HL Deb 26 February 1863 vol 169 cc790-4

said, he had given notice to his noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, of his intention to put two Questions to him that evening. The first of these had reference to the delay in the production of certain Despatches which his noble Friend quoted in his speech on this subject a few evenings since. Although his noble Friend had read extracts from these Despatches, they had never been printed; and his noble Friend had failed to lay them on the table immediately afterwards, as was the invariable practice to do in the case of documents from which extracts had been read in the course of debate. His noble Friend near him (the Earl of Ellenborough) stated most truly the other night, that no Minister of the Crown ought to read extracts from any public document, unless he were prepared at once—he emphatically stated at once—to lay the document upon the table, because, if delay were to take place, incorrect impressions might be produced. Inasmuch as the whole question turned upon the balance of recollection, he hoped the noble Earl would not permit any further delay in the presentation of these documents. These despatches ought to be produced at once; and he believed that when the noble Earl's attention was called to them again, he would readily admit that they would not bear the interpretation which the noble Earl had sought to place upon them. There was another Question which he would put to the noble Earl, of a more serious nature. Within the last few weeks a statement had been printed in some of the German papers, and had been copied into other journals without contradiction, to the effect that Cardinal Antonelli in a Despatch to M. Chigi, the Papal Nuncio at Paris, informed the latter that Mr. Odo Russell had made a further attempt to induce the Pope to quit Home, and had quoted a letter from the noble Earl expressing some disappointment that the Pope had not followed this advice, and had even gone so far as to intimate, that if he did not speedily avail himself of the offer, he might be compelled to do so. It was also stated that Cardinal Antonelli had demanded what right Mr. Odo Russell, being only an attaché, had to address the Pope in these terms, and had declared that he would in future only hold communication with Mr. Russell in his private capacity. He wished to know whether the noble Earl knew of any such Despatch.


said, that with regard to the despatches of the noble Marquess from which he had quoted in a former debate, he had more than once stated that he had no objection to pro- duce them, or extracts from them. He had not understood that the noble Marquess had formally asked for them—but they would be laid upon the table to-morrow. There was no doubt that it was conformable to the general rule that all despatches quoted by a Minister should be laid upon the table; but he also knew that that rule had not been observed on more than one occasion, and particularly he remembered in the other House of Parliament a Chancellor of the Exchequer quoting extracts from despatches of his and not only not producing them till a late day, but not producing them at all. In this case he would give the extracts to-morrow. He was rather surprised that the noble Marquess should so constantly harp on this theme. He considered that the despatch from which he had quoted the dictum, that if England's advice in the cause of national liberty was neglected, it would reflect no discredit upon her, was to his noble Friend's honour. He knew nothing in his noble Friend's diplomatic career which reflected on him more credit; and if his noble Friend succeeded in effacing it, he knew of nothing in it which would remain to do him equal honour. It was quite natural that in reference to the French occupation of Rome the English Government should make representations in favour of national liberty. If these representations were well taken, they produced good; if not, they could reflect no discredit on the English Government. No doubt, there was a great difference between the position of the French and English Governments in reference to this question. With respect to the other Question, as to some supposed despatch from Cardinal Antonelli to M. Chigi, he was certainly not at all responsible for what Cardinal Antonelli might have written to the Papal Nuncio at Paris. It was a very odd story altogether. As to his having written a letter to Mr. Odo Russell to the effect that the Pope ought to leave Rome, and that if he did not, he might be obliged, and which Mr. Russell read to Cardinal Antonelli, he (Earl Russell) had certainly never written any such letter. As he certainly did not expect that the Pope would leave Rome, knowing well that the Emperor of the French by a change of Ministers for Foreign Affairs had indicated his intention to maintain the French troops at Rome, he would never have thought of writing such a letter as had been represented; and, con- sequently, he had never felt disappointed that the Pope would not follow his advice. Mr. Odo Russell, who was the other person immediately concerned, said he went to pay a visit of courtesy about the time mentioned; but he never mentioned any letter of his, he never had such a letter, and he never read such a letter to Cardinal Antonelli. Whether Cardinal Antonelli was under that impression or not he could not tell. Nor could he say whether there was such a despatch or not, but as far as it related to a letter of his the statement was without foundation. The noble Marquess asked what business had an attaché of the embassy at Turin to go to Rome? Mr. Russell was not an attaché of the Embassy at Turin. At one time he was an attaché at Florence and Naples; but the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the King of Naples having quitted their respective dominions, of course he could no longer be an attaché at their courts. Cardinal Antonelli inquired of Mr. Russell in what character he was at Rome; and, after some observation, he went on to say, that as the King of Sardinia was an excommunicated Sovereign, it would not be agreeable to the Roman Government to receive an attaché from an Embassy to an excommunicated Court. The Foreign Office could have no objection to meeting the views of the Roman Government in this respect, and Mr. Russell was made an attaché directly from the Foreign Office. If Mr. Russell had ever spoken to Cardinal Antonelli on State affairs, it was entirely owing to Cardinal Antonelli, who had taken the initiative. The Cardinal had often conversed with Mr. Russell on State matters in the most confidential manner, stating, at the same time, that there was nothing official in the communications. There could be no possible harm in Mr. Russell listening to what Cardinal Antonelli had to say.


said, that the noble Earl had not answered the really important portion of the Question which had been put to him. His noble Friend had not asked him to produce a despatch from Cardinal Antonelli—which of course he could not do—but whether he had any reason to know that Cardinal Antonelli, in a despatch to Monsignor Chigi, had declared that the representation made by Mr. Odo Russell was incorrect with respect to what had taken place; and that be much inconvenience had in consequence arisen that Mr. Russell was not to be recognised in any official capacity, and was merely to be considered as a private person having no more authority than any other private individual. The question really was, whether a person accredited by the British Government, and charged by them to speak in their name, was not to be so received, but was merely to be regarded as a private individual.


said, it was, of course, impossible that he could have received such a communication from Cardinal Antonelli—and Mr. Russell had not said a single word on the subject, though he had only just lately received a private letter from him.