§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
rose to call attention to the case of Mr George Graeme Watson Taylor, and to move an address for the correspondence relative to the prosecution of that gentleman for an alleged act of sedition, and the plunder of his residence. Nothing could 546 be further from his intention, in bringing forward this subject, than in any way to embarrass the Government of the noble Lord, or to censure the Foreign Secretary; for he thought that where the rights of British subjects were at stake, no party feelings should be allowed to interfere. He should have pursued precisely the course which he was now adopting if hon. Gentlemen on his own side of the House lad occupied the Treasury Bench. A rumour had been circulated that Mr. Watson Taylor had out of doors been accused of entertaining reactionary opinions. In his name and by his authority he begged to state that Mr. Taylor never directly or indirectly interfered in Italian politics. For the last two years he had resided in England, and during the five or six years that he had lived on an island in the Mediterranean it was clear that he could have had no means of taking any part in the affairs of Italy. Mr. Taylor, like himself, was in favour of Italian unity; but borrowing an observation from his hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne), he would say that if that unity were to interfere with the rights and privileges of British subjects, much as he liked Italian unity, he liked those rights and privileges more. The facts of the case were these. In 1852, Mr. George Watson Taylor, being ordered to the Mediterranean for the benefit of his health, in an evil hour determined to invest his fortune in the purchase of the island of Monte Cristo, which was situated about twenty-five miles south of Elba. He entered into negotiations for the island with the gentleman to whom it belonged, and made application through the British Legation to the Court of Tuscany to know whether he would receive encouragement in the event of his expending capital in the improvement and cultivation of the island, which was then uncultivated and uninhabited. He had a personal interview with the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who said he was most anxious that Englishmen should settle in his dominions, and promised to give Mr. Taylor every encouragement and protection. That gentleman had desired him to state to the House, as a tribute to a fallen family, that every promise made to him by the Government of the Grand Duke and the Grand Duke himself, had been most faithfully and honestly performed. When Mr. Taylor purchased the island, there was doing duty there a corporal belonging to the Board of Health or Sanità, named 547 Durante, who was guilty of very gross misconduct towards Mr. Taylor. The latter made a representation on the subject to the Governor of Elba; the case was investigated, and Durante was removed. After that Mr. Taylor virtually suffered no annoyance from the soldiers; for, on a representation to the Governor of Elba, any cause of complaint against the guard was at once rectified. In the year 1859 those changes took place in Italy which brought disaster to Mr. Taylor. Shortly after the Provisional Government was proclaimed, the guard of the island of Monte Cristo, which consisted of four privates and a corporal, became unruly and insubordinate, and these men with drawn swords constantly threatened Mr. Taylor, unless he gave them provisions and money. Mr. Taylor made a complaint to the Provisional Government established at Florence, through the medium of our representative, Mr. Corbet, and other authorities, against a corporal named Ricci, who had insulted Mr. and Mrs. Taylor in the grossest manner; but though the offence was proved, he escaped punishment, owing to his being the relative of an officer. So matters went on until Tuscany was annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia by a plebiscito, or vote of universal suffrage. That took place at the end of March, but the intelligence of the plebiscito was not conveyed to the island of Monte Christo by the post which arrived there in the beginning of April; and, as there was only one post per month, the people on the island remained in ignorance of the annexation during the whole month of April. On the 1st of April, after an absence of five or six years, Durante, the very man who had been dismissed for misconduct, reappeared in Monte Cristo, and assumed the command of the guard. It was an important question how this man came to be sent there. He had been dismissed for notorious misconduct; and it must have been within the knowledge of the authorities that he was most disagreeable to Mr. Taylor, whom they were bound to protect. Mr. Taylor had no doubt that the man was sent there in order to get up a charge against himself. Any hon. Member who wished to learn the details of the petty quarrels that arose on the 28th and 29th of April, would find them in the printed papers. On the 3rd of May the announcement of the annexation of Tuscany to Sardinia reached the island; but Mr. Taylor never received any official notice of the event. Durante left, and his 548 successor behaved no better than he had done. On the 3rd of July, Mr. Taylor felt himself compelled to address a letter to Sir James Hudson on the subject of the soldier's conduct. He thought it a remarkable thing that this letter had not been produced. In it Mr. Taylor called attention to the insolence and insubordination of the soldiers, who were constantly pilfering whatever they could lay hold of, and expressed a hope that Sir James would ask the Government of Sardinia to order the immediate removal of those offenders, adding that if he should be obliged to use force for the protection of his property, and blood should be shed, the responsibility would rest on the King of Sardinia. To that letter no answer was received; but some days after it was written, Mr. Taylor received a citation from a court in Elba to appear within a fortnight to answer a charge of sedition. He was very much astonished, but he determined to stand his trial; and on the 18th of July wrote a letter to Sir James Hudson, which was to be found in the Watson Taylor papers. In that letter he said the accusation was wholly false, and then went on to observe—The whole charge is an entire perversion of the truth, and would seem a plot to drive me from the island; and even the authorities would seem to participate, as they were perfectly well aware that on the 29th of April it was not known that Victor Emanuel was proclaimed King on the island of Monte Cristo, and therefore the pretended offence was very slight, if any offence at all; nor have they given any intimation of the island being under the sovereignty of Sardinia.The letter concluded in these terms—Your Excellency, after reading these details, will hardly be astonished at my earnest request that these soldiers should be withdrawn, and I most humbly pray your Excellency to give me some aid and advice in my present position. The Vice Consul at Porto Ferrajo is an Italian, and I am afraid is not to be relied upon. The accusation has not been made out in my right name, being Taylor, instead of Watson Taylor, and I have had no intimation of any change of Government; but I should rather stand upon my own innocence, though my case presents some difficulties, particularly when judged in Elba.He thought the House would be of opinion that the letter written by Mr. Taylor to Sir James Hudson was a most proper one. By the same post he wrote to Mr. Fossi, the Vice Consul at Porto Ferrajo, who was an Italian, who replied that the prosecution had been instituted by order of Baron Ricasoli himself, and that he could give him no assistance unless he was paid for his services. A relative of Mr. Fossi, a 549 lieutenant in the naval service, also wrote; to say he had no doubt, that if Mr. Taylor paid the Vice Consul his fees and all costs, he could get him out of the scrape. The House would see that Mr. Taylor was placed under great disadvantages; for, his labourers being included in the charge, it was not possible for him to examine them as witnesses; he nevertheless determined to take his chances on the trial. About this time a Piedmontese general officer of the staff appeared in Monte Cristo, to examine the state of the harbour. Mr. Taylor invited this gentleman to his house, and in conversation with him the Piedmontese General spoke of the prosecution as absolute nonsense, and expressed his opinion that the Government had no intention of continuing it. Mr. Taylor, however, fully made up his mind to go to Elba. He therefore set out for Leghorn to consult Mr. Macbean, and was advised by him to go to Turin and lay the facts before Sir James Hudson. On the 23rd of August he saw Sir James, who told him he had already made two ineffectual applications to the Piedmontese Government to stop the prosecution; but that if he would call the following day, he would make a third. Mr. Taylor did accordingly call on the following day. Mr. Taylor desired him (Mr. Bentinck) to say that he could not account for the following statement contained in the despatch of Sir James Hudson, dated August 26:—On the 23rd inst., Mr. Taylor came to Turin; and having gone over the case with him, I made a further direct and personal, though unofficial, representation of the matter to Count Cavour, who regretted that the proscution had ever commenced, and, whilst he declared his inability to interfere with the proceedings of the law courts, added that he should not fail, if judgment were given against Mr. Taylor, to recommend His Sardinian Majesty to grant him a free pardon.Mr. Taylor assured him that nothing of the kind ever took place, but thought—and he agreed with him—that in the multiplicity of business Sir James Hudson forgot what had occurred. Mr. Taylor was borne out by the letter of Count Cavour, in which the latter stated—I had no knowledge whatever of the contentions between Mr. Taylor and justice, nor of the circumstances which had led to them. I heard them mentioned, for the first time, when you thought proper to interpose officiously, in order to obtain for him a remission of the penalty which he had incurred.It was quite clear the two statements were inconsistent, and that the statement of Mr. Taylor was confirmed by the official letter 550 of Count Cavour. Mr. Taylor's statement of what took place was—When Sir James Hudson had for the third time been refused by the Government any interference with the proceedings, I asked his advice as to whether I should leave Sardinia, and he advised my doing so, and gave my passport for England.Mr. Taylor left Turin with his passport, and on the 5th of September the trial came on. The result of the inquiry would be found in the report made by Mr. Macbean, at the request of the Foreign Secretary. Mr. Macbean stated that it was elicited at the trial that musket-shots were fired on the island of Monte Cristo on the evening of April 28, 1860, near Mr. Taylor's residence, accompanied by cries and cheering, the meaning of which the witnesses could not understand; the accused under trial maintaining, however, that they were only celebrating the birthday of their master, Mr. Taylor. It appeared that the corporal of the guard, Durante, had been removed from Monte Cristo, and that, having been reinstated, he was actuated by not the most friendly feeling to Mr. Taylor. It was alleged that Mrs. Taylor told the soldiers that their King, Victor Emmanuel, was a bullock merchant, and that the corporal was struck on the breast by Mr. Taylor with his open hand without receiving any injury, Mr. Macbean stated that he did not believe the charges against Mrs. Taylor; but she was sentenced to fifteen months' imprisonment, and Mr. Taylor to eighteen months' imprisonment, for having incited their labourers to seditious manifestations, which were proved to have had no existence. Mr. Macbean said—" It does seem monstrous that such a prosecution should be permitted in a country enjoying constitutional privileges," and he added, that "Baron Ricasoli might have quashed the proceedings, but took the report of the case from others." Mr. Macbean said— "I understand there have been cases here of conduct much worse than that imputed to Mrs. Taylor, really attended with publicity, which have been quashed or hushed up." The Article 129 in the Tuscan Code, in prescribing the penalty for seditious manifestations, contemplated their commission in a public place; but there could have been no publicity in an island possessing in all only twenty-six inhabitants. He (Mr. Bentinck) ventured to say that the annals of courts of justice did not exhibit a more flagrant denial of justice, or a more 551 arbitrary exercise of power. The evidence was the most childish that was ever produced, and the prosecution was so monstrous that it amply justified the language in which it was characterized by the Foreign Secretary.
He would now proceed to refer to the seizure of the British steamer Orwell. As the statements made to Her Majesty's Government were not correct, he must first state to the House what the facts really were. In August, 1860, General Garibaldi, having landed in Sicily, sent one of his officers to charter a vessel in Genoa, in order to seize a Neapolitan man-of-war called the Monarca, whose captain had, to use an expression which would easily be understood, been "made safe." Garibaldi's officer, on arriving at Genoa, found that the British steamer Orwell would answer his purpose, and hired her to carry from 80 to 100 people to Sicily. Men, arms, and munitions of war were sent on board, all being supplied by a committee which was sitting at Genoa. One day, while the captain was on shore, the Garibaldian officer went down to the engine-room, held pistols to the heads of the British engineers, and put a portion of the crew in irons. One of the men, in order o escape, jumped overboard, and succeeded in reaching a neighbouring vessel. The Orwell was then taken to the island of Monte Cristo, which was completely sacked, a great deal of Mr. Taylor's property was carried away, and the rest was utterly destroyed. The Orwell, which carried the Italian national colours, was subsequently captured at Messina. Messina was in possession of Garibaldi at that moment, and an attempt was made by a General now in the Italian service to obtain the surrender of the vessel from the British authorities upon giving a guarantee that it would be employed in the national service. It would appear, therefore, that the Orwell at that time was considered as a vessel of war belonging to Garibaldi. Admiral Mundy, however, would not give up the ship, but ordered that she should be carried to Malta, where the persons captured were to be tried for piracy. When the ship arrived at Malta, the Governor seemed to have done all in his power to get the men released, on the ground that there was complicity between Captain Sutton and the crew. But that was proved not to have been the case on the part of Captain Sutton, who underwent a trial and was acquitted. Admiral 552 Codrington, then the Port Admiral, made a strong remonstance against the attempt of the Governor to release the men, and in an admirable letter stated that not only was there an act of piracy in question, but an outrage to the British flag. Admiral Codrington said, "If this proceeding is to pass not only unpunished but even unquestioned, the consequence will be very detrimental to the security of vessels passing over the sea on their lawful vocations, and will very much damage the honour of our flag." In consequence of that remonstrance, the Governor of Malta wrote home for instructions; but the Attorney General at that time—now a noble Lord in another place—seemed to have advised the Government, on the ground of collusion, that there was no case, and that the men ought at once to be set at liberty. That advice was very incomprehensible when it was remembered that the captain had been tried on the 25th of August and acquitted. Indeed he did not know how to account for that opinion of the Attorney General, unless it was to be considered what lawyers called "a long vacation opinion," given by the Attorney General when he was anxious to get away to more agreeable pursuits. But even if there had been collusion on the part of the master, what difference did that make as far as the crew were concerned? The crew were perfectly innocent of collusion, the person who jumped overboard was perfectly innocent, and the owners were innocent. How, then, was the act of piracy got rid of? Then came the question of the attack on Monte Cristo. If any person looked into the papers, he would find that the Foreign Office, the Board of Trade, and the Admiralty, all had notice of the attack upon that island. But if there had been no act of piracy, still an act had been done for which those parties were responsible to the Government of Piedmont; and if that were so, he could not understand why the Governor of Malta did not write to the Piedmontese Government, and say that he had got the persons who had committed the wrong, and that he held them at their service. But the Piedmontese Government did not want to punish these men; on the contrary, they sent them to join Garibaldi in the Kingdom of Naples, and many of them were among the Piedmontese troops in subsequent battles. In the month of November, 1860, the question was still before the Foreign Office, and the noble Lord at the head of that department appeared to 553 have taken it up in the most proper spirit. In a despatch to Sir James Hudson, dated the 30th of January, 1861, the noble Lord made use of the following remarkable expressions:—Her Majesty's Government, relying on the sense of justice which characterizes the Sardinian Government, could have anticipated no other result. But they trust that the Sardinian Government will not stop here. Mr. Watson Taylor and his wife are, indeed, exonerated from the penal consequences to which, by a false accusation and an unjust judgment, they had become liable; but they had previously suffered, and have since been exposed to very serious pecuniary loss arising out of the harsh and unjustifiable proceedings taken against them. The property of Monte Cristo had been lawfully acquired by Mr. Watson Taylor; but he was violently ousted from it, and his goods wantonly wasted, without any sufficient cause. The Sardinian Government have expressed no regret and have offered no compensation, and yet both were due to this British subject for the grievous indignity to which he was personally subjected, and for the wantonness by which his property, when he was himself prevented from further taking care of it, was pillaged or destroyed. I have, therefore, to instruct you to bring the case formally before the Sardinian Government, and to express the confident hope of Her Majesty's Government that indemnity will be granted to Mr. Watson Taylor for the losses which he sustained by the acts of Sardinian authorities, and that a due expression of regret for what has occurred will accompany the tender of amends.In answer to that, followed a despatch from Count Cavour, dated the 10th of February, 1861; and if he had not read that despatch, he could not have believed that any Minister of a foreign Power would have written to a Member of the British Government in such terms. He did not wish to say anything against Count Cavour — he had passed away—but the letter would speak for itself. Count Cavour said—Proceedings had been opened before the tribunals; they could not be suspended. Grace could not, according to our laws, be accorded until after that justice had delivered her award. Condemnation has been pronounced, and that same condemnation proves, that by his unworthy conduct Mr. Taylor had placed himself in opposition to our laws. Nevertheless, in deference to the good offices of the Queen's Government, scarcely had the decree of the tribunal been issued, when the King hastened to grant to Mr. Taylor the entire remission of the pecuniary penalty to which he had been condemned. Thus the desire which you had expressed to me was met. Subsequently to this there has been no complaint made nor step taken by Mr. Taylor.He humbly submitted that all these allegations were contradicted by the facts. Looking to that letter, it would be seen that Count Cavour avoided the main part of the question, as to whether Mr. Taylor was to be compensated or not for the de- 554 struction of his property. No doubt, Count Cavour intended to avoid it, as he was himself privy to all the acts of Garibaldi, and as the Sardinian Government had given all possible encouragement to the Garibaldian volunteers. Count Cavour had really the audacity to advance a claim against a British subject on the ground of his having violated the law, at the very time when the Piedmontese Government themselves were violating the law in every direction. He did not say whether the Sardinian Government were justified in their violations of law; but this he would say, that when they themselves were acting in that way, they had no right to set up such a plea against a British subject. Such also appeared to have been the opinion of the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, for in the 14th despatch he said—A further reference was made to Her Majesty's Advocate General on the subject of Mr. Watson Taylor's case, and I enclose, for your information, a copy of the reply which has been received from that officer. There are several points on which he requires more information than has yet readied him, and I have to instruct you to make me a full report of all the circumstances connected with the case. You will also inform Count Cavour that a further communication will eventually be made on behalf of Mr. Watson Taylor for compensation on account of his losses at Monte Cristo.Then followed Mr. Macbean's report. Mr. Macbean admitted that the prosecution of Mr. Taylor was unjust, said that Mr. Taylor was right in not appearing, that the prosecution was monstrous, and that the authorities at Genoa must have seen and known of, and could have prevented, the departure of the Orwell had they thought proper. Another letter from the Foreign Secretary followed, in which he said—You will see from the copy of the Queen's Advocate's report, which I enclose, that he looks upon the transaction in a very serious light, and that he considers the manner in which the prosecution against Mr. Taylor was conducted as very far from creditable to the Italian Government. It is impossible, therefore, for Her Majesty's Government to allow the matter to rest as it now stands; but before I furnish you with final instructions as to the nature of the representations on the subject to be addressed to the Government to which you are accredited, I desire to receive any further observations which you can yourself make, and you will obtain the best legal opinion and transmit it to me at the same time.That despatch was dated August 19, but not a paper was produced of an earlier date afterwards than the 1st of November, 1861. Under this latter date there appeared an extract of a despatch from Sir James Hudson to Earl Russell. He must draw 555 the attention of the House to this document, because it had been said that the Government had interfered; they thought that Mr. Taylor had a case, but the matter was set at rest by Sir James Hudson's despatch. He thought he could prove that every statement in Sir James Hudson's despatch, as far as regards this case, was utterly unfounded. He did not wish to make any charge against Sir James Hudson, the multiplicity of whose occupations probably prevented him from looking into the facts. The despatch first of all referred to the old story of Baron Ricasoli having no power to interfere to stay the prosecution. This was shown to be a misconception by the report of Mr. Macbean. Sir James Hudson proceeded to make an apology for the public prosecutor at Elba, to the effect that he was in ignorance of what led to the charge. It was untrue and unreasonable to suppose any such thing, because the public prosecutor knew Mr. Watson Taylor's position; and what was the use of having a Vice Consul at an island like Elba if he did not instruct the public prosecutor on such points? Sir James Hudson referred to the opinion which had been taken of a certain advocate named Chiapusso. That opinion took up two pages of the blue-book, and no man ever wrote a long opinion without having a bad and doubtful case. The whole of this opinion, with the exception of the last paragraph, was devoted to a justification of the prosecution of Mr. Watson Taylor; but Chiapusso founded his opinion on the alleged fact that on the 29th of April Mr. and Mrs. Watson Taylor knew of the annexation of Tuscany to Piedmont. He had, however, shown that they did not know of it at that date; and Sir James Hudson was in possession of a letter which proved that circumstance: why, therefore, was not that letter placed before Chiapusso? In the last paragraph of Chiapusso's opinion it was perfectly clear that he was wholly ignorant of international law. He would now proceed to Sir James Hudson's letter. Of course, the chief claim, in a pecuniary sense, on the part of Mr. Watson Taylor, respected his property in the island of Monte Cristo; and that depended on the question whether the company on board the ship were in any way responsible for Garibaldi's acts. In answer to Earl Russell's despatch, Sir James Hudson said—The 'persons' on board the Orwell were seafaring men, mostly British subjects, picked up at 556 Marseilles by Garibaldi's agents, shipped on board her by consent of the Orwell's owners and master, which persons ran away with her from Genoa while the master was on shore with the ship's papers (by accident) in his pocket. The Orwell, then under British colours, commanded by those persons, stopped at the island of Monte Cristo, and plundered and gutted Mr. Taylor's house in spite of the people in charge.Not one of these facts was correct. In the first place, the papers before the House showed that the "persons" on board the Orwell were Garibaldi's Volunteers, commanded by Italian subjects. They were not British subjects, as appeared from a despatch to be found in page 23 of the blue-book. The men were all sent prisoners to Malta. That was a reason why he wished to have a list of these prisoners. They were not British subjects; they did not sail under the British flag, but tinder the Italian national flag. These men, before they went on board, all signed Garibaldi's articles, and were regularly enlisted soldiers under Italian colours. Then Sir James Hudson stated that the owners of the Orwell subsequently made her over to Garibaldi, and that Garibaldi made her over, together with other vessels, to the Italian Government. Why, the fact was, that the Orwell was at present rotting in Malta harbour, and had never been given over to Garibaldi. Sir James Hudson then went on in the despatch to say, that Lord Russell having recommended the owners of the Orwell to his officious protection, they called on him to claim it; and that he observed, that before enterring on the consideration of their claim on the Italian Government, he (Sir James Hudson) should be glad to discuss the question of the equitable compensation due to Mr. Watson Taylor for the wanton destruction of his property by the men on board the of Orwell.After some discussion," Sir James stated, "they waived the difficulty with regard to indemnifying Mr. Taylor, and asked me to communicate with him, which I declined to do, observing, that as they by their ship had occasioned the damage, they were bound to make their overtures to Mr. Taylor… It is notorious that the Orwell was not in the service of nor recognised by the then Sardinian Government, nor were the persons on board her acting voluntarily in its behalf.Now, he could not suppose, taking that to be a correct representation of what occurred, how the owners of the Orwell could be bound to compensate Mr. Taylor. But he had had an opportunity of seeing one of the gentlemen referred to by Sir James 557 Hudson, Mr. Stedingk, who gave quite a different account of the interview—Sir J. Hudson: 'What about my friend Watson Taylor? Who is to compensate him for his loss sustained at Monte Cristo? Mr. Stedingk answered, 'The Italian Government.' Sir J. Hudson:' No, the owners of the Orwell; because if they had not allowed these pirates, who ought to have been hanged, to seize the ship, they never would have gone to the Island of Monte Cristo and plundered my friend.' Mr. Stedingk: 'Your Excellency forgets that the Orwell was seized by force.' Sir J. Hudson: 'No, no; that I cannot admit; Pilotti and Settembrini were acquitted at Malta. Although they are pirates, you, the owners, are the responsible parties.' Mr. Stedingk: 'If your Excellency will promise, and I have no doubt you will keep your promise, you have only to name the amount due to Mr. Watson Taylor, and the same shall be added to our debt and the whole amount claimed from the Italian Government. Will your Excellency enforce the demand?' Sir J. Hudson 'No, no; I cannot do that, for I am not authorized by the Government.'He hoped the Government would instruct Sir James Hudson officially in the matter of the Orwell, after that statement. There was another despatch of Sir James Hudson, but, like many others, it did not touch the real point, and it was only necessary to refer to the third paragraph, where it was said that Baron Ricasoli declared, with regard to the damage to Mr. Watson Taylor's house, that the British sailors on board the British steamer Orwell were never in the pay or under the control of the Sardinian Government. No one said that those persons were in the pay of the Sardinian Government, but it was known that they were not British subjects. About a month after that, Mr. Hammond wrote to Mr. Simon Watson Taylor—"As regards the damage done to your brother's property by the crow of the Orwell, Baron Ricasoli repudiates any responsibility on the part of King Victor Emmanuel's Government, for he denies that those persons ever were in the pay or under the control of, or in any way connected with, the Sardinian Government." He hoped Her Majesty's Government would show the document in which the responsibility was repudiated, because, as far as the statement was communicated by Sir James Hudson, Baron Ricasoli only referred to British subjects on board the British steamer Orwell; and therefore, if there were no British subjects on board the Orwell, Her Majesty's Government might very well renew their application. Two questions arose—first, whether or not Mr. Watson Taylor was 558 entitled to compensation for the unjust prosecution to which he had been subjected; and secondly, whether he was entitled to compensation for the plunder and destruction of his property by the crew of the Orwell. With regard to the first there might be some doubt; but according to the doctrines laid down, especially by the noble Lord, he thought it could be shown satisfactorily that Mr. Taylor was entitled to compensation. Mr. Taylor was a colonist, and under the circumstances it was the bounden duty of the Sardinian Government to order the prosecution to be withdrawn. It was no trivial injury to be condemned to imprisonment, and it was not likely the prison at Elba was much better than the Neapolitan prisons, with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was well acquainted. As to the second point, there could be no doubt that Mr. George Watson Taylor was entitled to compensation from the Sardinian Government for the plunder and destruction of his property. Her Majesty's Government had put the claim very strongly, and had only withdrawn it upon a false representation of the facts. The people who seized the Orwell were regularly enlisted in Garibaldi's service. They sailed under the national flag. They were organized under General Fabrizio, and became part of Garibaldi's army; and when Garibaldi handed over the Two Sicilies to the King of Piedmont, his liabilities attached to the Sardinian Government. He believed it was a plain rule of law, that when a man accepted a gift, he took it with all the liabilities to which it was subject. It was also expressly stated in the terms of the transfer, that Sardinia received the kingdom of the Two Sicilies subject to all the debts and liabilities which attached to it. He went a step further, and asserted that if the Sardinian Government was not an accomplice before the fact to the invasion of Sicily by Garibaldi, the very acts of that Government made it liable. He was acquainted with many persons who had seen Garibaldi's Volunteers drilled by Piedmontese officers at Genoa. The Piedmontese Government allowed arms and ammunition to be sent on board the vessels prepared for the expedition, and many of the volunteers were pu on board in Government boats. If the Piedmontese Government chose to shut their eyes to illegal acts, and a British subject was damnified, by every rule of international law his Government had a 559 right to interfere. In despatches on the affairs of Italy, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary stated that the Piedmontese Government alleged that their efforts to prevent the expedition against Naples had failed from a want of power to control the national enthusiasm. If a foreign Government confessed their inability to prevent a gross infraction of law, and by that infraction a British subject was injured, he had a right, through his own Government, to demand compensation. Victor Emmanuel, in his celebrated proclamation to the people of Southern Italy, made use of this remarkable expression—Men were fighting for liberty in Italy, when General Garibaldi, a brave warrior devoted to Italy and me, flew to their rescue. I could not, and I ought not, to restrain him.If Victor Emmanuel said he could not and ought not to restrain men springing to the aid of those who were fighting for liberty, and they plundered a British subject, the British Government had a right to say to Victor Emmanuel, "You must compensate him." But he was in possession of the clearest evidence of the complicity of the Piedmontese Government with Garibaldi in the expedition against Naples. It commenced with the seizure of two vessels at Genoa, and the Sardinian Government promised to indemnify the owners. But, more than that, it was admitted in the course of a debate in the Sardinian Parliament at Turin, on the 3rd of June, that the steamers called at the Government arsenal and received arms and ammunition, and what was admitted in the Sardinian Parliament would not be doubted in the British House of Commons. From the 4th of August Sicily was governed in the name and under the authority of Victor Emmanuel, and on the 4th of September Admiral Persano himself went to Naples with the Sardinian fleet, and landed his regiment of soldiers. Could any one therefore doubt that there was such complicity with the expedition of Garibaldi on the part of the Government of Piedmont as to entitle Mr. Taylor to insist upon compensation? In the debate on the affairs of Greece, in which the noble Lord at the head of the Government made one of the finest efforts of oratory ever heard in that House, he laid down a position which was applicable to this case, and which, as it was concurred in by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge, the present Lord Chief Jus- 560 tice of England, Vice Chancellor Sir William Page Wood, and Lord Chelmsford, was, no doubt, perfectly sound and unquestionable in point of law. On that occasion the noble Lord said—I say, then, that our doctrine is that, in the first instance, redress should be sought from the law courts of the country; but that in cases where redress cannot be so had—and those cases are many—to confine a British subject to that remedy only would be to deprive him of the protection which he is entitled to receive." [3 Hansard, cxii. 383.]Then the noble Lord made an observation which in every respect applied to this case—The rights of a man depend on the merits of the particular case; and it is an abuse of argument to say that you are not to give redress to a man because in some former transaction he may have done something which is questionable… Is not that a case in which a man is entitled to redress from somebody? I venture to think it is. I think that there is no civilized country where a man subjected to such grievous wrong, not to speak of insults and injuries to the members of his family, would not justly expect redress from some quarter or other… The Greek Government neglected its duty, and did not pursue judicial inquiries, or institute legal prosecutions, as it might have done, for the purpose of finding out and punishing some of the culprits… But, it is said, M. Pacifico should have applied to a court of law for redress. What was he to do? Was he to prosecute a mob of 500 persons?… Where was he to find his witnesses? Why, he and his family were hiding or flying during the pillage to avoid the personal outrages with which they were threatened." [3 Hansard, cxii. 394–5.]That declaration precisely applied to the case of Mr. Taylor, and it was followed by a statement of the present Foreign Secretary, then Prime Minister, that in the case of British subjects whose property had been injured in the bombardment of Messina the Neapolitan Minister of Foreign Affairs had acquiesced in the demand made by the British Government, that compensation should be awarded for the loss of such property as had been destroyed without necessity, whether wantonly and designedly or otherwise. Under these circumstances he thought that the Government would see that in this case they had not had sufficient information. He hoped that they would institute further inquiries, and he called upon the noble Lord, who when Foreign Secretary acquired such a reputation for asserting for British subjects the rights and privileges of the ancient Roman citizen—he called upon him, now that he had arrived at the summit of political power, not to desert his own principles, but to show that he 561 was able to do battle with a strong enemy as well as with a weak one, and to fight against a Government which was popular, as well as against one that was essentially unpopular. A British subject was not inferior in his privileges to a Frenchman or an American, and he believed he was quoting the words of the noble Lord himself, when he said that in whatever quarter of the world he might be, an Englishman ought to be able to feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of Old England would ever he ready to protect him against injustice and wrong.
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, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of any Correspondence relative to the case of Mr. George Graeme Watson Taylor, in which Baron Ricasoli is shown to have denied 'that the persons who committed the outrage ever were in the pay or under the control of, or in any way connected with, the then Sardinian Government;' and also such Extracts from the Instructions laid before the Queen's Advocate, between the 19th day of August 1861 and the 9th day of December in the same year, as shall suffice to show the facts which in that interval wore submitted to him by Her Majesty's Government; and, of the List of Prisoners taken from on board the 'Orwell,' which is attached to Sir Gaspard Le Marchant's Despatch of the 15th day of September 1860,
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. BOVILL
said, that in seconding the Motion he had no desire to cast any blame upon Her Majesty's Government, or upon the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; but he was convinced, that upon a fuller investigation, and a more complete ascertainment of the facts, the noble Lord and every Member of the Government would be convinced that a most grievous wrong had been committed. A great injury had been done and a grievous insult offered to a British subject, who, up to that hour, had not obtained the slightest redress. Mr. Watson Taylor was at the time of the proceedings complained of residing under the Sardinian law, and was therefore entitled to its protection. The proceedings in question against him were commenced in the courts of Elba, and every gentleman who had read the statement of them must have come to the conclusion that they were of a most unjus- 562 tifiable character. That was his (Mr. Bovill's) deliberate opinion; and he had less hesitation in giving it, because the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary and the Queen's Advocate had spoken to the same effect. Beyond that, there was the distinct admisssion of the Government of Turin that they were proceedings which would never have been commenced by that Government. Then how was it, he would ask, after these expressions of opinion, that no amends had been made or granted to Mr. Watson Taylor for the wrongs committed against him and his property? In what light did the Piedmontese Government view these proceedings? What was the compensation which they had offered to Mr. Taylor? Why, he had been recommended to royal clemency, and had received a free pardon. The compensation was merely this—that Mr. Watson Taylor had been relieved of all the costs to which he had rendered himself liable; and that was considered sufficient compensation for all the indignities he had suffered, and those most unjustifiable proceedings against him! In this country there was a power in the Crown to stop legal proceedings, by directing a nolle prosequi to be entered; and it seemed to be admitted by Baron Ricasoli that the same power was possessed by the Government of Italy. But let the House assume that the Government did not possess this power. Who were the parties who put the proceedings against Mr. Taylor into operation? Why, they were persons in the employ and pay, and acting under the orders of the Government. Then, could it be said that the Government had no power over their own officials, and could not stop those proceedings? It could not; but for some purpose or another, of the most ridiculous nature, the proceedings against Mr. Taylor were continued. He would next refer to the evidence of Mr. Consul Macbean. Consul Macbean said—Mr. Taylor is accused of having struck the corporal on the breast with his open hand, but without doing him any injury, and of not having yielded obedience to the corporal when ordered to deliver up the key of his oven to a servant to whom Mrs. Taylor had refused to give it. That was construed into an act of resisting the public force, and for having done so Mr. Taylor was condemned to other six months' imprisonment.As all this is alleged to have occurred at the door of Mr. Taylor's house, which is at some distance from the soldiers' barracks, it is surprising that it did not occur to the judges that the unsolicited attend- 563 ance of the corporal and three soldiers, and their interference in Mr. Taylor's domestic arrangements was a piece of gratuitous impertinence, and that their conduct had been more calculated to create than to prevent disturbance. Mr. Macbean further observed—It does seem monstrous that such a persecution should be permitted in a country enjoying constitutional liberty.In what way had these allegations been met? Certain statements were made that the proceedings were according to the ordinary course of law. Now, the complaint was not that they were not in the ordinary course of law, but that they ought not to have been instituted at all, and that was admitted even by the Government of Turin; but having been commenced and carried on in the tribunals established in the kingdom of Italy, the result was that the Government of that country ought to be held responsible for the freedom of a British subject, and for outrages committed by their officers on his property. That appeared to be the opinion of Her Majesty's Government. Then, what was Mr. Watson Taylor to do when he found himself in the position of an accused? Was he to subject himself to the small Court of Elba and suffer imprisonment? He adopted the only alternative open to him. He came home; but in doing so he necessarily left his property unprotected, and the result was that he had suffered serious loss. That formed the first part of his claim. On the same ground that entitled him to a free pardon, he was entitled to further compensation. The next part of his claim arose from the loss sustained by him in having had his vineyards, bullocks, and other property swept away by the party on board the Orwell. There was no doubt about it that those persons were in the service of Garibaldi, whatever may have been the character of those in whose hands the vessel had originally been. At the time the party on board the Orwell landed on the island, Tuscany had been annexed to Sardinia, and Mr. Taylor was living under the protection of the King. If the persons on board the ship, and who had enlisted under Garibaldi, were acting under the authority and with the sanction of the King, there could be no doubt of the liability of the Sardinian Government; but it was not necessary to go that length, for if those Garibaldians had enlisted in the kingdom of Sardinia, under the eyes of the King, and with his approval, and if 564 the King or the authorities of Sardinia had sanctioned the fitting-out of the expedition, according to international law Sardinia was responsible. And no one could doubt that the expedition was fitted out out either at the instance of the King, or with his knowledge and sanction. So notorious had it been in England that Englishmen were enlisting under Garibaldi for the service of the King of Sardinia, that the matter was made the subject of discussion in that House. He could not but think that if all the information that might be procured were laid before them the responsibility of the Sardinian Government would be made clear to the law officers of the Crown; and he therefore begged to second the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he willingly accepted the disclaimer of the hon. Member who had made this Motion, that in bringing the subject before the House he had any wish to make observations hostile to Her Majesty's Government or was influenced by any political motive whatever. But, if that were the case, he thought some of those hon. Members who sat near his hon. Friend did not understand the object he had in view; because, whenever he said anything against the Italian Government, he was loudly cheered by those hon. Members. ["No, no!"] He did not say that there were not many hon. Members on the Opposition side who had not cheered those observations; but certainly many hon. Members near the hon. Gentleman cheered when he made any remark hostile to the Italian Government. ["No, no!"] His hon. Friend had led the House to believe that Mr. Watson Taylor was the object of some great persecution; that he had an enemy in Baron Ricasoli, an enemy in Count Cavour, an enemy in those who were with him on the island, an enemy in the Italian people, an enemy in her Majesty's Government, and enemies among those who sat on the Ministerial benches. [" No, no!"] Well, as far as he could see, the remarks of his hon. Friend led to no other conclusion; but his opinion was that there was no such ill-feeling against Mr. Watson Taylor. He was quite sure, from a perusal of the papers, that his hon. Friend could find no evidence of a hostile feeling against Mr. Taylor on the part of Baron Ricasoli or Count Cavour. And, why should there be? Mr. Taylor was an English gentleman spending money in improving an island which for centuries had 565 been uninhabited. He could assure the House that Her Majesty's Government, at any rate, had never viewed the question in any other light than as purely and simply a question of law. They submitted the case to the Law Officers of the Crown, and they had acted solely under their advice. His hon. Friend, he must be allowed in the first place to remark, had made some statements with respect to Sir James Hudson, which were utterly and entirely unjustifiable. He had stated for example, that Sir James Hudson in his despatch had made assertions not one word of which were founded on fact ["No, no!"], while he at the same time disclaimed the intention of saying anything offensive with respect to him. Could the hon. Gentleman, however, he should wish to know, have used any language more offensive than that assertions on which the Government at home must form their opinion were absolute misstatements? ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Gentleman cheered; but he had expected that he would have risen in his place, and have denied that he had ever intended to make any such imputation. For his own part, he had the honour of being connected with Sir James Hudson, and he utterly repudiated the charge. It was, he must maintain, a most disgraceful charge. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not mean to cast any personal reflection on his hon. Friend; but to say that a gentleman in the high position of Sir James Hudson would send home to his Government statements that he knew to be untrue—[An hon. MEMBER: Nobody said that]—was perfectly unjustifiable. His hon. Friend, he might add, had in the speech he had made given an ex parte view of the case, proceeding from Mr. Watson Taylor and his friends, while he rejected the highest possible authority, that of the courts of law, and of Her Majesty's Minister, who was bound to report faithfully to his Government. Be that, however, as it might, the facts were these. Mr. Taylor inhabited this island, which he had purchased. He had spent a great deal of money upon it in building a house and in cultivating the soil. At his request guards had been placed upon it while the island belonged to Tuscany. His hon. Friend was inaccurate in his dates, for the demonstration on the union of Tuscany to the kingdom of Italy, to which he had referred, took place on the 28th of April, whereas the dispute was not till the 1st of May; consequently that dispute did not 566 arise out of any political differences. It appeared that the quarrel arose out of some dirty linen which Mrs. Taylor had thrown into an oven in which the soldiers wanted to bake their bread. She would not take the linen away, refused to give up the key, and the soldiers could not bake. A dispute ensued, and Mrs. Taylor made use of some strong language against Victor Emmanuel. Mr. Taylor is alleged to have struck one of the soldiers; they complained to the authorities, and the authorities commenced a prosecution. Altogether, it was a very foolish and ridiculous business; but his hon. Friend forgot, when he denounced the administration of justice in Italy, that the prosecution was under, not the Italian law, but the Tuscan Code, which they were told was the model Code for Italy. There was a trial; and even Mr. Macbean admitted that the Judge could not have done other than condemn Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. They were condemned, and sentenced to a period of imprisonment for assaulting a guard on duty. They were, however, it should be borne in mind, condemned, not under the Italian, but the Tuscan Code, which Count Cavour had not as yet been able to reform, but which he had intended to assimilate to that of Piedmont as soon as annexation took place. The Italian Government, as a constitutional Government, did not wish to appear to act illegally in the matter, and therefore felt that they could not interfere with the course of the law; but the Taylors were at the same time told, that if they were condemned, they need have no apprehension as to the results; that they would get a free pardon, and that all their expenses would be paid. What more, he would ask, could Count Cavour or Baron Ricasoli do? If the Taylors had appeared, the probability was, it was said, that they would have been acquitted, as had been the case with others who did appear before the Court. They, however, did not appear, and the consequence was, that judgment went against them by default. His tenants appeared, and were acquitted. Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were, however, condemned in default; but they immediately received a free pardon, their expenses paid, and there was an end to the matter. Now, his hon. Friend asked for the list of the passengers on board the Orwell, and seemed to think it comprised no British subject. [Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK said, he had referred to the despatch of Sir G. Le Marchant, stating that they 567 were not British subjects.] Well, he found among the names those of Mr. Mooney, Mr. Kelly, and Mr. Costiken, and several others of similar origin, which spoke for themselves. There were on the list eighty-five names in all, and out of those three were Italian; there were, besides, ten or twelve stokers, and most of the others were English, with the exception of one or two French. [An hon. MEMBER: There were only eighteen Englishmen.] Well, be that as it might, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor having left the island, and the Orwell having been taken possession of by those persons whom his hon. Friend designated Garibaldians, they went to Monte Cristo, where their first act was to disarm the troops of the King of Italy who were stationed there, and in spite of them to sack Mr. and Mrs. Taylor's house, who, if they had remained on their property, very possibly might have saved it. At any rate, he (Mr. Layard) denied that any responsibility rested with the Italian Government. He could not admit that the Italian Government were liable for the acts committed by persons who were not their subjects, who were not in their service, and who landed in the island in spite of the opposition of their officers. Mr. Taylor, however, applied to the Italian Government for compensation. What was the answer of Count Cavour? His hon. Friend said that Count Cavour had altogether refused to indemnify him for his loss. Now, that was not so. He said if Mr. Taylor had been wronged, let him bring his action before the proper tribunals, and let the case be tried. It would be time to come to the Italian Government when he had been refused justice by the courts of law which were open to him. The hon. Member had cited the case of Don Pacifico, but that was an illustration against the hon. Member. It was because Don Pacifico could not obtain a legal investigation and redress that the English Government interfered. In like manner, if a similar denial of justice could be pleaded by Mr. Taylor, the Government would also have interfered in his case. The hon. Member asked why the Italian Government did not punish the "persons" who were on board the Orwell, and he seemed to think it was the duty of the English Government to go to the Italian Government and say, "We have got these men, and they are at your disposal." This was the most extraordinary doctrine he had ever heard. Suppose the English Govern- 568 ment had got hold of a number of Frenchmen who had broken the law of France, and had said to the French Government, "These men are in our hands, and here they are for you to punish them," what would his hon. Friend have said? They all remembered what took place not long ago when it was proposed to surrender some persons who might have broken the law on the other side of the water. He believed, that if the Government of this country had acted in the manner pointed out by the hon. Member, they would have received—and they certainly would have deserved—the condemnation of that House. The hon. Member asked for the instructions given to the Law Officers of the Crown. It was not the custom for the Foreign Office to give such instructions, or to prepare a case. The practice was to submit all the statements on both sides to the Law Officers of the Crown, who thereupon gave their opinion. There were, therefore, no instructions of this kind to produce. When the ex parte statements of Mr. Taylor were first received, they were laid before the Queen's Advocate, who gave an opinion upon them favourable to Mr. Taylor, and condemnatory of the conduct of the Italian Government. Lord Russell thereupon wrote a despatch to the Italian Government in conformity with that opinion, to which despatch the Italian Government replied, giving their version of the case. When the proceedings on the trial were published, and all the documents were brought together, they were again placed before the Queen's Advocate, who then came to a diametrically opposite conclusion, from that which he had first entertained. His deliberate opinion now was, that Mr. Taylor was not entitled to any direct interference on the part of Her Majesty's Government; that there had been no negation of justice; that the Courts had been opened to him, but that he refused to go before them; and that if he had gone to the Courts, and justice had been refused him, then was the time to come to the English Government and to ask for their interposition. The question was very simple, and he could not admit that there was the least ground for accusing the Italian Government of any injustice or unfairness to Mr. Taylor. There was no ground for supposing that the Italian Government were actuated by any hostile sentiments against Mr. Taylor. The hon. Member denied that Mr. Taylor had any feeling against Italian unity. He had offered to 569 sell the island to the Government of the King of Italy, if they wanted it, and he was, therefore, at a loss to see what grounds existed for imputing public hostility or personal feeling against Mr. Taylor on the part either of the Italian Government or any Italian statesmen. Let Mr. Taylor take proceedings in the Italian Courts; and if he failed to obtain justice, let him come to the British Government. No British Government would refuse to support the rights of a British subject when he had been injured and refused redress.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he could not help expressing his surprise that such a speech as the House had just heard should be delivered by any hon. Gentleman sitting on the same bench with the noble Viscount at the head of the Government. What had become of the "Civis Romanus sum"?—of those grand sentiments about the protection of the aegis of England being thrown over a British subject whenever he was involved in a difficulty with a foreign Government. Had the House forgotten the claim made on behalf of Don Pacifico, which had excited the ridicule of a great party in that House, or the conduct of the noble Viscount when the case of Captain Macdonald was brought before the tribunals of Prussia? It was the first time, too, that he had heard that the Government of the King of Italy was so mixed up with the Government of Her Majesty; that any comments that might be made on the Government of Italy reflected a censure on the Government of the noble Viscount. Surely Members of that House might remark on the conduct of the Italian Government, without being told that they were making an attack on Her Majesty's Government. The hon. Gentleman had been very severe on his hon. Friend (Mr. C. Bentinck), for having, as he said, made a direct attack on Sir James Hudson. His hon. Friend, however, had said he was not prepared to attack the conduct of Sir James Hudson; but he (Mr. B. Cochrane) was, and he must contend that whatever the private opinions of a British Minister might be, and whether he was in favour of Italian unity or not, it was his duty to act with impartiality, and carry out the distinct instructions of his Government. It was because Sir James Hudson had not carried out the instructions of Lord Russell, and had allowed his partiality for the Sardinian Government to act upon his mind, that all these difficul- 570 ties had fallen upon Mr. Taylor, It was important to remark that Lord Russell wrote to Sir James Hudson as follows:—Her Majesty's Government, relying on the sense of justice which characterizes the Sardinian Government, could have anticipated no other result. But they trust that the Sardinian Government will not stop here. Mr. Watson Taylor and his wife are, indeed, exonerated from the penal consequences to which, by a false accusation and an unjust judgment, they had become liable; but they had previously suffered and have since been exposed to very serious pecuniary loss, arising out of the harsh and unjustifiable proceedings taken against them.It appeared, therefore, that the pecuniary loss was caused by the conduct of the Garibaldians. In a despatch from Sir James Hudson to Count Cavour of the 2nd of February the following passage occurred:—With reference to the communication from the Keeper of the Seals, under date of the 6th of January last, informing me that a free pardon had been granted to Mr. and Mrs. Watson Taylor, of the island of Monte Cristo, in respect of certain legal proceedings taken against them by the Sardinian authorities, I am instructed by Her Majesty's Government to express their confident hope that the Sardinian Government will grant indemnity to Mr. Taylor for the losses which, in consequence, he has sustained.Did that language express the views of Lord Russell?—and if so, could it be supposed, that if Sir James Hudson had read the despatch of the noble Lord to Count Cavour, the proceedings against Mr. and Mrs. Taylor would have been persevered in? But Sir James Hudson had not read the noble Lord's despatch to Count Cavour. Indeed, there was a very prevalent opinion among many persons in this country that Sir James Hudson had taken a part with respect to Italian affairs in general in which he was not justified. This case of Mr. Taylor seemed to afford another instance of the "moral support" doctrine. The noble Lord began admirably, and quoted the opinions of the Queen's Advocate; but though the case had not altered, he turned round in the end, and said, "We will not do anything in support of Mr. Taylor." He trusted the opinions which had been expressed in that House would induce the noble Lord to take further steps with a view to obtain justice.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, it is quite natural for the House of Commons to engage in discussing cases of this kind, which do not derive their importance so much from what has happened to an individual as from their bearing upon international rela- 571 tions. The object of my hon. Friend (Mr. C. Bentinck), as I understand it, is not to press the particular Motion, inasmuch as the Foreign Office have no papers upon the question which they have not presented, but rather to urge the propriety of further intervention on the part of the British Government in favour of Mr. Watson Taylor. Now, I beg the House—that part of it at least which consists of impartial observers—to consider how this matter stands, so far as regards the British Government. It is perfectly plain and undeniable from the papers before the House, that the first reception of this case by Her Majesty's Government did not indicate any indisposition on their part to interfere with the Italian Government in behalf of Mr. Watson Taylor. On the contrary, in the first despatch of Lord Russell he stated strongly, upon such knowledge as he then possessed, a view which leant materially towards the side of Mr. Watson Taylor. I refer to that fact now, because it is important when you consider what followed, and also the course which the noble Lord is now invited to take—it shows that the disposition of the Foreign Office to act fairly and openly on a belief in the claims of Mr. Watson Taylor. The case was stated to the Italian Government on the representation of Mr. Watson Taylor. Now, the answer which the Italian Government gave to the representations made to them on the subject was that an investigation had been prosecuted by the proper authority. The facts of the case had been sifted to the bottom by the British Minister, as far as his powers enabled him to do so; he is the organ of the Government, he made his report to the Foreign Secretary, and Earl Russell having received that report, declared upon his judgment that the explanations and assurances given by Baron Ricasoli appeared to Her Majesty's Government to bring the matter to a satisfactory termination. He likewise caused Mr. Watson Taylor's brother to be informed that after full consideration of the facts of the case he had come to the conclusion that it was not in the power of the Government to interfere further. Therefore I wish to point out to my hon. Friend that what he is doing is this—he not only asks the Foreign Minister to interfere after he has given his opinion that further interference is impracticable; but he is likewise urging that interference in the case of a foreign Minister who has 572 proved that he had every disposition to push Mr. Watson Taylor's case to the greatest possible extent. That is the case which I wish to put to the dispassionate Members of this House. Now, this discussion is, in the main, really an attack upon Sir James Hudson, and it would, in my opinion, be far better that it had been so called. Here is our Minister in Italy officially instructed to examine the question; he has examined it, and has given his opinion upon it. And what does my hon. Friend say? That the statement of Sir James Hudson, so far as regards this case, is utterly unfounded in fact. Surely, then, it is vain to deny that Sir James Hudson's position is mainly involved in this matter; for if it were attributed to a man in his position that he had sent home as his report a document full of statements which he is unable fully to substantiate, then he is utterly unworthy to retain a place which he has for so many years occupied with the warm and constant approval of his countrymen. But no one in the House who knows anything of Sir James Hudson will believe for one moment that his character requires vindication from such a charge. But the hon. Gentleman who spoke last does not deny that he makes an attack upon Sir James Hudson. But here are the papers—no garbled extracts, but all the papers which the Foreign Office possesses, and what does my hon. Friend do? He rejects, as of no authority, whatever is against his view of the case, and whatever is in his favour he treats as gospel. The findings of the Italian Courts, in direct conformity with Italian law, he entirely passes by, and then the high authority, the solemn verdict of Sir James Hudson he declares to be totally unfounded in fact. Well, are those grounds, statements, and arguments which this House will recognise and adopt? Will it throw overboard all those papers except so far as they suit the purposes of my hon. Friend? If so, new principles must be -adopted in the conduct of our Foreign relations—new principles must be introduced into the law and courtesy of nations, if my hon. Friend is to have his way. My hon. Friend's great complaint is that the Italian Government did not interfere to quash the proceedings against Mr. Taylor, and he asks Her Majesty's Government to make further representations on the subject. I must confess I am a little surprised at the facility, not to say the levity, with which this recommen- 573 dation is given. Perhaps it is a case in which, like the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Guildford (Mr. Bovill), he thinks it right to apply a principle of English law to the state of foreign countries; that, because in this country the Crown has the power of stopping a criminal prosecution, therefore the Crown in other countries should have the same power. In this country it may be safe that the Crown should have such a power; but it appears to me, that except in a country where the whole system of judicial procedure is thoroughly understood, and well established by long usage in the opinions of the people, the power of the executive Government to stop criminal proceedings would be moat pernicious. But when interference on the part of the executive Government of Italy with the course of justice is recommended, why, let me ask, has there been a revolution in Italy; why have there been demands for Italian unity; and why have the Italians forgotten their municipal prejudices and traditions, and struggled heart and soul to found one single national body, unless it were because for generations the law had been trampled on by every Government that had existed in that country? The purpose for which the present Italian Government was called into existence was that they might set an example of respect for the law, and lay the foundations of judicial independence. Deeply regretting Mr. Taylor's sufferings, I am bound to say that he does not stand altogether rectus in curiâ. When called on to interfere with the independent action of a foreign Government, we must look and see whether our case is really so complete, and whether we can approach that foreign Government in all the panoply of reason and justice. Mr. Watson Taylor had the misfortune to live on Italian territory in times of revolution, and in those times there is one claim which both parties in the struggle have to make on foreigners within the territory, and that is a claim for the observance of ordinary prudence and caution. Now, if any one refers to page 7 of the Parliamentary Papers, enumerating propositions found to be proved before the Court at Elba, he will see that Mr. and Mrs. Watson Taylor both failed in this respect. The language, which was not denied in the Court to have been used, and the gestures employed to give additional force to it, showed a very great want of prudence on the part of both those persons. His hon. Friend forgot that Mr. 574 Taylor did not appear in Court, and the Court was obliged to decide upon the propositions submitted to it. However, the executive Government in Italy did interfere at the very first moment they could by granting a free pardon, which was followed by a full recompense for the costs to which Mr. Taylor had rendered himself liable. Therefore it is not possible to find grounds in that case for urging the Government to further interference. The hon. and learned Member for Guildford, seeing that the case laid before the House was insufficient for the purpose, took a totally distinct ground, and said that these proceedings were condemned by the Italian Government themselves, and therefore they were bound to give compensation. But the hon. and learned Gentleman was mistaken in respect to what was done by the Italian Government, for Baron Ricasoli said that the process being one of criminal law, all interference on the part of the Government was impossible. The reasonable construction of the words used is, that Baron Ricasoli, taking much the same view of the proceedings as the Foreign Office, thought that though there was much to complain of in the conduct of the gentleman and lady, there was yet nothing to justify the infliction of so serious a sentence as was pronounced, and accordingly that sentence was not carried into execution. But that concession did not amount to a condemnation of the judicial proceedings, which were strictly legal in themselves, so as to give a title to compensation. The case of the Orwell must be carefully separated from the other part of the proceedings, though it is desired to connect them by asserting that the prejudice known to exist on the part of the Italian Government against Mr. Taylor encouraged persons to destroy his property in his absence. That, however, is a gratuitous assertion, for which there is no proof in the papers on the table. With respect to the Orwell, three distinct claims for compensation are set up. One is that the Orwell sailed under the Italian flag; but that assertion is totally destitute of foundation, as Consul Macbean, a favourite witness with my hon. Friend, describes this vessel, when engaged in this operation, as being the British steamer Orwell. Sir James Hudson goes directly to the point in his official despatches, and states that the Orwell, when it stopped at Monte Cristo, was under British colours. But then it is said that the omission on the part of the Italian Government to take 575 precautions for the protection of this property gave a title to compensation. But would it be contended that when a piratical or semi-piratical expedition is fitted out, or an unauthorized military expedition undertaken, the country is to be responsible for the acts committed on the part of that expedition? That is a doctrine the application of which would be inconvenient to all Governments, and not the least to the English Government, and is not warranted by any authority or principle of international law. It is likewise said that the Italian Government is responsible because of their connection with Garibaldi. But that seems a very fine-drawn argument. It is strange to contend that because the result of a long series of events was a revolution, which Garibaldi had a share in fomenting, and which led to the annexation of certain territories to the Italian Crown, therefore the Italian Government must be responsible for what a lawless body of men did upon landing at Monte Cristo on their way from Genoa. My hon. Friend was mistaken in saying that there is not a word in Count Cavour's despatch bearing on the case of the Orwell; for Count Cavour states, with distinctness —I am not aware if Mr. Taylor has suffered losses which he did not bring upon himself, and which were not consequent upon the facts which the tribunal has established as chargeable to him; but upon every hypothesis, if he can draw up legitimate reclamations, diplomatic intervention could only take place, it appears to me, when all justice shall have been refused him by competent authority; whereas the tribunals are open to him, and if he has been condemned when he merited to be so, Mr. Taylor may be equally sure that the rights which may belong to him shall not be disregarded.That principle completely covers the case of the Orwell. Taking, then, the case of Mr. Watson Taylor in the point of view most favourable to himself, I put it with confidence to the House that it is his duty to exhaust the remedies which the Italian law may offer against the owners of the Orwell, or any other parties, before his claim can legitimately become the subject of any diplomatic interference. On these grounds I hold that the Government ought not to be urged; or, as the Scotch very expressly say, concussed, into further action on this subject.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had undertaken to address himself especially to the dispassionate portion of the House—of that portion of the House he humbly claimed to be one— 576 but he was a little amazed at finding that the very moment the right hon. Gentleman had uttered that sentence he proceeded to appeal, not, perhaps, to what could strictly be called a passion, but to one of the strongest feelings of Englishmen—namely, the sentiment which always induced them to look favourably upon the conduct of an absent man. The right hon. Gentleman had studiously endeavoured to put forward Sir James Hudson in such a way as to make him intercept the justice of the House. He had himself read this paper with care, and ventured to think, that if "the dispassionate portion of the House" gave full attention to this case, the view it would take would not be that urged upon it by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the view so ably submitted by the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. C. Bentinck). In like manner the Under Secretary of State (Mr. Layard), began by speaking in very strong terms of the conduct of a portion of the House in cheering some sentences that fell from the hon. Member for Taunton, charging them with exhibiting a bitter feeling of animosity against the Government of Sardinia. Could anything be more unfair than such a taunt? The hon. Member for Taunton, having undertaken to show that Mr. Watson Taylor had been ill-used by the Sardinian Government, made some observations tending to make out his case, when those who agreed with him naturally cheered him, and then they were told from the Treasury Bench that their cheers indicated their malignant animosity towards a foreign Government. At the outset of his speech the Under Secretary of State also said that this was a mere dry question of law, and yet before a minute had elapsed he wrought himself up into a state of effervescence and animation hardly in keeping with that intimation. There were, no doubt, legal questions involved in this subject; but it also involved questions of deep interest to all public men, and he ventured to say that in the whole of the Session they had hardly had a matter before them of greater importance, or one more deserving their careful attention. Both the Under Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had thought proper to echo the opinion given by the late Count Cavour—namely, that whatever wrongs Mr. Watson Taylor might have suffered, his duty was to have recourse to the ordinary tribunals of the 577 country. ["Hear, hear!"] An hon. Gentleman cried "Hear, hear;" but he said that to tell Mr. Watson Taylor, in the very height of the Garibaldi fever, that he was to have recourse to the ordinary tribunals of the country — that he was to institute a suit of "Taylor v. Settembrini," or of "Taylor v. Garibaldi," without the prospect of anything like a practical result, was a mere mockery. He acknowledged that there were some solemn mockeries in the world, in deference to which a man might be obliged to go without his rights; but the question was whether the circumstances of this case were such that Her Majesty's Government were entitled to leave Mr. Watson Taylor to find what remedies he could from the Courts of the Italian State. Whatever difference of opinion there might be upon the mode of applying the principle by which questions of this kind were to be decided, he conceived that on the principle itself they would all pretty much agree. If a British subject, while travelling or residing in another European country, sustained an injury at the hands of any private citizens of that foreign State, and if at the time the tribunals of that State were going on in their ordinary routine, then the accepted usage required our Government to presume that those tribunals would do justice. But if they found the foreign country in an exceptional state, with its courts of judicature dislocated and its routine of business broken up, and that from political causes, then the ordinary presumption which threw them upon the courts of law failed to take effect. Moreover, if the wrong done was not merely done by the private citizen of a foreign country, but done, as happened in this instance, by reason of the neglect or connivance, or by the participation, of the Government, then there could be no question that they would not send a man to the tribunals to bring his suit against the citizen, but they appealed at once from Government to Government. He maintained that exactly the kind of dislocation which he had described had occurred in this case, and that fact had been practically admitted even by those who relied on the Italian view or the matter. What they said was, that by the Tuscan code it was the custom for the judges to deliver sentence of imprisonment against any person guilty of charges such as those brought against Mr. Watson Taylor. Then they said 578 that there was a dispensing power—and of course, where there was a code of such severity there must be a dispensing power in the chief of the State—that dispensing power had been vested in the Grand Duke of Tuscany; and it was said that it did not pass to the King of Sardinia when he succeeded the Grand Duke. It was therefore asserted, that, owing to the complexity occasioned by the Tuscan law being applicable in the first place, and then there being a failure in respect to the power of dispensation, there was absolutely no power in the Sardinian Government to remit or stop these proceedings. That was the view taken by those who sustained the acts of the Italian Government. But he undertook to say, upon authority which no one on the Treasury Bench would be able to dispute, that the countries in which these transactions took place were not in a state to which the usual rule of paying deference to the ordinary tribunals would be properly applicable. Now, it so happened—although the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs might not have seen the despatch, which did not appear among these papers—that that hon. Gentleman's chief had, in his own terse and striking way, adverted to the state of things then prevailing in Italy. It would conduce to the right understanding of this case if he were permitted to read a portion of the very short despatch addressed by Lord Russell on the 21st January, 1861, to Sir James Hudson. The noble Lord wrote—I have not taken any official notice of the decrees you sent me, annexing, not to Sardinia, but to the Italian State, Naples, Sicily, Umbria, and the Marches. In fact, the votes by universal suffrage which have taken place in those kingdoms and provinces appear to Her Majesty's Government to have little validity. These votes are nothing more than a formality following upon acts of popular insurrection or successful invasion, or upon treaties, and do not in themselves imply any independent exercise of the will of the nation in whose name they are given. Should, however, the deliberate act of the representatives of the several Italian States who are to meet on the 18th of February, constitute those States into one State, in the form of a Constitutional Monarchy, a new question will arise. When the formation of this State shall be announced to Her Majesty, it is to be hoped that the Government of the King will be able to show that the new monarchy has been created in pursuance of the deliberate wishes of the people of Italy, and that it has all the attributes of a Government prepared to maintain order within, and the relations of peace and amity without. 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 579 whom it is not at war—these are the general ties which bind the States of Europe together, and which prevent the suspicion, distrust, and discord that might otherwise deprive peace of all that makes it happy and secure. … 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.The House, he thought, by this time knew that Mr. Watson Taylor was, in his absence, brought to trial for not having found out in whose territories he was living and who was his Sovereign; and any one who looked at that despatch must have seen that the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary knew no more than Mr. Watson Taylor. The story was, that by the mysterious power of a plébiscite the island of Monte Cristo had in some strange way passed under the dominion of Victor Emmanuel, and that for speaking some things uncivil to him, Mr. Taylor was to be tried by the Tuscan law. Well, but if the plébiscite were proclaimed there, they had it on the statement of the noble Lord that the plébiscite was nothing at all; and if Mr. Taylor had applied to the noble Lord, and asked on whose territory he was living, the noble Lord would have told him that it was very uncertain, and he was anxiously looking forward to some future time when peace might be re-established in Italy, and when in that normal state of quiet and repose he might be justified in appealing to the ordinary laws of the country. Both speakers from the Ministerial Bench—the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Under Secretary—had committed themselves to the principle; although he did not think the noble Lord at the head of the Government would say that Mr. Watson Taylor ought to have been left to the mercy of the Italian tribunals. He had never been one of those who approved the language constantly used by the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer), who accused the Italian Government of being a piratical State. Such language gave needless offence to those to whom it was addressed, and it was clearly irrelevant, because the King of Italy in all these transactions never professed to be acting legally. He always appealed to principles above all law. The King of Italy admitted that international law prevented him from invading the State of his neighbour unless he was at war with him; but he said, so violent was the desire of the neighbouring provinces to become united to his territories that he could not prevent or resist it, and therefore on prin- 580 ciples largely sympathized with in this country, he was obliged to act in the way he had done. Well, but if the King of Sardinia could set up this plea of magnificent lawlessness, was his Minister to be listened to when he turned round upon upon an English subject who asked for redress, and met him by a legal quibble, saying that he was so bound and fettered by ties of law and legality that he really dare not and could not give him relief? He would not cast blame on Count Cavour, who was no longer with us, but any Minister was to blame who used or countenanced that language. The spoliation of Mr. Taylor's property took place under circumstances which necessarily incriminated the Italian Government. What were the facts? The Orwell was hired for the purpose of carrying reinforcements to Garibaldi, who had already effected a lodgment on the coast of Sicily. The Italian Government was not taken by surprise. The vessel lay for eight days in the port of Genoa, and Consul Macbean said that during the whole of that period she was used as a depôt for the assemblage of recruits and the reception of arms. At the end of that period the passengers, as they were called, who were on board, turned out to be foreigners, eighty-five in number, acting under the command of Pilotti and Settembrini. A question was made, as to whether these people were British subjects or not. There seemed to have been a little misunderstanding. So far as he could gather, by reference to the lists of the passengers furnished at Malta, there appeared to be seventeen Englishmen, seventeen Italians, and that the rest were foreigners belonging to other countries; but the paper for which the hon. Member for Taunton had moved, was one which Sir Gaspard le Marchant had forwarded to the Government, and in which it was stated that none of these persons were British subjects. What actually occurred was this—when the Captain had gone ashore, Pilotti and Settembrini went to the first engineer and ordered him to steam ahead. The engineer said he could not and would not do so without the orders of his captain. They said he should. He still refused. They took out a revolver, and gave him to understand, that if he did not do as he was bid, his life would be sacrificed; and to show how little doubt there was as to the intention with which these words were used, one of the men, in order to escape from the violence which was 581 applied to the English crew, jumped overboard, and saved his life by getting to another English vessel. Whether or not irons were used, there was clear proof that actual force was put on the crew in order to make them move from Genoa. Of course, it was for the time a piratical vessel, controlled upon the waters by men who had lawlessly laid their hands on it by putting force on English subjects. That was the character in which the vessel reached the coast of Monte Cristo. The first persons found there were soldiers in the allegiance of the King of Sardinia. Well, if the King of Sardinia was acting in the spirit described by the Under Secretary, they might expect there would be either resistance or protest on the part of the loyal soldiers of this loyal King; but there was nothing of the kind. According to the only statement they had, describing the actual interview between these persons and the troops, the passengers, as they were called, were well received by King Victor Emmanuel's soldiers. As Consul Macbean stated, the vessel armed and provided as described, sailed from the port of Genoa, after being there eight days—Mr. Macbean's expression was, that the authorities of the port must have seen what was going on—and the vessel landed its men on the island under circumstances which brought them a good and kindly reception from the troops of the King of Sardinia. It appeared to him, therefore, that even if there had been no sort of complicity on the part of the Italian Government, there would still be that kind of neglect which would render the Italian Government responsible. Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed King of Italy by General Garibaldi, and General Garibaldi was the commander of the expedition of which this gang of men formed part. The King of Sardinia having accepted the crown of Italy from General Garibaldi, how could he turn round and say, when the rights of English subjects were interfered with by the expedition from Genoa, "I really know nothing of the people who have chosen so to associate themselves with General Garibaldi?" The man who put forward such a plea displayed an assurance which ought to be met by indignant remonstrance on the part of any Minister to whom it was addressed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had entirely misunderstood the object of the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. C. Bentinck). He had spoken as if it were the 582 object of the hon. Member to set aside altogether the opinion of the Queen's Advocate as a thing utterly worthless in point of law. No such idea, he was sure, ever entered the head of the hon. Member for Taunton. For his own part, he had the happiness of knowing the Queen's Advocate; and he had such an opinion of his judgment, that if he could only be sure that he had the facts before him, he should be satisfied with his decision. But the question was, whether the facts were truly and faithfully submitted to the Queen's Advocate. Of course, all the necessary steps were taken for obtaining from him a perfectly fair opinion; but the selection of the papers which were to be sent to a lawyer in order to get his report, was not a matter which necessarily fell within the cognizance of any person so highly placed that the House would have the least curiosity even to know his name; and it was manifest, from the published documents, that the change of opinion which took place between September and November was produced by an erroneous statement of the facts. In September, 1861, Her Majesty's Government stated that the affair was one which wore a very serious complexion, and they instructed Sir James Hudson to ascertain all the facts which were necessary for getting at the truth, asking him at the same time to state his own view. Not a single word had been said accounting for the strange delay which occurred between September and November, a period approaching to something like three months, the question being one which involved the rights of British subjects. At length there did come a despatch from Sir James Hudson; and although the Chancellor of the Exchequer had thought fit to put forward a defence for Sir James Hudson in a somewhat triumphant tone, yet it was quite evident that Sir James himself felt that, owing perhaps to the multiplicity of affairs which then invited his attention, he had been neglecting this business. If the maxim that he who excused himself accused himself were true, there was a sentence in his despatch which showed that Sir James Hudson was conscious of not having paid sufficient attention to the claim of Mr. Taylor. Sir James stated, however, that he made three applications to Count Cavour. Count Cavour denied that statement. When two gentlemen made different allegations as to a matter of fact, one, of course, sought for some supposition which 583 would tend as far as possible to reconcile their views. As Sir James Hudson said that he made three applications, we know it was an absolute fact that he must have done so; but we must also infer from the counter statement of Count Cavour, that he made those representations so feebly and ineffectually that he really produced no sort of impression on the mind of the Sardinian Minister. Sir James Hudson, in somewhat strange language, sought in his despatch to find excuses for the judges who condemned Mr. and Mrs. Watson Taylor to a long imprisonment. He said we ought to remember that they were men acting at a time of great excitement—at a period when, as he expressed it, the fate of Italy was trembling in the balance. If those judges were prisoners at the bar, being tried, as they should be tried, for having listened to the most trumpery statements ever submitted to any tribunal, and for having ventured upon such evidence to pronounce a severe sentence upon English subjects, then he admitted that the excuse put forward by Sir James Hudson would be a fair one; but was that find of language a fit pretence to advance as intercepting the rights of English subjects, or was it a proper thing to say that, because the judges were in such a state of excitement that their judgment was disturbed, therefore the demand for redress should be refused? He had remarked, ever since the commencement of these Italian questions, that Her Majesty's Government had met with very little attention in any of the representations which from time to time they had thought proper to make to the Italian Government. It was impossible to forget the way in which their remonstrances were met when they told the King of Italy that his ancestors had received certain provinces for purposes which were not of such a kind as to justify the transfer of those provinces to another State. They were met, he recollected well, by polite evasion; and again in this case, when the representations were first made by Sir James Hudson to Count Cavour, they were received with the same kind of polite contempt. His hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Bernal Osborne) observed the other day, that the kingdom of Italy was used by our Government for giving the go-by to all kinds of home questions. According to the view of his hon. Friend, we were to have no reform, no economy, none of the objects on which hon. Gentlemen in his 584 part of the House were most accustomed to insist, on account of the kingdom of Italy; and no doubt it was true that the pretensions of the King of Italy did keep Europe in such a state of tension as greatly to increase the armaments, not only of England, but also of most of the other States of Europe. So far as he knew, that had been submitted to without a murmur on the part of the people of this country; but he thought they would not be quite content to know that this perpetual kingdom of Italy was to be put forward as a ground, not merely for intercepting other questions, but for depriving English subjects of rights to which they would otherwise be entitled. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had honourably and nobly connected his name with the most strenuous assertion of the rights of British subjects. He had put forward the claims of British subjects with so much spirit and force as to obtain the applause of men of all parties in this country, and he had done so, moreover, with a degree of resolution which had brought him almost to the verge of what foreign nations would endure when the rights of individuals were pressed on their attention. There could be no doubt that this pressure had been endured by foreign States, because they had observed that, upon the whole, claims of this kind were always put forward by the English Government in a spirit of fairness and justice. But he could conceive nothing more intolerable, nothing more prejudicial to the interests of England, than that the advocacy of claims such as that under discussion should be tainted, or even seem to be tainted, with the slightest tinge of partiality. It would, in his opinion, be most disgraceful to this country if it should appear that the wrong which one State might have done a British subject should be held up for the reprobation of Europe, while the wrong done by another and more favoured State was allowed to pass unnoticed. He was, so far as he was concerned, perfectly willing to be bound by the opinion of the Queen's Advocate, desiring simply that he should be better informed of the case than he would have been if he had relied simply on the last despatch of Sir James Hudson, or the opinion of an Italian advocate.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that if the object of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had been to with- 585 draw the attention of the House from the real question at issue, he could not have done so more successfully than in the able and eloquent speech which he had just delivered. He had dilated upon the general character of the Italian revolution; he had commented on the observations of Earl Russell with respect to the annexation of kingdoms by means of universal suffrage; nor had he omitted to allude to the cession of Savoy and Nice, or to those occurrences in Italy which he supposed conduced to the present unsettled state of Europe. The hon. Gentleman had, in short, introduced into his speech every consideration of a general political character which it was possible in any way to connect with the question before the House. He trusted, therefore, hon. Members would pardon him if he asked them again to turn their attention to the real question at issue, which was of a very simple character, the point involved in it being whether the Government of this country had done their duty, and acted on those principles on which they ought to have proceeded, in conducting the communications with the Italian Government on the subject of Mr. Watson Taylor's claims. He quite concurred, he might observe, with his hon. Friend in the opinion, that while it was the pride of England to see justice done to her subjects according to the strict rules of international law, it would be a great blemish on her escutcheon if the advocacy of their claims were managed in such a way as to evince the slightest taint of partiality. In the present instance, however, there was no room for any such charge. The course taken by the Government was the simple and ordinary course pursued under similar circumstances in dealing with every country in the world. It first of all expressed an anxious desire to protect a British subject, who, at the first blush, appeared to have suffered wrong. It had obtained information on the subject from its representative at the Court of that country under whose jurisdiction that wrong was alleged to have been committed; it had necessarily given credence to the facts as stated by its accredited Ministers; and it had from time to time submitted the communications received from them to the law adviser whom it was usual to consult in those circumstances. Of that adviser, his learned Friend the Queen's Advocate, he might speak with the more freedom because he was not present, and he would venture to say that no Government had 586 ever yet been served by an officer who was more zealous or ardent in the cause of justice, or less disposed to recommend acquiescence in a wrong done by any foreign Power whatever to a British subject. All who knew the value of the great services which had now for a considerable number of years been rendered by his learned Friend would, he felt assured, at once concur in that opinion; while, with respect to the facts on which he had been asked to advise, he must express his astonishment that his hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Kinglake) was not better informed than he appeared to be as to the course which our Government was in the habit of taking in dealing with such circumstances. They did not select particular despatches to send to their law adviser, They made him acquainted with all the information on the matter which they themselves possessed; and his hon. Friend would find that Earl Russell, in writing to Sir James Hudson on the 19th of August, 1861, said—You will perceive, from a copy of the Queen's Advocate's report which I enclose, that he looks upon this question in a very serious light, and considers that the manner in which the prosecution against the Taylors was conducted was very far from creditable to the Italian Government.Such was the impression which had been left on the noble Earl's mind by the papers which had arrived up to that date. Further papers, however, threw further light on the subject, and he would, with the permission of the House, recapitulate briefly the simple facts of a very simple case. Every hon. Member was, no doubt, disposed to pity Mr. Taylor very much. He had suffered a considerable loss, which, so far as he could see, he did not at all deserve; and if compensation could properly be made him, no doubt every hon. Member would be glad to effect that object. The House, in dealing with the question, must, however, proceed en wider principles than sympathy with an individual, when a question arose between two Governments requiring for its proper solution an appeal to the uniform principles established by the law of nations. Now, to revert to the facts of the case, he might state that two reports had been made by the head of the guard at Monte Cristo to the law officer of the Italian Crown, the Procureur Royal, at Porto Ferrajo. These reports were of such a character that he conceived it to be his official duty to commence a criminal action in a court of law against the accused persons. The charges made 587 against them were twofold; first, that of having offered resistance to an authorized force, and next that of having made use of seditious language. Now, it was contended by his hon. Friend behind him—and he confessed he was astonished at the circumstance—that those charges having been made, we might, owing to the state of affairs in Tuscany, have set aside the rule in accordance with which it was admitted on all sides we ought to act under ordinary circumstances—that the administration of justice in any country must be allowed to take its regular course, unless it could be shown to be perverted by the interference of the Government, or unless some monstrous departure from recognised principles, in which no State could be expected to acquiesce, were involved. When an hon. Member started with the premiss that the dominions of the King of Sardinia were in a state of anarchy, and that in their case all ordinary rules might therefore beset aside, it was easy to draw from it the conclusion at which his hon. Friend seemed to have arrived. But a premiss more monstrous or extravagant, as founded upon the actual state of things in Tuscany or Sardinia, it was impossible to conceive. The law was there duly administered by regularly constituted tribunals, and there was no evidence that private individuals were in any way prevented from having the benefit of the law. Indeed, if the Government of this country had declined to treat Tuscany and Sardinia as governed by law, they would have displayed a partiality against the independence of Italy such as he would venture to say had never before been exhibited. The fact was that it was so governed, and that it was our bounden duty to apply to its case the ordinary principles of international law. That being so, the question at issue was, as he had said before, a very simple one. Let him suppose that in this country an Italian were to resist to-morrow a policeman in the execution of his duty— would anybody contend that it was not competent for the Government to institute proceedings against him before the proper tribunal? If, he might add, he did not choose to appear before that tribunal and defend himself in the ordinary way, would it not be his own fault if he was subjected to the usual penalty? Yet such was the case of Mr. Taylor. The substance of the charge was proved, to the satisfaction of the court, by the evidence of witnesses; and a judgment not alleged to be 588 contrary to the law of the country was pronounced. He was utterly astonished when he was told that, in accordance with the principles of international law, they could say that the Government of Sardinia had committed a wrong because a public prosecution was instituted against an Englishman for resistance to the Government, and for seditious proceedings. He would grant that the case was most trumpery, and, he had no doubt, that the evidence in some particulars was not true; but what of that? Mr. Taylor allowed judgment to pass against him by default, and the sentence was one which was warranted, according to the code of the country, by the charge and the evidence. He heard with surprise imputations, not only against the judgment of Sir James Hudson, but against his good faith. Anything more ungenerous or more unjust was never known. There was no trace of insincerity in Sir James Hudson's conduct, or of anything except a sincere desire to serve Mr. Taylor to the best of his ability. On three occasions Sir James Hudson wrote to Florence to request that the prosecution should be dropped, and Sir James Hudson told them what he believed, and he thought the House might give credit to his information, that in point of fact, when once the machinery of the law was set in motion, there was no arbitrary power in the Government to slop it. Baron Ricasoli was simply the representative of the executive Government, and, according to the forms of the Constitution of Sardinia, he had no power of interference with judicial proceedings; yet in the face of that statement, supported by the opinion of a Sardinian lawyer, not suggested to be either incapable or dishonest, the hon. and learned Member for Guildford (Mr. Bovill), who must have known better, talked about a nolle prosequi. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to require that the Sardinian constitution should give the same power to the public prosecutor which in England the Attorney General possessed. [Sir GEORGE BOWYER: It does.] His hon. and learned Friend might understand Italian law very well, but he preferred, for the present purpose, taking the statement he found in the papers on the table of the House. The answer was that such a power did not exist; and was England, therefore, to set all international law at defiance, and to make it a casus belli against the King of Italy, if such a power was wanting? 589 But if the power existed, was the Sardinian Minister bound to exercise it? What should we say, supposing a prosecution were instituted against a foreigner, and he did not take the trouble to appear, and his Government required us to enter a nolle prosequi? Why, we should say that we had never heard of such a demand before, and we hoped we never should again. The Sardinian Government did all that they could. The matter was over, and a severe and harsh sentence had been pronounced. But upon representations being made to them they remitted the whole of the punishment, and caused all the costs to be paid by the prosecution. With regard to the Orwell, it was even a plainer and more simple case. She was a British ship sailing under British colours, and manned chiefly by British sailors. She was seized—whether by collusion, or otherwise, was for this purpose unimportant —at Genoa by persons who intended to join the expedition to Sicily, then under the conduct of General Garibaldi. It did not even distinctly appear that there was any previous arrangement, or that those persons were in any sense in the service of General Garibaldi. They made preparations at Genoa, and it was reported that the authorities must have seen and known what was going on. It was not meant that the authorities knew the crew would take her to Monte Cristo and rob Mr. Watson Taylor, but that they must have seen she was intended to he used in the expedition against Sicily. The argument was, that because those men sailed in the Orwell from Genoa, went to Monte Cristo, robbed Mr. Watson Taylor, then went to Sicily and tried to join Garibaldi—which they failed in doing—and because General Garibaldi afterwards subverted the King of Sicily's throne and offered the crown to the King of Sardinia, the King of Sardinia, by accepting the crown, adopted all the acts of the people on board the Orwell. ["Hear, hear!"] If the hon. Gentlemen who cheered thought that was sound reasoning, nothing which he could say would convince them that it was absolutely preposterous and extravagantly absurd. If the authorities of a particular Government knew that an expedition was preparing in one of their ports against another Government, and did not prevent its starting, the Government against which it was directed were the parties to complain; and if the King of Naples had been strong enough, and disposed to remonstrate, no 590 doubt he might have done so. In Ireland not long ago an expedition was organized of a very gallant body of men, presided over by a Gentleman who was now an ornament of that House, for the purpose of supporting the throne of the Pope in Central Italy. He knew that they were Gentlemen incapable of such an act: but supposing in their passage from Ireland they had landed upon some island and robbed an Italian gentleman, by taking supplies or other things, without paying for them, just ns the people on board the Orwell had done at Monte Cristo, would it not be absurd to say that the English authorities were responsible; because, knowing that preparations were being made, having for their object the defence of the Papal dominions, they did not prevent the arming and fitting out such an expedition, when it was clearly against the terms of the Foreign Enlistment Act? Then it was said, that although the Sardinian Government was not at first responsible, they became responsible because they afterwards took the benefit of what was done by General Garibaldi, whom these men meant to join. But was the King of Italy to be responsible for everything which General Garibaldi and all his followers did? The King of Italy would he very unwise to listen to remonstrances which would put him in a position in which he would be held bound by all the engagements and acts of the followers of General Garibaldi merely because the people of Italy achieved their independence under the gallant leadership of that great man, and he offered the crown to the King of Sardinia, and the King of Sardinia accepted it. The King of Italy's answer would be, "The past is one thing, and the future is another. I am content to accept the crown which you offer, but I must not be held responsible for everything which has been done by those persons by whose aid the crown is at your disposal." But this case did not come up to that. These men were not even proved to be the agents of General Garibaldi; for they were not successful in joining him. The Orwell was taken possession of by a British man-of-war, and carried into Malta. Sir James Hudson afterwards saw the master, and brought him to such a reasonable state of mind that he seemed disposed to indemnify Mr. Watson Taylor. Whether the master made overtures to Mr. Taylor or not, he did not know; but Sir James Hudson pointed out that it was 591 by means of the ship that the damage was occasioned. What became of the Orwell? Had the Orwell been in the service of the Sardinian Government, this country would have made remonstrances of a grave kind, because the Orwell was placed in the position of a piratical vessel with the English flag flying; and, if the Sardinian Government had been responsible for it, this country would not have failed to make remonstrances on that account. They learned what became of the Orwell from the statement of Mr. Macbean, the witness on whom his hon. Friends opposite relied. On the 3rd of July, 1861, he said—I understand that Mr. Salter, the master of the Orwell, was tried before a naval court at Genoa, and acquitted of complicity in the loss of his vessel; that the Orwell was captured in the Sicilian waters by Her Majesty's ship Scylla and sent to Malta, where the parties concerned in the abduction were to have been tried for piracy, but that the owners of the Orwell opposed their prosecution.Therefore Mr. and Mrs. Taylor knew where to find the people really responsible, and wherever they were to be found, there they might have followed them; but unless hon. Gentlemen meant to say that every Government was to be responsible for every depredation that might be committed upon any person, or the property of any person, living in its territory, it was impossible to find any standing ground on the principles of international law for holding the Government of Italy properly responsible for the losses of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor in this case.
§ MR. SOTHERON ESTCOURT
There is, in this case, no dispute that a serious outrage has been committed. I have not heard from either side of the House a single word from which I can conjecture that any one is prepared to deny that outrage, or to excuse it. Then comes the question, what is to be done? The political door has been shut by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who says he cannot hold that the King of Italy is responsible for the piratical expedition. The right hon. Gentleman says, "It is true that the ship with a piratical band, as it is called, started from a Sardinian port and hoisted a Sardinian flag; but, inasmuch as she sometimes hoisted a British flag, and that part of the crew were coerced to join in the proceedings, I will not hold the King of Sardinia liable to make good any loss or injury sustained by the actions of that crew." It is not denied that the King of Sardinia profited by the expedition, as the crew joined the main body, by whom Sicily 592 was wrested from the Bourbons, and from their proceedings Naples as well as Sicily was added to his dominions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will not, however, allow any room to deal with the matter in a political sense, because he is of the same opinion as Count Cavour, who says—I am not aware if Mr. Taylor has suffered losses which he did not bring upon himself, and which were not consequent upon the facts which the tribunal has established as chargeable to him; but, upon every hypothesis, if he can draw up legitimate reclamations, diplomatic intervention could only take place, it appears to me, when all justice shall have been refused him by competent authority.The chancellor of the Exchequer having shut the political door, it might be supposed that some light would be allowed to enter through the legal door; but the latter is shut by the Solicitor General. Against two such authorities I am far from setting any opinion which I may entertain, but I am forced to ask the question, "Under what rule is Italy governed when such things can happen without compensation being given to a gentleman against whom it is admitted an injury had been done, and who has been subjected to a great indignity?" If those things had occurred in this country, it would have been held that a state of anarchy had arisen. I do not mean to say that anarchy prevails in Italy—no doubt it is in a disturbed condition, but I hold that the Sovereign of that country, being on terms of amity with the Sovereign of this country, is bound to protect a British subject living in his dominions, in the same manner as we are bound to protect an Italian in England following his lawful occupations and doing injury to no man. I hope the discussion will not close without our receiving some assurance from the Government to the effect that Mr. Taylor's case is not a hopeless one; for I think the effect would be bad, not only in Italy, but in every other country, if we were told, on the authority of the Government, that there is no redress for a man who has suffered such injuries, and who is admitted on all sides to be an innocent man. Up to the date of those occurrences in Monte Cristo it was believed by the friends of Mr. Taylor that he was as safe in the enjoyment of the estate which he had purchased, and on which he was laying out a great deal of money, as if it were situated in any county in England. Nothing would weigh more on their minds than a statement by authority that such an impression was a mistake 593 from beginning to end, and that he has been living in a country which is not subjected to lawful authority. I think any hon. Member who reads the papers on the subject will not wonder that Mr. Taylor declined to have recourse to the Courts in Elba, either to defend himself in the first instance, or afterwards to obtain a reversal of the sentence. If our own Government declares that he can have no redress, the effect will be to entirely deter any prudent Englishman from investing his money in any of the Italian possessions, or from going to reside in Italy. For my own part, I hold that a man can live as safely in Italy at the present moment as in England; but I arrive at that conviction from circumstances totally independent of the events at Monte Cristo—I hold that opinion in defiance of the circumstances detailed in those papers. I think the case ought not to be left in its present position. If closed in a legal sense, it ought not to be in a political; for both the English and the Italian Government are concerned in obtaining redress for my unfortunate friend.
MR. SOMERSET BEAUMONT
said, he could not approve the tone in which the Under Secretary fur Foreign Affairs had criticised the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had brought forward this Motion. The question was a very important one concerning a British subject, and, after the temperate manner in which it had been stated by the hon. Member for Taunton, the Under Secretary ought not to have said it was brought forward in a party spirit. [Mr. LAYARD: I did not say that.] He would remind the hon. Gentleman of his remark, that whenever anything unfavourable to Italian unity was said by the Mover, he was cheered by hon. Members on the Conservative side. An hon. Gentleman bringing forward a Motion in that House was not responsible for the cheers with which his observations might be received. A remark like that made by the hon. Gentleman might be supposed to betoken a disposition to prevent hon. Members from speaking their opinions frankly. Ten days ago a brilliant occurrence took place in that House. A Motion was made for retrenchment—a very unmeaning one, as he thought—and the noble Lord at the head of the Government met it in a straightforward and, he was glad to say, a most successful manner. He said he would not discuss the question as to the particular Resolution that ought to be adopted, but would go at once into another question— 594 namely, whether or not the House would have Lord Palmerston at the head of Her Majesty's Government. Knowing that his leadership was cherished in the House of Commons, the noble Lord did right to take that tone. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary was an apt pupil, and had followed the same course, for he said, "This is a serious case. The hon. Gentleman who made this Motion wants to fling a stone at Italian unity." His reply to the hon. Gentleman was, "Italian unity must be an article of very brittle manufacture if it cannot bear a stone cast at it in this House." He had had the honour of being returned for a large town; and he had stated to its constituency that he was a firm supporter of the policy of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs with regard to Italy. He was still a supporter of that policy. But he thought, however successful had been the achievement of establishing the Italian kingdom, it had been brought about by means, and through the agency of persons, of whom the less said the better. However much he might agree with the result, he thought the way in which it was effected would not, in the page of history, be very creditable to its origin. That being the state of things, it was not surprising that cases should have occurred of injury done to British subjects. He would not attempt to refute the defence of the course taken by Her Majesty's Government made by the Solicitor General. Let them look at the case in this way. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, what an enormity it would be if they sanctioned the view that a country should be made answerable for every act of a ship leaving a foreign port under her colours. That was true enough; but the case in question was exceptional. They could not call that a common piratical expedition which ended in making greater territorial changes than had occurred in Europe in the last twenty-five years. What the Chancellor of the Exchequer called a piratical expedition, ended in a territorial change that doubled the extent of one of the smallest sovereignties of Europe. Could they compare consequences of this kind with the ordinary consequences of a piratical expedition? He would not discuss the legal part of the case; he would look at it in a commonsense point of view. The Solicitor General said it was not certain this expedition had the authority of General Garibaldi. But he thought the despatch of the 24th of July, 1860, in which the General com- 595 manding the national army of Italy ordered the steamer to be chartered, did amount to an authorization. Nor was it an isolated despatch. Admiral Mundy, writing from Naples, on the 4th of September, 1860, expressed his belief that General Garibaldi was not cognizant of anything that had been illegally conducted. But the transaction brought great advantage to Garibaldi's expedition; and he thought it extravagant to say that these circumstances took place without the authority of General Garibaldi. The vessel left Genoa, and the persons on board committed great ravages on the property of an inoffensive English gentleman, who had chosen an elegant retreat in this island in order more pleasantly to cultivate his taste for literature, gardening;, and farming. He and his wife appeared to have a good position in society, find might be expected to speak and act like persons of good condition; but one of the accusations against the lady was that she had called Victor Emmanuel "a bullock merchant." That did not convey the idea of great brilliance of repartee. He was not sufficiently acquainted with the idiom of Italian to say whether the term conveyed anything more in the original than it did in the translation; but he owned he was unwilling to believe that such language had been uttered by the lips of a gentlewoman, and, to his mind, it looked very much like a trumped-up story. But the expedition that landed on the island of Monte Cristo, to the injury of the English proprietor, resulted in a great acquisition of territory by Victor Emmanuel; and putting aside any question of law, he would ask whether Victor Emmanuel was not, as a man of honour, bound to offer a fair and adequate compensation for the injury done? Was he not bound, as a gentleman, to accept the responsibility of what had produced such great advantage to him? The noble Viscount had often vindicated, with great success, the rights of British subjects. The confidence of the country, which he had so justly obtained, was derived from the manliness with which he had always vindicated the fair claims of British subjects; and he hoped the noble Lord would not neglect the principle on this occasion.
§ MR. STIRLING
thought the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Cavendish Bentnick) had been treated somewhat unfairly from the Treasury Bench. The House would acknowledge that the hon. Member had introduced a subject, by which 596 warm feelings might easily have been excited, in a very calm and temperate manner. It was necessary to his hon. Friend's case to deny the accuracy of some statements made by Sir James Hudson in his despatch; but he had done so without in the smallest degree impugning Sir James Hudson's honour. So far from it, he went out of his way to explain how a mistake might have arisen. Yet for this his hon. Friend had been attacked by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who used an epithet which his own good sense induced him in a few minutes afterwards to withdraw. The Solicitor General had also applied the epithets "unjust" and "ungenerous" to his hon. Friend. Now, what was the particular point of the case? Sir James Hudson described an interview with the owners of the ship Orwell in a particular manner. This representation, his hon. Friend stated, was inaccurate; and he did so on the authority of the owners in question, two gentlemen who were present at this moment in London, and whose description of what took place differed widely from that of Sir James Hudson. He had no doubt that the matter could be explained, and that Sir James Hudson would himself be anxious to explain it. But when he heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Solicitor General taking refuge in such epithets as they had applied to the statement of his hon. Friend, he thought their case could not be so strong as they desired it to be thought. The Solicitor General had said that the second statement submitted to the Queen's Advocate by the Government, being less favourable to Mr. Watson Taylor, had produced a less favourable answer from the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. It did not, however, appear that the lawyer on whose last opinion the less favourable despatch of the noble Earl was founded, knew that Mr. Taylor distinctly denied being aware of the annexation of the territory of Tuscany by the King of Sardinia when the alleged offence was committed. The post had not then reached the island with the news that Victor Emmanuel had been proclaimed King, and therefore Mr. Taylor was in ignorance of what his opponents thought of importance in the charges against him. The House had heard a great deal of the lawlessness of the pirates who had pillaged the island of Monte Cristo. No doubt pirates were always lawless, but it had not been shown 597 in what respect these men differed from those who embarked with Garibaldi, and assisted him in the conquest of Naples. They formed part of the same body, and, if he were correctly informed, Settembrini, who was ringleader in the seizure of the Orwell, at this moment held a commission in the service of the King of Italy. Perhaps, however, as an answer to the charge of lawlessness, it would be sufficient to read the agreement, signed by those who embarked on board the Orwell. The following were the terms of the agreement, to which he ventured to call the especial attention of the House:—Agreement, to be valuable and considered as ship's articles. We, the undersigned, of our own free will, hereby agree to join in one or more of Garibaldi's men-of-war or transport ships for the purpose of fighting on behalf of the Italian cause as men-of-wars-men under Garibaldi's immediate command, or one of his appointed officers, and there to serve in a brave, faithful, honest, and sober manner. We all understand and agree that we are to be under the same disciplinary law as the army—that is, martial law. For our services we are to receive — francs per month, payable monthly or quarterly, and £200 sterling per gun prize money, to be divided among the crew according to the usual custom, twenty days after the prize enters port.These men were thus neither more nor less entitled to the phrase "lawless" than the other Volunteers who formed part of Garibaldi's expedition, for which expedition these very men were engaged, and in which it appears many of them were ultimately combatants under the command of Garibaldi himself. Certainly no man had benefited more largely by the services of Garibaldi and his comrades than the King of Italy, or had less right to repudiate claims to which the acts of Garibaldi's followers had justly exposed him. A witty Frenchman in the last century, speaking of the Princes of Savoy, said that "geography prevented them from being honest men." That saying had often recurred to his mind during the negotiations for the cession of Savoy to France. He (Mr. Stirling) remembered, however, the difficult and trying circumstances in which the King of Italy was placed, and he was thus led to compassionate that which he could not hut condemn. Now, however, that the King of Sardinia had become King of Italy, he really hoped that those geographical necessities which had borne so hard upon his ancestors, had passed away, and that by respecting the rights of his own subjects, the rights of other Powers, and the rights of Englishmen, he would endeavour to deserve his 598 title of Il Re Galantuomo. He had read with great pain the despatch of Count Cavour; but, after all, the question for that House was—how had Her Majesty's Government behaved? Being an admirer, in the main, of the present foreign policy of the noble Earl at the Foreign Office— having more especially sympathized with his Italian policy, and having, in his humble way, taken the greatest interest in Italian unity—he regretted he could not say that, in his opinion, the action of the Foreign Secretary had been satisfactory in this case. On the 30th of January that noble Earl wrote one of those admirable compositions known as his "spirited despatches." In a few months, however, a change came over the noble Lord's spirit. The House could not, in the papers before it, watch the process, but in a few months the spirit had entirely evaporated, and Mr. Taylor was told, in a milk-and-water despatch signed by an Under Secretary, that he must put up with his intolerable wrongs. Let him compare this treatment of a British subject, who, for no wrong done by him, had had his property ravaged and destroyed, with the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government when a foreign subject was concerned. In October last, at the very time this affair was under the consideration of the Foreign Office, Father Passaglia, a subject of the Pope, having written a very able pamphlet in favour of Italian unity and against the temporal power of the Pope, went to Rome to observe the effect of his work. When he arrived, his pamphlet was condemned, and he himself threatened with arrest. What the precise danger which threatened this distinguished man might be he knew not; but be had heard, and read in the newspapers—and the statement had not been denied—that Lord Russell sent orders to Rome that a British passport was to be given to Father Passaglia, and that he was to receive all the protection that could be afforded to a British subject. He made no remark on this proceeding. The Foreign Secretary had, perhaps, good grounds for what he had done; but why an Italian ecclesiastic, who was not a British subject, and who had no claim to the protection of a British Minister, should be treated with so much respect, he (Mr. Stirling) could not altogether understand. He believed that the noble Lord would have better employed his energies on behalf of this British subject who had been so cruelly wronged, than in using what he must re- 599 gard as a considerable liberty with respect to a member of the Pope's opposition. He believed the noble Lord would not have ventured to pursue a similar course if Father Passaglia had been, not an Italian, but a Frenchman. Had he been a Frenchman in danger of Cayenne or Lambessa, would the noble Lord have ventured to order Lord Cowley to give him a British passport, and the protection of British power? The noble Lord knew he was dealing with a Government that was weak at home and unpopular in this country, that he was dealing with Rome and not France, with the Pope and not the Emperor. He now called upon him to deal with equal spirit with a Government both popular at home and powerful abroad, popular which was both in Italy and England; but endeavouring to evade the just claim of a deeply injured and innocent Englishman.
SIR MINTO FARQUHAR
said, that his hon. Friend who opened this debate could not have stated the circumstances more temperately or with a greater absence of party feeling, and he could not therefore help expressing his astonishment at the speech of the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Had matters come to such a pass that justice could not be demanded in that House for a British subject without an imputation of partisanship against the Italian Government being flung at the Opposition benches? He would maintain that there had been no party in that House more gratified to see the hopes of Italy fulfilled, and Italian liberty thoroughly established, than the men among whom he had the honour to sit. It was all very well for the noble Viscount at the head of the Government to set aside the question of finance, and then to ask what Italy would be if she were in the hands of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli.) For himself, he demanded that these questions should be discussed on their merits. He was quite as anxious to see Italy in a state of freedom and independence as any hon. Member who sat on the Ministerial benches. What would have happened if Mr. Taylor had been a French or American instead of a British subject? Would a French or American Minister have tamely sat down when a French or American subject had had his house attacked and his estate ravaged, and then told him to seek redress in the law courts of Sardinia, at a lime, too, when Sir James Hudson stated that the judges themselves who heard the case were carried away by 600 the excitement of the time, when the fate of Italy was trembling in the balance. Was the House to be told that Mr. Taylor should have recourse to such courts for justice? Who was the originator of the whole affair against Mr. Taylor? Why, a corporal who had been sent to the island with a few men as a guard, whom he had employed, and against whom he had lodged a complaint, and who, no doubt, had invented the whole story. Mr. Watson Taylor was accused of sedition, and his wife of seditious gesticulation; his labourers were charged at the same time, and he was to be brought before a court without a witness. Now, Mr. Taylor was a friend and relative of his, and he was satisfied that that gentleman was incapable of uttering the expressions attributed to him, and that Mrs. Taylor was equally incapable of making use of the vulgar terms which were put into her mouth. The whole thing was ridiculous. They were British subjects, and had suffered great loss, for Mr. Taylor had expended £10,000 or £12,000 on his property, and was living upon it in a peaceable manner. The Sardinian Government admitted that the proceedings were wrong, and had remitted the sentence pronounced upon him, and had paid his expenses, and they ought also to pay him the compensation to which he was fairly entitled. Surely, the Sardinian Government were open to friendly remonstrance on the subject from the Government of this country. He should be glad to know why the evidence of the labourers of Mr. Taylor was not to be considered as good as that given by his accusers, yet the corporal and his guard were believed and the labourers were not. It was said, if Mr. Taylor had remained at Monte Cristo when the Orwell arrived, he might have prevented the destruction of property which took place there. But Consul Macbean was of a different opinion, and said it was lucky for Mr. Taylor that he was not on the island when the vessel arrived there. The case altogether was a very strong one, and it had been left almost entirely to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, without support from Members on the Government side of the House, which was very significant, to defend the conduct of the Sardinian Government.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I think there are two persons who have, in different ways, been ill-used. The one is 601 Sir James Hudson, the other Mr. Watson Taylor. I think Sir James Hudson has been very unfairly attacked by the hon. Gentleman who submitted this Motion, and I am satisfied that the accusation against Sir James Hudson, of having made statements which are totally unfounded—implying also that he believed them at the time to he unfounded—is an imputation which the hon. Gentleman will be disposed on reflection entirely to withdraw. Everybody who knows Sir James Hudson knows that there is not a more honourable man living; that there is no man more incapable of misrepresenting anything, much more of stating anything which he does not believe to be true. He is a man who has distinguished himself greatly in all the employments in which he has found himself, and who has, on every occasion, upheld the honour and dignity of the country which he has served. With regard to Mr. Watson Taylor, no doubt he has sustained very grievous injury. Nobody denies that. The question at issue in this night's debate has been whether the circumstances of the case were such as to have justified Her Majesty's Government in authoritatively demanding redress and compensation in his favour from the Italian Government. Now, there are two different parts of Mr. Watson Taylor's case. The one is the trial at Porto Ferrajo; the other is the destruction of Mr. Taylor's property in the island of Monte Cristo. I am quite ready to admit that the condemnation passed upon him at Porto Ferrajo may have been totally unjust. But, nevertheless, it was founded upon the evidence such ns it was, which the Court had before it. Mr. Taylor, for a reason which I do not impugn—he very likely judged properly with reference to his own personal security under the circumstances of the case—did not think it right to appear before the Court, and therefore did not give the evidence which would have rebutted that brought against him. The Court could only form its judgment upon the statements made before it, the truth of which it was bound to assume. Mr. Watson Taylor, however, did not suffer any real injury from this, because the Italian Government remitted the sentence passed upon him and paid his expenses, thereby admitting that the sentence was an unjust one, and one which would not have been pronounced if his evidence in reply had been given. We must therefore dismiss altogether that part of the case, upon 602 which a great deal of stress has been laid by those who have spoken to-night. The real grievance is the injury done to Mr. Taylor's property at Monte Cristo. Now, it is very plain that the injury was inflicted by persons who were not at the time in the service of the Italian Government. They have been described on both sides of the House as persons who acted like pirates. Well, then the question arises whether the Government of a country from the port of which piratical vessels sail is liable to give compensation for the piratical acts of the crew? Undoubtedly not. Nobody can contend that if a piratical vessel sails from a port of this country, and commits outrages in another part of the world, the British Government is liable to make good the injuries which that piratical vessel may have inflicted. If you hold that these people were pirates, not Italian subjects, but foreigners embarking in a vessel from an Italian port, and committing outrageous acts of piracy—if that be granted, then you are not entitled to demand from the Italian Government reparation for the acts of persons who were not under its control nor acting under its orders, and for whose acts that Government cannot be held responsible. My noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office did, upon the first statement, think the case was a strong one— as, undoubtedly, in point of injury it was— and that there were grounds upon which the Italian Government might be called upon to make reparation, and he wrote a despatch in that sense. Further information, however, came to him, and that further information was referred to the Queen's Advocate. I may here state that it is the practice of the Foreign Office to submit every document connected with the matter upon which a legal opinion is required to the officer from whom that legal opinion is asked, and it is obvious, that if that were not done, the Foreign Office would defeat its own object in asking for an opinion. That is done for this reason, that the Secretary of State may know upon what grounds he may safely act, and take his stand in making application to a foreign Government upon a given case. But if he did not give to the legal officer every fact in his possession connected with the matter upon which an opinion is asked, he would defeat the purpose for which the opinion is required. Therefore, the consistent and the necessary practice is to send all the papers to the three Law Officers or to the single Law Officer who is 603 consulted. There is an end, then, of the complaint that any part of the papers were withheld from the Queen's Advocate. I will undertake to say that every fact in the possession of the Foreign Office upon which an opinion could be founded was submitted to the Queen's Advocate when his opinion was asked for. Now, what was the result of this last reference to the Queen's Advocate? That Law Officer, taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, reported to my noble Friend that there were not grounds upon which internationally the Government of this country could make any demand upon the Government of Italy. Then, what was my noble Friend to do? Was he to make a demand which his legal adviser told him he was not entitled to make? Suppose he had made a demand, and it had been rejected, and measures of hostility had followed, he would have been called upon to explain to Parliament the grounds upon which those measures had been taken. What would this House have said if they found that he was acting in direct contradiction to the opinions of his legal adviser? It was impossible for my noble Friend to act otherwise than he has acted; and, as far as this discussion has turned upon the consideration of the conduct of the Government, I contend the Government has done precisely what it was our duty to do—in the first place, my noble Friend urged a claim which appeared to him to be well founded; and when upon further investigation the legal adviser of the Government reported that it was a claim that could not properly be urged, he abstained from urging it. I contend that, however hard it may have borne on Mr. Watson Taylor and his interests, my noble Friend could only pursue the course he has pursued. I admit that there is a further question, beyond the conduct of her Majesty's Government, and that is the decision at which, after full consideration and a review of the facts, the Italian Government may arrive in a case of this kind. It cannot be denied that from a concatenation of circumstances over which Mr. and Mrs. Taylor had no control—although I think they might by a different course have avoided some portion of the evils they have sustained — but, passing over that, it must be admitted they have suffered grievous loss. That loss has been sustained, not at a period, as was stated by my hon. Friend, when Italy was in a condition of anarchy, when the laws were suspended, when no justice could be 604 had from the courts, and when the ordinary transactions of mankind were involved in confusion. That never was the case, for all the changes that have taken place there have taken place with most wonderful moderation, and with an absence of interuption of public order and public justice, It is not true, then, to say that there was any period at which application might not have been made to the tribunals of that country with a fair expectation of justice being done. Therefore I must say I think Mr. Taylor would have been well advised if he had had recourse to the courts of law for a remedy against the owners of the Orwell—for I presume they are the parties from whom redress should have been demanded. But, making all allowances for impressions produced upon his mind by circumstances which had occurred, and making allowance for apprehensions he might have entertained that prejudices would have operated against him, so that it was useless to apply to the courts of law, I cannot but think that the Government of the King of Italy, now that these transactions have passed away, may, upon reconsideration, and especially when they learn the sympathy which this case has excited on both sides of this House—may be inclined to look upon it from a different point of view from that from which they had considered it before. I have no hesitation in saying, that if any friendly representations from Her Majesty's Government can tend in any way to influence the decision which we cannot demand as a right—because we are told by our legal adviser that we are not entitled to do so— such representations will be made, and considering the friendly relations happily existing between the Italian Government and the Government of Her Majesty, and the strong and general expressions of opinion in this House, such representations may have weight, I think, with the Italian Government. As far as those considerations go, I have no hesitation in saying that Her Majesty's Government will feel a pleasure in representing them to the Italian Government.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I have always been of opinion that discussion in this House is of great advantage. And when I contrast the speech we have just heard from the First Minister of the Crown with those with which we have been favoured on the same subject from the Under Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I find renewed evidence to 605 confirm me in that conviction. This debate, after the statement of my hon. Friend near me—a statement ample and perspicuous, and which did justice to all the circumstances of the case—was encountered on the part of the Under Secretary by an announcement that any remarks made on it would be looked upon as an expression of want of confidence in the Government. There is an old saying, "Once in a way," and in the hands of a great master, and one entitled to use weapons, which ought seldom to be had recourse to, such a proceeding may be justified; but it is one which ought to be used very seldom, as I think its constant repetition might be somewhat dangerous to our Parliamentary Government. I have always been of opinion that successes obtained by such means are of a very dangerous character even to those who are successful, and that sometimes, instead of making a Government strong, they only make a House of Commons weak. But in the present case, when the wrongs of an English gentleman are brought under the consideration of the House of Commons, I cannot conceive anything more indiscreet than that the first member of the Government who rises to speak upon them should meet the question with a cry of a party debate, and cast an imputation upon others of gross party feeling. [Mr. LAYARD: I said nothing of the kind.] Well, perhaps you said something stronger. I believe I have only weakly expressed the views of the hon. Gentleman. But I think the course of the debate has dispelled any opinion of that kind; and it appears to me that there is a conviction on all sides that the only motive of my hon. Friend, and the only one which influenced those who expressed similar views from both sides of the House, is that we are called upon to discharge one of the highest duties of a representative in this assembly—namely, that when a question of the grievance of a British subject is brought before us, we should give it that calm and attentive consideration which it requires. I will make no remark on the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, except that it seemed to me to be pitched in the same unfortunate tone as that of the Under Secretary, and for which I admit that the Chief Minister who has just addressed us has completely compensated. It has been said that this question must he considered either in a legal or political point of view. Well, we had the legal aspect of it put by the Solicitor General and another Member 606 of the Government. The Solicitor General showed that there was a clear legal remedy in the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor against the Italian Government, and that they might bring their action against—whom? Why, against General Garibaldi. So that General Garibaldi having presented the Sovereign of Sardinia with the kingdom of Italy is to have an action brought against him by Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. Now, I think nothing could be more ungenerous than this suggestion of the hon. and learned Solicitor General. I remember, some years ago there was a debate upon China in this House. It was the commencement of that unfortunate policy so much favoured by the Chief Minister that has cost us such millions of money. We had a debate upon China in the course of which we had a speech from a distinguished lawyer—:I dare say it was the Solicitor General of that day—and it was impossible to resist the chain of arguments by which he proved the legal remedy which certain unfortunate people had against the Emperor of China. I recollect Sir James Graham, who followed on that occasion, saying, "Mr. Speaker, for God's sake, let us get this question out of Nisi Prius." Well, I say, the same in reference to this case of Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. If the only remedy for the sufferers is to be had in an action against General Garibaldi in a court at Naples, I must say I can hardly congratulate them upon their character of British subjects. But, as to viewing this question in a political sense—why, Sir, when a country is in a state of revolution everything relating to it is political, and it is ridiculous and mere pedantry to talk about having recourse to courts of justice. The noble Lord has in this respect taken a right view of the ease. He has generously offered his assistance towards procuring redress, but at the same time he intimated his opinion—not very generously I think—that if Mr. and Mrs. Taylor had behaved otherwise than as they had done, they might not have been placed in so painful a position. My opinion is that Mr. Taylor was placed in a most difficult position, and that he has acted on the whole with as much discretion as one could reasonably expect. But we are not to look at his discretion in the matter, but to his rights as a British subject who has been grossly injured, and whose property has been outrageously violated. The noble Lord referred very strongly to Sir James Hudson. Now, I look upon that gentle- 607 man as a valuable servant of the Crown. I have no hesitation in saying, that he possesses great energy and zeal—though Talleyrand thought zeal not the most desirable quality in a Minister — and is an able public servant. But Sir James Hudson is not free from indiscretion, and in his time he has committed acts of indiscretion. I remember, only three years ago, vindicating him in this House from an act of great indiscretion, on the ground of his far superior public services. We ought not therefore to look with severity on the supposed faults of Mr. Taylor, or to visit him with the charge of indiscretion, when Sir James Hudson himself is not always free from it. There is no doubt that Mr. Taylor is an English subject, a gentleman, and the near relative of gentlemen who have sat in this House. It cannot be denied that he has been greatly injured and treated with gross injustice. His claim for reparation cannot be put off in this House so easily as some hon. Members seem to suppose. We cannot be put off in our demand for inquiry with a view to the redress of his wrongs by such arguments as those urged by the Under Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I say that the view expressed by the noble Viscount is more liberal, more wise, more politic, and more conducive to the interests of Italy itself, than that expressed by his colleagues in the Government. I say, looking at the grievances and injuries which this honourable man, Mr. Taylor, has experienced, I think that the noble Lord is right in holding out what is in form only a hope of reparation; but, coming from such lips, must he viewed as a certainty that Mr. Taylor will receive that redress to which he is entitled. That is only what the noble Lord has done in many cases before. Why, it is only a year ago that a gentleman—an English gentleman who could not obtain a place to which he thought he was entitled in a German railway carriage —I suppose you all remember what a sensation was created throughout the country on that subject—I will not speak of the thundering articles in thundering newspapers; I will not speak of the murmurs of an indignant and sympathizing country; but we had the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, because that gentleman did not get a place in a German railway carriage, coming down to this House and absolutely delivering an oration 608 that threatened Prussia with a revolution. I say, there is some hope for Mr. Watson Taylor when such a distinguished person as that First Minister of the country promises to do something; and it is from the unfailing patriotism of the noble Lord that we have some chance that a little more spirit will be infused into the diplomatic relations between the Italian Government and this country than the Under Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us any hope to expect. If Mr. Watson Taylor had been a Don Pacifico, then I am confident that he would not have pleaded in vain to the noble Lord; but I wish to do justice to the noble Lord, and I think that what he has done to night is most encouraging, and that the recollection of the great feat of the noble Lord in the Pacifico case will animate him now, and he will say, "I who vindicated the rights of Don Pacifico, a foreigner and alien, I will not be backward now because the sufferer is an Englishman and an English gentleman. I will not accept the course chalked out by my colleagues, but in this, as in all other cases where I am concerned, I will vindicate the honour of my country, and protect the rights of my countrymen."
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he had never intended to accuse Sir James Hudson of having wilfully misstated the facts of the case. What he had stated was, that in his multiplicity of business he had probably forgotten what had occurred. Having heard the assurance of the noble Lord, and believing that the noble Lord would always act up to what he said, he would withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."