HC Deb 10 March 1862 vol 165 cc1245-7

I wish, Sir, to put a question to Her Majesty's Government respecting certain proclamations which have been issued by the officers of the King of Italy in the southern parts of that country. Very recently public feeling was much excited in this country by a proclamation signed by Colonel Fantoni, which commanded the shooting of women and other enormities so incredible that I believe a Minister of authority and one of the advisers of the Crown felt him self justified in his place in denying the authenticity of the document. Unfortunately it proved to be authentic, but public feeling was relieved by the highest authority in another place in forming the country that he had received a communication from the Prime Minister of the King of Italy, declaring that the moment the proclamation of Colonel Fantoni was issued it was by a superior order recalled. But, Sir, I have in my hand another proclamation, which appears to have been issued several days after the proclamation of Colonel Fantoni that we were assured was immediately recalled. I can have no doubt of its authenticity, for I find it in a Neapolitan journal of highly Liberal opinions. The House will, perhaps, allow me to state the principal features of that proclamation that they may comprehend the object of my question; and, also that Her Majesty's Government may recognise, if they have it in their power, whether that document or an official copy of that document is in their possession. The proclamation is signed by one Major Fumel, who was the chief of the district of Farther Calabria, a district that is, I believe, of considerable extent. Now Major Fumel, under date the 12th of February, from Ciro, proclaims— The undersigned, charged with the destruction of brigandage, declares that whoever gives shelter, or any kind of sustenance or aid, to brigands, or seeing them and knowing their place of refuge, does not immediately give information to the armed force, or the civil and military authorities, shall be immediately shot. All cabins must be burnt, towers and farmhouses which are not inhabited, or defended by armed force, must be dismantled within three days, or the doors and windows built up. After that time they will be burnt, and likewise all cattle found without the necessary protecting force will be killed. It is also prohibited to carry bread or food of any kind out of the inhabited parts of the commune; and whoever acts in contravention of this order will be considered as an accomplice of the brigands, and shot. Now, the question I wish to put to Her Majesty's Government is to know, whether Her Majesty's Minister at Turin, who appears not until the late inquiry to have furnished Her Majesty's Government with any copy of these documents—whether he has placed that proclamation to which I have now referred within the cognizance of Her Majesty's Government; and whether Her Majesty's Government have given the subject of that proclamation their attention, I may even say their anxious attention?


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman had the goodness this morning to give me notice of the question that he meant to ask, and I have therefore made inquiry at the Foreign Office, to ascertain whether any communication has been received there with regard to this proclamation of Major Fumel's. The answer which I got was, that no information on this point had been received either from Her Majesty's Minister at Turin or from Her Majesty's Consul at Naples, but that a telegraphic inquiry would immediately be made for the purpose of ascertaining how the fact stands. I am sure it is needless to say with regard to the proclamation in question that Her Majesty's Government must partake of the disgust that everybody will feel at proceedings of this kind. It is true that the brigands who have infested this part of the Neapolitan territory have committed outrages of the most revolting character, but that is no justification for the authorities to imitate their conduct, and retaliate on the innocent the misdeeds of the guilty. It is perfectly true, with regard to the first proclamation; with respect to which a question was put in another place, that we were informed that such a proclamation had been issued, but that it had been immediately revolted by the superior 'military authority on the spot. And I hope that the result of the inquiry now being made, respecting this proclamation will lead to information of the same kind, and that it will not only have been disavowed, but entirely withdrawn, and, I should trust, censured by the authorities of the King of Italy.