THE MARQUESS OF CLANRICARDE
called the attention of their Lordships to the Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of France respecting the deportation of Communists to this country. He said, that although the French Government had undertaken that this practice should be discontinued, yet the Papers that had been laid upon the Table on the subject were most unsatisfactory. Nothing could be more absurd than for the French Government to put these Communists who had been landed in this country on the footing of political refugees or exiles who had voluntarily come among us, and it was with extreme reluctance that the French Government had yielded to the remonstrances of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. These Communists were either paupers with whom the French Government did not know how to deal, or they were criminals. The latter was for the most part the case, for under the name of Communists they had been guilty of plunder, arson, and murder. It was ridiculous, therefore, to argue, as M. de Rémusat had argued, that England was bound to receive these men, because we afforded a refuge to political refugees, properly so called. The Government of the United States adopted measures to prevent the emigration of paupers to that country, and he thought it would be well for Her Majesty's Government to consider whether a change might not be effected in our laws for the purpose of keeping off objectionable persons from the shores of England.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
replied that the Correspondence which had been presented to Parliament showed the opinion of Her Majesty's Government on this subject, and that he had not failed in representing those opinions to the French Government, and a passage in one of Lord Lyons's despatches showed that the President admitted the validity of our remonstrances. It was supposed that the Correspondence had closed upon the whole matter. It turned out, how- 337 ever, that that was not the fact, inasmuch as he had recently received a communication from a railway manager (Mr. Knight) connected with the South-Eastern Railway Company, conveying the information that another group of 12 French Communists had been landed in England. He (Earl Granville) thereupon felt it to be his duty to give instructions to Lord Lyons on the matter. Lord Lyons immediately communicated with M. de Rémusat, the French Minister, who seemed astonished, and said that the French Government would much regret it if it had really occurred; and he assured Lord Lyons that an inquiry would be at once instituted, with the view of preventing the recurrence of such a proceeding. When that inquiry terminated it would, of course, be his (Earl Granville's) duty to inform their Lordships of the result. As to the suggestion of the noble Marquess that there should be a change in the law, he was afraid his noble Friend had not taken into account the difficulties which were sure to present themselves in the framing of such regulations as might be desirable.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
thought that in the communications between the two Governments on the subject of those deportations his noble Friend the Foreign Secretary had shown great judgment and considerable forbearance. On the other hand, it should be admitted that the French Government must be placed in great difficulties as regarded the disposal of their prisoners, who were almost overwhelming in numbers. He wished, however, to call attention to an episode which had occurred while these communications were being exchanged. His noble Friend having stated in the course of the Correspondence that none of these Communists could be admitted into this country without a visa from the British Minister, it appeared that a M. Bocquet, who had been sentenced by a French Court to five years' imprisonment for the part he had taken in the doings of the Commune, managed to get back to this country, from which he had gone away during the war, and to get restored to his Professorship in London University College School, which he had previously filled for 10 years. There could be no doubt that M. Bocquet got back from France with the connivance of some of the French officials. There ought to be no morbid sympathy—in this country, at all 338 events—for these Communists. The Communists of Paris as a body surpassed all former criminals who had ever committed atrocities in France—including even those who shed so much blood during the Reign of Terror. It was impossible to put men, for whom there was no name bad enough, on the same footing with the Poles or the Italians, who were exiled because they had fought for their country against the foreigner, or with other refugees who had struggled for their political opinions. Had these Communists the least feeling of honour they would have respected the misfortunes of France when the Prussians were at the gates of her capital; but, instead of that, they brought about a civil war while the Prussians were still on French soil—and, indeed, there was no assassination at which they stopped short from the day when they murdered two innocent Generals till that on which they put to death the Archbishop of Paris and the other hostages. They ended their misdeeds by destroying by fire their own capital city. It was impossible to feel sympathy for such men. There was one sentiment deeply rooted in the heart of all Revolutionists, and it was that of intense vanity. M. Bocquet, not content with having been received with open arms at London University College, and restored to the place which had been "kept open" for him, must write a letter to The Times, in which he gave an account of himself. It appeared that he came to this country after the troubles in 1848—that remarkable period of political revolutions—and almost immediately afterwards obtained the appointment of Professor of French in the London University College School. Having described all he had suffered in a French prison, M. Bocquet stated that he left England to assist in the defence of Paris against the Prussians. That was all right enough; and if he had come back to England after the Prussians had entered Paris, no one would have grudged him the restoration of his employment; but M. Bocquet remained in Paris, was Mayor of the Fifth Arrondissement—that of the Pantheon—and commandant of a battalion of the National Guards; and afterwards, as he stated in his letter, "being an old Republican," he, "as a matter of course," acted with the Republican force "against the Royalists at Versailles." The Royalists thus alluded 339 to were the Republican Government, at the head of which was M. Thiers! What seemed particularly strange was a statement in the Correspondence that Mr. Stansfeld, one of the Members of the Government, was reported to have said to another gentleman that neither Lord Granville nor he (Mr. Stansfeld) had any right or wish to refuse a visa to M. Bocquet, although the Papers showed that Lord Granville had positively done so.