11 AUGUST 1855, Page 1


LORD Ionic RUSSELL is making it his business to provide his countrymen with a succession of surprises. We have had this year—his withdrawal from the Coalition, the discovery of his peace opinions amid the echo of his war speeches, and now, with equal suddenness, be turns advocate of the claims of Italy. He is induced to handle this topic, apparently, by the considera- tion that it would be convenient to the Government to have it let alone. He is bent upon proving that, after all, Lord Palmer- ston was right in sending him to Vienna in order to get him out of the way. He gave a good deal of trouble to Ministers by his conduct there; but if he had spent the same time at home he could have damaged their position even more. It was on Tuesday evening, on the third reading of the Appropriation Bill, that Lord John found occasion to make a little mischief by bringing up the awkward subject of foreign interference in support of misgovern- ment in Italy. Now it is quite possible that to a mind ignorant of the events and untouched by the excitement of the last two years, the gross abuses which in Italy are called governments might seem to demand the attention of civilized men quite as strongly as the aggression of Russia in the East. It is, indeed, one of the evils of a great war that every other consideration, whether foreign or domestic, is, reluctantly perhaps at first, but necessarily, laid aside for the sake, if possible, of doing one thing well. Any Mi- nistry charged with so vast a task must inevitably neglect other du- ties,—of which, of course, kind friends will not fail to put it in mind at the least seasonable moment. But besides the desire to show how much inconvenience he could create, there was also Lord John's an- cient fame as a champion of civil and religious liberty to be fur- bished up ; and for this purpose he could not have chosen his op- portunity better than by speaking on the subject of Italy at a time when no English statesman could see his way clearly to acting on her behalf. So long as the war lasts, and we have France for our active ally, and Austria has not declared against us, so long it will be necessary, however painful, to look on patiently at all the follies which authority enacts at Rome and Naples. But still it may be some comfort to reflect that on Lord John's own showing the progress of the war may tend to ameliorate at some future time the miserable misrule of Italy. Supposing the Allied armies to operate largely and fortunately in the field, the share of Sar- dinia in their triumphs will give weight to her appeals hereafter on behalf of her sister states. And it may also be expected that our own services and sacrifices to the common cause will obtain for our future representations more regard by far than if we had not so promptly drawn the sword in the interest of universal civilization. Nevertheless the fact remains, that, while we are taking care of Turkey, Italy is suffering under evils which the presence of some of our Allies has hitherto assisted to perpetuate. • It may be presumed that when Lord John Russell determined to stir up this Italian trouble for his late colleagues he thought the time for another warlike mood far distant. Indeed, it is a fair de- duction from Lord John's speech, that he belongs to the Peace party. He tells us, to be sure, that he did not say and does not Tacit that the Austrian proposal ought to be assented to at the present time ; but he thinks that proposal might have been as- sented to at the time it was made, and he also thinks that a fresh Opportunity for negotiation may perhaps arise during the recess. Now these words were deliberately uttered in explanation of a pre- vious speech,. and surely their just construction is, that, in the speaker's opinion, the war may be put an end to some time thisyear upon some one of the various plans agitated at Vienna, or upon some other arrangement not very dissimi- lar in principle. This view of the present state of Lord John's wind is confirmed by his allusion to the Turkish Plenipo- tentiary's concurrence in the Austrian proposal, and by his speculations on the hypothetical case of Turkey thinkine, the terms sufficient while her Allies should be for prosecuting the war. Such a ease, it is not to be denied, is possible, although we are a good deal in the habit of talking and writing as if its oc-

currence were inconceivable. It may even be proper that in this

respect our memories should be refreshed ; but after some of Lord John's speeches the warning comes, it must be owned, rather strangely from his lips. The truth, however, seems to be, that Lord John has become a convert to the Peace party, as Lord Der-

by to free trade, in his own despite, or, at least, in face of his own denial. The conclusion drawn by the journals from some of Lord Derby's speeches was repudiated with much indignation ; but nevertheless in the end it proved correct. And with regard to Lord John thus much may be predicted, that if, in the mutations of human opinion, the Peace party should rise as high as it now lies low, Lord John Russell will be found among its foremost lead- ers. The art of joining in time the winning side has been long practised at Vienna, and there is no better school for learning it. It might almost have been forgotten in the alternate excitement and lassitude of Parliament that the annual statement of Indian.

financial facts and prospects was still due to the House of Com- mons at the beginning of the present week. Mr. Vernon Smith assures the House that he is not to blame for failing to address it

earlier, because he could never find a day. Nor does he antici- pate any better usage during the continuance of the war. At the very end of a long session, when nothing but office or the hope of it can keep any one in town, part of a single evening is allotted to looking after the welfare of 160 millions of mankind. And this, says the responsible Minister, is the best that we can expect for some time to come. If so, the conclusion is that India has reason to thank Providence for what little was done in her affairs before the

war began—that is, on the supposition that even " double " go- vernment is better than no government at all. If the Imperial

Parliament had added the sovereignty of India to its other func- tions, we should now, it is to be feared, have seen it imitating the King of Naples, and leavino.t' its subjects to the tender mercies of the Police—with what result may be gathered from the recent report as to the use of torture in the Madras Presidency.

It results from Mr. Vernon Smith's statement that India is copying our own example in finance. Like ourselves, she has a deficient revenue, and directly after attempting to reduce the in- terest of her debt she has been compelled to raise fresh loans. But in other respects the comparison is in her favour. She is spending largely, not upon barren war, but in public works, which can scarcely fail to develop extensively her resources. There is no sign of war on any side, and a new Governor-General goes out with fair hopes of acting up to those pacific and eoodorni-

cal professions which his predecessors have so often uttered and so seldom found any opportunity of performing. One fact in Indian

finance deserves attention—the revenue from the opium trade has largely fallen off in consequence of the Chinese civil war. The Celestials have no time now for dozing ; but when they have fought out their quarrel it is hoped that they will drug themselves to sleep again, and thus the Company's opium traffic may revive. Another fact not very creditable to the English rule in India is

the existence of the practice of torture, not certainly by the au- thority, but with the connivance, or, at least, the passive permis- sion, of English officials.

In the House of Lords, the expiring embers of debate have been fanned into a flame by Lord Redesdale's efforts to maintain the

standing order against proceeding with bills sent up from the

Commons after the 24th of July. It happens that almost all the useful legislation of the Lower House has been accomplished since that day ; and both the Beer Bill and the Limited Liability Bill were obnoxious to the Peers' standing order. Earl Grey travelled three hundred miles to enforce this preliminary objection to the latter measure ; and, when beaten there, he opposed it on its merits, and carried several amendments, which must send it back to the Commons, and thus prolong the session. In both these debates the Marquis of Clanricarde assisted Government with a zeal which niay possibly have been prompted by the existence of a vacancy in the Cabinet. On going into Committee on the Turkish

Loan Bill, Lord St. Leonards took occasion to declare his approba- tion of the policy of Ministers in the Vienna Conferences. Such testimony from an opponent is valuable; although the political opinion of Lord St. Leonard' is not entitled to equal deference with his legal judgments.