HL Deb 17 July 1848 vol 100 cc504-7

My object in asking the question, of which I have given notice, is the alarm which I feel at the report that this proceeding of shooting General Alzaa will revive the horrors of the former civil war in Spain, so justly condemned by this country, and so happily, I thought, for ever put an end to by that humane convention, which has, to the honour of the individual who accomplished it, obtained the appellation of the Eliot Convention. This sanguinary act by the Christino troops seems to have been followed up by General Elio, as a reprisal, shooting twelve civic guards, which makes one believe that we shall see those atrocities renewed which were so fearful in the late war. It seems that the Carlist forces are organising again in Navarre. The inhuman practice I have alluded to was begun by the Christinos shooting the mother of Cabrera; and possibly this act towards General Alzaa may be only the commencement of similar slaughter. Every one must surely deplore the state of our present relations with Spain, more especially if we are cut off from all communication of an official character with the Government of that country. To be shut out by any circumstances from that interesting part of the Continent, in which of late years we have taken so prominent and extraordinary a part, seems most unfortunate, not alone in relation to friendly communications, but especially in relation to our commerce. The unhappy differences that closed the career of M. Isturitz in this country have never been explained. This House and the country have surely a right to know in what position our affairs stand now with Spain. I understood from a noble Lord the leader of a great party in this House, that he would bring on a discussion on this subject. The Session, however, seems drawing to a close, and one hears no more of it; and yet how do we stand as to the Spanish papers and correspondence which have been laid on the table? I must say there has been as great inclination to suppress and garble documents in the department of the Foreign Office as has been shown with respect to the Colonial Office. In the first series of papers there was a suppression of a very important despatch. It appeared, however, in the Journals. I moved for it, and it was produced in the second series—I moan the despatch of the Duke of Soto-mayor to the Minister Plenipotentiary of Her Majesty, dated April 15. This despatch was most important in answering Mr. H. Bulwer's letter of the 12th of March, ably and unreservedly; and, secondly, in establishing the fact, that we not only have pursued a system of interfering in Spain, but that we actually called upon and insisted upon Spain interfering in Portugal; and, thirdly, the indignation felt by Spain at our throwing in her teeth, in these latter days, our having aided in placing Queen Isabella on the throne. This important despatch was at length squeezed out. But why was it delayed at first? With respect to answers to almost all the remaining correspondence, we are left officially much in the dark. We have now all our own story, but not one word of the Spanish injuries and complaints. We have seen, as before, a very long letter condemning various statements and charges. Whether true or not, Her Majesty's Ministers will afford us no means of investigating; and it is from seeing the impossibility of getting information as to all these points, and our actual relations with Spain, that I have felt it my duty, from the interest I have ever taken in these concerns, to put this question, namely, whether the Government had any means of ascertaining from our Consuls in Spain, or from any attaché, what was passing in that country?


said, that the question of the noble Marquess was this, whether Her Majesty's Government was in a condition which would enable them to furnish the House with any information with respect to Spain? He would not take upon himself to say that Her Majesty's Government was in a condition to answer all the questions which might he put to them with respect to Spain; but in reference to the particular matter to which the noble Marquess had alluded, he had no hesitation in telling the noble Marquess that the Government was in possession, through a consular agent, of the fact that one Carlist general had been put to death—in fact, that some of those unfortunate practices which heretofore had prevailed in Spain, had been revived. He could only say that this Carlist general had been shot before an answer could be received to a remonstrance which had been sent to Madrid on the subject. But, in fact, if Her Majesty's Government, had received any information, it would have been quite impossible for it to have interfered. He could only say that he viewed this proceeding, as everybody must, with the highest disapprobation.


said, he could perfectly understand what the noble Marquess meant when he stated that the Government were not authorised to interfere in respect to the internal affairs of Spain; but he could not but remember that the present Government of this country had a considerable advantage over their predecessors who formed the Government during the late civil war in Spain. He begged to remind the noble Marquess that the Pretender to the Crown of Spain was at this moment a resident in London, under the protection of Her Majesty's Government; whereas during former times Don Carlos was not in this country, and was, therefore, an independent party in Spain, and could not be interfered with but by a commission such as was sent by the noble Duke to Spain. But he (Lord Malmesbury) hoped that if Her Majesty's Government had any authority with the Pretender, they would exercise it; and he was sure their suggestions would be listened to: he hoped they would induce him to recall those emigrants and partisans who had gone out to Spain, and who were perishing in the most miserable manner. He was sure that those parties would not risk their lives if they received positive orders from the Spanish Pretender not to persist in their undertaking.


said, it was perhaps incorrect on his part to add anything to what he had already stated; but as the noble Earl had adverted to the first point connected with the question of the noble Marquess, he wished to correct a misapprehension which the noble Earl seemed to be under. In the first place, though it was known perfectly well that the person referred to was now resident in this country, the Government had no right to impute to him that he was at this moment the Pretender to the Crown of Spain; and, least of all, that he exercised a control over the operations carrying on in Spain, or that he was chargeable with the character of those operations. But if he did consider himself to be the Pretender to the throne of Spain, we had no right to assume even this. Her Majesty's Government could not recognise him as exercising authority in Spain; and they had no reason to believe that at this moment he assumed such a right as that which was imputed to him.

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