§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
said, he understood that his noble Friend (Lord Brougham) intended to move for a copy of the despatch dated the 11th September, 1847, containing the representations of the Austrian Government in answer to the despatch of Lord Palmerston on the subject of any interference in the affairs of Sardinia. He had to state that there was no objection to lay those or any other papers upon the table of the House, tending to elucidate that very important subject.
* I had expected as much from the known candour of my noble Friend. The despatch for which I move is a document of great importance, not only from the pending negotiations, in*From a Report published by Ridgway.236 their reference to our relations with Austria and the Italian Powers, but also with regard to France, to our peace with that Republic, and I may say to the peace of Europe at large. It will prove to all mankind that Austria never entertained the least design or even desire to break in upon the arrangements made by the Treaty of Vienna. When my noble Friend in the other House (Lord Palmerston), as I conceive somewhat unjustly, administered what seemed a reprimand to our ancient ally, by giving warning that we should resent any attempt against Sardinia, or against the Roman States, the answer was promptly made that nothing could be further from the wish of Austria than to aim any blow at the Sardinian monarchy; that on the contrary, she would join with us cordially in resisting all such aggressions, holding fast by the guarantee given in the Treaty of Vienna. Then, as to the Roman States, she was if possible still more bound and more resolved to resist any assault on the Holy Father from her intimate connexion with the See of Rome. But what might not have been so naturally expected from the conservative habits of Prince Metternich—though I believe he has never shown a disposition to resist any improvement, however averse to such proceedings as have of late disgraced Germany, and such as have declared strongly in favour of his prudent counsels—Lord Palmerston having warned Austria also against interposing with force to prevent the people of any State in Italy from effecting internal changes, his answer was distinctly that no such intention existed, nor any desire to prevent any peaceable improvements in the institutions of any Italian State. The production of so important a state paper, is not more an act of mere justice to Austria, and her highly distinguished statesman, than it is a useful document with a view to the existing negotiations.
But now it was said that Prance would interfere in Italy, and our joining in the mediation might prevent such a misfortune. My Lords, I say nothing against this project at all: well meant it certainly is, it may possibly be wisely conceived also; I wish it all success. But I must profess my entire disbelief of any real intention on the part of France to commit so signal an act of indiscretion as employing force in Italy. That there are some persons, not remarkable for either knowledge or wisdom, who busy themselves with calling out for an Italian campaign, I am well aware. 237 But they are not very many, and they are even far less important than numerous; they are visionaries, agitators, speculators in mischief, preachers of general revolt, men who can only see an abuse in each established Government, who can fancy no benefit to Franco greater than involving all others in the ruin that she is suffering under. These men are unceasing in their outcry against the continuance of peace, strenuous in their fanatical promulgation of propagandist doctrine, loud in their calls for violent courses, incessant in their thoughtless demands of a warlike interference with Italian affairs. "Why," said these wise politicians, "why don't you march across the Alps? Why keep troops idle and useless at Paris? What need can there be of 50,000 men in a capital where no breath of faction, no whisper of revolt over is hoard? All men know—say these sage counsellors—that we have more troops than we can employ to keep a peace in no danger from any quarter. France, from the Channel to the Mediterranean is in profound repose. Since the revolution of February there has not been the faintest echo of a tumult—no rising, nor any threat of it, on the 17th of March—none on the 15th of May, when the mob merely turned the National Assembly neck and crop out of their Chamber—nothing in the world more—no tumult on the 22nd of June—further than the streets all flowing with blood for a day or two—nothing whatever at any time requiring the presence of troops, martial laws, or state of siege. Then, all Lyons, Nantes, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Avignes, Nismes, Dijon—all quiet—all wrapt in deep repose. Why keep any troops whatever in so peaceful a country? Why not send all into Italy to help the usurpation of Charles Albert, or spread democracy over the land? And then for money—why there is a superabundance of it—credit strong—money a drug—trade too prosperous—merchants surfeited with profits—a general plethora of wealth—stocks up at 110 the threes, 130 the fives—more capital than can be used—the revenue doubling every week—the debt swept off by payment of twenty shillings in the pound! Surely, argue these profound and accurate thinkers—these sage and prudent counsellors, nothing can be more absurd than for France to keep peace, of which she has no kind of need, and avoid war, which is certain glory to her name, and the sure vent for her superfluous wealth 238 —her unemployed armies? "Such I do not believe to be the language of General Cavaignac—he is none of the visionaries I speak of—he is a sound practical politician, and will think twice before he lets his country go to war for any theory. But others are brimful of such visions, as for example, M. Lamartine is one of the tribe. Ho, a famous romancer, a middling poet, a worse historian, is full of propagandist notions—and when at the head of affairs, he scrupled not to issne a manifesto only paralleled in the records of the National Convention during the reign of terror. He proclaimed goodwill to whatever people chose to revolt against its rulers, and pursue revolutionary courses. They should, he said, be left to themselves as long as there was a prospect of their being able to work out their own emancipation; but as soon as they were failing, and the regular Government against which they had risen was overpowering their resistance—why then France would show herself the friend of the oppressed, and give them her succour to break their chains. This, he said, was the "Mission" of France especially—that is, she was created, and sent upon the earth to accomplish universal revolution. Since 1792, no parallel has been furnished to this; since the famous decree of 19th November in that year, the decree that France was the auxiliary of all insurgents—the decree which plunged Europe into a twenty years' war.
My Lords, I deem it my bounden duty to consider for a few moments the great question of foreign policy now calling for the attention of this House, of the Government, and of the country; and as I shall be readily acquitted by my noble Friends opposite of all factious motives, or any intentions hostile to them, I prefer submitting my views of the subject rather to them than to the people out of doors, or even your Lordships at large. I take the case to be this: We should lay down to ourselves some fixed principles for the basis of our conduct—trace out for our course some known, intelligible, definite line of duty and of policy, instead of varying from day to day according to the aspect of events—taking up one plan to-day, another tomorrow, as fortune may wear a different face—and making ourselves the sport of blind chance, rather than the followers of a rational system, the votaries of positive duty. Now I understand the system which 239 is built upon the known public law of Europe, which has its foundations upon the admitted rights of nations and the general interests of all, as best secured by the independence of each. I recognise the force of treaties, and the positive duty of abiding strictly by their provisions. They form as it were the statute law of nations. As long as we plant our feet on this secure foundation, we shall find rest; it is a sound, an intelligible, a rational system—above all, it is connected with the public law of Europe—and at once strengthens and is supported by all her most venerable and most cherished institutions. There has, however, been invented of late years a very different principle, which its visionary apostles call nationality. They bid us look not to rights, whether as secured by prescription, by possession, or by treaty—but to national origin, and national diversities—and in pursuit of some chimera or some ignis fatuus, imperfectly perceived, confusedly described, but supposed to knit certain nations together, and to separate them from others, these visionaries set all common honesty as well as all common sense at defiance, rush on an endless voyage through an unknown sea, without chart or compass, and care not how swiftly or how extensively they involve the world in war. The region which they have especially chosen for the trial of their theories, is fair Italy. They must needs have all that country united under one head; all the people of that country formed into one nation. Italy! why it is, as Prince Metternich well said, a geographical name, and not a political. It expresses the country, as certain of its own poets have said, which the Apennine divides, and the sea and the Alps surround. It means the long territory between the Genoese gulph on the one side, and the Adriatic on the other. But it denotes no one country, nor is it inhabited by any one people. The interests of its different portions are diametrically opposed, Genoa conflicting with Venice; both with Leghorn—all with Naples. The tongues spoken by its districts are wholly different; so that a Piedmontese and a Lombard cannot converse together, nor a Genoese and a Milanese, nor a Calabrese and a Roman, nor a Sicilian and a Neapolitan. Italy is a series of principalities—each principality a cluster of towns—each town alien to, and as hateful as alien, to its nearest neighbour. A monarchy forming all these jarring mate- 240 rials into one mass—a republic composed of such parts—a federacy of republics as the visionaries would have it, formed by concatenations of these hostile States, and designed to unite them all into one—why you may as well speak of harmony in a string of vipers, or union among a nest of scorpions! The Paris visionary—the club spouter—the radical journalist—knows nothing of all this; having only heard of the fine Italian sky—of the beautiful garden of Europe—of the clever Italian songster and painter and poet;—aye, but the great hard and patriot of Italy, knew all this, and how did he paint his countrymen—Not only town with town holds ceaseless war,But townsmen whom one wall, one moat surrounds.Each other gnaw (rode) with hate that scorns all bounds.Nor is this anything new; Italy never was one country; Italians never were one people; a union of their different States never existed in reality for a single hour. Go back even to the Roman times—there were the Greeks in the south, the Gauls in the north, nations wholly different from the Romans; each petty State conquered and colonised by Rome, differed as much from each other as all did from the capital; and there existed no one tie of either blood or origin, or tongue, or faith, or manners, or interest to knit them together; the only link being their common submission, by force of their common subjection to the iron yoke of the Roman, that is, the foreign conqueror. Accordingly we know that Hannibal, who had met with some resistance in the north, no sooner crossed the Alps, than he walked through all the States of Italy, as through an unresisting medium—opposed in no one place, except in the ten or dozen Roman colonies, those garrisons of Romans planted to secure the conquests of the central city. So it has been in times nearer our own; I don't speak of the great divisions of Naples, Rome, Venice, Lombardy, Genoa, Piedmont; but each of these is subdivided. So that at the famous peace of Constance, in the end of the twelfth century, Lombardy consisted of no less than seventeen petty states or towns; all hating each other with the fervour which Dante paints in the well-known passage that I have cited, and have marred, I fear, by a sorry version which my noble Friend (Lord Lansdowne) will hardly pardon, as we studied that great poet together under the illustrious Monti—I fear to remind him how many years ago. The awful Florentine bursts forth in his celebrated invec- 241 tive, suggested by the mutual hatred of his countrymen—oh Italy, of wars the common innBark without steersman in the tempest gale:No village fair one—gentle yet though frail—Strumpet (Bordello), thy guilt's less hateful than thy din.And what is the remedy which Dante, patriot as he was, but of the Ghibelline or Imperial party, points out for such discord? The interference of the German Emperor, with his force, to check, compress, control these hostile elements. This celebrated invective is directed against that prince for leaving Italy to herself, and not hastening to her aid, that is, to assume the sway over her, and silence her ceaseless jars. Of all these things, the coffee-house declaimers, and the newspaper oracles of Paris, and the oracles of the coterie and of the street corner, are of course profoundly ignorant. But my noble Friends opposite cannot be so ill-informed, they cannot have fallen into the dream of Italian unity. Above all, I am sure my noble kinsman (Lord Minto), whose expedition into Italy is often referred to, cannot have so far deviated from his rational and discreet habits as to foster such vagaries of the fancy, or to join in them where he casually may have seen them in vogue. I know too well his sound judgment, well tried while he was in a most difficult and delicate diplomatic situation, while I was a Minister of the Crown at home; and I am bound to say that greater discretion and firmness, greater capacity for the duties of his mission, did I never see in any whose operations it was my province to join in superintending. Such profound ignorance of Italian affairs, now and in times past, as marks the visionary of Paris, never could belong to my noble kinsman. His personal qualities forbid the supposition, his illustrious historical alliance alike forbids it. It is otherwise with the agitators of Paris. These speculators in revolt, of whose utter ignorance and profound incapacity I have been speaking, are urging on their Government, and in vain urging, to take hostile steps towards Austria, in order to terminate her dominion beyond the Alps. Of this course being attempted by any Government endowed with reason, I have no kind of apprehension. But a mediation is undertaken in connexion with England. Now, on this I would first of all remark, that, for the reasons I have assigned, it would be both absurd and most unjust to exert ourselves, whether with or without the concurrence of France, to make a new 242 distribution of power in Italy, governed by the wild notion of treating the Italians as one people. But on our joint negotiation I would next observe, that we must always recollect the different position of the two intervening parties. The interests of France are entirely different from our own; they are opposite to our own—diametrically opposite—in regard to the Austrian rule in Italy. It is for the benefit of France that Austria should be as much reduced as possible, have her dominions as little protected, and her frontier as much, weakened as possible; while our interest is to have her as well protected and as little exposed as may be. It is no benefit at all to France that she should have her next-door neighbour very strong—quite impregnable. But for that very reason it is a benefit to us that this neighbour should be strong, as a counterpoise to France. Of course I dismiss with contempt the foolish notion of natural enemies. But so powerful a State as France must ever be—as she must again be when her revolutionary crisis has passed away, and a solid regular Government restores her prosperity, so sadly interrupted since February last—ought, for the sake of general security and peace, to be surrounded by powerful and wholly independent States; because, as long as men are men, the truth is ever to be kept in mind—Cui plus licet quam debet eum semper plus velle quam licet. Now, all the remarks I am making on our joint intervention and its possible objects, are wholly independent of the question of right arising from the actual possession of Austria, secured to her by the most solemn treaties. Again arises a further diversity between the position of England and France. France, under her revolutionary regimen, of course cares little for the arrangements of Vienna; nay, under any Government, she would not be much expected to support and defend those arrangements; for they were all made with the view of curbing her ambition, and maintaining the independence of her neighbours. She can no more be expected to feel very zealous in defence of that treaty, than a malefactor can be appealed to for his help against the mob which attacks the gaol he is confined in. But we stand in a very different position; we were the very heart and soul of the alliance; the immortal victories of my noble and gallant Friend enabled us to dictate the terms at Vienna; his negotiations as a statesman consummated what his work as a warrior had begun; and much 243 as at the time I may have disapproved of some portions of the arrangement then made, after above thirty years of possession have sanctioned it—after the structure reared on it has become the law of Europe—Heaven forbid that I should suffer without resistance one stone to be removed from the arch that supports it, and by supporting it has secured the peace of the world. I would, then, impress—earnestly impress—upon my noble Friends opposite the peculiarity which marks this joint intervention—that the two mediating Powers stand in wholly different circumstances, have different duties to discharge, and different, nay, conflicting interests to pursue.
But there is another thing also to be borne in mind. The French Government and ours stand in totally different relations to the parties between whom we are mediating in a still more important particular; the French party, Charles Albert's, is beaten, and completely beaten; the English party—which I hope and trust it is—which it must be if there be any faith in friendship between nations, any regard to the ancient and the true policy of this country, and to the interest which all countries have in the sacredness of treaties—our friend, our old and faithful ally, is victorious, and completely victorious. We, then, are called upon to interpose and save the friend, the tool of France, from the consequences of his utterly faithless conduct—to ward off from him the blow he has courted—to interpose between him and the punishment so justly due to his foul aggression upon our unoffending neighbour—and to stay the hand of our old ally when it is ready to fall upon the ally, I will not say of France, but of the visionaries and agitators in the clubs of Paris. In fact, the war is over; the insurrection of Milan is quelled; the invasion of Lombardy is at an end; the tide of war is rolled back to the frontiers of the aggressor; and the victorious standards of those brave men who have waged defensive war—the only war that is not a crime—now wave beyond the Mincio, the arms of the triumphant Marshal threatening the capital of him who broke the peace. I have heard with astonishment some vain and idle talk of asking Austria to be now content with the borders of the Adige, that is, to give up half the dominions which Charles Albert invaded, and which she triumphantly defended—to give up Mantua and Peschiera as well as Milan—because Milan rebelled, and, not daring to 244 fight, has been reduced to complete subjection, and because Mantua and Peschiera, the great fortresses of Lombardy, have fallen before the Austrian armies. In a word, Austria being attacked in a period of profound peace, and having victoriously repelled the attack, her enemy is to have half her dominions, because he is defeated, and as a reward for his unjust aggression—a compensation for his signal and most merited discomfiture. I believe, in the history of war and of negotiation, there is no match to be found for this proposal. But here, in passing, I cannot refrain from expressing the sentiments of admiration which I believe are general over Europe—except in the rebellious clubs of Milan and the insurgent circles of Paris—the admiration of Marshal Radetsky's brilliant talents and noble courage, above all, of the humane resolution which he adopted to retire from the town rather than quell the revolt with his artillery, as he could infallibly have done, for the Milanese bluster ended in perfect inaction; but he nobly disdained to hold his position at the cost of sacrificing so many lives of misguided men, between whom and their wicked leaders he could draw no distinction, and he at once quitted the scene of anarchy, retiring through a friendly country and falling back upon his resources. The supplies of men which he received do the highest honour to the vigour of the Austrian Government, considering the distraction which must then have prevailed from the rash adoption of organic changes in the Government—changes for which the people were wholly unprepared, which unavoidably entailed for a while confusion, and might have brought imbecility upon the Government. Yet its resources were with admirable promptitude and perseverance made available to the Marshal's assistance; and, beginning his advance, to make which with the more effect he had planned his most skilful retreat, his whole progress was one continued victory, till he took the capital of the province, received the surrender of all the fortresses, freed Venice from the temporary yoke of an imbecile and tyrannical faction domineering in the name of the people, then nobly abstained from pursuing his progress, and granted an armistice to his beaten foe when he might have signed a peace in his capital—Turin the Countess—making him pay the costs of the war. The veteran warrior, thus uniting all claims to our praise, as temperate in victory as firm 245 under reverses, needs no feeble panegyric of mine; but his qualities are to be regarded as those which both render wars more unlikely, and assuage their fury when they do break out; therefore I have assumed the liberty in passing to offer him the humble tribute of my admiration.
And now Charles Albert has been driven from the plains which he for a season was allowed to ravage; he has retreated within his own dominions, which, without a crime against the peace of Europe, he could not quit, against that Treaty of I8I5 by which he holds those very dominions. Things are thus in statu quo ante bellum, and we are to mediate in order to effect some new arrangement, some distribution of territory different from that which all parties had before made by treaties to which all were alike accessaries. Austria, it seems, is now to be asked to give up part of her dominions, which she holds by the same title and with the same peaceable and firm possession that she did twelve months ago; and the ground of the demand is, that she has been, in defiance of all law, all right, all good faith, attacked in those dominions, and has at a vast cost of blood and treasure triumphantly defended them, and signally defeated the aggressor. For his crimes she is to suffer; for her having beaten him he is to be rewarded.
But then I hear from the Parisian agitators, not certainly from any who deserve the name of statesmen, a great talk about foreigners ruling in Lombardy—Germans aggrieving Italy with their yoke. My Lords, I much fear that this language, how consistent so ever with the state of political dominion among our Parisian neighbours, is not very decorous, certainly not very wisely or very reflectingly used among ourselves. Whatever offence some romantic natures may take at hearing other tongues spoken than the Tuscan in Italy, don't let us forget the matter of fact, and become parties to all this abhorrence of foreign sway, this tenderness about a country holding various nations in subjection, a dominion composed of many provinces, peopled by divers races. Our own empire, magnificent, glorious as a whole, what is it in the detail but a thing of shreds and patches? In England two nations, speaking different languages—in Scotland as many—in Ireland the same—at Gibraltar the Spanish with the English—in Mauritius and St. Lucia, French without English—in Canada the same—in the Ionian Islands, Greek—in Trinidad, Spanish—in 246 Guiana, Dutch—in the East some half-dozen tongues, and as many religions—to say nothing of Hong-Kong, with the religion of Fo, and the language of the Chinese Tartar. Assuredly we of all people have no great right to turn up our eyes and raise our hands aloft at the spectacle of a German prince owning an Italian province. Then truly we had hatter also from policy and prudence as well as courtesy, look at home when we join the Paris clubs in sympathy with the Milanese insurgents—had we not better make the case our own? Why is the old Christian maxim, so often applied to the concerns and the conduct of individuals, to have no place as to the concerns of States; and the conduct of rulers? How, then, let me ask, should we like if the Austrians were to join with the Spanish sympathisers at Gibraltar—or the Americans in the neighbourhood of Canada, urging them, peradventure helping them, to cross the St. Lawrence against our colonial yoke, or the Atlantic against our Irish domination? What answer we should make I need hardly ask. We should fight them, probably heat them. But so has Austria done; she has fought and she has beaten the sympathisers in Lombardy, and now we are called upon to take their part. But what answer is the Emperor likely to give, when we lecture him upon his Italian affairs, and beg off the discomfited rebels? I should little wonder if it were something like this: "I have long held a very valuable province beyond the Alps. My ancestors have held it he-fore me three centuries and upwards. It is a noble possession; of great extent, of vast fertility, with a fine climate, warm, though somewhat moist, peopled by a race of men ingenious, agreeable, fanciful, abounding in eloquence, less remarkable for judgment—satis eloquentiœ—sapientiœparum—easily led by the agitator, and lured to feed his silly vanity or his sordid avarice; not much regarding the value of what they are taught to cry out for, nor indeed stopping to understand what it is; but of late embodied in clubs, holding vast meetings too large for any discussion, having great processions, even attempting to arm and to train themselves—urged on by their leaders and their inflammatory newspapers to threaten revolt and war; fired with ardour to fight, threatening battle, very ready to brag and bluster, somewhat unwilling to fight—speaking daggers, using none—good soldiers when embodied under good officers; but, left to themselves 247 and their misleading chiefs, fonder of talk than of fight. And now these misguided thousands are intoxicated with the thoughts of victory without the inconvenience of battle, and meditate obtaining revolution without persevering in revolt; the word that so excites them being "repeal of the Union with Austria," the cry that flatters their hopes by seeming to consult their interests—being "Lombardy for the Lombards." "Such my Italian province, such my Italian subjects," I can fancy the Emperor saying, "and your gentlefolks of England are full of sympathy for them. Pray just allow me very respectly to whisper in your gentle ear one little word." "What?" "Ireland." Yes, for there is not one single tittle of what I have been saying, not one solitary particular of all I have spoken to describe Lombardy, that does not in every one item describe Ireland as well. Then, again, let me beg of you—I address myself to the Government—let me intreat you to reflect how you should like to have an Austrian negotiator seeking to make terms for the Irish repealers, or the Canadian insurgents, or the Hindoos, or the Mahometans, with their Moguls, their Peishwas, or their Rajahs, in the East.
Besides, are we not somewhat out of time with our mediation? Surely it is of the latest; the moment for it is oddly chosen. Two months ago we were asked to interfere, and we declined. At that time we might have done some good to Austria, and saved a great effusion of blood. But then at that time Charies Albert was successful—never to anything like the degree which the Milan papers, equal to those of Dublin in their exaggerations, fondly represented. Yet Radetsky had retreated, and Charles Albert had advanced, therefore we declined to interfere; and now we step forward when not only Charles Albert is beaten, but when the war is really at an end, and there is nothing to mediate about. Really I expect to hear the Austrian Emperor express his thanks for our kind intentions, only lamenting that they should be so fruitless. "I am infinitely obliged," he may say, "for your goodness. It is true I had rather you had interfered when I asked you, and when your mediation might have been of some use. Now all is over; the Piedmontese, who fought gallantly enough, are routed; the Milanese, who never fought at all, are quelled; their leaders are in prison, awaiting their trials. But still I am willing to 248 take the will for the deed; and to show you my grateful sense of your kind disposition towards me, as betokened in your obliging offer of mediation, by my acts rather than my words, I now make you a handsome offer—I will mediate between you and Smith O'Brien and Gavin Duffy." I declare I hardly know how we should take offence at such an answer from Austria.
But we hear it said that the Emperor is a foreigner in Lombardy. Why, what but a foreigner is Charles Albert? He is a Prince of the House of Savoy, a transalpine territory. But his people, whether in Savoy or Piedmont, are no Italians; their language is not understood in Italy, any more than the German spoken by the Austrians; and the Austrian Emperor himself is more an Italian than the Sardinian king, for he is grandson of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. So entirely foolish are all the pretences set up by the Paris politicians to justify a war against Austria on behalf of Lombardy.
But now let me ask on whose behalf are we to interpose our mediation? It must be cither on behalf of Charles Albert or of the Milanese. What does Charles Albert deserve at our hands? His crimes, what title to our aid against Austria do they present? It is his crime that the peace was broken—his crime that the Treaty of Vienna was violated—his crime that the insurrection of Milan broke out—his crime that Lombardy flowed with blood, and the peace of Europe has been placed in hazard. He of all mankind should have been the last to raise his hand against treaties—he is the creature of treaties—his monarchy is made up of fragments, which sometimes force, sometimes fraud, sometimes the chances of war, sometimes those of inheritance, obtained, and then treaties confirmed and cemented together. Even Sardinia, from which his title comes, was obtained by treaty as late as 1720; down to 1815 he has been by almost all treaties that were made a gainer, and in the latter year he obtained Genoa, made the dependency of an absolute monarchy, instead of continuing an independent commonwealth; nay, his own succession to the monarchy was secured to him by that very Treaty of Vienna against which he dared to lift his hand. And how did he perpetrate his offence against the peace of Europe? Did he announce his intention? Did he, like an honest man, apprise his neighbour of his resolution to declare war? Nothing of the kind; on the contrary, he solemnly as- 249 sured the Austrian Government, on the 22nd of March, that it was his determination to do whatever could best secure the continued amity and good neighbourhood with Austria—I quote his very words—and for the purpose of amity and good neighbourhood he signed, on that self-same day, his proclamation of helping the insurgents in Milan, and of marching his army into the Austrian province! The manifesto was published on the 23rd, and must of course have been prepared and signed on the 22nd. Most assuredly, if such conduct is rewarded with our patronage, and with our good offices to obtain for him the prize he so foully played for, there is little encouragement held out to fair dealing among princes. It cannot be for him that we are to mediate. He is too well off if Austria shall leave him as he is; too well off if we can, to prevent a war, save him from the indignation of his victorious enemy on the one hand, and his discontented subjects on the other; too well off if, having violated the treaty that gave him—most improperly I have ever contended gave him—Genoa, he shall still be suffered to retain it.
But then is it for the insurgents of Milan that we are to mediate, and all for the good pleasure of the Paris journals and clubs, for that is the real secret of the proceedings? I would ask, are you quite sure that the people of Lombardy desire your interference against Austria? I don't now speak of the Milan clubs, and agitators and newspaper writers—I speak of the Lombard people at large. If they are as hostile to Austria as I sometimes hear them described, I am sure they are neither very wise nor very grateful. Observe, I say not one word in favour of the treatment given by that Government to the political chiefs, who were unhappily taken in plots against the State, and were so summarily punished for their offence: I don't wonder at their resentment, and that of their partisans. But I speak of the people, not the patricians, the princes, the grandees of Milan, who have their views of ambition to gratify, and find them thwarted by the German connexion; but the people at large—the small landowners, the industrious farmers, the peasantry, the traders—and that the Austrian yoke presses so lightly on these classes, as to be felt anything rather than galling I affirm, from the conduct of Austria, and from the recent conduct of the Lombard people. Austria has expended two millions and a half 250 yearly, equal to five millions in this country, in works of public utility—roads, drains, bridges, canals, above all schools; and I will cite with pleasure the wise and patriotic and truly paternal answer of the late Emperor, when asked for a new law against assassination: "No," said he, "but I will plant schools, and, trust me, when the people have learnt to read and write, they will give over stabbing." But the inestimable benefit of an excellent police has also been bestowed on the country—a blessing everywhere most important to a people's comfort; in Ireland, for example, most precious, but in the country where men are given to stabbing, of incalculable value. The people have lately given omple proof that they appreciate the benefits which they have derived from this wholesome regimen. Far from taking any part with the Milanese agitators, further still from countenancing the late invasion, they have taken part with the Austrian army; they have refused to join the insurgents; they have amply provided for the wants of Radetsky's troops, who were never an hour without supplies—they have withheld all support from the Piedmontese—who give as one reason of their retreat, the want of provisions. I think then that I am enabled to ask that our intervention shall not have for its object the gratifying of a faction at Paris, and its friends at Milan, by taking part against a Government which has the good opinion of the people.
My Lords, I cannot bring these remarks to a close without giving a most peremptory contradiction to the groundless reports of the French agitators, that I have shown myself inimical to their country; nothing can possibly be more false than this charge. There exists not a man in this House, or in this country, more friendly to the close and cordial connexion of the two countries than myself. Furthermore, no man has a more deep sense of the great merit of the French people. But I make a distinction between that great nation and the mob of Paris. Napoleon said to some one who confounded the two bodies, "You mean the Parisians—nothing can be better than France, few things worse than Paris." This saying has the usual exaggeration of an epigram, but also it has a large foundation in truth; only I limit its application to the factious few in Paris, and hold the bulk of the people there as entitled to our profound respect for acquirements and capacity; to our esteem for their virtues, to our love for 251 their amiable qualities. That the factious now feel ashamed of the misery which they have brought upon their country by the late deplorable revolution, I can well believe. If they would have us forget their follies and their crimes, let them betake themselves to works of peace, and in reestablishing order, abstain from encouraging revolt and massacre. Above all, let them avoid the course they are now pursuing of raising the people in other countries against their lawful rulers, for the purpose of diverting the public gaze from the ruin into which they have plunged their own unhappy country, by precipitating all other States into the same gulph. That peace may be restored to France, without which it is vain to expect the return of prosperity, is my most anxious hope. That we may have no more cause to abhor the crimes of the misguided populace in her capital by witnessing scenes enacted there, at which all Europe stands aghast, I devoutly pray. But that the peace of Europe is safe, do or attempt what these men will, I confidently believe—while I yet entirely approve of the course taken by the Government in joining the negotiation now pending—convinced that whatever preserves the friendly feeling between the two countries is advantageous to both; and also persuaded that it is wise to take away from the French leaders even the shadow of a pretext for interference with the arrangements made above thirty years ago in Italy, however entirely I may at the same time believe that any such interference by force, or by any thing like force, is at present impossible.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
having, before his noble and learned Friend rose, stated that there would be no objecjection to lay the despatches upon their Lordships' table, did not consider it necessary on this occasion to enter into any discussion upon the many topics to which his noble and learned Friend had referred. With respect to that particular despatch, it was one to which Her Majesty's Government were as anxious as his noble and learned Friend to draw the attention of their Lordships. He entirely concurred with his noble and learned Friend in thinking that the professions contained in the despatch from Prince Metternich, in answer to one received by him from Lord Palmerston, dated the 11th of September, 1847, were most satisfactory on the part of Austria, as far as those professions announced what 252 were the principles and the intentions of Austria. It was certainly satisfactory to obtain a declaration of that description at that particular moment, and to have it recorded and placed upon their Lordships' table; because, undoubtedly, at the period when the despatch of Lord Palmerston was written, and which had called forth the declaration on the part of Prince Metternich in reply—in consequence of events which within the recollection of their Lordships had occurred at Ferrara, a very general apprehension had prevailed, not in Italy alone, but throughout Europe, that there might be on the part of Austria, from whatever motive, a disposition to interfere with the progress of those reforms which at that moment were being, or were about to be, developed in almost every State of which Italy was composed. Under those circumstances it certainly did become most desirable to procure what they had succeeded in procuring—a declaration on the part of Austria of her intentions. That declaration exhibited, on the part of Austria, a proof that neither now, nor at any future time, would Austria interfere with those reforms, so far as they were reforms; but, on the contrary, that she was actuated by a disposition—for evidence of which she referred to past transactions—to carry out such reforms, and apply them to the circumstances of the present day. That was a most satisfactory declaration, as far as an expression of opinion went. In the objections entertained by Austria to the establishing, or rather to the attempt at establishing, what had been termed the romantic system of unity in Italy, the Government of this country could not fail to perceive considerable force; for they saw, as Austria did, all the difficulties that would probably be attendant on such an event. In no part, therefore, of these transactions had the British Government given any encouragement to efforts that might be calculated, at least at this moment, to prove successful to a design of that nature. That which Her Majesty's Government had done throughout these transactions, and the principle and rule which had guided their conduct, had been—not, as his noble and learned Friend had been misled by rumours to believe, a desire to interfere—but a readiness to interfere when called upon by their allies to do so; having in that interference no other object than the safety and interest of those allies, and the preservation of the public and European peace. It was by that standard 253 that he wished these transactions to be judged, whenever they should come to be examined. He had the satisfaction of thinking that their motives and object, in this respect, had been duly estimated by the parties to whom they more immediately had reference. His noble and learned Friend seemed to assume that, in the case of Lombardy, there had been something like interference on the part of this country for the purpose of establishing the independence of that province; and he had condemned the policy of such a step. Now, throughout the whole of these transactions Her Majesty's Government had done nothing of their own mere motion. They had, it was true, listened to the request made to them by Her Majesty's Allies—they had entered into the most full, ample, and particular explanations with those Allies, whenever they were asked to do so, as to the advice which they would give, and the nature of the mediation which they could undertake. Prom the very beginning of these transactions, in the month of May, when Baron Nieumann came to this country, up to the present moment, when he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had received a despatch from Baron Wiessenberg—but which despatch he did not at present intend to produce—there had been evinced on the part of Austria an anxious desire and indication to this country that she should interfere with her good offices in these affairs; and he was proud to say that not a doubt existed as to the motive from which that had been done. He said this with great satisfaction, because at the present moment circumstances had occurred to indicate the perfect uniformity and sympathy of feeling which existed, not between this country and any romantic unity of States, but between England and a practical Government at Vienna—fortunately headed, as that Government was, by a person well known to Europe—a person, too, not unknown in this country, in which he filled an honourable post with great distinction, and obtained the esteem and approbation of all who knew him. From that person there had been, almost every day since he left this country, and indeed even so late as the 15th instant, despatches received, in which a desire was expressed for the mediation (if mediation should be necessary) of the British Government. The same feeling was expressed by Baron Neumann before, and by Baron Wiessenberg after, the successes of Marshal Radetski, Could there, 254 then, be any doubt as to the friendly relations existing between the two Governments, or of the unshaken confidence which was placed by the Government of Vienna in the intention, principles, and policy of this country? In this respect, therefore, the Government of England stood on very high grounds; and were he now at liberty (but which he was not) to state the precise contents of the despatch from Baron Wiessenberg, it would, he was happy to say, prove not only that the Austrian Government had preserved its ancient force and energy, when required to be exerted in its own defence, but—without entering at all into the merits of the contest now waging—he might confidently affirm that it at the same time gave proofs of sense, wisdom, and moderation, which could not fail to be conducive to the termination of this contest between Austria and Sardinia: and, by the termination of that contest, to the prevention of European discord and European war, which would be the inevitable consequence of conflicts of this nature being allowed to continue and spread. Having the satisfaction to make this statement, he certainly did not think it would be becoming in him, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, at the very time when they were called upon to interfere, and when they thought they could rely with something like confidence on being able to effect a mediation acceptable to all parties, to utter a word calculated to hurt or irritate the feelings of any one of those parties—whom, whatever Her Majesty's Government might think of their conduct, or of any one part of their conduct, they were bound to conciliate; and, if they could, to unite. He would not sit down without expressing his satisfaction at the approval which had been declared of the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government in endeavouring to effect this arrangement, in unison with the present Government of France. That had been done upon the most mature consideration. He was bound to say, that up to the present moment nothing had occurred with respect to that course which could shake their faith in the wisdom of the step they had adopted. They had every reason to believe that the French Government had entered upon this joint mediation with the same spirit, and with the same desire to effect an amicable adjustment of the contest now pending between Austria and Sardinia, as had influenced Her Majesty's Government throughout the 255 whole of these transactions. So far from being influenced by any of these wishes for change, or pretensions for intervention, which were ascribed to certain coteries in Paris, he was happy to believe that the Government of France had entered into this engagement with perfect good faith, and was as anxious as Her Majesty's Government were to avoid a war, which, in its consequences, would involve them as well as other nations in interminable scenes of distress, difficulty, and discord.
replied, that he considered no kind of importance could be ascribed to the Austrian despatch alluded to by Lord Lansdowne. We had refused the request of Austria two months ago, and then we interfered without being asked, because Charles Albert was beaten. True, a new letter asking us not to mediate but to lend our "good offices," came here, dated 9th August, before the fall of Milan and Venice was known to Baron Weissenberg. Bat we had sent our despatch to Paris and Turin before that letter of 9th August was even written.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
said, we never refused Mr. Humelauer's proposal two months ago, we only took time to consider it.
said, we took time to wait upon Providence. We waited to hear whether Charles Albert was to be beaten or not.
§ Motion agreed to.