PP/GC/CA/264 Copy of a letter from Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, to Sir S.Canning, regarding the Swiss Diet's actions against the former Sonderbund and Prussia's Neuchatel agreement, 18 December 1847: contemporary copy
Copy, in the hand of a secretary, of a letter from Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, Foreign Office, London, to Sir Stratford Canning, [on an extraordinary mission to Berne]: he is pleased with Canning's report and is glad that Canning is in Berne even though the Swiss civil war is over. Canning has played a role in preventing "much mischief" at Berlin, St Petersburg and Vienna. The other powers do still seem to want a conference on Switzerland, despite there being nothing left to talk about, but the British government will not support that idea. Palmerston is also pleased that Canning has deflected the Diet from "hostile intentions". The King of Prussia must be content to pay reparations to the Diet in order to get the troops from Neuchatel. Bunsen, [the Prussian ambassador at London], is pleased with the agreement and hopes that the Prussian government will agree, even though it is a large amount of money to pay. Canning must persuade the Diet to give up their "vindictive measures" of imposing confiscations and other punishments on the former opponents at Fribourg and Lucerne. Such actions of the Diet will only cause deep-seated resentment and no advantage except to those who receive property rightfully belonging to others. "It really would be very disgraceful to them if they made such a bad use of their victory, and they might remember that the wheel of fortune has many turns and that it might happen that the measure which they now mete out to others might be measured back again to themselves." These measures by the Diet are not justified: if citizens of a particular country revolt against their King, that is treason and should be punished; in this case, however, Fribourg and Lucerne did not violate the laws of the canton: "there was a decision taken by the sovereign authority of the canton which the Federal government thought at variance with the Federal obligation and engagements of those cantons, but this cannot by any fair constructions of words, be called high treason". Treason is committed by a subject against a sovereign or state and not by the government of a sovereign state towards the confederates of that state.<P> Palmerston has written a despatch to Canning in which he leaves Canning to decide when to leave Berne. He will send further instructions to Paris concerning Canning's journey to Berlin and Vienna.<P> 18 Dec 1847: contemporary copy <P> The last paragraph of the letter has been crossed through in pencil. "Insert" has been written in pencil, possibly by Palmerston, at the head of the letter.
One paper
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Sir Stratford Canning, later first Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, on an extraordinary mission to Berne
Frederick William IV, King of Prussia
Fribourg, Lucerne: Switzerland
Christien Karl Josias Bunsen, Prussian ambassador plenipotentiary at London
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