§ MR. ANSTEY
Sir, I do not regret the time which has elapsed since I last brought this subject before the House, be cause it has afforded the House the opportunity of hearing from the mouths of Her Majesty's Ministers a financial statement which I am sure has justified all the apprehensions and confirmed all the judgments which I expressed on that occasion. The House must feel that the position of this country is dangerous indeed. We are told that it now depends no longer upon opinion abroad, but upon our own armaments, whether or not that greatest of all evils, foreign invasion, and war at home, shall be averted.
Sir, I agree with much that has been said by those who object to any present in crease of our military defences; and yet I do agree that those defences demand all our attention. It is not by any such in crease—it is not by any vote of money, supplementary or otherwise, for the military or the naval establishments of this country that its character can be maintain ed effectually abroad, and its peace pre served effectually at home.
Sir, it is by a wise and honest administration of affairs at home on the part of Ministers, and a vigilant control of Ministers on the part of this House, that honour is to be preserved abroad, and peace to be had at home. It is because we have lost the one, that the other is now endangered. I shall satisfy the House before I have done, that for the lamentable and deplorable state to which we are at this moment reduced, there is but one person in this realm at this moment who is primarily responsible, and that those who share with 1133 him that responsibility, share it only in the secondary degree. On the head of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in whose hands the administration of those affairs continues, I charge the existence of our present defenceless and exposed condition, and those apprehended consequences at which his noble Colleague (Lord John Russell) hinted obscurely, rather than stated them to the House. But the House has had the opportunity of hearing from the lips of the noble Lord himself his opinion of the duty of a Minister of the Crown with respect to the course to be taken on the sudden arming of a foreign Power. It is one of the charges which I shall make against the noble Lord; it is one of the heads upon which I pray the House to require the fullest information, with a view to that charge, that in the year 1835 the noble Lord allowed the Czar of Russia to equip and maintain in the Baltic, not a squadron merely but a fleet—and that too, a fleet not of twenty-one ships of the line, but of twenty-eight ships of the line, and a large additional number of frigates and other vessels of smaller size; and that that fleet has been maintained for service more or less from that period down to the present time. Now, Sir, with reference to that fleet, I call the attention of the House to a very remarkable circumstance in the late debate. It is, that the noble Lord opposite, in expressing his apprehensions and his hopes with respect to the supposed danger of an invasion from abroad, was exceeding careful to designate only one Power as the one to be dreaded; that is to say, our own natural ally, Prance; that in doing so, he took very good care, as did his Colleagues, to avoid even the most indirect and casual allusion to the only formidable enemy, the natural enemy, of England—the Power which has ever maintained and is still maintaining a hostile attitude towards us—I mean the Czar of Russia. Sir, the silence of the noble Lord with respect to Russia and to her Baltic fleet, is to my mind as significant as his plainness of speech with respect to France.
Sir, I shall not trouble the House with any repetition of the preliminary statements to which I called its attention on a former occasion. [Ironical cheers.] I assure the House, and I do so with the greatest sincerity, that I shall ad dress myself as briefly as I can to the subject-matter of this Motion. It is not my fault that I am obliged to compre- 1134 hend in one notice so many matters and of so varied a character. It is because there is a real and necessary connexion amongst all the passages of the policy pursued by the noble Lord opposite—insomuch that to understand any one passage, it is absolutely essential to know and comprehend the rest. On this point the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth shall be my authority. That right hon. Baronet informed the House on the 1st of March, 1843, that because there was this intimate connection between all these subjects, he thought that the inquiry which was then moved for by Mr. Roebuck, and which had been previously demanded by the right hon. Member for Inverness-shire, and by the hon. Member for Buckingham shire, that that inquiry ought to be refused, because if it were granted it would necessitate an inquiry into other subjects apparently the most remote from the matter in hand. "Where," said the right hon. Baronet—Where are the limits to such inquiries? Shall I inquire as to the policy of the Syrian war; as to the effect of our bombardment of St. Jean d'Acre; and as to the effect our con duct on that occasion had upon our relations with France? [Mr. HUME: You ought.] Yes, the hon. Member for Montrose says truly enough that if I grant one Committee, I ought to grant another. Because, observe, if on every point of questionable policy this House is to have a Commission of Inquiry, another Member will come down and say, that the arrangements under the American Treaty are prejudicial to our interests, and that we must have a Committee of Inquiry on that subject. Having granted the first two Committees, I could not refuse the third; and of consequence I must hand over the Executive Government to the Committee of the House of Commons."*Such, Sir, was the judgment of the right hon. Baronet in 1843, as to the unity and consistency of the policy pursued by the noble Lord.
Now, Sir, I admit that the papers for which I am about to move do refer to the entire policy of the noble Lord; they do range over a period commencing with that unfortunate year in which the noble Lord first accepted the office which he now holds down to the present time; and, Sir, that any hon. Member of this House should be under the necessity at this time of day of asking for information on these points is a great misfortune certainly, but not chargeable upon the Member so circumstanced. I would rather say that it is chargeable upon pre ceding Parliaments in that they did not* Hansard, Vol. lxvii. (Third Series), p. 187.1135 secure the proper information at the proper time, and therein neglected their proper functions, those of scrutiny and advice. I know that this has been called a Monster Motion. But surely, Sir, if it be a proper one, the long neglect which has made this monster Motion necessary is something far more monstrous. If the arrears of Parliamentary duties, neglected by so many former Parliaments, have been thus frightfully accumulated upon our hands, it is hard, Sir, that a Member who endeavours to reduce those arrears—who so endeavours merely because more able Members seem averse to the ungrateful labour—it is hard, Sir, that such a Member should be made answerable for the tediousness which is inseparable from its performance. Let me here anticipate another objection, of a kindred character, present to the minds of many. I know that more than once the consent and approbation of Parliament have been given to some of those acts of the noble Lord which I now call in question. But, Sir, let us be far from allowing these votes to be pleaded in bar of the accusation. So far from that, I make them the ground of another accusation which I bring against the noble Lord, and which I will prove without the possibility of doubt. It is that he has made it his business to deceive Parliament, to mislead the Sovereign, and to circumvent Her Councillors, and to obtain the previous or the subsequent approbation of both by false statements, by suppressions of papers, by mutilations of despatches, by entire perversion of truth, and by wholesale suggestion of falsehood.
Sir, this is a matter of charge, and I make it against the noble Lord, not by way of invective, or in order to exasperate, but with the intention of proving what I say when the opportunity is afforded.
Now, Sir, with reference to this matter, the first subject which I shall bring under the notice of this House shall be a very plain and simple one—one as to which very little trouble is requisite in order to arrive at a clear conviction; and one as to which there is no doubt whatsoever concerning the facts, because it happens to be the one upon which the minds of hon. Members are already informed sufficiently for my present purpose—I mean the case of Poland.
Sir, if I refer to one or two passages in the constitution of Poland, it is not for the purpose of establishing the rights of Poland against Russia, but for the purpose 1136 of showing the House what were and are the obligations of England and its Parliament in respect to Poland. For, Sir, let the House consider under what circum stances it was that this constitution of Poland came into existence. It arose under the Treaty of Vienna. By that treaty England, Austria, and France—France and Austria only because such was the policy of England—England, in conjunction with Austria and France, surrendered that brave people to the government of the Czar. But there were conditions annexed to the surrender. To satisfy the demands of the people of this country—demands publicly made in this House and in the other—there was contracted by the British Minister who represented England at the Congress of Vienna a solemn obligation to secure a free constitution to the Poles, thus placed against their wills under the dominion of their ruthless and unprincipled enemy. The object of that constitution was to be the security of Poland and her franchises against further encroachment. Yet even on those terms the surrender was not obtained by Russia without resistance.
Sir, it is familiar to the House, that at the first meeting of the Congress, the establishment of Poland as a separate kingdom, under a prince who should not be a Russian, was insisted upon by a majority of crowned heads. England, France, and Austria were agreed upon that. Austria, to accomplish their purpose, was prepared to make the greatest sacrifices. Russia alone stood aloof; and Prussia, because she was engaged to Russia's interests by the stipulated partition of Saxony. In the midst of these deliberations Napoleon escaped—by Russian assistance some say—from Elba. The effect was, to withdraw England, by means of her apprehensions, from the course which she had taken of opposition to the Czar. The effect was similar in France. It brought into power there, on the destruction of Napoleon, a Ministry represented by one less opposed than Prince Talleyrand to the principles of the Russian Cabinet. Under the Duc de Richelieu France receded from the position towards Poland which she had taken under Talleyrand. Austria, at the last moment, compelled by England and France, and after lodging a solemn protest—a copy of which I have before me—gave way; but still, on the faith of the common obligation that a constitution should be granted to Poland which should secure 1137 Poland against the natural consequences of her Russian obedience.
Now, Sir, the constitution was at last granted by the Czar Alexander. Lord Castlereagh took care of that. It was violated at a later period. However, it was granted; and, as far as Lord Castlereagh's personal responsibility was concerned, he did his duty nobly, and he held the Czar to the terms of his contract.
Sir, that constitution granted to the Polish people the rights of supply. It provided that no taxes should be imposed except with the consent of the representatives, and that a budget should be submitted to the Diet every fourth year. It secured to the Poles the benefit of habeas corpus within three days after arrest. It gave liberty to the press, and publicity to the proceedings of the Diet. It made Russians incapable of filling any offices whatever in Poland. And, lastly, it declared that Russian troops should not under any pretext be quartered within the Polish territory. Such was the constitution secured by England to the Poles, and for the due observance of which England made herself responsible to Poland and the world by acceding to the Treaty of Vienna. In every one of these particulars the constitution was systematically violated by Russia. No Diet was assembled. Taxes were imposed without the consent of the Polish representatives. During fifteen years following 1815—that is to say, down to the outbreak in 1830—no budget had ever been submitted to the Diet. For the most trivial offences Poles had been imprisoned by the Russian Viceroy, for periods varying from a month to eighteen months and two years, without any communication made to them of the causes of their arrest. No writ of habeas corpus was ever issued. The agents and subalterns of the Czar were far from so much as imagining such a procedure. So far from the press being free, private correspondence was not safe; seizure of the person, and imprisonment at the Viceroy's pleasure, were the punishment imposed upon the free interchange of thought. The highest offices, as well as the lowest, were filled with Russians, and almost to the exclusion of Poles. Lastly, besides the Russian garrison of Warsaw, consisting of many thousands of men, there were drafted into every part of Poland, kept afoot there, large bodies of Russian troops, forming in the aggregate a very 1138 considerable standing army of Russians permanently quartered in Poland.
Sir, in this manner was every one of the essential clauses of the constitution of Poland, for which England was responsible, most shamefully and openly violated. Under these circumstances, in 1830, the Polish Revolution broke out. Never was there a more legitimate revolt. The Treaty of Vienna had been violated—that treaty which secured liberty to the Poles. The Treaty of Vienna, on the other hand, was the only bond which held the Poles to their allegiance—a bond which could no longer be supported. That was the moment for the English Government to have acted. It was for the English Government to have ascertained whether or not success could be secured to the Polish insurrection, and the Poles emancipated from the trammels imposed upon them by the Congress of Vienna. If it could be secured, it was the duty of the English Government to have taken early steps to accomplish that act of justice. If the insurrection proved unsuccessful, or appeared likely to fail, it was the duty of the English Government to have insisted upon the performance—the tardy performance—of the stipulations contained in the treaty. Either course was open to the English Government. It was the duty of the English Government to have considered the question in the true view of treaty law—to have endeavoured in the first place to emancipate the Poles from the bonds of the Treaty of Vienna; or in the second place, if that were impossible, to have secured to them at least the rights guaranteed by that treaty: which of these courses did the English Government take? The Poles had been in arms for a month or thereabouts, before the noble Lord came into office. What did the noble Lord? What information has Parliament had as yet of the proceedings of the noble Lord? What paper has he ever advised the late King or Her present Majesty, to lay upon the table of this House? That noble Lord has lately shown extraordinary diligence in presenting to this House by the authority of Her present Majesty the despatches which recently passed between himself and Prince Metternich with respect to a far less important matter—the internal affairs of the independent Italian States. Not one paper as yet has been laid before the House! The House is under an official ignorance of the course pursued by the noble Lord! The House docs not even know whether any communication whatever took place! 1139 There is no information on the subject.
Sir, there were, to be sure, many private assurances. Confiding in the supposed sympathy of the noble Lord with that cause of liberty to which I admit that his Colleagues were sincerely attached, the people of England fore bore to press him. The Members of this House, unreasonably anxious for the success of the Reform Bill, excluded with care every attempt that was made to induce the noble Lord to support Poland. It will be in the recollection of hon. Members of this House, that the noble Lord, in the course of the very next year after the insurrection of Poland had broken out, and within a month or two after it had failed, had a singular opportunity of effectual remonstrance, and deliberately relinquished it. The negotiations which had reference to the independence of Belgium brought before the consideration of this House the Treaty of Vienna in a most material respect: I mean the rights which Russia possessed under that treaty against England. That was the moment for the noble Lord, even without the previous con sent of Parliament, to make that stand against Russia which he now professes himself ready to take against Austria with respect to the Italian States. The noble Lord preferred to submit, and to do what in him lay to induce this House and the country to submit, to the stipulations, and to admit that Russia had not violated the Treaty of Vienna; because—observe this, if there had been no violation by Russia, there was an obligation on the part of England to fulfil that treaty. Therefore he called upon this House to sanction him in recognising the rights of Russia acquired under that treaty against England; and he prevailed. For the argument which was used to induce this House to act—an argument which, weak and contemptible as it was, nevertheless I regret to say, was far too powerful to be resisted by the Parliamentary majority—was, that the fate of the Reform Ministry and Bill hinged upon that measure. ["No, no!"] It is vain to deny it. Denial comes too late. The fact is notorious. Allusion was made indeed to that subject in this House the other day; and the words of the hon. Member for Montrose on the occasion in question were referred to, expressive of the determination of that hon. Member, not only to vote for the payment of the Russo-Dutch loan, but to vote black white, and white black, if need were, so as to ensure the continuance 1140 of the Reform Administration in office, at least until the Reform Bill should pass. I well remember that lamentable declaration; surely it must be in the recollection of many other hon. Members. I am confident that it has not passed away from the recollection, the indignant recollection, of the country.
Sir, this was the only occasion during the whole course of the Polish insurrection on which the noble Lord made any public statement with regard to Russia. But what was he doing during this time? I said before that the House knows nothing officially; but I state here—and the noble Lord may if he pleases contradict it, and I challenge him to produce the papers which shall make the contradiction good—I say, Sir, that when it was proposed to England by France at an early period of the insurrection to interfere by remonstrance, and afterwards in a more effectual manner between Russia and the Poles, the noble Lord distinctly refused the application. The noble Lord used arguments which led the Court of the Tuilleries to believe that if France ventured on such a course without the concurrence of England, the good understanding between the two countries might be endangered. Sweden was then arming her fleet for the purpose of making a diversion in favour of Poland, and of regaining to herself the provinces in the Baltic which had been so unjustly wrested from her in the last war. The noble Lord instructed our Ambassador at the Court of Stockholm in the same sense, and Sweden discontinued her armament. The Persian Court—for Persia was then the faithful ally of England, and inimical to Russia—the Persian Court, confidently re lying on at least the neutrality of this country, had, with a similar purpose, despatched an army three days on its march towards the Russian frontier, under the immediate command of the Persian Crown Prince, Abbas Meerza, the father of the present Shah. Under the instructions of the noble Lord, the Secretary of Legation or Attache of Legation at the Court of Teheran, Sir John MacNeil, followed the Prince, and at the distance of three days' march from his head-quarters overtook him, and there under instructions from the noble Lord, and in the name of England, threatened Persia with war if the Prince advanced another step towards the Russian frontier. Similar inducements were used by the noble Lord to prevent Turkey from renewing the war on her side—and 1141 "pouring her two hundred thousand horse across the Balkan." [Lord Palmerston laughed.] The noble Lord affects to doubt the accuracy of my statement. The noble Lord has in his hands the means of contra diction. Let the noble Lord produce the papers. I state here what has been stated a hundred times, without contradiction or denial by the noble Lord. The noble Lord is jealous of his reputation: when obscure journalists have assailed him, per haps unjustly, he has dared to threaten with the vengeance of the law the anonymous libeller who may have accused him of trafficking illegally in the public funds. But he has not thought it worth while to interpose when men not obscure certainly, but living in the world's gaze—men not of low character, but of the highest reputation, have charged him with these graver matters. The noble Lord knows that these things have been stated, not only in books and in official letters addressed to his Colleagues, and to the leaders of the Opposition; not only in speeches in public assemblies; not only in articles in the columns of the public press of the country; but in petitions of grievance presented in Parliament on the motion of men whose capacity and integrity the noble Lord's Colleagues will not affect to doubt, how ever much the policy of the noble Lord might induce him to asperse them in private, or treat the mention of them hero with an indecent jocularity.
Sir, these are the charges which I make against the noble Lord with respect to his interference against Poland. Now, what did he do in answer to the applications that were made to him for his interposition in favour of Poland? At the period of these discussions a negotiation was going on between the noble Lord and the Members of the Belgian Congress to induce the latter to accept the mediation of England between the revolt ed provinces of Belgium and the Court of the Netherlands. A Pole—I will give his name, Walewski—with the sanction of the noble Lord, left London and went to Brussels, where there was, at that time, a firm determination to resist the mediation of England, and the protocols at the Congress or conference of London. The office assigned to this Pole by the noble Lord, or, what is the same thing, the office assumed by the Pole, and sanctioned by the noble Lord, was this, to re present to M. de Mérode, who commanded a majority of that Congress, that it mainly 1142 depended upon the pacific settlement of the Belgian question whether or not anything was to be done by England on behalf of the Poles. M. de Mérode and his party immediately acquiesced in the mediation of England, and agreed to adopt the Treaty of the Twenty-four Articles on the faith of what I must call the noble Lord's assurance. Prince Talleyrand, also, then re presenting France at the Court of London, on receiving notice of this transaction, and relying fully on the noble Lord's sincerity, again addressed to the noble Lord a note in the sense of this Polish agent, fully expecting that the reply would be an unqualified acceptance, and that the result would be a combined action on Polish affairs on the part of England and France; but the acquiescence of Belgium having been now obtained, the end of the noble Lord was accomplished. Accordingly, the note returned in answer to the noble Lord was, to the astonishment of Prince Talleyrand, a distinct refusal. That note has never been laid before Parliament. It was written, as the House will again observe, after the noble Lord had attained his purpose—after he had attained the acceptation of Belgium to the Treaty of London; and in that note the noble Lord informed the Prince, "that an amicable intermediation on the Polish question would be declined by Russia—that the Powers had just declined a similar offer on the part of France—that the intervention of the two Courts, France and England, could only be by force in case of a refusal on the part of Russia—and that the amicable and satisfactory relations between the Cabinet of Saint James and the Cabinet of Saint Peters burgh, would not allow his Britannic Majesty to undertake such an interference. The time was not yet come to undertake such a plan with success against the will of a Sovereign whose rights were indisputable." Thus it appears, that in the judgment of the noble Lord, the right of the Czar of Russia over Poland was indisputable. The words are—"the will of a Sovereign whose rights are indisputable." The arbitrary privileges of conquest claimed by the Czar of Russia over Poland were, in the judgment of the noble Lord, indisputable rights. "But in the meantime his Britannic Majesty has instructed his Minister at St. Petersburgh to insist upon the national existence of Poland according to the Treaty of Vienna, and the maintenance of her national institutions."
It was, Sir, under these circumstances 1143 that Prince Talleyrand, bitterly lamenting the deception which had been practised upon the Poles and upon himself, with drew from all further negotiation with England, thus leaving the noble Lord unmolested to continue in his career.
Now, Sir, I ask for these papers, for I think the House will agree with me that they establish the case—a case, in the first place, of the highest misdemeanor committed by the noble Lord; and, in the second place—(because we are now looking, not into futurity, but back upon the past, with all the experience of former contradictions, former imposture, former falsehoods now happily brought to light, and are not reduced to any mere process of ratiocination, or inference, or conjecture)—a case of guilt more heinous than misdemeanor.
Sir, Poland fell. The cost of her fall—the destruction, let me add, in passing—was defrayed, in a great part, out of the new loan which the noble Lord had induced Parliament to grant under the pretext of paying off the debt contracted in 1815. The eyes of Parliament were not, how ever, yet open, and the noble Lord was still suffered to pursue his own lawless career.
What subsequently occurred? The separate existence of Poland ceased—its very name and nationality were abolished—the kingdom was absorbed into the empire. Those national institutions of Poland which the noble Lord, in his note to M. de Talleyrand, professed himself prepared to sup port, were entirely abrogated. This was but the prelude to further encroachments. The territory of the free and independent city of Cracow itself was violated in 1831, and occupied by a Russian force; and this violation was afterwards made permanent and ratified by the accession of the two other Powers, Austria and Prussia. What did the noble Lord do to restrain the robbery? We know what is the sense which the noble Lord professes to have of his duties on such occasions. I have here copies of his two last despatches to Lord Ponsonby, and there I read that the noble Lord is of opinion that—The ancient alliance and long-established confidence which united the Governments of Great Britian and of Austria, would at all events render it the duty of Her Majesty's Government to explain frankly and without reserve to the Austrian Government the views and sentiments of the Government of Great Britain, upon events which are either happening or likely to happen, and which by their bearing and importance must necessarily be of great European interest.1144 The noble Lord is also of opinion that the stipulations and engagements of the Treaty of Vienna ought to be adhered to with regard to Italy as well as in reference to every other part of Europe, and that no change can properly be made in the territorial arrangements established by that treaty without the consent and concurrence of all the parties to it. If the Cabinet of Vienna, or any other Cabinet being party to that treaty, should act otherwise than in conformity with "the views and sentiments of the Government of Great Britain"—on those points then, the noble Lord is further prepared upon such a contingency to state that—It will be impossible for Great Britain to view with indifference the events to which such divergence of policy must lead, and to remind Austria that where Great Britain and the country threatened have long been bound together by the ties of faithful and intimate alliance, Great Britain can never forget or repudiate claims founded upon such honourable grounds.Then the noble Lord's practical conclusion—and it is an important one—is—That the integrity of the Roman State (the matter under discussion), may be considered as an essential element of the political independence of the Italian Peninsula, and that no invasion of the territory of that State could take place, without leading to consequences of great gravity and importance.Such is the noble Lord's appreciation of the duties of England in the event of an invasion being committed on the territory of a foreign State, contrary to the prescriptions of the Treaty of Vienna; and where Austria is concerned, such is the notification—I would even say the menace—which the noble Lord does not hesitate to address to that Court when such an occasion occurs to demand it.
§ MR. ANSTEY
I have read the noble Lord's own words. If the noble Lord will point out to me where he conceives me to have misquoted, I will read the passage again.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
You have not used my words, but your own. You have used the words "prescriptions of the Treaty of Vienna." I used no such words.
§ MR. ANSTEY
I did not pretend to read that passage. I gave it as my own. I stated my own interpretation of the passage I had been reading, and was then about to resume the perusal of the document. But there were words which I pre- 1145 viously read, and which had been used by the noble Lord in his former despatch of the 12th of August, 1847, to Lord Ponsonby; and those words were far stronger than the term "prescriptions." They were—That Her Majesty's Government was of opinion, that the stipulations and engagements of the Treaty of Vienna ought to be adhered to in Italy as well as in all other parts of Europe to which they applied.The noble Lord may quibble upon the use of the word. I think the noble Lord's correction is an improvement; I think the word "prescriptions" is not so good a term as "stipulations and engagements," the terms which the noble Lord used, and that the noble Lord's language makes more strongly for my case. This then is the noble Lord's recognised view of his own duty. This is the view which he takes of his duty in the year 1847—this is the view which he takes of his duty in regard to Austria, a friendly State—this is the view which he takes of his duty in regard to the Papal States—a Power, be it observed, which refused to be a party to the Treaty of Vienna. Now, what view did the noble Lord take of that same duty in 1831 and 1832, with respect to Russia—a hostile Power? with respect to Poland? with respect to Cracow? the maintenance of which Powers England had guaranteed as two of the principal arrangements under the Treaty of Vienna? Let the noble Lord answer these questions. And before he does so, let me tell him, adopting the language of Lord Chatham, that in such a matter the House has no right to take the word of any Minister. Let the noble Lord make his answer in the only way in which this House ought to receive it. Let him contradict me if he can, by laying upon the table of this House a correct statement of the energetic remonstrances which he addressed at that time to the Courts of St. Petersburgh, Berlin, and Vienna—and more particularly St. Petersburgh—against the aggressions on Poland and Cracow, as well as the representations which he made to Persia, Turkey, Sweden, and France, with respect to that co-operation which they were all ready and anxious to grant, or rather to press upon us. I have spoken of Austria as if she were included in the same category as Prussia and Russia. She is so, but only so as far as respects Cracow. For as to Poland, the noble Lord knows well that Austria, in 1831, was ready and willing to have acted with Eng- 1146 land and France, not only in enforcing the stipulations of the Treaty of Vienna, but in going far beyond it. She was prepared to assent to the establishment in Poland of an independent kingdom, under a prince not of the Russian nation. He knows well that the courier, who was the bearer of a communication to this effect from the Cabinet of Vienna—and that too a communication made, not without the knowledge and professed countenance of the Russian Cabinet—had actually been despatched to Warsaw, but was only able to reach Warsaw a few days after the fall of that city. I say, therefore, that as far as Poland was concerned, Austria behaved with good faith and loyalty. It was the criminal neglect of the noble Lord, which having destroyed Poland, afterwards forced Austria into the ranks of our enemy. The accession of Austria to the union of Prussia and Russia against Poland and Cracow, dates only from the period of England's withdrawal from the performance of her own stipulated duties with regard to those oppressed States. No doubt, Sir, as it stands, the guilt is great and grievous. But I say, in aggravation of that of the noble Lord, that it was the direct and natural effect of his own policy. Every person who has studied the geographical and political position of Austria, knows perfectly well that she trembles for her very existence in the presence of Russian diplomacy and domestic disaffection, and that she depends for the preservation of that existence mainly upon the solution of the great questions pending between Russia and Great Britain. I say, then, that Austria, to preserve herself, was forced to abandon the cause of Poland, of England, and of France, and to participate in the minor crime of the oppression of the free city of Cracow; and that to this end the acts, as much as the omissions, of the noble Lord, in the case of Poland, most powerfully and directly contributed. From that moment Austria, in relation to Polish affairs, ceased to act with England and France, and began to act with Russia; or rather from that moment she made up her mind to co-operate openly with Russia, rather than with the noble Lord—the result of that co-operation having been found to be so remarkably consistent in all its parts with the tenor of Russian policy.
Sir, the time at last came when the attention of Parliament could no longer be prevented from directing itself to these dark proceedings. The noble Lord gave private assurance of his good will to the 1147 hon. Members who urged the matter, and so put it off as long as he could. But the time came at last, and the noble Lord had to meet interrogation upon a more public arena.
Sir, on the 18th of April, 1832, a Colleague of the noble Lord, the late Mr. Cutlar Ferguson—a name which no friend to Poland can ever recall without severe regret for his loss—brought the question of Poland directly before the House. The noble Lord on that occasion defeated the Motion of Mr. Cutlar Ferguson, by the simple process of being absent. It is remarkable, however, that on all such occasions of difficulty the noble Lord, whether absent or present, takes care to be provided with what I may be allowed to call a tame elephant, upon whose back to impose the difficulty too great for his own. On the occasion in question, the late Lord Althorp played the part of the noble Lord's tame elephant. Lord Althorp, speaking for his absent Colleague, told the House that no official information had been received of the occurrences in Poland, or that negotiations were pending, or that it was not expedient for the public service—generalities, Sir, which are usual on emergencies of that kind in the mouths of Cabinet Ministers.
Sir, on the 28th of June, 1832, Mr. Cutlar Ferguson again moved for the production of the organic statute by which Russia had for ever abolished the constitution of Poland. This was an occasion for the noble Lord. Accordingly he took care to be present, and contented himself with barely assenting to the Motion, without Baying anything on the main question. The organic statute was, therefore, presented to Parliament in conformity with this Motion. Nothing more being done in the matter, the effect was to establish and to recognise in a solemn manner the fact of the destruction of the kingdom of Poland, and, concurrently with that, the reluctance or inability of England to protect that kingdom. Therefore it was that the noble Lord consented to the production of the organic statute, which was printed by an order of the House.
For some time nothing further was done on this subject by hon. Members, except in the way of private communication. The answers, however, which they privately received from the noble Lord, were invariably favourable. The noble Lord, from time to time, continued to assure them that everything was going on well—that he was 1148 doing his best for Poland—and that there was no occasion to bring the matter forward in Parliament. But, wearied out with repeated disappointments in this regard, that illustrious statesman, Sir Stratford Canning, the present Ambassador from Her Majesty to the Sublime Porte, then a Member of this House, at length, on the 1st of March, 1836, brought under the notice of this House the violation of the Treaty of Vienna by Russia, Austria, and Prussia, in the instance of Cracow. He represented to the House that those Powers had sent troops into the free city of Cracow, and taken possession of that city; and he asked the noble Lord whether it was the intention of the British Government to take any notice of the outrage? What was the answer of the noble Lord? Did he, on that occasion, make answer in the words which he used in the more recent instance of Austrian encroachment on Italy, to which I have referred? Did he say that it was to him unimportant whether he had received any official account of the startling occurrence, or whether the knowledge which he had of it was limited to the circumstances reported by the tongue of fame; that in either case it was equally his duty to act with expedition and effect? Did he say that the violation of territory was something so flagitious as to make it almost in itself improbable; and, that on hearing that the Austrian troops had entered the city, he had not waited to receive an official report that the outrage had taken place in order to resent it? Did it, in fact, appear that, acting then, as he professes to-day that it is his abiding duty to act in all such cases, he had told the three Governments, even in the absence of official communications, that—Whatever reports might have reached the British Government as to late transactions and recent diplomatic communications in Cracow, they were persuaded that those Governments could not contemplate or have authorised any proceedings at variance with the principles of international law, or any aggression whatever upon the territories or rights of other States;"—that "it would be impossible for Great Britain to view the occurrence of such events with indifference,"—if they did occur—and that "no such invasion could take place without leading to consequences of great gravity and importance?Did he inform the House that he had made any communication, such as that to the Courts of St. Petersburgh, Vienna, and Berlin? No, Sir. This was the answer of the noble Lord. Speaking on the 1st of March, 1836, that is, at a period distant somewhere 1149 about four or fire years from the first violation of the territory of Cracow, the noble Lord merely said, that "he had received no official account" of the violation. The statement in itself was true. He had received no official account; and wherefore? Because this country had not so much as a Consul at Cracow? But why did not the noble Lord appoint one there? Why, above all, had he not sent a diplomatic agent—a Minister duly accredited from this country to the Court of that free and independent Republic? However, the answer served the present purpose, and there the matter ended. Again, seventeen days afterwards, that is to say, on the 18th of March, 1836, the noble Lord made the same answer to a similar interrogatory. And then once more laying the burden of obstruction upon the back of another, he put forward the noble Lord, now Member for the city of London, to intercept further inquiry. That noble Lord accordingly rose and informed the House, that "an important measure, the Municipal Reform Bill, was coming before the House, and, therefore, the matter"—that is, the question of England's honour and interest, as involved in the affairs of Cracow—"had better be allowed to drop." The matter was dropped accordingly. But on the 30th of the same month a question was asked on the subject by Mr. Patrick Stewart, another eminent friend of Poland, whose loss I unfeignedly deplore. It was a question which I wonder much no hon. Member thought of asking on the former occasion. It was this: whether the noble Lord had ever taken the proper steps for obtaining official information on the affairs of Cracow; whether, in fact, he had ever sent a consul or diplomatic person thither for that end? To this question the noble Lord replied, that he had thought of sending the British Consul at Warsaw there, when he heard that Cracow was already occupied. Now, Sir, observe the dates. The occupation had lasted five years. Yet the noble Lord had only just heard of it! So barefaced an answer as this could not, and did not, satisfy that hon. Member. On the 20th of April, 1836, Mr. Stewart again brought forward the question of the aggressions of Russia, and moved that a Consul be sent to Cracow. In the mean time, too, public opinion had been powerfully influenced and stirred up by the perusal of the debates within Parliament, and had even reacted upon hon. Members. Mr. Patrick Stewart accordingly found himself in possession of a 1150 majority at his back ready to carry the vote against the noble Lord if he ventured to resist it. The noble Lord did venture to resist it; but he effected his object in another way. He induced Mr. Patrick Stewart to withdraw his Motion. How was it that so intelligent, and earnest, and fearless an advocate of the cause of Poland, was induced to accede to that proposal? It was by a plain and unequivocal statement then made by the noble Lord of an intention which he had never formed—it was by a promise which he then made, but which I am sure he never meant to keep. The noble Lord declared his intention to be—and promised that, if the Motion were withdrawn, he would perform it—to send a consul to Cracow without loss of time, and armed with full powers from this Court. This explicit undertaking, Sir, I beg to remind the House, was given by the noble Lord on the 20th of April, 1836; and on the faith of it Mr. Stewart and the majority agreed to withraw the Motion.
Sir, that consul was not sent. No consul or agent has ever to this day been sent. The noble Lord's solemn promise was most scandalously and deliberately broken by the noble Lord. But his purpose was obtained. The delay was procured. The subject of Cracow and its occupation had time to familiarise itself to the minds of Englishmen—alas! that I should so call them! They were brought to accustom themselves to the violation of the territory of Cracow, to its occupation by Russian troops. Thus the ground was laid for that ever-to-be-deplored and execrated event of last year, the final annexation of Cracow to the territory of Austria—an event which I concur with the noble Lord the Member for Lynn in thinking could not but have happened after so many years had elapsed of quiet recognition and acquiescence on the part of the noble Lord with regard to the first great aggression.
Sir, on the 22nd of March, 1837, more than eleven months after the date of the noble Lord's violated promise—my noble Friend the Member for Marylebone (Lord Dudley Stuart) very properly brought the question before the House. He publicly reminded the noble Lord of that promise. What had the noble Lord to fear? The late King was then supposed to be dying. The noble Lord was in proportion secure. Events were hastening towards the desired termination. The noble Lord could now venture on a further step. He took that step. Coldly and briefly he informed the 1151 noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, that "he had not sent a consul to Cracow, because"—for reasons which, however, he did not explain—"he had altered his intention." With the exception of my noble Friend, the House appears to have received this astounding declaration with profound acquiescence.
Sir, I interrupt myself here again to ask what blame can attach to any hon. Member of this House, if, in the exercise of his undoubted privilege, he now brings this matter forward, and demands for it the attention of a free and honest and un-bought Parliament? I say that I am in a manner compelled to revive these questions when such has been the conduct of former Parliaments—conduct, let me add, to which I, at least, was no party. I have not to charge myself with the responsibility of having sat in any other Parliament but this.
Sir, on the 22nd of March, 1837, my noble Friend (Lord Dudley Stuart) gave notice of his intention again to bring this matter forward. He gave that notice—I beg the attention of the House to the circumstance—in the presence and hearing of the noble Lord himself, as well as in that of the whole House; and in these terms, that the matter which he had to bring forward was one deeply affecting the character of the noble Lord. Thus much is certain. But I believe also that the notice was given by my noble Friend after having also informed the noble Lord in private—(for the fact has been stated in print, and has never been contradicted)—after having informed the noble Lord in the lobby of this House that from that time forward no man could believe his word any more.
§ MR. ANSTEY
Then I can only say, Sir, that this is the first time it has been contradicted. Perhaps the noble Lord will ask my noble Friend the Member for Marylebone whether he also contradicts it. I have seen it stated in print.
§ MR. ANSTEY
I have seen it stated in print; I know it not of my own knowledge. I know that my noble Friend has never contradicted it. However, if he 1152 does also contradict it, I will then give faith to the contradiction of the noble Lord. But, Sir, I will pass over that question for the present. I have said that at least thus much is certain, that public notice was given in the House by my noble Friend that he would bring on a Motion deeply affecting the noble Lord's personal character. Now, what took place on that? The Motion was made. My noble Friend the Member for Marylebone commented in very strong and appropriate language, as I think, on the conduct of the noble Lord. But what was the course taken by the noble Lord? The noble Lord took care to be absent. Nor was this all. The same course was taken against my noble Friend as was taken against me when I last brought forward my present Motion; and after no less than three ineffectual attempts by some of his more immediate friends and supporters to count out my noble Friend, the House was at last counted out before he had finished his speech. I shall make no comments on that procedure; it is too obvious to need any observations. I shall equally avoid all further allusion to my own case: first of all, because the indignant feeling of hon. Members has already been sufficiently elicited; and, secondly, because the disgraceful character of the course taken, to count out the House on the occasion, must pale before the far greater disgrace of the former instance.
Sir, my noble Friend the Member for Marylebone, at the general election in the summer of 1837, unfortunately lost his seat in this House for the borough of Arundel. He lost it, let me add, chiefly in consequence of his opposition to Her Majesty's Ministers on their foreign policy. Their influence was consequently directed against him, and the present Member was returned for Arundel in his place. My noble Friend has ever since continued to be without a seat in this House, until he was returned to the present Parliament by the highly respectable borough which he now represents. It has been a great loss for England and the world, but a great advantage to the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the prosecution of his dark policy. Even then, Sir, the question was not altogether allowed to drop. One last effort was made. On the 17th of July, 1840, Sir Stratford Canning again brought the question of Cracow under the notice of the House. But it now appeared that the noble Lord had calculated only 1153 too well upon the effect of the long lapse of time from the first occupation. He felt that he was now enabled to treat the question as if it were one of a bygone transaction, and therefore out of date; and further, that he might now without hazard admit, and by that admission, made in the name of the British Government, give additional strength to the true position of Russia. Therefore the noble Lord admitted that which he had never admitted before—that the occupation was a violation of the Treaty of Vienna; and at the same time stated—what before he had not dared to state—that England was no longer in a condition to avenge it. I blush to say that both the admission and the statement were received complacently by the House. The House, however, was not then informed that, only two days before, the noble Lord had signed with the Baron Brunow that famous Treaty of July, which bound England to the Russian alliance, and ruptured our engagements with France. I shall come to that question by and by. For the present I desire the House to observe the coincidence of dates.
Sir, I take the noble Lord to know his own duties. I have a right to do so, since he has signified the fact in his recent despatch to Lord Ponsonby. I will not ask him why he wrote that despatch; or why he expressed himself there in terms so condemnatory of the principles on which he had before acted with regard to Russia. I will not inquire, whether or not it had entered into his mind that the party, in the different States of Italy opposed to Austria, did not entirely consist of patriotic men—of persons sincerely interested in the cause of reform—but in a great part of Carbonari and others, intriguing for the destruction of all existing States, and the establishment upon their ruins of a central Power in Italy, of which their recognised leader, the young Duke of Leuchtemburg, the son-in-law of the present Czar, is to be the king, and of which the Cabinet of St. Petersburg is to have the protectorate. I will not ask the noble Lord whether or not it had also entered into his mind that, by criminally giving way in Cracow, and again by criminally insisting in Italy—by encouraging Austria to usurp in this instance, and by insulting her in another instance, with the suggestion of a mere surmise that she was about to commit an usurpation where she claimed to exercise a right—he was taking the most effectual course to disgust her with the English alliance, and 1154 to drive her basely to seek her safety against Russian designs even in the arms of Russia. I will not ask the noble Lord these questions; although the occasion is evident and patent to every man, who has taken the trouble to understand the position of Russia towards Austria and Italy. I will only repeat the question I put to the noble Lord just now. Were the principles, set forth by him in these papers, those on which he acted between 1830 and 1841, with respect to Russia, Poland, and Cracow? and if not, why did he depart from them? And I say once more, that no answer, that is not furnished in the language of the documents that the noble Lord has in his keeping, and which it was his duty to have made long ago an opportunity for laying before Parliament, will be satisfactory to me, or ought to satisfy this House.
Now, Sir, that is the case on the part of Poland. I come now to another matter.
Sir, on a former occasion I reminded the House that the Treaty of Adrianople had been protested against by the Government of the Duke of Wellington before the noble Lord came into office. Upon that occasion I quoted the authority of Russian despatches, in order that the noble Lord might, if he thought fit, deny their authenticity. He had contradicted some other of ray statements; but to impeach the authenticity of those papers he very prudently fore bore; he was too well aware of their authenticity. The publication of them had taken place against his will certainly, but with his official knowledge and sanction. I have now to say that those despatches are not the only evidence which we have of the fact—highly honourable to the Government of the Duke of Wellington, but highly discreditable to the Government of which the noble Lord was Foreign Minister, and which receded from the act of their predecessors—that the Treaty of Adrianople was in the most solemn manner protested against by the former Government. I will only refer to the despatch of Lord Aberdeen to Lord Heytesbury, which has been already before the House. I am doubtful whether that despatch was laid officially before Parliament; but I know that it was quoted in this House a few years ago by the noble Lord the Member for Hertford, and that in doing so he made a sort of apology for the communication—an apology which, he said, was furnished him by the notoriety of the fact, and the greatness of the emergency.
This being so, what had the noble Lord 1155 then, to do, but to maintain the protest of the Duke of Wellington in all its integrity, in order to prevent Russia from aggrandising herself at the expense of Turkey, under the pretext and cover of that Treaty of London which was signed by England, Prance, Russia, and Austria, for so different a purpose—the settlement of the affairs of Greece? Let us see, then, what was in this respect the first act of the noble Lord on coming into office. Now, upon that subject he has taken care to furnish no papers, and to lay no information whatever before the House. But the facts are in themselves notorious, and from other sources there is abundant evidence to be had of the part taken by the noble Lord.
Almost his first act on coming into office was to, accept this Treaty. I will show the House in what way he contrived that. Amongst the clauses in the Treaty of Adrianople extorted by Russia from Turkey, there was one which gave to Russia do minion over a great extent of coast in the Black Sea, limited by certain boundaries. Now Circassia was not specifically mentioned in that clause. Circassia, indeed, could not be included in it, because Circassia formed no part of the Turkish territory. Therefore, Circassia did not belong to Turkey to give, nor to Russia to receive. However, by the treaty, a geographical line was so drawn as in fact to include Circassia within the ceded territory; and, on the authority of that pretended cession it was, that Russia had grounded a pretended title to dominion over Circassia. In the exercise of that pretension, Russia, in 1832, notified through her Ambassador at Constantinople to the noble Lord, through his then representative and agent there, Mr. Mandeville—(for the British Ambassador was, as usual, absent)—the establishment of a quarantine and a custom-house—with regulations of a sanatory and fiscal nature at Anapa, and elsewhere, on the coast of Circassia. Now, it was clearly the duty of Mr. Mandeville in the first place, or, if he failed in his duty, it was the noble Lord's duty, to refuse to recognise those provisions, coming as they did from a Power which had no jurisdiction to make them. Mr. Mandeville, however, took upon himself, with the approbation of the noble Lord—(at least he has never been censured for his conduct)—to publish at Constantinople to the Consul General of England, and the British merchants there, those regulations and ordinances promulgated by Russia for 1156 the sanatory and fiscal government of the tribes and coasts of Circassia. By this act, the British Government was made to recognise two usurpations; first, the illegal Treaty of Adrianople—that treaty which had been before protested against, but which was now acknowledged and sanctioned, together with the right thus professedly exercised under it; and, secondly, the pretended cession of Circassia, with the rights of sovereignty claimed by Russia over the territory and people of that country, to which, as I have shown the House, the Treaty of Adrianople, even had it been legal, conferred no title at all. In one moment, therefore, and by this simple act of recognition, all that Lord Aberdeen—all that the Duke of Wellington—had done by way of protest—all that the noble Lord found in force and vigour at the period of his accession to office in 1830, in respect to the Treaty of Adrianople—was swept away. Circassia was abandoned to Russia; and, with Circassia, the freedom and privileges of commerce, immemorially enjoyed by British merchants on her coasts, but which the Russian tariff refused. From that time it became impossible to repudiate, without punishing, the acts of the noble Lord. From that time it became impossible for any Minister in this country to continue the protest against the Treaty of Adrianople, or to claim the enforcement of the Treaty of London, without founding against the noble Lord accusasations, such as I now prefer.
Sir, I shall next direct the attention of the House to the position of affairs in Egypt, when the noble Lord came into office. The position of affairs there was somewhat similar. Mehemet Ali was at that time the acknowledged vassal and servant of the Porte. The authority of the Porte was supreme in Egypt, and no foreign Powers had there the right of intervention. Neither the noble Lord, nor any authority but the Porte, had the least right of internal legislation or management in Egypt. There was no portion of its sovereignty over Egypt ceded by the Porte. The noble Lord, however, took upon himself to erect Mehemet Ali into an independent Power. Without the consent of the Porte, he, in 1832, accredited Consuls and diplomatic agents to that ambitious Pacha. He entered into treaties with him, altering existing regulations and arrangements touching matters of trade and revenue, and establishing others in their room. The consent of the Porte was not even 1157 asked beforehand, nor its approbation afterwards received. I say, Sir, that Mehemet Ali was thus encouraged by the noble Lord to consider himself independent of the Porte; and that it was to confirm him in that independence, that Ibrahim Pasha, his son, at the head of the Egyptian army marched against Constantinople. Crippled by the event of Navarino, and the Treaty of Adrianople, it was impossible for the Sublime Porte to resist this powerful invasion of its territory, without the help of those Powers who had promised help in such an emergency, and on the faith of which promise alone their intervention had been accepted. Accordingly the Porte implored of England the help she was entitled to demand. Now, Sir, I come to a direct act of treachery—committed by the noble Lord, or which is the same thing, by the agent of the noble Lord, and sanctioned by him—against the Porte. The Porte applied to the noble Lord for protection against her rebellious subjects. The noble Lord refused that protection, although one word from him would have secured it. I say this, because, as it turned out afterwards, the remonstrance of a simple Consul at Alexandria was found quite sufficient to check the Pasha's progress. The noble Lord, however, refused the application. Instructions were not even sent to the Consul at Alexandria to use his influence there with Mehemet Ali. Not only the intervention but even the mediation of England was refused. In concert with this refusal, Russia then proffered to the Sublime Porte her assistance. The insidious offer was indignantly refused by the Porte. Upon this, Russia, still hoping to ingratiate herself with the Porte, joined her in a renewed application to the noble Lord for British intervention. The noble Lord again refused the demand. All this time the Pasha continued to advance towards Constantinople. At the moment of the noble Lord's second refusal of assistance, a Russian squadron on board suddenly sailed from Sevastopol in the Black Sea, towards Constantinople, and disembarked a large force of Russian troops upon the shores of the Bosphorus, and laid siege to the capital. The Sultan was intimidated into a secret communication unknown to the Porte. Count Orloff was sent specially from St. Petersburgh to conduct it. The only condition on which the Russian diplomatist would consent to withdraw in the first place his troops, and then to assist Turkey in checking the advance of the Pasha of 1158 Egypt, was the immediate acceptance of a treaty produced by Count Orloff to the Sultan, which had been drawn up at St. Petersburgh, and which he had been sent to present. That was the treaty afterwards so famous under the name of the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi.
The proposed treaty, immediately upon being received by the Porte from the hands of the Sultan—for till then the Porte had no knowledge of the design—was placed by the Porte in the hands of the English Embassy, with a prayer for protection against Russia. On the very next day, the identical document so confided to the honour of the English Embassy, was re turned to the Porte by the hand of the Russian Ambassador, with the taunting advice, "another time to choose a better confidant."
Anxious only to save the capital a little longer, and under the just impression that she was now betrayed by England, the Porte acceded to the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi and signed it. The moment that was done, the noble Lord—who would not grant help or the promise of help, nor even use mediation with the Pasha to cheek his ambitious designs against the Porte—sent an English squadron, with which was combined a French squadron (France being at that time blindly devoted to our alliance) to threaten the Turkish coasts and capital. The pretext for this hostile demonstration against a faithful injured ally was the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi! Because, in her utmost need, Turkey had signed that treaty which she had been compelled to accept by the noble Lord—that treaty against which the noble Lord had not only refused positively to protect her, but had even refused to interfere, to the extent of a simple remonstrance through his representatives, with the Russian Ambassador—the noble Lord sent a naval force to threaten the coasts, not of Russia the assailant, but of Turkey the assailed. And, to crown the whole, Sir, at the very time that this demonstration was being made, an assurance was given by the noble Lord to the Russian Ambassador at this Court, that this combined movement of the two squadrons was not intended in any sense hostile to Russia, nor to be taken as a hostile demonstration against her; but that, in fact, it meant nothing at all. I say this on the authority of Lord Ponsonby, the noble Lord's own Colleague, then Ambassador at Constantinople. To that Lord's subsequent conduct I shall presently have 1159 occasion to refer. But at that time Lord Ponsonby had not committed himself to the noble Lord; and, in a work which I hold in my hand, and which was soon after wards published under his eye, that noble man has recorded the fact and expressed his sorrow, that such a moment should have been taken by the authorities at home to assure the Russian Government, that, how ever hostile their attitude, no hostility was intended against Russia. The result was, that Turkey, forced into further concessions, signed the shameful Convention of St. Petersburgh, and then the British fleet was withdrawn; the noble Lord at the same time expressing his satisfaction with the moderation of the terms so imposed by Russia!
Sir, these are so many direct acts of treachery against Turkey. There is no doubt whatever about the facts—even the noble Lord does not dispute them; but as to their character, and as to the guilt of the noble Lord, in their regard, I have a right to ask, and I do ask the judgment of the House upon them. I am almost inclined to rest my case entirely on that one point. But, Sir, there is a further observation to be made in regard to this point, as to which, by the way, no information has ever yet been laid by the noble Lord before Parliament. The Convention of St. Petersburgh was a ratification of the Treaty of Adrianople. Now, in the same communication in which the noble Lord announced to Russia and Turkey his pacific intentions and the withdrawal of the English squadron, the noble Lord assured the Russian Government, that the British Government were perfectly satisfied with the amicable intentions of the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh in regard to Turkey, and its laudable disinterestedness, as evinced in that convention, and that upon those grounds the combined squadrons had been withdrawn. Thus, Sir, did he, for the second time, accept and ratify the Treaty of Adrianople.
I pray the House to remember, that these were the beginnings of that course of successful usurpation, which the Pasha of Egypt was incited by Russia to prosecute, and which afterwards produced a new war with the Porte, and the Treaty of July, 1840. Upon these early events, it is important for the House to understand that the noble Lord has taken very good care to lay no information whatever before it. In reference to these subjects, it is also desirable that the House should bear in mind 1160 that the noble Lord has, in fact, given no explanation of the terrible events of 1840. The papers which he has published in reference to those events, do not contain any such explanation; for they go no further back than 1839.
Sir, at the period of this Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, the mind of the late King was powerfully impressed with the necessity of maintaining and supporting Turkey, and of preventing the progress of Russian encroachment in that quarter. His late Majesty forced the question upon the attention of the noble Lord. I am able to prove the fact. I can also prove, Sir, that the noble Lord was obliged to take his directions in this matter from the late King's Private Secretary, and that his existence in office depended upon his compliance with the wishes of the Monarch. I can show that the noble Lord did on one or two occasions, as far as he dared, resist; but that his resistance was vain, and that it was invariably followed by abject expressions of contrition and compliance. I will not take upon myself to assert that on one occasion the noble Lord was actually out of office for a day or two; but I am able to say, that the noble Lord was at least in danger of a most unceremonious expulsion from office, on that occasion. I refer, Sir, to the discovery which the late King had made, that the noble Lord had consulted the feelings of the Russian Government as to the choice of an English Ambassador at the Court of St. Peters burgh; and that Sir Stratford Canning, who had served England so faithfully and so well against Russia, and who was originally destined for the Embassy, was set aside to make room for the late Earl of Durham—an Ambassador more agreeable to the Czar. I say, Sir, that on that act being discovered, the noble Lord lost the favour of his Sovereign, and that it was with difficulty that he was enabled to make an intelligible apology for the grounds upon which he had acted. [Lord PALMERSTON denied the statement.] The noble Lord contradicts me. Sir, I ask him to produce the papers which relate to the nomination of Sir Stratford Canning, his sub sequent rejection, and the consequent se lection of the Earl of Durham as the representative of this country at the Court of St. Petersburgh. The House shall judge between us.
Sir, the late King had been made aware that the position of Turkey had been strong and unassailable, so long as European in- 1161 tervention had been kept out; and that, in order to save Turkey against Russia, it was absolutely necessary to replace the Government of Turkey in its position of perfect and entire independence. His Majesty was also aware that the means taken by Russia to prostrate the strength of Turkey were commercial means. In fact, a fiscal system, of the most absurd and mischievous character, had been brought in by Russian influence, and engrafted on the old simplicity of the Turkish financial administration. The effect was most destructive; and to such a degree, that, whilst bankruptcy oppressed the natives of the land, the finances themselves very greatly suffered—monopolies abounded—the Government was crippled with debt and usury—the taxes were farmed out to men for the most part under Russian in fluence—and embarrassment, misery, and disaffection overspread the land. The late King had derived his information from the most authentic sources. I have not the same authentic information on this sub jest; but I will state shortly to the House what I know upon it, and in what manner that state of things had been brought about.
There were treaties existing between England and Turkey—commercial treaties—by which every article was imported free, I believe, and every article of export exported at 3 per cent. A similar favour had been granted to Russia by the Treaty of Adrianople. But there was this difference between her case and that of England—England looked only to commercial advantage, Russia only to political ascendancy. Russia made her advantage the occasion of embarrassing and ruining the Porto. She had not at that time a single merchant at Constantinople. But no sooner was the treaty signed than her emissaries amongst the Greek subjects of the Porte persuaded them to declare themselves Russian, in order that, under the assumption of that character, they might claim to share in the benefits conferred by the treaty. In consequence of that proposition great numbers of Greek rayahs unduly obtained an entire exemption from taxation. This created universal discontent amongst the farmers of taxes, who found their gains destroyed; and very great embarrassment to the Government, be cause of the loss of revenue which was the natural result. In order to obviate those disadvantages, the Porte introduced—or rather extended—the baneful system of mo- 1162 nopolies, by which the sale of certain articles was granted only to those who had paid for licenses from the Government. Russia did not remonstrate against these monopolies, although granted in evident infraction of one clause of the Treaty of Adrianople; and this for very profound reasons of policy. The unwise system was fast producing its own results—impoverishment of the State, and increased disaffection amongst the people. This was precisely what Russia wanted. Russia, in questions of commerce, has never an eye to commercial advantage, but always to territorial aggrandizement. Commercial advantage will come after wards. But till the other is gained she has always shown herself prepared to sacrifice to its attainment every other interest—her own commercial interest not excepted. But here she had no commercial interest to sacrifice. She had no merchants at Constantinople, though there were hundreds—and thousands, perhaps—of Turkish subjects who professed to carry on the trade under that name and title. But, even if these had been Russians, still their interests would have been sacrificed, in order to procure the immediate and greater object—internal disaffection and discontent. Accordingly, when they complained to the Russian Ambassador against the monopolies as having been created in violation of the Treaty of Adrianople, that Minister repremanded them for their presumption, and told them that the Russian Government would not interfere. Still there was no direct acquiescence on his part. It was always competent for him to prefer the demand at the proper moment. Now, one very important clause of the Treaty of Adrianople empowers Russia, in the event of any violation whatever of any clause of that treaty, to exercise, as though with the previous and entire sanction and recognition of the Porte, the immediate right of reprisal. Another clause, not less important, provided that, until all pecuniary demands arising out of that treaty should have been liquidated, the Turkish fortress of Silistria, and other places possessed by Russia, were not to be given up. All these constituted, therefore, another reason why Russia should be deaf for a season to the complaints of those quasi Russian merchants. Under such circumstances, it was that the late King was made sensible of the advantages of the Turkish trade to England, and of the fatal blow which Russian ambition would receive in a most vital point, if Turkey were reestablished on a free and 1163 independent basis; but which could only be when her finances had been brought into a more prosperous condition. There fore William the Fourth determined to negotiate with Turkey a treaty of commerce; and, for that end, he employed a Gentle man who had, by long residence in the East, deserved, found, and enjoyed, the united confidence of Christian and Mussulman—I mean my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford. Him, if I may take the liberty of doing so without infringing any rule of this House, I shall, in the course of my statement, describe by the name appearing in the documents before me—Mr. Urquhart. This Gentleman had applied himself devotedly to that question. He enjoyed the personal friendship of his late Majesty. He was upon terms of unrestricted intercourse first of all with the late King's Private Secretary, Sir Herbert Taylor, and afterwards with the King himself. I pause here, to anticipate an objection of the noble Lord, and to tell the House, that I entirely disregard any distinction, that may be taken in any quarter, between the office of Secretary of State and Private Secretary to the Sovereign. The law and constitution of this country recognise no such distinction. The Secretary of State is but the King's Clerk, and the King's Clerk or Private Secretary is nothing more nor less than his Secretary of State. One distinction, indeed, there is, which, however, is not to the disparagement of the office of Private Secretary. The office of Private Secretary, when it existed—(for it does not now exist, Her Majesty's Ministers have taken care of that—they abolished it at the beginning of the present reign)—was filled by only one person; whilst that of Secretary of State is divided amongst three—the Home, the Colonial, and the Foreign Secretary of State;—constituting, however, amongst them only one officer. The commands then given by his late Majesty, after advice taken with his Privy Council, might be as fitly communicated through Sir Herbert Taylor as through the noble Lord. With regard, however, to that part of the question, or the correspondence between Mr. Urquhart and Sir Herbert. Taylor,' the noble Lord's mouth is closed; for he, at least, accept ed the intervention of Sir Herbert Taylor. The documents before me show that he acted in obedience to commands communicated by the Private Secretary to the King. I have, moreover, communications here in my possession addressed from the 1164 noble Lord to Mr. Urquhart, authorising and empowering him in the fullest manner to draw up and procure the acceptance of the articles of a treaty of commerce between this country and Turkey, to be framed in the sense of the late King.
Under those instructions Mr. Urquhart did proceed to draw up the treaty of commerce. He did succeed in framing one treaty for the purpose of carrying into effect the wishes of the late King, as signified through his Private Secretary. The general terms of this treaty were to this effect:—That all monopolies should be abolished, so far as respected British merchants and their agents—that all taxes imposed upon British merchants or their agents, or duties except those provided by the treaty, whether they were duties of export, of import, or of transit, should be repealed;—that there should be commissioners appointed between the two States—English and Turkish commissioners—to inquire into the value of all articles of commerce usually exported which might be exported from Turkey; and which would find a sale in England;—that those commissioners should revise their reports once in every five years;—that those commissioners should set ad valorem duties upon the different articles of commerce in this manner, namely, that if any 'one article of commerce was so exclusively the production of Turkey as to insure it a ready sale, at the prices usually received under the monopoly in foreign ports, then the export duty to be assessed might be a high one, so as to be remunerative and productive of revenue;—but that, in the case of commodities produced elsewhere than in Turkey, and not being of sufficient value in foreign ports to bear a high duty, a lower duty should be assessed; and, lastly, that this tariff should be revised every five years. Take, for instance, valonia; a very principal article of export from Turkey. That commodity, being exclusively Turkish, might easily bear a duty of twenty-five or thirty per cent upon it, which would yield a good remuneration to the Turkish Government without, however, raising its price, or affecting its sale in foreign countries; where it would be just as cheap, after the imposition of this high duty, as it had been formerly; and certainly much cheaper than it was under the then system of monopoly. On the other hand, silk, not being the sole production of Turkey, but having to compete with that of other countries, would be able to bear only three or two per cent ad valorem, or perhaps 1165 less, and would be assessed accordingly. But there was one clause of the utmost importance. It was a clause, for repealing a prohibition which had been imposed by the Turkish Government upon certain exports—a prohibition first obtained in that treaty by means of that Russian influence which was then supreme in Turkey, and which had been so from the time when the noble Lord delivered that country into the hands of Russia. Russia had obtained from the Porte the absolute prohibition of the exportation of all articles whatever, capable of being produced in the countries of the north. What were those articles? They form almost the only branch—certainly by far the most important branch—of our trade with Russia. Upon the cultivation of that branch of commerce with Turkey, Russia had succeeded in obtaining from the Porte an absolute prohibition—not merely a monopoly. Exportation was absolutely prohibited in the case of corn, of hemp, and of timber. Exportation was permitted only in the case of dyes, gums, &c.—articles which Russia did not produce. Another important article, the exportation of which was prohibited, absolutely, although not produced in the north, was oil. The effect of the admission of Turkish oil into the English market, would have been entirely to exclude Russian tallow. We pay annually at this moment in gold to Russia—for very little of our produce goes there out of this country, and what little does go out is for the most part intended for use in the Russian manufactories; I speak more particularly with respect to cotton twist and machinery—we pay annually in gold to Russia for these articles of exportation, corn, hemp, tallow, timber, and so forth—in round numbers five millions and a half. Turkey, on the contrary, receives the products of our industry in exchange for her exports; and, whilst even this one-sided trade with Russia has increased only one fifth, or thereabouts, in the same period our trade with Turkey has increased fivefold. It was, therefore, in a commercial point of view important, but certainly in a financial point of view most important, for Russia, that the fiscal absurdities which then existed in Turkey should be maintained. Accordingly the House will find, if the papers are granted, that the whole of the contest between the Foreign Office under the noble Lord, on the one hand, and those who represented the true interests of England and Turkey, and the wishes of the King, on the other, was di- 1166 rected to this one point—the treaty of commerce. Every art was used, every fraud was employed to circumvent Mr. Urquhart, and to destroy the negotiation. The attempt was made to corrupt him by the promise of employment elsewhere. The attempt failed. There was no course left but to destroy him.
Sir, I shall not trouble the House with the passages of the correspondence with Sir Herbert Taylor, which relate to this matter. Yet, I have them here; and, if any one of my statements is denied or doubted, I am quite prepared to read them. I state again, that I hold in my hand papers, which show that Mr. Urquhart was fully employed—at the personal wish and desire of the King, signified by his Majesty to his Ministers, or by Sir Herbert Taylor, to the other Ministers of that Sovereign—that he was fully employed to negotiate this treaty upon these terms and with this purpose. I then find the noble Lord, at first openly expressing his unwillingness. I find that, relying upon that fortune which had supported him hitherto, he even attempted to overthrow it, by denouncing the project. Denouncing it as what? As a Russian project! It also appears that his Colleague, Lord Sydenham, then Mr. Poulett Thompson, a Russian merchant, who had great interests in the Baltic—I am aware that there was a nominal retirement on his part from the great firm which had the trading monopoly in the Baltic provinces of Russia; but I assert that, not withstanding that retirement, he remained, in fact, a Russian merchant there, and a Russian agent in the British Cabinet—I have the evidence here that Lord Sydenham denounced the very same treaty at the very same time, because it was "an anti-Russian project!" And then I read here that the determination of the King prevailed; and that the noble Lord and Mr. Poulett Thompson both receded, and expressed their conviction that they had been mistaken, and their readiness to see that treaty carried into effect without alteration. I have here the proofs also that instructions were sent to Lord Ponsonby, by the noble Lord, at the dictation of the King, to propose this treaty, without alteration in the smallest particular, for acceptance by the Sublime Porte. And, lastly, I assert, and I have here the evidence of it, that this treaty, founded upon Mr. Urquhart's reports, was settled and adopted in the Foreign Office, and was also settled and adopted in the Board of Trade, and accepted in its terms 1167 by the noble Lord and by Mr. Poulett Thompson, before it was so sent to Constantinople. I have now to inform the House that that treaty has never to this hour been signed—that that treaty has never to this hour been so much as presented to the Sublime Porte! I ask the noble Lord to satisfy the House, if he can, why he should not lay upon its table the fullest and most accurate information with respect to this matter. If I fail to make good my statements, I offer myself to the vengeance of the noble Lord and to the justice of the House.
Sir, I shall come by and by to the treaty of commerce which the noble Lord really did present to the Porte, and which the Porte signed at his instigation. I only beg the House at present to remember what I have just asserted.
Another point on which the King was equally determined, was the maintenance of the independence of Circassia—its dearly earned and well-bought independence—and the maintenance, too, of British commercial rights in Circassia. The noble Lord was directed by the King in the year 1835, and long before the disgraceful event to which I have just referred, the noble Lord was required, at the direction of the King, to make inquiries on the spot touching the independent rights of Circassia. I have the communications here which passed. The noble Lord was fully aware that the Circassians claimed their independence upon two grounds: that one ground was that they were not included in the Treaty of Adrianople; because the Porte, who was not their Sovereign, had never intended to transfer them, and had not the power to do so; and that the other ground was that the Treaty of Adrianople as against England was utterly null and void. It was for the purpose of carrying into effect the wise and patriotic purposes of the Sovereign, that these inquiries were directed to be made, and that an expedition to the Circassian coast was resolved upon. The sailing of the Vixen, and the application of the owner, Mr. Bell, to the noble Lord for permission to send the vessel, did not take the noble Lord by surprise. He knew long before that such an expedition was projected. Indeed, the noble Lord had himself published in this country, in the year 1835, the Circassian declaration of independence. The noble Lord had himself settled and corrected for the printer the colouring of a map, in which Circassia, was marked as an independent country.
1168 But, then, how do I reconcile these statements with my charge against the noble Lord? Very simply, Sir. I say that the noble Lord was but a mechanical instrument in all this of the personal will of his Sovereign, and that he was forced into action by that Sovereign's peremptory command. The documents which are before me prove that it was through Sir Herbert Taylor, and not through the noble Lord, that those wise measures were prosecuted, and to a great extent successfully carried out; and that, while the noble Lord afforded some of the means by which these measures were prosecuted, he was at the same time doing the bidding of those with whom he was in secret collusion; that he was to the utmost of his power attempting to frustrate the intentions of the King whom he affected to serve, and the measures of the servants with whom he professed to co-operate. Therefore what I charge against the noble Lord is, that in all these respects he was acting in violation of his duty as a Minister of the Crown, and in direct derogation from the terms- of his oath of Privy Councillor.
In the midst of those occupations King William and his Ministers, late in the autumn of 1835, heard with an indignant surprise, in which all Europe participated, that, in the course of a visit which the Czar Nicholas had recently paid to Warsaw, that Potentate had addressed a speech to the municipal authorities of that city; in which, setting for ever aside constitutions, conventions, and treaties, he had declared that the arrangement of the Congress of Vienna was at an end; that Poland was no more; that her territory had merged into Russia; and that it was no longer as Poles, but as Russians, that the Polish people were thenceforth to belong to him. Some two or three years before that period, the Poles, who had sought refuge here and in France, had brought first to France and then to England the archives which the Russian Viceroys had left at Warsaw; containing State papers of the greatest importance, relating to this country and other Powers, and ranging more or less over the period which had elapsed from the beginning of this century down to 1830—the period when the archives fell into the hands of the victorious insurgents. Those papers were placed in the hands of the noble Lord by Count Zamoyski, the nephew of Prince Czartoriski. A letter that I have here shows that the circumstance has been admitted by the noble Lord, and that those despatches were placed in the hands of 1169 the noble Lord by Count Zamoyski. He is a gentleman of the highest honour, character, and credit; his name, at least, the noble Lord will not affect to ignore: nor do I think that he will venture to discredit his assurance of their authenticity. The noble Lord had these despatches for two years, and did nothing with them. The late King, at the period of the speech at Warsaw, to which I have before referred, ordered these papers to be given up by the noble Lord. They were given up and examined at the time at Windsor Castle, and it was found desirable to print and publish them. Sir Herbert Taylor applied to the noble Lord to print them. The noble Lord admitted to Sir Herbert Taylor that the papers had been placed in his hands by Count Zamoyski, and that he (the noble Lord) had read some of them. It afterwards appeared that he had read most of them, or rather the whole. In spite of great opposition on the part of the noble Lord, the King compelled him to lend the authority of the Foreign Office to their publication; and, so completely was the Foreign Office identified with their publication, that the editor, who took the charge of revising them for the press, published not a single document which had not the noble Lord's initial or signature attached. I myself have seen the noble Lord's initial attached to one of these documents. I speak from experience, for I have had ocular testimony of the fact; and I mention this circumstance now with so much emphasis of repetition, because the noble Lord has denied these facts. The noble Lord was compelled to place these documents in the hands of Mr. Urquhart for publication. Mr. Urquhart was appointed Secretary of Legation at Constantinople in September, 1835. That at least was the period when he received his appointment. The commission itself appointing Mr. Urquhart to that office, was signed by the King on the 3rd of October, 1835. After this, and under the sanction of the noble Lord, in November, 1835, the first number of the "Portfolio" appeared. It was considered desirable that Mr. Urquhart, and his connexion with the Foreign Office, should not be apparent—that there should be a real supervision and control on the part of the Foreign Office—first of all, by Mr. Urquhart; and, secondly, on the part of the noble Lord, in order to secure the public against delusion—but that the connexion of even Mr. Urquhart with the "Portfolio" should not be made known to the public. That arrange- 1170 ment met with the approbation of Sir Herbert Taylor and the King. A gentleman of high credit and reputation—a gentleman known, I believe, to many hon. Members of this House—Mr. Seymour Westmacott—was appointed the nominal editor. His name is mentioned here in one of the letters before me, where the objection is raised that he probably might be the editor of the Age; and the answer is, that he was not that person, and was not in any way connected with that journal. Mr. Westmacott was appointed the nominal editor, and Mr. Urquhart the real editor, subject to the control of the noble Lord. I find, in particular, from another letter, written by Sir Herbert Taylor at this time, that the insertion of the Warsaw speech of the Czar, in the first number, was made at the noble Lord's own suggestion. Now, I say that these facts establish that the "Portfolio," while it lasted—and it lasted from November, 1835, to June, 1837—was the exponent of the views and wishes of his late Majesty's Government. It ceased shortly before the death of the King—it ceased during the last illness of the King. It was only the breath of the King which had given it life. Whilst it lasted, it was the exponent of the views of the King, and, ostensibly at least, of the Foreign Office. It was then convenient, and even necessary, for the Foreign Secretary to profess the King's views—views so entirely opposed to those which brought the noble Lord into office—views which, if he had dared, would have been, even then, condemned by him as loudly as he condemned the policy of Lord Aberdeen, when, in 1830, he ex- pressed his opposition to the policy of that noble Lord.
Sir, we have the whole question there in the "Portfolio." It would be troublesome to the House to enumerate the subjects that have been discussed in that work—there is no doubt as to the views and principles that were professed and prosecuted in that work, and which were brought out and carried on to the end of its publication. When, however, measures were afterwards called into play against Mr. Urquhart, for the purpose of getting rid of him, it became equally convenient for the noble Lord to deny his connexion with this publication; in the hope, as I firmly believe, that Mr. Urquhart would establish that connexion by commencing an action against him. In that case, the noble Lord, having his connexion with the "Portfolio" thus established, would then, 1171 in this House, and where there were no means of answering him, have made the assertion of that connexion his principal and best, if not his only answer to the charge which was, for the first time, then publicly brought against him of direct and deliberate collusion with the Cabinet of Russia. Mr. Urquhart, however, instead of taking that course, instead of forcing the noble Lord, by pressure of the law, to pay the expenses of the "Portfolio" out of the funds of the Foreign Office, very wisely, in the year 1838, paid them himself. It will be for the House to determine, when it sees the accounts, which on the application of Mr. Strangways and the late Mr. Backhouse, the two Under Secretaries of State, were sent into the Foreign Office—whether they have not here sufficient evidence to convince them that the facts are such as I have stated.
Sir, I have mentioned Mr. Strangways. I am glad to hear that the noble Lord has given him an unlimited congé, and that he is now in England. I trust that we shall have the benefit of his evidence upon these subjects. I wish I could raise from the grave Mr. Backhouse; and ask him under what circumstances it was that he was induced by the noble Lord to set his name to those deplorable denials of the connexion of the "Portfolio" with the Foreign Office, which have appeared in print; and, for the purpose of screening his principal, deliberately to subscribe his name to a lie? I tell the noble Lord that he is responsible for the death of Mr. Backhouse; he is deeply responsible for that calamity—much more so than he seems to be aware of. I know that that unfortunate gentle man, in his last moments, and with bitter ness of tone, declared that the noble Lord had brought him to his grave.
About a month before the publication of the first number of the "Portfolio," on the 3rd of October, 1835, Mr. Urquhart received his commission as Secretary of Legation at Constantinople. It was given him for the one purpose of securing the adoption there of the Turkish commercial treaty, then waiting for the final approval at the Foreign Office and the Board of Trade. But notwithstanding his appointment at that time, he remained in this country until June or July of the following year. The noble Lord pressed him to go; the applications to him urging his departure were numerous; but his answer invariably was; "I will not go, until I have this commercial treaty settled with the Board of 1172 Trade and the Foreign Office; and then I will accompany it and procure its acceptance at the Porte." The noble Lord was unable to prevent him from thus acting;—enjoying as he did the favour of the Crown. Accordingly the noble Lord at last gave his approbation to the treaty, and the treaty was forwarded to Lord Ponsonby. It was not till then that Mr. Urquhart proceeded to Constantinople.
I interrupt myself here to anticipate an objection which may be urged against me. I have been obliged to state many matters which may wear, in the eyes of those uninitiated in the secrets of this case, the appearance of a violation of confidence. Documents from which I am about to quote may appear still more confidential than those already referred to.
Sir, I answer such objections in the language of men of honour. On the 21st of June, 1838, in the course of the debate on the Circassian question, a noble Lord, who stands deservedly high in the estimation of this House—I mean Lord Stanley —when this charge of breach of confidence was brought against Mr. Urquhart, in respect of this very matter, said that—He knew nothing of Mr. Urquhart person ally, but that he would say, that he conceived the publication of the letter to be quite a natural course for a man of honour and a gentleman to pursue, when he heard a Secretary of State say, that he would not produce a letter written by that gentleman, on the ground of its not being official, but at the same time charged it with being, from first to last, full of the grossest misrepresentations. He could see no proper course to pursue but that which Mr. Urquhart had taken; which was to publish the whole letter, that its contents might be made known to the world; and, in order to judge this matter at issue between him and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, demand a Committee of the House of Commons. He (Lord Stanley) felt not the slightest reluctance to use the evidence contained in this letter," &c.Sir Robert Peel, on the same occasion, said, that—It was perfectly clear that in point of argument the case was satisfactorily settled; and that there was a strong case for inquiry.And he particularly mentioned—The six years' concealment of the Russian blockade of Circassia by the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs," &c.Sir Stratford Canning likewise on the same occasion said, that—When he considered the circumstances under which that letter was published—when he remembered the circumstances under which he moved for the papers in question, and the reason given by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), he was satisfied that he would be more than justified in 1173 the opinion of the House at large in having made use of this letter in reference to this question. If he had been in the place of Mr. Urquhart, he should not only have felt himself at liberty, but that it was incumbent on him to pursue the course which that gentleman had taken; and whatever responsibility was incurred, rested on the noble Lord.Now, Sir, such is my answer to the objection. But, I have this further answer to make. Sir Herbert Taylor is no more. Shortly before his death, he gave directions for the destruction of all his papers, with one remarkable exception; and that exception embraced all the papers connected with this case. Those papers he ordered to be given up to Mr. Urquhart, and they were given up to that gentleman; and he has placed them in my hands; for the purpose, as Sir Herbert Taylor ex pressed it, of vindicating, upon the fitting opportunity, the memory of King William the IVth.
Sir, Mr. Urquhart proceeded to Constantinople. Before he left this country, however, he received from the noble Lord's Colleague, the then Ambassador there (Lord Ponsonby), a letter which I will read to the House. It not only confirms the statements that I have already made, but goes far beyond them. It will be seen how Lord Ponsonby, in 1836, condemned the faint and truckling policy of some Members of the Administration, and expressed his sense of the immense difficulties with which Mr. Urquhart, as well as himself (for Lord Ponsonby, too, was then in ear nest), had to contend.
Sir, I will not trouble the House by reading extracts from more of those letters than the first; which is dated 23rd of March, 1836. Lord Ponsonby says—My dear Urquhart—On the 15th I received, by Vienna post, the "Portfolio, No. 12," inclusive. I had before seen three numbers, I think, or four. I cannot sufficiently express my admiration of the work; though I differ from you in some things.The despatches from Pozzo di Borgo are in estimable. I, above all men, must prize them; for they confirm everything I have said for years past, and justify the whole of the policy I have recommended, and, in as far as it rested with me to do, acted upon also. I am happy that Prince Metternich will learn how he is esteemed by the Russians. I am a great admirer of Metternich, and the sworn friend of Austria; believing that England and Austria ought to be intimately allied for their common benefit.I do not fear Russia one bit at present, nor have I any dread of her future power; provided we have either wise heads or stout hearts left in England, to direct and take the commonest means for our own security and interest. I know that Russia is of the Titan breed; but her gigantic limbs are unformed and unwieldy, like an over- 1174 grown child's. If the Titan blood had been destroyed in infancy, Jupiter would not have had to fight for Olympus; but Jupiter was successful, and so shall we be, let Russia do what she will aye, even though she should seize upon Constantinople. It is true that we shall have a severe contest in the latter case, and that we might now prevent all possible danger by taking the simplest measures of precaution, and not even vigorous enough to shake the smallest nerve of the most sensitive of our statesmen. I trust you are not about to leave London.The noble Lord opposite was pressing Mr. Urquhart to leave London for the purpose of destroying the treaty. Lord Ponsonby says—I trust you are not about to leave London. You are invaluable there, and not necessary here. I hope you will at least be in London when my next despatches reach it. You have, I presume, seen the last secret one I sent? What could you do for yourself hero, or for the cause, that would elevate you, or assist it, the hundredth part so much as you have done, and must continue to do, at home? There is nothing for you to do here at present; though the time will come, ere long, when this place will furnish you full room and scope enough for all your energies and talents.I read in the Morning Chronicle of the 24th or 25th of February, an article on the affairs of the Sultan and Mehemet Ali;—most incomparably foolish, but exactly in the tone and in the sense of some influential men at home. It is not new to me. But I cannot say what dog has returned to his vomit, and again spewed up his undigested garbage. I hope you will lacerate these pretenders to knowledge about this country, and asses, whose brayings are mischievous in alarming the poor Turk; who, like the lion in the fable, thinks a loud voice the true indication of strength. The stupid beasts deserve the scourge, to teach them to know themselves.I see Mr. Poulett Thomson holds you and the Portfolio' in equal contempt. I thought he had been too clever a man for that. But I know little or nothing about him, excepting that he was a Russian merchant, and might naturally have feelings for the country from which he drew his pro fits. There are several others who have, or have had, similar connections with Russia, and who may have prejudices in her favour. This should be looked to.So, Sir, do I say!—Many months ago I told you I considered the game to be won here. I think when you really know what I have done, you will be pleased with me. I refer you to Hudson;—he knows.I had been led to believe you had changed your mind respecting Circassia. No! I did not believe it; but I heard it. I am delighted with the manner in which you have treated that subject: it is admirable. I hope you have approved of what I have done in my despatches respecting it."—Those despatches I call for—I considered it, from the beginning, to be next in importance to the possession of Constantinople itself; but it is only lately (comparatively speaking) that I have known the facts of the total freedom of that country from every legitimate 1175 subjection or tie to the Sultan, and, therefore, the total illegality of any title assumed to it by Nicholas. If we had any man in England worth a straw, we should soon settle these matters; but our statesmen, high and low, are pedlars, like old—"—(Then follows the name of an hon. Member of this House, which I must omit)—
§ "but without the sagacity that distinguishes the Israelite who carries about his small wares for Bale to housemaids and scullions. Pursue the line you have taken. Maintain by continued exertion the place you have already won, and be assured that you will beat and override the puny beings, who now stand above you in right, solely, of seniority. I hope you will show the world most fully, how sound the policy of Prince Metternich has been with respect to Russia. I will not say I wholly approve of the mode be has taken up. I think he ought to have more vigour, and trust less to finesse; at which the Russians will beat him. He can no longer fear France. Louis Philippe has beaten the Propaganda; and Austria has no longer a single cause to fear France; for France has not one motive to interfere in Italy, except in the event of Russia obtaining possession of Constantinople, through the blunders or negligence of Austria. If Prince Metternich would speak out, and intelligibly, the British Government could not hesitate (however willing they may be to do so) about taking a decided and strong part; and then Russia would be wholly and irrecoverably undone, as an aggressive Power in the East, and Austria saved from evils, sure to come, and of no small magnitude, unless Russia be checked. I think (you will recollect I wrote to you on the subject a great many months ago) you have shown that Prussia has been pushed on by Russia, and is the instrument of that Power. I do not believe in the consistency and stability of Prussian power; but I am certain it may last long enough to produce immense mischief to Austria, and may perhaps involve Europe in another war of a malignant kind.
§ "I tell you nothing of this country. You will see enough of that subject in my next despatches, which I shall send in a few days. I send this by sea. … Yours, very sincerely,
§ Now, Sir, I have read that document to the House because the writer was the instrument whom soon afterwards the noble Lord employed to get rid of Mr. Urquhart. Mr. Urquhart arrived in Constantinople shortly after he left this country. On his way to Constantinople, he heard of the death of M. Blacque, his most valuable ally; who had been for so many years acting in concert with the late King and his servants, in the prosecution of that Eastern policy so useful both to his own country, France, and to England. Whilst on his way to London to take Mr. Urquhart's place here, M. Blacque was poisoned at Malta by Russian hands. The only servant whom he had with him,—and who was afterwards 1176 known to have been in communication with the Russian Embassy at Constantinople,—immediately arrived there, and circulated the report that M. Blacque had died of poison administered to him by the English; a report which was currently believed and circulated amongst the Greeks. The report itself, like the event to which it referred, was of course of Russian origin. I mention this to show the immense importance that Russia was supposed to attach at that time to the matter of these negotiations. Mr. Urquhart then arrived at Constantinople. He found that the treaty had been taken out of his hands, and placed entirely in the hands of Lord Ponsonby; who was to present it to the Porte with no discretion about it, but to call for its unconditional acceptance or rejection. The letters which Lord Ponsonby continued to write to Mr. Urquhart, who was suffering from ill health at that time, and which I have here before me, were of the most friendly description. They were even of the most confidential kind. His Lordship continued to make the most bitter animadversions upon the conduct of the noble Lord opposite. At length, Sir, Lord Ponsonby addressed to him a letter of a most remarkable character. I will not weary the House by reading it now. I will merely state that it informs Mr. Urquhart that, in his Lordship's judgment, it is better, for a variety of reasons which he does not think fit to explain, that he should go home immediately on leave—that circum stances have occurred which though they have not changed his (Lord Ponsonby's) convictions on the great subjects pending there, may operate to change his acts— that he (Mr. Urquhart), moreover, was no longer to hold himself bound to act with Lord Ponsonby, because he (Lord Posonby) was no longer able to act with him, although his convictions remained as before, and the same as his (Mr. Urquhart's) own,—and then it concludes with the re iteration of Lord Ponsonby's hope that Mr. Urquhart would at once go home. This mysterious advice was not under stood nor followed by Mr. Urquhart at the time; but a month later he had learned to understand it too well.
§ Within the month, and by the next despatch, or almost the next, he received from the noble Lord opposite the first notification that there were complaints of his conduct; said to have been preferred by Lord Ponsonby in the month 1177 preceding this period, on the authority of several merchants and other residents at Constantinople, and justifying, in Lord Ponsonby's opinion, his removal. But of the nature of these complaints, neither Lord Ponsonby nor the noble Lord opposite have ever yet given the smallest explanation. All that Mr. Urquhart was told was, that complaints had been received at the Foreign Office, such as made it necessary for the noble Lord to give Mr. Urquhart permission to return home. This was followed up by a cold and official notification from Lord Ponsonby, informing him, in answer to his application, that though he still retained his office of Secretary of Embassy, as well as that of Chargé d'Affaires—to which I forgot to mention that he had in the mean time, and only a few days before, been accredited by the noble Lord opposite—he could not be allowed, whilst at Constantinople, to enter the palace of the Embassy, or to peruse a single paper belonging to its archives. The inquiry in Parliament to which I have already alluded, and which was demanded by Sir Stratford Canning, was an inquiry into these charges, as well as into the charges made against the noble Lord opposite; and there again inquiry was refused. Sir, I have no hesitation in saying, and I am in a position to prove, that the noble Lord suborned Lord Ponsonby to make those complaints, in order to procure the removal of Mr. Urquhart from his post; and thus to give the noble Lord an opportunity in England of securing Mr. Urquhart to his own interest, or in the failure of that attempt of utterly destroying his position. I dare the noble Lord to state to this House what charge was ever made against Mr. Urquhart by Lord Ponsonby, or any other person at Constantinople, on the faith of which he pursued this line of conduct. That the charges, if any, could not be of a very grave character, is clear from this, that Mr. Urquhart has never been dismissed. A mere congé was given him, accompanied by a letter of a most friendly and even familiar kind from the noble Lord opposite. But Mr. Urquhart was not dismissed, nor has he to this day ever received his dismissal. After his return to England, he was still Secretary of Legation and Chargè d'Affaires at Constantinople. But not the less were the services of this Gentleman, whose value was recognised by the noble Lord himself, lost to the country—a loss the amount of which was increased in proportion to the magni- 1178 tude of the danger. In fine, the removal at such a time of a such a man took place upon the supposition of complaints the nature of which has never been stated, but which are admitted to have been of so trivial a character as not to justify his suspension from office. In the mean time, attempts had been made by the noble Lord to discredit Mr. Urquhart's character at Windsor Castle and elsewhere. Before leaving Constantinople Mr. Urquhart received letters from Sir John M'Neill, our Minister at Teheran, and from other public servants in different parts of the world, all referring to communications to his prejudice made to them from the Foreign Office—communications circulated by servants of the Foreign Office all over the world—and all stating that grave complaints had been made against Mr. Urquhart by Lord Ponsonby, for months before Mr. Urquhart heard anything about them—for months before the final communication was made to Mr. Urquhart that his services were no longer required; and for months during which the most friendly and confidential intercourse subsisted between him and that nobleman. Whence this activity? To what is it to be attributed? Who is answerable? Let the events speak. Who had been ever anxious for the removal of Mr. Urquhart from Constantinople—who but the noble Lord opposite? And when it was effected, mark what were the consequences.
§ Immediately the treaty fell into abeyance: the negotiation of the treaty was thrown aside—and it was never taken up again—never until two years afterwards: and then for what purpose? Then it certainly was taken up and signed, and presented to Parliament by the noble Lord; and he certainly then gave to Mr. Urquhart the compliment of being the author of it, disclaiming for himself all merit in its regard. In fact the handsome way in which the noble Lord made that declaration obtained for him the greatest credit at the time—for all had heard of Mr. Urquhart's denunciations of the noble Lord, and few had examined the treaty. But those who had examined the treaty were of another mind. They saw what it was the noble Lord had done with it. He had destroyed it. It was falsified in every part. It had been framed for the protection—it was converted to the ruin—of commerce. As drawn by Mr. Urquhart, it had been a treaty which placed the subjects of Great Britain, in Turkey, upon the footing of the most favoured nation. 1179 The treaty, as altered by the noble Lord, placed the subjects of Great Britain upon the footing of the taxed and oppressed subjects of that Power. The treaty, as prepared by Mr. Urquhart, stipulated for the removal of all transit duties, of all monopolies, and of all taxes and duties of whatever character, other than those stipulated by the treaty itself. The treaty, as falsified by the noble Lord, contained a clause, declaring the perfect right of the Sublime Porte to impose whatever regulations and restraints it pleased with regard to commerce. The treaty of Mr. Urquhart left importation free, or at least subject only to the old duty of 3 per cent. The treaty of the noble Lord raised the duty from 3 to 5 per cent. Mr. Urquhart's treaty stipulated for an ad valorem duty, to be assessed in the way I have mentioned. The noble Lord's treaty stipulated a fixed duty of 12 per cent ad valorem upon every article, whether it would bear the duty or not. And, finally, the original treaty extended the benefit of free trade to Turkish ships and Turkish produce; whilst the substituted treaty contained no stipulations whatever on the subject. I know, Sir, that there is a clause in the changed treaty which professes to give to England a certain equality of rights with other nations. But, Sir, let the House examine this clause—it is the first article—and it will be found to be no con cession at all. For, Sir,—independently of the qualification annexed to it, by the sub sequent articles to which I have referred—the article reserving to the Porte the right to make what internal regulations and restraints on trade it pleases; and the articles imposing the duty of 12 per cent—a duty from which Russian subjects are exempted—and which articles would completely override the concessions of the first article, did such exist—that article is so worded as of itself effectually to disentitle us to share with other nations in any commercial advantages then existing. It says, "rights which the Porte now grants, or shall hereafter grant," &c. Now, the treaty of Mr. Urquhart gave the subjects of Great Britain all the rights which the Sublime Porte "has ever granted, or shall hereafter grant" to any nation. That con cession was expressed in the familiar and appropriate language of treaties. The noble Lord's departure from the same form is most remarkable and suspicious.
§ Sir, I charge these falsifications—I charge also the concealment of them—upon the noble Lord; and further, I charge the 1180 noble Lord with having falsely stated to the House that this treaty was that which had been arranged by Mr. Urquhart. I charge him with having done this with the design of misleading public opinion; and because he knew that the treaty so long pending had become popular amongst the British merchants at Constantinople, chiefly because they knew it to have been negotiated by Mr. Urquhart, in whom they re posed the greatest confidence.
§ Sir, into the consequences which have flowed from the falsification of that treaty, I will not enter. But the evidence is there before the world. I will only say, that as a treaty of commerce it has miserably failed—as a means of sowing dissension in Turkey, and impairing the Turkish revenue, and destroying the ascendancy of England in the councils of Turkey, it has been signally successful. Our merchants under stand it now but too well. When it was first signed, however, they were under the impression that it was such as Mr. Urquhart had made it; and thus, and not with standing the obvious bearing of it, it was no sooner promulgated to them by Lord Ponsonby, and by that Ambassador—who had by this time given his adhesion to this dark policy of the noble Lord—represented in the most favourable point of view, than the British merchants of Constantinople signed an address, thanking him for having concluded it. But I now state—and I state it advisedly and with confidence—that every merchant who signed that address has been made to discover his error, by having long ago become bankrupt. I say further, that the bankruptcy of one and all of them is wholly and solely attributed to this treaty, and with most perfect justice—that the same misfortune has befallen the merchants of such other States as have accepted for them selves that treaty, relying on our example, and our presumed sagacity in commerce—and that Russia alone has had the wisdom to stand aloof, and to rest upon her Treaty of Adrianople, and to escape the danger. I say advisedly, that at this moment there is no commerce successfully carried on by a single British subject at Constantinople, who is not a partner in a Russian house, or does not carry it on under Russian protection. The papers laid before Parliament in 1843 establish my allegations.
§ Sir, this, however, is not all. At the time that Mr. Urquhart was engaged in the prosecution of this treaty, the King 1181 was engaged with Sir Herbert Taylor in devising means, with the consent of the noble Lord, for the purpose of reopening the entire question of the Treaty of Adrianople. I come to the case of Circassia; and I speak in the presence of the noble Lord. I say, then, that Mr. Bell, with the full knowledge of the noble Lord, and with his sanction—certainly without any expression of disapproval—after full notice—after receiving from the noble Lord a statement that no blockade had as yet been notified by Russia on the coast of Circassia, and that therefore, by proceeding to the coast of Circassia, there was no danger of confiscation under the international law of blockade—under all these circumstances, and after making all these applications to the noble Lord, Mr. Bell, in compliance with the wishes of his Sovereign, equipped the Vixen at his own expense, for a commercial voyage to the Circassian coast. For the same purpose he put on board of her a cargo of salt, an article which is there in great demand, and which had been, and which it was thought would become again, a principal object of commerce between England and Circassia. The Vixen, with Mr. Bell on board, left the English coast, and proceeded on her voyage to Constantinople and Circassia. Arrived at Constantinople, Mr. Bell put himself in communication with Lord Ponsonby, whose favourable judgment of the claims of Circassia, and of the rights of Great Britain in Circassia, the House has already heard stated by himself in the letter I just now read. Lord Ponson by approved of the voyage, and only cautioned him to take care not to violate any blockade. He was right;—because, whether Russia was or was not entitled to the territory of Circassia, still, if she kept up a sufficient blockade on any part of the coast, then under the law of nations confiscation would properly take place against any vessel breaking it. Mr. Bell being already prepared to adopt this course, most cheer fully undertook to do so. On the other hand, Lord Ponsonby and every member of the British Legation publicly expressed their approval of his procedure, and went down to the water side in a body, and there witnessed the departure of the Vixen from Constantinople to the coast of Circassia. Arrived on the coast, Mr. Bell took her into a harbour not in the occupation of Russia. There was no Russian force there nor in the neighbourhood. There was nothing whatever from which to give Russia occu- 1182 pation, or even the name of it. There were no Russian ships of war in sight, nor in the offing. Nothing of the kind had been seen, until a Russian vessel of war came into the harbour thirty-six hours after the Vixen had cast anchor, and at a moment when the owner and some of the officers were on the shore engaged in fixing the dues demanded by the Circassian authorities, and payable on the value of the goods. It was thirty-six hours after the Vixen's arrival, and while her people were so engaged that the vessel entered this port—coming not coastwise but from the open sea. She sent a boat and forcibly took possession of the Vixen. I beg the House to observe, that this seizure was grounded by the captors themselves upon the pretext, as the Russian Admiral in a despatch which I have here states, of her having violated—not the quarantine laws, nor yet the customs laws of Russia—but the international law of blockade. The despatch states, that she was captured as having broken a blockade, which he said was an efficient blockade, and kept up by the Russians on that coast.
§ This false pretext of the Russian Admiral, however, proved on examination, insufficient to justify the measures of the Russian Cabinet—measures taken, as the dates prove, in concert with the noble Lord; so as to enable the Russian Government to obtain both the confiscation itself, and the recognition of that confiscation by the English Government, and there by at once the formal acknowledgment that the Treaty of Adrianople and entire extinction of Circassian independence, so far as that independence rested upon the hope of support from England. Therefore, in the despatch which came from St. Petersburgh, announcing that the confiscation of the ship had followed the seizure, that confiscation was grounded no longer upon the inapplicable laws of blockade, but upon certain municipal regulations of Russia; which were there stated to have been made in 1831 or 1832 by the Russian authorities, for the purpose of establishing quarantines and customs-houses on the coast of Circassia.
§ Mr. Bell represented—urged—and remonstrated. The noble Lord was obliged to put himself in communication with the several parties; but he did so in such a manner as effectually to assist Russia, and defeat Great Britain. By the papers before Parliament, it appears that, to the insolent and false statements of the Russian Ca- 1183 binet, in answer to the application of Mr. Bell, the noble Lord delayed to reply for the space of seventy-three days. I will here observe that, whenever there is any correspondence pending with foreign States, the noble Lord's delays are always very great and very frequent; that is to say, whenever the effect of delay is to injure England. During the whole of this intervening period, to whatever inquiries were made in this House, the noble Lord always gave answer and assurance that things were going on very well. But, upon being asked for the papers in connexion with this subject, the noble Lord always refused to do so, giving also his reasons. I beg the House to hear them, and to bear them in mind. They explain the views upon which the noble Lord has always acted, when the question of producing or not producing the papers which elucidate his policy has come before the House.
On the 17th of March, 1837, Mr. Roebuck had moved for papers on the Treaty of Adrianople, and the Vixen case, then pending. The noble Lord said—
If those papers are found to Bear on the case in question"—
That is to say, on the case of the Vixen—
their production at the present time would only be injurious. And such of them as bear on bygone cases, obviously can be of no use to the hon. and learned Gentleman who has moved for them.
Sir, I again interrupt myself to say that it is hard upon any hon. Member of this House to find himself censured now for moving for papers of this importance, when he perceives that, in former Parliaments, such reasons have ever been found sufficient to justify the noble Lord in denying them to the House. If, the noble Lord says, they relate to any case that is pending, it must be injurious to produce them; but if, on the contrary, they relate to a case that is past and gone, they can obviously be of no use to the Gentleman who moves for them, or to the House. It did not enter into the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman, on the occasion referred to, nor was it the policy of the noble Lord to state, that, although their production might be too late to serve the parties more immediately concerned, it might be very useful for bringing to condign punishment the Minister who had betrayed the interests of his country.
§ I spare the House the recital of the painful and disgraceful termination of this business. Suffice it to say, that, when matters were ripe for concluding it, 1184 Lord Durham, acting, as I fully believe, in concert with the noble Lord, falsely stated in a despatch of three or four lines—not more, at least, was laid before Parliament—that the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh was fully justified in seizing the Vixen, for the Russians were in actual occupation of the bay, and that there was even a Russian fort there. It was a most unfounded statement. There was not even a blockading squadron in the offing—much less a Russian fort on any part of the coasts of the bay. I have here the evidence of well-informed persons, who report that there was no fort at all there then, nor form any months afterwards. It is distinctly stated that there was no such fort. I believe that, in fact, the assertion was made in order to lay the ground which should enable the noble Lord to write his next despatch; and this—the King being now in imminent danger of that death which soon followed—was no longer delayed. The noble Lord knows better than most men when to tarry and when to precipitate. That despatch contained an unqualified recognition of the right of Russia to do what she had done. I charge the noble Lord with the wilful and deliberate betrayal of the Circassians, the ally of England, who had been encouraged by a recommendation to open trade with this country. I charge the noble Lord with their betrayal to the deadly foe of this country as well as their own; and I charge him further, with the deliberate betrayal and violation of the honour and safety of Great Britain—and of the rights of British merchants; whose losses remain uncompensated to this hour. I charge the noble Lord with having done this, with the design and with the effect of transferring to a foreign Power, the dominion of an independent territory, which it was necessary for that Power to possess in the prosecution of her designs against our Indian empire. I further charge the noble Lord with having deceived the Parliament with false statements and suppressions of fact in reference to this matter. And I charge him with having practised the same deception upon his Colleagues, and upon his Sovereign. Therefore, Sir, combining these charges together, and as the necessary result thereof, I, in the last place, charge the noble Lord with the superadded guilt of high treason. And, Sir, I undertake to prove all these charges to the very letter. When the noble Lord shall lay the papers I demand before this House, I will prove my charges before any tribunal 1185 which this House may think fit to appoint. If it is not thought convenient from suggestions of economy—(economy, Sir! in the investigation of crimes which have already cost this country one hundred millions of money, and a priceless sacrifice of honour and reputation!)—if, I say, upon considerations of economy, or upon any other consideration, it is thought advisable that these documents should not be printed, I will be satisfied to peruse them in manuscript; If publicity be dreaded, I am content to remit their consideration to a Secret Committee. We have high and recent authority—I allude to the Ministerial authority to which we listened the other night—for referring to Committees of Secresy the investigation of national embarrassments and dangers. I repeat, that, if it is thought fit, I will be satisfied with a Secret Committee; though I should certainly prefer a Public Committee, or rather a Committee of the whole House. In either event, I do now undertake to prove all these charges before the tribunal so constituted.
§ Sir, the King died, just before the case of the Vixen was finally concluded; and then the office of Private Secretary to the Sovereign was abolished; and the noble Lord was free from that moment to take his own course. I say his own course, because the noble Lord consults no one unless where he thinks fit to do so. He is known to act without consulting even his Colleagues; and this is a peculiar circumstance in his policy. It has been, for instance, charged by M. Guizot, and not denied by the noble Lord, that, in the affairs of Syria in 1840, amongst other important instances of the kind, the noble Lord acted without the authority of his Colleagues. Yet his Colleagues, like himself, are Privy Councillors—Members of that standing Council of State, the Privy Council, which it is the duty of every Minister to consult before taking any steps even in his own department.
§ Sir, the coincidence of date between the betrayal of the Circassians and the sacrifice of Mr. Urquhart is remarkable; and both events, be it observed, were calculated so as to fall in with the late King's death. Although connected with these matters, I shall very briefly pass over another most important charge against Lord Ponsonby, and state merely the result. I say that that nobleman, in the person of his agent or instrument, Major or Colonel Du Plat—(the proceedings connected with 1186 this subject are on record in the Court of Queen's Bench in this country)—and himself being then Ambassador at Constantinople—made himself the author and publisher of an atrocious and malignant libel against his own Secretary of Legation, Mr. Urquhart; and that this libel he published anonymously in the papers here, with the intention of destroying his reputation, and in order to give weight to those misrepresentations which the noble Lord opposite had already circulated. I hold the briefs in my hand which were held by the late Sir William Follett as counsel for Mr. Urquhart when the rule was made absolute. I shall not read the libel; it is sufficient to say that it was published in the noble Lord's (Lord Palmerston's) own journal, the Morning Chronicle. It was admitted and even sworn by the editor of that journal, that it had come from Lord Ponsonby's attorney, one Walker. A rule was therefore obtained against Walker, by whom it was further admitted, that the libel was written by this Colonel Gustavus Du Plat, and. who was then engaged at the Embassy in Constantinople. Again, whilst the application was being made for the rule to be made absolute, that attorney stated to the effect, that it was so written under the sanction of Lord Ponsonby (also at Constantinople); for he said that he (Walker) was waiting for further instructions from Lord Ponsonby, from whom he had already received the instructions on which he had thus far acted. I say, that, upon these statements being made, and on the rule being made absolute against Walker—and not wishing to press upon an obscure man, who, after all, had acted merely in the capacity of servant to the main offender,—Mr. Urquhart never prosecuted the matter further, but consented to allow the proceedings to be dropped as against him, upon his making submission and paying the costs. Consequently, Mr. Urquhart waited in patient expectation that the time would come, when a sense of honour on the part of the noble Lord's Colleagues, if not of the noble Lord himself, should induce them to send peremptory instructions to Lord Ponsonby to return to this country, and also to send home this Colonel Du Plat, or to make some other arrangement, so that they might be made to abide here the proceedings which Mr. Urquhart only waited for an opportunity to take against both. Neither the one nor the other of them, however, came home till two years afterwards; and then it was too late, according 1187 to the judgment of Sir William Follett, to commence effectual proceedings against either Du Plat or the noble Lord. Yet that Lord Ponsonby was the author and Colonel Du Plat the instrument of the foul and malignant libel, could not be denied by the Ministers who screened them. It was even admitted in court by the Attorney General of the day, who defended Walker on the occasion of making the rule absolute—I mean the present Lord Campbell. He told the court, "We are utterly powerless, and have no means of contradicting these statements;" and, although stated on oath, they have never been contradicted to this hour. I say further, that the nominal author of this atrocious libel—Du Platt—was immediately afterwards appointed by the noble Lord to the responsible and difficult office of British Consul at Warsaw. What has been the conduct of that gentleman there? He was the Consul who, three years ago, deceived Lord Aberdeen when he was Foreign Secretary with respect to the outrages committed against the nuns of Minsk. He was the Consul on the faith of whose assurance Lord Aberdeen believed that the statements of those outrages were all without foundation and false from beginning to end—that there were no nuns at Minsk—and that the abbess was an impostor. I admit, Sir, that Lord Aberdeen ought to have doubted whether a Consul in Warsaw did of necessity know perfectly well what was passing in Lithuania; but that does not in the least degree mitigate the guilt of the agent. This, then, is the agent, this the instrument whom the noble Lord selects, and leaves behind him as a pura hœreditas to his successors in office.
§ There is a parallel instance. Does the House remember who it was that deceived Lord Aberdeen in 1843, with respect to the Servians? The man who informed him in 1843 that the faithful Servians were divided with respect to the choice of a prince, and in open revolt against their sovereign the Sultan, was another nominee of the noble Lord. The statement was utterly and inexcusably false, and was afterwards proved to be false by Sir Stratford Canning. The fact was that the Servians only wanted to keep out Russian intervention; and this they effected by remaining firm in their allegiance to the Porte, and unanimous in their choice of Kara Georgewitsch—and determined at all hazards never to bring about a state of things which would justify Rus- 1188 sia, under the Treaty of Akerman, in interfering therein. Who was it that misled Lord Aberdeen in that important particular? It was one Mr. Fonblanque. And that officer is only another sample of the noble Lord's disgraceful connexion with the public press of this country. He happens to be a brother of the editor of the principal weekly organ of the noble Lord; and, although his previous conduct in an office which he held under the noble Lord had made his removal necessary—conduct to which, as it has been remarked upon by an hon. Member of this House in his place here upon another occasion, I do not think it necessary for me further to refer,—this Mr. Fonblanque, having disgraced that office which he had formerly held under the noble Lord, was judged fit by the noble Lord to take the important post of Consul at Belgrade. What his demeanour has been in that office I have shown. These then are the agents whom the noble Lord selects. I wish the House to judge of the motives and the objects which the noble Lord must have had in view when he ventured on their selection.
§ Sir, the results of all this policy did not fail to show themselves. In 1839 a second war was raging between Mehemet Ali and his sovereign, the Sultan. Russia, under the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, which gave her the right to the occupation of the Dardanelles, to the exclusion of all other Powers, in the event of war, was about to enforce her rights under that treaty. The Porte, anxious to escape from the obligations of that treaty, and relying upon the policy of William the IVth., as being still the policy of Queen Victoria, and not understanding that in this country—this constitutional country—the Monarch acts only through advisers—irresponsible advisers, I am bound to add—and that the course of policy is determined entirely by reference to matters of doctrine or opinion on subjects altogether foreign to that policy, and not at all by any reference to the integrity and fitness of those advisors—and that they, nevertheless, are suffered to advise and act without control—the Sultan, I say, ignorant of all this, applied to the British Crown for protection. Let the House observe, against whom was this protection sought; for the whole case turns on that. It was not against Mehemet Ali, but against rather it was against Mehemet Ali as pushed on by Russia. To merit the protection sought, 1189 the Sultan had offered—the proof is here—to place the Dardanelles in possession of an English and French squadron. This he first offered in 1836. Now, what was the answer of the noble Lord? Sir, it was a censure upon the diplomatic agent to whom the offer had been made. Redschid Pacha, who was then Turkish Ambassador at the Court of France, made the proposal. The censure was addressed by the noble Lord opposite to his own Secretary of Embassy, Mr. Urquhart. There can be no mistake as to that. I have here the noble Lord's letter of censure upon Mr. Urquhart; and the ground is, his having even listened to the proposal of Redschid Pasha to place the Dardanelles in the power of an English and French squadron—instead of a Russian squadron—in the event of Mehemet Ali marching against Constantinople.
§ In the year 1839, again, communications upon the same subject were renewed between the Courts of Constantinople, Paris, and London. The noble Lord was applied to by the Court of the Tuilleries, who solicited British co-operation in compelling-Russia to abstain from possessing herself of the Dardanelles. That was the point de départ, as M. Thiers termed it;—the exclusion of Russia. It was not Mehemet Ali that had to be excluded, but the Czar. However, when applied to by France, the noble Lord made the answer which I have here before me; an answer, let me add, which the noble Lord has never laid before Parliament. It has come to light only by the publication, in 1840, in France, of despatches in the archives of the Tuilleries, which M. Passy, one of the Ministry of the 22nd of May, thought it his duty to make public.
§ The noble Lord, in answer to that proposition, made this counter proposition—that a French and English fleet should indeed be sent to the Dardanelles, to compel the Russians to quit Constantinople; but only if the Russians continued to retain the place after the danger of the Egyptian invasion should have ceased;—that is to say, and such was the interpretation put upon it by the French Government in their next despatch—"The noble Lord in the mean time resigned himself with great facility to the contingency of a Russian occupation of Constantinople." For this is a point which any one can understand—any one who knows the geographical state of the question. The Straits of the Bosphorus, which connect Turkey with the Black Sea, are comparatively defenceless, and are at least 1190 always open to attack. The Bosphorus may be forced, whilst the Dardanelles, or the Straits that communicate with the Mediteranean, are quite impregnable. Anybody who knows that, also knows, that once admitted through the Bosphorus into the Sea of Marmora, all the world would not wrest the Dardanelles from the grasp of a Russian garrison. Yet it was only after the Russians were there, that, according to the noble Lord's proposal, the English and French intervention was to commence. Even then, Sir, it was still further limited; the two fleets were not to enter the Dardanelles even in that case, but upon invitation—invitation from the Sultan, a prisoner to the Czar! The answer was what I have stated, and that answer was laid before the British Cabinet.
§ The next despatch—one from the French Ambassador—informs his Court, that the noble Lord opposite told him, that the Cabinet had considered the question; under the influence of "the profound impression" which those few words of the French despatch which I have quoted,— viz., that "the noble Lord resigned himself with great facility to the contingency of the Russian occupation of Constantinople," had produced; and that under all the circumstances of the case, he would propose something else in the place of his former offer. He then proceeded to make his new proposition.
§ The new proposal was, that the two fleets should enter the Dardanelles when-soever invited. Judging of this proposal by reference to its subject-matter, the French Government—as was quite natural—understood it to mean that an application was now to be made to the Porte, for permission to be at once granted to the English and French fleets, authorising them to enter the Dardanelles as soon as a Russian force should enter the Bosphorus. Under this impression, the French sent corresponding instructions to Admiral Lalande, at Constantinople. But the noble Lord sent to the British Admiral these instructions in quite another sense. In the first place, he instructed Admiral Stopford to enter the Dardanelles only when the invitation of the Porte should come through the Ambassadors of France and England, and only during the course of the actual dispute—"contestation" is the French version of the word—with Mehomet Ali; I cite the "definitive instructions" of the noble Lord, dated the 13th July, 1839. He says, that if "in the course of the dis- 1191 pute with Mehemet Ali," the Porte finds itself obliged to ask or accept assistance from any other Power, "the British Government is confident that the Porte will at the same time address itself to Great Britain for the same object." If the Porte does so, Admiral Stopford has orders "to proceed with his squadron towards Constantinople, on receiving from the Porte, through the medium of the Ambassador, an invitation to that effect." The variation, in the instructions was remarkable; and the French Government protested against it as soon as it was discovered; but no alteration was on that account made in those instructions by the noble Lord. Negotiations, however, went on. The French Ministers informed the noble Lord that they were determined at whatever cost to prevent a Russian occupation of Constantinople; and that they would prefer to act with England; but that they were prepared to act without her if they judged fit. Just at this period Sultan Mahmoud died,—not without suspicions, and "even more than suspicions of violence. On the accession of Abdoul Medjid, the present Sultan, a new Ministry was appointed, and a traitor, Khosrou Pasha, came into office. This man, a hired agent of Russia, is said to have attempted the life of Achmet Pasha, the Admiral of the Turkish fleet, or Captain Pasha. There is, at least, no doubt of his Russian attachments. He recalled the Turkish Ambassadors from France and England. On several occasions he betrayed the signs of a secret and treasonable collusion with the enemy of both. It is also certain, that under the influence of a conviction that the machinations of Khosrou made that step necessary, in order to save his life, Achmet Pasha, the Admiral, went over to Alexandria with the Turkish fleet; and there delivered it up into the hands of Mehemet Ali. No sooner had this taken place, than, so far from doing anything to quiet the just apprehensions of the late Sultan's faithful servants, the occasion was seized by the noble Lord to issue an immediate order to Admiral Stopford, to abandon the Dardanelles altogether, and to proceed to Alexandria. That was the determination taken by the noble Lord. I believe it was afterwards abandoned. But, if it was abandoned, it was only in consequence of the intimation which he received from the French Government, that Admiral Lalande should not co-operate in such an enterprise, but remain where he was, and enter the Dardanelles if necessary; that is to say, 1192 in the event of a Russian force entering the Bosphorus. No doubt that such an intimation was sufficient.
§ Now, Sir, in 1840, when the noble Lord was called upon to justify his treaty of the 15th of July, he told the House, that it was not he who had abandoned the French Alliance, but that the French Alliance had abandoned him. The noble Lord told this House, that the French had refused to cooperate with England in the cause of the Sultan. Even if that were true, it would not justify the noble Lord in introducing a Russian force into Constantinople. But it appears, from the documents, which have been produced before the French Chamber, and withholden from this House by the noble Lord, that the charge was false. The Foreign Minister of France never refused to act with England. Minister after Minister, at different times, suggested alterations in the combined instructions, for the purpose of making them more precise and imperative for bringing about the desired object; that is to say, the passage of the Dardanelles by a squadron of French and English ships, to be called in by the Sultan, for his emancipation from Russia and her Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi. But in no other sense were there any alterations, in the proposed instructions, required by France. I will mention one instance, the truth of which the noble Lord will not deny. One of the courses proposed by the noble Lord was, to have a squadron of English and French ships in readiness to act, at the moment that a Russian force entered the Bosphorus, and was in possession of Constantinople. The noble Lord proposed that these should then be sent to manœuvre,—not at the Dardanelles—far less to take possession of the Dardanelles—but to manœuvre on the coast of Syria, at six weeks' sail distance from those Straits,—and that there they should make a demonstration against Mehemet Ali and his Egyptian forces; and that, when by these means, they had induced Mehemet Ali and the Egyptians to retire from Syria, they should then, and not before, present themselves before the Dardanelles,—fortified as they then would be, by Russian engineers, and garrisoned by Russian troops; and should then, after communication had with Lord Ponsonby and the French Minister, attempt to force the impregnable Dardanelles;—that is to say, added the noble Lord, if they then thought themselves strong enough! The proposal was ridiculed, as it deserved to be, by the French Minister; 1193 and immediately the noble Lord receded from it, and admitted that it was indeed a ridiculous proposal, and undertook to accede to their other proposal, of acting in concert, and entering the Dardanelles together, on the Sultan's invitation. At the same time, and to destroy the effect of his concession, the noble Lord, instead of sending corresponding instructions to Admiral Stopford, sent those instructions on which I have animadverted. It further appears, that the confidential proposal which the French Minister had made to the noble Lord in February, 1839, was by the noble Lord communicated to M. Kisseleff, the Russian Minister, in August. When the announcement of this atrocious perfidy was made in the French Chamber, there was one universal shout of execration.
§ I am not surprised at that. I am surprised that their indignation vented itself there. I wonder that one single French Member could, after that, have consented to hold any intercourse whatever with this country, whilst represented by such a Minister. How did we behave the other day, in our relations with the Punjaub, under nearly similar circumstances? What were the instructions which our Envoy at Lahore had received? Lord Hardinge instructed that Envoy that, so long as a certain person, who was grievously suspected of treason to the Maharajah, remained in the office of Prime Minister at Lahore, no communication should pass between the English Envoy and that Court. His Excellency the Governor General was of opinion, that it suited not the dignity of this country to hold intercourse that a Minister, so commonly deemed guilty of treason to his own prince. Sir, I think that what we did, in the case of what we term a semi-barbarous and uncivilised Sovereign, might have been done by France in the instance of Her Majesty. I am sure that it would have amply justified France in pursuing the same course towards us. I cannot understand how the announcement of this fact, which has never been denied, although made openly in the French Chamber, regarding the perfidy of the noble Lord, should never have found an echo in this House till this moment.
§ To understand its gravity, let the House recollect what was the point which we had assumed,—and which the French had assumed,—and which was the point admitted to be the one desired by both the Cabinets. It was the exclusion of Russia from the Dardanelles. It was the destruction of 1194 Russian ascendancy at Constantinople. It was the emancipation of Turkey from all those galling and degrading fetters which by our connivance Russia had been able to impose upon her.
§ But, Sir, on this subject of the extent of our heavy responsibility, for all previous acts of Russia with regard to Turkey, I beg to quote the evidence of the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell). That noble Lord, himself a Colleague of the noble Lord opposite, admitted in this House, on the 1st of March, 1843, that—"England had neglected to take any part in the contest that had arisen between those two Powers," that is to say, Russia and Turkey, "with respect to the Treaty of Adrianople." The noble Lord upon that occasion said, "Russia had obtained great advantages under the Treaty of Adrianople, and had secured to herself great power and influence in Turkey, when England and other Powers neglected to take any part in the contest that had arisen between these two Powers;—again, that "by the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, Russia had secured to herself additional advantages, the existence of which was most dangerous for the preservation of the Turkish empire; and that England had neglected to take any part." That is the admission that was made by the noble Lord. Yet, strange to say, it was only admitted by the noble Lord, for the purpose of defending himself, and the noble Lord opposite, against the charges brought by Mr. Roebuck upon the 1st of March, 1843, against the noble Lord's policy in another point,—I mean the war in Affghanistan.
§ I repeat, Sir, that, in 1840, the point which was assumed as the one thing desired—the only thing assumed between the two Powers to be the point desired—was the destruction of Russian influence in Turkey. On a sudden, however, to the astonishment of France, of Europe, and the world, the Russian Baron, de Brunow, arrived in London, on a private and special mission from the Emperor Nicholas. He was admitted to an interview with the noble Lord. He was allowed by the noble Lord to make assurances, which the noble Lord reciprocated to the full. On both sides, the desire was expressed, to put an end to that state of mutual distrust which had existed ever since 1829. M. de Brunow proposed that England should break with France—that she should abandon those measures for the preservation of the integrity of Turkey which England had taken with France— 1195 and that we should allow Russia to occupy Constantinople;—and then he undertook that Russia would take care that England should have all those advantages secured to her in Turkey which she had hoped from the French alliance. Now, what was the answer of the noble Lord? The noble Lord informed Baron de Brunow—and it is not the only instance in which the expression appears—that it is "his Colleagues"——not himself—who think that this is out of the question. That is not the only occasion, on which the noble Lord takes care to speak of his Colleagues, and not to speak of himself;—making it appear that he was in a minority upon that question in the Cabinet. A counter proposal, however, was made by the noble Lord, and in the name of the Cabinet. I am aware of the powerful interest that was brought to bear upon them; that in the House of Lords they were in a hopeless minority; that their majority in this House was at that time very small; and that they knew that, if the noble Lord then went out of office he would soon come in again, a far more powerful Minister, at the head of a powerful coalition. I am also aware of the removal, by death—the opportune or inopportune death—of Lord Holland at that time—an event which effected the removal of the last obstacle in the way of the noble Lord to the obtaining the concurrence of his Colleagues. Still I say that it was a strange and deplorable thing that even so the noble Lord's Colleagues should have authorised him—if, indeed, they did authorise him—to make that counter proposal; and that M. de Brunow, nevertheless, should have felt himself strong enough to reject it. That counter proposal was, that a Russian naval and military force should be admitted to occupy Constantinople; that, in return, the Russian Government should allow three British line-of-battle ships to enter the Dardanelles; that the whole of the Russian navy at Sevastopol, if need were, might anchor in the Sea of Marmora nearest to the Bosphorus; and that only three British ships of war should be allowed to anchor in the corner of the Sea of Marmora nearest to the Dardanelles. M. de Brunow, however, rejected this offer, as not being in accordance with the views of his Government. The noble Lord then applied himself to remove the Muscovite's objections, and to assure M. de Brunow that we really had "not more than three line-of-battle ships" to spare. Thus, Sir, the noble 1196 Lord humbly represented to the Russian. Minister how strong was the Russian navy, and how weak the squadron which Great Britain could afford to keep afloat in the waters of the Mediterranean. Then he made of their comparative strength and our comparative weakness an argument why they should continue to tolerate our presence in those seas yet a little longer. But a more powerful argument to move the Russian might have been brought forward, and the effect of it was probably not lost. I allude to the avowed determination of France, that, if necessary, she would force the Dardanelles, even though England should refuse her concurrence. Certain it is that the Russian Cabinet at length gave way, and contented itself with the proposal of the noble Lord. Accordingly it was at length accepted, on the faith of an assurance,—that the other Powers, if they were called in at all, should only be allowed to co-operate in demonstrations on the coast of Syria, or anywhere else, except at Constantinople; and that to Russia alone should be confided the trust of garrisoning Constantinople and occupying the Dardanelles, whilst England should have, at the utmost, the permission accorded to her, of sending three line-of-battle ships thither to do honour to the Russian armament. Presuming on the ignorance or indifference of English statesmen, there was a stipulation inserted, that the three English ships should be kept at the extreme corner of the Sea of Marmora;—provided only that the Russian ships would keep at the part of the Sea of Marmora nearest the Bosphorus. Just as if the occupation of the Bosphorus and that of the Dardanelles stood upon the same footing! Such were the terms on which the Treaty of the 15th July, 1840, was signed between England and Russia. This treaty was signed without communication with France. What was the noble Lord's justification? That there was some difference of opinion between England and France upon an entirely subordinate question;—that is to say, whether or not Mehemet Ali should be allowed to retain Syria, which he had obtained chiefly through the noble Lord's intervention, and for the purposes of Russia, in 1833 and 1834. It is well known that it was upon the representations of Lord Ponsonby alone, that in the former war Adana and its territory were added to the Egyptian pashalic. Well then, Sir, because in 1839 and 1840,—if we are to believe the noble Lord,—France and England had quarrelled 1197 upon the question, whether or not Syria should remain an hereditary fief under the Egyptian sceptre, the noble Lord hold himself justified in desiring to see the rupture of that intimate alliance, which till then had existed between France and England, for the repression of Russian ambition;—and to see in its place a new alliance realise itself between England and Russia, for the repression of the policy of the former alliance—an alliance with that Russia, whose eastern policy, as the noble Lord had himself, until then, never hesitated to admit, was wholly incompatible with the retention of British empire and influence in the East.
§ Sir, from that moment, the practical and effectual influence over all negotiations, relating to the East, was taken out of the hands of England, and placed in the hands of Russia. From that moment, Russia became supreme. There was, moreover, this further contingency—one foreseen, I have no doubt—as, indeed, I have little hesitation in saying it was projected by the noble Lord—that if the French Government, faithful to its obligations, had interposed to prevent the operations of our squadron on the coast of Syria against Mehemet Ali, the result must have been a general war—not only throughout Europe, but throughout the world—a contingency which nothing but the wisdom or forbearance of those then at the head of affairs in France prevented. I may add, that at that time the naval force of France in the Mediterranean was superior to ours in the proportion of 1,500 to 1,000. The moderation of France was the only reason why the most dreadful results did not follow from this change in our policy. But for that moderation there would have been exhibited to the eyes of Russia dominant at Constantinople, the grateful spectacle of her two most dreaded enemies destroying themselves by the hands of each other, and leaving to her mercy the remains of an enfeebled and mutilated Europe.
§ Sir, when the Treaty of July, 1840, was signed, a rumour that such a treaty was in existence circulated in this country. On the first announcement reaching the cars of Sir Stratford Canning, a question was asked in this House of the noble Lord, as to the existence of such a treaty, and its purport. The noble Lord was also asked, whether he had any objection to produce the treaty to the House? The noble Lord declined to state its purport; and he declared that he could not produce it, be- 1198 cause—let the House mark this—because it was not yet ratified. It was true that it was not then ratified. But he did not tell the House that, by a special clause in that treaty—a clause framed in violation of all international law, and in utter derogation from all constitutional practice—it was stipulated that the execution or fulfilment of the treaty should precede its ratification. It afterwards appeared that the hostile measures, taken for the purpose of giving effect to that treaty, were being prosecuted, at the very time when the noble Lord was hiding the existence of the treaty from this House, and justifying all that secresy, on the ground that the treaty was not complete, because not ratified. I say, Sir, that the course taken by the noble Lord on that occasion, was such as to give me now the right to accuse him;—and I do now accuse him, of deliberate and criminal mis-statement.
§ Sir, I deeply lament the course taken by France upon that occasion. By the treachery of the noble Lord, France was placed in a proud position, if only she had known how to make use of it. If France had refused to co-operate with England—if France had refused to admit the treaty of July—if,—as it remained for her to do,—if France had insisted upon the faith of former treaties, and claimed their fulfilment—if France had insisted upon the nullity of the Treaty of July, and had appealed to the Crown of Great Britain against the secret, and unlawful, and unauthorised act of its servant—if such an appeal had been made, such measures taken,—there is no doubt as to what would have been the answer of the British people, and what would have been the course taken by their Queen. The result must have been the instant rejection of the Russian alliance, with all its unspeakable turpitude; and, far from dictating any longer to his Colleagues, or his Sovereign, the terms on which he would consent to remain in office, the noble Lord must have perished in the storm which the detection of his guilt would have conjured upon his head. But the Ministers of France made away with their advantage—they fell into the snare which had been laid for them by the noble Lord, and founded themselves upon his example. Instead of demanding chastisement, they proposed imitation. Their first act was to arm—not for defence, but for aggression—aggression, too, directed not against England or Russia, but against the whole of Europe. They equipped a 1199 hostile and invading force. They threatened to take possession of the territory intervening between the Rhine and their present frontier, and to spread disorder, and war, and bloodshed through Germany and the Continent. That was the snare laid for their frivolity and profligacy by the noble Lord; and, when he did so, he calculated well upon the genius of the public men of Prance. They fell into that snare. The results were frenzy in France, disgust here, exasperation in Germany, and the enfeeblement of all for the profit of Russia. This was in 1840. In the following year, however, with a meanness not excused by the evidently sincere desire which induced it,—the desire of renewing the English alliance,—and under the belief that they would gratify the English Government by adopting the course which that Government had already taken up—they agreed to accede to the hated Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, and to the not less hateful Treaty of the 15th of July, 1840; and thus to imitate England in becoming parties to the acts, which had placed their enemy, Russia, in her position of ascendancy at Constantinople. Accordingly almost the very last act of the noble Lord before quitting office in 1841 was to receive the signature of France to the Treaty of June, 1841—a treaty by which that of Unkiar Skelessi,—signed in 1833, and limited to eight years, and which consequently was then about to expire, or at least could not have lasted a year—was renewed and made perpetual.
§ I understate the case. Much more than the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi was comprised in the Treaty of Juno, 1841. By the latter treaty the Porte, in all times coming, upon whatever provocation or necessity, is bound to refuse to admit into the Dardanelles a single man-of-war belonging to a single friendly Power, so long as the Porte is not in a state of actual warfare. Now, it is not on the side of the Dardanelles that any danger of invasion is to be apprehended by the Porte. But on the side of the Bosphorus there is a permanent and lasting cause for such an apprehension. The object of solicitude to all the statesmen of Europe, except the noble Lord, is the invasion of the Bosphorus from the Russian provinces in the Black Sea. But, under this Treaty of 1841, it is not until war between Russia and the Porte shall have actually begun,—that is to say, until the Russians are actually in occupation of Constantinople, and behind the impregnable defences of the Dardanelles,—that the Go- 1200 vernment of the Sultan has a right to grant,—and France, England, Austria, or Prussia—if, indeed, Prussia dares to entertain an independent inclination—has the right, with or without the consent of the Sultan, to send,—one single man-of-war to the assistance of the Sultan.
§ MR. ANSTEY
The noble Lord says that the Treaty of June, 1841, applies to both Straits; to the Bosphorus as well as to the Dardanelles. The fallacy of his position is so transparent, that I scarcely require to point it out. The noble Lord cannot contradict so notorious a fact as that which I am about to state. Indeed it has been stated by himself in his own publication, the "Portfolio." According to a very elaborate and accurate paper there, to which I refer the House, the strength of the Bosphorus is nothing,—for the purpose of repelling an invasion on the side of the Black Sea. But the strength of the Dardanelles,—in resisting an invasion from the Mediterranean side,—is everything. Yet, with the knowledge of these facts before him, and under the pretence of reciprocity—a pretence which, I think, will not find much favour in this House,—the noble Lord now says,—"The allies of the Sultan are to be excluded from the Dardanelles, because the enemy of the Sultan undertakes to be excluded from the Bosphorus; in either case, however, only until war is actually raging!" Why, Sir, in time of war as in time of peace the passage of the Dardanelles is impracticable! In time of war, as in time of peace, the passage of the Bosphorus is always practicable, with or without the consent of the Sultan. Moreover, in the meantime,—and before the question of war or peace is openly raised on either side,—you have the Russians present at Constantinople, and now made, by your policy ascendant there. You have them coercing the Porte to pursue the measures which they dictate, and which come direct from St. Petersburgh. You have left yourselves nothing whatever there, that can assure or encourage the Porte, that, in giving her refusal to the adoption of those measures, she may rely on finding at the proper hour the protection of England, against the consequences. That was, indeed, the very object of the treaty. It was designed to paralyse the Porte. It was framed for the purpose of making it indispensable for the Sultan to accept whatever policy the Russian Czar might choose to impose upon 1201 him. Russia alone is here planning and executing her anterior combinations, and guiding herself by no suggestions but her own, whether she shall take possession of Constantinople now, or defer the consummation yet a little longer. Sir, there is but one way by which this great calamity can be averted. It is by repudiating the act of the noble Lord. But those who repudiate must punish. That, Sir, is why, moved by their own criminal weakness, the Cabinet, which succeeded that of which the noble Lord was a Member, neglected to disown the treasonable policy of the noble Lord, and to set aside the treaties which are its monuments—the Treaty of Adrianople, which he adopted—the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi, to which he adhered—and, more shameful still, the Treaties of 1840 and 1841, which he made.
But, Sir, did the French alliance gain anything, by this mean condescension of the French Minister? No, Sir. The cordial understanding was gone for ever, after the events of July, 1840. I recall here an incident narrated by a gentleman whom I will name;—for his authority for the statement has been cited in a printed document in 1841, with his full knowledge, and without the least protest or disapprobation on his part, and was never protested against. I refer to Mr. Porter of the Board of Trade. He was the gentleman who, in 1840, negotiated, with so much success, the treaty of commerce with France. Mr. Porter, then of the Board of Trade, has been lately promoted to a higher office. I presume, therefore, that he enjoys the confidence of the Colleagues of the noble Lord. Now, on this gentleman's being selected in 1840,—before the Treaty of July,—by the then Colleagues of the noble Lord, in consequence of his connexion with the Board of Trade, to negotiate a treaty of commerce with France, Mr. Porter informed those Ministers that he was confident that, whatever treaty he might negotiate for such a purpose, would be interfered with by the noble Lord,—and either brought to nothing, or, as in the case of the Turkish treaty, perverted to the ruin of its objects. Mr. Porter, therefore, demanded and obtained this condition from the then Ministry—that the treaty should be kept out of the Foreign Office; and that he should not be called upon to report to, or to receive any instructions whatever from, the noble Lord, or his department, in the conduct of that negotiation. On the faith of that condi- 1202 tion alone he undertook the mission. It is further stated, on the same gentleman's authority, and in the same document, that he brought the matter to a happy conclusion—that the French Government were quite ready to adopt, sign, and ratify the treaty which he had framed—that they were most willing to adopt it—that it was based upon the most perfect system of free trade and reciprocity—and that in spite of the precautions he had taken, and the conditions he had exacted, that treaty was at length set aside by the noble Lord. There is no doubt that the direct act of the noble Lord occasioned its failure. An insulting despatch on the subject was addressed by the noble Lord to the French Minister, which occasioned the utter shipwreck of that treaty; and all chance of renewing the negotiations with respect to it was in consequence of that event, as well as of those of July, 1840, made for ever afterwards impracticable.
Sir, I state this on the authority of Mr. Porter, and I refer to the fact of his recent appointment, as showing, that notwithstanding that declaration was made in 1841, the noble Lord has not induced his Colleagues to disgrace that gentleman.
I revert to the more important question of our relations with France. Has our alliance with France regained by the Treaty of 1841 any portion of that vigour which it lost in 1840? I answer that it has not. In July, 1841, that is, a few days after the treaty was signed, the noble Lord, for the purpose of inflaming the English mind against the French alliance, went down to Tiverton, and there, in the presence of his constituents, delivered that speech which is now so celebrated under the name of the Tiverton Speech. It was a most successful speech. Years have passed away, but the excitement it produced on the fevered minds of Frenchmen, has not yet had time to cool. That, Sir, was the legacy which he left to his successors in office.
What has the noble Lord done in the prosecution of the same objects since he last came into office? I omitted to notice the annexation of Cracow by the Austrian Government. I did so designedly, that I might allude to it here, in its proper place; for, Sir, it has a most intimate connexion with the question of the Spanish marriages. The only question that was pending, when the noble Lord came into office, which could by any possibility have affected our amicable relations with France, was the then unsettled question of the Spanish mar- 1203 riages. Here, again, Lord Aberdeen, once more his predecessor, had left him a very easy task to perform. He had merely to maintain the wise and pacific policy of Lord Aberdeen; which pursued would have resulted in a happy termination. Had he done so, we should not now find ourselves in the position, in which the policy, preferred by the noble Lord, and substituted for that of Lord Aberdeen, has placed us. An engagement had been made between M. Guizot and Lord Aberdeen on that delicate question. It was that, if the one country did not start a Cobourg Prince, as a candidate for the hand of the Queen of Spain, the other should not start a French Prince. The noble Lord, on coming into office, was asked by M. Guizot—to whom the noble Lord's former career certainly furnished just cause of suspicion—whether he acceded to that arrangement? An immediate answer was evidently required; and therefore a whole month was suffered by the noble Lord—ever true to his policy—to pass, without any reply being vouchsafed to M. Guizot's inquiry. In the mean time, occasion was taken to represent, as it were favourably, the hypothetical case of some Cobourg Prince being put forward. Alarmed at finding in the diplomatic correspondence of the noble Lord, the ominous allusion,—and still judging him by his antecedents,—the French Minister saw this with astonishment; and fearing that another deception was about to be practised upon him, the French Minister hastened his own measures. The negotiations for the marriages of the Queen of Spain and her sister were urged, and with success, by the French Government. Both marriages took place. I am not here to defend them. Least of all, can I defend that marriage of the Queen of Spain—that marriage ever to be deplored—as well because of the unjustifiable manner, in which it was forced upon that Princess, by the King of the French, the Queen Mother of Spain, and the unfortunate M. de Bresson, as because of the awful consequences—consequences which have, I fear, only now begun to appear. But, Sir, I charge this as so much additional guilt upon the head of the noble Lord. I say, that it was intended, either in this, or in some other way, to make the Spanish marriages the occasion of difference with France.
No sooner was this end attained, than the preconcerted purpose of the three Northern Powers—concerted years previously, but kept back as long as Lord Aberdeen 1204 was at the Foreign Office—of annexing Cracow to Austria, took place. Austria was compelled to accept Cracow at the hands of Russia, as the price or pledge of her co-operation with Russia in her general policy. The moment that this new outrage was perpetrated, the French Government, still anxious to make a last appeal to the honour and justice of the English Government, applied to Lord Normanby for co-operation to resent it. It appears that that nobleman was already fully prepared and instructed by the noble Lord opposite. The French Minister inquired of Lord Normanby, whether England would combine with France in a joint protest against the annexation of Cracow? What was the answer of Lord Normanby? It was prompt and decisive. He informed M. Guizot that the outrage, of which Austria had been guilty in annexing Cracow, was not greater than that of which France had been guilty, in effecting a marriage between the Due de Montpensier and the Spanish Infanta. Both acts, he said, had been done in violation of treaties—the annexation of Cracow was a violation of the Treaty of Vienna—the Spanish marriage was a violation of the Treaty of Utrecht. His Lordship, therefore, declined to join France in the contemplated protest. In justification of this course, both Lord Normanby and the noble Lord pretended that there was no obligation upon the two Powers to protest conjointly, but that they might satisfy the obligation which there was upon them to protest by protesting separately.
Now, Sir, this is another and a most material circumstance, to which I must call the attention of the House; for the noble Lord had stated precisely the contrary in 1836. Then he informed the House, in justification of his long apathy with respect to Poland and Cracow, that though Great Britain was called upon to protest, she was not called upon to protest separately—nor at all, except conjointly with France—thus leaving it to be inferred that the difficulty was rather with France than with the British Foreign Office. In 1846, however, ten years afterwards, the noble Lord says, that Great Britain was indeed bound to protest; but that she was at perfect liberty to protest, either separately or conjointly with France; and that in the one case, as in the other case, her protest was equally available. For the purposes of the noble Lord, I have no doubt it has been so. But I deny, that 1205 for those of the Treaty of Vienna, the separate protest of the noble Lord could have had the effect of the joint protest, or indeed any useful effect whatever. But, in point of fact, the noble Lord never did protest. I have read the document which he calls by that name, and which he says he laid before the Three Powers. I deny that it was a protest. I invite him to show me in what respect it answers to the definition of that term.
On the other hand, was the marriage of the Due de Montpensier a violation of the Treaty of Utrecht? Or, what is more material—because the noble Lord might have been deceived as to the construction of that treaty, and he might have honestly believed that the marriage came within its terms—was the Treaty of Utrecht in existence? Did the noble Lord believe that it was still in existence?
Sir, the Treaty of Utrecht was renewed for the last time in 1782. It was again abrogated by the breaking out of the revolutionary war in 1792; it was not renewed at Campo Formio, Lunéville, nor Amiens; it was not renewed by the Treaties of Paris and Vienna. There is no doubt, therefore, that that treaty has ever since 1792 ceased to be in existence. What is more, I have here a speech made in this House on the 19th of March, 1839, by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,—upon the occasion of the Motion of Lord Sandon, the present Earl of Harrowby, for papers in reference to the blockades of Mexico and Buenos Ayres. In that speech the noble Lord says, that "the provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht have long lapsed in the variations of war;" and he specifies only one exception, that of a clause of the Treaty of Utrecht, which relates to the boundaries of Brazilian and French Guiana, because the noble Lord says, and says truly, that that clause had been by express words incorporated into the Treaty of Vienna. The noble Lord, on that occasion, stated the case correctly;—because it was necessary to his purpose; that purpose being as usual the non-production of documents. But, in the case of the French and Spanish marriages, where his object was to establish a ground of discord with France, he takes his stand upon the contrary ground, and audaciously makes the assumption of that treaty being then actually in force; and on that assumption he grounds his charge against France, of a very gross violation of that treaty—an assumption and 1206 a charge which I have now shown to have been, to the noble Lord's own knowledge, utterly false. [Mr. SHEIL: Order, order!]
I appeal from the right hon. Gentleman to the decision of the Chair. I have made this charge deliberately. I make use of these expressions, not by way of invective, but by way of charge; and, if I am wrong in doing so, I shall submit myself entirely to the judgment of the Chair. But, before I receive that decision, I wish the House to understand, how difficult a thing it is to have to make charges, and yet not to be able to use language adequate to their import.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot, on a Motion like this, make use of language such as he has just now used, without irregularity. He cannot make charges upon the occasion of a simple preliminary Motion for the production of papers. To entitle himself to make them, he must give notice of a Motion of a much graver character against the noble Lord; and then he will be justified in using those expressions.
§ MR. ANSTEY
The reason, Sir, why I have commenced with a mere Motion for papers is this—I was apprehensive of being overthrown on a point of form. I therefore consulted precedents; and I have invariably found that a Member, who rises in his place to make a charge without calling for papers, is obliged to lay his charges in writing upon the table of the House, and then, and not till then, the House will consider the question whether those papers shall be granted or not. I found that it was impossible to do so in many of these cases, without seeing the papers themselves. On the other hand, I have been able to make a statement sufficiently general to justify me in calling for papers. I have found that there are precedents in favour of the course I have taken. If I am wrong, I am very sorry, and I shall take care not again to merit the censure of the Chair.
§ MR. ANSTEY
Certainly; I meant to do that when I submitted myself to the Chair.
Sir, the noble Lord the Member for the city of London (Lord John Russell) expressed a hope the other night, that friendly relations might still subsist between this country and the Court of France, and that peace should be preserved between this and all other countries. I confess that I 1207 heard those words with feelings of deep alarm. I think the House was satisfied, from the hesitating way in which the noble Lord uttered them, that it was quite clear to his mind, that the country is still labouring from the effects of the hostility and bitterness, which the conduct of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Palmerston) has certainly created in the breasts of the people of France.
Sir, I wish the House would look well to these matters, when they come to consider the question of the defences. Let them say whether it is not more cheap—and better—and more honourable—to begin betimes, and here at home to prevent beforehand, rather than, when too late, to attempt abroad to extinguish violently, these sources of bitterness? Justice, Sir, and peace founded upon justice—for none other is or ought to be lasting—will be found a surer and a cheaper policy, than that which looks to the expenditure of largo sums of money on what are called defences, but, after all, must be utterly useless and unserviceable when the whole world is arrayed against us. Let the noble Lord show me at this moment one part of the world in which we have an ally—one part of the world in which we have a right to rely on or to enforce treaty stipulations—one part of the world in which we are not called upon to pay the penalties which, sooner or later, must be paid by the violators of those laws, that are the life and strength of States. Compare the present state of things, with that which was when the noble Lord came to office. It is a mournful subject and a grave one; and it behaves the House to consider it with seriousness.
Sir, the decision which you have announced from the Chair places me under some embarrassment as to two other matters which it was my intention to have brought before the House. I scarcely know how, without infringing on that decision, I am to make myself intelligible in moving for papers with reference to them. I do not wish that any hon. Member should have cause to say that I insinuate what I have not the courage openly to charge. And yet I cannot venture upon making such charges, which, out of my respect to the decision of the Chair, I am bound to consider unseasonable. I will, however, mention to the House that, in the case of Persia and Affghanistan, it was my intention to have brought before the House these charges; that false statements had been 1208 made in Parliament, and garbled versions of State papers laid before it, calculated and intended to mislead the House, the nation, and the Crown, as to the effect of the measures intended or undertaken; that there had been collusion practised in the case of Persia uninterruptedly from the year 1834 to 1838, between the servants of Her Majesty and the servants of the Czar of Russia, for the purpose of destroying that wholesome and honourable ascendancy which the treaty signed by Sir Harford Jones Brydges in 1811 secured to us, and for the further purpose of placing the Court of Teheran under the exclusive control of the Russian Envoy; that similar measures, accompanied by others of a more aggravated description, had been put in practice in Affghanistan, for the purpose of withdrawing the minds of the people of that country from their attachment to the English alliance, and of arraying them against England—in alliance with Russia, always our enemy—with Persia, now forced by us into hostility—and with every other unfriendly Power in Central Asia, to whom it might appear safe or profitable to invade our territory or threaten our frontier. I say that it was my intention to have gone into these facts, and to have specified at length those measures of a more aggravated description to which I have adverted. Your decision, Sir, makes that impossible; and I will now state them to the House as vaguely as I can, and without saying whom I accuse. And, so far as the forms of the House do not prevent me, I say that forgeries—for it amounts to that—were committed for the purpose of misleading Parliament as to the intentions and dispositions of the princes and people of Affghanistan. I say, that from the papers which had been presented to Parliament, and upon which Parliament is called to judge, it appears that such suppressions have taken place, not only of whole paragraphs but of parts of sentences, nay, more, of words here and there selected with great care, so as to give to the documents thus dealt with an effect and purport, entirely different from that which was intended by the writers. This is particularly true with reference to the despatches of the late Sir Alexander Burnes; and I am in a condition to prove it by reference to the original drafts of his despatches. I have here, Sir, the written authority of the father of that lamented diplomatist, which I will read to the House. Mr. Burnes says—
§ "Should a Committee of the House be granted, I shall be most ready to lay such of the following documents as are in my possession before it.
§ "J. BURNES."
§ That, Sir, is a document which I received shortly before I introduced this case. I am in a condition then to prove that alterations such as I have described were made in his lamented son's papers. I will specify one or two instances.
Take this case. The Governor General of India, for example, or any other person you choose, writes to Sir Alexander Burnes, to suggest to him, that he is mistaken as to the intentions of the Affghan tribes—that instead of being friendly they are hostile—that he ought to take or not to take a given line of policy, &c, &c. What would the House think of an official extract from Burnes' reply, so framed as to suppress altogether what he really did reply, and to make it appear that the observations to which he is replying, and which he quotes from the letter so received, are his own, and not those of his correspondent? This, however, is precisely what has been done; and the effect has been that of leading-Parliament to suppose, that it is Sir Alexander Burnes who speaks from Cabul, and not his superior officer speaking from Calcutta or Simlah. I feel that I am embarrassing the statement, which I must sooner or later make upon this subject, by going prematurely into the details. But, in order to illustrate my meaning, I will just read one passage amongst a multitude of such. Sir Alexander Burnes writes from Cabul on the 26th of January, 1838, to Sir William M'Naghten, the Secretary of the Governor General. I will read what he says. I will read the sentence as he actually wrote it; not the sentence as prepared in Downing-street for the eye of Parliament:—
Sir—I have now the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 25th of November and 2nd of December last, which reached me about the same time, and conveyed to me the views of the right hon. the Governor General regarding the overtures made by Dost Mahomed Khan for adjusting his differences with the Sikhs, and the apprehension that the Maharajah would not be disposed to surrender Peshawur on those terms, but be more likely to restore it to Sultan Mahomed Khan, its former governor. I lost no time in making known these circumstances as well as the sentiments of his Lordship on them, and the policy which it would be advisable for the ruler of Cabul to pursue.
If I could do so without a violation of order, I should here proceed to make a direct charge of falsification against the
noble Lord and others with reference to this document;—for I have to tell the House, that in a minor degree, and with reference to some of the passages in the noble Lord's policy, my charges affect not him alone, but also Lord Ponsonby, Lord Auckland, and Sir John Cam Hobhouse, quite as much as the noble Lord or any other of his accomplices. The House will remember also that the notice of Motion, as framed, prays Her Majesty to communicate to the House "the names of the Councillors or Ministers, who advised Her Majesty in respect to these transactions." It is right that the laws of England should be known and respected. It is well for us to bear this in mind, that, if any noble Lord—any hon. or right hon. person—has had any part as accomplices in these transactions, the judgment of the law will fall as heavily upon his neck as upon that of the noble Lord opposite. In preparing these despatches for Parliament, the passage that I have read to the House was falsified by the Administration of the day—the Whig Administration—of which Lord Melbourne was then the head. The opening words, "I have now the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letters," &c. down to "Governor General," were left out. The initial letter of the next word "regarding" was turned into a capital. The sentence therefore began thus:—
Regarding the overtures made by Dost Mahomed Khan for adjusting his differences with the Sikhs, and the apprehension that the Maharajah would not be disposed to surrender Peshawur on those terms, I lost no time in making known these circumstances and the policy which it would be advisable for the rulers of Cabul to pursue:
having again left out in the middle of the last clause of the sentence the important words "as well as the sentiments of his Lordship upon them," which ought to have preceded the words "and the policy," &c. The case then is this: It appeared, that throughout the whole of this correspondence, Sir Alexander Burnes, like a man of honour, and a patriot, had been doing his best to induce the Governor General of India not to follow the depraved counsels of the Foreign Office—not to plunge the country, by acts done in direct violation at once of the law of this country, and of the law of nations, into a piratical enterprise against the interests and happiness of the faithful tribes of Affghans, the friends of England, and the enemies of Russia—above all, not to do so upon false pretexts and fraudulent professions. On the other hand, it appeared that Sir William M'Nagh-
ten, or rather his chief, Lord Auckland, had been doing his best to bring round Sir Alexander Burnes to the views entertained by the Foreign Office. It was not convenient that Parliament should come to the knowledge of these circumstances. It was convenient to attribute to Sir Alexander Burnes, an identity of opinion with Lord Auckland and the noble Lord opposite. Hence the falsifications.
There are a number of passages of the same kind. Sir Alexander Burnes himself, writing to his brother-in-law, Major Holland, now at Bombay, under date the 25th of August, 1839, says on this subject—
The exposition of the Governor General's views in the Parliamentary Papers is pure trickery, and I have said so in every company since I have read them. I, however, acquit Lord Auckland of the fraud, and I am sometimes charitable enough to acquit the other authorities, and to believe that they had not read ere they printed. All my implorations to Government to act with promptitude and decision had reference to doing something when Dost Mahomed was king. And all this they have made to appear in support of Shah Shujah being set up.
I beg here again to refer to the written declaration which I have read from the father of that lamented public servant. Naturally jealous of the honour of his dead son, he is ready, on the opportunity being afforded him, to give up the papers, of which these are copies; and the originals of which are at this moment in the power of the noble Lord and the President of the Board of Control, and at the India House.
§ I will at present refer to only one or two other instances of documents, the extracted passages of which as prepared by the then Government for the perusal of this House, have been falsified. There is one where Sir Alexander Burnes mentions that he has heard such and such a report of Dost Mahomed's bad intentions; and then adds, that he has inquired into the circumstances, and finds that there is no truth in the report. Now the "extract" contains the report indeed, but it carefully leaves out the material words, "but I have inquired, and I do not think that it is true."
§ There is another document where the passage as mutilated by the Government represents Sir Alexander Burnes as stating, without qualification, that "an agent direct from Russia" had arrived at Cabul, and that he, Burnes, had received from his agent at Candahar 1212 a notification on the subject; and then, after communicating "this extraordinary piece of intelligence," suddenly breaks off. Now, Sir, if it had been true as thus insinuated, that Dost Mahomed had received such an agent, that would not warrant any jealousy on the part of England against Cabul. How could she complain of the Emir, for cultivating friendly relations with a Power so nearly allied to us? For observe, England at that very time was herself engaged in most friendly relations and negotiations with the Emperor of Russia, and that, too, for the settlement of the affairs of the East, both in Turkey and Persia. But the insinuation was not true. As stated here, in the papers laid before Parliament, it would appear that the Emir had himself received "an agent from Russia"—not "from the Emperor of Russia." By the way, perhaps, the noble Lord can explain why the words, "the Emperor of" are left out. Hence Parliament could not help suspecting the worst of purposes to exist in the mind of Dost Mahomed Khan against British empire in the East—that Russia was cultivating his hostility against us—and in short that there was a perfect willingness on both sides that the negotiations thus commenced should proceed, and the results carried into execution. But, Sir, if Parliament had had the opportunity of reading the whole of the despatch, the very contrary would have been the impression produced as to that Emir's dispositions and intentions, whether as respected England or Russia. The paragraphs which immediately follow the extracted passage, inform Sir William M'Naghten and Lord Auckland that the first person who communicated to him (Sir Alexander Burnes) the fact of the approach towards Cabul of this "agent direct from the Emperor Russia" (for the words "Emperor of" were written by Burnes, although omitted in the printed extract), was Dost Mahomed himself! It states that the Emir was so anxious and alarmed at the tidings of the agent's approach towards the city, that he had come over in person "early in the morning," on hearing of it, to his (Burnes's) quarters, imploring British protection and craving advice. He says, too, that the Emir wanted to arrest, and turn back, or otherwise dispose of the agent, as Burnes should direct, before he got to Cabul at all. And then the reception of this agent took place only in obedience to the wishes of Sir Alexander Burnes him- 1213 self, strongly expressed to the Emir. He concludes by informing the Governor General, that the Emir had most readily "undertaken" to make a full disclosure to the British Government, of the errand on which that "individual had come;" and that accordingly he had put him in possession of a Russian despatch, of which the agent was the bearer.
Now, Sir, the whole of these important paragraphs are left out. The only passage which was laid before the House of Commons, and the people of England is—
I have the honour to report, for the information of the right hon. the Governor General of India, in Council, the very extraordinary piece of intelligence of the arrival at this city yesterday, of an agent direct from Russia. On the 11th instant, I received a notification of his approach from my correspondent at Candahar, in the terms reported in the annexed letter, No. 1; and, on the 13th instant, the Emir received information conveyed in the enclosure, No. 2; a circumstance of so unusual a nature prevented my sending off an express to you till I could be better informed.
The next four paragraphs, which are by far the most material part of the despatch, were entirely suppressed.
§ It is not by accident that frauds like these can have been committed. Sir, I think it eminently disgraceful to the character of the British nation,—and let me add of this House, too,—that the charge should have ever been made, and should have then been suffered for so many years to remain without investigation. It has been pending ever since 1841; and yet no efforts have been made to vindicate the dignity of the law and the honour of the country. No prosecution has been instituted to punish—if not the noble Lord and those who did the deed—then, at least, those insolent libellors who had ventured to accuse them of it. For that accusation was boldly and openly made; and it denounced with adequate strength of language the conduct of the noble Lord and all the other parties implicated in these base and infamous transactions. I do not hesitate to maintain, that every one of those unhappy persons who have, at any time since 1841, been transported from England to the shores of the south Pacific, for forgeries or crimes of the nature of forgery, has the right to say that he has been most unjustly dealt with; when he sees that perpetrators of iniquities, similar in kind but far more monstrous in character, have been suffered to remain so long unscathed and unquestioned; nay, and to approach the person of Her Majesty, and to sit in Her Councils, 1214 and to lead the deliberations of Parliament. I offer myself to the justice of the country and to the heavy censure of this House, for the language which I have used, if, having brought this charge, I fail, upon opportunity being afforded me, to support it to the conviction of the accused. But now I labour under the conflict of divided duty. On one hand, I have the sense of that duty which I owe to you, Sir, as the guardian of the grave decorum of this House. On the other hand, I perceive that duty which I owe not so much to myself as to my country and its laws. I wish to satisfy that duty, but I feel myself utterly at a loss how to proceed, on account of the decision which has been given from the Chair. I will, however, do my best; and I will, therefore—avoiding, as far as possible, the phraseology appropriate to accusation—proceed with my statement of the noble Lord's policy with respect to Persia and Affghanistan.
§ For the truth of that statement I refer to the State Papers—such papers, I mean, as the Government has thought it prudent to present to this House. In 1811 we bound ourselves, by the Treaty of Teheran—the treaty negotiated with Persia by Sir Harford Jones Brydges—to maintain Persia on her then footing of independence against Russia and against the world. On the faith of that assurance, Persia on her side stipulated—and, let me add, to that stipulation she most faithfully adhered—that she would not enter into any relations with European Powers, of with any Power whatsoever, to the detriment or prejudice of our Indian empire. The stipulations of that treaty were faithfully kept by Persia. Under the administration of the noble Lord, they had been shamefully violated by England. At the time when the noble Lord came into office, the Russians were justly and universally detested in Persia, insomuch that they were almost unable to find a footing for their consuls or agents in any part of Persia. In Hamadan, for instance, permission to reside was secured to them only upon the application and remonstrance of the British envoy. So complete was the British ascendancy in Persia—so complete the distrust and suspicion of Russian designs. Nevertheless, the noble Lord, almost immediately on coming into office, in 1830, made it his business to establish Russian influence in the Persian councils, and to use for that end the whole influence which Great Britain then enjoyed there by rea- 1215 son of her ancient enmity to Russia. I will not here repeat the statement I have made of the mode in which the noble Lord used his influence in 1831, and by what menaces he prevented her from performing her duties towards Poland, and enforcing her own rights against Russia. But I will content myself with saying, that on that occasion the noble Lord laid the first ground for the establishment of a Russian ascendancy at Teheran on the ruins of the ancient reputation of the British alliance.
§ The immediate result of that intervention was, to disgust the mind of Abbas Mirza, the Crown Prince, whose march we had intercepted, and to dispose him and his house to look less unfavourably towards their former enemy, Russia, than towards Great Britain, their unfaithful ally. On the death of the Crown Prince, indeed, his eldest son was already known to be a Russian agent, or at least deeply imbued with Russian sympathies. He had learned by the experience of his father how dangerous it was to resist Russia. So long as the Treaty of Teheran was in force, and English ascendancy was paramount, there was no hope for Persia. England and Russia were now of one mind. What hope, then, was there of English protection against Russian bayonets? Accordingly, this young prince, then Governor of Azerbijan, a province bordering on the Russian territory, had already betrayed a wish to exchange the English for the Russian alliance, when suddenly his father, the Crown Prince of Persia, died.
§ The moment was seized by the Russians. They proposed to the noble Lord measures for securing Persia to the Russian interest, They proposed with the help of the noble Lord—for without his help it could not be done—the setting aside of the next heir to the Crown of Persia; who, according to the usage of that country, was the eldest surviving son of the reigning Shah, that is to say, the younger brother of the deceased Crown Prince—the setting aside of that heir in favour of the Shah's grandson—that son of the Crown Prince, and Governor of Azerbijan, to whose Russian partialities I have already adverted. We have had no official information about this dark intrigue laid before Parliament. We have only the fact recorded that it began and that it ended. But, it appears, that during the whole of those negotiations, correspondence of a very important character passed. I find this express reference made to it in 1216 one of the despatches. Mr. Ellis, our Minister at Teheran—the same gentleman who has been lately raised by the noble Lord to new honours—is informed by that despatch that Her Majesty's Ministers, after receiving the information which he had sent from Persia, were satisfied of the fitness of setting aside the next heir in favour of the eldest son of the deceased Shah Zadeh, or Crown Prince. Not a shred of that information was ever given to Parliament; nor did Parliament, except through the medium of this vague allusion to it, ever receive a single hint of its existence. The whole of this negotiation with Russia was a crime. It was carried in direct violation of the Treaty of Teheran, which, in 1811, Sir Harford Jones Brydges had con-eluded with Persia. It was a secret transaction, for Persia was no party to it. It was carried on with the only enemy she had to dread, and the only one against whom the Treaty of Teheran was in fact projected. It deeply compromised the honour and independence of Persia, for the purpose of giving to that Power a direct voice in the alteration and new arrangement of the succession to the Persian monarchy. This it was which made the venerable diplomatist whom I have just named ask pardon publicly in 1843, of his God and his country for having negotiated that Treaty of Teheran—a treaty which was once his pride and glory, but which in its violation had now become to him a source of humiliation and disgrace.
§ Sir, the published correspondence is resumed at the period of the Shah's death. Then it drops again, so as to exclude the whole of the events which followed; down to the time when, aided by British forces, the Russian nominee was enabled to vanquish and put to death his competitor, the lawful heir, and place himself on the Throne of Persia. From that time we have more or less of information as to the events at the Court of Teheran. This was in the year 1834. The subsequent history is briefly this. The noble Lord opposite made it his system to leave our Envoys there (Mr. Ellis first, and afterwards Sir John M'Neill) entirely without instructions; or so to instruct them as to leave them entirely unprovided to meet every foreseen or unforeseen emergency. They had moreover one standing direction given them, which was this—that they were in all cases to act in conjunction with the Russian Envoy. If they did that, they had the widest discretion, but, without that, they had no dis- 1217 cretion at all. Despatch after despatch—sometimes as many as twenty consecutive despatches—were received in Downingstreet from these Envoys, beseeching information and advice, and the necessary powers to proceed. But the answer of the noble Lord—when it comes—is invariably, "I approve of what you have done, and I shall wait for further information from you before I send you further instructions!" In the mean time, they are directed by him to continue to act upon the instructions already received. But those were that they must act in conjunction with the Russian legation; that is, concur in the measures which Russia might think fit to take. Now, let the House bear in mind, that down to the accession of the new Shah, Russia had no position at all in Persia. On the other hand, Great Britain was then in the enjoyment not only of ascendancy but almost of a supremacy over the Persian councils. So long as that state of things lasted, so long our Indian frontier was safe and strong. Our connexions with the tribes of Central Asia were not then likely to be disturbed; for there was then but one Power in Persia that had the influence which could disturb them, and of that Power we had the entire confidence. The wholesome influence which we thus might exercise over Persia, and the interjacent tribes, it was the business of Russia to destroy. Accordingly (I am obliged to confine myself to these generalities, on account of the decision of the Chair), the Envoys who, at the Court of Teheran, represented England, were instructed upon all occasions to concur with the Envoys of Russia in their measures—those measures having for their object the ascendancy of Russia in that country, and the destruction of British influence.
§ Sir, the new position of affairs, therefore, was this—It appeared to Persia, that Russia alone was active; and that England meanwhile was inactive, except to concur with Russia; therefore, and because England and Russia seemed to be now one Power, it behaved Persia to secure a favourable position with Russia alone. It was neither necessary nor easy for her to secure one with England; for England had become unwilling to protect and ready to abandon those who, to serve her, had exposed themselves to the vengeance of her Russian ally. In Central Asia it is said to this day, that Russia and England are united on the terms of sovereignty and vassalage. It is the Czar of Russia that is said to be the Suzerain. It is the 1218 Queen of Great Britain that is said to be the vassal.
§ I do not wonder at it. The whole of the noble Lord's policy was conducted upon that principle. We have seen the Russian Envoy, Count Simonich, actually advising and heading an expedition of the Persian army against Herat, with the avowed object of making that the first step towards the conquest of Candahar, of Cabul, and finally of Delhi itself. This was all communicated to the noble Lord, but he did nothing. He turned a deaf ear to the earnest and frequent entreaties of Mr. Ellis and Sir John M'Neill, for instructions to lodge with the Shah a protest against the expedition. It was not until the expedition had been despatched to Herat, and after the army had lain there and pressed the siege for many months, and at last having sustained many reverses was finally obliged to retire from before its walls with loss and disgrace—that Sir John M'Neill received from the noble Lord—confident probably that Herat had fallen, and that the further advance of the Persian force and its consequence, a rupture with England, were now inevitable—the so much solicited instructions, authorising him to interpose a protest in the name of England against the expedition. The date of these instructions is July 27, 1838. The first intimation to the noble Lord of the design to attack Herat, was convoyed in Mr. Ellis's despatch of the 13th November, 1835. I charge that of all this the necessary effect was, to encourage the Persians in the belief, that in undertaking this expedition against Herat for the aggrandisement of their own territory, they were consulting the views of the Emperor of Russia, and yet were doing that which was by no means offensive to England, but the very reverse. It was not until all this was done, and the first hostile step had been committed by Persia in her new designs against England's Eastern Empire, that the noble Lord sent instructions to the British Minister to withdraw from Teheran.
Yet shortly before this, we have Lord Auckland sending instructions from Calcutta to Bombay, for the despatch of an Anglo-Indian force to take possession of the Island of Karrack in the Persian Gulf, in order, as he says, to assist Sir John M'Neill's negotiations at Teheran. Intelligence of the sailing of that force being received in England, a question is asked in this House with respect to the intended occupation of that island. What does the House think
was the answer made by Sir John Cam Hobhouse, then President of the Board of Control? It was an answer, such as I will not characterise as it deserves, because it will now be irregular to do so; and therefore I will leave it to this House to censure it. I quote from the Mirror of Parliament, for the 24th of July 1838. The answer of Sir John Cam Hobhouse was—
The East India Company have a resident at Bushire, and a resident at Bagdad, and an important experiment has lately been tried, in order to ascertain whether the navigation of the Euphrates is practicable. Our commercial relations with that part of the world have become much more extensive than formerly. It is in consequence of the political state of Central Asia that the Governor General has thought it requisite for the protection of British interests to send that expedition.
And yet, Sir, at this very moment, he had before him that Governor General's own despatch, in which he says, that it was in consequence of a communication addressed to the noble Lord opposite by Sir John M'Neill, and in order to support Sir John M'Neill's negotiations at Teheran, that he (Lord Auckland) had ordered that hostile expedition to be sent. That despatch has been printed and laid before Parliament.
§ Sir, the decision of the Chair places me in the position of being unable now to characterise those acts. I know how I shall characterise them when the proper time comes. I say this now, for the purpose of protecting myself once more from the charge, which some may bring against me, of insinuating that which I dare not openly avow. I may, however, be permitted to say thus much, that—because to Parliament false and garbled information has been given with respect to these transactions—far from being bound by any decision which Parliament may have heretofore given in their favour, that very fact entitles me now to demand of Parliament a rigid scrutiny into those transactions.
§ That, Sir, is the case of Persia.
§ Now Sir, the case of Afghanistan is shortly this. The object which Russia and her agents, avowed or unavowed, sought there to accomplish was the establishment of a permanent hostility to England in the minds of a people heretofore her best friends. It was to convert the whole of Central Asia into a camp of foes against her. It was to do all this not by the act of Russia or at her expense, but by the act and at the expense of England herself. Surely no one will pretend that this was possible under any circumstances, except upon the 1220 assumption that Russia was represented in the English Cabinet.
§ It is now manifest to the world that our military operations against Affghanistan—operations which were begun without declaration of war, and in a piratical manner, and in violation of the laws of India, of England, and of nations—that those operations did not originate with the Indian Government. They were not, they could not, have been authorised by the Governor General of India. I say this for two reasons: first, because Lord Auckland had no power given him by law to commence a foreign war of that kind; and, secondly, because the objects which those operations were intended to promote did not relate to India at all, but to Persia and to Europe. They belonged to the same department with the negotiations which Sir John M'Neill was then carrying on at Teheran. At the same time, the noble Lord opposite, and his noble Colleague the Member for the city of London (Lord John Russell), and indeed all the men forming the then Administration, and as such exercising supreme control over affairs, not only in England but in India—all these persons were and are responsible for that so-called war. They, and not the East India Company, were and are responsible. That war emanated from them, and not from the East India Company. I believe that I do not misstate the case when I say that the burden of the expense of the war was shared by the people of this country, at least as much as by the people of British India. At any rate, Sir, this was a war made by the orders of the Foreign Office, and for which the noble Lord is on that account responsible. Whether he is or is not personally guilty, I shall not now say; but I do say, that inasmuch as the forgeries which I have specified were committed—inasmuch as those atrocious mutilations and falsifications of public documents did take place—inasmuch as Parliament was deceived in this manner—and inasmuch as those who did the wrong acted under the direct sanction and control of the noble Lord—that for all these crimes the noble Lord himself is responsible to the country and the House. For the present, Sir, that shall be the extent of my statement with respect to Persia and Affghanistan.
§ Sir, at this hour, and under the difficulties imposed upon me by the decision of the Chair, I shall not follow out the subjects upon which I had proposed to enlarge. I will simply say this with respect to Ame- 1221 rica. We have, by the direct agency of the Foreign Office, Mexico and Texas involved in a war with the United States, for the purpose of adding to the United States one slaveholding State the more, and of thereby disposing the whole of that Union to co-operate in the designs meditated by the Northern States against British America, so as to adjust the balance between the north and the south. We have the measures for those ends concerted by the noble Lord. At one and the same time we have the noble Lord submitting, with the most perfect complacency, to the measures of the slave States in the south, and of the free States in the north—of these against Canada, of those against Texas. We have him sacrificing the rights and forfeiting the obligations of England towards Mexico, in order to forward the usurpation by the United States of Texas. We have him recognising the independence of Texas, and permitting there the establishment of slavery, at the same time that he was pretending to put it down, by rapine, and by bloodshed, and by wrong, in every other part of the world. To accomplish that Texan independence, and that introduction of slavery there, we have him sacrificing, in Texas, the rights acquired over its territory by British bondholders, to the extent of ten millions sterling. We have him, in 1839, cancelling, without their consent and against their protest, the lien of those bondholders, and this for the purpose of creating a new slaveholding State at the expense of our Mexican ally, and with the ulterior view of enabling the American Union to annex it.
§ We have the noble Lord breaking up the settlement of the Boundary Question in the northern extremity of America, which had been settled by the award of the King of Holland—which, I say, had been settled irrevocably and definitively by that award, in such sort that it did not depend upon the noble Lord, or upon any other Minister, to disturb it. We have him giving every encouragement to the Americans to proceed to violation of that award, and of their subsisting treaty stipulations. We have him, when the convenient time had arrived, when the insolence of the Americans was at its height—we have the noble Lord, on his side, withdrawing from the award altogether, and informing the American Government that he concurred with them in thinking, that whether as against England, or as against the United States, the award was of no 1222 effect. I say that I charge upon the noble Lord all these matters, and all the consequences that followed, all the aggressions, all the outrages upon British territory which have taken place, and have never been chastised, but for attempting to chastise which English governors have been censured and threatened by the noble Lord, and base apologies made to the American Government. I charge upon the noble Lord the events of 1840 and 1841, and more particularly the disgraceful prosecution and acquittal (for disgraceful as was the prosecution, the acquittal was more disgraceful still) of that Alexander M'Leod, in whose person the Crown itself—the Queen herself—was made to abide a trial for felonies, before a jury of citizens of the United States, and only discharged from condemnation and punishment through the evasion of an alibi—a defence which must have called blushes into the face of those who framed it, but was perhaps inevitable, under circumstances, such as abandonment and betrayal had produced.
§ In 1842, the Treaty of Washington put an end, for the time, to these boundary differences. That treaty was contracted and signed for the express purpose, not of doing justice between Great Britain and the United States, but of relieving Great Britain from all the complication of perplexities, superinduced by the acts of the noble Lord. I shall say no more upon that subject. I shall forbear from offering any censures of the conduct of Lord Ashburton and those who employed him in that negotiation. For, although I hold with our forefathers that war itself is preferable to a disgraceful peace, I am only too well aware that that is now become but an unpalatable doctrine, and that, in signing that treaty, and thereby averting or making more remote the probability of the war which the noble Lord seemed to have made inevitable, Lord Ashburton and the then Administration only consulted the opinions and prejudices of their countrymen at large.
§ Sir, with respect to the slave trade, I have only one or two more observations to make. I say, that the noble Lord has used the popular agitation for the suppression of the slave trade, in promoting a purpose not contemplated by the agitators of abolition. The noble Lord has used those measures for the purpose of disturbing the peace of the world, and ruining the moral ascendancy of Great Britain amongst other States. At the period when the 1223 noble Lord came into power, there was not a State in the world that would not willingly have concurred with England in the measures necessary for putting down the slave trade. If faith had only been preserved with them, even the slavetrading States would have long since acquiesced in measures for suppressing the traffic. But the noble Lord, in his relations with all the slave States with whom we have had relations, has preferred to act upon those principles which should wound most the national pride, and least attain the pretended object. This is particularly true with regard to Portugal. The protest of the Duke of Wellington against his Bill of coercion against Portugal, is recorded in the Journals of Parliament. That State Paper may be admitted as authentic and authoritative evidence. For at that time it had the effect of inducing Parliament in its wisdom to throw out the atrocious measure, which the noble Lord projected, and nearly carried through Parliament, and of greatly mitigating the mischief of its successor, when that was allowed to pass.
§ Sir, I do not intend to enter into the details of these pretended treaties, with respect to the abolition of the slave trade. They all proceed, however, from one source. They proceed from the noble Lord—from him who has established the slave trade in its worst form in the territory of the Texas—from him who has thus disposed the means for that inevitable end, the future extension of the slave trade from Texas throughout Mexico, and from Mexico to every other State of Southern America. I say that the noble Lord never did sincerely intend the abolition of the slave trade; but rather the disturbance of the peace of the world, through the means pretended to be employed for that abolition. I point to the fact that, at this moment, there is no State in the world, however poor and weak, on which we are able to rely that it will exercise its option in our favour, and admit us by treaty to the free enjoyment of its commerce.
§ I do not now speak of a great Power like France. I am aware that with France all hope of a commercial treaty is now for ever lost. I am also aware that until Lord Aberdeen, by his famous letter of the 20th May, 1842, to his Colleagues in the Admiralty, and on the cited authority of the law officers of the Crown, annulled the instructions which the noble Lord left behind him on going out of office, and which 1224 though quoted there by their dates,—the 6th April, the 1st and 17th June, and the 28th July, 1841,—have never yet been laid before Parliament, the right of search and detention over French vessels on the west coast of Africa had been to the noble Lord an effectual instrument for increasing and stimulating that irritation and frenzy of the French mind against England, which his whole policy had provoked. I am also aware that/on several occasions since then, it has fallen to the lot of Lord Aberdeen, whilst Foreign Secretary, to direct compensation to be granted out of the public monies of the country, to French subjects claiming it, in respect of acts done, under the authority of those condemned instructions and to the detriment of their properties and persons. But, Sir, I will not insist on the example of a great Power like France.
§ I shall be satisfied if the noble Lord will point out one of the smaller commercial States affected by his measures for suppressing the slave trade, whose friendly understanding with this country those measures have failed to destroy. What, for instance, is the measure of influence enjoyed by Great Britain at this moment at the Court of Rio Janeiro? The empire of Brazil has been peculiarly visited with the noble Lord's slave-trade measures. It is true that their illegality has been demonstrated to the whole world, and has on more than one occasion been made the subject of censure and condemnation by our own courts of justice. It is true that in the instance specified in the notice I have given, the Judges sitting at Serjeants' Inn Hall, have solemnly determined that those measures have no force or vigour either by our municipal law or by the law of nations—that acts done under their authority are illegal and void, and instead of conferring rights, subject to penalties,—that the British captor of the Brazilian vessel is a wrong doer—and. that for the Brazilian to slay him, albeit unawares, is not murder nor manslaughter, but an homicide which we have no right to revenge, much less to punish. But, Sir, it is also true, that with an audacity—only to be explained by a reference to the long impunity he has enjoyed—the noble Lord continues to press against Brazil and its people the measures which have received this solemn condemnation; and that in open defiance of the laws which proclaim the piracy of 1225 the act, Brazilian ships continue under the noble Lord's authority, to be carried as prizes by our men-of-war into British ports, and there sold for the profit of the captors. Well then, Sir, shall I ask the noble Lord what is the estimation in which the Brazilians regard us? Can he tell me what is the state of our commercial relations with that empire? Is it not the fact that every application hitherto made by us for a renewal of the former commercial treaty with Brazil, or the adjustment of a new treaty of commerce, has been formally refused by that Government? Then to what is the interruption of all these friendly and useful relations owing? Upon whom does the charge rest of having produced it? I ask the House, after reviewing that statement of facts which I have endeavoured, however briefly and inadequately, to lay before them, to say whether the whole responsibility is not chargeable on the head of the noble Lord? I would almost put it to the noble Lord himself to say if he denies it.
§ In fine, Sir, there is not one part of the world in which—ever since the unhappy period of 1830, when the noble Lord assumed his present office, down to the present time, with a comparatively brief interval—this has not been the sum and substance of our foreign policy. Sir, it is an awful consideration. When Ministers speak to us of their responsibility, is that a shadow and a name? What is meant by the word? To whom are they to be made responsible? Are we to adopt the new doctrine of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, who has said that he cannot comprehend what is meant by treason in a Minister? I am not surprised. I can perfectly understand that those who cannot comprehend what is perfidy in an associate, may fail to understand what is treason in a Minister. But I ask the House, whether the Ministerial responsibility is to be determined by other rules than those which govern the responsibility between man and man? and if so, by what rules shall we determine it? I trust in God, Sir, that not this doctrine but the wiser doctrine of our ancestors may be ever held in our remembrance. They held that for every act done, or omitted to be done, by a Minister, with the effect of detriment or prejudice to the interests and rights of the State,—whatever his motive, however righteous his intention,—that Minister was amenable in his person, and should endure for his misdemeanour the 1226 severe and inexorable sentence of the law.
§ It is in that view, Sir, that I have endeavoured to present my observations to this House. I am sensible that I have done so feebly, and under circumstances of no ordinary difficulty. Obedient to the wish of the House and to your decision, I have, within the last half-hour, greatly reduced some, and altogether suppressed others, of the most important of the charges which I had intended to prefer—ay, and to prove—against the noble Lord. I crave your permission to say, that I am far from abandoning them. I have to take it into my consideration what course to pursue; and I will endeavour to shape my future conduct with respect to these charges in conformity with that course. The charges themselves are not withdrawn. The language in which I have expressed them, I would wish to modify; so far as to meet your wishes, Sir, and those of the House. But the charges themselves are not withdrawn, nor modified. And here I deliberately repeat them, and avow my readiness to prove them; prepared, if I fail, to submit myself to the heavy censure and chastisement of this honourable House.
§ I should insult hon. Members were I to remind them of their duties in this regard. I will not tell them, that if, under my deliberate sense of duty as a Member of the House, such has been the course, which I have held myself under an obligation to take—that, on their side, they cannot fly from the punctual fulfilment of that graver duty which—mine being discharged—now devolves upon them. It is not for me to admonish them;—and I gladly forbear. But I feel that I have something to entreat at their hands. And it is, that they will forget the insignificance and faults of the individual who stands before them in the place of the accuser—that questions of personality may be this day allowed to merge in the gravity of the function—and that, if that function, once the noblest title of a British senator, has in these days degenerated into hands like mine, they will not accuse my presumption in assuming a post unbecoming my years or fitness—for that would be an injustice—but rather that they will generously lay the blame upon their own remissness.
§ MR. SHEIL
Dungarvon is so near to Youghal, that in virtue of my Parliamentary vicinage to the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, and in 1227 right of the geographical affinity that subsists between us, I think myself entitled, if not to complain, at all events to express my surprise, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who, at the hustings of the borough (by which a very peculiar predilection has been displayed), was more utterly Irish than the most utter Irishman of us all, should have so soon dismissed from his solicitude the country by which he was so generously, perhaps fantastically adopted; and that, not contented with giving a notice, to which in the annals of notification no parallel in prolixity and complexity can be found, should have assigned and made over the repeal of the Union to the hon. Member for Stafford. [Mr. ANSTEY: No, no!] I shall readily prove it. This is the Notice-paper of the 23rd of November. The names of Anstey and of Urquhart stand in happy and Arcadian juxtaposition. Mr. Urquhart's Notice, No. 10, runs thus:—Mr. Urquhart—Address, praying Her Majesty to exercise Her Majesty's undoubted prerogative of summoning, within Her Majesty's realm of Ireland, the Peers spiritual and temporal of that realm, and the knights, citizens, and burgesses thereof, in order that Her Majesty may take counsel with the same in regard to the great and manifold derangements and sufferings of that kingdom. [Monday, Dec. 6."]In immediate succession come Mr. Anstey and his portentous notice. I could not help exclaiming, when I perused the Parliamentary paper—"How is this? How has this strange swop been made of the world for College-green? How has it come to pass that the Member for Youghal has abandoned his moorings in a little creek, and launched into the shoreless ocean of foreign policy; while the Member for Stafford, who has circumnavigated the world, steers into the narrow Irish Channel, where, for a ship so gallant, there is scarcely sea-room?" I found it difficult at first to solve this enigma; but when I had observed that the Urquhart Motion had been relinquished, and that the Anstey Motion was preserved—when I discovered that Ireland had been given up, and that the universe had been retained—I concluded that the Urquhart notice for repeal was but a feint; that an ingenious arrangement had been made by the hon. Gentleman; and that it had been agreed that the Member for Youghal should draw out the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs; and that, after the noble Lord had been deprived of all opportunity of reply, the Member for 1228 Stafford should suddenly rise from his ambush, and with a courageous impunity should precipitate himself upon him. An allowance ought to be made, perhaps, for a contrivance not consistent with the spirit of fair play that distinguishes this House, on the part of two Gentlemen who have just entered it; but this expedient is not perfectly legitimate, and, as it is obvious that this Motion originates with the Member for Stafford—as the eloquence of the one is evidently the result of the inspiration of the other—as the Member for Stafford has for a series of years devoted himself exclusively to the denunciation of the noble Lord—as he has traversed the whole country, and employed lecturers through all England for the purpose of holding up the noble Lord to the execration of his country—as, in one word, the noble Lord is to be put upon his defence—it is but just and reasonable that the prosecutor should state his case, and that the noble Lord should be enabled to reply to the imputations which it is the purpose of the Member for Stafford to prefer against him. I had, I acknowledge, come down to this House with the intention of referring to those great transactions in which my noble Friend has been so conspicuously engaged, which stand in such prominence in the annals of our times, and on which the historian, neglecting all trifling details, will hereafter ground his unimpassioned adjudication. I had intended to prove that my noble Friend had always performed the part which it becomes an English Minister to enact—that with great abilities he combined a thorough knowledge of the political and commercial interests of his country, and those moral attributes which characterise the great nation whose cause is intrusted to him—that he had always been highminded, straightforward, direct, and true—that the honour of England had remained unsullied in his care—that he had been the champion of humanity, the promoter of civilisation, and the abettor of constitutional and of well-ordered freedom in every country of the world. I could have proved this—all this. I should not have said this in the language of unqualified and undiscriminating panegyric, because I think that fulsome adulation is only less odious than the rabid and envenomed vituperation, in the indulgence of which the foulness of the tongue does but denote the distemper of the understanding, or the vitiation of the heart. But, since I heard the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I have changed 1229 my purpose. When I heard him, in his desultory and vague harangue, give utterance to the gross contumelies which he has so profusely poured out; when I saw him discharging that vile vituperation, against which the instinct of his audience revolted; when I heard him charge my noble Friend with deliberate falsehood; when I heard him say that the noble Lord made promises which he never meant to fulfil—that he had again and again been guilty of meditated untruth—that he had acted basely, perfidiously, and ignominiously; when I heard him say that the noble Lord had procured Mr. Backhouse to countersign a lie—for he employed the odious monosyllable in all its detestability; when I heard him say that Mr. Backhouse had pined to death under the sense of all the guilt and of all the shame which had been inflicted upon him by the noble Lord—he expressed a desire that he could summon from the grave the honourable man on whom he sought to fix the mercenary falsehood; and it is well for him that he is not endowed with any necromantic power, for the spectre which he would evoke would utter a confutation of his calumnies—when, I say, I heard him say these monstrous things; when I heard him again and again violate all the decencies of the House of Commons, until you, Sir—not in order to protect the noble Lord, by whom these preposterous accusations should be despised, but in order to save the House of Commons from the maculation which he was casting upon its dignity—were compelled to interpose, and to stop the hon. and learned Gentleman in his career of vilification;—I felt that the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman did not call for any animadversion, and that my noble Friend ought to listen to it with an apathy with which commiseration ought not to be unmixed. I have, therefore, abandoned my original purpose. I will not take any notice of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman beyond that which I have already taken. The House is impatient, or, if not impatient, at all events it is curious, to hear the hon. Member for Stafford. He is not only the client but the only witness of the hon. and learned Gentleman. The rest are dead. I was struck during the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman by the remarkable fact, that every one was in his grave to whose authority he could refer, excepting always the distinguished survivor, the Member for Stafford. Mr. Backhouse, whose 1230 memory he took such pains to blacken, Sir Herbert Taylor, Lord Durham, Lord Holland, William IV., are for ever silent. But one great witness remains—the Member for Stafford. It is right, therefore, that his evidence should be at once produced. Let him get up; let him state the facts on which the Member for Youghal relies, and give in his solitary attestation. If he shall distinctly and unequivocally specify facts which are intelligible to the House of Commons, and challenge the noble Lord to encounter him in a field in which the lists shall be so closely circumscribed that the noble Lord can seize his antagonist and grapple with him in stern and conclusive conflict—if he shall do this, then the House will listen to him with interest and attention. But if the hon. Gentleman shall indulge in vague and indefinite invective—if, instead of condensing, he shall disperse his antipathies through a mass of multifarious matter—if he shall, with a sinuous lubricity, endeavour to glide away through slimy generalities from the grasp of the noble Lord—then the House will come to a conclusion in reference to the motives of the hon. Gentleman very different indeed from that to which his associate the Member for Youghal desires that the House of Commons should arrive.
§ MR. URQUHART
Sir, I will not pursue the right hon. Gentleman in his general and personal observations, which have very little to do with the case before the House. On that case, I shall make but few observations, because until something like a reply is given to the elaborate and extraordinary statement of the hon. and learned Member for Youghal, I do not conceive that the debate will have arrived at that point when it is necessary to furnish fresh evidence. As regards myself I conceive that the voluminous productions which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) has satirised—and my long efforts to bring before the attention of this country the conclusions which I have formed regarding the conduct of its public affairs by the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston), discharge me from the necessity of re-stating anew in this House, or of re-asserting in this place the proofs upon which these imputations rest. If what we assert is true, events will come to open your ears, and to soften your hearts. If we are wrong, nothing can be easier than to show that we are so. I take my stand against the present opinion of this House upon 1231 these results. They will determine whether I am an enthusiast, or this nation labouring for a time under a delusion. Such delusions have occurred before. When I refer to the words of wisdom of those men, who, living in times of danger and of doubt, have left their words a memento to future generations—if they have not been a warning to their own—I find that they consist in inculcating watchfulness and care. "It is not arms nor wealth, it is not ships nor batteries, it is not the markets which you command, nor the exchanges in which you flourish, but precaution, which is the strength of a State." But returning within the limits which for the present I have prescribed to my thought and my expressions, I will state something personal to the House, which, I trust will be received with its kind indulgence. Sir, I declare to you and in the presence of this Assembly, that I most firmly believe the accusations which have been made against the noble Lord. I declare in the presence of this Assembly, that in consequence of that belief I have for more than twelve years laboured by night and by day to bring this truth to light. You may treat the charge as groundless; but while the hearts of men are still of flesh, they will not revile one who, even if mistakenly, has pursued a great public end, with singleness of purpose and sacrifice of himself. I have sacrificed every object of worldly ambition. I have sacrificed health, prospects, fortune. I now further expose myself to a higher and a mightier sacrifice—that of your disdain. Sir, it is not to-day that this conviction has been formed—it is not in your august presence that for the first time it has been expressed. When first the horrible thought crossed my mind, and took root in my breast, it was to my Sovereign that I appealed, and to whom I confided my misgivings. Of this the noble Lord is well aware. It was after this, that I filled a public office; but that office did not entail upon me the resignation of my integrity. The noble Lord is there to bear testimony to the fact, for I declare it, and he cannot deny it, that when I was excluded from the public service, I had no personal difference with himself. He is in possession of a letter of mine in which I in grateful terms thanked him for my recall as an act of favour. And why did I take that course—why did I not, as Lord Stanley at that time suggested, demand a 1232 Committee of this House to inquire into the transactions between the noble Lord and myself?. Because at that time, I was under the impression that the noble Lord had sought by sacrifice of me to have his hands more free to act for a great national object. I was under the conviction that the noble Lord might have legitimate grounds for setting me aside as one too forward in the assertion of British rights against Muscovite ambition, and thus realise the practical ends which I sought, while taking away from his own character any appearance of extravagance or excess. It was upon that ground, and for that reason, that instead of seeking reparation for the wrong that had been done me, I addressed the noble Lord in the strain which I have just now characterized. I bring these two points together for the purpose of showing that while during seventeen years I have stood opposed to the noble Lord, attempting to rescue—contemptuously as you may treat the assertion—England from his hands; still the noble Lord cannot charge me with any personal purpose, or personal animosity. Before I accepted public service, before I were a uniform, or a livery on my back, had I struggled with the noble Lord—suspected him—denounced him. This suspicion was filched from me for a time. When I was extruded, I made no complaint; but when afterwards I saw the whole series of measures which had been adopted avowedly to restore the position of England, sacrificed—then did I revert to my original suspicions, and denounced the noble Lord for what I now unmistakably knew him to be. But my own internal convictions would not alone have sufficed to justify such a course. The case required to be susceptible of proof; and such there is available and abundant, that the noble Lord had been serving from first to last an extrinsic Power—the bitterest foe to England, and of the human race. These conclusions were first addressed to the Foreign Office. I addressed them not to the noble Lord, for this reason, that the noble Lord in his place—there where he now sits—had charged me with falsehood—me not then here to answer; and he, knowing that that charge was false, there uttered it. He did indeed say "No, no!" when on a subsequent occasion Sir S. Canning referred to his having used such language; but I heard the words myself, and have recorded them in the letter to which I allude, 1233 addressed to the Under Secretary of State, Mr. Backhouse. I stated why I could no longer address myself to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, from the falsehoods of which he had been guilty, and the treasonable purpose in furtherance of which he had uttered them. This letter was not left without reply; it was replied to by Mr. Backhouse, who is now no more. So much in reference to my part and motives in a charge which, however sneeringly it may be treated by the geographical, though not, I am sorry to say, moral neighbour of the hon. and learned Member for Youghal, is, I venture to affirm, an historic event. Whatever may be the opinion this House now entertains, whatever the vote it may give, I defy this House's opinion, or this House's vote, to restore to the position in which he stood this morning, the noble Lord. That charge has been impending over the head of the noble Lord for years; it has been whispered in foreign Courts; it has been alleged by various individuals in the diplomatic service, on their own grounds; it has been at various times insinuated in this House, the noble Lord taking care on all such occasions to absent himself, or to abstain from reply—now, by a series of persevering and courageous efforts has at last been distinctly made. He has been charged with no accidental failing, no fleeting passion, no error, ignorance, or mistake; but with a whole clear and connected system of guilt. It is utterly impossible that such an event shall not weigh upon the mind of England and of Europe. Now is understood what we mean. Upon each former occasion of inquiry into his acts some special reason was assigned, and he triumphed, because one occasion never could suffice to get to the bottom of the matter; but now for the first time, have the different parts been brought together, and is the idea presented of a connected purpose in apparent contradictions, assumed failures, and pretended successes. Now is placed in juxtaposition the language used by the noble Lord at the beginning of his career, and the results revealed at the end, and therefore is the mind brought to see that throughout the whole of the noble Lord's proceedings, that in whatever the noble Lord has done, or left undone, one result has been invariable, and that is the augmentation of the power and influence of the Czar. Some years ago my noble 1234 Friend the Member for Marylebone (Lord D. Stuart), now sitting behind the noble Lord, said, that he had "exhibited England in the character of a bully and a coward." [Cries of "Order!"] On the 17th March, 1837, the Member for Marylebone uttered in a House less squeamish than that House which I now address, these words—"He" (the noble Lord opposite) "has exhibited England as a bully and a coward, cruel and tyrannical to the weak, mean and abject before the strong." But since the year 1837 a new light must have broken in upon the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, for now the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Department shows himself as cruel and tyrannical to the most powerful, as he hitherto had been to the most weak. Up to that date (1837) he had not reached the point where he could openly dare that which was the end of all his toils, as it was the end of Russia's purpose. Our great neighbour has been added to the list of States insulted and trampled upon. The general character of truckling to the powerful and overreaching of the weak disappears, and gives place to some other and of course truer solution of the mystery. It is not character, it is calculation. To exasperate France and England against each other is the result, as it has been the aim of all our negotiations. It formed the subject of the first discussion I ever had with the noble Lord, and that was in 1831; it is the result which he has successively achieved in 1840 and 1847; it is that upon which the designs of Russia are based, and by which they shall ultimately triumph; and to this consummation the labours of the noble Lord have been undeviatingly directed, and successively employed. Now, I am prepared to prove, and I stake my character upon it, and the House will be justified in applying any censure to me if I fail, that in one negotiation which has been referred to to night, viz., that of the Treaty of Turkey, there have been changes made in its stipulations with the view and with the effect of serving the interests of Russia in Turkey. Sir, I am possessed of documents so numerous and minute, and of testimony so consecutive, that no body of men sitting down with the purpose of ascertaining the facts can arrive at any other conclusion, save that of intentional falsification to serve the interests of a foreign Power. I will not dwell further upon this, or refer 1235 to any other matter: it is needless for me, I trust, now on an appeal for inquiry, to do more than in my place here as a representative of the people of England, to charge a great crime for which ordinary tribunals do not suffice, and to state that I am ready to bring the allegation to proof, and to supply the proof which will lead to conviction. Sir, I speak to you not in your political, but in your judicial character, as the chief of the Grand Inquest of the Nation. I do not bring forward any political dogmas or opinions; I bring forward a matter of fact which I allege to be a matter of crime. It is the wise intention of the English law to furnish facilities for the attainment of justice; first by aiding the accuser, and at a subsequent period of the proceedings by shielding the accused. In the first instance, it is enough that the prosecutor should accept the liabilities connected with preferring a charge—the grand jury receives that charge in secresy, and with closed doors, in order that no difficulties arising from station or prejudice should interpose between guilt and its punishment. It is in the after stage of the proceedings the judge intervenes, as the counsel of the accused. A primâ facie case, an ex parte statement, is all that is requisite, even in the most trifling matter, for proceedings to be instituted. Is it not clear. that when from the place where I now stand, a charge such as that which I make, is made against a Minister of the Crown, it is the part and duty of the body which represents a free nation to take care that it be investigated, and judicially decided upon. I wish to God, that that charge were false—I wish to God, that the result of this investigation should prove me—it would not prove me to be a maligner, for I have had no double intention, but—a visionary. I wish to God, that I had not to bear the burning sense of shame in my breast for my country's acts, and load of fear on my mind for her fate. There is here either danger or calumny. If it be calumny, let it be put down—if it be danger, let it be averted. If this is not a case for investigation into the conduct of a high functionary, such case can never arise. But beside these public and legitimate obligations to control a servant of the Crown, there is another resulting from your having taken out of the hands of the Sovereign the appointment of Her own Ministry. When you raise a Ministry to office, the 1236 Foreign Office falls to an individual who has not been selected by peculiar qualifications, and who does not depend for the support of this House upon the peculiar merits which he has displayed, or the success which he has attained in his own department; he depends entirely upon the aggregate of opinion which favours the party to which he belongs, or to which he professes to adhere. On those double grounds of the usurpation—I will not, perhaps, use that term, but on the interference—by the accidental majorities of this House, with the appointment of the high Officers of State, withdrawing the department of the Foreign Affairs from the direct control of the Monarch, as well as by your functions of inquisitors into the conduct of Ministers, I appeal to you not to deny inquiry. If there be any man in this House who is confident that the noble Lord is guiltless, to him I appeal to afford the noble Lord the means of vindicating his honour. If there be any man in this House interested in the character of the Whig party, to him I appeal in favour of the dignity and fame of that great Liberal section of this mighty empire. If there be amongst you a friend to the alliance with France, to him I appeal—for what we allege is that there has been a fraud perpetrated upon France. If there he any man, an honest admirer of Russia, that is, an advocate of her alliance, because he holds her to be just and upright—surely to that man I may appeal, to favour and advance this inquiry, for the allegation is no less than that a fraud the most detestable that a nation can practise upon another, has been practised by Russia on England. To those who desire reduction of expenditure, I confidently appeal to favour this inquiry. The apostle of free trade himself, the other evening, admitted that the assigned occasion for the increase of the naval and military expenditure from 11,000,000l. in 1835 to 17,000,000l. in 1848, were entirely owing to the acts of the noble Lord. If there be any one who really wishes to put down the slave trade, to him I appeal, for it is charged that the slave trade has been made use of by the noble Lord to disturb the peace of the world. My last appeal will be to those magnificent philosophers who by commercial ties are to put an end to war. To them, I say, grant a Committee, and I will prove that the noble Lord has frustrated the opportunity of beneficial commercial negotiation with the principal 1237 States of the world, and that at the noble Lord's door lies the obstacles to the free commercial intercourse of this country, just as much as at his door lie the incidents and animosities which have furnished the pretext for increase of our naval and military establishments. The Motion, I am reminded, is not for a Committee of Inquiry, but only for papers; and consequently it is to that preliminary step, and not to the graver one of a Committee, that my entreaties must apply. I will conclude with this remark, that I have examined with the utmost care every transaction in which England has been engaged since the accession to office of the noble Lord, and that I speak as I do at this present moment in consequence of the labour that I have given to this inquiry. The conclusions to which I have arrived in each of these cases is the same. I was present at a meeting of the Chamber of Deputies in 1840, when a charge of corruption was brought against a Minister of the Crown. It was alleged against M. Thiers, that he had used the telegraph for private speculation. The outcry against that accuser was great; it was greater than that which assailed me some time ago. Amongst the general clamour, a shrill voice was heard demanding silence. "Gentlemen," exclaimed M. Thiers, "your honour is concerned, for I am one of your body. This accusation imposes upon you two duties; the first silence, the second attention." That charge was discussed, disproved, and disposed of in half an hour; it had reference to the acts of a week. The charge which here I stand to support, is a charge involving eighteen years of malversation—a charge which has been supported to-night by the assertion of falsification and suppression of documents, which therefore cannot be met by any general reasoning. An investigation by a Committee of this House is therefore imperative for the honour of the Minister—for the honour of the House—for the safety as well as honour of the country and the Crown.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I trust that in what I may have to say, I shall exercise so much control over my temper that I shall not forget the respect which I owe to this House; and I shall avoid the use of language which I think is only disgraceful to those who employ it—language at variance with the rules of this House, with the courtesies of society, and with the practice of gentlemen. In such language, Sir, I at least 1238 shall certainly not express myself. I must, however, be permitted to repel in terms the most comprehensive—in language the most positive and complete—the charges of every kind and description which the hon. and learned Gentleman and the Member for Stafford have brought and asserted against me this day. Sir, if it were not out of respect for this House, and on account of what I feel to be due by a public man to the country—if the question were merely a question between myself and these two Members of Parliament—then, Sir, I doubt whether I should condescend to notice them—I doubt, I say, whether I should condescend even to contradict and to disprove those assertions. But, Sir, not only do I repel with the indignation and scorn, with the disdain and contempt, which are the only appropriate sentiments which a man in my position can express for charges so false and unfounded as those which have been this day adduced against me; but I declare to this House that if it be their pleasure to institute an inquiry into the whole of my public conduct, from the first day when I entered the public service down to the moment in which I am now speaking—that there is not a document, not a public or official document in the records of the Foreign Office—there is not a private letter or a confidential communication in my own possession—which I will not with readiness and with pride submit to the examination of such a Committee—of a Committee to inquire into my political improprieties, if it be so decided, formed exclusively of my political opponents. Sir, having said thus much on the general matter of the accusation, I find it difficult indeed, from the confused and multiform catalogue of subjects to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has adverted, to compress my answer within the limits to which, for the present at least, the rules and Standing Orders of the House will confine me. Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman has delivered a speech in which he has made such a jumble of misrepresented facts—of perverted statements—of assertions of things which never took place at all, and for which there is not the slightest foundation, that his oration resembles rather the confused and distorted images presented by a kaleidoscope out of order, than anything else which could be presented to the vision of a human being. Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman has 1239 gravely quoted those who are no more; and I feel it due to the character of a man for whom I felt the greatest private esteem and friendship, I mean the late Mr. Backhouse, to confute the calumny which the hon. and learned Gentleman has flung upon his memory. That any man who ever knew that gentleman by name and reputation, which I believe everybody did, should accuse him of telling a deliberate falsehood, is that which I never expected to hear stated before a company of Gentlemen such as that now assembled around me. If there ever was a man of honour, of truth—if there ever was a man of upright sincerity and plainness of heart—that man was Mr. Backhouse. He was a man as independent in mind and character as he was honest and upright in disposition, and as incapable of perverting or concealing the truth out of regard to any man whatever, as he was incapable of spontaneously asserting that which he did not believe to be most strictly true. Now, Sir, I shall not follow the hon. and learned Gentleman with regard to those events which he touched upon, but which took place before I was born, because whatever may be their bearing upon the complicated transactions now under consideration, I do not know that my conduct can be impeached with respect to them. I say nothing, therefore, about Lord George Gordon's riots. Neither, Sir, do I think that I am called upon to defend those transactions which occurred previous to my official birth. The hon. and learned Gentleman has, however, dwelt upon events which happened in the years 1828 and 1829, at a time when I did not hold the office which I now have the honour to fill. Sir, it appears to me that the hon. and learned Gentleman has one fixed notion, and one fixed series of charges founded thereon. He seems to imagine, in the first place, that it has been my lot, by some magical power—he has not stated whence I acquired it, or how I exercised it—to have been able, since 1830, to sway the minds and to govern the conduct of all mankind—in short, to direct and control all the affairs of the world—and, moreover, he seems to fancy that the purpose for which I exercised this Aladdin's lamp sort of faculty, has been the abasement of this kingdom, and the extension of the powers of Russia. England, in short, says the hon. and learned Gentleman, is now a province of Russia; her influence is paramount in our country—and, through 1240 our country, in the world. Now, the first event on which the hon. and learned Gentleman founds his charge is a civil expression in the despatch of the Ambassador from Russia, written in 1829, with regard to a speech which I made—I forget whether on the affairs of Portugal or those of Greece—and the hon. and learned Gentleman urged that whereas in 1829 a Russian Ambassador, writing to the Russian Government, said that I had made a good speech—that, therefore, it was conclusive evidence that I must be a traitor to this country, and in league with Russia. Now, on that ground—the ground of having made a good speech—no man will ever charge the hon. and learned Gentleman with being a traitor. On that ground at least he will never be accused of being wanting in loyalty to his Sovereign. Well, Sir, I had the misfortune to make this speech, which drew down upon me the secret good word of the Russian Ambassador. I am next accused of having approved of the conditions of the Treaty of Adrianople—conditions which, in his opinion, were injurious to the interests of Turkey. [Mr. C. ANSTEY: I spoke of the declaration of war.] Just so. The hon. and learned Gentleman not having got up his part correctly, has now discovered the real fact of the case; but I can assure him that I took his words down, and I corrected him by saying that the opinions which I expressed related to the declaration of war, not to the Treaty of Adrianople. And I justify these opinions. I say that Russia had just cause of war. I say that Turkey had violated her treaties with Russia—had committed acts inconsistent with her engagements; and I thought then, and I think now, that Russia had just cause of war against Turkey. That Power was influenced by unfortunate and evil advisers. There had been a question between England, France, and Russia, on the one hand—wishing, as they did, to establish the independence of Greece—and Turkey, who wished to prevent it, upon the other; the Austrian and Prussian Governments rather siding with the Porte upon the occasion. Well, as I said before, the advice of evil counsellors prevailed, and Turkey was induced to commit acts of aggression againt Russia. But I never said that I approved of the conditions of the Treaty of Adrianople. That treaty was concluded when I was out of office, and it was not for me to do otherwise than express an individual opinion upon the subject. That 1241 opinion was then, and is now, that the conditions were hard, and not fair as between the two parties. But they were imposed by a conqueror in a war in which Turkey was worsted; and, I believe, that the acceptance of these conditions was not altogether at variance with the advice which from every hand Turkey received—from quarters, indeed, known as well-wishers to her power. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Earl of Aberdeen protested against the Treaty of Adrianople; and undoubtedly there was a despatch from the Earl of Aberdeen, stating why the British Government disapproved of that treaty; but when the hon. and learned Gentleman says that the Government of the day declared that they did not acknowledge that treaty as part of the law of Europe, the hon. and learned Gentleman states that which is not borne out by historical facts. They protested against it. But does that amount to denying that the treaty is valid, and that the rights conveyed by it are rights which the contracting parties are justified in enforcing and maintaining? I try to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman a little chronologically, though no such order was observed by him. He went on then to say, that it was an act of a Government of which I was an organ, which subjected Persia to the influence of Russia. But that ascendancy dated from the Peace of 1828, from the conclusion of the war with Russia, into which Persia rushed against the advice of the British Government. It was that war and the (for Persia) unsuccessful result of that war, which led to the treaty by which a large portion of Persia was surrendered to Russia, and, as a natural consequence, a predominance of Russian influence in the councils of the Shah arose; to that species of ascendancy founded upon fear, which must be often the motive principle in the government of States such as Persia, and the influence which they must most readily obey. Then, Sir, the hon. and learned Gentleman, passing from the Treaty of Adrianople, which took place before I came into office, adverted to the encroachments made by Mehemet Ali, and argued that the English Government ought to have assisted the Sultan in resisting that aggression. Now, that question was maturely considered by the British Government of the time—
§ The clock hero pointing to Six,
§ MR. SPEAKER
, interrupting the noble Lord, said, "This debate stands as an 1242 Order of the Day for To-morrow, and the House is now adjourned."
§ House adjourned accordingly.