HL Deb 27 February 1845 vol 78 cc31-46
Lord Beaumont

rose, pursuant to notice, to put a question to the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on the subject of the Expedition which sailed from Corfu to the coast of Calabria; and said:—I must pray your Lordships' attention, as well as indulgence, whilst I refer to some particulars, which I believe to be correct, illustrative of the question I am about to put, as upon the answer I shall receive, depends the truth or falsehood of a charge which accuses the Government of this country of being participators in one of the foulest deeds of treachery ever perpetrated by an absolute and tyrannical government. In putting this question to the noble Earl, it is necessary that I should state briefly the occurrences which preceded the tragical event, and in so doing I shall only refer to circumstances before the public; and if I am wrong in any of my statements, and draw any erroneous conclusions, it will be for the noble Earl to correct me, and to point out wherein the deductions I make, or the conclusions I come to, are erroneous. The circumstances, as far as I can recollect them, are these:—Some time in the year 1843, information was received by the Austrian Government that certain exiles and refugees from the different States of Italy, at that time resident in the British Possessions in the Mediterranean, including the Ionian Islands, were plotting and concocting a conspiracy against the States of the Church, in order to produce a revolution in that country, and spread the same spirit throughout Italy, as existed in the year 1831. I understand that a remonstrance was made by Austria to this Government, as Sovereign of the Ionian Islands, to which place these persons had fled from the vengeance of their own Governments in Italy, and where they were maturing their schemes against those Governments; and I understand that a threat as well as a remonstrance came from Austria, namely, that if any revolution or political movement should take place in the Papal States, an army from Milan would march into those States, and that orders had actually been given to the Commander in Chief of the Austrian troops at Milan to march into and occupy the Papal States, in the event of any such insurrectionary movement, without waiting for orders from Vienna. This threat seems to have frightened the Foreign Office here from its propriety; and it would seem that Government then used the power which, wisely or not, but I do not think wisely, is entrusted to the Secretary of State—that of issuing warrants for the opening of private letters. It had been ascertained that M. Mazzini, an Italian resident here, corresponded with those refugees living at that time in the British Possessions in the Mediterranean. M. Mazzini's letters were broken open, and it was found out that the information received by the Austrian Government was true—that a plot was hatching in Corfu to make a descent upon Italy. At this stage of the narrative, I am met by two authentic documents, and by assertions which I am bound and willing to believe. The Reports of the two Committees who sat upon the subject, assert that although the information thus acquired, was conveyed to the Austrian Government, to that Government was stated no name or circumstance, or quotation—no portion of any letter or correspondence, in fact, which could in any way, lead to the ruin, or compromise the safety, of those who wrote them. I find that to that extent the Reports of the two Committees agree; and I remember also, that the noble Earl, now present, stated that none of the actual correspondence was communicated to the Foreign Government. But the information thus acquired, seems to have induced the English Government to make known to that of Austria that there was some danger threatened to the Papal States from some of the British Possessions in the Mediterranean; although I fully believe, that, in fact, every precaution was taken in making this communication, not to compromise individual safety. If the individuals had been guided by the advice of Signor Mazzini, their plot would have been abandoned — the scene would have closed, and the curtain have fallen. But another act of the drama remains to be described. To the particulars of this act I call your Lordships' attention, because it is on the ground of a connexion between these subsequent events and the previous communication which had taken place between the two Governments that the charge out of doors is made, which imputes a connivance on the part of this Government at the violation of all principles of honour and honesty, to which I am about to draw the attention of the House. It will be found upon a chronological review of the events in question, that, after the first conspiracy had been abandoned, a pause occurred, and it is to what took place after this pause that I wish particularly to draw the attention of the House. The circumstances appeared to be these: an emissary, one of the sbirri of the Neapolitan Government, employed no doubt in consequence of communications from Austria, who, be it remembered, had gained a knowledge through this Government of the designs of the refugees, who, though they had intended a descent upon the Papal States, had abandoned the plot, but were not allowed to escape becoming its victims; this emissary was instructed to proceed to Corfu, where the two sons of Admiral Bandiera resided, and to communicate with the refugees, and under the disguise of being a fellow conspirator, to propose a new plot against the Neapolitan Government, and thus to lure them to their destruction. Here arises another point to which I must refer. Neither the Consul for the Papal States, or for the Neapolitan Government, made any remonstrance on the subject to Lord Seaton. No notice was taken of the plot now concocting until the expedition had sailed. Upon the 12th of June, twenty-two persons, including the emissary before mentioned, sailed from Corfu, and not till then did the Papal and Neapolitan Consuls apply to Lord Seaton, who declined following the suggestion which they made, of sending an armed steamer to overtake them and bring them back. He, however, did agree to do what I cannot but deem a strange line of conduct; he did agree to send a steamer to Otranto to inform the Neapolitan Government of the expedition which had sailed. The expedition landed on the coast of Calabria; they proceeded to Giovanezza; there they were met by the authorities of the place in just sufficient number to oppose them. One of the conspirators was shot in the conflict which ensued—the rest were captured; and on the 25th of the same month, nine of them suffered capitally. Thus fell the two sons of Admiral Bandiera, and the other misguided men whom M. Mazzini had persuaded to renounce their first plot, but who were afterwards misled and hurried on to destruction. Now, I do say, that if the Government of this country had any knowledge of these matters—if they were aware that the information obtained and communicated by them would be used as it had been—then I do say that I know no words strong enough to express my detestation of such a course of policy as that which had been pursued in giving it. I trust, however, that the noble Earl is fully prepared to answer the question which I shall now put simply and directly as follows:—Whether the British Government had reason to believe that any Foreign Government had, by means of emissaries, got up an expedition in order to lead the individuals concerned to their destruction; also, whether the Government had any knowledge of the intended expedition from Corfu, and whether they took any and what means to prevent it?

The Earl of Aberdeen

I am not at all sorry, my Lords, that the noble Lord has asked the questions which he has put to me, and that he has brought this subject before the House at the present moment; because, although your Lordships may easily imagine that it is in itself sufficiently painful, there are many reasons which lead me to meet the noble Lord's inquiries with pleasure and alacrity. And, my Lords, I am the better able to do so in consequence of the reference made in the Report of the Committee of this and the other House of Parliament, in which they refer particularly to a matter which was submitted to their inquiry, and which appears to be supposed to be connected with the immediate questions which have been put by the noble Lord. Your Lordships will recollect that, for the two years previous to these transactions, great political excitement had prevailed in the Italian States, and that various insurrectionary attempts had been made in the Papal States and in the kingdom of Naples, which failed in their object, and that great alarm continued to exist in those States. That alarm was certainly shared in by the Austrian Government, being, as it was, much interested in preserving the peace of Italy; and that Government, as the noble Lord truly said, had determined, in the event of any serious disturbances of an insurrectionary character taking place in Italy, to advance a large military force to occupy the Papal States. I am sure, my Lords, I need not point out the probable consequence of such a movement on the part of Austria; there can, however, be little doubt that the peace of Europe would not have been of long continuance had such an event taken place. My Lords, the centre of these conspiracies and these projects was found to be, not in the Ionian Islands, or in the Mediterranean, but in London; and it was in that belief that it was thought necessary to issue a warrant to detain and open the letters addressed to M. Mazzini. Your Lordships are already aware that that warrant was not issued by me, or at my desire. In saying this, however, your Lordships are not to understand that I was not prepared to sanction the issuing of that warrant, or that I wish to throw off any responsibility that may attach to me, as a Member of the Government, on account of that act. On the contrary, I am quite prepared, with every other Member of the Government, to share in the full responsibility of that step. But, my Lords, those letters, so detained, were sent to me from the Home Office, for me to deal with them, and the information they conveyed, according to my discretion, and as should appear to me to be consistent with my duty. My Lords, the course I adopted was this—I determined that no agent of any Foreign Government should see a single syllable of the contents of those letters; and further, that no agent of any Foreign Government should know that any such letters existed, and, of course, the name of no one of the writers of them. In addition to this, I determined to keep in view the necessary regard to the personal safety of all those individuals who might in any way be compromised by any information those letters might contain. With these views, and with these precautions, I communicated from time to time such information as I felt I could communicate, consistently with these restrictions and with my duty, to the Austrian Government. And, having acted with this care and caution, I felt myself entitled last year, in answer to the question put to me by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Clanricarde), to say that no syllable of these letters had been submitted to the inspection of any Foreign Government. Your Lordships will recollect the circumstances that led to that declaration of mine. A complaint had been made that the lodgings of a certain Pole, whose name I forget, had been entered, his writing-desk broken open, and his papers taken and delivered to the Minister of the Russian Government. That accusation was denied, and the noble Marquess then asked me and the Government whether the letters of M. Mazzini had been opened, and their contents submitted to the inspection of a Foreign Government? Now, my Lords, feeling as I did how I had dealt with those letters, I felt myself perfectly justified in saying, not a syllable of their contents had been submitted to the inspection of any Foreign Government. And, my Lords, I feel that I am entitled to say, that the precautions I took for the safety of those persons who might be compromised by the contents of the letters were perfectly successful; and I have reason to believe that not a single individual has suffered in consequence of any information given by this Government to any Foreign Power. This brings me more immediately to the question of the noble Lord (Lord Beaumont). I have seen some ingenious reasoning founded on the Report of the Committee of the two Houses of Parliament, in which it is said care was taken not to endanger the safety of any person within the power of that Government to whom the information was given, and therefore it has been presumed that the safety of persons not in the power of that Government was endangered. But my Lords, the statement in the Report of the Committee is the result of an answer given by me to a question put by a Member of the Committee, viz., whether any person was endangered by the information so given by me to a Foreign Government who was in the power of that Government? I said, of course, Decidedly not; but it did not, therefore, follow that any persons out of the power of that Government were endangered by the information so communicated. Now, the Italian exiles resident in Corfu, not being at that time under the power of the Austrian Government, it has been supposed that by a sort of quibble or evasion on my part, my answer did not apply to the condition of such persons. My Lords, the shortest answer I can give to the noble Lord on this point is, that I never had the most distant conception of any attempt being about to be made from Corfu upon the Italian States at one time or another. The noble Lord speaks as though there had been a preliminary plot which was put a stop to. My Lords, I know of none. I knew that there was great excitement prevailing among persons not in Corfu, but I never heard of any plan concocting at Corfu by any persons to invade any part of Italy. No doubt at Malta there had been great complaints for the last two or three years of the great license accorded to Italian refugees residing there; and we have been often remonstrated with on the license so assumed by Italians in Malta, exhibited particularly through the medium of the press of Malta, and the inflammatory productions which, emanating from that country, had been circulated throughout Italy, causing great alarm on the part of those Governments interested in preserving the peace of the Italian States. Not that I ever supposed that any serious attempt would be made from Malta, but that the spirit exhibited by the Italian refugees against their Governments was, as their Lordships were aware, more strongly exhibited there than at any other place. For my part, however, I have always been disposed to look at Corsica as the spot from which danger was to be apprehended; but as to Corfu and the Ionian islands, I had not the most distant conception of any attempt against any part of Italy emanating from them. I knew, or at least I believed, that a great number of Italian refugees were in Corfu; but I had no knowledge of, and had never heard of, any insurrectionary intentions contemplated by them against Italy. I was aware that one of the sons of Admiral Bandiera had been at Corfu, because the Austrian Minister remonstrated with me on his having been allowed to arrive there with an English passport; and I also knew that when he deserted from Venice to Naples, he said he was going to Corfu. I knew, too, that his brother, the other Bandiera, was at Malta, because the Captain of an Austrian vessel of war demanded of the Governor of that place that he should be surrendered up as a deserter, and that Sir Patrick Stuart, the Governor, replied that he had no power to comply with that demand. I remember on that occasion that a noble Friend of mine, now sitting near me, applied to know whether I approved of that decision of Sir Patrick Stuart's; and my official answer to that application was that if he had no power, he was quite right in refusing to surrender Bandiera; but I added that if even he had possessed the power, he would have been wrong in surrendering that gentleman as demanded. Therefore, my Lords, I certainly knew that one of the Bandieras was at Malta, but beyond that I had no knowledge of any design, amounting to any practical project, entertained by them of any descent into Italy. My Lords, it must be remembered that the desertion of the Bandieras was considered an event of great importance in Italy. You are aware that the Austrian navy consists almost entirely of Italians, and it was impossible to know how far the example of the Bandieras might extend; and great alarm was naturally felt by the Austrian authorities in consequence of that event, and a proportionate degree of excitement took place amongst the Italian refugees scattered throughout Europe, not only in the Mediterranean, but in this and other countries, at the prospect afforded them by the desertion of those two officers, the sons of a very distinguished person, in command of the Austrian navy, though not actually employed at the time, of effecting a change in the government of their own country, which they had long hoped to obtain. But, my Lords, as I said before, I had no knowledge of, or reason to expect, that any descent or movement against Italy, emanating from Corfu, was contemplated; and I can show clearly that it was impossible I could, for the whole of the expedition was, I believe, planned and executed in a single week. Lord Seaton, writing to my noble Friend (Lord Stanley), who had asked for an explanation of what had taken place, said,— The younger Bandiera arrived in Corfu in February, by an Austrian packet, and, expecting to be supplied with money from his brother at Malta, proceeded to that island by the first British packet that sailed, but not meeting with him, he returned and went to Greece the same month. On their subsequent arrival in Corfu, on the 5th of June, it was their intention to proceed to England. Colonel Ricciotti also arrived from Malta on the 5th of June, intending to go by that route to Italy. So that they arrived on the 5th of June, and on the 12th of June the expedition took place. Therefore, how was it possible that any information could have been received here of an intention which only had existence after the arrival, on the 5th of June, of persons who left Corfu to carry out that intention on the 12th of the same month? This, my Lords, is, I think, decisive, and proves that it was impossible for any information to have been given to any quarter by the British Government. Of course, if I had known, or had reason to suspect, that any attempt would have been made from Corfu, no doubt Lord Seaton would have been informed, and his attention called to this circumstance. But Lord Seaton was not only not informed, and could not have been informed, but when the expedition had actually departed from Corfu, Lord Seaton would not believe the fact. When these misguided men had actually embarked, and the Foreign Consuls residing at Corfu went to Lord Seaton and demanded his assistance to bring them back, he would not credit that they had gone with the intention of making a descent on the coast of Calabria, and refused to take any measures to arrest the parties and bring them back. Therefore, my Lords, that is the short answer I have to make to one of the questions put to me by the noble Lord, viz., whether Her Majesty's Government had any knowledge of the expedition being intended, and if so, whether they took any means to prevent it. I positively assert that we never had the slightest knowledge of the intended expedition until after it had actually taken place, and could not consequently take measures to prevent it. And I have now the proof that, from the position of the parties engaged in it, it was impossible that any such previous intention existed, for they arrived in Corfu only on the 5th of June, and the expedition sailed on the 12th of the same month. But the noble Lord also makes another accusation, which I will venture to say is equally unfounded—an accusation against the Austrian or Neapolitan Governments, or both, of having sent emissaries to induce these persons to undertake this desperate enterprise. My Lords, there is no reason to suppose that anything of the sort took place, and I think I can prove that there did not, to your Lordships' perfect satisfaction. When these men embarked on the night of the 12th of June, the several Consuls of Austria, Naples, and the Papal States, went the next morning at ten o'clock to Lord Seaton, and informed him of the fact, of which he was previously ignorant, and entreated him to take measures to pursue them and bring them back. Was that the conduct of persons who wished to prompt and encourage the descent, and allure these parties to their destruction? If that had really been the object, they would have allowed them to go without interference, being satisfied that on their arrival in Italy, they must necessarily fall into the trap prepared for them. Now, Lord Seaton says,— When the Consuls of Austria, Naples, and the Papal States, waited on me at ten o'clock in the morning of the 13th of June, and informed me that sixty Italian refugees had left Corfu to make a descent upon Calabria, I thought it likely that it was a mere report of the town; and I stated that I would give directions to the Director of the Police to inquire into the truth of the circumstances stated; and that as soon as the officer of the Police made his report I would send for them. Before the Director of the Police had had time to collect the information, the Consuls returned to me at half-past eleven o'clock, and having inquired whether the facts reported by them had been verified, Mr. Meyerbank, the Austrian Consul, requested me to order the Medea steam-frigate to proceed to sea to arrest the refugees and bring them back. I replied that the Medea could not be sent for that purpose—and I added that I believed that the number of persons reported to have embarked was greatly exaggerated, and that I was sure they could have no intention of landing at Calabria; but I consented that a boat should be ordered to proceed to Otranto, and placed at the disposal of the Neapolitan Consul there, so that intelligence might be immediately transmitted to Naples by telegraph. Now, then, your Lordships will perceive that the Consuls entreated Lord Seaton—that they made bitter complaints against Lord Seaton for not complying with their request to send the British steamer in pursuit of the boats of the refugees, for they said that as it was a dead calm, the steamer might easily have overtaken them and brought them back. And, my Lords, I am constrained to say that I regret that Lord Seaton did not think it consistent with his duty to adopt that course. I do not know what flag these men sailed under; but, be it what it might, under the circumstances of the case, I do think that Lord Seaton might properly have despatched the steamer after them and brought them back; and, out of mercy to the parties themselves, and regard to that Government with whom we were on friendly relations, and whom they were going to disturb, I think he might have made that exercise of his authority, and brought back those persons as requested by the Consuls who made the application. But, my Lords, I think the facts I have stated prove sufficiently that at least the Austrian Government were no parties to any such design or undertaking as that which was resorted to. And now, let me call your Lordships' attention to what took place when these persons landed in Calabria, which will, as I think, equally show that it was impossible for the Neapolitan Government to have had any previous knowledge or share in the transaction. The exiles were three days at sea, the calm lasting the whole of the time. They sailed from Corfu on the night of the 12th of June, and landed on the coast of Calabria at Cortona, on the evening of the 16th. They advanced for three days through a very thinly peopled country without meeting with any opposition. Can your Lordships suppose that if they had been excited to this step by emissaries acting under directions of the Government, which it was their object to subvert—as the noble Lord (Lord Beaumont) supposes—that that Government would not have taken means to provide for their reception? Do you not suppose that troops would have been in the neighbourhood to apprehend them at the moment of their landing? But so far from this being the case, there were no troops in the country, and the insurgents advanced for three days without opposition. On the evening of the 19th they fell in with an assemblage of persons collected hastily to oppose them, whom they attacked, and over whom they obtained an advantage, for they killed the leader of this rural guard—this half-armed population. They had the advantage at first, killing one and wounding one or two other persons. They then advanced to Cosenza, where they expected to liberate certain other political offenders there confined. On the 19th, however, a greater number of persons were collected to oppose them, but still without troops, and by these the exiles were attacked and overcome. Mr. Temple, writing to the British Minister at Naples, gives an account of the manner in which this was effected, and that account completely confirms what I have stated. He says,— "When the exiles arrived at Cortona on the 16th of June, they proceeded over a thinly-inhabited and mountainous country on the road to Cosenza. On the 19th, at night they fell in with a small force consisting of a few of the civil guard and two or three gens d'armerie, with whom they exchanged some shots in the dark—killing the leader of the guard, and wounding one of the gens d'armerie. They then continued their route to San Giovanezza; but the judge of that place having collected together a large force of the inhabitants of the country, supported by a few gens d'armerie, approached the invading party, and having fallen in with them, attacked them with success, killing, wounding, and capturing the whole, except five who fled, but who were afterwards taken. The result of this attempt must be most satisfactory to the Government, inasmuch as it was entirely put down by the inhabitants themselves, with the aid only of a few gens d'armerie, but without the support or presence of any troops."

It is true that when the intelligence sent by Lord Seaton reached Naples, a battalion of infantry was despatched to Calabria, but it arrived when the affair was all over, so that in fact no troops were nearer the point of their landing than the city of Naples itself. Now, my Lords, is it likely, is it credible, that the Neapolitan Government, if they were privy to this undertaking, should have had no troops nearer to the scene of action than the city of Naples? Yet no troops arrived until after the landing was effected, and the inhabitants of the country had effectually put down the insurrection. It is quite clear, then, as I think, that the Government of Naples could have had no previous concern in this transaction. But, my Lords, I will not undertake to say there was no treachery in the case, because it is said, I am aware, though I do not know where the proof of it rests, that one of the party did betray his companions. This statement is, I believe, founded on a difference in the sentences, by which he was condemned to a lighter punishment as compared with the others. Nine of the prisoners were shot, seven others were condemned to death, and one to five years' imprisonment; and the difference in the sentences appeared to have confirmed the notion that this man who was sentenced to five years' imprisonment was the betrayer of the others. But in what manner he was a traitor to his companions—what was the effect and what the result of his treachery, I am at a loss to understand. I have never yet been able to understand what it is supposed he obtained by his treachery. This man, who was a Corsican by birth, was condemned to five years' imprisonment; but to show that this is a real punishment, and a pretty severe one too for a person who is supposed to have been instigated by the Neapolitan Government itself, I will state to your Lordships that this Corsican, writing to the British Minister at Naples—his father having been under British protection, and he himself having, as he stated, in some way served the British Government, requested from him some pecuniary assistance, and implored him also to exercise his influence with the Neapolitan Government to obtain his liberation from prison. Mr. Temple, in reply, stated very properly, "I can do nothing of the kind; if it is true, as you say, that you have rendered a service to my Government, it is for that Government to acknowledge it." And he added, "if they had not done so, it was not his business to show regard to a man who had joined a band to invade a country and disturb a Government with which Great Britain was on terms of peace and friendship." Therefore, my Lords, what the amount of this man's treachery may have been I will not undertake to say. I cannot, however, see that it can possibly have had any influence with the undertaking in which he was engaged, or its results. And, for myself, I should consider that the difference of punishment in his case resulted from the fact, that there were, as stated in the decree, some extenuating circumstances in regard to him, which rendered the punishment of death not called for as in the case of the other. I must also, my Lords, be permitted to add that, so far from the Neapolitan Government being satisfied with these proceedings at Corfu, that the Neapolitan Minister in this country was ordered to remonstrate with me on account of the remissness of the authorities at that island; and so strongly did he do so, that his remonstrance almost amounted to an imputation of something more than remissness on the part of those who might have prevented the expedition. I state this as a proof that the Neapolitan Government, from first to last, viewed the proceedings in the same manner as did the Austrian Consul, who, at Corfu, complained quite as bitterly to his Government of the course pursued by Lord Seaton. Now, as to the charge of there being emissaries and treachery in this affair—we know that it was by the merest accident in the world that one of these persons, and a principal one among them, was not taken with my passport in his possession. It was by the merest accident that such was not the case; and, if it had been so, their Lordships would not have supposed that I could have been so guilty — there would not have been wanting charitable persons elsewhere to believe that I was privy to the plot, and had given the passport to this man for the purpose of conveying him to destruction. It is necessary that I should explain this circumstance to your Lordships. The principal persons in this affair were not the two Bandiera (who were enthusiastic, but misguided, young men), but a certain Colonel Ricciotti, who for many years had been engaged in similar enterprises, and was much looked up to by the discontented in the Italian States. Colonel Ricciotti, in March last, applied at the Foreign Office for a passport. Your Lordships are aware that it is not the custom for the Foreign Office to give passports to foreigners, and Colonel Ricciotti, therefore, represented himself as a native of Gibraltar, gave a feigned name, and stated that he was a merchant, desirous of proceeding to Italy for the purposes of commerce. He was recommended by a London tradesman, as it is usual, when the party applying is not known, that he should be prepared with a recommendation. But, as the tradesman was not known, the passport was refused, it being the practice only to grant passports to persons who are themselves known, or who are acquainted with, and come recommended by, some person who is. In a short time after the refusal, a recommendation in favour of this person came from a most respectable business house in London—a banking house—and the application was then granted at once, and Colonel Ricciotti left England with my passport, for Italy, under a feigned name, as a British subject. As I said before, he was a person who had long been engaged in such enterprizes, and, though not well known here, was well known to the French police, and when on the point of embarking at Marseilles he was arrested by the police authorities there, and was detained, as Was also his passport, under the impression that it had been improperly obtained. Application was immediately made to me, and I confirmed that impression, and the passport was then taken from him. How he arrived at Malta from Marseilles, and afterwards contrived to join the Bandieras at Corfu, I do not know. But, my Lords, had it not been that he was arrested at Marseilles, he would have gone to Italy, with my passport in his possession. My Lords, I am one of those who wish to extend the utmost hospitality to foreigners of all ranks and all parties. I have always, both in my private and official character, wished to show the greatest consideration and indulgence to all persons of that class, come from where they may. I have had intimate friends in Italian exiles, Polish exiles, and Spanish exiles of all kinds, and I have never on any occasion sacrificed to the pleasure of my Government what I felt to be due to private worth. But, on the other hand, something is, I think, due from those who are the recipients of the hospitality of a free country, and your Lordships will scarcely be prepared to admit that the deception practised by this person to whom I have alluded was justifiable. The unfortunate man has, however, come to an unhappy end, and I will not further refer to him. I mention the circumstance in reference to what the noble Lord has said about these unfortunate men being allured to their ruin; but it occurred to me that if this Colonel Ricciotti had been taken with a passport from me found in his possession, it might have given rise to commentaries such as the noble Lord has made. I think, my Lords, I have now fully answered the noble Lord's questions, and proved, I am sure, to his satisfaction, that I had no previous knowledge of any such expedition being intended from Corfu, and that neither the Austrian nor the Neapolitan Governments could have had any participation in this mad and senseless scheme. My Lords, I feel it is a most painful imputation to lie under, however unjust. I am sure your Lordships will look at the matter with candour and impartiality. I can only say that I stand fully acquitted by my own conscience of having had the slightest share in this catastrophe. My Lords, at the great day of account, no doubt we shall all have much to answer—no doubt we shall all—even the best of us — have great need to cry for mercy and forgiveness; but if the noble Lord opposite, who has questioned me, were the object nearest and dearest to my heart, I could ask nothing better for him—as I ask nothing better for myself—than that any charge on that day may be as groundless as the imputation of my having contributed, in the slightest degree, to the fate of these unhappy men.

Lord Beaumont

, in reply, said, that when he rose to address the House, he stated that the version he was about to give of the Bandiera conspiracy was the version given of it out of doors. He felt bound to state that he was fully satisfied with the explanation that had been given by the noble Earl; and which was not only a complete vindication of himself as to any participation in treachery—that, he must say, he did not think the noble Lord capable of, even before his explanation—but he was also bound to allow that it was a complete vindication of the Neapolitan Government. That story itself stood on so frail a basis, that he could not profess any longer to think that it was true. He was bound to make this statement. He was glad that the noble Earl had had an opportunity of making this statement; and he trusted that the public would be convinced, as he was, that the stain which had been cast upon the Government, had not been merited by their conduct. There was, however, one part of the subject which had not been explained to his satisfaction, namely, that part which supposed that the fear of a disturbance in Italy, was a justification of the violation of the secrecy of private correspondence; and he might say that the threat by the Austrian Government to march into the States of Italy was not sufficient to encourage the noble Earl to examine into correspondence in the manner that it had taken place. He thought it would have been better for the noble Earl to have waited until the threat was put into execution, than have allowed the possibility of a charge being made against the Government of acting as the spy of Austria, and upholding despotism in the smaller States of Italy. He repeated that he was glad he had afforded the noble Earl the opportunity of making the explanation he had done.

House adjourned.