HC Deb 21 February 1862 vol 165 cc598-600

said, he rose to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the English Minister at Turin had lately been directed to communicate to Baron Ricasoli any remonstrance on the part of the English Government against the late popular demonstration in Italy against the continuance of the temporal power of the Papacy; or whether, in point of fact, be had made any communication of that character to the Italian Minister, either alone or in conjunction with the French and Prussian Ministers? A remarkable correspondence between M. Thouvenel and Cardinal Antonelli had been lately published in the French blue books. In a letter forming part of the correspon- dence, dated the 18th of January, the following extraordinary expressions appeared. After complimenting the French foreign Minister upon the interest France had always evinced in the affairs of the Holy See, Cardinal Antonelli wrote:— It is not true that there is any disagreement between the Holy Father and Italy, although there may be with the Government of Turin. "When that expression became known a general explosion in Italy ensued, and the States of Florence, Parma, and Milan published strong denials of the statement, adding that the feeling of Turin was the feeling of Italy. The Government, however, had taken the prudent course of discouraging these manifestations, and had advised the prefects throughout the country to quiet the people. They stated that the Government did not wish its exertions to be impeded by ill-judged enthusiasm or clamorous manifestations. But Baron Ricasoli replied to the representation made to him, that he would not put down these demonstrations at the point of the bayonet. The municipality of Milan then recommended the citizens to embody their feelings in an address acknowledging the Sovereign Pontiff as head of the Church, but recognising Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy. That course was adopted; but notwithstanding the temperate character, the French Government were dissatisfied, and explanations passed between M. Thouvenel and Signor Nigra. He desired, therefore, to know what had been the conduct of her Majesty's Government in the matter. It appeared to him that there was nothing reprehensible in the proceedings either of the people or the Government of Italy. No Englishman, he thought, could disapprove of what they had done; on the contrary, English sympathies must be enlisted in their favour. The relations of France with Rome appeared to be very peculiar. The Holy See had lately published a requisition to all the Roman Catholic Bishops to assemble at Rome on the 1st of May, to celebrate the canonization of the so-called martyrs of Japan; but the French Government had expressed its regret at that request having been made, and intimated that no French bishop would be permitted to receive a passport for Rome unless his journey was necessary upon urgent diocesan business. He hoped Her Majesty's Government had given no ground for the belief that the popular demonstration in Italy had given umbrage to this country. A society called "The Italian Unity Society" at present pervaded all Italy, and its Florence branch had only the other day proposed to the Genoese branch that they should petition to have that part of the constitution abolished which declared the Roman Catholic religion to be the religion of the State. It is evident, therefore, that a longer resistance on the part of the Pope would jeopardize not only his temporal but his spiritual power. He hoped Her Majesty's Government had not allowed itself to be mixed up in the matter.


said, that it was quite true that in almost every part of Italy there had been a strong manifestation of an earnest desire that Rome should be the central capital of the Italian Kingdom, and that the temporal power of the Pope should cease. He believed that feeling had been nowhere more strongly felt or more decidedly expressed than in the city of Rome itself. Her Majesty's Government, however, had taken no part in regard to those opinions, and no instructions had been given to Sir James Hudson to make any remonstrance on the subject to the Government of Turin; nor, as far as he was aware, had Sir James Hudson taken any step on his own authority. There was, therefore, no truth in the report, if such a report was current, that Sir James Hudson had, in concert with the Austrian and Prussian Ambassadors, addressed a remonstrance to Baron Ricasoli against the expression of national feeling in favour of Italian unity.