§ Earl Grey
rose, in pursuance of his notice, to move for such further information as was necessary to obtain a view of all the circumstances by which their lordships might be enabled to form a correct judgment of the conduct of his majesty's ministers relative to Naples. The recent changes which had taken 743 place in that government were such as must appear of great importance to every person who looked at political events with a view to their effects on the general interests of this country and of mankind. It had been obvious that, from the very first, the events to which he alluded had excited a hostile feeling in that Alliance, which, notwithstanding that it assumed to itself the epithet of Holy, had manifested views calculated to alarm every friend of freedom. From the first, the intentions of that confederacy had been the cause of much anxiety all over Europe; and that anxiety Was more particularly manifested in this country, from the desire which naturally existed to know what part would be taken by his majesty's ministers, when designs hostile to every principle of national law, appeared to be meditated. Impressed with these feelings, he had, on the first day of the session availed himself of the earliest opportunity afforded him to direct the attention of their lordships to this important subject; arid on a subsequent, day he had inquired whether the representation issued by the allied courts on the subject of the Neapolitan revolution did correctly and truly state the disposition and engagements of his majesty's government with respect to such events as those which had taken place. The answer given on that occasion by the noble earl opposite appeared to be in a great degree satisfactory. He had said, that the document which had appeared in the public papers, though substantially true, was in some respect not correct. He disclaimed the engagements to which it was therein stated that this government was a party; and he disclaimed the principle of interference with the internal arrangements of independent states—stating, what every one would admit, that circumstances might arise by which such interference would be justified. The noble earl then proposed to lay before the House a document, containing a full explanation of the conduct pursued by his majesty's government.
That paper had, in conformity with the noble earl's promise, been laid before their lordships; and it was now for him to regret that, after perusing it, he had not obtained from it that satisfaction as to the conduct of his majesty's government which he expected it would have afforded. He felt himself, therefore, bound to propose that their lordships should address his majesty for further in- 744 formation; and, in doing so, he thought it necessary to trouble their lordships with some observations on the note of the allied sovereigns, and on the paper in reply to it which the noble lord had laid on the table of the House. After the disclaimer of his majesty's ministers, cold and feeble as it was, that the claim of interference set up by the allied powers was one which could not be admitted, as being contrary to all the principles of international law, it might perhaps be thought unnecessary for him to say any thing on that subject. He could not, however, help noticing the remarkable principle asserted in the paper published in the "Hamburgh Correspondent" in December last, as the circular of the allied powers. The claim set up was nothing less than the right of a general superintendence of the states of Europe, and of the suppression of all changes in their internal government, if those changes should be hostile to what the Holy Alliance called the legitimate principles of government. It mattered not how general the wish of the people for the change might be; it mattered not, however inoffensive that change might be to other states; it mattered not that every people were acknowledged to possess the right of correcting the abuses of their government, and rescuing themselves from political degradation. Yet those monarchs who had assumed the censorship of Europe, and sat in judgment on the internal transactions of other states, took upon themselves to summon before them the monarch of an independent state; to pronounce judgment on a constitution which, in concert with his people, he had given to his country, and threatened to enforce their judgment by arms. This was plainly declaring that all changes of government which did not square with their ideas of propriety were to be put down. Nothing could be more unjust, nothing more atrocious, than this principle. This was, however, the fair construction of the principle on which the sovereigns composing the Holy Alliance declared they would act. But this was not the first time that principle had been asserted: if their lordships' attention had been directed to what had been passing on the continent, they must have perceived the same principle advanced in papers which had previously been issued by the allied powers. If they looked at the Note on the subject of the German constitutions, 745 presented by prince Metternich to the minister of Baden—that baron Berstett, of whom their lordships had recently heard so much—they would see the same principle laid down. They would also find it in the Memorial of the court of Russia on the transactions in Spain, and it was above all, most unequivocally and intelligibly propounded in the "Berlin Court Gazette" of the 19th December, though the paper which appeared in that gazette had no official signature; yet when their lordships considered the state of the press in Prussia, when they knew that every publication took place under the control of a strict censorship, it was impossible not to regard that document as published by authority, and as expressing the opinions and the views of the Prussian government. The gazette states, that there could be no communication between the allied powers and the government of Naples, because it is asserted that such communication would be, to recognize the legality of insurrection. The new constitution was declared to be the product of unlawful power, and it was distinctly stated that "the monarchical principle rejects every institution which is not determined upon and accomplished by the monarch himself of his own free will." This article in the Berlin Gazette appeared to be published for the purpose of clearly expounding the principle which had been more or less distinctly asserted in all the notes of the holy alliance published on the late events in Spain, Portugal, and Naples, and it went plainly to establish, that no change of government was to be permitted which appeared contrary to what was called "the monarchical principle"—that was to say, every reform of abuses, every improvement in government, which did not originate with a sovereign, of his own free will, was to be prevented. Were this principle to be successfully maintained, the triumph of tyranny would be complete, and the chains of mankind would be rivetted for ever. Was there, then, to be no improvement in government except such as was granted as a matter of favour? Hopeless, indeed, was the condition of the human race, if they were to obtain no political rights except such as spring from the benevolence of sovereigns—of the monarchs who composed the holy alliance.
And now he would ask, how did it happen that the first declaration which his majesty's minister had made in 746 opposition to the despotic principles of that wicked confederacy was of so late a date as the 19th of January last? Was not the note of prince Metternich to baron Berstett, to which he had alluded, known to ministers? Were they ignorant of the memorial of the court of Russia on the affairs of Spain? And, finally, were they ignorant of the article which had appeared in the Berlin Gazette? He must say it appeared most clearly, that the principles on which the allied sovereigns meant to act could not fail to have been known to his majesty's ministers at a very early period, and long before the paper issued from Troppau, to which the declaration of the 19th of January replied. Now, either they did remonstrate or they did not. If they did, what then, he would ask, had become of the boasted authority of this country in the councils of Europe, when not only that authority was disregarded, but the consent of this country to the measures of the sovereigns was presumed? If they did not remonstrate, then what punishment could be sufficiently severe for a dereliction of duty calculated to inflict so much evil on this country and the world in general? On these points he demanded explanation. He begged their lordships to advert to the date of that paper which had been laid before the House. It was dated the 19th of January, only four days previous to the meeting of parliament. It had been said that the paper transmitted from Troppau was not intended for publication, and that it came upon them by surprise. At least so he had understood the noble earl; but at any rate the principle by which the allied sovereigns had signified they would be guided, was known long before, and the moment the assertion of that principle was known, it became the duty of the British government to remonstrate. But nothing was done by ministers until within a few days of the assembling of parliament. It appeared, therefore, that their declaration was issued rather to meet discussions which they knew were unavoidable, and to cover a concert which they dared not openly avow, than to operate in any manner on the decisions of the allied powers. When the confederacy was directing an attack against Naples, what was the conduct of ministers towards those powers? They continued in the closest union and harmony with them. But what had been their conduct to Naples? A suspension of all amicable 747 intercourse. The noble earl opposite, he perceived, dissented; but he asserted, that by the refusal to acknowledge the Neapolitan minister, and to accredit a minister to the court of Naples, all the accustomed relations of friendly powers had been interrupted, and consequently all real amicable intercourse suspended. This was calculated to strengthen the suspicion, that however much the secretary for foreign affairs condemned the principle broached in the declaration of the congress at Troppau, there was in reality no serious objection to it. It was not to be forgotten, too, that while ministers were refusing all intercourse with Naples, they had assembled a British squadron in the bay of Naples. Whether this was done to assist the allies or defend Naples, was to be inferred from the circumstances which had taken place: and here he could not help remarking, that one of the vessels of the squadron, that in which the king of Naples embarked, bore the ensign of one of the powers which had summoned the king of Naples to their bar. By this employment of a British squadron ministers had exhibited this country co-operating in an act which amounted to a degradation of the kingly office, and was an example of injustice unequalled in the history of modern times by any thing except the decoying of Ferdinand of Spain to Bayonne—an example of atrocity which was now taken for a model by those persons who had most strongly condemned it.
He came now to the consideration of the paper dated from the Foreign office, in which the principle advanced by the holy alliance was so delicately treated. To this paper, however, chilled as it was by all the frosts, and involved in all the fogs of winter, it was now necessary for him to direct their lordships attention. That paper purported to have two objects: the first was disposed of by a disclaimer of the principle contained in the Troppau circular. Stripped of all the verbiage in which it was involved, the disclaimer amounted to this,—that the principle was regarded as contrary to international law. He assumed, then, that this principle was admitted by the secretary of state for foreign affairs to be one which it was the duty of this government to resist. This despatch of ministers however, said—"With respect to the particular case of Naples, the British government, at the very earliest moment, 748 did not hesitate to express their strong disapprobation of the mode and circumstances under which that revolution was understood to have been effected." Understood! Did ministers not know the manner in which the revolution had been accomplished? If not, what right had they to assume any thing unfavourable respecting it? Why did they infer that the change had been made on principles which they were bound to condemn? If they proceeded to judge, they ought to have founded their judgment on facts; but they talked only of what they understood! Now he would ask, whether ministers had made this statement without communicating with the Neapolitan government, whether they had sought information on the subject through the proper channels—through channels which might have corrected their misconceptions, and have induced them to change an opinion founded only on what they "understood" to have taken place? Here, in the very outset of the business, it was plain they had shown a bias in favour of the holy alliance, and against Naples:—a bias totally inconsistent even with the system of cold neutrality to which they pretended. The answer of ministers, after stating their understanding of the matter, went on thus:—"But they at the same time expressly declared to the several allied courts that they should not consider themselves as either called upon or justified to advise an interference on the part of this country; they fully admitted, however, that other European states, and especially Austria and the Italian powers, might feel themselves differently circumstanced; and they professed that it was not their purpose to prejudge the question as it might affect them, or to interfere with the course which such states might think fit to adopt, with a view to their own security, provided only that they were ready to give every reasonable assurance that their views were not directed to purposes of aggrandizement, subversive of the territorial system of Europe as established by the late treaties." After reading this passage he must say that the conduct of his majesty's ministers had in this case been as inconsistent as it was extraordinary. Their lordships had seen that they abruptly put an end to all intercourse with Naples. Now he would ask, upon what principle had they so acted? They had no accredited minister at the court of Naples, notwithstanding 749 that the king remained on his throne. But he was no longer an arbitrary monarch. Was that their reason for suspending all amicable relations? Upon what principle did the changes which had taken place in Naples make such a difference in the diplomatic intercourse of the two countries necessary? Was it occasioned by the description of persons who produced the revolution? Did a revolution, produced by an army in concert with the people, put an end to all relations with this country, while a revolution of another kind had no such effect? Their lordships had seen free constitutions overthrown by armies in concert with kings, and yet no such consequence as the interruption of friendly relations had followed. They had seen in Spain a constitution to which we were bound to give protection by every feeling of sympathy, by every sentiment of generosity, and every tie of gratitude for the noble Struggle made by the people of that country during the war. Their lordships, however, well knew that the constitution of Spain was overthrown by an army under the direction of the king, and yet they had seen no such consequence as had occurred with respect to Naples. Amicable relations were without scruple continued with the court of Spain after Ferdinand had subverted that constitution which this country was bound to support. There was no accounting for this distinction but upon the supposition that ministers had one rule for revolutions in favour of liberty, and another for revolutions in favour of despotism. The latter were by every means to be encouraged, and the former discountenanced, and if possible punished. When what had passed was impartially looked at, the inference drawn must be this—that the objection to the Neapolian revolution was the characterestics of freedom which belonged to it, and that, being a revolution the object of which was to limit not to create arbitrary power, it was therefore to be severely condemned. The case of Sicily was similar. There a constitution was; established with the co-operation of the British government, but that constitution was soon after overturned by the present king of Naples. That arbitrary act, however, occasioned no suspension of the friendly intercourse between the two governments. It was not said that a minister could no longer be accredited to the court of Naples, because the king had put down the constitution of Sicily.
750 The reply of ministers to the Troppas declaration amounted only to this—that though they asserted the right of independent nations to regulate their own affairs, yet they directly admitted that the case of Naples must be considered an exception. They said they would not interfere to prevent the atrocious attack meditated against Naples, if the allied powers were ready to give an assurance that their views were not directed to purposes of aggrandizement. This seemed, indeed, to be a natural consequence of the system of ministers, and perfectly consistent with the principle which the foreign secretary of state had in view in the treaties he had concluded. That principle was one of mere temporary convenience. It was a balance founded on territorial arrangements, instead of resting, as it ought, on national rights. It was a natural consequence of this principle, that their lordships should have witnessed the shameful transfers made at the late peace—that they should have seen Genoa delivered up to Sardinia, Venice to Austria, and Norway to Sweden. He did not mean to speak lightly of the propriety of preserving a balance of European power; but he contended that it was to be preserved only by an adherence to the principles of right and justice, and that it was to be secured, not by territorial arrangement, but by a system which would assure to the weak protection against the aggressions of the powerful. But ministers had admitted Naples to be an exception to their principle of non-interference; and all that they asked of the allied powers was, an assurance that they had in view no territorial aggrandizement. When, however, ministers spoke of assurances, he would ask how could they rely on them when obtained? Austria, he was afraid, would occupy Naples; for, much as he relied on the effects of the flame of liberty in resisting tyranny, he was apprehensive that no efficient opposition could in the first instance be made to the power of Austria. But when that power occupied Naples, what would be her situation? She might have given assurances against territorial aggrandizement, but would she find it convenient to abandon her conquest? Would not the Austrian armies in the centre of a hostile country make the existence of that hostility a ground for retaining possession as long as they might be able. If they succeeded in making a com- 751 plete conquest, and afterwards retired, then, even in that view of the case, Naples would remain dependent on Austria. Would not that state of things lead to a reasonable jealousy and apprehension in the other states of Europe. He believed that no persons who had experience of the conduct of Austria would place much reliance on assurances of refraining from territorial aggrandizement given by that power. Could any person in Europe believe that Austria was willing to relinquish her schemes of ambition with respect to Italy? But what encouragement would not the conduct of Austria give to the projects of other powers! Their lordships had seen at a very early period of the negotiations for peace great jealousies manifested among the powers now calling themselves the holy alliance. Nay, they had even seen the British minister holding out Russia as a power whose views were to be guarded against. If Austria gained by the events of Italy, the first thing done by the other powers would be to claim accessions of territory in compensation. It could not be doubted that Russia and Prussia had already claims in contemplation: and would France remain a calm spectator of the changes about to take place? It was scarcely possible that Austria could accomplish her purpose without exciting new convulsions in Europe; and as for the security required by ministers, it was good for nothing.
This was, however, deviating from that which was the object he chiefly had in view, which was, to consider what ought to have been the conduct of the British government on the declarations of the allies. He should therefore turn to the paper which had been addressed to the senate of Hamburgh. That paper put very plainly that construction on the late treaties which ministers denied. That paper says, "The monarchs assembled at Troppau have concerted together the measures required by circumstances, and have communicated to the courts of London and Paris their intention of attaining the end desired, either by mediation or by force. With this view they have invited the king of the Two Sicilies to repair to Laybach, to appear as conciliator between his misguided people and the states whose tranquillity is endangered. By this state of things, and as they have resolved not to recognize any authority established by the seditious, it is only 752 with the king they can confer. As the system to be followed has no other foundation than treaties already existing, they have no doubt of the assent of the courts of Paris and London," To this assertion however ministers gave a distinct negative. Now on this he could not help observing that their lordships had in this paper, issued by the sovereigns at Troppau, another proof of the extent of that harmony and confidence which it was pretended subsisted among the powers of Europe. The treaties alluded to were concluded only a few years ago, and their lordships must well recollect the pains which were taken to prevent any misunderstanding. A congress was for this purpose assembled, and innumerable notes were exchanged; and yet, after all, the parties disagreed on a most important principle. In December, 1820, their lordships found his majesty's ministers maintaining one construction and the allies another. Repeated explanations, it is said, have taken place on the subject, and ministers had more than once declared in parliament that the interpretation of the sovereigns was erroneous; but still the members of the Holy Alliance maintain that theirs is the right construction, and that Great Britain has given her assent to the principle of interference in the domestic affairs of independent states.
He had now a few words to say on the exception made with respect to Naples. Ministers first disclaimed the principle set up by the allies: secondly, their answer contained a refusal of becoming parties to the projected measures; and thirdly came the exception, which was very strangely worded. It is said—"they regard its exercise as an exception to the general principles of the greatest value." Here it was not very easy to discover whether it was the principle or the exception which was stated to he of "the greatest value." Fourthly and lastly, he had to call their lordships' attention again to the admission that no opposition would be given to the projects of the Allies, provided they gave security that they had no views of territorial aggrandizement. Now, he would ask, what was the use of general principles, except as a guide for conduct in particular circumstances—except they were applied to existing emergencies? To state them, and to reason about them, without reference to their application, would be acting the 753 part of schoolmen, and not of statesmen—would be to advance and reason about abstractions, instead of the rules and the principles of action. In the circular it was said, that there were certain exceptions to the principle of non-interference in the offices of foreign states. He would then ask what was the exception, and on what ground was it justified? The exception was, "when the immediate security or essential interests of one state are seriously endangered by the internal transactions of another." On what ground was the interference justified? On that of necessity. Whence does that necessity arise? Out of a real, serious, and pressing danger, which leaves no choice, admits of no doubt, and can only be averted by an immediate appeal to force. This danger must not be either uncertain in its existence or remote in its approach, but such a clear, intelligible, obvious danger, as cannot be denied, and admits of no other remedy than a departure from the general principles of international law. Such a state of things occurs when the government of one nation holds out encouragement to the subjects of another to resist its authority, or offers assistance to rebellious projects. In illustration of this, he might allude to the decree of the French National Assembly of the 19th November, 1792, which in his opinion would have been a legitimate cause of war against the then government of France, had an explanation of the obnoxious measure been demanded and refused. But such a monstrous principle as that on which the Allied Powers professed to act with respect to Naples had never been heard of in the history of the world. That a nation offering no encouragement to rebellion in other nations, and announcing no projects of foreign aggression, but merely making improvements or operating changes in its own internal government, should present a fit subject of complaint, remonstrance, or interference, on the part of its neighbours, was such a monstrous principle as had never been maintained by any writer on public law, and never before avowed or acted upon by the most profligate ambition. Look at the situation and conduct of the people who were so menaced. No force was offered to independent states; no aggression had taken place or was threatened; no principles subversive of general order were professed; the laws were preserved and enforced; the sovereign was main- 754 tained in his office; and merely because the monstrous system on which the government had formerly been conducted—a system which had destroyed the resources, and depressed the energies of the people of that country—had been improved, and the power of the king limited by his own consent; although every thing was done inoffensively and without tumult or confusion; yet the alliance threatened to overthrow the constitution which had been established, and to destroy the improvements which had been effected, lest they might excite the hopes of neighbouring states to attain similar advantages. This was the reason of their interference; this was the necessity upon which they justified their departure from the principles of international law. There never was a revolution in the history of the world brought about in a more peaceful manner, or exhibiting itself in a less offensive form to neighbouring nations: not a drop of blood, so far as he was informed, had been shed; no tumults or violence had taken place; the property of no individuals had been invaded; the king was not only maintained upon his throne, but had sanctioned the limitations of his authority, had given his consent to the constitution by which it was henceforward to be regulated; and yet it was against this revolution that the vengeance of the allies was denounced in the general principle of interference which they professed; and this country was called upon to sanction the application of a law, which would condemn in the abstract every attempt of an independent state to improve its government or to better the laws for its internal regulation! He held in his hand a diplomatic note of the duke of Campo Chiaro, in which that minister appealed to the sovereigns of Europe in favour of the revolution effected in his country, and justified it as being neither dangerous nor offensive to foreign states. The allied sovereigns, with this explanation before them, and acquainted with the conduct and circumstances of the Neapolitan revolution, had interfered on the general principle of a right to interfere, and had thus the merit of acting openly and without disguise, not aggravating the violence of injustice by the meanness of fraud. He could not but declare that he considered this as one of the most monstrous instances of injustice that the world had ever heard of and that the conduct of our 755 government with respect to it demanded the strictest scrutiny and the most explicit explanation. The suspension of the intercourse of the English government with that of Naples, through its accredited agents, seemed to give countenance to a participation on our part in the policy which he had so justly condemned; and he therefore could not be satisfied till that conduct was cleared up by papers-or other official explanations.
Although he might here end his remarks, and was not required by the motion with which he would conclude to enter farther into the subject, yet he would descend a little into the particular grounds on which the allies justified their interference with the internal affairs of Naples. These grounds had been alluded to in the circular of the Holy Alliance, and had been mentioned at various times in the discussions to which their conduct gave rise. We were told that there was a sect or party at Naples which had occasioned the revolution, and that this sect was called the Carbonari; but if the fact of the revolution being occasioned by a sect gave a right of interference, such a right might be claimed in every revolution. This cause of complaint would apply to every political change; almost all the revolutions within our knowledge had been brought about by similar means. He was one of those old-fashioned politicians, who thought that every great political change might be traced to previous misgovernment. In such a situation, sects would be formed, and leaders would always be found, for effecting a revolution; and it would be very unjust to accuse those as being the causes of it who were only the instruments, and to punish them for taking the only means of effecting their objects. Let their lordships look to the revolution of 168S, and then he would ask them, if it could have been carried into effect without the combinations of those great men, who restored and secured our religion, our laws, and our liberties, and without such mutual communications among them as would bring them under the description of a sect or party? The Carbonari, however, were not always so obnoxious to the allies, and had become so only from their late conduct in favour of freedom. That sect had been formed as early as 1812; it was then encouraged and protected by the allies; it was then supported by them as an 756 instrument against France; the object which it then professed to pursue was a constitution for Italy, and the expulsion of the French power from that country; it was then a favourite with the allies. Such was its history. But even although the revolution at Naples had been brought about by a smaller number than such a powerful and long established body, that circumstance, in his opinion, would not have impeached its merits, or have given the allies any additional right of interference; especially when it was considered, that it was adopted by the people without being imposed upon them by any force or violence. They not only showed a passive acquiescence in the operations of this sect, but actively concurred in establishing the constitution which they introduced; and what was at first a sect became at last, according to an expression which he had heard used, "the universal people." That the revolution was the effect of the general will, might be proved by the rapidity with which it was established and the unanimity with which it had been supported. We had seen, during that great change, none of the usual heats and animosities with which revolutions were accompanied—none of those tumults and conflicts which arise from difference of opinion. It was established in a few days without confusion or blood-shed; and, he believed, had no parallel in the history of the world.
They were told, however, that the Neapolitan revolution had not only been the work of a sect, but that they had employed the army as the instrument in effecting their purpose. He did not see any more strength in this objection than in the former. If they were to have armies, they must reconcile themselves to the idea, that when a soldier enlisted into them he did not surrender the feelings of a man; that he remained a citizen when under arms, and must sympathise with his countrymen. In a revolution the army must always take one side or the other: it must support the sovereign against the people, or aid the people in demanding their rights of the sovereign. God forbid that it should always, and in all circumstances, take the side of arbitrary power! God forbid that tyranny, however monstrous or oppressive, should always be defended by the army! He rejoiced to consider that soldiers when enlisted did not cease to be 757 men, and that sovereigns were sometimes taught by their taking an opposite side, that their best guards and protection were the confidence and love of the people. God forbid that in all circumstances they should support arbitrary power against the just claims of liberty, and that language like the following should be held to nations desirous of improving the system of their government—language, however, which was held, in effect, by the present interference! The sovereigns thus said to the people—"Reform you may have, but it must come of our free will, and you must not employ the only means, or use the only instrument, for procuring it. The sect or the army which have assisted you must be disbanded or punished; and after we have done so, we will give you that portion of liberty which we shall think proper to dispense." What would have been our own position at the time when our ancestors exerted themselves to establish that constitution which they had handed down to us, had the army which was less then than it is now, continued firm to that misguided monarch James II, in opposing the just claims of his subjects? How lamentable would have been our situation, and how much would the recovery of our religion and our laws have been impeded, had the army at that time acted so as to earn the approbation of a body of sovereigns like the holy alliance! Divesting the principles promulgated in the circular, and the conduct of the allies, of all pretexts, what language did they hold but the following, to the people of Naples? "You shall have no liberty but what is agreeable to our will; we cannot permit it to be enjoyed in our states, nor will we allow it in you: as we are resolved not to give freedom ourselves, we will not have free neighbours; freedom at Naples might encourage the people of Germany, and the people in the north of Italy, to demand a similar boon. It might incite the inhabitants of Breslau, or of the banks of the Rhine, to seek for those constitutions which have been long promised and always delayed; nay, it might even penetrate into the frosts of Russia and elicit a new spark in the breasts of those who expelled Buonaparte from their inhospitable wilds. Expect not, therefore, that we can permit you to improve the system of your government. Overthrow the con- 758 stitution you have established, or prepare for the full infliction of our wrath." Such was the language held by the assembled sovereigns to the people of Naples—language which, without some explanation from ministers, he was bound to say they not only tolerated, but abetted and encouraged.
There remained one other ground on which the conduct of Austria towards Naples was attempted to be justified. A secret article of the treaty between these states in 1815, stipulated, that the high contracting parties would not admit any constitution but of a certain kind, in which the "monarchical principle" would predominate. The noble earl here read the secret article to which he alluded, and contended that its proper construction did not bear out the interpretation which had been put upon it. Like all other articles of restraint, it was to be construed strictly; and he did not think such a construction warranted the interference of Austria under circumstances like those which the Neapolitan revolution had presented. It related, so far as he could comprehend it, only to the re-establishment of the government at that time, and could not be considered as a permanent guarantee of the existence of an unimproved government. But even although the latter interpretation could be put upon it, it could act as no restraint on Naples in improving her constitution. It was impossible that in this sense the treaty could be executed: it was an immoral and unjust convention, inconsistent with the rights of nations, and beyond the power of being fulfilled. It made the sovereign of Naples a party against his own subjects, and bound him not to consult their advantage, to which he was bound by the solemn duties of his office. On all these grounds he conceived it was a contract that his Neapolitan majesty could not make without forfeiting his rights to the throne, by first having forfeited the duties for the performance of which he held it. When he looked around, and saw that no changes were to be permitted but those which were inconsistent with the independence of states and the rights of mankind; when he saw Austria, because she had dominions in Italy, declaring that no part of Italy should enjoy freedom, lest that freedom should become contagious, he could scarely restrain his indignation. Of what nature was the government of Austria in 759 Italy? It was the government of strangers in that country; it was founded on recent conquest, and had for its principle that every thing was to be done there for the benefit of Austria, and not for that of Italy. If any new law was to be enacted, it was, to secure the interests of Austria; if any tax was to be levied, it was for Austria; if any conscription was to be raised, it was for defending the rights of Austria, and not of Italy. Agriculture, manufactures, and commerce, languished on account of the power exercised by Austria; even literature and the arts had felt the influence of foreign dominion. No improvement could be expected in a state so governed; and was Naples to be restrained from attaining her rights, or establishing her freedom, because the dominion of the Emperor of Austria might be rendered less secure in the north of Italy by an improvement in the south? Such a monstrous principle he thought could not be maintained for a moment. Besides, Naples had been promised a free constitution on the return of the king from Sicily. A promise of a more liberal constitution had been held out by Murat as an inducement to the Neapolitans to join his standard and support his throne. The offer of such a constitution was the last act of his reign as a bribe for support; and a similar offer was the first act: which the legitimate king, as he was called, performed on returning to his native dominions. The execution of these promises was withheld, and the result was, that the Neapolitans had secured their own freedom themselves. The sovereigns of Europe had met to declare that no new reforms should be permitted unless such as emanated from themselves, or received their sanction. He now, therefore, called upon ministers to explain their conduct in appearing to favour such a confederacy, and in committing the government to acts so derogatory from the interests and the honour of the country. He called upon them to explain why their conduct had been so different in the two cases of Spain and Naples, which were so similar in their nature. When the Spanish revolution was effected, no suspension of intercourse had taken place; and he wished to know why our relations with Naples should have been placed on a different footing. He asked these explanations for the honour and the safety of the country, which had been compromised by the undecided, temporiz- 760 ing, and, he would add, pusillanimous conduct of his majesty's ministers. He should rejoice to find that the noble earl opposite could make that explanation satisfactory; but, at any rate, he would sit down with the consciousness of having discharged his duty, even although he might be disappointed by the vote of the House in obtaining the papers for which he moved. The noble earl then moved for "Copies or extracts of all communications between his majesty's government and foreign governments, relative to the affairs of Naples."
The Earl of Liverpool
said, he could assure the noble earl and the House that though he must oppose the motion, he was not sorry it had been brought forward, and that thus an opportunity was afforded him of explaining and defending, if it required explanation or defence, that circular communication on which the noble earl had commented, and also of answering the general observations which he had thrown out. The circular of the 19th of January, he would contend, contained a clear, distinct, and intelligible exposition of the views of his majesty's government on the matter to which it referred, and the principles on which the allies professed to act. Although he had been willing to grant the papers moved for by the noble earl, he could not sanction a motion which was introduced for the purpose of censuring the conduct of government, without appearing to allow the justness of that censure. If any of their lordships should be of opinion, after considering all the circumstances of the case, that the communication made by ministers had been erroneous; or, still more, that it had been criminal; if they believed that its results would be different from what appeared to them to be true policy of this government, those who entertained such sentiments would, of course, vote for the motion. The noble earl had adverted to what passed on this subject on the first day of the session. The noble earl's observation went to this—that the paper laid on the table, and which was dated on the 19th of January was intended for the meeting of parliament, and that the sentiments which it contained should have been made known at an earlier period: therefore, he concluded, that the conduct of ministers, in withholding it for some time, was reprehensible in a greater or less degree. Now, as there had been some misapprehension 761 on the subject, he begged their lordships to look to the circumstances under which the original declaration itself was brought forward. He had undoubtedly stated that the existence of this document was first known about the end of December. But it was known at that time, not as a paper that had been communicated to other powers, but as the project of a paper that was intended to be made known to them; and a determination to answer it on the part of this government, whenever it was made public, was then entertained; because, actually, at the time when this paper was formally announced and communicated officially to government, it was distinctly stated, that such a document would render it necessary for this government to frame an answer as early as possible. It was therefore evident that an answer was designed, even before the paper was known to other powers: but he was perfectly ready to admit, that the official publication of the document rendered the answer more necessary than ever. He, however, begged leave to remind the noble earl that there was not one word respecting the general doctrines contained in the answer, or respecting Naples, that had not been frequently repeated, in different papers, in the course of the last year. What had taken place some months ago, with reference to the revolution in Spain? A noble baron (lord Holland) had asked him a question respecting a document published at St. Petersburgh, in which mention was made of the Spanish revolution. On that occasion he had not only disclaimed the doctrines contained in that paper, but had distinctly stated to the House that the government of this country had clearly explained itself on the subject; and he had further stated, that the production and publication of the papers alluded to, would rather tend to prejudice than to benefit the cause which the noble baron wished to assist. The paper published by this government did not contain any new doctrine, but merely set forth the doctrines which Great Britain had held from the beginning; and, with respect to Naples, referred to those great general principles which had been repeatedly promulgated. The doctrines published on the 19th of January had been held on all occasions, from the treaty of Paris, with reference to the revolution in Spain, and in like manner with respect to the revolution at Naples. Indeed, 762 those doctrines had been maintained on every occasion when this government was called on to state its sentiments. Therefore, whether those sentiments were right or wrong, it could not be fairly asserted that they were first sent forth on the 19th of January. They were published when the nature and circumstances of the case required it; and he had the evidence of the paper itself to show, that it was known to the allies; and, indeed, that it was known to all Europe. He had no difficulty in saying, that some reasons might exist for publishing those sentiments now, which did not exist on former occasions. In the first place, circumstances had assumed an entirely new shape; for some of the continental powers wished the right of one interfering in the internal concerns of another to be generally acknowledged; and the paper published by those powers actually went to propose a prospective league, with a view of deciding what were the cases in which different countries might interfere in the internal concerns of other states. They did not look to the modification of the general principle, more or less, but they endeavoured to give practical effect to those principles, looking to the necessity of any given communication.
Having said thus much on the different papers, the noble earl alluded to what he called—"the Holy Alliance." He knew not for what particular purpose the noble earl had made that allusion, as it was an alliance to which this country was not a party. Whatever objection the people of other countries might have to that alliance, to us at least its existence was harmless. The noble earl seemed to think that it was connected with this government in some secret manner. He could assure the noble earl that his apprehensions were unfounded. There was no mystery, difficulty or doubt about the conduct of the English government. No arrangement had been made with any foreign power, except those which had been regularly laid before parliament. There never had been any arrangement with this country respecting the operations of foreign powers, growing out of the treaty of Paris, or out of any other treaty, that had not been laid on their table, and of which noble lords opposite had not full and perfect cognizance. With respect to the note which had been addressed to our ministers abroad, it consisted of two parts—the one referred to 763 general principles, as to the interference or non-interference of countries in the internal affairs of other countries; the other, the application of those principles to the present situation of Europe. If he comprehended the speech of the noble earl, he did not understand him to make any objection to the opinions contained in the first part of the note. He did not understand the noble earl, to deny either the principle laid down or the qualification attached to it. There seemed to be no difference of opinion between him and the noble earl, on the great general principle, that it required a strong and special case to justify the interference of one country in the internal affairs of another, or that such strong special case could not by possibility exist. Practically he knew how difficult it was to apply those general principles; and many objections might be urged against them. The right, however, of interference growing out of special circumstances, must rather be considered as an exception to a general rule, than any part of that general rule itself. But there was one mode of judging, which came as near to the general principle as could be—namely, in what consisted the right of a country to make war at all, under any circumstances? It was its own security which imparted that right. It was to support that right that the great refinement of the balance of power was intended, because it appeared to be necessary for the purposes of self-defence. He contended as strongly as the noble earl, or any other person, that the only ground which could justify the interference of one state in the affairs of another, was a strong special case, founded on the principles of self-defence and necessary security. A state could not say "We will attack another state, because the conduct of the people affords a bad example." The right of interference must rest on a more clear, decisive, and intelligible object; because, if a dread of example could give to one country a right to interfere with another, a vicious and depraved state might assume the right of attacking a virtuous community, whose good example was disapproved of by the former.
What, then, did the noble earl object to in this paper? since it was manifest from it that the government had not interfered, and did not mean to interfere, with respect to the internal affairs of the country in question. But, having got rid 764 of the noble earl's argument, founded on the time when the paper was produced, his objection came to this—that ministers in giving their opinion, and in stating that they disapproved of the mode and circumstances under which the revolution at Naples was effected, did that which they had no right to do. He had no difficulty in stating, that he was friendly to that expression of opinion. If the noble earl would look to the ground of the revolution of Naples, he would see a variety of circumstances which made it not only proper but indispensably necessary that government should publish its disapproval of those proceedings. In the first place, that revolution was effected by a military mutiny; and, in the next, the Spanish constitution was adopted under the most extraordinary circumstances. He admitted, that neither of these circumstances, would afford just ground for an interference in the affairs of another country, since it was allowed that every state had a right to conduct its own affairs as it pleased, provided its transactions did not affect the tranquillity of other states. But still, if the military mutiny, or the adoption of the Spanish constitution, under such circumstances, appeared to be objectionable, he maintained that he had a right to express that opinion, while he, at the same time, stated that those two transactions did not afford a just ground for interference.
And here he would shortly apply himself to the view which the noble earl appeared to take of both these points. He said, "You must expect in great national convulsions that the military will take one side or the other, and it would be a most lamentable thing if they took part with despotic power" and he alluded to what took place in our own country, when the army at Hounslow mutinied against king James. That, however, was a case in which a revolution was effected by those who looked towards a competent constitutional authority for the redress of their wrongs, and he could not conceive any two cases to present more striking points of difference. The case of Naples was not that of a people demanding a redress of grievances, receiving a refusal, and the military standing up in order to assist them in procuring that redress. Such, however, was the case in 1688, and with respect to other revolutions that had been effected in this country. At Naples the revolution was the effect of a military 765 mutiny, carried on in secret by a sect whom he would presently notice, no statement of grievances having been previously made. It was the act of a military mutiny in the first instance by which the whole business had been brought about. He stated this, not as a ground for interfering with Naples, but as forming a very great distinction from the case to which the noble earl had referred. There was, however, another question which, he likewise admitted, afforded no practical justification, for interfering with the affairs of Naples. He meant the mode in which the revolution was conducted. If he looked to the constitution of this country, as it had grown up, nothing could be more distinctly observable than the manner in which their ancestors had proceeded. In the struggle for Magna Charta, in the Revolution of 1610, and in that of 1688, the distinct ground taken was a declaration of specific grievances to which practical remedies were to be applied, founded either on ancient rights, or on existing propositions. But this was very different from the course pursued in Naples where the revolution was effected without any declaration whatsoever, and a foreign constitution was adopted, of which those who thought fit to select it knew nothing. He had heard, though he did not vouch for the truth of the story, that when a copy of the constitution was called for, not one could be found in Naples. This blind and headstrong mode of proceeding, though not sufficient to call for interference, could not be considered without exciting feelings of strong reprobation. But there were grounds on which he meant to contend that foreign countries were justified in interfering with the internal affairs of other states. He was not standing up to justify the conduct of the allies in that respect. It was sufficient for him to say, that he saw no cause for the interference of this country. There was one ground for the interference of the allies which he was surprised the noble earl had overlooked. He alluded to the conduct of the revolutionary government of Naples towards Sicily. Nothing had occurred more outrageous or revolting, during the last five and twenty years, than the proceedings of these Neapolitans, with the word "liberty" in their mouths, to their Sicilian fellow-subjects. Every one who heard him was aware that Sicily was a distinct kingdom, though go- 766 verned by the same king. The Sicilians had distinct rights, privileges, and laws. In short, Sicily possessed a distinct constitution of its own. Such was the situa-of Sicily; and could any man pretend to say, that if a large army at Naples chose to effect a revolution there, and chose also to adopt a Spanish constitution, the people of Sicily were to have no share in the modification of that constitution? What really took place on the occasion? When the event of the revolution at Naples was known, the strongest sentiments that could be conceived was manifested in Sicily against the new constitution. He knew that a strong feeling was also said to have been displayed against the royal family. This, however, he denied: no feeling but that of the most devoted loyalty was manifested towards them. What did the government of Naples do? They sent a large military force to Sicily to overawe public opinion, and to compel the Sicilians to submit. When that military force arrived at Palermo, they found the difficulties of the expedition greater than they had been led to suppose, and they were induced to enter into a capitulation with the inhabitants of Palermo, and the power stationed in that city—a capitulation as reasonable, as fair, as just, and as equitable, as ever was concluded. It was signed and completely executed. It stipulated that the two states should compose one kingdom. They were to have the same sovereign, but it was left to the Sicilians to decide whether they would have a distinct and separate parliament, or whether their parliament was to be incorporated with that of Naples. This being signed, and definitively agreed on, was sent to the revolutionary government of Naples; but that revolutionary government refused to ratify it: they broke the solemn agreement which their own officer had entered into. Now, if the people of Naples had a right to form this new constitution for themselves (and he was one who did not dispute that right), had not the people of Sicily, he would ask, an equal right to refuse to accept of that constitution, and to insist on the power of acting for themselves, as the Neapolitans had done? But the noble earl passed by all this. He touched on nothing but what he denominated the conduct of despots. The noble earl and his friends never complained of the conduct of usurpers; they never complained of the acts perpetrated by 767 new dynasties—on these they looked with forbearance and tolerance—they only complained when the actions of legitimate monarchs were brought under consideration. The case which he had just stated was a case in point; and if this government, with the fact of Sicily before their eyes, had not stated their disapproval of such conduct, they would have neglected a solemn duty. He knew perfectly well that there was in Sicily, a great spirit of dissatisfaction at the conduct which had been pursued in Naples, and that an absolute refusal had been given to send any person to the parliament there. This was an internal circumstance which must, in a considerable degree, have guided the views of those who were called on to speak their sentiments with respect to this revolution.
He now came to another point, which was intimately connected with the proceedings at Naples. Probably there never was a revolution of this kind that did not originate in privacy and darkness. That he would admit to the noble earl. But he would ask, were the Carbonari a sect of Neapolitans, and of Neapolitans only? For Neapolitan purposes, he would say it was not right to interfere with them; because, whatever their principle might be, he would consider it as a question between them and their government, and with which we had nothing to do. But was this the fact? Were the Carbonari a Neapolitan sect only? Were they all even Italians Was it not known that this sect extended not only to every part of Italy, but to Switzerland and Germany? Were not their principles similar to those which had been set in motion to overturn that which was called a legitimate government? Were not their principles practically and theoretically the same with those which were known at the period of the French revolution? The case, therefore, was entirely altered with respect to those people, (on the principle admitted, of the declaration of the 19th of July, 1792,) if they were found to be a sect having extensive connexions in other countries. The case then became an entirely new one. It was no longer a Neapolitan question, but went far beyond it. The distinction he drew was this—that there was a complete difference between a sect having for its object the new modelling of a government on constitutional principles, and one which extended into other countries, 768 for the purpose, generally, of overturning existing governments. In the latter case it was no longer a national question, but one of a very distinct character. He, however, had not given any opinion—neither had his majesty's government—whether the conduct of the sect of Carbonari did, under all the circumstances, justify the interference of the emperor of Austria. He was not prepared to give an opinion that it did; but he certainly could not say that it did not: because the inference must depend on the nature of the circumstances taken together. It was possible that there might be a state of things not only to justify, but to render it imperative on a monarch, for the preservation of his authority, and for the good of his subjects, to interpose. When, however, it came to that point, it was a question not referable merely to Naples, but was one of a very extensive nature.
The noble earl had referred to the interruption of the diplomatic arrangements between this country and Naples. But, in point of fact, those arrangements were not dissolved. Sir W. A'Court was at present ambassador at the court of Naples for the court of Great Britain, while count de Ludolph was the minister here on the part of Naples: and, on a variety of occasions, communications had taken place between the two courts. He had indeed stated, on a former night, that, under existing circumstances, no new powers or authorities would be granted. But he, at the same time specially and particularly pointed out the reason; namely, the situation in which Naples stood with respect to Sicily;—a circumstance which was conclusive on the subject, because this country could not have given those new powers, without at once deciding against the Sicilians altogether. With regard, however, to the diplomatic authorities existing, no alteration had been made, and no interruption of the ordinary intercourse had taken place—The noble earl had asked whether the government of this country was a party to the circumstance of the king of Naples having gone on board a British man-of-war. He would answer, that the British government were no party to the proceeding in any other way, except that in which he would have been ashamed if they had not been a party. When that monarch, by the advice of those who surrounded him, determined to go on board, it was the duty of the British government 769 to grant him those accommodations which he particularly requested. That monarch had now reigned upwards of sixty years, and on all occasions he had been the friend and ally of this country. His personal character was also highly estimable; and it would have been unbecoming the government of this country if that monarch and his family had not been readily afforded every degree of accommodation.
With respect to the revolution at Naples, he would not now attempt to discuss the question whether it was justifiable or not; but he could not consider any two cases more different from each other than the first revolution in Spain and that which had occurred at Naples. In the case of Spain, their king was withdrawn from them by one of the most treacherous acts recorded in history. Being thus thrown upon themselves, they took up arms against their oppressors, drove them from their capital, and at last, from the necessity of the case, formed a government for themselves. That government, in the opinion of his noble friend behind him (the duke of Wellington), who was then in Spain, and also in the opinion of many other enlightened political characters, was unwise and impolitic, and was repeatedly modified for the purpose of giving additional strength to the executive part of it. Unfortunately, they failed in attaining that desirable object; and to their failure in that respect might be attributed all their subsequent misfortunes. But whether that government was good or bad was a matter of little importance, as, under existing circumstances, it was the legitimate authority of the country: it was by that government, seconded by the voice of the Spanish people, and supported by the valour of a British army, that the deliverance of Spain, which led to the general deliverance of Europe, was ultimately effected. It would be satisfactory to our ambassador at that court to have it known, that when he met king Ferdinand at Valencia, on his road to Madrid, he advised him to adopt it, and to act constitutionally. The monarch, however, when he reached his capital, was induced to adopt another course; but he adopted it in such a manner as was satisfactory to the great bulk of the nation, by issuing a proclamation for the immediate assembling of the Cortes. He afterwards prevented that body from assembling; and out of that event arose the late revolution in that 770 country. The circumstances of it were, however, very different from those of the revolution in Naples, and chiefly in this point of view—that it was not the work of any particular sect, but was, in its main character and objects, a transaction purely national. Such being its description, what grounds could there be for the interference of any foreign power with the government of Spain? On all occasions when such interference was contemplated, there were two great questions to be solved; first, the moral question, was there cause to justify such interference and then, supposing there to be a cause, was there power to make such interference effectual? On neither of these points was he called upon to give any opinion in the present case: he felt that there had been no ground either for the interference or for the aid or assistance of this country; although it was impossible not to reprobate the conduct, so hostile to the welfare and happiness of mankind, which had been pursued by the revolutionary government of Naples towards Sicily. The noble earl, among other questions, had asked how the king of Naples had come into the possession of his dominions? He would inform the noble earl. The king of Naples had come into the possession of them by the invasion of an Austrian army, who had driven out of them Joachim Murat, who had usurped authority over them. On Murat's being expelled from that country, Ferdinand was replaced on the throne of it by an Austrian army; and one of the stipulations made in the treaty by which he was so replaced was, that the Austrian government should, for a certain period, garrison all its fortresses. And here it was but common justice to that much calumniated government, the government of Austria, to observe, that it had shown the utmost readiness to withdraw its forces even before the period stipulated in the treaty had arrived. The noble earl had spoken a great deal about a secret article inserted in the treaty of peace between Austria and Naples. Though that article had never been officially communicated to the English government, he could assure the noble earl, that Austria had never built upon it as a strong part of her case against Naples. That secret article was not, however, one of a novel description; it was in perfect consonance with the spirit of ancient treaties, as well of those made under the auspices of Whig ad- 771 ministrations, as of those approved of by Whig oppositions. The noble earl must be well aware that he alluded to those by which this government guaranteed the power of the Stadtholder—treaties which were founded upon the clearest principles of international law, and which had formed part of it from the very beginning of time. The noble earl had also alluded in general terms to a proclamation issued by the king of Naples to his subjects in 2815. Would the noble earl believe him when he stated, that he had not seen that proclamation till very lately, and that, from what he had seen of it, he was fully convinced that it was not a genuine document?
Such were the observations that he had thought it requisite to make upon the speech of the noble earl; and as the House had now the whole case before them, he would leave them to judge whether any interference in the affairs of Naples would have been justifiable on the part of this country. If they should be of opinion that the British government ought to have interfered, then they would agree, either entirely or in part, to the motion of the noble earl; if they should be of a contrary opinion, he thought that he had shown sufficient cause why the papers which the noble earl had moved for, should not be granted. He had assured their lordships that there had been no interference on the part of the British government in the affairs of Naples. He had described to them the feeling with which ministers had received the intelligence both of the Neapolitan and of the Spanish revolution. He had pointed out to them the manner in which the former event differed from the latter; and he trusted that he had shown that it did not require us to take any hostile part either in one way or the other. We had not yet taken any hostile steps, and he was happy to inform their lordships that it was not intended to take any hostile steps. With these observations he should leave the question with their lordships, and should sit down with a determination to oppose the present motion.
remarked, that, if the noble earl had proved that the conduct of his majesty's government had been in all respects justifiable, and that they had maintained a perfect neutrality towards Naples, he should still, and on narrower grounds, vote in favour of his noble Friend's motion. That motion was for in- 772 formation on the subject. Before he alluded to the various topics connected with this interesting question; and before he stated the more forcible reasons by which he was stimulated, he would observe, that ample ground existed for the adoption of his noble friend's motion in the present imperfect state of information as to the precise character of the recent proceedings. The noble earl had contended, that a vote for further information would imply a necessity for parliamentary investigation, and the existence of a prima facie case against his majesty's ministers: I that might be true if the present were the first motion for information on the subject: but that was not the case; there was already a paper on the table, and all that his noble friend contended for was, that the information in that paper was insufficient to enable their lordships to judge of the case, and therefore that additional information ought to be furnished. As his noble friend had stated, the best part of the paper on their lordships' table, the part which was expressed in a less confused and indistinct manner than any other, was the passage in which the British government protested against being concluded or bound by any treaty, either to accede to the proposed league of sovereigns, or to co-operate in the projected aggression on Naples. But was that sufficient? He was not going to be the apologist of foreign courts. God forbid that he should be guilty of what he should consider the greatest shame and disgrace that could possibly befal him! But this he would say, that, as far as appeared from the paper on the table, those foreign courts had the better of the case with our government; for they contended that there were treaties by which we were bound to co-operate with them; and our reply was, not a denial of that fact, but a reference to other documents, to other communications, to other discussions, not before the public or that House. To make the explanation complete, all the information which related to that reference ought to be produced. All that he had yet said, however, referred to points of comparatively minor importance. He confessed, that considering the complexion of the paper on the table, and the speech which had just been made by the noble earl, combined with the proceedings at Naples, he had little hesitation in saying, that there was great ground for the suspicion 773 entertained by his noble friend of partiality on the part of the British government, if not of connivance in the proceedings of the allied powers against Naples. The noble earl had commenced his speech by observing, that his noble friend had laid great stress on the date of the circular of the British government, and had intimated a strong suspicion that it was merely intended for parliament. Certainly, it had that appearance. That circular was dated the 19th of January, and it professed to answer the declaration of the three courts of Austria, Russia, and Prussia. In the first place, the sentiments contained in the latter were not then for the first time expressed and acted upon by those three powers. The noble earl, however, had talked of previous discussions and representations. It was somewhat strange that all those previous discussions and representations had had so little effect in altering the views of the powers in question, that at so late a period as the 19th of January, the British government should find it necessary to make a public declaration of their sentiments, at a period when a knowledge of the opinion of England could no longer have a favourable operation on the great cause at stake. The last time he had adverted to the conduct of Austria, he had ventured to suggest to his majesty's ministers a passage which he thought they might very advantageously borrow from "Tom Thumb." In their conduct towards Naples, they seemed to him to have had in view a similar production. In the second act of "The Critic," at the commencement of the tragedy, Sir Christopher Hatton says to Sir Walter Raleigh—There is a question which I yet must ask,A question which I never asked before—What mean these mighty armaments;This general muster? and this throng of chiefs?On which Sneer very pertinently asks Puff: "Pray Mr. Puff, how came Sir Christopher Hatton never to ask that question before?" What is the answer of the author? "What, before the play began? how the plague could he? Sir Christopher proceeds to tell sir Walter a great many circumstances, of every one of which the latter seems already apprised, which draws from Sneer the observation—"Mr. Puff, as he knows all this, why does Sir Walter go on telling him?" Puff replies— 774 "But the audience are not supposed to know any thing of the matter; are they?" So it was with his majesty's ministers. They told their lordships that they had long been talking to the continental powers on the subject; but all this had had been kept secret from Naples and from the British parliament; both which were in the situation of the audience in "The Critic?" and having kept it back until the communication could be no longer serviceable to the Neapolitan cause, the British government then openly put to the allied sovereigns sir Christopher Hatton's question to sir Walter Raleigh:—What mean these mighty armaments?This general muster? and this throng of chiefs?The circular dispatch of his majesty's government contained the following passage:—"With respect to the particular case of Naples, the British government, at the very earliest moment, did not hesitate to express their strong disapprobation of the mode and circumstances, under which that revolution was understood to have been effected." On that passage the noble earl said, that his majesty's government were at perfect liberty, and indeed were bound to express their disapprobation of the mode and circumstances under which the Neapolitan revolution was understood to have been effected. Yes. But if they had been lovers of peace and friends of neutrality, to whom would they have expressed that disapprobation? Would they not have expressed it to the persons by whom the acts which they disapproved had been committed? Would they not, as in his opinion had been done with great wisdom in Spain, have recommended those persons to modify their proceedings? But no; instead of that, his majesty's government go to the individuals who are anxiously seeking for a pretext and an apology for an aggression on Naples, and say to them "We are highly displeased with the mode and circumstances of the Neapolitan revolution." They refuse to receive any explanation of their "understanding" from Naples. But although they refuse that, still, in order to evince their impartiality, they run with breathless haste to the neighbouring states most likely and most desirous to take offence, to tell them how highly they are offended. And that the noble lord called acting with impartiality! He 775 would put a case to their lordships to fellow more distinctly the nature of this impartiality. Suppose (said his lordship), that I have two friends—one a little weak timid man, and the other a great raw-boned blustering fellow. Suppose also, that the little fellow by some means or other offends the great one. Well I go to my great tall strapping friend and say to him—"That's a Strange meddling little fellow; I don't like him—I totally disapprove of his conduct." I leave his house and go to my own. I order my porter never to admit the little fellow, and, though I pass by his house every day, I never call upon him, so that give him no opportunity of entering into explanation with me about his conduct. I then say to myself—"How impartial I am!" and am quite vexed if any body doubts it. In a few days afterwards I walk along the streets, and see the huge fellow trampling the little fellow under his feet, and belabouring his sides most unmercifully; I pass on and don't interfere, except to make a speech, and to tell all my acquaintance that my little friend has behaved very ill, and that I don't approve his conduct. Should I after that be entitled to the character of an impartial man?—After contrasting the impartiality of a man acting in this manner, with the alleged impartiality of the British government towards the people of Naples, lord Holland proceeded to ask why the secretary for foreign affairs had, in the circular to which his name was affixed, entered into discussion with the emperor of Austria? That grave emperor, it was well known, hated discussion; he had lately told the world so. But he likewise hated learning and learned men. The circular, therefore, notwithstanding its other faults, might please the imperial palate; for certainly it was better calculated than any document which had ever preceded it to captivate an individual who was not to be captivated by beauty of style or clearness of composition. What occasion, however, was there for him to interfere at all, and to state his disapprobation of such and such principles of action unless they were in pursuit of some common object? What that object was, it was: not for him at present to declare, and he should therefore leave the circular for a while and advert to what had fallen from the noble earl opposite. The noble earl had said, that though there might be 776 cases in which he should not disapprove of an army taking a part in the accomplishment of a revolution, he could never approve of one which originated with, and was entirely effected by, a military body. He would not enter into a discussion of that principle at present, but would content himself with saying, that he hoped the recent events in Spain, Portugal, and Naples, where such glorious deeds had been achieved by the soldiery, would act as a warning to the great despots of the earth, or if they did not act as a warning to them, would act as an example to their subjects—teaching the former that it is better to rest their force upon the affections of their people than upon the bayonets of their soldiers; and the latter, that the power of tyranny, however formidable in the outset, cannot long resist the united attacks of liberty and knowledge. In making this declaration, he was indulging a feeling that was common to all who had the love of liberty at heart, though the noble earl had the boldness to assert that it had never been the feeling of the people of England. The noble earl had alluded to Magna Charta; the means by which that was established did not add any strength to his arguments; he might talk indeed of statements of grievances, but he would tell him that king John might have said, like king Ferdinand, and many other monarchs who had sworn to constitutions, that he was forced to perform the act against his will, and therefore the oath was not obligatory; but, though king John might offer that plea, the nation decreed that the oath should stand, and I Magna Charta become the unalterable; law of the realm. So that the argument of the noble earl on that point was particularly unfortunate. The noble earl had then turned away to the affairs of Sicily, and really a more extraordinary I speech than that which he had made upon I them he had never heard. The noble earl had stated that there was—no, that I there might be—a cause to justify what had occurred there. Allowing the facts: to be as the noble earl had described them—and he would not then stop to examine whether they were so or not—it was a great imputation on the government of Naples. But, considering the doubts which at present hung over the subject, surely it was not too much to ask for further information with regard to Sicily. The proclamation issued, or at least the 777 copies of a proclamation issued, under British authority, and addressed to the Sicilian people, might or might not be a spurious production, but it had been widely circulated, and in general belief it was an authentic document. What, in fact, was the situation of the present king of Naples at the period of his restoration? It was that of a prince of the house of Bourbon coming with a defined and written constitution in his hand, and taking occupation of his throne upon the clear promise and understood pledge, that he would adhere to that constitution. What induced the people of Naples again to accept him? Why, it was, in the first place, that their former prince swore to maintain the constitution which was offered to him. To that he gave his solemn sanction; it was from that sanction that he derived an advantage; it was in concert with the British government that he so lent his sanction! Why had the British government since adopted a different course? Upon what imaginable views was it that its foreign policy was thus changed? What had occurred to induce the noble earl to disappoint the people of Naples of those blessings that belong to a constitutional government, and to an accountable administration of public affairs, which that noble earl had so largely promised (and he had partially performed his promise) to the islanders of Sicily? He must also state, that the noble earl's allusion to what had passed in Sicily, to those transactions in which he had borne so conspicuous a share, were (he regretted to be obliged to make the observation) not merely unsatisfactory, but strange as proceeding from the mouth of an Englishman. The noble earl had talked of an armistice, and of a reasonable capitulation; but he would ask the noble earl whether he found any similarity between the circumstances on which he founded his judgment in this instance, and those under which the British government had made itself instrumental in restoring Louis 18th? Without travelling, however, into that question, he would say decidedly, that there was ground of suspicion, and that, judging from the first aspect of affairs, it was just and natural to conclude that the government of this country had, if not co-operated with, connived at the present unwarrantable attack upon the independence of the Neapolitan people.—The noble earl had adverted to the principles and influence 778 of the sect called Carbonari in Italy; and of that sect, or of its influence and numbers, he himself did not profess to know a great deal. But the noble earl went on to infer the existence of many secret societies whose object might be inconsistent with the established order of the political system in Europe. He knew not what the principles of this sect were, and in this state of ignorance he could not either approve or condemn them; but it was manifest that, before active hostilities, it was incumbent on the allied powers to use or to try the means of remonstrance and persuasion. These means had not been used; and whatever incidental circumstances might belong to the change that had taken place, the powers now arrayed against Naples were evident violators of public law. The noble earl had, however, introduced the late example of Spain; and with regard to that subject he should only say, that he had received a different account of the circumstances relative to that event. The cause of the Spanish revolution was not, he had reason to believe, exactly what the noble earl had described it to have been. But, could the noble earl derive light from no other sources? Had he heard of no other revolutions? Did history contain no mention of secret societies in other nations and of secret societies producing ultimately great and glorious advantages to the country in which they existed? According to the noble earl, the change or revolution in the Neapolitan government was brought about by the Carbonari, or a sect which had no known or distinct character. Had noble lords forgotten, then, that the Protestant religion was first disseminated by means of secret societies? How was it that all human improvement sprung up? The establishment of the Protestant faith, the authority given to the doctrines of our national church, all had their origin in those secret and confidential associations, the very name of which appeared to fill the noble earl with so much horror. Such societies had existed in every free country; and why should they form the subject of so grievous a complaint against Naples? Was there, indeed, a man in England so dead to a sense of liberty, so blind to every substantial interest of his country, as not to see that the principles of the new constitution of Naples were intrinsically similar to our own? That they were 779 open to animadversion he did not deny: they were new, and had no sanction from; experience but they still contained the valuable gem, they still promised to ripen and flourish into unalloyed utility. Such as it was, the constitution already appeared to be more congenial to the habits, character, and wishes of the people than any form of government to which they had previously been subjected. It was a constitution already productive of infinitely greater advantages than could perhaps have been rationally anticipated. True it might be, as the noble earl had asserted, that the authors of the Neapolitan revolution were not persons of great political knowledge; that they were not deep philosophers in matters of state. He would here remind the noble earl, however, of arguments used by that noble earl himself, on a former occasion, and used with prevailing force, in his description of the changes which had taken place in the Peninsula. There was the instance of a people of the same religion, and possessing similar characteristics with the people of Naples. If the Neapolitan constitution was bad, so was the Spanish constitution, in its progress and at its commencement. We interfered, however, upon different principles from those on which we had before interfered with the revolutionary government of France. We interfered upon grounds of national independence and public freedom; and we proclaimed aloud against the usurpation of Buonaparte the sound and legitimate principle on which every government ought to rest. It was not to be borne that the people of Europe, who had been induced to make efforts so great, and to tolerate privations so extraordinary, in order to re-establish a pacific system, should submit to the dictates of a tyrannical confederacy. If the freedom of political constitutions was to be objected to, surely the objections came but ungracefully from the reigning emperor of Russia, from a prince who ascended a throne still reeking with the blood of his father. [Hear, hear.] A prince on whom the crown of his dominions had devolved by an act of assassination was not to be regarded as an oracle of morality; nor unless men were utterly degraded and brutalized, would they consent to take their notions of public morality from such a quarter? Yet we found that the league against Naples was justified by references to the interests of mo- 780 rality and of religion. The emperor of Russia, that member of the holy league—
§ The Earl of Harrowby
said, he felt himself under the necessity of speaking to order. The language used by the noble baron in allusion to a foreign potentate, with whom this country was now maintaining relations of amity, appeared to him to be both unparliamentary and indecorous. Even during a period of war it would be improper so to speak of any sovereign with whom we might be engaged in hostilities; but thus to characterize the head of a friendly government was an obvious departure from the orders of that House, and the decency of its proceedings.
resumed.—He admitted that it would be a gross indecency in any member of that House to allude distinctly to any subject of royal guilt, without sufficient knowledge of the actual circumstances attending it. But, where the object was, to keep down the public voice, to stifle the expression of popular feeling, it would indeed be a bad omen of what was to take place hereafter, a sad specimen of what was likely to result from the combination of great powers, if a peer of parliament was to be restrained in his allusions to the conduct and character of foreign potentates. If the British government I should ever be permitted by direct aid, or by connivance, to crush the liberties I of an independent state, then, no doubt, I it would become an order of the House that no such allusions should be made. As the liberty and privileges of parliament however still remained, he would renew his statement, that the present emperor of Russia owed his crown to the murder of his father, or in other words that the crown devolved upon him in consequence of that murder. It brought to his recollection also, that since the time of the czar Peter 1st, no sovereign had ascended the throne of Russia altogether unstained with the blood of his immediate predecessor, or some member of his own family. It was not therefore from this quarter, as he had already said, that Europe ought to receive lessons of morality. Even though it should be contrary to the orders of the House, it might perhaps be excusable, because it was natural in an Englishman to express indignation at occurences of this kind. But these 781 were not all the grounds of suspicion that existed with regard to the policy adopted by his majesty's ministers towards Naples. He recollected that similar complaints as to the existence of secret societies formed one of the chief pretexts for that bloody, expensive, and calamitous war, the effects of which we were now experiencing. Naples certainly was not so important a power in the European system as France, and some persons might imagine that an outrage on its independence was therefore comparatively unimportant. But the invasion of Naples originated in the same spirit; it was the offspring of the same policy, which led to the combination against France. It was, if he might so speak, a cub of the same litter; it bore about it all the marks of its lineage and extraction:Sic canibus catulos similes; sic matribus hædos.Let what might take place under such circumstances, the British people would, thank God, still express their sentiments; nor would their attention be withdrawn or confused by any of the productions of the Foreign department. The noble earl had distinctly stated, that it never was in the contemplation of his majesty's government to go to war with Naples; and, for his own part, he felt perfectly fissured that such was not their intention. The best illustration of their views was undoubtedly to be drawn from their recorded statements and doctrines; but he was willing to give implicit credit to this declaration of the noble earl. What their lordships had to consider at present was, the question, whether the British government had openly avowed to the world, or clearly intimated to the king of Naples, the principles on which it was determined to act? Had the British government or had it not, made known to Europe in time for any useful or practical purpose, that it would lend no countenance or sanction to the enterprise of the Northern powers? Might not an earlier declaration of the views of England have had some influence with other states? That it was a supposed countenance on our part which encouraged the confederacy, was, he thought as evident as it could be made in the jargon or unintelligible stuff that had issued from the Foreign office on this subject. The more he attempted to analyse those documents, the more rigid and chymical the means by which he carried on that 782 analysis, the stronger was his conviction that the British government had acted in a way which favoured the aggression upon Naples. The confederated kings alluded to their subsisting alliance with this country, in proclamations which boasted of their moral and physical strength, but which indicated that their reliance was upon the last alone.—The noble earl had rested the defence of his government on principles of foreign policy, very unlike those on which he had formerly called upon parliament to approve and to continue the war in Spain. On that occasion the noble earl had most truly stated the nature and limits of those causes that might rightfully lead to foreign interference with the domestic concerns of an independent people. The noble earl had then clearly shown how far ft might become the interest of this country to enter deeply into those concerns. But, whatever might now be said by the noble earl or his colleagues, he feared that it was too late to apply a remedy. The die was cast, and, far as it was from his intention to undervalue the force of a British army, he must still say, that the rear strength of England lay in its influence and authority—in its money and its character. This had been the case since the reign of Henry 8th and yet more emphatically since the reign of Elizabeth. It was then that the genius and spirit of modern civilization were most advantageously displayed, and that principles were established which might serve as landmarks for succeeding ages. Queen Elizabeth, with a sagacity that seemed constitutional in her, and which, with various blemishes and defects of character, still made her the greatest woman that ever mingled with political affairs, acquired a mighty influence on the continent without any trespass on national independence. She became the rallying point of the Protestant religion in Europe; and to her wise and magnanimous policy was it indebted for its early protection and support. Without dwelling on the faults of a succeeding race of princes, he should say, that many public misfortunes had arisen out of their departure from the same course. Upon prudential motives, as well as on grounds of public right and of general policy, he would call upon the noble earl to consider the probable effects of that course in which he was engaged, as regarded Naples. He had1 often heard him, in the instance of Spain, 783 insist on the energy belonging to popular sentiment, and on the force which always accompanied the efforts of a free people. He had heard the noble earl maintain, not only that the war was popular in Spain, but that its success was owing to its popularity. This was an argument and a most powerful one for repelling the atrocious usurpation of Buonaparté. That usurpation was one of the most unjustifiable aggressions ever committed; it had been deservedly condemned; and most readily did he join in the verdict of condemnation, passed as it was upon one whom he must still regard as a great man and to whom in his adversity he was the more willing to pay the tribute due to his talents and virtues. But the noble earl himself had said, that from the period of the occupation of Spain, the French power began to lose its stability. In this opinion he fully agreed with the noble earl. By the violent usurpation of the Spanish throne the ruler of France destroyed himself—eo ictu sese confecit—from that moment general opinion became arrayed against the French government, and that general opinion was the cause of the ultimate success of the allied armies. But if general opinion had such an effect during war, did the noble earl think that it ought to have no effect during peace? The noble earl was too much of a statesman not to know that wars must again occur. When a war occurred we could place no dependence but on the justice of our conduct, our magnanimity, and our fairness of proceeding towards the rest of Europe. We had had an opportunity, by a seasonable and strong remonstrance, to place ourselves at the head of the popular opinion. The Carbonari, who were now regarded as so dangerous, had taken their origin in secret societies in Germany, instituted for the double purpose of shaking off the yoke of France, and the Powers allied with France, and of establishing freedom on a better foundation than before. They had been encouraged for that purpose in almost every part of Europe; and he believed they had been encouraged for that purpose in Italy. Every state in Europe, while thus strugling against France, promised a free constitution to its people. He must do Austria the justice to say, that she had violated no promise of this kind, for she had given no promise of liberty to her subjects. But, with the exception of 784 Austria, all the states of Europe, even Russia, had promised free constitutions* to their subjects, and all violated their promises. The people of Spain, whose liberties grew and prospered under our eye, were violently deprived of the freedom for which they had fought. He had been told by the noble earl that the liberties of Spain had been subverted. He believed that our government had remonstrated; but we had taken care not to let the poor sufferers under oppression and tyranny imagine that we took too much interest in their situation and struggles. Constitutions had been promised, and those to whom they had been promised suspected that the English government afforded the great cause why the promised constitutions were not established; and certainly they were quoted-by those princes who refused to redeem their pledges as completely disapproving of them.—One word more and he should have done. It had been said that the example of Naples might be dangerous to neighbouring despotisms. Mere vicinity was, he believed, the ralio suasoria of the interference; whatever ratio justificatoria might be assumed or pretended. He would not give five years' purchase for the stability of a despotism in any territory near the place where freedom was fairly established. He agreed with the noble earl that there was danger, and he rejoiced exceedingly that there was danger to a despotic government, from the mere vicinity of freedom. But the mode of meeting the danger was, not by attacking the free government, but by improving their own. What more monstrous-proposition could be stated, than that, because our own government was bad, we must protect it by attacking a neighbouring good government; because our state was founded in rottenness, we must attack a neighbouring state whose foundation was pure; because our habitation was founded on stubble, we must prohibit a neighbour within the enclosure of a strong wall to light his pipe, for fear of our straw-built fabric! Was any thing so contrary to reason, to justice, to good feeling, ever stated among men? He was sure, and he wished the truth could be conveyed to the ears of the monarchs who were allied against national liberty; he was sure, whatever differences might exist on questions of policy and measures f state, there was not a man within the walls of that House who could lay his 785 hand on his heart and say that the motive of the Austrians was not this monstrous desire of preserving its own rottenness by destroying the purity of a neighbouring state. [Hear, hear.] If he had been disorderly, he could only say, that he felt indignant at the aggression and arrogance of bad governments against states that set a salutary example of political improvement; and that he entertained great suspicion of the spirit and policy of our own government on such a momentous occasion. He should give his hearty vote for the motion. If any man believed that our government had sincerely exerted all its power and influence to prevent any interference with Naples, he was justified in voting against the motion; but he entertained a strong suspicion that ministers had not had the desire, or the judgment, or the confidence, to act as they were bound to have acted, and that for that reason they durst not lay full information before the House. He concluded by expressing his ardent hope, that those who attempted to stop the tide of freedom and improvement, which had set in so strongly and so auspiciously, would themselves be overwhelmed in the torrent, and that the spirit which manifested so many auspicious indications of its soundness and strength, would fully accomplish its object, by renovating corrupted states, and establishing the liberty and security of nations.
observed, that if he could agree with the noble baron who last addressed them in the interpretation he had given of the circular of the British government—if he could believe that the neutrality they professed was a hollow and insincere neutrality—if he could suppose that they were inclined to uphold the one party y the sacrifice of the less powerful—he should be disposed to speak of such conduct in terms as indignant as those used by the noble baron. But, taking into his consideration the statements which had been made by the noble earl, and looking at what appeared to have been the conduct of the government, he could not avoid coming to a conclusion different from that come to by the noble baron; he could not but be of pinion, that the course that had been pursued was that which was most conformable to sound policy, under the present difficult circumstances of Europe. The noble baron had complained that ministers had expressed strong disappro-bation of the mode and circumstances by 786 which the revolution in Naples had been brought about. Now, he thought, not only that ministers were justified in expressing disapprobation of those circumstances, but that the expression of that disapprobation might produce beneficial consequences even to the parties against whose proceedings it was directed. He regretted that the noble earl who brought forward the motion, had that night given the great, and justly great authority of his name, in favour of a revolution brought about by the military. It was for the interest of mankind that such revolutions should be opposed; as they were more frequently effected for the purpose of destroying, than for that of establishing the liberties of the people. They ought therefore, to be discountenanced, as there was no security for the continuance of a state of things founded on the will of the soldiery; seeing that those that made a constitution one day, might destroy it on another, and that their feelings were generally different from those of the great body of their fellow subjects. It was therefore common, in the course of a short period, to find those who were considered the saviours of their country, regarded as its destroyers—to find the establishes of a constitution its subverters—and to find those who had commenced by limiting the kingly prerogative, engaged, after a time, in extending the powers of the sovereign, with a view to the accomplishment of some object of their own. These considerations led him to think that government had done no more than its duty in protesting against the proceedings in Naples. The revolution there had been brought about under circumstances which were not calculated to promote the happiness of the people. It was effected against a government, against which no charge had been brought for some years. He did not defend the principle of the old government; no man could be less disposed to do so than himself (for he had seen it in action); but, for years, all the regard that could be shown for a people, under a government so constituted, had been manifested. There were several features in the case which deserved particular observation. He would ask, if there was nothing extraordinary in the coincidence seen in the breaking out of the revolution, and the return was at that period of the heir apparent who is now placed at the head of the government. Looking at that 787 return, and what had since occurred, was it not fair to conclude that the object of the revolutionists was, to overthrow the sovereign, and place the next heir to the crown on the throne? Under such circumstances, he thought the protest of the English government likely to be productive of beneficial consequences to the government of Naples. It would tend to make them feel the necessity of adopting a moderate line of conduct towards foreign governments and towards persons who might be obnoxious to them; and, in fine, of acting so as to convince those who were dissatisfied with the means by which the revolution had been effected, that, however impure the source from which their power sprung, it was their determination not to use it unworthily. The noble earl had complained of the appearance of an English fleet in the Bay of Naples. When he considered the circumstances of the revolution, he thought the noble earl must feel that the presence of an English fleet was necessary for the protection of British interests. The noble lord who spoke last, complained of the British government not having expressed its disapprobation of the aggression of the allies. Now, in his opinion, that disapprobation was expressed in the circular of the secretary of state addressed to the allies. He went along with the noble mover, in expressing his abhorrence of the principle on which the allied sovereigns acted. He considered the successful progress of such a principle as destructive to liberty throughout the world. For what more detestable ground of policy could be supposed than this, that the happiness of the governed was as nothing when weighed against the interest, the pleasure, or the apprehensions of the party governing? He must repeat, that the circular of our government had disarmed that principle of half its power in the onset. What had been done precluded Austria from seeking its own aggrandizement in its war against Naples. If the march of the Austrian troops could be justified on any principle, it was this, that the government of Naples had fallen into the hands of a particular sect, whose success would be incompatible with the safety of all governments. The proceedings of the Austrians ought to be limited by the original necessity of the case. They ought only to require security, that the government of Naples should not belodged in the hands of that sect. Hav- 788 ing gained that object, their triumph ought to be regarded as complete. He was of opinion, that England had but one of two courses to pursue. The first was that of a silent neutrality—the other that of war. The intermediate line recommended by the noble baron, he was of opinion could not be adopted with advantage. The noble baron might compose a beautiful, moral lecture—he might produce a fine form of words, a perfect and elaborate composition; but this, however excellent, would be useless. If it were not written with the sword, it would produce no effect. No man regretted more than he did, the pressure of distress now experienced in this country—no man regretted more than he did, the advantages taken of those distresses—but when they were told that all these distresses sprung from the errors of governments, in which the people had no concern—when they were told that all their hopes must depend upon the continuance of peace—was it to be supposed that foreign powers were ignorant of these things, or ignorant of the temper of the people, or of the temper of parliament? These things must be known; and when it was seen that our force was diminished from motives of economy, it was not to be expected that we should possess all the influence which belonged to us while our army was entire, and not a shot in Europe could be fired without our permission. To him, then, it appeared, that unless the noble earl and the noble baron were prepared to propose that we should depart from the line which we had taken, which appeared to him to be that of strict neutrality, they ought not to wish it deviated from at all. To put forth a remonstrance, and not to enforce it by the sword, would be but to expose our impaired fortunes, and our broken spirit. It was his most anxious wish to avoid this, to place the parliament in harmony with the people, and to revive that mutual confidence which ought to subsist between the government and the governed, and which constituted the real strength of a nation. Without that it would be in vain to read a moral lecture to the governments of the continent, and the effect of doing so would only be, to lower the character of the country and expose its weakness to the world. He hoped the noble earl would, on reflection, be disposed to withdraw his motion.
thought the language of the circular any thing but satisfactory. 789 He complained of it, both for what it implied and what it expressed. The sacrifices made by this country to obtain the objects of the war, loaded as we were at its close with the fruits of war, ought to have procured for us a guarantee for the enjoyment of the blessings of peace. The disavowal of the principles put forth by the allies, which appeared in the circular, proved that sufficient care had not been taken in the negotiation to accomplish that object. The conduct of Austria was, in his opinion, such as would justify interference on the part of this country to induce her to refrain from pursuing her present line of policy.
§ Earl Grey
said, he entirely agreed with those who maintained that it was the object, as it was the policy, of this country to preserve a strict neutrality; but he did think that the noble earl opposite had not succeeded in making it appear that any thing like strict neutrality had been maintained. He was of opinion that no such disposition had been manifested by government in her communications with the two nations principally concerned. Had there, in truth, in any single transaction that could be named, been any thing like an equal measure preserved between those two countries? The noble earl declared, that not disputing but that the case of Naples might form an exception to that general conduct against which the allied powers were in declared hostility, all he would say was, that he would not prejudge the question; but, although the noble earl thus deprecated every thing like prejudication, his line of argument was most inconsistent with that declaration. He had promulgated a disclaimer of certain acts on the part of a foreign government, which had taken upon itself to express a disapprobation of the conduct pursued by the kingdom of Naples: and yet he now maintained, that that foreign state was justified in the manifestation of her disapprobation. As to that interference on the part of the allied sovereigns, it was one of the most flagrant acts of political injustice, one of the most enormous violations of the law of nations, that ever was committed; and the tardy disavowal of this government was made at a time when its very disapprobation of these measures could have no other effect but the encouraging the perpetrators of that violation. And this, the noble earl told them, was a strict neutrality! But when noble lords contrasted the general 790 measures of this government, in its free and open communications with Austria, and its recent dealings with Naples, could such conduct be construed to intend a fair and strict neutrality? He had said, that the usual intercourse between this country and Naples had ceased; and the noble earl opposite immediately expressed his disapprobation of that statement. The noble earl told their lordships, that new powers were necessary to be exhibited upon the change of the government. It was important to ascertain what the noble earl meant, and therefore he wished to ask whether sir W. A'Court still remained at Naples our accredited minister;—whether he was still there vested with the full powers of his original appointment, as envoy of the Neapolitan government? But this was not all:—not only must they have an accredited agent at Naples, but the government of Naples must have one here. Now, the noble earl had said, that count Ludolph was that accredited agent at our court. Why, was it not notorious, that after the events which had changed the face of the government of Naples, count Ludolph was recalled, and the prince Cimitelli substituted in his place, as ambassador to this country? Was it not equally notorious, that prince Cimitelli was refused to be admitted to the accustomed audience, and all communication with him evaded by our government. He should like to hear from the noble earl, under what powers count Ludolph now acted to the rejection of prince Cimitelli, or whether the count Ludolph had received any new credentials? The rejection of prince Cimitelli was a direct breach of this boasted neutrality; it was such an insult to the character and independence of a nation, that only a weak state would endure. If any thing bearing the character of neutrality was contemplated by the British government, when it had an ambassador attending the conferences at Troppau, it would have deemed it essential that its accredited minister should continue without interruption to represent its interests at Naples. Under such circumstances, the British government, in the spirit of amicable representation, might have expressed its disapprobation of the proceedings at Naples as injurious to its own interests, and dangerous to the security of Europe.—The noble earl had laid considerable stress on the conduct of the Neapolitan government, in reference 791 to Sicily. He (earl Grey) was far from justifying cither the principle of the measures pursued towards that member of the Neapolitan dominions, or of palliating the breach of that stipulation to which the noble earl alluded. Yet he must confess that he should have liked to have seen the representation to be made on that subject to the court of Naples by a British minister: he should like to have seen the protestation of the secretary of state against the forcible union of one country with another, against the prayers, the wishes, and the interest of that country. It would, indeed, be a curious and extraordinary document to see a state paper, signed "Castlereagh," remonstrating against a forced incorporating union between two divisions of the Neapolitan kingdom, on the grounds that it was effected against the wishes and the voice of the weaker, by the power and the military strength of the stronger [Hear, hear!]. Allowing that Sicily had been oppressed by Naples, the utmost power that could accrue to the allied sovereigns was, the right to remonstrate. But these sovereigns used no such pretext—they founded their aggression on different grounds. It was a dislike to the principles of the revolution, and eo nomine, they declared it dangerous to the other powers. The noble earl spoke of the secret sects and of the conduct of the army, but he (earl Grey) contended that neither constituted a good ground of interference. The noble earl laboured much on that point, and endeavoured to make out possible cases, he contended that the co-operation of the society of the Carbonari with the mal-contents in the other states of Europe justified an interference, which without that co-operation, would not be warranted. Some better proof of such cooperation, besides allegations, was essential. But even were it the fact, the utmost right that could accrue was, the power to remonstrate against the existence of such associations, and, if employed in administering the functions of the government, to protest against their continuance in such a capacity. It was not, however, to be presumed, that the co-operation of these sects with the discontented of other nations was encouraged by the government. Before an interference could be justified, much less aggression defended, that fact ought to have been substantiated by proof. The noble earl had said, that he did not wish to pre- 792 judge the case, but he should be glad to know when they were ever to judge of the expediency or the necessity of interference? When were we to judge of the necessity of applying those principles of national right and public law, which it was the duty and interest of this country to maintain, and which constituted the foundation upon which the true security of nations depends r The noble earl admitted that a case might arise to which it would be his duty to apply those principles: But when would he judge of it? Would he wait till after the Austrians had occupied Naples? Would he wait till after the violence had been committed, and the aggression had taken effect, and then sit in judgment on the case; and determine, when it was too late, whether this was a violation of national law and public right? Instead of saying that we ought not to prejudge the case, it was our duty to judge, in order to prevent that scandalous violation of public right and law, the existence of which even the noble earl was compelled to admit. There was one peculiarity in the noble earl's reasoning which deserved notice. He was ready enough, without proof and without deliberation, to prejudge the question between the king and his people: but in questions between nation and nation, when the great interests of right and justice were at stake, the impartiality of the noble earl became conspicuous; then the noble earl would not prejudge, but he would sit with his hands behind him till the act of aggression had been accomplished, and it was too late to remedy the evils which had been produced. Such were the disastrous measures—such the miserable policy—by which the honour and character of this country were degraded and disgraced.—With respect to that argument of the noble earl, by which he attempted to justify the altered tone of this government to Naples, in consequence of the change of the executive government in Naples, he begged to remind the noble earl, that it was not upon the occasion of the revolution of Naples that the substitution of the vicar-general, as representative of the king, took place. If he was not much mistaken, that substitution was first effected under our auspices, for the purpose of carrying into execution the constitution which had been granted to Sicily by lord William Bentinck. The king objected to that constitution; he refused to take the oaths, and 793 it was upon that occasion that we gave our sanction to the vicar-general being placed at the head of the executive government, as the representative of his father. The noble baron (Ellenborough) had said, that when a nation thought fit to remonstrate in behalf of another country, against any measures which were meditated by a third party, that nation should be ready to enforce its remonstrance by arms. Upon these principles it could not be denied, that this was the most favourable moment for remonstrance by those who, like the noble earl opposite, told us, that the country never stood in so proud a situation: who daily repeated, as a proof of their policy and wisdom, that the authority of this country was never greater, or its influence in the affairs of Europe more universally acknowledged. When, however, the noble baron objected to the propriety of remonstrance, even in a case in which justice and interest demanded it, because our voice would be disregarded, and the weakness of the country exposed, did he not, in fact, bear the strongest testimony to that lamentable system of policy by which the resources of this country had been so impaired, and its energies so exhausted, and its character so degraded in the eyes of foreign nations, that it was no longer able to vindicate its interests, and enforce its just remonstrances? But, let the noble baron look to the other side of the alternative, and consider how far a silent acquiescence in the measures now carried on by the allied powers, for the sake of avoiding hostilities, is calculated to secure us against a war. Since the commencement of this debate, information of an authentic character had reached him, which announced that the Austrian army was actually advancing in three divisions, from three different routes upon Naples, and that the king of Naples had issued a proclamation from Laybach dissolving the parliament, and recommending his subjects to receive the Austrians as friends. I low far this was to be considered as a free, spontaneous emanation of the will of that monarch, he would not determine; but it was now certain that the die was cast, and that Naples would in all probability be shortly occupied by Austria. He would ask the noble baron, whether looking to the character of [the House of Austria, and the general situation and interests of Europe, the occupation of Naples by Austria was not likely to lead 794 to consequences which, sooner or later, would involve Europe in a war? He would ask the noble baron what we should then have gained by that acquiescence, which, for the sake of avoiding war, he now recommended? What, but the degradation and dishonour of having submitted to measures from a pusillanimous fear of consequences, which were rendered more certain and more ruinous by the very means we took, and the very sacrifices we made, in order to avoid them? Surely, considering the amicable relations in which we stood with Naples, we might have remonstrated against any attempt to put down the people of that country by force, and still have retained the friendship of the alliance. What was the conduct of this country with regard, to Spain, and what were the consequences of that conduct? The noble earl opposite would recollect, that upon his noble friend (lord Holland) requesting some information as to a memorial of the court of Petersburgh with reference to the revolution in Spain, the noble earl stated that a remonstrance had been made by this government against that memorial. No further motion was made in that House, and, what was more to the purpose, no measures had been taken by the allied powers against Spain, nor had the remonstrance against that memorial been attended with any consequences prejudicial to this country. He supposed he should be called to order, as his noble friend had been, if he expressed any opinion upon the absurdity of refusing to recognize the government of Spain, or any other country in which an iniquitous attempt to impose upon them an arbitrary government, had been successfully resisted by the co-operation of the soldiery with the people. He thought his noble friend was perfectly justified in the line of argument which he had taken. We might just as well refuse to recognize the revolution which had placed the present emperor of Russia upon the throne; for it could not be denied that he ascended the throne in consequence of the murder of his sovereign, his father, though he trusted the present emperor had no share in it. If we objected to a revolution because it had been produced by a mutinous soldiery, surely we were equally bound to object to a revolution which had been effected by a foul and atrocious murder, and we might say to the emperor of the Russias—"Though we are not disposed to dispute 795 your right to the throne, yet we will hold no amicable intercourse with you until an expiatory sacrifice has been made for the crime which placed you on the throne by the punishment of its authors." If such were not our language, we should abstain from it only because we had one language for the weak and another for the strong—only because we were ready to denounce even the most justifiable resistance in the former, and to encourage the most tyrannical aggression in the latter. He certainly felt that the noble earl opposite had completely failed in attempting to justify a course of policy which was inconsistent with the interests, and degrading to the character of the country. He could not accede to the request made by the noble baron to withdraw this motion; and, as in the present temper of the House, and particularly after what had fallen from the noble earl, he saw no prospect of succeeding in the object of that motion, he would not trouble their lordships by pressing it to a division. The question was put and negatived.