The Marquis of Buckingham
rose to submit to their lordships his motion on the subject of the transfer of Genoa to the king of Sardinia. When he had the honour to call their lordships attention to that subject on a former occasion, he was informed that the time was not yet come for entering fully into that question, or giving the necessary explanations respecting it. Now, however, the time had arrived—that time so much longed for by the noble earl opposite had at last come; and he now requested their lordships attention to the result. He had called for information on the subject, and ministers had given him half of what he asked. They had produced some papers relative to this transfer, and such papers only as they themselves thought fit to produce—and what was the result? The case before rested on such a statement as he had been enabled to make from other sources of information, and on such arguments as he had been enabled to adduce. It now rested on the papers produced by the Executive Government themselves; and the result was, that every statement he had made had been confirmed—that every argument which he had used was fully supported, and the whole case completely established. Foul and disgraceful to the nation as he had stated this proceeding to be, it sunk almost to nothing when compared with the foul and disgraceful proceeding which appeared in these papers. When we summoned the nations to rise and oppose the violation of treaties and broken faith, we ought to be sure that we ourselves had* For copies of the Papers relating to Genoa, referred to in the course of this debate, see p. 387.821 not supported a violation of faith and promises solemnly pledged to the Genoese. Ministers had in these papers made out a case against themselves. The national faith had been solemnly pledged to the Genoese that their former government should be restored, and that pledge had been violated. The Genoese had been transferred to the king of Sardinia, and the violation was complete: but still this country might do itself the justice to refuse its approbation to the conduct of the Executive. This was a most important point, with a view to the war which appeared to be about to commence. Uncertain and contradictory orders and instructions, vacillating counsels, violated faith, and broken promises, marked the conduct of ministers throughout the great crisis which had lately taken place. It appeared that in 1811 a noble friend of his (marquis Wellesley), whom at that moment he did not see in his place, had recommended the policy of attempting to rouse the people of Italy to shake off the French yoke, by promising them independence and restoration to their ancient governments. That noble marquis had also sketched out the plan of co-operation, which had since proved the salvation of Europe, and strongly recommended its adoption; and ministers could hardly have been aware of the inference that might be drawn from that document, otherwise they surely would not have produced it: but it showed clearly, that the object, even at that time, was to endeavour to gain the co-operation of the Italian states against the common enemy, by a promise of independence and a restoration to their ancient governments. At a subsequent period, his noble friend opposite (earl Bathurst) had sent out a dispatch to lord William Bentinck, then commanding our forces in Italy, instructing him not to transfer Genoa to the king of Sardinia without the entire and direct concurrence of the Genoese people. These instructions appeared to have been withheld by lord Castlereagh, who himself acted as the Executive Government; at least he talked of having withheld some dispatch, which he supposed to be this. [Lord Bathurst said, that was not the dispatch which was withheld.] It was immaterial to the argument whether it was or not: but such were the instructions given by his noble friend; and upon the faith of these instructions, Genoa had been entered, and a proclamation had been issued, by which, as he contended, the faith of 822 the British Government was pledged to the restoration of their ancient government to the Genoese. Had they consented to the tranfer of their state to the king of Sardinia? Had they not, on the contrary, expressed the utmost objection to it? His noble friend opposite had instructed lord William Bentinck to attend to the wishes of the people respecting their government. "Don't mind the wishes of the people;" said lord Castlereagh, "make no arrangements without consulting the Austrian commander;" and thus the people of Genoa were transferred to a power to which they had long been opposed by every feeling which could animate one nation against another. The promises of independence and restoration to their ancient government had been liberally made, when it was problematical whether we should ever be called upon to make good these promises: but when the moment for their fulfillment seemed fast approaching, then we began to draw back, and to shrink from the performance, At the treaty of Chaumont the object of the Allies was declared to be the independence of nations, and their restoration to their ancient governments. The Genoese and lord William Bentinck had heard of this, and reckoned upon it. His lordship had issued his proclamation upon these principles, and the Genoese had assisted him in taking possession of their city upon the faith of the principles contained in that Treaty. It was clear it was no conquest, but a voluntary admission of our troops, upon the understanding that the British nation stood pledged to restore them their ancient form of government. Lord William Bentinck had been so instructed, and he was sure ministers could not deny that such had been his instructions. But lord Castlereagh had at last discovered that the proclamation related only to a provisional government for Genoa, and the discovery was made in this way: the duke of Campo-Chiaro, Murat's minister, had noticed this proclamation, and finding the principle of the restoration of the ancient governments there stated, he applied to lord Castlereagh, who had guaranteed Naples to his master. This proclamation proceeds on the principle of restoring their ancient governments to the states of Italy, and in that way Naples would be restored to the old family, and in that case what becomes of your guarantee? Lord Castlereagh upon this sent to lord William Bentinck, stating that there were some things 823 in his proclamation which might be liable to misconstruction,—that nothing ought to be done which should preclude the effect of the arrangements which it might be thought proper to make at the Congress,—that a provisional government merely ought to be formed, and the people to be kept quiet in the mean time. Lord William Bentinck, who felt like a British soldier, informed lord Castlereagh that the people were unanimous in preferring their ancient government. What would have been the reply of an honest man—he meant of an honest statesman, for he was to be understood always as only speaking of lord Castlereagh in his public capacity,—what would have been the reply of an honest statesman? That the people must have their ancient government, according to their wishes, and the prospect held out to them. But lord Castlereagh, who, while he had guaranteed Naples to Murat, appeared to have been engaged in the design of restoring the old family, proceeded in a different way. The Genoese were to await the arrangements of the Congress, and were at last, in direct opposition to their wishes and their protest, transferred to the king of Sardinia. It could not surely be pretended, that the provisional government, established by lord William Bentinck, was appointed for the purpose of a temporary administration, till the determination of the Congress was known. A provisional government was appointed, but, certainly, with no such views as that. He requested their lordships' particular attention to the proclamation itself. Their lordships would there find, beyond all possibility of doubt, that the provisional government was framed, not with a view to any arrangements at the Congress, but merely for the purpose of providing for the administration of the affairs of the state till the proper steps could be taken for the restoration of the old form of government. This was undoubtedly the object and meaning of all the parties at the time; and it was, as he conceived, impossible to found an argument upon that ground in favour of the conduct of the British Government. The national faith, therefore, in this transfer, had been shamefully violated. The conduct of Great Britain in regard to Spain, Portugal, Holland, and Sicily, had been held out to the people of Italy, as examples of the integrity and good faith of the British Government: but what was the proceeding with respect to these coun- 824 tries? Spain had been liberated and restored to its ancient government; Portugal had also been liberated, and still retained its ancient government, and the same was the case with Sicily. Holland had been liberated, and its ancient government restored. The people must have conceived that their ancient government was to be restored to them; and yet the result was, that in spite of promises and engagements direct and implied, Genoa was transferred to the king of Sardinia. And even with respect to the king of Sardinia himself, how was the promise of restoring the ancient governments and states preserved? The king of Sardinia was deprived of part of his dominions, and that part was, by the Treaty of Paris, given to France. It was the most vulnerable part, too; opening to the French a passage into Italy, without striking a blow. It was then necessary to cast about for an indemnity to the king of Sardinia, and thus Genoa was delivered up to him. And here he must, once for all, protest against the plan of a Secretary of State going abroad, and taking upon himself the whole executive government, which ought to reside in the Sovereign alone. The noble marquis then examined the spirit in which the British Government had acted as to the Genoese. The general was to give them their old constitution if they resisted; and they did so, and he then gave them over to the king of Sardinia. Then came lord Castlereagh's cold and contemptuous note, talking of the Prince Regent's generosity, and in the same breath sealing the fate of that ill-used people. Then they were told to apply to Congress, and at Congress they were handed over to three commissioners, of whom the French one, M. de Noailles, declined having any thing to do with the matter, unless England gave up her treaty with Murat. And this was our policy, and this the way Europe was to be reconciled! The noble marquis here appealed to older and wiser men among their lordships than himself, whether it was constitutional in any man to make himself, as lord Castlereagh had done, a walking depositary of royal authority? The constitution did not, he was convinced, authorize any individual to go out of the country, taking with him the power of the Crown, and subsequently issuing instructions directly contrary in their spirit to those which originally emanated from the Government to which he belonged. He 825 denied also the right of the great Powers of Europe to constitute themselves into a tribunal—to summon before them the Sovereigns of independent states not conquered by their arms—to inflict penalties upon those Sovereigns, and ultimately to share among themselves the advantages thus obtained. It was, he said, a tame and cold-blooded insult on the part of lord Castlereagh, and unworthy of an honest statesman; it was a gross instance of political hypocrisy, to tell the Genoese how happy he was to be the instrument of carrying into effect the Prince Regent's wish to watch over their interests, at the very moment that he was consenting to the destruction of their independence. In vain did the people of Genoa protest to the last against their annexation to Sardinia. The Congress would not even insert the Genoese protest in their protocol. He called on their lordships to wipe off the stain which the character of the country had received in this transaction. Whatever might be the result of the dreadful contest in which we seemed about to be engaged, he was solicitous that at least we should not be depressed by the weight of our own delinquency. The noble marquis concladed by moving the following Resolutions:
- 1. "That it appears to this House that the earl Bathurst, one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of state, in consequence of information which had been received by the British Government respecting the disposition of the inhabitants of Genoa and Piedmont, did, by a letter dated the 28th December, 1813, instruct' lieut.-general lord William Bentinck, 'if any circumstances should occur to encourage the 'inhabitants to rise against the government 'of France, to lose no time in giving every 'possible assistance; and further, provided it were clearly with their entire 'concurrence, to take possession of Genoa 'in the name and on the behalf of his 'Sardinian Majesty.'
- 2. "That it further appears to this House that lieutenant-general lord William Bentinck, acting under the aforesaid instructions, did, some time previous to the 14th March, 1814, disembark at Leghorn with the British forces under his command, and did on that day issue a proclamation calling on the Italians 'to vin'dicate their own rights and to be free,' and concluding with these words, 'Only 'call, and we will hasten to your relief, 'and then Italy, by our united efforts, will
[826 'become what she was in her most prosperous periods and what Spain now is.'
- 3. "That it further appears that, previous to the 26th April, 1814, the inhabitants of Gesoa having been invited 'to vindicate their rights,' as aforesaid, and, in consequence of such invitation, having materially contributed to oblige the French garrison to surrender that city, lord William Bentinck entered Genoa, and issued on the said 26th April, 1814, a proclamation of the following tenor: 'Considering that 'the general desire of the Genoese nation 'seems to be to return to that ancient form 'of Government under which it enjoyed 'liberty, prosperity, and independence, 'and considering likewise that this desire 'seems to be conformable to the principles recognized by the High Allied 'Powers, of restoring to all their ancient 'rights and privileges, I declare,'1st, That the constitution of the 'Genoese states, such as it existed in '1797, with such modifications as the 'general wish, the public good, and the 'spirit of the original constitution of 1576, 'seem to require, is re-established.'3rd, That a Provisional Government, 'consisting of thirteen individuals, and 'formed into two colleges, as heretofore, 'shall immediately be appointed, and 'shall continue in office until the 1st of 'January 1815, when the two Colleges 'shall be filled up in the number required 'by the constitution.'6th, That the two colleges shall pro-'pose to the lesser and greater councils all 'the measures which they shall judge ne'cessary for the entire re-establishment of 'the ancient form of government.'
- 4. "That in a letter to lord Castlereagh one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of state, enclosing the aforesaid proclamation, and informing him of the measures which had been taken in consequence 'of the unanimous desire expressed by the 'Genoese to return to their ancient state,' lord William Bentinck did, amongst other things, represent that 'the Genoese universally desired the restoration of their 'ancient republic,' and that they 'dreaded 'above all other arrangements their annexation to Piedmont, to the inhabitants 'of which there had always been a peculiar aversion.'
- 5. "That it does not appear that any subsequent dispatch or instruction from lord Castlereagh, or any other of his Majesty's ministers, did convey to lord William Bentinck the opinion of the British
827] Government, that he had exceeded his powers in issuing the said proclamation of the 26th April 1814, or in the proceedings consequent thereon; and that, in point of fact, the said proclamation never has been disavowed in any public act of his Majesty's Government, or by any letter, dispatch, or instruction to lord William Bentinck, or by any declaration to the Genoese people.
- 6. "That it appears that on the 11th of May a forcible representation was made to lord Castlereagh by M. Pareto, the minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary of the Government of Genoa, of the continued desire of the Genoese to return to their ancient government, of 'their invincible repugnance to a foreign 'domination,' of their confident reliance on the assurances given them 'by the 'commander of the British forces, the 'depositary of the intentions of the British 'Government,' and of their just expectations that 'his royal highness the Prince 'Regent, sanctioning what had been done 'in his name by lord William Bentinck, 'would employ his good offices with the 'Allied Powers to induce them to acknowledge the re-establishment of the republic of Genoa, and of the integrity and 'Contiguity of its territory.'
- 7. "That similar representations of the wishes and hopes of the Genoese, together with further representations of the injury which would be done to them by the transfer of their territory to a foreign dominion, not only as it would affect their rights and liberties, but their commercial interests, and the internal prosperity of their country, were repeatedly and at various times submitted to his Majesty's Government, and more particularly in a Paper of Observations communicated by M. Pareto on the 18th of May, and in a Protest against 'any resolutions that 'might be taken contrary to the rights 'and independence of Genoa,' laid before their excellencies the ambassadors and ministers assembled at the Congress at Vienna on the 10th December 1814, by the marquis de Brignoli, the minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary of that government.
- 8. "That, notwithstanding these repeated claims and remonstrances, and in violation of the solemn engagements contracted by lord William Bentinck on the part of the British Government with the Genoese people, it appears that lord Castlereagh, in a letter dated the 17th De-
[828 cember, 1814, in which was enclosed 'the final decision of the Powers who 'signed the Treaty at Paris, annexing the 'State of Genoa, under certain conditions, 'to the crown of Sardinia,' did instruct lieut.-general John Dalrymple, then commanding the British forces in Genoa, 'to 'take the necessary measures in concert 'with the existing Provisional Government, 'to deliver over the same, in conformity 'with the decision above mentioned, to 'the King of Sardinia, or to such persons 'as his Sardinian Majesty may appoint to 'take charge thereof, continuing himself to act with the troops under his command as an auxiliary corps at the disposal of 'his Sardinian Majesty, until he received 'further orders.'
- 9. "That it appears, that, in conformity to the foregoing instructions, the government of Genoa was delivered over accordingly by sir John Dalrymple to the officers appointed to take charge thereof by his Sardinian Majesty, and that the submission of the Genoese to this transfer of their government and territory to a foreign power was secured and enforced, and is still maintained by the continued occupation of that city by a British force.
- 10."That the conduct of his Majesty's Government, in thus availing itself of the occupation of the Genoese territory by a British force, which they owed, in a considerable degree, to the amicable disposition of the inhabitants, in order to make a compulsory transfer of the possession and sovereignty thereof to a Foreign Power, was not only a violation of the promises held out in lord William Bentinck's declaration of the 14th March, and of the implied engagement by which the British troops were received by the Genoese nation, but also a manifest breach of the public faith, expressly pledged to that republic by his Majesty's general, sufficiently authorized to that effect, and never disavowed by his Majesty's Government; and that this measure was also wholly repugnant to those general principles of policy and justice, which it was equally the interest and the duty of this country to uphold in all the discussions respecting a final settlement of the affairs of Europe."
§ The first Resolution being put,
§ Earl Bathurst
observed, that there had been so little reluctance to meet this motion, that every paper was given at once; but that he was so strongly aware of the impropriety of discussing these matters in their present state, that he should only 829 go into a short detail, which, however, would be quite sufficient to clear away the charge of ill-faith brought against this country. The first fact which he should state, related to the promises supposed to be held out to the Genoese. So far back as 1809, there had been in Italy parties who were anxious to get rid of the French. They had made proposals to Austria, which were declined, from the improbability to their being able to effect them, and subsequent events appeared justify that conclusion; but nothing could be more unsettled than the sentiments of those parties on the government they were to re-establish. Some were for a great republic, some for federative governments, some, and probably the majority, for a king and free constitution. The extent of the new kingdom to the South, was also matter of division. From this want of consent it happened, that when the fairest prospect of success was opened, the North of Italy never stirred. The instructions of the 28th of December, 1813, which were quoted as encouraging the Italians to insurrection, did no such thing. They merely said—Rise, and we, on receiving information of it, will assist you. This was what we said to Spain and Holland. Rise first, show that you have the spirit and the means; we will then help you, though we will not hurry you into an unprepared conflict. Those instructions did not, however, reach lord W. Bentinck till after the 2d of February, 1814, previously to which he had sent a confidential person on the invitation of marshal Bellegarde to the Austrian camp, to concert his further movements. Italy was then before them, completely under the domination of the enemy. Marshal Bellegarde gave the British general his alternative of an attack on Genoa or Leghorn. The advantage of the former was, that the city was then ill garrisoned; that of the latter, the securing a retreat in case of disaster. Lord William Bentinck took possession of Leghorn. By this time the garrison of Genoa was made up from two to four or five thousand men. The place was regularly attacked like any other fortress, the strong works round it taken, and the bombardment prepared. The Genoese had never moved. Now, however, they did so; for a deputation of the citizens with some French officers, came out from the city begging art armistice, both to prevent the bombardment, and for the sake of the delay, as, from the events of the time, peace might 830 be expected in a few days. And this was the movement of the Genoese. [Hear, hear! from the Ministerial bench.] Yes, what was the movement at last? Why, it was simply to leave the town within an armistice which might have and was expected to have placed it within a peace, and secured it to France, in the very probable case that the possessions of the belligerents should be left as they were at the end of hostilities. What did the Genoese do to expel the French?—nothing. Lord William Bentinck called his taking the city a conquest. There could be no more honourable mean, and he could not have so called it if it was not strictly so. Undoubtedly the people did not fight for the French; undoubtedly they were hostile, but they did nothing for the Allies. They might, of course, have rendered the conquest more difficult by their opposition. So might the people of Martinique; but they were not therefore the deliverers over of their island, nor entitled to obtain any new rights upon that ground. But as to the offer of freedom, the noble marquis said the proclamation offered regeneration: it was not easy to know what he might mean by regeneration, but it was not a common word for a return to an old government. But it was so perfectly known that a British officer could make no permanent political arrangement without a direct instruction, that there was no people in Europe who could be duped by the idea. The British general had no such instruction. The original instructions contemplated a case of insurrection, which did not exist; and even then his instructions only went to giving over Genoa to the king of Sardinia, in case the Genoese were not adverse to it. The case not existing, the instructions had no force; but in the mean time came lord Castlereagh's instructions, which positively directed that no definitive arrangement should be entered into, but for Tuscany, and the king of Sardinia's territory. Those were the only states to be restored to their old governments. The plain proof that restoration was not understood, was that the marquis Campo-Chiaro conceived that it was intended to render Italy independent. A proof, too, that lord Castlereagh's letter was considered to be the direction, was in lord William Bentinck's returning his answer to lord Castlereagh, and not to him (lord Bathurst). He contended, first, that this arrangement was not considered as final by the people of Genoa, 831 who prayed a confirmation of it from lord Castlereagh. He cited a letter from M. Pareto, from which it appeared that he understood it was not the intention of the British Government to re-establish the republic; and lord Castlereagh, in his instructions to lord William Bentinck, expressly desired him, if it had been understood by any of the Genoese that the proclamation pledged our Government to the re-establishment of the republic, that he should explain our real intentions to them: he desired that it might not be considered as prejudging any future system; and requested lord William to conciliate them, and to avoid alluding to the ancient form of their government in terms which might excite their disappointment, should the future arrangement be different from that form. It therefore became his duty to explain the case to the Genoese, which was thus not to be considered as prejudged: and it would be injustice to him not to suppose that the moment he received this dispatch, he explained what had thus been the subject of misconstruction. The length of time which had elapsed between the establishing of the provisional government, and the declaration of its permanent destination, had been relied upon on the other side; and it had been argued that a reasonable expectation that the provisional government would become permanent had grown out of that length of time, or indeed had made it so: but in answer to this, he recurred to the declarations of the Genoese themselves, that they did not consider it as permanent; and to the meeting of Congress they sent a representative, not merely with a view of remonstrating against their being annexed to Piedmont, but to know on what condition they were to be so annexed. This would indeed be an extraordinary proposition, if they had thought their republic was permanently re-established. They submitted their projet to three ministers, the particulars of which did not appear, except one, in which they proposed the title which the king of Sardinia was to take, upon the annexation of Genoa to his dominions; and they had even gone so far as to propose that he should be called 'king of Liguria.' Upon the whole, he thought there never was a charge more confidently urged, or more weakly supported, than the present one, which endeavoured to throw on the Government of this country the imputation of violating the national faith.
§ Earl Stanhope
said, that the noble earl, in his anxiety to justify himself and his colleagues, had misrepresented (unintentionally no doubt) the facts contained in the instructions to lord William Bentinck. The sentence in those instructions was, that if circumstances should occur to encourage a rising of the inhabitants, they were to be employed by that commander: they did so occur, and lord William, therefore, in encouraging them, only acted according to his instructions.
§ Lord Boringdon
thought that the question respecting Genoa could not be adequately gone into without a full knowledge of all the proceedings of Congress; but, at the same time, he approved of the principle of consolidating the different states on the frontiers of France, to prevent a recurrence of those evils from which Europe had so recently been delivered. He vindicated ministers, denied that they had committed any breach of good faith towards the Genoese, and hoped that none of his noble friends for their personal justification would be induced to give any premature information on the subject.
The Marquis of Lansdowne
said, that after an attentive perusal of the documents already before the House, he felt himself bound to concur in the resolutions which had been proposed by his noble friend. The noble earl who had spoken second in the debate had proved the assistance afforded by the inhabitants of Genoa to the British arms under lord William Bentinck, and could give that assistance no other name than that of negative co-operation. He could only say, that if the negative co-operation of any country was to meet with such a reward, in no future contest should we meet with negative co-operation; but instead thereof, with that determined and active resistance which any government threatened with annihilation would make against the arms of those in whom it could place no confidence. But was this co-operation negative? We all knew that the population of a garrisoned town was incapable of operations against the garrison which held its strong places, and which commanded its police: but was not every opposition given to France which the situation of the Genoese admitted? After lord William Bentinck's first proclamation the peasantry rose, and forces were collected; and when the capitulation was negociated, it was done by Genoese representatives in confederacy 833 with French officers; and a messenger was subsequently dispatched by a French officer to lord William Bentinck, urging him to hasten to take immediate possession, for the French officers and army were in danger from the feeling of the inhabitants—those negative co-operators!—and the force in which they had collected. It was needless to dwell upon the co-operation of the inhabitants with respect to the operations against that city. Every one knew the strength of its fortifications, and the sieges it had undergone, when the garrison under Massena resisted for seven months the efforts of the whole Austrian army, aided by the British fleet. And what was the strength of lord William Bentinck's force? Against one of the strongest places in Europe he brought 8,000 men to bear. What could he do, but what, instructed or not, he had done judiciously—appeal to the patriotic sentiments of the country which he was called upon to liberate, and bring into action the most powerful means which a nation afforded, and the most legitimate and lasting by which it could be influenced. In lord William Bentinck's letter, giving an account of his proclamation, one of his reasons for it is stated to be, that he felt the extreme importance of establishing a government in Genoa favourable to public feeling, in order that he might otherwise dispose of the forces entrusted to his command, and that he thus was able to dispatch the greater part of that force to the north of Italy. It could not be contended by any Englishman, that he had a right so to liberate his force by a feigned pretence to the people of Genoa, and to hold out to them a government so popular that he was enabled to employ his army elsewhere, and that now we could compel the Genoese to submit to any other government we might choose to impose upon them, and to silence all their complaints, by saying, "We have referred your case to a congress, and they have determined that you shall be no longer a republic, but shall be annexed to a government which you have always avowedly held in abhorrence and detestation." The House had been induced some time ago to delay its proceedings on this subject because evidence was not on their table; that reason no longer operated, and the question now was, whether the evidence was satisfactory? If any noble lord could read it, and be satisfied on the one hand that it held out to the Genoese no just and rea- 834 sonable expectation of being restored to their ancient government, or, on the other, that there was an over-ruling necessity for transferring them to another country, he would be justified in negativing the motion. But those who had not read the evidence would hardly believe, that in the whole of it there were no more than two or three sentences containing any reasons for transferring Genoa to Sardinia. It spoke of some arrangement in contemplation in Italy, to which the extinction of a state 800 years old would contribute; and alluded to the Treaty of Paris as having reduced the territory of the King of Sardinia: and thus was imposed the necessity of repairing that error, by robbing the Genoese. It appeared from the papers, that lord Castlereagh had urged the necessity of thus strengthening the dominions of the King of Sardinia as the guardian of Italy; and thus he had confessed the error of giving away that king's territory by the Treaty of Paris. And the King of Sardinia's territory was to be made strong by making over to him the unwilling population of Genoa, which would only weaken him; for they would never assist him, but, on the contrary, require a constant Sardinian force to keep them in subjection. He contended that lord William Bentinck's proclamation raised the Genoese expectation of being restored to their republic, as far as it was possible to raise it; and he vindicated the prudence and discretion of his lordship in making that proclamation, which he must have felt persuaded his instructions authorized him to make, as essential to the success of his Majesty's arms. It was said, that the addresses of the inhabitants of Genoa were not to be found in our offices. And thus the state of Genoa was here disposed of without our condescending to know what were the wishes of the people. There was enough to interest the feelings in this unfortunate republic, whose fate was now sealed: when first the imposing scene of the Congress at Vienna presented itself, Providence had brightened the atmosphere which had been darkened by the disturber of the repose of Europe; and it was believed that that element of evil was for ever chained down to a rock in the Mediterranean, where he was condemned to spend his mischievous strength for nought. At Vienna was erected a great stage of justice, not less awful from its power, than venerable for its beneficence—a stage not of penal but of retri- 835 butive justice,—not wielding a sword to destroy, but holding out a staff to restore, its great object being to secure and protect the peace, the independence, and the happiness of all nations, whether great or small, weak, or strong. When it was understood that this Congress proposed to take into their early consideration the state of Genoa, it was felt that there could be no doubt that they would, as a pledge of the sincerity of those professions which had preceded their conquests, and in the name of which they had triumphed, re-establish a government, in the re-establishment of which suspicion could not hint that they were actuated by interested motives or views of self-aggrandizement. How different their conduct had turned out to be! Genoa had received promises of re-establishment; therefore was it not to be re-established. She had conceived hopes of being so, and had assisted the arms of the Allies; therefore were those hopes to be disappointed; and therefore was England, who had held out those promises and those hopes to her, to be selected as the instrument of executing upon her people the unjust sentence of annihilation. The position which the noble earl opposite must contend for was, that any weak state might, in defiance of promises, be at any moment sacrificed to the wishes of a more powerful one, and be used as a make-weight, in any political arrangement to which an assembly of those powerful States might be parties. Genoa was to have a senate without power, like Turin. He would not insult the understanding of noble lords by referring to the stipulations as any guaranty for the people of Genoa. The whole business stood only on the right of conquest. He could not admit that any over-ruling necessity existed for our proceedings, while, on the contrary, he considered that there was a strong moral duty which this country ought to have discharged in acting up to the promises and assurances held out by lord William Bentinck in his proclamations. Upon these grounds he should vote for the motion of his noble friend.
§ The Earl of Harrowby
said, that none of the arguments which had been used by the noble marquis went to maintain the resolutions then before their lordships, in the tone and spirit with which they were proposed. He denied that any effectual and active co-operation had taken place on the part of the Genoese, and contended 836 that lord William Bentinck's capture of the city was in fact a conquest, according to all the principles laid down in the writings of the most eminent publicists. With regard to the annexation of Genoa to the Crown of Sardinia, he had no hesitation in saying, that it ought to be united to the natural guardian of the Alps, namely, to the King of Sardinia. It had been said, however, that while the Allied Powers gave Genoa to Sardinia on one side, they weakened her on the other; but, in the opinion of military men, the territories which had been given to France, though they might slightly diminish the revenues of the King of Sardinia, did not at all enfeeble him as a military power. The noble earl then entered into a defence of the conduct of Congress in its disposal of Genoa. It should be recollected, that in the year 1797, the Genoese placed themselves under the protection of France; and that in 1805, they sent a formal deputation, petitioning that their country might become a part of the French territory. There never, perhaps, was a case in the annals of history, in which all the prerogatives belonging to the jus dominii were more strictly applicable. Genoa was neither able nor willing to defend the passess from France to Italy, and nothing could therefore be more natural, under the circumstances in which she stood, than to consign her to a power which had for ages been considered as the natural guardian of the Alps. The noble earl then read an extract from a paper addressed by Mr. Pitt, in January 1805, to count Woronzow the Russian minister, in which, after taking a view of the relative situation of the different states of Europe, he considers it desirable that Genoa should be annexed to Piedmont, as constituting by their union the best bulwark that could be established for the defence of the Italian frontier. The noble earl also maintained, that these principles were exactly the same as those recognized in the Treaty of Westphalia—a treaty always referred to for the wisdom and policy of its provisions.
Lord St. John
contrasted the arrangement relative to Genoa with the language of the Declaration of the Allies when at Frankfort, and said he never gave a vote more firmly convinced of its justice, than that by which he should support the motion of his noble friend.
§ Lord Grenville
professed his wish to state 837 shortly the grounds on which he felt it his duty to support the resolutions of his noble relation. In the first place he considered lord William Bentinck to have been specially authorized to issue the Proclamations in question, because, as had been shown by his noble relative, his instructions were not limited to the encouragement of actual insurrection, but extended to any circumstances which might favour an insurrection. The noble earl had treated very lightly the fact of raising an expectation amongst the Genoese; but could any form of words or lightness of expression alter the character of a proceeding, by which the expectation raised upon the promises of a British general and plenipotentiary, speaking in the name of the Prince Regent, and pledging the honour of his country to their fulfilment, had been completely disappointed? The promises we had made had had the effect of inducing the Genoese to change their conduct; and we had thus not only broken our plighted faith, but had refused to pay the stipulated price for an actual benefit received. He did not know what was meant by negative co-operation; but it was obvious that one of the strongest places in Europe, with a garrison of 5000 men, never would have capitulated to an enemy, whose force did not exceed 8000, without a strong disposition manifested on the part of the inhabitants. True it was, Genoa had been conquered, but it had been conquered from the French garrison, not from the Genoese people. Even if lord William Bentinck had exceeded his instructions, still it would have been wise, in his opinion, to have ratified his proceedings; but at all events a British Cabinet sitting in London, would either have done so, or have solemnly and publicly disavowed the act of their minister. This, however, was not the course pursued under the counsels of our minister at Vienna, and this was one of the many practical evils resulting from the union in one person, of two such offices as those of secretary of state, and of diplomatic agent at a foreign court. How so extravagant a conception could enter into any man's mind, it was difficult to conceive. It was, in truth, nothing short of that crime described in our statute-book, under the name of encroaching upon the Royal power; it was to escape from the control of the Sovereign, and, in his judgment, to commit a high breach of the constitution. He was 838 astonished that any man could suppose that the office of secretary of state could be removed to another country for any length of time. Acting on this idea, they had seen a foreign secretary, converted into a sort of travelling officer all over Europe; and by this means lord William Bentinck received at times contradictory instructions from the office at home and the office abroad. The Resolutions of his noble relation should have his cordial support.
The Earl of Westmoreland
entered into a justification of lord Castlereagh, and contended that there was not the slightest reason for charging the Government of this country with breach of faith to the Genoese.
§ Earl Grey
said, it was demonstrative of itself, that if lord William Bentinck had not been assisted by the Genoese, he never could have got possession of Genoa. So far was the indifference with which they had been charged from being true, that even the peasants scaled the walls before the British troops. If the Genoese did not rise on the 6000 men who garrisoned their town, they knew that there was not only these 6000 men, but an army of 80,000 men, under the Viceroy, at hand; and they had seen sufficient examples of French force and French vengeance. There was not the smallest reason to charge them with indisposition towards England. In addition to the instructions sent to lord William Bentinck, by which he was authorized to hold out to the Genoese the establishment of their government, there was the Declaration of the Allies, and the Treaty of Chaumont, in which their object was declared to be to secure a general peace, under which all nations might enjoy their rights, and the peace and security of the world be established. The noble earl then proceeded to his second point, namely the policy of the annexation of Genoa to Piedmont. He went into an examination of the various relations of the surrounding Powers, and argued that in giving Genoa to the King of Sardinia, lord Castlereagh had accomplished a French and not an English object. The true principle on which the Allies, in this, and other cases, should have proceeded, was to show that governments were made for the people, and not the people for the governments. Had they acted upon this system, many of the calamities we now had to lament would never have occurred.
The Earl of Liverpool
thought it hardly necessary, after the luminous speech of his noble friend (earl Bathurst) to detain the House with many observations. The original instructions were sent to lord W. Bentinck under special circumstances, and when particular information was received as to the disposition of the people of Italy, a large discretion was necessarily entrusted to him. The information, however, had proved erroneous, and lord William Bentinck's force was then diverted to the south-east coast of Spain, in order to co-operate with the duke of Wellington. He thought it quite clear that there was not a single word in the instructions to warrant lord William in establishing the ancient government of Genoa; and lord William himself never meant to preclude his own Government from determining the question of independency. All he could do was to establish a provisional government; and Great Britain could not do more, as it was a combined conceit between her and her allies, and we could not make conquests, except in the name of the Allies. A noble lord had said, that lord Wiliam Bentinck was not only a military officer, but also a minister plenipotentiary; but he had no general discretion at that time, and the Allies alone could decide the fate of Genoa. If lord William had entered into a treaty with the Genoese, it would not have been valid, till ratified by his own Government. The noble earl contended, that there had been no breach of faith on the part of this country. Expectations were never held out by this Government that were not fulfilled; while, on the other hand, the Italians, and the Genoese in particular, had led this Government to believe that there was a disposition to rise against the authority of Buonaparté. This disposition, supposing it had ever existed, had never in the slightest degree been carried into effect. The noble earl then went into the point of policy, arguing, that in consequence of the weakness of the king of Sardinia, Buonaparté had been able to over-run and conquer Italy. The object was, to place a barrier between France and Italy, that would prevent such a consequence in future. And if the passage of the Alps was to be protected, it was only to be done by making the Power which was the natural guardian of the Alps strong enough to defend the passages, which was impracticable, unless the possession was given of some part of 840 the maritime territory of Genoa. This transfer, he said, was not at all to be regretted on the score of the people of that country, because, from the aristocratical nature of the government, the interest of the state had always been sacrificed to that of the city. He therefore thought it was evident, that the course which the Government had taken was not repugnant either to honour or policy.
The Marquis of Buckingham
briefly replied. He observed, by whatever means Genoa fell into our possession, a proclamation had been issued, in which lord William Bentinck, in the name of the British Government, had promised independence to the people of that state. The question then was, whether the British Government had recalled lord William Bentinck, and disavowed his proclamation, or abided by it. They had done neither; they had not disavowed the proclamation, but they had broken the promises which it held out. It was said, too, that the king of Sardinia was the natural guardian of the Alps. What had the British Government done? they had taken from him Chambery and the two natural passes of the Alps, and had given them to the French, on which territory Buonaparté was now collecting an army. Such was the conduct of the Government, and upon principles of honour and policy the House was bound to reprobate it.
§ Their lordships then divided:
|Majority against the motion||72|