Melton prior Institut


Linton- Life in the Collections

William James Linton:

44) Petition Against French Intervention In Italy

Brantwood 1866

The single manuscript correction suggests the possibility that this oblong printed sheet served as a proof for publication in another format.

During the Third Independence War against the Austrian empire, Italy was in serious danger of being invaded by Napoleon III, until fortuitously saved by a Prussian victory against the Austrian army in the north. In mid 1866 Linton privately besought John Stuart Mill, the famous utilitarian philosopher and influential campaigner for civil rights, to speak as a Member of Parliament against the impending French intervention. He handed a petition over to Mill, which was signed and privately printed by him on his press in Brantwood. In Linton’s opinion an interference of France “would alter altogether the character of the war, would make it no longer a quarrel between Italy and her ancient enemy and between Prussia and her rival, but would make of it an European war in which England would be bound for her own sake as well as for the sake of such duties as she owes to Europe to take some action, whether diplomatic or other.” The petition is introduced with the remark, that it “was presented to the House of Commons, on the 22nd of this month, by John Stuart Mill.” But, as Linton’s biographer Francis Barrymore Smith points out, Mill is not recorded as having spoken during the debate in question.