THE MARQUESS OF NORMANBY
(who was very indistinctly heard), in rising to move the Address of which he had given notice respecting the supposed project for the transference of Savoy and Nice from Sar- 574 dinia to France, said that their Lordships would hardly be surprised that he should revert so soon to the very important subject which he brought under their consideration on a former evening. In order to account for his so doing he must, in the first place, recur to the emphatic statement of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville), that Her Majesty's Government had conveyed to the Government of France in firm but temperate language the objections which they entertained to the plan which was supposed to be under consideration for the annexation of Savoy and Nice to the French empire. But with a view clearly to ascertain the actual position of the affair it was important that we should be informed when this declaration had been conveyed, and whether anything had occurred since to mitigate the satisfaction which Her Majesty's Government had derived from the first reception of their objections, He was surprised, however, to find the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in "another place" had given a somewhat confused account as to the date of this action of the British Government. Lord John Russell was reported to have said the other day,—In the beginning of July, in consequence of a despatch from Mr. Harris, the British Minister in Switzerland, Count Walewski was asked by Lord Cowley whether there was any truth in the rumour that there was a project on foot for the annexation of Savoy to the empire of France. Some conversation passed between them, and Count Walewski's remarks were not explicit on the subject on which Lord Cowley asked for information. Some time after this Count Walewski assured the Government that there was no intention on the part of the Emperor of the French to propose the annexation in question. On the former occasion Lord Cowley stated that such a proposal would he viewed with disapprobation by Her Majesty's Government, and the language he held was approved by Her Majesty's Government. On the second occasion Her Majesty's Government directed a despatch to the British Ambassador in Paris, expressing the satisfaction with which Her Majesty's Government had received the assurance that no such project was in contemplation.Your Lordships will perceive that allusion here is made to two distinct communications with the French Government. The first not being satisfactory as not being explicit. In another report the noble Lord is stated to have said, "Count Walewski not being satisfactory on the point of territorial limits." The two communications appeared both to have taken place in the month of July, but the second sometime after the first. In reading this statement, he (the Marquess of Normanby) was impressed by the belief that he had heard something of the same 575 kind before. He did not, however, pursue the inquiry further until he saw it stated in a semi-official French print that Lord John Russell must have been inaccurate as to the time when and the circumstances under which such an assurance was given. He therefore turned to the invaluable pages of Hansard, and found that Lord John Russell, after reading a telegram on the 12th of July announcing the peace, said—I may state further, because there has been a rumour for some weeks past that whenever peace came to be signed, and Lombardy should be ceded to Sardinia, France would ask, as compensation for her expenses in the war, to have Savoy ceded to her. That I am happy to be able to inform the House that the Emperor of the French has made no demand of that kind, and that there is every reason to suppose that he does not intend to make any addition whatever to the territory of France. This is most gratifying, because any addition to the territory of France, however insignificant, following on the war, could not fail to rouse the suspicions and jealousies of Europe."—[3 Hansard, cliv. 1052.]Now this is so far inconsistent with the more recent statement that it appears both communications must have taken place before the 12th of July, as the noble Lord could not on that day have alluded to the first as "gratifying," which he has since then termed not sufficiently explicit to be satisfactory. Of course every Minister was liable to mistakes in points of detail, but this quotation became of importance in the face of the statement in the French semiofficial newspaper, that Lord John Russell was in error as to the time when this assurance was given and the circumstances attending it. He (the Marquess of Normanby) did not wish to press this further, except to suggest that, believing thoroughly the assurance of his noble Friend opposite (Earl Granville), he thought it important for their Lordships to join him in co-operating with the Government in-this matter in the line which they had traced out. Wishing to carry their Lordships with him as much as possible in his present Motion, he had avoided introducing into it, and would endeavour to avoid the mention, of anything which might cast blame upon the Government. There were people, he knew, who, now that this question had become a matter of general conversation and discussion throughout Europe, wished that the statement made last July should he repeated; there might be reasons why the Government should decline to make any such statement; but, at any rate, the question had assumed a much more serious shape since last July. In alluding 576 to what appeared in the newspapers respecting it, it was necessary to remind their Lordships of the system on which the present French Government was carried with reference to the press. On the one hand, he felt quite sure that upon such a subject as this the publication of any thing which might by possibility displease the Emperor was discouraged; and they also knew that not one word which was absolutely displeasing to His Majesty was allowed to appear at all. It was not surprising, therefore, if some serious interpretation were put upon the fact that during the last few days the Government of Piedmont had been directly lectured in the French press for daring to allow their local officers to interfere in any matter with what the writer was pleased to call "the popular demonstrations in Savoy." "We" regard this conduct, it was said, as intolerable. Now, who was meant by the "we" here employed? Did not everybody know that in that plurality the head of the Government in France must be included? Would anybody else dare to speak in his august name? Remembering this, he (the Marquess of Normanby) owned that he was not much consoled by what had been put forward by the publishing secretary of the French Government, M. Grandguillot. In an article published in the Constitutionnel this gentleman stated that this question of annexation arose from the development of public opinion, founded on the inexorable logic of facts. Now, when the development of public opinion was introduced in connection with the ruler of 600,000 or 700,000 armed men, it was sufficiently formidable. In the same way the logic of facts became formidable too, and not the less so because it was perfectly unintelligible. So many contradictions were to be met with at every stage of this question that he was almost afraid to repeat what every one assured him was beyond the possibility of doubt. Nobody upon the Continent would believe that there was no treaty, no engagement, no compact between the Emperor of the French and the person acting on behalf of the King of Sardinia; and yet he (the Marquess of Normanby) owned that he could not put implicit faith in that general belief, because he found the following in a letter written before the commencement of the war by the very acute diplomatist who represented this country in Paris. Writing to the Earl of Malmesbury on the 18th of March, Lord Cowley says— 577The impression left upon my mind after a lengthened conversation is, that the Emperor is desirous of maintaining peace; that His Majesty is not ready for war, which is, perhaps, the best proof of his pacific intentions; that he has no other engagement with Sardinia than to go to her assistance if she is attacked by Austria; that he does not contemplate any modifications of the treaties of 1815.Now, as this was a statement made by the Emperor to Lord Cowley, far be it from him (the Marquess of Normanby) to contradict anything His Majesty had said. He would suggest, however, that the Emperor would give much more satisfaction to his faithful Ally on this side of the water if he would state positively, through one of those channels of which the French Government was wont to avail itself, that neither before nor since the war had there been any engagements of the kind referred to. In considering the chances of success in effecting this annexation, much, of course, depended upon the actual state of public opinion throughout Savoy and Nice at this moment. He had taken pains to arrive at some conclusion on this point, but owned that he had been unable to do so satisfactorily to himself. At the same time there were some facts that were obvious to everybody. For instance, a great change had occurred since 1848 in the feelings of the people of Savoy towards the King of Sardinia. At that time any proposal to sever their allegiance met with the spontaneous resistance of a united people. They were frugal in their habits; they were devoted to an ancient dynasty; they were very observant of all their religious duties, and the precepts of Christianity with them, as much as with any other people in the world, were the rule of their daily lives. But a great change had since occurred there. In the first place, the excessive taxation imposed upon a poor though frugal people had produced much discontent; then, a peasantry attached beyond all others to their birthplace had been transported across the Alps to fight in a war in which they had no interest; the gentry had been drawn away from those local duties which they were in the habit of discharging in perfect agreement and concord with the peasantry to listen to debates in a language which they did not understand. These were practical grievances which might naturally have modified the loyalty existing up to the time he had mentioned, and if any demonstrations had occurred in favour of annexation with France during the municipal elections at Chambery or on any 578 other occasion, those who took part in them were probably inclined to encounter unknown and therefore unfelt evils, rather than endure the positive grievances of which they now complained. That this was so might be inferred from the circumstance that no adverse demonstration had been noticed, and from the manner in which the municipal elections at Chambery had been conducted, and commented upon by the semi-official French press. There had appeared in the newspapers a letter from a remarkable person, a member of the Sardinian Chambers (the Marquess Costa and Beauregard), who was well acquainted with the people of Savoy, well known as one of the leaders of what was called the Conservative party, and most decidedly opposed to the war. This gentleman stated in answer to the imputation—for so he called it—that he had been to France as part of a deputation in favour of the annexation of Savoy to that country, that he felt for the grievances which his country had to complain of against the present Government of Piedmont, but that he firmly maintained the allegiance which his fathers had ever owed to the King of Sardinia. That also was the sentiment of the great majority of the Conservative party of Savoy; and he (the Marquess of Normanby) hoped that, upon every account, the King of Sardinia would adhere with fidelity to those who were so devoted to him and his House, that he would extend to them that justice which he himself expected from the Emperor of the French, and that in the case of any country with which he might be temporarily connected, the popular vote would be regarded as the expression of the popular will, and that he would take that there, as in Savoy, it should be perfectly free and unbiassed, independent of any attempt at foreign control, including his own. This question was greatly complicated by the present unsettled state of all the other communities of Italy; and in a strategical point of view the annexation of Savoy to France would be most objectionable even for the safety of Sardinia itself. Could it be possible in such an event for a King of Sardinia, within forty miles of the French frontier, open and undefended, to preserve himself in Turin? He would have at once to transfer his capital to Milan; and their Lordships would at once see that it would not be for his advantage to commence his defence on what had been hitherto called the Austrian side of the Ticino. But where, except in 579 Piedmont, could the King of Sardinia look for that loyal attachment which would he his best support against foreign attack. Already, even in Milan, things were in a most alarming state. Robberies, accompanied by assassination, were nightly committed there; the garrison had been under arms and consigned to their barracks on two or three occasions, and exactly the same annoyances which used to be applied by the ladies of Milan to the Austrian officers were now applied to the Piedmontese officers, and that dissatisfaction on the part of Lombardy with the union of the Provinces was fast assuming the proportions it acquired in 1848. What was the cause of this? The cause was that the people had experienced no benefit from their annexation, but, on the contrary, were greatly aggrieved by the excessive taxation, which was 15 per cent more than during the Austrian rule. The French newspapers had very much alluded to what they represented to be the grateful feeling of the people of Savoy to France; but what happened in 1796, after four years of French occupation? There had then as now been an alliance between France and Sardinia against Austria. General Bonaparte, having flattered Sardinia into making common cause with him, returned to France and left the King to his fate; what that fate was to be, the following proclamation by the French Genera] at Turin would show:—The French Government, to facilitate peace and the triumph of the great army, was obliged provisionally to consider Kings as the representatives of their subjects. This supposition was necessary to carry on negotiations, but is now evidently circumscribed and limited. To protect the feeble is one mode of annihilating them. The alliance of the King of Sardinia with the French Republic was, in fact, the moral abdication of her sovereignty.Immediately afterwards the citadal of Turin was seized and occupied by French troops, and in a few months the ancient head of the house of Savoy sought refuge in the Island of Sardinia, where he was protected by an English fleet. The allegation of the old sympathies of Savoy for France was most absurd; but with respect to Nice there was not even one solitary pretence for this rumoured act of intended spoliation. He would not at that moment stop to inquire into the importance to cither country of the noble harbour of Villafranca, one of the finest in the Mediterranean, He was not one of those who were not anxious to do complete 580 justice to the Emperor of the French. He was anxious that we should continue on the best possible terms with France. Nothing could be further from his mind than a desire to provoke a difference of any kind; but when questions were raised which directly affected the balance of power in Europe, we ought to understand to what extent the parties to the treaties which regulated the present settlement of Europe would agree to any modification of them. Even at the time of the revolution in France, when the popular impulse was so great, the French Government declared that, however much they disapproved the treaties of 1815, they were determined to adopt them as accomplished facts, not to be altered without the common consent of all the Powers. If such was the feeling in France in 1848, we had some reason to hope that at least an equal regard for the obligation of treaties would be evinced by one whom he should be glad to call our intimate and loyal Ally. He might be permitted, in conclusion, to say a word on the question of nationality. It behoved every settled Government in Europe to withhold its assent from the new and dangerous doctrine of the right of a people, on the ground of nationality, to transfer their allegiance from one Sovereign to another. He hoped, at all events, that so elastic a doctrine—a doctrine which threatened the security of all Governments—would receive no encouragement from their Lordships, or from those intrusted with the administration of our public affairs. Having, he trusted, clearly shown that his object was not to make an attack upon the Government, but rather to afford them an opportunity of stating those views upon the subject of the annexation of Savoy which he was bound to say they had very early if not very forcibly expressed, and leaving the matter to be dealt with by their Lordships in whatever manner they might deem consistent with their duty, he begged to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty,To represent to Her Majesty that this House has been informed that Her Majesty's Government has made known to the Government of Franco the Objections entertained by Her Majesty's Government to the Annexation of Savoy and Nice, which has been reported to be in contemplation.To thank Her Majesty for having conveyed that Opinion to the Government of France, and to pray that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to direct Her Government to use their best Endeavours to avert the Transfer of the above named territories to the French Empire.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, the noble Marquess at the commencement of his speech seemed to complain of the answer which I gave to his question last week on the subject of Savoy. That answer was perfectly correct, and, although my noble Friend the Secretary for Foreign Affairs gave some further explanations on a subsequent occasion in the other House, his statement was not at variance with, though going rather beyond, the answer which I returned in the first instance to the noble Marquess. You are aware from what has appeared in the printed despatches, that during the Administration of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) some intelligence had been received respecting a treaty between France and Sardinia which contained a clause affecting Savoy. Lord Cowley was requested by the Earl of Malmesbury to ascertain whether or not the Report which had reached our Government was accurate, and he was assured by Count Walewski that no treaty between France and Sardinia was in existence, though it might be considered necessary to make an offensive and defensive one. Count Walewski made no allusion to the question of territorial aggrandizement, and the subject was dropped. I stated last week the steps which the present Government had taken on this subject last year, and may state to you Lordships that they have continued making friendly communications to the Governments of France and Sardinia with respect to the Report of a proposed annexation of Savoy to the French Empire. We have been told by the Imperial Government that there is no question at present of the annexation of Savoy; that one of a great many points discussed before the war was the annexation of Savoy, under certain contingencies; but those contingencies not having occurred, there is at this moment no question of annexation. The French Government adds, at the same time, that, in the event of Sardinia, with the addition of Lombardy and other provinces, becoming a powerful Italian State, they will feel themselves at liberty to consider for their own security, what conditions they should attach to the sanction they might give to such an arrangement. From Turin the answer we have received is, that there is no engagement whatever between France and Sardinia respecting the annexation of Savoy; that it is not the intention of the King of Sardinia to yield, sell, or exchange Savoy; that if the Savoyards have griev- 582 ances to allege, they possess the constitutional right of petitioning the Sardinian Parliament; that their petitions will be respectfully considered, and their just complaints will be removed by appropriate legislative measures sanctioned by the Crown. I imagine every one of your Lordships must admit that it is undoubtedly the duty of the Government of this country, on all judicious occasions, to speak to other Governments in a perfectly open manner upon all subjects which concern its interests. Even if this were not so, there arc at this moment circumstances arising from the coincidence of our policy upon the Italian question, and from the prospect which now opens of extending the commercial intercourse between this country and France, under the more liberal commercial policy now inaugurated by the Emperor of the French, which would greatly facilitate any friendly representations we might make to either of the parties on this subject. What would render them still more easy in regard to this question of Savoy is, that England, so far as she is directly concerned, has no interest in the matter of the annexation, seeing that it does not make any great difference to this country, as England, whether or not France acquires upon her southern frontier territory giving her certain strategical advantages. But indirectly she has, with all other Powers, an interest in the question; and what is of paramount interest to England is the interests of Europe as a whole. In this sense it is her interest to do everything she can to promote peace, to maintain the balance of power, and to prevent the commission of acts by any nation, particularly by any of the great Powers, which may create alarm and shake the public confidence in the maintenance of peace. Therefore I think it would have been most unfriendly of Her Majesty's Government if they had not laid before that of France all the objections which, in an European sense, would arise to the aggrandisement of the French territory which was involved in the supposed scheme. It is hardly necessary to dwell upon those objections to your Lordships. No doubt France, occupying so magnificent a geographical position as she does, and having so gallant a people, who have so frequently and so recently shown in so conspicuous a manner how able they are to defend themselves upon all occasions, cannot pretend to be jealous of a country like Piedmont, 583 even though her power should be increased by an accession of territory and subjects in Italy. On the other hand, there can be no question that the extension of the frontier of France to the Alps would very much alter the arrangements for the preservation of the balance of European power. If France goes to the Alps now there is no good reason why she should not at a subsequent period go to the Rhine. Were this not so, however, it is clear that the annexation of Savoy to France would give rise to great European difficulty. The arguments of the noble Marquess were perfectly consistent upon this point, and no doubt therefore any such attempt would excite in the mind of Europe generally deep interest, and well-grounded alarm. The enemies of the Emperor of the French at the commencement of the late war endeavoured to make it appear that he had undertaken that war from motives of personal ambition and territorial aggrandisement; and I have no doubt your Lordships well remember the manner in which the Emperor disclaimed the imputation. Among the most noble words ever uttered by a great Sovereign at the head of a victorious army were those used by the Emperor of the French at Milan, when he told the Italians that his and their enemies had endeavoured to spread the belief, that he had undertaken the war for the aggrandizement of France and not for their advantage; that, although there might be some persons who were ignorant of the public opinion of Europe, he was not one of them, and that moral influence was of more advantage to a great nation than were barren conquests, and he declared that any alteration of the territorial arrangements of France as settled by the Treaty of Vienna, would be dangerous to the peace of Europe. These were noble words; and for the Emperor now to place it in the power of those enemies, by any act of his to represent his policy as contrary to that declaration would obviously he most injurious to his reputation, and most prejudicial to his interests. I will not trouble your Lordships with any reference to what the noble Marquess has said about the duty of the British Government to make friendly representations to the Government of France on this subject, because what they have done is a sufficient confirmation. In our communications with the French Government we have gone into the question more fully than it is necessary to discuss it to your Lordships, and we have done so in the confidence that our 584 observations would be received with a feeling as friendly as that by which they were dictated. I beg your Lordships clearly to understand that our policy is not that of nationalities, alluded to by the noble Marquess, nor is it our policy to separate ourselves from other European Powers. Upon the Italian question we are at this moment in direct and friendly communication with France, Sardinia, and Austria, and we shall be happy to communicate with any other nations who feel an interest in the settlement of that question as affecting either Italy or Europe. The policy of the British Government is not to advocate or insist upon any particular mode of carving out Italy; we do not say that the central Provinces must be joined to Sardinia; we do not assert that there may not be a central Italian kingdom. If the great majority of the people of Tuscany are in favour of the Grand Dukes, let them show and assert their opinions, and it will not be for England to object to the restoration of their old sovereigns. Our simple policy—that which we have been urging upon other Powers, and in regard to which we have been met very cordially by France, and as cordially as we could expect by Austria—is to avoid any armed interference in the affairs of the Peninsula, and to secure that the Italians shall be left to themselves to judge what is good for themselves, and in what mode their ideas of liberty and independence can best be carried out. This Motion itself has been framed in very courteous terms, and, as stated by the noble Marquess, is intended to co-operate with and strengthen Her Majesty's Government. I am of opinion that it would not have that effect. Your Lordships are perfectly well aware that at this moment the enemies to the present commercial policy of France are trying to raise a cry that the religion and commerce of that country are being sacrificed to English interests, and they would probably make use of the agreeing to such an Address as this as a means of exciting an anti-English feeling, in order to strengthen them in their opposition; and under these circumstances I do not think that it would assist Her Majesty's Government that the Motion made by the noble Marquis, who has to-night spoken of the Emperor with great respect, but who at the same time holds very peculiar and very strong opinions upon continental politics, should be forced upon them; especially when they declare their intention upon all suitable occasions to give their 585 advice and exert their influence to prevent that which the noble Marquess, in common with all your Lordships, deprecates. I quite acquit the noble Marquess of having intended that the Government or your Lordships should pledge themselves to war or eventualities of any description in resisting the alleged scheme. But, even in its more limited sense, inasmuch as the result would surely he to cause misrepresentation in France as to their intentions, I think the Motion would rather weaken than strengthen the Government, and therefore I hope that the noble Marquess will not think it necessary to press it to a division.
§ EARL GREY
My Lords, I think that the House is much obliged to the noble Marquess for bringing this subject forward. It seems to me to be impossible to overestimate its importance, and I confess that I should have heard with great pleasure a different conclusion to the speech of my noble Friend who has just sat down. I should like to have heard him state that Her Majesty's Government would agree to the Address proposed. The statement which he has just made affords the clearest proof of the necessity for this Motion; because I think your Lordships will agree with me that it is difficult to conceive anything more alarming than what has been communicated to us by my noble Friend. Nothing can well be more unsatisfactory than that which he describes to have been the language of the French Government to our own on this subject, coupled with that which has been used in the semiofficial newspapers of France. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive, when we consider that language, that the scheme of the annexation of Savoy to France has not gone further than we, till lately, have believed. That annexation would be so pregnant with evil to this country and to Europe that it becomes Her Majesty's Government to use their best endeavours to avert it. I quite agree with my noble Friend that, as far as we are at present informed of the facts, no man in this House can wish that war should be resorted to to prevent such an arrangement from being effected; if unhappily it should have been agreed upon by the two parties most directly interested in it. But there is a great deal short of war which may be done by a nation to prevent the adoption of measures which are injurious to its interests and to those of the world; and I can conceive no case which calls for more energetic remonstrance on the part of Her Majesty's Government than the annexation which is 586 supposed to be in contemplation. I do not pretend to say that the annexation of Savoy to France would materially alter the balance of power in Europe. Whatever may be the obvious objections to this extension of the frontiers of France, still, when we look at what the power of that great empire is at present, I cannot think that the addition of Savoy of itself would throw so great an additional weight into the scale as to be of any very serious importance. Nor do I believe that the honour of this country is involved in preventing the arrangement if the two parties more immediately interested should agree to it. But, although it may not in its direct consequences be so injurious as to induce this country to resist it by an appeal to force, still I think, if we look at the subject closely, we shall be convinced that few events would be more injurious both to this country and to Europe than the proposed annexation; as well from its indirect consequences as from the principle which it would tend to establish if it were to be carried into effect on the grounds that have been put forward in support of it. My Lords, in considering this question we cannot lose sight of the reasons that have been urged in its favour by the journals in France, which have an importance that does not usually belong to newspapers, owing to the countenance they receive from the Imperial Government of France. Now, what are those reasons? My noble Friend has already referred to that most extraordinary article which appeared in the Patrie a few days ago, and which I venture to say must have astounded every one of your Lordships who read it. That article states that two measures cannot be applied to Savoy and to Italy; and that it is intolerable that the Government of Sardinia should interfere with the manifestation of the wishes of the Savoyards. I think that every one of your Lordships concurs in the principle that no nation ought to he compelled by foreign force to submit to a Government to which it is averse. The passage in the Queen's Speech, in which that principle was enunciated with regard to Italy, received, I believe, the unanimous approval of your Lordships. But, my Lords, it would indeed be to push that principle to a new and somewhat dangerous length if it is to be assumed, not only that a nation which is de facto in the enjoyment of self-government is not to be coerced by the arms of a foreign Power to change its Government, hut that you are to go beyond 587 that plain and simple rule, and to say that even where a settled and long-established Government exists—where a people are living contentedly and peaceably under the rulers who have for centuries reigned over them, a few agitators are to be permitted to declare that the opinion of the country is the other way; that it wishes to shake off the authority to which it is by law subject; and that it is intolerable in the Government to adopt any means of counteracting the efforts of those who seek to subvert it. Why, if this rule of international right and wrong is to be recognized, we must be supposed to have acted most unwarrantably in the year 1848, when we would not suffer certain persons to put the question to the people of Ireland whether or not that country should continue to form a part of the British Empire. Is it to be held as an indication that the people of Savoy are hostile to the existing rule, that a few individuals get up demonstrations against the Government; and is it to be maintained that the Government, instead of putting these persons down by the strong hand, must allow them to have their own way, and then have the question of the continuance of the existing authority submitted to the vote? I venture to say, if that principle is to be established, that no Government in Europe is safe for a day. Apply that principle to France itself? How would the present Emperor receive the proposal that it should be again submitted to the universal vote of the people of France whether they would have an Empire, a Red Republic, or an Orleanist, or a Legitimist dynasty? I am sure that anybody putting forward such a proposal against the settled Government in France would meet with very prompt repression. Further, we are told that the Alps are the natural boundary of France, and that the Savoyards are united to the French people by a community of language. Do these pleas alter the case or diminish the danger? My Lords, we cannot help seeing whither such principles as those lead. Do not the majority of the people of Belgium speak French as well as the inhabitants of Savoy? If such grounds as these are to be assigned for the desire of unjust territorial acquisition on the part of France, what security has Europe that other aggressions of the same kind may not be attempted? It appears to me, therefore, that the proposal for joining Savoy to France, under present circumstances, is one which this country has a right to view with the greatest apprehension 588 and alarm, and I certainly should have hoped that this Mouse might be induced to agree, without a division, to the Address which the noble Marquess has moved. I am the last person to suggest that the Motion should be pressed contrary to the desire of Her Majesty's Government. I am persuaded that if it were so pressed, even though it were carried, it would do more harm than good; and for this simple reason—that it would make it appear that there exists a difference of opinion in your Lordships' House, when I believe no such difference really exists. I believe we are all united in condemning and reprobating the scheme which is supposed to be in agitation. If, therefore, we were to come to a division on the question—whichever way it ended—it would make it appear that a very considerable number of your Lordships dissented from what I think is our unanimous opinion. But it would be a very different matter if Her Majesty's Government could be induced to concur in this Motion. I cannot help feeling that at this moment a unanimous expression of the sentiments of this House would have great influence on the opinion of France and of the world. Powerful as France may be, I do not believe that she would despise such a manifestation of opinion, backed as it would be by the views of every other country in Europe. I would therefore earnestly entreat my noble Friend who spoke last (Earl Granville) seriously to consider this subject. I would especially ask him what motive he can have for resisting this Motion. My noble Friend who brought it forward stated most distinctly that he did so without in any way implying the most distant censure on Her Majesty's Government. On the contrary, his first words were those of thanks to the Government for the course which they have taken. The only object of the Motion is to strengthen their hands in pursuing the line of policy which, if I understood my noble Friend aright, it is their intention, of their own accord, to follow. The single objection which, as I gathered from my noble Friend, they have to this Motion, is the fear that it might be misinterpreted in France. My Lords, I cannot believe that there is any ground for such a fear; I cannot suppose that the Emperor of the French would see anything unfriendly towards himself in our expressing our opinion against the measure which he is supposed to contemplate. On the contrary, I think if the opinion of this House and the country were placed before the Emperor in language 589 firm, and at the same time amicable, it would be calculated to produce considerable effect—because, it must surely be the interest of the Emperor to attend to our remonstrances. What, let mo ask, can France gain by this comparatively insignificant addition to her territory to compensate her for the loss of confidence and the loss of character which such a measure must entail? My noble Friend has already adverted to the commercial treaty recently signed between this country and France. We are told that the Emperor of the French is about to adopt a liberal commercial policy, in which this treaty is the first step. But, can a liberal commercial policy produce its proper fruits unless there is commercial and political confidence in the continuance of peace? Confidence is the very breath of life by which trade and industry are maintained; and how can that confidence in the permanence of peace exist for a day in Europe if this annexation of Savoy to France is to be carried into effect, in a manner, and upon principles which hold out to all Europe the prospect of further and indefinite changes that cannot possibly be accomplished without provoking all the horrors of war? I say that this annexation would produce a shock to confidence, which in France and in Europe would be felt by trade and industry for years to come. And has not the Emperor himself the deepest interest (if he has a due concern for his own character) in abstaining from carrying this project into effect? We all know that statements have been made in the newspapers that this annexation is only the execution of a design long entertained though studiously concealed. We know that it has been asserted—I trust falsely—that this would be merely the carrying into effect of a secret stipulation entered into between Sardinia and France some considerable time before the breaking out of the late war, by which Sardinia was to be put in possession of a great increase of territory in Italy, in return for which France was to obtain Savoy and Nice. Now, my Lords, if that were true—and I trust most sincerely that it is not—it would be impossible to find terms sufficiently strong to describe the iniquity and the immorality of the two parties concerned. When we remember the language that was used in France before the breaking out of the war, the solemn protestations of her desire, up to the last moment, to preserve peace, her asseverations, even after the war had made 590 some progress, that she had no selfish object in view, and had no intention of promoting her territorial aggrandisement, can we believe that all these solemn asseverations were made at the same time that there existed a private stipulation for dividing the prey, entered into before the quarrel was picked, through which the booty was to be obtained? If such a compact were entered into between France and Sardinia, I say it would be difficult to find in the annals of the world a case of more flagrant iniquity. I hope these things are not true. They have seemed to me so bad that I have tried as much as possible to reject the belief that such things can really be true. I still do so; but I cannot deny that those who affirm them are able to appeal to strong circumstantial evidence in favour of their assertions. I hope that, in spite of appearances, the fact is not as stated; but if, in addition to the circumstantial evidence we already have in support of these allegations, we should have the additional pregnant fact that this design of joining Savoy to France is carried into effect, it will be impossible, however anxious we may be to do so, longer to retain our incredulity. If the Emperor of the French has a due regard to his own honour and character, he will be grateful if this country should come forward in a calm and friendly spirit to urge him to abstain from that, which I cannot describe otherwise than as a great crime against the civilized world. My Lords, I have taken the first opportunity that presented itself to press upon my noble Friends on the Government bench my sense of the great importance of this question. I have done so from no hostile feeling, and with an earnest desire to avoid any remark of an invidious character on their conduct in relation to this matter; but with all my desire to avoid even an approach to censure, I am compelled to express my regret that my noble Friend and Her Majesty's Government have omitted some clearer expression of the opinion I am convinced they must entertain on this subject. It must have struck all your Lordships who take a view similar to my own as to the importance of this question of the proposed annexation, that the language of my noble Friend and that of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as reported to have been used by him in "another place," have been singularly mild to say the least, considering the gravity of the case. I think it is specially impor- 591 tant that Her Majesty's Government should at this moment give cordial expression to what I believe are the opinions of every Englishman on this subject. My noble Friend adverted to the commercial treaty with France. Now, I think that before that treaty was signed—before Her Majesty's Government consented to give to the Government of France so signal a mark of their friendship and good will—they ought to have required from the French Emperor, in some authentic and formal shape, a distinct disavowal of his entertaining any such designs with regard to Savoy as have been imputed to him. I deeply regret that the treaty was signed without having some such disavowal as that; but then the omission makes it the more important that we should now take some measures to obtain it; and, if in accordance with the unanimous vote of this House, and I hope of the other House of Parliament also, Her Majesty's Government should even now ask for such a disavowal, I am persuaded that it will not he withheld. I do not ask your Lordships to agree to the Motion if my noble Friend opposes it, but I hope that my noble Friend himself will see the propriety of adopting it.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
My Lords, I have all along shared in the deep and anxious feeling entertained by the whole people of this country in favour of Italian liberty, and in the wish entertained by all parties that the Italians should rise to everything that is honourable, free, and great; but I fear that if the matter now under discussion be allowed to find its consummation in the way in which it is said to be desired by France, we shall see the great question of Italian liberty mixed up with elements that must hereafter be productive of the greatest mischief to Europe, and that will cast a deep and indelible stain both upon the Emperor of the French and the King of Sardinia. I gathered from my noble Friend that this matter is not yet consummated—is still under consideration, and that, therefore, there is still time for this and the other House of Parliament, and the whole people of England, to declare their unanimous and decided opinion regarding it. I judge that the Emperor of the French is still endeavouring to carry out this object, and that the Sardinian Government are bringing forward as many arguments and as much influence as they can to prevent it. If so, now is the time to declare our opinion, and to do what we can to obtain 592 justice for the weaker side in this contest. There can be no doubt that a great stain will be inflicted on all those engaged in this transaction should it be carried into effect. Such a result I should deeply regret. I am anxious for the honour of the French Emperor; but if he persist in this demand for the annexation of Savoy, how will he reconcile it with the words he uttered at Milan—those words with which he endeavoured to conciliate the opinions of Europe—and which I agreed with my noble Friend (Earl Granville) are among the most noble words that ever fell from the lips of man. We have been told that France goes to war for an idea; but in this case the abstract and sublime have been brought down to something that is concrete and commercial. Instead of standing by a mere idea, the French Emperor requires additional territory and additional influence, and the rights and interests of nations are merged in dynastic enterprises. Sardinia cannot come out unscathed from such a project unless she resist the attempt to the full extent of her moral power—and I will not hesitate to say to the full extent of her physical power also. That she should do rather than submit to the degradation. And even Italy herself will be in some measure to blame, because she will secure advantages to herself at the expense of the hereditary rights of another people. Indeed the elements of mischief in this matter are both abundant and dangerous. Are we to see French influence substituted for that of Austria in Italy? It is true that French influence would be exercised in a more careful, delicate, and astute manner than that of Austria—no doubt the policy of France would be more artful; but the dominion will be the same, and the independence of Italy will be placed in equal jeopardy. Then, are we to see the frontier of France advance until it comes in contact with the republic of Geneva? Does not this scheme affect the independence of Switzerland? Are we to believe that the acquisition of Savoy and Nice, and the beautiful port of Villafranca is not an important step towards realizing the French policy of turning the Mediterranean into a French lake? Then, coincident with this state of things, there is the revival of the wild scheme of the Suez Canal, which may be, commercially, the most absurd thing ever propounded, but considered politically has a very different meaning. There would be a French settlement established, and one 593 more French port acquired on that side of the Mediterranean. But, my Lords, I look with far more apprehension on this new principle which is now to be laid down for the government of nations. We have heard much about natural boundaries, and have been told that Savoy has been claimed because rightly it belongs to France; but we are now, according to the new doctrine which has been propounded, to claim as a right conterminous nations speaking the same language. In that case the smaller nation speaking the language of the greater must invariably be absorbed, though not perhaps at first by open and direct violence, but rather by diplomatic trickery. I do not hesitate to say that if this principle is to be recognized and practically adopted in any single instance, all Europe, to use a common but significant expression, will be submitting to one of the greatest humbugs ever perpetrated on mankind. We are told that at a recent public meeting held at Chambery, a strong opinion was expressed in favour of annexation. But let me remind your Lordships that it is very possible for great personages to coerce priests in one country, and to coax them in another. But there has been another meeting at Chambery, at which a diametrically opposite feeling was expressed. Who is to decide? It is suggested in the French press that even the King of Sardinia is not to be at liberty to employ his own agents in the maintenance of his own and his people's rights. The case of Central Italy is not analogous. There we have the plain fact before us that the country is without a ruler. And the people of Central Italy have a perfect right to declare under what governor they will serve. But is that the case with the Savoyards? Have the Savoyards thrown off their allegiance to their rightful Sovereign? Are they in open rebellion? No. Their country is an integral part of the kingdom of Sardinia, and only by the whole mass of the people of Sardinia can the question be decided, whether Savoy is, or is not to be separated from the parent State. But, observe what a future is being opened up under this new policy! Take the case of Geneva. If this new principle be good, that conterminous nations speaking the same language are to be annexed to the greater nation, provided only there be an expression of sympathy on the part of the people, can any person who has lately been in Geneva doubt that an expression of sympathy might with great 594 facility be got up there in favour of annexation with France? If this principle he good, see how essily the whole system of Europe may be broken up. I want to know, for instance; why Germany should not demand the Baltic provinces from Russia; and why Russia—who, as we well know, is not reluctant to put such principles in motion—should be hindred from claiming the Slavonic provinces of Austria. Once let such a principle be recognized, and everything will be broken up; all things will be at sea; and all to gratify the ambition and the policy of one man, who thinks he has new schemes to propound, but whoso object is to break up the whole European system established on the treaties of 1815. But a new inducement has been held out by the French Government to induce Sardinia to consent to this proposition. We are told that the French Government will be content with annexing part and surrendering part to the Swiss Republic. Is this to be done without the consent of the people? Is such a proposition to be entertained in the present day? Is it not a revival of the wild principles that led to the partition of Poland, from the effects of which the nations of Europe are still writhing? If annexation is to take place—which God forbid!—let Savoy be annexed bodily to the Republic of Switzerland—the country that has the deepest interest in the peace of Europe, in the maintenance of treaties, and in the liberty of all nations. But, God forbid that anything of the kind should take place. I believe that nothing could be more prejudicial to the state of Europe, or more disastrous to the future peace of the world and the progress of civilization. These are the general and detailed arguments against such a measure; but it rests on great and broad principles that far exceed in importance any arguments founded on details which can be urged against it. To the latest hour of my life I will protest—and in doing so I am sure I speak the sentiments of the great mass of my countrymen—against handing over a nation that enjoys free institutions to a Government under a despotic dynasty; and against handing over a free people bound hand and foot to a country where they can enjoy no free expression of opinion, or, if guaranteed that expression of opinion, can exercise no power in giving it practical effect. I protest against a country where religious liberty is proclaimed, being handed over to a nation where religious liberty, if proclaimed, is often violated; and I protest also against 595 the policy of treating nations like flocks of sheep, and making them, regardless of their consent, the subjects of barter and exchange. We, in this country, have long protested against the traffic in human flesh. I equally protest against any traffic in human or national rights. I implore the Government, in the name of all the great principles cherished by the people of England, to use every effort in their power to place before the Emperor of the French the fearful consequences of such a measure as this—to appeal to his judgment, to his sagacity, and to his better feelings, and I doubt not that, if they do so, he will be brought to a wise conclusion. But, be that as it may, let the Government go forth, representing the deep sense of the people of this country, acting on the convictions of justice and the rights of nations, and I doubt not that then we shall succeed in the object we now have in view, and beat back, by the unanimous voice of the people of England, the consummation of this most pernicious and disgraceful project.
§ THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE
—I shall not, for more than a few moments, stand between the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby, who rose at the same time) and your Lordships. I do not rise for the purpose of interfering with the future progress of this discussion, but chiefly to implore your Lordships not to be led away by the tone which my noble Friend has just imparted to the debate. We are accustomed frequently to hear honest and honourable sentiments fall from the noble Earl expressed in very fervid language. He is accustomed to deal in a similar manner with domestic topics, in which the mischief done, if any, can be comparatively small compared with that which may arise from such language upon a question like that now before your Lordships. I cannot help thinking that the tendency of my noble Friend's language, and the tone he has given to this debate, are calculated to frustrate the object which we all have in view. Hoping that these questions are likely to receive a peaceful solution, I deprecate such expressions as he has used in reference to some of the countries concerned. Even were it justifiable, it is not dignified; but I appeal to him whether he was justified in using one phrase—namely, that in which he called upon Sardinia to oppose not merely with her moral influence, but with her physical power, the measure now under discussion. I apprehend that if such language coming from a Member of your 596 Lordships' House, is adopted by the House, it will amount to a declaration that your Lordships would approve of resort to war; and I say it would not be just or honourable to call on Sardinia to enter on a war with this object unless we were fully prepared, under all conditions and under all circumstances, to assist her. My noble Friend followed two noble Lords who have spoken upon this question in a different tone, although they have had the same object as he has. I can assure your Lordships that while listening to the speech of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby), and not less so to that of the noble Earl (Earl Grey), the Government have not felt any objection to the discussion of this subject by independent Peers, and if we do resist the Motion, it is merely because we are convinced that its adoption would, instead of assisting the efforts of Government, materially tend to thwart them; but if such would be the result of the Motion, to how far greater extent must it be the consequence of such speeches as that of the noble Earl who spoke last? I was distressed to hear one expression that fell from the noble Earl (Earl Grey) who complained of the mild language held upon this subject by my noble Friend the President of the Council in this, and the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the other House of Parliament. If the noble Earl had deprecated, not the mild language of Her Majesty's Ministers, but their weak conduct, I could have felt that he had indeed something to complain of. But I apprehend it is the conduct of wise and good Ministers not to indulge in violent language, but to express themselve in mild and respectful terms when addressing other Governments, to use such language as they would desire to have held towards them by foreign Governments; and while offering firm remonstrances, to do so in terms respectful and considerate towards the Government to which they are addressed. I am quite sure that if the language of Her Majesty's Ministers had at all approached or resembled that we have just heard, one of two events would have happened—a war, or the annexation, which we all deprecate, would have been carried out. We know, and must bear in mind, that all that is said here is read across the water, and we should not forget what we felt under similar circumstances. Have we forgotten the just anger that was exhibited when men, far less responsible to the Government, filling 597 less important positions than Members of the Legislature, held such violent language with regard to us, how great was our indignation, and that the country was almost ready to take up arms to avenge itself? I do most earnestly deprecate language which tends to cause irritation on the other side of the Channel, and I feel a confident hope that if the matter be left in the hands of the Government, and they are allowed to carry on the negotiation in a firm hut respectful and conciliatory spirit, we have a good prospect of attaining our object. But if noble Peers come forward to support the Government by violent speeches, there can be little doubt that the annexation which we all desire to prevent will be carried out, The noble Earl who spoke previously (Earl Grey) put the question of English interests upon a proper basis, not as a separate interest, but a European one, in which England was jointly concerned with other Powers, and, following out the principle, I believe your Lordships cannot doubt that the Government has from the first done all in its power by representations, both to France and Sardinia, to prevent that which we all deprecate, and, if permitted, will continue to do so in the same spirit which has hitherto guided it.
—My Lords, I wish to make the few observations which I have to offer to your Lordships before the noble Earl near me (the Earl of Derby) rises to address you, because of the part I have always taken in all questions relating to Italy. In the first place, allow me to say I entirely approve of, and was much gratified by the statement of the noble Earl the President of the Council. I view with much satisfaction the statement which my noble Friend made in regard to the communications received from France and sent to France, and I will add that I entirely object, as much as my noble Friend the noble Marquess and the noble Earl object, to what is called the annexation of Savoy and Nice to the French Empire. My objection rests upon the grounds stated by my noble Friends, and it is not merely because of the comparatively trifling addition, whether territorial or strategical, which such an annexation would give to the French Empire, but because of the breach of principle there would be in the departure from the settlement of Europe, and the prospect of what may follow—of what may, without any unreasonable alarm or without any stretch of imagination, be done by other Govern- 598 ments, or even what might be done by our nearest neighbour. We must consider what every man in the north of Europe will feel if this annexation takes place, after all the declarations which have been made, and after all the abstinence which had been described as the governing principle of the French Emperor. If after the Italian war, so professed to have been undertaken, this annexation takes place, where is it to stop? Where is the principle of boundaries to stop? What becomes of the boundary of the Rhine? I need go no further; but will there be a security against any further alteration or distribution of power in Germany as well as on the Rhine? But it appears to mo that your Lordships are all of the same opinion on this subject. I see no difference, except in the mode of expressing ourselves. If I were asked, I should say that I object to the language which my noble Friend near me (the Earl of Shaftesbury) has used, particularly that which he has applied to Sardinia—not the language of deprecation against Sardinia, but in his words of encouragement to that Power to go to war to prevent this annexation, the use of what he called physical force. But I do agree with my noble Friend in one principle he has enunciated. I agree that there can be nothing more atrocious than the handing over, against their will, the people of one country to another Government—the people of a free country, with free institutions, to a Power partaking of despotic. This was the crime, greatest ever committed by nations, the partition of Poland; nothing then can be worse than such a forcible transfer. But I will go further, and I object to the handing over of one country to another, even if not contrary to the wishes of the people. I agree with my noble Friends, that there can be nothing more clear than the principle laid down on the first night of the Session namely, that the Italians ought to be allowed to manage their own affairs, to settle their own form of Government, and to choose the persons to execute it without any foreign interference whatever. Everything should be done by themselves, without the interference of France, Austria, or Sardinia. Such interference is to be entirely deprecated. Still, I think that foreign interference may be used—not by force—but asserted in another form. I agree that the people of a country are themselves to regulate their own affairs in all respects—that the people of the Duchies and all the several Italian Powers hare a 599 right to throw off their rulers—which they have done—to refuse to take them back—which they do not seem likely to do—and that they ought to manage their own concerns as regards the forms of government, or to institute new forms of government, whether they be monarchical, republican, or a mixture of the two, and the choice of rulers by whom their Government is to be administered. All that is their own affair, and no other Power has a right to interfere. But it is quite another thing even when the people of a country are unanimously desirous of annexing themselves to another Power—and here it is said on one side that the Savoyards desire annexation, and on the other that they object to it; but assuming that they are in favour of annexation, it is quite another thing if that change gives the other Powers of Europe reason to apprehend an alteration. I will not use the phrase so much abused of the balance of Power, but the distribution of territory. Then the principle of non-interference stops, and it becomes a question for the other Powers to entertain in regard to the distribution of Power in Europe. Now that, I contend, is quite consistent with the great doctrine of allowing the independence of Italy, and of allowing the Italians to arrange their internal affairs without foreign interference. But the practical question before the House is this: How are your Lordships to deal with the Motion before you? And I confess that, although I feel as anxious as any one to obtain the opinion of your Lordships upon this question, I should deprecate a course which would lead to the idea that there was any division of opinion, or which would show an indication that the great principles were not fully and unanimously approved of. Even suppose the Motion of my noble Friend is carried unanimously. I concur with the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Newcastle) that this also would be inauspicious, that it would tend very much to obstruct the friendly communications and shake the friendly feeling between this country and France. And if it is rejected it might go forth that the adversaries of the Government of the Emperor had been defeated. In any case the Motion is calculated to disturb the good understanding between the two countries, and interfere with arrangements that are most important to the prospects of peace, and I therefore advise the noble Marquess not to press that Motion to a division.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, 600 when I rose a short time since it was not for the purpose of continuing to any length the present debate, or rather what has been not so much a debate as a conversation of the utmost importance; and in which, with regard to the main principle involved in the Motion of the noble Marquess, there has not been, so far as I have observed, the slightest difference of opinion expressed by any one Member of this House. Undoubtedly, various noble Lords have expressed with more or less force the views they entertain of the supposed policy or scheme for the annexation of Savoy to France. The noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), who always speaks with considerable power, in alluding to this annexation, appeared to think that the measure has been finally determined on; while my noble and learned Friend, who has just sat down, spoke of the arrangements with respect to this matter as still trembling in the balance. [Lord BROUGHAM explained that what he spoke of as still trembling in the balance was the commercial treaty with France.] The only thing with which I have felt disappointed in the course of this debate is that in the address of the noble Earl the President of the Council, while he described the advice—the undoubtedly friendly advice, offered in firm and temperate language—Her Majesty's Government has tendered to the Government of France, he did not add that the advice so tendered has been accepted as conclusive and satisfactory, and that there is no reason for apprehending that the project, so fraught with evil and mischief to all concerned in it, is likely to be carried into effect. The noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) has pointed out, in the strong and forcible language he generally employs, the dangerous consequences arising from the present state of the affairs of Italy, and the dangerous consequences of substituting French for Italian influence in the Northern Provinces. Certainly, my Lords, that influence will be enormously augmented if the power of France is increased by the cession to it of the Province of Savoy, a measure that will leave open to France the gates of Italy. I must take the liberty of saying that when the late Government was using its utmost endeavours to persuade the several powers not to enter into that unhappy war, it especially pointed out the consequences that Sardinia and Savoy would have to apprehend from an alliance with France, should there be an actual outbreak of hosti- 601 lities. These consequences are now, perhaps, more clearly seen than they were at that time; and, however difficult it may be to effect it, I hope that the unanimous opinion of Europe, firmly and temperately expressed, may succeed in preventing a measure that can only lead to interminable complications or consequences yet more dangerous. In the course of this debate I think there has been much that must be gratifying to Her Majesty's Government. I do not agree with the observation that has been made that the adoption of the Motion would be disadvantageous to the general peace and good understanding existing between the two countries. I am certain that if it is rejected because there is a difference of opinion between the noble Marquess and Her Majesty's Ministers on the question as to whether the grounds laid down by the noble Marquess are not constitutional principles or sound international principles, that its rejection would be a singular evil. However that may be, making all allowance for the language which has been used by my noble Friend, Her Majesty's Government will be among the first to admit that the present discussion has exhibited a strong and unanimous feeling on the part of every Member of the British House of Peers, that must be a strong element in the preservation of the peace of Europe and the continuance of a good understanding with that Power whose conduct has been most strongly commented on. My Lords, it is not necessary to discuss the evils and dangers that will arise from the annexation of Savoy to France. They are admitted by all parties; one noble Lord has gone beyond another in the earnestness with which he has pointed out the dangers and evils which must result from the sanction of Europe being given to it. But let me express to all concerned my conviction that the two parties who will suffer most in character and honour by such an annexation will be the two Powers between whom the supposed compact has been made. It has already been pointed out that, by consenting to such an act, the French Emperor will contradict the liberal sentiments he uttered at Milan, and belie the whole course he has pursued since he ascended the throne of France. On every occasion he has studiously declared, and his actions have never yet been in contradiction to it, that whatever he might think, that whatever France might think, of the treaties of 1815, he did not intend to infringe them, but that he 602 recognized them as part of the international law of Europe. From that declaration the conduct of the French Emperor has never swerved. What course he might have pursued, had not Austria precipitated the war in Italy, it is now impossible to say; how far he might have been involved with Sardinia it is impossible to discuss, But the precipitation of Austria, after the declaration of the Emperor that, as long as she continued within her own dominions, he was determined to give no material assistance to Sardinia, commenced the war by the invasion of her neighbour's territory, from that moment, whatever the provocation she received, she precluded herself from calling on Europe to maintain her territorial rights as fixed by the treaties of 1815. But, my Lords, if any Power will suffer more than another, more even than France, and incur an indelible disgrace by giving up Savoy, that Power is Sardinia. She claimed to be the champion and vindicator of the liberty of Italy; she always declared that she entered into the war without any motive of self-aggrandisement, animated solely by a desire to achieve freedom for Italy, thinking nothing of herself. I can hardly understand the language of the noble Earl (Earl Granville) to-night, when he admitted that previous to the war there was some negotiation between France and Sardinia on the subject of a possible annexation of Savoy on certain conditions or contingencies. Now, if such negotiations ever did take place, I confess it is difficult to give credit to the declaration that Sardinia engaged in the war without any previous idea of an increase of territory. You are aware, my Lords, that by a special treaty—the Treaty of Turin—to the provisions of which, I believe, the assent of the other Powers of Europe was obtained, Switzerland and Piedmont reciprocally bound themselves under no circumstances and upon no conditions to cede to any other Power the territory in question, and Piedmont, having accepted that territory, not simply by way of exchange or with the object of promoting the peace of Europe, but by way of affording mutual security as between Switzerland and herself, would, in my opinion, be guilty, not only of a violation of the general law of Europe, but of an infraction of those specific engagements she has contracted with that Power, whose independence and neutrality is the very key-stone of the peace of Europe. I am not, however, prepared to attribute to Sar- 603 dinia conduct at once so discreditable and so inconsistent with the professions which she has made. I trust, on the contrary, that she will have the firmness to say to France—"This is a question with respect to which I am unable to comply with your wishes. I am bound, not alone by the general law of Europe and the treaties of 1815, but by a specific engagement into which I have entered with Switzerland, never to yield up to a third Power this particular territory." Could France, my Lords, in opposition to such a plea as that, by force and without the consent of Piedmont, take possession of Savoy? If she did seize upon that province, must it not be either by resorting to an act of the most unscrupulous violence—an act of which I am far from suspecting that she would be guilty—or as the result of the base and unprincipled connivance of the King of Sardinia, who would thus be despoiling his dominions of that portion of them which furnishes its best troops to his army and the most loyal and attached subjects to his throne? I do not, indeed think, my Lords, that the question is one in dealing with which it becomes this country to use the language of menace. I am, nevertheless, of opinion that it does befit England, as one of the great Powers of Europe, and by the free expression of the sentiments of this, the highest Assembly of a free nation, to have it placed upon record that the unanimous verdict of the Members of that Assembly is, that such conduct on the part of France as I have described would be inconsistent with the due maintenance of the treaties of 1815—that they deem it important, even in the interests of France herself, that she should do nothing to shake that confidence which it is so desirable should be established throughout Europe, and without the establishment of which no good security for the permanent peace of the Continent can be afforded. It is not, my Lords, the armed force of France, great as that undoubtedly is—it is not the important fact that the great resources of that great country are wielded by one absolute and despotic authority—it is not these combined circumstances which create apprehension. No, it is this which causes alarm—that she has never yet been able to succeed in inspiring Europe with perfect confidence in the steadiness of her policy, or in the pacific character of her intentions. Let her, then, show but the slightest design to annex to her own a territory, small in 604 extent, but great in strategic importance; let her but exhibit the smallest indication, now that she has so far succeeded in expelling Austrian influence from Italy, to perpetuate her own domination in that country by means of large standing armies—maintained I know not for what purpose—and I speak not now of the French garrison at Rome—let her, in short, but evince the most trifling disposition to transfer to herself the authority which Sardinia at present possesses over Savoy, thus securing for herself a passage into Italy, and obtaining a resting-place whence her armies may overrun the territories of an ally whose dominions she has been the means of aggrandizing—but under such circumstances of aggrandizing, I would say, to the danger of that Ally—let France, I repeat, my Lords, but pursue such a course of policy as that, and then, indeed, confidence—which is a plant of slow growth, especially among nations—can hardly be expected to be re-established between the powerful French Empire and the rest of Europe, which is looking on and watching her movements, in an attitude of anxious and suspicious hositility. I must, at the same time, observe, my Lords, that a great opportunity is now afforded to the Emperor of the French to maintain unimpaired his character for scrupulous adherence to the principles of good faith. Let him, then, declare that he concurs with Her Majesty's Government in the view which they take of the evils which would be likely to flow, not merely from this annexation of Savoy to France, but from any infraction of those territorial limits which have been so long established, and that he desires the maintenance of the balance of power and the peace of Europe. Let him prove to the world that he went to war—as he declared it to be his intention to do—for the liberation of Italy from foreign control, and not with the view to wield himself that power the exercise of which he condemned in another; lot him show that he respects England, and that right of self-government and independent action which we freely recognized in the case of that mighty Empire over which he reigns by the choice of its people; let him make it plain to Europe that neither upon the side of the Rhine nor the Alps is he to be tempted, by any vain idea as to what may seem to him the natural boundaries of France, to depart from those just principles which are far more potent than any natural limits whatsoever; let him frankly and avowedly take that course not 605 under menace, for menace no nation would venture to offer him; but acting on the friendly representations of a country with which it is his boast that he is on terms of close intimacy and alliance, whose policy he declares to be identical with his own, and with which he does not hesitate to announce that he acts band in hand and side by side. Let him, my Lords, I repeat, pursue that course; let him proclaim to the world that no violation of the existing boundaries of Europe is to be apprehended at his hands, and that he has given England the most solemn assurances that, in common with her, he will proceed upon the principle of absolute and entire non-interference with the affairs of other countries. If be so acts, then indeed, my Lords, will be have nobly availed himself of the opportunity which is now presented to him of reaping that best and most priceless fruit of the victories which be has won—the establishment over the minds of his fellow men of that moral authority which, unlike his great military power, is only to be attained by unswerving good faith, by scrupulous integrity, and by a strict adherence to the obligations of treaties and the rights of nations.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
expressed his regret that in the course of his speech in referring to the policy which contended that this country and Sardinia ought to pursue in reference to the question under the notice of the House, he should have used the phrase "physical power," to which the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Newcastle) had alluded.
LORD STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
said, the remarks which had just fallen from the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), who had spoken in terms so eloquent on the important subject under discussion, rendered him desirous to address a few observations with respect to it to the House. The noble Earl had stated that every noble Lord who had taken part in the discussion had in reality given expression to the same sentiments, modified although those sentiments might be by the form in which they were conveyed. It bad so happened, however, that, with the exception of the noble Marquess by whom the debate bad been opened, no noble Lord practically connected with the diplomatic service had ventured to address the House upon a question which in so eminent a degree came within the sphere of that department. As one, therefore, who had some experience in diplomatic affairs, he might perhaps be 606 permitted to lay before their Lordships very briefly the views with respect to the present Motion which he entertained. He should, then, in the first place, observe that he entirely concurred with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) in the opinion that it was for the interest of Europe at large that we should enter our protest against the addition of Savoy to the territories of the French Emperor, for it was impossible with justice to say that France by obtaining possession of that province and Nice would not be furnished with additional power of extending her influence over Italy; and although it might be said that England had no special interest in the latter country beyond that which related to her commerce, yet it was of the utmost importance that foreign influence should not be employed there in a manner prejudicial to us, especially if that influence were to proceed from a quarter which afforded indication of a readiness to pursue a policy unfavourable to this country—a policy on which he hoped the present Emperor of the French would never act, although it must be borne in mind that such had been the traditional policy of the French nation from the earliest times. He alluded to that policy which France had long been desirous of carrying out, which would convert the Mediterranean into a French lake. With regard to the territorial transfer now said to be contemplated, in proportion as it might be inexpedient to hazard the peace of this country and of Europe by our opposition to that transfer, so it was incumbent on Parliament at the proper time to express its opinions on the subject, and thus afford to the Government a support which would enable them when the time came to act up to their declarations. These declarations, though not quite so strong and so emphatic as had just been heard from other parts of the House, made it evident that the Government perceived the danger to which this annexation might lead, and felt themselves bound to take whatever measures could in prudence be suggested to prevent it. It could not be denied that, in addition to the increased influence which would accrue to her in Italy, France would derive from the acquisition of Savoy and Nice advantages infinitely superior to those which we had lately been accused of aiming at. What importance, for example, was attached by some of our neighbours to that miserable island at the entrance of the Red Sea, and what irritation had been produced by 607 our supposed desire of acquiring it! The possession of Perim was, indeed, of little importance as compared with the possession of Savoy and Nice; but even these considerations, important as they were, became comparatively trivial by the side of the questions of general policy which had just been so eloquently commented upon by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby). It was in this point of view that the strange and pernicious principles which had lately been put forward across the Channel were chiefly to be regarded. We had certainly no right to attribute these principles to the constituted authorities of France; yet they bore about them some marks of recognition by the authorities, and could not, therefore, be divested of importance. When their Lordships remembered these things, he could not help thinking that the Motions of the noble Marquess and the discussion which it had evoked were such as to inspire the strongest feelings of satisfaction; and he must therefore add his testimony to that of others as to the service rendered by the noble Marquess to this House and to the country by bringing the question forward. In the debate which had taken place he had heard nothing inconsistent with the language which a great assembly like this was entitled and was, indeed, bound to use. It seemed to him that just in proportion as they were called upon to do everything which might prevent the country from being plunged into war, so it became a more urgent duty on the part of Parliament to express a strong opinion when principles were enunciated which struck at the roots of all international obligations and of all international confidence. On such an occasion surely it was in the province of this House and of Parliament to meet such principles by a counter declaration, which should operate upon other countries, and, perhaps, thereby be the means of checking designs which it would be necessary to oppose even at the hazard of war. In the course of this debate a just tribute had been paid to the honour and the consistency of the great man now at the head of the French Empire. As far as the direct relations between the two countries were concerned this tribute was no doubt just and well-founded. But at the same time no one could help observing that during the last few years there had been certain transactions, by the side, so to speak, of the direct and public relations between the two countries, which had ex-cited astonishment combined with some de- 608 gree of distrust, not only here, but throughout Europe. When these matters were brought before Parliament, and opinions were frankly interchanged there respecting them, he thought their Lordships had a right to expect that instead of being treated as causes of offence or of quarrel by other Powers, these opinions should, on the contrary, be regarded as arising from a just sense of duty not only towards our own country, but towards Europe at large, and from a sincere desire for the continuance of that peace which was of so much importance to us and the whole world. This free expression of opinion on all subjects affecting our Foreign relations was not only of value in preventing bloodshed, but in extending also those great commercial interests which strengthened the friendship of nations; and he hoped that the present discussion would so be regarded, and would not fail of that happy effect.
THE MARQUESS OF NORMANBY
, in reply, said he was surprised to find that the Government made any difficulty in assenting to his Motion. It was not his intention to resist the appeal made to him by his noble Friend opposite, who said it would be inconvenient that the Motion should be pressed. But, although he was willing to withdraw it, he wished it to be understood that, his noble Friend excepted, every one who had spoken in this debate had assented not only to the principle which he had put forward, but to the expediency of giving expression to the unanimous assent of the House by adopting the Address he had moved; but by not pressing it he meant to leave upon Her Majesty's Ministers the responsibility of carrying out the views of the House in the way they thought most likely to be successful. It had been stated that if Savoy were annexed to France it would be by the decision of the people. He hoped their unbiassed decision was here meant, and that their opinions would be elicited without any foreign pressure. But he begged at the same time distinctly to be understood as not agreeing to withdraw his Motion for the reasons given by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), that its adoption might endanger the success of the Commercial Treaty. The prospect of such a result would not alarm him at all. But if his noble and learned Friend were still in the House, he would tell him what he had often heard was said in Paris within the last few days as to the reason why England would not strongly resist this measure. The phrase used might be best trans- 609 lated, because "England has sold her birthright for a mess of pottage."
§ Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at half-past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.