HL Deb 05 March 1863 vol 169 cc1064-5

said, he had given notice in writing to his noble Friend the Minister for Foreign Affairs, of his intention to call attention to the circumstances connected with the despatches presented to the House the other evening, particularly with regard to that despatch which had been the subject of much discussion in their Lordships' House. It was as a question of good faith that he attached importance to the fact of the manner in which it had been dealt with. He asserted that when a despatch was presented without notice to the writer, after an interval of two years, the whole ought in justice to be given. He should wish the noble Earl to explain why the despatch published in 1849, which was presented to Parliament in 1851, was mutilated by the omission of the following words:— When the social dangers and the political excesses of the last twelvemonth are fast forming in every settled Government and the majority of almost every people a strong feeling against any reforms which partake of the character of revolution. These words contained a description of the state of Europe, which all that happened between 1849 and 1851 had fully confirmed. The omission was the more remarkable from the fact that there was only a comma between the last words of the despatch as presented and the passage omitted. For the comma a full stop had been substituted. If a change in punctuation altered the purport of the passage, such change was in itself a falsification. The particular example might not at this distance be of importance, but he had noticed it as showing a vicious system.


said, he was glad that his noble Friend was now satisfied that the despatch from which he (Earl Russell) had quoted had been presented to Parliament a long time ago. No doubt the words which his noble Friend had read were omitted from the despatch as presented, and that a full stop was substi- tuted for a comma. He presumed that the person intrusted with the preparation of the despatches thought that the words omitted were of no importance. Several years had elapsed since the production of the despatch in question, and he did not think that much importance could be attached to the omission.