§ Lord Durham
said, he rose to ask the noble 1117 Earl when he would be able to present the whole of the Papers connected with the transactions respecting the affairs of Greece? He was anxious to receive an answer to this question, because a prejudice had gone abroad against an illustrious personage in consequence of the statement made by the noble Earl on a former evening—a prejudice which, he was well convinced, never would have been created, if the whole of the information upon the subject had been at once laid before the House. He was also desirous to correct some errors respecting dates, into which the noble Earl had fallen in his explanation last Monday. The noble Earl had said, that up to Friday last his Majesty's Government were not in possession of any documents, nor had received any information that any events had occurred which might affect the ultimate result of the negotiations then pending. And in answer to a question from a noble Marquis, the noble Earl stated, that the papers would be produced, not in consequence of anything that had fallen from the noble Marquis, but because the time had come when they might be brought forward, since the negotiations were concluded upon all except a few minor points. Now this communication was made on the 18th of May, and the fact was, that on the 16th the noble Earl had received a letter from Prince Leopold, dated the 15th, announcing to him in plain terms, that he might expect his Royal Highness's resignation in consequence of despatches he had received from the senate and people of Greece, declaring that they never would consent to the arrangements attempted to be forced upon them by the Allied Powers. He certainly therefore thought it a little extraordinary that the noble Earl should declare, that up to a late hour on Friday last, neither his Majesty's Government nor the Plenipotentiaries had any idea that his Royal Highness contemplated a resignation. It was high time to put an end to this mystery. It was, in fact, upon grounds of great importance, and not in reference to any pecuniary considerations, that his Royal Highness had acted. Besides, a mistake had gone abroad respecting these pecuniary transactions. It was fancied they affected his Royal Highness personally, while in truth they related entirely to the guarantee of a loan, and the whole subject of discussion between him and his Majesty's Government was this 1118 loan; and when the noble Earl spoke of his Royal Highness's pertinacity in adhering to his demand, it was well to state that the amount of this demand was precisely the same with that required upon the part of Count Capo d'Istrias before his Royal Highness had any communication with the Allied Powers. He thought it right that this question should be brought fairly before the House, and he called upon it and the country to suspend their judgments until all the papers were laid before them.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
said, nobody could wish more ardently than he wished, that the fullest information should be given to the House upon this subject; and he was persuaded that the more the conduct of the Ministers was examined, the more their Lordships would be satisfied that they had done their duty. He did not propose to enter into a discussion respecting all the papers upon the Table of the House. Those to which the noble Lord had alluded, were Protocols of the Conferences between the three Plenipotentiaries in London; the last of which was held on the 14th of May. On that day the Plenipotentiaries received the assent of the Porte and of the Greek Government to the propositions of the Allies; and on the same day these papers were transmitted to his Royal Highness, the Sovereign Prince of Greece. But on the 15th his Royal Highness sent the Plenipotentiaries three letters received from Count Capo d'Istrias; two of them were dated the 6th of April, and the third on the 22nd of April. Those of the 6th described the state of Greece as one of great apprehension and alarm, and held out no very flattering prospects to his Royal Highness. But the letter of the 22nd contained the adhesion of the Greek Government to the propositions of the Allies, and they of course concluded that the assent of the Greek Government ought to have dissipated all the alarm created by the President's previous letters. These were the feelings of the Plenipotentiaries on the 15th. He then came to explain the mistake into which he thought the noble Baron had fallen. He had not, on the former evening, stated that up to Friday last they had no reason to apprehend any change in his Royal Highness; but what he did say was, that he had not been made acquainted with his determination to resign until 12 o'clock on Friday night. And he had also said, that up to a very 1119 few days before this period all the negociations had turned upon the loan, and the mode in which it should be paid. This was the fact, which would be fully borne out by the papers, when laid before the House. Then as to the letter containing his Royal Highness's resignation, it could not be produced by him alone: he was one of three parties concerned—the French and Russian Ambassadors being equally engaged in the affair. He was not the master of the letter, and even if he were, it could not be expected that he should produce, that alone when by itself it would give a most erroneous view of the transactions, and one altogether different from that which would be presented when all the papers were on their Lordships' Table. He would not enter into the question of the loan to which the noble Lord had referred; he would only say, that although he feared he should not often have the fortune to agree with the noble Lord, yet he hoped that even the noble Lord would have no reason to complain of any want of candour on his part in producing all the papers that could elucidate the transaction. When the whole evidence was before him, he thought even that noble Lord would be compelled to approve of the conduct of Ministers. For his own part he would say, that the more this matter was explained—from its commencement to its close—the more satisfaction it would give to him. If he could take twelve unprejudiced men from that House, or from the body of the people, he should be satisfied to abide by their verdict. In answer to the question of the noble Lord, it only remained for him to state, that he hoped to produce all the papers the day after to-morrow.
The Earl of Malmesbury
complained that the papers had not been distributed. There were only 150 copies, and he was not fortunate enough to obtain one. In his view any discussion on them must be premature. Entertaining a very high opinion of Prince Leopold, he should be very slow to form any suspicions derogatory to his integrity, and would wait till all the information was before him to make up his mind on the subject.
§ Earl Grey
contended, that the noble Earl had introduced a premature discussion of the question founded on an ex-parte statement. It appeared that in a communication of the 15th of May, Prince Leopold stated, not only that there were inconveniencies to be apprehended, but 1120 that there were positive objections to his assumption of the Sovereignty of Greece, because there were countries to be given up according to the arrangements of the Allies, in which there were Greeks who would be driven from them by force of arms. As to the Prince's letter, and the noble Earl's assertion that he would be willing to be judged by twelve impartial men, whose decision must be in his favour, and that this letter gave an erroneous view of the transaction, he begged to observe, that his opinion was directly contrary to the noble Earl's. The assent of the Greek Government was described as a full and complete assent by the noble Earl; but the fact was, that upon the very face of it, it directed that a representation should be made to Prince Leopold, and a memorial presented from the Senate touching their dissatisfaction at the arrangements proposed by the Allies. He complained that the subject had been brought before their Lordships very incompletely, and so as to give a false colour to the whole proceeding.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
said, it was not in his power to produce all the papers alluded to by the noble Earl. He had no authority to produce papers and confidential letters addressed to Prince Leopold by Count Capo d'Istrias. They were not official documents connected with the conferences. He had produced to the last syllabic all that had been transacted at the conferences. The noble Earl then repeated that he had never denied having received from Prince Leopold an announcement that he was likely to abdicate; but that announcement was founded upon the letters of Capo d'Istrias, dated before the assent of the Greek Government. The assent entirely changed the character of those letters, and that was the reason which induced him to think that his Royal Highness, either would or ought to have changed the intention which he had formed in consequence of the letters.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
said, he could not have produced those papers, because Prince Leopold had not thought proper to give them to him until after he had sent in his resignation. It would, perhaps, 1121 have been better not to have laid any portion of the papers on the Table until the whole could have been produced, and it was only because he had promised to have the papers ready on Monday that he had done so.
§ Lord Durham
said, that the reason why Prince Leopold did not send in the papers referred to until after his resignation was, that he did not receive them from the French Ambassador until after Friday. With respect to the letters from Count Capo d'Istrias, the latter of which, the noble Lord said, ought to have changed his Royal Highness's determination, that letter announced indeed the acquiescence of the Greek government, but added, that the determination of the Allies was received by the Senate in deep silence. His Royal Highness had, therefore, no reason to suppose from that letter, that his government would be popular, and he was justified in resigning.
thought it was impossible to read the papers without coming to the conclusion that the Greek government, as a government dealing with another government, and not appealing to the universal suffrage of the people which created them, but acting on their own responsibility, distinctly acquiesced in the proposals of the Allies. He could not understand the whole of those documents in any other light than that of making Prince Leopold Sovereign of Greece, and of showing that he acquiesced in that arrangement. Noble Lords had, unwisely he thought, discussed this question, as if it were one of personal consideration to Prince Leopold and his Majesty's Government.
§ Earl Grey
protested that there was no desire on his part to make the personal conduct of Prince Leopold the subject of discussion; and if it had been made so, it was entirely owing to the noble Lords opposite, who had brought forward such a case against Prince Leopold as made it necessary for his friends to remove forthwith the impression that might make, by contrary declarations. Whatever inconvenience had arisen upon this subject was owing to the incomplete manner in which these papers had been laid upon the Table.
§ The Duke of Wellington
entreated their Lordships to suspend their judgments until they had the other papers before them, and had read those which were already on the Table. This discussion had arisen out of a recent practice—very irre- 1122 gular, by the bye,—of noble Lords asking questions of his Majesty's Ministers, and then making speeches upon those questions. The speeches so made must be replied to; for if they were left unanswered, they might produce impressions prejudicial to his Majesty's Government. He contended that the line of conduct adopted by his noble friend on a former evening was perfectly justifiable. On Tuesday, the 18th, his noble friend thought that he could lay these papers on the following Monday in a complete state before the House, and having made a promise to that effect to their Lordships, he had felt himself bound to perform it, by placing them on the Table upon that day. It was on the intervening Friday that his noble friend received Prince Leopold's letter of resignation. It appeared from the papers already printed, that the Prince had departed from a similar intention before; and when his noble friend made his declaration in that House, he did not know that the Prince might not recede from it again. He had therefore laid the papers on the Table on Monday night, without that letter. He could assure their Lordships that this last transaction was completely distinct from all the rest, as they would see when they read the papers. Indeed, from what had occurred that evening, he much doubted whether any of their Lordships had read the first set of these papers.
admitted that the practice of asking questions of the Ministry might be inconvenient to the noble Lords who composed it: at the same time he felt it necessary to remind them, that it was an inconvenience to which all their noble predecessors had submitted. If he were called upon to select any period when there had been an uncommon forbearance of the practice of asking these questions, he would say that it was during the administration of the noble Duke. Indeed, the noble Earl had thanked their Lordships for the forbearance which they had displayed upon this very subject, and had said that it had proved very conducive to the settlement of the question. What he complained of was, that the noble Earl should have laid papers enough upon the Table to create an unjust impression against Prince Leopold, and should have withheld those which were calculated to remove it. Those noble Lords who had such a horror of ex-parte statements, when made by Prince Leopold, appeared to 1123 have no horror of ex-parte statements when made against him. It appeared to him (Lord Holland) to be essentially necessary that the House should be put in possession of all these documents. He did not intend to express any opinion upon them at present,—indeed he had formed none,—for he had not even read the voluminous papers already presented to their Lordships. He must say. that the noble Lord at the head of the Board of Control was much mistaken if he supposed, because this conversation had occurred about the omission of papers relating to Prince Leopold, that noble Lords on his(Lord Holland's)side of the House intended only to discuss the personal objections of Prince Leopold, and not the conduct of the Government, over which the noble Lord had hung a panoply which he considered spotless. He could assure the noble Lord that he was mistaken if he supposed that the conduct of Government was to pass off with such impunity. He thought that there never was a government which had placed itself in a situation more ludicrous in the eye of the world, and more injurious to the country, than his Majesty's present Government, not merely on this part, but on every part, of their foreign policy. He knew that the noble Lord (Ellenborough) was fond of discussion; and he could assure him, that before the close of the Session he should have abundant opportunities of showing his ingenuity in defending the conduct of himself and his colleagues upon this particular subject.
observed, that the mere fact of the noble Baron's having condemned the conduct of Government without having read the papers in explanation of it, was sufficient to show the fairness with which he would form his opinion upon it after he had perused them.