HL Deb 04 February 1908 vol 183 cc651-3

My Lords, I rise for the purpose of moving that your Lordships agree to an address to His Majesty the King; and I am quite certain that this proposal will receive the unanimous approval of your Lordship's House. There are many precedents for a course of this kind. Similar addresses were presented in the cases of the King of Italy, of President Carnot of Prance, of the Emperor of Russia; who were assassinated and also, in days yet further back, in the case of President Lincoln of the United States. If there were many reasons for presenting such an address on those occasions, there are in some respects yet stronger reasons for doing so on the present occasion, because those who have been the victims of the atrocious crime which was committed last Saturday at Lisbon were close allies and intimate friends of this country. The ties which have bound Portugal to England during a long period of years have been so close as to render everything connected with that country a matter of great interest to us. We know also that there has been during the same period a friendship existing between the Sovereigns of Portugal and of this country of an intimate character, and that alone would render it our duty to present an address to His Majesty the King. But, apart from those considerations, which would themselves have been amply sufficient to justify the Motion, there are in this particular crime circumstances of horror which have sent a thrill throughout the world, and which have called forth, I may say, almost unanimous condemnation. Such a crime, I am happy to think, is almost unheard of. It was an attempt to destroy, not an individual, but a whole family, an attempt under the most cruel circumstances and of the most wicked description, and it was accompanied by characteristics so deeply moving as to attach to it a special degree of interest. For, my Lords, we must all have noticed the high courage and noble bearing of the Queen of Portugal, as she stood there endeavouring to shield her sons from the bullets of the assassins. It was not only that upspringing of a mother's love we must remark, but we have also to observe that under a loss almost unparalleled in the history of mankind, she rose from her sorrow, from the side of the corpses of her dead husband and son, and walked forth, calm and noble, to take her place in the councils of her country, and to ask from the councillors of Portugal assistance for her young son. That is enough to call forth the sympathy of any Assembly in the world; and I am quite sure that it will move your Lordships unanimously to agree with the proposal I have to make. Then, my Lords, look at the touching words which were addressed by the young King of 18, who had just witnessed the murder of his father and his elder brother, to his State Council:— I am without knowledge or experience. I place myself in your hands, counting upon your patriotism and wisdom. I think, so far as we can judge, that that confidence of the new King is not likely to be misplaced, and I hope that, as God brings so often good out of evil, there may arise in that kingdom a happier and more satisfactory state of affairs. I beg to move.

Moved, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to convey to His Majesty the expression of the indignation and deep concern with which this House has learned the assassination of His Majesty's ancient ally and friend, His Majesty the King of Portugal and the Algarves, and of His Royal Highness the Duke of Braganza; and to pray His Majesty that he will be graciously pleased to express to His Majesty the present King on the part of this House their abhorrence of the crime, and their sympathy with the Royal Family of Portugal and with the people of that country."—The Marquess of Ripon.


My Lords, Upon this occasion, the noble Marquess gives utterance to feelings entertained not only by those who sit with him, but to those of the whole House. I can add but little to the eloquent words which have just fallen from his lips. The terrible crime of Saturday last has created a feeling of consternation throughout the whole of the civilised world. It was attended by circumstances of horror and pathos for which it would be hard to find a parallel; and in this country the universal emotion has, I venture to think, been even more deeply felt than in other parts of the world. Portugal, as the noble Marquess reminded us, is an old and trusted ally of this country, connected with us by immemorial ties and by centuries of reciprocal goodwill. The late King and his gracious and illustrious Consort were well known in this country, respected and liked by all who had the good fortune to meet them. The King possessed many qualities which endeared him particularly to us, qualities of manliness and of unaffected good humour, for which he was conspicuous. The Portuguese Royal Family are connected with our own Royal Family by ties of relationship and by ties of the closest intimacy. My Lords, we cannot hope that anything we can say or do will have the effect of lightening the heavy burden of sorrow which has fallen upon Portugal and the Portuguese Royal Family. We can only offer our deep sympathy, first to the illustrious lady who as Queen is mourning for her husband, and as mother is mourning for her son. We can offer that sympathy to the Portuguese Royal Family, upon whom this calamity has fallen so heavily, and to the Portuguese nation, upon the annals of whose history a dark and unfortunate page has been inscribed. Last of all, we may offer our sympathy to our own Royal Family, to whom we know this deplorable event has occasioned the deepest anguish. Our sympathy is all we can offer. We offer it with the utmost respect, and with all our hearts.

On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente. The said Address ordered to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.