HL Deb 30 June 1863 vol 171 cc1719-41

My Lords, in rising to make the Motion of which I have given notice—for, Copy of the Proclamation issued by Sir Henry Storks for the Annexation of the Ionian Islands to Greece—it is not my intention to enter at any length into a discussion with regard to the policy of the contemplated cession of the Ionian Islands. At the same time, I desire emphatically to protest against the language reported to have been used by the noble Viscount at the head of the Government in another place, to the effect, that as it is not a proposal to cede any part of the British possessions, but only the Protectorate of those Islands, it was a matter with which Parliament had nothing to do. Now, my Lords, I do not think I shall hear that language repeated in this House. Fortunately, the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary gave us notice last night that he does not consider it any part of his business to vindicate any course which the noble Viscount at the head of the Treasury may think fit to pursue. That certainly seems a new doctrine for a Secretary of State towards the head of the Government of which he is a Member; but still, when I consider the noble Earl's antecedents, I can hardly doubt his entire sincerity in making that statement, or that it will be adhered to with the most scrupulous fidelity. Now, I lay down this position—and I do not think that the noble Earl will contradict me—that whether a question of cession of territory or not, every act done by the responsible Ministers of the Crown having any political significance is a fit subject for comment, and, if necessary, for censure, in either House of Parliament. I said I would not enter into a lengthy discussion of the proposed cession of the Protectorate. At the same time, I must say I have a very strong opinion as to the inexpediency and impolicy of that measure. I think it is a measure likely to be disadvantageous to this country. I do not think it is likely to confer any benefit on the people of Greece. I feel certain it will be eminently disadvantageous to the Ionian Islands themselves, and not likely to contribute to the general good understanding of European arrangements. The noble Earl has expressed himself with romantic generosity upon this subject. He says "it is not for us to consider what may be the selfish interests of this country—the object of the Protectorate was exclusively to benefit the Ionian Islands—and it would be monstrous for this country to refuse to do that which is desired by the Ionian Islands themselves merely because it is the interest of England to retain that Protectorate;" and in the despatch addressed by the noble Earl to Lord Bloomfield, which has been laid on the table in the last day or two, the same representations are made. The 5th article of the Treaty of Paris of the 5th November 1815 is quoted, and the noble Earl goes on to say— It appears clear from these provisions that the intention of the high allied Powers was to found in the Seven Islands a free, independent State, which, by the protection of so powerful a country as Great Britain, might develop its resources without fear of external aggression or internal anarchy. No doubt that is one object of the treaty; but the 5th article states another object— In order to insure without restriction to the inhabitants of the United States of the Ionian Islands the advantages resulting from the high protection under which these States are placed, as well as for the exercise of the rights inherent in the said protection, His Britannic Majesty shall have the right to occupy the fortresses and places of those States and to maintain garrisons in the same. Now, if there is one thing clearer than another it is that, as mutual jealousy prevented the other European Powers undertaking the protectorate, their object was to place the Ionian Islands under the dominion of a great Power like Great Britain, and to enable Great Britain to fulfil the trust by giving her the military possession of those States. Assuming that the object of the other Powers was exclusively to benefit the Ionian Islands, the noble Earl can hardly suppose that Great Britain accepted the protectorate merely for love of the Ionian people, and not for any advantage which she might politically or in a military point of view derive. No doubt the object of Great Britain was to secure herself against the military occupation of those Islands, and more especially of Corfu, which for a considerable time she had been vainly attempting to capture, and to occupy herself a position esteemed by both naval and military authorities to be of great importance at a time of European war and especially of naval war. It has been said that circumstances have changed, and that, in consequence of the introduction of steam, the possession of a fort and harbour at Corfu is of less importance than before. I am inclined to think that the introduction of steam has rendered it of greater importance, because we require close to the scene of operations a constant supply of coal and of the materials of war, and it is of consequence that we should have a port in that quarter, where ships can refit and prepare for action, much more than it was when war was only carried on by sailing vessels. We know the importance which the first Napoleon attached to the possession of Corfu by knowing how resolute he was to retain it, and how perseveringly and successfully it was defended against us for a period of two years; and whatever value and importance were attached to its possession in former times, the importance and value must be as great, if not greater, under the circumstances of the present time. Then, I say, this uncalled for cession of the protectorate is unnecessarily and gratuitously weakening our power in the Mediterranean, and exposing us to serious loss, while positively conferring great advantage on some other Power. To Greece the possession of these islands will not be of importance or advantage. It will be very convenient, no doubt, to have the finances of Greece recruited by the surplus revenue which, under the management of Great Britain, has been obtained from the Ionian Islands, more especially as, by the arrangement to which I shall have a word or two to say presently, a considerable portion of that revenue is to be devoted to the civil list of the new monarch. I will assume that the Kingdom of Greece is sincerely anxious to carry out the programme sketched by the noble Earl as the sine quâ non of the cession. The programme is:—To establish a constitutional monarchy; that is done. To accept a Prince against whom there can be no reasonable objection; that also is done, because they have certainly selected a Prince to whom no reasonable objection can be made, except that from his great youth and inexperience it is impossible to foresee what kind of a ruler he will make, and how he will be able to maintain his authority and make head against popular feeling. It is also stipulated that Greece shall abstain from all foreign aggression and all ambitious designs to obtain territory at the expense of neighbouring Powers. Now, I cannot but think that in giving Greece a numerous and restless population, who avow their admiration of the aggressive principle, the abandonment of which on the part of Greece is a sine quâ non of the cession, political disadvantages will accrue which will more than overbalance the benefit derived from the revenue received from the Ionian Islands. With regard to the Ionian Islands, I have not the slightest doubt that they will themselves be material sufferers by the change. I do not deny that there is a strong feeling among the more restless and more disorderly portion of the population in favour of being united to the Kingdom of Greece; but reflecting men in those Islands are well aware that in losing the protection of a great and powerful country like Great Britain, and being attached to a country in such a state of disorganization as Greece now is, they forfeit material advantages, and are placed in a much less advantageous position than that they have hitherto held. It may be quite true that there is a feeling of nationality among a considerable number of the Ionian Islanders; but it is equally true that under the protectorate of Great Britain they have enjoyed a large amount of material prosperity, and that life and property have been as secure in those Islands as in any part of the world, at a time when on the adjoining coast, in the country to which they are now to be attached, the insecurity of life and property has been a matter of notoriety for years. Again, they have been under the protection of a well-organized and well-disciplined body of soldiers. Those soldiers are to be withdrawn, and if any portion of the army of Greece is to be substituted for them, I wish the Ionian Islands joy of the change. I firmly believe that the feeling is gradually and surely growing among the more intelligent, the more educated, and the more wealthy of the people of these Islands, and that before long they will express firmly and openly their sense of the mischief which is about to befall them. Again, I do not think that the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece is likely to be permanently for the advantage of Europe. I know not what arrangements have been made, or in what position it is contemplated to place this new kingdom—whether its possessions or its neutrality are to be guaranteed—but I know this, that unless some arrangements of the sort are made—if the Government of Greece is encouraged to place a false confidence in the support which it would receive from other Powers—in the event of a quarrel with a powerful nation, the very first step that powerful nation would take would be to seize on the strong post of Corfu, in spite of all that we could say, and it would be very difficult afterwards to induce that nation to give up the possession. I suppose there is no man insane enough to believe that we should have spent enormous sums in the fortification of that post, and that we should have gone to the expense of the military protection of those Islands, unless we had some direct interest in doing so. That we should have done so for pure love of the Ionian people is a supposition so absurd, that unless it had been seriously put forward by the noble Earl, I should not have thought it possible that it would enter into the imagination of any statesman. I do not wish to introduce anything personal into this discussion, otherwise I might say that I have every reason to believe that the opinions which I have expressed are or where up to a very recent period shared by some of the most considerable Members of the Government. I might quote the strong language used by the noble Duke the Colonial Secretary as to the impossibility of this country under any circumstances surrendering so important a position; and I might quote also the language of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Still I cannot help thinking that the change of opinion which must have taken place in many Members of the Government has been somewhat sudden—rather more sudden, perhaps, than on a question of this importance is likely to be followed by the people at large, or by those who have paid much attention to the subject. The principal point, however, on which I wish for some explanation is the position in which this country stands at the present moment, and the course of proceeding which the Government propose to adopt with regard to it. The Greek revolution broke out in the month of October, and on the 12th of December, there being then no regular Government in Greece, and everything being in confusion, the noble Earl takes the opportunity of writing thus to Mr. Elliot— If the new Assembly of the representatives of the Greek nation should prove faithful to this declaration, should maintain Constitutional Monarchy, and should refrain from all aggression against neighbouring States, and if they should choose a Sovereign against whom no well-founded objection could be raised, Her Majesty would see in this course of conduct a promise of future freedom and happiness for Greece. In such case Her Majesty, with a view to strengthen the Greek Monarchy, would be ready to announce to the Senate and Representatives of the Ionian Islands Her Majesty's wish to see them united to the Monarchy of Greece, and form with Greece one united State; and if this wish should be expressed also by the Ionian Legislature, Her Majesty would then take steps for obtaining the concurrence of the Powers who were parties to the treaty by which the Seven Ionian Islands and their dependencies were placed as a separate State under the protectorate of the British Crown. In pursuance of those instructions Mr. Elliot proceeded to Athens, where he made known the mission with which he was charged. I pass over the long and fruitless endeavours of the noble Earl to find a Sovereign for the Greeks; but at last he was fortunate enough to find a young Prince who, not without some demur, though more on the part of his elders than of himself, was willing to accept the responsibility of the Greek throne, but on conditions. Those conditions, to my surprise, I find embodied in a protocol, which anticipates the whole decision which the noble Earl had wisely left for future consideration and deliberation. The acceptance of the throne of Greece by Prince William of Denmark is there made conditional on the cession of the Ionian Islands, and on the transfer of a certain amount of their revenue to the civil list of the King. That is recorded in the protocol. It states that Prince Christian William of Denmark accepts the hereditary sovereignty of Greece, but on the express condition that the Ionian Islands shall be effectively united to the Hellenic Kingdom. Then comes a deputation from Greece; the King of Denmark accepts for Prince Christian William the throne, and the new King actually accepts the homage of his new subjects—yet during the whole of this time, however, the preliminary condition was not complied with, that we should not make any cession of the Islands until the inhabitants should, through their representatives, specially elected for the purpose, give their consent to that arrangement. I have no doubt that the Parliament to be convened will be ready to give to it their sanction, but that sanction should surely have been demanded before the arrangement was concluded. And now let us see in what position this mode of proceeding places the Powers which signed the original Treaty of 1815, establishing the British protectorate of the Islands. France was not one of them, but she subsequently gave to the treaty her assent; and it is quite true that France and Russia were parties to the arrangement under which the throne of Greece was accepted by the Danish Prince. But the two remaining parties to the Treaty of 1815—namely, Austria and Prussia, were not taken into the counsels of the protecting Powers in that matter; and Austria at all events may have considerable objections to urge to the proposed cession of the Islands. Turkey was not consulted in the case; but although Turkey was not a party to the original treaty, she gave to it her subsequent adherence in the same way as France; and her interests are more at stake than those of any other Power in the proposed addition to the territory of Greece. I say that this course of proceeding is not consistent with good faith to Austria, Prussia, and Turkey; neither is it consistent with the programme which the noble Earl himself not long since laid down. There are one or two other points connected with this matter which are of some importance, and to which I desire to direct your Lordships' attention. I find the noble Earl undertakes, on the part of the Ionian Parliament, that they shall make over to the civil list of the new King a certain amount of their revenues. Of course, that will have to be submitted to the Ionian Parliament, and their assent will be necessary. I wish to ask the noble Earl one important question. We are going to make over these Islands with the assent of the protecting Powers and the Ionian Parliament to a foreign Prince who is to take possession of the Greek throne; and I wish to know from the noble Earl whether he has taken any precaution in the arrangements he has made for securing the payment of those pensions and allowances which, on the faith of the British Crown, have been charged on the Ionian revenues for the benefit of certain persons who have served this country faithfully during the Protectorate? I am not aware that any such arrangement has been made. You are going to sell the estate; but you cannot sell it except subject to the mortgages upon it. It can hardly be argued that you have a right to cede these Islands, and leave it entirely to the consciences of those who come after you whether they will maintain the engagements which have been entered into on the part of the British Crown. I hope I shall have a distinct declaration from the noble Earl, that in any cession of the revenues of the Ionian Islands to the new King of Greece he will require an obligation in the strictest terms that the payment of the pensions and allowances granted to those persons who have served this country faithfully shall he made a first charge on those revenues prior to the civil list or any other claim. There is another point of minor importance on which I should like some information from the noble Earl. I presume, that when we cede the Islands, we shall not hand over the extensive works which we have constructed at Corfu at so much expense. Those works will probably be demolished; for it is obvious that the Greek army, which I am told consists of 8,000 men and 4,000 officers, will find it rather difficult to garrison those extensive works. I presume, therefore, that these works will be demolished; but I want to know what you mean to do with the guns, the ammunition, and the military stores of all kinds which have been placed there, not by the Ionians, but by us, and which are, in every sense of the word, the property of the protecting Power. What are you to do with them? I do not want to put this forward as a very important part of the case; but I think it requires an answer. There is another question, respecting which I do not know whether it has escaped the attention of the noble Earl; but in a constitutional point of view it is worthy of attention, and I should like to know whether the noble Earl has consulted the Law Officers with regard to it. Some years ago a loan was made to Greece by this country. The interest of that loan was not regularly paid; but after some time an arrangement was come to, whereby certain amounts were to be paid at particular periods. Now, the money so lent to Greece was advanced out of the public funds of this country; it was raised in this country, it belongs to this country. My Lords, this money was raised with the sanction of Parliament, and the interest of the loan, and the repayments of the loan, are as much the property of this country and as much subject to the control of Parliament as any portion of the revenues of England. Yet I find the noble Earl contracting with the other protecting Powers to endow the King of Greece with a sum of £4,000 a year for his civil list. This is a portion of the arrangement upon which it will be impossible to take steps without the consent of Parliament. The Legislature must be asked to sanction this portion of the arrangement, if not any other, and therefore I think it is one on which the noble Earl should give us some information. I do not wish to enter further into this discussion, but I should not have been satisfied without recording my own conviction of the impolicy and inconvenience of the proposed cession. I think it will be advantageous to none of the parties concerned; and I further think that the mode in which it has been carried out—for I suppose it must be considered as un fait accompli—has not afforded to the other parties concerned a fair opportunity of stating their opinion and recording their objections. I first of all wish to ask the noble Earl, Whether he has made any provision to secure the rights of those entitled to charges on the Ionian revenue, guaranteed to them on the faith of the Crown? I next wish to ask what arrangements have been made with regard to the fortifications of Corfu? I would then ask him to explain to your Lordships what is proposed with regard to the Kingdom of Greece—whether it is proposed that its neutrality and integrity shall be guaranteed by this and the other Powers; and, lastly, I ask him to state whether the engagement to endow the King with £4,000 a year has been entered into without any understanding as to the payment of the interest of the loan made by this country? And to move for, Copy of the Proclamation issued by Sir Henry Storks, for the Annexation of the Ionian Islands to Greece.


My Lords, the noble Earl is, no doubt, perfectly right in saying that this or any other act of the Government of the day is open to the opinion, control, and if necessary, to the censure of Parliament. The noble Earl did not say—what almost every one else of his party has said—that the Ionian Islands are a mere possession of this country, a part of the dominions of Her Majesty, and may be ceded, but not without the consent of Parliament. My noble Friend did not contend for such a position as that, because, no doubt, he was aware that a reference to the treaties which have reference to the Ionian Islands would dispel any such notion. Before I come to the questions put by the noble Earl, I must refer to some of the observations which he made in the course of the speech which he has addressed to your Lordships. He seems to think it strange and Utopian that the Powers which met at the Congress of Vienna should have had regard to the welfare of the people of the Ionian Islands.


I did not say that; I said "regard them exclusively."


Well, I would suppose that these Powers did mainly consider the welfare of the people of those Islands. I do not think that I at all exaggerate when I say that it does not appear that the British Government were anxious to acquire the Protectorate. The Emperor of Austria, however, was anxious on the subject, and the result was that the Ionian Islands were assigned by treaty, as an independent State, to the Protectorate of the Sovereign of Great Britain. At the same time, it was provided that they should have a constitution, and that the language of the Islands should be Greek. These, and others, are provisions which would appear to have been made mainly in the interests of the people of the Ionian Islands; and it can be no disgrace to Her Majesty's Government that they wish to provide for the welfare of the Ionian Islands according to the views and sentiments entertained by the people themselves. The noble Earl thinks that this proposal to unite the Ionian Islands to Greece, was a very precipitate one on the part of this country. But the House will remember, that the recent revolution in Greece completely changed the state of things with respect to those Islands. In 1832 Greece was constituted by treaty an independent kingdom, and Prince Otho of Bavaria was placed on the throne of that country; but in the autumn of last year that arrangement entirely fell to pieces. The opinion of the Greek people was universally that the sovereignty of King Otho ought to cease; and the King himself felt it was so useless to struggle against the popular will that he left his kingdom and retired to Bavaria. The protecting Powers agreed, I believe without any sort of hesitation, that it was not for them in any way to attempt to restore him; they thought that as he had fallen in accordance with the wishes of the Greek people, they ought not to interfere to disturb or reverse that decision. Much anxiety was naturally felt by the protecting Powers that the kingdom should not lapse into anarchy and disorder. Her Majesty's Government were not ashamed to say that they wished for the prosperity and freedom of Greece; they wished to see her at peace, and on terms of amity with all her neighbours, and they thought that these objects would be best secured under a constitutional monarchy. That being the state of affairs, Her Majesty's Government interested themselves in the choice of a Prince, and in the maintenance of order and freedom in that country; and Her Majesty's Government informed them, that in case they appointed a constitutional monarch, they would be willing that the Ionian Islands, should form a part of their State. The noble Earl seems to imagine that the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece had never been thought of before; whereas, in the first place, the Minister of Greece had informed me some years ago that the Greek nation and Parliament were desirous that the people of the Ionian Islands should be united to them; and, in the next place the Ionian people, in their Parliament, had more than once expressed their wishes for a union. I confess that appears to me to be a natural desire on both sides, and this is the view taken by Her Majesty's Government; for, as I ventured to state in my despatch, "a love of independence in union with a kindred race has in itself claims to regard from a nation which prides itself on its love of freedom." The noble Earl states, as a reason which should prevent us from ceding those islands, that as a naval and military station they are extremely valuable to this country. I do not wish to depreciate their value in that point; but, at the same time, I am apt to think that a country may have possessions indistant quarters which in time of war it would not be very convenient to defend. There may be distant possessions of Her Majesty which, owing to the circumstances under which they became connected with this country, and owing to the fact of their being occupied by Englishmen or the descendants of Englishmen, it may be a point of honour with us not to abandon, and the surrender of which would not be unattended with danger; but the Ionian Islands are not in that position, because, though under our protectorate, they are an independent State. They wish to join the Kingdom of Greece; the Kingdom of Greece wishes to join them; and therefore the occasion presented itself when, without any objection of principle, and without any real diminution of strength, we might make a settlement based on the separation of the Ionian Islands from this country. I do not profess to be any authority on military subjects; but I confess I think it would be rather an advantage in time of war to have only one great station in the Mediterranean waters for our ships, stores, and coal. When you consider the army which this country keeps up in time of peace, how utterly inadequate that army would be at the commencement of a war, and what an immense strain it would be upon the resources of this country if we were called upon to send out 50,000 or 60,000 men to defend a position which we could not defend at less cost, I own I do not think we are diminishing the strength of Great Britain by giving up these islands. The main consideration, however, is that if a country connected with Great Britain is desirous of severing that connection—if it is likely to be free and happy when joined with another Power—it is not unworthy of this country to exhibit a disinterested spirit, and show to the world that it has not that grasping spirit, that craving after dominion, which so ill becomes a great nation. We should not be in a better position if there came from the Ionians repeated requests to join with Greece, and from Greece constant agitation and intrigue in order to obtain these Islands, until at length, finding the position difficult to maintain, this country from mere lassitude, and a feeling that we were too much troubled by these appeals and intrigues, at last gave up the Islands. It is far better, in my opinion, that you should do this when you are not in any way forced, when you can say that you are acting voluntarily, when there is no Power in Europe which asks for this cession, and when Greece does not and could not attempt to force it from you. The noble Earl blames the Government for not having formally consulted the Powers who were parties to the original treaty. Why, as soon as the Cabinet had intimated their opinion upon the subject, the very first thing I did was to send to the representatives of the Powers who were parties to that treaty, and request them to inform their respective Courts that such a measure was in contemplation, and that in the course of time I proposed that there should be conferences upon the subject. Austria certainly did not like the proposition, and would have been glad if we had kept the Ionian Islands as they were; but Austria was never so unreasonable as to say, that if it suited us to part with the Islands, and Greece to accept them, still she, for the sake of what she supposed to be Austrian interests, would insist on England retaining them. Neither Austria nor any other of the protecting Powers has said anything so preposterous; and in all the conferences with the Powers most interested in Greece—because this question mainly concerns Greece—in all my interviews with the Ambassadors of France and Russia, I have found them most ready to consider and agree to any plan which should be for the benefit of Greece and the Ionian Islands. From the commencement, the Emperor of the French declared that he had no candidate for the throne of Greece, and when the candidature of Prince William of Denmark was proposed the Emperor of Russia favoured that arrangement with all his influence. From the other protecting Powers, also, Her Majesty's Government have received every assistance in making a settlement of Greece and of the Islands, which would render those countries free and happy, and at the same time make them an element of order and not of disturbance in Europe. I beg to observe, that although order has been preserved in Greece, yet that the question itself was one of very considerable anxiety. The sudden disappearance of King Otho, whose dynasty had been guaranteed by the great Powers, the possibility that a republic would be proclaimed, the danger that Greece would be split up into ten or twenty different communities, and the chance that the ambition of one of the Powers of Europe might induce it to favour one Prince rather than another gave rise to considerable apprehension. These dangers are, I hope, in the way of being removed; but noble Lords must not, because they have been successfully got over, suppose that there has been no danger, and that it was not possible that the Greek revolution should have been the source of much evil. However, by the harmony of the different Powers and their willingness to consider everything in a fair and friendly spirit, these dangers have been, to a great extent, averted. The great Powers, having been consulted in this way, though all did not approve of the change, consented to come to a conference, and the next thing was to obtain the requisite power to treat. That was obtained, and the terms are recorded in the protocol. Prince Christian, the father and guardian of Prince William, thought that the union of the Ionian Islands to Greece was a necessary condition before his son's acceptance of the throne. The consequence would be, that if the people of the Ionian Islands through their Parliament declared their repugnance to join with Greece, and their determination to remain under the English protectorate, and if the Powers who were parties to the treaty also expressed their desire that the Islands should so remain, Prince William would not, after all, ascend the throne of Greece. In such a case it would be open to the Prince to say, "The condition under which I accepted the throne has not been fulfilled, and I must therefore decline to continue King of Greece." But I imagine that the Ionians will consent to the union with Greece, and that the great Powers will adhere to the plan of union when it is proposed. As the noble Earl says, there are various questions to be considered; and first come the engagements made on the part of the Ionians—the various debts contracted, and pensions and annuities granted. All these engagements must be fulfilled, and of course the Lord High Commissioner will receive directions to make the necessary statement to the Ionians on this point—because it would be impossible for the Government to consent to abdicate their protectorate unless these engagements are kept with fidelity. The next question is as to the forts, the guns, and the stores. That, again, must be a matter of arrangement. With regard to all those cannon and stores which we have placed there, and which have been paid for out of the British Treasury, they no doubt might be removed, and would be removed by us if we thought it necessary to do so. With regard to the fortifications, it is doubtful whether some of them should not be destroyed, because Greece maintains a very small army, and therefore large fortifications in the Ionian Islands would be only a temptation to a foreign Power to take them. The next question is with regard to this £4,000 a year. Of course, anything which requires any Vote in Parliament will be submitted to Parliament by Her Majesty's Government. But the nature of the arrangement is this:—Sir Thomas Wyse, with the representatives of Russia and France, made an arrangement at Athens by which a part of the interest and a part of the capital owing should be paid from year to year by the Greek State. Before that time nothing whatever was paid by Greece, and it would therefore have been useless to ask the consent of Parliament to a Vote of the money which the Greeks did not pay. Our portion of the sum to be paid by Greece is more than £12,000 a year—it was at least three times that amount; but the arrangement was that a smaller sum should be paid, and that as Greece became more wealthy the payments should be increased. The Minister of Greece assented to that arrangement with the three Powers. What we now propose is, that as long as £4,000 a year is paid to the King as a personal dotation, so long the three Powers will be content to receive £8,000 a year, instead of £12,000. The original agreement rests upon protocols of the years 1860 and 1861, by which they pledged themselves to maintain a strict execution of the treaty. The arrangement now proposed is, that instead of receiving £12,000 a year, we shall only receive £8,000 during the life of the present King. This sum is not a large one under any circumstances; but if these monetary arrangements should tend to the establishment of a stable monarchy in Greece, to make that country happy, to enable the King of that State to maintain undisturbed peace, and if by it we shall give encouragement to the capacities of the Greek people for order and well-being, I do not think £4,000 a year is a great sacrifice for us to make to obtain such results. The noble Earl has very properly asked for inquiry upon these points. I have not a word to say in objection to the questions he has asked, nor to the inquiries which he proposes to make. But at the same time he and others ought, in regard to this subject, to make some allowance for the difficulties attending it. They should reflect that the Greek revolution was not made by the agency of the British Government, nor in consequence of any suggestion from it. As a general principle, I consider it would be unbecoming in us to undermine the stability of any foreign Government or to promote disaffection among the subjects of any monarchy or State; but when a country has shown an unmistakable desire to be free and independent—when it has formed a State which is likely to maintain a character for loyalty and good faith and freedom—then I do not think it is unbecoming in this country to lend our aid to maintain that State; and, for my own part, I can only say, that if such be the result in the present case, I shall always be happy to think that I have been able in any way to contribute, not to the formation, but to the reformation which makes Greece free and independent.


said, that his notice was for a copy of the Proclamation of Sir Henry Storks for the annexation of the Ionian Islands to the Kingdom of Greece; but when he gave notice, he was told that no such Proclamation had been issued, He should therefore wish to amend his Motion by asking for "Copy of the Proclamation issued by the Lord High Commissioner respecting the annexation of the Ionian Islands to Greece." He must observe that assertions were still made that such a Proclamation as he had referred to had been issued, and he should be glad, if there were any such document, that it should be laid on the table, so that they might see precisely what it was.


said, it would be impossible to produce a Proclamation which had no existence. When the noble Earl gave notice of his Motion, he had ventured to question the fact of such a Proclamation having been issued; but he felt it to be his duty to telegraph immediately to Sir Henry Storks, requesting him to furnish him with information with regard to this supposed Proclamation. Sir Henry Storks, in reply, telegraphed that the statement was untrue, and that he had sent a despatch containing an account of the events which occurred on the day when the Proclamation was said to have been issued. That despatch arrived yesterday, and the facts appeared to be these:—That when the intelligence of the new King of Greece having been proclaimed reached Corfu, a deputation waited upon the Archbishop, who ordered a Te Deum to be performed in the principal church upon a subsequent day. In the mean time, some persons, wishing to make a demonstration, went round the town to invite the inhabitants to illuminate. Sir Henry Storks, knowing the excitable nature of the people, and being aware of the enthusiasm which such a demonstration would produce, wrote to the Archbishop, warning him to take precautions for the preservation of order, as he would be held responsible for any disturbance that arose in consequence. The Archbishop, in reply, undertook that no disorder should arise, and expressed his confidence that no evil result would follow; and he invited Sir Henry Storks, as the representative of a Sovereign and a country to which Greece owed so large a debt of gratitude, to attend the celebration. Sir Henry Storks, having received no official information of the event they were about to celebrate, felt that it was impossible for him to attend; but, in order to mark the interest which England felt in the welfare of the Greeks, he directed the Secretary, Sir D. Woolff, and his aide-de-damp to attend. They did attend, in plain clothes; and so far from any demonstration hostile to England taking place, they were received by the whole population with loud vivas for the Queen of England and for the Lord High Commissioner. In the church, where the air of "God save the Queen" was played, the whole congregation rose and cheered enthusiastically; and upon the return of the procession the same demonstrations were renewed. That was what really took place upon the day when it was alleged a proclamation of annexation was issued, and it showed how favourably the action of England had been viewed in the Islands. He would also take an opportunity to correct a mistake of the noble Earl opposite, who imputed to him a statement, that "not under any possible circumstances would he consent to the abandonment of the Protectorate." The occasion upon which he had spoken upon that subject was in reply to a question of a noble Marquess. He had referred to the report of his speech, and his words were— I tell him distinctly we are prepared to uphold the Protectorate, and the Government does not shrink from the responsibilities attaching to them under the Treaties of 1815. The noble Earl, surely, could hardly contend that that was a statement that under no possible circumstances would he consent to the abandonment of the Protectorate. He said this in answer to questions put by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Normanby). Subsequent to that he stated that there existed no intention, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, to withdraw from the responsibilities imposed by the Treaties of Vienna. That was very different to the declaration that had been imputed to him; and, in fact, he could not have made such a declaration, because for some years he had been of opinion that the time would come when Greece would be in a better state, and when the Ionian Islands might be given up, although he felt there would be formidable difficulties in connection with the fortress of Corfu.


said, he did not desire to protract the debate; but having been connected with the affairs of that part of the world to which the noble Earl had called attention, he wished to say a few words. He could hardly understand what induced his noble Friend (Earl Russell) to enter upon the scheme which was to end in the surrender of the Ionian Islands; but he supposed that, with the noble Earl, he must regard the surrender as a fait accompli. It was impossible not to admire the sentiments which had actuated his noble Friend upon this occasion, and he sincerely hoped that both with regard to the population of the Ionian Islands and to Greece his generous anticipations would be fulfilled. He must say, however, that what experience he had had did not justify him in supporting the propositions of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, but led him rather to concur with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby); and he must say that he thought the noble Earl had rendered great service by expressing those opinions in the presence of Parliament. He very much questioned whether we were rendering a service to Greece in making this premature addition to her territory. Up to this moment, owing either to her fault or her misfortune—and rather, he believed, to her misfortune than her fault—she had not justified the confidence which was reposed in her by Europe at the time that the Greek kingdom was established. If the fault was with King Otho, he had paid dearly for that fault; and if there were among the Greeks those remains of their ancient character which he was willing to believe, it would depend upon them to obtain the good opinion of Europe, and redeem the time which had been lost. But he must say, that at the present time he did not think that it was either to the advantage of the Ionian Islands to be annexed to Greece, or that it was likely to be for the benefit of the Greeks themselves to have such an extension of territory until their Government had given proofs of greater capacity for its management than it had hitherto displayed. He thought that we were bringing the Ionians and the Greeks into more immediate connection with each other than the history of other countries either in ancient or in modern times would justify. The Republic of the Seven Islands was of recent construction, and did not exist in ancient times. The peoples of the several islands formed separate States, and were never mixed up, except by wars and rivalries, with the population of the Greek continent. It was true that they had their origin from Corinth; but that was all. They were often opposed in war to the country which gave them birth, and they were at all times separate, except when under the Macedonian, Roman, or Byzantine rule. They all knew, that for four centuries anterior to the period at which they were formed into the Ionian Republic, these islands were under the government of Venice, and that the manners, the laws, and all but the religion of that State were introduced into them. These circumstances were not calculated to produce any concert or intimate relationship between the Islands and the Kingdom of Greece—on the contrary, it might lead us to expect that difficulty would be experienced in realizing the union of the two States, and to fear, that notwithstanding the demonstrations of enthusiasm at the present moment, the time would arrive when they would repent the connection. There were other considerations connected with this cession. He would not enter into the question of form, which had been so completely dealt with by the noble Earl opposite—more especially as he understood that the Foreign Secretary admitted the correctness of the noble Earl's position as to what was due to Parliament, and to the Powers which were parties to the settlement of 1815. No doubt interest in the prosperity of these Islands had something to do with the measures which were adopted with regard to them; but he believed that the real and main object of the Powers who were represented at the Congress of Vienna was to provide for the maintenance of tranquillity in that part of the world; and he was not surprised to hear from his noble Friend that Austria showed some reluctance to consent to the arrangement which was now proposed. Austria, above all other Powers, was interested in having that part of the world protected. At this moment he acknowledged with gratitude that appearances in the immediate neighbourhood of these islands were favourable to peace; but such was not the case in many other parts of the world. The evidences of confusion were everywhere, and we knew not what might happen from one month to another; and he must say, that if there was to be a war, of which the seat was to be in any degree the waters of the Mediterranean, in the present state of Italy and the views of France, we should greatly miss Corfu as a naval station. The loss which we should incur in giving up the results of our expenditure on that island was of comparatively little importance, although the fortifications had been greatly augmented since the period when they were held by the French, despite our great naval ascendancy, and one portion of them, at least, was so efficiently and beautifully constructed as not to escape the attention even of an unlearned person like himself. No person could feel a deeper interest in the stability of Greece than himself. He might say that he had at one period of his life a considerable share in averting the calamities that overshadowed it, and laying the foundations of the kingdom which had just transferred its allegiance. His hand was the first to write on paper the scheme for its establishment, and to bring it into such a shape as met the approval of the Government of that day. He did not repent that act, because he believed, that if attention had been paid systematically to that part of the world, and if there had not been an unfortunate choice of a governor, Greece would at this moment have been in a very different position from that which she now occupied, not by an enthusiastic aspiration threatening the peace of Turkey, but advancing steadily from the basis of her own prosperity, developing her resources, and acquiring the confidence of Europe by the integrity of her transactions and the steadiness of her pursuits. These things would be done still, and his voice, feeble as it was, and his heart, which strongly beat for the Greeks, would accompany every step of their progress; but he did not wish that progress to be gained at the expense of an unnecessary sacrifice of the interests of this country, or the diminution of our influence in the Levant, which had hitherto been employed to keep together the remains of the Turkish empire. That that influence must be to some extent diminished by these transactions, there could be no question. By the abandonment of these islands we opened the flank of the Turkish empire, and should likewise incur the risk of increasing the national inclination of the Greeks to outstrip the progress of nature, and to arrive at their object by illegitimate means. This was not a mere fancy of his own. There had been proofs of it during the last few years, even during the Crimean war. On one occasion a commander of the Turkish troops, who had been sent to defend the southern provinces of the empire against invasion, obtained from the generosity of the Governor of Corfu the means of giving effect to the instructions of his Government. He might address their Lordships at greater length on the subject, but he had, he trusted, said sufficient to show that there was in the proposed arrangement that which might occasion regret, and, at all events, required in carrying it into effect the adoption of adequate safeguards against evils which were but too obvious to call for any more detailed explanation on his part.


said, his attention had, during the time when he presided at the Colonial Office, been very much directed to the consideration of the connection subsisting between England and the Ionian Islands, and that he had then come to the conclusion that this country ought to omit no honourable opportunity of relinquishing the duty she had undertaken in reference to those islands. He heartily rejoiced, therefore, to find that the Government had seized upon what appeared to him to be a singularly favourable occurrence to take that step, and in doing so they had, he thought, rendered an important public service. When we originally became connected with these islands, Greece was under the Turk, and it was therefore comparatively easy to govern them; but from the moment that there was a free Greece it was natural that the affections of the Ionians should be turned towards that Government. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) had observed that he was convinced the Ionian Islands would be better governed under England than by the new Greek Government; but he should remember that mankind, in choosing who should be their rulers, were sot always influenced by their material interests, but were often guided by feelings and aspirations which had as great an effect upon the human heart. He might add, that though he felt satisfied that successive English Administrations desired to govern these Islands well, yet that great difficulties stood in the way, as was always the case when the wishes of the great body of the people were opposed to any particular rule. He did not feel at all sure, therefore, that in the circumstances in which we were placed, we had not made occasional mistakes to the prejudice of the Ionian Islands. It had, indeed, been said that the feelings of persons of property in those Islands were favourable to the English connection; but having taken a good deal of pains to ascertain what was the actual state of things in that respect, he was induced to think, that except those who expected good places, there prevailed among the Ionian people no warm sentiment of loyalty to English rule, while the mass of the population was the prey of every demagogue who sought to arouse their passions. For his own part, he used to read with humiliation the despatches which constantly came from those islands, intimating that the Assembly had met and passed an Address requesting that the connection with England might be severed, and had then been adjourned. He could not, under those circumstances, conceive how any English Government could sit down quietly and not feel anxious to get rid of the relationship between the two countries; and he thought it therefore most fortunate that the present opportunity had arisen, and that the Government had taken advantage of it. It was said that a diminution of England's power would be the result of the proposed cession. He, for one, doubted the soundness of that view. It would be, he thought, in the event of a war waged in the Mediterranean, a most unfortunate thing if we were obliged, as we should be while we held those islands, to maintain in Corfu a very large military force—for a small one would not answer our purpose—and at the same time to provide for Malta and Gibraltar. He, at all events, was glad that we were likely to be extricated from the difficulties consequent upon such a position.


, referring to the explanation given by the noble Duke the Colonial Secretary as to certain words which he had on a former occasion used, quoted some passages to show that he had made a statement which amounted to an assurance that the English Government were determined to maintain the Ionian Protectorate.


repeated, that nothing he had said would hear the construction that had been put upon his words.


said, it had always been held that the defence of the Ionian Islands meant the defence of Corfu; and it was understood that in the event of war the orders were that all the troops in the Ionian Islands should retire to Corfu, which place the Government had laid out a large sum of money upon, so as to make it almost impregnable. It had always been considered of advantage to have more than one post in the Mediterranean; and when the Foreign Secretary said that it was desirable to have only one post there, which one were we to keep? Was Gibraltar a post in the Mediterranean? Malta was; and no doubt it was regarded by military and naval men as a most important centre for western operations; but Corfu had been considered equally important in the East. If the fortifications at Corfu were destroyed, the island would be more easily taken, especially by Turkey in any moment of disturbance; for the Turks would have no difficulty in crossing over seven miles of water, and the Greeks would require a very large force to stand against any military attack from Turkey. King William had now been declared King of Greece, but he had declared that he would not accept the crown unless the islands were ceded; but now the Parliament of the Ionian Islands was to say whether the Danish Prince should be King of Greece, for if the decision should be in favour of remaining with England, it was understood that such decision was a veto on his acceptance. He thought that the Ionian Parliament ought not to have been placed in such an invidious position.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.