HL Deb 23 June 1863 vol 171 cc1288-9

said, he wished to draw the attention of his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary to a statement which be made the other evening in reference to the imprisonment of Mr. Bishop, His noble Friend had informed their Lordships upon a former occasion that the Government at Turin would, on the first fitting occasion, recommend the King to grant an absolute pardon to Mr. Bishop; but the other evening his noble Friend, commenting on some observations he (the Marquess of Normanby) had addressed to their Lordships, had explained "the first fitting occasion" as meaning when brigandage should have been put down in the Southern Italian States and Italy pacified. Such an interpretation, he contended, was not the fair and natural meaning of the expression; and the noble Earl's interpretation had materially damped the hopes which the friends of Mr. Bishop had previously entertained with respect to his release from prison; and he must add that the despatch of Count Pasolini did not seem to contemplate that any such event as the complete pacification of Italy must take place before the liberation of Mr. Bishop was effected. He wished to ascertain from his noble Friend whether he had received any communication which had led to the alteration of the opinions to which he had, in the first instance, given expression on the subject.


said, he had received no communication from Turin as to the sense in which these words were to be understood. The reason he gave that explanation the other evening was that his noble Friend seemed to suppose the "fitting occasion" for pardoning Mr. Bishop would arise in some approaching birthday or national festival; he (Earl Russell), however, suggested that it was possible the Government at Turin might think it was not expedient to set Mr. Bishop at liberty while the Southern Italian States were in their present disturbed condition, and bands of brigands continued to cross into them from the Roman States. He might add, that as it had been stated that Mr. Bishop was in a very bad state of health, he had requested our Minister at Turin to send a person to Alexandria to ascertain the state of Mr. Bishop's health, and that he was happy to say it was found to be good.


said, the noble Earl must be aware that he had him self passed upon Mr. Bishop a sort of sentence of continual imprisonment, by stating in that House that be considered that the "fitting time" for Mr. Bishop to be released would be when brigandage was suppressed in Italy and the country pacified. Now, he (the Earl of Hardwicke) did not believe that in his lifetime brigandage would be suppressed in that country; and he felt sure, therefore, that the inadvertent expression which had fallen from the noble Earl would be used against himself as a sort of sentence on Mr. Bishop. He was quite sure that it was an inadvertent expression, and he hoped the noble Earl would take this opportunity of denying strongly that he had any intention to suggest the imprisonment of Mr. Bishop for the whole time of his sentence.


said, he did not mean that his expressions on the occasion referred to should receive so extensive an interpretation as had been put upon them. He did not mean that Mr. Bishop ought not to be pardoned until brigandage was totally suppressed; but that the country could hardly be considered in a state of pacification until brigandage was so far suppressed that it no longer constituted a sort of civil war.