy or otherwise, with reference to the policy which as a private member of society he thought proper to pursue. He felt grateful to the hon. Member for having so effectually advertised the society while laying no ground whatever for a Resolution condemnatory of it. He believed that the House would not be willing to entertain the suggestion made by the hon. Member, in language so vague and general that, if affirmed, it could lead to no practical result.
said, that if the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Honiton were not withdrawn the House would be placed by it in rather a curious position. Hon. Members had listened to a speech and had heard an advertisement read, but he could not connect the Amendment with either one or the other. The few lines of which the Amendment consisted appeared to express something very like a truism, and he did not know whether the Government meant to negative that truism.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
explained that the Government would vote in favour of the question that the words proposed to be left out of the original Motion—namely, that the Speaker leave the chair—should stand part of the question.
observed that that was a way of getting rid of the difficulty by a sort of side-wind, but it was very like negativing a truism. In the existing state of things in the world he certainly did not think that it would be a very convenient course to negative a proposition such as that before the House, but upon the whole he thought it would be a good thing if it could be got rid of by a side-wind, in consequence of the way in which the question would be put.
§ MR. MALINS
said, he concurred with the hon. Member for Radnorshire (Sir John Walsh) that there was great inconvenience in the establishment of societies of the description referred to. He much regretted, therefore, that his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General should 61 last year have given it as his opinion that such societies were not absolutely illegal. He was glad to find that his hon. and learned Friend, who was undoubtedly a year older, had also become wiser, and had found out that it was no part of his duty to answer abstract principles of law. His sympathies were strong with the Italians in their attempt to maintain their liberties; but he supported the principle of the strictest non-intervention in these matters. He asked, however, if societies were formed to collect subscriptions to aid particular parties struggling in a foreign country, whether it could be said that strict neutrality was preserved in this country? Supposing such things to be permitted, societies might be established here avowing themselves the respective partizans of the American Northern and Southern States, and the result might be a struggle between the contending parties in this country. If the present proposition went to a vote he felt it would be impossible to negative a truism; and he thought the course suggested by the noble Lord would be the proper course to adop, but he trusted that the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Cochrane) would not insist on going to a division. The best way to avoid all misconception on the subject was, he thought, that his hon. Friend should withdraw his Motion.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
, in explanation, said it was mistake to suppose that he had at any time pronounced an opinion in public as to the legality or illegality of such societies as those in question.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he would withdraw his Motion in deference to the general feeling of the House.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.