Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

bunal, by virtue of this Royal Order, for their direction, and in order to its most exact and speedy accomplishment.

God preserve you many years.
At the Palace, April 20th, 1818.

JOSE PIZARRO. The Secretary of the Supreme Council of War.

PROCLAMATION of the Lord High Commissioner of His

Britannic Majesty, Sovereign Protector of the Ionian Islands, relative to the proposed New Constitution of Government.-Corfu, the 9th of November, 1816.

(Translation.) His Excellency has been occupied since his arrival in these States, with seriously considering how far circumstances would permit him to proceed with the execution of the important duties which have been confided to him by his Sovereign.

He has great satisfaction in observing, that the opposition which was at first manifested by a few misguided or evil disposed Iudividuals, to the obvious letter and spirit of the Treaty of Paris, has now fortunately terminated. He has also ascertained, by means of the most careful enquiries, that the dreadful and destructive disease, by which this Ísland and that of Cephalonia bave been successively afflicted, is, by the aid of Divine Providence, the activity and zeal of the Sanatory Officers, and the patriotism of the Population itself, now, and he trusts for ever, entirely eradicated.

His Excellency, therefore, considers this the proper moment to announce to the various Constituted Authorities, and to the Population of the Ionian Islands generally, that it is his intention to adopt, without any further delay than is absolutely required by the nature of the business, the proper measures for the formation of that Legislative Assembly, which His Excellency has been commissioned to convoke, the proceedings of which he is ordered to direct, and whose duty it will be to establish a permanent Constitution for these States, subject to the Ratification of His Majesty the King of Great Britain and Ireland.

In the performance of the high and important duties which have been confided to him, His Excellency has only two objects in view: first, to conform to the intentions of the great and illustrious Allied Powers, who concluded the Treaty of Paris; and, secondly, to carry those intentions into effect, according to the clear and equitable construction of that Treaty, so as to secure to the Ionian People, who are now placed under the sole and exclusive protection of Great Britain, that enlarged measure of liberty and prosperity which, after a mature and profound consideration of their actual condition and feelings, shall appear to be practicable.

His Excellency is aware that some Persons have entertained a

belief that it was bis intention to make innovations upon the order of things established in these Islands,-a proceeding which would be no less repugnant to his own sentiments, than inconsistent with his duty towards his Sovereign and the People of these States.

It would indeed be an extraordinary circumstance, if the Representative of that Government which, owing to auspicious circumstances, bas been enabled to oppose a uniforin and determined resistance to the innovating and revolutionary spirit of the pretended Regenerators of France, of that Government which, in conjunction with His Majesty's illustrious Allies, subverted those doctrines and that power wbich were, in truth, the scourge and the bane of the human race,- were now to come forward and to countenance, in a People placed under its exclusive protection, the same wild and speculative political doctrines, in resisting which the British Nation has shed its dearest blood, and expended an unparallelled amount of treasure.

The objects of His Majesty's Government are widely different. The British Government is opposed to all sudden and violent changes. It desires that Society remain upon the same basis as heretofore ;that the Upper Classes be supported in their just and legitimate rights, and that the Lower Classes be equally protected in the enjoyment of the rights which belong to them.

His Excellency will at no time be seen to depart from this fundamental principle of British Policy, a principle, which it is of the útmost importance that he should adhere to; inasmuch as, he ventures to assert, it is the glory of his Country, to have thereby adjusted and reconciled the interests of the various classes of Society, in the Bri. tish Dominions, in a more effectual and satisfactory manner than appears to have ever been effected in the history of any other Nation.

In declaring his firm intention to adhere to this principle, His Excellency wishes it to be distinctly understood, that, although it is not his intention to introduce any organic changes into these Islands, he is still of opinion, so far as his own observations have enabled him to judge, that considerable alterations will be required, and that in order to insure due protection to the persons and property of all, extensive changes in many of the existing Establishments will be indispensable.

His Excellency is of opinion, that the only real wisdom in Legislation is that which is derived from experience.

The experience of practical results has ever been considered the surest guide, and the weak and chimerical political speculations which once prevailed have now, thanks to Providence, sunk into merited insignificance and contempt.

But of what experience are we to avail ourselves in the Ionian Islands ?

It would be exceedingly painful to His Excellency (and he would upon no account enter iuto the subject) to describe the nature of that

[ocr errors]

Government (if Government it could be called) which, during so many Centuries, under the aristocratic tyranny of the Venetians, held in subjugation the brave People of these Countries; notwithstanding the eminent endowments with which nature had furnished them: a tyranny, the policy of which would appear to have been to degrade the Venetian Colonies, and to treat them as though it had been essential to the safety of the Mother Country, to keep them in the profoundest ignorance, and the most abject Slavery.

Nor would it be less painful to bis feelings, to enter into any description of the scenes which ensued, in almost all the Islands, after the so called Byzantine Constitution.

Happily, however, that Personage then appeared, whose name no one can mention without the highest respect and admiration, the Emperor Alexander, the acknowledgeil Protector, and, for a time, the Saviour of these States.

The causes which led to the cessation of his protection, and the bases of the definitive arrangement by which the exclusive protection of these States has, with the consent of all Parties, devolved upon Great Britain, are too generally knowu to require any observation upon the present occasion.

The only Act to which it may be useful to refer, is the Constitution granted to these States, by virtue of the Constitutional Charter promulgated in 1803. But what was the result of that Constitution ?

It is matter of notoriety that, instead of realizing the expectations with which it had been framed, 2 years had scarcely elapsed, before it was discovered to be so little conformable to the objects contemplated in its formation, that it became necessary entirely to remodel it; and it is equally well known, that these alterations were just upon the point of being carried into effect, when the disastrous events of the War brought the brave and interesting population of these Islands under the tyrannical domination of the Usurper of France.

The Constitution, tbus altered, having never, therefore, been tried, we are furnished with very little practical experience to guide us upon the present important occasion; and although the circumstances which subsequently occurred in the various Islands may afford us some information as to the course which it may be advisable to pursue, it is nevertheless not of such a nature as to justify us in proceeding, without mature consideration and great caution.

His Excellency, in offering this brief exposition of the existing state of things, is perfectly well aware of all the difficulties that can and may arise ; but he entertains the most confident bope, that, by keeping constantly in view the particular interests of all Parties; by continuing to respect the just claims of every class of society; by supporting all in their distinct and recognized rights; assisted by the prudence, wisdom, and advice, of the Primary Council, which he (1816-17.]

2 S

is about to assemble in Corfu from all the Islands, he will be enabled to submit to the Legislative Assembly, at the period of its Convocation, such a Project of Constitution for these States, as, by effectually protecting the interests of every Class, shall fully and practically contribute to the permanent security, prosperity, and happiness, of the entire Population.

The present shall be printed in the Greek and Italian Languages, and published for the information of all Persons. The Palace, Corfu, 19th November, 1816.

By order of His Excellency,

WILLIAM MEYER, Secretary to the Government.

SPEECH of the Lord High Commissioner of His Britannic

Majesty, Sovereign Protector of the Ionian Islands, on the Opening of the Primary Council.-Corfu, the 3rd of February, 1817.

(Translation.)

Most Noble GentleMEN!

You have been convoked and are here assembled, in pursuance of a Proclamation issued by me on the 7th of January last, in my quality of Lord High Commissioner of His Majesty, the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in the Ionian States, of which he is the sole and exclusive Protector.

I have directed an authentic Copy of His Majesty's Commission, and of the Treaty of Paris, to be presented to you by the proper Officers.

You are here assembled, in conformity with the terms of the said Proclamation, as a Primary Council, in order to concert with me the bases of that Constitutional Organization which will have to be submitted to the Legislative Assembly of these States, so soon as the same shall have been convoked by me, in virtue of the authority with which I am invested.

I can assure you, Gentlemen, that I feel the most lively satisfaction in hailing the approaching realization of expectations which have been so long, and so anxiously cherished; and I trust that a legitimate order of things will soon be established in these Islands ; that every description of Provisional Administration will at length terminate; and that, with the gratifying prospect of preparing and carrying into effect the new Form of rational and practical Government, we may be justified in anticipating a happy amelioration in the morals and religious duties of the People; and a greater degree of protection and security to Individuals and property, than has, owing to the unbappy circumstances of the times, ever before existed in these Countries.

You have been selected by me, Gentlemen, on account of the bigh

consideration which you enjoy in the various Islands of which you are distinguished Inhabitants; and in the full conviction, that your talents, experience, and enlightened principles, peculiarly qualify you for the promotion of the great and important object, to which your attention is about to be directed.

Deeply penetrated with these sentiments, I venture to recommend, in the most earnest manner, that, throughout the whole of this important proceeding, your conduct may be regulated by the greatest candour and impartiality; bearing constantly in mind that, by the position in which we are placed by the Treaty of Paris, there can exist no separation of interests between the Protecting Power and the Protected People, and that such a separation could not fail to be as detrimental to the prosperity of these States, as it would be inconsistent with the character and honour of the British Government. I may with truth add, that it is only by considering the interests of both as indissolubly united, that your labours, and those of the Legislative Assembly, which will afterwards be convened, can ever arrive at a successful and beneficial conclusion.

This view of the subject appears to me to be, not only correct in itself, but that which necessarily results from a just consideration of the obvious meaning of the Treaty of Paris.

But before I proceed with this important question, it will be necessary for me to explain to you, what I consider to be the equitable construction of that Treaty.

It is undoubtedly stipulated, in the Ist Article, that these Islands shall form a single, free, and independent State, under the denomination of the United States of the Ionian Islands; and if this were the only stipulation in the Treaty, there can be as little doubt, that my destination here would have been altogether superfluous; that the Ionian States would have the right to choose any species of Government, which they might consider as best calculated to protect them, in the manner most conformable to their wants and wishes, as well as to assume all those attributes of Sovereignty, which constitute the essence of entirely free and independent Governments.

But every one, who directs his attention to the succeeding Articles of the Treaty, must inevitably come to the conclusion, that, under the then existing circumstances, such could not have been the intention of the High Contracting Parties : for every Article, subsequent to the first, contains some distinct restrictions; all contain material limitations; and some even entirely extinguish the most essential incidents of Sovereign Power.

Considering only for a moment the Ind, UIrd, and IVth Articles of the Treaty; allow me to enquire, whether the liberty and independence of any State, which is placed under the exclusive protection of another, must not be of a very problematical character ? But when we further observe, that these States cannot regulate

« AnteriorContinuar »