HC Deb 04 July 1867 vol 188 cc983-6

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether any information has been received upon the subject of the alleged execution of the Emperor Maximilian by Juarez; and, if there has, what course the Government proposes to take in order to mark their abhorrence of so great a crime?


I have not received any official confirmation of the death of the ex-Emperor Maximilian. Indeed, official despatches from Mexico have of late been very few, owing to the interruption of the communications and the generally disturbed state of the country. I find, however, that the report of his death is accepted as true both at Paris and Vienna, and I fear it probably is so, although I have no certain knowledge upon the subject. If it be true it is, no doubt, a very deplorable and a very impolitic act, and not the less deplorable, nor the less impolitic, because, unhappily, acts of that kind have only been too common on both sides in the civil wars of Mexico and other Spanish American countries. As to the latter part of the Question, I think we ought at least to wait for further information before we can say what course would be proper to be taken; and, for myself, I cannot see what expression of opinion is possible upon the part of the British Government.


said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, What arrangements have been made to enable the Members of both Houses of Parliament to witness the Naval Review?


said, that two large steamers—the Ripon and the Syria—belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Company, had been taken up by the Admiralty in order to provide accommodation for the Members of both Houses of Parliament. The Ripon would be placed at the disposal of Members of that House, and 450 tickets would be issued for her, which would not be transferable. The Syria would be at the disposal of the other House of Parliament, for which 400 tickets would be issued, and he was not aware that the slightest distinction would be made between the Members of the two Houses. How these tickets should be distributed rested with the Secretary to the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker's Secretary. Arrangements had been made for running special trains between London and Portsmouth and back, of which due notice would be given. The tickets would be issued by the Admiralty, but of course they would be paid for by the Members requiring them.



wished to know whether, in consequence of the sad announcement of the execution of the Emperor Maximilian, it was the intention of the authorities to hold the Review in Hyde Park to-morrow?


The House has already been informed by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that no official communication of the death of the Emperor Maximilian has been received at the Foreign Office. As yet, therefore, no instructions have been issued from any quarter to countermand the review.



Since I last addressed the Committee I have received a communication, the substance of which I am desired to make known to the House, and, seeing that the House is full, I think I could not find a more convenient opportunity for doing so. It will be in the recollection of the House that, early in the evening, the hon. and gallant Member for Truro addressed a Question to my noble Colleague the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, inquiring whether the Review proposed to be held tomorrow would be postponed in consequence of certain rumours which had reached this country of the occurrence of a great calamity. At the time when that question was put no official information had reached the Government on the subject. I am now desired to say that, in consequence of official information of the occurrence of that sad event having been received, it will not be in the power of Her Majesty to be present at the proposed review of her troops to-morrow, where she expected to be supported by her faithful Lords and Commons. Under these circumstances, the Review has been postponed; but only for a few days, when Her Majesty trusts that she will meet not only her troops, but also her faithful Lords and Commons. I have been desired not to lose a moment in making this announcement, which must be my excuse for having done so in a somewhat irregular manner, for which I am sure the House will pardon me. Perhaps under these circumstances it will not be thought unreasonable that a morning sitting should be held to-morrow.


said, the question raised by the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Sandford) was one of such magnitude that in order to refer to it he should move the adjournment of the House. Although no official communication had yet been made to the Government of the tragedy which had been committed in Mexico, yet he believed the fact had been so well ascertained that no hon. Member in the House, nor any person out of the House, could for a moment doubt what had occurred. In the history of modern times he believed no calamity had taken place so disgraceful to the name of Christianity as the one they were now called on to consider. He begged to remind the House that at the close of a disastrous war, when all the nations of Europe were suffering from the calamities they had undergone, England had the greatest conqueror of the day in her power as a prisoner, but treated him with the greatest humanity and consideration. Was it therefore to be believed that civilization had made so little progress that an act of clemency was not to be expected at the present day? What was the Emperor Maximilian? He did not go to Mexico as a tyrant, but to establish rule and government in the country, and to heal dissensions. He failed in his undertaking, but to the last moment he was true to the trust he had taken upon him. He thought that that House, which claimed the right of speaking in the name of humanity and Christianity, ought to take the earliest opportunity of expressing, in language which could not be misunderstood, its abhorrence and disgust at this deed of cruelty, and thus set an example to other nations to express their feelings of indignation at the horror and sadness at the catastrophe which had occurred. He would take upon himself—although he was taking a great liberty in doing so—as soon as the official intelligence was formally presented to the House by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to ask the House to permit him to bring forward a Resolution embodying the sentiments which must animate both sides with regard to the deplorable event that had taken place.

Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Sir Lawrence Palk,)—put, and negatived.