HL Deb 21 May 1852 vol 121 cc852-5

wished to ask the noble Earl opposite, whether Her Majesty's Government had received any information with respect to the recent political changes in the Government in Sardinia? In so doing he wished entirely to disclaim any notion that it was the business of Her Majesty's Government, or of that House, to become the partisans of any party, or of any individual, in any foreign country. At the same time, so much interest had been manifested by the people of this country, firstly, with regard to the commercial relations which had been established on so satisfactory a footing between that country and this, and, secondly, with regard to the great constitutional experiment which was now going on there, that he hoped he should not be considered to be overstepping the proper limits, if he asked for some information on the subject. It was stated that the Marquess d'Azeglio had tendered his resignation to the King, and that he had since been commissioned by the King to re-form a Government. During the last few years that the Marquess d'Azeglio, who had acquired distinction as a soldier and as a political writer, had been at the head of a constitutional Government in Sardinia, the people of this country had observed with great satisfaction the progress which had been made, in the good order and material prosperity of that country. He thought that great advances had been made in a duo appreciation of the advantages of religious toleration and commercial and civil liberty, as opposed to anything like the revolutionary licence which had taken place in other countries. He, therefore, hoped that, as all classes in this country took so great an interest in the prosperity of Sardinia, the noble Earl opposite would pardon his asking what was the nature of the latest information which he had received on the change of Government in that country?


My Lords, the intelligence which my noble Friend has received with respect to the resignation of the Marquess d'Azeglio is perfectly correct; but I am sure your Lordships on both sides of the House will be glad to know that, on the 17th instant —a period subsequent to his resignation— he was sent for by his King, who asked him to resume the seals of office. His Majesty gave him a carte blanche to choose what Ministers he pleased to assist him; and, I believe, from a despatch that I have seen, that he has accepted the trust offered to him. I cannot sit down, my Lords, without expressing, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, the great pleasure which this news has given us; because it is impossible on our part to refuse to the Marquess d'Azeglio that justmeed of praise he so well deserves, for having conducted through three years of great difficulty and great danger, both within and without, the Government of that country on constitutional principles, which had been previously of great disrepute in that country, in a manner which had resulted in great prosperity. Her Majesty's Government should be sorry, indeed, to see so fair a promise marred by any events, whether those events came from without Sardinia, or from within its own territories. But I am in hopes, from the news which we have just heard upon the subject, that the Sovereign has given an earnest that he intends to continue in that constitutional course which was commenced not long ago in that country, and that undeterred by any unwise attempts to propagate the doctrines of constitutionalism in those countries which are neither ripe nor ready to accept them, he is prepared at all events to uphold them within his own dominions, and to give an example to other nations that there is one country at least, besides England, in Europe which can prosper under a constitutional government.


My Lords, I have heard with the greatest satisfaction the statement of the noble Earl, although I am one of those who disapprove of any attempt in this House to pronounce directly or incidentally any opinion upon the conduct of foreign Governments in their internal affairs. Although I think that the utmost caution should be exercised with respect to this subject, I have nevertheless listened with the greatest pleasure to the statement of the noble Earl in reference to this illustrious person; but having had the advantage of longer opportunities than the noble Earl opposite, or than even my noble Friend near me (Earl Granville), of becoming cognisant of the disposition with which he has conducted the affairs of that country, and its relations with foreign countries, I wish to bear my testimony to the use which he has made of the great power which has been placed in his hands. Years have elapsed since we have seen an instance so strong as this statement has afforded of the efficacy of great judgment and great temper in restoring the strength of an apparently exhausted country, and bringing it back to that position in which it is entitled to command the affection of its own inhabitants, and the respect of Europe. It is an example to all countries of the effects produced by a happy combination of firmness and conciliation; it shows that by such means the interests of those whose interests a statesman is bound to attend to first have been promoted; and, secondly, that they have contributed to the preservation of the peace of Europe. I firmly believe that it is owing, in great measure, to the Marquess d'Azeglio's conduct that that peace has been so successfully maintained. My Lords, I thought it my duty to say this, having for some years observed the conduct of that illustrious individual; and I cordially concur both in what has fallen from my noble Friend, and the satisfactory answer given by the noble Earl opposite.