Графични страници
PDF файл

government or to better the laws for its internal regulation. He held in his hand a diplomatic note of Campo Chiaro, in which that minister appealed to the sovereigns of Europe in favour of the revolution effected in his country, and justified it as being neither dangerous nor offensive to foreign states. The allied sovereigns with this explanation before them, and acquainted with the conduct and circumstances of the Neapolitan revolution, had interfered on the general principle of a right to interfere, and had thus the merit of acting openly and without disguise, not aggravating the violence of injustice by the meanness of fraud. He could not but declare that he considered this as one of the most monstrous instances of injustice that the world had ever heard of, and the conduct of our government with respect to it demanded the strictest scrutiny and the most explicit explanation. Let their lordships look to the revolution of 1688, and then he would ask them if it could have been carried into effect without the combinations of those great men, who restored and secured our religion, our laws, and our liberties, and without such mutual communications among them as would bring them under the description of a sect or party. The Carbonari, who, it was said, had occasioned the revolution at Naples, were not always so obnoxious to the allies, and had become so only from their late conduct in favour of freedom. That sect had been formed in 1812; it was then encouraged and protected by the allies, it was then supported by them as an instrument against France; the

object which it then professed to ursue was a constitution for taly, and the expulsion of the French power from that country; it was then a favourite with the allies. Such was its history. But even although the revolution at Naples had been brought about by a smaller number than such a powerful and long established body, that circumstance, in his opinion, would not have impeached its merits, or have given the allies any additional right of interference, especially when it was considered that it was adopted by the old people without being imposed upon them by any force or violence. They not only showed a passive acquiescence in the operations of this sect, but actively concurred in establishing the constitution which they introduced; and what was at first a sect became at last, according to an expression which he had heard used, “the universal people.” That the revolution was the effect of the general will, might be roved by the rapidity with which it was established and the unanir mity with which it had been supported. We had seen, during that great change, none of the usual heats and animosities with which revolutions are frequently accompanied—none of those tumults and conflicts which arise from difference of opinion. It was established in a few days without confusion or blood; and, he believed, had no parallel in the history of the world. They were told, however, that the Neapolitan revolution had not only been the work of a sect, but that they had employed the army as the instrument in effecting their purpose. He did not see any more strength lul in this objection than in the former. If they were to have armies, they must reconcile themselves to the idea that when a soldier enlisted into them he did not surrender the feelings of a man, that he remained a citizen when under arms, and must sympathize with his countrymen. In a revolution the army must always take one side or the other: it must support the sovereign against the people, or aid the people in demanding their rights of the sovereign. God forbid that it should always, and in all circumstances, take the side of arbitrary power God forbid that tyranny, however monstrous or oppressive, should always be defended by the army He rejoiced to consider that soldiers when enlisted did not cease to be men, and that sovereigns were sometimes taught by their taking an opposite side, that their best guards and protection were the confidence and love of the people. God forbid that in all circumstances they should sup

ort arbitrary power against the just claims of liberty, and that language like the following should be held to nations desirous of improving the system of their government—language, however, which was held, in effect, by the present interference. The sovereigns thus said to the people— “Reform you may have, but it must come of our free will, and you must not employ the only means, or use the only instrument, for procuring it. The sect or the army which has assisted you must be disbanded or punished; and after we have done so, we shall give you that portion of liberty which we shall think proper to dispense.” What would

have been our own position at the time when our ancestors exerted

themselves to establish that con

stitution which they had handed down to us, had the army, which was less then than it is now, continued firm to that mis-guided monarch, James II. in opposing the just claims of his subjects? How lamentable would have been our situation, and how much would the recovery of our religion and our laws have been impeded, had the army at that time acted so as to earn the approbation of a body of sovereigns like the holy alliance Divesting the principles promulgated in the circular, and the conduct of the allies, of all pretexts, what language did they hold but the following, to the people of Naples 2 “You shall have no liberty but what is agreeable to our will; we cannot permit it to be enjoyed in our states, nor will we allow it in you; as we are resolved not to give freedom ourselves, we will not have free neighbours: Naples might encourage the people of Germany, and the people in the north of Italy, to demand a similar boon. It might incite the inhabitants of Breslaw, or of the banks of the Rhine, to seek for those constitutions which have been long promised and always delayed; nay, it might even penetrate into the frosts of Russia and elicit a new spark in the breasts of those who expelled Buonaparte from their inhospitable wilds. Expect not, therefore, that we can permit you to improve the system of your government. Overthrow the constitution you have established, or prepare for the full infliction of The sovereigns of Europe had met to declare that no new reforms should be permitted unless such as emanated from themselves, or had received their sanction. He now, therefore, called upon ministers to explain their conduct in appearing to favour such a confederacy, and in committing the government to acts so derogatory from the interests and the honour of the country. He called upon them to explain why their conduct had been so different in the two cases of Spain and Naples, which were so similar in their nature. When the Spanish revolution was effected, no suspension of intercourse had taken place; and he wished to know why our relations with Naples should have been placed on a different footing. He asked these explanations for the honour and the safety of the country, which had been compromised by the undecided, temporizing, and, he would add, pusillanimous conduct of his majesty's ministers. He should rejoice to find that the noble earl opposite could make those explanations satisfactory; but, at any rate, he would sit down with the consciousness of having discharged his duty, even

our wrath.” The

freedom at

although he might be disappointed

by the vote of the house in obtaining the papers for which he moved. The noble earl then moved for copies or extracts of all communications between his majesty's government and foreign governments, relative to the asfairs of Naples.

The cart of Liverpool could assure the noble lord and the house that though he would oppose the

motion, he was not sorry it

had been brought forward, and

that thus an opportunity was af. forded him of explaining and defending, if it required explanation or defence, that circular communication on which he had commented, and also of answering the general observations which he had thrown out. The circular of the 19th of January, he would contend, contained a clear, distinct, and intelligible exposition of the views and sense of government on the matter to which it referred, and the principles on which the allies professed to act. Although he had been willing to grant the papers moved for by the noble earl, he could not sanction a motion which was introduced for the purpose of censuring the conduct of government, without appearing to allow the justness of that censure. The noble earl alluded to what was called—“The Holy Alliance.” !e (lord Liverpool) knew not for what particular purpose the noble earl had made that allusion, as it was an alliance to which this country was not a party. Whatever objection the people of other countries might have to that alliance, to us at least its existence was harmless. The noble earl seemed to think that it was connected with this government in some secret manner. He could assure the noble earl that his apprehensions were unfounded. There was no mystery, difficulty, or doubt about the conduct of the English government. No arrangements had been made with any forcign power, except those which were regularly laid before parliament. There never had been any arrangements with this country respecting the operations of foreign powers, growing out of the treaty

of of Paris, or out of any other treaty that had not been laid on their table, and of which noble lords opposite had not full and perfect cognisance. The noble earl's objection came to this—that ministers, in giving their opinion, and in stating that they disapproved of the mode and circumstances under which the revolution at Naples was effected, did that which they had no right to do. He had no difficulty in stating that he was friendly to that expression of opinion. If the noble earl would look to the ground of the revolution at Naples, he would see a variety of circumstances which made it not only proper, but indispensably necessary that government should publish its disapproval of those proceedings. In the first place, that revolution was effected by a military mutiny; and, in the next, the Spanish constitution was adopted under the most extraordinary circumstances. He admitted that neither of these circumstances would afford just ground for an interference in the affairs of another country, since it was allowed that every state had a right to conduct its own affairs as it pleased, provided its transactions did not affect the tranquillity of other states. But still, if the military mutiny, or the adoption of the Spanish constitution, under such circumstances, appeared to be objectionable, he maintained that he had a right to express that opinion, while he, at the same time, stated that those two transactions did not afford a just ground for interference. Here he would shortly apply himself to the view which the noble carl appeared to take

of both these points. He said, “you must expect in great national convulsions that the military will take one side or the other, and it would be a most lamentable thing if they took part with despotic power;” and he alluded to what took place in our own country, when the army at Hounslow mutinied against king James. That however, was a case in which a revolution was effected by those who looked towards a competent constitutional authority for the redress of their wrongs, and he could not conceive any two cases to present more striking points of difference. The case of Naples was not that of a people demanding a redress of grievances, receiving a refusal, and the military standing up in order to assist them in procuring that redress. Such, however, was the case in 1688, and with respect to other revolutions that had been effected in this country. At Naples the revolution was the effect of a military mutiny, carried on in secret by a sect whom he would presently notice, no statement of grievances having been previously made. It was the act of a military mutiny in the first instance, by which the whole business had been brought about. He stated this, not as a ground for interfering with Naples, but as forming a very great distinction from the case to which the noble earl had referred. There was, however, another question which, he likewise admitted, afforded no practical justification for interfering with the affairs of Naples. He meant the mode in which the revolution was conducted. If he looked to the constitution of this country, as it had grown up,

nothing nothing could be more distinctly observable than the manner in which their ancestors had proceeded. In the struggle for Magna Charta, in the revolution of 1640, and in that of 1688, the distinct ground taken was a declaration of specific grievances to which practical remedies were to be applied, founded either on ancient rights, or on existing propositions. But this was very different from the course pursued in Naples, where the revolution was effected without any declaration whatsoever, and a foreign constitution was adopted, of which those who thought fit to select it knew nothing. There were grounds on which he meant to contend foreign countries were justified in interfering with the internal affairs of other states. He was not standing up to justify the conduct of the allies in that respect. It was sufficient for him to say that he saw no cause for the interference of this country. There was one ground for the interference of the allies which he was surprised the noble earl had overlooked. He alluded to the conduct of the revolutionary government of Naples towards Sicily. Nothing had occurred more outrageous or revolting, during the last twenty-five years, than the proceedings of these Neapolitans, with the word “liberty” in their mouths, to their Sicilian fellow-subjects. Every one who heard him was aware that Sicily was a distinct kingdom, though governed by the same king. The Sicilians had distinct rights, privileges, and laws. . In short, Sicily possessed a distinct constitution of its own. Such was the situation of Sicily: and

[ocr errors]

could any man pretend to say, that if a large army at Naples chose to effect a revolution there, and chose also to adopt a Spanish constitution, the people of Sicily were to have no share in the modification of that constitution ? What really took place on the occasion? When the event of the revolution at Naples was known, the strongest sentiment that could be conceived was manifested in Sicily against the new constitution. He knew that a strong feeling was also said to have been displayed against the royal family. This, however, he denied: no feeling but that of the most devoted loyalty was manifested towards them. What did the government of Naples do? They sent a large military force to Sicily to overawe public opinion, and to compel the Sicilians to submit. When that military force arrived at Palermo, they found the difficulties of the expedition greater than they had been led to suppose, and they were induced to enter into the capitulation with the inhabitants of Palermo, and the power stationed in that city— a requisition as reasonable, as fair, as just, and as equitable, as ever was concluded. It was signed and completely executed. It stipulated that the two states should compose one kingdom. They were to have the same sovereign, but it was left to the Sicilians to decide whether they would have a distinct and separate parliament, or whether their parliament was to be incorporated with that of Naples. This being signed, and definitively agreed on, was sent to the revolutionary government of Naples; but that revolutionary government, refused to

ratify

« ПредишнаНапред »