§ MR. STEUART
said, he would beg to inquire, Whether it is the intention of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to bring in the Reform Bill on Thursday next?
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I do not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the late First Lord of the Admiralty, can be very satisfactory to Lord Elgin. There are two questions involved, into one of which I shall not enter—namely, whether Lord Elgin had or had not reasons for making complaints that the gallant Admiral had delayed bringing up the naval force to his assistance. That question was considered and decided by the late Board of Admiralty, according to their views, and if any hon. Member wishes to know more about it he can do so by moving for the papers. The other question is the personal question, which I understand in a somewhat different manner than the right hon. Gentleman. The complaint arose out of a statement in a published work; and I must observe that these difficulties are not unlikely to arise when a person employed in the public service and in the confidence of those performing public duties shortly afterwards publishes an account of differences that may have existed between the officers with whom he was serving. But that work having appeared, I think it was quite natural that the gallant Admiral should make the statement he had made. On the other hand, it was quite impossible, I think, for Lord Elgin not to take notice of the rumours that were-spreading as to his conduct, and he states that the impression on his mind is full and clear, that at the time he wrote the despatches to the Fo- 1718 reign Office, he stated to the gallant Admiral what was the nature of the complaints that he had to make, and that although he did not actually show the despatches to the gallant Admiral, he conveyed to him the substance of them. The noble Earl having made that statement upon his honour as a Peer, I cannot doubt for a moment that such is the impression on his mind. The gallant Admiral, on the other hand, says that the statement is incorrect—in other words, that the impression on his mind is, that Lord Elgin made no such communication to him. I have a high respect for the gallant Admiral, and do not doubt that that is his impression. The only conclusion we can arrive at is, that these transactions having occurred in a distant part of the globe nearly a year and a half ago, the impression upon the minds of those concerned in them differ materially; but I do not think that that difference affects the honour cither of the noble Earl or of the gallant Admiral. I have perfect confidence in the noble Earl. I have lately recommended to Her Majesty that Lord Elgin should be employed in a position of the greatest confidence, in which much must depend upon his discretion and judgment. After what has passed I should not do my duty, being at this time a colleague of the noble Earl, and at the head of the Foreign Department of this country, and the noble Earl having served the Crown in various capacities with great benefit to the public service, in Jamaica and Canada, as well as in China, if I did not declare that I believe the noble Earl is perfectly worthy of the confidence of Her Majesty, and that he is an honourable and faithful public servant. In reply to the question of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. MacEvoy), I do not think it necessary to enter now into a discussion of the subject to which he has referred, nor to defer the resumption of the adjourned debate upon the Budget by a conversation upon the affairs of Italy. I stated upon a former occasion what were the facts, and I will repeat them. Many questions relating to the affairs of Italy having been left unsettled, we were invited by Austria and France to join a Congress. The meeting of that Congress being indefinitely adjourned we made certain propositions to the Government of France upon this subject. The proposition as regards Sardinia, was to place a restriction upon the King of Sardinia as to the employment of his forces. We had no right 1719 whatever to prevent him from making whatever use he pleased of his forces, but we asked him voluntarily to submit to a restriction, and we purposed that, after a time and in certain contingencies, the restrictions should cease. We did not refer particularly to the territories of the Pope or of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, but our proposition was a general proposition for the re-establishment of peace in Italy. The hon. Member may make what reflections he pleases, but it would certainly be satisfactory to me if I could contribute to the settlement of the affairs of Italy by promoting the peace and welfare of that country.