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who represented M. Guizot and progress at Rome, and from M. Metternich and the Sanfedisti, as the Old Catholic party was called, on the other. While the Pope was thus hesitating between progress and reaction, Lord John, with the consent of his colleagues, prevailed over the reluctance of the Court, and decided on sending a special mission to Italy. He entrusted the task to Lord Minto, who had special qualifications for the office. In the first place Lord Minto's son-in-law was Minister at the Court of Piedmont; in the next place, as a member of the Cabinet, and as the member who in his department had nothing to do, he was both available for the mission and peculiarly qualified to speak the mind of his colleagues; while, in the third place, though blood is not usually a recommendation for office, it was certain that the Prime Minister's father-in-law would speak with an authority which no other man of equal ability could command. During the autumn of 1847 Lord Minto's presence was everywhere regarded as an encouragement to reform. Late in the year, however, more energetic movements disconcerted the efforts of the moderate reformers. Riots in Milan, in Venice, and in Central Italy justified, or seemed to justify, the acts of repression and interference to which Austria resorted. In January 1848 a rising in Sicily forced the King to concede what was known as the Constitution of 1812. In the same month the Piedmontese demanded and obtained representative institutions. The news of the revolution in February fell, therefore, like a spark on a magazine ready to explode. Milan and Venice, it has already been stated, drove out their Austrian garrisons; Piedmont formally marched to the help of the Milanese. All Italy clamoured to be led against Austria; and the Austrians actually appealed to Great Britain to mediate in the crisis. The British Court watched these events with dislike. Prince Albert, six years afterwards, told Count Vitzthum that the King of Piedmont had fallen like a robber on Lombardy in 1848.” The Prime Minister, on the contrary, regarded the crisis with very different feelings. He shall, however, explain his own views in his own language :
* Life of Prince Consort, i. 428, seq. The Queen thought the mission “a very grave question.” * Memoirs of Count Vitzthum, i. Io9.
Memorandum] - May 1, 1848.
The great highways of Europe having been broken up by late events, it is necessary to consider the present state of affairs both de jure ef de facto. M. Lamartine has declared the treaties of 1815 at an end, only reserving a respect for the rights of possession enjoyed by sovereigns of States. As a consequence of the internal changes in France this new position is indefensible under the recognised principles of the law of nations. But it is not so as a ground for changes made or contemplated since this view of M. Lamartine was first declared. In 1813, Holland, Belgium, Milan, Tuscany, Rome belonged to France by treaties as sacred as that of 1815. Germany was subject to her. Events changed this state of things. Austria, Holland, and other powers acquired by force and established by treaty new rights. In 1830 Holland lost by insurrection her dominion over Belgium. A new treaty recognised a new power. In 1848 Austria has lost Milan, and is obliged to recognise new rights in Hungary and Bohemia. Germany has broken loose from the powers which governed her, and is seeking a reconstruction in some more liberal form. It is impossible not to admit that these facts form as good a ground for new transactions as the events of 1813–15 did for the Treaties of Vienna. Nor are these changes less to be justified in reason. Napoleon used his power to oppress independent nations. Austria, Russia, and Prussia used the force given them by the indignation of the people of Germany, Spain, and Italy to establish large armies, and by large armies despotic and degrading forms of government. Prussia broke loose from this system in 1847. Italy followed, and Austria itself has now had its revolution. It is impossible to deny that France has as good a right to assist the movement of 1848 as Prussia and Austria had to assist the movement of 1813. Nor does she want a precedent. In 1831–32 the naval forces of England and the troops of France combined to make the King of Holland forego the rights he had acquired by the treaty of 1815. Thus the right of France to interfere when nations have driven out their Governments by their own means being such as it is not easy to dispute, it becomes us to consider what is to be our part in the new forms of European policy. It is obvious that it is not becoming or expedient for us to proclaim the invalidity of the treaties of 1815. On the contrary we ought rather to promote in the interest of peace and order the maintenance of the territorial arrangements then made. But neither ought we to go on clinging to a wreck if a safe spar is within our reach. Austria can hardly restore her sway in Italy. If she gains a victory, France will aid the Lombards, and with the assistance of all Italy overpower her. If she attempts a protracted war, the state of her finances, and the discontent of Hungary and Bohemia, will soon distract her councils and paralyse her efforts. It is advisable, therefore, that we should use our efforts in communication, though not in direct concert, with France, to produce a frank abandonment of Lombardy and Venice on the part of Austria. France will probably require compensation either on the side of Savoy, or, if Charles Albert is not made King of Lombardy, by means of influence on the Lombard Republic. The Lombards on their side desire no influence, French or German, in their affairs, and it is obviously our interest to favour their feelings of independence. If, however, the war goes on, the influence and the arms of France are sure to be seen on the other side of the Alps. Our endeavour, therefore, should be to settle the matter quickly —and to settle it by negotiation. If by transferring to Austria the protectorate of the Ionian Islands we could give her security on the side of Trieste and increased power on the Adriatic, we ought willingly to do so. The Ionian Islands are only of use to us as a means of keeping Russia and France out of a strong position. They are neither colony nor independent ; neither free nor subject; a source of perpetual irritation, expense, and annoyance. In Germany the Schleswig Holstein question threatens much disturbance. But the heir through the female line having offered to resign his pretensions, there is a favourable opening for negotiation. The condition of the Peninsula is, as usual, discouraging. In
Portugal we may, indeed, from old habits and an inveterate tendency to alliance, maintain some shadow of influence, and in time of danger we shall always be appealed to. In Spain the case is different. Narvaez seems to be the only able Spanish statesman, and he cannot bear liberty. But it was for the sake of liberty in the Peninsula that we joined in the Quadruple Treaty of 1834. As matters stand at present I think Mr. Bulwer should be directed— 1. To consider the Montpensier question as suspended, and not to interfere at all in it, unless he receives positive directions to that effect. 2. Not to give any opinion whatever on the internal affairs of Spain. But for his own guidance he should be informed that we cannot be expected to support the Queen's title to the throne if that throne is endangered by the acts of her own Ministers acting in her name. Otherwise we should be doing that which, in the case of some Indian princes, has been so justly censured, viz., supporting kingly oppression against popular resistance by means of British forces. Without going further into the state of Europe, I would make one general observation. It is our interest to use our influence as speedily and as generally as possible to settle the pending questions, and to fix the boundaries of States. Otherwise, if war once becomes general, it will spread over Germany, reach Belgium, and finally sweep England into its vortex. Should our efforts for peace succeed, Europe may begin a new career with more or less of hope and of concord ; should they fail, we must keep our sword in the scabbard as long as we can, but we cannot hope to be neutral in a great European war. England cannot be indifferent to the supremacy of France over Germany and Italy or to the advance of Russian armies to Constantinople: still less to the incorporation of Belgium with a new French Empire."
This remarkable memorandum practically recommended three things: (1) abstinence from interference in the internal affairs of Spain; (2) concert with France in mediating between Austria and Piedmont; (3) negotiation on the Schleswig
This is apparently the memorandum to which Baron Stockmar refers in his Memoirs, ii. 370. But the Baron's account of it is very inaccurate.
Holstein succession. It was probably inspired by a desire not merely to instruct the Cabinet, but to control the Foreign Minister. For the events of 1848 were both increasing the labours of the Foreign Office and encouraging Lord Palmerston to take of his own volition steps on which he ought to have obtained the approval of the Cabinet and the technical sanction of the Queen. . He had received a proposal from the Russian Minister for the settlement of the Schleswig-Holstein question,' which, to the grave annoyance of the Queen, he had not thought it requisite to communicate either to the Court or to his colleagues, and, without the knowledge either of Queen or colleagues, he had addressed a despatch to Sir H. Bulwer, recommending that the basis of the Spanish Government should be enlarged.
When Lord John became acquainted with Lord Palmerston's action he addressed the note to Lord Lansdowne which has been already quoted, begging him to see Lord Palmerston, and adding—
It is difficult to go on in this way, but I must beg you to interfere before I say all I think.
Urged on by this letter, and stimulated by an attack in the Lords on Lord Palmerston's policy, Lord Lansdowne did interfere; and it was definitively arranged that in future all the Foreign Secretary's despatches should be submitted to the Prime Minister.” But, so far as Spain was concerned, the mischief was already done. The Spanish Government returned Mr. Bulwer the offensive despatch which he communicated to it from Lord Palmerston ; and, on Mr. Bulwer's receiving two further despatches approving his conduct, and commenting severely on the Spanish Ministry, sent him his passports and desired him to leave the country. The news of this unusual and awkward event reached England on the 24th of May. It excited natural consternation both at the Court and in the Cabinet. On the following Sunday (the 28th) the Queen sent for Lord John to pour out to him her complaints and her anxiety. While the Queen was thus occupying the
* For this matter see Greville, Memoirs, pt. ii., iii. 178. * Greville, Memoirs, iii. 174.