The Marquis of Londonderry
had, the other day, asked a question of the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty's Government, relative to the reception at Portsmouth of little Donna Maria; and it was with pain that he felt himself justified in complaining of the want of candour in the noble Earl's answer to that question. He had asked the noble Earl, what orders had been sent to the authorities at Portsmouth, to receive Donna Maria as Queen of Portugal? And the noble Earl had answered, that he did not know what orders had been sent as to her reception; and that he did not know whether any orders at all had been given on the subject; and with that answer he (the Marquis of Londonderry) was bound to be satisfied. But, after having received this answer, he was surprised to see in the Evening Papers, a statement, apparently founded on good authority, that orders had been sent to the proper official persons at Portsmouth, to receive the Emperor Don Pedro, and his daughter, the little Pretender, as he must call her, Donna Maria, with all the honours usually paid to crowned heads; and then there was a detailed account of what these honours were to be. Now he really did think it very extraordinary, that, if the noble Earl was apprised of the intended arrival of the little Pretender, and had made preparations for that arrival, no orders should have been sent respecting her reception, or that, if any orders were sent, they should have been sent without the knowledge of the noble Earl at the head of the Administration. It appeared, then, that the noble Earl was so little in the confidence of some members of his own Cabinet, that they really did not think it worth while to apprise him of what steps they were taking in matters of high importance. They sent the orders, it appeared, without thinking it necessary to consult the noble Earl at all about the matter, so that there was a want of confidence between the noble Earl and some of his colleagues, on other subjects besides the Reform Bill. Since, then, it appeared, that orders had been sent to receive the little Donna Maria, with all the honours usually paid to crowned heads, he wished to know whether the noble Earl had any objection to produce the orders, or to lay copies of them on the Table?
§ Earl Grey
did not know upon what 728 grounds the noble Marquis imputed to him a want of candour in the answer which he had given to the noble Marquis's question. The noble Marquis had asked, what orders had been sent to the proper authorities at Portsmouth, to receive Donna Maria as Queen of Portugal; and his answer was simply, that he did not know what orders had been given for her reception, or whether any orders at all had been given on the subject. That was the fact. It might be culpable in him to be ignorant of what had been done about the reception of the Emperor Don Pedro, and his daughter, Donna Maria; but, at the same time, when the noble Marquis put the question, he was not aware what orders had been given, or whether any orders had been given on the subject. In consequence of the noble Marquis's question, however, he had made inquiries; and the result was, that he found that no letter, or written direction, had been sent by the Secretary of State on the subject, but that some verbal conference had taken place between the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-chief of the Army, and the First Lord of the Admiralty, relative to the reception of the Emperor, Don Pedro, and his daughter. But the orders went to her reception with the honours generally paid to royalty, without the least reference to her title as Queen of Portugal. The honours directed to be paid, were merely the honours usually accorded to the royal station, without any political recognition or reference to the title of Donna Maria, as Queen of Portugal. The noble Marquis had thought proper to designate her as a Pretender. But the noble Marquis could scarcely have forgotten, that Donna Maria had been received and recognised by his late Majesty, and by the late Government, as Queen of Portugal, and had been treated as such with royal honours. But her late reception at Portsmouth had nothing to do with her title as Queen of Portugal, but was merely the usual reception afforded to royalty. Notwithstanding, then, the solemn questions and threatening denunciations of the noble Marquis, with regard to this reception, the noble Marquis had only, after all, discovered what was vulgarly called a mare's nest.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
was glad that his Majesty's Ministers had not given any orders which implied a political recognition of the title of Donna Maria, as 729 Queen of Portugal; and he agreed with the noble Earl, that the directions given as to the reception, really did not amount to more, than that Donna Maria was to be received with the honours usually, in courtesy, paid to persons holding the royal station. The noble Earl had remarked, that his late Majesty had acknowledged Donna Maria as the heiress of the Portuguese Crown, and had received her as Queen of Portugal. He did not mean to give any opinion as to the validity of the title of Donna Maria to the Throne of Portugal; but he did say, that the question as to whether her title was valid or not, was one beyond our jurisdiction. It was a question for the Portuguese, and for them only, to decide. If we were to interfere, and take upon ourselves to say, that Donna Maria was Queen of Portugal, we might just as well take upon ourselves to say, that Henry the 5th should be king of France.
The Marquis of Londonderry
was much gratified to find, that the orders given as to the reception of Donna Maria, did not imply any acquiescence in her assumed title of Queen of Portugal. As to what the noble Earl had said, relative to the recognition of Donna Maria as Queen of Portugal, by his late Majesty, it ought to be kept in view, that three years had elapsed since that time, and that circumstances were now entirely different from what they were then. The Portuguese, with whom alone the matter rested, had chosen their own Sovereign. He did not mean to say anything as to the character of that Sovereign. On that point there was much difference of opinion. But it was sufficient that he was recognised by the Portuguese nation as their Sovereign, and received by them as such, with as much obedience, affection, and attachment, as ever sovereign was received in any country. It was impossible, then, that a Ministry which laid so much weight on the principle of non-interference, could attempt to set up a sovereign of Portugal, contrary to the one whom the Portuguese had chosen. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) had, some time ago, made a speech in favour of the principle of non-interference, to which speech he would have the opportunity of adverting in a few days; but, in the mean time, he was glad, that he had forced the noble Earl to give a satisfactory answer to his question.