HL Deb 11 May 1863 vol 170 cc1501-24

rose to present a Petition from the Reverend Alfred Bishop, Sector of Martyr Worthy in the Diocese of Winchester; and in reference to that Petition to call the Attention of the House to the Proceedings of Her Majesty's Government and their local Agents in the Case of the Petitioner's Son, Mr. James Bishop, now a Prisoner in the Fortress of Alexandria, undergoing a Sentence of Ten Years' Imprisonment.

A Petition on such a subject from such a source is fortunately without parallel. It required a combination of circumstances hitherto unexampled to induce a person in the station of the Rev. Mr. Bishop to break through the habits of a retired life and to call your Lordship's attention to the cruelties of a foreign Government exercised towards a son who had quitted his home without the most remote idea of dabbling in politics abroad, but simply to seek, through the favourable influences of climate, restored health for his sickly frame, having for many years previously lost the use of his limbs. Before proceeding to state some important circumstances which I think should cause the Petitioner's appeal to be received with favour, I will at once dispel a general prejudice founded on the repetition of a falsehood, that Mr. James Bishop was a convert to the Roman Catholic religion. Now, though I do not hold that the English Government is at all less bound to extend protection to British subjects at home and abroad on account of their religious profession; yet had this conversion been a fact, there is no doubt that it would have been a personal mortification as well as on higher grounds a misfortune to his father, a respectable minister of our own Church. Yet so persevering was this misrepresentation that I myself believed it till I received, a few days ago, a letter from the Petitioner saying there was not the slightest foundation for the allegation.

The necessity for this Petition is, that our agents abroad seem to share the general impression that, for the first time in the history of this country, the Government, in the hands of the noble Lord, has been the active partisan of usurpation when founded on revolution. It is in this spirit exclusively that Mr. Bonham and others are shown to have acted. But it is important, to the fair consideration of this special case, that we should trace the various contradictions of the Foreign Office in dealing with these questions. There is not, in the case of Mr. Bishop, the slightest pretence that he was levying actual war against a Government de facto; his antecedents and his actual physical condition mark this as impossible. But when sympathies are made criminal, to an extent that absolves the Government from any responsibility for the safety of a British subject, it is necessary to point out, that though the noble Lord showed great favour to the Garibaldian insurrection in its first stages, yet when the noble Lord had to decide whether the legitimate authority so long established and so universally acknowledged in Naples was transferred to Victor Emmanuel by the plebiscite, nothing could be more positive than the declara- tion of my noble Friend, that the plebiscite was utterly valueless for such a purpose. This declaration must be coupled with his first dictum on taking office—that Victor Emmanuel should recollect that his occupation of the territories of: others was only provisional, and that no territorial limits could be finally changed except by a European Congress.

These official opinions, promulgated from such a source, may have induced English residents to suppose that fair latitude for the expression of their sincere opinions was left both to them and to the Neapolitan people, and that to discuss those opinions could not fairly enter into an aggravated charge of conspiracy. It is true, that some months after the noble Lord had refused to acknowledge the plebiscite, he stated that he would be guided for the future by the result of the Parliamentary elections; and when only 30,000 electors, out of a population of nine millioes, voted, my noble Friend, upon this abortive result, recognised the title of King of Italy, although he had repudiated the act upon the validity of which the new order of things was alone founded About a year had elapsed between the date of the noble Lord's despatch giving a qualified acceptation of des faits accomplis, by recognising the title of the King of Italy, and the arrest of Mr. Bishop upon his way from Naples to Rome when this sickly young English gentleman was seized, and has ever since been guarded and punished as a dangerous enemy to the great design of a united Italy. What the circumstances connected with that arrest were, was first made known in all its details by a letter to The Times of the 11th of April 1862. The arrest was not founded upon information which justified the step, though this first step was afterwards perverted to their own purposes. They knew literally nothing against him, for the police who so brutally ill-used him, told him "that he was an impostor; that his passport was false—that he was a German, and no Englishman." The arrest, with all the needless violence which accompanied it, may be left to Mr. Bishop's own description, which I shall read— Naples, 11th April, 1862. I left Naples at four o'clock on the morning of the 2nd instant, intending to go to Rome, and occupied the seat which is vacant for one passenger in the courier which conveys the letters parterre traversing the route of Capua, Gaeta, and; Terracina. At Gaeta I was asked for my passport; gave it, and received it back again without any remark being made. We continued our way till the carriage arrived at the Delegation, where it was stopped by four policemen, and I was forced out of the carriage—as they pretended—to speak to the Delegate. On going up stairs, I found myself in a room occupied by a number of the police, and two young men who called themselves Delegati. These were the same who had asked for my passport but a few moments before. I asked what they wanted, and what their motive could be in acting with such suspicion and violence. The only answer I received was an order to the police surrounding me to search me and my luggage. I remonstrated, and showed my passport, which had the visé of the British Consul at Naples, and that of the Roman Consul. I was answered by a coarse laugh, and told to hold my tongue, for that I was a Swiss in disguise, and no British subject at all, and that they, the two Delegati, would teach the Government how to deal with all such reactionists. The order was given to the police to search me (my things lay already strewn about the floor, where they were left). Nothing was found among them. They then proceeded to search my person—stripping me of my shirt, and forcing me to take off even my shoes and stockings. This lasted some time, as I refused to submit, and was held by four men, whilst the rest stripped me of my clothes. Great violence was used, and I was left completely exhausted, being in a very weak state of health, and told in the most insulting manner to dress myself. I expostulated, threatened, asked, but all to no purpose, except to bring down upon me a torrent of abuse and bad language. Nothing had been found apparently to satisfy them, and there only remained my writing desk, of which they had not found the key. They threatened to break it open if I did not open it of my own accord. I refused to do so, declaring that I preferred returning to Naples, or sending a telegraphic despatch to the Questura and my Consul, who would be able to satisfy them. They refused to listen, declaring that they were the authorities of the place; and as for my Consul, I had none, for the Swiss were no longer tolerated in the Kingdom, and I was the last to be sent away. The courier then appeared, saying that he could not possibly wait any longer, and that if I were not ready to go on, he must leave me behind. The two authorities answered for me that I was detained by them, and could not continue my journey. I asked why? and was told I had come with a false passport, and should be taken back to Naples. I protested, but in vain. The room was full of police, who prevented me from stirring hand or foot, for I was surrounded by them. The courier was a Piedmontese, and said to me in German, But you speak German: I don't believe you can be an Englishman, for I heard you talking in German to your friend who accompanied you to the door of the carriage at Naples' He turned to the Delegati, assuring them that I was either an Austrian or a Swiss. …. As soon as he had left, I was again attacked to make me open my desk. Having many letters which had been given me by friends to take to Rome, I persisted in refusing to give the key, which they had not been able to find. I was called the most obscene names by the two authorities, one of whom declared that he would see whether I were an Englishman or not, and challenged me to fight him. …. The fellow who had challenged me then came up, and harangued me after the manner of a savage, and told me I had 'given the last proof of not being an Englishman by not accepting his challenge; that I was a vile Royalist—he was sure of it, and he would teach my—entrails to respect Italia, and to know what the blood of Garihaldists such as his was worth.' My answer brought such a blow from his fist at my chest that I reeled hack, and fell over the chair which stood behind. Another man entered, and poked his fist under my chin, telling me it was all right, I should soon he done for. If the petitioner's son had been a revolutionist, and the Piedmontese authorities been the servants of a regularly-established Monarchy, can any one doubt that before now the noble Lord would have presented all the facts of the prisoner's statement in the shape of a blue-book? Can it be believed possible that such brutality can have been practised with impunity towards any traveller, much more towards an English gentleman? And still more, that no attempt at redress should be made by the Consul? That, inflated by the importance of his small official dignity, he never condescended to comfort this English gentleman—he never visited him when in prison—he allowed him, without any remonstrance, to be tried for the minor offence of insulting the authorities, because, when stripped, searched, insulted, struck, and challenged to fight, he exclaimed, not unnaturally, "By such acts you will never make a united Italy."

It is now eight months since, at the request of the petitioner, I first entered into communication with my noble Friend opposite on the case of Mr. James Bishop, and it is ten months since I have been fully put in possession of all the facts of the case, partly through the father and partly through the mother of the prisoner, a lady whose personal energy, sustained by maternal affection, has enabled her on many occasions to supply the place of her husband when he was detained by various duties connected with his pastoral home.

On the 7th of September last, whilst my noble Friend was still in Germany, I wrote to him a private letter pointing out all the hardships of the case. I will, on this occasion, only press one point connected with that correspondence. In his reply to my statement of the repeated complaints that I had heard of the careless and indifferent manner in which Mr. Bonham had neglected his duties, the noble Lord replied, "I entirely approve of his conduct." Now, it should be known whether, when his noble Friend conveyed his entire approbation of the conduct of Mr. Bonham, he was aware, that when the Questore of Naples had suggested to the Consul that he could extend indulgence to Mr. Bishop as an English subject—that, in short, he could give him conditional freedom, the Consul had replied—"Treat him as a Neapolitan." This, Mr. Bishop gives as the dictum of the Consul, on the authority of the Questore himself. Even if Mr. Bonham did not recognise the extent of lawless tyranny which these words would authorize; if he had not thought it worth his while to inquire into all the aggravation of prison horrors of which we have latterly had many authentic details, still it is necessary we should know whether the Secretary of State approves the principle involved in that declaration; because, if he does, it is evident that his predecessor in the Foreign Office should lose not a moment in repudiating his former dictum—that an Englishman had only to say "Civis Romanus sum" to secure special protection. Such an idle boast is quite inconsistent with the practical interpretation of his duties by Mr. Bonham when his decision was—"Let him be treated as a Neapolitan.'' And if the Prime Minister does not in consequence retract his former boast, it is evident he is deceiving British travellers abroad by holding out a promise of special protection, which under the present Government they will not receive. Before presenting this Petition to your Lordships, I saw the petitioner, and requested him to point out the principal grounds for complaint. The answer was, that his son had been kept in prison six months before trial—that he was placed in a penal prison, being charged with political offence—and that when he was from severe illness removed to the infirmary, so far from being an amelioration it was the reverse, because he was placed in a room separated only by a curtain from a patient dying of typhus fever. So far as to personal treatment. The petitioner naturally lays great stress on the testimony of Signer Bax, one of the first advocates at the Neapolitan Bar, as to the numerous irregularities and illegalities which marked the whole proceedings. Signor Bax, it should be said, was not chosen by the prisoner on account of political sympathies or from any other cause, but was appointed by the court for that office on the death of the advocate he had selected. I shall as concisely as I can bring some of the main facts before your Lordships, by quoting the account of the trial sent home by a brother of the prisoner, an officer in the 22nd Regiment, who went to Naples to be present at the trial— You know probably by this time that James is condemned; the sentence is ten years to the galleys ! The first part of the day was absorbed in hearing two witnesses from Gaeta as to his having abused them. All they said was, that he had called them assassins and infamous fellows … They differed in their evidence; so the first day went for nothing. The second day began earlier, and finished at 5.30 p. m. Not one single witness for conspiracy, which was the main charge. Much as I was prejudiced, of course, in my brother's favour, I was astonished at the lack of evidence against him. Three times did the judge and Procureur General interrupt James's advocate. The latter, Bax,. spoke nobly, forcibly, and with the pluck of an Englishman. Even he did not hesitate to address himself particularly to the President, and on his oath declare that the whole of the proceedings were illegal in every point. Who ever, even in our courts, heard of an advocate speaking with more boldness? 'I commence the defence of Mr. Bishop by declaring that everything that has been done is totally illegal and illogical.' … Then with the criminal code in his hands he read out the law which declared that no one could be found guilty of conspiracy who was not proved to have accomplices, and not even then if they were under three in number. … Jem's advocate admitted that his client was cognizant of conspiracy, but read out the new Italian law, which does not allow a man to be guilty of conspiracy merely for being cognizant of it.… The consul did not attend the trial, but sent a clerk. No wonder the judge was severe when he saw the consul thus disowning James. As is said in the Petition, it is not our province to deal with the verdict, except inasmuch as the apparent unfairness of the trial furnishes additional ground for making diplomatic efforts against so severe and so unjust a sentence. But the complaint of Signer Bax is consistent with the fact, when he states that Mr. Bishop was only cognizant of a conspiracy, without taking any steps to carry it into effect, and that by the present Neapolitan law such a position is not an offence. How many Englishmen during the last quarter of a century have had cognizance of conspiracies against the Governments under which they have been living, and how much surprised they would have been to have found themselves in consequence undergoing a sentence often years' imprisonment. It has been the normal condition of so, many travelling Englishmen, whenever there have been complaints against a foreign Government, to like to be flattered and consulted, and their opinions asked upon matters which do not the least con- cern them. Even my noble Friend opposite, unless he is much belied by his Italian intimates and confidants, ought to feel some sympathy for Mr. Bishop. In the year 1856 he spent some months in Italy, principally in Tuscany. Except when I had the pleasure of seeing him in my house, my noble Friend lived exclusively with that set which was called the Piedmontese set, and who were afterwards known as Count Cavour's Conspirators. He hardly ever entered into any discussion with me on Italian affairs. But the Prime Minister, Signer Baldassaroni, told me that the members of his set boasted to all who would listen to them that he was acquainted with all their plans and approved them. I told Signer Baldassaroni that I was sure there was no truth in these assertions, because I know the language he had held only four years before in Parliament, whilst still Prime Minister, as to the miserable results of the last revolutionary attempt in Italy, and the praises he had specially lavished upon Tuscany and its Government, as he had recollected it formerly. Signor Baldassaroni accepted these assurances in good part, but said that this did not prevent those with whom he lived from attributing to him directly contrary opinions. In the year 1858 the Avocato Salvagnola, who was constantly in the noble Lord's house whilst he was still at Florence, went to England, and returned in the autumn, saying that he had had many confidential conversations with Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell, and they might depend upon their assistance. Soon after the Peace of 1859, I was told by many Tuscan friends of mine that the Avocato Salvagnola had just returned to Florence from Turin to urge the annexation; and referring to the change of Government which had just taken place in England, said, "It is all right now, since all this was settled with Lord John in 1856." My Tuscan friends said that all, whether reactionary or revolutionary, believed the statement as to the solidarityée of the noble Lord with the origin of the conspiracy, from his having, a very few days after the Peace, recommended in a despatch that the Piedmontese Commissioners, whilst still at Florence, should summon a popular Assembly to settle the fate of the country. On the other hand, it is right to give the noble Lord the benefit of the untrustworthy character of his chosen companion. It was Signor Salvaguola who promulgated what my noble Friend would call his dogma—Colla verityà non si governa; but taking into account the difference of age and station, I think Mr. Bishop had nothing to learn in the article of prudence from the noble Lord.

It has been stated that when Mr. Bishop was asked whether, if he obtained a pardon, he would leave the country, he replied, "No!" That statement was not correct. On one occasion young Mr. Bonham went to Mr. Bishop, and said to him in a patronizing manner, "Supposing we were to get you released, would you consent to leave Italy." Mr. Bishop, very much annoyed and excited, replied by asking whether Mr. Bonham came to make him the offer; "Oh no!" said Mr. Bonham, "I only want to know what you would do in the case supposed. Mr. James Bishop said, in describing his sufferings, that he had been so ill-used that he wondered he was still sane. Perhaps I may best bring his case home to your Lordships by reading a part of his letter in his own words, as addressed to his parents— Santa Maria Apparente, Nov. 22. A fortnight ago I was taken very ill, with cold and dreadful pains, & I sent several letters to Mr. Bonham, and got no answer. I begged the director to have something done for me, as I was daily getting worse—my room being constructed between two currents of air. No one came to me, and I lay getting worse. Then an affair occurred in the prison which well-nigh killed me. The prisoners in the lower part of the prison had made an attempt to escape, which was discovered, and the informer was assassinated by them. The result of this was, we were all put under lock and key; and in my state I was left alone without help for twenty-four hours. This completely did for me; and when the brutes came their second round, they found me in a dreadful state; and had it not been for a young surgeon, a fellow-prisoner, I should have been again left to my fate. He insisted on leeches being sent for, and sat up all night nursing me. I had paper brought, and wrote again to Mr. Bonham, and about noon his son came up, quite astonished to find me so ill. The dreadful vomiting returned while he was there, and he left me, for I could not speak. … On the the third day young Bonham came again, and brought Dr. Pincoff. I got a little better till the next day, when my throat became nearly closed, and I was unable to lie down. What I have gone through in suffering no pen can tell. While I was so bad, they repented, I suppose, of having let me get so ill in that room, and moved me into another where I now am. …. I only wonder that I am still sane. Racked with pain, my head swollen to an enormous size, unable to swallow. …. To remain in prison during the winter will be my death … There is not only no place to make a fire, but none is allowed. To give you an idea of how they treat me, when I was at the worst Dr. Pincoff said, 'Ask for another bed, yours is breaking down." Of whom ! 'Of the director.' I smiled, and explained to him that during the first four nights of my imprisonment I had slept on the earthen floor, beds not being allowed to political prisoners; that I had had to buy my own; that I applied to the directors, the gaolers, all in vain; and I should have had to lie on the ground in my all but dying state had it not been for a fellow-prisoner who lent me the tressels from under his own bed. Dec. 11. I am still in the half of the room I told you of. The other poor fellow remains on the other side of the curtains. I cook the little I can eat on the earthen stove, which is on the sick man's side of the curtain. Dr. Pincoff says I must eat. He has been to see me, but was obliged to light a cigar, owing to the stench from that poor man's side. When the cigar was burnt out, he left me. The second ease of typhus had died in the division of the room I occupied. I am quite at a loss to understand why the Piedmontese authorities should view with such peculiar severity the offence of constructive conspiracy. It shows a complete absence of all moral consciousness. Not only did their arch-apostle Count Cavour boast in their own Parliament that he had been a conspirator for twelve years, but conspiracy is the basis of their whole system.

In bringing forward the case of the petitioner, I have endeavoured as far as possible to avoid touching on any points not indirectly or directly connected with it. This has not arisen from any want of materials the most authentic, confirming statements which I have already made in this House during the last few years. To all who do not continue wilfully blind, the light of truth has begun to pierce through the dark mysteries and intrigues which envelop Italian affairs. But I feel that, in the interest of my client, I had better on this occasion omit many topics on which in connection with past events I might have much to say. I will now conclude, and bring the question to its practical issue by quoting an extract from the last letter of the prisoner to his parents— Alessandria, April 23. I begin to feel all that I have lost in flesh and strength during this year's confinement. It is not so much in the failure of my physical strength that I feel the sad effects of all this, but in my mind; I often quite lose my memory, and cannot regain it. Sometimes I become profoundly ignorant of even the simplest things, and make use of words and objects quite in a wrong way. I often find the greatest difficulty in fixing my attention even on, a thing that interests me much. God knows whether I can hold out strong to the end. To any one who has anxiously studied the indications of that sure process by which the human mind is overthrown, there is in these few words, as sad as they are simple, the foreshadow of a future worse than death. I would conjure my noble Friend, if he would hereafter free his conscience from the consequences of diplomatic delays and defeats to which he has hitherto submitted, to lose not a moment in procuring the liberation of the prisoner. Let him remember, that if hope deferred maketh the heart sick, it also tends to make the mind a blank; and if this unheard-of sentence is not at once remitted, the parents have too much reason to dread that, if still alive, the victim may be at last restored to them in a state equally unconscious of tardy relief or of protracted persecution.


said, he supposed it was generally agreed that Mr. Bishop deserved some punishment. He (the Duke of Sutherland) visited him in prison at Naples in February last, and found him confined in a comfortable room, having a beautiful view of the bay from the windows, and furnished with two arm chairs, a bed, and a couch. He was treated with every consideration and forbearance. They knew to their cost that he wrote letters; and he was allowed books, which was not usually the case with prisoners. He asked how it was Mr. Bishop had books? and was told, it was because he was considered weak in the head, and was a friend of Lord Norman by. With regard to statements which had been made in the House of Commons—["Order!"]—in another place—["Order !"]—


rose to order. It would lead to endless inconvenience if Members of their Lordships' House were to make speeches in reply to those made in the House of Commons. It was also contrary to the rules of the House, and he hoped that their Lordships would discourage it, and that the noble Duke would not proceed further with the observations he was about to make.


apologized for being out of order. With regard to statements which had been made out of doors, he could give a direct contradiction to the representation that the Neapolitan prisons were overcrowded; and, as to their being filthy, they might be dirty, judged by English notions, but they were cleaner than the homes of the people of the country. As to there being no beds, there was not a gaol in Naples which was not well provided with beds. He recommended the noble Marquess to go abroad and speak with Mr. Bishop, and make acquaintance with his friend, and he thought the noble Marquess would then take a less active part in defending Mr. Bishop.


said, he was exceedingly surprised at the statement of the noble Duke who had just sat down—at hearing from the noble Duke language directed against this unfortunate prisoner, who, it must be remembered, was a political offender against the Government of Italy The noble Duke, himself occupying a high station, had held language which he had listened to with regret. Instead of hearing his noble Friend say that Mr. Bishop was well off, when he was suffering from imprisonment and from the loss of his liberty, which an Englishman loved better than anything else—language which went to represent that his position was rather a pleasurable one than otherwise—he (the Earl of Hardwicke) should have expected different language from his noble Friend. He was astonished to hear from him expressions which led to the inference that he considered him rather a well-to-do man than not. When the noble Duke came to weigh his words with consideration, and estimate their effect on his own mind, he (the Earl of Hardwicke) thought he would find them rather worthy of his own condemnation than approval. The position of this gentleman was one which invited the most profound sympathy. His noble Friend (the Marquess of Normanby) had undertaken the task of presenting a Petition from a man who asked for the assistance, support, and countenance of their Lordships on behalf of his son, who had been condemned for a trifling charge of a political character, involving no offence against morality and no personal misconduct; and sympathy he was entitled to receive. He was punished because he differed in political opinion from the Government under which he lived, and because he carried letters from some friends of his addressed to friends of theirs who had joined in the overthrow of the ancient Government. From the very first the Italian Government ill-used him. They treated him, not like a gentleman, nor even like a human being. They then, properly enough, brought him to trial, and what was the result? A sentence certainly, but one which the most eminent lawyers in that country said was contrary to the law of the land. The sentence was ten years' imprisonment with hard labour. From the latter part of the sentence he was exempted, but he was still suffering the former. What must their Lordships think of the position of a man so placed, who had already undergone one year's imprisonment, and had endured the greatest contumely and hard usage? What was now done would prevent any future Mr. Bishop from again meddling in Italian politics. Surely the Government would make a representation to the Government of Italy, and procure the remission of a punishment which was heavier than Mr. Bishop would have been liable to had the offence been committed in this country. If, after all their brag about promoting the cause of Italy, they could not obtain Mr. Bishop's release, the less the Government said about their influence the better.


said, he could not hear the offence of Mr. Bishop called a venial or trifling one, without entering his protest against such a view of the case. By the acknowledgment of the noble Marquess himself, Mr. Bishop had carried treasonable letters from the friends of the late dynasty to the King of Naples at Rome, in order to facilitate measures for carrying on the atrocious brigand war that was now desolating Southern Italy. Was that a venial offence? It seemed to him a very serious thing. Suppose that, after our own revolution of 1688, an Italian had been discovered carrying treasonable letters from the friends of the Stuarts in the Highlands to the Court of St. Germains, how would he have been treated? Would he have been likely to get off with ten years' imprisonment? Would he not have been tried for high treason? Would not the carrying of these letters have been deemed an overt act of treason; and if he had been found guilty, would he not have expiated his offence on the gallows? As to foreign intervention, though it was possible that our Government might have listened to a neighbouring Power, if it confined itself to a mere prayer for mercy, it was certain that the great English statesmen of that period would not have paid the slightest regard to any foreign claim to be heard as of right; and it was quite out of the question for our Government to interfere, as some noble Lords seemed to desire, with the Italian Government, as of right. Such an interference in the affairs of other countries as that which Mr. Bishop had committed, was at any time a very grave offence. He had great tolerance for even very outrageous acts on the part of the inhabitants of a country in resisting their own Govern- ment, if they believed it to be unrighteous; but when foreigners, who had nothing to do with the matter, took a part in intestine commotions, they only aggravated their bitterness and intensity. Mr. Bishop, on the score of his health, had claim to their Lordships' sympathy; and considering how bad a state of health he seemed to be in, and that he was little likely to be able to do any injury to Italy, he thought it would be a judicious and gracious act on the part of the Italian Government to pardon him on condition of his leaving the country; but this was entirely a question for the consideration of that Government. Under the circumstances, the sentence was a lenient one, and it afforded no fair ground of complaint on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He could not sit down without expressing the regret with which he had heard that and former speeches of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby). He could not but lament that there existed, in some quarters in that House, a sort of disposition to make the worst of the state of things in Italy. Surely it was impossible for any man who cared for freedom or for the interests of mankind to take other than a deep interest in the success of the great experiment now going on in that country. When their Lordships remembered for how many years Naples had groaned beneath a tyranny, the most odious and the most despicable that ever existed on the face of the earth, could they help being deeply anxious for the success of the efforts now being made to unite the different parts of Italy under one monarch and under a free Constitution? The success of the experiment was as important to the world at large as it was to the Italians themselves. Every one had an interest in the establishment of another great kingdom, strong enough to be really independent. It had always seemed to him a great security for the peace and well-being of Europe that there should be as many great, powerful, and well-constituted nations as possible, the majority of which would always be ready to check aggression on the part of any of their body. Was it not a little hard that at every opportunity the worst interpretation should be put by the noble Marquess on the measures of the Italian Government? For his own part, when he looked at the difficulties of the Italian Government, he was really astonished at the success which had already been attained by the new Italian kingdom. Let their Lordships remember by what slow degrees good order and a settled administration were established in this country after the Revolution. The difficulties of the English Government for half a century—indeed, up to the Jacobite rising in 1745—were, however, as nothing compared with those of the present Government of Italy. In this country a free Constitution had existed for ages. No doubt, it had been grossly infringed by the Stuarts, but all the forms of a free Constitution, remained intact, and above all there had been that system of local government by which the people had practically exercised the power of managing their own affairs. But in Italy there had been nothing of the kind. Italy had consisted of a number of States. Some of them had been governed in the most miserable manner. The people had enjoyed no training in the management of their own affairs; the administration had been for years sunk in the deepest corruption. Such being the case, could any one be surprised if for several years there should be great disorder and confusion in the Government, and that in many parts of the country serious crimes should be committed? But what did we see? There was a Parliament sitting for the whole of Italy, and carrying on the business of the country in a manner that commanded the admiration of Europe. Their Lordships saw the action of a regular Government in the improvement of the laws and the consolidation of an army, while the people were manifesting a degree of patriotism and independence that gave the greatest hopes for the future. Under such circumstances, mast it not give great pain to every friend of liberty to hear the measures of the Italian Government, the conduct of the Italians, and the prospects of Italy, studiously represented in the worst light by the noble Marquess? He doubted whether the tone of the noble Marquess was really quite fair to Mr. Bishop himself; but, be that as it might, he could not without a protest hear it said that the offence committed by Mr. Bishop was a venial one.


said, he was personally acquainted with the family of Mr. Bishop, who was a neighbour of his in the country, and he had more than once communicated with his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary on his case. In no sense whatever could he justify Mr. Bishop's conduct—on the contrary, he was very strongly of opinion that any stranger, and still more any Englishman, going into a country distracted by civil warfare, and mixing himself up in their quarrels by taking the side of one of the parties, must run the risk attaching to his conduct. He ought to have counted the cost; and if he found himself suffering a severe penalty, he had no one but himself to thank He would go a step further, and say that when, the civil war being at an end, and victory having clearly declared itself in favour of one of the two contending parties, a stranger stepped in and mixed himself up with plots and conspiracies, by carrying letters of a treasonable character for the defeated party, and tending to subvert the Government de facto, whether de jure or not, he was guilty of a still more aggravated offence, and had himself still more to blame for the results. On the other hand, though an Englishman, acting in the manner he had described, forfeited, to a great extent, the protection of his own Government, he did not think he forfeited it altogether; or, on the other hand, that he alienated that amount of consideration which, on the ground of humanity or comity, the foreign Government might show him as the subject of a friendly ally. Under these circumstances, he thought it a duty for which the Government of his own country was accountable, to see that he was brought before a fair and impartial tribunal; and secondly, that the sentence pronounced upon him, if he was found guilty, was not one disproportionate to the circumstances of the case, or contrary to humanity itself. With regard to the trial in Mr. Bishop's case, he must frankly and honestly say, that he did not believe there had been any unfairness or injustice shown towards Mr. Bishop as the result of the action of the Government itself.

There might have been some disposition to strain the law, but he did not think that charge was imputable to the Government. But, on the other hand, looking to Mr. Bishop's state of health, and to the fact that he could do no mischief at all to the Italian Government, he thought it would have been more graceful, and more worthy on their part, to have borne in mind that he was a subject of the country which had, during the last three years, given to the Italian people such a marvellous contribution of sympathy and moral support, and to have passed a slight sentence—because, after all, ten years' imprisonment in Mr. Bishop's miserable state of health was almost equivalent to the punishment of death. He hoped his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary would be able to adopt this view of the case, and to press it upon the Italian Government, with all the weight which representations from him would naturally possess, both from his public position and from his own personal character, and that the result would be some mitigation of the penalty. He agreed with his noble Friend who had just spoken from the cross benches (Earl Grey) that in these matters somewhat more allowance ought to be made than persons were in the habit of doing for the difficulties under which the Italian Government was placed. It was true that the Italian, in common with almost every other continental Government, was affected with the vice of indifference to the legality of its measures. Foreign Governments seemed unable to take in the necessity for dealing with things and persons according to law and the constitution; they preferred to deal with the special case by providing a special remedy, whether that remedy were in their eyes legal or illegal. It was a vice prevailing not merely in Italy, but over the whole continental system from beginning to end. It ought, however, to be borne in mind that the Italian Government had to contend with the overwhelming difficulties inseparable in the nature of things from the fusing of three or four different races and languages, and of three or four different sets of sympathies and feelings; while the magnitude of that task was increased by the inherited difficulties with which they had to contend in the misgovernment bequeathed by their predecessors. He had been led into these observations by the remarks of his noble Friend on the cross benches; but his object in rising had mainly been to impress as strongly as he could upon his noble Friend the expediency of making representations to the Italian Government with the power and force with which he naturally could deal with such a matter.


My Lords, after what has just fallen from my noble Friend, I have no hesitation in stating to the House what is the course that I have taken in regard to Mr. Bishop. In the first place, I must say I feel sincere sympathy with that gentleman; he is a clergyman, I believe, of most respectable life, performing all his duties very satisfactorily, and having a son who was afflicted with a complaint of the spine, which, I believe, confined him on his back for some years. Afterwards, this son was able to go abroad for the sake of a milder climate; and it was an additional misfortune to Mr. Bishop, that when in Italy his son, instead of attending to his health or to those objects of recreation and interest which must attract any traveller journeying in Italy, took part in the troubles of that country, and made himself a violent partisan of the late King of Naples. Mr. Bishop, therefore, has been a most unfortunate person, and I do not know whether I should not count as an additional misfortune that the case of his son has been taken up by my noble Friend opposite. The Italian Government naturally enough say—while we are obliged to punish persons who are guilty of high treason, and who are constantly conspiring, we cannot show particular favour to Englishmen or Frenchmen, for then we should incur the reproach of Italians who may also be convicted, and who would accuse us of acting in a partial spirit. From the first, however, no exertions of mine have been wanting, and from an. abstract of the proceedings which has been made by the Foreign Office I will give a few instances to show what the course of Her Majesty's Government has been. My noble Friend says that on the 11th of April 1862 there was a letter in The Times from Mr. Bishop himself, stating that he had been arrested on the 5th of April. On the 15th of April Sir James Hudson was instructed to urge his immediate trial, and in a few days afterwards that, if convicted, his life might be spared. Further correspondence ensued, and Her Majesty's Government again urged that he should have a speedy trial. To those representations—which were all at the time that could be properly urged—the Italian Government replied, excusing the delay on the ground that their tribunals were undergoing a great change, and that trial by jury was about to be introduced. On the 5th of September Mr. Bishop's case was brought on for trail, and on the following day he was found guilty of conspiracy, and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, with forced labour. My noble Friend says that Mr. Bishop was convicted against evidence. I do beg your Lordships not to endeavour to make this House a Court of Review of proceedings in Italy. The Judge put three questions to the jury:—1st, Was Bishop guilty of conspiracy? 2nd, Was he guilty of endeavouring to induce Prince Torelli to enter into a conspiracy? 3rd, Was he guilty of outrage- ous language when he was arrested? All these three questions the jury found in the affirmative. That conviction was appealed against, and the case was heard before the regular Court of Appeal, which confirmed the original finding. After a prisoner has been convicted by a judge and jury, sentenced, and that sentence confirmed by a Court of Appeal, I do not think it is right that one of your Lordships should get up, and taking the place of counsel for the defence, declare that the foreign Court decided against evidence, and was not justified in the course it took. I had a letter a few days ago from a gentleman who has recently returned from Italy—I mean the Principal Librarian of the British Museum (Mr. Panizzi). He says, that although he was not in Naples at the time Mr. Bishop's case was heard, he attended political trials in Naples, and had been astonished at the calmness and dignity of the judges, the intelligence shown by the juries, and the fairness with which they listened to the evidence in each case. Acccording to all that gentlemen heard, the case of Mr. Bishop was conducted with the same fairness, impartiality, and intelligence that had been displayed in the other cases. The evidence of such a person as Mr. Panizzi, just returned from Naples, ought surely to be taken into account when this House is invited to condemn the action of foreign tribunals. I think my noble Friend who spoke last (the Earl of Carnarvon) said that the sentence of ten years with forced labour passed upon Mr. Bishop was too severe. I believe that is the sentence which, by the Criminal Code of Naples, is affixed to the crime of treasonable conspiracy. It appears evident from the conduct of Mr. Bishop that he is not a person of very strong mind, and he was hardy a man who would be supposed to have taken up the part of a conspirator. Prince Torelli was a person who was known to hold liberal opinions; but it was supposed that he was discontented with the existing government, and that he might possibly be induced to conspire to overturn it. But it was evident to these crafty conspirators, who were engaged in an attempt to disturb the Government, that there would be great risk in attempting to get Prince Torelli to join in their conspiracy; because it was not unlikely, that so far from joining in their plot, he would denounce them to the Government. Therefore, what did they do? They went to Mr. Bishop, and got him to write a letter to Prince Torelli, asking him if he would join the conspirators. He wished to know whether Prince Torelli was inclined to commit treason or not? Bishop said it was a piece of innocent curiosity with which he wrote that letter; but it was evident to everybody else, except to the counsel of the prisoner, that there was a deep conspiracy, and that the conspirators, not liking to risk their own necks—to put their own necks into the noose, and subject themselves to what might be a capital conviction—went to this unfortunate Mr. Bishop, and got him to engage in this treasonable conspiracy, and expose himself to the risk to which they were not willing to expose themselves. Immediately we heard of the sentence, which was pronounced on the 6th of September, Sir James Hudson was instructed on the 22nd of September to request Mr. Bishop's immediate pardon, not on the ground that he was not guilty; but, that being a simple person, and not deeply implicated in the conspiracy, and being a person in an infirm state of health, anything like a sentence to the galleys for ten years would endanger his life; and I said that if such a case were brought before the Secretary of State for the Home Department in this country, the ground of danger to the prisoner's health alone would probably be thought sufficient to gain the remission of his sentence. The Italian Government replied, on the 4th of October, that they could not comply, but inquiry would be made into the state of of Mr. Bishop's health; that, meanwhile, hard labour should not be enforced; and, that during the pendency of the appeal, he should be treated with every possible leniency. This, I believe, was by the order of General Marmora. Sir James Hudson was requested to make another appeal to Signor Rattazzi, and endeavour to obtain a remission of the sentence; but Signor Rattazzi refused to listen to the appeal. On the 26th of December, Sir James Hudson addressed an official note requesting Mr. Bishop's pardon from the clemency of the Government; and pending the decision of the Government, his removal to a maison de santé. Mr. West was instructed on January 12, 1863, to request his release on account of his bodily infirmities, in which case his father would guarantee that he should leave Italy, and not return to it. On the 26th of January, Mr. West reported by telegraph that the King would not con- sent to Mr. Bishop's pardon, but had remitted the hard labour, and had commuted the service in the galleys to imprisonment in a fortress. In the beginning of the year, on the 3rd of February 1863, Mr. Bishop was transferred from Naples to the fortress of Gavi, at the foot of the Appenines. On the 14th of February, an Attaché to Her Majesty's Legation at Turin was sent to Gavi to see Mr. Bishop. The climate was stated to be too severe for him. Mr. West was, on the 23rd of February instructed to make a strong protest as to the treatment of Mr. Bishop as a political prisoner, and again to request his release in the strongest manner. The result was, that on the 28th of February last the Minister for Foreign Affairs informed Sir James Hudson that Bishop would be transferred to an infirmary at Alessandria; and, that on the first fitting occasion he would propose his pardon to the King. On the 5th of March, Sir James Hudson reported Mr. Bishop's removal to Alessandria; and since then we have heard nothing more about him. We have the Foreign Minister, however, declaring that on the first fitting occasion he would propose his pardon to the King. Now, my Lords, I ask, is this a case in which the noble Marquess can fairly represent me as having been indifferent to these applications on behalf of Mr. Bishop? Mr. Bishop had involved himself in the political troubles and conspiracies of Italy. Everybody knows that a man who engage in a treasonable conspiracy does so at his own risk; he perils his life for an object that he thinks worthy the sacrifice if he should fail. Mr. Bishop being found with these letters in his possession, he was duly brought to trial by the Italian Government, before a duly constituted tribunal; he was convicted by the jury, and sentenced by the judge according to law, which sentence has been commuted; and we have since received the assurance from the Italian Government, that on the first fitting occasion they will propose that he shall be pardoned. I cannot help believing your Lordships will think that I have been a better friend to Mr. Bishop than the noble Marquess who has tonight brought forward his case. I must say I think that Her Majesty's Government have adopted the best course they could in reference to this matter. I said, on one occasion, to the Italian Minister, whom I knew very well—"If you would do me a personal favour, release Mr. Bishop." I repeat, therefore, I have been a better friend to him than the noble Marquess in bringing the case before your Lordships and the public, and so far rather committing the Italian Government by the course he has taken. The Italian Government have considerable dread of my noble Friend—he is a very formidable person to them; and he can hardly expect the Italian Government to release one of his friends because he is his friend; but, at all events, my good offices have not been withheld. My noble Friend has reverted to the time when we were both in Italy, living together as friends. That is a time to which I can always refer with pleasure. At the same time, my noble Friend says that the society in which I mixed was different from that with which he was familiar, mine being of the kind called "Liberal." That is very true. My noble Friend had a perfect right to have his own friends and political associates in Italy; but I thought, the society I mixed with much more pleasant, because those Italians with whom I associated were full of knowledge in literature, full of all taste in regard to art, and therefore, setting aside their opinions, they made a very agreeable society, to which I was very happy to be admitted. I can remember, when they complained of the illegal things that were done by the Grand Duke, I said, "Why don't you send up a petition?" "Oh," they said, "but that is illegal. Not more than three persons are allowed to petition, and we should be punished. Besides which, it is a principle with us not to exceed the law in any way." There was nothing very treasonable in that. I certainly did understand, that if ever there should come a time of crisis for Italy—if the Grand Duke joined Austria against Italy—it was not likely their loyalty would stand that test, because, as they said, "We are for Italy above all." The Grand Duke did, unfortunately, decide for Austria and against Italy, and the result is known. A friend of mine, Signer Salvagnuoli, came to me when my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Derby) was at the head of the Government, and asked me, "What if we endeavour to oppose Austria? Would the House of Commons be ready to assist us?" I said, "Not the least in the world. There's no chance of their assisting you at all." Upon which Signor Salvagnuoli replied, "Then, our only chance is to go to France." I replied to him in the words of an Italian sonnet, which warned them against using the sword of another nation to work out the freedom of their own; but, at the time, I had not the smallest doubt, that if Signer Salvagnuoli, Count Cavour, and other Italian patriots could obtain the assistance of France in their endeavours to overthrow the domination of Austria in Italy, they would gladly accept it. And I must say that I am not now prepared to blame either of those men for that—or rather to make it a reproach to their memory, for they have now both departed this life. If, as they believed, and as I believed (for I had witnessed the proceedings of the Governments of Italy at that time), these Governments, and especially that of Naples, were a disgrace to Europe, and a source of suffering and misfortune to the people under them, I am not surprised that these men should have availed themselves of any means within their reach for getting rid of them. With regard to the present state of Italy, I have nothing to add to what was so well said by my noble Friend on the cross bench (Earl Grey). The Italians are making a great experiment to carry on the Government of Italy, one and free. They are endeavouring to give effect to their constitution; and I say, may they prosper in that attempt! There was, as my noble Friend truly stated, a Revolution in this country, of which we are very proud, and by which we gained our liberties. Yet many people think that the conduct of our Government after the Revolution was not altogether without fault. Some people think that the execution at Glencoe was a harsh measure, and that unnecessary severities were exercised after the surrender of Limerick. Certainly, all the acts of our own Government at that period were not so scrupulously without fault or spot that some foreign Government might not have had much to say against it. I really think, my Lords, that the time has come when we ought to respect this Italian Government, and not attempt to interfere with the decisions of its tribunals, or the general conduct of its administration. The Italians are a nation of extraordinary quickness and talent, now engaged in building up a Government which shall give to every man freedom, and thereby open the way to prosperity and happiness. We should all rejoice in the prospect that lies before them, and not attempt, like my noble Friend opposite, to find out particular defects, and endeavour to cast blame on them for what is perhaps the inevitable consequence of the changes that have taken place.


then replied. As his noble Friend accused him of constantly depreciating the Italian Government, he would ask him whether he read the authentic and official reports of what took place in the Turin Chambers, because it was upon those documents that he founded his accusations against that Government. One of the King's Ministers boasted in the Turin Parliament that he had himself conspired in 1859. In the same Chambers it was stated, on the authority of a Parliamentary Commission, that in a year and a half 4,000 persons were killed in cold blood by the King's troops. Moreover, according to the declaration of a public man made in the Turin Parliament, there were now 18,000 political prisoners in Naples. Would his noble Friend call that an improvement? These were some of the things which made the rule of King Victor Emmanuel in Naples so different from that which everybody two years ago expected it would be. He was not to be deterred from telling the truth, and he must claim to exercise his privilege as a Member of that House whenever he thought that circumstances demanded it. He had lived longer in Italy than his noble Friend, and he ventured to say that in his opinion the independence of that country was as assured as its unity was impossible.

House adjourned at a quarter before Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.