§ Mr. Sheil
, in rising to bring this matter before the attention of the House, observed, that having agreed on a former occasion to postpone his Motion in consequence of the pressure of other business, he considered himself so much the more entitled to attention at present, particularly as no other business pressed before the Easter recess. If it should be asked why he had introduced a subject so important to the attention of the House, his answer would be that, before he exercised the right vested in every Member of that House, he had taken care to make himself acquainted with it. He should at once proceed, without any preliminary observation, to the statement of the facts, incidents, and documents, on which he should ground his Motion. In the autumn of 1831, Ibrahim Pacha marched into Syria; on the 3rd of December in that year, Acre was besieged; it fell in May 1832. Ibrahim Pacha advanced to Damascus, which was taken on the 14th of June. On the 7th of July, the fate of Syria was decided by the battle at Homs. It was easy to foresee these successes, and to anticipate the victory of Egyptian discipline over Turkish disorganization. Was it not most strange that at this period we had no Ambassador at Constantinople? There was no Ambassador from the English or French Governments. General Guilleminot had been French Ambassador during the Polish war; but, in consequence of his interference in urging the Porte to take advantage of that crisis, he was removed by Sebastiani, at the instance of Count Pozzo di Borgo. Turkey applied to England in this emergency for aid. This most important fact had been admitted by the noble Lord in that House. That assistance was refused. Even Russia concurred in recommending, that succour should be afforded. Russia calculated, of course, on the refusal. Naval aid was all that was asked. It was obvious that it would have been sufficient to deter Ibrahim from advancing. He marched on, and forced 308 the passes of the Taurus. On the 21st of December, the battle of Koniah was fought, and the last Turkish army was annihilated. The moment for Russian interposition and the triumph of its crafty policy was now arrived. The emperor Nicholas, after England had refused her assistance, had sent General Mauravieff to Constantinople, with a letter, written in the language of fraternal endearment, to the Sultan, offering fleets and troops. This proposition was not at first acceded to, but on the 2nd of February, 1833, he applied for this sinister aid. As yet there was no English or French Ambassador in Constantinople. Lord Ponsonby, who had been appointed in November, did not arrive until the succeeding May. Admiral Roussin reached Constantinople on the 17th of February; on the 19th, he remonstrated (which England never did) on the occupation of Turkey by Russian troops. The Turkish government was struck with the force of his representations—but on the very next day the Russian fleet arrived in the Bosphorus. Admiral Roussin employed his best efforts to induce Ibrahim to sign a treaty, but he was counteracted by Russia, of which there could be little question. The French Ambassador was alone. Had he been sustained by Lord Ponsonby and an English fleet, much might have been effected; but Russian diplomacy, sustained by 20,000 troops, prevailed. The Russian army disembarked on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, Admiral Roussin was foiled, and to Russian interposition the Sultan declared that he owed the salvation of his empire. In May, Lord Ponsonby reached Constantinople. What he could have done, had he arrived at an earlier period, was obvious; what he actually did was equally evident. Count Orloff arrived as well as Lord Ponsonby, and the result was a consummation of the plot which had been darkly and deeply laid. From the Divan let them turn for a moment to St. Stephen's Chapel. On the 11th of July, the hon. member for Coventry had moved "for copies of papers respecting the measures pursued by Russia, in her late interference with the state of Turkey." On that occasion the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) made some most important statements. The noble Lord resisted the Motion, because the transactions to which the papers related were incomplete, and their character must depend on their termination. He admitted, 309 that aid had been asked of England by the Porte, and refused, and that if England had thought proper to interfere, the progress of the invading army would have been stopped, and the Russian troops would not have been called in. The aid granted by Russia was merely to repress Mehemet Ali. The integrity of the Ottoman empire should be maintained. The noble Lord said, "The taunt, of the Government being afraid of war is puerile, and I defy any man to show, that we have made any sacrifice of the honour or interests of the country for the sake of maintaining peace." He (Mr. Sheil) would not interrupt the order of the statement here by any commentary on this intrepid and chivalrous declaration, but would content himself with whispering "Poland" in the car of the noble Lord. The noble Lord concluded by saving, "that he had no doubt that Russia would honourably withdraw her troops, as soon as peace should be established, and fulfil the pledges which she had made in the face of Europe." The 11th of July was the day on which this speech was delivered. How little did the noble Lord conjecture, that only three days before, on the 8th of July, a Treaty had been clandestinely signed at Constantinople between the Sultan and Count Orloff, who, while he appeared to be engaged in the reviews, shows, and illuminations of the seraglio, was secretly and silently conducting the Sultan to the ruin which had been prepared for him. Of this treaty our Government knew and heard nothing until it was announced in the Morning Herald of the 21st of August. On the 21st of August a letter from the private correspondent of that Journal appeared, in which it was stated that, "while Count Orloff was apparently complying with the wishes of France and England, he was preparing a stroke which only became known the day after his departure, which has since covered the Ambassadors of those countries with confusion, and has placed Turkey in the bug of the bear. He prevailed on the Sultan to sign a treaty, offensive and defensive, by which Turkey is bound not to make any treaty or call for assistance from any other nation for ten years. One of the articles confirms all prior treaties, in particular that of Adrianople; another binds Russia to furnish every assistance necessary to protect her from internal and external enemies; and the third, interdicts her from resorting 310 to any other European power for ten years." The writer adds, that the other articles of the treaty were unknown; that the treaty was clandestinely concluded; that Lord Ponsonby and Admiral Roussin remonstrated, and were told that assistance had been asked in vain from England and France against Egypt, and that they had left the Porte no alternative; and that the Ambassadors had despatched couriers to their Courts for instructions. The writer said nothing with regard to the Dardanelles. This letter was, as he had said, published August 21, 1833, in London. On the 24th of that month, the gallant member for Westminster introduced the subject to the notice of the House. He asked whether the Russian troops had entered Turkey with the consent of France and England. He adverted to the fortifications of the Dardanelles, under the superintendence of Russian engineers, and added that it was rumoured that a treaty, offensive and defensive, had been entered into between the Sultan and Count Orloff, without the intervention or knowledge of the other Ambassadors. The hon. member for Oxford (Sir Robert Inglis) referred to the letter in the Morning Herald, and trusted, that the noble Lord would not allow the House to receive its information from the newspapers, but would give it in the usual manner. The hon. Member trusted, that before the prorogation of the House, or on the earliest occasion, the noble Lord would lay before the House, not merely the treaty, but the communications connected with it. He hoped the noble Lord would be able to contradict rumours of a treaty so injurious to the honour and interests of England. The noble Lord replied that a treaty had been signed; that it had not yet been officially communicated; that he knew nothing, except on vague rumour, at that time, of what the treaty contained. He said, that England had not objected to the entry of the Russian troops into Turkey, and that the Porte had, in the autumn of 1832, applied to England for assistance, but that the application was refused. On the 29th August, five days after, his Majesty's Speech on the prorogation of Parliament was delivered, and contained the following passage:—"The hostilities which had disturbed the peace of Turkey have been terminated; mid you may be assured that every attention will be carefully directed to any events which may 311 affect the present state, or the future independence of that empire." From the King's Speech he should pass to a very momentous communication made by France to Russia, in the following October. The interests or France and England were bound up together in the whole question, but more especially with respect to the passage of the Dardanelles, as by the Treaty of Paris in 1802, the rights of France and of England were placed upon precisely the same footing. In October last Monsieur Le Grenee addressed the following note to Count Nesselrode:—"The undersigned Chargé d'Affaires of his Majesty the King of the French, has received orders to express to the Cabinet of St. Petersburg, the profound affliction felt by the French Government, on learning the conclusion of the Treaty of the 8th July last, between his Majesty the Emperor of Russia and the Grand Signior. In the opinion of the King's Government, this Treaty assigns to the mutual relations existing between the Ottoman empire and Russia, a new character against which the powers of Europe have a right to protest." To this note, Count Nesselrode replied, in the following offensive and almost contumelious language:—"It is true, that this act changes the nature of the relations between Russia and the Porte, for in the room of long-continued hostilities, it substitutes that friendship and that confidence, in which the Turkish Government will henceforth find a guarantee for its stability and necessary means of defence, calculated to insure its preservation. In this conviction, and guided by the purest and most disinterested intentions, his Majesty the Emperor is resolved, in case of necessity, to discharge faithfully the obligations imposed on him, by the Treaty of the 8th of July, thus acting as if the declaration contained in the note of Monsieur La Grenee had no existence.—St. Petersburg, Oct. 1833." This note was taken from the Augsburg Gazette, to which it purported to have been transmitted in a letter from Paris on the 23rd of December. Here let one remark be made, which would not break in on the distinct classification of facts. If the French Government remonstrated, it was to be presumed that the noble Lord did not remain silent. Where was his correspondence? Was a note as affronting written in reply, or was it even couched 312 in more caustic phraseology, and in the same style of contemptuous repudiation as the article in the St. Petersburg Gazette on the presumption of our interference in the affairs of Poland? To return to dates and facts, on the 1st of January, Count Pozzo di Borgo addressed the King of the French, and on that occasion the accomplished Corsican pronounced on Louis Philip an eulogium, accompanied with protestations, characteristic of both, of the party who indulged in, and the party who was graciously pleased to accept, the hollow panegyric. Six days after, in bringing up the address, M. Bignon delivered a speech, which was received with equal surprise and acclamation. He denounced the conduct of Russia towards Poland, and held out the aggressions upon Turkey as indicative of that deep and settled purpose, of which he had, in his official capacity, a perfect cognizance. In 1807, he said, Alexander had tendered all Southern Europe to Napoleon, provided he got Constantinople in exchange. He warned France to beware of the advances of Russian power in the East, and denounced, while he revealed her policy; and invoked his countrymen to awaken to a sense of the insults offered to the dignity of France, and the violation offered to her rights. To this speech the Duke de Broglie made an answer conspicuous in itself, and which his subsequent conduct rendered still more remarkable. He expressed his unqualified concurrence in all that had been said, and thanked M. Bignon for having given expression to the sentiments which he and his colleagues entertained. On the very next day, this very Duke de Broglie went down to the Chamber, and made a speech which was received with astonishment by both countries. He contended, that no violation of treaty had taken place,—expressed satisfaction with Russian policy, and stated, that there had been no material alteration made respecting the passage of the Dardanelles. M. Thiers, in reply to M. Mauguin, said nearly the same thing, and although M. La Grenee's note was yet fresh in every memory, and the Duke of Broglie's approval of Bignon's speech was ringing in every ear, expressed no sort or discontent at any one of the incidents which had taken place. M. Thiers, however, incidentally acknowledged, that it was a part of the treaty, that all vessels 313 of powers at war with Russia, should be excluded from the passage of the Dardanelles. Our own Parliament did not meet until the 5th of February, but before it assembled, an incident occurred which remained to be explained. The French and English fleets united proceeded to the Dardanelles, which Russia had spared no expense to fortify, and having displayed the tricoloured and "the national flag of England," as it had been nobly called, near the spot where Sir George Duckworth, when Lord Grey was Secretary for Foreign Affairs, expended a good deal of powder without much avail, both fleets sailed away, and instead of proceeding to Smyrna, gave preference to a more distant, but less commodious harbour, where, however, Russian influence was not quite so predominant as in that celebrated haven. The glory of this expedition belonged to the First Lord of the Admiralty, but it was to be conjectured that the achievement was suggested by the genius of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. But in what did it result? That remained to be told, and for the satisfaction of that curiosity he that night afforded an opportunity. Parliament met on the 5th. The King's Speech informed them that the integrity of the Porte was, for the future, to be preserved (the Sultan having been first stripped, and then manacled), and that his Majesty continued to receive assurances which did not disturb his confidence that peace would be preserved. The Duke of Wellington, in another place, adverted to the Treaty of Constantinople, and Lord Grey retorted Adrianople upon his Grace But, in the Treaty of Adrianople, there was, at all events, nothing that infringed upon our rights, as to the navigation of the Black Sea; and it was to be recollected that, whatever the First Lord of the Treasury might have said, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs declared that, "while he desired peace, of war he was not in the least afraid." In that House no interrogatories were put. On the 24th of February, the following paragraph appeared in the Globe, which, from its being the supposed organ of Government, deserved great attention, the more especially as they were left to the newspapers for their intelligence. That article stated:—"Another treaty between Russia and Turkey has been concluded at St. Petersburgh, which was signed by Achmet Pacha, on the 29th of last month. 314 Enough has transpired to satisfy the most jealous that its spirit is pacific, and, indeed, advantageous to the Turkish empire. The Porte is relieved from the pressure of the engagements imposed on her at Adrianople; and we understand that the Principalities, with the exception of Silistria, will shortly be evacuated, and the sum exacted by the former treaty reduced one-third. Such relaxations of positive engagements are proof's either of the moderation and good sense of Russia, or of the influence which the union of England and France, and the firm and concerted language of those two Powers, have acquired in the Councils of St. Petersburgh." Was it not reasonable that this treaty should be laid before the House? It was to be observed, that, in any account of it, either in our journals, or in the Allgemeine Zeitung, not one word was said of the passage of the Dardanelles. The Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, indeed, were to be evacuated. That circumstance was a mere delusion, for Wallachia and Moldavia were as much dependencies on Russia as if they had actually been transferred. Their Hospodars were virtually nominated by Russia; no Turk could reside in the country; and every appointment down to that of the humblest officer, was effected through Russian dictation. Silistria was retained, the key of the Lower Danube, commanding all Bulgaria, and a place so important that the Greek emperors constructed a wall there to protect their frontier, and guard against the incursions of the barbarians. As to the remission of money, that concession was made to an insolvent debtor; it was not the first time that Russia adopted the same course; the payment of a tribute was of little moment from a country which was almost incorporated in her dominions, and would soon meet the fate of so many of the Turkish provinces. But how did this treaty modify or effect that of the 8th of July? It did not at all relate to it. It concerned the Treaty of Adrianople, and, as far as they had nothing else on this question, the House was entitled to receive adequate information from the Government. With respect to the Dardanelles,—a matter of signal importance to England, affecting her commerce, affecting not only the navigation of the Euxine, but giving Russia a control over Greece, and the entire Archipelago,—it might be as well to states, 315 with brevity, the treaties that existed between England and Turkey, and those that existed between Russia and Turkey, previous to that regarding which information was demanded. By the Treaty of 1675, concluded by Sir John Finch, the navigation of all the Turkish seas was secured to England. In 1809, a little time after our rupture with the Porte produced by the attack on the Dardanelles, a new treaty was executed, by which the passage of the Dardanelles and the canal of Constantinople was secured to England. The 11th article provided, that, in time of peace, no ship of war should pass, no matter to what country it might belong. In 1774, by the Treaty of Kaynadgi, the passage of the Dardanelles was first secured to Russian merchant-vessels. In 1780 a quarrel took place respecting an armed vessel. In 1783 a new treaty was entered into, and another in 1792 (that treaty by which the Crimea, just like Greece, was declared independent, and then absorbed in Russian domination), and by both treaties the passage was secured to merchant vessels only. In 1800, Russia having obtained the protectorship of the Ionian Islands (their importance we felt in 1815, not so much because we desired to acquire, as to take them from a Power that aimed at predominance in the Mediterranean), entered into a treaty securing the passage of the Dardanelles to the merchant-vessels of those islands. In 1812, the Treaty of Bucharest was signed, by which Bessarabia was given up to Russia, and all former treaties respecting the Dardanelles were confirmed. In 1829, the Treaty of Adrianople was signed, and, with respect to the Dardanelles, contained the following passage:—"7th Article. The Sublime Porte declares the passage of the Canal of Constantinople completely free and open to Russian merchant-vessels under merchant flags, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, and from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea; upon the same principle the passage is declared free and open to all merchant-vessels belonging to Powers at peace with the Porte. The Porte declares that, under no pretence whatsoever, will it throw any obstacle in the way of the exercise of this right, and engages, above all, never hereafter to stop or detain vessels, either with cargo or in ballast, whether Russian or belonging to nations with which the Porte shall not be in a state of declared war. In the mani- 316 festo published by the Emperor Nicholas on the 1st of October, 1829, he said:—"The passage of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus is henceforth free and open to the commerce of all the nations of the world." Thus the stipulation was, that all nations at peace (not, be it observed, with Russia, but with the Porte), should enjoy the right of unimpeded passage; but that had been effected by the treaty of the 8th of July? Would it be said that nothing was accomplished by it? If so, why was it signed without the knowledge of our Ambassador, and in a clandestine and surreptitious way? What were its provisions? Did the public Journals give a just account of it? Was it true, that it provided that no vessels belonging to a power at war with Russia should enjoy the right? If so, the alteration was palpable; and if there were no express declaration to this effect, let there be an alliance offensive and defensive, and the Porte was bound to consider every enemy of Russia as its own; the consequence was precisely the same as if the Porte surrendered to Russia the possession of the Dardanelles, and the last of the sultans was the first satrap of Nicholas the Great. There did not appear to be any sound reason for withholding this treaty. It had been the subject of remonstrance by France, of debate in the French Chamber, of diversified commentary in the public journals. Why withhold it? There would be a strange inconsistency in publishing all the enormous answers to protocols respecting Belgium, where the transaction was as yet incomplete, and in refusing to furnish anything but materials for surmise on this treaty. Ponderous folios of fruitless negociations on the affairs of Belgium had been given to the world. Let the Government act upon the principle adopted in that case, and give the English people the means of forming a judgment, of the policy which his Majesty's Ministers had adopted in a question where the national honour and interest were so deeply involved. It might be said—"Trust in the Minister, be sure that he will not desert his duty, or acquiesce in any measure incompatible with the honour of England." He (Mr. Sheil) would be disposed to do so when he took into account that the Secretary for Foreign Affairs was a political proselyte of Mr. Canning, who considered the interests and the honour of England as closely blended; and although the noble 317 Lord might have abandoned the opinions on domestic policy which were entertained by Mr. Canning when he was in the wrong, it was to be presumed that he adhered with a closer tenacity to those opinions in foreign policy where Mr. Canning was in the right. But this ground of confidence in the noble Lord was modified, if not countervailed, by the recollection, that in many recent transactions he had been baffled by that power which had gathered all the profligate nobility of Europe together, in order to compound a cabinet of Machievellian mercenaries to maintain the cause of slavery through the world. Look at Belgium—look at the Russian-Dutch loan! The noble Lord, although guided by the prince of Benevento, had lost his way in the labyrinth which Russia had prepared for him and Poland. "We shall," he exclaimed, "remonstrate." Well, we did remonstrate, and despatched Lord Durham to St. Petersburgh (why was not Sir Stratford Canning there?) and what had been the result? If confidence was to be entertained in the noble Lord, it must be built on some firmer basis than his maintaining of the Treaty of Vienna. Instead of calling on the people of England to confide in him, let him build his confidence in the English people. They were fond of peace, but they were not afraid of war; and when the honour and dignity of England were to be maintained, he would find in them sympathy, and generous auxiliaries. Our fleet could blow the Russian navy from the seas; England was yet a match for the Northern Autocrat; and there was might enough left in her arm to lay low the colossus by which the Hellespont was bestrid. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving an Address to his Majesty, "that he would be graciously pleased to direct that copies of any treaties between Turkey and Russia, since the year 1833, and of any correspondence between the English, Russian, and Turkish Governments, respecting those treaties, be laid before the House."
§ Mr. Henry Lytton Bulwer
seconded the Motion, and trusted that the House would insist upon the production of papers, which, if they were what they ought to be, would give the House and the nation at large that important and interesting information which was so much wanted. He did not altogether, in considering this question, lay so much stress upon the 318 different treaties which had been mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman in his eloquent speech, because he looked upon treaties rather as declarations by the powers making them, of what they considered their respective interests for the time being, than any binding obligation. What he would lay stress upon, and what this country at large, as well as other countries laid stress upon, were the alarming practical demonstrations made by Russia in her inroads into Turkey, and all her subsequent proceedings. The Motion was not to be considered as a case of mere curiosity, or a desire to pry into the unimportant details of Ministerial policy; it was a case in which the House, as the Representatives of a people most particularly anxious on the point, were not only entitled, but were imperatively called upon, to have a clear explanation of the course of policy acted upon by the Government, and the grounds on which that policy had been adopted: the question was one of the highest importance and interest to all Europe, and ought to be clearly understood in all its bearings. As far as the people at present understood of the policy of Government in this particular, that policy was disapproved of, and it was therefore desirable that Ministers, in their own vindication, should explain themselves. It might possibly appear that the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had been overreached by the deep diplomacy of the Russian court; but at present he was generally blamed for not having followed one of two courses—either that of leaving the Sultan and the Pacha to settle their disputes by themselves, by abstaining from interference between them, and preventing other Powers from interfering; or that of interfering in the open, decided, and influential manner which became the power and dignity of the British empire. Neither of these courses had been pursued, and the country was therefore very naturally anxious and entitled to have an explanation of the matter.
§ Viscount Palmerston
, in replying to the speech of the hon. and learned member for Tipperary, did certainly not mean to complain of the manner in which he had brought this subject before the House; because nothing could be more good-humoured. The hon. and learned Member said, that as the House had got through most of the Estimates, and as there was nothing particular to do before the Easter 319 recess, they might as well amuse themselves by talking a little about foreign affairs; and, therefore, if the House would listen to him, he would make (as the hon. and learned Member certainly did) an eloquent and very entertaining speech about Russia and Turkey, and all the other Powers interested in the transactions that had lately taken place between those two countries. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that, in moving for these papers, he intended to throw no blame upon his Majesty's Ministers; but nevertheless, he should not feel it consistent with his duty to agree to the Motion—not even to that part of it which called for the Convention of July, and which was not included in the original notice, but which the hon. and learned Gentleman had since added; because he felt, and he was sure the House would admit the force of the observation, that if the state of the transactions to which the Motion related, were such as to make it consistent with the public service that the treaty for which the hon. and learned Gentleman called should be laid before Parliament, it would also be proper and consistent that other papers should be produced at the same time, for the purpose of explaining the transactions which gave rise to the treaty, and the bearing and effect of that treaty upon all the parties interested. But, in the present state of these transactions, he felt that it would not be consistent with the interests of the public service to lay those papers before the House. When a Minister stated that upon his responsibility, he required from the House that it would place confidence in him, and would not press for the production of papers which he, in the exercise of his judgment, thought it necessary to withhold. He fully admitted, that to resist the production of papers upon a subject of this kind, was to appeal, in a strong and pointed manner, to the confidence of the House; but, upon the present occasion, he hoped that the House would refuse to accede to the Motion. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not laid any sufficiently strong parliamentary grounds upon which to induce the House to concur in it. A Gentleman who, upon occasions like the present, moved for the production of papers, ought to show that there was a strong prima facie case of blame resting upon the Government; and that, for the vindication of the honour and dignity of the country, it was necessary that the pa- 320 pers moved for should be produced. He had listened with great attention to the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, but he confessed, that he could scarcely perceive any points upon which the hon. and learned Member even attempted to throw on the Government any degree of blame for the course it had pursued. The hon. and learned Member laid most stress upon the refusal of the British Government to give to the Sultan that aid which was asked for towards the close of the year 1832. Upon that point it would be very easy to satisfy the House that no blame was imputable to the Government. The transactions between Mehemet Ali and the Sultan commenced, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated, in October, 1831; and, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had also very correctly stated, the decisive action between the troops at Koniah did not take place till December, 1832. Now, it was not usual for this country to be ready to interfere in contests between sovereigns and their subjects; and, although the Pacha of Egypt was unquestionably a very powerful subject, approaching, in many respects, to the situation of an independent ruler of a country, yet he was the subject of the Sultan, and, as such, must be considered by the Government of this country. The very circumstances which the hon. and teamed Gentleman alluded to, namely, the early period at which the contest began, and the length of its duration, proved that, till near its conclusion, it did not assume a character so different from that of the usual contests between the governors of provinces and the Sultan, as to lead to the supposition that the result would be very different from the usual results of those contests. The whole history of the Turkish Empire was full of successive revolts of powerful vassals against the Sultan—sometimes with success at the first on the one side—sometimes on the other; but almost invariably ending in the reassertion of the authority of the Sultan. It, therefore, would have required some strong reason to have induced the Government of England to interfere, by force of arms, in the contest between the Sultan and his rebellious subject, the Pacha of Egypt. Assistance was at length asked by the Porte in November, 1832, but the decisive battle of Koniah took place so soon afterwords, namely, in December following, that, from want of time, no interference 321 could have been exercised, on the part of this country, early enough to have prevented that catastrophe. [Mr. Sheil: Assistance was asked in October, 1832.] Not till the 3rd of November. M. Maurojeni, the first official bearer of the application of the Sultan, did not arrive in London till the 3rd of November, 1832. Even if the British Government had been prepared, at that moment, to despatch a fleet to succour the Sultan, and obviously a naval force was the only one which this country could send, it would not have arrived in time to have prevented the decisive battle of Koniah. But the House would recollect, that we were then engaged in other operations, which occupied the whole of our naval force on the peace establishment. Some hon. Members who did not approve of the proceedings against Holland, might say, that they were no satisfactory reason why we had not a fleet in the Mediterranean. But he considered it sufficient to say, that a naval force was required for the operations in relation to Holland, and that another part of our fleet was engaged in the Tagus; and, unless Ministers had asked Parliament for additional supplies, to send a third squadron to the Mediterranean, it would not have been possible to have found, at that time, a sufficient number of ships for that service. But, although his Majesty's Government did not comply with that demand of the Sultan for naval assistance, yet the moral assistance of England was afforded; and the communications made by the British Government to the Pacha of Egypt, and to Ibrahim Pacha, commanding in Asia Minor, did materially contribute to bring about that arrangement between the Sultan and the Pacha, by which the war was terminated. The House must not suppose, therefore, because the British Government did not yield that particular kind of assistance which the Turkish Government required, that it remained an indifferent spectator of the danger to which the throne of the Sultan was exposed, and took no steps to bring about a pacification between the Sultan and his vassal. If he understood the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he said, that because Great Britain did not grant any assistance, the Sultan was compelled to have recourse to Russia for aid, and that we had no right to complain of Russia for having enabled the Sultan to save himself from the danger with which he was 322 threatened. Great Britain never complained of Russia granting that assistance. He had stated, on a former occasion, when he was interrogated on that point, that Great Britain did not complain of the assistance which Russia had afforded to Turkey, but, on the contrary, was glad that turkey had been able to obtain effectual relief from any quarter; and he had stated, that our Government reposed perfect confidence in the assurances it had received from the Russian Government, that when the force so sent had effected the object for which it was despatched—namely, the defence of the Sultan and his capital—it would retire to the Russian dominions. In that confidence Ministers were not deceived; that force did retire; and, therefore, not only were they justified in not remonstrating against the aid given by Russia to Turkey, but they were fully borne out in their belief, that when that defence had been effected, the troops so sent would be withdrawn. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that from the year 1831 down to the month of May, 1833, there was no British Ambassador resident at Constantinople. The hon. and learned Gentleman was entirely mistaken. Sir Stratford Canning went, to Constantinople in the beginning of the year 1832; he went on a special mission to make an arrangement for obtaining an improved frontier for Greece. In that mission he succeeded; he obtained for Greece a most excellent frontier on the continental side, and having conluded that negotiation at the end of August, he quitted Constantinople in the beginning of September, 1832. From the early part of the year 1832, therefore, up to the beginning of September in that year, a British Ambassador was at Constantinople. As soon as Sir Stratford Canning had left Constantinople, or very soon afterwards, Lord Ponsonby, who was then Minister at Naples, was appointed to succeed him at Constantinople. The notification reached him in November, and the only circumstances which prevented him getting to Constantinople until the end of May, were the difficulties experienced in making the necessary arrangements for his conveyance, and the unfavourable state of the weather. Lord Ponsonby, moreover as Ambassador at Naples, was there engaged in transactions of considerable importance; but, if the hon. and learned Gentleman thought, that be- 323 cause Lord Ponsonby was at Naples, therefore the country was wholly unrepresented at Constantinople, he was mistaken. We had there a Secretary of Embassy; and he could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman and the House, that British interests did not suffer in any degree, in consequence of there being no person at Constantinople during that period, bearing the rank of Ambassador. The hon. and learned Gentleman had failed, therefore, to establish any ground of complaint against the Government for not having given the Sultan that naval assistance which was asked for in the beginning of November. Even if the fleet had been sent—if it had sailed from the ports of England immediately—that fleet could not have arrived before the battle of Koniah, nor could it by its presence have prevented that battle. [Mr. Sheil: The battle was in July.] The battle of Homs was in July; but the application did not arrive until the November following. Surely, the hon. and learned Gentleman would not argue, that by complying with the request made in November, we could have prevented the occurrence of an event which took place in the preceding July? The hon. and learned Gentleman afterwards proceeded to the treaty which was concluded at about the time when the Russian troops retired from Constantinople. [Mr. Sheil: The Treaty of the 8th of July.] Yes; the Treaty of the 8th July. When questions were put to him relative to that Treaty, in the months of July and August of last year, he had no official knowledge of it, because it was not communicated by either of the parties until after it was ratified; and the ratification was not to take place until two months after its signature. The hon. and learned Gentleman would therefore see that it was perfectly impossible that a treaty not to be ratified at Constantinople until the month of September could be officially known to him in August. The hon. and learned Gentleman had inquired whether the British Government approved of that treaty, or looked upon it with satisfaction? Certainly it did neither; because that treaty, even on the first glance, wore the semblance of being intended to give Russia some advantages with respect to Turkey, which she did not possess before, and which were not to be enjoyed by the other Powers of Europe. But he was bound to say, that the explanations which 324 had since been given of what were apparently the most objectionable parts of that treaty—the explanations given by both parties concerned—had tended, in some degree, to alter the impression which the announcement of that treaty necessarily produced upon the Government; and which it appeared to have produced also upon the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman—especially with regard to the bearing of the articles of that treaty upon the navigation of the Dardanelles. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted the Treaty of 1809; the eleventh article of that treaty was to this effect:—"That whereas it is the ancient custom of the Turkish empire,"—not the law of Europe, as the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted the passage,—"that in time of peace,"—that is, when the Turk is at peace,—"no ships of war shall be allowed to pass the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean; and whereas it is the intention of the Porte strictly to cause that custom to be observed in future, Great Britain declares that she will, in future, conform strictly to that usage and regulation." According to the Treaty of 1809, therefore, British ships of war had no right, in time of peace, to pass the straits between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, without a special permission from the Sultan. Undoubtedly, on the first appearance of the Treaty of July last, it did seem that, under the circumstances in which that treaty was to take effect, a difference was established between the ships of war of Russia and those of other Powers, with respect to the passage of the Dardanelles. But the Government had been assured by both the contracting parties, that their understanding of that treaty was different, and that the war flag of Russia was placed on exactly the same footing as that of any other country with regard to the passage of the Dardanelles, even should the casus fœderis contemplated in the separate article arise,—the case, namely, of Russia being at war, and Turkey remaining at peace with this country,—both parties declare and agree, that in that case the treaty would not give the Russian ships of war any power or privilege of passing through the Dardanelles, other than those conceded to the ships or war of any other nation.
§ Mr. Sheil
, interrupting the noble Viscount said, if Great Britain were at war 325 with Russia, then, by virtue of the treaty, her ships would be excluded from the Dardanelles. By the treaty of 1809, as he understood it, a right was given to all merchant vessels to enter the Dardanelles. He conceived the effect of the Treaty of the 8th of July, was this:—if England were at war with Russia, and not with Turkey, then Russia would have a right to close the Dardanelles upon our merchant ships, by virtue of the treaty. Was that so?
§ Viscount Palmerston
continued: The Treaty of July related solely to ships of war. By the Treaty of 1809, England bound herself, that so long as Turkey was at peace, British ships of war should not assume the privilege or passing up and down these straits, except on special permission in particular cases. By the Treaty of July no difference was made between the ships of war of Russia, and those of England, in the event of those two countries being at war. By the Treaty of 1809 it was declared, that the ancient usage of the Turkish Empire being to close the straits against the ships of war of all Powers, they were to be closed equally against those of Russia, which might wish to come out, and those of other Powers which might wish to pass up.
§ Viscount Palmerston
The treaty did not apply to merchant vessels at all. The words, specifically, were "ships of war," not merchant ships. At the same time, he did not mean to say, that under its provisions merchant vessels might not, in effect, be practically excluded from the Black Sea. He did not mean to say, that that treaty had been viewed by the Government with satisfaction; or that it was a treaty with reference to which the British Government had not expressed its dissatisfaction;—but he must say, that the assurances and explanations which it had received from the contracting parties to that treaty greatly tended to remove its objections. Although it was a treaty to which the Government of this country would do well to direct its watchful attention, still he was inclined to think, that, if this country pursued that course which alone was consistent with its dignity—if it acted with 326 firmness and with temper—if it showed no unnecessary distrust, and at the same time reposed no undue confidence—he was inclined to think, that the case might not arise in which that treaty would be called into operation; and that therefore it would, in practice, remain a dead letter. If the hon. and learned Gentleman called for all the communications that might have passed between the English Government and the governments of Russia and Turkey, with reference to that treaty, he was bound to say, that it would not be for the interests of the public service to produce that correspondence at the present moment; moreover, he did not think it would at all tend to forward that object which he was sure the hon. and learned Gentleman had at heart,—the maintenance of peace, so long as peace could be maintained consistently with the interests and dignity of this country; and the hon. Member was, he was sure, of opinion that the independence of the Turkish empire essentially and directly concerned the interests of this country; when the hon. and learned Gentleman said, he should like to know what had been the language of England towards Russia, and of Russia towards England, he was sorry that it was inconsistent with his public duty to gratify the curiosity of the hon. and learned Member. He could only assure the hon. and learned Member this, that the language of England towards Russia—as he trusted it had been towards every Power with whom we preserved diplomatic relations—had been such as was consistent with our dignity and good faith; and, with respect to the language of Russia, it was, on all occasions the duty of the English Government to look rather to the acts of a foreign Power, than to the language which that Power might hold on any particular subject or occasion. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that he did not imagine he (Viscount Palmerston) should acquiesce in all his observations, in the same manner as the Duke de Broglie had acquiesced in everything said by M. Bignon. The hon. and learned Gentleman was under a mistake with respect to the transactions to which he alluded—a mistake not in itself unimportant, and which, considering the present intimate relations which subsisted between the French and English Governments, it was very desirable that he should be set right. The speech of M. Bignon, to which the hon. 327 and learned Gentleman adverted, consisted of two entirely separate and distinct parts: one was the Report which he made as chairman to the Committee to which the address had been referred; and the other was a statement of his own opinions—as a member of the French Chamber, on the general state of the affairs of Poland, and of the other countries of Europe. The acquiescence of the Duke de Broglie was specifically confined to the first part of that speech, in which M. Bignon spoke as chairman of the Committee; it was not extended to that portion of his address in which M. Bignon expressed his own sentiments as a member of the French Chamber. This was the explanation which the Duke de Broglie gave on a subsequent occasion; and, if any hon. Member would look to what then took place, bearing in mind the distinction which he had pointed out, he could not fail to see, that the implied censure of the hon. and learned Gentleman was not borne out by facts. The relations at present subsisting between England and France were, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, more intimate, more confidential, and more friendly than, he believed, they ever were at any former period of our history. He hailed this as a matter of satisfaction; for it was a proud thing that these two countries had divested themselves of those feelings of jealousy and enmity, which for so long a period impeded the advancement, and interfered with the best interests of both. They had now cemented a friendship—of some years' duration—which had only grown stronger, and more lasting in proportion as the two governments had become better acquainted with each other. This was matter of pride and of satisfaction, because it proved that mutual friendship was founded on mutual honour and good faith. It was obvious that such a union could not exist longer than was consistent with the interests of both countries; but when two such States were bound together by the ties of interest, and the bonds of integrity, confidence, and honour, the House might well consider, that they must form in Europe a power of no mean importance. From the very constitution of both, that power could not be exercised, except for the general benefit of society; and their union, therefore, so far from being an object of jealousy to any other Power, ought, 328 on the contrary, to inspire Europe with increased confidence in the maintenance of peace, and in the promotion of the happiness and prosperity of all other nations. The hon. and learned Gentleman would, he was sure, excuse him for not exactly stating why the British fleet went to the Dardanelles, why from thence to Smyrna, what it did when there, and why it returned from Smyrna to Malta. He could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman it was sent to the Dardanelles for good reasons, that it went to Smyrna for equally good reasons; and that it was for good reasons, but for British reasons only, that it was sent back from Smyrna to Malta. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that the Ministers ought to consent to the production of the papers for which he had moved, because they produced certain papers connected with the Treaty of the 15th of November, 1831. But why were those papers produced? Because the King of England had entered into a treaty which had necessarily been laid before Parliament, and those papers were presented as being explanatory of that treaty. In the present case, however, England had been a party to no treaty whatever; there had been a treaty signed by other Powers, and that treaty had been made known to us, in the ordinary course of diplomatic communications. Parliament had always hitherto been accustomed to place, and he trusted it would continue to place, sufficient confidence in the Ministers of the day, to believe them when they stated, that the circumstances of the moment rendered it inexpedient that certain communications should be laid before the House. On these grounds he objected to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. For the reasons which induced him to decline acceding to the production of these papers, he was not desirous of entering into any minute discussion of the transactions to which the Motion referred. Communications were still carrying on with respect to these matters; the discussions, if he might so call them, were not yet completed; and it was contrary to the practice of Parliament to compel the Government to produce correspondence, pending a negotiation in which the interests of the country were materially involved. If the hon. and learned Gentleman wished to render it impossible for these negotiations to lead to any satisfactory result, there was 329 no better mode of attaining his object, than calling upon the Government for the production of an imperfect and unfinished correspondence. If, on the other hand, the hon. and learned Gentleman wished to attain the same objects as the Ministers had in view; if he wished to assert the dignity of this country, and to uphold its interests, but at the same time to preserve peace so long as peace could be maintained, he would not press this Motion. If he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman, he was prepared to consent to giving his Majesty's Government additional means of asserting the dignity, and of protecting the interests, of this country, if those ends could not be attained by negotiation. Let the hon. and learned Gentleman reserve those means until the time when the Government called upon him and the House to give them;—do not let him force prematurely upon the Ministers what they did not call for. They hoped and trusted that peace would be preserved; but it could be preserved only by the House reposing confidence in the Government. So long as Parliament should think that Ministers were fit to administer the affairs of this country, Parliament was bound to repose confidence in them with regard to our foreign relations. If Parliament thought that the interests of this country could not safely be confided to such keeping—if, in the present case, they were not willing to trust Ministers with the maintenance of the honour of the country, without calling upon them, from day to day, to come down to the House, and produce their last despatches, for the purpose of enabling the House to judge whether the answers to those despatches were right or wrong—if such were the opinion of the House, let the House declare it, and let his Majesty's Ministers retire; but so long as the House thought the Government fit to be intrusted with the affairs of the country, so long would the House agree with him, that it was improper to force them to produce a diplomatic correspondence, the production of which, in their opinion, would be detrimental to the interests of the country. For those reasons he objected to the production of the papers moved for by the hon. and learned Gentleman; and although Ministers had received an official communication relative to the treaty to which the hon. Member had referred, yet, 330 in the present state of the correspondence, the same objections apply to the production of the treaty, as exist to the production of the correspondence arising out of it; and he was, consequently, not at present prepared to agree to the production either of the one or of the other.
§ Colonel Davies
said, he was not going to enter upon the question whether Ministers had conducted our foreign relations well or ill; but he would ask whether there was any more important consideration in our foreign polity than the preservation of the due balance of power in the cast of Europe? It was the duty of every prudent Ministry to watch the rapid growth which had for years been increasing, of the colossal power of Russia. Ever since the days of Catherine all the acts of chicane and subtle diplomacy had been directed to this darling object of grasping ambition. It was humiliating to reflect how this country had been outwitted by Russia in 1828, when a vote of thanks was proposed in that House, by Sir John Hobhouse, on account of the battle of Navarino. Then the Treaty of July, characterised as the salvation of the Turkish empire, and of the peace of Europe. And yet within two months, the Russian army was marching into the very heart of the Ottoman empire. He looked upon the blocking up of the Dardanelles less in an individual light, than as it formed a part of the system of Russian policy, which he generally deprecated.
said, that even if there had been no other ground for the Motion than the notoriety of the case which his hon. and learned friend had stated, that in itself was sufficient. It was impossible, under the known circumstances, not to conclude that a most material change had occurred in the relative position of the Powers of Europe, and, that in itself formed a primâ facie case, justifying a Motion for demanding information. The noble Lord had said, that it had been impossible for England to stop the onward march of the Paella of Egypt. But, even admitting all the statements of the noble Lord to be perfectly accurate upon that point, they formed no ground why, at a future period, some more decisive step should not have been taken. The speech of the noble Lord appeared to him the most unsatisfactory that he had ever heard from him. It was perfectly true that the noble Lord had gone into a va- 331 riety of dates, and into much statement, in order to show, that the Government had not the means of interfering; and yet, when any hon. Member of that House complained of the extent of the military and maritime establishments, and wished for a reduction in the Estimates, they were told to look at the lowering and unsettled state of the Continent. Of course that reason might be a very good one for maintaining a large military establishment; but, at all events, the House ought not to expect also to be told, when an emergency arose, that the Government was unable to act from the want of means. Nor could he understand how any such reason could with justice be given. It was, indeed, quite evident, that with anything like judicious conduct, France and England, in close alliance, must possess sufficient means at their command to take a decided and effectual course in such a matter. He therefore attached very little importance to the dates gone into by the noble Lord; and, without having any desire to censure the conduct of Government, he felt it to be desirable for the House to indicate the necessity of a more decided course of policy being pursued upon any future occasion. The real question was, what was the alteration which had taken place in the position of Turkey as an independent Power? That that was a question of the deepest interest to this country, it was impossible for any one to doubt. The late Government and the present Government had both acknowledged, and declared, indeed, that they considered the maintenance of the integrity of Turkey as essential to the preservation of the peace of Europe and the interests of England. Such being the case, he felt deeply indebted to his hon. and learned friend, for bringing the question before the House. Certainly, it appeared to him, and he thought it an undeniable fact, that Turkey was reduced very low by recent events. On the one hand, the Pacha of Egypt had conquered from the Porte a large tract of territory; and on the other hand, Russia, on the invitation of the Porte, had occupied Constantinople fur the preservation of Turkey. These two things were amply sufficient of themselves, supposing no treaty whatever had followed, to place Turkey in a very different position from that which she had before occupied. But when the Treaty of July came to be considered, the case was 332 still more palpable. He was extremely glad to find, that the Treaty of July was disapproved of by the noble Lord, and that the noble Lord had expressed himself strongly to that effect; but, he found in that expression a full justification for the Motion of his hon. and learned friend. He understood that treaty to be merely offensive and defensive, and, if that view were correct, it would have the effect of placing England, with respect to Turkey, in case of war with Russia, in an entirely new position. Before that treaty, in case of a war with Russia, the Dardanelles were open to a British fleet, but under that treaty, the Dardanelles were barred, and the Russian ports in the Black Sea were secure against a British fleet. That was a most serious and injurious change. But if the French Minister was correct, it was a change that could not be permitted. According to the declaration of the Minister of France, the Treaty of July between Russia and the Porte, was in direct opposition to the laws of Europe, and was inimical to the maintenance of the peace of Europe. Information ought decidedly to be given on that point, in order that the House might judge of the actual position in which the question stood. He did not mean to say, that he had not confidence in his Majesty's Government, but he was anxious to see the acknowledged policy of the Government supported by a strong expression on the part of that House. He wished to see that House come to such a vote as should induce the Government to take a sterner tone than that which it had hitherto taken, in speaking to Russia. He wished to see the Government, as Turkey had fallen, rely on other means to check the growing power of Russia. A new, active, increasing, and vigorous Power had appeared, and the Government would not do its duty, if it did not raise up the Pacha of Egypt as a counterpoise against Russia in that quarter of the world. The present condition of affairs in the East was most injurious; it had not the advantage of either peace or war. An expensive squadron was kept afloat, and yet that squadron was not efficient for the purposes of active operation. It would be better for France and England at once to adopt a vigorous course of proceeding, and sustain the balance that was essential to the peace of Europe. He hoped that, under these circumstances, his hon. and learned friend would not press 333 his Motion to a division, as the noble Lord had felt it his duty to refuse the information; and be satisfied by knowing that the Motion and the discussions must lead to beneficial effects.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, would have made a speech much more satisfactory to his mind, if the noble Lord had said, that acting on his own responsibility as a Minister of the Crown, he had thought it his duty to refuse the papers called for, without assigning any other reason for that refusal than, that in his opinion their production would be injurious to the public service. He wished the noble Lord had acted upon the principle of the advice once given by Lord Mansfield to a military governor of one of our West-India Islands, who had to pronounce his judgment on some cases in his character of Chancellor of the Colony—"Give your decision," said the noble Lord, "but by no means trust yourself with explaining the reasons on which you decision is founded." If the noble Lord had taken that advice, and had abstained from giving his reasons for refusing the papers called for by the hon. and learned Member, he would have done much better than by making a speech. The noble Lord had complimented the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech as eloquent, ingenious, and humorous; there was yet another epithet, that he might have bestowed upon it, for he might have called it an unanswered speech. Whether it was unanswerable or not he would not pretend to decide, but certainly it was left unanswered. The noble Lord said, it was not fair to call upon his Majesty's Government to give the House information on these pending negotiations, and produce the last despatch, to see if it were properly answered. But what had been the course taken by the House? Had it pressed for information? He must say, that never had any representative body been left more in the dark than that House on foreign affairs, and never did one show more forbearance. Why, was it not notorious, that the knowledge, imperfect as it was, which we had obtained of these important matters had been gleaned from debates in the French Chamber of Deputies, and from extracts from foreign newspapers? Was this a state in which to leave the representatives of the people of this country on matters in which the 334 country was so deeply interested? He would come to the reasons on which the noble Lord had grounded his refusal, and, certainly, he must say, that though he might not, under some circumstances, feel disposed to withhold his assent from the noble Lord's refusal, had he assigned no reason for it beyond the fact, that he did not think it right to grant them; yet when he examined the reasons assigned by the noble Lord, he could, by no means, concur with him, that they were such as would justify the course he had taken. The noble Lord said, first, that in matters which were still pending, it would not be fair to Ministers to call upon them to produce a copy of their last despatches; but, he would ask, was that a correct view of the case as it stood? Were they to wait for the required information till the whole affair should be finally settled? But if that were to be so, how long might they not have to wait before they could form their opinion as to what was going forward! The second objection of the noble Lord was, that such information could not be called for by the House without casting blame on Ministers. This he must beg leave to deny. The Government called on the House to vote the Estimates for our military and maritime force: those Estimates had been already in great part voted, and, surely, it was not unreasonable to say, that the House might ask for some explanation as to our relations with other states, and the relations existing between some of those states, as they might affect us, without meaning thereby to cast any blame on the Government. Could any intention to cast such blame be fairly implied from the very natural desire of that House to know how this country was situated with respect to the chance of that to us most important subject, a foreign European war? The noble Lord maintained, that no papers ought to be given, because negotiations were still in progress. But the noble Lord, surely, could not support that principle. Were the affairs of Holland and Belgium yet settled? And if they were not, what became of the rule, that no papers should be produced till the negotiations were at an end? [Viscount Palmerston: A treaty had been concluded in that case.] Yes, but had that treaty led to the final settlement of the question between those two states? And would the noble Lord say, or had he said, that the House should have no papers on that 335 subject until the whole matter should be finally arranged? Were the affairs of Portugal yet settled, or had there been any treaty signed in that case? And yet the noble Lord had not felt it his duty to withhold ample explanations, verbal and documentary. Did that, however, imply any degree of blame on the Government? No, it only showed, that when affairs affecting our relations with other States were trembling in the balance, the representatives of the people should know the exact situation in which the country stood. The noble Lord's third argument was one which, in his opinion, went far to destroy the validity of the two preceding. It was, that explanations had been already made to the Government, which had abated the fears entertained as to the objects of Russia. Why, if that were the case, should the knowledge of such gratifying information be withheld from that House? For see the situation in which that House was placed. It was in possession, no matter how, of the knowledge, that a certain treaty, injurious to England, had been formed between Russia and the Porte; upon that treaty the hon. and learned Member had ventured to put a certain construction; and then, said the noble Lord, "Oh, you are mistaken; the treaty, as appears by an explanation which the Government had had with Russia, is not of the character you assign to it." But what was the character of the treaty the noble Lord did not explain. Surely, if anything could tend to increase the probabilities of peace, a point so heartily to be desired, it would be a knowledge of that explanation which had so happily removed the anxiety and apprehension of his Majesty's Government. As the matter stood, the House had merely a knowledge of the measure which had excited the dissatisfaction and alarms of the noble Lord, and it was left to guess at the character of the satisfactory and soothing explanation. Surely, if the explanations were so satisfactory as to induce the noble Lord to dismiss from his mind all fear and apprehension as to the ultimate intentions of Russia, he must see, that it was his duty, as well in point of policy, as in point of form, to produce them. But then the noble Lord had a fourth reason against granting the information moved for. The noble Lord said, they were to attend to the acts of foreign Powers, and not to their treaties. That was a novel doctrine. 336 [Viscount Palmerston had not said, their treaties, but their language.] Well, their language. Now, that might be a very good reason why the angry correspondence should be withheld; but surely it was none why all knowledge of the peace-making explanation should be refused. If the House knew nothing of the treaty which had excited the anxiety and apprehension of his Majesty's Government, and an explanation had occurred with Russia which had allayed that anxiety and apprehension, he would readily admit, that the treaty, the offensive document, ought not to be forthcoming. He would say, "Do not rake up the dying embers of a disagreement which, however much it did threaten, now no longer exists." But the present case was certainly the reverse. The House knew of the exciting cause; and it was to be left to rankle, although an explanation had occurred which ought to render it innoxious. "But then," said the noble Lord, "I think it very likely, that the Treaty of July may never come into operation." Why, the same might be said of almost any offensive and defensive treaty. The noble Lord said, that a casus fœderis might arise, and certainly one might never arise; but if one did arise—if by any circumstances England should be at war with Russia—would not the Dardanelles, under this treaty, be closed against England? The treaty was not made to operate in peace, but in case of war; and if war should arise, why then the noble Lord would, doubtless, come forward in that House, and state, that the Dardanelles were closed, and that he (the noble Lord) had proved a false prophet. Such were the reasons which the noble Lord had given for refusing the information moved for by the hon. and learned Member. How far they were satisfactory it would be for the House to judge; but certainly to him they bore a different character from that intended by the noble Lord. At the same time, though the reasons were so futile, as the noble Lord, on his responsibility as a Minister, had stated to the House, that the information desired could not be granted without prejudice to the public service, he would concede to the Minister that which he could not give up to the orator. He might think the noble Lord a very inconclusive reasoner, but he would show that respect to his dictum as Minister, which he must withhold from his logic. What 337 were the merits of the question before the House? What had been the real conduct of Russia with respect to interference for the preservation of Turkey? Upon that point the character of all subsequent proceedings depended. The noble Lord had declared, that he, as a Minister of the Crown, rejoiced that Russia had replied as that Power had done to the application of the Porte for assistance. The first declaration being made, it was useless for the noble Lord to complain of the consequences of Russian interposition. If the position of Europe were such, that in order to protect the independence and integrity of the Turkish empire, no other assistance could be given but that which Russia could afford, and if the noble Lord rejoiced that Russia was able to afford it, he might lament the virtual destruction of Turkish independence, but he had no right to accuse Russia as the cause of it. For they might depend upon it, from the relative position in which Russia and Turkey stood towards each other,—after the recent war between those two Powers—after the condition to which Turkey was reduced by that war—after the long jealousy that had prevailed between the two countries—that the occupation of Constantinople by Russian troops, even for a friendly object, sealed the fate of Turkey as an independent Power. Russia might withdraw her troops, as she had withdrawn them, in punctual fulfilment of her promises; our Government might have perfect confidence in all the declarations of Russia; yet the fact of her having occupied Constantinople, even for the purpose of saving it, was as decisive a blow to Turkish independence, as if the flag of Russia now waved on the seraglio. But, said the noble Lord, the Government could not take any step for the preservation of Turkey; it did not receive any formal application from the Porte for assistance until the August or September; and a great battle was won by Ibrahim Pacha in July. What! were then his Majesty's Government so ignorant of what was passing in the Levant, that they must wait for a formal application from the Porte, before tendering her either advice or assistance? When the noble Lord saw an ally of England falling into such great difficulties, and the maintenance of the independence of that ally was of such vast importance, was it necessary for the 338 noble Lord to have a certificate delivered in due form by an ambassador, before he could go to her assistance? No, no, that was not the reason. The noble Lord had given the true reason why no step was taken for the defence of Turkey. All the disposable fleet, the noble Lord said, was occupied: but how occupied? In blockading the Tagus and the Scheldt. That was why assistance could not be given to Turkey, and that was what had made the noble Lord rejoice at the succour afforded to the Porte by Russia. The fleets of England were enforcing the blockade of our allies the Dutch, and maintaining neutrality—they of course practised non-interference—with our allies, the Portuguese, in the Tagus; and, therefore, the noble Lord was thankful to Russia for rescuing Turkey. That being the case, all the rest of the conduct of Russia was natural, and, indeed, almost necessary. The indemnity taken by Russia was moderate, and in accordance with reason, and not to be complained of with justice by the noble Lord. To crown the whole, when the crisis of the fate of the independence of Turkey had arrived, there was no British Ambassador at Constantinople. True there was one charged by his Majesty to fill that office, and to protect the interests of England with the Porte; but winds were unfavourable, and bound him to the port of Naples. Although there was a British man-of-war in waiting, yet such had been the difficulties or the dangers to overcome, that the Ambassador of his Majesty was six months in making his way to Constantinople. Such was the frightful danger of those terrific seas, and of that inhospitable climate, that though the very crisis of the fate of Turkey had arrived, still a British Ambassador, with a British man-of-war waiting his command, could not dare the dangers of the deep. In other times, indeed, far different scenes had been recorded—Otium Divos rogat in patentiPrensus Ægæo, simul atra nubesCondidit Lunam, neque certa fulgent Sidera nautis.In the present case, however, the British Ambassador appeared to have prayed for the otium, before he encountered the danger. It might have been expected, that, since the days of Horace, the art of navigation had so far advanced, that it would have been possible for a British 339 Ambassador, on board a British man-of-war, in the extreme crisis, in the agony of a friendly empire to which that Ambassador was deputed, to have braved the risk, and made the extraordinary attempt to reach Constantinople, even in the winter. But, after all, the noble Lord had a triumphant answer to all objections. "There exists," says the noble Lord, "the closest alliance between England and France." He could but remark, that whenever the noble Lord was thrown into any difficulty as to any part of our foreign European policy, he at once found a ready means of escape, by congratulating the House upon the close alliance which existed between this country and France. Doubtless, a friendly alliance with France was extremely desirable; but why was it always, upon all occasions, to be adverted to as a compensation for the loss of all other alliances? He was not aware, that the noble Lord would have thought it necessary to introduce any reference to the declarations of the French Ministers in the Chamber of Deputies, when discussing the Treaties between Russia and the Porte. He should have thought, that the noble Lord would rather have discountenanced any allusion to foreign debates, and more especially to those marvellous contradictions of the Due de Broglie, which astounded all Europe. But as he did not think the practice of either attacking or vindicating the ministers of another country for speeches delivered by them, was a practice to be encouraged, he should abstain from all further allusion to the matter. There might, however, be a peculiar reason in this case, for the allusion of the noble Lord to our intimate alliance with France. It was, probably, because that alliance was so intimate, that French example and French policy have controlled our proceedings with respect to Turkish independence. That might be, and most probably was, the real explanation of the course which the British Government had taken. How could France, with justice or honour, hold a high tone towards Russia with respect to the interference of Russia with Turkey? Was it not—he would not say a notorious fact—but was it not the universal impression in all Europe—that Ibrahim Pacha was acting against the Sultan on a secret understanding with France? Was it not the impression of all Europe, that the army of Ibrahim was, in all the prin- 340 cipal departments, officered and directed by French officers acting with the consent of France? Was that true, or was it not? He did not mean to say, that there was a formal and recognised alliance between Ibrahim and France, but that France was sanctioning and encouraging the acts of Ibrahim, by means as efficacious as if such an alliance had existed. If that were so, and if England felt herself so bound by her intimate alliance with France, that her hands were tied up—that she was compelled to connive, at least, at an aggression upon Turkey, which France had directly encouraged—then we see in these circumstances reasons for the forbearance of England better—or at least more intelligible—than any that the noble Lord had stated. Could France refuse to Russia the right of occupying the dominions of the Porte after the course which she herself had taken with regard to Algiers? Did not France intend, without reference to England, or to Russia, or to the Porte, to take permanent occupation of Algiers? If France did intend that, contrary to the solemn declaration made by her sovereign, Louis Philippe, on his accession to the throne—if she did intend to appropriate to herself a possession of the Porte, which, though virtually independent, still acknowledged the superiority and sovereignty of the Porte,—and if France had also, either directly or indirectly, encouraged the Pacha in his attack on Turkey,—then Russia had a right to reject the remonstrances of France, and to protect Turkey in spite of France. If, too, Great Britain, was so intimately bound by her boasted alliance with France, as to be forced to support the policy of France, then, though the Ministers did not avow it, he could understand why they were forced to leave to Russia the task of protecting Turkey from the irruption of Ibrahim. These were the grounds upon which, he thought, that we might have expected, and might have foreseen, from the interference of Russia, those consequences which had since ensued. Whether the treaties entered into were pregnant with future danger to this country or not, was a matter he should reserve for future discussion, if an opportunity was afforded him. For the present, he claimed the right to know what were our relations with Russia,—what were our relations with Turkey,— 341 what were the treaties which had been entered into between those two Powers which at first gave rise to serious apprehensions on the part of this country,—which apprehensions, the noble Lord said, had been removed by subsequent explanations? This constituted a body of information which the Representatives of the people of England, in the present state of foreign affairs, had a right to require, and which the British Government ought to give by a formal and authorized communication to Parliament, instead of leaving the House of Commons entirely in the dark, or, at least, with no other means of acquiring knowledge, than those which might be imperfectly supplied by foreign newspapers, or the debates in foreign Chambers.
Mr. Secretary Stanley
said, the right hon. Baronet, while he had professed in the course of his speech an earnest desire that the good understanding which happily existed between England and France should be continued, yet seemed at least to make it a matter of reproach that that subject should have been adverted to by his Majesty's Government with pleasure. He held it to be matter of congratulation that two countries the most powerful, the most enlightened, and, he would add, the most liberal, were engaged in bonds of such close and intimate union, and thus affording the prospect of a continuance of that good feeling which promised not only peace and security to themselves and to Europe, but which promised generally to ensure the maintenance and support of liberal principles. The right hon. Baronet had introduced—he knew not why, except, indeed, for the sake of conveying reflections on the conduct of France—the question of the occupation of Algiers. In what situation Algiers might be placed he knew not, nor would he enter upon the question further than to state, that he believed the possession of Algiers rested precisely in the same position as it did when the right hon. Baronet quitted office. Algiers and France stood in relation to each other precisely in the same position as they did prior to the late Ministers' retiring. And without entering any further into the question, he would express his belief that, if there was any one nation in Europe to which the possession of Algiers would be less advantageous, and its abandonment of greater benefit than another, that nation was France itself. Certain he 342 was, that the possession of that settlement by France was not injurious to the interests of England, or the advancement of the civilization of Europe. Now, he was ready to admit to the right hon. Baronet (and he did not think that his noble friend meant to call the fact in question) the kind feeling which that House had uniformly evinced upon all questions connected with our foreign policy. He was ready to admit, that this and other great political questions were surrounded with many difficulties upon their taking office; and those difficulties, he must say, were left them as a happy legacy by their predecessors. There were three great questions to be disposed of; namely, the dispute between Belgium and Holland—the affairs of Portugal—and the state of Turkey. It was urged by the right hon. Baronet, that the state of affairs with respect to two of these countries was anything but satisfactory; and yet that papers had been laid on the Table respecting them without giving or implying any offence to the Government by the motion. This might be true: it was, in fact, true. But did the right hon. Baronet recollect, that the speech of the hon. Member implied a censure on Ministers for their conduct on the occasion in question? "Why," said the hon. and learned Member, "did not Ministers do this, and why did they not do that?—why are we to be left in the dark by having these papers refused to us, when similar papers were granted to the House on former occasions?" But that hon. Member should bear in mind that the periods of the negotiation were different. The affairs between Belgium and Holland were not, it was true, settled at the period alluded to; but the negotiations had reached that point when it was proper that every necessary information should be laid before the House. Then, again, it was urged, that the affairs of Portugal were not settled when papers were laid before the House. This was certainly true. But how stood the fact? We had shown hostility to Don Miguel. Nay, we had sent a hostile fleet to demand of him redress for the injuries inflicted on our trade and commerce in a time of peace, and, in order to justify this conduct, it was necessary to lay before the House the long series of injuries which we had to complain of. Both these events required the production of the papers which had been laid before the House. But, on the present 343 occasion, his noble friend's argument was this:—There is nothing parallel in the case of Turkey to those other cases: here there has been no termination of negotiations; on the contrary, they are still pending, and in such a state as would not warrant our laying these papers before the House. It had been urged, that if any angry discussions had taken place—if doubts and difficulties had arisen—if there had been crimination and recrimination on the one part and on the other, then it would be right to refuse the papers. But his noble friend's case was this:—There had been strong objections taken, and remonstrances made, and explanations had been given from time to time, which were more or less satisfactory, but which at length went so far as to remove a portion of the impressions under which those remonstrances were made. Still, however, remonstrances were made, and the negotiations were, in fact, at this moment going on; and his noble friend felt, as a British Minister, that it would be injurious alike to the interests of the Crown and the country, if, pending those negotiations, the papers called for were to be laid before the House. He went further, and, in conjunction with his colleagues, entreated the House to wait a little, and when the proper time came, all the information necessary should be given. The right hon. Baronet had thought proper to go back to the question of interference or non-interference in the year 1831. The right hon. Baronet asked why it was, that Members should wait until they had a formal announcement from Turkey on the subject, knowing, as they must have known, the state of weakness to which that Power was reduced. It was true that Ministers did know her state of weakness, as well as the causes which led to it, although they were not at all responsible for either. But, said the right hon. Baronet, why was it that Ministers, knowing to what she was reduced, did not send our fleets and armies out at once to her relief? or, at least, why did they not tender their advice to the Sultan? Why was it that they had not an Ambassador at the Porte? Could they plead that they were in want of the necessary information on the subject? Why did they not advise and say to the Sultan, "We recommend you to come to terms with your powerful vassal before he becomes too great for you?" He did not wish to meet the right hon. Ba- 344 ronet with a retort instead of an argument, or else he might tell him that there was a period, between 1828 and 1829, when advice at least might have been given to Turkey; he might tell him that, before the battle of Varna, and also before the signing of the treaty of Adrianople, a period during which we had no Ambassador at Constantinople, some friendly advice and assistance might have been available; but none was given. It was the signing the treaty of Adrianople which weakened, if not destroyed, the independence of Turkey. His Majesty's Ministers might have erred in not giving advice or assistance to Turkey; but they were justified in not offering, if not compelled to offer, any resistance to the march of Ibrahim Pacha. He maintained that, in policy, we were not called upon to do so. The right hon. Baronet might indulge as he pleased in throwing out insinuations as to the secret assistance afforded by France in fomenting internal disturbances in Turkey; but he boldly asserted, that what stopped the progress of Mehemet Ali was the distinct declaration of France and England, that they would not permit the occupation of Constantinople by his troops. The right hon. Baronet argued, that his noble friend had conceded the whole question when he stated the difficulty which would have attended sending a British squadron to the Dardanelles. Now, what was the state of our affairs at that period? The right hon. Baronet seemed to think it a reproach to his Majesty's Government that the naval peace establishment of the country had been insufficient, at the time alluded to, to enable them to maintain three distinct operations. To those who complained that we had a squadron in the Downs, and another squadron at the mouth of the Tagus, it might well be a valid argument that we had not a fleet at the Dardanelles. But, at a period of profound peace, when we were on terms of perfect friendship with Russia, and reposed confidence in the assurances of that power, his Majesty's Government did not think it necessary, nor had they the means of sending distinct squadrons to the Downs, the Tagus, and the Dardanelles. "But," said the right hon. Baronet, "having permitted the Russian forces to take possession of Constantinople, you have no right to complain that Russia availed herself of the opportunity to enter into a treaty with Turkey, securing to herself advantages which she 345 would not otherwise have enjoyed." Now, if the treaty which Russia concluded with Turkey had been of the character supposed by the right hon. Baronet, his Majesty's Government would have had every right to complain. When they were acting in a spirit of perfect confidence towards an ally, that ally would have had no right to conclude a secret treaty—a treaty without their knowledge or concurrence—for the purpose of forwarding his own particular purposes. If such an act had been committed, it would have been a great breach of faith, not at all discreditable to England, but highly discreditable to Russia. But, although the treaty did not bear the character which the right hon. Baronet imputed to it, the British Government thought it right strongly to express their sense of the unsatisfactory nature of some of its provisions, and to require explanations concerning them. With respect to the Dardanelles, the explanations both from Russia and Turkey had gone far to remove the most powerful objection which was supposed to exist against the treaty, namely, that in time of war the Dardanelles were to be shut against some nations, but open to others. Now they had the strongest assurances, both from Turkey and from Russia, that in the passage of the Dardanelles no advantage was to be enjoyed by Russian armed vessels over the armed vessels of any other nation; and that, in time of war, the passage was to be absolutely closed against ships of war of all nations. The right hon. Baronet had spoken of the treaty as if it were one offensive and defensive between Russia and Turkey, and as if Turkey had bound herself to close the Dardanelles whenever she should be required to do so by Russia. But what were in fact the terms of the treaty?—That Russia and Turkey being in perfect amity, in time of peace the Dardanelles were to remain free; but that, in time of war no armed vessel belonging either to Russia, or to any other power, should be allowed to pass. But what was gained by Russia in consequence of this arrangement?—In time of war Turkey was bound by the treaty to close the Dardanelles against the fleets of any and every nation. Before she concluded that treaty, Turkey possessed the power of closing the Dardanelles to both, or to either of two belligerents. By the treaty she was bound to close it to both belligerents. She was bound not to permit the vessels of other 346 nations to go up the Dardanelles: she was bound not to permit the vessels of Russia to come out of the Black Sea. He did not mean to say, that this provision might not be in some respects advantageous to Russia. In time of war it might tend to defend Russia from the attack of a hostile fleet. But the offensive supposition entertained in the first instance, that Russia was to call upon Turkey to close the Dardanelles at pleasure against any other vessels but Russian, had been entirely done away by the explanations subsequently given. The right hon. Baronet had asked, what his Majesty's Government had gained by acquiescing in the treaty?—They had never acquiesced in it; they had stated their dissatisfaction with portions of it. It was in his (Mr. Stanley's) power, but as a Minister, he felt that he ought not at present to do so, to detail the satisfactory explanations which had been received on the subject. The plain state of the case was this:—For the purpose of protecting Constantinople against Mehemet Ali, which his Majesty's Government, notwithstanding the right hon. Baronet's supposition, were anxious to do, the Russian force being in readiness, entered Constantinople. Having afforded assistance to the Sultan, and England and France having combined in requiring Mehemet Ali to proceed no further, Russia withdrew from Constantinople. In the meanwhile, however, she had concluded a treaty with Russia; and a portion of that treaty appearing to his Majesty's Government to be very objectionable, remonstrances were made by this country and France, and explanations had been received which, though in a great measure satisfactory, were not wholly at an end. His noble friend, acknowledging the courtesy with which the House had hitherto treated his Majesty's Government on this subject, expressed his confident persuasion that the House would not take any step which might compromise the honour and dignity of the Government, and, therefore, would not call upon his Majesty's Ministers for the premature disclosure of a negotiation which had not yet been completed.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
said, with respect to the treaty of the 8th of July, the House must come to the conclusion that it was not satisfactory, else why refuse to produce it? At the time when the noble Lord was addressing the House on this 347 subject on a former occasion, a treaty had been secretly and surreptitiously entered into between Russia and Turkey, which it was found bore very hard upon the interests of this country, and strongly in favour of Russia, the worst Power in Europe. It appeared to him that, if the treaty was in itself of a suspicious nature, no explanation of these two Powers ought to induce this country to sanction it. He thought that the papers called for ought to be laid on the Table, but if the noble Lord thought otherwise, he for one would not press for their production at present. If the Russian ships of war were to pass the Dardanelles to the exclusion of men of war of other nations, he should like to know what construction was to be put upon that?
Mr. Secretary Stanley
rose to explain. It had been stated in the treaty, that no foreign ships of war were to be allowed to pass the Dardanelles, and upon inquiring whether Russian men of war were included in the words "foreign ships of war," the answer was decidedly the affirmative.
§ Mr. Cutlar Fergusson
proceeded—Where, he would ask, was Russia most vulnerable? Certainly in the Black Sea, the great resort of her ships of war. But, in the event of a war, in stepped Turkey, and said, "We'll throw the shield of our mantle around you, and protect you where you are most vulnerable." If it should be the case that the Dardanelles were now rendered impregnable by the aid of Russian engineers, would this not be of itself a violation of the treaty? Would it not amount to an act of cowardice on the part of Russia? But if this were so, if fortifications had been carried on on the land side, as well as on the Straits, it was impossible that any ship could pass without the permission of Russia. It was the duty of this country to guard itself against the domineering power of Russia, who was in fact aiming a vital blow at the existence of every Power in Europe. Nay, not content with this, she contemplated the overthrow of our possessions in the East. By her inroads into Persia (inroads unopposed by us) she had obtained the keys of that empire, as she had recently obtained those of Turkey. The fact was, that the growing power and desire of dominion manifested ought long since to have been put a stop to; and it would have been put a stop to long ago, had England and France acted with the necessary firmness. With respect 348 to Ibraham Pacha, we might, he believed, by our fleets have prevented his invasion of Turkey; but as he had no positive information upon this part of the case, he would not attempt to implicate Government upon slight grounds. There was one great difficulty under which a British House of Commons always laboured when they required information to be laid before them. If the negotiation were still pending, they were told that the demand for information was premature, and would, if complied with, be subversive of all the objects which Ministers had in view. But if the negotiation were at an end, then they were told that all was over, and that it would be irritating and productive of unpleasant feeling to rip old matters up again. He wished to say one word or two, to which he begged the attention of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was a question of great importance, and one in which the feelings of all classes in this country were interested. He alluded to the case of Poland. He did not ask his Majesty's Ministers to alter the policy they had pursued with respect to that persecuted and unhappy country beyond this. There were at present in these kingdoms numbers of those unfortunate patriots, who had been driven from their native soil by a Prince under whom they lived, under a treaty to which this country gave a guarantee. They were driven by persecution to insurrection and revolt, the treaty was violated and trampled upon, as were the unfortunate Poles who trusted to it. But this was not all; every attempt to extend relief to the sufferers in Poland was severely punished. It was but lately that an Ukase had been published in Russia, by which the father was prohibited from relieving the son, or the wife from assisting her husband or her child; so that this great and glorious band of freemen—men who had displayed courage in the field and wisdom in the council, were made slaves at home, or driven exiles and wanderers abroad. It was for the national honour that his Majesty's Government should take the case of these brave men into their consideration. He did not press for an answer at present to this appeal. He would only add that, as strangers and as brave men in distress, they were entitled to the hospitality of the nation, and deserved whatever assistance we could afford to bestow upon them.
§ Sir Edward Codrington
said, that with 349 respect to the battle of Navarino, it was a mistake to suppose that that was the cause of the distress to which Turkey had been reduced. The Emperor of Russia was most anxious that the treaty agreed to by the other Powers should be entered into with Turkey, and had sent an express to his fleet on the subject instead of taking the circuitous route of London. The Russian officers had their master's orders to co-operate with him (Sir Edward Codrington) on this subject, as he was in possession of all the necessary information. But, unfortunately, the change of Government at home prevented the treaty from being entered into; but if it had, then the other Powers would have compelled Russia to abide by it, and there would have been no war between Russia and Turkey. The armies of Russia, and not the fleets of that empire, had done injury by invading Constantinople. With respect to France, he could not agree with the right hon. Baronet, that France had shown a want of sincerity in her proceedings. It was a mistaken notion that France approved of the conduct of the French officers in the service of Mehemet Ali.
§ The Amendment was negatived without a division.
§ The House resolved into a Committee of Supply.