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BRITISH REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SURVEILLANCE OF ITALIAN AFFAIRS, 1860–70*

  • O. J. WRIGHT (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

During the nineteenth century the British consular service was often dismissed as an organization with purely commercial responsibilities. A succession of governments and diplomats insisted upon this notion, despite the fact that at certain times both relied very much on consular officials for information on foreign affairs. This dependence was especially evident in Italy during the decade after 1860, when British leaders had lent their moral and diplomatic support to the creation of the modern Italian state against considerable international opposition. During this period their desire not to see the achievement undone led them to maintain a close watch on Italian affairs. The contribution made in this area by the consular service, and the manner in which it was reorganized in response to Italian unification, show how such a role could take priority over its other functions. Although this state of affairs was no doubt exceptional on account of the remarkable level of British interest in the Unification of Italy, it nonetheless provides a clear demonstration of how the organization could be used under certain circumstances. The extent to which British consuls were used to monitor affairs in post-unification Italy also encourages reflection upon the widespread view that British foreign policy rejected interventionism in favour of isolation from European affairs during the 1860s.

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Corresponding author
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames. Surrey, KT1 2EEo.wright@kingston.ac.uk
References
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1 See Derek Beales, England and Italy, 1859–1860 (London, 1961), and Russell to Hudson, 27 Oct. 1860, in Selections from speeches of Earl Russell 1817 to 1841 and from despatches 1859 to 1865, ii (London, 1870), pp. 328–32.

2 See C. P. Brand, Italy and the English Romantics: the Italianate fashion in early nineteenth-century England (Cambridge, 1957); John Pemble, The Mediterranean passion: Victorians and Edwardians in the south (Oxford, 1987); Maura O'Connor, The romance of Italy and the English imagination (Basingstoke, 1998); Roderick Cavaliero, Italia romantica: English Romantics and Italian freedom (London, 2005); A. N. Wilson, The Victorians (London, 2002), pp. 84–92.

3 See Derek Beales, ‘Garibaldi in England: the politics of Italian enthusiasm’, in John A. Davis and Paul Ginsborg, eds., Society and politics in the age of the Risorgimento (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 184–216.

4 For example, see Beales, England and Italy; Mario Tedeschi, Francia e Inghilterra di fronte alla Questione Romana, 1859–1860 (Milan, 1978); Nicholas E. Carter, ‘Sir James Hudson, British diplomacy and the Italian question: February 1858 to June 1861’ (Ph.D. thesis, University of Wales Cardiff, 1993); Nick Carter, ‘Hudson, Malmesbury and Cavour: British diplomacy and the Italian question, February 1858 to June 1859’, Historical Journal, 40 (1997), pp. 389–413.

5 For rare examples of such work, see H. E. Priestley, ‘British policy in the Italian question, 1866–1871’ (Ph.D. thesis, London, 1931); Massimo de Leonardis, L'Inghilterra e la questione Romana 1859–70 (Milan, 1980).

6 Russell to Hudson, 14 Mar. 1862, The National Archives (hereafter TNA), FO 170/99.

7 See also Owain James Wright, ‘The information service: British diplomats and consuls in Italy, 1861–1870’ (Ph.D. thesis, Lancaster, 2005).

8 For the official responsibilities of consular officials, see E. W. A. Tuson, The British consul's manual: being a practical guide for consuls as well as for the merchant shipowner, and master mariner (London, 1856).

9 Jeremy Black, British diplomats and diplomacy, 1688–1800 (Exeter, 2001), p. 58.

10 Hughes Michael, ‘British diplomats in Russia on the eve of revolution’, European History Quarterly, 24 (1994), pp. 342–3.

11 The only general history of the British consular service is D. C. M. Platt, The Cinderella service: British consuls since 1825 (London, 1971). Other works include Lucia Patrizio-Gunning, ‘The British consular service in the Aegean, 1820–1860’ (Ph.D. thesis, London, 1997); Rice G. W., ‘British consuls and diplomats in the mid-eighteenth century: an Italian example’, English Historical Review, 92 (1977), pp. 843–46; Platt D. C. M., ‘The role of the consular service in overseas trade, 1825–1914’, Economic History Review, n.s., 15 (1963), pp. 494512; Byrd Peter, ‘Regional and functional specialisation in the British consular service’, Journal of Contemporary History, 7 (1972), pp. 127–45; John McDermott, ‘The Foreign Office and its German consuls before 1914’, Journal of Modern History, 50, On Demand Supplement (1978), pp. 1001–34; P. D. Coates, The China consuls: British consular officers, 1843–1943 (Hong Kong, 1988).

12 Patrizio-Gunning, The British consular service in the Aegean, pp. 12–13.

13 Platt, The Cinderella service, p. 6.

14 Reynolds David, ‘International history, the cultural turn and the diplomatic twitch’, Cultural and Social History, 3 (2006), pp. 7591. See also Patrick Finney, ‘The diplomatic temptation’, Antony Best, ‘“The cultural turn” and the international history of East Asia’, and Reynolds David, Culture, diplomacy and language’, Cultural and Social History, 3 (2006), pp. 472–95.

15 For example, see Gordon Daniels, Sir Harry Parkes: British representative in Japan, 1865–1883 (Richmond, 1996); Karina Urbach, Bismarck's favourite Englishman: the embassy of Odo Russell to Berlin (London, 1999); Scott W. Murray, Liberal diplomacy and German Unification: the early career of Robert Morier (Westport, CT, and London, 2000); Katie Hickman, Daughters of Britannia: the lives and times of diplomatic wives (London, 2000).

16 John Ure, Diplomatic bag: an anthology of diplomatic incidents and anecdotes from the Renaissance to the Gulf War (London, 1994), p. 5.

17 Like newspapers; see Daniel R. Headrick, When information came of age: technologies of knowledge in the age of reason and revolution, 1700–1850 (New York, 2000), p. 5.

18 Denis Mack Smith, Cavour (London, 1985), pp. 232–3, 260–3.

19 A. J. P. Taylor, The struggle for mastery in Europe (Oxford, 1971), p. 124.

20 Nicholas Doumanis, Inventing the nation: Italy (London, 2001), pp. 86–7.

21 Elliot to Minto, 2 July 1860, Minto papers, National Library of Scotland, MS 12250.

22 Odo Russell to Lord Russell, 30 Dec. 1860, in Noel Blakiston, ed., The Roman question: extracts from the despatches of Odo Russell from Rome, 1858–1870 (London, 1962), p. 146.

23 Russell to Hudson, 15 Mar. 1861, TTNA, FO 167/122.

24 See enclosure in Hammond (for Russell) to Hudson, 2 May 1861, TNA, FO 45/1.

25 Hudson to Russell, 27 May 1862, Russell papers (hereafter RP), TNA, PRO 30/22/69.

26 Paget to Stanley, 25 Apr. 1868, TTNA, FO 45/125.

27 Paget to Clarendon, 6 May 1869, TTNA, FO 45/141.

28 Martin Clark, Modern Italy, 1871–1995 (2nd edn, London, 1996), p. 7.

29 Rice, ‘British consuls and diplomats’, pp. 834–46.

30 John Jackson, Reflections on the commerce of the Mediterranean: deduced from actual experience during a residence on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea (London, 1804), p. 110.

31 Denis Mack Smith, Italy and its monarchy (New Haven, CT, and London, 1989), p. 13.

32 Clara M. Lovett, The democratic movement in Italy, 1830–1876 (Cambridge, MA, and London, 1982), p. 175.

33 Brown to Hudson, 10 Mar. 1862, copy in Hudson to Russell, 11 Mar. 1862, Brown to Hudson, 11 Mar. 1862, extract in Hudson to Russell, 12 Mar. 1862, and Brown to Hudson, 12 Mar. 1862, copy in Hudson to Russell, 14 Mar. 1862, all TNA, FO 45/22.

34 Hudson to Russell, 14 Mar. 1862, TNA, FO 45/22.

35 Macbean to Hudson, 20 July 1862 and 2 Aug. 1862, copies in Hudson to Russell, 2 Aug. 1862, TNA, FO 45/25; Gaggiotti to Hudson, 4 Aug. 1862, copy in Hudson to Russell, 8 Aug. 1862, TNA, FO 45/25.

36 Hudson to Russell, 7 Aug. 1862, TNA, FO 45/25.

37 Rickards to Hudson, 4 Aug. 1862, copy in Hudson to Russell, 8 Aug. 1862, TNA, FO 45/25.

38 George Martin, The red shirt and the cross of savoy: the story of Italy's Risorgimento, 1748–1871 (London, 1969), p. 664.

39 Times, 17 July 1862.

40 Goodwin to Hudson, 6 July 1862, copy in Hudson to Russell, 12 July 1862, TNA, FO 45/24.

41 Paget to Stanley, by telegraph, 25 Oct. 1867, TNA, FO 45/108.

42 Paget to Stanley, 13 Oct. 1867, TNA, FO 45/107.

43 See Paget to Stanley, 16, 18, 19, and 20 Oct. 1867, TNA, FO 45/107.

44 Russell to Hudson, 17 Mar. 1862, TNA, FO 170/99; Russell to Hudson, 7 May 1862, TNA, FO 170/100.

45 Russell to Bloomfield, 5 Mar. 1861, in Noel Blakiston, ed., Il problema veneto e l'Europa, 1859–1866, ii: Inghilterra (Venice, 1966), p. 560.

46 Hudson to Russell, 25 Mar. 1862, TNA, FO 45/22.

47 Derek Beales and Eugenio F. Biagini, The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy (2nd edn, Harlow, 2002), p. 127.

48 Ivan Scott, The Roman question and the powers, 1848–1865 (The Hague, 1969), pp. 223–52; Frank J. Coppa, The origins of the Italian wars of independence (London and New York, NY, 1992), p. 115.

49 Russell to Cowley, 17 Mar. and 19 Mar. 1862, Fane to Russell, 14 May 1862, and Bloomfield to Russell, 15 May 1862, in Blakiston, ed., Il problema veneto, pp. 566, 568, 578–80.

50 Elliot to Clarendon, 3 May 1866, TNA, FO 45/86.

51 Clarendon to Elliot, 23 Apr. 1866, Bodleian Library, Clarendon papers, MS Clar. dep. c. 143.

52 Bloomfield to Clarendon, 12 Apr. 1866, Russell to Apponyi, 16 Apr. 1866 and 3 May 1866, in Blakiston, ed., Il problema veneto, pp. 800, 805–6, 850.

53 Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

54 Bonham to Elliot, 26 Sept. 1864, copy in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

55 Macbean to Elliot, 27 Sept. 1864, copy in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

56 Gaggiotti to Elliot, 26 Sept. 1864, copy in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

57 Harry Hearder, Italy in the Age of Risorgimento, 1790–1870 (London and New York, NY, 1983), pp. 53–4.

58 Brown to Elliot, 26 Sept. 1864, copy in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

59 Craig to Elliot, 3 Oct. 1864, copy in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

60 Goodwin to Elliot, 27 Sept. 1864, copy in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

61 Rickards to Elliot, 24 Sept. 1864, extract in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

62 Rickards to Elliot, 26 Sept. 1864, copy in Elliot to Russell, 4 Oct. 1864, TNA, FO 45/59.

63 See Giancarlo Sorgia, ed., La Sardegna nel 1848: la polemica sulla ‘fusione’ (Cagliari, 1968); Francesco Floris, Storia della Sardegna (3rd edn, Rome, 2004), pp. 483–6.

64 William Craig, ‘The island of Sardinia absolute and constitutional briefly compared’, 22 Oct. 1861, in Hudson to Russell, 2 Nov. 1861, TNA, FO 45/9. Craig recorded Russell's original request as dated from 29 Apr. 1861.

65 Goodwin to Hudson, 3 Oct. 1861, copy in Hudson to Russell, 11 Oct. 1861, TNA, FO 45/9.

66 See Colnaghi's enclosure in Paget to Clarendon, 22 Feb. 1870, TNA, FO45/161.

67 Hudson to Russell, 30 Mar. 1861, TNA, FO 45/5.

68 Elliot to Russell, 18 Mar. 1864, TNA, FO 45/56.

69 Bonham to Paget, 2 Feb. 1869, copy included in Paget to Clarendon, 4 Feb. 1869, TNA, FO 45/139.

70 Lucy Riall, Sicily and the Unification of Italy: liberal policy and local power, 1859–1866 (Oxford, 1998), pp. 198–9.

71 Ibid., pp. 204–5.

72 John Goodwin, ‘Seven days of disturbance in Palermo’, 9 Oct. 1866, copy in Elliot to Stanley, 13 Oct. 1866, TNA, FO 45/90.

73 Elliot to Stanley, 22 Sept. 1866, TNA, FO 45/89.

74 Lionel Sackville West, ‘Remarks upon the consular service in Italy’, in Hudson to Russell, 1 July 1862, TNA, FO 45/24.

75 See Report of the select committee on consular establishment, Parliamentary Papers (hereafter PP) 1835 vi; Report from the select committee on consular service and appointments, PP 1857–8 viii; Report of the select committee on the diplomatic and consular services, PP 1872 vii.

76 Platt, ‘The role of the consular service in overseas trade, 1825–1914’, p. 497.

77 For each side of the argument see Jackson, Reflections on the commerce of the Mediterranean, p. 41, and Tuson, The British consul's manual, pp. 6–7.

78 Platt, The Cinderella service, pp. 15, 31, 37.

79 Ibid., pp. 49, 51.

80 Noel Blakiston, Inglesi e Italiani nel Risorgimento (Catania, 1973), p. 43.

81 Hudson to Russell, 4 Oct. 1862, RP, TNA, PRO 30/22/69.

82 Blakiston, ed., The Roman question, p. xix.

83 Sackville West's ‘Remarks upon the consular service in Italy’, in Hudson to Russell, 1 July 1862, TNA, FO 45/24.

84 For Russell's role, see Blakiston, ed., The Roman question; Urbach, Bismarck's favourite Englishman, pp. 34–9.

85 Platt, The Cinderella service, p. 18.

86 Otway had held high diplomatic posts in Spain and Mexico; Foreign office list (London, Jan. 1861), p. 119.

87 Hammond (for Russell) to Reynolds, 11 Oct. 1861, copy included in Reynolds to Hudson, 14 Oct. 1861, TNA, FO 167/125.

88 Platt, The Cinderella service, p. 61.

89 See A. Scirocco, L'Italia del Risorgimento, 1800–1860 (Bologna, 1990), pp. 315–66.

90 Roger Absalom, Italy since 1800: a nation in the balance? (London and New York, NY, 1995), p. 47.

91 John Dickie, ‘Stereotypes of the Italian south’, in R. Lumley and J. Morris, eds., The new history of the Italian south: the Mezzogiorno revisited (Exeter, 1997), 122.

92 Nelson Moe, The view from Vesuvius: Italian culture and the southern question (Berkeley, CA, 2002), pp. 162–8.

93 See Riall L. J., ‘Liberal policy and the control of public order in western Sicily, 1860–1862’, Historical Journal, 35 (1992), pp. 345–68.

94 For Browne's private letters presented as official despatches see RP, TNA, PRO 30/22/72.

95 Saurin to Hudson, 12 June 1861, in Papers respecting the affairs of southern Italy, PP 1861 lxvii 375, pp. 25–7.

96 Hudson to Russell, 20 May 1862, TNA, FO 45/23.

97 Elliot to Russell, c. 22 June 1866, TNA, FO 45/87.

98 Russell to Hudson, 17 Apr. 1860, TNA, FO 167/112.

99 Foreign Office list (Jan. 1861), p. 81.

100 Petition dated 12 Feb. 1861, and enclosed in Hudson to Russell, 18 Feb. 1861, FO 45/4.

101 Macbean to Hudson, 20 Oct. 1860, and 16 Nov. 1860, TNA, FO 167/119.

102 Russell to Hudson, draft copy, 28 Feb. 1861, TNA, FO 45/1.

103 Hudson to Russell, 18 Oct. 1861, TNA, FO 45/9.

104 Proby was appointed on 1 May 1863 and remained in office until the Italian government was moved to Florence in 1865. Foreign Office list (Jan. 1870), p. 150.

105 Gianni Toniolo, An economic history of liberal Italy, 1850–1918 (London and New York, NY, 1990), p. 58.

106 Pemble, The Mediterranean passion, pp. 26–7.

107 Elliot to Russell, 27 Apr. 1865, TNA, FO 45/71.

108 The salary was set at £500 per annum, with an expenses allowance of £150. Foreign Office list (Jan. 1870), p. 197.

109 H. G. Elliot, Some revolutions and other diplomatic experiences (London, 1922), pp. 171–9.

110 Elliot to Russell, by telegraph, 2 Jan. 1862; Elliot to Russell, 6 Jan. 1865, TNA, FO 45/70.

111 Elliot to Russell, 9 Feb. 1865, RP, TNA, PRO 30/22/70.

112 Elliot to Russell, 26 Apr. 1865, RP, TNA, PRO 30/22/70.

113 Elliot to Clarendon, 21 Feb. 1866, TNA, FO 45/85.

114 Elliot to Murray, 21 Feb. 1866, TNA, FO 45/85.

115 Foreign Office list (Jan. 1870), p. 118.

116 Russell to Colnaghi, draft copy, 31 Aug. 1865, TNA, FO 45/76.

117 Ernle Bradford, Mediterranean: portrait of a sea (London, 2000), pp. 510–13.

118 See Justus B. Mugaju, ‘Anglo-Italian relations, 1846–1849: a study of British policy and attitudes towards Italy during the revolutionary years’ (Ph.D. thesis, Bristol, 1976); Evelyn Ashley, The life and correspondence of Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, ii (London, 1879), p. 425; Elliot, Some revolutions, pp. 4–5.

119 Ronald Marshall, Massimo D'Azeglio: an artist in politics, 1798–1866 (London, 1966), p. 199.

120 Among many examples, see Russell to Hudson, 21 Jan. 1861, TNA, FO 167/122 and Clarendon to Elliot, 12 Mar. 1866, in Blakiston, ed., Il problema veneto, pp. 784–5.

121 See Donald Southgate, ‘The most English minister …’ The policies and politics of Palmerston (London and New York, NY, 1966); M. E. Chamberlain, British foreign policy in the age of Palmerston (London, 1984); John Charmley, ‘Palmerston: “Artful Old Dodger” or “Babe of Grace”?’, in T. G. Otte, ed., The makers of British foreign policy: from Pitt to Thatcher (Basingstoke, 2002).

122 Wilbur Devereux Jones, Lord Derby and Victorian conservatism (Oxford, 1956), pp. 278–9.

123 Muriel E. Chamberlain, ‘Pax Britannica’? British foreign policy, 1789–1914 (London and New York, NY, 1988), pp. 123–7; Kenneth Bourne, The foreign policy of Victorian England (Oxford, 1970), pp. 81–123; K. Theodore Hoppen, The mid-Victorian generation, 1846–1886 (Oxford, 1998), pp. 221–36.

124 Paul Kennedy, The rise and fall of British naval mastery (London, 2001), p. 181; Charmley, ‘Palmerston’, pp. 92–4.

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