THE MARQUESS OF NORMANBY
said, he rose to offer an explanation respecting a statement which he had made some evenings since. On that occasion a noble Marquess (the Marquess of Clanricarde) asked him whether he had received a certain letter. His reply was that he had not. But a few minutes afterwards a packet of letters, which had been offered to him when entering the House, but which he had then desired the messenger to keep for him, was put into his hands. 331 That packet contained the letter which had been referred to by the noble Marquess; but he was unable to communicate the fact to him, as the noble Marquess, immediately after he had made his own statement, left the House. For obvious reasons he could not more particularly refer to the purport of that communication. It came with no foreign post-mark, and the words "The House of Lords" were in a different hand-writing from the rest of the superscription. He presumed the noble Marquess must have been aware of the fact, having been himself the channel of communication. He had read and answered the letter, and he thought their Lordships would agree with him that he ought to leave the matter there, as it was one which had only come before the House by what had passed between himself and the noble Marquess. That noble Marquess had accused him of making a dangerous attack on the character and disposition of the Provisional Government of Florence, dangerous to the parties opposed to them; but the noble Marquess left the House without waiting to hear what he or any other Member of their Lordships' House might have to say in reply. The noble Marquess, assuming a prophetic tone, had warned him to be careful in the course which he was pursuing, or he might endanger the safety of those whose cause he was defending. Now, he did not believe that the party to which allusion was made was in such peril as the noble Marquess represented; though he knew that statements had been made to the effect that respectable persons in Florence and elsewhere had been warned by the Government to leave the country, as they were in danger from popular fury. But this alarm, created in common by the noble Marquess and the Provisional Governments of those countries, he believed, would prove utterly unfounded. The noble Marquess would excuse him for saying that his experience of Italy, with which he had favoured the House, was not very extensive. The noble Marquess had no need to flatter himself that the attentions paid to him in Italy were secured by his personal merits—it was his well-known relations with the noble Viscount at the head of the Government. These relations must have given great significance to a report which was current in Italy, that the noble Marquess, at a demonstration at Milan, had assured a large company that he could promise those whom he addressed of the sympathy of 332 the English people. In the course of the same debate the noble Lord, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, had expressed a doubt whether a letter, to which he himself had referred, really proceeded from a merchant of Leghorn, and he was now prepared with a document which he would hand to the noble Lord, the perusal of which he was sure must convince him that the gentleman in question was a merchant in Leghorn of the highest respectability.
THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
denied altogether that an imaginary connection with the noble Viscount at the head of the Government had in any way invested him in Italy with the character of one who might be presumed to speak for the English people or English Government. The only person who had expressed to him such an opinion in Italy was a nobleman, a friend of the old régime, one of the party to which the noble Marquess himself belonged; but when that Gentleman suggested to him that he was in Italy on a confidential mission from the English Government, he at once denied it in the strongest manner. In his tour through Italy he represented no one's opinions but his own, still less those of Her Majesty's Government. He would repeat what he said the other evening, that this reactionary party, though no doubt amiable and respectable, was of the very smallest dimensions both in numbers and influence, so small, indeed, that the popular feeling opposed to the restoration of the Grand Ducal Government might be said to be unanimous. It was utterly impossible for any man now to think of restoring the deposed Sovereigns of Italy, and, in fact, nobody, except, perhaps, the noble Marquess, did think of it—not even at Vienna. As to the Milan banquet, so far from his having said that he came there to express the feelings and sentiments of the British people, it was almost entirely by accident that he attended it. By his own arrangements he was in Milan the day before it took place, and he delayed one day in order to witness it—and very glad he was that he had done so, for he had never seen a more remarkable sight. On asking how it would be possible for him to witness it he at once received an invitation. At first he declined, because he did not wish to take part in it, and asked to be placed somewhere where he could see the sight without attending as one of the company; but that 333 being impossible, he came to the conclusion, seeing that he heartily sympathized with the feelings of the people, that there was no reason why he should stay away; but it was on the specific understanding that he was utterly unconnected with the demonstration. His health was drunk, and in reply he stated his own individual sympathy with the feelings of the people. But so far from assuming to speak for the people of England, or the English Government, he distinctly stated that there were many considerations connected with the origin of the war which had rendered it peculiarly difficult for England to interfere in any way. Another matter was of much more serious importance. The noble Marquess had in his pamphlet accused General Decavero of levying a most grievous impost upon the country, of embezzling the proceeds, and of having been removed from his command on account of former delinquencies. Such a statement ought only to be made upon the clearest proof; but in this instance a most distinct and indignant contradiction was given, and the gallant General appealed to the head of the State to institute a searching inquiry into his conduct, because, he said truly, if such were his character, he ought to be instantly removed from the command which he now held. He understood that a letter of a similar import from the General appeared in one of the English newspapers that morning. It appeared that he had not been dismissed, but still held an important command. The noble Marquess had complained of the oppressive imprisonment which had taken place under the Provisional Government. The only object in making such exaggerated statements was to harass the existing Government in Italy. He supposed the noble Marquess included in his cases that of two foolish English ladies, who very possibly roused by the speeches and pamphlet of the noble Marquess, had made a demonstration. They endeavoured to post up proclamations against the Government in favour of the Grand Duke; but, fortunately for them, instead of being left to the tender mercies of the indignant populace, they were removed by the authorities and soon afterwards set at liberty with a caution to be wiser in future; and that was all the harm that had come to them. As to the imprisonment of individuals alluded to by the noble Marquess, it was the first duty of every state to secure itself against conspiracies and at- 334 tacks; and the present Provisional Government had not existed long enough itself to have inflicted what was deemed by the former Governments a long political imprisonment in Italy. What were they compared to the long imprisonments that had been inflicted in Naples and Austria, and to the executions at Florence, after nominally the punishment of death had been abolished? The noble Marquess had failed to make out any case against the Provisional Government. He did not know whether the noble Marquess withdrew the charges which he had made against General Decavero, but he ought never to have exposed himself to such a contradiction as was published in to-day's paper, and it certainly did not tend to raise the character of their discussions when it was supposed, though erroneously, that such unfounded statements were made in their Lordships' House.
appealed to their Lordships whether the course he had taken the other night was an unusual one. All he did was to read a letter to the House— not an anonymous one—signed by six British merchants in Tuscany, in order to show how the statements of the noble Marquess were received in Italy. The noble Marquess gave him the name of a merchant at Leghorn who communicated with him. The noble Marquess said he was a respectable man, and as the noble Marquess said so, he (Lord Wodehouse) was quite ready to believe that such was the case; but his name was not made public, while those of the six British merchants were published to the world.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
rose to call the House to order. Their Lordships did not object to short questions or short personal explanations before passing to the Orders of the Day; but the noble Marquess had already made a long statement, and gone through the debate of Friday last. The discussion had now lasted half-an-hour, and he, therefore, asked their Lordships to proceed to the business of the day.
THE MARQUESS OF NORMANBY
said, he had no desire to detain their Lordships by making a second speech. He merely rose for the purpose of remarking that it was impossible for him then to reply to all the statements which the noble Marquess had, he thought somewhat unfairly, brought before the House. He wished, however, to know whether the noble Lord the Under 335 Secretary for Foreign Affairs admitted that the letter he had received came from a respectable gentleman.
said, he was quite prepared to accept the noble Marquess's assurance that the merchant in question was a respectable man, but personally he knew nothing about him.
THE MARQUESS OF NORMANBY
thought that the noble Lord was not quite candid, and that after the description he had given he (Lord Wodehouse) should have made a more complete recantation of the opinions he had derived from others.